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The Pro-Wrestling Torch #885

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HEADLINE ANALYSIS

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

 

TNA was going to be preempted on Nov. 5 from its usual Saturday late night timeslot due to a live UFC Fight Night special. As a result Spike TV decided to reschedule TNA for prime time. With solid ratings so far, and growth most weeks, Spike expanded TNA's timeslot to a two hour special in prime time. It's TNA's first opportunity to find a prime time basic cable audience. In its entire history, it's aired in the afternoons and late night on basic cable, but never prime time.

 

The goal for TNA, of course, is to draw a large enough audience that Spike TV deems them worthy of renegotiating their current TV schedule. A weekly primetime slot would immediately move TNA from a virtual contender with WWE into a full-fledged competitor. It would mean TNA would be seen by a larger audience, draw more ad revenue, and most significantly to its bottom line, add significant monthly buys to their pay-per-views. Everyone seems to agree that TNA is producing a product both in terms of production values and wrestling product that with the right exposure could be a major alternative to WWE. With WWE struggling to hit a stride creatively, they are vulnerable to a strong competitor. Spike TV and TNA both smell blood.

 

Spike TV is a rival of WWE and USA. They would love to end up paying less for TNA programming than they did for WWE, but end up with a product that draws a strong rating and thus more viewers to the network. Spike's relationship with WWE didn't end on good terms. Spike officials would take satisfaction in helping foster a competitor to WWE while strengthening their average rating in relation to USA Network.

 

TNA officials, though, are not taking the same approach that WCW did at the start of the Monday Night War. Unlike Eric Bischoff (or Paul Heyman for that matter), Dixie Carter, Frank Dickerson, and Jeff Jarrett haven't fired any salvos in WWE's direction. Dixie, on the rare occasion she's spoken publicly, discounts any notion of a war with WWE. Instead, she takes the approach that there is room for two profitable companies to coexist peacefully.

 

That relationship between TNA and WWE seemed shockingly cozy last week when Jerry Jarrett, TNA founder and father of co-owner Jeff Jarret, showed up on WWE.com. Photos were published of him visiting WWE headquarters. WWE.com teased that a wrestler was with him, perhaps hinting that NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett was looking to jump. Instead, they revealed later that Jerry was there with an amateur Russian wrestler looking to go pro.

 

That didn't answer why TNA's founder, who had attended in an official capacity almost every TNA event since its inception, was offering the services in a very public way of a potential future star.

 

WWE apparently relished, just a week before TNA went prime time for the first time, startling TNA ownership and fans with the prospect of some sort of deal between the two groups. Although TNA was never mentioned, it created quite a stir among TNA management and wrestlers. The phone lines were ringing with people wondering whether TNA was in cahoots with WWE.

 

It turned out Jarrett hadn't cleared his WWE visit with anyone in TNA, including his son Jeff. Jeff has told others he was devastated and embarrassed by the visit. Jeff and his father Jerry haven't always gotten along or had the same goals in mind. Jerry created TNA in large part as a vehicle for his son to have a place to earn a living in pro wrestling without being reliant on Vince McMahon - both on camera and as a member of management and ownership. Along the way, though, TNA sources say Jerry has felt left out.

 

Jerry co-founded TNA with Jeff, but soon ran out of financial backing. He and Jeff sold majority ownership to Panda Energy in order to keep from shutting down. Dixie Carter, the daugher of top Panda exec Bob Carter, was designated the new TNA President. She and Jerry have subsequently butted heads behind the scenes. Dixie, sources say, has quietly lost a certain level of confidence and an even greater level of trust in Jerry over the past couple of years.

 

Jerry has been relied on less and less for guidance as Dixie learned more about the industry, worked closer with others more active behind the scenes such as one-time bookers Jeff Jarrrett, Dutch Mantel, and Dusty Rhodes, and now the new booking committee. Jerry took up residence at the Gorilla position at TV tapings and helped time matches, but otherwise didn't seem to be involved in many decisions. He also had various power struggles with his son behind the scenes resulting in a number of major clashes and power plays between father and son.

 

While TNA was trying to secure a better TV deal, Jerry began trying to get a new promotion started on at least two occasions and approached people in TNA about joining with his proposed ventures. Dave Nelson, an NWA member, issued nearly incomprehensible press releases on his website with grandiose and utterly incredible claims of grandeur. It soiled Jerry's name when it came out that he was to a certain extent behind the pathetic and failed publicity stunts.

 

The latest publicity stunt hasn't endeared Jerry to anyone in TNA. Rather than being impressed that he was able to get a meeting at WWE headquarters, he's being seen by TNA sources as a traitor and attention-hound. With former TNA booker Dusty Rhodes getting a spot on the booking team, some in TNA believe Jerry may have been looking to also get a job with WWE's creative team.

 

Jerry often talks about his relationship over the years with the McMahon family, and how he was the designated person to take over the reins of WWE if Vince McMahon was sentenced to prison after the federal government brought charges against him for steroid use and distribution. McMahon was found not guilty by a jury in 1994.

 

TNA, though, had bigger issues to deal with, which is the first of what could be a series of prime time specials on Spike TV. If the ratings are strong enough, a weekly prime time one or two hour timeslot could be right around the corner. TNA drew a 0.9 rating on Oct. 23, up from the 0.8 it had drawn the previous few weeks. The solid, consistent ratings mixed with signs of growth have given Spike TV confidence to back the upstart wrestling program.

 

The prime time special may be considered a success if it draws in the 1.3-1.8 rating range. It will be considered a huge success if it approaches or exceeds a 2.0 rating. Anything in the 2.0-plus range could lead to immediate serious consideration of not just more specials, but a weekly prime time slot. Ratings at that level are not common in cable television. Raw, as WWE touted on the air, was the top rated program on all of cable television last week. Spike knows they have a good relationship and partnership with a wrestling company that has potential to be in a race with WWE and eventually draw top ratings.

 

With the departure of Christian from WWE, TNA has a chance to pick up a name-brand wrestler fresh off of WWE television. His contract presumably has the same clause that forced Shannon Moore and the Dudleys, among others, to stay off of national television for 90 days after their contracts were not renewed. In the case of Christian, though, it was his call to walk away from WWE. He has a chance, if he signs with TNA, to earn $100,000-plus working less than one-fifth the number of dates WWE demanded of him, potentially be more creatively fulfilled, and build his name value while taking fewer bumps. If he does sign with TNA, he will be known historically as the first wrestler to walk away from a WWE renewal offer to instead sign with TNA. Matt Hardy and Mick Foley had that opportunity also, but both chose to sign with WWE instead.

 

Christian, while not a top tier player for WWE, was seen by fans over the past year or two as a rising star who was underutilized. With prominent TV time recently, even if not as flattering as Christian would have preferred, he has the name value and exposure help draw WWE viewers to TNA. He is a good worker and an excellent talker with enough size and ample experience to be a valuable addition to TNA's roster. One or two more wrestlers jumping from WWE to TNA along with a better weekly timeslot from Spike would move TNA into the full-fledged no. 2 slot they've had as their goal from day one. Doing so in a fiscally responsible manner along the way would be more than a cherry on top.

 

___________________________________________

 

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

 

1. Nash hospitalized, Rhino wins NWA Title

 

Kevin Nash felt chest pain on Saturday night and called 911. He was checked in and unable to wrestle the scheduled main event at the TNA Bound for Glory PPV event. His diagnosis was that he had a partial aorta blockage, but no heart attack. Because of a family history of heart attacks at a young age, he was cautious and remained hospitalized for three days. Former ECW Champion Rhino was given Nash's spot in the PPV main event against Jeff Jarrett, winning a Gauntlet Match to earn the title shot. Rhino defeated Jarrett to win the title, although it was immediately assumed he'd drop the title back to Jarrett at TNA's prime time special 11 days later on Spike TV. [see TNA PPV Report, pg. 13 for more details]

 

2. Jim Ross has colon surgery, cancer-free

 

The tumor removed from Jim Ross was determined to be cancer-free, a huge relief to Ross and his family and friends. He is recovering at home for several weeks, at which point he will find out what WWE has in store for him. Returning to be host of Raw is not in the cards, apparently, as WWE sources say that Vince McMahon is determined to stick to his decision to remove Ross.

 

3. TNA granted prime time special on Spike

 

Nov. 3 may be seen as the date when TNA became a true player for the first time as Spike TV features them on prime time national cable. [see Cover Story, pg. 1 for more details]

 

4. Austin injured, removed from Taboo PPV

 

McMahon came out on the Oct. 31 Raw and announced that Austin claimed he was in an accident and couldn't make it to Taboo Tuesday. He added somewhat flippantly that Austin may or may not be telling the truth. Then, he clumsily transitioned into booking Batista instead in a match against Coach. Goldust and Vader joined the WWE roster again, attacking Batista in their debut, setting up a three-on-one match at Taboo Tuesday. The match had no stipulations for fan voting, and the voting for the Austin-Coach match was immediately removed from the WWE.com website. Taboo Tuesday was weakened as a result of Austin being scratched from the event, as the replacement match featuring Smackdown's top babyface lacked the storyline history to seem significant. Austin told WWE he hurt his back while moving furniture and couldn't travel to the event. Sources are suspicious that Austin also wasn't thrilled with the plans for his match and how he was going to end up not beating Coach and thus being fired as part of a storyline. [see WWE Newswire, pg. 2 for more details]

 

5. Christian turns down WWE contract offer

 

Christian decided against re-signing with WWE when presented with a contract renewal offer. His future is unknown. WWE.com released the info without any more detail. [see WWE Newswire for more details]

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Guest EastCoastJ

TORCH #885: wwe NEWSWIRE

CHRISTIAN TO LEAVE WWE

 

Christian had been frustrated in recent months with his push. Friends say he felt that he had done what WWE management asks its wrestlers to do; he got himself over on his own rather than moping around and expecting Vince McMahon or the writing team to wave their magic wand and make him a superstar. But because he got over without it being part of McMahon's master plan, it was ignored, if not crushed, by a creative team that couldn't take credit and didn't quite know how to manage his surge in popularity.

 

To add injury to insult, when his contract expired, he was offered a renewal that consisted of a big paycut. Christian had a contract which paid a downside guarantee around $200,000. He easily topped that downside by staying healthy and working a full-time schedule, probably earning around $400,000 last year. His renewal was said to be a "low ball, take it or leave it" offer, probably around half of what it was before. With no signs that he would be used in the main event mix on Smackdown, he decided to walk away.

 

Whether he decides to take some time off from wrestling, as Chris Jericho decided to do, or immediately pursue a deal with TNA isn't known at this time. If he does look toward TNA, he will likely receive an offer in the $2,000 per week range, perhaps slightly higher, entering into the territory of what Matt Hardy was offered, but having to work only around four events per month rather than 12-15. Since he lives in Florida, his travel would be drastically reduced. It's an attractive option, one Hardy chose not to take because at the time he had to make his decision, TNA hadn't announced the Spike TV deal yet. For Christian, it's a no-brainer when compared to WWE's offer.

 

WWE.com reported Christian's decision not to renew on its website using this wording: "WWE.com has learned that SmackDown Superstar Christian has quit World Wrestling Entertainment. Be sure to stay tuned to WWE.com as more information becomes available." Christian is leaving on relatively good terms, but if he signs with TNA, Vince McMahon will likely see it somehow as a sign of betrayal rather than a prudent business move and it could thus be used against him years down the line should Christian ever want to return.

 

WWE.COM RAW WEBCAST TROUBLE

 

It didn't take long for the TV trade media to take note of WWE's steering of viewers away from USA Network and to its website during commercials. Since returning to USA Network, WWE began pushing viewers to catch exclusive backstage interviews and even in-ring happenings during commercial breaks on WWE.com. The idea was to build a synergy between the cablecast and the webcast. The long-term goal was to be able to charge a small fee for viewers to see a commercial-free version of Raw each week worldwide, including in areas that had access to the show live on USA Network. The problem with the business plan is that in the short run, WWE was steering its viewers away from its sponsors, which on the surface seems rather ungrateful considering it is the sponsors who make it possible for WWE to air on USA Network. The belief within WWE was that the number of viewers in reality turning to the web during commercials was small enough, and that many of them still had USA Network on TV in the background, that no one would mind. As soon as the TV trade journals covered WWE's approach, though, suddenly the WWE.com plugs were gone from Raw.

 

The Oct. 24 Television Week covered the controversy. USA Network executive Chris McCumber said the network has no problem with the approach. "It's a live program, and action is always happenings, so it seems like a no-brainer to keep people involved in storylines," he said. "Anecdotally, we know (WWE viewers) are multitaskers, and also communal viewers, chatting online or over the phone. So it's a win-win for everybody." Chris Chambers, who is head of WWE.com, said 60 percent of viewers who watch Raw on TV are also online during the show, which prevents them from channel surfing during breaks. "If they weren't online, they'd probably go get a snack or go to the bathroom," he said. "This way, they're probably still in the same room and can hear the ads."

 

Despite the positive tone of both WWE and USA in the article, someone with influence didn't buy their arguments as the push during the USA broadcasts of Raw to tune in to WWE.com dramatically decreased since that article was published. Perhaps advertisers were upset or someone higher up at USA disagreed with the approach.

 

BYTE THIS NOTES - OCTOBER 19

 

Playing to the Raw vs. Smackdown storyline, Big Show playfully fired a shot at Smackdown on WWE.com's "Byte This" show on Wednesday. "Until they fully integrate the shows and we become one big family, there will always be competition and rivalries," Big Show said. "We're all egomaniacs; we're all competitive guys... Smackdown just has to understand that they really don't have what it takes to be the number one show like Raw." When asked about Jim Ross, Big Show said he was upset when the McMahon's fired J.R. from Raw on television. Big Show saw J.R. backstage afterwards and J.R. took the optimistic approach that all things have to come to an end. Big Show disagreed that J.R.'s time was up and thanked J.R. for his friendship. "When he was commentating, he always went above and beyond to do what he had to do to make me seem larger than life," Big Show said. "I want him back so back; I want him healthy."

 

-WCW never would have shut down; rather WCW would have bought out WWE if JBL was working in Atlanta. "I shut down WCW by myself," JBL told WWE.com's "Byte This" show on October 26, playing to the storyline of shutting down ECW after the "One Night Stand" PPV. "If WCW would have had me, they wouldn't have been the ones bankrupt, they would have been the ones that bought out WWE." JBL offered a bit of frustration regarding Smackdown's treatment while mixing in elements of the storyline between Raw and Smackdown. "I've heard this crap about Smackdown being the second-rate show forever," JBL said. "There's no doubt in this company that less creative interest goes into Smackdown, there's no doubt in this company that all the legends that come back, debut on Raw. And through it all, we are still the better show."

 

SMACKDOWN-RAW FEUD

 

The Smackdown-Raw feud was forwarded on the Oct. 24 Raw with a series of promos that for the most part made Smackdown wrestlers look meek. Inside the ring, Edge, Lita, and Chris Masters stood. Edge addressed JBL on the big screen. Edge said nobody cares about him. Not him or the Smackdown locker room. Edge said it's now officials, at Taboo Tuesday it's Raw vs. Smackdown with himself and Masters against fan-picked team from Smackdown. Masters said he was going to introduce fans to the available options. The first to pop up was Matt Hardy. "I didn't know they could invent another match for me to beat him in," laughed Edge. Lita added, "You beat his ass and you put him (on Smackdown." Edge said, "What if all the people from Matt's website vote for Matt? Well, then he'll still finish fourth." Then Rey's face appeared on camera. Masters said the good news is that since Taboo Tuesday is in San Diego, it'll be a short ride home from the hospital. Lita said, "It's great to be the inspiration for Smackdown's new midget division. It's so adorable, so cute." Then Christian popped up on the screen. "I carried you for the first six years of your career, so what's one more?" said Edge. "I wish you a congratulations, Christian. I want to congratulate you for being the only WWE superstar who is going to get less votes than Matt Hardy." Masters said, "A guy with bleached blond hair, wears spandex, and calls himself hardcore, I think he'd rather meet me in the shower. Sorry, the Masterpiece doesn't swing that way. Next." Then JBL's face appeared on the screen. Masters called him Mr. Suckdown." JBL reacted intensely, called him Monkey Boy, and asked him to come get him. Masters made his way toward the parking lot. Edge said he is a bigger superstar than all five Smackdown stars combined. He said he is a star on the rise, whereas JBL is a has-been on his way down. Masters approached JBL in the parking lot. JBL took off his jacket. He told him he just fell for the oldest trick in the book. JBL got in his limo as Masters looked confused. Rey Mysterio then attacked Edge and Lita. He gave Lita a 619. Rey then bailed out into the crowd. Lawler and Coach said the Smackdown wrestlers have no business on Raw.

 

ROCK DISMISSES MATCH AGAINST HBK

 

In an interview with WWE.com, The Rock talked about his status with WWE and a potential match against Shawn Michaels.

 

-Regarding his WWE status and relationship with Vince McMahon: The relationship is great. I have a great relationship with the Old Man. The way the contract, and the ending of the contract went down, it was what it was. I don't ever harp on things, and nor do I ever want to live in regret. It just went down the way it went down, and that's fine. The relationship is good, and there door is always open. And I love wrestling. I love doing what I did because there's nothing like that - feeding off the energy of the crowd. Any opportunity I get to go back and dip in for a night and just start talking trash and electrifying, I'd do that for sure. I'm really happy for a lot of guys there. For instance, I love the new turn and transition Kurt Angle has gone through.

 

-Regarding his feelings on pro wrestling: I have so much love and respect for the fans. I'll never forget where I came from. I love the business. I grew up in the business. And everyone always asks me, from Letterman to Stone Phillips, what I miss about wrestling. Hands down, I miss the interaction with the fans. Outside of the ring I loved it to. I mean how hard is it sign an autograph. Don't be an a--hole to your fans. And there's many (in WWE) that won't, which is bullsh--. But inside the ring, just that energy and feeding off that energy is great. There's something so special about it. And every night I would just have a blueprint of what I would say and rely so much on ad-libbing and waiting to see what happens when I get out there and let it materialize organically and see what happens. Every night was a different crowd and they gave me so much energy, and I'll always love that and always miss that for sure.

 

-The wrestler he'd most like to wrestle for the first time: A guy I regret not working with, who I grew up watching, would be a guy like Sting in his prime. I would have loved to have wrestled him in his prime. And on the current roster, I always wanted to work with Rey Mysterio. I'd love to go against him with me as a heel in San Diego. I would love that. Sh--, that would be awesome. He's just one of those gifted guys that can have a great match with anyone.

 

-On facing Shawn Michaels: I was never ever interested in working with him, to be honest with you. I've known him for a long time. He came in and worked for my family in Hawaii when I was like 13 - him and Marty Jannetty. It was just one of those things. He was always one of those guys that I said "Hey" to and he said "Hey" - it's no big deal.

 

-Comparing Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin: You can't compare the two because it's such a different dynamic. I had great matches with Steve - probably the best of my career, especially when I was a heel. The stuff with me and Hogan was off the charts, and I'm sure the stuff with he and Hogan would be off the charts, but in their own way. That WrestleMania in Toronto, man, was just something we didn't anticipate. It was a great dance and I really enjoyed it. That would be cool, though. From a fan's perspective, you're always interested in seeing stuff you never thought you'd see, and I never thought I'd see that.

 

WWE NOTEBOOK

 

Edge tore a pectoral muscle in his chest and was considered questionable for the Taboo Tuesday PPV tag match as a result... Rob Van Dam was telling friends at a recent autograph signing that he will be healthy enough to return to action around Jan. 1...

 

WWE.com reported that Torrie Wilson was pulled from the Taboo Tuesday line-up due to needing to tend to personal matters after the Australian tour...

 

At the October 29 house show in Melbourne, Australia, the fans were split in their support of John Cena and Kurt Angle with the men chanting for Angle and the women and children chanting for Cena... Shawn Michaels broke out of Chris Masters's Masterlock at the October 27 house show in Sydney, Australia by distracting the referee and low blowing Masters. Michaels followed up with a superkick for the victory... Ric Flair bled during his match against Triple H at the October 27 house show in Sydney, Australia and October 29 house show in Melbourne. Triple H worked on Flair's lacerated forehead the remainder of both matches before winning with the Pedigree... Carlito welcomed Ashley Massaro to Carlito's Cabana on the October 27 house show in Sydney, Australia. Carlito tried to spit an apple on Ashley, but Eugene interrupted and started a match against Carlito. Carlito distracted Eugene by ripping the head off a koala bear leading to victory. The same finish was repeated at the October 29 house show in Melbourne when Kerwin White ripped the bear's head off... Victoria and Ashley became involved in the Women's Title match at the October 27 house show in Sydney, Australia and October 29 house show in Melbourne. At both shows, Victoria took a Stratusfaction while Ashley looked on...

 

In ads for Survivor Series in Detroit, they list John Cena vs. Kurt Angle and Batista vs. Eddie Guerrero as the two top title matches. They also announced a Survivor Series match between Raw and Smackdown wrestlers with Shawn Michaels captaining the Raw team against a JBL-led Smackdown team (likely to be Michaels & Carlito & Chris Masters & Big Show vs. JBL & Benoit & Rey Mysterio & a replacement for Christian). The ad also teased a confrontation between Long and Bischoff...

 

When Rock appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" on Oct. 18, he didn't mention WWE or pro wrestling once...

 

In Chris Jericho's latest appearance on VH1's "I Love the '80s" TV show, rather than being described as a WWE superstar as he always had been in the past, the graphic read: "Actor/Musician"...

 

UPN is planning a ratings sweeps period stunt where contestants from "America's Top Model" will appear on every UPN show the week off Nov. 7 including Friday Night Smackdown...

 

The morale among wrestlers in WWE is said to be low across the board. There is a lack of confidence in Vince McMahon right now, who many sources say has been acting unpredictably and erratically lately. The Ross decision has many people within the company baffled and frustrated. Wrestlers earning very good money, such as Chris Jericho (estimated to be earning around $800,000 each of the last few years) walked away from the company. Others without the clout or savings to walk away completely are scared to look at someone in power the wrong way. V.P. of talent relations John Laurenaitis continues to act in a way that doesn't foster loyalty from wrestlers. The sense is that WWE has become a job, not a labor of love, among many wrestlers who otherwise are huge fans of the business and thought this would be their dream job...

 

The Oct. 24 Raw drew a 3.9 rating, up from the 3.7 the week before...

 

LIVE EVENT RESULTS

 

October 27 Raw in Sydney, Australia: Big Show beat Snitsky with a chokeslam, Carlito beat Eugene, Shelton Benjamin beat Kerwin White with a T-bone suplex, Rob Conway beat Tajiri, Trish Stratus beat Torrie Wilson to retain the Women's Title, Shawn Michaels beat Chris Masters with a superkick, Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch beat Val Venis & Viscera to retain the World Tag Titles, Triple H beat Ric Flair with a Pedigree, John Cena beat Kurt Angle with the FU to retain the WWE Championship. [Robin Stewart]

 

October 29 Raw in Melbourne, Australia: Shelton Benjamin beat Rob Conway, Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch beat Val Venis & Viscera to retain the World Tag Titles, Trish Stratus beat Torrie Wilson to retain the Women's Title, Snitsky beat Tajiri with a sidewalk slam, Shawn Michaels & Big Show beat Chris Masters & Carlito when Big Show pinned Carlito, Kerwin White beat Eugene, Triple H beat Ric Flair with the Pedigree, John Cena beat Kurt Angle in a street fight to retain the WWE Championship. [Rob Giese]

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Guest EastCoastJ

TORCH #885: TNA NEWSWIRE

SPIKE TV GIVES TNA PRIME TIME SLOT

 

In a major sign of confidence by Spike TV in TNA after three solid ratings weeks (0.8 each of its first three Impact shows on Saturday night), the former home of Raw has granted TNA its first prime time special on cable television. The event will air Thursday, Nov. 3 at 9 p.m. ET. The two-hour broadcast was taped at the usual television taping date on Tuesday, Oct. 25. The following night on Wednesday, Oct. 26, TNA taped the Saturday, Oct. 29 and Nov. 12 editions of Impact. Spike TV granted TNA the lucrative Thursday night opportunity because Impact will be preempted from its normal timeslot on Saturday, Nov. 5 in favor of a UFC Fight Night special.

 

Spike is reasonably pleased with the consistent viewership over the first three weeks - 0.8 rating with an average of 900,000 viewers - and wants to test Impact's drawing power in a prime time slot prior to a possible permanent move to Thursday nights or Monday nights against WWE Raw, TNA has a major opportunity to take the next step forward; how well TNA draws in prime time will determine whether the promotion can be considered a viable threat to WWE's dominance of the industry.

 

PRIME TIME PRESS RELEASE

 

The TNA press release for the special states: It's double the adrenaline, double the action and double the TNA Impact when Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) appears in its first-ever primetime special for Spike TV. The two-hour TNA Impact primetime event premieres Thursday, November 3 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT), delivering its distinct brand of high-risk, high flying professional wrestling. The main event will be the NWA World Heavyweight Title rematch between Rhino and Jeff Jarrett. The "Man Beast" Rhino captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship earlier this month during TNA's "Bound for Glory in the biggest night of his career. Rhino won three matches that night, including defeating Jarrett for the belt. Now Jarrett, the self-proclaimed "King of the Mountain" has secured a rematch in this two-hour Spike TV primetime special to try to reclaim TNA's biggest prize.

 

The TNA Impact special will also mark the debut of the Ultimate X Match, the most innovative match in professional wrestling. This is the World Premiere on national broadcast cable of the Ultimate X Match. The Ultimate X Match features two crisscrossed steel cables suspended 15 feet above the ring with an "X" hanging over the middle. The first man to navigate to the middle of the cables and dislodge the "X" is the victor. TNA stars Petey Williams, Chris Sabin, and Matt Bentley will take each other on in this high-wire, hard-hitting free-for-all. The winner then becomes the #1 contender to the X Division Title and will face "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles in a future match.

 

Additional match-ups in the November 3 special are: Team 3-D vs. Team Canada (Eric Young & Bobby Rude) After being humiliated in the ring by Team Canada, Team 3D takes their first steps on their road to revenge against Team Canada... "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown in Action Two-time Super Bowl participant (Buffalo Bills '93 and New England Patriots '96) and TNA star Monty Brown continues his quest for the NWA World Heavyweight Title and looks to deliver the 'POUNCE' once again to another victim on the Serengeti... "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles, Sonjay Dutt and Austin Aries vs. "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Alex Shelley An all out aerial assault is expected when these X Division contenders show up to battle it out to a victory... "The Charismatic Enigma" Jeff Hardy, Sabu and Lance Hoyt vs. The "Diamonds in the Rough" Three of TNA's most popular superstars team up to take on Simon Diamond's rapidly improving team. Will The Diamonds follow up on their recent success or will Hardy, Sabu and Hoyt be too much to handle?

 

NASH HOSPITALIZED, MISSES PPV

 

Kevin Nash was taken to a local hospital in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday - one day before the Bound for Glory PPV - as a precautionary measure. According to one source in management who was in Orlando for the "Bound for Glory" Fanfest at the time of Nash being taken to the hospital, Nash was experiencing cardiac problems. Nash called 911 from his hotel room and was accompanied to the hospital by Terry Taylor. Nash was not medically cleared to wrestle at the Bound for Glory PPV. Nash underwent a battery of tests, all of which came back negative regarding it being a heart attack. A contingency plan was put in place for Rhino to win the NWA Title to continue the tradition of having a babyface title win when another previously scheduled babyface challenger is unable to wrestle.

 

TNA did take the extra step of informing fans that Nash would not appear at the PPV to face Jeff Jarrett for the NWA Title. TNA used the PPV to set up a storyline explaining Nash's absence and eventually went with a ten-man gauntlet match to determine the no. 1 Contender. Rhino won the gauntlet then defeated Jeff Jarrett for the NWA Title to win his third match of the show.

 

JARRETT VISITS WWE HEADQUARTERS

 

TNA founder Jerry Jarrett visited WWE headquarters Friday afternoon to meet with Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis about a potential pro wrestler named Oleg Prudius, who has competed in Russian Fist Fighting. "I've been friends with the McMahons going back to Vince's father," Jarrett told WWE.com in between meetings with WWE management. "So, who knows? The only thing I know for sure about life and the wrestling business is that it will be different tomorrow than it is today. It is constantly a kaleidoscope that is subject to change."

 

One telling sign of where Jerry Jarrett stands with the promotion is that Jarrett was scheduled to fly in to Orlando last Sunday morning and be backstage for the Bound for Glory PPV, but he never actually arrived at the show. He said that he had a malfunction of his pacemaker and couldn't fly to the show.

 

TNA CEO Frank Dickerson, who is now in his fourth month in TNA, is taking a more hands-on role after feeling out the company to see where members of management stand politically. Dickerson brings a different mindset to the promotion, which means he won't serve the interest of the Jarrett family, but rather the interest of the promotion and its fans by running TNA as an actual business.

 

CHASE STEVENS INJURES NECK

 

Chase Stevens suffered a broken neck at the Impact taping on Tuesday, October 25 during a match with Buck Quartermain and Lex Lovett. Stevens mistimed an elevated move and crashed down on his neck and head, fracturing the C5 and C6 vertebrae in his neck. According to TNAWrestling.com, "Stevens suffered the mildest form of trauma associated with a broken neck." As of last Friday, Stevens was pain-free, but doctors recommended that he take at least one week away from the ring to recover from an injury that usually takes three-six weeks to recover from for a normal person. Stevens told TNAWrestling.com that he didn't realize he suffered a severe injury until some time after the impact of the move. "It wasn't until I made the tag to Andy (Douglas, his tag partner) that I had an extra second to realize I couldn't feel my hands and my back was slowly starting to tingle," Stevens said last Friday. "I'm a little sore... I do feel about 95 percent and feel that I could wrestle now if the doctors would let me."

 

RATINGS GROWING

 

TNA Impact from Saturday, October 22 drew a 0.9 rating - the highest rating through four weeks on Spike TV. The promising first four weeks on Spike all but guaranteed a strong buyrate for last Sunday's Bound for Glory PPV as many new viewers were expected to purchase the PPV. Whether they were impressed with their purchase will remain to be seen as we have to wait for the results of TNA's November 13 Genesis PPV and how WWE's buyrates are affected with regular WWE PPV customers on a budget possibly choosing the TNA PPV over Survivor Series next month.

 

TNA NOTEBOOK

 

Jushin Liger was originally scheduled to appear at the TNA Impact taping on Tuesday, October 25 before heading back to Japan. However, Liger was booked for a previous engagement in Japan that came up on the schedule after agreeing to work the Impact taping. Liger's sole appearance in TNA for the time being was against Samoa Joe at the Bound for Glory PPV. Liger was originally supposed to tap out to Samoa Joe, but instead the finish was him passing out. TNA management wasn't overly impressed with Liger...

 

TNA held the Bound for Glory Fanfest inside the Doubletree Hotel in Orlando where several TNA wrestlers signed autographs, participated in a Q&A session, and mingled with fans. TNA claimed over 800 fans attended the event. One source in management estimated 450-600 fans attended the event. At the door, TNA CEO Frank Dickerson handled registration for the Fanfest while TNA President Dixie Carter worked the merchandise table. The Fanfest was packed and there wasn't much room to breathe as the wrestlers were ushered in and out of the various activities...

 

Spike TV wants more recognizable names to appear on TNA programming, especially wrestlers from the late WCW era who didn't jump to WWE when WCW was bought out. The members of management who are aware of the direction TNA needs to take in order to be a true alternative - with solid wrestling and compelling characters - are rolling their eyes at Spike's latest "trigger happy" attempt to push TNA into more of a sports entertainment niche because they only know wrestling through a WWE mindset. Continuing in the direction of a sports entertainment promotion will result in TNA being viewed as a WWE knock-off rather than a promotion that offers a different form of professional wrestling to grab fans who otherwise stopped watching when the Attitude era died in the early 2000's...

 

Austin Aries didn't feel any pressure facing Christopher Daniels at the Sacrifice PPV after being voted to the show by the fans. "In my eyes, I've already proved myself to myself," Aries told TNAWrestling.com. "I was happy to finally get recognition. I didn't feel pressure in the ring with Daniels, because I knew how good he was and that we would have a solid match." Aries said he received positive feedback from management and fans, while keeping a positive outlook on his future in TNA. "I had a nice title reign in Ring of Honor and I was let down after that and wondered where I would go from there, but then TNA came along," Aries said. On whom he would like to face in the future, Aries said Jerry Lynn and Jeff Jarrett are at the top of his list...

 

TNAWrestling.com lists the first three matches set for the November 13 Genesis PPV. The main event will feature Rhino teaming with Team 3D against Jeff Jarrett and America's Most Wanted. Also, Sabu will face Abyss in a No DQ match and Monty Brown will face Jeff Hardy...

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TORCH #885: ETC. NEWSWIRE

Obituary

 

THE CRUSHER: 1926-2005

 

Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski, a top babyface wrestler in the Midwest from the 1950s through the end of the 1980s, succumbed to a long battle with a non-cancerous brain tumor on Oct. 22. Crusher was a mainstay top star in the AWA, known for his catch phrase as being "the wrestler who made Milwaukee famous." He chomped on cigars and talked of beer during most of his promos.

 

He was part of famous tag teams with Dick the Bruiser and Baron Von Raschke over the years. He wrestled his final match in 1989 for the WWF.

 

"He worked out on his last day. That's how he wanted to go," said his son, David Lisowski of Delafield, Wis. "He did concentration curls and triceps work. He just had to work out every day. ... In his mind, he never thought he was old."

 

Crusher's death was the subject of newspaper articles, TV news reports, and radio discussions in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

 

__________

 

TORCH #885: FRIDAY SMACKDOWN REPORT

WWE Smackdown - 10/14

By Wade Keller and James Caldwell

 

THE BIG STORY

 

RENO, NEVADA -- WWE continued Mr. Kennedy's strong push by placing him in a main event tag match with Randy Orton against Batista and Eddie Guerrero. Earlier in the show, Bob Orton complained that his back was injured and he could not participate in the scheduled main event as Randy's partner. Teddy Long granted Randy a reprieve to select a new opponent, which turned out to be Kennedy. With Kennedy and Randy in trouble during the match, Bob miraculously recovered to assist in a three-on-two beat down, prompting a DQ. Teddy Long interrupted and closed the show by ordering a six-man tag match next week with Roddy Piper joining Guerrero and Batista against the Ortons and Kennedy.

 

MATCH RESULTS

 

(1) Booker T (w/Sharmell) beat Chris Benoit at 14:00 to win the United States Title. The finish came when Sharmell delivered a low blow to Benoit as the referee was preoccupied allowing Booker to hit the scissors kick for the win. Afterwards, Sharmell celebrated with Booker before Benoit approached Booker and Sharmell about Sharmell's cheap tactics backstage. Booker called Benoit a sore loser after Benoit claimed Booker could never win clean without Sharmell's help. Intense with a "big match" feel. (**1/2)

 

(2) Matt Hardy beat Simon Dean at 4:22 with the Twist of Phate. Hardy was originally scheduled to appear on the Peep Show with Christian, but WWE changed Hardy's Smackdown return to a quick victory over Simon Dean. Michael Cole and Tazz tried to sell Hardy's win over the futile Simon Dean as a major event in Hardy's career. (*)

 

(3) JBL (w/Jillian Hall) wrestled Rey Mysterio to a No Contest at 6:10 when Edge came through the crowd to spear Rey Mysterio. Edge measured JBL after the referee called for the bell, but JBL chased Edge out of the ring. Chris Masters hit the ring and applied the Masterlock on Mysterio before Smackdown lower carders hit the ring to make a save. Hardcore Holly eventually chased Masters to the back leading towards a meeting of the minds backstage where Rey Mysterio told Teddy Long he wanted Edge in a match no matter how he arranged it. (*1/2)

 

(4) Bobby Lashley beat Vito (w/Nunzio) at 2:05 with the modified Dominator. Nunzio tried to attack Lashley early on, but Lashley flung him away before walking into a surprising superkick from Vito. Lashley came back with a belly-to-belly suplex then won with his finisher. (1/4*)

 

(5) Hardcore Holly beat Sylvain at 10:02 in a hardcore match. During a backstage interview, Sylvain talked about himself then found a pair of fists from Hardcore Holly to begin the match. The two rivals brawled through the backstage area and ended up in the women's locker room before finally fighting towards the ring. Holly smashed a trashcan and kendo stick over Sylvain before bringing a table into the ring. The table came in handy as Holly hit the Alabama Slam through the table leading to a pin.

 

(6) Eddie Guerrero & Batista beat Randy Orton (w/Bob Orton) & Mr. Kennedy via DQ at 12:05 when Bob Orton attacked Batista. See "Big Story" for details. (*3/4)

 

OTHER NOTES

 

In a backstage interview, Batista and Eddie Guerrero reminisced about WrestleMania title victories. Guerrero exaggerated his feelings towards Batista, causing Batista to question his sincerity. Guerrero claimed he lied and both men shared a hearty laugh before leaving the locker room together... Palmer Cannon introduced the juniors division as part of his new talent initiative. Cannon introduced Mascarita Sagrada, Pitbull Patterson, and the fat Super Porky, who tormented Long with his antics. Boogeyman appeared and tried to scare all involved parties...

 

KELLER THOUGHTS

 

The chemistry between Batista and Eddie Guerrero is strong. There isn't a sense right now that Guerrero is going to turn on Batista at any second; on the contrary, it seems they are forging a solid friendship and Guerrero is a changed man. It's one of the strengths of WWE programming right now... The Juniors Division was portrayed as a total comedy situation which means it doesn't have much in the way of legs and will probably be gone completely within six weeks... Mr. Kennedy is a stronger overall performer right now than Randy Orton and is more worth investing in a money position... The Booker T turn on Benoit was well done, thanks in great part to Sharmell's almost-too-convincing acting... Torch Scores: PM-6.5; JP-6.5; JC-7.0; WK-6.0...

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TORCH #885: RAW REPORT

WWE Raw - 10/24/05

By Wade Keller and James Caldwell

 

THE BIG STORY

 

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA -- On the premise of having a major announcement, Vince McMahon walked to the ring during the second half hour of the show and discussed the Jim Ross fallout following the popular announcer's firing. After making a series of bowel-related comments related to J.R.'s colon surgery, McMahon rolled a video package. The video included McMahon playing doctor, the stereotypical sexy female nurse (complete with standard cleavage), and a second doctor. McMahon pulled out random objects from "J.R." - which was nothing more than a Mr. Potatohead dummy - while J.R.'s signature calls as an announcer played in the background.

 

McMahon's final trick was to pull out a mannequin resembling J.R. from the exposed rear end of the dummy. "It's J.R.'s head!" Vince said, "We've solved the problem. You've had your head up your ass. We've had a successful operation." McMahon threw the dummy on the floor then placed the nurse on the operating table for simulated sex while the camera zoomed in on the mannequin. The video ended and McMahon smirked in the ring before suggesting that the fans have their head up their asses.

 

MATCH RESULTS

 

(1) Shawn Michaels beat Big Show and Kane at 8:01 with a superkick on Big Show. Kane became frustrated late in the match and threw several chairs into the ring. Kane reserved one chair for a sick chair shot to Big Show before finding an errant superkick from Michaels back in the ring. Michaels recovered and hit a superkick on Show, who was kneeling in the ring, to win the match. (**)

 

(2) Mikki Jay (w/Trish Stratus & Ashley) beat Victoria (w/Torrie Wilson & Candice Michelle) at 3:30. The finish came when Victoria and Mikki found themselves in the longest small package in history where the heels and babyfaces alternated distracting the referee while a partner rolled the small package in favor of her friend with the final reversal coming for Mikki, thanks to Trish. Afterwards, Trish, Ashley, and Mikki cleared the ring of the heel trio. (1/2*)

 

(3) Cade & Murdoch beat Rosey & Hurricane at 3:30 to retain the World Tag Titles. Rosey came to the ring alone and Hurricane didn't show up until the bell sounded. Hurricane, who was without the mask and called Shane Helms by Jerry Lawler, merely stood on the entrance stage watching Rosey take a two-on-one beat down. Cade and Murdoch eventually won with a double High-Low move, which they renamed "Sweet and Sour." (3/4*)

 

(4) Kurt Angle beat John Cena at 14:15 via "tap out." Mick Foley as special referee. Carlito gave Foley a neckbreaker, knocking Foley out of the match as referee. Eric Bischoff ran to the ring with a referee shirt and tried to count on pin attempts by Angle. Angle locked in the anklelock and Bischoff shoved Cena's hand to the mat even after the WWE Champion reached the ropes. Bischoff declared that Cena's hand hitting the mat qualified as a tap out, so he called for the bell awarding Angle the match victory. Formula match, but TV main event quality. (***)

 

OTHER NOTES

 

Coach called Austin to the ring. Austin's pick-up tore through the back of the arena. Out through the moon roof popped "Mrs. Ratings" Stephanie McMahon with beers in her hand a big smile across her face. She said Steve Austin would not be on the show tonight. She said her dad had put on 20 pounds of weight in two weeks and would be out later. Then Mick Foley's music played and he rolled into the ring. Steph said he was a little early to referee the main event. He said he couldn't sit in the back any longer and listen to someone who is so obviously full of crap. Steph said, "Actually J.R. was full of crap, but that was all taken care of." Foley said, "I don't find colon surgery all that humorous." She asked when people like him would realize that without her and her father, there would be no business that they love. Carlito came to the ring and attacked Foley just as Steph kicked Foley between the legs from behind... Triple H vs. Viscera was scheduled, but Ric Flair attacked Hunter from behind as he walked down the ramp. Hunter, though, quickly came back and stomped away at Flair. Flair showed fighting spirit as they exchanged punches. Officials separated them. Hunter was escorted to the back. Flair entered the ring and said over the house mic that he wanted fans to vote for him vs. Triple H to take place in a cage.... See WWE Newswire for notes on the Raw-Smackdown wrestler segment... Torch Scores: BM-5.5; WK-3.5; JP-1.5; PM-4.0...

 

_____________________________________________________

 

TORCH #885: TNA IMPACT TV REPORT

TNA Impact - 10/22

By James Caldwell and Paul Madavi

 

THE BIG STORY

 

ORLANDO, FLA. -- One day before TNA delivered its signature "Bound for Glory" PPV, a major title change occurred in the first title match on Spike TV in a situation similar to the first title match on Fox Sports Net in June 2004 where AMW captured the tag titles from Kid Kash & Lance Hoyt. Using a beer bottle, a flurry of outside interference from Gail Kim and Jeff Jarrett, and incompetent officiating to their advantage, America's Most Wanted captured the NWA Tag Titles from The Naturals. Following AMW's victory, Larry Zbyszko tried to rectify the match outcome by booking The Naturals in a rematch for the tag titles at Bound for Glory.

 

MATCH RESULTS

 

(1) Samoa Joe beat Prime Time Elix Skipper (w/Simon Diamond) at 2:26. In Joe's first match on Spike TV after a few weeks of video packages, Joe was given just a few minutes to display his in-ring ability against Skipper. Joe absorbed some early offense then fired back with his patented snap powerslam and Muscle Buster combination leading to a choke out on Skipper for the submission victory.

 

(2) America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) beat The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas) at 9:53 to capture the NWA Tag Titles. See "Big Story" for more details.

 

(3) Bobby Roode (w/Scott D'Amore) beat Ron Killings (w/B.G. James) at 5:07. The finish came when Roode broke a hockey stick over Killings's back while D'Amore distracted the referee. During the match, Kip James walked to the ringside area and discussed pertinent issues with B.G. James. After viewing the discussion on a backstage monitor, Konnan stormed to the ring to confront Kip James. Konnan and Kip scuffled while B.G. tried to play peacemaker. Meanwhile, Killings set up for his axe kick finisher, but Team Canada members stormed the ringside area and distracted Killings, leading to Roode's victory via the hockey stick.

 

(4) Jeff Jarrett & Monty Brown & Abyss (w/James Mitchell) beat A.J. Styles & Jeff Hardy & Lance Hoyt at 13:22 when Brown pinned Styles following the Pounce. Prior to the match, Monty Brown confronted Jeff Jarrett about his long-awaited NWA Title opportunity. Jarrett told Brown to prove himself in the six-man tag match. After more interference - this time by Christopher Daniels on A.J. Styles - Jarrett set up Styles for the Stroke only to have Brown intervene with a spotlight-stealing Pounce for the victory. Instead of showing frustration with Brown, Jarrett praised Brown for seizing an opportunity to prove himself. Afterwards, Christopher Daniels attacked A.J. Styles before Sabu ran to the ring and attacked Abyss. Rhino attacked Jeff Hardy then Kevin Nash's music hit. Jarrett's scheduled opponent for the NWA Title at Bound for Glory quickly walked to the ring as Jarrett stood in the ring with a look of fear on his face to close the show.

 

OTHER NOTES

 

TNA aired a video package highlighting the Ultimate X match...

 

CALDWELL'S THOUGHTS

 

Four weeks into TNA Impact on Spike TV, Samoa Joe was granted his first victim in the form of Prime Time Elix Skipper. Skipper's fall from #1 Contender to the X Division Title just six months ago to the person that makes Simon Diamond shake his head in disgust is a remarkable note on the misuse of top-notch talent. However, the story was Samoa Joe's dominating debut complete with a sick rolling crescent kick that nearly sent Skipper's head into the front row. The chants of "Joe's going to kill you" from the Impact zone set the tone early and the tight camera shots capturing the tenacity on Joe's face completed the story of a dominating victory. Two weeks worth of promos on Joe's domination in TNA were nice to set the foundation, but seeing Joe live in the ring was necessary for viewers to sink their teeth into what Joe is really about. Now, if TNA can find a niche for Joe and place him in a program with a full-time member of the roster, Joe can grow into more than just the big, angry Samoan guy. TNA management hasn't fully bought his act, nor understood what he's really all about. Once everyone is on the same page with Joe's mission, Joe has a chance to become the homegrown mainstream star TNA needs to solidify the promotion as more than just a retirement home for former Attitude, Nitro, and ECW era stars.

 

TNA put together a special video package integrating clips of past Ultimate X matches and sound bytes from the three wrestlers who will be involved. Establishing the personalities of the involved parties is essential and TNA accomplished that goal by providing three separate voices to the video package. An extended sit-down interview with each participant would have been perfect, but the next best thing was certainly acceptable.

 

__________________________

 

TORCH #885: OVW TV REPORT

Ohio Valley - 10/15

By James Caldwell and Killian

 

THE BIG STORY

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. -- Setting up the much-anticipated singles encounter between former Bolin Services member Bobby Lashley and Dean Visk, OVW booked a tag match between Lashley and Brent Albright against Visk and Ken Doane in the main event. Lashley dominated Doane early on, even absorbing some sneaky tactics from Kenny Bolin and his trusty briefcase. As Lashley set up Doane for the Dominator, Visk hit a low blow from behind to stun Lashley. Visk delivered a clothesline then scored the upset pinfall for Bolin Services. Afterwards, OVW color commentator Dean Hill announced Bobby Lashley and Dean Visk would wrestle on next week's show.

 

MATCH RESULTS

 

(1) Seth Skyfire & Chet "the Jet" beat Chad & Tank Toland to win the Southern tag titles. The finish came when Skyfire and Chet hit the Toland's own finisher - the Vegematic - for the win. After the match, the long-standing tag champs gracefully relinquished the belts and shook hands with the new champions as the Tolands went out in style before moving to WWE full-time.

 

(2) Chris Cage beat Aaron "the Idol" Stevens (w/Beth Phoenix and Shelly). Stevens attacked Cage outside of the ring and dropped him on the exposed concrete floor with an Idolizer DDT. Referees came out too late to prevent the move, but they chased Stevens away from inflicting further damage. After a commercial, Cage was shown being stretchered out of the arena while Mickie James stood by his side.

 

(3) C.M. Punk beat Elijah Burke. During the match, Doug Basham and Mo Green came to the ringside area in support of C.M. Punk. Afterwards, Basham tried to shake hands with Punk yet again - even offering an 8x10 glossy photo - but Punk shook him off and walked away. Burke attacked Basham after Punk left the ring.

 

(4) Deuce Shade beat James Gibson with the Deuces Wild. Afterwards, Al Snow tried to interview Shade about last week's sudden appearance by Rob Conway, but Shade refused to comment.

 

(5) Ken Doane & Dean Visk (w/Kenny Bolin and Sosay) beat Bobby Lashley & Brent Albright. See "Big Story" for details.

 

OTHER NOTES

 

At the conclusion of the show, Dean Hill announced that Johnny Jeter would defend the OVW Title against Matt Cappotelli in the long-awaited encounter between former tag partners... Backstage, WWE Raw's Maria recapped the show before Ken Doane's valet, Sosay, interrupted leading to a catfight. Paul Burchill interrupted and took Maria away before offering his services as a bodyguard to OVW Champion Johnny Jeter. Jeter left for a discussion with Danny Davis, leaving Burchill by himself. After not revealing himself at the door, Cappotelli barged into the locker room and attacked Burchill...

 

_______________________________________________________

 

TORCH #885: TNA PPV REPORT

TNA BOUND FOR GLORY PPV REPORT OCTOBER 23, 2005

ORLANDO, FLA. - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

By Wade Keller and James Caldwell

 

Mike Tenay and Don West introduced the event from ringside.

 

Backstage, Jeff Jarrett told America's Most Wanted that someone was going home in a casket before the night was over. Chris Harris and Jarrett took the booze away from James Storm, who was slurring his words.

 

(1) Sonjay Dutt beat Roderick Strong, Austin Aries, and Alex Shelley at 12:07. The finish came when Dutt hit a top rope inverted huricanrana (Dragonrana) on Strong after blocking an attempted suplex. Mid-way through the match, all four men were simultaneously linked together in a unique four-man submission hold featuring a Crossface, deathlock, and figure four. The offensive advantage swung back and forth throughout the remainder of the match with each wrestler hitting or setting up his finishing hold only to have another opponent break it up. Dutt's personality shone as TNA capitalized on his rock star status in India as part of a promotional tour for TNA. Good way to start the PPV during the free portion of the show. (**1/2)

 

Shane Douglas interviewed America's Most Wanted and Gail Kim backstage. He introduced them as the new World Tag Team Champions as of Impact last night. They showed a clip of the title change with Storm breaking a bottle across Chase Stevens. A drunk Storm and Kim laughed at the footage. Douglas reminded Harris that the hunter has now become the hunted. He said they'd be defending against the former champs, The Naturals. When Douglas asked about Team 3D, Storm mocked crying about the death of Team 3D. He said they walked into TNA and they rolled their dead carcasses right out.

 

West and Tenay plugged the rest of the matches on the PPV. They also said that Larry Zbyszko had ordered all TNA wrestlers to remain dressed and ready to wrestle on call for the NWA Title situation. Raven stormed to the ring and complained about Zbyszko having power and not making him the no. 1 contender already. Raven demanded a title opportunity, but Zbyszko would not give in. After Raven briefly shoved Zbyszko as security tried to intervene, Rhino stormed the ring and chastised Raven for not being the same wrestler he once was "five years ago" when he crucified a wrestler and wouldn't have hesitated to knock out Zbyszko. Raven and Rhino briefly brawled as security tried to earn a paycheck then Raven's follower, Cassidy Riley, took a gore from Rhino as Raven was escorted up the entrance ramp.

 

Backstage Douglas interviewed Styles about his X Title defense against Christopher Daniels in a 30 Minute Iron Man match. They used a sports analogy to say that Daniels is that person whom Styles just can't pull away from. Styles said they'd find out later if Daniels can step up and prove that he is Simply Phenomenal.

 

More hype from West and Tenay. This feels a bit more like a pregame hype show than the first 30 minutes of a pay-per-view for free.

 

The pay portion of the PPV began with an introduction with the usual James Earl Jones sound-alike narrating a video previewing key matches.

 

(2) Samoa Joe beat Jushin "Thunder" Liger at 7:27 when Liger passed out to the Kokina Clutch. Joe's ring entrance included a dance routine with his family's traveling Polynesian dance group. Liger received a plethora of streamers from the stands that welcomed him to the ring. The crowd was into the opening portion of the match, which featured some stiff running knee strikes from Joe and open hand palm thrusts from Liger. Joe hit the muscle buster at the 7:00 mark then locked on his rear naked choke for the win in a surprisingly short match. Certainly, the match length and placement on the card was disappointing for fans who ordered the PPV for this match. (**1/2)

 

(3) Diamonds in the Rough (Simon Diamond & David Young & Elix Skipper) beat Shark Boy & Sonny Siaki & Apolo at 7:03. The finish came when Young hit a spinebuster on Siaki for the clean win. Prior to the ending, the match broke down into six-man mayhem including Apolo connecting with an over-the-top rope somersault plancha onto everyone except Simon Diamond. Not enough time to showcase everyone, although Young and Skipper wearing matching tights was a nice touch. (*1/4)

 

Douglas interviewed Jeff Jarrett backstage. He said at first he didn't believe Nash's excuse, but then verified it. It wasn't clear from his reaction whether he believed the verification or not. He just said that since he promised someone would be leaving in a casket, Nash decided to come up with an excuse to avoid an ass-whipping. Jarrett talked about various contenders by name including Jeff Hardy, Rhino, and Raven. He said to "screw" each of them. Then Monty Brown walked into the picture. He spewed and rattled off his multisyllabic words and said he wanted the title shot. Jarrett said he had a 6-6 opponent to worry about first and warned him that if he lost, it'd be a long time before he was a top contender again.

 

(4) Monty Brown beat Lance Hoyt at 6:29 with the Pounce. Prior to the match, Jeff Jarrett gave Brown a pep talk that he needed to prove himself in the ring to warrant an NWA Title opportunity. Brown absorbed a big boot to the face and strong punches to the face before hitting the Pounce out of nowhere on Hoyt. As the fans slowly began to turn on Hoyt, Brown scored the victory in a good TV match, but not quite at the level of a PPV match. (*1/2)

 

Douglas interviewed 3 Live Kru backstage. Kip James offered to watch the backs of 3 Live Kru. B.G. James and Ron Killings liked the idea, but Konnan didn't. Kip said at least he offered, and then walked away. James and Killings repeated they thought it'd have been a good idea to have Kip watching their backs.

 

(5) Team Canada (Eric Young & Bobby Roode & A-1 Ralphz w/Scott D'Amore) beat 3 Live Kru (B.G. James & Konnan & Ron Killings) at 6:08. The finish came when Roode broke a hockey stick over B.G.'s back leading to the formulaic pinfall victory for Team Canada. Kip James, who watched the match from ringside, came to the ring for an apparent attack on Konnan, only to attack Team Canada. Konnan wasn't sure what to make of Kip's decision. Forgettable match. (*)

 

Douglas interviewed Zbyszko backstage, demanding to know who was going to get the NWA Title shot. Zbyszko frantically said he had to check with upper management on this issue, but promised that Douglas would be the first to know. He then grabbed a phone, punched some buttons, and yelled at it about wanting Douglas to be the first to know.

 

(6) Petey Williams beat Matt Bentley (w/Traci Brooks) and Chris Sabin at 13:13 in a no. 1 Contender Ultimate X match. The finish came when the "X" hanging above the ring on four crisscrossed cables fell down into Petey's awaiting arms. Just minutes earlier, the loosely hung "X" unexpectedly fell from the cables to the floor after Sabin and Bentley battled in the air. Afterwards, Petey sheepishly stood in the ring while Bentley and Sabin stormed out of the ring selling sheer disgruntlement with the flimsy setup of the Ultimate X match. Good highspots, but they added up to very little at the end of the day with a botched finish and lackluster storyline. (**3/4)

 

(7) America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm w/Gail Kim) beat The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas) at 10:37 to retain the NWA Tag Titles. Playing off the exact same finish from the previous night on Impact when AMW won the tag titles, the finish came when James Storm broke a beer bottle over Stevens's head and the referee incompetently did nothing about the shards of glass remaining in the ring, which allowed AMW to hit the Death Sentence for the victory. The Naturals appeared to have the match won following a Death Sentence of their own on Harris, but Harris kicked out then handcuffed Andy Douglas to the guardrail outside of the ring after Gail Kim distracted Douglas. High energy, but formulaic. (**)

 

Douglas interviewed James Mitchell backstage. He reminded viewers that the four wrestlers had been locked in a dark room since yesterday without food or water. Mitchell said Abyss was locked up in the dark for days as a kid so he's used to it. He said inviting Abyss to the Monsters Ball is like inviting a combat veteran to a game of paint ball in that you might have some fun, but you also might dredge up some deep memories that lead to a bloody, dismembering incident. Mitchell ended with maniacal laughter, and unlike when most do it, his was believable and disturbing.

 

(8) Rhino beat Abyss and Sabu and Jeff Hardy at 12:20 in a Monster's Ball match. The finish came when Rhino delivered a top rope piledriver on Hardy for the quick pin as Sabu tried to break up the fall. The spot of the night went to Jeff Hardy, who leapt from the top of the Impact zone stage over the entrance ledge onto Abyss and through a table on the floor. However, the effect of the spot was minimized when Abyss was back in the ring throwing Sabu through a table just moments later. The weapons match featured plenty of exciting hardcore spots, but lacked any semblance of long-term selling. (***3/4)

 

After spending the entire PPV sorting out who was going to replace Kevin Nash, who was not medically cleared to wrestle after visiting the hospital the night before, as Jeff Jarrett's opponent in the main event title match, Larry Zbyszko announced a ten-man gauntlet match to lead into the main event.

 

Douglas interviewed Zbyszko backstage. Zbyszko looked exhausted and stressed out. He said he's had everybody on his back and to make it fair for everybody, he would have a ten man gauntlet over-the-top rope match with the winner facing Jarrett. Douglas asked if he meant that Jarrett's opponent would be a wrestler who has wrestled twice already, then somehow in defiance of any logic complained that Jarrett deserved better. Jarrett then claimed it was a screwjob by TNA management. He said he needed to know his opponent ahead of time. Zbyszko pointed out the obvious, which is that his opponent will be at the disadvantage with no time to prepare and having wrestled twice already.

 

(9) A.J. Styles beat Christopher Daniels at 30:00 to retain the X Division Title in an Iron Man match. After a series of counters and reversals as the clock neared expiration, Styles hit the Styles Clash on Daniels and pinned him with two seconds remaining to score a 1-0 victory. The first portion of the match featured methodical wrestling - a stark contrast to the spotfest that preceded the match - as Styles and Daniels tried to pace themselves for 30 minutes. Daniels went for his Koji Clutch submission hold, but Styles powered out leading to a more up-tempo final 15 minutes, featuring several convincing nearfalls following signature moves. The finishing sequence told a story of exhaustion and sheer desire to win the match, which put viewers on edge anticipating the first and potentially only fall of the match. (****)

 

(10) Rhino won a ten-man gauntlet at 14:12 to face Jeff Jarrett for the NWA Title. The gauntlet also included Samoa Joe, Ron Killings, Sabu, Lance Hoyt, Abyss, Jeff Hardy, Monty Brown, Rhino, Kip James, and A.J. Styles. After Brown eliminated himself and took Hardy with him, Lance Hoyt and Sabu were eliminated by Rhino. Kip James tried to save Ron Killings from elimination, which played to Kip's supposed alliance with the Kru, but both were eliminated. After a nice staredown in the center of the ring, Abyss eliminated Joe as well as Styles with one quick shove leaving Rhino and Abyss. Rhino gored Abyss then eliminated him. (**3/4)

 

(11) Rhino beat Jeff Jarrett at 5:30 to capture the NWA Title. Jarrett immediately beat on Rhino, who was exasperated after the battle royale. A casket was wheeled to the ring after Jarrett promised to place someone in a casket by the end of the night. The typical Jarrett formula played out with Jarrett using distraction from Gail Kim to knock out Rhino with a guitar shot, only to have Rhino kick out. Rhino avoided a second guitar shot and gored Jarrett leading to a pinfall victory, which was counted by special referee Tito Ortiz. Jarrett, AMW, and Team Canada immediately pounced on Rhino followed by 3 Live Kru, who tried to make the save. Jarrett shoved Rhino in the casket then Team 3D interrupted and fought off all the heels before 3 Live Kru recovered and helped Team 3D. Team Canada's Eric Young took a 3D then was stuffed in the casket as Jarrett scrambled for an explanation of how he lost the belt to close the show. (*)

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VIP EXPRESS UPDATES

TNA BOUND FOR GLORY PPV ROUNDTABLE 10/23: Keller, Mitchell, McNeill, Caldwell

 

Oct 24, 2005, 03:28

 

 

James Caldwell, columnist (2.5)

 

What an unsatisfying show full of clich?d finishes, disappointing matches, and yet another controversy surrounding the NWA Title. Rhino as NWA Champion? TNA has officially reverted to ECW circa 1999 in apparent move to appease the hardcore fans that the booking committee believes is the target audience. Booking a meaningless gauntlet match prior to the main event NWA Title match showed TNA's inability to think on the fly and adjust under pressure to deliver a replacement match to Jarrett-Nash. Naming one wrestler as Jarrett's replacement opponent rather than throwing ten worn out wrestlers in the ring would have established a legit title match with enough time to deliver a compelling match. Of course, Jeff Jarrett in the main event meant shortcuts, brawling, and outside interference because Jarrett is incapable of holding his own in a solid 15-20 minute title match - as evidenced in past title matches. Looking at the silver linning rather sarcastically, at least the battle royale served the purpose of killing enough time for Jarrett not to be forced to actually wrestle a main event match.

 

A.J. Styles-Christopher Daniels - a definite match of the night, but not at the same level of Iron Man I - was hurt by having to follow a series of cluster matches full of spots that killed the concept of making moves mean something in the end. It didn't help that the audience was waiting for the flurry of nearfalls near the end of the match with a hopeful finishing sequence.

 

I'm so sick of TNA's approach to hardcore matches where wrestlers take hellacious spots then pop right up as if the move meant nothing. Abyss took an amazing senton splash by Jeff Hardy that very easily could have meant the end of Hardy's life, only to pop right up swinging chairs on Sabu and Rhino back in the ring. If there's going to be an amazing highspot, the move needs to be sold like an amazing highspot. It kills the work from the rest of the wrestlers who are trying to make a simple chinlock mean something in the overall picture of the match.

 

TNA had a chance to deliver a compelling PPV that showed the promotion has arrived in the big leagues. TNA only proved they lack a solid direction while still trying to figure out a way to feature their top stars, deliver a compelling show, and set up some storylines and feuds. Over the last two days - Impact and the PPV - TNA has shown just the opposite as the promotion doesn't trust the wrestlers to deliver the compelling in-ring product they are capable of. Demanding more noise without substance is a sign of a company without the commitment to its wrestlers, who are working for a promotion that doesn't truly believe in them. That's unfortunate, but it's reality after TNA has spent more time building up gimmicks and highspots rather than the wrestlers themselves. (See: Williams, Petey and Sabin, Chris.) TNA doesn't need to move 100 miles per hour when the speed limit is acceptable.

 

Bruce Mitchell, columnist (4.0)

 

It's frustrating to watch TNA make the same selfish mistakes over and over again. It's even more frustrating when they have this huge opportunity in front of them with the chaos in the WWE and they don't have the booking balls to take advantage. This is their signature show? It looked like every other TNA pay per view since they went to the once a month format.

 

If we've learned anything in three years from TNA, it's that mid-card WWE failures don't cut it on the top of the card. Yet there they all were again as the show ended. Rhino never made it for a reason. Everything about him is one-dimensional from his work style to his gimmick to his promos. All Rhino is, is a grimace. It means nothing that he's the NWA champion for the next two weeks. That terrible Royal Rumble (Hey WWE Legal, where are you when we really need you?) made all ten guys look like mid card mediocrities and it was hands down the worst match I ever saw AJ Styles or Samoa Joe in. Monty Brown didn't look like a main event prospect at all during the event.

 

Slow the fuck down! The Deadly Boys are back way too fast. Fans have had no time to anticipate their revenge on AMW, who have all of one day to establish themselves as dominant heel champions. I applaud the energy and hard work of the wrestlers but two and a half of everybody in the promotion doing their moves then not selling, then doing their moves then not selling is too much. Raven needs to stop memorizing big words and using them in his promos so awkwardly. Jeff Hardy pulled off a spectacularly dangerous spot, but that crap has no place in today's wrestling. TNA has enough meaningless train wreck spots for their redundant videos and commercials. The Monster's Ball was good, but what comes next month, Monster's Ball II? Samoa Joe should have shown a lot more for the new purchasers than he did the previous night on Impact and on the pay-per-view. Larry Zbysko (who dresses like he just had a four o'clock dinner with the Seinfeld's Boca Vista Retirement Complex) played his role like the real life TNA booking committee, trying to appease everyone in the locker room instead of the people he should be appeasing, the fans who paid 30 bucks to see this show.

 

Ultimate X was a screw up that wasn't anybody in the ring's fault, but again it was guys with no personalities working very hard and very well for no consequence. We've seen how that worked for three years too.

 

A.J. Styles versus Christopher Daniels was very good, but it suffered in comparison to their last two Math of The Year candidates and it wasn't enough to save carry the whole show.

 

Then there's the complete lack of guts in not challenging WWE. Instead of proclaiming their Iron Men AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels better than WWE's Iron Men Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels, Mike Tenay is busy "borrowing" WWE mid card storylines from six years ago. Am I missing something or did the New Age Outlaws headline a Wrestlemania or something.

 

Say what you will about Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, or Paul Heyman, but they had the balls to compete. Some war. Everyone's army can't march in a straight line, much less fight.

 

Pat McNeill, columnist (7.0)

 

TNA wanted to treat this show as the biggest and best pay-per-view in its history. We didn't quite get there tonight, but TNA did produce a major show with a "big event" feel. That was one area where WWE fell short earlier this month.

 

Back in January 2000, World Championship Wrestling had a situation where Bret Hart couldn't show up to main event a major pay-per-view. Booker Vince Russo suggested that WCW do a battle royal among all the winners from earlier in the show, and have the winner capture the WCW World Title. He was mocked and relieved of his duties by WCW management. Tonight, TNA had a situation where Kevin Nash couldn't show up to headline his pay-per-view match. Wonder whether anyone called Russo?

 

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Rhino had the wrong look for WWE, couldn't work WWE style, had too much of a temper for the number one promotion, and was mostly buried at One Night Stand four months ago. Now, Rhyno's the right guy in the right place, and he's pretty much guaranteed another main event match next month, probably a casket match against Jarrett. He's still all wrong for WWE, but he'll do nicely for the next few months in Orlando.

 

The highly anticipated Styles vs. Daniels match was really good, but it fell short of the Match of the Year candidate we enjoyed eight months ago. Part of the problem was the positioning of this match. It wasn't slotted last, so fans didn't go all out behind it. It followed a very busy and psychotic weapons match, so the slow build wasn't as effective as it should have been. It also might have been the wrong stipulation. If you're not going to have more than one fall in an Ironman match, why not just book a regular match and have it go thirty minutes.

 

TNA certainly had its bush league moments tonight. The mishap with the big red X messed up an Ultimate X gimmick match which had more thoughtful and realistic spots than previous efforts in the genre. The AMW match verus the Naturals gave TNA fans the same finish twice in twenty-four hours, and featured a major logic hole in that AMW should have been disqualified a few times before the actual finish. Big bad Tito Ortiz spent a couple of minutes fighting off Gail Kim in order to give Jarrett enough time to cheat. Maybe Gail should go for a UFC title. The Joe vs. Lyger match, one that was highly anticipated by the international wrestling cognoscenti, didn't crack the eight minute mark. Brother Bubba Ray made his arrival wearing his WWE Dudleys T-shirt under his flannel shirt, which speaks for itself.

 

Still, this show was more exciting and featured better matches and more thrills than their higher-priced competition. This was an easy thumbs up.

 

Wade Keller, editor (5.5)

 

While an imperfect show, this was not a disaster. TNA was overambitious in trying to make this a WrestleMania type show and thus overbooked it. Plus they had to deal with the inconvenience of losing their main event babyface the night before the PPV took place.

 

Rhino was a decent choice for a transition champion. It makes sense to have the replacement wrestler win as not to make fans feel that they got a weak replacement in the main event. The downside is that Rhino was portrayed as a mid-carder at best in WWE, and his only main eventing came in ECW where in reality he never got over as a top act and was in the shadow of Rob Van Dam.

 

It also reflected poorly on TNA to have the NWA World Championship match last such a short time. It was over as soon as it started, it seemed, and didn't have the epic feel that an alternate underdog promotion's main events need to be. Jarrett tried to add a new twist by hitting a few top rope moves in a row, but he looked uncomfortable up there each time.

 

The Liger-Joe match was a letdown because it was so short. The Ultimate X match, which the show was built around as much as any match, was a letdown. It didn't have enough time alotted to develop into a classic, and the botched finish with the X falling really took away from the spectacle. That said, the wrestlers could have reacted better to the situation. Throwing a fit about it wasn't professional.

 

The 30 minute Iron Man match between Styles and Daniels was very good, but not as good as it needed to be in order to be a clear level higher than what WWE offers in the ring. I thought Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle on the Raw Homecoming show was better. I did like that they went nearly 30 minutes without a fall. Just because a man is an Iron Man match doesn't mean pinfalls and submissions should happen any quicker or more often than in a regular match. It was believable that there wouldn't be falls sooner, and it helped shake up the predictability of the format. The match might have been more exciting with more falls, but overall they made falls in future Iron Man matches in TNA mean more because they won't be taken for granted.

 

Somewhere along the line TNA must decide whether it's worth letting loose with stunt matches without worrying about the ramifications of there being no actual long term selling. Eventually viewers are going to grow numb to the big moves if they never have any consequences to the wrestlers involved. There were some moves in the Monster's Ball match that should have resulted in a wrestler selling it for weeks, not just 10 seconds.

 

TNA tried to do too much. It was never boring, but it wasn't a great show, either. Too much was packed into too short a time for anything to reach its potential or have any lasting impact.

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TORCH #885: TNA PPV REAX

BOUND FOR GLORY

 

Mark Rivera of Staten Island, N.Y. (8.5): Best Match: Styles vs. Daniels. Worst Match:?None. This show delivered. I think every match was at least solid. The four-way was a great opener. Somoa Joe-Liger was a great step in making Joe a star. The six-man tag with Shark Boy, David Young, and Simon was fun. Brown-Hoyt was better than I expected. The 3 Live Kru match brought a new twist to the Kip James story. The Ultimate X was good until the finish, I hope a rematch at the Nov. 3 special is in order. AMW vs. The Naturals was great. Those teams just click. The Monster's ball match was awesome, Hardy is crazy with his bumps. A.J. vs. Daniels was great. The Gauntlet?and the?main event were great. I loved the teasing of future potential matches. Rhino worked his butt off and I hope is given a chance to shine. I'm suprised Jarrett jobbed clean. Great brawl at the end.

 

Paul Martin of Raleigh, N.C. (8.5): Best Match: Styles vs. Daniels. Worst Match: Rhino vs. Jarrett. Solid show. I would have had one less match on the show to give more time to Joe vs. Liger and the World Title match. And I wouldn't have put Rhino in the title match, either. I don't think he is bad. It just didn't make sense after all he had been through for him to defeat the rested World Champion. There are just a lot of other guys (half the roster) who would have made more sense in that position. But every match on the show was at least adequate. Several of them were great. It beats most every WWE pay-per-view.

 

Mike N.?of Virginia Beach,VA (6.0): It's pretty bad when your free 30 minute pre-show is better than your pay-per-view. I don't know if it was because of Joe working soft against?Liger,?the Ultimate X debacle, or?the Iron Man match making me sleepy for most of it, but?I was very, very disappointed in this PPV. Rhino? Why? Jeff?Hardy's?flip?dive over the?set was awesome. Not that I am some Hardy mark, but I was hoping that he would get some love from the?Orlando crowd since he gets crapped on?everytime he comes out. Maybe he won't get?booed at Impact!. Doubtful.

 

Phil Esposito of Toronto, Ontario (9.5): This was the first TNA pay-per-view I ordered and it definitely won't be my last. I was entertained the entire night. I thought the show had a good flow. I thought 11 matches was a little much, but I know that it won't be a regular occurance now that Bound For Glory is in the books. The Monster's Ball 2 match was a tad too much. I think raising the bar too high only leads to problems. But, it was enjoyable for what it was. With Smackdown's future in jeopardy come September '06, TNA may be able to land a permanent two-hour timeslot on Thursday night's and establish an audience. Once your audience is established, move the show head-to-head against Raw. Personally, I think a 2-hour block on Monday's (once the product is established) from 8-10p.m., would be perfect and a nice alternative to what WWE is offering.

 

___________________________________________________

 

TORCH #885: MITCHELL MEMO

WWE: Pioneers In New Technology

By Bruce Mitchell, Torch columnist

 

Students of pro wrestling know one of the main reasons WWE dominates the world of pay-per-view like no other entertainment entity (with the possible exception of boxing) was that they were pioneers in the field. Back in the '80s, the then-WWF was the first to run shows with the new technology and the first to run a regular schedule of pay-per-views. The company has benefited enormously ever since from that foresight and vision.

 

They're clearly serious about taking advantage of the changes in web site technology to bolster WWE.com. Specifically WWE wants to revolutionize how many fans want their weekly shows by making webcasts more attractive to audiences than cable telecasts. Monday Night Raw recently featured a website-only angle - the turn of Hurricane - and even favored a few thousand website viewers with the complete Ric Flair promo, something the millions watching on USA saw only part of. Webcasts fans can follow the action without interruption when matches go to commercials and they can watch the angle after the show that usually only the live ticket buyers get to see, like Jim Ross's goodbye speech.

 

There's a lot of potential in webcast technology to allow WWE to super-serve their fans in even more specific ways. I'm sure the minds at WWE.com have come up with some of the more obvious concepts, like Jim Ross play-by-play or Diva locker room coverage (shower included for only $39.95).

 

WWE should continue to think of other ways to expand the revenue possibilities of the new technology. A great way to do that would be to tailor specific broadcasts of Raw or Smackdown to the different sub groups of WWE fans. For example, a Raw WWE.com broadcast might feature the following options from which viewers could choose:

 

-CenaSuxVision: Since there's no real deal difference in our modern world between the characters/actions of babyfaces and heels (heel Stephanie McMahon cleverly tricks babyface Steve Austin, babyface Ric Flair grabs his opponent's nuts and twists), it should be easy for commentators here to cater to the sizable minority of fans who resent John Cena for his pretty boy good looks. "Look at that pussy," Todd Grisham could sneer. "He looks like he's about to cry at the sight of Kane." "Yeah" Josh Matthews would agree, "He's no authentic hip-hop rap music guy."

 

-McMahonMania: McMahon-cams follow Vince McMahon through his pre-show workout in the gym and at the make-up chair, Stephanie as she prepares her voice for the broadcast by running the scales, Shane McMahon as he avoids taking phone calls back home, and Linda McMahon enjoying "Two and A Half Men" on CBS. The best part is McMahon fans get an exclusive feed of Vince yelling cruel remarks about Jim Ross into Coach's headset for him to repeat on the air.

 

-WWEBusiness: Do you enjoy Wade Keller's analysis of Raw in virtual time? Then you're going to love the experience of watching Raw while experienced industry veterans Steve Lombardi and Bruce Pritchard explain why the storylines on the show are working so well tonight with WWE fans. WWEBusiness is an absolute must for those of you who envision someday working for WWE.

 

-WWE 24/7: Sgt. Slaughter and Pat Patterson ignore the broadcast completely to reminisce about their famous 1981 Madison Square Garden Alley Fight. Legendary WWF Champion Bruno Sammartino finally agrees to return to the company after being assured he can express his true opinion, only to clam up except for an occasional "Disgusting?" Bobby Heenan waxes nostalgic about how the late great Gorilla Monsoon would have called the action correctly and how Tony Schiavone was mean to him.

_____________________________________________

 

McNeill Library

10-29-05: The Best of Big Sexy

By Pat McNeill, Torch columnist

Oct 29, 2005, 03:22

 

 

"McNeill Factor"

Headline: The Best of Big Sexy

Originally published: October 29, 2005

Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #885

 

Bad Things Happening to Good People: Love him or hate him, Kevin Nash has been on the national scene for the past fifteen years. If we are to believe the reports coming out of Orlando, "Big Sexy" Kevin Nash may have wrestled his last professional match.

 

Recently, World Wrestling Entertainment has been putting out killer DVD compilations on the careers of their former wrestlers. The promotion made its peace with Bret Hart, and put out terrific packages on Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. Legendary wrestling sleazeball Jake "The Snake" Roberts has his own three-disc set on the way. If Kevin Nash is truly done as a wrestler, it is only a matter of time before WWE puts out their own DVD retrospective on Nash's career. And it makes sense. Nash is, after all, a former WWF Triple Crown champion, winning all three major belts inside of a year, and was part of one of the main factions of the 1990's, the New World Order.

 

When you think of Kevin Nash, don't think of the sad times. Think of the glad times, the good stuff exemplified here in our Ten Greatest Kevin Nash Moments.

 

(10) Clash of the Champions XII: Nash, a former college basketball player, had a brief pro career overseas before returning to the States to become a bouncer at a strip club in Atlanta. Some WCW wrestlers who frequented the club, impressed with Nash's size, encouraged him to train as a wrestler. Nash was quickly hired by WCW in 1990. With the Road Warriors on their way to the WWF, World Championship Wrestling needed a new power tag team. Nash and another big rookie wrestler were paired as the Master Blasters, Steel and Iron. The Blasters were given their own music video, designed to resemble something from the Mad Max films, set inside a junkyard. Both wrestlers were covered in some sort of black film designed to resemble dirt and given vaguely Road Warrior-ish outfits. They walked toward the camera while "One of These Days" by Pink Floyd played in the background.

 

The Master Blasters were unleashed on the wrestling world live on TBS when they took on the Lightning Express, veterans Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner. The match lasted under five minutes, with the Blasters winning with a double shoulderblock. It was so wretched that Iron, the smaller Master Blaster, was fired on the spot and replaced by journeyman wrestler "The Dog" Al Greene, not to be confused with "Let's Stay Together" Al Green. The News Master Blasters for about six months or so before WCW pulled the plug on the gimmick.

 

(9) SuperBrawl I: The wrestling world descended on St. Petersburg, Florida in May 1991 to see the NWA/WCW World Title rematch between Ric Flair and Tatsumi Fujinami. Also on the card was the debut of the heavily hyped newcomer Oz. Yes, of course it was Kevin Nash. Time Warner owned the rights to "The Wizard of Oz" and there was talk about creating an entire Oz-related stable including Dorothy, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion. Oz was managed by the Grand Wizard (believed to be Kevin Sullivan under a mask) and defeated jobber Tim Parker in under a minute. Thankfully, this gimmick also lasted about six months.

 

(8) Clash of the Champions XVIII: Believe it or not, the fertile minds of WCW had yet another great idea for Kevin Nash. Nash had his hair slicked back and was repackaged as "high roller" Vinnie Vegas. Vegas debuted on TBS in January 1992 at the Clash, the same night that Jesse Ventura made his announcing debut for WCW. This is where Nash debuted the classic "Snake Eyes" finisher, defeating fellow heel and former World Champion Thomas "Tommy" Rich in under a minute. Vegas would later tag with such luminaries as "Diamond" Dallas Page and future actor Tyler "Big Sky" Maine.

 

(7) WWF Royal Rumble 1994: This show is universally considered one of the weekend Royal Rumbles ever, but it did provide a big career boost to Kevin Nash's "Diesel" character. Diesel entered the battle royal in the Number 7 spot, quickly eliminated seven wrestlers in the space of seven minutes (Bart Gunn, Scott Steiner, Owen Hart, Kwang, Bob Backlund, Billy Gunn and Virgil, for those of you keeping score at home) and then hung on for another ten minutes until several other wrestlers eliminated him. This was the start of Diesel's big push.

 

(6) WWF King of the Ring 1994: WWF put its "New Generation" on display in June 1994 by having World Champion Bret Hart defend his title against the hottest new heel in the promotion, WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel. Diesel had Shawn Michaels in his corner while Hart brought former partner Jim Neidhart in to watch his back. Hart and Nash worked surprisingly well together, lasting over twenty minutes in the first main event of Nash's career. Neidhart interfered to get Bret disqualified. The match was the bright spot of a lackluster show, and helped make Nash a major player in the WWF singles scene.

 

(5) WWF WrestleMania XI: After Diesel captured the WWF World Title from Bob Backlund and turned babyface, Big Daddy Cool was set to square off against former partner Shawn Michaels in the main event of WrestleMania. Unfortunately for Nash and Michaels, WWF came to terms with former American pro football star Lawrence Taylor before the event. The Diesel vs. Michaels match became background noise for the high-profile meeting between Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow. Still, the match featured some impressive pageantry, including Diesel walking to the ring with Pamela Anderson, and Shawn accompanied by MTV babe Jenny McCarthy. The actual match was pretty good too, although Michaels was visibly frustrated by having to bump around the proliferation of ringside photographers.

 

(4) Good Friends, Better Enemies: Nash handled his departure from WWF in March 1996 in professional fashion, giving Vince McMahon a chance to match the offer before agreeing to terms with WCW. WWF started looking for a way to give the big man a memorable sendoff. Nash headlined WWF's April 1996 "In Your House" pay-per-view by facing best friend Shawn Michaels for the WWF Heavyweight Title in a no holds barred match. After Michaels stole the shoe of Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich and clocked Diesel with it, Big Daddy Cool one-upped the champion by going into the crowd a ripping off the artificial leg of legendary wrestler Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon to use it a weapon. Michaels took the leg from Diesel, hit Nash with it, and finished the challenger off with the superkick. The wild, out of control brawl, clearly influenced by the renegade ECW promotion, is easily the best match of Nash's career.

 

(3) The MSG Incident: Diesel and Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall made their final WWF appearance on the May 19, 1996 house show at Madison Square Garden. The show headlined with Michaels defeating Diesel in a steel cage match. After the match, Hall and "Triple H" Hunter Hearst Helmsley ran in. The four real-life friends then committed a major kayfabe violation by having an impromptu farewell for Hall and Nash. Vince McMahon couldn't punish the departed Hall and Nash, and didn't want to punish Michaels, but the incident delayed Triple H's main event push for about a year. In the meantime, McMahon gave Hunter's spot to another friend of Nash's, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who shot to the top of the promotion within eighteen months.

 

(2) WCW Great American Bash 1996: Sometimes, great moments just happen. Less than a month after Scott Hall made his first appearance on WCW Nitro, Nash and Hall were running amok in WCW as "The Outsiders". Unfortunately for WCW, Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation didn't like WCW's idea of portraying Nash and Hall as WWF employees out to destroy WCW. At the outset of the show, announcer Eric Bischoff interviewed Hall and Nash, asking them whether they worked for the WWF. After admitting they didn't, Hall and Nash tired of answering Bischoff's questions, and Nash powerbombed Bischoff off the ramp through a table. This made Hall and Nash instant babyfaces, and it took the duo a couple of weeks to get their heat back. Still, it was a brilliant spot.

 

(1) WCW Starrcade 1998: Bam Bam Bigelow had just arrived from ECW, and the former WrestleMania headliner had immediately targeted undefeated WCW Champion Bill Goldberg. A perfect matchup for the main event of Starrcade? Not as long as Kevin Nash was booking WCW. Nash booked himself to face Goldberg at Starrcade. What's more, the finish featured a ton of outside interference, ending with Scott Hall running in and zapping Goldberg with a cattle prod to give Nash the victory. The end of Goldberg's winning streak, followed by the NWO reunion eight days later on Nitro, set the table for World Championship Wrestling's death spiral.

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Keller Library

How Da' Crusher changed my view of wrestling (#885)

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

Oct 29, 2005, 03:23

 

 

This Week with Wade Keller

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

Original Headline: How Da' Crusher changed my view of wrestling

Originally Published: October 29, 2005

Torch Newsletter #885

 

I grew up on the Crusher. He was one of my early favorite wrestlers. He was also my mom's favorite. He wasn't tall, and he certainly wouldn't pass as a good worker in 1979 when I first saw him, but he was one of the reasons I bought my first wrestling ticket. I spent a few years watching AWA All-Star Wrestling every Sunday morning and begging my mom to take me to the live matches at the St. Paul Civic Center each month. Gene Okerlund made each event feel to me as important as a Super Bowl or World Series game. Finally, in May of 1981, I talked her into taking me.

 

One of the big selling points for her was the posedown between Jesse "The Body" Ventura and The Crusher. It was absurd that the beer-guzzling veteran in his mid-'50s would stand a chance against the chiseled bodybuilder physique of Ventura in his prime. My mom was intrigued by this, and she loved the Crusher. So did my great grandmother. She was virtually blind, but every Sunday morning she'd station herself a few inches away from her black and white TV in her home and turn up the volume and take in All-Star Wrestling.

 

Besides the posedown, it was also the night of Verne Gagne's retirement match against Nick Bockwinkel. Ostensibly his last match ever, it was especially important that she take me to this one. It was the last chance to see the local hero, who I saw being as much a hero and celebrity to my community as Bret Favre is to Green Bay or Michael Jordan is to Chicago.

 

I don't remember every aspect of the event, but I do remember a lot. The atmosphere was especially memorable, filled with cigar smoking old men who looked to my eyes like the figures from a previous era in the black and white pictures I had seen of the early 1900s. I never saw those type of men before, and never saw them again. They seemed to only appear for the live wrestling events. In the front row there were midgets, old ladies with canes, and the Minnesota senator Rudy Boshwitz. He always had a front row VIP seat by the time keeper. I, of course, was sitting in the upper deck. A haze of smoke filled the old arena, just torn down a few years ago to be replaced by the new Xcel Energy Center arena.

 

The passion of the fans erased any doubt in my mind that pro wrestling wasn't real. There were rumors it wasn't. My mom delicately passed along those rumors, saying that some of her coworkers had heard that the results might be fixed, that they weren't really hitting each other. Deep down I knew there was probably something to it, but as a ten year old surrounded by adults who were acting as if every near fall was a life or death experience, it was as real as anything else in my life at that point.

 

When the Crusher came out, I feared the worst, too. How would he beat Jesse the Body? He was thick, and in retrospect I doubt he was any cleaner than Ventura at the time, but the beer gut and stocky build was nothing compared to the Greek statue that Ventura was. After ring introductions, I breathed a sigh of relief. The fans would be the judge, I learned. Their cheers - our cheers - would decide the winner. Apparently Ventura hadn't read the fine print, as he stomped and protested when this was announced.

 

Ventura posed first. He had technical names for his poses, with terms such as deltoid, pectoral, bicep, and trapezoid. Ventura got booed. Even to me, it seemed a bit unfair. He did have a great physique. Then Crusher stepped to center ring. The names for his poses were different. He reached his arms into the air and leaned back and said his pose was "Chugging the Last Swig from the Keg." Every pose he did had something to do with beer. He was from Milwaukee, after all. The crowd cheered his poses. Crusher was the winner. I was happy. The entire crowd was laughing, even my mom. This was before there were heel fans or popular chants, such as "You F---ed Up."

 

Also on the card, Adrian Adonis wrestled the rookie Curt Hennig. Adonis promised to win in ten minutes or less. Larry the Axe, Curt's father, was at ringside. The High Flyers (Greg Gagne & Jim Brunzell), Bobby Heenan, and Buck "Rock & Roll" Zumhoff were others on the card.

 

Verne Gagne, of course, won his retirement match. He retired as champion. I wasn't sure what that meant for the AWA World Title. I thought if you retired with the belt, you kept the belt and never had to give it up. I was worried about how the AWA would get by without a champion.

 

Of course, Nick Bockwinkel ended up with the title again. Hulk Hogan made fans quickly forget about Verne Gagne. Hulkamania started shortly after Gagne stepped aside. It was a symbolic shift of eras, as decisive as anything in pro wrestling. The balding, flabby old man who was a legend in the community and got by on credibility, history, and how he carried himself was replaced by the muscled up charisma machine who, as old-timers often said, "didn't know a wristwatch from a wristlock." Truth be told, though, as different as they looked, and as different as their interview styles were, they both appealed to fans for the same reason, and they both sold tickets for the same reasons. Fans admired them and believed the were tough and stood for something great. Gagne had the Gagne Sleeper, Hogan had the legdrop. But as a fan, the headlock from Gagne in its time looked as devastating as a headlock by Hogan, with his 22 inch pythons, in its time.

 

The Crusher was also a throwback. He was also one of the last of a generation, a guy who looked like he belonged in a Popeye cartoon or a 1930s comic book. He was a character, an entertainer, and by 1981, barely an athlete. Wrestling had an aura of authenticity to it at that time that made match quality less important. What was happening felt important. It didn't matter whether the match was exciting in an athletic way. What mattered was when the babyface was in jeopardy, the crowd was on the edge of its seat waiting for a comeback, and when the babyface made the comeback and the heel fed into it and bumped all over the ring, the crowd exploded with ecstasy.

 

The Crusher was partially responsible for me talking my mom into taking me to my first live wrestling event. He was part of the reason I enjoyed my first pro wrestling event. He was also the first person to show me up close and personal that what you saw on TV wasn't necessarily reflective of actual life. He was my first reality check.

 

A year or so later, the AWA advertised that Crusher was going to be at the grand opening of a local new auto parts store just two miles up the road. I talked my mom into taking me there. I stood in line, anticipating my opportunity to meet the Crusher and tell him what a big fan I was, how I loved the way he beat Jesse the Body in a posedown. I also feared I might freeze and not be able to say anything. I rehearsed in my head what I'd say when I met him. I was sure his eyes would light up when he saw me. He'd shake my hand or pat me on the head and tell me to keep coming to the matches, keep cheering for him, that he heard me in the crowd that night, that I was right to choose him as someone to look up to.

 

When I got up to the table where he was signing, he stared down at my piece of paper, signed it, and never looked up. I was ushered past him so the next autograph seeker in the assembly line could be rushed through. My speech, the eye contact, the nervous smile I had stored up were unnecessary. It hit me at that moment that what meant the world to me was just another day at the job for him. I rationalized that he was tired, or worn out, or in a bad mood. I'd still cheer him, of course. I was a fan of the man I saw on television. I just realized that the world on TV would have to be a special place, separate from the real world, just as a comic book or a cartoon or a movie hero wasn't real life, either. I was still excited to be that close to him, excited to have his autograph. But something inside of me died that day. There was an innocence taken away when he couldn't be bothered to look up and say, "Hey kid, great to meet you. What's your name? See you at the matches next time. I appreciate your support."

 

I couldn't put words to it, but I knew from that day on it was "just a business."

 

__________________________________

 

TORCH #885: END NOTES

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

 

In-House Notes: This issue is very late! We didn't publish an issue last week, but are hoping to put out two issues this week to make up for it. We should have plenty of material with the Taboo Tuesday event and the TNA prime time special.

 

Austin-Coach Debacle: One of the major matches at the Taboo Tuesday PPV was to be Steve Austin vs. Coach in a contest where Austin could win back Jim Ross's job. The problem is, in what is becoming a pattern for Vince McMahon lately, a finish of the match hadn't been worked out before it was booked. When it came time to present the finish of the match to Austin, apparently he didn't like what he heard.

 

Austin likely assumed he was going to defeat Coach and win Jim Ross his job back. Ross could then return after recovering from major colon surgery in a few weeks. Austin could be a hero who saved the job of his long time friend.

 

Vince McMahon, though, had another idea. He didn't want Ross back on the air. The decision had been made, for whatever reason, that Ross was going to be replaced. WWE went aggressively after UFC announcer Mike Goldberg. They assumed they had him bagged since they were offering such a huge raise on his UFC deal. Goldberg, though, turned them down. That left McMahon in a tough position.

 

Rather than make the best of the situation, react to the fan passion for Ross, and acquiesce to the rumblings within WWE from many corners that Raw is better off with Ross as host, McMahon decided to stick to his guns. Ross would be out. Coach, if nothing else could be figured out, would be the interim and possibly permanent replacement. Ross would be reassigned.

 

When Austin was told that there were no plans to bring Ross back, and that he'd actually have to lose to Coach, he obviously wasn't thrilled. Austin has turned down ideas before, including when he was asked to job to Brock Lesnar on TV without any build-up. Austin and McMahon have had fallings out before. This one, though, everyone should have seen coming. It turned out, though, that Austin didn't have to "be difficult" since he suffered a back injury moving furniture. Of course, some people will be suspicious of that, and others will think of course that Austin would have taken a pain pill and sucked it up if motivated and if he believed in the storyline.

 

McMahon, according to many sources, has been acting more erratic and unpredictable than at any time in his history. The booking of the Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan match at Summerslam without working out a finish ahead of time led to last-second political fireworks that could have been easily avoided. The promo that Hulk Hogan cut on the Raw Homecoming show challenging Austin to a match was poorly executed and since ignored. The lack of any follow up is a lost opportunity, and many viewers have been left wondering why Austin never addressed Hogan's challenge. The fact is, Austin hadn't agreed to wrestle Hogan at WrestleMania, and has merely expressed that he'd listen to a proposal.

 

Austin understandably wouldn't want to be made to look like a fool who couldn't even beat Coach to win J.R.'s job back. No matter how much the odds were stacked against him and no matter how unfair the circumstances, Austin still would ultimately be the person who was responsible for Ross not returning to Raw.

 

Austin had been called just 48 hours before Raw two weeks ago to take part in the angle setting up the match against Coach. Had the storyline been planned out longer, and had Austin been told of the full storyline plans, WWE could have figured out a way to be sure Austin was part of the planning of the storyline. He's earned that courtesy. The fact that he's not getting that courtesy will cost WWE goodwill from Austin for years to come.

 

The usage of Austin in a match against Coach was questionable to begin with. Why bring Austin back for his first match in years in a gimmick situation with Coach in a situation built around an announcer's fate who they were trying to phase out completely anyway? What was there to gain from centering a major contest with WWE's all-time top draw facing a heel announcer who was having to take over for the highly-regarded and unfairly dumped announcer? The match stipulation was that if Austin lost, he'd be fired from WWE. Was there a long-term plan in place to work Austin back into the promotion? If so, why wasn't it presented in whole to Austin up front?

 

The treatment of Austin, Mick Foley, Hulk Hogan, and Roddy Piper has been anything but smooth this fall. Foley appears to be going through the motions in hyping his mid-card match against Carlito Cool. Piper, while less of a special act at this point than Foley, hasn't been utlized in a particularly memorable fashion on Smackdown. Hulk Hogan issued a challenge to Austin, then disappeared without his challenge being acknowledged again.

 

The lack of long-term plan and the hotshotting of stars at the expense of their potential impact in a better developed storyline has drained WWE of a lot of potentially strong angles in the future. Each of the stars in carefully crafted storylines could be a shot in the arm to WWE's business, but instead they've been abused thanks to poor planning.

 

WWE stockholders should demand that management treat its legends more strategically.

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Guest EastCoastJ

TORCH #885: BACKTRACK 1995

The following are excerpts of Pro Wrestling Torch #356, cover-dated October 14, 1995...

 

-The WWF Newswire headlined with backstage notes on Vince McMahon introducing Bill Watts to the locker room as the new booker. Highlights of the story:

 

The afternoon of In Your House on Sept. 24 in Saginaw, Mich., Vince McMahon formally announced to all the wrestlers that Bill Watts was taking over Pat Patterson's role and would be the primary intermediary between management and talent on booking matters. Basically it was just a formal announcement and confirmation of what was reported in the Aug. 12 Torch cover story after Watts was hired. McMahon talked big about Watts's autonomy in booking matters. Although no one believes McMahon will allow Watts to stray too far off a path he approves of, that shouldn't be a problem since obviously Watts wants to keep his job and has a good idea what McMahon is looking for from him.

 

Those who have hints of what the top storylines will be leading into Wrestlemania are confident thus far with Watts's ideas. Watts also likes hard working wrestlers. Thus far he has made that clear to those who don't like to work all that hard on some nights (although Watts has also shown an appreciation for when wrestlers are overworked and hasn't been overbearing on those occasions).

 

McMahon's formal announcement is most significant in that it shows that in their first four to six weeks working together they got along well and McMahon was impressed enough to give Watts a vote of confidence in front of the wrestlers. Watts has been getting positive reviews from WWF wrestlers and has yet to show any signs of his past tempermentalism, although he still has been caught using a controversial choice of words when describing others which got him in trouble in the past.

 

Watts fits into the WWF structure better than WCW's structure because wrestlers aren't on guaranteed deals in the WWF, thus Watts has more leverage when giving out orders. Where Watts can still fall prey to having not paid close attention to wrestling since he sold the UWF to Jim Crockett (other than his disastrous stay in WCW) is that he may make some mistakes that others have learned the hard way, such as pushing Sid to the top again. Looking at Sid, Watts reportedly is saying he sees big money potential, unaware that everyone thought that before learning the hard way that Sid has nothing beyond the surface looks that would make him a draw.

 

Also at the meeting McMahon and Watts talked about the Monday war with WCW. McMahon said that they may not be able to keep up with WCW's budget (nor, he said, would doing so be good business even if he could), but their product is still far ahead of WCW and always will be. McMahon said they've beat WCW for the last seven years and they'll continue to do so. Watts, without any apparent inside knowledge, speculated that because of the Time-Warner buyout of TBS, WCW may be dropped because it constantly loses money.

____________________________________________

 

Torch Talk Library

Jeff Hardy: Jeff characterizes brother Matt as a spin doctor (10-29-05)

 

Oct 29, 2005, 03:18

 

 

Torch Talk with Jeff Hardy, pt. 5

Originally Published: October 29, 2005

Torch Newsletter #885

 

The following is the fifth installment of a two-and-a-half hour "Torch Talk" interview with Jeff Hardy conducted Sept. 15. In this installment, Jeff talks about his suspicions regarding his brother Matt's version of what happened in the Lita-Edge controversy.

 

Wade Keller: Regarding your brother Matt's version of what happened with the Lita-Edge situation, was there anything that stood out where you really doubted him?

 

Jeff Hardy: I remember there were times I'd be down at Matt's, and more than anything I always think back to this one time and knowing how controlling Matt can be just in the tag team situation and being the leader of the Hardy Boyz and talking about my matches, knowing how he is, man, like, there was a time when Amy was trying to play something in his computer, like a music disc or something, and he just got all out of shape. I guess he gets this from my dad, too. He was, like, "What the f---!" He got all over her. I was, like, oh my God. That was so uncalled for, it was ridiculous how mad he got. Then I think back and wonder how many times have things like that happened since the time they had moved in together. So that makes me think, man, there might be more to the story as far as Matt looking like the one who was hurt the most. Amy could possibly have been hurt quite a few times in the fact that she had moved in with Matt and was living with Matt; his house, his rules, you know that whole thing.

 

Keller: The amazing part about Matt coming back to WWE is that Amy and Adam have said enough things in a short period of time that a lot of people have thought that gosh, maybe there are two sides to it and it isn't as cut and dried as we thought it was. Some of the things, especially that Amy has said, sound reasonable. Not that she's done anything to trash him; she has outright said, hey, if someone you're with falls in love with somebody else, there's usually a reason, and things probably weren't really good in the original relationship. She said it, like, get over it, people break up all the time. Now, granted, that's somewhat scripted and part of the storyline, but there's an element of it that sounds as if there was another side to the story. Maybe people are now respecting Amy for not saying anything about it and trying to keep it private.

 

Hardy: And one of the weirdest things, man, is Edge just being married for such a short period of time before this all started. I just remember I was at his wedding, man, and me and my girlfriend - my wife, as I've been calling her as of late - we were sitting there and Matt and Amy were right against each other and looked fine and watching these two get married. Now I think back then and wonder what was going on in Amy's mind at that point. That was so weird because Adam never came across as that type of a guy that was just a damn sex machine or sex addict looking to screw any girl he could. He never came across to me as that type of guy. Once again, that just makes me want to call and apologize that much more now after all of this time has gone by and there are so many strange questions. I totally do believe that it was something. I don't know at what point - I don't think Adam and Lita and Matt actually communicated secretly themselves, but I think they took a real life situation and turned it into a storyline or angle.

 

 

Keller: It's hard to separate reality from storyline, but she made some points that maybe made you think there was another side. The question I have is Adam's role in this. As Matt's brother and a good friend of Amy's, have you heard or come up with anything in your mind that would justify Adam's role, other than falling in love and not having control over it? Is there any excuse for what Adam did considering he was friends with Matt?

 

Hardy: There was one thing. I have no idea what went on in Adam and his wife's life. That night of the wedding I didn't even speak to Adam. I had seen him really briefly before they went out into the big room, whatever it's called after a wedding. I just talked to him briefly from a distance, like, hey man. I don't know what was going on in their lives. There's always the possibility that something crazy could have happened between them that had been driving him away even in that short period of time. It sucks to think about that considering you just committed to marry, but I don't know. I should have taken the time to get the other side. Something could have happened early in their marriage, a few weeks in. I do think back to the TLCs about this, too, when we were discussing matches. It does always seem that there was a flirty relationship there between Amy and Adam. Naturally, when you look at the couples, Amy and Matt don't look like they'd like the same music; they don't look that compatible. With wrestling, they're super compatible, but you see Adam and Amy, they look more like the rock 'n' roll type who might work better. You just don't know. I haven't taken the time to even ask Amy. I maybe have texted her a few times, but that's it. After that Byte This that I saw, that was the bitchiest I had seen her come across. It was to the point, then, that I don't know what to say as far as whether anything justifies it. There possibly could be something that justifies Adam doing what he did.

 

Keller: You haven't heard an example of anything or come up with anything, though. Forget that he's married, and just consider that he was clearly pursuing Amy to a degree based on the phone messages you heard without letting Matt, as a guy friend, know what he was doing. It's not the worst thing someone has ever done, but it's certainly breaking accepted rules.

 

Hardy: It does seem like Amy would have been a person who would more likely before anything happened sexually or whatever, when the feelings or emotions started developing between her and Adam, and she did feel she couldn't resist and wanted to follow through with sexual things happenings, I would have thought she'd have been the type to straight up tell Matt and be honest with him before anything happened. Say, "Hey, I'm not that happy." I think friendship is way more important than sex in the long run, but then again, you've got the sex, and it's pretty important in your younger years. I don't know what was going on between them, but if she would have just come out and told them and ended it there, I think everything would have been fine.

 

Keller: It was a pretty big revelation when during the Ultimate Insiders DVD interview, Matt said he and Edge and Amy had all gotten together at a hotel shortly after he found out about the situation and they all talked about it. Was that the first you had heard of it, or did you hear about it at the time?

 

Hardy: No, that was the first I had heard of it.

 

Keller: What was your reaction when you heard that? Did it make you suspicious at all? Did you wonder why Matt didn't tell you that?

 

Hardy: I was already to the point where I felt that Matt was telling me one thing this day and another thing the next. So I was just like, whatever. He's confused me a lot when it comes to Amy and his relationship with her. He's thrown me several swerves to where I was to the point then of thinking, "Okay, okay, whatever you say." I had strained my brain so many times, especially looking at it if it was all a work. I thought this might be the work of the century. I'm thinking of all of this master planning that might have been done. But it got to the point where I would have a headache. It got to the point where I said, God, I just can't be worrying about this sh--.

 

Keller: Do you have the type of relationship with Matt where you can tell if he's lying to you or you can tell for sure if he's telling you the truth just based on the way he looks at you and talks? Or is it the type of thing where you honestly had suspicions from the start? This story got bigger than anybody imagined and Matt fueled it, so it's kind of natural, even if you trust someone, to start thinking, man, what is reality anymore?

 

Hardy: Right. Yeah, yeah. Amy, actually, titled him a spin doctor in one of those Byte This interviews. Actually, you know what, he might be a spin doctor. He is very good at putting his spin on things and making them sound good. I think I can read him just based on how his lips are moving or there are little things with his eyes that I can read. He will be so hard-headed, it's so tough and he's got such a tough force-field up at all times in the way he talks. He's strong and he's tough. It's hard for him to let up that more emotional side.

 

Keller: Is he more like his dad or are you more like your dad? Or do you each have half of his traits?

 

Hardy: No, he's more like my dad for sure. My dad is the same way. My dad has never been the type of person to come out and say, "I love you" unless it's in a joking tone. He's just like my dad when it comes to that because, man, me and the whole obsession - not obsession, but curiosity and interest in the afterlife and stuff - Matt's never got into it. We've talked about stuff like that, the end of the world, and all that sh--, and Matt's nowhere near into it like I am. There's only one time that I actually remember him talking about our mom. It's in that Leap of Faith video when he's pointing at one of our family portraits. He said, "That's my dad, that's my mom." That's one of the only times I can remember him actually mentioning her without me bringing it up in conversation. Man, my mom and I are totally on the same level. She's on my spiritual level. I have just such a strong connection. With my beliefs and everything, as I said on the Ultimate Insiders DVD, she's like God to me. With Matt, I've never been able to express that or actually get into detail with it. He doesn't seem open to it.

 

Keller: Let me ask this one more time just to be clear. Do you think Adam Copeland and Amy Dumas really had an affair of sorts that Matt found out about and got angry about, and you were one of the people he told right away, and he got upset, and it devastated him, and all along Amy and Adam were on the verge of a relationship, but the publicity and reality set in and maybe they weren't meant for each other - and whatever it was, and then Matt went public and they didn't want to talk about it, and eventually when Matt re-signed with WWE, Adam and Amy were, like, "Okay, I guess we're gonna have to go on TV with this," but never along the line was there a plot or a conspiracy with those three to perpetuate something at any point. Do you believe that's how it actually played out? Or do you think with all that you've said that you're actually suspicious that this could have been a work from the beginning or it might have turned into a work somewhere along the line? Where, after talking it out like this the last several minutes, where do you fall on it?

 

Hardy: I totally think the break-up went down for real and it was just something they turned into a work. I don't think it was plotted from the very beginning, but that was when I spent the most time actually looking at it as far as the possibility. Now I think for sure it was something they took which was a real situation and totally turned it into a storyline.

 

Keller: When is the moment that it went from real to storyline? When Matt signed with WWE? Two weeks before that? Or a couple months before that?

 

Hardy: Oh, no. I don't know when it was that they played a video package, but do you remember the wedding when they played Matt's intro video. Man, somewhere right before then. He would never tell me. WWE doesn't seem like the type of company that would do something like that unless they were committed to some type of follow up.

 

Keller: But you don't think at the time we recorded the DVD or a month earlier that he was in work mode at all?

 

Hardy: I don't think so. I think at that point he was actually considering TNA. He had made a lot of independent bookings. He booked a lot of shows. I think he was being sincere and there was nothing going on in terms of a return to WWE yet.

 

Keller: On a 1-100 scale, where are you as far as this being not a work until near the very end? Are you at 100 percent sure for knowing in your mind and your heart that there was no work involved until the end?

 

Hardy: Yeah, I'll say 100 percent. Right around the time when they aired his deal on the TitanTron, I think that's when it was all starting to kick in.

 

Keller: I'm with you on that, too. You said things along the way and some people might think you were saying it was a work way back. But when you said you heard the stories changed every day or there were things he said that kind of made you wonder, what do you mean by that? Are you talking about how he would say he hated Amy one day, then be talking to her again the next day?

 

Hardy: Yeah, it was exactly like high school or even elementary school type behavior. Totally, to where I didn't get hot or call him out on it. I just let it be and tried to worry about myself a little bit.

 

Keller: He was talking to Amy on the phone during breaks in the filming of the DVD?

 

Hardy: Yeah, it was pretty damn aggravating, especially when he speaks so strong. On this day, f--- her. I watched his single interview on the Ultimate Insiders DVD and there are so many things about it that I want to watch it with him. It could have been titled, "The Contradiction."

 

Keller: What aspect most makes you think the title should be changed to represent that?

 

Hardy: It's small little things, mainly anything that's discussing me as far as saying, "He does a big trick here and a big trick there." Just the way he would describe the way I put together matches and how he was always, "I couldn't do it without him." It was little itty bitty things that aren't on such a serious level. I've always joked with him about getting the personal side and business side intertwined.

 

Keller: So you thought there were times he complimented you but then other times he kind of belittled your contributions?

 

Hardy: Yeah. But I don't remember very many compliments, as far as heavy-duty compliments. It just seemed like, I don't know, when I was mentioned, I almost sensed him going into defense mode as far as, "God, I'm tired of hearing about Jeff."

 

Keller: I got a sense of Matt during that interview, and you obviously have a sense of him from being his brother, that he's a leader. He's Type-A. He wants control. Then he gets to WWE and the "little brother" is more athletic, more charismatic, gets more cheers, gets more attention, and I think at some point, in order to fulfill who he is, takes over publicly as leader of the team. Because behind the scenes, he was the one who was more vocal, more into the planning of the match, and working with the opponents. You were more quiet and just listened and then did your thing in the ring. I think he wanted to go public with that. He wanted to make it clear he's not a sidekick, not the Robert Gibson to your Ricky Morton. He wanted to establish that. I think he chose that DVD interview not as an insult to you, but to try to balance out public perception that you were 90 percent of the reason the Hardys were successful. So my interpretation from conducting the interview and watching it afterward wasn't that he was trying to disrespect you as much as defensive is the word because he went through a long stretch of time feeling underappreciated because he contributed in a very major way, it just wasn't as flashy. Does that make sense?

 

Hardy: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That was very well put. As far as the public perception goes, that's smart, very smart, like Magnavox. (laughs)

 

Keller: So my take on it is I wouldn't take it really personally, but it doesn't mean that you might not roll your eyes and say, "Thanks, brother."

 

Hardy: Matt, he stopped by here one day as far as when he first brought that up (doing the DVD interview) and I pretty much right away thought, oh goodness flying all the way to California. I was reacting like it would be forever when in fact it was just a couple of days. It ended up being a good deal. He talked quite a long time. He talks a lot, man.

 

Keller: It was so good that he was a talker, because by the time we got to shooting his interview, I was worn out from the full day of shooting. I interviewed you two together, then you alone, and by the time it was his turn, I was beat. But I could have asked one question of Matt and walked out of the room and come back an hour and a half later and he'd still be talking. It wasn't hard to interview him no matter how tired I was. It was easy because that's the moment he was waiting for and he can talk. Even during the dual interview, it was clear he had more to say.

 

In next week's final installment, Jeff talks about his reaction to Matt's decision to sign with WWE and how Matt was treated upon returning.

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What's funny is that in the past few weeks both TNA and WWE have had to rebook a PPV at a moment's notice, and I know who I'd say did better at repairing the damage.

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I just wanna say that I really appreciate you posting this each week, duder. Seriously, it's greatly appreciated.

 

*runs off to finish reading post*

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Guest CanadianChick

Jeff's interview is quite interesting. Reading that, it seems like him and Matt aren't close in the slightest right now.

 

By the way, I was under the impression that Dudleys did not have that 90 day clause, but they were just not used until their contract was up. I think it'd be the same case with Christian, if he so chooses to go to TNA.

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