Scott Stinson: 'It's ruined sport.' As Canada considers

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 17, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Some of you may have missed last week's post because I didn't do it on Wednesday. Ended up posting it Thursday instead, so it's there in the archives below if you missed it. I know this 2002 series of Rewinds doesn't really have the momentum or appeal that it had back when I was posting them 3 times a week for years on end. Sorry about that, like I said before, I just decided to post these on a whim when the virus started and didn't really prepare for it so it's all kinda haphazard. But just didn't want anyone to miss the one from last week if it flew under the radar.

  • Steve Austin walked out of WWE this week and threw everything into upheaval. As a result, Raw featured Vince McMahon challenging Ric Flair to a match for ownership of the entire company. It was the ultimate final blow-off to a huge long-term angle, and they did it with only 2 hours of build-up. With Vince now in charge of both shows, questions are swirling about whether this spells the end of the brand split, only a few months in. The reason this all happened is because, only 6 hours before Raw went on the air, Steve Austin showed up to the arena and found out he was scheduled to wrestle (and Dave thinks put over, though he hasn't confirmed that yet) Brock Lesner. Dave immediately points out the obvious, that an Austin vs. Lesnar match is something you should build up ahead of time, not throw it on free TV with no build up at all. Plus, he's still so new, he's incredibly green, and he's spent the last few months selling way too much for people like the Hardyz and Bubba Ray Dudley. Hell, before he debuted in WWE, he wasn't even the most over guy in OVW. He's nowhere near the level you'd expect for him to be winning matches with Steve Austin un-hyped on free TV. In fact, Lesnar should probably go through just about everyone else on the roster before putting him against Austin. That's a potential Wrestlemania-level match and Dave seems befuddled that they would just book it for Raw like this.
  • Apparently Austin felt the same way because he and his wife Debra left the building and flew home before Vince McMahon even arrived to the arena, the second time since Wrestlemania that he has walked out on the company. A source who was there when McMahon learned of the news said that, for the first time anyone could remember, Vince seemed to drop his "game face" and there seemed to be genuine panic about what to do. Rock has one foot out the door to Hollywood. Undertaker and Triple H are banged up and won't be around forever (bet). Business is already collapsing. And now the biggest star the company's ever had just walked out the door. Last time Austin walked out after Wrestlemania, he was only away for 2 weeks. This time, there's a feeling it could be much longer. Those close to Austin say he's been unhappy for months and this decision wasn't anything specifically to do with the Lesnar match. That just happened to be the final straw. Austin made news last week when he went on the WWE's Byte This show and voiced his frustrations with the company's creative direction. Plans had been put into motion over the last couple weeks for Austin to feud with Eddie Guerrero and then Chris Benoit, which he was happy about (he was enjoying his recent house show matches with Eddie and Benoit is one of Austin's favorite opponents) but that's out the window now. Austin and Vince McMahon reportedly haven't been on good terms for several months now and word is the night before Raw, the two of them had a very heated conversation over the phone that left Austin pissed off and frustrated even before this went down.
  • And that's the deal on Austin. He has more money than he'll ever be able to spend and doesn't have any financial need to wrestle. He only does so because he enjoys it. And if he doesn't enjoy it anymore, then by all means, it's his right to leave and he doesn't owe the business anything if he wants to hang up the boots. But Dave does feel like Austin owes WWE at least a few weeks to write him out of storylines since he's such an important piece of the company. Walking out from a live TV taping is unprofessional and it leaves guys like Guerrero and Benoit left hanging, thus screwing up their future plans and money-making potential too (yeah, that's something that doesn't get talked about much. Austin walking out fucked Guerrero over pretty hard here. It would take him another 2 years to get back into that main event scene that he would have been involved in here). That being said, pretty much everyone in the locker room sympathizes with Austin and agrees with his complaints about the creative direction of the company, but not many of them were defending the way he walked out. And given that this is the second time he's done it, the feeling is he shouldn't be allowed back without facing some actual punishment this time.
  • So anyway, the day of Raw, they went into panic mode and had to re-write the entire show. And with the feeling Austin won't be coming back anytime soon, Vince felt they needed to do something big. So they went with blowing off the dual-owners angle in a match that was designed to turn Flair babyface again and establish Vince as the heel owner of everything. There was also discussion of turning Undertaker babyface again, since he's been getting more cheers than RVD when they work together at house shows lately but they decided against that for now (they end up doing it in a couple weeks). So now Flair has been abruptly turned back, after only turning heel a few weeks prior. The brand split may or may not be dead. And there we stand.
  • In what would have been a major story during any other week, DDP has officially retired from wrestling at age 46. Unfortunately, Austin's walk-out overshadowed everything. The decision on DDP's retirement was actually made by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, who pretty much made the choice for him after they got his medical reports. DDP has been advised by multiple doctors that his spine is shot and he needs to retire. For the company's own liability, WWE decided to listen to the doctors and DDP agreed. There has been talk of finding ways for DDP to work the remainder of his contract for the company in a non-wrestling capacity. (He obviously ends up wrestling a handful of matches in the years since, but for the most part, this really was the end of DDP's in-ring career as a full-time wrestler).
  • There were a couple of moments on Raw this week where Shawn Michaels was cutting a promo and made a comment about Austin "losing his top spot" and another comment later about Rock "stealing Triple H's spot." A lot of people in the company backstage were upset, feeling like this was the same ol' Shawn, going into business for himself and trashing on Austin and Rock and yada yada. Not the case. Those comments were actually scripted for Shawn to say because they want to get over the idea that Shawn on the mic is a loose cannon and you never know when he might start "shooting" and say something he's not supposed to. It's all very dumb, you see. Almost like Vince Russo is coming back any day now or something.
  • Dave gives a big preview and rundown of the Jarrett family's new NWA-TNA promotion, which has its debut show next week on PPV. Not all cable systems are carrying it, however. Cablevision and Dish Network both declined to carry it, but DirecTV is. This cuts down on the number of available homes for the show and probably cuts 20-30% off their potential revenue. The main PPV provider in Canada, Viewer's Choice, has also declined to carry it. Steep mountain to climb here. Dave expects them to do decent numbers for their first show but predicts an XFL-like collapse after that. By week 3, Dave is scared for their chances. From here, Dave gives the whole history of other promotions who've tried to make it on PPV in the U.S., with varying degrees of success and failure. UWFI, UFC, ECW, WCW, PRIDE, etc, WWF has even toyed with similar ideas. In 1991, they did the one-off Tuesday In Texas PPV as a test to see if they could run PPVs back-to-back (Survivor Series was only the week prior) and it was a flop. The original concept for Shotgun Saturday Night was for it to be a weekly Saturday night PPV with a similar >$10 price point, but that idea got scrapped before it got off the ground and it became just another TV show. Dave doesn't think TNA is going to make it without a TV deal. This PPV exclusive plan just has too much working against it. The Jarretts have talked about the millions of disenfranchised fans that stopped watching after WCW died, and it's true. Those people are out there. But those millions of fans all checked out between 1999-2001, and TNA isn't going to win them back by using the same people and the same concepts that ran those viewers away from WCW. All your wacky booking ideas, your Vince Russos, your Jeff Jarretts as champion, bringing in guys that even WWE won't touch (Scott Hall), etc. Those are all the same things that ran away those WCW viewers. Dave just doesn't see how this experiment can work in its current form.
  • Vince McMahon himself was the latest guest on WWE's Byte This show and needless to say, it was interesting. Vince denied the idea that the wrestling business is "cyclical" and said it's more like a series of peaks and valleys that have slowly been trending upwards over the years. Vince also admitted WWE doesn't always make the best decisions but says their batting average is good overall. Vince also said he's proud to have the word "wrestling" in their company name, which is a pretty big about-face from all the years he's tried to publicly claim they were "sports entertainment, not wrestling." He admitted things are rough right now but said there are huge changes coming soon that will change the entire industry but wouldn't elaborate on what he had planned (I think time has proven that the answer to this was nothing whatsoever. They had no idea what they were doing during this time and were just making shit up as they went along). Vince acknowledged that Austin has been frustrated lately and said Austin is the most demanding of all the wrestlers in WWE. Vince also said he pays no attention to the internet because everyone thinks they're a booker. He also complained that it's hard to live up to people's expectations because fans all think they know everything now. Acknowledged ratings being down and played it off like, yes, WWE is sick. But it's only a cold, not pneumonia or anything, so don't panic.
  • More notes from Vince on Byte This because huge unbroken paragraphs suck: he hinted at producing movies starring WWE talent. Dave thinks that's a bad idea. "No Holds Barred," anyone? Criticized backyard wrestling, which Dave actually agrees with him 100% on. Was asked about bringing Vince Russo back and said he hasn't given it any thought but he has an open door policy (see you next week, Russo! Jeez, it almost makes you wonder if Vince got the idea from this interview or something). When asked about the recent Jim Cornette/Ed Ferrara incident, Vince basically seemed disinterested but said he admires Cornette's passion for wrestling but felt spitting in Ferrara's face was unprofessional. When asked about NWA-TNA, Vince said he didn't understand how they could do it without television. Trying to get people to pay $9.95 a week for a 2 hour show (a minor league product at that, because anything other than WWE is basically minor leagues at this point), when they already get Raw and Smackdown on free television. Otherwise, he said he has no opinions on it because he hasn't seen it, but Vince seems to share Dave's opinion. He doesn't see this PPV model as sustainable and doesn't seem particularly threatened by it.
  • NJPW's latest Best of the Super Juniors tournament is in the books and was a disappointment, just like everything else in NJPW lately. Koji Kanemoto won a pretty boring tournament. There was only one new name involved, which was Michinoku Pro wrestler Curry Man (Christopher Daniels under a mask). He's talented and charismatic but he's not even that big a star in Michinoku Pro, much less to the NJPW audience. Otherwise, it was more of the same, with no real notable matches.
  • Zero-1 in Japan is hoping to put together a working relationship with NWA-TNA. Specifically, they're hoping they can do a Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ken Shamrock feud, perhaps over the NWA title.
  • While training for his comeback, Kenta Kobashi messed up his shoulder doing bench presses, because of course he did. Doctors have told him not to return too soon but he still plans to be back in the ring by next month. Because of course he does.
  • NJPW's latest show at Budokan Hall was a disaster. From photos Dave saw, he figures there couldn't have been more than 3,500 fans in the building. Even at its weakest after the NOAH exodus, AJPW never fell below 7,000 at Budokan and this show looked to be half that. It's likely the smallest crowd NJPW has ever drawn to that arena. The whole show was said to be terrible because of the depressing atmosphere of a building that was 2/3 empty.
  • This week's World Cup game between Japan and Russia did a 66.1 TV rating, making it the #2 highest rated sports broadcast in the history of Japan. This is notable because by doing so, it surpassed the Rikidozan vs. Destroyer match from 1963, which did a 64.0 rating, knocking it down to #3 (for what it's worth, it's believed that a Rikidozan vs. Lou Thesz match in 1957 was actually watched by even more people, but official ratings weren't kept as detailed back then, so it can't be counted for sure).
  • Dave has read some excerpts from the new Shaun Assael book on Vince McMahon called "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks." From what he's read, Dave says it's a very good and accurate portrayal of how the WWE has grown to what it is today. Vince's former close friend and VP of Titan Sports during the expansion era Jim Troy and Jim Barnett were both interviewed for it, among others. If you're a hardcore fan who's been following the Observer for years, there's nothing new here that you probably don't already know from a major story standpoint, but there's some interesting details at least that were new to Dave. But to the average fan, this should be pretty eye-opening. Dave expects to have a full review soon.
  • CZW held its second annual Best of the Best tournament at the old ECW Arena and the show got rave reviews. Particularly British wrestlers Jodie Fleisch and Jonny Storm, who tore the house down in their match. Trent Acid defeated Fleisch to win the tournament.
  • The Coen brothers, producers of the movie "Fargo", have had talks with Bobby Heenan about doing a movie based on his life (this pretty obviously went nowhere).
  • New Jack is no longer working with XPW and has jumped ship to work with a rival local promoter in Southern California. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last check New Jack received from XPW promoter Rob Black for $800 ended up bouncing. Dave says New Jack probably isn't the guy you want to write bad checks to.
  • NWA-TNA has changed its taping plans and no longer plans to tour, and they will now be live every week. The first two shows will be taped this week in Huntsville and after that, all future shows will be live from Nashville at the 9,000-seat Municipal Auditorium. Apparently the rent for that building is really cheap because a newer, more modern arena was just built nearby, so TNA can afford it. That being said, with as much trouble as they're having selling tickets for the debut show in Huntsville, Dave thinks it's pretty optimistic to start trying to run live tapings in the same 9,000-seat building every week. He thinks they would be much better off running a small 800-seat building every week, with a smaller, more intimate atmosphere that would come across a lot better on TV than a big cavernous arena that, inevitably, is going to be mostly empty (to this day, 18 years later, TNA/Impact has never once drawn a crowd of 9,000 fans. Never even really close actually).
  • Various other TNA notes: Dave runs down the list of confirmed names for TNA's first taping. Rick Steiner, K-Krush (formerly K-Kwik in WWF), Konnan, Steve Corino, The Harris Brothers, Psicosis, and a bunch of others. Don Frye has talked to Jeff Jarrett about coming in to work a match with Ken Shamrock. Jackie Fargo is going to be there doing something. They made an offer to Shane Douglas but he only agreed to come in if they didn't hire Francine (some kind of falling out between them). TNA decided they'd rather have Francine. They're expected to be doing some kind of old school vs. new school angle so....yay. More latter-years WCW shit. Mike & Todd Shane are coming in as a tag team called Dick & Rod Johnson and will have costumes that apparently look like penises, just in case you were still on the fence about whether Vince Russo is involved. The top stars are basically making around $3,500 per week which is a pretty decent salary for one day's work every week. The guys without name value, on the other hand, are getting $300 per show and are covering their own transportation. Just in case you were still on the fence about whether Jerry Jarrett is involved.
  • Ken Shamrock did an interview and acknowledged that he hasn't done pro-wrestling in a few years and knows he's going to be rusty. He also said he's worried because with only 1 show per week, he won't really be able to get enough matches under his belt to get good again. He also said he's signed a 3 fight deal with UFC and will be fighting Tito Ortiz in September, which turns out to be a pretty huge damn deal.
  • Dave saw the K-1 match with former WCW developmental wrestler Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. What matters is Bob Sapp is enormous ("makes Brock Lesnar look like Jerry Lynn"). And he mauled this poor guy. In fact, it looked like Sapp was trying to get DQ'd, as he started kicking and kneeing the guy while he was down and just treating it like a street fight, violating lots of rules in the process. He was DQ'd but then K-1 booked Sapp and this other dude for a rematch in July. That leads Dave to think this was planned as an effort to get Sapp over as a lunatic, but if it was a work, somebody should have told the other guy because Sapp fucked him right on up. "This was like everyone feared Mike Tyson would behave, but 1,000 times worse and from a man far more scary." Furthermore, Sapp came out in a full Ric Flair robe and to Ric Flair' ring music, and the arena went insane. Sapp has massive superstar appeal in Japan right now and promoting him as a violent psychopath who has no regards for the rules in a shoot fight appears to be getting over huge.
WATCH: Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. K-1
  • Edge will not need surgery for his torn labrum injury, so he'll only miss a few weeks of action instead of a few months. Edge is in the midst of the biggest push of his career and this is his chance to finally break through to the next level so needless to say, good news.
  • Notes from Raw: show opened with Vince walking out, which was unexpected since this is Flair's show. He said Austin wasn't there and made a point of saying Austin was too much of a coward to be there. Pretty well buried Austin and buried Raw as a bad show (blaming Flair in kayfabe for all the show's real life problems. Sorta like last year when they actually turned the bad ratings into a storyline by trying to blame it on Corbin. Some things never change). They're doing a storyline with Trish making fun of Molly Holly for allegedly having a fat ass because, again, some things never change. Former Tough Enough contestant Chris Nowinski debuted doing the Harvard grad gimmick like the heel jock in every teen movie. "The heel jock." Never change Dave. Shawn Michaels made his big return, cut his promo joining the NWO and turning heel on the fans before superkicking Booker T out of the group. So theoretically, this should mean Booker T should have to work his way through the entire NWO one by one before getting to Shawn at the end, in what should be Shawn's first match back. "I'm not holding my breath," Dave says. And of course, Vince beat Flair to take control of both shows. Horrible match but considering it was a last minute panic move, understandable under the circumstances. Lesnar ran in and helped Vince win the match.
WATCH: Vince McMahon opening promo with Ric Flair on Raw
WATCH: Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon for sole ownership of WWE
  • Notes from Smackdown: during a big pull-apart brawl, several agents ran in to break it up. Among them were Dean Malenko and Fit Finlay, appearing on TV for the first time in their new backstage roles, and John Lauranitis who was also shown on TV last week. More gay jokes with Billy and Chuck and Rico, which Dave calls Russo-esque. Not quite yet. Jamie Noble was introduced with Nidia from Tough Enough season 1 as his valet, in a feud with Hurricane. There was a big effort to make Bob Holly a star this week, starting a feud with he and Kurt Angle and they really pushed Holly hard as a star and Angle busted his ass to try and get him over. And they did a show-long angle with Maven in the hospital (he's legit injured) and Torrie Wilson shows up, it's implied that she gives him a blowjob, and then Dr. Tajiri shows up, mists Torrie and beats up Maven. Dave is at least happy that they're trying to make an angle out of Maven's injury so he has a storyline to come back to, which is more effort than they put into most stuff these days.
  • Various WWE notes: referee Tim White suffered a torn rotator cuff in the Backlash Hell in a Cell match and will need surgery that will keep him out of the ring for months. Rey Mysterio is scheduled to debut on WWE house shows this week and, as of now, is expected to be wearing his mask again. Terry Taylor has been reaching out to get hired, but the company won't return his calls (they eventually re-hire him in September).
  • There's been a lot of praise for the new Spiderman comic "Tangled Web" which was written by Raven (I had to research this, but yeah. "Tangled Web" was a Spiderman anthology series that lasted about 2 years and had 22 issues. Each issue was written by different authors. Issue 14 was called "The Last Shoot" and sure enough, it was co-written by Raven alongside Brian Azzarello, who is the mind behind one of my favorite comic series of all time, 100 Bullets. And I had no idea. Wild).
  • The long-discussed plan of having Arn Anderson as Chris Benoit's manager seems to be off the table now. The thought is Anderson has been devalued so much in recent months (they pretty much wheel him out every time they need someone to take a beating for heat in a Flair feud) that he wouldn't be effective as a manager for a strong, serious heel.
  • Tough Enough II winner Linda Miles made her in-ring debut on Velocity, against Ivory. She was accompanied by fellow winner Jackie Gayda, who turned heel on her and cost Linda the match. Dave thinks it's waaaaaay too early to put these 2 women in a feud against each other considering how green they both still are.
WATCH: Linda Miles vs. Ivory - WWE Velocity 2002
  • The Rock, Vince McMahon, Undertaker, Jerry Lawler, Jm Ross, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon were all in Memphis at the Mike Tyson/Lennox Lewis fight last week. Rock could be seen on camera a few rows deep throughout the fight, while Vince was shown on camera as a celebrity in attendance before the fight. The others were never shown on-camera, but they were all there. The PPV is estimated to have done 1.8 million buys and grossed a record $103 million, which are numbers that WWE can only dream of. Prior to the PPV, Rock co-hosted a pre-show party with guests such as Halle Berry and Britney Spears.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Steve Austin accused of abusing Debra, much more on that situation and Austin's walkout, Jesse Ventura not running for re-election, Rock wrestles in Hawaii, and more...
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 3, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
  • We start with more on the death of Davey Boy Smith, including a full-length super long obituary, because apparently 2002 is nothing but people dying. I feel like I've done nothing but recap obituaries since starting back with 2002. Anyway. in the wake of Smith's death, the reaction has sadly not been one of surprise. Anyone who saw Smith in the last 4-5 years pretty much saw it coming. The cause of death, pending toxicology results, was ruled a heart attack caused from prolonged steroid use. But until the toxicology results are back, the belief among his friends and family is that there was probably more to it. Dave talks about the staggering number of wrestlers who have died under age 40 in recent years, with upwards of 20 of them being due to drug issues.
  • Smith died while on vacation with his girlfriend Andrea Hart, estranged wife of Bruce Hart. Despite that, Smith was actually on good terms with most of the Hart family, although Andrea is not. The Hart family believes Andrea knows more than she's letting on about the circumstances of his death, but she's not talking to anybody. Andrea's children (that she had with Bruce) were also there and they each apparently have different accounts of how he died (he was sleeping! he was in the pool! he was eating!) but they all pretty much agree he collapsed doing whatever he was doing. Andrea told the press that she believed Smith had overdosed, but Smith's dad did his own interviews and denied it, saying his son had stopped using drugs and was clean when he died. Needless to say, most people aren't buying that given his track record. Smith's father decided against having the body cremated and instead ordered it sent back to England for examination to make sure he wasn't murdered. "I cannot believe his death was natural," he said. "If they find drugs in his body, then he didn't put them there. Davey was clean." (Eeeeeeehhhhh....) Shit got even messier when Andrea and Smith's ex-wife Diana Hart each tried to claim the body. Despite her book (in which she accused Smith of drugging, abusing, and raping her), Diana played grieving widow in the media even though they're divorced. It may not have been an act though. Some in the family believe Smith and Diana were trying to reconcile, and they were on good terms at the time of his death. Andrea claimed to be his common-law wife, even though she's still legally married to Bruce. She later claimed Smith had proposed to her 2 weeks before his death and said they were engaged, which was the first anyone had heard about that. Smith's father claims in their last conversation, Davey Boy had told him he was planning to break up with Andrea after their vacation. So who knows. Anyway, both Diana and Andrea planned their own separate memorial services, while Smith's dad is planning his own 3rd service. Smith's body wasn't at either of the Hart family memorial services because, as mentioned, it was sent back to England where authorities are launching an investigation at the behest of Smith's father.
  • Andrea's service was said to be small and simple, just a few dozen people, and she seemed sincere in her sorrow. Diana's service was larger and more public, with hundreds of attendees and press, along with several WWE names. Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart (who attended both services), Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Jim Ross, and others all attended and several of them spoke. Diana's eulogy featured a professionally produced video featuring Davey Boy footage from WWE that had never aired on television before. She thanked Vince for trying to help Davey with his addiction issues. She never acknowledged everything she wrote about him in her book last year. Smith's children as well as Stampede wrestler TJ Wilson gave speeches as well. 16-year-old Harry Smith was composed and gave a great speech about teaming with his father in his last matches. And then Ellie Hart got up there went about how you'd expect. She started ranting about Andrea and blaming her for not giving the family the answers they wanted and it started to turn into some drama, but the minister gently interrupted her and got things back on track. And finally, Bret Hart gave a speech, directly addressing Smith's children and saying that Davey Boy and Owen would want the children of all these Hart family members to get along with each other better than the adults have. From here, Dave gets into the actual meat of the obituary, recapping Smith's life and career. As always, an excellent read but very long to recap.
  • WWE Confidential, the new show the company is producing, aired its debut episode this week, focusing on the Montreal Screwjob. Dave once again talks about how Vince McMahon tried to downplay the incident recently, giving an interview just a couple of months ago calling the Screwjob a minor incident that almost no one cares about. Vince went so far as to say he could count on one hand the number of people who even still care about that old news. Turns out one of those must be Vince because this week, they dedicated the premiere of this new show to the story and highlighted it as the most controversial night in the history of wrestling. The hook of the show was Shawn Michaels revealing publicly, for the first time, that yes, he was in on the screwjob and knew about it in advance. Dave says this isn't really a secret. Shawn denied having any knowledge of it that night but as soon as the day after Survivor Series 97, he was bragging to friends about it. Vince McMahon also later confided in Undertaker that Shawn knew ahead of time. So it was kind of an open "secret" that Shawn knew but this is the first time he's admitted it publicly. Triple H still denies knowing about it ahead of time, but Dave is pretty skeptical there too (and indeed, it's later revealed that yes indeed, Triple H also knew). Dave thinks lots of people had to know. Even the guy who cued the music had to know, because Shawn's music was queued up and ready to play the second Vince ordered the bell to be rung. Pat Patterson always claimed not to know and Bret has said he wants to believe it, because he likes Pat, but the way Pat interrupted the match-planning conversation and specifically suggested the sharpshooter spot to them makes Bret question it (I think Patterson still denies it to this day, but I have my doubts there too). Anyway, the show recapped the history of the Screwjob and if you know Dave, you know he's about to poke a whole bunch of holes in WWE's revisionist bullshit. Here we go...
  • The story of the episode was WWF was close to going out of business due to the WCW war and couldn't afford Bret anymore, so Vince nobly allowed Hart out of his contract so he could negotiate a better deal with WCW. Actually, Dave says, Vince first talked to Bret about deferring some of his contract to later on but that was a couple months earlier. At the time, WWF really was having some financial struggles, but it's an exaggeration to say they were almost driven out of business. They were never even close. But regardless, that's irrelevant because in Sept. 97, they raised the price of PPVs by $10. That added revenue, which was nearly $1 million per month in pure profit, was easily enough to get them out of financial trouble. By the time Survivor Series 97 rolled around, WWF was doing just fine, money-wise, and were only a couple months away from catching fire and getting nuclear hot. So no, they did not need to get rid of Bret's contract. And in fact, in October, a couple weeks before Survivor Series, Vince changed his mind and asked Bret to stay, saying that the financial situation had turned around. But by this point, Hart's negotiations with WCW were full speed ahead and Vince allowed Hart to continue negotiating. But after talking to both sides, it was clear Vince had no real plan for Bret and he didn't really seem like he wanted to keep him, so Bret took the WCW deal and the rest is history. But of course, none of that is mentioned in this show. The episode also claimed Hart refused to drop the title to anyone (again, not true. Only Shawn. Bret even offered to lose it to Brooklyn Brawler if they wanted. In fact, Dave breaks down all the different scenarios that were presented here, and Bret was willing to lose the title to anyone other than Shawn, anywhere other than that show in Montreal, at any date before or after the PPV. They had actually presented Bret with dozens of different scenarios, all of which he agreed to, only for Vince to keep coming back around to Shawn at Survivor Series, which was the one and only thing Bret wouldn't budge on). They also tried to paint the picture that Bret could have taken the title to WCW the night after Survivor Series. In fact, Bret's WWF contract didn't end until Dec. 1st, and he was booked on more than a dozen house shows after Survivor Series and had even agreed to work the early December PPV because Bischoff had given his blessing. There was zero chance Bret was going to show up with the belt on Nitro. There was concern that Bischoff would go on Nitro the next day and announce he had signed Bret, and Dave says it's true that Bischoff certainly was planning to do that. But Bret had also asked Bischoff to hold off on the announcement and Bischoff had agreed. Vince knew about that too, but in recorded conversations with Bret (from the Wrestling With Shadows documentary), Vince didn't seem concerned since the word was already out and everyone knew Bret was leaving already. This just goes on and on. We all know the story already. Anyway, TL;DR - interesting show, but WWE's version of the story is bullshit. But we all knew that.
  • At the latest NJPW show, Antonio Inoki came out and cut a promo. He talked about being in attendance recently at the World Cup and said wrestling needs something like that. Inoki claimed he had put together a deal with WWE for a joint NJPW/WWE show to take place later in the year. Dave doesn't know if there's any truth to that story, but this is the first he's heard of it and he doesn't think it makes any sense for WWE so he's skeptical.
  • Usually in Japan, TV-Asahi airs the finals of NJPW's G1 Climax tournament live. But this year that may not happen, as they're looking at airing one of Inoki's MMA shows instead. This is a direct result of the terrible rating the recent Tokyo Dome show drew when it aired live. This company is struggling mightily lately.
  • Random news and notes: Inoki recently recruited a 23-year old Brazillian MMA fighter named Lyoto Machida to come to NJPW (he never really does anything in NJPW other than train at the dojo, but he had a long career in UFC and still fights for Bellator to this day). Dusty Rhodes is the new co-host of Turner South's Atlanta Braves pre-game show called "Hey The Braves Are Next!" Scott Hall will be working Insane Clown Posse's upcoming Gathering of the Juggalos event. Former WCW wrestler Evan Karagis recently filmed a role on the soap opera "Passions."
  • In the main event of FOX's Celebrity Boxing show, Chyna lost by decision to Joey Buttafuoco. Chyna's mystique of being a woman who only wants to compete with men got pretty much obliterated here, as the larger Buttafuoco manhandled her with ease for much of the match, which probably makes all those big tough wrestlers who sold for her feel kinda silly. But Buttafuoco came in as a hated heel to the audience and despite how she got pummeled, many people felt Buttafuoco was fighting dirty and cheating, so Chyna wasn't too hurt by it. She talked about wanting a rematch and Dave says if PRIDE really wants to break into the U.S. market, they could throw it onto one of their cards. Hey, this show did a really strong TV rating, maybe a rematch would be just the kind of freak-show attraction needed for PRIDE to get attention in the U.S. Nothing else they've tried has worked. Dave also suggests NWA-TNA could book it, but a worked wrestling match between the two probably wouldn't get as much media attention.
WATCH: Chyna vs. Joey Buttafuoco - Celebrity Boxing Match (2002)
  • Big Dick Dudley's ex-wife, former ECW valet Elektra, did an interview talking about his death. She said he'd had stomach pains all week and couldn't urinate. But didn't go to the doctor because he didn't think it was a big deal. Then at one point he got up to go to the bathroom but collapsed on the floor and died there on the spot. Jeez. At the time of his death, he had lost over 100 pounds from his peak weight of 320 in ECW several years ago.
  • Vince Russo is going to be writing a book about his time in WWF. Due to legal reasons and the ongoing lawsuit, it won't include much about his WCW tenure (I think he's written a book or two, but I've never read them, so if anyone has any insight, feel free to share).
  • Shaun Assael's book "Sex, Lies, & Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation" will be published next month and is getting strong early reviews. Dave has talked to several of the people who spoke with Assael for the book and some of them expect it to be good while others feel that Assael fell victim to the cons and charms of wrestlers who were working him. We shall see, says Dave.
  • The debut NWA-TNA PPV will feature some sort of tournament to crown a new NWA champion. Dan Severn is no longer the champion after not agreeing to work the show (he already had a prior MMA booking for that date in New Mexico). As a result, the NWA (which is now working with TNA) just stripped him of the belt, which is convenient because they didn't really want to use Severn anyway, so now they can do whatever they originally planned to do with the belt without having to book an excuse to get it off him. The Jarretts and this new promotion now have full control over both the NWA world and tag team titles.
  • Mike Tenay has been named the lead announcer for the new NWA-TNA promotion. They're also trying to get Lex Luger to appear for the debut show, but Dave thinks its unlikely since Luger is financially set for life and has shown no interest in doing any wrestling since WCW folded.
  • Jeff Jarrett had talks with Bret Hart about coming in to do a Team Canada gimmick. Latest Dave heard is that Hart isn't interested, but they may bring in some of the new generation of Harts for it. There's been talk of bringing in TJ Wilson, Harry Smith, and Teddy Hart as a new version of the group. Smith is still only 16 and it's way too early to put him on the national stage yet and in a lot of states, he wouldn't even legally be allowed to perform. Wilson is also a teenager, from a bad home who pretty much grew up as an honorary Hart member in the Hart household. And Teddy Hart is a natural in-ring performer who would already be in WWE if not for the fact that during his two training camp tryouts, he had behavioral incidents both times. But they're all talented and will likely be big stars in the future. Last time WWE was in Calgary, Vince McMahon personally requested to meet with all 3 of them for a private tryout, but it didn't amount to anything.
  • Little bit of a change in the WWF writing teams. Brian Gewertz is now the official head writer for Raw, while Paul Heyman is the lead writer for Smackdown. Stephanie McMahon will continue to oversee creative for both shows and, of course, Vince still has final say on everything. Dave expects this to result in Raw being a more comedic show while Smackdown will be the more serious in-ring product (pretty much, yeah. And thus, we have the official beginning of Heyman-era Smackdown and soon we'll see the birth of the Smackdown Six).
  • Notes from Raw: show opened with Chris Benoit making his unannounced return to a huge pop. Dave still expects Benoit to eventually be managed by Arn Anderson, which has been the plan for months (and never happens). That was actually the original plan before the NWO was brought in. If Benoit was healthy in time (which, turned out he wasn't so it didn't matter anyway), the original idea was Benoit vs. Austin at Wrestlemania 18 with Anderson managing Benoit. But that obviously all changed. Anyway, what else? Dave once again mentions that Jeff Hardy looks physically awful. He seems to know about Hardy's drug issues and seems to be hinting about it without saying it. Tommy Dreamer continued his gross gimmick by drinking Undertaker's tobacco spit. Lesnar beat Bubba Ray Dudley but had to sell a ton in the match and Dave doesn't get it. For a guy that they so clearly want to turn into a Goldberg-like star, selling for midcarders every week isn't how Goldberg got over. Jim Ross went on and on about how Lesnar has never been pinned, which Dave says is an insult to all the fans who have seen Lesnar do jobs at house shows. RVD beat Eddie Guerrero in a 20+ minute ladder match and Dave says it's the longest match on Raw in at least a year. Dave gives it 4 stars and considering how messy and sloppy it was, that shows you how good it was. Lots of dangerous spots, some botched moves, and most notably a moment when a fan ran into the ring and knocked over the ladder while Eddie was climbing up. Eddie and Earl Hebner started stomping the fan until security dragged him out. Still an awesome match though. And finally, Benoit returned at the end of the show and turned heel on Austin. Dave says Benoit actually isn't ready yet and isn't supposed to be back in the ring until July, but the company is so desperate for anything to give them a shot in the arm that they may have pulled the trigger on this angle early.
WATCH: Fan shoves Eddie Guerrero off the ladder
  • Notes from Smackdown: the only thing Dave talks about is the Hulk Hogan retirement angle they did and he's got mixed feelings on it. First the positive: he gives Hogan credit for being an absolutely incredible performer when the heat is on. And Hogan gave a tremendous performance in this and Dave doesn't let it go unrecognized. But then the negative: in the promo, Hogan talked at length about when his dad was dying, he was basically expressionless except for Monday and Thursday nights when he'd watch WWF and his face would light up. So Hogan said his dad's last words were he wanted to see his son return to the WWF. So that's all sweet and nice, right? Weeeeeell....Hogan has told a different version of this story in the past. In previous interviews, Hogan said his dad was disgusted by what wrestling had become and he wanted Hogan to "clean it up." The idea that he was laying in the hospital and only coming to life when his beloved WWF was on doesn't exactly jibe with what Hogan has said before. And no matter what the truth is, Dave is uncomfortable Hogan using his dead dad as a way to get this storyline over, but hey, he ain't the first and won't be the last.
  • WWE's first show in Hawaii in probably 15 years is scheduled for later this month. Rock is scheduled to work the show and tickets sold out 2 hours after they went on sale. While we're at it, the Australia show in August also sold out the 47,000-seat Colonial Stadium in Melbourne in only 4 days. Once they scale the stadium for production, they plan to open up more seats.
  • It's "basically a sure thing" that Hogan vs. Vince McMahon will be one of the top matches at Summerslam. How they get there seems to change weekly. There's been talks of having Hogan take time off after King of the Ring and return for the Vince match at Summerslam. There's also been talk of him sticking around through the entire summer. So who knows? (Ended up being a mixture of both: Hogan stuck around the entire summer, but then he did an angle to get written off TV right before Summerslam. And he didn't come back until early 2003. And, of course, we got the Hogan/Vince match at Wrestlemania)
  • More info on the incident from a couple weeks ago where Kevin Nash and X-Pac reportedly threw a fit and got the script changed. They were told by writer Ed Koskey what the plans were for them on the show. Nash and X-Pac didn't like it, especially X-Pac since it involved him doing 2 jobs during the same show. X-Pac said he was quitting and told Nash he'd meet him in the car. Nash told Shane McMahon he'd go calm X-Pac down and straighten everything out. Nash and X-Pac came back, had meetings with Shane and Jim Ross, and then later with Koskey and Brian Gewertz (who wrote the show). They managed to convince the writers to change it more to their liking. Nash was also upset about how Ric Flair went on TV and said he'd fired Scott Hall. Nash didn't like the idea of Flair on TV being able to hire and fire people from their NWO, because that kinda takes away from the idea of the NWO as an autonomous, outsider group that doesn't play by WWE's rules. So that's why Nash was able to go out on TV on this night and cut the promo about how Flair doesn't control the NWO. Of course, Hall is still gone, so I guess he still does. Anyway, both Nash and X-Pac were pissed over all this and caused a scene, especially X-Pac, to the point others in the locker room wondered why they weren't disciplined instead of being given their way. But if you wonder that, you clearly ain't been paying attention to Nash over the years. Anyway, X-Pac still did the job in the Hardyz match, but not in the second match.
  • Random news: house shows in Alexandria and Baton Rouge, LA were both canceled this weekend due to low ticket sales. Shit's selling out in record time in Australia and Hawaii, but they can't give tickets away in Louisiana apparently. Undertakers hips were both banged up after the Hogan match at the PPV but he continued working, although he was limited (and years later, he'd have to get major surgery on both those hips). At Raw in Edmonton, Ric Flair was getting huge pops and "woo!" chants for him before the show started, so they filmed a backstage segment where he told Arn Anderson how much he hates Edmonton so they would boo him when he came out live. Lance Cade won the HWA title from Johnny the Bull down in developmental. WWF was pushing the city of Edmonton to present Benoit with the key to the city on Raw, but Edmonton wasn't so keen on the idea. And finally, during a bikini contest at the house show in Winnipeg, Ivory's top got pulled down, exposing her boob, much to the delight of many in the crowd.
  • Remember how MTV's The Osbournes was the only show routinely beating Raw in the cable ratings? That's changing. The Osbournes is over for the season, but this week, Raw fell to #4 behind the Lakers/Spurs NBA playoff game and 2 different episodes of SpongeBob. Patrick's a draw, brother.
  • Raven has been doing commentary on Sunday Night Heat, but he recently asked to be removed from it because he feels like it hurts his wrestling character. Dave thinks this is pretty risky. Raven as a wrestler is probably nearing the end of his shelf-life and lord knows WWE hasn't shown any desire to push him. And he was actually pretty fantastic at commentary. So giving up a safe job that he was excelling at for one that WWE doesn't really seem to see any value in him for seems like a good way to find yourself on the chopping block next time they decide to get rid of some people (yup, he'll be gone from the company in another 7 months or so). For what it's worth though, this isn't the first time Raven has been in this situation. Back in the 90s, he was a manager and commentator in WWF then too, under the name Johnny Polo. But when they weren't interested in using him as a wrestler, he quit the company and reinvented himself in ECW as Raven. Sometimes you gotta bet on yourself.
  • Jim Ross has a weekly article where he usually just shares all the latest injuries everyone has. This leads Dave on a bit of a tangent when Ross wrote about how Triple H has a fractured patella. The injury was diagnosed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham and Andrews told Triple H to be careful with it, but he could continue wrestling as long as he can take the pain. Basically one of the world's top sports doctors saying, "Yeah you've got a broken knee, but throw some dirt on it, you'll be fine." It's no wonder so many of these guys end up on pain pills rather than getting the medical treatment they need.
  • Also in his article, Jim Ross admitted that the WWE is not doing a good job lately of providing a product the fans want to see. Dave thinks that's just about as strong a statement he's heard on the current state of WWE from someone so high up within the company. Ross admitted they need to create new rivalries, elevate new young talent, and effectively introduce new stars. However, Ross also blamed the economy and the abnormally high number of injuries everyone is dealing with right now for part of the problems too. Dave says the economy may play a small role in the declining live event and PPV numbers, but usually when the economy is in the toilet, TV ratings go up because people are staying home more. Not the case here. Injuries, yes that's a problem for sure. But the core of all WWE's problems right now comes down to the simple fact that the show pretty much sucks. And at least someone high up in the office seems to finally be publicly admitting it.
  • Tough Enough 2 is down to the final four. Dave talks about how Jackie Gayda is now the sentimental favorite because she tore her ACL during the show but has still refused to quit, which opened a lot of eyes on her. Speaking of Tough Enough, in a WCW-like comedy of errors, they aired a promo for next week's episode before the current episode was finished, thus spoiling who the final 4 were going to be, before it was revealed on the show people were watching.
  • The WWF Forceable Entry album has sold around 364,000 copies total since its release. But it's actually considered a pretty huge failure because WWF had to pay so much money in fees and up front advances to the various artists on the album, and they're nowhere close to recouping that cost. (The album eventually sells over 500,000 and goes gold but still a flop).
NEXT WEDNESDAY: A look at the dismal state of WWE in 2002, Tough Enough II finale, Riki Choshu's departure from NJPW, Dave reviews several new wrestling books, and more...
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Welcome Liam, Policing, Centre Plan Package B, Coronavirus Update #29

Welcome Liam, Policing, Centre Plan Package B, Coronavirus Update #29
Hi all,
I wanted to share some changes in our (virtual) City Hall office. As you know since Melody got promoted I’ve had Lucille Walsh filling in with Laura Nooyen covering at patches as my Constituency Coordinator.
Lucille said goodbye to us the week before last, and went back to retirement, she says for real this time but that is not a bet I would place money on! I wish her all the best and will miss her, and I am sure Laura is relieved that a new permanent staffer has been hired.
I am very pleased to announce that my new Constituency Coordinator is Liam MacSween. Many of you know Liam from the Municipal Clerk’s Office, where he has been had a number of high profile roles. He was my coordinator for a time when I chaired a standing committee, and I could not be more pleased to have Liam as council support staff.
Liam can be reached at 902-490-2012 or by email at[ [email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
Liam was hired just in time because I am taking a week off to recharge, do some work on the house, and spend time with my family. I will be out of the office Monday June 15 , though Friday June 20 inclusive I will be unable to checking emails or voice mails.
If you need assistance please contact Liam for any pressing issues, otherwise call 311 for routine municipal matters. In an emergency always call 911.
There will be no newsletter next week while I am away.
I would like to thank you all for your emails and phone calls over the last few weeks regarding policing, community safety, and the armored recovery vehicle.
This is just another waypoint on a long journey towards justice and safe communities in HRM. I promised at that last Council meeting I will bring a notice of motion on June 23 regarding some of the many issues that have been raised in the last few weeks.
I want to assure you that this is not a kneejerk reaction, nor is it too little too late. Halifax as a community has been on a path for some time toward reforming policing and community safety. In addition to the Wortley report on street checks, there were many recommendations in the 2013 Clairmont report on public safety.
We have well reasoned, researched and community consulted reports that have been guiding us for some time, but what is clear is we need to move more quickly and move from study and small steps to broader actions and concrete changes.
It is true we have faced documented cases of systemic racism and bias in policing in Halifax, this cannot be denied. It is also true that our senior police leadership has supported for decades a community-based approach to addressing the roots of crime, as well as mental health team types response as an alternative to the police response. It is also true that the police are members of this community and the majority of officers want to see these issues of trust and bias addressed.
All this is to say this will not be easy but the work we are about to undertake the next months and years is important, it will be difficult, and is absolutely necessary if we want a community where all members have equal justice under the law.
I wanted to share with you this video – Mayor Mike Savage Addresses Anti-Black Racism
Centre Plan Package B
Package B is the part of Centre Plan that says what can be built in the neighbourhoods full of wood-framed single-family homes and multi-units. It also talks about the industrial, park, institutional zones, but a huge issue will be “what is R1 and R2 going to change into?” So for many of you, this will be the change that says what your neighbors might be able to do for the foreseeable future. So it is really important to get involved, especially as a homeowner.
Staff are launching a series of online surveys to gather feedback on the draft Centre Plan – Package B documents. As you know, the Municipality suspended all Centre Plan in-person public engagement activities based on public health recommendations around physical distancing and it remains unclear at this time when it will be safe to resume public meetings. In the meantime, staff are enhancing on-line engagement opportunities by promoting a series of surveys.
The surveys represent the key themes in Centre Plan Package B. Members of the public can complete all surveys, or select those of greatest interest to them. Each survey contains some background information, but for those who wish to dig-in deeper we also included links to an introductory video, additional summary fact sheets, presentations, an interactive map, and the full planning documents.
The surveys can be accessed from the Centre Plan webpage at Any questions can be directed to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) or 311. The surveys will be open until August 31st.
The following street closures or sidewalk disruptions have recently been added to the RoadWorks map in or near your district • TOWER RD from SOUTH ST to INGLIS ST, starting on 2020-06-04 • PEPPERELL ST from VERNON ST to ROBIE ST, starting on 2020-06-13 • TOWER RD from SOUTH ST to INGLIS ST, starting on 2020-06-09 • STUDLEY AVE from SOUTH ST to OAKLAND RD, starting on 2020-06-11 • STUDLEY AVE from SOUTH ST to OAKLAND RD, starting on 2020-06-15
You can find out road closure details on the HRM Roadworks map:[](http://%20https//

Coronavirus Update #29 – Masks, Summer Programs & Rec, Still Looking for Lifeguards, Playgrounds, More Slow Streets

Modified Summer Camps update
Pending the confirmation of recreation safety measures provided by public health, the municipality is planning to offer modified summer day camps beginning July 13 through to August 28. Once public health guidelines for day camps are confirmed and the municipality’s plans meet those requirements, camps will be offered at select facilities during the following sessions:
Weekday mornings camp: one week of three-hour morning sessions from 9 a.m. to noon.
Weekday afternoons camp: one week of three-hour afternoon sessions from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The half-day camp option allows the municipality to maximize the number of participants while following public health protocol and ensuring safe physical distancing. More information on registration and summer camp details will be issued in the coming days once guidelines have been set by public health.
Most camp activities will be provided in an outdoor setting to help maintain provincial physical distancing protocol. If the weather does not permit outdoor activities, then camps will be moved indoors, unless it has been designated as an exclusively outdoor camp.
Camps are planned for children between the ages of six and 12.
Please note: Camps for pre-school aged children will not be offered this summer due to difficulty enforcing physical distancing requirements for this age group. Virtual opportunities will be available for youth (aged 13-24) during the summer. These opportunities will include but are not limited to: employment skills (preparing your resumé), conversations on the environment, conversations on the upcoming municipal election, and the youth services plan committee. The Youth Leadership program will not be offered this summer due to group gathering requirements and health restrictions.
Recreation facilities
  • Municipal partner recreation facilities (i.e. Canada Games Centre, Cole Harbour Place, Halifax Forum, St. Margaret’s Centre, RBC Centre, Zatzman Sportsplex, etc.) are beginning to reopen to members and clients over the coming weeks.
  • Other facilities will open in the coming weeks as reopening plans are finalized.
  • Please contact each facility directly for information about their opening dates and new procedures.
In addition to planning for day camps, the municipality will be offering additional drop-in recreation opportunities for children and parents/guardians:
  • The REC Van is filled with equipment for activities and sports, bringing free recreation straight to local parks and green spaces.
  • This year, the REC Van is being expanded to two vehicles running throughout the municipality.
  • All equipment will be thoroughly cleaned after each use.
  • Schedule information will be updated in the coming weeks on
Outdoor recreation – Adventure Earth Centre
  • The Adventure Earth Centre will be offering a number of outdoor programs to encourage residents to get outside, including Guided Adventure Trail Walks, ‘Hug a Tree’ safety-based training, a drop-in ‘Learn-to-fish’ program and a variety of other outdoor activities.
  • These programs will be offered in a variety of different locations throughout the region.
  • More information will be updated in the coming weeks on
Still Looking for Lifeguards – extended to June 15
HRM is currently recruiting for qualified Beach Lifeguards for supervised beaches throughout the municipality. If you have the following qualifications, you are encouraged to apply:
  • National Lifeguard Service Award, Standard First Aid, CPR
  • Certified in NLS Waterfront
  • Certified in AED
Please visit our website to apply: Applications will be received up to midnight, June 15th.
Playgrounds continue to be closed by Provincial order. If the tape has been removed, it was not by HRM staff. I know it is hard but keeping those surfaces clean is pretty much impossible, so continue to keep your kids off the playgrounds. Provincial restrictions here:
More Slow Streets
As part of Phase Two of our COVID-19 Mobility Response, “slow streets” are being installed along a number of streets in central Halifax/old North End from Cogswell to Almon. The streets will be announced later next week.
In addition, the widening on Spring Garden has been returned (it was removed for the protest) and Argyle has been closed to cars for the rest of the summer. Thank you to Paul MacKinnon at Downtown Halifax and the area businesses for supporting the closure.
When you get down there, you will see a really remarkable change to the building with Durty Nelly’s in it. Here is a really stunning before and after shot that lets you see the restoration of the mid-century modern building exterior, with a new facade on the bar that I think looks great. Thanks to everyone involved in these projects:

![img](kodsqq1pzi451 "Before ")
Measures put in place as part of Halifax’ Mobility Response Plan (Slow Streets, expanded sidewalks) have been added to our RoadWorks map – they are the streets / areas marked in orange:
Do you have an idea for additional actions to help residents move safely through the region? Drop a pin on the map & tell us why you think adaptations are needed. Your valuable feedback will help staff determine the next steps for making temp changes to streets.
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Nov. 5, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001 5-7-2001 5-14-2001
5-21-2001 5-28-2001 6-4-2001 6-11-2001
6-18-2001 6-25-2001 7-2-2001 7-9-2001
7-16-2001 7-23-2001 7-30-2001 8-6-2001
8-13-2001 8-20-2001 8-27-2001 9-3-2001
9-10-2001 9-17-2001 9-25-2001 10-1-2001
10-8-2001 10-15-2001 10-22-2001 10-29-2001
  • Frustration is building in the WWF due to the collapse of business. Wrestlers are paid based on event gates and PPV buyrates and needless to say, with those numbers dropping significantly this year, everyone's paychecks are also dropping significantly. It's especially worse for the lowemidcard guys. There's also the issue that WWF brought in so many new wrestlers this year that they picked up from WCW, which divided up the pie even more and led to more competition for spots on the card. Lots of lower card guys have found themselves not even being booked on house shows. As you'd expect, this has led to a lot of resentment from other WWF stars towards all the newcomers and is part of the reason why the whole Invasion angle failed: established WWF stars had no interest in making the angle succeed because their spots were on the line in real life and everyone's income depends on not losing their spot. This is the fastest and most severe decline in the history of professional wrestling (even WCW's decline didn't happen so suddenly) and the worst part is, there's no sign that it's stopping anytime soon. The numbers continue to fall week after week with no sign of plateauing yet. There's a ton of bickering within the writing staff over all sorts of things. Everyone's frustrated that there's no long-term planning and that everything is changed on the fly from week to week. Everyone realizes the Austin heel turn was a massive failure. There's no consistency because Vince overrides or vetoes or changes things constantly on a whim (oh shit, I think I accidentally posted a 2019 Observer....)
  • It's said that Bruce Prichard, Michael Hayes, and Brian Gerwertz are all on the same page and they run smoothly, but it's said Paul Heyman has a separate agenda and that Vince listens to Heyman's input too much, which causes him to change plans that everyone else already started working on. They say Heyman is always trying to protect "his ECW guys" and others say Gerwirtz is too focused on comedy and doesn't have enough wrestling knowledge. Then there's those on the other side who say Heyman is the only one who realizes how bad the problems are and that widespread change is needed. So just a bunch of typical backbiting and bickering bullshit. There's also a feeling backstage that they need to "swerve" the fans because the internet spoils so much stuff for people now. Everyone knows Chris Jericho is turning heel soon and it was expected to happen on Raw last week and fans were waiting for it. But instead, they abruptly turned Angle heel instead. It swerved the fans, sure, but it also didn't make any sense and had no logical reason to happen other than to "surprise" people. Dave reminds us that trying to work the internet audience is one of the big things that Russo was obsessed with and which helped drive WCW even further into the ground. Instead of swerving the audience, they simply made the audience stop caring because nothing made sense or mattered, and in the end, WCW swerved itself right out of business.
  • With the upcoming Survivor Series PPV featuring WWF vs. the Alliance with the losing team disbanding, it's also created a lot of paranoia among the wrestlers about their jobs. The Invasion angle is a bust and everyone agrees it's time to end it, but if/when the Alliance loses, there's a lot of former WCW wrestlers who are concerned about what happens to them after that. There's still talk of splitting the rosters and running 2 separate brands sometime next year but there's been no movement on that lately and with the roster as inflated as it is now, it's entirely likely that cuts could be made. Not to mention all the talent they're hoarding down in OVW and HWA. Dave figures most of those guys are safe, particularly the OVW guys like Prototype, Leviathan, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar. Some of the former WCW cruiserweights might oughta be concerned though. WWF is also keeping an eye on Jimmy Hart's XWF promotion. If they end up striking a deal with any real exposure, WWF will be less likely to get rid of anyone they might be able to use. There's also been rumors that the WWF team may lose since it's looking like the company may have to change its name soon anyway due to the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit, but WWF has spent more than a million dollars so far appealing that ruling and that doesn't even go to court until the spring, so it's a little premature for them to give up the WWF name just yet.
  • Oh yeah, speaking of the XWF. It's the first attempt since the death of WCW and ECW to start a new national product. The XFW is expected to hold a press conference this week to announce details of the promotion, including the TV situation. Hulk Hogan officially announced on Bubba The Love Sponge's radio show that he will be part of the promotion, but Hogan has said a lot of stuff on Bubba's show that turned out to not be true, so wait and see. For example, Hogan claimed to be a majority owner in the new company. Not true. He actually has no ownership interest in the company at all, but on their TV show, he will play the role of owner (ala Vince McMahon). Hogan is not planning to wrestle much and will mostly be an authority figure although he will do a few matches a year at least on major shows. The actual owners of the company are a couple of Texas infomercial millionaires who have earmarked $30 million for this venture. Hogan is working with Kevin Sullivan on booking while the business side is largely being run by Jimmy Hart and Brian Knobs. Dave lists a bunch of people who are going to be working there (Hennig, Vampiro, Harris Brothers, AJ Styles, Konnan, Rena Mero, Psicosis, Christopher Daniels, Road Warriors, Juventud Guerrera, etc.). Sting is still collecting his WCW contract until the end of the year but they've had discussions with him and it's believed he will be joining the promotion when he's free to do so. The promotion has a deal with Universal to run regular television tapings from their studios as well as 3 events there per week as a theme park attraction. The plan is also to eventually run house shows in other markets. There is also talk of using Memphis as a farm system, with Lawler running shows there as something of a developmental territory for XWF.
  • Keiji Muto now holds 6 major belts in Japan after he and AJPW star Taiyo Kea won the IWGP tag team titles this week. Muto and Kea already hold 2 different sets of tag titles in AJPW so now they're triple tag champions to go along with Muto currently holding the AJPW Triple Crown title (which is 3 belts in and of itself). That being said, Muto's knees are in horrible shape and he almost couldn't work the show. He's scheduled to come to the U.S. this week to get his knees worked on (he's been getting special shots in his knees and things like that which he can apparently only get in the U.S.). The tag title victory essentially unified the AJPW and NJPW tag team titles and Dave says Muto has pretty much solidified that he's going to win just about every Wrestler of the Year award that exists in Japan for the year 2001.
  • Dave has a lot more details of the WWA promotion that debuted in Australia and aired on PPV there last week and there are some positives. The U.S. market is burned out and tough right now, but Australia is still under-served and rabid for wrestling, which led to hot crowds. But there's also a lot of negatives. The 2 biggest stars in the eyes of the fans were Jerry Lawler (who can really only do comedy matches because of his age and because that's what most people know him from after spending the last 10 years being a comic heel in WWF) and Bret Hart (who was there but obviously can't wrestle at all). Not having real top stars will hurt this promotion's chances of succeeding long-term. Dave also says the curse of Vince Russo hangs over them, with the PPV featuring the worst of Russo-style booking that helped tank WCW, as clearly the people involved have learned nothing from what doomed that company. Reactions from the PPV were overwhelmingly negative, with complaints about wacky booking, gimmick matches that served no purpose, and crowning Jeff Jarrett as the promotion's first champion. They could have had a major superstar. Australian native Nathan Jones has all the tools needed to be a star and should have been pushed hard and protected. Instead, they booked a tournament and he lost to Jeff Jarrett in the first round. It's easy to dismiss one loss as no big deal, but one loss in the wrong way can be deadly. One loss to Kevin Nash pretty much killed Goldberg's drawing power, for example. Jones came into the show with a lot of hype and a mystique around him and they jobbed him out in his PPV debut in front of his home country. Jeremy Borash, who was in some ways mentored by Russo in WCW, was in charge of the show (after Russo pulled out a couple weeks ago) and he also did commentary alongside Lawler. Like they did on the house shows, the commentary for the PPV was also broadcast over the speakers in the arena so the live crowd could hear it, which led to awkward moments with wrestlers and referees who, for example, weren't supposed to know someone was sneaking up behind them, despite the fact that they could obviously hear the commentators talking about it.
  • Other notes from the PPV: Bret Hart opened the show as the WWA commissioner and talked about being there in September to promote the tour and how he got stuck there after the events of 9/11 grounded or disrupted flights all over the world. He also talked about never cleanly losing the WWF title and insulted Vince McMahon which got a huge pop from the crowd, which was very anti-WWF. He claimed no one ever beat him for either the WWF or WCW titles and talked about how WCW fired him while he was injured, called Vince McMahon "a piece of shit" (again, a big pop but it also led to a lot of people saying Bret came off too bitter). As for never losing the titles, Hart said he'd pass the torch to whoever won the tournament tonight to create a legitimate world champion and that he would recognize the winner as the new best there is, was, ever will be, etc. Juventud Guerrera fought Psicosis in a meandering ladder match. The announcers referenced Guerrera's arrest from the last time they were in Australia and, of course, the announcers were mic'd so the crowd popped for the mention of it (it was pretty big mainstream news at the time, so everyone knew). Road Dogg vs. Konnan in a dog collar match for no reason and the collar kept slipping off Konnan's neck somehow. The announcers also repeatedly referenced their WWF and WCW pasts, and the whole thing came off as minor league. Then a hardcore match. Then a battle royal. Then a guitar on a pole match. We've all seen Russo-style booking, you get the idea. Jeff Jarrett then beat Buff Bagwell in a "Tits, Whips, and Buff" match which was basically just a lumberjack match with a bunch of dancing girls around the ring hitting the guys with cat-o-nine tails whips. Vampire Warrior (formerly Gangrel in WWF) had a match against Luna Vachon (his real-life wife). A 4-way women's match where the only way to win was to strip the other 3's tops off. Bare breasts were promised but in the end, the women were wearing tape over their nipples, which the crowd booed the fuck out of and one of the women was a guy in drag who won. The implied (but never outright said) Scott Steiner would be there next month for the next tour but Dave says it's expected to be Rick Steiner instead, since Scott is still injured and collecting that Time Warner money. Some guys in banana suits beat up Disco Inferno. And Jeff Jarrett beat Road Dogg in the tournament finals (in a cage match, because why not) to win the title and of course, they changed the rules midway through the match (after both guys climbed out of the cage at the same time) saying it can only end by pinfall or submission. They ended up doing a play off the Montreal Screwjob, with Bret refusing to ring the bell to screw Road Dogg over. Then Bret Hart apparently turned heel or something and ended up helping Jarrett win anyway. Then he turned face again and laid our Jarrett after the match and put him in a sharpshooter. This show makes no fucking sense. Dave says building heat for a Jarrett/Hart match would be great if Hart was capable of wrestling, but he's not so this accomplished nothing except making the fans want something they can't give them. Anyway, long story short, if you miss the complete clusterfuck that WCW used to be, this new WWA promotion is right up your alley. Because it's a hot fucking mess.
  • And on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, APW in California held a 2-day King of the Indies tournament with at least four legitimate 4+ star matches and then some. The crowd both nights was small but rabid and every match delivered. Many called it the best shows they ever saw live. American Dragon (real name Bryan Danielson), a former WWF developmental wrestler trained by Shawn Michaels, defeated Low-Ki in the finals to win the tournament in a 30 minute match (the 4th match in two days for both men). Dragon pretty much tore the house down all weekend, delivering awesome matches every time. Christoper Daniels vs. AJ Styles garnered a standing ovation after their match as well (the star power in this tournament is crazy: Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Low-Ki, Christopher Daniels, Doug Williams, Brian Kendrick, etc.) Dave says that regardless of how great all these guys are, unfortunately, most of them have little-to-no chance of ever making it in the WWF (lol. I mean, to be fair, in 2001, that was true. But but thinks several of them would be welcomed with open arms in Japan
WATCH: Low-Ki vs. American Dragon - APW King of the Indies 2001
  • Pending regulatory approval, DirecTV will be sold to rival satellite provider EchoStar (parent company of Dish Network). The story has potential ramifications for wrestling. As covered, WWF and DirecTV are currently in a contract dispute that resulted in No Mercy not airing on PPV on DirecTV, which cost both sides an estimated $800,000. WWF has their own deal with EchoStar so this should put an end to the DirecTV issues, but WWF's deal with EchoStar is worse for them than the deal DirecTV offered last week, which WWF turned down. And with EchoStar now poised to have a monopoly on the satellite market, WWF doesn't have a lot of leverage in trying to negotiate a better deal. Long story short, WWF lost $800,000 last week and they're probably going to end up with a worse deal than they would have had if they just accepted DirecTV's offer. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and most people expected NewsCorp to buy DirecTV, not EchoStar, so it's not like they really could have known. EchoStar's monopoly on the satellite industry will represent around 35% of the total available PPV audience (the rest is through cable) so WWF definitely can't afford to withhold anymore PPVs because doing so would cost literally millions of dollars each month. That being said, the "pending regulatory approval" part is crucial. This purchase will truly create a monopoly in the American satellite industry and it's by no means a sure thing that this sale will even be approved (indeed, it was not approved. They spend a good year fighting with the FCC and DOJ over it before EchoStar ultimately pulls out of the deal and the sale never happens).
  • Hayabusa has been able to move his fingers and has a little bit of feeling and movement in his feet but that's all as of press time. He has been moved to a rehab center in Tokyo for now. He was able to eat small amounts of food for the first time last week. Dave saw a tape of the match and describes how Hayabusa slipped off the rope and landed right on his head. People in the crowd screamed immediately. The referee checked on him and even cradled his head, which is probably the worst thing you can do in a situation where someone has a severe neck injury. His opponent then stomped on him and started choking him, without moving his head, mostly just stalling for time, but it was clear something was wrong. The referee pulled him away and called for the bell and there was a panic in the ring after that, with a bunch of people and doctors rushing in to surround him. They took his mask off in the ring and began working on him and brought a stretcher to the ring. The show, which was airing on PPV in Japan, went off the air with Hayabusa still motionless in the ring (I haven't been able to find a full video of this. The spot where Hayabusa lands is easy to find, but those videos end immediately after the bump. All the stuff afterwards, I can't find video of).
  • In an interview he did in Australia, Bret Hart had some interesting stuff to say:
In regards to Bill Goldberg: "As long as Goldberg looked good, which he always did, he couldn't really care less what his fellow wrestlers looked like when they came out of the ring." Hart also admitted that he still has severe problems with his balance due to his concussion issues.
In regards to the use of painkillers in wrestling: "I don't know if a lot of guys could have done it otherwise. When you get hurt, you are a liability. What happens is you got an entire dressing room filled with drug addicts--and they died one after another. More wrestlers have died from pills than any other sport."
In regards to his own steroid use: "I did take steroids periodically. I never deny that. I don't know if they did any good. I didn't take enough to affect me either way."
  • Bret was also asked, of course, about the Montreal Screwjob and particularly about recent comments that Jack Brisco made saying that he sided with Vince McMahon. Hart said his refusal to lose at Survivor Series had more to do with Shawn Michaels' behavior than it did with the show being in Canada. When Shawn flat out told Bret that he would never put him over, Bret in turn decided that he wouldn't put over Shawn either. Hart claimed he had never refused to put anyone over before that and had lost matches in Canada countless times in the past. In regards to Brisco's comments, Hart called Jack's brother Gerald Brisco "deceptive" because he believes Gerald played a part in the Screwjob. Hart also recounted an old story about Ernie Ladd beating up both the Brisco brothers in a parking lot and stuffing them in the trunk of his car and dropping them off at a promoter's house. Dave says he's also heard that story, although to be fair, Ladd reportedly beat both men with a tire iron. Bret called both of the Briscos drunks and said "Jack Brisco can kiss my ass." He also added that when he knocked out Vince in the locker room after Montreal, more than 10 different former world champions called him to tell him they were proud of him for doing it. Dave is just kinda exasperated that neither side can seem to ever let go of the Screwjob 4 years later.
  • In wrestler parent news: Helen Hart is still hospitalized this week in bad shape. Stu Hart has been at her bedside around-the-clock. Hulk Hogan's father Peter Bollea took a turn for the worse this week and it's looking dire for him.
  • Diana Hart is doing the media rounds for her autobiography that is being released this week. According to previews, it's a behind the scenes look at the Hart family and is said to be extremely negative about her brother Bret and especially her ex-husband Davey Boy Smith, who she alleges drugged and raped her. The book also goes after Bruce Hart's ex-wife Andrea (who is now dating Davey Boy) as well as Owen Hart's widow Martha Hart. People who have read the book, including people who have known the family for years, are said to be stunned by much of what Diana has written.
  • Kurt Angle did an interview with the Observer website and talked about a few things. He seems very serious about training for the 2004 Olympics. He will be in his mid-30s by then and would need to take about a year off from WWF to properly train. He talked about missing the competition. He said there's competition in WWF because everyone wants to be the top star but it's not true athletic competition. He said the WWF has already given him the approval to take the time off to train when necessary and that Vince and Jim Ross have been supportive of his decision. He hasn't made a firm decision yet on whether or not to do it, because it mostly depends on how the next year of his WWF career goes. He has to stay healthy doing pro wrestling before he can consider trying for the Olympics again (spoiler: he does not stay healthy). Angle also talked about the current product and admitted that it was stale and there is nothing interesting about the Alliance feud. He blamed the declining ratings on the product sucking and admitted he's frustrated with his current character and said playing the nerdy babyface gimmick and still being over with the crowd is difficult. But he said he doesn't think things will get any worse and expects business to turn around soon (spoiler: they do and it doesn't).
  • Angle, Lita, Trish Stratus, Big Show, Booker T, William Regal, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon taped an episode of "The Weakest Link" last week which will air in 2 weeks on NBC. Triple H and Stephanie ended up being the last two remaining, with Triple H winning in the end (and if I know anything about marriage, I bet anything Triple H still jokingly rubs that in Stephanie's face to this day). During a commercial break, someone asked Regal about the match on Nitro where he embarrassed Goldberg, which led Triple H to chime in that embarrassing Goldberg isn't hard to do. Dave thinks Goldberg made a good choice by sitting home and collecting on his WCW contract rather than going to WWF. Given the shape of this company lately and the way they've botched the Invasion angle, plus all the resentment WWF stars seem to have against him, if Goldberg showed up in WWF's shark infested waters right now, he's pretty sure everyone would be fighting over who gets to beat him first rather than worrying about how they can all make money together.
  • WWF issued full refunds to customers that complained about the webcast for No Mercy. If you recall, WWF tried to stream the PPV over the internet and a little under 1,000 people paid for that option, only to have a terrible experience because, well, this is internet streaming in 2001.
  • In a dark match before Raw in Louisville, Brock Lesnar & Shelton Benjamin defeated Prototype and Rico Constantino to win the OVW tag titles. On the same show, in another dark match, Kanyon tore his ACL in a match with Randy Orton.
WATCH: Brock Lesnar & Shelton Benjamin vs. Prototype & Rico Constantino - 2001
  • Dave mentions the names of a few people who were chosen for the Tough Enough season 2 tryouts and one of them is a model and actress named Shelly Martinez (she doesn't make the cut and isn't on the show, but she eventually makes it to WWE anyway).
  • Rhyno has 2 herniated discs in his neck and may need surgery. If he does, it will be similar to Austin and Benoit, where he will be out for an extended length of time (yeah, he ends up getting the surgery and is out for well over a year).
  • Negotiations with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are still ongoing and they seem to have hit an impasse over the schedule. Nash has made it clear he doesn't want to work a full schedule and only wants to do 12 dates per month, at most. WWF doesn't want to sign anyone for less than 15 dates per month at minimum. There's some posturing from Nash about going to NJPW instead if WWF won't agree to his terms, but there's nothing to it because NJPW doesn't have any interest in paying Nash the big money he's asking for.
  • Eddie Guerrero will be returning to work house shows this week. He did an interview on about his issues and strongly hinted that his marriage is over because of his substance issues and talked about not having a family anymore. He said his daughters still love him unconditionally but made it sound as though he and his wife would be divorcing (yeah, he and Vickie were separated for about 2 years. Eddie ends up fathering a daughter with another woman during this time but then ends up reconciling with Vickie and they remained together until his death). Eddie said he'll be starting back slowly in wrestling and admitted he made a mistake in WCW by rushing back too soon after his car accident and tried to resume working at the same pace he did before his injuries. The pain led to his substance abuse issues, which led him to where he is today.
  • Former WCW and short-time WWF referee Billy Silverman is threatening legal action against the WWF over being hazed, harassed, ribbed, whatever. Silverman made the mistake of paying to have his plane ticket upgraded to first class. Apparently there's an unspoken rule in the WWF that only the top stars fly first class and Silverman had the audacity to use his own money to pay for his own upgrade, and as a result, he was bullied relentlessly (by JBL) until he quit the company. Dave says it sounds petty, but petty bullshit like this is pretty much why the whole Invasion angle failed in the first place, with all the established WWF people doing everything they could to bury the WCW names who didn't adhere to every little stupid unspoken bullshit rule in the WWF locker room.
  • Kurt Angle's wife Karen wrote on her personal website trashing RVD for injuring Kurt: "My personal opinion is that RVD is not ready yet. I feel he is very careless. When these men step into the ring, they are trusting the other person with their body. Even though RVD has been in the business for many years, I don't feel he can be trusted. Out of five matches with RVD, there was only one match Kurt didn't have to have stitches or was able to walk out without bleeding."
WEDNESDAY: more on WWF's plummeting business, Helen Hart passes away, wrestlers not faring well in MMA, WWF Rebellion PPV fallout, Diana Hart controversy, and more...

► Observer Rewinds remaining: 8

submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 16, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001 5-7-2001 5-14-2001
5-21-2001 5-28-2001 6-4-2001 6-11-2001
6-18-2001 6-25-2001 7-2-2001 7-9-2001
  • WWF has pretty much abandoned all its plans for reviving WCW and instead revived ECW and had them join the invasion angle. Adding ECW to the fold was a last minute decision made partly in response to the disastrous WCW match on Raw last week. Prior to this, the original plan had been for WCW to have some exposure on WWF TV, do some inter-promotional matches at the upcoming Invasion PPV, and then an angle would be done the next night on Raw with Vince and Linda McMahon having a "divorce hearing" and splitting everything down the middle. Vince would lose Raw to Linda, who would in turn give it to Shane, and Raw would then become the WCW show. The week after would have been a draft, so that WCW could take some of the WWF's big names to help carry the brand. From there, WCW and WWF would be kept apart. WCW would began touring regularly in October and have its first PPV in October as well. Meanwhile, WWF would continue on Smackdown with their own PPVs and eventually, once WCW had fully established itself as a strong brand, they would come back together for more inter-promotional matches.
WATCH: ECW joins the Invasion angle (filmed on a potato, sorry)
  • That was the original plan. So what happened? Well the whole angle has been botched from the start anyway. But the horrible crowd reaction on Raw last week, plus similar reactions to WCW stars at house shows this past week, pretty much torpedoed everything. WWF officials were stunned by the amount of negative reaction to the WCW brand from WWF fans. Dave says WWF fans have been trained to hate WCW for years and it all came to a head on Raw. It was even worse on Smackdown but you wouldn't know from watching it because they edited the crowd audio before it aired, which they couldn't do with the live Raw. Also, as of press time, the Invasion PPV is 2 weeks away and isn't sold out yet. It should be sold out or close to it by the time the show gets here, but for the first big inter-promotional show of WWF vs. WCW, the tickets didn't move nearly as fast as they'd hoped (they turn Austin babyface again a week beforehand and the PPV ends up doing huge numbers but we'll get there). Dave says it's hard to fathom how such a surefire moneymaking angle has been bungled so badly, although part of it is clearly the lack of big WCW stars and WWF's refusal to spend big money to get them.
  • So they started spit-balling ideas to save the angle. Dave says things got so crazy and so many wild ideas were tossed around that there was actually serious discussion about bringing in Eric Bischoff. (Can you imagine?!) One source claimed there was even plans in place for Bischoff to come in for just a short-term angle, work a match with Vince, kick off the WCW thing, and then be gone, but that Bischoff shot down the idea. Bischoff himself denies that he was ever even approached about it and that he would have turned it down even if they had offered (I believe he has since admitted that yes, he was approached). Either way, the idea was at least kicked around. Ultimately, they settled on reviving ECW (with Stephanie McMahon in charge) and combining it with WCW. The best news coming out of the whole thing is that it let Paul Heyman cut some great promos on Raw and Smackdown and Dave says his kind of realism and promos are exactly what this angle needs if it's going to succeed because out of everyone on the roster, Paul Heyman is the guy who can probably get it over. But the depth of WCW star power is killing it.
  • Scrapping the idea of reviving WCW as its own brand creates a whole new set of problems. Most of the 24 wrestlers that WWF acquired from WCW haven't even appeared on TV yet and if WCW isn't going to be its own brand, most of those guys may be out of luck. They were all lower card guys anyway and if WWF doesn't need to fill a second roster, that puts them in a shitty spot. The number of well-paying, full-time wrestling jobs in the United States is currently at its lowest point since World War II so there's a lot of young, talented cruiserweight-type guys that WWF picked up who may be out of a job soon if WWF doesn't have any use for them. So what next? No one seems to know. Booking decisions are basically being made day-to-day right now instead of long term because all the long-term plans have basically been scrapped. Separate brands, separate TV shows, separate PPVs and touring's all up in the air right now and may happen or may not. The Vince/Linda angle where they split the assets on Raw after the Invasion PPV has definitely been scrapped, so at the very least, things are going to be delayed and now it's looking entirely possible that there won't be a relaunched WCW at all.
  • Meta news time! Dave wants to thank everyone who made the Wrestling Observer Live online radio show so much fun for the last 2 years. But as of last week, online radio host website Eyada has folded and with it goes the Observer show. Dave talks about how the stories of dot-com businesses shutting down is a daily news story these days (yup, this is right as the dot-com bubble was bursting). He compares the Eyada situation to being similar to ECW's dying days. Everyone involved knew the ship was going down and there were occasionally hopes to try and save it at the last minute, but it all fell through and it was forced to close. Dave talks about how the internet is an incredible technological advancement and how Eyada was an idea ahead of its time. The belief was that internet radio was the future and how there was belief that people would be able to listen to it in their cars eventually or buy a device that works with their Walkmans (omg) and things like that. But 2 years later, none of that has happened and internet radio just hasn't taken off like people expected. Plus all the problems that come with it, like sound quality, lagging, getting disconnected, etc. just made it inconvenient for most people. But regardless of all that, the Observer show built a pretty large audience and was often the highest rated internet talk show in the country which admittedly doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things but hey, Dave's still proud of it. Dave thanks a lot of the people involved by name, particularly Bryan Alvarez for his amazing insight and wit. Dave's bummed that it's going away, but who knows, maybe something will pan out in the future...
  • The latest in regards to Jerry Lawler being rehired by WWF is that the deal is pretty much dead for now. Lawler went on his website and wrote a long post detailing why the deal to bring him back last week fell apart. Lawler was called by Kevin Dunn to work Raw and be the WCW announcer for the Booker T/Buff Bagwell match and had agreed to bring Stacy Carter back with him. Before she was fired, Stacy did not have the typical WWF contract, she was being paid-per-appearance. So WWF agreed to bring Lawler and her back, with Lawler signing a contract and Stacy getting her old per-night deal back. At this point, Lawler pushed his luck and inquired about maybe getting Stacy an actual contract with a downside guarantee like everyone else in the company has. Lawler even volunteered to take a $52,000-per-year paycut so that Stacy could have a $52,000-per-year contract and it wouldn't cost the WWF any additional money. All this negotiation was going on through Kevin Dunn, who in turn talked to Vince and cleared everything. Dunn told Vince about Lawler's request and Vince responded that they wouldn't sign Stacy to a contract because they had no future plans for her beyond her returning alongside Lawler this one time. Begrudgingly, Lawler went ahead and agreed, figuring at least Stacy would have a foot back in the door and if Lawler is there, maybe he can pull some strings and get her back later.
  • Then Kevin Dunn called Lawler back the next day and told him Vince had changed his mind. They didn't want to bring Stacy in even for the one-time appearance. Only Lawler. At that point, Lawler backed out of the deal. Lawler claims that Bruce Prichard is the one who changed Vince's mind, after the original deal was already agreed upon, and convinced Vince to not bring Stacy back at all. Dave says there was a lot of pressure on Vince because it would look like he had caved to Lawler's demands, which isn't a good look for the boss. And plus, as mentioned, Stacy was deeply unpopular in the locker room and apparently nobody liked her. But whatever the reason, Vince changed his mind, said absolutely no Stacy, and so we're back to square one with Lawler refusing to come back without her (Stacy's about a week away from abruptly leaving Lawler for another guy anyway, which he goes into excruciating detail about in his book if you've never read it, so this all wraps up soon).
  • NOAH is looking to bring in Dalip Singh, the 7-foot dude who has been working for APW in California. NJPW is also interested in him (that's Great Khali and he ends up in NJPW).
  • Atsushi Onita officially announced he will be running for Japan's House of Councilors as a member of the Jiminto party, which is the biggest political party in Japan. Onita's platform is big on children's education because he's famous for dropping out of high school and then going back to earn his diploma at the age of 40. As part of a publicity stunt for the announcement, Onita went to Rikidozan's grave site and said he was going to send videos of his famous death matches to Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Then he said after he wins the election, he wants to challenge Antonio Inoki to a retirement match "And you think politics in our country is silly," Dave quips. Anyway, spoiler: Onita actually wins.
  • Kevin Nash did an interview with a Japanese wrestling magazine and had some interesting comments. Nash freely admitted that he was specifically told not to mention Scoff Hall's name on TV in WCW, so in response, he went out on TV and did it every week anyway. He says at one point he was told that if he did it again, they would consider it a breach of contract and fire him, so Nash responded with a big speech about the Constitution and the first amendment and all that stuff. Dave just shakes his head at this dumb shit. But he also says WCW gave him repeated chances and never fired him, so at that point, it was WCW's fault, not Nash's. You can't repeatedly threaten to punish a child when it misbehaves and then not back up your words when they do. Anyway, in the same interview, Nash also said he had considered retiring after WCW closed but he misses the pop of going through the curtain and is now just waiting for his WCW deal to expire so he can jump back in. As for went wrong with WCW, Nash said the bookers (Russo) never understood that you have to lay a foundation for the storylines and have them make sense and that the title should mean something. He said WWF never lost sight of the fact that the world title should be valuable and winning the belt is the ultimate quest, while Russo devalued the belt completely. Also, way too many run-ins in every match.
  • That Matrats promotion in Canada is running a big show this month and it's a test-run for a planned PPV in October. If you recall, Eric Bischoff is working with this company and his partner Jason Hervey will be the on-air commissioner. As far as wrestlers, the best workers in the promotion are said to be Jack Evans, Teddy Hart, TJ Wilson, and Rene Dupree. Speaking of Dupree, he's only 18 years old and looks incredible and those who have seen him say he could be the next mega star in this business (yeah, everyone thought he would be for awhile. He ends up in WWE, does the La Resistance gimmick, but never really gets beyond that). Joey Styles may end up doing the announcing for this company. Speaking of announcing, Dave says they used to have the most underrated announcer in the business, a guy named Mauro Ranallo, but he isn't working with them anymore.
  • XPW had a fire spot go wrong at a show this week. Supreme was going against Kaos and Supreme was supposed to get put through a flaming table covered in fluorescent light tubes. Veronica Caine, one of the porn stavalets XPW uses, put way too much lighter fluid on the table and Supreme took the bump face-first somehow and....caught on fire. Then the idiot with the fire extinguisher panicked and started spraying the table in the ring because it was still on fire. Meanwhile, Supreme was over on the other side of the ring, still cooking. Eventually, they sprayed him too. He suffered serious burns on his chest and arms and was on the ground for about 10 minutes before being taken out by paramedics. The fans, respectful as always, yelled things like, "I hope you die!" and "I smell bacon!" It's said that for the rest of the show, the arena smelled of lighter fluid and burnt flesh. Anyway, Supreme is expected to be hospitalized for at least a week.
WATCH: Supreme turns into a crispy critter - XPW 2001
  • While all this was going on during the same XPW show, promoter Rob Black was backstage arguing with Sabu and trying to talk him into doing a job for the three-way main event. The match was supposed to be XPW champion Messiah vs. Vampiro vs. Sabu. Also, the Insane Clown Posse were supposed to be with Vampiro and involved in the match, but they walked out after Violent J was pissed because Pogo The Clown stiffed him during an angle earlier in the show, to the point where J reportedly may have broken ribs. Anyway, Sabu eventually agreed to do the job. Sandman was also on the show and he and New Jack both received huge "ECW" chants from the XPW crowd.
WATCH: ICP attacked in XPW
  • UFC is said to be against the idea of bringing Tank Abbott back, who is currently sitting out and collecting on the remainder of his WCW contract. UFC has worked really hard to be seen as a real sport and have fought with the state athletic commissions about how these are highly trained world class athletes. Meanwhile, Tank Abbott is basically just a big ol' beefy street fighter with little formal training who wasn't even in shape for his most recent fights. Basically, he goes against everything UFC is trying to present itself as (he eventually comes back in 2003).
  • It's pretty much official that Goldberg will not be coming to WWF anytime soon. In order to sign him, it would mean he would have by far the biggest contract in the entire company. As Dave has pointed out before, from an economic standpoint, they should bring him in. A couple of Goldberg/Austin and Goldberg/Rock dream matches on PPV alone would be enough to recoup the cost of his contract. But it would also upset the salary structure of the company and piss off the whole locker room and they just aren't willing to do that. So expect Goldberg to sit out the next 2 years or so (yup).
  • Buff Bagwell has already been fired by WWF, for "an amazing ability to accumulate heat in almost record time," Dave says. There was the issue with him and Shane Helms that was mentioned last week that left Bagwell needing stitches. Those who know Helms say he's a quiet, hardworking guy and he was only defending himself so there's no heat on him. Bagwell also arrived late for the practice sessions in Stamford almost every day and was said to be the only one not taking the practices seriously. He also arrived late for his first house show. After the Smackdown taping in Tacoma, they did an angle after the cameras were off where the WWF guys came to the ring and ran off all the WCW guys, leaving only Bagwell alone with guys like the APA. It was pretty much another one of those typical "Welcome to the WWF" beat downs from the APA where they beat the shit out of him and gave him a hard power bomb. Also, Bagwell's mother Judy Bagwell repeatedly called the office complaining about Buff's travel accommodations, leading to Bradshaw ruthlessly ribbing him for it. Many of the WWF wrestlers even started a pool, taking bets on how long Bagwell would last. Turned out it was sooner than almost everyone predicted, although Dave says one unnamed wrestler was only off by 5 days. Anyway, he's gone. Dave's been saying it for years, all that immature shit people used to get away with in WCW ain't gonna fly in WWF, and Bagwell has become the first to learn that the hard way.
  • Notes from Raw: Steve Austin and Kurt Angle continued their hilarious backstage interactions, complete with Angle getting all of them little sheriff badges. Booker T, holding both the WCW world and U.S. titles, beat Kurt Angle, with Booker getting booed out of the building. And of course, the big ECW angle at the end with WCW and ECW joining together and Stephanie McMahon being revealed as the new owner of ECW.
WATCH: Stephanie McMahon revealed as the new owner of ECW
  • Kaz Hayashi, Yun Yang, Shannon Moore, and Evan Karagis all made their WWF debuts in a dark match that got over big, which is the first time a WCW match has done so since this angle began. Rob Van Dam also worked a dark match, beating former WCW wrestler Johnny the Bull. RVD got over strong as well.
WATCH: the final moments of RVD vs. Johnny The Bull 2001 dark match
  • Ad Age magazine ran a story talking about how Vince McMahon wanted to blow up a Honda car during halftime of one of the final XFL games. The reason is because Honda was one of the original XFL sponsors but they pulled out early in the season and bashed the XFL for not delivering the product they were promised. McMahon was pissed about it and wanted to blow up a Honda in response but was talked out of it by NBC execs who were already pretty fed up with this crazy old man and his carny ideas.
  • Spike Dudley suffered a hairline fracture to his fibula in a match on Smackdown and will be out for about a month. He's using a crutch and a soft cast for now and is still making his appearances. He even offered to tape up his leg and wrestle if needed for weekend house shows.
  • Steve Austin is still dealing with serious back issues that make even putting on his shoes difficult. He's expected to be back by the Invasion PPV but it's touch and go. Even the little bit of physical activity he has done the last few weeks has caused him to have back spasms.
  • Mick Foley was on TSN's Off The Record in Canada and once again, host Michael Landsberg delivered a segment that blows away every other wrestler interview, because Landsberg understands the business, treats it and the wrestlers with respect, but he also asks tough questions. Foley was asked about the future of wrestling because of how violent it's getting and all the risks people take. Foley agreed it was too much and hoped it would scale back, and talked about the success of guys like Benoit and Angle as an example of getting over and becoming a star without throwing yourself off cages. Both Foley and Landsberg agreed that WWF is in a bit of a rut right now. Foley blamed it on McMahon focusing too much on the XFL for the last year. They discussed the infamous McMahon/Bob Costas interview and Foley said he actually asked Vince about it and asked if it was a work or a shoot and Vince told him it was for real, he wasn't playing a character during that interview. Foley said he currently has no interest in returning to the ring but admitted it would probably happen eventually. Landsberg argued that if wrestling had a union, Foley wouldn't be allowed to wrestle for his own good. They talked about NHL player Eric Lindros' concussion issues and Foley said during the last year or so of his career, he told wrestlers to take it easy with him because his wife didn't like him taking chair shots to the head.
WATCH: Mick Foley on TSN Off The Record in 2001
  • Dave recaps a recent WWF press release that talks about the history of WWF and WCW. Basically, the gist of it is WCW never accomplished anything on their own and were only good when they stole a bunch of WWF stars. Dave says they own WCW now. The company itself is dead. It serves no purpose to keep burying them. They should be trying to rebuild it rather than talk about how shitty it was and how it only succeeded because they stole WWF stars.
  • TNN put out a press release bragging about the network's overall ratings increases compared to last year and touting that they're the fastest growing network in prime time. That's true, but it's also ENTIRELY because of Raw. In fact, if you took Raw out of the equation, TNN's numbers would actually be down from last year.
  • Jim Cornette had hernia surgery last week and will be out for a few weeks, so Kevin Kelly will be handling announcing duties in OVW for awhile.
  • Speaking of OVW, it was mentioned a few weeks ago that Leviathan has grown his hair out and shaved his face and basically changed his overall look. In case you're wondering why, it's because he worked a dark match at a WWF show and got a huge "Goldberg!" chant, so they told him to change his look.
  • In regards to Smackdown going live later this year, WWF is publicly blaming the ratings decrease on internet spoilers for taped shows. Dave points out several reasons why this simply isn't true. For starters, Raw's ratings (which is already a live show) have been falling at a faster rate than Smackdown. The ratings decline also started abruptly, just in the last few months since WCW folded. Basically, the product sucks now and wrestling just isn't hot anymore. It has nothing to do with taped show spoilers on the internet. In fact, how can someone even read spoilers on the internet during this time? As soon as the website loads, someone in the other room picks up the goddamn phone and the internet disconnects. Dammit Dad, I've been downloading a picture for the last 45 minutes, it was almost done! Ugh! I HATE YOU! I SHOULD HAVE GONE TO LIVE WITH MOM!
  • Brock Lesnar was interviewed in an amateur wrestling magazine about his decision to become a pro wrestler, which a lot of amateurs look down on. Lesnar talked about the difficulty of it, saying, "It is a lot harder than I expected it to be. It is more demanding on my body than all my 19 years of amateur wrestling put together. If you don't know how to land right or do a move in the correct way, you are putting yourself and your opponent's life in danger." In regards to amateur wrestlers nay-saying him for it, Lesnar responded, "I fell victim to the amateur people saying, 'Don't watch professional wrestling because it's fake and not real.' I've been trying to get amateur wrestlers like Shelton Benjamin and myself to make a difference somehow in both and professional and amateur world."
  • There was a segment about wrestling on the Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor regarding the usual is-wrestling-appropriate-for-children debate. Bob Backlund was on to defend wrestling while some doctor who did a study about the effects of wrestling on kids was there to argue the other side. Basically, both Backlund and the doctor debated back and forth, both of them were full of shit, O'Reilly was clueless about wrestling, and they played clips of WCW while talking about violence in the WWF. "As with most things on that network, little was accomplished," Dave says. My man.
  • Apparently there was an altercation between Hugh Morrus and Mark Jindrak during one of those training sessions. Jindrak reportedly messed up some spots, Morrus tried to help him out and correct him and Jindrak responded by calling him a fat slob who's never done anything in the business and then they were separated before it could escalate. WWF officials were said to be less than impressed with Jindrak's attitude and Jim Ross had a meeting with all the WCW wrestlers to basically remind everyone to check their attitudes at the door because this ain't WCW anymore. (See: Bagwell, Buff.)
  • Speaking of, there's still a lot of backstage heat between WWF and WCW wrestlers, who are still divided in the locker room. A lot of WWF wrestlers already see this angle as a flop based on the crowd response. Meanwhile, the WCW wrestlers feel like the angle has been bungled from the beginning and even said the real WCW would have been more organized and had a better plan in place for this angle than WWF has so far. But otherwise, the general feeling is that the WWF is so much more professionally run in every aspect of the business and it's been a culture shock to a lot of the WCW guys.
  • There was some heat on Stacy Keibler for missing some house shows this weekend. Apparently, she had already been told she wasn't going to be working the shows but then they changed their mind and wanted her on the road to practice the bra and panties match that is scheduled for the PPV. Keibler had already made vacation plans since she was originally scheduled to be off and refused to break her plans. WWF allowed her to miss the shows, but it didn't endear her to some in the locker room. God, there is so much petty, clique-ish nonsense happening in WWF right now.
  • Speaking of, a lot of the WCW wrestlers who haven't been used on TV yet were at Raw in Atlanta this week since so many of them live in the city. And once again, it was the same issues backstage, with WCW wrestlers being accused of not knowing the protocol. They were nervous and shy, didn't talk to many people, didn't shake everybody's hand, etc. So now they've all got bad reps with the WWF guys, because this is fucking high school apparently.
  • Random notes: Toronto Skydome is looking to be the front-runner for WrestleMania 18 next year (yup). The Invasion PPV isn't sold out and there's still 2,000 tickets left as of press time. Scott Hudson is already done as WCW announcer, but he was only supposed to be short-term anyway.
  • Chyna did her first interview since being benched by WWF. The only interesting thing she said is that they wouldn't let her win the WWF title and she "has too much experience" to wrestle the women so there was nothing left to do with her character. She did say one true thing. She mentioned that wrestlers who's contracts are coming due soon are going to realize that one man having a monopoly on the business isn't a good thing for the wrestlers.
  • Al Snow and Dean Malenko were practicing commentary backstage during Raw. WWF is looking for new commentators for the WCW side of things and hey, why not? Dave says Malenko in particular is someone who is said to be hilarious backstage, quick-witted and fun to talk to, but it never translates to TV. Stevie Ray was like that in WCW, which is why they made him an announcer too, but it never clicked.
  • WWF has a deal with some company to send CD-ROMS to WWF Magazine subscribers which will feature bonus content not included in each issue of the magazine. That is a very 2001 sentence.
  • Letters section time! An indie wrestler, who chooses to remain unnamed, writes in and is pretty disgusted by the fact that Tough Enough exists. He talks about how just before Tough Enough debuted, WWF pulled out of their developmental deals with several indie companies and cut developmental contracts of dozens of talented wrestlers who were working in those promotions (like Memphis Championship Wrestling, UPW in California, etc.). This guy thinks it's kinda fucked up that so many hard working, legitimately talented developmental guys are suddenly out on their asses while a bunch of nobody reality show contestants are vying for a WWF contract on TV.
  • Other people write in about the WCW angle. One guy predicts exactly what's going to happen, that WWF is going to bury WCW, nobody will get over, the whole thing will be a flop, and Booker T will likely be the only WCW signee who may have a chance to make it as a WWF star. Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer writes in saying the recovery for the business is going to be tough in the wake of WCW's death and will take a long time.
  • A former WCW wrestler named Bob Cook writes in and says he was the first wrestler to work with Buff Bagwell for his WCW tryout match back in 1991, which led to Bagwell getting his job with WCW. After watching the Bagwell/Booker T match, Cook writes, "I wish I wasn't such a great worker. Never thought I was, but I must have been to make Bagwell look good enough to get a job in the first place. I would like to say I'm sorry to the fans for helping him get his job."
FRIDAY: Bankruptcy court upset with WWF for using ECW intellectual property they down own, Terry Gordy passes away, tons more WCW updates, plans changing daily, and more...
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jan. 8, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
  • Paul Heyman revealed this week that he's in serious negotiations to sell either a majority share or possibly all of ECW. He said that he's recognized the company can't survive the way things are right now. A few weeks ago, Heyman had talked about scaling ECW back down to a regional promotion but due to the rising costs of syndicated TV, even that isn't feasible. Heyman said he would be willing to walk away from the business side of ECW if the right offer came along to save the company. It would have to guarantee a major cable clearance, wipe out their debt (estimated at somewhere between $4-$6.5 million), and they would have to build an infrastructure to handle promotions, PR, contracts, etc. Basically, Heyman and a couple of handpicked assistants like Tommy Dreamer and Gabe Sapolsky handle all that stuff now personally. It's still a real mom & pop operation. Anyway, with all the potential buyers Heyman has discussed this with, they all want him to stay with the company and handle the creative end, which is his greatest strength anyway. But Heyman has spent so much of his time for the last 18 months in meetings trying to secure TV deals, licensing deals, loans, etc. in order to keep ECW alive that the creative process has been hampered severely. ECW has been fortunate so far to not lose much of its talent, because neither WWF or WCW is hiring anyone at the moment. But Heyman said that if/when Bischoff takes control of WCW, he expects the first thing he'll do is target ECW's talent, which in turn would lead to WWF making offers also, just to keep Bischoff from cherry picking their best guys. "It's the era of the big boys," Heyman told Dave. "We're too big to be small-time, but we're too small to be big-time. The reality is ECW as its presently structured isn't viable." On ECW's website, they are hyping something major will happen at the upcoming Guilty As Charged PPV, but Heyman assures Dave it's just a surprise wrestler, not anything regarding the future of the company.
  • Just 1 year ago, Antonio Inoki seemed like an old-timer who's time had long since passed by. His UFO promotion, based around some weird hybrid of worked shoot MMA/wrestling couldn't give away tickets and his attempt to groom his protege Naoya Ogawa in his image was floundering. Now, as 2001 begins, Inoki's booking and match-making ideas have turned PRIDE into the hottest thing in the business of wrestling or MMA. It was capped off by Inoki's Bom Ba Ye New Year's Eve spectacular, which drew a reported 42,000+ fans to see Inoki's vision of pro wrestling, with a mix of traditional pro wrestlers and PRIDE fighters. Shinya Hashimoto worked the show, beating PRIDE's Gary Goodridge. Ken Shamrock (accompanied by former on-screen WWF sister Ryan Shamrock) and Don Frye teamed up against Nobuhiko Takada and Keiji Muto (who had a shaved head). Shamrock and Frye got into it after the match, to set up a future match with them (whether wrestling or PRIDE, who knows). And the show was capped off by Antonio Inoki going to a 3 minute draw with Renzo Gracie in an "exhibition" match. It was historical for several reasons, the first being that Renzo will now likely go down in the record books as Inoki's final opponent ever (yup). And because it was also the first time a Gracie family member did an obviously worked match, which the whole family had always vowed to never do. The show ended with Inoki doing his catchphrase as the clock struck midnight to usher in 2001. And then he slapped 108 people. You see, Inoki does this thing where it's seen as an honor to be slapped by him because he transfers his fighting spirit to you that way. Anyway, among the 108 people he slapped were Hashimoto, Bas Rutten, Yuji Nagata, and Tatsumi Fujinami. (Nowadays, we all look back at the 2000s Inoki era and how his obsession with MMA nearly killed NJPW, but it's easy to forget that, at least initially, this whole way of thinking was a massive success. Until it wasn't).
WATCH: Antonio Inoki slaps a whole buncha people
  • Observer Award winners will be announced next week but since all the votes are safely in, Dave decides to give his own personal opinion on who the wrestler of the year is. He bases his pick on a lot of different criteria. In-ring ability, drawing power, value to their company, championships, noteworthy accomplishments, etc. He ranks people in each category by points and then adds it all up. Anyway, remember this is just Dave's opinion, not the actual award. But his pick is...Kazushi Sakuraba, who isn't technically a wrestler. He's MMA. But he had an incredible 2000, basically the guy who put PRIDE on the map this year and has single-handedly decimated every member of the legendary Gracie family that he's stepped in the ring with, becoming a huge star in doing so. But if you don't count him, Dave goes with Rock, Triple H, and Toshiaki Kawada in that order.
  • Vince McMahon has an interesting interview in an upcoming issue of Playboy. Excerpts were released by the New York Daily News and there's a lot of revealing info about McMahon's life. Unfortunately, Dave has to remind us that this is Vince McMahon, and he's well known for exaggerating basically everything he ever says publicly, so who knows how much of this stuff about his early life is actually true. In the interview, he talks about being abused by his stepfather, and says, "It's unfortunate that he died before I could kill him. I would have enjoyed that." And though he didn't outright say it, he strongly hinted that he had been sexually abused by his mother. McMahon is also candid about his previous affairs, noting he'd been faithful to his wife for the past 6 years (this is actually pretty interesting. If you recall, in the coverage of the 1994 steroid trial, there was a moment during the trial where it came out that Vince had an affair with his former secretary, a former Playboy playmate named Emily Feinberg. She later became a key witness in the trial. But there's a moment in the trial when it comes out and it seems as if that's how Linda McMahon learns of the affair, through that testimony, and is crying in the courtroom. And, ironically enough, that would be right about 6 years before this interview). McMahon also defended his decision to continue the PPV after Owen Hart's death, saying he believes Owen would have wanted the show to go on (Dave points out that most of the Hart family has vehemently disagreed with that). Anyway, the magazine with the full interview will be out next week and I'm sure Dave will have more to say then.
  • A note on the Observer. Dave usually mails issues out on Wednesdays so most people in the U.S. have them by Saturday or Monday. But there have been problems, specifically in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Michigan areas that are getting there's late. So if you live in those states and haven't gotten your latest 2001 Observer, call or fax Dave.
  • Mark Madden was fired by WCW last week in a controversial decision. Madden was told he was being fired for comments he made on the air regarding the sale of the company (an inside joke he made on TV awhile back that most people wouldn't have even picked up on) and for talking about Scott Hall on air, which he hasn't done in weeks after he was told not to the first time (Dave points out that on every show since then, while Madden never referenced Hall again, Kevin Nash, DDP, and even Tony Schiavone have done so repeatedly with no punishment). It's also believed Madden was in trouble for a recent hotline report where he did talk about both Hall and the sale of WCW. However, back in 1996, when Madden got in trouble on the hotline for calling Hall and Nash by their WWF names (which led to a years-long lawsuit), Madden's hotline reports were pre-recorded and vetted by WCW before they were posted and he would be alerted if he needed to change anything. But apparently no one listened to this one or cared and it got posted. There's also heat on Madden for an interview he did where he defended Scott Steiner for his backstage fight with DDP, with Madden pointing out how DDP had repeatedly went against orders by talking about Scott Hall on live TV and how the previous week on Thunder, he was supposed to give a diamond cutter to one member of the Natural Born Thrillers but Madden said he "went into business for himself" and hit all 5 members of the group with the move. Basically, he's saying DDP's a dick and deserved to get his face pummeled by Steiner. (As of 2019, I think the verdict is in. DDP: not a dick). Madden was also recently suspended for a week because he called DDP "leatherface" on TV, which DDP didn't care for. There was also an incident last week where DDP tried to talk things out with him but Madden refused to shake his hand, which many thought was disrespectful and a bad move politically. Madden has had issues with DDP for awhile and with Bischoff likely taking over the reins soon, he feels like that's the real reason he was fired. Basically, there could be a lot of different reasons, but different people told him different things, leading Madden to believe it pretty much just amounted to they wanted him gone and came up with whatever they could think of to justify it. This is all just such childish, petty nonsense. It's really no wonder this dumb ass company went out of business.
  • Madden had a $150,000-per-year deal on a 90-day cycle and is expected to be paid through the end of January, but WCW is threatening to withhold his final paychecks because of an interview he did after he was fired, where he was critical of the company. Madden says he was first told he was being fired because of disciplinary reasons but then was later told it wasn't because of that. Dave suspects the reason they back-pedaled is because firing Madden for disciplinary reasons, but not punishing others who have repeatedly done what he did and worse would probably not look good for the company if Madden wanted to file a lawsuit over it. A lot of this DDP/Madden stuff happened backstage at the 12/18 Nitro, which is the same show the SteineDDP fight happened on and the same show DDP, Nash, and Sid Vicious all walked out on. And yet Madden is the only person fired, while the 4 wrestlers involved are world champion, tag team champions, and main eventing the next PPV with not even a reprimand. Needless to say, a lot of people in the company got the favoritism message loud and clear.
  • Nikkan Sports in Japan had a poll asking readers to list the biggest wrestling news story of the century. The answers were broken down by age groups. People 50 years or older voted Rikidozan's death by a huge margin. Ages 40-49 also voted Rikidozan's death. Ages 30-39 voted the Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali match by a wide margin. Everyone younger than that voted Giant Baba's death. Obviously, people who weren't old enough to remember Rikidozan or the Inoki/Ali match didn't vote for those so it's kinda interesting to see what stories each age group thinks is the biggest. Dave has the full list broken down and all the famous stories are there. The AJPW/NOAH split, formation of NJPW, the Inoki/Saito jungle match, Maeda getting fired by NJPW and forming UWF, and so on and so forth. Dave says, from a historical perspective, Rikidozan's death is undoubtedly the biggest news story because of the trickle down effect it had on the industry as a whole still to this day.
  • Everything did bad ratings this week. It was Christmas, it was New Years, WCW aired "best of 2000" shows (which is laughable in itself) while Raw did a rating that's actually pretty scary. Of course it was low because of Christmas but there's also something in ratings called the share, which basically factors in how many people are actually watching television overall that night and what the percentage of that is watching your show and yada yada. It gets a little number-y but point being, even if you took Christmas out of the equation and adjusted for that, this rating would still be the lowest Raw rating in years even on a normal night. Raw ratings have been trending downwards ever since the move to TNN. Luckily for them, Monday Night Football will be ending soon (and WCW, though we don't know that yet).
  • Mexican star Ciclon Ramirez was arrested for vehicular homicide following an accident in which he crashed his car while driving drunk. Ramirez survived but 2 passengers in his car were both killed instantly (not sure what happened here. His Wikipedia page doesn't say anything about it. Looking at his page, he wrestled full time right until the time of the accident. Then a couple of matches in 2001 and then nothing until 2005, so maybe he was in jail for that time? No idea and I never read anything about it later.)
  • In reviewing the big NOAH show from last week, Dave writes about the Kobashi vs. Akiyama main event and gives it 4 and 1/........???? HE DOESN'T SAY! The last number is cut off. Is it 1/2? 1/4? The world may never know the correct fraction of stars for this match. Anyway, once NOAH gets their feet under them and has a secure TV deal, they plan to hold their first show at Budokan Hall.
  • Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch are claiming to have signed a 1 year deal with NJPW (yup, looks to be true. I had no idea but he apparently spent most of 2001 and some of 2002 working there).
  • RINGS in Japan is looking at doing a big 10th anniversary show and apparently, Inoki is pushing them to do a match between Naoya Ogawa vs. Mike Tyson. Dave isn't surprised. Inoki is trying to groom Ogawa as his successor and is trying to get him over the same way he got over, and re-creating the famous Inoki/Ali match would be just what Inoki would probably love to do. But Dave doesn't think this has a chance in hell of happening (nope, but bet your ass we're going to hear more about this because Inoki damn sure tries).
  • Atsushi Onita showed up uninvited to Inoki's New Year's Eve show and told reporters he wanted a match with Inoki. But Inoki never met with him. Onita gave a letter to PRIDE president Naoto Morishita asking for Inoki to come out of retirement to face him. Classic Onita.
  • Another big news story in Canada covered the Owen Hart lawsuit settlement and the story featured a ton of choice quotes from various Hart family members. Bret Hart accused his sisters Ellie and Diana of using Owen's death for their own purposes and of trying to get some of the settlement money from their parents. Martha Hart talked about the foundation she's setting up in Owen's name using some of her settlement money. The story also talked about Bret getting upset with his parents because he loaned them money and they turned around and gave the money to Ellie (after she had already sided with the WWF in the lawsuit). Ellie said she had recently reunited with Jim Neidhart, after they had split because he was addicted to crack cocaine. And Helen Hart, the mother of all these damn rascals, just seems sad about it, talks about how she loves and will help all her children and says she wishes the whole family had been farmers instead of wrestlers because they would all be better off if not for the wrestling business.
  • Scott Hall was released from jail this week.
  • ECW's PPV is coming up this weekend and Dave runs down the lineup and mentions that the idea is to position Rhino as the new top star of the company by the time the show is over, but who knows what that means. But expect Rhino to be booked strong (yeah, just a tad).
  • ECW is in a bit of a pickle with MSG Network, which airs their TV show in syndication in New York. ECW is not listed on the upcoming TV listings this week, which would be the go-home show for the PPV which is hugely important because the PPV is in New York and also, New York is their biggest TV market. It costs ECW more than $4,000 per week to air on that network and apparently the payment was sent late. Heyman claims the show is still going to air on Jan. 6th and the situation has been worked out. But as of Jan. 2nd, two different spokespeople from MSG Network told Dave the show wasn't going to air, saying ECW hasn't renewed their deal, but they're still in talks. Basically, as long as Heyman can pay for it in time, they're expected to air but as of press time, MSG Network is still waiting.
  • Lots of rumors going around that the sale of WCW will be announced before the end of this month. Still no word on what the deal entails or what Bischoff has planned for the company.
  • There was a lot of controversy over Jeff Jarrett not being allowed to work a match for WWC in Puerto Rico. So here's the deal, WCW has been preventing its guys from working indie shows. Konnan and Rey Mysterio were recently forbidden to work a show in Mexico for example. But Jarrett had been asked to come headline a WWC show against Carly Colon for the Universal title. WCW agreed and Jarrett was booked for the show and WWC promoted the hell out of it. But then WCW changed their mind. So now Jarrett was forced to pull out of the show, which makes him look bad (through no fault of his own) and severely screws over WWC, which had spent weeks promoting this huge show at a 23,000-seat arena built around Jarrett vs. Colon for the main event. Dave understands that WCW doesn't want to risk its top stars getting hurt on indie shows. But WCW is barely running shows anymore and these guys are allegedly independent contractors. But the contract allows WCW that right, so there ya go. Dave thinks they should have just bitten the bullet and allowed Jarrett to work the show since they had already approved it, but then there's also the double standard of why it was approved in the first place while other guys like Konnan and Mysterio were turned down outright.
  • Apparently a few months ago, a stink bomb got set off on a WCW flight. As a result, referee Mickey Jay was suspended for a month while referee Mark Johnson and announcer Dave Penzer were each suspended for a week.
  • In case you're curious about the statistics needed to render a championship meaningless: in 2000, WWF had 5 world title changes. ECW also had 5 world title changes. WCW had 26.
  • Jim Ross is planning to meet with Shawn Michaels soon about returning, most likely for a singles match against Triple H at Wrestlemania. Shawn has been open about wanting to return but a lot of wrestlers in the locker room don't want him back and WWF has been very careful to try not to upset the morale in its locker room since things are going so good.
  • Early reviews for Mummy 2 are in and people who have seen it tell Dave they're convinced that by this time next year, the Rock is going to be a bigger star outside of wrestling than he could ever be in WWF, because it appears he's pretty good at this whole acting thing. Who knows what that means for his long-term career in wrestling. Dave says he can't imagine Rock leaving the business, but his days of working 200 house shows per year may not last much longer.
  • Someone writes in and says if Kevin Nash is truly Scott Hall's friend, he'll stop pushing to bring him back to WCW and instead do whatever he can to get Hall the help he obviously needs. Going back on the road and hanging out in the locker room is clearly the last thing Hall needs and if Nash cares about his friend, he'll stop encouraging it.
FRIDAY: Observer Awards, NJPW Tokyo Dome show fallout, ECW's final PPV, and more...
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