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Pro-Wrestling Torch Newsletter 7/17/05

Guest EastCoastJ

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Guest EastCoastJ

Hey, I'm new and like the intelligent wrestling discussion that goes on here, so I thought I would contribute this as long as people want it. Of course The Observer it's not, but what can you do.




Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter


Matt Hardy returns to WWE, cashes in on personal controversy

By Wade Keller, Torch editor


Four months after breaking up with Amy Dumas (Lita) over her affair with Adam Copeland (Edge) and three months after getting fired by WWE, Matt Hardy is back. After months of generating publicity for himself that led to chants at arenas all over the world of "We Want Matt," the fans got what they asked for. Had they not asked for it, they may not have gotten it.


Vince McMahon and head of talent relations John Laurenaitis were not big fans of Matt Hardy to begin with. When he went public with the "Lita-Edge" affair on his website, they didn't like the way he dealt with it publicly or privately, including rumors that he had put out a "hit" on Copeland. In response, they fired him. The reaction among fans privy to the details was outrage. Hardy had done nothing more than get betrayed by his best friend and cheated on by his girlfriend, and then sought out the companionship and comfort of his fans through his website by pouring his heart out to them. Meanwhile, the "slut" and the "backstabber" still had jobs.


Somewhere along the line, Hardy saw opportunity in all of the attention he was getting from what began as a genuine emotional reaction. He began to make sure the sympathy he received raised his profile and his market value. Sure, he was cheated on and lost a long-time girlfriend and good friend in the process, but he wasn't going to be the loser in the situation. Whenever the wrestling online community stopped talking about him, he posted a message on his website or agreed to another radio interview to get people talking again. Shortly after he was fired, the chants of "We Want Matt" and "You Screwed Matt" intensified at arenas. It became apparent that by firing Hardy, WWE had created a monster, and Hardy was happy to feed it.


Along the way, he had various communications with Lita and even some with Edge. A reconciliation with Lita even seemed possible since the Lita-Edge relationship, strained by the odd circumstances (not to mention Edge's marriage), fell apart pretty quickly after their affair was uncovered.


Meanwhile, WWE decided to react to the fan chants by trying to place Kane in the role of Matt Hardy while linking Lita and Edge romantically on air. Kane, married to Lita on TV, was crushed when Lita dumped him for Edge. The idea was to get fans to see Kane as fighting vicariously in place of Hardy. Fans didn't buy it. The situation was too real to be easily transferred into a silly WWE storyline. Fans wanted the real thing.


Several higher-ups in WWE pushed Vince McMahon to re-hire Hardy, rumored to be among them were Shane McMahon and Jim Ross. The belief was Hardy was fired out of suspicion of things he didn't do or actions that were reasonable given the circumstances. Laurenaitis, though, wasn't interested in eating crow since he was the one who, for the year before Hardy was fired, pushed Kenzo Suzuki, Heidenreich, Mordecai, and Gene Snitsky, while snubbing Hardy, treating him as a lower-card supporting player, not a potential top tier act. To bring Hardy back would give Hardy a chance to prove Laurenaitis's vision was flawed from the beginning.


McMahon, at the urging of others, tested whether Hardy was really as popular as he seemed. During the storyline wedding between Lita and Edge on the June 20 Raw, they teased a Hardy run-in by playing his intro video. It was at this point that many people believed Hardy and WWE had reached an agreement for him to return. Multiple sources discount that, stating that McMahon had not decided yet, and that Hardy was still overtly considering signing with TNA instead.


Hardy, though, was courted by WWE to some degree in the following weeks. McMahon, based on the enormous pop Hardy's intro video tease received, decided there was money to be made. Hardy, though, wasn't sure WWE was offering him the best deal. And could he trust that once a feud with Edge had taken place, there would be anything left for him? Would Laurenaitis, out of spite, sabotage his push once the Edge feud ran its course? Would the same politics and lack of belief in his skills strip him of a fair chance to reach his potential?


He eagerly awaited word of a potential TNA TV deal. He asked for some sort of confirmation that a deal was done. TNA had already made him a sweet contract offer which, if accepted, would have made him the highest paid wrestler in the company, perhaps by far. It would have paid him a sustainable six-figure base salary, with other considerations, plus the freedom to work for ROH, other U.S. indy groups, and anywhere else in the world - on his schedule. He could make WWE-level money with fewer dates. He could work as many dates or as few dates as he wanted. He would have the creative control, based on his profile having been raised exponentially during the year, to call his own shots on who he wrestled and where he was featured on cards. He could work on outside projects, also, such as his online "reality show" called The Matt Hardy Show.


For weeks, though, Hardy had also been setting the stage for a possible WWE return. The more he publicly played up his hatred for Edge and Lita, the more bargaining power he felt he was creating with WWE. While there was a drawback of cashing in on his personal situation, if anyone deserved to, it was him. Edge and Lita already had, and they were by all accounts the "guilty parties." Hardy, an innocent bystander, felt he shouldn't have to feel guilty over potentially returning to WWE and turning his real-life personal heartbreak into a money-drawing angle. Wrestling has a long tradition of capitalizing on real-life situations, including relationships behind the scenes.


In the week leading up to his appearance on Raw, Hardy made a tough decision - return to WWE and put his fate in the hands of the same people who didn't believe in him for years previously. McMahon, who saw Matt as the lesser commodity compared to his brother Jeff, would now once again be in charge of his push and how he was portrayed on TV. Hardy didn't get the confirmation of a TNA deal he wanted. In fact, he has told people he was leaning toward signing with TNA if they could confirm they had a TV deal in place with Spike TV. He did like the idea of not (yet) "selling out" or "cashing in" on the Lita-Edge situation and not having to work with two people who betrayed him in real life whom he had yet to fully forgive. Being a true renegade and entrepreneur appealed to him.


Instead, he signed with WWE - in part because of the money offered, in part because of the higher profile of WWE television, in part because he felt he should be able to directly cash in on what WWE was already trying to utilize (to varying degrees of success, since Kane never really clicked as a sympathetic substitute for Hardy), in part because TNA didn't have proof of a TV deal, in part because he felt WWE management was finally ready to get fully behind him for the Edge feud and beyond.


Hardy got McMahon's ear in a way he hadn't ever had before. Sometimes it takes thousands of fans in dozens of arenas to demand what they want to change minds. With house show business in the U.S. struggling, McMahon was looking for ways to boost attendance. It was hard to ignore the passion from fans for Hardy. The pop Harry received when he jumped Edge at Raw confirmed that Hardy was more than an Internet phenom. Fans seemed ready to really get behind Hardy as a top tier player. Fan passion can get a wrestler far, even if members of management still have doubts that he's top tier player material. Hardy would not have signed with WWE were he not comfortable with the long-term plans for him and opportunities he was guaranteed along the way.


There is understandably a lot of suspicion that Hardy, Edge, and Lita orchestrated the entire "break-up" to boost their respective careers. People have been suspicious of that since early March, but there is no persuasive evidence that it was a work at that point. On the contrary, evidence points the other way, such as Hardy in recent weeks spending time on the phone with friends working through the pros and cons of his tough choice. Meanwhile, there is no compelling evidence, other than a general mistrust of this type of thing, that it was "a work" from the start. At what point Hardy began embellishing or exaggerating will be debated for years. Most evidence indicates that he began preparing weeks ago for this possibility, but he made the final decision last week.


In the last week, he definitely began embellishing, going over-the-top with his anti-Edge and anti-Lita commentary on his personal website. He threw around terms such as "feces" and "whore" in a context that seemed a bit more emotionally charged than in the past, but otherwise similar. In reality, he was just setting the stage to fully transition his real-life situation into a full-fledged TV storyline.


After Raw on Monday, Hardy posted on his personal website a completely "worked" promo, ranting about Vince McMahon not being able to control him. Months earlier in the same place, in front of the same fans from whom he sought real emotional support, he was now cutting storyline promos. It offended many of his fans, who believed the independent Matt Hardy website was a "safe-zone" from storylines. Hardy, perhaps in a miscalculation, didn't honor his closest followers with a "wink," but instead used the setting to try to fool his most loyal followers into thinking he wasn't scripted into Raw. Some fans lashed out at him, while others defended his right to cash in on the situation and play it however he chose.


Since being fired from WWE, he began booking indy dates starting with this coming weekend for Ring of Honor. His non-compete clause with WWE expired on July 11 (coincidentally the day it worked out for him to return to Raw). A few weeks ago, when he realized negotiations with WWE were serious and he might return, he stopped taking additional indy bookings until he knew his long-term future. He did work out with WWE that he would be able to fulfill his dates on the indy scene (including three ROH events). He did not want to back out on his commitments. It worked out well, since it will play into his character, which is that of a renegade who "doesn't work for WWE." He will continue to try to blur the line between reality and fiction, playing into his anti-WWE renegade image.


Hardy is in a new relationship with a woman - not Amy Dumas - but is cordial enough to be around Amy for angles. He has stated for months that he would be able to be professional enough to work matches with Edge should that opportunity arise anytime in the future.


The specifics of Hardy's WWE deal aren't known, but he has signed with WWE and will soon be a regular with the company.

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Guest EastCoastJ

On MSNBC on Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson discussed the terrorist angle on Smackdown. He began the segment defending it, but was convinced by his guest by the end to be against it. "Now... professional wrestling has always had villains," said Carlson. "In the '50s, Nazis were villains in wrestling, and during the Cold War you had the Russian villains. The villains in the modern world are radical Islamic extremists." Max Keller responded: "Yeah, this is very, very serious. I am very serious about this. Anything that trivializes terrorism... listen, in the '50s, World War II had already been decided. The Nazis were no longer a threat. You know, Nikolai Volkoff wrestling during the Gorbachev era of the Cold War, Gorbachev was a guy who could talk reasonably with Ronald Reagan. This is not the same thing. These terrorists are the equivalent of Nazis during World War II. They should be hunted down, and brought to justice, and in most cases killed. They should not be trivialized by the WWE, or anything that turns them into caricatures. I mean, these are not enemies from the last 20 or 30 years. This is much more serious [than previous wrestling villains]. ... Well, my objection is not from being a Muslim or along the lines of racial stereotyping, because they were clearly shown to be terrorists [on Smackdown]. But I mean, they simulated a beheading! Not only was this segment in very poor taste, but again, anything that makes a caricature out of this issue or trivializes it... this is a completely serious issue. There is no room for it to be trivialized like this in any way."


-WWE executive producer defended the Smackdown terrorism angle in an article in the New York Post on Tuesday. Reported the Post: The sketch included images of Arabs in ski masks carrying a fallen Arab wrestler over their heads after he had "sacrificed" himself, evoking imagery similar to a homicide bomber's funeral. "We're very proud of our product," said "Smackdown" executive producer Kevin Dunn. "We try and be sensitive with everything we portray, but there's got to be protagonists and antagonists on our TV shows. We just happen to reflect the politics of the world sometimes - especially with these Arab-American characters." A WWE (search) spokesman added that it was "unfortunate" that the sketch aired the same day as the attacks. "If we had any idea that something like [the London attacks] might happen, obviously you wouldn't try to do that segment on that day," he said. But the show was taped July 5 - two days before the telecast. ... WWE's Dunn says, "We are firmly in the entertainment business," and that the plot, as edgy as it might have been, should be taken tongue-in-cheek."


-In a prepared statement released to the media, UPN responded to criticism about the content of the July 7 Smackdown. It stated: "Due to the tragic events in London, we took the added measure of running an advisory four times throughout the broadcast so that viewers could make the appropriate viewing decision for their household. We will continue to monitor the situation involving this character and storyline."


-Sources say the WWE Fan Services department received a heavy dose of viewer complaints via email and phone calls the day after Smackdown aired. The complaints were plentiful enough to let WWE know they had touched a nerve, while not setting any records, though, as previous controversial content has apparently drawn more ire from viewers. WWE sources differ on whether McMahon and his inner-circle realized the potential for damaging controversy if the Smackdown episode aired unedited. Some sources believe McMahon "knew what he was doing" and hoped for a media controversy to get the company back in the spotlight. Others believe he'd be crazy to invite such criticism because WWE is in the midst of receiving a ton of positive publicity from USA, which is hyping the acquisition of WWE programs in their campaign for their fall schedule. "The last thing WWE needs to do at this point is piss off advertisers again," says one TV industry source. "If McMahon is inviting this type of publicity, he doesn't get it."


-UPN felt the pressure from fan and media response to last week's show and requested that WWE not include Hassan on this week's Smackdown. At the Smackdown tapings in Worcester, Mass. on Tuesday, Hassan's attorney, Thomas Whittman, came to the ring and announced that Hassan is taking a leave of absence from WWE and would not appear on Smackdown until he defeats the Undertaker on pay-per-view. He said that Undertaker vs. Hassan had already been signed for at the Great American Bash. Undertaker then came out and chokeslammed and Tombstoned the lawyer. When fans wrote to complain to UPN about the Smackdown angle, the following form letter was sent out in response: "Thank you for writing to UPN, and we appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about WWE SmackDown! Due to the tragic events in London last Thursday, we took the added measure of running an advisory four times throughout the broadcast so that viewers could make the appropriate viewing decision for their household. We will continue to monitor the situation involving this character and storyline. Please be advised that we have noted your comments and wish to assure you that they have been shared with the senior broadcast executives at UPN."




Stacy, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hillbilly Jim were scheduled to be guests at the Cable Television and Marketing Conference, but were "uninvited" because the organizers of the event felt it could be disruptive to the education nature of the program. "After discussions with CTAM, WWE realizes that the presence of WWE stars could disrupt the educational nature of the program and has canceled its plans to register them for The Summit," CTAM said Tuesday. "Like many sports organizations, WWE uses its former performers in business capacities outside the ring. We applaud WWE's creative thinking and we're pleased that WWE views the Summit as an important venue in which people can learn about the industry. However, we feel that having these WWE stars at The Summit will be disruptive, and appreciate WWE's commitment to maintain the educational focus of the conference." Source: Cable Fax Daily...


The Lions Gate/WWE horror movie starring Kane has a new name of "See no Evil"... The Georgia developmental territory is not running any live events at this point, nor does it have TV clearances as was part of the original plan. Head trainer Bill Demott, who is a favorite of John Laurenaitis, is running about a dozen or so students through conditioning drills during the week. There is no firm timetable on it being upgraded to a full-fledged developmental territory like OVW is. There is some heat on Laurenaitis, since it was his idea to start the territory, but his timeline for it turned out to be unrealistic...


Heyman's first script for OVW television, which is scheduled to be taped this Wednesday, July 13, contains a lot more pretaped segments than Jim Cornette ever wrote into the shows. Although it will take more time in the afternoon before the taping to get the pretapes done, the feeling is it's better for OVW wrestlers to experience it since it better parallels what they'll face if they get called up to WWE. Heyman is expected to be at the OVW TV tapings in person this week. He is expected to work closely with the talent behind the scenes. It's not known if he'll write himself into an on-air role. The job is his for the foreseeable future, and he may earn a contract renewal through his OVW work since as of last word he was not offered a contract renewal despite his high-profile work on the ECW PPV. There is obviously concern within WWE and OVW that Heyman will have as difficult a time working with Laurenaitis as Cornette did...


There is talk of Joey Styles and Paul Heyman each writing books about ECW. Styles has agreed to it, Heyman has not at this point... As for Cornette's outburst that got him fired, even his backers in OVW were shocked by his behavior when he slapped the student for making a face he didn't approve of during a skit. "Cornette being fired was entirely fair," said one previous defender of Cornette. "His actions were uncalled for. He's always had a well-earned reputation for having a temper, but it's gotten progressively worse. Everyone was taken aback." The student he slapped has a shoot-fighting background, but didn't retaliate to Cornette's slaps... Matt Hardy was not mingling backstage at all before he appeared on Raw. Plans for his surprise attack on Edge was not common knowledge ahead of time. After he was dragged out by security, he actually left the arena right away. "He came in, did his thing, and left," said a source backstage...


There are mixed feelings within WWE regarding when Hardy had agreed to return to WWE. Many are skeptical that McMahon would have played Hardy's intro music on Raw last month if there was still a risk of him signing with TNA instead. "Then again," says one WWE wrestler. "Vince seems like he's gone so far off his rocker lately, that maybe it's now in character for him to act out of character. He might be so cocky that he doesn't see TNA as competition and didn't worry at all that Hardy could be of much help to them"... There has been considerable buzz on Triple H's absence from Raw in recent weeks. Although the official line is that he's selling his injuries from the Hell in a Cell match, other things he's upset with Hulk Hogan's return to "his program." Says one WWE wrestler, "Hunter is so confident in the power and influence he has, he's not all that threatened anymore by anyone, not even Hogan," so he would be willing to offer to step aside for a few weeks or even a couple of months if he felt he would be missed and thus more appreciated upon returning. "It's not like he's worried about losing his spot," says the wrestler...


After the July 11 Raw went off the air, Batista & John Cena beat Triple H & JBL in a dark match. Three of those four wrestlers were not used on Raw, but were present at the event anyway. That night, Smackdown ran a house show in Portland, Maine. Undertaker beat Muhammad Hassan in the main event. Batista and JBL, of course, were not on the event... Rob Van Dam said in his latest website update: "Summer's going pretty quick and, before you know it, prayers are answered and RVD will be back in action. Sounds like it'll be a little easier finding room to stretch. Anyway, everything is going fine here so don't worry about the wheel." He plans to be at the San Diego Comic Convention on Saturday signing autographs at Neal Adam's booth. Matt Hardy is scheduled to be at RVD's comic book store in L.A. on July 24. The store features wrestling memorabilia including Booker T's trunks and gloves, Bret Hart's singlet, and Sabu's pants ...


In the post-Smackdown taping dark match this week in Worcester, Mass., Cena & Batista beat Triple H & JBL when both faces pinned both heels at the same time. That match was added to tapings this month to try to boost attendance. In a dark match, Balls Mahoney & Axl Rotten beat The Shane Twins. Balls & Axl caught the eye of Laurenaitis, who thinks their look could be marketable in WWE's tag team division. Taped for Velocity: Frankie Kazarian beat Nunzio, Simon Dean beat Mike Kruel, and Chris Benoit beat William Regal via submission... There were no more announcements of WWE releasing additional wrestlers either late last week or this week...


Jim Ross relocated full time to Oklahoma this summer. His WWE duties have been scaled back since he left his post as V.P. of Talent Relations in early 2004. He still consults closely with Vince McMahon and is one of the people who freely disagrees with him without fear of it working against. A friend says Ross is really happy to be living in Oklahoma instead of Connecticut. "He has long talked of his goal to be primarily an announcer," says the friend, who adds that Ross wants to see Laurenaitis succeed since he helped groom him, but does feel gratified, if not vindicated, that Laurenaitis is proving how difficult the job is and how taken for granted Ross was... While Stephanie McMahon is a fan of Laurenaitis (who, sources say, considers his top two priorities in his job to be keeping Stephanie and Vince happy), Triple H is not... The July 12 Raw drew a 3.6 rating, well below the recent average for non-holiday shows. It could be interpreted as a negative to Shawn Michaels's drawing ability, Roddy Piper's ratings power, or even a backlash against the angle on Smackdown the previous Thursday that appalled many viewers...

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Guest EastCoastJ

-In an online chat this week, Jeff Jarrett stopped just short of confirming TNA is on the brink of announcing a major TV deal. He said: "TNA in 5 years will be very interesting. We just had our 3 year anniversary. We've had our critics all along the way. We're on the brink of making some major announcements that will send us to the next level. I hope that we have a stronger domestic and global presence in 5 years and by that time we will have had enough time to establish us very strongly in the wrestling space. A lot of things can happen in 5 years!" He later added: "TNA is about to make some major announcements that will take us to the next level." He said a confidentiality clause prevented him from saying any more.


Regarding Ring of Honor, he said: "Ring of Honor is a promotion in my opinion, that goes after a very niche audience and does it very, very well. A couple of the guys on the TNA roster enjoy working there and they have their style of wrestling that caters to their audience and I don't think it's for everyone. But the ones that it's for are very passionate about it and I have to commend them for marketing it that way." Regarding the Matt Hardy-Lita-Edge situation, Jarrett said, "I would like to know if they have a threesome sex tape coming out."


-The line-up for this Sunday's No Surrender PPV is as follows: Raven defending the NWA Title against Abyss, Christopher Daniels vs. Petey Williams for the X Title, A.J. Styles vs. Sean Waltman with Jerry Lynn as special referee, AMW vs. Michael Shane & Alex Shelley, Primetime Elix Skipper vs. Shark Boy vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Mikey Batts, and Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin.




TNA will be holding a special television taping on Tuesday, July 19 to tape several weeks of Impact broadcasts in between the July 17 "No Surrender" PPV and the August 14 "Sacrifice" PPV... According to Bill Banks of TNAWrestling.com, TNA will be bringing back the "Super X Cup" tournament with the finals of the tournament to be held at the August PPV... Sunday's "No Surrender" PPV will feature the first in a series of design changes at the Universal Studios soundstage in Orlando where TNA tapes Impact and broadcasts PPVs. The plans are for a redesigned stage complete with different entrance set. Seating capacity will be expanded to hold more fans in the Impact zone... Michael Vettor, former producer of ECW PPV's amongst other sports programming, has signed with TNA to join TNA lead director Keith Mitchell in the truck



Legendary Japanese wrestler Shin'ya Hashimoto died on the morning of Monday, July 11 at the age of 40. The Tokyo Broadcasting System reported that Hashimoto died of a brain hemorrhage in Yokohama, Japan after collapsing Monday morning. High blood pressure from enduring stress contributed to the brain hemorrhage. Hashimoto was in the midst of physical rehab following shoulder surgery that would allow him to wrestle in future tours to pay off a large amount of debt - near $1.0 million. Assembly member and former partner of Hashimoto's in the pro wrestling industry, Atsushi Onita, said Hashimoto was a supporter of structural reform of the pro-wrestling industry in Japan, and that Hashimoto was a very important person for advancing reforms in a sluggish pro-wrestling business. [Puroresupower.com and Keith Arnold contributed]




-Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10 in Hollywood, California, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla celebrated its two-year anniversary with a double shot of weekend shows. The Saturday show featured A.J. Styles defending his PWG Title against Frankie Kazarian, who is currently contracted by WWE. Kazarian and Styles wrestled to a double count out in the title match with Kazarian wowing fans with his surprise return. Also on the card, Scorpio Sky & Quicksilver defeated Chris Bosh & Scott Lost to capture the PWG Tag Titles. On Sunday, CM Punk made his return to PWG after nearly one month away from Southern California where he defeated Ricky Reyes. Also, A.J. Styles successfully defended his PWG Title for the second night in a row, this time defeating James Gibson and Christopher Daniels...


-At the NWA-No Limits show on Friday, July 8 in Muscatine, Iowa, Ryan Boz defeated TNA's Abyss and Tyler Black to capture the NWA Iowa state title. Also on the card, Ian Rotten defeated Eddie Kingston in a cage, Delirious defeated Tracy Smothers, Matt Sydal defeated Arik Cannon, and Josh Abercrombie defeated Jerry Lynn... IWA-Mid South ran their weekend show on Saturday, July 9 in Hammond, Indiana where Josh Abercrombie defeated Matt Sydal, Ian & Axl Rotten defeated Iron Saints to capture the IWA-Mid South tag titles, and Chandler McClure defeated Tracy Smothers...


-On Wednesday, July 20, Ultimate Pro Wrestling will be featuring former WWE superstars Luther Reigns and Jesus Aguilera in action, while current roster members Frankie Kazarian and Chris Masters will attend at the show in Santa Ana, California... The Friday, July 22 Border City Wrestling show in Oldcastle, Ontario, Canada will feature Bret Hart in attendance as well as Chris Sabin, Petey Williams, and Alex Shelley... NWA Universal will feature The Naturals, Christopher Daniels, and a tournament in recognition of Chris Candido at their Friday, July 22 show in Tahlequah, Oklahoma... [Thanks to Chris Vetter and James Caldwell]

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Guest EastCoastJ

07-16-05: Lions in Winter - Hulk Hogan, Pulling Strings, McMahon Reacts (#870)


Jul 16, 2005, 03:46 PM



"Lions in Winter"

By Bruce Mitchell, Torch columnist

Originally published July 16, 2005

Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly newsletter #870


"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."


- Michael Corleone


What a week...


The wrestling world turned upside down.


And this time it wasn't hype.


It started to become clear on, of all places, the holiday 4th of July Raw show. Usually when Raw or Smackdown lands on these days WWE books a no-news feel-good show. Ratings are lower than usual on holidays since a good part of the consistent regular audience is out shooting off fireworks or eating turkey or sleeping off a drunk. It's a good time to trot out A Salute To The Troops, A Best Of Raw, or everybody's childhood favorite, Hulk Hogan.


Until the very last second things went according to the July 4th formula. After some good old fashioned All-American nipple fun, Hogan did his Real American routine in the main event. He had a good worker, Shawn Michaels, by his side to do the selling and to set up the hot tag. He had the big heel, Kurt Angle, to get the big heat. He had the new guy, Carlito Cool, to stooge for him and take the legdrop. The guy would be only happy to do it, seeing how it's a milestone in most wrestlers' careers.


The red, white, and, blue posing was over, the show was done, and Jim Ross was ready to call it a night when out of nowhere, Born Again Hero Shawn Michaels superkicked Hogan, pulling the string that unraveled a new tapestry for WWE.


Clearly Hulk Hogan wasn't just in for a special appearance or two to let all the Hulkamaniacs past and present know about his new VH1 reality show "Hogan Knows Best." The show reveals to the general public what everyone in wrestling already knew: there is no "real" in Hogan's reality. Also, he's the type of dad who taps his child's phone to make sure she doesn't try anything, but also lets you see her in a skimpy bikini. Now, with one kick we found out Hogan was going to be a regular on Raw for at least the five weeks leading up to Summerslam.


Before, his one scheduled appearance on "Hogan Knows Best" debut week being stretched into two seemed simple to understand. Because of July 4th, Hogan's appearance on Raw was inevitably going to get a lower rating. Almost no one wanted that on Hogan's ratings resume. So Hogan was made new hot guy John Cena's mystery partner the week before. That show was a ratings smash, even if a nitpicker might point out that the spike in the last quarter came before Hogan, not Rock - who part of the audience was anticipating, was the special guest star. At the very least, though, Hogan kept the biggest audience Raw had in months. In the end, Cena, a Hulkamaniac from way back, graciously stepped out of the way to give Hogan his cameo and the Hulkster did his Hulkster thing unabated. The kick unraveled everything.


Rumors flew that Hogan was going to be around even longer than until Summerslam, that he was going to be the permanent face of WWE 24/7, that he had signed one of those twenty year Bret Hart contracts - you remember, the one Vince McMahon released Hart from because he didn't think business warranted it, the pulled string that led to the Montreal Screw Job, that pulled all the strings that led to WWE winning the Monday Night Wars. At press time none of those rumors had been confirmed, but the circumstantial evidence was growing.


Hogan is at his cockiest and most delusional right now as he hypes his reality show, usually a sign that he's getting what he wants. Hogan usually wants it all. He told a hometown paper that Ted Turner did a survey to see how he'd do if he ran against Bill Clinton. He said the result was he'd get 70 percent of the popular vote. He told another reporter his bodyslam of Andre the Giant at WrestleMania (a key angle in the buildup) was improvised. He took a veiled shot at the Rock for not being loyal to wrestling and going off to make movies. (Oh, brother.) His wife Linda even repeated the same old nonsense that got Hogan in such trouble on the Arsenio Hall Show, stating that he used steroids "to rehabilitate injuries."


Hogan claimed in one interview he would be with WWE another twenty years. The threads pulled ever faster.


It's been quite a comeback for Hogan. A year ago his career rival Ric Flair was on the Legend Throne that once seemed Hogan's by divine right. Flair no longer feared Hogan's power to the point that in his New York Times Best Selling autobiography he bluntly wrote "I have something Hogan will never have." Hulk Hogan is one of those celebrities who shrinks when the cameras are off. The cameras were off a lot more than they were on then.


His latest ploy for attention, "mentoring" his daughter Brooke's singing career, had stalled in a miasma of mall tours. His last wrestling stint as the masked Mr. (Captain? Uncle?) America was something of a dud. His snotty Florida neighbors were complaining about all the animals roaming his over-sized mansion. His usual outlet for starting something, Bubba The Love Sponge, had been kicked off the air. Steroids were a scandal in mainstream sports now, thanks to Jose Canseco, and a lot of mainstream sports reporters thought of him as a living symbol of the drug scandal, when they thought of him at all. His hips, back, and knees hurt. Hogan was spending a lot of time at home brooding.


Then the opening he needed presented itself, just like it always had before. Hogan was offered his rightful place at the head of the WWE Hall Of Fame. There he put on a masterful performance, one of the greatest of his career. After fading movie star Sylvester Stallone, who like Hogan was trying get back the spotlight with his own reality show "The Contender," introduced him Hogan bowed his head, raised his eyebrow, smirked, pointed, and gave an appreciative audience every reason to stand up and chant "One More Match."


Vince McMahon, like a lot of people who should know better, is a mark for the pop. He booked Hulk Hogan, unadvertised, on WrestleMania, where the Hulkster upstaged two of the biggest stars in the history of the business, Roddy Piper and Steve Austin.


McMahon didn't realize it, but the game was on and Hulk Hogan was already winning.




One string pulls another.


Steve Austin knew. There was no use going forward with his planned program with Muhammad Hassan now. Except for a cameo at the ECW pay-per-view, one that had no resonance on any other WWE programming, Stone Cold was out. When the latest game started, Austin, who hit rock bottom in WCW in part due to Hogan's machinations, was no Hulkamaniac. Hogan could point at him from the dais all he wanted. Austin wanted no part of it. Now he too is making noises about doing a Hogan Dream Match (with its requisite Hogan Dream Job)


Hogan got more than a chance to steal the show at WrestleMania. McMahon signed him for the next Backlash and ordered an extra ad campaign seeking to bring the lost Hulkamaniacs back to the WWE fold. It didn't quite work; WWE was disappointed in the buyrate. Hogan, though, is too canny to let that change perceptions, because for him, perception is reality. WWE Creative even wrote that into Shawn Michaels's speech Monday night.


Hogan's next step was an old one. He put out word, at the finale of "The Contenders" and elsewhere, that he was either working with TNA again, getting hired by a big, new wrestling company, or becoming the silent partner in a big, new wrestling company. When things were nice and murky, the way Hogan planned, McMahon, like a teenage boy whose neglected girlfriend tricked him into thinking she had other suitors, quickly acted.


Vince McMahon may well be the most powerful man in the entire sport, but Hulk Hogan had once again beaten him at his own game.


One string pulls another...


Shawn Michael's superkicked Hulk Hogan back into the main event storyline and started the questions about wrestling's other eight hundred pound gorilla, Triple H. Suddenly his two week absence from Raw seemed like more than just selling the Hell in The Cell blow off match with the departed Batista. Suddenly, it was more than odd that not only had Triple H not only been physically absent from Raw, but there were no taped fifteen minute interviews or video packages extolling his greatness. His lackey Ric Flair got his own spotlight in a match with Kurt Angle the week before, then both he and his boss were glossed over the entire show.


Triple H, incredibly, had a disagreement with WWE Creative, took his sledgehammer, and went home. His disagreement? He distrusts Hogan, Hogan distrusts him, and as long as Hogan is around, sooner or later Triple H, who already has a Hogan match on his resume, will get the Hogan treatment. So it appears Hogan manipulated Vince McMahon into going against his own daughter and son-in-law, something no one thought possible. Ric Flair bet his career on it. All that's left for Triple H is to eat it and wait for the short-lived nostalgia to wear off and Hogan to smartly go home.


Beating Triple H like this may be the greatest accomplishment of Hogan's storied political career. Triple H should give his Game nickname to the man who earned it.


....and another.


John Cena was poised as the closest thing WWE has had to a breakout star in the years since The Rock. Now Hogan has taken the strong emphasis that Cena needed to strengthen his career momentum. Fortunately, though, the generous Hogan has shown public interest in having a match with Cena, too, a match where Hogan would surely eat up the inexperienced, laid back Cena.


The tapestry unravels further.


For Vince McMahon, while Hogan may be beating him like a gong, there's plenty of other wrestling people to mess with. And he's been in a mood to mess with them, particularly since WWE stockholders dared question why he wasn't buying back stock and why so much money was left in the bank drawing two-and-a-half percent interest. Like any good bully, McMahon knows if you can't get to the people who really piss you off, find some weaklings you can.


So McMahon, after a week earlier thoughtfully having it announced to the locker room "a lot of you won't be here anymore after tonight," fired some fifteen wrestlers. He dropped his longtime top tag team act in part, rumor has it, for bad-mouthing his daughter. He dropped a pregnant woman flat after promising to take care of her. He gave some newlyweds in the company the worst wedding present ever. He sent his Head of Talent Relations a needed message by dumping his big Japanese brainstorm.


To add to his fun, several of these fired employees wrote confessions for public consumption on WWE.com. What did they confess? They each told of how happy they were to have the opportunity to lose their jobs for such a wonderful company. You know you're a big bully when your victim thanks you for bullying them.


McMahon was hardly through having his own way. Brock Lesnar finally came back to kiss his ring. He stuck it to Spike TV, the network who publicly declined to renew their contract and who's been airing those disrespectful Ultimate Fighter commercials during Raw. One of the Diva Searchers accidentally on purpose lost her top down to her pasties, yet somehow Spike TV wasn't informed. (Here's a hint: If you see an agent or referee ready with a towel, those nipples are no accident.)


Then on Smackdown, through his on air representative JBL, McMahon was able to stick it to everyone who complained when his enforcer beat up some fake ECW wrestler. First, he signed up the victim for a cheap contract, proving once again everyone has a price for the Million Dollar Man. He sent out the least physically credible ECW act out and had his man JBL mercilessly rip the "fat *****" and the "imitation wrestlers imitating wrestlers." He even built in some plausible deniability by having Layfield beat up the BWO only to do one of those fake jobs. The JBL-Blue Meanie segment ought to be a real clue to WWE writers, who before hadn't been told by Vince and Stephanie McMahon what their opinion of the successful ECW One Night Stand was.


This pulled another thread away and Paul Heyman found out what his consolation prize for spearheading one of the best pay-per-views in history was: writing Ohio Valley Wrestling television shows for an indeterminate length of time. Heyman's dream job came open when his old enemy, another Lion In Winter, Jim Cornette, threw yet another tantrum and *****-slapped an OVW employee, in part due to his frustration with dealing with a disorganized, Jim Ross-less WWE Talent Relations Department. With Paul Heyman in the job, even temporarily, you have to wonder who's going to drive whom crazy first this time.


Also last Tuesday night at the Smackdown tapings Vince McMahon finally booked Muhammad Hassan, the "Arab Terrorist," the way he wanted to all along. Sure, the live crowd knew the angle was just sports entertainment, so even the Islamic symbolism and the attempted beheading of the Undertaker didn't much rile them up. Who cares if this kind of storyline hadn't drawn money in over twenty years, if low brow entertainment stopped exploiting jingoism like this after the Vietnam War because, guess what, it doesn't work? The important thing was, Vince McMahon got his way.


Then tragic reality gave the angle a boost even McMahon couldn't provide. Eighteen hours before Smackdown was to be aired on UPN, terrorists bombed the London subways and murdered dozens of people. Londoners stood up and responded with a very pro wrestling sentiment: Is that all you got?


McMahon and WWE could have stood with everyone who has fought against these murders, including the U.S. troops they so publicly claim to support. McMahon and UPN could have done the decent thing and pulled the angle off the air, respecting the grief and not exploiting the anger. Instead, again, he did what he wanted.


McMahon and WWE got a bitter lesson for their trouble, if they cared to listen. For a few days, they got away with it. That may have seemed like good news, but it wasn't. It really meant advertisers and media had such little respect for their product that it took four days for them to even take notice of what WWE had done. They expected WWE to act like crass, unfeeling assholes. They had seen it before. It wasn't even a story.


Until the day came this week that it was.


Bruce Mitchell has been a Torch columnist since September 1990. Listen to him at the Torch VIP website each Friday night. He recommends "The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams" by Steven Johnson and Greg Oliver for your reading pleasure.

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Guest EastCoastJ

Online, if you subscribe to the Torch Newsletter they post an online, text based version of it when it is completed, and then when it hits the presses and gets mailed out, you get the actual paper newsletter two days later or so. Seems like a downright terrible idea to offer a newsletter that can be copied and pasted, but I guess it is the same site that thinks a new CALDWELL'S TAKE every day is a good thing.

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Guest teke184

Lion In Winter sure makes for a good read...




As for Johnny Ace, I'm wondering how much longer he's going to be around since he's getting $500,000 a year, give or take, while the company just fired 15 guys, including at least one of his pet projects.


Matt Hardy panning out probably won't help his cause considering he torpedoed at least one Hardy push in favor of Albert, who's been gone for a year, and probably had a hand in starving out Matt on RAW once he made the jump from Smackdown.



I'm also wondering what the fuck he did to rub Trips the wrong way because that's typically the LAST thing anyone in the company with long-term plans to stay employed wants to do.

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I think Hardy's going to end up regretting signing with the WWF over TNA. I could see him getting fired right after his feud with Edge is over.


The pretaped segments in OVW sounds really stupid. It sounds like they're just finding yet another way to sabotage these guys from day 1.

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Guest EastCoastJ

This is todays Torch Audio update. Credit to a guy named "Triple H" for typing it up.



Keller audio update just posted on PWTorch.com, here are the bullet points, with some major news on Triple H's status, TNA/Spike, Diva Search, & Matt Hardy.


-Triple H worked house shows this weekend against John Cena.

-First time the 2 have wrestled, spectators have said it was obvious Hunter was leading Cena.

-Triple H & JBL vs Cean & Batista has been the dark match after RAw & Smackdown, since Smackdown hasn't been running house shows. Plus they feel it can drive ticket sales as a 'dream match' for those really buying into the draft split.

-Future dark matches have changed, because...

-Breaking News:

Hunter will be taking off 2-3 months(or more) for personal reasons and to let his body heal. There's no major health issues, and it's not being done for a storyline reason or to freshen up his character.

-People thought Hogan coming back is what prompted Hunter to take off/back off from Raw, but reports now are saying the opposite.

-Reasons behind Hogan being signed and brought in, for a semi regular program:

#1: Hunter is taking time off and WWE felt they needed an extra boost of star power to carry the brand, and give a solid headline match at Summerslam

#2: For Hogan to promote his VH1 show. The timing worked out well.

-Hunter was planning on taking this time off whether Hogan was back or not.

-It's been said Hunter & Hogan hate eachother, and that as soon as Hogan's around Hunter threw a fit, but that's not the case.

-Sources say that's not the case. HHH & HH are said to get along fine, but they don't hate eachother. There is professional jealousy. They dont trust eachother, Hogan knows Hunter has more power in certain ways. But Hunter knows Hulk is more savvy and has more power than Hunter in other ways. There's learyness, but it's not overt where they wont look eachother in their eyes.

-Hunter didn't throw a fit when Hogan came back, and is most likely in favor of it due to him taking time off.


-Spike TV & TNA are expected to announce the TV Deal this week.

-They were expected to announce it this past Sunday's PPV.

-"Slammin Saturday Night" is Spike's Saturday lineup, and as rumored in the Velocity timeslot, sandwiched between the 2 hour UFC programming & Howard Stern's show.

-Sources are saying that TNA is paying for the slot. If they get in the 1.5-2.0 range there are incentives to where they'd be paid for the show, move to a different time slot, get additional shows on the network, etc.

-Talk in the TV industry that Spike may hold off on announcing the timeslot, for fear of USA booking the WWE weekend show head to head against it intentionally.

-TV Tapings today in Orlando for 3 weeks of Impact to be broadcast on the net.

-There were cryptic messages played backwards on the intro of last night TNA PPV(TH note: I posted the link earlier). This was the doing of David Sahadi, former WWE production specialist and current TNA production specialist.(The guy who put together all the vignettes and stuff)


-Diva Search last week did a 3.6, and did the highest quarter hour segment rating of the 2 hour show(not including the over run)

-Further indication they will continue to go ahead with this, even though the live crowd sh*ts all over it.

-TV audience is dictating that it's a ratings success.

-They pre recorded the Diva segment last night because of all the heat WWE has right now in the TV industry after the wardrobe malfunction and the beheading angle on SD.

-There was a 7 second delay on Raw last night


-Matt Hardy will fulfill his indy bookings (2 more ROH dates) through Summerslam, and Hardy v Edge is 99% a lock for Summerslam

-Then he'll be a full fledged WWE superstar working WWE PPVs after Summerslam, and probably house shows as well

-Small chance that Hardy & Edge may be seperated to drag out the fued. Having an annoucement to keep them seperate due to the intense personal nature of the fued, and build up more tension between the two.

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Guest EastCoastJ

Even more news from Keller:


Juventud Guerrera lived up to his rep as being oblivious or carefree about his conduct when he used Hardcore Holly's Alabama Slam during a match with Paul London. London had told him not to use the move during their pre-match meeting. Holly saw it and went up to Rey Mysterio, who's considered Juvi's babysitter in a way, and told him to warn Juventud (who's English isn't great). Juvi also has heat with London and management for doing the 450 splash, which is London's move, especially since he botched the move and landed on London's face. He also has been instructed by agents, as directed by Vince McMahon, to keep his ring outfits on at all times. He has been unfastening his overalls to reveal his muscle definition in his upper body. He plans it out ahead of time because he oils his chest before he goes to the ring. Juventud has stayed clean so far, by all accounts, after a well documented history of partying and using drugs. Vince McMahon has been high on the Mexicools so far, including using them as an example at a wrestlers' meeting two weeks ago. Some wrestlers groaned, though, because a lot of wrestlers have great energy when they first get to WWE before they're worn out from the non-stop lifestyle and disappointment when they don't get the push they hoped for. "Of course the Mexicools have great energy," says one wrestler. "Let's see what they're like after being psychologically beat down month after month or once they're stuck in neutral for a year or two." John Laurenaitis is also a big fan of the Mexicools, and especially Juventud dating back to his days in WCW when he'd screw up his syntax when doing mic work. His most famous screw-up in WCW was saying, "Everybody's better than me, and you all know it!" Juventud introduces himself to strangers as The Juice because he idolizes The Rock and likes the one-word nickname...


Triple H has been working recent house shows and dark matches at TV tapings, but won't be returning to TV for roughly another two or three months. Hunter plans to take around two months off from wrestling for personal reasons and to let his body rest. He is not suffering from any health problems that require time off. While he won't be wrestling, he will be active behind the scenes as he will be going through an orientation process at the WWE headquarters, learning about how the enterprise works outside of the travelling live event world. Hunter is often seen at the headquarters already, and has a reputation for being cordial and friendly with the front office staff. He's most often spotted in the workout room in the headquarters formerly known as Titan Tower which is open to all employees and is often frequented by Vince McMahon himself. "Shane and Stephanie worked in almost every department here over the years, even if it was just for a day or a week," says one longtime WWE employee. "It will be good for Hunter to learn even more about how things operate in all of the departments." Hunter's time off is apparently not directly related to Hulk Hogan's return as a regular, as has been rumored, but it may have prompted plans to bring him back and book the match against Shawn Michaels in Hunter's absence. One source was under the impression Hunter would return at Summerslam and face Ric Flair and then take his time off afterward, but other sources say Hunter has delayed plans to feud with Flair. His return date could be as late as November. It was McMahon's idea for Hunter to spend a lot of time at the headquarters during his time off. It's another sign that Hunter is truly "part of the family" and an heir to the throne along with Shane and Stephanie. If Hunter thought he'd have a geniune vacation, he doesn't know his father-in-law well. When McMahon was interviewed by the Scripps Howard News Service several months after being found Not Guilty ten years ago when the U.S. government attempted to send him to prison for steroid distribution and conspiracy to distribute, McMahon said: "After the trial, I'm walking back to the car, and somebody said, ''What are you going to do now, Vince?' Without even hesitating, I said, 'I'm going to go back to work.' Because that's what I love to do."

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Guest CanadianChick

Meh, I don't see the big deal with Juvi using the 450 splash, mainly because Kidman's gone and London can go back to that, if needed. And even not, what's the problem with two feuding guys having the same finisher? RVD and Eddie anyone?

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Anyone else notice everyone seems to be really stressing that HHH's vacation has nothing to do with Hogan, no sir. It's as if all the people who leak info to the sheets got the same memo to stress that point.



Also, doesn't it seem that TNA got an even worse deal than ECW did? Paying for their own TV time? They spent all that time ironing out a deal and this is what the result was?


BTW, does anyone have a clip or screen cap of the backward messages in the TNA PPV intro?

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That was pretty cool in a freaky way....


One thing TNA seems to have learned is that production is the key to success, they do a really good job with their promos and packages.


"Rhino is here.....more are coming" Think they already have people lined up from the WWE release pile?

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Guest EastCoastJ

Torch boys burning the midnight oil lately. Here's news from todays audio update, typed up by a guy named "Triple H".


-TNA has a PPV August 13, Lineup is taking shape.

-AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe in Super X Cup finals will happen at Augusts PPV. This is the dream match of non-WWE guys, and they will blow the roof of Universal Studios, and is the leading mach to absolutely steal the show as match of the night.

-Samoa Joe blew people away (including mgmt specifically) with his performance at this past Sunday's PPV.

-Samoa Joe won over mgmt in a big way, and was approached by Dixie Carter(president of the company), Jerry Jarrett, Booking team members Scott D'Amore & Terry Taylor, among others every one was said to be estatic.

-Vet wrestlers were very impressed w/Joe, including Waltman & BG James, and others who never saw him live.

-With this match, Joe's push is on, and will be a centerpiece of TNA. Dixie Carter is a big

-The match on Sunday was the first time Sabin & Joe wrestled, which surprised many because they've been on the indy scene for years, and because it was so good.

-During Sabin v Joe, the ref screwed up and gave them their go home cue too early. The last 6 minutes of the match was on the fly, they called it in the ring, and impressed nearly everyone in the locker room.

-X Division matches are winning over management. Joe vs Sabin worked the heavyweight pacing style match, but with X division highspots & feel to it. Mgmt took notice, and are said to have realized the X Division matches need to be given more time because of the great pacing of this match and it not just being a high spot fest with no psychology.

-Ofcourse Jeff Jarrett is trying to play political games, and there is fear of him trying to sabotage Joe, but Dixie Carter is said to see through it and will be having none of it. Jarrett still wants to be centerpiece of promotion but it's not gonna be as easy as he may think.

-TV Tapings last night, they gave X Division guys more time for their matches to expand their personalities.

-Based on Sunday's match, there is renewed interest in Chris Sabin and they will be looking to give him the push needed to become a star.

-Jeff Hardy was backstage at the PPV, and the tapings yesterday, though he wasn't used. Shannon Moore (Jeff's good friend) was backstage at the tapings as well, along with Kidman & Chris Kanyon as well.

-Jeff was said to be there just to say hi to people and feels bad he blew it with his unreliable past.

-Definate interest w/TNA creative team of getting Jeff Hardy back in the mix. The challenge is can they get something out of him w/the whole Matt Hardy thign going on.

-Sean Waltman was backstage at the tapings though he wasn't used.

-Sean Waltman vs Jerry Lynn will happen at the August PPV, and this could be match of the night as these 2 have a 10+ year history and broke into the business together. This match & Joe vs AJ make this a must buy PPV.

-Other matches announced:

Lance Hoyt vs Abyss

The Naturals vs Team Canada vs America's Most Wanted in a 3way tag match

Main Event is: Raven & Sabu vs Jeff Jarrett & Rhyno.

-Shaping up to be a good PPV overall.


-TNA hasnt announced anything official about the TV situation, but word going around is that the deal is done, and it's a matter of finalizing the agreement. It's assumed that TNA will be buying the time, but it's not confirmed that's the case. Details aren't available just yet, but like we've been hearing, an announcement is seemlingly imminent by the end of the week at the latest.

-Keller feels strongly that TNA needs to change their name as they will have trouble being taken seriously by fans, and more importantly advertisers.


-Velocity is turning up a notch, WWE is trying to get more vieweres, because the feeling is TNA will be in Velocity's timeslot on Spike this fall. WWE is making the show better, upping the anti(Benoit vs Regal) because it would be a huge embarrasment if TNA draws a better rating than Velocity them in the same slot.

-This weeks Velocity lineup:

MNM vs Danny Doring & Roadkill

Kazarian vs Scotty 2 Hotty (good match, were given time to work)

Blue World Order against 3 jobbers

Christian vs Funaki in what was said to be a good match.

-Christian & MNM are 2 of the hottest acts right now on the SD brand, so this should help ratings.

-Velocity has been doing 0.6-0.8 ratings in the slot.

-If TNA can beat that in their debut, it's a victory for Spike & TNA by saying they beat WWE in the same time slot.

-Other side of the sword is that if they start pushing Velocity, there's a chance it'll help TNA by making Saturday Night WRestling more appealing.

-WWE's weekend lineup on USA this fall is still up in the air. Originally it was said to be 1 hour long show, though there may be 1 or 2 additional shows added.


-Vengeance vs ECW One Night Stand caused concern ECW would outdraw Vengeance, especially with all the buzz about ECW & the positive feedback given about the show.

-Vengeance did benefit from the Draft Lottery by having Cena, Batista, HIAC, Angle vs Michaels, and ended up outdrawing ECW, with prelim numbers about 20k-50k more buys than ECW ONS.

-If it was a Smackdown Brand PPV, ECW ONS would have probably outdrew the Smackdown show. But WWE benefitted by the way things worked out w/the draft lottery.


-First diva contest eliminated (Alexis) did an interview on the National Lampoon website and commented about the writers. She said she wanted to say something about Katie Vick in her poem for the talent contest, and the WRiters she spoke to didn't even know who Katie Vick was.

-It's amazing that an eliminated diva search contestant knows more about the product history than the people writing the shows, especially the recent storylines/history that have happened.


-CM Punk/ROH title situation is being done well.

-Punk was going to eventually turn heel and win the ROH title, but with him signing a WWE developmental deal they pushed up the storylines.

-Punk isn't starting with WWE Developmental until late August, and has permission from Tommy Dreamer(who oversees OVW) to finish up all his indy commitments.

-Fans are being strung along that it's Punks last match, week after week after week is not good because it give the company less credibilty.

-It's similar to a worked shoot situation, where fans know its a work, but there's that middle ground element that is still intriguing to fans. It's an interesting approach to take.

-Punk & his heel gimmick that he doesnt want to drop the title is playing to fans in kind of a patronizing manner by telling fans, ok you think you're smart but we're going to confuse you.

-Gabe Sopolsky knows his plans & is most likely knows what he's doing, though it could hurt them in the long run.

-Good storyline, but it's a fine line to walk, similar to Hardy posting a worked message on his message board.

-ROH is trying to get people talking, when in reality it's as much of a manipulated storyline as there can be, which is what Hardy/Edge/Lita has turned into, and ROH Is doing a similar thing w/the CM Punk thing.


-WWE's reaction to the Hassan/Smackdown controversy is facsinating.

-They've gotten a ton of negative publicty, they pulled Hassan off TV

-At first they said the Hassan angle was tounge in cheek, but more recently have admitted that the timing of the angle airing was terrible.

-WWE hasn't handled this situation well, because it gives a sense that what they do doesn't matter.

-WWE wants to be on the same level of a show like 24, but the writing doesnt even compare.

-WWE is trying to be taken seriously, but at the same time they are on record saying "they are an entertainment business, and it's plots shouldn't be taken seriously." quote from the TVGUide.com article.

-WWE is trying to have it both ways, and they are confusing the issue and it is working against them.

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-First diva contest eliminated (Alexis) did an interview on the National Lampoon website and commented about the writers. She said she wanted to say something about Katie Vick in her poem for the talent contest, and the WRiters she spoke to didn't even know who Katie Vick was.

-It's amazing that an eliminated diva search contestant knows more about the product history than the people writing the shows, especially the recent storylines/history that have happened.

This is officially now the greatest thing I've heard all year. Excellent!
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