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November 20, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Shinya Hashimoto fired from NJPW, Wrestlemania X7 sets records, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 November 20, 2000

Shinya Hashimoto, who headlined more big gates at the Tokyo Dome than any wrestler in history, was shockingly fired by New Japan Pro Wrestling on 11/13 after a weekend filled with turmoil after news got out he was negotiating with Pro Wrestling NOAH.

The story was among many things that is threatening the future of the All Japan/New Japan relationship, which started off with the big success on 10/9 at the Tokyo Dome and has since seemed to start falling apart. There were already some cracks noticeable in the foundation of the angle before the word getting out of Hashimoto's negotiations to appear on the 12/23 Pro Wrestling NOAH show at the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum, which at this point, isn't scheduled to happen. The firing seems to open the door for Hashimoto joining NOAH as a regular, to go along with doing his own shows, which at this point appears to be scheduled, if everything works out, early next year.

There are some who are speculating all of this is an angle, although our best sources in Japan say it should become clear over the next week what is or isn't, and as more evidence comes out, it appears more and more evident that it isn't an angle. All the stories regarding the heat with All Japan against Pro Wrestling NOAH are not publicity stunts and the feelings run very deep.

Hashimoto, 35, has wrestled sparingly this year, including losing a retirement match to Naoya Ogawa on 4/7 in what was the most watched pro wrestling match in Japan in 14 years, since a match with Antonio Inoki vs. Leon Spinks. He came back for one match on the 10/9 Tokyo Dome show with Tatsumi Fujinami in the opener. He's been on the outs with booker Riki Choshu for some time, some of which is legitimate and some of which has been played up for storyline purposes. His role in the company largely diminished since January 4, 1999, in his now legendary match with Ogawa, which destroyed his reputation as a tough guy when Ogawa, in a match that was pretty well a shoot, destroyed him. The Ogawa-Hashimoto program, was the most heated program in pro wrestling over the past two years, stemming from that first match, headlined three Dome shows after that point.

There had been resentment within New Japan among the younger wrestlers since Hashimoto has rarely wrestled, but was pulling down full pay as one of the highest paid wrestlers in the company, earning more than $400,000 this year for only working four matches, one of which wasn't even on a New Japan show. Hashimoto would likely have to take a huge pay cut if he became a NOAH regular and have to work a full schedule, but his switching and setting up dream matches against the likes of Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama and Vader could be just the spark NOAH would need to heat up, particularly combining that with getting network television in the spring.

Kensuke Sasaki was the most vocal at a meeting of the New Japan booking combine, headed by Choshu, regarding Hashimoto not being a team player, since there had been reports of Hashimoto being reluctant to put over Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (which Choshu had wanted on the 10/9 Tokyo Dome but Fujinami instead wanted to give Hashimoto a badly needed win and volunteered to put him over himself), which were part of New Japan's major plans for 2001. Although the wrestlers were supposed to be stone-faced at the announcement of the firing, Sasaki wasn't able to hide his smile, since he was the one who pushed hardest for it.

The decision was apparently made at a four-hour booking meeting on 11/10 with Tatsumi Fujinami, Choshu, Sasaki, Masahiro Chono, Shiro Koshinaka and New Japan General Manager Katsuji Nagashima. There were some reports that Fujinami, as company President and as the closest of the group to Hashimoto and the only one in the company who seemed to care about doing storylines for him, was unhappy at being outvoted, and even may resign his Presidency over the next week. Fujinami is going to Los Angeles to talk over the situation with Antonio Inoki, who, although divorced from the political structure of the New Japan company, is still one of its major stockholders and something of a business "father" to Fujinami as he broke him into wrestling. The basic bottom line is believed to be that Choshu and Nagashima in particular chose continuation of the New Japan feud ahead of keeping Hashimoto when faced with a political either/or situation, while the wrestlers involved in the decision making had both those and perhaps other motives regarding feelings currently on Hashimoto.

Hashimoto has been talking with Mitsuharu Misawa for at least five months, including conversations regarding Hashimoto legitimately quitting New Japan when his contract expired and going to NOAH full-time, which as it turns out, the New Japan decision may have forced. Hashimoto has opened his own gym called "Zero-1," with the idea of running his own shows, with the idea that the backer, who put up the money for his gym and for him to run his own shows, has led him into making some bad business decisions over the last few months that have led to this. Hashimoto announced on 10/23 that he wanted to promote his own shows with the wrestlers he's training and work with other promotions and had been in contact with Misawa for quite some time about working with NOAH. His contract with New Japan didn't prevent that because when it was signed, nobody ever thought the possibility even existed he would promote independent shows. Of course, this put All Japan/New Japan in a strange way because Hashimoto was at the time a New Japan contracted wrestler talking about working with NOAH, All Japan hates NOAH, but is working with New Japan. Because of that, Fujinami told Hashimoto that New Japan would have a problem with him working with NOAH and the company had its meeting on 11/10, while afterwards, Nagashima met with Motoko Baba to attempt to smooth out their problems. Genichiro Tenryu, who is the one person who can be the intermediary between All Japan (because he started in wrestling under Baba) and New Japan (since he's been friends with Choshu for a long time), has stayed out of this situation and it's difficult for New Japan and Baba to talk directly on a regular basis. Those in the New Japan company have remarked that they all heard the stories going in about Motoko Baba and how difficult it is to do business with her, but still didn't realize how difficult it would be. There were already signs of the angle falling apart when Koshinaka, who as part of the angle had "joined" All Japan, the company he started his career with, to feud with New Japan since the All Japan side badly needed depth, worked the last New Japan tour instead of the All Japan tour, killing that aspect of the angle.

New Japan is recognizing that unlike the successful New Japan vs. UWFI angle which led to record business in 1995-96 (and was the predecessor for the WCW vs. NWO angle that revitalized American business after Eric Bischoff saw the heat and box office this angle was getting from attending a sold out Tokyo Dome show), this All Japan angle is totally different. In the previous angle, Choshu was in complete control of the booking because UWFI was in a financial situation where it needed the money from the angle to survive. However, with All Japan, every interpromotional idea has to be negotiated and renegotiated, making both short and long-term booking of it far more difficult.

While Choshu did destroy UWFI a little early to gain maximum box office value and thus there was booking for ego ahead of business in making his company look strong from the start, the angle itself ran smoothly and was the biggest money angle in wrestling history up to that point in time.

Baba was more upset with Fujinami than with Hashimoto, because New Japan had hinted that they were interested in using both All Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH wrestlers to appear in the IWGP heavyweight title tournament on 1/4. She initially wasn't upset about the stories of Hashimoto negotiating with Misawa, at first believing since Hashimoto was an employee of New Japan, that it was all an angle and nothing would ever result from it, but became upset when the realization was there was some smoke to the story. The realization led her to threaten to pull All Japan involvement out of the next New Japan PPV show.

Fujinami told Hashimoto on the morning of 11/13 that the announcement would be made later in the day, which turned into front page news in many Japanese sports sections as more than 50 reporters were at the press conference with the announcement. Hashimoto, after the announcement, talked more about starting a new promotion than going to NOAH. He also talked about potentially working for UFO next year to continue his feud with Ogawa. It is said that Ogawa, who hasn't done any jobs anywhere since the January 4, 1999 Hashimoto match, which made him a breakthrough superstar, would be willing to put Hashimoto over at this point, even though it would be against the wishes of Inoki. Inoki is trying to recreate his success with Ogawa, and Inoki almost never did jobs during his prime years in the late 70s. Ogawa has apparently questioned Inoki coming in at the last minute and changing the finish of the Ogawa-Hashimoto match on 4/7, after the Hashimoto retirement stipulation was announced, but then never giving any kind of a follow-up storyline plan for Hashimoto to make his comeback. With Choshu also doing nothing as a follow-up, his return came off as clumsy as a WCW angle, only a thousand times more high profile. Ultimately, Hashimoto's career suffering greatly, largely through making Ogawa, and Ogawa basically owes him.

While there is all sorts of newspaper speculation regarding Hashimoto doing shoot matches, that would be career suicide at this point and is highly unlikely to happen, even though his appearing on a Pride show would be a gigantic draw. Hashimoto himself has denied the stories but it makes for good copy so the stories will likely continue.

It is expected his two proteges in the New Japan promotion, Tadao Yasuda and Kenzo Suzuki, would remain with the company, with Yasuda, who had recent trouble due to gambling debts and had disappeared from New Japan, expected to return later this week.

Because of the problems in working together, New Japan has yet to come up with line-ups for its big shows on 12/10 in Nagoya and its second live PPV show from Osaka on 12/14, which originally was going to be headlined by the New Japan G-1 tag team tournament winner facing the All Japan Real World Tag League tournament winner because Baba wouldn't agree to work together on those shows until Hashimoto said that he won't do business with NOAH or New Japan fired Hashimoto. There will be no All Japan presence on the 12/10 show, with Chono announcing the card on 11/14. There may also now be no All Japan presence on the 12/14 show, which is going to make it a difficult sell without the interpromotional feud. All Japan did make the strange announcement this week that its tag team tournament will not determine its vacant Double World tag team championship as was the original plan. Instead, the titles will be determined in a second tournament next year. The feeling on this may be that since All Japan "owes" New Japan a big win, since they've come out strong thus far, and in particular, Kensuke Sasaki put Toshiaki Kawada over clean, as did its top foreigner, Scott Norton, to Steve Williams, that this may be its turn to return the favor. All Japan still has the mentality to protect its world championships, and it is doubtful the company will ever allow an existing world champion to work an interpromotional match and do a job. In addition, the 12/1 release date for the home video and DVD on the 10/9 "Do Judge" interpromotional show has been delayed indefinitely because All Japan refused to sign the video release forms to allow Kawada, Masa Fuchi and Williams' matches to appear on the New Japan home video because of the problems, which is the best evidence it's the problems are a legit deal because why would people cut their own throats in that market for a work. Without those matches, there is no point in even releasing the tape. This is similar to a situation years ago when Kawada worked on a UWFI stadium show but Shohei Baba refused to let Kawada's match air on the home video.

Akiyama was publicly critical of Misawa negotiating with Hashimoto, saying that while Hashimoto would sell tickets for the company's first big show, his presence would overwhelm everything else on the company's major show and put the company's own internal angles in the background, which isn't good for the company at this point in time. That's a valid argument for a one-time only appearance if the company was going strong, but not valid if Hashimoto would become a regular or if the company needed something from the outside to sell tickets for a big show. Kobashi was more receptive publicly to doing a program with Hashimoto. Misawa said that he would call a company meeting, and if the wrestlers don't want Hashimoto in, then he wouldn't bring him in.

The firing is considered probably the third biggest firing of a superstar in the history of Japanese wrestling. It ranks behind the Japanese Wrestling Association's firing of Inoki on December 13, 1971 after a failed power play, which ultimately resulted in the formation of New Japan Pro Wrestling in March of 1972 and paved the way for an entirely new concept of wrestling. It also ranks behind the May 1, 1988 firing by New Japan of Akira Maeda, after he refused the punishment imposed on him for the famous shoot-kick on Choshu the previous November, which led to the formation of the second UWF and paved the way for an entirely new concept of pro wrestling. Given those two historical precedents, perhaps it's even a bigger story that it seems right now, as those two firings proved to be historically.

Hashimoto, who has main evented six Tokyo Dome sellouts, holds the all-time record in that category, as well as all-time recorded pro wrestling records as a main event drawing card for headlining seven shows that have drawn in excess of 60,000 fans and ten shows that have drawn in excess of 50,000.

In only the first day tickets were put on sale for the event, the World Wrestling Federation's Wrestlemania X-Seven has already become the biggest grossing pro wrestling event ever held in the United States.

Tickets for the event which will take place on 4/1 at the Astrodome in Houston were put on sale on 11/11, and by the end of business that day, had sold 48,395 tickets for $2,706,680. With the exception of the WWF's SummerSlam 1992 in London, England at Wembley Stadium, which is believed to have sold well over 50,000 tickets (there are many conflicting stories as to just how quickly tickets sold because it was announced as a sellout publicly on the first day, and then, in England, they were continuing to advertise that tickets were available and selling tickets until the day of the show) the first day they were put on sale, it is believed to be the most tickets ever sold on the first day they were put on sale in the history of pro wrestling. For recorded sports entertainment, the November 9, 1997 K-1 Grand Prix tournament at the Tokyo Dome sold out 54,500 paid tickets in the first two hours they were put on sale which would be the quickest Dome stadium sellout we're aware of. It is believed that the most tickets actually sold the first day for a Tokyo Dome show was in the range of 40,000, both for the UWF's 1989 show headlined by Akira Maeda vs. Willie Wilhelm and in 1995 for the famous Nobuhiko Takada vs. Keiji Muto match promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling. While the Houston show won't break any North American attendance and gate records due to the size of the Astrodome, it has already, nearly five months ahead of time, broken the American gate record of $1,628,000 for the April 2, 1989 Wrestlemania at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City headlined by Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage.

The latest available figures, which were as of mid-day on 11/12, were 49,544 tickets sold for $2,735,625. At that point there were 8,600 tickets left on sale, all priced at $20, but because the WWF wasn't nearly as certain about the success of selling the cheap tickets, they had done a promotion with the Houston Chronicle so that those tickets can actually be purchased for $15, meaning the gate would increase somewhere in the neighborhood of $130,000 to $172,000 based on tickets available at this point in time. There are another 3,700 obstructed view tickets that will eventually be put on sale and another group of tickets that may total as many as 4,400 that are currently being held for potential comps, corporate sponsors, etc., some of which also may be put on sale, meaning a maximum of about 66,200 in the building for the show, but the gate will likely fall short of the North American record of a $3,450,000 in U.S. dollars (more than $4.1 million Canadian) for Wrestlemania VI held at Sky Dome in Toronto headlined by Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior. At 66,200 fans in the building, it would be the eighth largest recorded crowd for pro wrestling in history (there are many unverified claims of crowds of 50,000 to 100,000 in India, Pakistan and Singapore over the past century) and second largest crowd ever in the United States. At this point, the paid attendance is already the second largest ever for a pro wrestling event in the United States, as both the April 5, 1992 Wrestlemania at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis (Hogan vs. Sid Vicious), which put 62,167 in the building, and the January 21, 1997 Alamodome show in San Antonio (Shawn Michaels vs. Vicious), which put 60,525 in the building, were heavily papered houses.

The largest crowd in the history of American pro wrestling was 78,000 (you know, the one forever billed as 93,000) for the March 29, 1987 Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome headlined by Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. That show sold about 22,000 tickets the first day they went on sale, and unlike with this show, that was with the Hogan-Andre match already announced. The psychology was totally different in that era. Pro wrestling was mainly a walk-up business. Today, usually about 70 percent of the tickets to a WWF or WCW show will be sold the first day they are put on sale and large walk-ups are a thing of the past.

The largest live gate ever for pro wrestling is believed to be $7 million on April 4, 1998 at the Tokyo Dome for Antonio Inoki's retirement show, headlined by Inoki vs. Don Frye.

In the first known long-term study of its time, we've studied active major league American pro wrestlers at three intervals, 1986, 1991 and 1998, to compare both mortality rates, crippling injuries and serious documented drug problems within the profession.

Crippling injuries are those which have either left the participant with serious medical problems that would be considered permanent disabilities. Serious drug problems would only be wrestlers who have either had arrests for the problems, known overdoses or more than one stay in rehab or a reputation far beyond that of what is considered almost expected within the industry. The wrestlers are put into an either or category. For example, wrestlers who passed away, such as Gino Hernandez, Buzz Sawyer and Kerry Von Erich, if they had serious drug issues, are not listed in the category of serious drug issues.

Taking the year 1986, our listing of the top American and Canadian based wrestlers based on major promotion active rosters and major touring names, of those we know the whereabouts of, which is a group of 214 wrestlers, it was a group that at the time averaged 33 years of age, meaning they would be, on average, 47 today.

Of that group, 27 have passed away, or 12.6%. Another 29 (13.6%) are permanently disabled and 41 (19.2%) have had documented serious drug and/or alcohol problems. For the sake of this study, we did not include any steroid problems in the drug problems, although wrestlers crippled in some form due to steroid use would be listed as permanently disabled. Factoring in steroids would need far more in-depth work because they were something of a necessity in the minds of many wrestlers from that era and one would think 75 to 90 percent of the major league wrestlers from that era used them.

The other 54.6% are categorized as fine physically. That doesn't mean unscathed, because nobody that wrestles professionally for any length of time isn't going to wind up physically ganged up, but would be considered having the normal wear and tear one would expect from participating in a career in a physically demanding sport.

As to what those numbers mean, I'm not exactly sure, other than it would make for an interesting comparison to a corresponding number of people who are between 38 and 55 years old today, who were active in pro sports during the 80s, as well as people of similar ages in the general public. Probably the best comparison would be to go through the all-time NBA, NFL or MLB record books and study players born between 1945 and 1962 and see what the similar percentages are as well as what the percentages would be. What we know is a positive comparison is that it is doubtful the arrests would be anywhere near that of the NFL.

There are some caveats for the 1986 numbers because of the nature of the business, which changed in the 1990s as the territories went down. The business was more psychologically oriented and the physical demands differed, in that it was far easier for performers to be major stars into their 40s, and some, in their early 50s. Reputations made in wrestling were respected far more by promoters and fans, so in 1986, men like Ray Stevens and Dick the Bruiser were still active, both of whom passed away. While they passed away at a younger age than the average male, they still reached their 60th birthday, so it isn't as if they died unusually young.

It also should be noted that the list of wrestlers was based on a list from November 1986 of the top stars in wrestling at the time. For example, both Brian Pillman and Art Barr had already started their careers and were full-time pro wrestlers, but neither was on that specific list of wrestling stars, nor was Jerry Arotsky (Jerry Oski, Jerry Allen, Jerry O), who was a WWF undercard regular, or Rodney Anoia, who was just starting his career at the time, because neither was on that list of stars, thus for the process of being fair to the numbers of the top stars from each period, those names aren't figured in. Similarly, the January 1991 list, which does include Pillman, Anoia and Barr, who were both significant stars by that point, doesn't include Lou Mucciolo (Spicolli), even though he was a regular pro wrestler with much WWF TV experience, but he is included in the January 1998 list.

Breaking down the deaths of wrestlers from that original list, there were two auto accident deaths, 12 heart attack deaths--five of which didn't occur at a young age (50 as the cutoff) and seven of which did. At least two of the young heart attack deaths have been attributed to steroid use and two others were known heavy steroid users but the autopsy listed cocaine as a contributing cause to the heart attack death. There was one death of a man who wasn't that young (54) from complications from diabetes. Two were murdered, one from alleged involvement in gangland activities, the other in a pro wrestling dressing room stabbing. There were six overdoses, one of whom was 40, one 32 and the rest all in their 20s. There was one cancer death where the doctor attributed the cancer to steroids. There were two other cancer deaths not attributable to steroids. There was also the Owen Hart death that doesn't fit into any category except freak occurrence.

What is important about 1986 in another sense is that by that period, the usage of steroids in wrestling among the top talent was pretty well epidemic. There were both fears that it would lead to a preponderance of early deaths and defenses that they weren't nearly so dangerous. The data seems to suggest a reality somewhere in the middle. If you figure the vast majority of the names on the list used steroids at one point, although how many were using dangerous dosages as opposed to moderate dosages to maintain a somewhat impressive physique with the road demands, which during that period were far tougher than they are today, there are not a whole slew of young deaths directly attributable to steroids, but there are far more deaths at a young age among wrestlers from that era than of people of the same age group and in other sports, and there are health problems, probably in far greater proportion than the non-wrestling population of athletes or just people in general in that age group. The physiques are different today, and generally speaking, far more impressive than in 1986, and only some of which is due to better eating and an easier road schedule, along with a more potent array of drugs in use and more knowledge of how to use them, as chemistry of physiques has advanced greatly in 14 years.

The next look is at the year 1991, with again the average age of the wrestlers now being 31, which would make the group average 40 years of age today. Out of 165 men who would have been considered American and Canadian wrestling stars that year, 14 (8.5%) have passed away, 30 (18.2%) have permanent disabilities and another 30 (18.2%) have documented drug and alcohol problems.

The other 53.9% are what we'd call, fine physically, fine being the relative term for having the expected injuries one would have from participating in pro wrestling and if there are problems, they weren't severe enough to be documented either with arrests, rehab or job loss.

In comparison to 1986, being that this is five years later with a younger crew on average that has had five less years of life to have problems in, the comparison of the final number is telling. The great increase is permanent disabilities among the wrestlers showed the dangers had greatly increased from 1986 to 1991 even though, on average, younger men shouldn't get injured as frequently as older men. Also, by 1991, the business, more national in scope, had largely, but not completely, weeded out stars still headlining into their late 40s and their 50s, so people of the age of Bruiser or Ray Stevens, that passed away in their early 60s but were still active in the ring and considered stars at 50, are no longer figured into this mix.

The final comparison, taken in early 1998 taking the rosters of WWF, WCW, ECW and the major stars not affiliated with those companies, that out of 233 wrestlers, eight (3.4%) in the space of about 30 months have passed away--or one in 29. Another 22 are now permanently injured or disabled (9.4%) and 44 (18.9%) have documented serious drug or alcohol problems.

The latter number is scary because this is a group on average today still in their early to mid 30s, as star wrestlers are generally younger today than ever before because you can't live on your reputations, yet this younger group shouldn't have had enough time in life to have as many documented substance problems as the wrestlers from 1986 that have had 12 more years of life to have these problems.

The remaining 68.3% of the active wrestlers from about two-and-a-half years ago don't fit into those categories. That's 9.4 percent permanent disabilities among a group of athletes mainly in their 20s and 30s over a very short time frame, as compared with 19 percent among those in 1991 and only 14 percent in 1986 of men who are now older and have lived years longer, and in the case of the 1986 crew, on average, participated in the sport for years longer as well since wrestlers in that era had longer careers. Keep in mind the 1998 crew had less than three years to get these injuries which the 1991 crew had nine years and the 1986 crew had 14 years.

Taking out the 12 wrestles who were active in the 1991 survey but suffered their injuries after 1998, the number of disabling injuries has grown among active wrestlers from 18 between 1991-98 (2.6 per year out of 165 wrestlers) to 22 from early 1998-late 2000 (8.8 per year out of 233 wrestlers). These figures are more staggering because it includes an important factoring in point of the former group, the career ending Lloyd's of London insurance policies, heavily talked about in the profession as, at least in the case of some (certainly not all, maybe not even most), were scams that would have inflated the 1991-98 disability rate based on having the big insurance policy settlement that a staggering percentage of those who took them out managed to collect in some form on. Lloyd's stopped insuring pro wrestlers against career ending injuries several years ago because so many collected against the policy.

The death rate in comparing the wrestlers from 1991-97 has grown from 0.86 per year of the top stars out of a group of 165 (one of every 192 wrestlers per year) to 3.2 out of 233 (one of every 73 annually). Of the deaths, there were two heart attacks not directly related to drugs, three heart attacks related to drug overdoses, one suicide, one auto accident and the Owen Hart death. That 3.2 figure, as compared with NFL football players under 40 that played over the past 18 seasons, has grown from 11 times greater during the 1991-97 years to 31 times greater in the past two plus years. The 1986-present rate of 1.9 per year out of a group of 214 is skewed as compared to the current group because the original comparison group on average is about 16 years older today. Taking out those who died past the age of 45, although by doing that you also have to realize the group of 214 would be cut down greatly as a total group, the rate of the 1986 group is 1.2 per year.

I recently read a book called "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes," which was written several years ago by Joan Ryan, about both womens gymnastics and figure skating. There were a lot of points in the book that can be related to pro wrestling.

First off, the horror stories in elite gymnastics as exemplified in the book far outweigh those in pro wrestling. That is both because the demands to compete at the elite level are so much higher and also because the competitors are almost all children. The book would indicate the injury rate being higher (comparing another survey of sports injuries and comparing the recent injury rate among WWF, WCW and ECW wrestlers of the past month, which may not be fair comparisons, showed the wrestling injury rate in reality to be higher). But without question, the unhealthy lengths the gymnasts go to maintain their bodies with the drugs, the bulimia and the starvation are probably far more dangerous both short and long-term than the steroids that most of the pro wrestlers use. In gymnastics, there are fewer spots in the spotlight and far more competition for those few spots. There is little money at the end of the rainbow, and certainly available to far fewer than in pro wrestling. The sport also has a much shorter career span before your body turns on you, both in terms of breaking down, but also in maturing you right out of the elite level.

Gymnastics doesn't have the deaths that pro wrestling has. In the book, only two, in studying a several year period, were even cited. One was an elite gymnast who took a bad fall in competition and died of complications after breaking her neck. The other was a gymnast, who many years after retiring, died of anorexia. The gymnastics world attempted to say it had nothing to do with them because she had retired years earlier. In the book, it claimed that the eating disorder that killed her was directly attributable to what she did to compete at a high level in gymnastics, and could never get over it even after leaving gymnastics. It's basically the same, but the opposite, of Yokozuna.

The difference between gymnasts and wrestlers is that the gymnasts are very young, and spend so much time in the gym that it's almost impossible for them to get into trouble outside. They don't seem to have the drug problems that lead to overdoses. In other ways, life at the elite level is probably even more dangerous.

But since the book came out, and so much media pressure based on studying the sport came out, the sport has been forced to address its problems. The USAG has an advisory board now of sports science and health care professionals to guide coaches. It has a referral system so gymnasts have access to medical experts. It has seminars for gymnastics leaders to be alert for and addresses the potential problems in the sport. It has meetings with parents at national meets on subjects like nutrition and sports psychology. It has put out a manual covering problems like eating disorders, mental burnout, overtraining and injuries including osteopetrosis. No question there are still serious issues. Serious issues will always exist in any sport or entertainment form where there is a lot of competition for a very few money spots and people willing to take huge risks to get those spots.

But major changes have taken place in the past seven years. The elite gymnasts in the U.S., while still very small, aren't anywhere near as small as they were in 1992, when the media hit the sport hard on its problems. On the flip side, because of routines demanded at the international level because the bar has been raised with more emphasis in scoring on higher risk moves, in many ways similar to today's pro wrestling, it has gotten far more dangerous as far as what is done within competition.

Judge Douglas Long Jr. of Jackson County Circuit Court in Kansas City approved on 11/7 the $18 million settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit of Owen Hart.

The settlement will be broken down to $10 million for widow Martha Hart, $3 million each earmarked for Owen's children Oje and Athena, and $1 million each to parents Stu and Helen. Martha Hart then publicly separated herself from the family on various media interviews, saying she shares nothing with them except the last name, saying Owen was the white sheep in a black family and saying she would never let her children go to the family house. In other statements, she did praise brothers-in-law Bret and Keith along with Stu and Helen for being the only ones who sided with her during the tumultuous legal battle against the WWF.

The WWF agreed to the settlement to end Hart's part of the case, but will try and get back some of the money by legally going after two of the other defendants in the case, Lewmar, Inc., which objected to the settlement because it weakened the company's position in its defense where it believed it has no liability, and Amspec, Inc. Lewmar, Inc. manufactured the harness and shackle that released, causing Owen Hart to fall 78 feet to his death, but it wasn't manufactured for that usage. Amspec, Inc., actually sold the shackle, which was manufactured for sailboats, and not for human beings to be dropped from a ceiling, to the stunt riggers that the WWF had hired. The day before the settlement, Amspec, Inc. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Van Nuys, CA.

While the settlement ends the legalities of the case of Owen Hart's death, it hardly heals the wounds caused by it. Martha Hart's comments caused a stir within the Hart family, a family that will likely be divided for some time to come over the idea that some members sold out other members in this divisive case. Martha Hart said in a Calgary Sun article, "This is not a close-knit family and I'm not part of it anymore. We carry the same last name, but that's as far as it goes. They betrayed Owen by working against me and his children and I will never consider myself, or my children, a part of that family anymore. I will respect Owen's parents and I will stay in touch with a select few of them, but people need to know that Owen was a white sheep in a black family."

The comments, while valid certainly from her perspective in the case of some family members who clearly sided with the WWF and greatly weakened her case and indirectly forced the settlement when the February court date for the trial was canceled after Ellie Neidhart Hart faxed questionable family documents she had found at Stu's house to WWF attorney Jerry McDevitt, cut deep in a family already divided. Those close to the situation point that everyone in the family didn't work against Martha, who had allies in Bret and Keith, while Wayne, Allison and Georgia had tried to remain neutral, and from a public standpoint the only thing Bruce and Ross did was attempt to work with the WWF on promoting a major wrestling show this past May in Calgary which would have honored Owen and Stu, which ended up being canceled because it led to negative publicity in the local media because Stu said he wouldn't be at the show, Martha and Bret were publicly critical of the show because the WWF would honor Owen in Calgary against the wishes of his immediate family while the lawsuit was ongoing and the show was to take place approximately one year after the death. Bret Hart had not publicly commented on the settlement as of press time, but it is believed he will do so within the next week. He had been heavily critical of Davey Boy Smith, still technically a family member, and sister Diana Hart Smith, and more so sister Ellie Hart Neidhart, for their siding with the WWF. Neidhart turned out to be the key in the case, since her alerting the WWF to a questionable deal made by Kansas City attorney Gary Robb, trying to unite the family members who weren't in some form tied with the WWF or attempting to be tied with the WWF, together, caused an investigation of him, still ongoing, as well as caused the court date to be postponed indefinitely. While Robb remained with an involvement in the case, most of the negotiations were done by Calgary attorney Pam Fischer.

Martha Hart, who came across in the Calgary media as the ultimate babyface, fighting against not only the evil company but members of her family as well, said she would set aside $2 million to form an Owen Hart foundation to help less fortunate people, as a way to keep his name alive and feel his death wasn't in vain, even if she conceded, as it pertained to pro wrestling, it was.

"In my view, it's a corrupt business," she said. "It touches on every delicate issue in society. I never thought Owen's death would make a difference, and that's why I've chosen to do this foundation, because I wanted to make a difference in another way."

WWFE Inc. filed a lawsuit on 11/9 against L.Brent Bozell, the Media Research Center, Inc. (Parents Television Council), South Florida attorney James Lewis, PTC Executive Director Mark Honig and any members of the PTC advisory board who were parties to what the lawsuit claimed are unlawful conduct.

The lawsuit has startling similarities to a 1992 lawsuit filed by Titan Sports and Vince McMahon against Phil Mushnick, which was later dropped. The strategic purpose is likely identical, an attempt to quiet an adversary by putting them in the legal position to where they couldn't comment on WWF subject matter. In this case, unlike with Mushnick, whose influence was indirect, the PTC has done serious damage to the WWF in regard to sponsors walking away from the product. This past week there was a claim that one major toy chain (FAO Schwartz) was refusing to carry WWF merchandise aimed at children although others state they had already stopped carrying WWF merchandise before that time. The domino effect in this regard started last year and has continued even as the product itself has gotten far more tame.

It's hard to ascertain where this goes next, as it could potentially place Bozell in a martyr role, and help garner him publicity for his organization in its fund raising, or it could result in Bozell's supporters bailing on him to save themselves from the hassle of being involved in a suit, which will no doubt get nasty in a hurry.

The key to the lawsuit would be proving that Bozell and the other defendants knowingly had lied with a malicious purpose in their campaign to get sponsors to pull advertising from the WWF Smackdown program and had damaged the WWF product name and business in doing so. The lawsuit cites tortious interference in contracts, product disparagement and defamation, all based on statements that have been said or written about the WWF leading to sponsors pulling out. The key would be to prove a malicious purpose, which is a tricky one since the PTC does have a consistent, even if one chooses to believe it's a wrong-headed viewpoint, of being against all television shows with excessive violence and sexual content in early prime time hours when children could watch. The other key is that the defendants said statements they knew weren't true, which, if it can be proven that is the case, then the malicious purpose could possibly go hand-in-hand.

The 38-page lawsuit, filed by Kirkpatrick and Lockhart of Pittsburgh and attorney Jerry McDevitt, states in particular according to a WWF press release that Bozell concocted a false list of advertisers who have pulled their support from Smackdown to create the misleading impression that his tactics have been effective. Actually that statement right there is questionable as it was written, because if the tactics haven't been effective, there are no damages, and it weakens the WWF's lawsuit. The WWF, when sponsors began pulling out in December, had publicly claimed they were making more money from advertising in the pullout because new sponsors were gobbling up the spots pulled at premium prices, which would mean even if the PTC had lied and had malicious purpose at that time, and at the beginning it would be a lot more difficult to prove either, let alone both, based on those statements, the WWF would have a hard time collecting damages through their own claims by "not selling" early that they hadn't been damaged. However, in recent weeks, and in the lawsuit itself, the company has reversed that position, claimed it has been damaged, which, if that is the case, would say the tactics they claim they were misleading people into thinking were effective, actually were effective. The lawsuit also talks about the PTC threatening to denounce advertisers as not being family friendly if they didn't withdraw support from WWF programming. Actually, the PTC, for whatever reason (the reason being they only monitor network programming and not cable programming), only went after Smackdown, and not WWF programming, which is a differentiation in a lawsuit and story filled on both sides by splitting hairs and at times misleading, but not necessarily dishonest, statements. It also claimed they used the same pattern to threaten major retailers and to raise funds using the same malicious and false statements about WWFE.

The crux of the false statements are two-fold. There is the much talked about list with the much talked about statement on the PTC web site that it is a list of sponsors that have vowed not to sponsor Smackdown because of its content, and not necessarily (although at least a dozen fall into this category as well) sponsors that were former advertisers that pulled out. The PTC has not gotten 37 national (national being another of those key words because there are companies that have bought local ads on Smackdown on the PTC list which the WWF claims shouldn't be on the list) sponsors to pull out of WWF programming, but have gotten eight or nine of the 28 biggest sponsors the company listed in its IPO last year to pull out of Smackdown, which is a very significant hit. The second, and probably most important claim, is the claim that WWF programming in some form had something to do with four murders over the past two years or so. It in particular, goes after the much publicized South Florida case where juvenile Lionel Tate, who had a history of delinquency, is accused of murdering Tiffany Eunick. Where it is questionable, is there have been allusions in PTC publicity that Smackdown caused the problems, and most of the cases in question actually took place before late August of 1999, when Smackdown debuted.

The lawsuit goes after Bozell's salary and expenses paid from the fund-raising activities and that the Better Business Bureau of Metro Washington, DC cited him and the Media Research Center (parent company of PTC) with failure to comply with requirements regarding fund raising practices.

Much of the lawsuit background is laced with wording that is surprising to find in a lawsuit, largely attacking Bozell's right-wing political viewpoint and attempts to taint him because his father was allegedly associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 50s, and for his alleged hatred of homosexuals. It is somewhat ironic that a wrestling company would complain about gay baiting since it's been a classic part of heel characteristics designed to get a negative reaction from wrestling fans in pro wrestling for decades. It notes Bozell was once the campaign treasurer for Pat Buchanan (ironically enough, a recent WWF sponsor) in his 1992 presidential campaign. Bozell operates several non-profit organizations, one of which is the PTC. They claim Bozell's use of the name PTC is fraudulent because there is no such council, but simply a name given for a fund-raising activity (although the same could be said for many fund-raising groups). PTC was registered in California as a fictitious name organization owned by Media Research Center. Bozell talks about members, but the MRC doesn't have members, however the belief is the people they claim as members would be the people who send money. They claim the fundraising have been in knowing violation of the Better Business Bureau standards for charitable solicitation because it failed to breakdown expenses. The suit claims Bozell started in August to incorporate the PTC as a separate legal entity to separate its records from those of the MRC as a Delaware-based non-profit religious corporation largely to avoid scrutiny. It claims the matching dollars for contributions the PTC has pushed in promotional material and many major newspaper ads in recent weeks, would actually composed of matching dollars to the PTC from the MRC, from money already sent in as contributions.

The only thing written by Bozell in his defense was stating that "Based on the press release issued by the WWFE, I can say the allegations are completely without merit. I cannot imagine their pleading would contain the kind of scurrilous language in this press release (it does), which is so outrageous that it is now being examined by our attorneys in consideration of a counter-claim for libel."

Even if Bozell files, in the short run it could mean he's fallen deeper into a trap, because being entangled in legalities could quiet him up and costs his organization more money, and the WWF has the finances to where a prolonged legal battle works in their favor. A legal stalemate is a realistic win for the WWF in a game where moral right and wrong, whatever that really means, or even the end result, because it's doubtful it will ever get so far as to have a trial, may not matter nearly as much as strategy played.

The WWF suit claims in the summer of 1999, Bozell used the WWF to be an unwilling fundraising vehicle, according to the suit, "for Bozell, his extremist views, and his continuing fraud on the public." They said he began attempting to coerce sponsors and advertisers to not advertise with the intent of injuring the WWF and use that success to solicit more money.

Any group has the right to inform advertisers that they disagree with the product they advertise on. They can even pressure, using boycotts or bad publicity as a threat, so long as the information they use to inform advertisers and lead to the decisions they make isn't fraudulent, which is the key here. So the case depends on the veracity and knowing falsehood of the claims they've made.

The suit claims Bozell used "The Big Lie," (the term used as an offshoot because his father allegedly was involved with McCarthy, whose political tactics in later years were referred to as such) to tell advertisers that the WWF is guilty of blatantly marketing pornography to children. The veracity of that statement depends on one's definition of the word pornography, but there has been enough product content that one can certainly make a case, and even a strong one, in defense of that because there have been things on the show, particularly in 1999 during the Vince Russo era, that would certainly fit into at least a loose definition of pornography, and children made up a strong percentage of the viewership at that time, and, in fact, a stronger percentage at that point than now. The irony in the claim that the term pornography was a libelous term is the same lawsuit, in exclaiming the popularity of the WWF product, cited in specific that Chyna and Sable were on the cover of Playboy, a magazine routinely considered soft core porn. There is claim he said that WWF programming violates criminal laws, which if he did say it, would be far more questionable because that's a statement that appears to be without any foundation. That WWF programming caused the murders of four children is the crux of whatever actual meat there is in the lawsuit. Bozell also has claimed that Vince and Linda McMahon are worse than Larry Flynt, which is certainly a point one could make a very strong argument against because clearly if there is or was a degree of pornography in the WWF product, Flynt goes much farther than the McMahons ever dreamed of going in that direction. But a defense of that position could be made if one accepts the viewpoint that parts of the product have been pornographic, and that Flynt never directly marketed to a huge audience so young.

Probably the gist of the case, if the case is anything more than attempting to quiet down Bozell and stop what seems to be regular stories about sponsors pulling out, is the Lionel Tate alleged murder of Tiffany Eunick in South Florida, which gained widespread local publicity and some national publicity when Tate's public defender, James Lewis, attempted to use pro wrestling for a diminished capacity defense in the case. Lewis attempted to subpoena and call to the stand several of the biggest names in wrestling including Terry Bollea, Steve Borden and Dwayne Johnson, for what appeared to be a publicity stunt. That defense has already been thrown out and all of the wrestlers were excused from testifying. The claim is that Bozell and Lewis conspired to make this entire wrestling connection story up and make up that the murder in some form has something to do with the WWF. In reality, when Lewis first gained publicity, he claimed Tate was imitating behavior from a television commercial involving Sting, which would have to do with pro wrestling, but not the WWF. Bozell never jumped on the case until long after it had garnered significant local publicity and all the aforementioned cases made local and in most cases national publicity and were connected by the media to wrestling long before Bozell was likely ever aware of them. In specific, it mentioned Lewis appearing in a PTC fund raising video blaming pro wrestling for the murder and saying, "there is absolutely no other reason that anyone in this case can point to other than a child acting out fantasies he sees on television and not really understanding the ramifications of that type of physical contact."

Dr. Michael Brannon (who in another life wrestled as Dr. Red Roberts), who interviewed Tate for the trial, said that Tate was aware that pro wrestling was fake, which weakened Lewis' argument although a child understanding pro wrestling is fake doesn't necessarily rule out an inability to understand potential ramifications of a brutal beating based on viewing of pro wrestling. Lewis' using wrestling as a diminished capacity defense, even if wrestling did make Tate more aggressive or less understanding of the repercussions of physical violence, is pretty specious to begin with as a legal defense for murder. That's a different issue than a potential underlying trigger point. The lawsuit's claim is that since pro wrestling was thrown out as a diminished capacity in the Tate defense, that therefore it had nothing to do with the murder. Pro wrestling may very well have had nothing to do with it and it may have been just a creation of a defense where no good one existed. But that's also potentially the same misleading logic used in the mid-90s, after Vince McMahon was acquitted on conspiracy to distribute steroid charges, that his acquittal meant the WWF never had a steroid problem or even that use never existed to a great degree, when in fact, all the testimony in the trial said exactly the opposite, just that McMahon himself committed no crime as it pertained to the distribution of the drugs. The claim is that Tate's own experts in the case concluded blaming pro wrestling was based on lies by Tate and that Lewis and Bozell have continued to use this murder in various interviews and literature for publicity, fund-raising, and in meetings with sponsors. In letters to the CEO's of Toys R Us, FAO Schwartz and K-B Toys, Bozell wrote that Tate killed Eunick by performing several wrestling moves on her, with this lawsuit attempting to imply he didn't use wrestling moves. The problem is that any maneuver that someone would beat someone to death with, has at one time been used in pro wrestling, so it's virtually impossible, even though the lawsuit claims it as being a false statement, to claim anything involving physical beating isn't a pro wrestling move, even if it wasn't a move learned necessarily from pro wrestling. It cites in the PTC Insider, there is a claim that WWF wrestling caused four children's murders, and claims the defendants know that claim is false.

It noted that the PTC has purchased stock in some WWF advertisers, then have appeared at stockholders meetings, given presentations about the product including the claim of four murders inspired by wrestling, and asked the companies to pull advertising. The suit noted Honig's appearance at the ConAgra (Chef Boyardee, etc.) stockholders meeting talking about four deaths caused by children emulating wrestling moves learned by watching shows like Smackdown, claiming police reports, autopsy reports and attorneys for defendants point the finger of blame at the wrestling industry that purposely targets children as an audience. It noted the late Steve Allen made a similar statement at the recent MCIworld.com stockholders convention.

The PTC on its web site at one point referred to the cases as "recent WWF tragedies." Certainly Lewis' first public claim in the case, involving Steve Borden, would have had a pro wrestling tie-in, but not a WWF tie-in. Where Bozell may have stepped over the line is in his promotional video talking about the four murders stating the perpetrators were copying what they watched on television, with the key line, "the finger is pointing directly to Smackdown and they (WWF) still don't care." As mentioned, many of these cases took place before Smackdown existed. However, does that mean a jury will differentiate Smackdown, from the more broad pro wrestling industry as a whole, and for that matter, should it? The lawsuit also claims none of the other three deaths have anything to do with pro wrestling or the WWF because, among other things, no legal charges were ever brought or investigated against the WWF for the other three murders. Again, that's not necessarily an all encompassing argument, as the Owen Hart case would show, as their were no legal charges ever brought against the WWF in the case, yet they paid a high settlement figure in a wrongful death civil case, which would indicate a form of a responsibility. There has been publicity claiming the parents of Eunick were considering filing a lawsuit against the WWF, although in that case I can't imagine what valid grounds they could have for it.

They blamed the Washington murder case (which aired on the "Wrestling with Death" special on Court TV which I thought was a very weak connection with wrestling) on a babysitter (the connection being he was an almost obsessive wrestling fan and used wrestling moves on the child in the murder) beating up a child because he was tired of hearing him crying. The death of the child in Georgia in the case where the kids were supposedly watching a video of a WWF PPV show while the man in charge of taking care of them left them all alone, and a baby was beaten to death, was credited to a child saying he was trying to knock cockroaches off the baby. The Dallas case, where a seven-year-old gave his three-year-old sibling a clothesline, which he told police was something he learned from watching Stone Cold and Undertaker, was called an accidental death when the younger child hit her head on a hard surface.

The claim is that Bozell and the PTC have, in fundraising letters, claimed to have convinced nearly 40 major advertisers to drop their support of Smackdown, which if the letters read as is implied, would be false because the figure is significantly lower and the term "drop their support" does in this case indicate they must have at one point supported it. It is dishonest as well as misleading to list 40 companies, but the fact that there are many companies on the list that are legitimate, so the gist of the point is correct, but it is an exaggerated and thus due to the exaggeration, a dishonest point. Whether a valid point, but exaggerated to being dishonest, constitutes libel, as opposed to an exaggeration, is a tough one to call, because the legal terminology constituting libel is reckless disregard of the truth. Of course, and this is no defense of anything, only an irony, that figure claimed is no less accurate than 14 million voters watching WWF programming every week or the ridiculous claim of a half billion viewers watching world wide that they used to claim, or any of the routine exaggerations that are part and parcel of every business, let alone the infinite exaggerations and outright lies within the pro wrestling business. Before becoming a public company (and even after, with them adding viewers of every single show up and presenting them in a misleading fashion as all different viewers), the WWF routinely exaggerated its numbers to give misleading impressions about its popularity.

The suit claims Bozell threatened Congressional hearings into the advertising practices of the Army unless they dropped advertising on Smackdown.

The suit was also critical of the PTC making money off merchants including Toys R Us on their marketplace, where visitors could purchase WWF items as well as they could link to another website that sold lewd greeting cards. While true, this would have to be considered a cheap shot, since the PTC dropped Toys R Us immediately when word came out one could potentially purchase WWF toys through their own web site. It noted that besides the aforementioned FAO Schwartz, they are also attempting to pressure Toys R Us and K-B Toys to drop carriage of WWF merchandise aimed at children.

Not much in the way of news as it related to the ratings on 11/13. Raw drew a 5.00 rating (4.66 first hour; 5.29 second hour) and a 7.4 share. Nitro drew a 2.55 rating (2.90 first hour; 2.20 second hour) and a 3.6 share. The total wrestling audience was 8.1 million, which is on the low side, but ahead of most of the recent weeks totals. The Monday Night Football game with Oakland vs. Denver drew a 12.33 rating and 21 share.

Raw drew a disappointing 5.30 rating for the over-run for Radicals vs. Austin & Rock & Chyna & Gunn. It actually peaked at 5.53 for Edge & Christian & Angle vs. Hollys & Undertaker. An interview with Austin along with Hardys & Lita vs. Goodfather & Buchanan & Ivory was also up there at 5.51.

In head-to-head quarters, Raw opened at 4.06 (Angle vs. Crash) to 2.51 (Kronik vs. Booker & Luger; beginning of Nash vs. Thrillers) which would be the closest gap in a long time and highly inexplicable as to why other than people are conditioned to Raw opening with a 25 minute promo and know they don't have to tune into the first segment, but still, one would think the idea that Rock, Austin or Foley would be doing an interview would be more exciting than Kronik. Other quarters saw Raw at 4.68 (Jericho & Blackman vs. Test & Kane; beginning or Radicals interview) to 2.20 (end of Nash vs. Thrillers, Cat vs. Skipper); Raw at 5.11 (ending of Radicals interview with Foley out) to 1.96 (Goldberg vs. Wright & Disqo, beginning of Storm vs. Rection); and Raw at 4.79 (Rock and Jericho interviews) to 2.13 (ending of Storm vs. Rection, Kronik vs. Sting & Steiner).

Smackdown on 11/9 drew a 4.87 (5.60 realistic number) rating and 7 share. It placed fourth among the six networks in its time slot, beating FOX and WB. It also beat ABC and CBS for second place behind NBC among adults 18-34 besides being No. 1 among those 18-and-under. Conversely, the older the audience, the poorer the show does, which should come as no surprise. In markets Smackdown does better than a 9.0 in, are New York (9.1--where Smackdown on Thursday had more viewers than Monday Night Football four nights later), Chicago (9.3), Dallas (9.2), Houston (11.5--beating even NBC except against the 30 minutes of Friends), Raleigh (9.2) and Memphis (12.6--winning the night). Weak markets are Boston (3.5), San Diego (2.2) and Cincinnati (0.8). In San Francisco, had Smackdown been considered a sporting event, it would have been the sixth highest rated one of the week, trailing three NFL games, one college football game and the golf on Sunday.

Thunder on 11/8 drew a 2.02 rating and 3.0 share.

Weekend numbers for 11/11-12 saw Live Wire at 1.2, Superstars at 1.1 and Heat was up to 2.57, which isn't much lower than it was averaging on USA.

The final number for the 11/6 Raw show ended up at 5.15 (actually 5.149 which rounds down to 5.1) with a 7.6 share. The Austin vs. Rikishi & Angle main event with the revelation of HHH as the brains behind the attack drew a 5.72.

The 11/7 three-hour AAA/EMLL block on Galavision did a 2.3 Hispanic rating.

Some demographic notes on the shows as far as percentage of kids and teens watching vs. adults. Superstars is 20% kids and teens and 80% adults. Keep in mind this is the show aimed at kids. Heat is 36% kids and teens, actually more kids than teens. Raw is 29% kids and teens, with the both audiences way down while adults are staying steady so that's where the lost of viewers are, and, what a shock, at the same time the show is toned down to be more kid-friendly. Nitro is 18% kids and teens.

In the head-to-head hour, here are the breakdown of the Raw vs. Nitro audience by percentage of total wrestling viewers in those age groups. 11-and-under: Raw 88-12 (2.14 rating to 0.62); 12-17: Raw 80-20 (6.05 rating to 1.47); Women 18-24: Raw 83-17; Women 25-54: Raw 62-38; Women 55+: Nitro 56-44; Men 18-24: Raw 77-23; Men 25-54: Raw 66-34; Men 55+: Nitro 57-43. Raw drew a 2.68 people meter rating to 1.25 for Nitro during the 9-10 p.m. hour, which is the percentage of the people in the country who viewed the specific shows, not a percentage of TV homes, which is what the rating is, or the percentage of people watching television at that moment tuned to the shows, which is what the people meter share (5.8 for Raw and 2.7 for Nitro in the head-to-head hour). Head-to-head, Raw drew a 1.56 among adult women, skewing much higher as the ages grew younger, and 3.32 among men, with the same thing, with Males 12-30 by far the strongest audience by percentage. Nitro head-to-head did an 0.91 among women, with its most popularity among those 55+. Nitro did a 1.84 among men, doing well among 18-24 but about the same in every age group from 25 and up. Nitro's strongest age groups are Men 18-24 followed by 55+.


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

What did you think of Monday night's (11/6) wrestling? a) Raw was better 61.3%; b) Nitro was better 6.8%; c) Didn't watch Raw 3.1%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 17.8%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 11.0%

In such a close election, do you think the WWF Smackdown your vote campaign? a) Made a difference in the election 30.6%; b) Made no difference in the election 69.4%

Regarding the continuation of the 1999 Over the Edge PPV show after Owen Hart's death, do you think? a) The show should have continued as it did 20.9%; b) The show should have been stopped when he fell and refunds offered on PPV 30.9%; c) The show should have been canceled one hour later after the announcement of the death 31.2%; d) The show should have been stopped immediately, but continued the following Tuesday like Beware of Dog was 17.0%

Which of these do you think would be the best thing for WCW? a) TBS keeping the company and leaving Vince Russo in charge of creative 3%; b) TBS keeping the company and bringing in an entirely new creative team 25%; c) TBS keeping the company and putting Johnny Ace in charge of creative 44%; d) TBS selling the company to Eric Bischoff 11%; e) Folding the company 17%

Want to make a quick note regarding the web site and the eyada show. Eyada has moved into a new studio in New York and with the move there have been some bugs. There is a new number to call during show hours, which is 1-877-392-3299. There should be a message when you call that number to direct you to me, but if the message is faulty, during show hours, it's option two.

It's no secret the web site has been a mess, pretty well from the start, largely due to the inability to get things posted in a timely fashion as it could be ten minutes or it could be literally days, or never in more cases than you can imagine, when articles sent up for the site would actually get up. We switched carriers, and the switch-over ran far less smoothly than we would have liked, resulting in many people being unable to get the site for much of last week, which should be all taken care for everyone by now. Problems with the e-mail addresses, which were down for several days last week, have also now been alleviated. Problems with the site being updated may or may not be taken care of to a degree by the time you read this but ultimately won't be completely for a few more weeks. The old e-mail address (dave@wrestlingobserver.com) is now working after not being operational during the switch-over. The site is back up although at this point I'm hesitant to know by the time you read this whether that is good or bad. I want to apologize to everyone who has sent info and reports that normally we would put up. There is no rhyme or reason to what got up and what didn't, only that when we give the word on the site that we're in control, at that point, everything as far as content should be up in a far more timely fashion. The site is not designed to do anything more than give the latest news headlines and reports from arena shows as well as interviews with the major names and TV reports. Regarding people who would rather get the Observer online as opposed to the printed form, the plan is to do that again, but it has to be done right or it won't be done.

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11/8 Yamagata (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,400): Naomichi Marufuji b Kenta Kobayashi, Daisuke Ikeda b Masao Inoue, Makoto Hashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Haruka Eigen b Takeshi Rikioh & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Takao Omori b Takeshi Morishima, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kenta Kobashi b Yoshihiro Takayama & Satoru Asako, Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa b Kentaro Shiga & Jun Akiyama, Jun Izumida & Honda & Akira Taue b Vader & Too Cold Scorpio & Richard Slinger

11/9 Chiba (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,400): Kentaro Shiga b Naomichi Marufuji, Jun Izumida & Akira Taue b Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda, Jun Akiyama b Takeshi Rikioh, Yoshinari Ogawa & Mitsuharu Misawa b Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kenta Kobashi, Vader & Too Cold Scorpio & Richard Slinger b Satoru Asako & Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori

11/10 London, England (WCW Nitro tapings - 9,138): Buff Bagwell b Drew McDonald, Norman Smiley b Kwee Wee, Hardcore title: Crowbar b Big Vito, Scott Steiner & Sting b Mike Awesome & Bam Bigelow, Cat b Elix Skipper, Kronik b Booker T & Lex Luger, Kevin Nash won four-corners match via DQ over Chuck Palumbo, Shawn Stasiak and Sean O'Haire, Bill Goldberg b Alex Wright & Disqo, U.S. title: Lance Storm b General Rection to win title, Steiner & Sting b Kronik

11/10 Schenectady, NY (ECW - 1,000): Balls Mahoney b Mike Bell, Nova b Bilvis Wesley, Angel & Tony DeVito b Christian York & Joey Matthews, New Jack b Blue Boy, Kid Kash b Simon Diamond, Tag titles: FBI b Super Crazy & Yoshihiro Tajiri, Danny Doring & Roadkill & Sandman b Julio Dinero & E.Z. Money & Chris Hamrick, ECW title: Steve Corino b C.W. Anderson, Scott Hall & Jerry Lynn b Justin Credible & Rhino

11/10 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL): Cicloncito Ramirez & Ultimo Dragoncito b Fierito & Pierrothtito, Rencor Latino & Arkangel & Dr. O'Borman Jr. b Mascara Magica & Tigre Blanco & Starman, Olimpico & Safari & Felino b Violencia & Gran Markus Jr. & Veneno-DQ, Cien Caras & Universo 2000 & Black Warrior b Mr. Niebla & Perro Aguayo & Atlantis-DQ, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Shocker & Bestia Salvaje b El Hijo del Santo & Tarzan Boy & Emilio Charles Jr.

11/11 Cincinnati (WWF - 7,262): Edge & Christian b Too Cool, Val Venis b Al Snow, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Raven, European title: William Regal b Bob Holly, Hardys & Lita b Bull Buchanan & Goodfather & Ivory, WWF title: Kurt Angle b Chris Jericho, Crash Holly b Brooklyn Brawler, Tables match: Dudleys b Test & Albert, IC title: Billy Gunn b Eddy Guerrero-DQ, Steve Austin & Undertaker b Angle & Kane

11/11 Newcastle, England (WCW - 5,709): Norman Smiley b Kwee Wee, General Rection & Cpl. Cajun & Lt. Loco b Jim Duggan & Lance Storm & Elix Skipper, Cat b Mike Sanders, Four-way for hardcore title: Crowbar over Meng, Big Vito and Sgt. Awall, Three-way for tag titles: Mark Jindrak & Sean O'Haire won over Alex Wright & Disqo and Rey Misterio Jr. & Billy Kidman, Mike Awesome b Bam Bigelow, Kevin Nash & Sting & Buff Bagwell b Chuck Palumbo & Shawn Stasiak & Reno, Bill Goldberg b Lex Luger, WCW title: Booker T b Scott Steiner

11/11 Poughkeepsie, NY (ECW TV tapings - 2,500/some paper): Sal E. Graziano b Scott Hall, Michael Shane b Mike Bell, Julio Dinero & E.Z. Money & Chris Hamrick b Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri & Super Crazy, Tajiri b Crazy, Danny Doring & Roadkill b Bilvis Wesley & Prodigy, Nova b Little Guido, ECW title: Steve Corino NC Jerry Lynn, ECW title: Corino b Sandman, Falls count anywhere Joey Matthews & Christian York & Tommy Dreamer b C.W. Anderson & Simon Diamond & Swinger, TV title: Rhino b Kid Kash, Chilly Willy b Tony DeVito, Hall b Justin Credible

11/11 Kyoto (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 1,400): Masashi Aoyagi b Takeshi Morishima, Satoru Asako & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura b Makoto Hashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Haruka Eigen, Richard Slinger & Too Cold Scorpio b Naomichi Marufuji & Daisuke Ikeda, Vader b Takeshi Rikioh, Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa b Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Kentaro Shiga & Jun Akiyama, Akira Taue & Jun Izumida b Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

11/12 Manchester, England (WCW Thunder tapings - 7,001): Sgt. Awall b Ian Peterson, Norman Smiley b Danny Collins, Reno b Big Vito, Hardcore title: Crowbar b Bam Bigelow, Elix Skipper won six-man elimination over Rey Misterio Jr., Billy Kidman, Lt. Loco, Kwee Wee and Cpl. Cajun, WCW title: Booker T b Lance Storm, Kevin Nash b Mike Sanders, Alex Wright & Disqo b Konnan & Cat, Bill Goldberg b Buff Bagwell, Sting b Scott Steiner

11/12 Dayton, OH (WWF - 5,232): Scotty 2 Hotty b Christian, Gangrel b Mideon, Val Venis b Al Snow, European title: William Regal b Bob Holly, Edge b Grandmaster Sexay, Tag titles: Goodfather & Bull Buchanan b Dudleys, Steve Austin & Undertaker b Kurt Angle & Kane

11/12 Huntington, WV (WWF - 4,159): Rodney & Pete Gas b Dupps, Raven b Sho Funaki, Womens title: Ivory b Lita, Perry Saturn b Essa Rios, Brooklyn Brawler b Joey Abs, Lt hwt title: Dean Malenko b Crash Holly, Hardys b Test & Albert, IC title: Billy Gunn b Eddy Guerrero-DQ, Chris Jericho b Chris Benoit

11/12 Yokohama Bunka Gym (FMW PPV - 2,500): Ricky Fuji b Chocoball Mukai, Flying Kid Ichihara b Shinjuku Shark, WEW trios title: Gedo & Jado & Kaori Nakayama b Pat Tanaka & Brad Elliot & Blade, Kyoko Inoue b Naohiko Yamazaki, Hisakatsu Oya & Naito b Azusa Kudo & Emi Motokawa, WEW hardcore tag titles: Hideki Hosaka & Mammoth Sasaki b Homeless Jimmy & Supreme to win titles, Onryo b Goemon, Tetsuhiro Kuroda b Mr. Gannosuke, WEW hardcore title: Kintaro Kanemura b Masato Tanaka, WEW title: Kodo Fuyuki b Hayabusa

11/12 Toyota (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,100): Tsuyoshi Kikuchi b Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Too Cold Scorpio b Naomichi Marufuji, Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda & Haruka Eigen b Makoto Hashi & Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota, Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi b Kenta Kobayashi & Kentaro Shiga, Takeshi Morishima & Jun Akiyama b Vader & Richard Slinger, Takeshi Rikioh & Kenta Kobashi b Jun Izumida & Akira Taue, Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Daisuke Ikeda b Satoru Asako & Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori

11/12 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan women - 1,400): Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita b Carol Midori & Sayuri Okino, Kaoru Ito & Miho Wakizawa b Nanae Takahashi & Momoe Nakanishi, Manami Toyota & Miyuki Fujii b Yumiko Hotta & Nishio, Hotta b Toyota & Fujii, Kumiko Maekawa b Tomoko Watanabe

11/12 Brisbane, Australia (RINGS): Glen Barnett b Hayden Pollard, Daryl Naumann b Warwick Dawes, Masashi Sugano b Joe Perry, Sam Nest b Sean Kelly, Shaun Price b Chad Jappe, Tsuyoshi Morikage b Steven Gillinder, Kelly Jacobs b Nick Tolewski, Ryuki Ueyama b Tim Thomas, Matt Hughes b Maynard Marcum, Chris Haseman b Joe Slick

11/13 Columbus, OH (WWF Raw is War - 13,284 sellout): Al Snow b Albert, Too Cool b Sho Funaki & Just Joe, WWF title: Kurt Angle b Crash Holly, Chris Jericho & Steve Blackman b Test & Kane, Dudleys b Tazz & Raven, Undertaker & Bob & Crash Holly b Angle & Edge & Christian, Hardys & Lita b Goodfather & Bull Buchanan & Ivory-DQ, European title: William Regal b Road Dogg-DQ, Steve Austin & Rock & Billy Gunn & Chyna b Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn & Eddy Guerrero

11/13 Birmingham, England (WCW - 6,500): Cat b Mike Sanders, Mike Awesome & Norman Smiley b Disqo & Alex Wright, Elix Skipper b Kwee Wee, Tag titles: Mark Jindrak & Sean O'Haire b Rey Misterio Jr. & Billy Kidman, U.S. title: General Rection b Lance Storm-DQ, Kevin Nash & Sting b Kronik, Bill Goldberg b Bam Bam Bigelow, WCW title: Booker T b Scott Steiner

11/13 Numazu (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 1,700): Too Cold Scorpio b Kentaro Shiga, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tamon Honda & Haruka Eigen b Naomichi Marufuji & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi b Satoru Asako, Takeshi Rikioh & Kenta Kobashi b Takeshi Morishima & Jun Akiyama, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Richard Slinger & Vader, Daisuke Ikeda & Yoshinari Ogawa & Mitsuharu Misawa b Masao Inoue & Akira Taue & Jun Izumida

11/14 Indianapolis (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings): Edge & Christian b Sho Funaki & Essa Rios, Billy Gunn b Al Snow, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Big Bossman, Bob & Crash Holly b Test & Albert, Too Cool b Raven & Tazz, Steve Austin b Eddy Guerrero, Dudleys & Hardys b Val Venis & Steven Richards & Bull Buchanan & Goodfather, Kurt Angle & Kane b Chris Jericho & Undertaker, Road Dogg & K.Kwick b Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko, Rock b Chris Benoit-DQ

11/14 Tampa, FL (NWA Florida - 500): Mitsunobu Kikuzawa b Naoki Sano, Chris Nelson & Big Vito b Hector Guerrero & Nick Nitros, Cyborg b Amazon Freddie, Lex Lovett b Pepe Prado, Adam Windor b Brent Dail, Cage match: Brian Blair b Steve Keirn, NWA title: Sabu b Mike Rapada to win title


Special thanks to: Joe Silva, Alan Smolek, Bobby Baum, Tadashi Tanaka, Antony Evans, Mike Mooneyham, Dan Parris, Adam Bonin, Roy Abraham, Alan Brecknell, David Romero, Leeanne Comrie, Dave Republic, Jeff Amdur, Dominick Valenti, Stewart Dougall, Jonathan Browning, Ian Preston, Michael Harle, Adam Young, Bryan Alvarez, Alex Marvez, Jeff Marek, Irwin Markowitz, Jeff Amdur, Craig Allen, Robert Bihari, Jose Fernandez, Mike Taylor, Matt Duffield, Trent Van Drisse, Jesse Doyle, Bradshaw Davis, Lou Pickney, Gene Restaino, Mike Omansky, Dafydd Denatale, Tim Noel, Paul Bradbrook, Herb Meltzer, Joe Seanoa, Megumi Nakata, Mary Ann Mirabal, Gianluigi Ross




Estimated average attendance 10/99 11,862

Estimated average attendance 10/00 10,947 (-7.7%)

September 2000 11,053


Estimated average gate 10/99 $321,215

Estimated average gate 10/00 $343,855 (+7.0%)

September 2000 $337,385


Percentage of house shows sold out 10/99 47.1

Percentage of house shows sold out 10/00 40.0

September 2000 52.9


Average Monday night rating 10/99 5.75

Average Monday night rating 10/00 5.22* (-9.2%)

September 2000 5.32*


Major show 10/99: No Mercy (18,752 sellout/17,430 paid/$478,165/est. 0.84 buy rate/est. $4.02 million)


Major show 10/00: No Mercy (14,342 sellout/13,572 paid/$693,225/est. 1.31 buy rate/est. $6.76 million)


Est. buy rate +56.0%; Est. overall event revenue +65.6%


*Because of time slot change of Nitro, direct comparisons are misleading. A more realistic comparison would be -16.5%



Estimated average attendance 10/99 4,628

Estimated average attendance 10/00 1,746* (-68.1%)

September 2000 2,101


Estimated average gate 10/99 $112,761

Estimated average gate 10/00 $53,610* (-52.5%)

September 2000 $58,870


Percentage of house shows sold out 10/99 8.3

Percentage of house shows sold out 10/00 0.0*

September 2000 0.0


Average Monday night rating 10/99 3.08

Average Monday night rating 10/00 2.44** (-20.8%)

September 2000 3.11**


Major show 10/99: Halloween Havoc (8,464 paid/$312,730/est. 0.52 buy rate/est. $2.49 million)


Major show 10/00: Halloween Havoc (7,552/5,777 paid/$212,688/est. 0.15 buy rate/est. $773,000)


Est. buy rate -71.2%; Est. overall event revenue -64.8%


*Overseas shows not included in average


**Because of switch to two hour format, direct comparisons are misleading. A more realistic comparison would be -27.9%



Estimated average attendance 10/99 2,006

Estimated average attendance 10/00 2,182 (+8.8%)

September 2000 ----


Estimated average gate 10/99 $77,480

Estimated average gate 10/00 $83,818 (+8.2%)

September 2000 ----


Percentage of house shows sold out 10/99 18.8

Percentage of house shows sold out 10/00 27.3

September 2000 ----


Major show 10/99: Budokan Hall (16,300 sellout)

Major show 10/00: Budokan Hall (16,300 sellout)



Estimated average attendance 10/99 3,233

Estimated average attendance 10/00 2,858 (-11.6%)

September 2000 3,795


Estimated average gate 10/99 $138,200

Estimated average gate 10/00 $132,167 (-4.4%)

September 2000 $175,752


Percentage of house shows sold out 10/99 25.0

Percentage of house shows sold out 10/00 8.3

September 2000 75.0


Average television rating 10/99 3.23

Average television rating 10/00 4.43 (+37.2%)

September 2000 3.13


Major show (Tokyo Dome: 64,000/est. $5.8 million)



Estimated average attendance 10/99 1,114

Estimated average attendance 10/00 842 (-24.4%)

September 2000 2,070


Percentage of house shows sold out 10/99 7.1

Percentage of house shows sold out 10/00 0.0

September 2000 0.0



Estimated average attendance 10/00 2,592

September 2000 1,700


Estimated average gate 10/00 $106,846

September 2000 $78,200


Percentage of house shows sold out 10/00 53.8

September 2000 100.0


MEXICO: Alan Stone & Moto Cross, the younger brothers of Super Calo, captured the first Arena Coliseo tag team championship beating Fugaz & Virus in the finals on 11/7

Super Crazy should be appearing on Galavision on 11/21 in a match where he lost his title to Oriental which was said to be very good

The 11/10 Arena Mexico show had a very strange main event as both Tarzan Boy (as expected) and Emilio Charles Jr. (unexpected) turned on Santo in the trios match against Dr. Wagner Jr. & Shocker & Bestia Salvaje. After both turned on Santo, Charles and Tarzan Boy argued with each other as well. The other match, which continues the build for the 12/15 PPV show main event (match itself isn't decided, as you can see they are building both possibilities of Perro Aguayo vs. Cien Caras hair vs. hair or Aguayo vs. Universo 2000 hair vs. mask) saw Caras & Universo & Black Warrior win two straight over Aguayo & Atlantis & Mr. Niebla. Caras pinned Aguayo with a low blow in the first fall. Second fall saw Aguayo DQ'd for unmasking Universo

Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon promotion is running shows regularly in Tlanepantla

Newcomer to Arena Mexico, Veneno, working the mid-cards, is the brother-in-law of Negro Casas and a promoter in Panama who is said to also be a real bad wrestler

A correction on the lineage of the old UWA middleweight title. Jeff Hardy, as Willow the Whisp under a mask, won the vacant title in Japan in 1998 in an elimination match over Ikuto Hidaka (the guy who worked ECW earlier this year). Hardy dropped the title to Pablo Marquez in Puerto Rico, who then dropped it to Super Crazy, who dropped it to Oriental. We had it listed last week as Hardy losing to Crazy and the belt as being the old UWA welterweight title. Actually the belt talked about in last week's story could have been the welterweight title, because Crazy won it in 1998 as well.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: With Jun Akiyama having already broken from the No Fear heel group, they met for the first time since the break-up on 11/11 in Kyoto with Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori beating Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga. Apparently there was a lot of heat when Akiyama faced both men, but Shiga ended up being pinned after a high german suplex by Takayama

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Vader and Kenta Kobashi vs. Akiyama will be the two main events at this point on the 12/23 Ariake Coliseum show.

NEW JAPAN: On the last tour they did a deal where G-Eggs and Team 2000 had a series of matches and the winning side would be able to make the 12/10 Nagoya house show line-up. Team 2000, which announced this week that even though 2001 is coming, they are going to keep the name Team 2000, won the majority of matches. They announced the main event would be a tag match title match involving Team 2000 members against each other with the winning team splitting $50,000 put up as a promotional sponsorship of the show by Circle K stores, with Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defending the IWGP tag belts against two other members of Team 2000. Also announced was Minoru Tanaka defending the IWGP jr. title against a Team 2000 member, which was very curious since all the members of the team are heavyweights. Masahiro Chono also announced that a Team 2000 member would get a shot at Kensuke Sasaki and the IWGP heavyweight title on the card, which is considered funny since Sasaki vacated the title last month after losing to Toshiaki Kawada in the non-title match to set up the Tokyo Dome tournament on 1/4. Other matches announced were Osamu Nishimura vs. Tadao Yasuda (returning after disappearing due to gambling debts, likely brought back on 11/17 to show publicly he's staying with the company since he's a protege of Hashimoto), Jushin Liger & El Samurai vs. Shinya Makabe & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Koji Kanemoto vs. Kendo Ka Shin, Katsuyoshi Shibata vs. Wataru Inoue, and in the opener, Chono is putting the members of G-Eggs as "punishment," with Yutaka Yoshie & Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Kenzo Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Junji Hirata

First Tokyo show of the tour is 11/19 at Differ Ariake with Kanemoto vs. Makabe, Tanaka & Takaiwa vs. Ka Shin & Kid Romeo, Tatsutoshi Goto & Frye vs. Yasuda & Osamu Kido, Sasaki & Koshinaka vs. Team 2000 Machines (believed to be Michiyoshi Ohara & Jeff Farmer aka Super J under masks), Super Strong Machine (Junji Hirata under a mask) & Liger vs. Chono & Scott Norton and Iizuka & Nagata vs. Nakanishi & Yoshie, final bouts are part of the tag team tournament

Chono also announced Team 2000 had set their sites on Shiro Koshinaka, since he helped All Japan against Team 2000 in a couple of matches last month before that angle was dropped

Don Frye, who was scheduled for the tour that starts on 11/17, was announced this week as being ill and may miss some dates early in the tour but would be coming in

Former WCW wrestler Romeo, who had some good matches earlier this year as part of the Super Junior tournament, and was then fired by WCW (largely for an attitude problem), returns on this tour in the junior heavyweight division

11/4 TV did a 2.1 rating for a show that started at 2:35 a.m.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Antonio Inoki is planning on doing a UFO show in January with the idea of getting a former World heavyweight boxing champion from the United States to job to Naoya Ogawa in the main event, as Inoki is attempting to promote Ogawa similar to how Inoki became a legend in the late 70s. Ogawa suffered a torn tendon in his middle finger in his 10/31 match with Masaaki Satake and won't be able to train for four weeks, so he's probably out of the New Years Eve Osaka Dome show where no doubt his presence was needed

FMW ran its 11/12 PPV from Yokohama Bunka Gym before about 2,500 fans (announced as 5,400) which is a weak crowd for a major show. The card was headlined by Kodo Fuyuki vs. Hayabusa for their world title. Hayabusa was clearly bothered by problems with his elbows and hands and it wasn't a good match although Hayabusa did his trademark phoenix splash, falcon arrow and firebird splashes before being pinned after a clothesline in 23:01. Fuyuki then did a babyface promo regarding what a great fighter Hayabusa is and welcomed him to return next May after the operations on both elbows. The operations are scheduled for 11/22. When Hayabusa was shaking hands after the match with fans, Tetsuhiro Kuroda went heel and DDT'd him. Kintaro Kanemura kept the WEW hardcore title pinning Masato Tanaka in a so-so match. Kanemura had Big Japan's Ryuji Yamakawa in his corner as a manger. Tanaka's head was all taped up as he got 20 stitches from an earlier fluorescent light tubing attack. Kanemura splashed Tanaka through a table leaping from the balcony (it isn't unusually high, I remember jumping off it years ago and it wasn't what you'd call a high risk jump). Kanemura also used a flaming barbed wire bat. Kuroda pinned Mr. Gannosuke in a match where if Gannosuke lost, he'd have to retire, which I'm figuring nobody by this time believes. Kuroda used the pedigree to win. Hideki Hosaka & Mammoth Sasaki won the WEW hardcore tag titles from XPW's Homeless Jimmy & Supreme in a bad match which saw them brawl outside the arena, crashing the ring announcers' car as the highlight. Kristi Myst worked the show, taking off her jacket right before the finish. Gedo & Jado and women wrestler Kaori Nakayama kept the six-man titles over Pat Tanaka & Brad Elliot & Blade in a match where the Americans were big guys but real green. They also had a match where Flying Kid Ichihara wrestled Shinjuku Shark with the winner getting Kaoruko Arai, which Ichihara won. But then after the match, Arai told Ichihara that she was in love with Shark and she left with him anyway

Woman wrestler Takako Inoue had a nude photo book come out recently.

HERE AND THERE: Five days after Scott Hall's latest arrest on a probation violation, Hall and estranged wife Dana agreed on child visitation rights just before a judge was going to issue a ruling on the case. Hall, who filed a motion to get sole custody of his children, charged Dana with being an emotionally and mentally unstable and an unfit parent. The two agreed that Hall would get overnight visitation rights on Wednesdays and Thursdays every week and Wednesday night through Sunday morning custody every other week

The plan to televise the 12/15 Mexico EMLL PPV in the United States live has been dropped. There simply wasn't enough lead time to put it all together and EMLL hadn't finalized the main event (believed to be Perro Aguayo in either a hair vs. hair with Cien Caras and hair vs. mask with Universo 2000) before what would have been the U.S. advertising deadline. They are working on an idea of airing the subsequent EMLL PPV show live in March

Just to clarify something from last week. Bob Backlund received 28% of the vote in his run for Congress. When Jesse Ventura ran for Governor, he won with 38% of the vote in a three-man race

Afa the Samoan, who has been in David Tua's corner in most of his pro fights, wasn't in his corner in the Lennox Lewis fight on 11/11 because he was in Los Angeles for Rodney Anoia's funeral

AAA's "Guerra de Titanes" takes place on 11/18 at the Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston with Latin Lover & Hector Garza vs. Heavy Metal & Perro Aguayo Jr., and Cibernetico & Abismo Negro & Head Hunters vs. Octagon & Mascara Sagrada & La Parka Jr. & El Alebrije plus Los Vipers vs. Los Vatos Locos, minis and women

They continued the MCW vs. PPW feud as the highlight of Memphis wrestling on 11/11. Mick Foley did an interview last week saying he was, as WWF commissioner, also commissioner of PPW and MCW. Randy Hales then announced this week that Bill Dundee was PPW commissioner. Then when MCW wrestler Steve Bradley beat PPW wrestler Spellbinder for the PPW title when MCW wrestler Fabulous Rocker interfered with a sign and was wearing a ref shirt to count the pin, Dundee reversed the decision. Lawler threw a fireball at Brandon Baxter after an unseen angle where they claimed Slash (Wolfie D) attacked Lawler with a tire iron when he was trying to help Baxter change a flat tire

Chris Candido collapsed backstage at a MEWF show on 11/12 in Maryland and it must have been very serious since Axl Rotten was on the house mic in what wasn't an angle asking fans to say a prayer for him. Candido, who didn't work the show (his match was scheduled after his collapse as the main event), was back home the next day

Sabu added the NWA title to his XPW title and his belt he holds for Stampede Wrestling with a win over champ Mike Rapada on 11/14 in Tampa before about 500 fans after putting him through a table. The two have rematches set for 12/1 in Michigan and 12/12 in Tampa

IWA in Puerto Rico is promoting a Bruiser Brody Memorial Cup on 11/23 in Carolina, PR as a one-night tournament which will include all the company regulars, plus outsiders brought in will be Val Venis, Taka Michinoku, Essa Rios, Mideon, Tommy Dreamer, Steve Corino, Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy along with indie wrestler Cyborg from Tampa

Juventud Guerrera worked his first American show since his WCW firing on 11/11 in San Bernardino, CA for XPW. The main event on the show saw Sabu win a three-way over Big Dick Dudley and John Kronus. Guerrera is also working 11/18 in Anaheim, CA for Revolucion Pro Wrestling at the Rudos Dojo

Guerrera will also headlining for Ultimate Pro Wrestling's live webcast on 12/20 from the Galaxy Theater in Santa, Ana, CA (www.upw.com) against Mikey Henderson.

MMA: To show how over the Naoya Ogawa vs. Masaaki Satake match was with the judo world champion vs. karate world champion hook, the Fuji Network ran a 90 minute taped edited replay of the 10/31 DSE show on 11/5, airing at 4 p.m., and drew amazing numbers, a 12.6 rating and the Ogawa vs. Satake match did an 18.7 rating, which is 22.5 million viewers. For however one wants to knock Ogawa, he's the mainstream star in Japan. He drew a 24.0 and 18.7 peak ratings in his two major matches this year and a match with Rickson Gracie would be the biggest potential match of 2001, even if he's never beaten anyone in a legit match since the 1996 Olympics

. The success has led the Fuji Network to consider putting major Pride shows in prime time next year as a second combat sports special to go along with the success Fuji has had for years with K-1. The current plan is for two Tokyo Dome shows next year, one in March and one in May, to crown Pride world champions in both heavyweight and middleweight divisions. The March show would feature four singles matches in each weight class, while the final four in each class would meet in semifinals and finals on the same night on the May show

DSE at a press conference on 11/8 officially announced Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Ryan Gracie and Mark Kerr vs. Igor Vovchanchyn for the 12/23 Saitama Super Arena PPV show (which airs in January in the U.S.). It has been reported here previously than Ken Shamrock vs. Mark Hall would also be on the show. Others announced as being on the show was Kazuyuki Fujita, Mark Coleman, Enson Inoue, Masaaki Satake, Alexander Otsuka, Renzo Gracie, Akira Shoji, Gilbert Yvel, Gary Goodridge and Ricco Rodriguez. They are considering a Fujita vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu match as well

After the 11/17 show, the following UFC show will be held on 12/16 in Tokyo at the 1,500-seat Differ Ariake. The match will air on taped delay in the U.S. but we're not sure of the date, probably a one week delay except right before Christmas is considered a bad time so it could be delayed even longer. The top three matches will be Tito Ortiz defending the middleweight title against Yuki Kondo, which on paper could be a tremendous fight, since Kondo has similar attributes to Frank Shamrock and Shamrock-Ortiz is considered a classic. Pat Miletich defends the lightweight title against former pro wrestler Kenichi Yamamoto, who will trim down to 170 pounds. Yamamoto, who was pretty well forced out of RINGS because of injuries suffered from some bad beatings, won a UFC middleweight division tournament in Japan in November 1999. Also announced is Yoji Anjyo, a jack-of-all trades and master of none (pro wrestler, worked shootfighter, K-1 kickboxer and UFC and MMA competitor) facing Matt Lindland, who just won the silver medal at 167 pounds in Greco-roman wrestling at the Sydney Olympics after all the controversy regarding making the team. This is a good match for Japan, because Anjyo is naturally a much bigger man than Lindland. I expect Lindland will come in as close to 199 as possible, but maybe underneath that, while Anjyo's walkaround weight is probably around 220, so he'll train down to 199. Anjyo isn't a great fighter, but he's got a more diverse fighting background, so it's a good chance to get a win over someone with tremendous credentials. Lindland, 30, has done several shootfights in the past, but none against top level fighters, and is undefeated. His background besides the Olympic silver includes the gold medal in freestyle at 162 in the Pan American championships, the gold medal in Greco-roman in 1996 at 162 in the World Cup, the gold medal in Greco-roman in 1999 at 167 in the Pan American games and the gold medal in Greco-roman in 2000 at the Pan American championships. Although not announced, Evan Tanner vs. Lance Gibson is also expected

Wanted to make mention of the Goodridge vs. Yatsu match on the 10/31 DSE PPV show. It was very sad and ugly to watch. Yatsu, who except for one occasion, was unable to take Goodridge down. He, more importantly, had no punch defense at all, making him a human punching bag and took a horrible beating that wound up in him being hospitalized. It was actually an exciting match for spectators, because he hung in there and kept going for takedowns, but watching a 44-year-old man take such a pounding and worse, being so tough that he could take all those hard shots right on the jaw without once being knocked down, only served to make it visually uglier. Yatsu when he was finally able to get Goodridge down, immediately went for a pro wrestling kneelock, which the crowd popped for since it's been used as a pro wrestling submission, but Goodridge basically laughed off the move. Kendo Nagasaki, who was older, was put in a shootfight years ago and knocked out in 30 seconds and hurt badly, which was more scary because he was knocked totally out and was old. But a one punch knockout isn't as ugly as a never ending battering of an older man who was once a great athlete but on this occasion had no offense and no defense. Also on the show, the Takada vs. Vovchanchyn match didn't have any noticeable holes in it. Takada scored a lot of leg kicks in the first round. Vovchanchyn had a huge thigh bruise. It was very strange to watch. When Vovchanchyn finally mounted him in the second round, he threw a few punches and Takada tapped pretty fast. Takada went in surprisingly calm and was far more comfortable in the ring against someone who was actually the most dangerous opponent for him he'd ever faced. In Takada's previous shoot matches, he went in there like a guy who was awaiting being sent to the chair. Ogawa vs. Satake, as far as being a work goes, it wasn't a bad work in that it looked fine. The first round seemed like an agreement to stay standing, because Ogawa never even tried a takedown, and Satake was opening his hand before throwing head blows, but scoring well with a lot of leg kicks and dominated the round without trying to seriously hurt Ogawa. In the beginning of the second round, Satake went down and quickly turned his back and got choked and after the match walked out with that "okay I did the job" look. The best thing about Sakuraba's match was his Mil Mascaras ring entrance. The guy under the Dos Caras mask was Daijiro Matsui and not Minoru Toyonaga as we wrote in the original report. He was clearly not in top shape, probably from having so many tough fights over the past year. Luckily, his opponent wasn't of top calibre and he ended it quickly. Although he would obviously train harder for a top opponent, he may be more susceptible to losing to someone within his weight class, which he never has thus far in his career, now. His only actual losses were to Kimo in his first real fight while giving away 70 pounds and to Vovchanchyn, who he was giving away 40 pounds to and was holding his own until finally gassing out, right after going 90 minutes with Royce Gracie. Sakuraba has had close calls with Alan Goes (a draw, no judges, would have been very close had their been judges) and Guy Mezger (a forfeit win when Mezger didn't go out for overtime when it was ruled a draw in regulation because of a communications breakdown where Mezger's side had said there would be no overtime and that after the time limit, the judges needed to decide a winner and a decision had it been rendered could have gone either way)

Still no opponent at this point for Frank Shamrock on the 12/10 Tokyo Dome show. John Lober was under consideration last week but it isn't going to happen

Another new promotion starting in Japan is called Deep, with its debut show on 1/8 at Naoya Aiichi Gym. They have a press conference on 12/7 to announce the card, but are going to be affiliated with Pancrase and use Kengo Watanabe as one of the headliners. They are charging very expensive ticket prices ($475 front row ringside) so they'd better have a big box office line-up

Shooto has a PPV date on 12/17 headlined by Kaoru Uno defending the welterweight title against Rumina Sato in a rematch of their classic match from last year

Mark Kerr was inducted into his home town Toledo Sports Hall of Fame on 11/6.

ECW: Scott Hall debuted on the weekend house shows. The word going around at first was that Hall agreed to work the matches for free, whether true or not, nobody seemed to believe that story, feeling it was a way for Paul Heyman to save face bringing in a huge name while still being one month behind on everyone's pay. Hall was laughing about the story he was doing the shows without being paid to friends when they told him that Heyman had been spreading it around. The agreement to come in is that Hall didn't want to appear on ECW TV and was just doing it to keep his name in the public. Credible did allude to him in a promo that was taped for TV and I'm sure they'll try and make a big deal on TV that he was there to try and spark interest in the product. They were filming his match with Sal E. Graziano. It's said to be up in the air whether or not he'll work the 12/3 PPV as in his conversations he was using terms like "if I come back." After doing the weekend, he hadn't agreed to do the PPV but hadn't ruled it out, either. The wrestlers weren't unhappy about him coming in, even with the financial situation of everyone being owed money, because he's a legit superstar, although nobody expects him long with the promotion and the belief is it was done largely to show WCW he's now on his best behavior since WWF doesn't appear to have any interest. Everyone brought up a few years back when his friend Credible brought him to a Florida house show and Francine, Shane Douglas and Bam Bam Bigelow cut a promo on him at the entrance way and wouldn't let him in, totally embarrassing Credible in the process. ECW went everywhere bragging about it at the time like it was a badge of honor to kick a WCW superstar out of their backstage. Funny how things work out. His reaction dwarfed everyone on both shows and it was said his charisma was such that next to him, nobody looked like a star in the company and it was also a surprise how, at a legit 6-5, he dwarfed everyone on the roster including being several inches taller than the billed 6-8 Sal E. Graziano, who is apparently closer to 6-2, but can be promoted as a giant because Guido and Mamaluke are absolutely tiny for wrestlers at probably 155 and 140 pounds. Hall appeared totally coherent both nights. ECW released his name in local radio ads which caused a good walk-up on 11/10 in Schenectady, which ended up drawing 1,000 fans. They did an angle where Credible and Rhino attacked Spike Dudley, leading to a save by Lynn and Dreamer. Dreamer then said due to an injury, he couldn't wrestle (although he did the next night), and started walking around doing Hall mannerisms when talking about somebody backstage. Hall got a monster pop, working as Lynn's partner in the main event. He took few, if any bumps, but sold all the way to build for Lynn getting the hot tag, and Lynn eventually pinned Credible to win the match. That match was said to have been good. The next night in Poughkeepsie wasn't exactly the same. Hall came out to a big pop and said he came to Poughkeepsie to wrestle a friend of his who used to be a jibroni, but was now a big star, but he didn't see himself against Credible on the line-up. Hall asked Heyman why, but Lou E. Dangerously came out and said Hall would have to prove himself before he could get a match with Credible. This led to Graziano coming out, and he squashed Hall, who did nothing except a toothpick throw and a crotch chop to Sal, although Guido and Mamaluke bumped for him (because of the huge size difference, Hall wouldn't sell anything for Guido and let him know that in the ring) and took his big moves, the fallaway slam and outsiders edge, before Graziano sat on him for the pin, which probably shocked everyone in the building. After that match, Lou E. Dangerously said he could wrestle Credible later. They announced the match as the final match on the card, to keep the crowd, and it worked. It was said after they started locally plugging Hall on the radio, the walk-up was very strong and the building was nearly packed with 2,500 for the tapings, some, but not a ton of which was papered. Hall, who didn't get nearly the reaction his second time out, pinned Credible using the edge in a match said to be really bad if you watched it close, but the fans liked it as Hall didn't have to do anything as long as they saw his ring entrance, him saying "Hey, yo," his mannerisms and an outsiders edge at the end, and he knew it, so it worked, doing what was described as a 1990 WWF match (basically walking, talking and doing as little as possible but all the posing they want). It worked to the crowd live, but we were told if would really be exposed if it aired on television. They had to tape three hours worth of TV in Poughkeepsie because it was the final house show before the 12/3 PPV. The 11/17 and 11/18 shows in Toledo and Cincinnati were canceled, as was the Thanksgiving weekend shows scheduled for the Kansas City area (they were canceled weeks ago). Because there may not have been enough taped for three first-run TV shows leading to the PPV, during mid-week, there was work done to try and do a last-minute booking of the Elks Lodge in Queens, NY, where ECW used to tape hot TV's, because it's only an 800-seat arena that ECW can fill with a week of publicity, for sometime over Thanksgiving weekend to shoot some new angles for the PPV. At press time, it appears 90 percent against that being able to be put together. Poughkeepsie was said to be very good, the best ECW shows since the Hammerstein Ballroom shows and the Mississauaga show, while Schenectady was said to be very bad except for Hall's match. Backstage it was said that the wrestlers had never trashed Heyman, who wasn't there, as much as they did that night. By the next night with the hot crowd and good show, everyone was feeling better. There were people complaining that Heyman had seemingly really lost it by airing the footage of Jim Mitchell being attended to by the EMT's on the TV show this week. In Poughkeepsie, Styles & Gertner did an intro with Styles ripping on a fan holding a sign saying Mike Tenay was a better announcer. Credible & Francine came out and mocked Hall. Michael Shane from San Antonio beat local jobber Mike Bell in a nothing match except one great tope con hilo by Shane. Dinero & Money & Hamrick beat Whipwreck & Crazy & Tajiri when Crazy accidentally hit Tajiri with a missile dropkick and Tajiri was pinned, causing a break-up. Said to be a very good short match. In the best match, Tajiri then pinned Crazy. I'm told it would have been a great match under others' standards, but it wasn't at the level of the matches those two used to have, but fans liked it because they broke two tables and had a hot finish when Crazy went for an Asai moonsault but Whipwreck used the whipper snapper to set up the pin. Doring & Roadkill beat Prodigy & Bilvis Wesley when Doring pinned Prodigette. FBI hit the ring and cut some of Doring's hair and cut off Roadkill's beard to set up a match on the PPV. Nova beat Guido. After the match, they tried to cut Nova's hair, but Doring & Roadkill saved him. Corino defended the title against Lynn. Corino wrestled heel style was still had 25 percent cheers. Credible apparently set up a three-way as the PPV main event by caning both guys. Lynn was helped back. Corino said he wanted to wrestle someone, so Sandman came out for his 10:00 ring entrance. Corino won using his old school expulsion on the guard rail in a good match. They taped another open, with C.W. Anderson, Swinger and Diamond coming out. Diamond chased Styles & Gertner out of the ring. York & Matthews came out with Dreamer to set up a six-man. They brawled all over the place with York & Matthews bleeding everywhere. It was the highest profile performance thus far for York & Matthews. Gertner was at ringside, took off his shirt, revealing that classic physique with the Kimala stars on it, splashed Diamond and Dreamer DDT'd Diamond, allowing Gertner to pin Diamond to win the match. Heels left them laying afterwards. Rhino pinned Kash after a piledriver off the middle ropes. Rhino was about to put Kash through a table when Spike Dudley made the save and gave Rhino an acid drop. Apparently they are doing Spike vs. Rhino on the PPV. Chilly Willy beat DeVito. After the match, Angel hit Willy with a chair, but Mahoney made the save and hit both Baldies with chair shots

New Jack, who worked in Schenectady, was limping really badly backstage in Poughkeepsie and didn't work the show. Angel also worked the first night, with his head and arm noticeably discolored and burned from the PPV

A correction from last week on the ECW PPV report. Christian York's real name is Jason Spence and it is Joey Matthews who is Adam Birch

Heyman is said to be down right now on using Juventud Guerrera, both because of his price, and because he worked XPW over the weekend

Hardcore TV for the weekend was mainly highlights from the PPV show. It is no secret that ECW is desperate and admittedly with its niche audience it may be the right business strategy simply to go far as far as possible in that direction, although in doing so the injuries are climbing. Desperate times often make people do desperate things. Even so, showing the footage of the medics working on Jim Mitchell after his fingers were blown off blew my mind and even throwing out the question of taste, the footage as it aired made the show look like public access TV. It was only something a dying company would even do. It blew the mind of the officers and EMT's tending to the situation, who were threatening to arrest the camera man, except he wasn't breaking any laws except those of taste, but they kept him far enough away that he couldn't film anything, and that somebody would actually be ghoulish enough to film the stuff. Well, how could you air it without filming it? Later they had Sal E. Graziano holding scissors as if he cut the fingers off with scissors and doing the angle, saying he was like O.J. in that he wouldn't rest until he found the guys who really cut off Minister's fingers. All for an angle that isn't going to draw a dime anyway. Unlike in WWF or WCW, most of the ECW audience knows that it's a bogus angle and I think the ECW fans want a promotion not to insult their intelligence. They aired a few new interviews. Dreamer did one in front of the crowd before the PPV in Chicago, talking about how bad WCW was, and bragging about how they outdrew Nitro the next night. That was sad, too, because they didn't even come close (4,600 paid to 2,600 paid) and even if they had beaten a dying WCW, that is hardly something to brag about these days anyway, let alone call attention they barely drew half of what a dead company drew. Diamond and Anderson came out to attack him, I guess for saying something that only makes the company look bad, but York & Matthews quickly made the save. Interviews were done to set up programs with FBI vs. Doring & Roadkill (let's see, if they are playing the fingers thing for an angle, shouldn't the program be with Tajiri & Whipwreck?) and Dreamer vs. Anderson, even though Diamond is the one taking credit for the injury, but they've pretty well established Diamond & Swinger & Anderson as a trio for Dreamer to work six-mans against, maybe with York & Matthews to give them some credibility. They did a hot November to Remember video package to "November Rain," which was the best thing on the show new. It's an annual ECW tradition to put together a musical video to that song, but in the past it's been done the week before the N2R show to hype the show. The match highlights from the PPV were also very good. Show ended with a cliffhanger of Cyrus recruiting Lynn and Lynn seemingly considering the offer. It's the same angle they just did a few months ago. They acknowledged that they did the angle before in the interview.

WCW: Absolutely nothing new except for new lines of rumors regarding a potential sale or potential new leaders of the company. At this point, everything is in a holding pattern because the bookers have been told to make no major changes in the product under the guise that Vince Russo would be brought back and they don't want to mess up his plans. This week's rumor concerned Jerry Jarrett being brought in to help run things. In England, the talk was that things with Eric Bischoff had cooled and wrestlers were told the TV was purely maintenance TV because they didn't want to do anything Russo didn't approve of

Nitro in London, England which aired on 11/13 was taped on 11/10. The positives is that there was little in the way of amateur hour stuff and the real insulting entertainment. The emphasis more was on wrestling. The downside is that the quality of the wrestling in this company for the most part isn't that good, so it's basically more watchable but below average and kind of boring in spots. Show opened with Flair coming out. They still call him 14-time champion. You'd need a calculator to know the real number. Flair announced a Lethal Lottery with the tag team that won, facing each other on Thunder and the winner of that match (Sting), challenging for the title (Steiner?) on the day after Mayhem which would be 11/27 in Rockford, IL. Flair really had nothing to do but with the possible exception of Rock on a good day, nobody in the business can cut a better promo when they've got nothing to say. The segment ended with a Battle Royal like brawl. Crowbar beat Vito to keep the hardcore title. Fans were into the show early and went nuts when Vito brought out a table. After a ref bump, Reno hit Vito with a bat and Crowbar pinned him after a superplex through a table in a match that went 7:18. Not a great match, but really good effort by both guys. NBT's did an interview, with Nash coming out to set up a four-corners match later. Skipper tried hitting on Ms. Jones. She was blowing him off. He asked what the Cat had that he didn't, and she said the Cat was over. While that's not exactly the best reason to have a relationship with someone, it was kind of funny, if poorly delivered. In a lottery match, Sting & Steiner beat Awesome & Bigelow. Sting and Steiner fought each other a little. Steiner beat Awesome after a belly-to-belly superplex (well, I think that was the idea, what it actually was is tougher to describe) and the recliner submission. Bigelow jumped Awesome after the match giving him the Asbury Park greetings. In what I swore was from a 1982 video, Jimmy Hart did a promo challenging Montana Taylor, a DJ in Augusta, GA (where Nitro is on 11/20) to a match. As long as it's a dark match, that's fine, but if it's a dark match, why are they spending time on national TV plugging it? Wright and Disqo gave up potential title shots by paying off Kronik to take their place in the tournament. FA's were watching on the monitor and finked to Flair about it. Flair told Wright & Disqo they had a match later. They aired a Battledome video package and pretended the Battledome guys had flown all the way to London to do a five second backstage brawl (it was actually taped the previous week in Chicago). Rick Steiner and DDP were also not even on the England tour. Kronik beat Luger & Booker T. Luger looks a lot worse since he's come back. He aged a great deal, which at 42, it starts to get noticeable, and he's much slower moving in the ring. T gave Clark the missile dropkick and set up the uranage when Steiner hit T with a pipe and he was pinned by the high times. Kronik did an interview basically saying if they won the tournament, they wouldn't wrestle each other. The four-way with Nash, Palumbo, Stasiak and O'Haire was pretty bad, as it had little heat and it was all the guys trading off on Nash, so there wasn't much to it. When you listen to Stevie Ray's commentary, you think Palumbo must be some sort of secret love interest the way he puts him over like he's Shawn Michaels. Nash, against all odds, had Stasiak ready for the power bomb when Reno and Sanders both interfered, although five-on-one weren't too much for the mightiest of all team players. Six-on-one was, as Jindrak took him out and he was laid out by O'Haire shawnton bomb (and do they need to change the name of that move or what? Why not just put subtitles on the screen every time O'Haire comes out, "We copy WWF"). Cat pinned Skipper with the feliner. Highlight was Ms. Jones taking Skipper out with a high kick. Aside from that, it wasn't good. Goldberg destroyed Wright & Disqo, pinning both in 1:48. That counts as two more wins. Do they realize that by making the streak bogus, that inherently, nobody cares? Some day someone should sit down with WCW and explain exactly why things did and didn't work in 1996 and 1997 so they wouldn't continue to screw up ideas that actually did work in the past. Storm regained the U.S. title from Rection when Major Gunns turned heel, saving Storm from the moonsault, and Rection was put in the half crab. He actually didn't tap, and was nearing the ropes when Gunns threw in the towel for him. Storyline was good but match was pretty bad. Finally Sting & Steiner beat Kronik. Another bad match. They did high times on Scott, but Midajah got involved distracting Adams. Clark went for the melt down on Sting, but was reversed into the scorpion death drop for the pin. Steiner hit Sting with a chair after the win until Booker made the save, first hitting Scott with a chair, then mysteriously hitting Sting with a chair and ending the show teasing that he had just turned heel

Some notes from Thunder taped on 11/12 in Manchester, England for an 11/15 air date. Reno beat Vito in what was said to have been a so-so match using his twist of fate like finisher (roll the dice). Crowbar kept the hardcore title over Bigelow when Awesome interfered. Told it was spotty, but a lot of nice moves and overall entertaining. Crowbar took a beating, taking some very sick chair shots so that may not be so good. Skipper won a six-man elimination to get a shot at Sanders' cruiser title on the PPV over Misterio Jr., Kidman, Loco, Cajun and Kwee Wee. Said to be good in spots and not so good in other spots. Booker pinned Storm clean with his finisher to keep the title. Reports are that this was the best match that WCW has put on TV since the last time these two went at it. A lot of credit for this match should go to Ace. Told the combination of the three matches were reminiscent of the undercard in the glory days of Nitro. Nash squashed Sanders in a bad match. NBT's all attacked Nash afterwards. Wright & Disqo beat Konnan & Cat when Kronik laid out Konnan with the high times. Konnan apparently suffered a concussion and was knocked cold. This wasn't scripted and the show was stopped for several minutes in a scene similar to the Bagwell injury. About five minutes later, Konnan recovered and walked off under his own power. Goldberg squashed Bagwell. After the match, he helped Bagwell to his feet doing the mutual respect deal. Goldberg got the biggest pop of the show. Sting pinned Steiner to get the title shot in Rockford. Sting used the scorpion death drop. The ref (Mark Johnson) didn't count three when he was supposed to, but then he did, as there was some sort of a mix-up. Steiner and Midajah put Sting in a straight jacket after the match and gave him a beating with a baseball bat. The finish snafu is expected to be edited out of the show. Sting was furious at Johnson for messing up the finish, which may be visible on TV. The report we got was that matches two through four were much better than WCW usually puts on, making this a good taping. Rest of the show was said to have been typical WCW

Although the whole angle has fizzled out so this may not happen, the plan for the Stacey Keibler angle was to stretch it out until March, and then reveal that Russo was the father (what a shock, huh?), but the big revelation would be that Ric Flair was Stacey Keibler's father from a fling in Baltimore 21 years earlier and that Ric and Russo worked together to break up the marriage because they were the only two who knew the secret, that it was an incestuous relationship, revealing that at one point, David had, in fact, had sex with his own sister. I guess Russo had been waiting for that one ever since Ken Shamrock turned down the sex with the fake sister angle

Was that Thunder interview on 11/8 with Lanita Erickson (the new announcer/interviewer) who the wrestlers jokingly refer to as "Missy Hyatt's mother," although she's actually two years younger than Hiatt, with former footballer Bob Sapp, one of the saddest things in recent memory to make air (well, at least until this weekend's ECW TV)

WCW officially inked the deal to send younger wrestlers to work for Bill Behrens on the NWA Wildside shows every week to gain experience

Heenan's contract with WCW expires on 12/28. No strong indications one way or another regarding WWF potential interest, other than he's said to be interested if they are. Heenan won't be doing World Wide or anything else for the company, but it being paid through the end of his contract. Larry Zbyszko is trying to get himself worked into a storyline to avoid that same inevitability

A Saks Fifth Avenue executive filed a $10 million libel suit based on a placard held up at the 9/25 WCW Nitro show. The sign, held up by a former friend from high school, Robert Catell, read, "P.Goldschmidt steals from Saks." Court papers claim the sign held Goldschmidt up to public contempt and ridicule, disgrace and prejudice, causing him mental pain and anguish. Catell had been holding up signs at WCW and WWF TV shoots in the area, calling him a loser, among other things, which he said he laughed off, but the sign accusing him of being a thief went over the line. Catell, a salesman for WFAN, said the two hadn't spoken in two years but it was only a prank done in humor

The Battledome pretty boy blond bodybuilder billed as Michael O'Dell, is actually Michael O'Hearn, a former muscle magazine cover boy who is the husband of Midajah (Melinda O'Hearn)

Bill Goldberg refused to wrestle the 11/16 show because it was in Germany, apparently because he had relatives killed in the holocaust

Lanita Erickson, the women called "Missy Hiatt's mother" backstage that debuted on Thunder on 11/8, was actually first training at the Power Plant to become a pro wrestler, but was injured and they decided to make her an announcer

Because an indie show that used several WCW wrestlers right before the 10/23 Nitro in Little Rock drew almost as much as Nitro did, WCW responded by no longer allowing talent to work any indie dates without clearing it with the office. Up to this point, the office hasn't been good about clearing dates, which only effects the lower paid guys, particularly those who are on nightly deals, or on low guarantees but with nightly bonuses since the company is running such few dates

The Nitro taping on 11/10 in London, England drew about 9,138 paying $335,093. The house show on 11/11 in Newcastle, England drew 5,709 paying $187,657. Thunder on 11/12 in Manchester, England drew 7,001 paying $221,606. House show on 11/13 in Birmingham, England drew about 6,500 paying about $205,000. Newcastle was reported as a good show. The bad thing was fans throwing so much debris after the Steiner-Booker main event that a bottle hit Midajah across the face and caused her to be knocked out, but she was okay as she worked Thunder the next night. Almost none of the fans live knew about Storm winning the U.S. title the day before or the Major Gunns turn. Top matches were Goldberg winning his typical 2:00 match over Luger and T pinned Steiner. Best match said to be Team Canada vs. Loco & Cajun & Rection. At the show in Birmingham, they put Booker over Steiner on top. Booker talked about being in London (whoops). Steiner had a black eye from the previous night. Finish saw Midajah put on a ref shirt after Steiner KO'd the ref, but Booker slammed her and gave the uranage on Steiner and another ref counted the pin. Goldberg beat Bigelow in the typical one minute Goldberg match. Sanders booked Nash against Kronik, but Sting came out as Nash's partner in a match said to be not as bad as you'd think. Report was that Jindrak & O'Haire vs. Misterio Jr. & Kidman was the best match due to the challengers, who stood out in the ring over everyone else on the show.

WWF: Complete Survivor Series line-up for 11/19 in Tampa looks to be Austin vs. HHH as the main event, Rock vs. Rikishi, Angle +vs. Undertaker for WWF title, Jericho vs. Kane, Ivory vs. Lita for the womens title, Regal vs. Bob Holly for the European title, Blackman & Crash & Molly Holly vs. T&A & Trish Stratus, and two traditional eight-man elimination style matches with Benoit & Guerrero & Saturn & Malenko vs. K.Kwick (Ron Killings, taking the place of the injured X-Pac on the DX team) & Chyna & Gunn & Road Dogg and Hardys & Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian & Goodfather & Buchanan

Raw on 11/13 from Columbus, OH was generally viewed as a lackluster show. There was some good wrestling, but from a storyline standpoint, there was something missing. There are certain things, which may be made into an angle at a later date, regarding positioning of Rock and Austin. In every case, such as at when Foley ran down the babyface team for the main event, he said Rock's name before Austin's. Austin, since his return, has been clearly positioned as the star of the show. It's hurt Rock, because he loses something as the No. 2 guy, and while Austin will always get a huge pop, it just isn't the same as before he was injured. Angle beat Crash Holly to keep the WWF title with an ankle lock submission. Crash said he'd win the title with one hand tied behind his back, but quickly, behind Angle's back, undid his arm. Fans were really into the near falls when Crash had Angle down, which is amazing since Crash is positioned as a prelim wrestler. It either speaks volumes for what a great worker Angle is, because Flair used to get people to pop for TV jobbers getting near falls in his era, or that nobody takes him seriously as a top heel. Angle cracked Crash with a chair shot until Bob ran in, followed by E&C, and then Undertaker who cleaned house of E&C. Angle punched Undertaker in the face and he just laughed. Foley then set up a six-man with the same participants for later in the show. Jericho & Blackman beat Test & Kane. Jericho did everything almost humanly possible to make this a good match. Finish saw Test his Kane with a cane (I've been waiting a long time to be able to type that) when Jericho moved and then pinned Kane with a lionsault. Kane attacked Test after and choke slammed him. It was funny seeing them standing together because Kane is supposed to be 7-feet and Ross said Test was 6-6, but even with lifts in his shoes, Kane was the same height as Test. Radicals came out for an interview. Benoit was kissing up to HHH. They were just fighting him last week. They tried to do an explanation with Benoit saying he respected him so much from when they wrestled each other but it didn't come off well. HHH is not Ric Flair. He's Dusty Rhodes of the 80s except 1,000 times better inside the ring. Not only is he positioned where he's the center of everything and feuding with everyone, but everyone in their interviews puts him over. Foley came out to set up the main event. Kane was beating up Jericho backstage, throwing him through a window. Jericho was bleeding from the arm and head. Dudleys beat Raven & Tazz in a fog machine. The pyro caused the building and the ring area to be a cloud of smoke. I give the guys a lot of credit for working through it without paying attention to it but it killed the match. They did a deal where Raven & Tazz were totally incompetent and getting a table into the ring. Dudleys did a 3-D on Tazz for the pin. Raven attacked Tazz after but Tazz suplexed him through a table. Lawler was making fun of the fact Tazz & Raven get no crowd heat. The circulation in the building wasn't good, so the building filled with smoke whenever pyro was used during the show, but this was the only point it became dreadfully obvious on television. They did a funny comedy bit where Michael Cole was supposed to interview Lo Down & Tiger Ali Singh. At first, Cole started the interview, saw Rock and left them like they were nobodies to talk with Rock. Then he went back to them, but Jericho came out, covered in blood, to interrupt their promo. Undertaker & Hollys beat E&C & Angle in a good match when Undertaker pinned Angle with a choke slam and last ride power bomb. It would be nice if they gave Angle a win over someone who was even a mid-carder as a title defense, but from a booking standpoint, it does make total sense to present the challenger pinning the champion in a tag leading to a PPV title match. They pushed to death that Taker was the favorite to win the title, which usually means he's not going to win. Austin did an interview. He didn't say much. It was probably good to have a change of pace interview from Austin but the fans didn't know how to react to it. Hardys & Lita beat Goodfather & Buchanan & Ivory via DQ in a bout where if Ivory was pinned, she lost the womens title and if G&B were pinned, they lost the tag titles. This was probably about as good a match as would be possible considering the heel team. A lot of good near falls before the heels were DQ'd when Goodfather pulled the ref out of the ring to stop the count which was a real weak finish. It must be hell to work in that outfit Ivory has to wear in the ring, in particular that long skirt with the high heeled boots, and she injured her ankle trying. Venis came out to join his partners in laying Hardys & Lita out. Even limping, Ivory managed to get her heat spot in laying Lita out with a DDT. Radicals threw food, not liking the food (fruit and vegetables) in their dressing room that HHH and Stephanie would munch on, and ordered take-out steak. Benoit was on the phone to HHH. In a really strange finish, coming on the heels of the previous finish, Regal beat Road Dogg via DQ in a European title match. Road Dogg had no voice, which was too bad since the segment called for him to rap and not wrestle. They wrestled for a few minutes, with Road Dogg on the verge of winning. Then K.Kwick came out and attacked Regal, causing a DQ, and costing Dogg the European title. K.Kwick explained he did so because it was time to rap and not wrestle. So Dogg wasn't mad, he was happy, and they started rapping in the ring. People seemed into it at the beginning but it went too long. Austin did an interview saying something wasn't right. Foley & Debra did probably Foley's weakest segment of the year. Debra isn't good in speaking roles. Rock & Austin & Chyna & Gunn beat Benoit & Guerrero & Saturn & Malenko in 10:24. Match wasn't nearly as good as you'd think. Something was missing. Part was Chyna doing the sell, and she has no experience selling for long periods of time and it really showed. Saturn also didn't look that good on his offense but took a hell of a beating. At one point he slid across the announcers table like it was made out of ice. Good in spots and bad in spots, depending upon who was matched up with who. Austin and one point must have stomped on Guerrero 60 times. Finish was the stunner on Guerrero. Rock and Benoit brawled backstage. It was a tremendous backstage brawl with Benoit killing himself to make it look good. Rock finally dispatched of him but in the parking lot, HHH & Rikishi drove a car and Rikishi hit Rock with a sledge hammer as the show went off the air

Mark Henry, sporting dreadlocks and new music, won a dark match. For the live crowd, Austin drank beer to end the show

Smackdown/Heat tapings on 11/14 in Indianapolis. Bossman returned on the Heat show but lost to Blackman. For Smackdown, it opened with Rikishi doing an interview. Foley asked the crowd if he should fine, suspend or fire Rikishi. He then said he'd do none of those because Rikishi's punishment will be in the ring against Rock on the PPV. But he boots Rikishi out of the building. Hollys beat T&A when Bob pinned Test. Stratus attacked Molly after. HHH does a promo showing footage from the past year to make him look like he's the smartest man in wrestling. Too Cool beat Raven & Tazz when Raven turned on Tazz and left him laying with a DDT and GMS pinned him after the hip hop drop. Raven DDT'd Tazz on the steps after the match. Austin snuck into the Radicals' dressing room as a waiter and beat up all of them except Guerrero. He then maneuvered a forklift, blocking their dressing room door so they couldn't interfere in his match with Guerrero. As you can imagine, Austin vs. Guerrero was a quick stunner and pin. Dudleys & Hardys beat Goodfather & Buchanan & Venis & Richards when Matt pinned Goodfather after the Dudleys did a 3-D and Jeff did a swanton. RTC attacked them after the match. Angle & Kane beat Jericho & Undertaker when Angle pinned Undertaker after a chair shot by Kane. That finish made no sense on any level. Why should Undertaker lose going into the title match, and if he is to lose because Angle needs a win, then what was the purpose of Kane giving Angle the win? Dogg & Kwick beat Malenko & Saturn when Kwick pinned Malenko clean. Rock beat Benoit via DQ in the main event when Rikishi came back to the building and interfered. Rikishi left Rock laying as the show ended. When cameras went off, Undertaker made the save for Rock

More notes on Smackdown taped 11/7 in Dallas. HHH opened the show with the explanation that he was the accomplice, had masterminded everything and had benefitted the most from Austin being gone. Rikishi came out and reversed the Rock being part of it and dropped the racial angle about doing it for the Island boys part of the angle. Foley came out to set up the Survivor Series top two matches. That was probably the best part of the show. The name "Billy G" has thankfully been already dropped, and he's now "The One, Billy Gunn." They are doing an angle where Angle is the world champion who gets no respect, with him third from the top on PPV, and the latest, being subjected to defending his title on Heat. Only problem with the angle that Angle gets no respect for having to wrestle on Heat is that it says the stars don't work on Heat. The Austin & Rock vs. HHH & Rikishi main event lasted all of 11 seconds, ending when the NWO Black & White, I mean the Radicals, were taking the bumps while the stars escaped unscathed. It was probably due to HHH not actually being able to wrestle with his hip injury and is probably okay, although the fans live didn't seem to appreciate it at all. Done once, it's no big deal. But if this becomes a pattern, which I'm relatively sure it won't be, we've already seen what great production with these kind of main events weekly helped do to Nitro over the long haul

On WWF.com during this past week in hyping the Survivor Series, there was a big photo of Michaels with the sharpshooter on Hart from 1997 and when you go to the S.S. website, they have a photo album of that particular match

The WWF syndicated show has been a ratings flop on Telemundo, only doing about a 2.0 average which is a bad number for the network in that time slot. WWF got the slot from WCW, which had been doing about a 3.0

Largely due to Raw moving to its network, TNN cracked the top ten cable networks in prime time for the first time in history for the month of October while USA fell from No. 1 to No. 5 in prime time without WWF. TNN averaged a 1.12 rating for the month of October. In October of 1999, the network averaged an 0.81 in prime time. That latter number also showed just how specious what was said for so long by so many ECW supporters about it being the only show on the network to get any kind of a rating. ECW was the highest rated show on TNN almost every Friday night (there was one or two weeks where that wasn't the case), but it drew ratings that were slightly above average for the network for the most part. The funny part of all this is that most of the increase can be attributed to two hours of 5.0 ratings (which is the largest audience ever to watch any show on TNN) by Raw every week, the press release put out by the network touts the increase also because they rebranded the network as The National Network and to the "We've Got Pop" slogan

At the Smackdown tapings, all signs brought that involved politics, and these included Foley for Prez and the like, were confiscated before the show. There was also a sign positive about the RTC that was confiscated which many thought was a funny irony, the idea that the WWF was making fun of a group that preaches censorship and the WWF was then guilty of censoring signs in support of the group

An interesting comparison. It came out this past week that the average salary of a Major League baseball player is now just under $1.8 million per year. It should be noted that there isn't a team in baseball that takes in half the money that the WWF does. And there are only a handful of teams with a lower payroll than the WWF. I think the payroll for the Yankees was $114 million, which is probably well over double that of the WWF. I don't know this year's figures since the year isn't up but last year the WWF payroll was about $30 million total. I presume with revenue up significantly in the last year, that figure is also up significantly this year but it wouldn't be like it was doubled or anything close to that either. Even factoring in the big TV, cable and radio contracts, the Yankees probably take in half the money the WWF does. What's the point? More power to the promoter who can dictate those terms. More power to the baseball players who are able to negotiate the contracts they get. And as for the wrestlers, who still make far less money (there are probably only 3-4 wrestlers in the WWF who earn more than the 300th highest paid journeyman player in the big leagues does) and pay their hotels, rental cars and food expenses on the road (there may be exceptions and there are definitely many exceptions in WCW in regard to hotels and cars but not food, but as a general rule they do) which baseball players have taken care of for them, those numbers speak volumes, too. But as long as this is a business where a good marketer and at times wave a magic wand and create a superstar, within reason of course, and superstars can be replaced no matter how popular they may be (and don't think the WWF's success in 2000 without Austin most of the year didn't do wonders for who has the leverage in the constant labor vs. management battles), I don't see anything changing the current structure because it requires guys sticking together, and it's so much easier to earn brownie points for the promoters by sticking with the promoter during a stressful period

In another example of toning down, this new version of DX will not be allowed to do crotch chops on television

Dynamite Kid will be attending the 12/2 WWF show in Sheffield, England as the guest of Chris Benoit. No word if he'll be brought in front of the public or not. Line-up for that show at this point, and it'll probably change several times between now and then, is, Austin & Rock vs. Rikishi & HHH, Angle vs. Jericho vs. Kane for the WWF title, Undertaker vs. Benoit, Dudleys vs. T&A vs. E&C tables match, Hardys & Lita vs. Goodfather & Buchanan & Ivory, Gunn & Chyna vs. Guerrero & Malenko, Regal vs. Crash, Blackman vs. Saturn and Bradshaw vs. Venis

Some notes from the Ross Report. HHH's problems were diagnosed as a problem with his S.I. joint and a torn membrane surrounding a disc in his lower back. In layman's terms, it's an inflamed sciatic nerve which is causing back spasms and he also has hip problems. One would think he shouldn't be ready in time for the PPV, but you know he will, being he's in the main event slot. He'll be getting treatment and rehab all week. Austin is supposed to be 100% by December and getting close to it now. Road Dogg has strained tendons and ligaments in his shoulder. X-Pac's return is set for early December. He suffered from whiplash after getting a power bomb from Jericho in the cage match at the No Mercy PPV and tests showed that his sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae have badly degenerated. When he returns, he'll likely to avoid as much as possible taking bumps on the back of his neck. Ron Killings, who used the name K-Krush, debuted on Heat as K-Kwick doing a dual rapping gimmick with Road Dogg, in something generally said to be really bad. Rikishi's injury was broken cartilage in his nose which makes breathing difficult. Gunn is still having shoulder problems coming back from surgery and Christian still has numbness in his arms from the stinger at the No Mercy PPV. Regal had lower back problems but is working through it and Faarooq, in recovering from knee surgery, had fluid on the knee

Big Show weighed in at 441 pounds and Mark Henry at 336 in their weekly weigh-ins at Ohio Valley. I'll bet Henry's weight hasn't been that low since early in high school

Here is the situation with Chris Chetti. Chetti came to the WWF show on 10/24 at the Nassau Coliseum and asked about getting a job. He was asked what his contractual commitments were to Paul Heyman and he told WWF he was working without a contract and had no commitments after the 11/5 PPV show. He was told they'd give him a try-out once he finished his ECW commitments, which he has. There has been no contract signed, developmental or otherwise, or even offered, only that he was promised he'd get a try-out. In the conversation, Chetti said he would have no problem going to Memphis or Louisville if the try-out went well. Chetti just had his first child and wrestlers with families are a lot more likely to look at options outside of ECW given the precarious state the company is in, particularly the undercard wrestlers not under contract that are working on per-night deals, with the company cancelling so many house shows

Jim Cornette's OVW Christmas Chaos show on 12/13 at the Louisville Gardens will feature WWF talent on top, mainly using the WWF guys to give a rub to the local talent. Main event is Leviathan, the local monster heel who has been given two pins over Big Show, facing Kane. Also Nick Dinsmore defends the OVW title against Benoit with the idea of doing a super technical match since Dinsmore is probably the best performer move-for-move in OVW and very much underrated nationally. Austin's appearance will be an interview segment with Jim Ross, although obviously he'll be stunning someone. Hardys & Lita face Slash & Damien & Synn, Big Show vs. Mark Henry. In matches with the local talent, they'll have a hardcore title match with Rob Conway vs. Mr. Black, Damaja vs. Russ McCullough, Derrick King & Jason Lee & Rip Rogers vs. Sean Casey & Chris Michaels & Phil Phair (heel ref), David Nelson vs. Robbie D, Brock Lesnar (NCAA champ) & Shelton Benjamin (who may have the most potential of any of the younger wrestlers in the company) vs. Ron Waterman (former UFC fighter) & Randy Orton (Bob Jr's son) and Debra will also appear at a guest ring announcer

Don't know if this is a new policy, or what, but the NBC affiliate in Huntington, WV was planning on running some news highlights on a morning show the next day, but the WWF banned all local media from shooting the matches or getting any interviews with the talent

Ch. 6 in Indianapolis, as what would certainly be construed as an unwanted tie-in to the Smackdown tapings this week, was doing a multi-part feature on Dr. Joel Hackett, a latter day Dr. George Zahorian who has been suspended by the Indiana State Medical Licensing Board. Melanie Pillman King was on the news report saying that Hackett overprescribed Percodan and Darvocets to Brian. She said she complained to Hackett, who promised to cut back on the prescription pills, but claims she never noticed a change. Hackett said he doesn't believe he was to blame for Brian's death (King had also blamed it on Dr. Edmund Chein, who prescribed Human Growth Hormone to Pillman in the months before his death, blaming Hulk Hogan with setting Pillman up with Chein). Hackett made a strange defense of himself, saying that other doctors were giving drugs to wrestlers without even writing prescriptions. "At least I was writing the scrips, but I can tell you right now there are other doctors out there, but I'm not going to mention any names because they know who they are, who are actually bringing the drugs to the arena and giving it to them." Hackett has the strange distinction for prescribing drugs to at least three wrestlers that have died. Louie Mucciolo was another one. The third is unknown other than it was part of the Indiana board's evidence against him. Hackett has not been charged with any crimes although the news report said police investigators said they would like to see charges filed. Hackett was well known among wrestlers in both WWF and WCW, who used him to write scrips. After Pillman's death, the WWF banned he and several other well known doctors among the wrestlers from backstage access at their events. Hackett had at one point tried to claim discrimination, except he was not the only doctor singled out. Later the WWF warned their wrestlers to stay away from him, although even after the warning, several continued to get medication, including steroids, from him, even after the medical licensing board temporarily suspended his right to dispense prescription medication

Romeo Bliss and Stone Mountain of NWA Wildside will be getting try-outs on 12/18 and 12/19 TV tapings in Greenville and Charlotte

In the Sports Rec video charts, WWF had the top four in sales in Rock: The People's Champ; Tables, Ladders and Chairs; Eve of Destruction and Divas from the Caribbean. The latest Austin video is only at No. 6, sandwiched in between ECW censored video at No. 5 and uncensored at No. 7. It's still interesting that the ECW censored video has consistently outsold the uncensored version. The FMW home video is No. 8, the ICP video is No. 10, IFC's Caged Combat debuted on the charts at No. 17 and XPW is at No. 18. It's really embarrassing to see groups like FMW, IFC and XPW and the Juggalos on the charts while WCW hasn't had a video in months, and Pride and New Japan haven't even attempted to market to the American audience and UFC can't make the list even with its higher name profile than IFC. Pride will be attempting to break into the U.S. market with a two-disc DVD/VHS of the May 1, 2000 Pride Grand Prix finals, which will be released in January, which would include the entire 90 minute Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie match. With 11 of the top 20 being WWF videos, it is the fewest WWF videos in the top 20 in years, largely due to the aforementioned smaller companies getting into the game. The only non-wrestling or fighting videos in the top 20 are two NBA home videos and a Rodeo video

"Access Hollywood" did a WWF special over the weekend which we're told might as well have been written by Continued on page 18.




Bret Hart may be gone from the business, but as far as I'm concerned, the real Bret Hart left in 1997. While you may have seen his face, his body, his pink tights, as he departed from the WWF in 1997, the soul left the business following Montreal. Was the Bret Hart in WCW a credible worker? Yes. Was he the "best there was, the best there is and the best there ever will be?" No. Was the Bret Hart in WCW "the excellence of execution?" No. Was the Bret Hart in WCW the man who could carry stiffs like Roddy Piper and Diesel to classic matches? No. Was the Bret Hart in WCW the man who had multiple ****+ matches with Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and many others? No.

If anyone is a winner in the final years of the illustrious career of Bret Hart, it's Vince McMahon. McMahon was able to turn Hart's departure to heat up his own heel turn to where it became a major focal point in the turnaround of his company. McMahon got rid of a million dollar contract and gave Eric Bischoff someone that he had no idea how to use. Bret Hart came in second place in Wrestler of the Year balloting in 1998. He didn't even get an honorable mention in 1999.

The Bret Hart in WCW was a very capable worker, who had occasional good matches with Booker T and Chris Benoit, but it wasn't the Bret Hart I want to remember. He fell into a workrate rut. He relied on the same basic spot sequence over and over again.

Two quotes stand out in my mind. In 1996, he said, "Perhaps the strongest reason I didn't picture myself going to the WCW was because I would have been lost in the shuffle, in a deck of cards filled with Hulk Hogan. One thing about the WWF, in contrast to the WCW, is that we almost always take their previous stars and make them brighter, and they take our stars and make them dimmer. I'm sure Diesel and Razor will quickly find out what it's like to be on the Hulk Hogan show."

After reading that quote, it hurt me to see Hart playing second fiddle to Hogan. It hurt me to see Hart, a wrestler who spoke out against Hogan, have so many potential big money making angles both with and without Hogan in WCW all blown.

When I look at the memorable career of Hart, I want to remember how he carried Diesel on more than one occasion to a classic match. His Iron Man match with Shawn Michaels. The USA vs. Canada feud. The cage match with Owen Hart, which under normal circumstances would have been a disaster considering 30:00 was way too long for a climb out of the cage match with blading not allowed, and Bret was working the match with a strep throat. Under all those limitations, the two had a ***** match. This is the Bret Hart I want to remember.

"I would like to go as far as possible, until I reach a point in time where I see myself becoming an embarrassment, an old pathetic embarrassment, much like Hulk Hogan. To envision myself plodding along like him and many others in the WCW would be too much for me to take. When I talk out, whether it's three months from now or three years from now, I will walk out with my head up high."

While I always felt the heart and soul that Bret Hart had in the WWF, not only left the WWF but the business entirely in 1997, it's sad to see Hart leave the business without his head up high. In a business where so many wrestlers are out to please only themselves, Hart was never afraid to go the extra mile to put on a great show for fans worldwide. If anyone deserved to leave the business with their head up and deserved a chance to say goodbye to their fans, it was Bret Hart.

David Pordy


I think the most important point has been lost in the discussion of the WWF lawsuit against the PTC. The WWF isn't just filing the suit on its own merits, but also to bankrupt the PTC and L.Brent Bozell. The cost of defending the lawsuit will be very high, and the WWF will easily be able to cover their side of the costs.

If the PTC were to file for bankruptcy, Vince McMahon could actually conceivably pick up their name and other assets at a low cost. There is a precedent. The Church of Scientology picked up the assets of one of its top detractors, the Cult Awareness Network, when CAN was bankrupted by a lawsuit, although not a lawsuit brought directly by the Chuck of Scientology. So now, Church of Scientology members answer the phones at the Cult Awareness Network and have access to all the old Cult Awareness Network files.

Jason Campbell



When pro wrestling promoter turned sports impresario Vince McMahon announced his intention to start a new football league, he proposed several changes from NFL rules to make his brand of football more fun. The most disturbing of these proposals was the legalization of the head slap. Over 20 years have passed since the NFL banned head slapping, so it isn't surprising most current football fans don't know why it was banned. The stories that prompted the ban were relatively underreported at that time anyway.

A number of NFL lineman suffered ruptured ear drums as the result of having the ear holes on their helmets slapped. These injuries were not only painful, but they often resulted in some permanent hearing loss or even complete deafness in the affected ear.

Vince McMahon has promised a football league that is more fun for player and spectator alike. Ask yourself how much fun it will be to see a plumber, retail clerk, or accountant who is making a few thousand dollars by playing in the XFL suffer permanent hearing loss.

Liberalizing the rules is one thing. Presiding over mayhem that results in permanent disability is another. Hopefully McMahon will do some research into why the head slap was banned by the NFL and decide not to allow it in the XFL either.

Frank Jewett


In the 11/13 issue, it was written that Osaka Pro Wrestling is one of the best house shows to attend. I couldn't agree more. I attended the 10/15 house show in Osaka at the NGK Studio. It was a great show. Even with the gimmick masks and the comedy early on, which was good comedy, the wrestling was excellent. Dick Togo, in the six-man tag, was good. Also, Naohiro Hoshikawa in the Tenozan 2000 tournament finals against Super Delfin was a solid match. I was able to purchase three commercial tapes of past Osaka Pro shows and those were just as good as the live show I attended. The 10/15 house show was far superior than any episodes this year of Raw and Nitro put together this year, and actually in the past couple of years.

Taka Kurosaka

San Jose, California


Obviously the question of Big Daddy in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame is a very difficult one. By the, rightly or wrongly, recognized modern standard of everything, TV ratings, Crabtree surely outdrew almost every single wrestler currently in the Hall of Fame. To draw fully one-sixth of the population of the country every week on television is unquestionably a spectacular achievement.

The ratings he drew are even more amazing when you consider the time slot, Saturday afternoons, when hundreds of thousands were at live football (soccer) matches. He wa also a consistent draw for two decades, so longevity can't be an issue.

Workrate isn't an issue either. He was spectacularly awful. You could point out he could get a pop, thus had an understanding of ring psychology, but no-selling usually does get you over and is hardly an art form.

I've seen Big Daddy referred to by some U.S. writers as the "English Hulk Hogan." For reasons I don't have to remind anyone of, that analogy is true in many ways. For the British fans who truly understand the wrestling business, Big Daddy is Satan, largely blamed for the death of British wrestling, and that argument has merit. However, just as WCW hasn't fallen only because of Hogan, Nash and pushing all the old guys, it is also too simplistic to blame the death of British wrestling only on Big Daddy.

The industry simply refused to change with the times. Much like the U.S. business, it went into a slump. Unlike the U.S. business, it never recovered. Big Daddy, as little as I respect him, cannot take all the blame for this.

When ITV got a new director, he hated wrestling. With only three channels in the country at that time, ratings weren't even a consideration. He dumped it when it was stall drawing millions of viewers. That was a considerably large nail in the coffin of British wrestling and Big Daddy had nothing to do with it.

I'd also like to offer my opinion on Davey Boy Smith. Smith was wrestling in front of 10 million TV viewers while still of high school age. While I'd never suggest he was anything like an equal partner, he was half of the most innovative tag team of the 80s, the British Bulldogs. He was a star in North America from the mid-80s through 1999. During the WWF's first big hot period, he and Tom Billington did headline house shows and headlined the Chicago part of Wrestlemania II. He was also a big star in Japan for both major companies.

The way I see it, because they teamed for so long, Tom and Davey have very similar achievements. Sure, Davey was not the worker Tom was, but you can hardly punish a guy for that! Davey's matches with Shawn Michaels, Bret and Owen Hart were classics and are remembered as such. And it isn't like Davey was being carried in those matches. He was an excellent worker in his prime.

He also had two highly successful singles stints in the WWF without Billington. He played a massively important part in breaking the U.S. market for the WWF. Thanks in part to Smith, the U.K. has been a major part of the WWF universe, with Sky TV screening more hours of WWF programming per week than any other TV network on Earth. His is a major and lasting contribution to the success of the WWF. While the WWF would have taken off in the U.K. without him, it would have taken longer. The importance of having a larger-than-life Englishman for the U.K. papers to constantly write about was a major advantage for the WWF.

In 1992, Smith headlined only the second non-U.S. PPV in history for one of the best matches in WWF history against Bret Hart, who to this day says it was the best match of his career. The national interest in the match at Wembley Stadium can't be exaggerated. For weeks beforehand, it made the national press, even the front pages. It had a build-up usually reserved for a major event like the FC Cup Final. It drew a sellout crowd to Wembley, still the second biggest crowd in WWF history.

Anthony Evans

Continued from page 16. the WWF itself. It did mention Stephanie McMahon as the head writer of the TV show. It also credited the WWF's recent turnaround not to the popularity of Austin, or the Austin vs. McMahon feud, or the 1997 Survivor Series, or any other angle or personality, but to the admission by Vince that pro wrestling was staged

entertainment. Since that came in 1989, and everyone else in wrestling also freely admits it today, it must have been one of those very slow developing angles, which I guess means WCW and ECW are due for a big turnaround a few years from now when that slow building angle hits their company

Fans in Australia are now getting more up-to-date WWF coverage. Raw now airs on Tuesday nights with a tape of the show that airs in the U.S. the previous night. Smackdown now airs on Friday night, again on a one day delay. Raw had been airing on a two week delay. To catch up, on 11/14, they aired a three-and-a-half hour Raw episode which aired both the 11/6 and 11/13 shows. The 10/30 Raw never aired in Australia and a casualty of catching up

Smackdown on 11/7 in Dallas drew a sellout 13,763 paying $428,297. House show on 11/11 in Cincinnati drew 7,262 paying $208,022. House shows on 11/12 in Dayton, OH drew 5,232 paying $163,484 and the same night in Huntington, WV drew 4,159 paying $141,723. Raw on 11/13 at the new Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH drew a sellout 13,284 paying $413,148. Arena merchandise for the week was $374,819, which is $8.58 per head. It was the weakest weekend for house show business in some time, which isn't something to get alarmed about yet. The days of every show coming close to capacity appear over, but they still had a couple of sellouts in good-sized arenas. Austin's first matches back in the arenas are not popping business and these weekend shows were all without Rock, but that can't be used as an explanation because there were plenty of shows without Austin or Rock that just weeks ago were selling out. I wouldn't blame it on the move to TNN and the ratings drop of the secondary shows as well as Raw, because Smackdown is still delivering the same audience it has for some time, and now against stronger first-run competition. In Cincinnati, the main event was Austin & Undertaker over Kane & Angle. Angle worked twice, earlier beating Jericho, since Benoit missed the show due to transportation problems. Apparently there was an administrative miscue and they forgot to put Benoit's name on the flight list and he couldn't get on the flight. Bob Holly returned losing to Regal in a European title match. With split crews on Sunday, Dayton used Austin & Undertaker over Kane & Angle as its main event, while Huntington had Jericho over Benoit clean with the walls as its main event.