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October 30, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Death of Yokozuna, Bret Hart leaves WCW, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 October 30, 2000

Rodney Anoia, who was the heaviest superstar in the history of pro wrestling and a two-time WWF champion under the name Yokozuna, passed away suddenly on 10/23 in a Liverpool, England hotel room a few weeks after his 34th birthday.

Anoia was the most successful of the huge Samoan clan of wrestlers started by Afa & Sika Anoia, his uncles, when they began wrestling in the early 1970s. He was one of the biggest stars in the business around the world during his WWF run, which lasted from late 1992 through 1996.

Whether Anoia was the heaviest man ever to perform in the world of pro wrestling is a matter of conjecture. It is believed that Anoia weighed close to, if not, 800 pounds in late 1996, at about the time the WWF stopped using him because of his weight problem. He never was actually weighed during this period. The "Guiness Book of World Records" for years listed Happy Humphrey, real name Bill Cobb, who wrestled in the late 50s and early 60s but was never a major star, as the heaviest wrestler of all-time at 802 pounds. Judging from photos and accounts from wrestling historians, while Cobb was easily the heaviest man of his era, he was not that tall, and the belief is that the 800-pound billing, like Haystacks Calhoun at 601-pounds (he was closer to 450 to 500 pounds) and Andre the Giant at 7-foot-4, was much typical pro wrestling exaggeration. There were twin brothers, Billy and Benny McCrary, who wrestled as the McGuire Twins in the early 70s, who legitimately weighed 745 and 765 pounds apiece, and likely still hold the record as being the world's heaviest twins. They did some wrestling, but also were never big stars and only wrestled on occasion, with their most famous bout being in Japan where they lost a handicap match to Antonio Inoki. But with the exception of Calhoun, who was likely around 500 pounds for most of his career, Big Show, who at his heaviest in WCW was 505 pounds, and Andre, whose weight likely peaked at 530 to 550 pounds at the tail end of his career, and perhaps Nelson Frazier as Mabel or Viscera, none of the legitimately 500 pound wrestlers had anything resembling serious success.

Anoia was clearly the heaviest man in the history of the WWF (Humphrey and the McGuire Twins never worked for the WWWF), as he clearly far outweighed Calhoun, Andre or Big Show, and heaviest man ever to be a long-term main eventer.

He was found by the driver of the tour bus for Brian Dixon's All-Star Promotions in England when he didn't answer the door to his room on 10/23 at the Moat Hotel in Liverpool, as they were headed to a show that night in Stockport, Cheshire. He appeared to have passed away in his sleep from what was believed to have been a heart attack. Reports were that he was drinking heavily the night before. The previous day he had a lengthy phone call from his first cousin, Solofa Fatu, who wrestles as Rikishi, telling him how proud he was of him because he was in the main event for the first time on a PPV. He was on something of a WWF reunion tour, billed as Wrestlemania U.K., built around him as the top attraction. Also on the tour were Greg Valentine, Marty Jannetty and Steve Keirn as Skinner among others (Shinjiro Otani of New Japan also worked on many of the same dates) after the promotion did strong business for a tour built around John Tenta as Earthquake. While the period Yokozuna headlined was a down period in North America, it was a strong period for exposure in the U.K.

On the tour, he almost looked like he had mismatched parts. His upper body was considerably smaller than in the WWF days, looking like about a 375-pound man. But from the waist down, he had hips, butt and thighs that looked like they belonged on a man who weighed 700 pounds.

Anoia was living in Los Angeles, away from most of the rest of his family, which was scattered around San Francisco, Allentown, PA and Pensacola, FL, with his two children as a single father at the time of his death. The death was doubly tragic to his famous family, which had already been devastated earlier this year when on 1/7 had lost another member with the death of Gary Albright, in the ring on a show promoted by Afa and in the arms of Samu, in Hazelton, PA, at the age of 36. Albright had married Rodney Anoia's first cousin, Monica Anoia, a few years back. In recent years, he had been living in Las Vegas and was associated with the Buffalo Jim wrestling school, but left Vegas when that didn't work out. He was not allowed to wrestle in states that licensed wrestlers because of his weight being considered too high a risk factor and heart problems by the New York State Athletic Commission, a suspension that technically is supposed to be honored by all states with commissions that regulate wrestling. The WWF had considered using him, although they were adamant for him to get his weight down to 400 pounds, but their hands were tied because they weren't going to sign a wrestler who couldn't perform in more than 20 states, including New York, where they run so frequently. Still, WCW made a strong offer for him to return in February of 1999, wanting him to do a run-in on the SuperBrawl PPV show, but the deal was never completed and the sides never talked again. In recent years, he had wrestled infrequently on independent shows, including in some commission states where they ran shows without commission approval, or where the commissions simply weren't aware of his New York suspension. He had also done some international touring, largely based on the name made during his WWF run and using the Yokozuna name, but with his weight ranging from 600 to 750 pounds, he had been largely immobile in the ring over the past four plus years.

Anoia was well liked among the wrestlers, and respected because, before the weight had gotten out of control and when he was young, he was very mobile for a man of his size, and was on top for nine months straight as champion, which is still the second longest heel title run (Superstar Billy Graham in the late 70s held it for ten months) in the history of the company. His death was mentioned later that night on both Raw, with Vince McMahon calling him the greatest big man in the history of wrestling, which is debatable, although he was respected as being a very good worker for his size during his peak years, and Nitro, where announcers Tony Schiavone, Mark Madden and Stevie Ray said largely the same thing. At first, the decision was made not to mention his name on Nitro since he never worked for WCW, but pressure from the wrestlers themselves who knew him led to the decision being changed.

Rodney Anoia was born October 2, 1966 and grew up in San Francisco. By the time he was a child, his two uncles, Afa & Sika, had already started in pro wrestling, and Peter Maivia, whose success inspired the clan to get into pro wrestling first as fans, was an area headliner. Because of his size and agility, he was trained by his uncles and cousins (Sam Fatu and Samula Anoia) who had already started wrestling, as a teenager. He broke in under the name Kokina Anoia, and later, The Great Kokina, while only 18 years of age in the summer of 1985 and already being about 400 pounds. The gimmick of the huge Samoan from his other successful family members was well established, and he played a similar role, working heel in some smaller territories in Alabama, the WOW, an outlaw Alabama promotion, and Continental Wrestling, where he was involved in a short feud with Lord Humongous (Sid Eudy under a mask) and also worked USWA for a short period early in his career. He actually became an attraction first internationally, for the UWA in Mexico, when it was a major force and where the promotion often relied on bringing giant foreigners in to feud with Canek as its big money program. By the age of 21, had his first tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

One of his favorite stories from Mexico was apparently very early in his career, he was in a six-man, where one of his partners was Andre and two of their opponents were Badnews Allen and Bam Bam Bigelow at the huge El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos. This didn't actually involve him directly, but as legend had it, Andre went to do his sit down splash, which, due to all his injuries by this point, had become his finisher, on Badnews. Apparently, at the moment of impact, Andre lost  control of his bowels all over Badnews, and worse, due to his physical condition, couldn't get up.


YOKOZUNA

 

CAREER TITLE HISTORY

 

Source: Wrestling Title Histories Fourth Edition

 

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Bret Hart April 4, 1993 Las Vegas; lost to Hulk Hogan April 4, 1993 Las Vegas; def. Hulk Hogan June 13, 1993 Dayton, OH; lost to Bret Hart March 20, 1994 New York

 

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION TAG TEAM: w/Owen Hart def. Billy & Bart Gunn April 2, 1995 Hartford, CT; lost to Diesel & Shawn Michaels September 24, 1995 Saginaw, MI; Belts returned to Hart & Yokozuna because Yokozuna & Davey Boy Smith had started the match as a team; lost to Billy & Bart Gunn September 25, 1995 Grand Rapids, MI


He worked in the typical large foreign heel role for New Japan. Since he wasn't a big-name wrestler, he'd usually work in tags on top or in the middle as a single, doing 13 tours between 1988 and 1992. He debuted on the August 1988 tour, and was often used as a monster tag team partner for Big Van Vader, and as the guy who would do the job in headline matches against the Japanese. His first major match was January 31, 1990 teaming with Vader to lose to IWGP tag team champions Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto. By the summer, they brought his cousin Samula Anoia in as The Wild Samoan to form a regular tag team. On July 19, 1990, the two lost when challenging for the IWGP tag team title against Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono.

It was in Japan, when the gimmick that changed his career surfaced. In 1992, Anoia, then maybe 440 pounds, was introduced to Konishiki, a 580-pound Samoan sumo wrestler who at the time was one of the biggest celebrities in Japan because he was an Ozeki in sumo, which is the position right under Yokozuna. Photos of the meeting showed Anoia to be far smaller than the Japanese sumo superstar. Anoia looked somewhat like Konishiki and was actually outside of wrestling often confused with being Konishiki because of the sumo gimmick he used in pro wrestling. The Yokozuna position in sumo is carefully guarded, like entrance into the Hall of Fame in sports, and at that point in time, Konishiki regarded as someone of perhaps Yokozuna level prowess inside the sumo circle, had been denied access to such a promotion, with charges being it was because of his Samoan/Hawaiian heritage, as only Japanese had been promoted to such a level at that point in the history of sumo (that is no longer the case). At the same time, he was getting his first major exposure in the United States during the dying days of the AWA promotion, given the name Kokina Maximus, the last name because of his unusually large weight distribution in his Gluteus Maximus.

The meeting with Konishiki led to the creation of Yokozuna, a character based on Konishiki, and perhaps in its own way, his early demise.

When Vince McMahon brought him in, it was as the ultimate monster heel. He'd be Yokozuna, billed as Japanese, and the greatest sumo champion, a man who couldn't even be knocked off his feet, which was the trademark of sumos who, because of their size and lower body power, are hard to move or take off their feet. McMahon wanted him to get much bigger at first, probably whether consciously or unconsciously because of the look of Konishiki, to make him an unbelievably huge monster. He quickly gained weight to well over 500 pounds. Because of all the pressure on the company from the steroid scandal, it was very difficult to bring in monsters, which the company had always liked their top heels to be. Anoia had the ability to get to monstrous proportions, particularly his thighs and butt, which were emphasized in a sumo-like costume, and at that point in his life, still maintain enough mobility to have a decent match. Unfortunately, many close to him blame the habits he picked up during the huge weight gain spurt for the role, were those he was never later able to lick, and his weight became a problem for him ever since. When the problem get well out of control and his weight likely had topped 650 pounds in 1996, the WWF did take serious action. They attempted to enroll him in a Duke University weight loss program, but he only lasted a weekend, not liking their attempts to cold turkey change his lifestyle, rebelled, and wound up returning even heavier. They took him off the road, but kept him under contract, encouraging him to exercise and drop weight. As his weight appeared to hover around the 750 to 800 pound mark in late 1996, at a time when he was being sparingly used, he was dropped from the active roster completely and later upon an attempt to bring him back, failed the New York State Athletic Commission physical, with a report saying that his continuing wrestling posed a health risk due to his weight and heart irregularities. He remained under contract with the company for some time after that. Even after his contract ran out and wasn't renewed, and even as recently as a few weeks ago, had talks about returning. The hold-up would have been, as it had always been the past four years, that he never got his weight under control which would have made it impossible to use him in many states. Even without regulation, he was a health risk in a business already lined with tragedies.

For the first several months in the WWF in late 1992, Yokozuna, managed by Mr. Fuji, was promoted as the strongest monster heel the company had pushed since the untalented Zeus coming off the "No Holds Barred" movie was given a quick push for two gimmick PPV shows. He squashed everyone, never even selling early, then just staggering against higher level opponents, but never going off his feet. It was a WWF gimmick from the distant past, as some 22 years earlier, Bruno Sammartino had drawn two straight crowds of more than 20,000 fans to Madison Square Garden when McMahon's father had brought in Crusher Verdu, an untalented wrestler who never was a great success anywhere else, but given the gimmick that nobody could ever even knock him off his feet. The first Sammartino-Verdu match broke a 50-year-old gate record for the building. It wasn't until months later, in likely the last great, at least by the standards of the moment, match of Jim Duggan's career, that Duggan actually knocked him off his feet, which led to a major program between the two. He was so hot that just a few months after his debut, on January 24, 1993 in Sacramento, CA, he won the Royal Rumble, and thus was primed to win the WWF championship from Bret Hart at Wrestlemania.

The reign lasted less than one minute. Business was in the toilet during this period. It was the aftermath of the steroid and sex scandals that broke in early 1992, combined with some of the worst booking period including a lame Papa Shango voodoo angle as a headliner. Many of the company's biggest names, including Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, The Legion of Doom, Davey Boy Smith, Sid Vicious as Sid Justice all left the promotion for a variety of reasons publicly, but it was during the period there was great pressure on the WWF to clean the company's steroid problem up.

McMahon brought back Hogan, who hadn't wrestled since the previous years' Wrestlemania when he teased a retirement to build up the gate, which was more McMahon wanting Hogan out of the public eye because he was a lightning rod of negative publicity, to make a big return at Wrestlemania IX on April 4, 1993 in Las Vegas. After Hart lost to Yokozuna in 8:55, Hogan stepped in and pinned Yokozuna, handing him his first loss in the company, with a legdrop in just 21 seconds.

But business stayed poor with Hogan as champion. McMahon's idea was to build around Hart, giving Hart the credibility of having been the man Hogan passed the torch to as the young new champion, and keeping Hogan around in the Bruno Sammartino role after Sammartino had dropped the title, as the veteran legend to come back to spike gates but no longer be the focal point of the main events. Hogan didn't go for being phased down, nor, because of the big man mind set that was prevalent throughout the 80s in wrestling, of losing to a 235-pound babyface. He instead picked the much larger Yokozuna to drop the title to, at the first King of the Ring PPV event on June 13, 1993 in Dayton, OH, even allowing Yokozuna, after Hogan was blinded by outside interference, to get pinned by his own finisher, the legdrop. The idea was to build up big money rematches with Hogan as challenger, but the gates remained very disappointing and Hogan less than two months later quit the WWF to work in television and continue working major shows with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Yokozuna became the focal point of the WWF for about one year as its champion. With Hogan gone, apparently for good this time, McMahon's idea was to create a new Hogan, picking Lex Luger. Yokozuna was billed as the man who defeated Hogan and who nobody could get off his feet, as Hogan failed to slam him in the Dayton match, preferring to at that point save it for a rematch that never happened where he would use the slam to get his win back. This led to a bodyslam challenge on July 4, 1993, the nation's birthday, on the USS Entrepid, where the huge foreigner, pushed as the man even Hogan couldn't slam, dared everyone to attempt to take him off his feet and slam him. All the top babyfaces were there and failed. Suddenly, at the last minute, Luger, who had been a heel, performed the slam, not an impressive slam, but a slam nonetheless. Luger was promoted as the new shining star of the company with a bus tour to transform his image. Even Hogan was never given such a major promotion behind him. Nearly everyone expected Luger to win the title at Summer Slam, on August 30, 1993 in Auburn Hills, MI, but instead, in a weak finish, Luger won via count out. The decision was made to hold off the title change until Wrestlemania, with the old chase being more lucrative than the capture mentality. But in this case, that didn't seem to work. Luger's momentum fizzled when he didn't win the title. He remained popular, but the edge between a top guy and the top guy who means big business wasn't in him any longer, if it had ever been there in his career, even with McMahon's strong promotion of him as the new American hero all summer.

At the January 22, 1994 Royal Rumble in Providence, RI, Yokozuna beat Undertaker in a casket match when approximately a dozen wrestlers interfered, and they basically portrayed Undertaker as having died and gone to heaven, since he was taking nearly a year off for personal reasons. The Royal Rumble was to be a tie with Hart and Luger, leading to Luger eventually beating Yokozuna at Wrestlemania. However, the fan response to Hart was far stronger than to Luger when they were the final two, and the WWF hedged its best, making Wrestlemania into a series of matches on March 20, 1994 in Madison Square Garden, with Yokozuna beating Luger via DQ in the first match, but losing to Hart in 10:38 in a match with Roddy Piper as referee.

While this was going on, because he had used a Japanese gimmick to become one of pro wrestling's biggest stars, Anoia had received huge publicity and was somewhat controversial back in Japan. The Japanese Sumo Association had been upset at someone using the name Yokozuna, feeling it was defacing sumo with an impostor that had never been competed in sumo claiming the honor, similar to an actor who had never played football claiming to be a Super Bowl MVP. Nevertheless, the fans had interest in seeing him. But as the main attraction of the WWF's May 1994 tour of Japan, which turned into a flop, it was the WWF's lack of understanding Japan that was evident in the booking. First, Undertaker beat Yokozuna via count out, leading to fans hating the non-finish. Even worse, the next night, against Genichiro Tenryu, the two went to a double count out, which left an even stronger negative reaction in a country where fans had grown to expect all matches to have clean finishes. On the final night of the tour, in a title match against Hart, Yokozuna lost via DQ due to outside interference of Mr. Fuji, leading to a similar reaction.

By the fall, he feuded with Undertaker in his comeback matches, but those were poor draws, and that, combined with his lack of stamina and mobility to work singles matches, led to putting him with Owen Hart, a great worker, in a tag team with Jim Cornette as the mouthpiece. The two won the WWF tag titles from The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn, the latter now All Japan's Mike Barton) at Wrestlemania XI on April 2, 1995 in Hartford. By the King of the Ring PPV on June 25, 1995, he lost in the first match of the show via count out to Savio Vega. They dropped the belts on September 25, 1995 at Raw in Grand Rapids, MI back to the Smoking Gunns.

His contract was running out in early 1996 as he was being phased down the cards. Hogan, never having gotten his win back from the Dayton match, at a time when people actually cared about such things, made a big play to bring him into WCW for that purpose, just as he later did with Ultimate Warrior, the other wrestler he had never gotten his win back in the WWF from. A play was made to bring the entire Samoan clan in, with Afa (who had been friends with Hogan dating back to the late 70s) as the leader, with Yokozuna, Fatu (whose contract was also expiring). McMahon got wind of it, and before Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made themselves into bigger stars and turned WCW around with their jump, McMahon quelled this one and offered Yokozuna and Fatu major pushes as singles babyfaces. They were given roles, but neither got over in role and the big pushes never materialized. Yokozuna feuded with Cornette's stable of Vader, Hart and Davey Boy Smith, but it was more his role to put Vader over. By the end of the summer, he was no longer a factor due to his weight, including losing to Steve Austin at the SummerSlam PPV in just 1:52 in a match where they gimmicked the ropes collapsing under his weight and his final appearance in the WWF was in Madison Square Garden at Survivor Series on November 17, 1996 in a throwaway match teaming with Flash Funk (Too Cold Scorpio), Jimmy Snuka and Vega losing to Faarooq & Vader & the new Razor Ramon (Rick Bogner) & the new Diesel (Glen Jacobs, now Kane). The match ended up with everyone in the match disqualified at once. Yokozuna may have been 800 pounds by this point and could do almost nothing in the ring. At the age of 30, his career for all real purposes, was over.

He was eventually released by the WWF in 1997 due to his weight problems, wrestling on rare occasions on indie shows. His last major appearance was one many would rather forget, the embarrassing main event at the October 10, 1999 Heroes of Wrestling PPV from Bay St. Louis, MS where he, looking to be about 600 pounds, teamed with Jake Roberts, putting over King Kong Bundy and Jim Neidhart.


Despite a ton of media stories and rumors, there are no major changes in the landscape of the proposed WWF purchase of WCW deal. Talks have continued over the past week, but progress appears to be slower than many would have liked.

According to various sources very close to the negotiations themselves, reports of a Vince McMahon/Brad Siegel blow-up and a re-opening of discussions with Eric Bischoff are exaggerated greatly. One source close to the situation said that there have been frustrations on the WCW side at some of the deal points that WWF doesn't want to budge on and there are numerous points on the WWF side that appear to be potential deal breakers. What those are don't appear to be clear, but stories of those points being the retention of front office workers or arguments over which side gets PPV money due in from the past three or four shows as has been reported doesn't appear to be the sticking points. We've also had denials of the going media story reported in many places and rumored in wrestling for some time that the WWF has the right to match any purchase offer as part of the settlement in its lawsuit with WCW. WWF lawyers also told the Blomberg Business News Wire there is no such agreement in the lawsuit settlement.

While no doubt some wrestlers would be upset about a potential sale removing virtually whatever is left of talent negotiating leverage by having only one major company in North America, there have been no class action lawsuits filed to prevent a sale or even seriously threatened as has been printed in numerous places, and actually the majority of WCW talent isn't nearly as against a sale as one would be led to believe. Discussions are continuing, and at least as of press time, it doesn't appear that WCW has re-opened any talks with the group headed by Bischoff, nor does it now appear a deal would be finalized within the next few days.

The hold-ups appear to be more along the lines of existing contracts, not just talent contracts, but all facets of business, that WCW had made. There could also be a hold-up with the recently cut deal with Viacom, which is paying $28 million per year for exclusivity of the WWF on cable with the idea that being the WWF wrestling station would make TNN a major player on cable. Viacom also owns 2.3 percent of WWFE stock but if the deal goes through, the company would likely have to supply programming to rival stations TNT and TBS. While many of the talent contracts have the 90-day clauses and thus legally could be restructured, the long-term business deals would not have such provisions. When it comes to all facets of doing pro wrestling business, WWF would likely want to re-structure contracts, or as it would pertain to licensing and merchandise, want to use its existing office staff that handles such things and the brand power of the WWF to cut better deals than WCW, with its weaker popularity and thus weaker negotiating leverage, would be able to cut.


Bret Hart was officially terminated on 10/20 by World Championship Wrestling, a little over one week shy of what would have been the third anniversary of the decision he'd made in 1997, just before the Survivor Series match in Montreal, to join WCW.

To say the nearly three-year period was a disappointment would be the understatement of the century. When Hart came to WCW, due to the controversy that surrounded in final match in the WWF, he was arguably the hottest commodity in the industry. With only a few weeks of build-up, his first main event with Ric Flair drew a strong buy rate, and then the program was abruptly dropped. Instead, a program where he and Flair would form a tag team was started. But it was also dropped before the two ever teamed up. The false start booking plagued his entire tenure, although his tenure was plagued even worse with several serious injuries, so many face/heel turns that nobody could keep count or even take them seriously, as well as the highly publicized death of his brother.

The decision to drop Hart, whose contract as face value was the second highest in the company to Hulk Hogan, comes as no surprise from a business standpoint. The company is running deeply in the red and there is strong pressure to cut costs. Hart, who hasn't wrestled since January, had his career in jeopardy and there was no indication he would be able to wrestle at any time soon, or for that matter, ever again.

The company had already in the previous week plus, fired Juventud Guerrera for disciplinary reasons, as well as Scott Hall, allegedly for disciplinary reasons although it had to do with incidents in February, who was another of the company's highest paid performers that had not worked in nine months due to neck surgery.

Ironically, the fed-ex letter to terminate him, which was sent on 10/19, came just after an approval letter stating that they had approved his contract extension through November 30, 2002, which was the two year option period on the original contract he had signed last year. Because Hart had been unable to wrestle inside the ring, by the provisions of his contract, after 90 days, he could have at any time been fired.

It is possible that the career of Hart, 43, who was one of the leading contenders for the Wrestler of the Decade of the 1990s honors, as a pro wrestler is over. The odds are strong at least as a wrestler inside the ring, that is the case. He never recovered from the multiple concussions in a short period of time suffered in late December and early January and is still heavily plagued by their after-affects, starting with a kick thrown at his head by Bill Goldberg in the Starrcade match and worsened with numerous head blows in the weeks that followed, most notably in a hardcore match with Terry Funk. He had been disenchanted with the wrestling industry dating back to 1997, a situation that grew far worse after the death of his brother and having to cope with his career ending on such a sour note.

Hart had signed a three-year contract for approximately $2.5 million per year with WCW stemming from his departure from the WWF for a series of well documented reasons in late 1997. Since Hart held the WWF title at the time he made the decision to leave, controversy over how the title would be dropped grew out of control and resulted in the match where Vince McMahon inadvertently at first, turned himself heel, and led to turning the fortunes of his company around, with a match that will be remembered probably more than any match of this era. But even though an award winning documentary captured some of the key sequences, it was really after Montreal where the true tragedy began with the death of his brother Owen in 1999, which only served to heighten bitterness between the two sides and led to a highly publicized lawsuit filed by his sister-in-law against the WWF. Hart was out of action at the time of his brother's death due to surgery for a groin tear, and considered retirement, but agreed to come back for an angle with Hulk Hogan. Like many opportunities with WCW that involved Hart, both him coming into the company with so much fanfare coming out of Montreal, to the ability to repackage him after the movie "Wrestling with Shadows" based on Montreal which was squandered, to even the natural sympathy of making his comeback after his brothers' death, somehow were all squandered with false starts and abrupt and illogical turns. Nevertheless, in late 1999, with the company floundering, Vince Russo in his first run as booker was attempting to build the main program of a Goldberg chase of world champion Hart, who turned heel once again just before Starrcade, after winning a title tournament. But Hart was injured in their Starrcade match, and by continually wrestling after unknowingly receiving the first major concussion and receiving more head trauma, did what appears to be permanent damage and never wrestled again. Hart's bitterness at both WWF, WCW and the changes in wrestling and what fans have spurred the business to become in making it more dangerous for the performers have led to him being outspoken about his thoughts, and have resulted in him being in many circles heavily criticized within the profession, particularly in his weekly Calgary Sun column. Publicly, his recent criticism of WCW led tremendous bitterness among the higher-ups in the company, although many wrestlers privately admitted that they agreed with most of what he wrote. Still, it went against the mores of the industry to complain about inside things in a public forum, and validity or non-validity of the points made when complaining have never been the nature of criticism of people who have negative things to say about wrestling nearly as much as breaking the taboo about publicly complaining with any frequency. The business in a sense was better because he was still receiving what amounted to a seven-figure income even with his salary cut back and even without wrestling inside the ring, as there was a period in the not too distant past where wrestlers in many companies unable to perform due to injuries received little if any income from the promotions, but had it been any major sport, he would have at least received full pay for either the term of the contract, or in the case of football, at least for the remainder of the season. But even in football, a player suffering a career ending injury, whose contract isn't renewed for the next season, receive numerous benefits after his career had ended that wrestling doesn't have, particularly if they played long enough to qualify for the pension plan. It can also be noted that during that past in wrestling, while injuries occurred with regularity, the injury rate paled compared to modern times due to the in-ring style being less physically dangerous in the past. Due to the provisions in his contract and also due to the money losses incurred at WCW, he was cut back to half pay several months after being put out of action.

Still, even while unable to wrestle, he was brought back for several more false-start angles on television as a heel, while at the same time getting over strong as a babyface making appearances on international tours. The latest as heel run re-started the program with Goldberg, which once again was abruptly dropped after going nowhere.

WCW President Brad Siegel, in his termination letter to Hart, wrote, "At this point in time, we have been unable to utilize your wrestling services for over nine months and according to your doctor, you remain incapacitated. Based on your ongoing incapacity, WCW in exercising its right under paragraph 8 (e) to terminate your independent contractor agreement effective Friday, October 20, 2000

Your contributions to the wrestling business are highly regarded and we wish you only the best in the future."

Hart, in his Calgary Sun column, responded, "Yeah right. It's not the first time I'm standing at the crossroads. I know a lot of you want to know how I feel about this and what I'm going to do. I'm going to take some time to think everything over and I'll let you know next week."

Options for Hart within wrestling seemed limited, since it is questionable, maybe even highly doubtful, if he'll ever be able to wrestle again. While there is a natural big money program in the WWF with he and McMahon, which probably could be clumsily worked around if he couldn't ever wrestle, due to the intense personal feelings on both sides and past circumstances, it certainly appears that's something neither side wants. As something of the national wrestling icon of Canada, he has received numerous endorsements over the years, but much of that income is precipitated upon being a current television personality. More likely, he'll concentrate on the short-term on writing a book about his life and thoughts on wrestling.


Kurt Angle became only the second former Olympic gold medalist to win a major professional world heavyweight wrestling championship in the final match of the 10/22 No Mercy PPV from the Pepsi Arena in Albany, NY.

The show, generally well received, was promoted more around the return of Steve Austin, to face Rikishi, in a match surprisingly put early in the show, than Angle's title shot at Rock.

Only Henri DeGlane of France, the 1924 gold medalist in Greco-roman wrestling, who won the world title in the famous "battle of the bite" match on May 4, 1931 over Strangler Lewis in probably the second most historical World title change ever in Montreal, has both won a gold medal and a major world professional singles title. DeGlane's win, via disqualification when he actually bit himself between falls and complained to the ref, who disqualified Lewis (there was no rule about a title not changing via DQ in those days) was a double-cross by Montreal promoter Paul Bowser on Lewis as retaliation for Lewis pulling a double-cross on Bowser a few weeks earlier by changing the finish of a title match and winning the belt from Ed Don George in Los Angeles. Because of Bowser's double-cross, Lewis was able to maintain title recognition and this led to another split of the title, which was a frequent occurrence in those days, with Bowser's world title generally referred to as the AWA World title.

Angle, who captured the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in freestyle wrestling at 220 pounds, was propelled in record time to the WWF title level. While Vince McMahon, with few matches under his belt, was recognized as champion, as far as serious wrestlers holding the belt, Angle, with two years in the business, and only one year as a major performer, had one of the quickest rises in history to ascend to what is the premier money championship in the business. Paul Wight, as The Giant, captured his first world title in WCW six months after his pro debut in 1996 and Salman Hashimikov won the IWGP title one month after his pro debut in 1989.

In a sense, Angle's win came across as more of a pawn of a show to involve the other key players, but the involvement of Stephanie McMahon, HHH and Rikishi was somewhat compensated by Angle, who had previously not been portrayed as a strong main eventer, putting an Olympic slam on both Rikishi and a weakened Rock at the finish of the match. He then mimicking his crying at the 1996 Olympic medal ceremony as he clutched the WWF title belt. What was also interesting is that even though Angle hasn't gotten cheered anywhere except recently in his home town of Pittsburgh, and Rock is the most popular wrestler in the business, when Angle won the title, the crowd came to its feet and he received a good 70% cheers, which isn't necessarily a bad sign, because it says that the belt is over, hasn't been changed too often because they really care about seeing the change, and they were cheering because they felt they were seeing something important happen live, which was more important than their favorite actually winning the match.

But the biggest story as far as selling PPV buys was the return of Austin, and the competition of the first ever New York Mets vs. New York Yankees world series. Austin's match left more questions than answers about his physical condition. He went out fast, and did a total gimmick oriented performance with Rikishi that had some brawling, no wrestling and only one or two bumps, and ended without any kind of a finish, even a stunner, leading one to believe they're actually trying for long-term business. It seemed one more suited for a Raw episode or a bad movie than a PPV main event, but that's probably why it was put early on the show, and they ended the show with long matches that on paper, and for that matter in the ring, figured to be excellent wrestling matches. After bloodying Rikishi up, he put him in the bed of his truck, drove him outside the arena, deposited him on the ground, and went to run him over. A police car made the save, but in the process, Austin, who was drinking while driving, perhaps as another way to subtly get him over for an eventual heel turn, crashed into the police car twice, with the idea he had seriously injured an innocent officer, and was swarmed by officers, arrested and taken out. While most seem to think his close television alliance with Jim Ross is being pushed as a way for him to eventually turn on Ross to go heel, it is going to be interesting to watch the crowd manipulation involved in this one, being that Austin's face turn was precipitated by the hoards of fans who cheered him while he was portrayed as such a strong heel.

Angle's title win was guaranteed earlier in the day by Stephanie McMahon, who seemed almost the focal point of the show, almost as if she was a Von Erich daughter and the rest of the talent were the hired hands. But at the end, she was taken out of the picture, bringing out HHH to attack both Angle and Rock. HHH laid Rock out, but it wasn't enough for Angle to win. Rikishi then came out to attack Angle, but miscued twice, nailing Rock with a squash and a kick, which led to Angle laying both Rikishi and Rock out with his Olympic slam for the win.

The show drew a sellout 14,342, which was 13,572 paying $693,225. Merchandise was another $98,671, a figure that has to be considered very disappointing since merchandise at PPV events is traditionally much higher, and not lower, than the average at the typical arena event, and on a show featuring Austin's first match back and a Rock title defense, it was figure merchandise to be in a peak period since it has been strong at most of the arenas of late.

Reports live were that the lack of heat in most of the show, except in the main event and the Austin match, was consistent with how it appeared on television. It made for a lackluster show in some eyes live, even with the effort of the wrestlers and the great final two matches. There were signs being confiscated, such as "Die Rocky Die" and "Give Scott Hall a chance."

1. The show opened with what was billed as The Dudleys table match elimination challenge, which the Dudleys ended up winning over Too Cool, Lo Down, Raven & Tazz, and Bull Buchanan & Goodfather after four gauntlet style matches where the winners advance. The four matches were all very short in duration, none of which were particularly good or particularly bad. Heat wasn't really there except for when guys did their signature trademark spots (Dudleys doing "wazzup," Scotty 2 Hotty's worm, etc.). They seemed okay except for one embarrassing miscue when in the second match, Grandmaster Sexay actually broke a table when he wasn't supposed to, and it was just ignored as if it didn't happen, eliciting a "you f'd up" chant from the audience.

A. Too Cool (Brian Lawler & Scott Garland) beat Lo Down (Accie Connor & Charles Warrington) in 3:54 with a double table breakage finish. Scotty pushed Chaz, who was standing on the ropes, backwards through a table, while Brown went to frog splash GMS, but he moved, and Brown went through the table. The match made little sense since they had tables set up early in the match, and the wrestlers worked spots around the tables instead of planting guys on the tables which would have finished the match.

B. Raven (Scott Levy) & Tazz (Peter Senerca) beat Too Cool in 3:16 when they gave Scotty a double superplex through the table. The messed up spot was GMS doing a sunset flip diving over the top rope to the floor, and in going over, his foot went through a table stationed on the floor. They couldn't use it as a finish because Scotty still had to get in the worm spot. So they did the worm and then went right to the real finish.

C. Dudleys (Mark Lomonica & Devon Hughes) beat Tazz & Raven when D-Von did a legdrop off the topes onto Tazz through a table in 2:08.

D. Dudleys beat Buchanan (Barry Buchanan) & Goodfather (Charles Wright) in 3:00. They chanted "Save the ho's" at Goodfather (who they are already talking about turning back to Godfather, the real question being when). Shouldn't they be chanting that at Too Cool since the women were gone? Speaking of them, they are sending Victoria to Memphis to train her to be a woman wrestler. They did a teased screw-job. Buchanan clotheslined ref Jack Doan. Buh Buh then put Buchanan through a table with a power bomb. Goodfather then hit Buh Buh, pulled Buchanan away from the broken table and put Buh Buh on the broken table. Doan turned around, saw Buh Buh, and called for the bell and it was announced as if the RTC won. Ref Mike Sparks ordered the match re-started, and the Dudleys won quickly with a 3-D on Goodfather through the table. **

The scheduled match with Acolytes & Lita vs. T&A & Trish Stratus never took place. They did an angle backstage where T&A took out the knees of both Acolytes, hitting Faarooq with a tire iron and then dropping a file cabinet on Bradshaw's knee. This angle was created since Bradshaw suffered a legit broken rib recently and Faarooq's knee needs arthroscopic surgery. All three then confronted Lita in the ring and Stratus attacked her, including doing a bulldog headlock that was a million times better than the one used by the legendary Cowboy Bob Ellis (trust me, I just spent the weekend watching hours of classic wrestling footage doing voiceover work). Albert also snapped her neck on the middle rope until the Hardys made the save.

Edge & Christian were acting as if they were sick earlier, and thus couldn't participate as scheduled in the tag team tables match earlier, but now were fun. It was really just a way to give them a chance to do a bunch of double entendres about touching nuts and eating nuts with Lillian Garcia.

2. Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) beat X-Pac (Sean Waltman) in a cage match in 10:40. This was a very innovative cage match in that they did a lot of spots never done before in that cage, but it, like a lot of matches on the show, was hurt by a lack of crowd heat. X-Pac slammed the door on Jericho's head early and did some nice kicks. X-Pac was on the ropes and Jericho did a springboard dropkick to his ankle and he crotched himself. This was the first of 500 crotchings on this show. X-Pac was thrown into the cage, and seemed to make a head-first landing which isn't good for anyone, let alone someone with a previous broken neck. Jericho did a missile dropkick and a lionsault, but X-Pac got his knees up. X-Pac threw Jericho into the cage. Typical guys trying to get out and last minute saves. X-Pac used a chair to the head and was standing on the top of the cage on a platform in the corner. Jericho climbed up and eventually took a big bump off the platform to the mat, which was a legit nine foot drop. X-Pac seemingly had the match won, climbing over. They opened the door as he climbed down, so he stood on the door as Jericho shook the cage and X-Pac crotched himself on the door and Jericho got out for the win. ***1/2

3. Val Venis (Sean Morley & Steven Richards (Mike Manna) defeated Chyna (Joanie Lauer) & Billy Gunn (Monty Sopp) in 7:16. They did a weird spot where Chyna pulled Venis' head into her implants. They worked on Gunn's left shoulder. Chyna did a handspring elbow on Venis, but her landing was a little short. She did a low blow on Richards while Gunn did a famouser on him. Buchanan and Goodfather came out to distract the ref while Chyna set up a pedigree on Venis but Eddy Guerrero ran in and hit Chyna with the dreaded loaded flowers and Venis pinned her. *1/2

Stephanie once against asked HHH to be in his corner. He said No. She then gave him a tape of Benoit's crossface as if there was a secret studying a tape of him applying the move would show. So she was the babyface strategist with the knowledge far beyond that of the mere wrestlers.

4. Steve Austin (Steve Williams) and Rikishi (Solofa Fatu) went to a non-decision in what was billed as a no holds barred match in 9:21. They had shown Rikishi with a sledge hammer stalking the entrance way waiting for Austin. He then got in the ring and they teased Austin wasn't going to show up. Austin made the entrance in his truck and drove to the ring. They had a fast-paced brawl. The jury as to how much Austin can do, is still out as it was just punching and stomping and he only took a bump or two. They brawled into the stands. Rikishi threw a drink on Austin and he took a backdrop on the floor but his feet landed first. Both guys got thrown all over and around the spanish table. Austin choked him with the rope. Rikishi threw some stiff shots to Austin back. Rikishi tried to use a chair but Austin moved and the chair hit the post. Austin then hit Rikishi with several chair shots and he juiced. Austin was destroying him with the chairs and smashing him with the tailgate of the truck as well. Austin deposited Rikishi in the back of the truck and drove out of the building, it should be noted, opening up a beer and drinking while driving, which for a lot of reasons, even though it has been done before in wrestling, totally was a repulsive portrayal because it tells people that doing so is cool. He then put him on the ground and prepared to run him over. As he went to do so, at the last minute, a police car blocked the attempted murder attempt and Austin smashed into the car. He smashed into it a second time when a hoard of officers showed up. Austin was "arrested" and taken out. The police officer in the car was taken out on a stretcher and they talked about Austin being in real trouble because he had injured a police officer in attempting to kill Rikishi. **1/4

5. William Regal (Darren Mathews) retained the European title beating Naked Mideon (Dennis Knight) in 6:10. Clearly, positioned after Austin, they had no chance. But with the whole match nothing but a tease of Mideon taking his clothes off, and Survivor already being passe, nobody seemed to care at all. He was wearing little but a fanny pack after he disrobed late in the match and the crowd didn't react as if they found it appealing on any level. Mideon kissed Regal after he disrobed. Regal went to do his Regal stretch, but because Mideon smelled so badly, or he was grossed out by having to put his hands all over his body, he refused to do the move, and instead pinned him after a neckbreaker. -1/2*

They showed some spliced up tapes of Angle interrogating Rock, showing Rock's bogus responses by splicing tons of old footage together. The work involved in putting this together is impressive. It had already aired on Heat. It was good on Heat, but it didn't fit in a PPV presentation because it was too long. Second time it was lame.

6. The Conquistadors (Adam Copeland & Jay Reso) won the WWF tag titles over the Matt & Jeff Hardy in 10:52. Second straight totally dead match in a row. The Conquistadores, who Jim Ross kept referring to as Edge & Christian, which I guess they were in this case, Ross said weren't Jose Estrada and Jose Luis Rivera (the original Conquistadores from circa 1988 in the WWF). I didn't think it was possible for these two teams to have a bad match, but this was it. Aaron Aguilera & Christopher Daniels looked a lot better in the gimmick on the previous Raw, and the crowd was pretty dead for them as well. Hopefully this gimmick ends this week. Christian suffered an apparent stinger, as part of his body and one of his arms went numb after doing the dive outside the ring. There was a problem in further testing with his bicep, but it wasn't thought to be serious and the tentative thought was that he would be able to wrestle this coming week after being kept from wrestling at the TV's after this show. Earlier Matt did a plancha on all three, and somehow only hit Jeff. After Matt hit the twist of fate and went for the mask, unmasking one of the guys, only to reveal a second mask, Christian did a messed up tomokaze, due to his injury, on Matt for the pin. 3/4*

7. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Paul Levesque) pinned Chris Benoit in 18:43. This was a tremendous match and would have been a near classic had it not been for the disappointing crowd heat. Benoit came to the ring with almost too much of an "I'm doing a job look." Both guys were even more muscular than usual, noticeably. HHH worked over Benoit's knee and even did a combination deathlock chinlock move that Hiroshi Hase and Keiji Muto popularized in the 90s but has rarely been seen in this country. It was the old-style slow build. It was a very New Japan style singles title match. Benoit got a near fall with a Northern Lights suplex and later did a hot shot on the announcers table. He did a diving head-butt onto HHH's bad arm. HHH did a reverse suplex, a high knee and a neckbreaker followed by a superplex while standing on the top rope. Benoit came back with a rolling german suplex and a dragon suplex but HHH made the ropes. Benoit did a second dragon suplex for a near fall. Benoit that put on the crossface. The tragedy of all this is that you could see the crowd totally didn't believe HHH would ever tap out, no matter how long Benoit kept him in the hold, the crowd intensity in the crowd never built. HHH broke it, thanks to Stephanie's messages in the tape, and used a death valley driver. Stephanie then came out to save the day, even though she was told not to. She slapped Benoit. They did a Japanese sequence where Benoit was going for the crossface and HHH for the pedigree, and the two kept blocking and reversing each other before HHH hit a low blow and got the clean pin with a pedigree. This was more of a Benoit style match, complete with the clean loss after making the match great, which he did for years in WCW and is working on continuing that talent in WWF big matches. HHH had a bloody nose, and there was some concern it was broken, although at TV the next night he didn't show the usual broken nose signs (blackened eyes). ****

8. Angle pinned Rock (Dwayne Johnson) in 21:01 to win the WWF title. This was announced as a no DQ match, which was because they were going to do tons of outside interference and put it over like Stephanie out thought everyone again. They showed HHH watching the match again with ice on his shoulder to get over the Benoit crossface spot, which is one of those little touches that makes the difference in moves getting over or not. It also guaranteed he'd be out before it was over. Rock threw Angle threw the set twice. Angle threw Rock into the speakers. Rock crotched Angle on the post and hit him with two chair shots. Rock used a dragon screw into a sharpshooter. Angle was tapping like crazy but no ref. Lawler than made the stupid comment of the night, saying the submission wouldn't count because it's a no DQ match. That was worthy of Schiavone. Crowd was far more into this match than any of the others. Rock threw Angle into the ring steps, which may have busted Angle's eye as it was starting to swell pretty bad by the end of the match. Rock also bounced his head on the announcers table and spit water in his face. Rock blocked a belt shot after Stephanie threw the belt into Angle, and Angle blocked the rock bottom. Angle then hit the belt shot but Rock kicked out, although Angle hit him hard enough that Rock's head was busted open, which appeared to be hardway. Angle hit a german suplex and at this point it was evident his eye had been busted. Angle missed a moonsault. He does a really nice looking one, but after Bob Holly, I don't know that anyone is going to lay there and take it, as he's only hit it once in his career and that had bad results. Rock got a great near fall with a float over DDT and did a belly to belly suplex and a spinebuster. Stephanie ran in to save Angle, but Rock gave her the rock bottom. He went to do the people's elbow on Stephanie, but Angle grabbed his leg to stop him. HHH came out and attacked Angle, seeing as if anything happened to Stephanie, it was Angle's fault. HHH also gave Rock a pedigree, pulled Stephanie out and carried her to the back. Rock kicked out of the pedigree and Rock hit a DDT for a near fall. Rikishi came out but at this point, Rock gave Angle a rock bottom and Angle kicked out. Rikishi went to squash Angle in the corner, but Angle pulled Rock in front and instead he squashed both guys, but more Rock selling it. Rikishi then went to kick Angle, but he moved and he kicked Rock. Angle did the Olympic slam first on Rikishi, which was a huge guy to do it to, then to Rock, and scored the pin to win the title, to a big face pop. ****1/4


The death of Leo Nomellini on 10/17 brought back a lot of local memories of what was, at least from a mainstream national and local sports standpoint, the biggest pro wrestling match in the history of Northern California.

It was March 22, 1955. The first pro wrestling sellout ever at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. In one corner was Leo "The Lion" Nomellini, believed by everyone in Northern California to be the legitimately toughest man around, both an All-Pro in football and the heart and soul of the San Francisco 49ers. He was the first pick in the draft in the team's first season in the NFL. Between seasons, he was Bill Goldberg. A pro wrestler, promoted as unbeatable. In the other corner was Lou Thesz, the recognized World heavyweight champion. Besides a crowd of 15,662 fans packing the place, paying $56,000, which was likely the biggest gate of the entire year in the United States, it was the rare pro wrestling match that was covered like it was a major sporting event.

Nomellini's local athletic credibility was considered beyond reproach, even if everything about pro wrestling was considered exactly the opposite. As a future Hall of Famer in football, he was the veritable gentle giant that everyone, from the sports fans to the media, loved. In those days, there was no wrestling on television, and the newspapers, because of the credibility issue, usually covered wrestling with only two paragraph short items. But that wasn't the case here. No wrestling match in the history of Northern California ever got anywhere close to the level


LEO NOMELLINI

 

CAREER TITLE HISTORY

 

Source: Wrestling Title Histories Fourth Edition

 

Note: Due to records from the 50s being incomplete, this can best be regarded as only the major titles

 

NWA WORLD TAG TEAM (West Coast version): w/Hombre Montana def. Mike & Ben Sharpe March 14, 1952 Oakland, CA; lost to Mike & Ben Sharpe March 18, 1952; w/Enrique Torres def. Mike & Ben Sharpe May 6, 1953 San Francisco; lost to Mike & Ben Sharpe 1953; w/Rocky Brown def. Mike & Ben Sharpe May 11, 1954; Belts inactive because Nomellini returned to the 49ers; w/Enrique Torres lost to Mike & Ben Sharpe February 15, 1955; w/Enrique Torres def. Ben Sharpe & Lord James Blears 1957; lost to Mike & Ben Sharpe May 9, 1957 Stockton, CA

 

NWA WORLD TAG TEAM (Midwest version - later became AWA WORLD TAG TEAM): w/Verne Gagne def. Mike & Doc Gallagher May 15, 1958 Minneapolis; lost to Mike & Doc Gallagher 1958; w/Butch Levy def. Ivan & Karol Kalmikoff July 14, 1959 Minneapolis; vacated title when Nomellini returned to the 49ers; w/Verne Gagne def. Tiny Mills & Stan Kowalski July 19, 1960 Minneapolis; vacated title when Nomellini returned to the 49ers

 

AWA WORLD TAG TEAM: w/Wilbur Snyder def. Hard Boiled Haggerty & Gene Kiniski May 23, 1961 Minneapolis; lost to Hard Boiled Haggerty & Gene Kiniski July 19, 1961 St. Paul

 

PACIFIC COAST TAG TEAM: w/Enrique Torres def. Fred Atkins & Ray Eckert April 1953; lost to Fred Atkins & Ray Eckert June 2, 1953


of media coverage this one did. Nomellini built up the chase of Thesz' title like it was the 49ers chasing the elusive NFL championship. As easily the best defensive lineman in the league, he noted that the world heavyweight champion earned more than any NFL players in that era, and that if he were to win the title, he would fulfill all the commitments of the title, which meant he wouldn't come back for the next season. This put Thesz and the belt on a pedestal, since Nomellini had held a regional version of the world tag team titles already on three occasions, and had never publicly put those belts ahead of football season. In the 50s, before big money and free agency, athletes were far more closely identified with their team and the idea that the 49ers would have to play without Nomellini, even if there actually never was such a chance, forced people that didn't want to take a wrestling match seriously to do so. With that statement, repeated everywhere, he had just made the NWA title not only real, but as valuable a sporting prize as the NFL championship. Much of the team attended the match and many of the top stars were at ringside rooting him on from his corner. Because of the local media interest, it was promoter Joe "Waffle Ears" Malciewicz' chance to make a national story.

What would seem commonplace today was anything but that in those days. While there was the rule that the world title couldn't change hands via a disqualification dating back to the aftermath of the 1931 Strangler Lewis vs. Henri DeGlane match in Montreal, it was almost never used, with the only known application being in 1936 when Dave Levin beat Ali Baba on a disqualification and the title didn't change hands, a quickly forgotten match during the depression. With little known about the history of wrestling, the rule was something not even known by all but the most ardent of the fans. Thesz, who had been world champion by this point for more than six years, and was the first nationally touring NWA world heavyweight champion in history. If he had ever lost via disqualification previously, it was on such rare occasion that the results of what would happen in such a situation were not well established.

Thesz was a relatively famous athlete, stemming from wrestling just being a year removed from weekly network television on the Dumont Network, who to the general public had a mixed kind of reaction. He was well respected by some in the sports press because of how he carried himself in public like a sports star, and it was somewhat known he was pretty much the real deal. For one, he was managed by Strangler Lewis, who everyone respected, who proclaimed him as such. But he was equally held in disrepute because of the business he was in, filled with the showmen types that the mainstream sports fans and writers disdained. Nomellini was even more famous, and while Thesz in the sports world didn't carry the credibility of Nomellini, Nomellini's best intents in interviews were to portray the opposite. Thesz, who he always would refer to as "Mr. Thesz," was in the position, as the NWA world heavyweight wrestling champion, that he, at least during the build-up to this and their subsequent matches, wanted more than any of the rewards pro football had to give.

It was a tricky deal to book. Unlike with a normal wrestler, Nomellini was never asked to lose by Malciewicz. First off, he was by far, the biggest drawing card. Second, he was doing the wrestling business in that area more of a favor by being involved, with the credibility he added and the tickets he sold, than wrestling was doing him a favor with a "summer job," as many players in those days had, that augmented his income nicely. Third, and most importantly, if he lost by being beaten down by any one man, nobody would have believed it anyway, because everyone knew nobody could hurt him. It was well known in the Bay Area that he was totally indestructible and made of steel, as he spent much time in the gym lifting weights, something football players in those days were foolishly warned against doing, and at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds with a lifters physique, at least by the standards of that era, there weren't a lot of men walking the Earth who looked like him. Of the few who did, none of them bulldozed bodies every Sunday on the big stage to reinforce they were the real deal. It would have been difficult enough to book a superman every off-season, as attempts to do the same with Bill Goldberg have proven over the long haul.

Fortunately, Malciewicz' top full-time stars were even larger, the legendary Sharpe Brothers, Iron Mike (whose son of the same name later wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation) and Big Ben, who dominated Northern California wrestling for the entire decade as World tag team champions, and became even bigger stars in Japan as Rikidozan's first major opponents. The brothers stood about 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7 respectively, and both weighed about 265 pounds, giants for that era. They and Killer Kowalski were the three biggest headliners in the business at the time, with the exception of Sky Hi Lee. This made them naturals as Nomellini's usual foes in tag team matches. Tag teams were easy. The brothers would get the heat on Nomellini's partner, and he'd come in for the hot tag and clean house with his football tackles, sending the crowd into exhilaration. They could always beat his partner in some big matches, leaving him looking for a stronger partner in his quest to finally win the belts. It was an annual theme. Nomellini looking for a partner, since because of the Sharpes, the World tag team title was the main local wrestling prize, finding the good partner who wouldn't be the weak link, building up for the title shot, every year winning the title, but then losing it back. During those years feuding with the Sharpes, he held the NWA world tag team titles (West Coast version) on four occasions, twice with Enrique Torres and once with Hombre Montana and Rocky Brown. Usually after he returned to wrestling, they'd build up to his win for a few months, he'd get the belts every spring, and then lose them before having to go back to football training camp. In 1954, Nomellini & Rocky Brown, for whatever reason, never lost the belts before Nomellini had to go back to football. The belts were inactive for six months, until Nomellini returned.

Malciewicz came up with the finish. The referee, who as luck would have it, was in the need of some major surgery, would be thrown by Thesz into the path of Nomellini's finishing tackle in the third fall. Ref bumps were novel in those days. The disqualification of Thesz that was called made everyone in the crowd and the media think that for the first time in the history of Northern California wrestling and first time in more than six years, the world title had changed hands. The local and national media were stunned when after the match, Nomellini repeated his vow after his win, that he was leaving football because he had achieved his ultimate sports goal, the world heavyweight championship. To quell talk that this was a pre-planned screw-job finish, it was well publicized that the referee underwent his surgery, blamed on taking Nomellini's legendary tackle, just a few days after the match. At about the same time, the reality struck. The NWA ruled that in its bylaws, a world title couldn't change hands via disqualification in the final fall. While Nomellini was billed in some circles as the real world champion for a while, Thesz had retained the title. The media uproar was such that NWA President Sam Muchnick felt, for credibility's sake, because of how much media the San Francisco match got nationally because of the controversy over whether Nomellini had been robbed of the title, that even though Nomellini had either never or perhaps had only once or twice worked St. Louis but wasn't pushed as a headliner, he had to quickly book a rematch, which Thesz won. The fact that match even took place was kept quiet in San Francisco. Nomellini went back to the 49ers shortly thereafter for another Pro Bowl season.

That match, the fact Nomellini was a well-known wrestler, and to a lesser extent, later a wrestling promoter, was well remembered in most of the local newspaper obits of Nomellini that appeared on 10/19. But somehow all the particulars, and even the result of the match had changed. It was reported as a $72,000 gate, a slight exaggeration, and surprisingly enough, through first hand fuzzy accounts of teammates at the match 45 years ago, it was reported in the obits that Thesz actually won that match "when he was the last man standing."

Like any big money match, there were a few rematches at the Cow Palace. For whatever reason, perhaps the bad taste of the first-ever screw-job ending, or simply a cyclical decline in wrestling interest, they never drew as well. Drawing 8,000 to 9,000 fans, which the two rematches did, were considered phenomenal crowds for pro wrestling. Even for Thesz' title defenses at the Cow Palace when Nomellini was off because it was football season, they usually maxed out at 3,000 to 5,000 fans. Nomellini was disqualified when they tried to repeat the magic match two year later (they never had the chance in 1956 because Thesz had given the title to Whipper Billy Watson so he could tour Europe, and they correctly realized that nobody in San Francisco would buy Watson being able to retain the title against Nomellini, so they didn't even bother trying to put the match together). In their final match, also in 1957, Nomellini missed a tackle, sailed out of the ring, crashing onto the press table, and was counted out of the ring. Press accounts saw the local football writers stunned, because they saw a bump that would have blown out a normal man's knee, and even for a man believed to be unable to be hurt, they were stunned he would risk his career doing such a stunt. Truth be told, by today's standards, it was probably a routine bump.

More than his football records, his most amazing trait is that he truly couldn't be hurt. He held the NFL record, that stood for years, playing 174 consecutive games over his 14 seasons, many of them playing both offense and defense. He never missed a game, and never being taken out for an injury. His most serious injury on the football field was a broken finger. In 12 off-seasons as a pro wrestler, the worst injuries he suffered were a hyperextended knee and a broken tooth.

In the opinion of Thesz, he was the best actual wrestler of anyone who came out of the NFL.

"When I first saw him work out in St. Louis, I was really impressed," he said. "He was one of the few football players who could really wrestle. (Bronko) Nagurski was box office, but he was awful. Of all the football player, he was the one who was the best wrestler."

Nagurski, to this day considered the greatest athlete ever in the history of the state of Minnesota, was the only man in both the pro football Hall of Fame who also held the major world heavyweight wrestling championship.

Nomellini passed away at the Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, CA, where he had been the past three weeks after suffering a stroke, when his heart gave out due to the complications, at the age of 76. In recent years, he had underwent double bypass surgery, and later hip surgery.

Born on June 19, 1924 in Lucca, Italy, his family migrated to Chicago at the age of two, but he grew up in Minneapolis. Nagurski, perhaps the best player in the NFL with the Chicago Bears who quit at his peak to become the world heavyweight wrestling champion after a salary dispute with George Halas when Nomellini was a teenager, was his hero. In an even stranger irony, of all the huge men that have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Nomellini had the distinction of having the second largest ring finger. The largest belonged to Nagurski.

After serving in World War II, he went to the University of Minnesota, where he was an All-American football player as an offensive and defensive tackle in the days that players went both ways in 1948 and 1949. He was a teammate of many later sports notables including Bud Grant, the famed coach of the Minnesota Vikings for many years including on a Super Bowl team, as well as Verne Gagne, who became one of the most influential men in the history of pro wrestling. Gagne and Nomellini were also wrestling teammates. With little experience, Nomellini was recruited as a heavyweight for the 1948 season. Gagne, the star on the wrestling team, after placing third in the NCAA tournament as a very small heavyweight the previous year, decided to compete at 191 pounds both to increase his chances at winning nationals, which he won, and to make the Olympic team, which he ended up being the first alternate. Nomellini ended up placing second in the Big-10 tournament, losing to Ray Gunkel of Purdue, who also later became a famous pro wrestler and promoter in Georgia.

The 49ers, who had the 11th pick overall, made him the first pick in the team's first season in the NFL, and it was hardly a pick that was squandered. Although he was already 26 when his first NFL season began due to his years in the military, he played 14 seasons. He began wrestling in Minnesota in 1950, before his rookie year, at about the same time Gagne started out. He then moved to San Francisco and wrestled every off-season from 1951 through 1957 for Malciewicz, before going to the more lucrative Minnesota circuit between seasons from 1958 through 1961, usually working as Gagne's tag team partner. The wrestling business in San Francisco by that point had cycled downward badly, and with Thesz out of the picture as world champion, there was no big money match to build for him. He left Malciewicz, as San Francisco's biggest star of the next decade, Ray Stevens, would do some 13 years later. A combination of the constant luring from Gagne, looking for a fresh sports hero to rebuild Minnesota during a tough time for business. It also gave Nomellini a chance to form a tag team with Nagurski, who was still occasionally wrestling while working full-time owning a gas station in International Falls.

They repeated the same promotional pattern, using Nomellini as a headliner chasing that area's version of the NWA world tag team titles, which later became the AWA world tag team titles when that promotion formed. He won the belts with Gagne in the spring of 1958 in a quick program with the Gallagher Brothers. The next summer, with Gagne out of the area, he teamed with another former University of Minnesota football star who had some NFL experience and was a national champion heavyweight wrestler, Leonard "Butch" Levy, to win the belts from Ivan & Karol Kalmikoff, before vacating them almost immediately due to football season. During the summer of 1960, Gagne & Nomellini repeated the familiar pattern winning the tag titles from Murder Inc., Stan Kowalski & Tiny Mills, again vacating them in the summer when he returned to the 49ers. When he returned in 1961, he and Wilbur Snyder traded the tag titles with Hard Boiled Haggerty & Gene Kiniski before returning for football camp. After 1962, at the age of 38, the grind of the two sports finally got to him and he didn't go back into wrestling before his final year with the 49ers. After retiring from football, he briefly wrestled and managed in Texas, before returning to San Francisco to work in real estate.

Besides the Thesz matches, Nomellini's most famous match of his career in the United States was at the Cow Palace for a match that ended up meaning far more years later than it meant at the time. On June 26, 1952, he headlined against Rikidozan, who was only eight months in the business after being a famous sumo wrestler in Japan, and was being groomed for superstardom in the new sport. Rikidozan had just arrived in the Bay Area less than three weeks earlier with such a build-up that he had already main evented, teaming with Primo Carnera in a 60:00 draw against the Sharpe Brothers for the World tag team titles. In the days when pro wrestling news traveled slow, the UPI wire service, brought the news and photos to Japan immediately of the former well known sumo superstar's first ever pro wrestling loss, to the best lineman in the NFL, after two flying tackles in a match that, according to Japanese legend, went 60:00.

Because of the win, Nomellini was a natural for Japan, but it wasn't until 1960 before Rikidozan and the Great Togo were able to convince Nomellini, who hated to travel, with a huge money offer by the standards of the time, to go on his first and only Japanese wrestling tour, as the standout star for the second World League (which later became All Japan's Champion Carnival) tournament. On April 17, 1960, before a sellout 12,000 fans at the Tokyo Gymnasium, Nomellini & Sonny Myers beat Rikidozan & Michiaki Yoshimura when Nomellini's football tackles supposedly broke Yoshimura's ribs and he was pinned. The two finally met six days later in a singles match for the first time in eight years, which went to a 30:00 draw. Nomellini had the best record in the round-robin, with only the draw to Rikidozan and a DQ loss to Toyonobori along with ten pinfall wins using his flying tackle over every other top Japanese and American star on tour. This set up the final on May 13, 1960 before another sellout in the Tokyo Gym against Rikidozan in a no time limit match. After the two men split falls, Nomellini winning with his football tackles and Rikidozan with his legendary chops, Rikidozan ducked out of the way of the football tackle and Nomellini took the same bump that shocked all the Bay Area sportswriters in his final match with Thesz, crashing onto the press table, and was counted out of the ring.

"It was an interesting profession," he said later in life. "I just got tired of the bumps and the travelling all over hell." He always told the sportswriters who liked to poke fun at the pro wrestlers that he had great respect for what they do, having done it himself.

By the next year, pro wrestling was on fire in San Francisco with a live two-hour Friday night television show on the city's top independent station, KTVU-TV, and arguably the greatest in-ring performer of the era, Stevens. It isn't clear exactly what the story was, but there was major heat between promoter Roy Shire and Nomellini. Shire used Nomellini on some early shows, but used him primarily in the mid-card as his territory was so strong he was flying in the national stars to headline. Shire, building around bigger names from the Midwest that he and Stevens knew from their days working for Jim Barnett in Indianapolis, never booked Nomellini strong enough for the obvious program with Stevens. Shire had come into Malciewicz' territory, got local television in a market that never had it, and turned it into the hottest city and territory in the country, with Stevens earning a world champion's income. Stevens, promoted as the New Yorker (although he was actually from Columbus, OH, but because of where he made his success, was always assumed in wrestling to have grown up in San Francisco) who hated San Francisco and could do magic inside the ring, began drawing regularly gates that only Thesz vs. Nomellini on their best day were able to do, including a 1962 match with Pepper Gomez that broke the 1955 record and is still the largest crowd ever to witness pro wrestling in San Francisco. But no Stevens match, nor Hogan match, nor Austin or Rock match, no Battle Royal, Andre the Giant, SuperBrawls or Royal Rumbles that came to Northern California ever got anywhere near the mainstream media attention any of the Thesz-Nomellini matches got. Malciewicz was quickly put out of business by Shire. Nomellini worked for Shire in 1962 before the season started, as the tag team partner of Nick Bockwinkel for a program with World tag team champions Kinji Shibuya & Mitsu Arakawa. But this time it was Nomellini who was doing the jobs to the heel team since Bockwinkel was staying and Wilbur Snyder was coming in as his new partner, while Nomellini was leaving to play football. When he left for that season, he never came back. It's unclear why Shire never pushed Nomellini as a singles wrestler to build him for a match with Stevens, which seemed like a natural draw.

Nomellini remained largely in the public eye as a local sports legend, hosting functions such as annual golf tournaments well attended by both the sports and real estate community, as he began working for Northwestern Title, now known as New Century Title.

To an extent, Nomellini did get the satisfaction of being the promoter who put the nail in Shire's coffin some two decades later. This time, Shire's territory had fallen on hard times, to the point he shut down except for running monthly shows at the Cow Palace, which were often by this point drawing less than 1,000 fans getting talent first from the Portland circuit, which did poorly, later from Kansas City, which added expense and did even worse, and finally Florida, which had top talent but by this point Shire's had run off his clientele with bad shows. Gagne got TV, and by this time, had access to Stevens and Pat Patterson, the two biggest wrestling stars Shire ever created to Bay Area fans. Knowing the publicity it would bring, along with doing a favor for his long-time friend, made Nomellini the local figurehead promoter in charge although Nomellini's role was more for local publicity and Dennis Hilgart really handled the city for Gagne. Because of Nomellini's involvement, the AWA got mainstream press Shire was never able to, and in 1981, the Bay Area became AWA territory.

Because Nomellini was more over locally, particularly to the media, than any of the AWA wrestlers, the more media savvy wrestlers on the circuit, such as Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan and Nick Bockwinkel, would always mention his name and challenge him in promos, knowing the pub the match-up would bring. But Nomellini, even with the prodding, at nearly 60, never took the bait, even though every time he'd walk to the ring with his suit on, the older fans were hoping this would be the angle and the sportswriters who could cover the wrestling because he was the promoter who would write how even at his age he looked like he could whip the guys he promoted. And he probably could have, given the aged crew Gagne used, some of whom, like Verne himself, Crusher and Mad Dog, were about the same age he was. Gagne was able to convince him in the mid-80s to return to Minneapolis as a referee in a Curt Hennig AWA title defense against Greg Gagne in 1987, where an obliging Hennig sold his soul when the enraged 63-year-old Nomellini went down in the three point stance and came off with his football tackles, which must have looked ridiculous to all but the oldest and most nostalgic of the Twin Cities fans. The presence of Nomellini made the AWA the babyfaces in the San Francisco media in 1984 when the WWF offered the station broadcasting the AWA shows some $125,000 per year, a huge sum in those days, to drop the AWA and put WWF on in the existing time slot wrestling fans were conditioned to watch. While Gagne got new TV, his style of wrestling, using aging Minnesota legends, never translated well into San Francisco. While the AWA territory overall was very strong in its traditional cities the new San Francisco and Oakland market Nomellini ran drew between 2,500 and 5,500, even during the period Hulk Hogan caught fire and on shows with Stevens and Patterson. The only really big crowds were for the annual Battle Royal, a traditional San Francisco draw from the Shire days, which was usually bolstered with an appearance of Andre the Giant. When McMahon came in after getting TV, using Hogan as his big draw, with Andre, Roddy Piper, and the rest as headliners, and with far better promotion and a hipper product, he was drawing 10,000 plus for every show while the AWA struggled to draw 2,000. Nomellini and the AWA hung on through late 1987, before finally surrendering in a war they had no chance to win.

Nomellini, because he never went into pro wrestling full-time, was not the national star that several other former NFL stars were, most notably Nagurski (who retired from football to be the world heavyweight champion in his prime due to feeling underpaid as the best football player of his era), Wahoo McDaniel, Goldberg and Ernie Ladd and he never changed the game like Brian Pillman. But except for Nagurski, there is no question he was the best football player that was ever a pro wrestling star.

In 1969, he was named to the NFL Hall of Fame. He was also named First team Defensive Tackle on the all-time NFL first half-century team, for one final time being on the same team with his hero Nagurski.


Tokyo Sports ran a story saying the 1/4 Tokyo Dome show will be headlined an eight-man UFC-style tournament for the IWGP heavyweight title that Kensuke Sasaki vacated after losing the 10/9 non-title match to Toshiaki Kawada.

The eight competitors announced were Kawada, Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto (this will be his return to Japan), Manabu Nakanishi, Sasaki, Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Genichiro Tenryu.

The tournament, because of the name value of so many of the stars, is probably the biggest one-night heavyweight tournament in the history of Japanese wrestling, particularly since it involves Kawada and Tenryu from All Japan. There are also going to be two alternates added in case of injuries, most likely being Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima.

While New Japan has confirmed the tournament, it has not confirmed the participants. New Japan did contact Pro Wrestling NOAH, attempting to get Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi into the tournament, which would have guaranteed a sellout, but Misawa turned down the offer.


The 10/23 ratings brought even more bad news for WCW as Nitro fell below even its previous weeks mark. Raw, on the other hand, coming off the PPV, had its strongest rating to date on TNN, doing a 5.52 rating (5.01 first hour, 6.03 second hour) and an 8.2 share. Nitro did its lowest rating since its early episodes (not including the 4/3 highlight show which did the Nitro record low of 1.78) did in a regular time slot with a 2.22 rating (2.67 first hour; 1.76 second hour) and a 3.1 share. The first hour was the second lowest rated unopposed hour in the history of the show in its regular slot, trailing only the first hour on 7/3. The second hour was the lowest rated hour in the history of the show except for the taped show. Because of the Raw number being up, the total wrestling audience was ahead of last week's record low of 7.6 million up to 7.9 million, still trailing the marks of both 10/2 and 10/9 as the second lowest wrestling audience in the past few years. This time there is nothing on television that can be blamed because "Everyone Loves Raymond" was down, there was no baseball, and Monday Night Football with the Dolphins against the Jets did a 12.08 rating.

Raw's main event of Angle vs. HHH vs. Rock was the best number since moving to TNN, doing a 6.63 over-run after a 5.90 final quarter. Nitro's main event of Steiner vs. Awesome did a 1.87 rating, the third lowest rated main event in the history of the show.

For head-to-head quarters, it was 4.82 (Rock/Rikishi interview) to 1.93 (Goldberg vs. Stasiak, Wright vs. Kidman vs. Jindrak); Raw at 4.96 (Lita vs. Stratus) to 1.61 (Vampiro vs. Crowbar); Raw at 5.25 (Benoit vs. Road Dogg) to 1.63 (Vampiro vs. Crowbar) and Raw at 5.01 (Regal vs. Jericho) to 1.87 (Konnan vs. Douglas, Steiner vs. Awesome). The Vampiro vs. Crowbar match was the second lowest rated match in the history of Nitro.

Smackdown on 10/19 drew a 4.60 rating and 7 share, finishing fourth on the night behind NBC, CBS and ABC. Smackdown destroyed everything with male teenagers doing a 10.1 in that demo as compared to a 3.7 for Friends. However Friends killed wrestling among Men 18-34 by a 10.4 to 4.3 margin.

Thunder on 10/18 drew a 2.16 rating and a 3.4 share.

For the weekend of 10/21-22, Live Wire did a 1.3, which is the best its done thus far on TNN and about what it averaged on USA, Superstars did a 1.2, which was below its USA average, and Heat did a 2.09 rating, which is lower than the show used to do. Three more weeks of this and I'd say the musical guest/WWF New York format can be labeled at least a short-term failure.

The three hour Galavision Lucha Libre block on 10/17 drew a 1.5 rating after being pre-empted the previous two weeks.


OBSERVER POLL RESULTS

Traditional Observer PPV poll results based on phone calls, fax messages and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 10/24.

WWF NO MERCY: Thumbs up 153 (65.9%), Thumbs down 47 (20.3%), In the middle 32 (13.8%). BEST MATCH POLL: Kurt Angle vs. Rock 83, HHH 80, X-Pac vs. Chris Jericho 16. WORST MATCH POLL: Steven Regal vs. Naked Mideon 116, Chyna & Gunn vs. Venis & Richards 18, Hardys vs. Conquistadores 9, Steve Austin vs. Rikishi 8, Tables match 7

EYADA POLL RESULTS

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

What did you think of Monday night's wrestling? a) Raw was better 49.5%; b) Nitro was better 8.8%; c) Didn't watch Raw 2.5%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 22.3%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 16.9%

Which of these events would you be the most interested in attending live? a) UFC or Pride 55.0%; b) World Sumo Wrestling League 3.2%; c) Women of Wrestling 15.1%; d) Urban Wrestling Federation 4.9%; e) None of the above 21.6%

What do you think about Vince McMahon buying WCW? a) Great for wrestling all-around 11.3%; b) Great for wrestling short-term, bad long-term 28.1%; c) Great long-term for the fans but bad for the wrestlers 29.1%; d) Bad for wrestling all-around 33.1%

What did you think of the WWF No Mercy PPV? a) Thumbs up 56%; b) Thumbs down 6%; c) Thumbs in the middle 12%; d) Didn't see the show 26%


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RESULTS

 

10/18 Nagasaki (New Japan - 2,300): Wataru Inoue & Kendo Ka Shin b Katsuyori Shibata & Shinya Makabe, Koji Kanemoto b Dr. Wagner Jr., Minoru Tanaka & Tatsuhito Takaiwa b El Samurai & Jushin Liger, AKIRA & Hiro Saito & Super J b Kenzo Suzuki & Osamu Nishimura & Osamu Kido, Yutaka Yoshie b Satoshi Kojima, Don Frye b Brian Johnston, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi b Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto, Scott Norton & Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Takashi Iizuka & Junji Hirata & Kensuke Sasaki

10/18 Nattori (All Japan - 1,600): Shigeo Okumura b Yuto Aijima, Gran Naniwa & Ryuji Hijikata & Wolf Hawkfield b Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda & Giant Kimala II, Masaaki Mochizuki b Taru, Shiro Koshinaka & Masa Fuchi b Johnny Smith & Mohammed Yone, Toshiaki Kawada & Jinsei Shinzaki b George Hines & Steve Williams, Genichiro Tenryu b Mike Barton

10/19 Nagasaki (New Japan - 2,200): El Samurai b Wataru Inoue, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger b Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto b Kenzo Suzuki & Junji Hirata, Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Osamu Nishimura & Osamu Kido, Super J & Satoshi Kojima & Scott Norton b Brian Johnston & Yutaka Yoshie & Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata & Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki b AKIRA & Don Frye & Masahiro Chono

10/19 Tsukuba (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,100 sellout): Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Naomichi Marufuji, Masashi Aoyagi b Makoto Hashi, Takeshi Morishima & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura b Satoru Asako & Tamon Honda & Haruka Eigen, Yoshinari Ogawa b Masao Inoue, Jun Izumida & Jun Akiyama b Akira Taue & Kentaro Shiga, Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama b Mitsuharu Misawa & Daisuke Ikeda, Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Takeshi Rikioh b Vader & Too Cold Scorpio & Richard Slinger

10/20 Fukuoka International Center Arena (New Japan - 4,800): Kenzo Suzuki & Wataru Inoue b Katsuyoshi Shibata & Shinya Makabe, El Samurai b Dr. Wagner Jr., AKIRA & Michiyoshi Ohara & Hiro Saito b Minoru Tanaka & Kendo Ka Shin & Koji Kanemoto, Jushin Liger b Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Osamu Kido b Osamu Nishimura, , Super Strong Machine b Team 2000 Machine, Kensuke Sasaki & Takashi Iizuka b Super J & Don Frye, 2 of 3 falls: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton & Masahiro Chono b Brian Johnston & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Yutaka Yoshie

10/20 Battle Creek, MI (ECW - 1,200): Red Dogg b Michael Shane, Simon Diamond b Nova, Kid Kash b E.Z. Money, Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri b Christian York & Joey Mathews, Steve Corino b C.W. Anderson, Danny Doring & Roadkill b Oz & Simon Diamond, Balls Mahoney & Chilly Willy b Prodigy & Musketeer, Spike Dudley b Chris Hamrick, New Jack & Corino b Rhino & Justin Credible

10/20 Morioka (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,800): Tsuyoshi Kikuchi b Takeshi Morishima, Satoru Asako & Masao Inoue b Kenta Kobayashi & Naomichi Marufuji, Daisuke Ikeda & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura b Jun Izumida & Tamon Honda & Haruka Eigen, Too Cold Scorpio & Masashi Aoyagi b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga, Yoshinari Ogawa b Richard Slinger, Vader b Takeshi Rikioh, Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue b Jun Akiyama & Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori

10/20 Tatebayashi (All Japan - 1,500): Masaaki Mochizuki & Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda b Gran Naniwa & Taru & Ryuji Hijikata, Giant Kimala II b Shigeo Okumura, Wolf Hawkfield & Mohammed Yone b Yuto Aijima & Nobutaka Araya, Jinsei Shinzaki b George Hines, Toshiaki Kawada & Masa Fuchi & Shiro Koshinaka b Steve Williams & Johnny Smith & Mike Barton

10/20 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL TV taping): Filoso & Neutron b Guerrero del Futuro & Mazada, Starman & Astro Rey Jr. & Super Kendo b Valentin Mayo & Halcon Negro & Karloff Lagarde Jr., Lizmark Sr. & Olimpico & Tinieblas Jr. b Black Warrior & Pimpinela Escarlata & Violencia, El Satanico & Apolo Dantes & Shocker b Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy & Atlantis, El Hijo del Santo & Blue Panther & Fuerza Guerrera b Negro Casas & Scorpio Jr. & Bestia Salvaje

10/21 Nagoya (All Japan - 6,200): Giant Kimala II b Yuto Aijima, Gran Naniwa & Ryuji Hijikata & Mohammed Yone b Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda & Masaaki Mochizuki, Johnny Smith b Michiyoshi Ohara, Mike Barton & Wolf Hawkfield & George Hines b Taru & Shigeo Okumura & Jinsei Shinzaki, Satoshi Kojima & Tatsutoshi Goto b Steve Williams & Nobutaka Araya, Genichiro Tenryu b Stan Hansen, Toshiaki Kawada & Shiro Koshinaka & Masa Fuchi b Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

10/21 Beppu (New Japan - 2,700): Wataru Inoue b Katsuyori Shibata, Koji Kanemoto b Shinya Makabe, Minoru Tanaka b El Samurai, Kendo Ka Shin b Dr. Wagner Jr., AKIRA b Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Osamu Nishimura & Osamu Kido b Kenzo Suzuki & Junji Hirata, Don Frye b Jushin Liger, Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki b Brian Johnston & Yutaka Yoshie, Super J & Scott Norton b Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi

10/21 Tsukaba (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,100): Masashi Aoyagi b Makoto Hashi, Takeshi Morishima & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura b Satoru Asako & Tamon Honda & Haruka Eigen, Yoshinari Ogawa b Masao Inoue, Jun Izumida & Jun Akiyama b Akira Taue & Kentaro Shiga, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Daisuke Ikeda & Mitsuharu Misawa, Takeshi Rikioh & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kenta Kobashi b Richard Slinger & Vader & Too Cold Scorpio

10/21 Ypsilante, MI (ECW - 500): Michael Shane b Oz, Christian York & Joey Mathews b Chris Kruger & ?, Danny Doring & Roadkill b Julio Dinero & E.Z. Money, Balls Mahoney b Chris Hamrick, New Jack & Chilly Willy b Prodigy & Musketeer, Steve Corino b Red Dogg, ECW title: Jerry Lynn b C.W. Anderson, Sandman & Mikey Whipwreck b Justin Credible & Chris Chetti, TV title: Rhino b Yoshihiro Tajiri

10/22 Kagoshima (New Japan - 2,600): Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger b Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Kenzo Suzuki & Osamu Kido b AKIRA & Super J, Yutaka Yoshie b Michiyoshi Ohara, Takashi Iizuka & Junji Hirata b Tatsutoshi Goto & Hiro Saito, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Osamu Nishimura & Kensuke Sasaki, Brian Johnston & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi b Don Frye & Scott Norton & Masahiro Chono

10/22 Osaka (All Japan - 1,700 sellout): Masaaki Mochizuki & Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda b Gran Naniwa & Taru & Ryuji Hijikata, Johnny Smith b Yuto Aijima, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Masa Fuchi b Giant Kimala II & Mohammed Yone, Nobutaka Araya & Steve Williams b Shigeo Okumura & Wolf Hawkfield, Genichiro Tenryu & Jinsei Shinzaki b George Hines & Mike Barton, Toshiaki Kawada b Shiro Koshinaka

10/22 Tokyo Differ Ariake (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 1,800 sellout): Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi b Makoto Hashi & Jun Izumida, Satoru Asako & Haruka Eigen b Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Daisuke Ikeda & Yoshinari Ogawa b Takeshi Morishima & Akira Taue, WEW tag titles: Naomichi Marufuji & Tamon Honda b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Masao Inoue to win titles, Mitsuharu Misawa b Kentaro Shiga, Jun Akiyama b Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Takeshi Rikioh & Kenta Kobashi

10/23 Hartford, CT (WWF Raw is War - 10,932): Haas Brothers b Dupps, Dudleys b Essa Rios & Sho Funaki, Al Snow b Just Joe, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Gangrel, Crash b Lo Ki, Womens title bra and panties match: Lita b Trish Stratus, Chris Benoit b Road Dogg, Chris Jericho b William Regal-DQ, Raven & Tazz b Too Cool, Billy Gunn b Val Venis, Tag titles: Conquistadores (Hardys) b Edge, Three-way for WWF title: Kurt Angle won via DQ over HHH and Rock

10/23 Little Rock, AR (WCW Nitro/Thunder tapings - 5,431/3,022 paid): Crawford b Jimmy Hart, Ron & Don Harris b Shawn Stasiak & Chuck Palumbo, Mike Sanders b Jamie San, Sanders b Yung Yang, Sanders b Kaz Hayashi, Bill Goldberg b Stasiak, Billy Kidman won three-way over Alex Wright and Mark Jindrak, Crowbar b Vampiro-DQ, Shane Douglas b Konnan, Scott Steiner b Mike Awesome, Hardcore title: Reno b Kwee Wee, Buff Bagwell b M.I. Smooth, Cat & Ms. Jones b Sanders & Leia Meow, Vampiro b Big Vito, Lt. Loco & Cpl. Cajun b Lance Storm & Elix Skipper, Sean O'Haire won three-way over Rey Misterio Jr. and Disqo, Goldberg & Sting & Booker T b Jeff Jarrett & Kronik

10/24 Uniondale, NY Nassau Coliseum (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings - 10,500 sellout): Dupps & Jacqueline b Lady Ophelia & Haas Brothers, K.Krush b Joey Abs, European title: Steve Blackman b William Regal-DQ, Hardys & Lita b Test & Albert & Trish Stratus, Tag titles: Dudleys b Hardys-DQ, Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko b HHH & Road Dogg, WWF title: Chris Jericho b Kurt Angle-DQ, Albert b Crash, Rock & Chyna & Billy Gunn b Val Venis & Goodfather & Bull Buchanan, Raven b Al Snow, Rikishi b Too Cool

10/24 Kakayama (All Japan - 1,500): Masa Fuchi b Yuto Aijima, Yasushi Kanda & Masaaki Mochizuki b Ryuji Hijikata & Gran Naniwa, Taru & Giant Kimala II b Shigeo Okumura & Jinsei Shinzaki, Nobutaka Araya & Genichiro Tenryu b Johnny Smith & Wolf Hawkfield, George Hines & Mike Barton & Steve Williams b Mohammed Yone & Shiro Koshinaka & Toshiaki Kawada

 

Special thanks to: Jose Fernandez, Aaron Wilson, Robert Bihari, Joe Silva, Jeff Marek, Alex Marvez, Bryan Alvarez, Mark Jenkinson, Dominick Valenti, Trent Van Drisse, Megumi Nakata, Gene Restaino, Larry Goodman, Bob Barnett, Philip Laine, Jon Farrer, Rob Moore, Jeff Amdur, Trent Walters, Dan Parris, Donny Laible, Jeff Beecher, Alan Skinner, Beau Hajavitch, John Miele, Josh Giemza, Tim Padgett, Alan Smolek, Dafydd Denatale, BARB, Kevin Koledi, Dave Rudden

MEXICO: Rey Misterio Jr. returns to wrestle in Tijuana on 10/27 teaming with Nicho el Millonario & Negro Casas vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero & El Satanico

Pierroth Jr.'s injury actually took place on 9/28 in Aguascalientes when he crashed into the first row of chairs after taking a tope from El Hijo del Santo. He wrestled the next night at Arena Mexico in pain, and then on 9/30 in Cancun, but apparently by that point the pain was so bad he had to stop

They held a show on 10/18 in Tlalnepantla as the 18th anniversary of the October 18, 1982 pro debut of El Hijo del Santo bringing a lot of major foes of Santo's career such as Blue Panther, El Hijo del Diablo, Fishman, Dandy and Negro Navarro in. Santo won a triangle match over Panther and Diablo in the main event and they also held an award ceremony for Manuel Gonzalez Sr., (the original Dr. Wagner, father of Silver King and Dr. Wagner Jr.)

On the 10/20 Arena Mexico show was headlined by Santo & Blue Panther & Fuerza Guerrera in the parejas increibles match beating Negro Casas & Scorpio Jr. & Bestia Salvaje in two straight falls. After the match Shocker ran in and joined with Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. to attack Casas. They also beat up Santo when he tried to make the save. Panther and then Perro Aguayo helped him in the next batch of run-ins. 10/27, which at first was to be a PPV but given the line-up, it's doubtful it is, is headlined by Atlantis vs. Tarzan Boy in a single with no stipulations

AAA's big show of the month, Noche del Terror, took place on 10/18 in San Louis Potosi with Heavy Metal & Perro Aguayo Jr. & Abismo Negro over Cibernetico & Head Hunters via DQ

La Fiera returns soon. Fiera was an awesome worker in the early 1980 when he feuded with a much younger Mitsuharu Misawa. He's been washed up due to injuries for some time.

ALL JAPAN: In the Triple Crown tournament this week, Tenryu won his first round match over Mike Barton on 10/18 in Nattori scoring a pin after a lariat in 10:43. This set up semifinals on 10/21 in Nagoya where Tenryu pinned Stan Hansen in 11:22 with an elbow drop off the top rope and 10/22 in Osaka where Toshiaki Kawada pinned Shiro Koshinaka with a power bomb in 18:23 leading to Kawada vs. Tenryu on 10/28 in Budokan Hall for the finals

Hiroshi Hase, who had not officially taken sides in the All Japan/NOAH split as he had been busy working in the Japanese Diet (Senate), announced he would return for a few matches to this group in January when the Diet is on break. He also said he wanted to wrestle at the 1/28 Tokyo Dome show and wanted Motoko Baba as his manager, although the latter statement should be taken for the comedy that it was meant as

All Japan also announced Atsushi Onita won't be appearing on the 10/28 Budokan Hall. Besides Tenryu vs. Kawada, the other top matches are Jinsei Shinzaki teaming with returning Masahito Kakihara against returning Taiyo Kea, in his first match back since his pelvis injury on 10/8, teaming with Mohammed Yone, plus Wolf Hawkfield & Steve Williams & Hansen vs. Johnny Smith & Masa Fuchi & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The storyline reason given is that since Onita asked for a match against Inoki, All Japan didn't want anything to do with him

The Nagoya show drew 6,200 fans, which bested All Japan's 4,000 fans in the same building last week for the Kobashi vs. Omori singles match. However, many felt the appearance of New Japan wrestlers like Team 2000 would result in an easy sellout and they were several thousand tickets shy. Main event saw Kawada & Koshinaka & Fuchi beating Team 2000's Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito. There was outside interference on the New Japan side from both Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara. The big heat was for Kawada vs. Chono with Kawada using a face lock and Chono the STF before Kawada power bombed and pinned Saito in 17:37. Kawada said afterwards, to likely build up a singles match, how Tenzan was a lot bigger and better than he expected him to be watching TV. In other interpromotional matches, Goto & Satoshi Kojima beat Williams & Nobutaka Araya in 17:17 in a good match. Fans got into Kojima with him getting a lot of both cheers and boos. The gimmick is that Williams and Goto both use the dangerous backdrop as their finisher but neither used it on the other. Kojima ended up using a diamond cutter on Araya for the pin. Kojima challenged Williams after the match. Also Johnny Smith pinned Ohara with a reverse DDT

The annual Real World Tag League takes place from 11/19, starting at Korakuen Hall, with the finals on 12/9 at Tokyo Budokan Hall. The only team that is apparent is Tenryu & Atsushi Onita. Probably Masa Fuchi & Kawada as well. They are running mid-sized arenas, with Korakuen Hall shows on 11/19 and 11/25, with no tournament shows in either Nagoya or Osaka and the only big date before the finals being 12/6 in Sapporo. They are local wrestling wars with NOAH as the companies are running the same building in Niigata (All Japan on 11/27, NOAH on 12/15) and Sendai (All Japan on 12/2, NOAH on 12/8)

Hansen missed a few matches during the week battling chronic lumbago and if you know anything about All Japan, you know he must have been in incredible pain to actually miss matches. Tenryu also missed the 12/20 show with no explanation. Williams has a few broken ribs but is working every night. The Hansen vs. Tenryu match in Nagoya was said to be bad, which would be expected because Hansen at 51 has virtually no mobility left

Mohammed Yone of Battlarts, who has been working the current All Japan tour, was featured on one of those psycho Japanese game shows. It was a game to see how many different portions of foods one person could eat in 24 hours and he ate 131.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Misawa re-named his own group "Wave" that is composed of himself as the leader, along with Yoshinari Ogawa, Daisuke Ikeda and Naomichi Marufuji

The current tour had a major match on 10/20 in Morioka with the ultimate grudge match having No Fear (Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama) meeting rivals joining forces for one night (Misawa & Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue) in a six-man tag which ended with Kobashi pinning Takayama in 25:26. The gimmick was that Akiyama would get more power when it came to the booking if his team could beat the established three top stars

Vader and Kobashi re-started their feud from early 1999 on 10/21 when they had a dressing room fight angle

FMW's WEW tag titles changed hands on this group's 10/22 show at Differ Ariake. NOAH team of Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Masao Inoue defended against another NOAH team of Naomichi Marufuji & Tamon Honda when Honda pinning Kanemaru to win the titles in 20:59 with a german suplex in a match said to be like the old mid-card All-Asian tag title matches. So Marufuji & Honda go to FMW on 10/29 at Korakuen Hall to defend against Ricky Fuji & Hisakatsu Oya

They announced a December tour from 12/2 to 12/15, then coming back with big shows on 12/22 in Kawasaki called "Navigation," and the biggest show in the short history of the company on 12/23 at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, called "Great Voyage" and ending the year with Fan Appreciation day on 12/24 at the home base of Differ Ariake.

NEW JAPAN: Kengo Kimura (real name Takashi Kimura), who was a pretty big star in the 80s with this company, announced his retirement to become the color commentator on the television show. Kimura, 47, hadn't wrestled in a while so it was more a formal announcement of something that had already happened. During the 80s, Kimura was a solid high card wrestler and consistently ranked in the top 50 in the world during a time when that actually meant something. Kimura wrestled 28 years, starting his career in late 1972 and was one of the few New Japan originals still left with the company from when the company first got started. Kimura replaced Masa Saito as color man on World Pro Wrestling on the show taped 10/20. Saito will concentrate on his office job, which is negotiating contract with the foreign wrestlers. Kimura was never a serious contender for the IWGP heavyweight strap, but is probably best known as being half of the first-ever IWGP tag team champions with Tatsumi Fujinami when they won the annual tag team tournament that year beating Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi in the finals. This was actually a back story, as the original finals were to have Inoki & Sakaguchi go over on Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka, but Brody & Snuka got off the train on the way to Sendai for the match and went home, with Brody actually walking out on $40,000 pay for the entire tour after a singles match with Sakaguchi the previous night turned into a fight, which Brody got the better of, and apparently he may have expected some sort of punishment or retaliation. With Brody & Snuka out of the finals, the promotion felt they needed to do something big, so they put the third place team, Fujinami & Kimura, over in a surprise when Fujinami pinned Inoki clean which is something that virtually never happened in those days. The two lost and regained the title in matches with Osamu Kido & Akira Maeda, before splitting up and having the famous loser leaves town match which Kimura lost. In almost Russo-like booking, when Kimura returned, he and Fujinami reformed their team and won the 1987 tag team tournament beating Inoki & Dick Murdoch in the finals. Shortly thereafter, Kimura joined the Skinheads, and later it evolved into the Ishingun outsiders-like group with Shiro Koshinaka, before fading away from the scene the past few years

Scott Hall, with nowhere else to go at this point in time, is said to have opened up negotiations to work here

They are looking at doing a singles match to headline the 12/10 PPV show with Kawada vs. Nakanishi for the first time

Tadao Yasuda, 37, has either been fired or suspended by New Japan. Yasuda is apparently deep in debt due to heavy gambling losses and on the verge of filing bankruptcy. On 10/16, Antonio Inoki said he could get himself out of debt by fighting with Pride, which may mean there is some storyline involved in this. Yasuda has never done any form of real fighting with the exception of being a high level sumo wrestler, and at his age, that's not a good time to start. What he has going for him is he's 6-6 and 330 pounds and is well known in Japan, and guys like that, particularly with a pro wrestling background, make great looking victims in shoot fights

There were a few interesting singles results this past week. On 10/18 in Nagasaki, Yutaka Yoshie was put over Satoshi Kojima with an armbar and Don Frye over Brian Johnston via pinfall. On 10/21 in Oita, Frye used a choke on Jushin Liger

10/9 TV which was the big show drew the 8.6 as reported last week. 10/14 drew a 2.9.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: World Pro Wrestling, owned by Toshinori Yasuraku has already folded. Yasuraku didn't pay any bills from the September tour, to either the foreign wrestlers on the tour, the hotels they stayed at or the buildings they ran shows at, and has disappeared. The foreigners left Japan furious about not getting paid at all

The appearance of the first participant from the 2000 Olympics in pro wrestling has already been canceled. Ednats da Silva, who represented Brazil in womens judo at 171 pounds, placing seventh, was scheduled to debut on the big L-1 shoot tournament card promoted by LLPW. It was announced she has pulled out due to knee surgery from injuries suffered during the Olympics

The NTV Colisseo show drew a 1.6 rating on 10/5 and a 1.2 rating on 10/12.

HERE AND THERE: The AAA Guerra de Titanes show has been moved from 11/11 to 11/18 in Houston at the Hofeinz Pavilion

The World Sumo Wrestling Federation idea that a lot of the major WWF executives from the 80s were behind looks like it isn't going to happen because they weren't able to raise the funding to get it off the ground. It's not totally dead, but it also at this point has no start date

XPW held its press conference to build up the Atsushi Onita vs. Sabu match on 10/18. Bout itself takes place on 12/3. Onita came out and said Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman promised him they'd do explosive matches with him but both backed out. Sabu came out and turned over a table sending water everywhere. Onita threw a chair into a chair and a reporter bladed for him. Onita power bombed Sabu into a table that didn't break and Onita bladed Sabu. Onita and heel owner Rob Black tried to burn an American flag, but their BBQ starter didn't work. They finally got the fire started but the room had no ventilation. Onita rammed Sabu's head into the fire until Kevin Kleinrock came with an empty fire extinguisher. Finally, they poured water on the flag to put the fire out. When Onita returned to Japan, he talked with the press at Narita Airport about his match, but said it would be against a mystery opponent, and then challenged Antonio Inoki to come out of retirement for a match against him, which Onita said would be his retirement match. Onita is trying to challenge his childhood hero, Terry Funk, for the all-time record number of retirements. He's going to have to retire soon because he needs a knee replacement. Then again, so has Funk needed one for many years

Speaking of Sabu, he worked for the NWA title against Mike Rapada before 592 fans in Tampa on 10/17 going to a double DQ to set up a rematch on 11/14

Big Dick Dudley (Alex Rizzo) was involved in a serious accident when he was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle and reportedly spent two days in a coma

NWA announced its Board of Directors for the 2000-2001 year after its meetings over the weekend in Nashville. Howard Brody was named President for the fifth year. Bill Behrens of Georgia and Jim Miller of Pittsburgh are the Vice Presidents. The remainder of the board is Richard Arpin of West Virginia-Ohio, David Baucom of Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Richard O'Brien of Virginia and Ernie Todd from Winnipeg

Rulon Gardner won $125,000 on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" this past week. Reports were he came off both very personable and intelligent while on the show

Shawn Michaels is scheduled for an appearance, but not a match, on a Memphis Championship Wrestling show on 10/28 at Arkansas State University

IWA in Puerto Rico has booked Psicosis for a few upcoming dates. They attempted to book Juventud Guerrera, but his asking price was higher and at this point it looks negative

Dusty Rhodes' Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling does its first TV taping on 10/28 in Warner-Robins, GA. The show is being taped for the Turner South network but they haven't agreed yet to carry the show. Top matches are Ray Lloyd (Glacier) defending TCW title against Barry Windham, plus Ricky Morton & Bobby Eaton vs. Erik Watts & Chad Fortune, and Dusty vs. Ron Reis along with Bob & Scott Armstrong

April Hunter, a fitness model type who was one of the NWO Girls in WCW earlier this year, is now training at Killer Kowalski's school to be a woman wrestler. She had trained some for wrestling while in Japan doing a TV commercial not all that long ago. First, because of Ken Shamrock, all the MMA fighters wanted to do pro wrestling because you could make big money, and then because of Kurt Angle, a lot of amateur wrestlers wanted to become pro wrestlers, and now, because of Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson, the fitness models want into wrestling

On the Sports video charts, the "King of the Death match" tape which has cracked the top 20 is an FMW tape, which makes these really embarrassing now for WCW when an FMW tape is in the top 20 and its been forever plus since any WCW tape has been there and when they were, they didn't do any better

Western Canadian Extreme Wrestling debuted on 10/20 in Calgary, with most of the wrestlers from Stampede Wrestling, drawing about 400 fans, which is a lot more than the 100 Stampede had been doing. The shows are being run by Jason Anderson and Jordan Clarke, who worked in Stampede as Dirty Dick Raines but is working this group as Duke Durango, and was half the Stampede International tag team titles. WCEW had a press conference two days earlier saying that most of the wrestlers leaving were owed money by the Harts. Badnews Allen was comparing the treatment of the wrestlers to the treatment of slaves in another generation because many have gone back one year without being paid. Ross Hart was quoted acknowledging that wrestlers are owed money but that it is their intention to pay them back

We usually don't do this, but we understand that Johnny Valentine would really appreciate cards and letters of good wishes after his recent back surgery and very difficult recovery period. You can write to Valentine at 5016 White Oaks Ln., River Oaks, TX 76114

The Urban Wrestling promotion was scheduled for more tapings this past week in Los Angeles at the Olympic. Although they have television, there is very little buzz coming out on this group which got a decent amount of trade publicity and seemed to have some money behind it before it started. There's even been more talk of the Women of Wrestling. The problem in both cases is attempting to start promotions as television vehicles without established stars, with the idea that you can train people with a good look and put them in wrestling matches and the public in any great numbers will support it. Maybe if it was a unique product, but the public can already see too many hours already of major league wrestling with experienced guys that the public already knows to support something new with no name talent, and quite frankly, the jury is out on the public either supporting a different style or even a new group with big name talent, since WCW had big name talent and an established brand name and can't come close to turning a profit, an ECW has the niche product and seven years of building a brand name and they're not making any money either.

MMA: The 11/17 UFC show at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is now confirmed as being a go

In a very strange story, Ken Shamrock and Mark Hall have agreed to a match in Japan on the 12/23 Pride show at the Saitama Super Arena. There was an incident earlier this year that wasn't an angle stemming from some problems the two had regarding promotion of a show Hall was putting on in Southern California and his feeling Shamrock wasn't helping promote it. The whole story was basically ridiculous. It led to some bad blood, nasty phone messages left by Hall, and exploded at a show in San Jacinto, CA when Hall confronted Shamrock. The two began arguing, a fight started, from most accounts by Hall, although there are those who dispute that story. Either way, it was ended in a matter of seconds by Shamrock with Hall being taken out of the building and then threatening to file a suit. Lawyers got involved and the two sides agreed to settle it this past week by having a match, which sounds ridiculously like an angle, although I'm pretty sure it didn't start out as one. The fight itself on paper looks terribly one-sided as far as who is going to win as Hall has never beaten a major name. He has something of a name in Japan because on May 17, 1996 in Detroit, he defeated pro wrestler Koji Kitao when he broke his nose with a right hand and the match was stopped in 47 seconds, and Kitao, who was a sumo legend before being kicked out of the sport and going into pro wrestling, had a huge name in Japan. Reports have it that Hall has gained a ton of muscle of late, which, in fighting, usually indicates something positive for a short match and negative when the match goes any length of time. Hall came to Japan several times for different groups based off that win, but lost a few pro wrestling matches in Kingdom and a few shoot fights, most notably to Don Frye, and has not been active much in recent years

Pride added Akira Shoji vs. Herman Renting of The Netherlands and Alexander Otsuka vs. American Mike Borku (?) to its 10/31 show. Renting is a guy who has a little name value in Japan as in the early days of the RINGS promotion, he was pushed as a mid-level star, but those were strictly works and he's long past his prime and fighting has evolved greatly from the early 90s. He did place second this year in the Netherlands Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championship tournament at 215 pounds

UFC 11/17 in Atlantic City, NJ has a totally lackluster line-up and it appears there are a lot of things going on behind-the-scenes at UFC so the company in many ways seems like it's in a WCW like holding pattern. At this point there is no main event. It was first announced as Randy Couture challenging Kevin Randleman for the heavyweight title. Randleman's negotiations with SEG fell apart so he's off the show. It was then announced as Couture vs. Pedro Rizzo, but that fell through because either Rizzo may have had a bad knee, or more likely, when he was asked this past week, there wasn't enough time to get into fighting shape for a bout with someone of Couture's level. Couture is under contract and wants to fight but there is no opponent and it's going to be difficult to impossible to find a main event quality opponent to take such a fight with such little notice which doesn't bode well for the show. The only guy who would have done it with no special training is Severn, and after his last performance and his heat with John Perretti, that isn't going to happen either. Other matches are John Lewis vs. Jens Pulver, which is a strong lighter weight fight, Chuck Liddell vs. ?, Gan McGee vs. Josh Barnett (who earlier this year beat Dan Severn with an armbar), Maurice Smith vs. Ian Freeman and Andre Orlovksi vs. Aaron Brink. Pretty much a terrible line-up as far as names with any recognition, considering in some ways this is the most important show in a long time because of the Atlantic City venue

Pride is looking at doing some shows in the United States

Former pro wrestler Ryushi Yanagisawa of Pancrase participated on the 10/22 SAMURAI promotion debut show at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo which mixed kickboxing (first and second round) and MMA (third and fourth round) style, losing the decision to a Russian, Madedov Iburagim, of the Seikendo group

ECW: Line-up for the 11/5 PPV show in Chicago is now a four-way on top with Lynn, Corino, Credible and Sandman. It's going to be billed as a double jeopardy match. The idea is that they will have two singles matches, pairings have yet to be finalized, going on in the ring at the same time. The two winners then have another singles match for the title. The rest of the show is Rhino vs. New Jack for the TV title, C.W. Anderson vs. Super Crazy, Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. FBI for the tag team titles (Whipwreck suffered a shoulder injury over the weekend so there is a chance he may not be able to wrestle and a possibility that Crazy could team with Tajiri in that case, but either way the plan is to team Tajiri & Crazy at some point), Baldies vs. Balls Mahoney & Chilly Willy in a flaming tables match, Chris Chetti vs. Nova and Doring & Roadkill & Kid Kash vs. E.Z. Money & Simon Diamond & Julio Dinero

The 12/3 PPV in New York is already sold out, although that's only 2,500 tickets. Probable main event is a three-way for the title

Rob Van Dam won't be on the PPV but may return the following weekend, as he's in Thailand shooting a martial arts movie

The house shows scheduled for 10/27 in Camden, NJ and 10/28 in Allentown, PA were canceled

Morale was still strong at the house shows this past weekend even with no television and poor crowds. Everyone got paid again on time. In Battle Creek, because Van Dam wasn't there, they offered free tickets to anyone who wanted them for the PPV in Chicago

Dan Severn was backstage at one of the shows discussing work. Can't see it happening as he's all wrong for this promotion. Years ago, there was interest in him doing a program with Tazz, but that was more to make Tazz' shooter rep stronger for Severn to put him over. It was funny, because at the time, they had their fans so brainwashed to the legend of Tazz that they believed if it was a shoot that Tazz would have beaten Severn, who at the time was still championship calibre in UFC

They did an angle where Mahoney and Willie put Prodigette through a flaming table

Heyman was at both weekend shows. It was the first time he's made two out of the area shows in the same weekend. In fact, he even did the ring announcing the first night from behind the curtain

Whipwreck suffered his shoulder injury doing a clothesline out of the ring but it didn't appear serious

Nova injured his ribs in Battle Creek on the first night and didn't work Ypsilante

Highlight of the week was a TV title match in Ypsilante with Rhino over Tajiri

Joe C of Kid Rock's band, who did the angle costing Edge & Christian the WWF tag titles to Too Cool on Raw earlier this year, was at the Ypsilante show helping Sandman & Whipwreck to beat Chetti & Credible

Hardcore TV for this past weekend was a really good show. Van Dam beat E.Z. Money in a very good match. Money pulled out some innovative moves before Van Dam hit the frog splash. Mahoney vs. Tajiri lasted less than one minute when the FBI and Graziano interfered. This brought out Chilly Willy and then the Baldies. Willie was laid out but then Mahoney laid out both Baldies with chair shots. He poured lighter fluid all over the table, but before he could set it on fire, Angel got up and hit Mahoney with a chair. DeVito then lit the table on fire and they put Mahoney through it. Main was scheduled as Lynn vs. Corino, but Anderson came out and it turned into a three-way. Damn good match h as well. They brawled all over and did a lot of really good wrestling. Credible interfered. Lynn ended up winning both doing the cradle piledriver first on Corino, and then on Anderson. In the closing interview segment, Cyrus tried to disassociate himself from TNN, basically saying it wasn't the network that gave him the power but the fact he had Rhino with him.

WCW: Amidst all the problems and uncertainty, and without anything resembling future or long-term direction, or could there be, they did the first double taping on 10/23 in Little Rock. From all reports, the quality of the wrestling and the overall show on Thunder had improved. Nitro came off like a lame duck show with some very strange occurrences, in particular Kevin Nash's two interviews bringing up Scott Hall, and one really good match. Harris Twins beat Stasiak & Palumbo with the High Times on Palumbo. Storyline was that Stasiak wasn't a team player. Nash ripped on him in commentary and he wasn't even paying attention at the finish. Nash did the Bobby Knight on him after, choking him when Stasiak wasn't making a good student. Booker did an interview. Steiner came out and they started brawling. Jarrett came out to help but the lights flickered and Sting made the save. Everyone from the back except Goldberg pulled them apart. Awesome went after Steiner in the pull-apart to set up the TV main event. Sanders did an interview. He said he was from Badstreet USA. He said the further down the block you went the badder it got, and he lived in the last house on the right. Actually, that was the lines from the song written by Michael Hayes. He obviously didn't grow up hearing the song played 1,000 times since he messed up the wording just a little. Sanders beat all three Jung Dragons in quick kickboxing matches by putting ether on his glove, rubbing it in their faces and they all were spaced out and easy pray for his KO blows. Leia Meow came in and give him a low blow, but he no sold it and pulled out a cup. He then threatened her with his cup. For some reason, Ms. Jones then came out to save her. While Sanders was distracted, Cat KO'd him with one of the greatest looking worked kicks I've seen in U.S. wrestling. Kronik did an interview. Clark actually got to talk. They were doing the APA gimmick where they were protecting 3 Count as they were going to sing. 3 Count talked about singing every song they knew. The APA, I mean Kronik, decided they didn't want to hear them and attacked them, leading to a match with Kronik winning with the High Times on Helms in 57 seconds. Nash came out and did a promo talking about Hall. Either this is all a work about Hall being fired, and everyone swears it isn't, or WCW is run by total chowderheads. If someone was shooting with a live mic and trying to get over a guy that Vince McMahon just fired and it wasn't a worked firing, that guy who did so on live TV would be seriously disciplined the first time and probably fired the second time. If they pushed anyone who wasn't there as being done in by management, whether it be Hall, Hogan or Juvi, of course the fans would rally around them so the crowd reaction for Hall is so obvious. Either from day one, they should have had this as an angle, or if they are going to tease the fans for months with an angle they aren't going to deliver on, there is no purpose for the angle as it only makes the company look worse at a time when that should not be the goal and there should have been a directive never to mention the name, as WWF does whenever it lets someone go. If they did the same thing to get Flair back, at least it would have built up ratings for something that paid off. So, in other words, the best job of build-up for someone's return WCW has done this year is for a guy who isn't coming back. Mark Madden wrote about how a guy who hasn't been on TV gets better pops than most of the talent who is as praising Hall, but it's not a praise of Hall, it's a knock at the ineptness of the people in charge of the product who let someone get pushed harder on television than virtually everyone who actually is working their ass off every week, particularly the babyfaces booked to look like a fool and impotent against the top guys. Neither interview was scripted for any mention of Hall. Nash went on the impression that the people in charge, Terry Taylor, Bill Banks or Ed Ferrara, would never have the guts to discipline him and being the smartest guy in the promotion, he guessed right, which is another example of why this company is in the shape it's in. MIA did a spoof on Team Canada. It wasn't the NWO spoofing Horseman or DX spoofing NOD, but Sgt. Awall spooking Duggan as a 2x4 carrying cross-eyed moron was the best work he's ever done in his career. Because there are only three Team Canada members, two of whom it was noted weren't Canadian, Cpl. Cajun had to dress up like a Canadian moose. Nash did another interview, against talking about Hall, using terms like shoot and work. He said that the success of Hall & Nash as a tag team is in the record books as the greatest tag team of all-time. They're in the record books all right. After having a good run for a couple of years, they were two of the key components leading to another record, the most money ever lost by a wrestling company in history. Goldberg destroyed Stasiak, who was being set up by his own teammates, in 41 seconds. Goldberg was 7-0 on Wednesday and he was 12-0 after this match, despite WCW having no events in the interim. I think that's why this winning streak is so over. They announced a three-way tag title match with Jindrak & O'Haire defending against Misterio Jr. & Kidman and Wright & Disqo. Then they did a three-way with Kidman winning over Jindrak and Wright when he used the Kid crusher on Wright. Short but it wasn't bad. Crowbar did an interview with Pamela, wiping off his staff with tissue paper. What was that all about? Vampiro then returned as the mystery superstar making his return (after what is it, three weeks?) for a great match. Vamp, as a heel worked hard to get a face reaction and succeeded in doing so. They worked their asses off and had great heat. Some sloppiness but it was overcome by the fact fans really enjoyed seeing guys work this hard on Nitro. They were brawling in the raised section by where the Nitro Girls dance in the cages when Vampiro choke slammed Crowbar through two tables for the DQ. With all the objects used and the fact they brawled outside the ring for what seemed like a week, then they do a DQ for a choke slam through a table. They gave these two 9:50, which is one of the longer Nitro matches in a while. Vampiro challenged Awesome for the PPV. Douglas, doing the broken arm gimmick, still beat Konnan with a franchiser quick. Konnan did a hell of a promo, then turned his back. Somehow he always does a strong promo and comes off looking in the booking like a total fool. Main event saw Steiner beat Awesome with the recliner in 5:38. Booker did commentary. Midajah interfered as Awesome was about to win, allowing Steiner to hit Awesome with the pipe to set up the finish. By Nitro standards, it was a good main event

Thunder was taped after Nitro. It was said to be much better than most of the recent Thunder shows. They told the crowd there would be a main event six-man with Goldberg & Sting & Booker as the main event and everyone stayed and the crowd heat was decent at least. They had a local DJ named Crawford wrestle and beat Jimmy Hart in a dark match. 3 Count was in Hart's corner. Another local DJ named Tommy Smith hit Hart with a chair after a ref bump, then took his shirt off to reveal a ref shirt and counted as Crawford pinned Hart. For the show, Reno pinned Kwee Wee to keep the hardcore title. After the match, Reno gave his twist of fate like move to Paisley. He was about to put Kwee Wee through a table when Awall made the save and choke slammed Reno through the table. The Thrillers and Nash came out. Nash had a croquet mallet and went to punish Stasiak saying he was going to spank him. He told Stasiak to bend over, but Palumbo put a chair there and Nash hit him and he sold it big. Bagwell beat M.I. Smooth, who was wearing his old Ice Train gear. After Bagwell won, David Flair ran in, but Bagwell made his own save and laid him out. Bagwell vowed to reveal whether or not he knocked Stacy Keibler up at Havoc. Too bad everyone is long past caring. David Flair and Konnan are the two guys who always do run-ins and always get left laying. Cat & Ms. Jones beat Sanders & Meow, which made perfect sense given that Sanders and Meow were fighting earlier on the Nitro taping. As it turned out, Meow then turned on Sanders and both Meow and Jones pinned him. Vampiro pinned Vito in a match where Vito took most of the match. Loco & Cajun beat Storm & Skipper. Duggan interfered, leading to Rection and Awall coming out. Major Gunns went to hit Storm with the flag, but instead hit Loco, but Loco reversed Storm's cradle and pinned him. O'Haire won a three-way over Misterio Jr. & Disqo when he cleanly pinned Disqo with the swanton. The partners all ran in after the match. Goldberg & Sting & Booker beat Jarrett & Kronik when Sting ducked a guitar shot and pinned Jarrett after the scorpion death drop. Steiner came out to attack Booker after the match but the faces cleaned house after the show went off the air. The original plan was for the heels to go over in the six-man, but that would have killed Goldberg's goofy win streak gimmick that nobody takes seriously so they had to change the finish

Taylor, Ferrara and Banks were apparently the lead force in writing the television

Although it falls somewhat in the dated reference material, although not for the WCW audience, the most hilarious line of the year was when Mark Madden was running down the various great tag teams of the past like Midnight Express, Funks, Briscos, Steiners and Harlem Heat (well?) to compare with Jindrak & O'Haire and added The Butchers, Abdullah & Sam

Nobody has any idea why they brought in a live tiger from the zoo to accompany Steiner to ringside on Nitro. Backstage, as he was trying to get a photo with the tiger, the tiger nearly took a chuck out of Misterio Jr

Goldberg's book "I'm Next" comes out on 11/7 and he'll be doing a promotional tour immediately after

They've re-named the early 2001 PPVs. The 1/14 show will tentatively be called Sin, instead of Souled Out, the 2/18 show will still be called SuperBrawl, but now SuperBrawl revenge and the 3/18 show, formerly Uncensored, will be tentatively be called WCW Greed. I guess because the NBA and NFL ratings were down last season, the way they'll address it is to just change the name of the teams

E! will air a feature on Women of WCW on 11/5 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific

While this could certainly change, the promotion for the November Mayhem PPV is built around Steiner in a straight jacket as champion

In the Time Warner stockholders report, they estimated $10-$15 million in losses by WCW over the three month period between July and September. Apparently that means the cost cutting has made a difference because at that rate the losses won't come near $80 million, although they'll still top $50 million

The 11/16 show in Oberhausen, Germany will be a PPV for about $13

In a Pittsburgh poll, Mark Madden finished third for the radio personality you'd most want to punch

In one of the funnier articles, Promo Magazine listed WCW as "one of the top 50 best promoted brands.

For whatever this is worth regarding ultimate plans of Terry Bollea, he has said for years that he wanted to end his career in the WWF, but he also wants to end his career on top

Some notes from the Thunder taping in Melbourne. While Sam Greco is very well known in Japan, including in several television commercials and his matches on TV as part of K-1 draw between double and triple what Rock does in this country, he is largely unknown in his native Australia. On WCW TV, they tried to portray him as one of Australia's most celebrated athletes, but his notoriety in Australia is probably no different than the notoriety of Rick Roufas in the United States. It was also funny hearing them talk about Ernest Miller's shootfighting background. I think his only background is that he once bumped into and nearly got into a street fight with Don Frye. Comparing the K-1 that Greco does and what Miller did in point karate is the exact same comparison to comparing what Ric Flair does as a pro wrestler, except that Miller is hardly the Ric Flair of his sport, as a shoot sport comparison with somebody like Kurt Angle. That's not knocking his talent, but real fighters do refer to point karate as a game of tag. They were using plants in the crowd for Steiner to attack at almost every show on the tour

CNN ran a special on Goldberg on 10/22. Goldberg talked about his parents divorce 13 years ago, saying he's still angry about it to this day. They showed Vince Russo and the booking team talking about a Nitro script where Goldberg would get revenge on Steiner. Russo's had an idea that Steiner would be in the dressing room bleaching his moustache and Goldberg would pour bleach down Steiner's throat. They actually showed a booking meeting where Russo wanted Goldberg to pour Clorox down Steiner's throat as revenge in an angle, but Ed Ferrara noted that you don't bleach a moustache with Clorox. He then said they could use bleach instead. That one never made television. From the footage of the booking meeting, we're told it appeared during that time frame they probably could have put on a more entertaining TV show having just aired the silliness that went on in their booking meetings. Russo claimed it took Hogan 15 years to make a name in the business (he started in late 1977, was a superstar in Japan in 1980 and the biggest drawing card in the American business for the AWA by late 1981) while it only took Goldberg three months. The show talked about Goldberg delivering ratings every week, which certainly was true until this yea

Scott Hudson missed the 10/23 Nitro because of work commitments at his regular job

Terry Taylor's father, who had recent health problems, passed away this past week

The first combined Raw/Nitro tapings in Little Rock, AR on 10/23 drew 5,431 fans, which was 3,022 paying $87,390.

WWF: The lawyers for WWF and Martha Hart are apparently getting both sides together once again, perhaps as soon as this week, for another settlement conference

Raw on 10/23 from Hartford, CT was a pretty entertaining show overall, with a hot main event that had a lame finish to the point fans heavily booed it. Show opened with Rikishi coming out saying he was going to support Rock in regaining the title and that he was trying to help Rock the previous night. Rock came out and kept being a smart-ass to Rikishi, who seemed sincere, weird for a heel, and almost ready to cry as Rock was disowning him as a family member. Rock even told him to get lost. Rikishi told Rock he was still going to help him until finally Rock gave him a rock bottom. They promoted the hell out of the move on 10/25 to the New York Stock Exchange, which will include some matches outside the exchange. Lita beat Trish Stratus in a bra and panties match for the title. Somebody is going to get hurt very badly sometime soon when these people with little training try huracanrana spots, as Stratus landed on her head going over. Lita got the moonsault and took off short shirts to reveal a thong, after both women's bras were exposed. The RTC came out, with Ivory being added as a member (at one point Mona was considered for the role) as an uptight woman mad at women showing their stuff to all the guys. Benoit did an interview. He got booed when he called Stephanie a bitch. Stephanie helped Angle, a heel, beat Rock, but now she's a total babyface after being called all kinds of names when she was a babyface. Benoit beat Road Dogg with the crossface when Malenko helped Benoit out by distracting Dogg. HHH did an interview putting Benoit over as the greatest technical wrestler, largely to put himself over since he just beat him. Crash was in the Acolytes old office smoking a cigar and choking when T&A carried him out and were trying to come up with names as they took over the protection agency. Jericho beat Regal via DQ when Kane came out and choke slammed Jericho. Earlier in the show, Jericho accidentally poured coffee on Kane, who freaked. They did a major celebration with Angle and Stephanie with Angle going down his European, IC, King of the Ring and WWF title wins all in less than one full year in the WWF. It was hilarious when he said he was the first ever Eurocontinental champion, except D-Lo Brown, but he doesn't count. They dropped the balloons and confetti from the ceiling. They put over the world title and the win as being something historical, which coincides with the fans reaction in Albany because they seemed to think the same thing. Foley came out and ordered a three-way with Rock and HHH for the title later in the show. Raven & Tazz beat Too Cool when Raven stopped Scotty from doing the worm by laying him out with a DDT and Tazz pinned him. Pete Gas came out in the Just Joe role to tell Edge that Foley wanted to talk with him. Gas is huge. Insert your own play on words. When Edge returned, he saw Christian through a table as they claimed the Dudleys attacked him. This was to explain him not wrestling in the scheduled tag title match. Also in the show, Chyna laid out both ho's, which my impression is was to end those characters. So it wasn't the Godfather who got rid of them, it was Chyna. Notice, by the way, that the pimp, the ho's and the porn star, the three characters subject to all the criticism, were all gone within the first month after Viacom took over the TV. Gunn beat Venis with the famouser to set up Gunn vs. Eddy for the IC title. Conquistadores, this time being the Hardys, and doing all their signature spots, beat Edge in the handicap match to retain the title. After the match, Foley came out with a tape that showed that E&C were the Conquistadores (at least they were at the PPV) and said he had the Hardys buy the outfits from the other guys doing the gimmick earlier on TV (Aaron Aguilera & Christopher Daniels). He said for those keeping records, that Christian & Edge did win the titles on the PPV, but then lost them back to the Hardys as opposed to the belts never changing hands. Tiger Ali Singh is back doing the wealthy playboy gimmick, hanging around WWF New York buying guys steaks. Main was a really good match with HHH, Rock and Angle. Angle was a punching bag early. Angle laid out HHH with a belt shot when Rock ducked. HHH was then taken out on a stretcher temporarily. Angle did the Olympic slam, but the ref was occupied with HHH's condition so couldn't count as Rock was pinned. HHH got off the stretcher and ran back to the ring. He recovered so miraculously he gave Angle the pedigree but Rock saved. Rock did the rock bottom on Angle but HHH saved. Angle hit WWF with the belt and then hit Rock with the belt but Rikishi then ran in for the DQ so Angle retained the title. Fans booed this. Austin showed up, as apparently attempted vehicular manslaughter, running into a police car so hard the officer is seriously injured in pro wrestling storyline is something you simply bail yourself out on, and I guess since this is all acknowledged storyline, logical holes as large as this are probably no worse than in any other soap opera. Austin ran to the ring and clotheslined Angle and then started pounding on Rikishi. Angle again attacked Austin but Austin left him laying with a stunner. After the show went off the air, Austin, Rock and HHH celebrated together drinking beer and talking about their favorite kind of pie

Smackdown/Heat tapings on 10/24 at the Nassau Coliseum notes. For Heat, Regal was DQ'd in a European title match with Blackman for hitting him with the belt. T&A & Stratus vs. Hardys & Lita ended when Crash got his revenge hitting Albert with a trash can lid allowing Matt to pin him. They did a skit where Guerrero said that Chyna has been calling him wanting him back. He calls out Chyna, her music played, but it was Kat dressed up in her old little Chyna gimmick. Guerrero gave her a kiss. For Smackdown, Austin did an interview saying he accidentally hit the gas every time he meant to hit the brakes and challenged Rikishi to a cage match on the 10/30 Raw from Boston. Dudleys beat Hardys via DQ in a tag title match when E&C hit the Dudleys with chairs. The RTC started running down the crowd. Ivory started criticizing Rock about his poon tang pie catch phrase. Rock came out and asked her if she liked pie. Chyna ended up coming out and basically insinuating that Ivory was a lesbian, although in much nicer terms, asking if she herself likes poon tang pie. Gunn comes out eating real pie. This all sets up a six-man later. Benoit & Malenko beat Dogg & HHH when Malenko makes Dogg submit to the cloverleaf after Saturn interfered. They are putting the Radicalz back together for Survivor Series. T&A were in the Acolytes office when Crash challenges Albert to a hardcore match. They tease Stratus thinking Crash. They tease an Angle vs. Brooklyn Brawler title match, but Foley comes out and instead gives the title shot to Jericho. Jericho wins via DQ when Kane attacked Jericho with a clothesline off the top when Jericho had Angle in the liontamer. Albert pinned Crash. Rock & Gunn & Chyna beat Buchanan & Venis & Richards when Rock beats Buchanan with the sharpshooter. Raven pinned Snow after a DDT. Tazz attacked Lawler at ringside and Snow went out to help Lawler, but it cost him the match. Snow & Lawler cleaned house together. Main event saw Rikishi destroy Too Cool (they did an angle earlier) with a banzai on both guys. Rikishi challenged Austin to come out, but when he did, a mystery guy attacked Austin, who juiced heavily. Austin, covered in blood, still attacked Rikishi, went for a stunner, it was stopped and was laid out by a superkick and banzai. After the show ended, Too Cool made the save for Austin, but Austin showed his gratitude by hitting GMS with a stunner

The woman who wrestled as Ophelia against Jackie on the 10/17 Cleveland tapings in a dark match was Lady Ophelia, who worked as Steven Regal's valet in Memphis Championship Wrestling and feuded with Bobcat. She isn't Mona from WCW, who had a dark match the previous night in Detroit

Austin is going to wrestle on most of the upcoming house shows, and not just in the major markets. They are mostly going to headline with Austin & Rock & HHH vs. Benoit & Angle & Rikishi

WWF's new TV deals signed last week were a two-year deal with JSky Sports in Japan to air Smackdown, Raw and PPV shows (which would air as free monthly specials as opposed to on PPV) on the AXN cable network, the FOX satellite network and JSky Sports channels. They also signed a one year deal to air a spanish version of Metal on Telemundo, although that was already pretty well known. They signed a one year deal for Superstars to air on the CTC Channel in Russia and a one year deal in Bulgaria for Raw and Smackdown to air on the bTV channel. There are no plans to tour any of these countries until business cools off domestically

Austin, Benoit, Kane, Lita and Hardys are booked for a year-end spectacular show for Ohio Valley Wrestling on 12/13 at the Louisville Gardens. One would think with Austin on the card, they should outdraw the 2,600 paid they did for the 30th anniversary show earlier in the year

Brill's Content named Vince McMahon one of the 50 people who over the last year have had the most influence on the content we've consumed

The December issue of Stuff Magazine is going to have some sort of a feature on American heroes and apparently one of the names featured will be Gorilla Monsoon

On the WWF web site, they stated there was nothing to the story of McMahon attempting to buy the Boston Red Sox

Flex Magazine listed the top five physiques in pro wrestling as Scott Steiner, HHH, Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash and Ken Shamrock. Can you imagine Lex Luger or Chris Benoit or Perry Saturn or Buff Bagwell or Evan Karagias or any of those guys who do what they do to get physiques and then get told that a 42-year-old guy who isn't even in good shape has a better physique

A 14-year-old boy in Romulus, MI was charged with assault and battery on his mother after she wouldn't let him watch Sunday Night Heat on 10/22. According to police reports, the boy pushed his mother, threatened to break the windows of both her car and of their apartment, then broke a cinderblock into pieces and grabbed a chunk and threatened her with it. When she said she was going to call the police, he pushed her again. The boy was placed under arrest the next day at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility and held. The boy is awaiting trial on two previous assault charges regarding attacks of adult residents at the same apartment building

UK ratings saw Raw drawing 380,000 viewers, Smackdown Continued on page 10.

THE READERS PAGES

 

WWF BUYING WCW

I find this purchase of WCW problematic. I can imagine why WWF would want to purchase WCW, and I'm not sure why they would want to continue running it. It simply dilutes the strong WWF brand name, and I have to imagine WCW is going to cease to exist over the next 18 months.

Here's how I see it going:

a) WWF buys WCW

b) WWF management takes over the writing and talent coordination of the product

c) Over six months, WWF builds toward an interpromotional feud

d) The companies feud for about a year

e) The feud is blown off at Wrestlemania 2002, with WCW losing and ceasing to exist as a separate promotion

f) WCW programming on TNT and TBS becomes WWF programming

This entire situation seems to be more about McMahon's ego then about sound business. WCW is failing on its own. The WCW brand, which had value three years ago, is now practically worthless. The produce is terrible and is not working at any level, storytelling, athleticism or even titillation. Time Warner may as well have shut down the division.

What WWF needs to do is diversify its revenue streams. Creating the XFL is a very good step in that direction. They should be developing television programming and web content, building on their strengths in television and new media. Another wrestling company is the last thing they should buy.

John Stevenson

RATINGS

The ratings are down, not because of baseball or football, it's because pro wrestling peaked in 1999. It's just like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," people have seen it and now have found new things to watch. When that show was hot, the ratings were great. Now the show is doing 12's. That's a good number, but it's nowhere near the 20's it was doing earlier this year. The show was fun for a while, until someone actually won a million dollars.

Friends of mine who followed pro wrestling one year ago, rarely watch it today. There's nothing new going on. In 1996, with Hogan's heel turn and the formation of the NWO got a lot of people back into wrestling again. I had stopped watching wrestling, but when I saw that WCW was on the rise, I tuned back in. Then the WWF became entertaining with the Austin vs. McMahon feud and the rise of The Rock. Now WCW is terrible and WWF is in cruise control, so it's not as much fun to watch.

Jamal Alam

The average viewer of Nitro is a 35.3 year old male. I'm a 42-year-old male. In recent years, they never delivered a product I wanted to see. They never gave their prime audience what they wanted, a good in-ring product. I didn't mind the girls, but they needed to be treated with a lot more respect. Everyone in management failed to realize that the wrestling comes first. I've worked in advertising in the automobile industry for 20 years, and if you don't listen to the marketplace in the demos that support you, you are dead in the water. WCW is now dead. I feel sorry for the talent, especially guys like Ric Flair. WWF isn't the answer, but it's the only answer.

Ron Kirkman

I think it's an easy answer. There is too much mediocre product on television. WCW is awful. The people who used to watch the first hour of WCW and then switch to WWF aren't watching either show regularly. The WWF is stale. The opening half hour of talk is boring. As my eight-year-old son says watching it, "I want to see some wrestling." Vince Russo was wrong. It's the wrestling. Also, Steve Austin is yesterday's news. Sure, he'll get the biggest pop, but he isn't going to bring in new fans or long-term keep the old fans. He now just walks into the ring and gives everyone the stunner without even a fight, anytime he wants to. They used to build to the spot, get someone in the position, and then hit the stunner. It took a fight. Now every fan watching knows he is going to walk in, give a stunner, and leave. The person in the ring with becomes a jobber. It hurts any program the other guy is in (Kurt Angle) or soon will be in because he's just an easy victim for Austin. No. 4, which also relates to No. 3, is that the guy who should be the new rising star, Angle, has been jobbed out. The only way to save him is to give him the belt. The Stephanie-HHH thing has to end already. It was great. But it's time is over. WWF can turn all this around. But if they keep it this way for too long, the down cycle will be in full force. If McMahon buys WCW, he's going to have to wait another 20 years to get his name back in the Forbes 400 again. There will be to much lousy and mediocre wrestling, no competition, and no excitement for the fans.

Dave Katz

There is going to be a lot of conjecture why the ratings for the WWF are going down. to me, they have a very Russoesque problem. Ever since the Rock vs. HHH program ended in May, the WWF has lost the big picture focus. The focus has been on the soap opera with HHH, Stephanie and Angle. It's made for some very entertaining television, but has made for a less focused product.

During the love triangle, Rock has been wandering around going against lesser opponents who are facing him just because he has the belt. I believe they have underestimated the mainstream appeal of Rock and overestimated the appeal of a heel vs. heel main program. There hasn't been one main event over the last four months that has involved a chest or a quest of any kind. Instead, there have been quick hits, involving barely well built-up challengers and finally, uninspired HHH vs. Angle matches.

It's not a good sign for the WWF that this return of Austin didn't pop ratings even though his first appearance popped a big buy rate. It will be crucial for the WWF to get lost viewers back for the build of the Rock vs. Austin feud. Hopefully they won't muddle up the program by involving a third person, HHH, and instead keep it simple.

If McMahon wants to regain viewers from last year's peak, then he has to rebuild WCW up to the level of the WWF. That means having some stars jump right away to inform everyone WCW is a show that can't be missed. Otherwise, even the interpromotional matches will have limited impact. Austin vs. Goldberg won't mean as much if the fans don't perceive Goldberg as the same level star as Austin. Vince finally has the world in his hands. Now it's time to see if he has the patience and enough ego control to make the best use of it.

J.S. Dhillon

HALL OF FAME

I always enjoy the yearly Hall of Fame issue, although I think it's biased against European and Australasian wrestlers. If Bert Assirati and Dara Singh are in, then so should Mario Milano. Milano was a worldwide traveler. Assirati and Singh weren't.

Milano was a much bigger mainstream name in Australia then either Bruno Sammartino or Lou Thesz were in the United States. He was a household name and an icon to the large Italian-American population. He was the first ethnic Australian television star. Not the first ethnic sports star, but the first ethnic star in any form of sports or entertainment.

Milano wrestled in the United States, Australia, Japan and South Africa. He wrestled Antonio Inoki in the U.S. in the 60s and teamed with Andre the Giant in Australia in 1984. I've heard that in 1971, the WWWF was tossing up between Pedro Morales and Milano to replace Sammartino as champion and went with Morales because Milano lived in Melbourne, Australia. Milano held the IWA title four times during the 60s, beating Killer Kowalski, Ripper Collins, Baron Scicluna and The Spoiler. He held the tag titles 13 times with partners like Red Bastien, Billy White Wolf, Antonio Pugliese, Domenic DeNucci, Spoiler, Waldo Von Erich and Spyros Arion. No Australian wrestler draws anymore.

James Stanios

Sydney, Australia

DM: I think Assirati and Singh are better choices. Even though Assirati rarely left England, among the wrestlers around the world, he was a legend for his strength and toughness and there are those who say that he was the toughest wrestler of his era, or maybe even of all-time. There were people of the period who rated him as tougher than Lou Thesz or Karl Gotch, but all of that is legend anyway and there may have been people tougher than any of them being that it's all a work, but he had everyone's respect and was the most feared wrestler of his era. In the early 50s, he was rated in U.S. publications as one of the nine biggest stars in wrestling, which is amazing for someone who never left England, just based on his reputation among the wrestlers. Because of his rep, legend had it that over the first 23 years of his career, he only lost one singles match. He held a version of the British heavyweight title from 1938 through his retirement due to an eye injury in 1960, and granted there were many claimants during that period and many of those were because Assirati would leave, never get beat, and new champs created. His only U.S. tour in 1932 saw him go unbeaten. Singh was a legendary wrestler and movie star in both India and the U.K., and at his peak drew gigantic crowds in India against the top foreigners (legend has it 50,000 and more but you know how undocumented legends in wrestling can be). According to those involved in the Australian promotion during the glory days, while Milano was a big star, he never drew out of the ordinary houses, and we're told as ethnic stars in Australia, both Domenic DeNucci and Spyros Arion were bigger draws.

If Wahoo McDaniel is a borderline pick, what about Cowboy Bob Ellis? He was a hero prototype who main evented all over the country from the mid-50s to mid-70s and held dozens of titles including versions of the world title. What about earlier Indian stars like Don Eagle and Chief Big Heart?

I enjoyed Pedro Morales the most when he began as a teenager in the early 60s with his Elvis-like babyface grin, exciting body language and raw charisma. He's win prelims and then competitively put over the evil monsters like Waldo Von Erich, Gene Kiniski and Freddie Blassie. Also, you never mention Victor Rivera, who was a better worker than Morales. He deserves a little consideration too.

What do you have against Fabulous Moolah? That she didn't retire at age 26? Just because she wasn't a daredevil acrobat from Japan shouldn't work against her. She's an absolutely unique person whose durability and showmanship carried womens wrestling on her back. She always came up with hair-raising vicious tactics, like tying her opponent's hair in the ropes to build sympathy for her adversary. Chris Benoit is a tremendous talent, but isn't it a little premature to consider him? And if you pick Undertaker, what about another giant rope walker in Don "Spoiler" Jardine? You compared Calaway to Bobo Brazil. Bobo wrestled for more than three decades and for many years executed dropkicks and flying ankle scissors.

Eddie & Jerry Graham headlined Madison Square Garden with their bitter feuds with Mark Lewin & Don Curtis and Argentina Rocca &

Miguel Perez. People hated these two guys. Skull Murphy & Brute Bernard were limited as athletes, but what outrage, fear and disgust you felt toward them. Unique people with electrifying personalities created modern pro wrestling, and they deserve as much consideration for any Hall of Fame as do today's rushed, hurrying jumpers.

Alan Wunsch

New York, New York

I must admit to being totally perplexed by the Hall of Fame. Not so much by this year's inductees, but more the debate around who didn't make it.

As I see things, if Bull Nakano doesn't get in, than Shawn Michaels shouldn't even be considered.

It's all a question as to what the Hall of Fame is supposed to be for. Popularity? Success? Accomplishments? Influence? Drawing power? Talent? What? Some of the analysis is so contradictory. For example, popular opinion seems to be that Nakano shouldn't be in because she was on top during a down period. Well, if that is the case, how does Michaels' run on top that was a lackluster draw not become an issue? Nakano's lengthy run as champion, covering two years, built to a company hot period. Not so with Michaels. Michaels was a great worker so he's a contender. Nakano was a great worker, but nobody talks about that.

Nakano was given the top womens' title in three different wrestling regions during her career. While I realize championships don't mean that much, I still think this fact says something. How many women wrestlers were made champions in Japan, Mexico and even the United States?

Frank Strom


Continued from page 16. drawing 240,000, Livewire at 120,000 and Superstars at 40,000

Smackdown tapings on 10/17 in Cleveland drew a sellout 14,635 paying $466,773. Raw on 10/23 in Hartford, CT drew 10,932 (about 800 tickets shy of capacity) paying $337,014. Between the two shows, as there were no regular house shows this past week because of the PPV, the merchandise at the arenas was $214,268 or $8.35 per head.