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The Pro-Wrestling Torch Newsletter #886

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Guest EastCoastJ


WWE vulnerable as TNA and Spike make waves

Raw ratings dip to USA-low 3.4 same week as TNA's strong special



By Wade Keller, Torch editor


Stephanie McMahon mentioned on last week's Raw that without her father, there would be no wrestling business. The McMahons' sense of ownership of the industry has never been greater or more mistaken. Their grip on dominating the industry is slipping more by the week. It's their doing, and everybody seems to have seen it coming except them.


Confounding decisions born out of arrogance, ignorance, and a growing insanity and instability within the crumbling McMahon castle have opened the doors for real competition in pro wrestling for the first time since Eric Bischoff's flame-out, fat-and-happy main eventers with bloated guaranteed contracts, and the overstretching of WCW's resources with the addition of WCW Thunder doomed the juggernaut that was WCW in the late 1990s.


Raw clocked in this week with a 3.4 rating, the second lowest rating of the year for the show that was supposed to rebound to previous glory with the NBC Universal machine behind it. All of the TV ads in the world, though, can't bring in new viewers fast enough to replace those jumping ship. Be it the gross underutilizing Steve Austin and Mick Foley, the absence of the underappreciated (by the McMahons) Jim Ross, tasteless and mean-spirited glimpses of McMahon's evil side on TV skits, or too much lame sports entertainment, viewers aren't happy with WWE right now. Neither is USA Network.


Vince McMahon likes to think he answers to no one, which is why he acts like he does. But as is the case with virtually anyone, you're most vulnerable at the time you think you're least vulnerable. That guard is down in McMahon Land - or it was until this week. All that needs to happen for this to be ranked among the Worst Weeks in WWE History (along with the week McMahon was indicted, the week Nitro beat Raw in the first head-to-head battle, the week Steve Austin's neck injury sidelined his full-time career, etc.) would be for TNA to score a 2.0-plus rating on Spike for its first prime time TV special - highly unlikely but within the realm of possibility. Heck, even a 1.5 rating would be spectacularly close to a proverbial knockdown of the heavily favored WWE in this week's first prime time pro wrestling ratings battle since Nitro was cancelled. Anything above 1.2 fuels TNA.


Vince McMahon, by all accounts, has been acting erratic, unpredictable, crazy - pick your adjective, it's probably been said in the past few weeks by someone whose been around him. Some attribute it to a comedown from the USA Network Homecoming high. Others say McMahon has never been the same since turning the big 6-0 and coming face-to-face to mortality. One person joked he's finally having a mid-life crisis because until recently it never crossed his mind he's human and his time on this planet is limited.


Fans didn't like the way Ross was treated. They haven't liked his replacement, Coach. The quality of recent Raws, by almost all reviews, has been well below par. There is no sense it's turning around. This isn't bad luck (such as. a result of a injuries) or a natural part of the ebb and flow of a creative-driven business (as Linda McMahon may try to pass off during the next investor press conference).


There's nothing happening to WWE that wasn't preventable with a little humility, decency, and reduced stubbornness. The ratings drop cannot be attributed only to Jim Ross's absence, but it's part of it. Ross made good matches seem great, and even more importantly elevated bad matches and angles to average. He gave viewers a sense that they had a comrade who suffered through bad shows with them, not someone who was oblivious to them. WWE is attempting to recover by signing Joey Styles to a full-time contract. Styles knows what Mike Goldberg was offered; he knows WWE is in the corner without any other options; he's going to make WWE pay.


Steve Austin doesn't want any part of the current product. Neither does The Rock. Mick Foley is probably second-guessing his decision to sign with WWE instead of TNA, assuming he has any pride, given how poorly he's been used. Chris Jericho and Christian got out while they could. Others wish they had the bank account and guts to do the same. Some might. WWE is by all accounts not a pleasant place to work right now, be it as a talent or an office worker. A privileged few are happy; most are not. Sounds familiar, like Nitro during it's final months before the house of cards collapsed.


Meanwhile, TNA is truly living up to its name as "the new face of professional wrestling." While imperfect and still a work in progress, TNA's strengths are WWE's weaknesses. TNA feels fresh, young, exciting, athletic, thrilling, different, and relevant. Those words haven't been used to describe a wrestling product since WCW Nitro at its peak and WWF Raw when the Stone Cold vs. Vince McMahon "Attitude Era" first hit its stride. TNA doesn't have the budget of TBS behind it or the tradition and built-in audience of WCW, but it still has a legitimate chance to become a real contender really soon. Spike TV and TNA smell blood. They're going to attack now harder and faster than they would have if WWE were doing things right and riding the wave of momentum that should have been generated by the move to USA.


How quickly the McMahon's alter their course will determine their fate. Wrestling fans want change. Will they have to flip channels to get it?




By Wade Keller, Torch editor


1. Styles given tryout as lead announcer


The voice and face of ECW, Joey Styles, has been given a tryout as the main announcer for the Raw brand. His first WWE gig was being lead announcer for Taboo Tuesday this week. It's expected Styles will be given a chance to host Raw on a trial basis, also, but at this time no decision has been made regarding the long-term future of the show. Although it's still possible Jim Ross will be brought back once he recovers from colon surgery, it's much more likely Styles will be hired a new replacement will be found. Styles is known as a tough negotiator and has a rep in WWE as being tough to deal with and outspoken; there are many within WWE skeptical of whether he can get along with Vince McMahon, whom he's had very little interaction with up until this week. Styles had signed a WWE contract to be used for future ECW voiceover work, but it was not a full time commitment. [More details: Pg. 2]


2. Jarrett regains NWA Title at TNA special


Thursday, Nov. 3, TNA debuted on prime time cable, featuring a major title change in the main event. Jeff Jarrett ended Rhino's short title reign, while teasing a feud with Monty Brown in the near future. [More analysis: Pg. 12]


3. Babyfaces win every match at Taboo PPV


Trying to create a feel-good event, and make up for the absence of the advertised Steve Austin, WWE booked the babyface winning every match at Taboo Tuesday. Ric Flair defeated Triple H and John Cena defeated Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle in the top two matches at the PPV. The PPV, benefiting perhaps from low expectations, scored adequately in a PWTorch.com reader poll, averaging a 6.0 score. Flair vs. Hunter won the Best Match poll with 54 percent of votes, ahead of second place finisher Cena vs. Angle vs. Michaels, which drew 34 percent of the votes. [Full details: Pg. 13]


4. ROH to be part of WrestleMania weekend


Continuing its tradition of catering to fans travelling from across the country and world to see WrestleMania in person, ROH will be running two events WrestleMania weekend in the Chicago area.


5. Christian comments on leaving WWE


In a WWE.com interview, Christian wasn't particularly forthcoming. He said: "It's a lot of personal reasons?as to why I made the decision to leave WWE, and actually too many to get into, but I will say this . . . I gave everything I had to the WWE for?eight years. I gave everything to the fans. I feel they gave me everything they had. But you know never say never in this business. Hopefully they won't forget about Christian and we'll see what happens in the future."

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Guest EastCoastJ




Over a foot of Jim Ross's large intestine was removed as part of his surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor. He first noted to others that he was having stomach pains around Summerslam. The surgery was more serious than expected going in. He was having stitches and staples removed this week, and then will require another few weeks of low activity and no travel as his body recovers. Friends say that his attitude has never been better. He has given up his life-long habit of smoking due to the health scare he went through.


One friend says that the health scare actually came at a great time in the sense that it helped dampen the disappointment of being dumped from Raw. It was something that was extremely important to him, and losing that position might have otherwise devastated him, but the health scare put the Raw job in proper perspective. To anyone who asks, Ross says he is not returning to Raw. He has accepted it and his only regret is that he didn't have a better sendoff.


There are rumors that he is in line potentially to be the play-by-play announcer for the Oklahoma Sooners football team. The current announcer is 78 years old. Ross has made good connections with people at OU over the years, has XFL and NFL experience calling games, and would love to transition into another dream job if that slot became available.


Ross still has ten months left on his WWE contract, and it's not out of the question that he will be offered a renewal and will accept, but it depends on the money offered and the job duties that are required.


A number of top wrestlers in WWE are upset with Vince McMahon's decision to remove Ross, and those who assumed it was an angle and only temporary are reacting with even more dismay now that the reality of the situation is becoming clear. Says one source: "Vince is unpredictable these days. A lot of people, out of Vince's earshot, question this decision, but nobody has the guts to speak up to his face about it."


Mick Foley told The LAW radio show in Canada that he is surprised by the decision. He said he doesn't understand the logic of removing Ross because fans don't tune in or out of a wrestling show based on how the announcer looks. He noted Pat Summerall and John Madden as examples. He said he is a fan of Coach, but said he is no J.R. He said when planning out matches, he would imagine Ross's commentary over his big spots.


How does Vince McMahon feel about the fuss? He's not showing his cards at this time, but he is holding his ground. He has in the past said that he feels he was more than generous with Ross because "what other company would hire a guy with Bells Palsy two times?" Coach repeated that line during a Byte This broadcast when he being a "heel" character.




Joey Styles received good reviews internally in WWE for his performance at Taboo Tuesday and his professional approach behind the scenes. The decision to invite him to work Taboo Tuesday was made at the last second, with him being contacted just a day or two before the event. If Styles bombed, he was still slated to be given a tryout for a few weeks as the Raw announcer.


The feeling within WWE from those aware of the politics is that Styles's odds of getting hired full time is around 60-70 percent. Styles has rubbed some people the wrong way over the years as he is very "bottom line" oriented when it comes to money. He tends to negotiate hard and call people's bluffs. Not that Paul Heyman has any political clout at this time within WWE, but he is not someone who would be considered an ally of Styles at this point.


Styles has been very outspoken against WWE, so for him to accept a contract for any price will lead to some accusations of him being a hypocrite who sold out. That will be a factor for him when deciding whether to sign on full time, but when he signed the part-time contract to be the voice of ECW on future WWE projects, it pretty much showed anyone that he was willing to bend when it came to accepting checks from the company.




USA Network got what they wanted out of their WWE deal already - securing the top position in the basic cable ratings. A press release issued by USA this week stated: "The ratings success in October 2005 was driven by the return of WWE's Monday Night Raw to USA, as well as Law & Orton: Special Victims Unit, and our acquired theatricals, including The Hulk."


USA's average prime time ratings in October in the key 18-34 demographic was 1.0, which shows why even a disappointing 3.4 rating for Raw is no reason to panic, and why if TNA can get above 1.0 in primetime, it will be worth it to Spike TV to give them a regular slot. Raw was the top rated weekly series on cable during October among several key demographics. It also made USA the top rated cable network in prime time each Monday throughout October.


In comparing the final four weeks of Raw on Spike compared to its first four weeks on USA, ratings were up 12-14 percent in key demographics, a largely irrelevant comparison considering WWE put so much hype into popping one big ratings for the Homecoming debut on USA. Raw has drawn ratings of 4.4, (4.7 in the usual two hour slot), 3.7, 3.9, and 3.4 in four weeks on USA.




The Jake "The Snake" Roberts official WWE DVD, titled "Pick Your Poison," was released Nov. 1. It features details of his drug use during his wrestling days. The DVD includes commetns from Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich, whom he travelled with and did drugs with. He said he participated in the "Beyond the Mat" DVD under the premise that it would be an anti-drug movie for kids. Vince McMahon said Beyond the Mat was "a lousy portrayal of what was then the underbelly of the business." Roberts said he tried to commit suicide twice. He also ripped Ultimate Warrior, but admitted that he too held up McMahon for more money before going to the ring for his WrestleMania 8 match against Undertaker, after which he jumped to WCW. Regarding Roberts contributing to WWE behind the scenes, Vince said, "It's never too late." Roberts says near the end of the DVD, "I'm not happy where I've been, but I'm truly excited where I'm going."


The DVD includes matches of his against Rick Steamboat, Honky Tonk Man, Rick Rude, Steve Austin, and Jerry Lawler, plus numerous interview segments. There are two versions of the DVD, a regular one and a collector's edition. [Thanks to Keith Lipinski]




Glen Jacobs, who is known in WWE has Kane, did an interview with the Edmonton Sun. The following are key excerpts:


-On getting cheered by fans as a heel: "Sometimes, the more heinous things you do, the more people like it. It's a reflection of society. We're living in the era of the anti-hero. If you asked all the wrestlers, the vast majority of them would say they'd prefer to be booed. We get to go out there and have fun by upsetting people ... it's so much more fun than being one of the good guys. You can pretty much do what you want."


-On removing his mask: "It's funny... everybody was worried - everyone except for myself and Vince McMahon. Of course we were taking a risk, changing something that had worked for years. But I'd gone about as far as I could. It was time to try something new."


-He also said he'd like to feud with Shawn Michaels in the future. "Shawn is one of the greatest performers ever. We had a bit of a thing going, but I'd like to do something more drawn out."




-Paul Heyman's WWE contract expires at the end of December. He was earning $250,000 a year with his WWE deal, and it's unlikely WWE will be willing to match that. Heyman is telling people that he has opportunities in Hollywood, including pitching a movie script he has written. He also has been closely studying the MMA industry and believes he has the next big concept that will revolutionize the industry a second time just as he did in the late-'90s with ECW. While those paying attention believe he is doing a great job booking OVW, few believe that anyone in a position of power in WWE values what he has accomplished in OVW or values OVW enough to care enough to secure him as a booker. That said, there is enough respect for his wrestling mind that he may be offered a deal just to keep him away from TNA or another competitor that could spring up.


-Matt Striker has made a bad impression on fellow Smackdown wrestlers to the point that he is dressing separately. He took some digs at the Smackdown locker room and said he preferred Raw. Stryker also didn't play into the initiation games JBL wanted to play. He ended up in arguments and scuffles with Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Hardcore Holly.


-Recently, when someone from production needed to find Michael Cole and Tazz, they were nowhere to be found backstage. They were eventually found sitting in a rental car in the parking lot


-Says one friend of Matt Hardy regarding his stature in WWE since returning: "He's back to where he was (before the Lita-Edge controversy); no better and no worse."


-The Oct. 31 drew a 3.4 rating overall, despite teasing Steve Austin could be arriving at any minute.


-Regarding Vince McMahon lately, says one WWE insider: "Vince doesn't want to be just a wrestling promoter. He wants to be bigger than that. I don't know that he truly enjoys the wrestling business anymore. He wants to make movies, record labels, and other TV shows. It's starting to show in his awareness of the flaws in the wrestling product. He's not paying attention to the wrestling fans anymore." In a PWTorch.com Poll last week, 49 percent said McMahon is listening to the fans less than ever and the product is suffering as a result and 42 percent said McMahon has never listened to the fans and WWE is on the wrong track. Only 3 percent think McMahon is listening to the fans, while 6 percent said McMahon doesn't listen to the fans, but "he knows what he's doing."


-The Oct. 31 Raw averaged a 3.0 rating in a PWTorch.com Poll, and Shawn Michaels was picked as the MVP of the program. Taboo Tuesday averaged a 6.0 rating.


-Spike TV will air a UFC Fight Night Live special this Saturday, Nov. 5. The special will be replaced head-to-head with Raw on Monday, Nov. 7 beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Also, the following live UFC special will take place Jan. 16, on a Monday night head-to-head with Raw. Spike TV is committed enough to UFC

that a fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter is already in the works, and Dana White has hinted that it could include a mix of fighters who have previous experience in UFC.


-Chris Jericho has been touring in the UK with his Fozzy band and sold out five of his first eight concerts.


-Referee Brian Hebner, the son of Dave and Earl Hebner, was released last month by WWE.


-Regarding the rivalry with WWE, Dana White told Pro Karate Weekly this week: "Is there a rivalry? I don't know. The thing is WWE is huge. They've been around 30 plus years. I don't even know how many years they've been around... Is there any animosity toward us? Absolutely not. We're two totally different things. We're real fighting, they're not. They have a great business and have made a lot of money for a lot of years. I don't know how we compete with them because we are different businesses. We're so different. Obviously we compete for airtime on pay-per-view, we're both jumping around talking to networks. But other than that, we're two totally different businesses."


-WWE creative team member Dusty Rhodes was injured during a recent indy match. He told a promoter for whom he had to cancel another wrestling appearance that he was hospitalized and in tremendous pain. He is under doctor's orders not to travel.


-On TSN Sportscenter, they had a top ten list of athlete appearances on talk shows, and Hulk Hogan's appearance on The Tonight Show in the 1980s was no. 9.


-Matt Hardy spoke about "Internet fans" in an interview with the Miami Herald: "I think Taboo Tuesday is a great concept. They did it last year, and I'm glad they stuck with it again this year. Once again I think it's using the Internet as a tool. If you look at the people on the Internet, don't get me wrong, I like the Internet fans because they are very passionate, but they are also very hypocritical. As soon as they say they want something and whenever they get it, they say, 'Well, we really didn't want that because of so and so.' A lot of the people in the Internet wrestling community, the diehard wrestling fans, will be the first to do that. It's hard to make them happy, but by giving them access to voting and letting them feel like they actually feel like they are apart of that."


-Former TNA wrestler Mikey Batts signed a developmental deal with WWE. He is training in the Deep South developmental territory.


-On a trivia note, Kane & Big Show have teamed up before, and they've actually lost, too. They lost at Vengeance 2001 in a match against the Dudleys.


-The wrestler that Jerry Jarrett represented in a meeting at WWE headquarters last week is Oleg Aleksandrovich Prudius, whose online bio states is 6-6 and 310 pounds. He says he has experience in football, freestyle wrestling, rugby, sambo, judo, grappling, and pro wrestling.


-WWE's Ashley is on the cover of the December issue of Flex Magazine.


-Christian was tight with Brian Gewirtz behind the scenes. He grew frustrated that many promises were made to him about his push, but almost none came to fruition. He had grown more and more miserable and didn't see anything changing once it was clear that McMahon saw nothing in him but a mid-card jobber. The final straw was the cut in his downside guarantee on the contract renewal offer he was given less than two weeks ago. Says one WWE wrestler regarding Christian departure: "It's surprising. He seemed like a wrestler who showed up on time, did what he was told, and collected his paycheck. The place is just crazy now if it's driving people like him away." Christian is only 31, and worked for WWE for seven years.

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-The line-up for TNA Genesis on Nov. 13 is: Rhino & Team 3D vs. Jeff Jarrett & America's Most Wanted, Sabu vs. Abyss in a no DQ match, Monty Brown vs. Jeff Hardy in a top contenders' match, A.J. Styles vs. Petey Williams, and Team Canada vs. 3 Live Kru. The X Division Title match is actually listed fourth on the website line-up sheet.


-TNA announced this week it has signed former Tough Enough winner and WWE wrestler Jackie Gayda.


-February 13, 2006 is almost a lock to be the next two hour prime time special for TNA, assuming Spike doesn't move quicker in offering a weekly timeslot. Feb. 13 is the Monday when USA preempts Raw for the Westminster Dog Show.


-During the TNA prime time special, ads ran for the Nov. 13 TNA Genesis PPV which mentioned that Jeff Jarrett as the NWA World Hvt. Champion. His match regaining the NWA Title from Rhino hadn't aired yet. It's most likely that the ad was created even before Jarrett lost the title to Rhino since that title change wasn't planned, but was rather a result of Kevin Nash missing the event.


-Regarding Tito Ortiz, who refereed the TNA Bound for Glory PPV main event, UFC promoter Dana White told Pro Karate Weekly: "He's a step over a dollar to pick up a dime guy." White says he hasn't had any talks with Ortiz about returning to UFC.




-ROH runs events this weekend in Detroit and Chicago. Detroit headlines with Bryan Danielson defending the ROH Hvt. Title against Chris Sabin. Also, Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Colt Cabana vs. Homicide, Chad Collyer & Sal Rinauro vs. Jack Evans & Roderick Strong, Nigel McGuiness vs. Claudio Castagnoli for the Pure Title, Austin Aries vs. Alex Shelley, and A.J. Styles & Matt Sydal vs. Jimmy Rave & Abyss, along with an appearance by Jim Cornette, the new authority figure. Then Chicago features both Cornette and Bill Watts, plus Danielson vs. Roderick Strong in a rematch for the ROH Title, Daniels vs. Joe, Aries & Styles & Evans & Sydal vs. Rave & Shelley & Abyss & Prince Nana, Cabana vs. Homicide, Ace Steel & Delirious vs. Collyer & McGuiness, Castagnoli vs. B.J. Whitmer, and Rinauro vs. Jimmy Jacobs.


-There was an altercation between Roderick Strong and Danielson near the end of their Oct. 29 match and heated words between them backstage afterward. Says one ROH wrestler, "They were jaw-jackin' pretty hard when they got backstage after the match." When asked, Strong didn't want to talk to friends about what happened. Gabe Sapolski had to calm them down backstage. Sapolski tells the Torch: "Well things did?very heated at the finish and they did cross the line. There is no guessing about it."


-Before the Oct. 29 main show in Woodbridge, N.J., there were two student matches, both of which were qualifying matches for the "Top of the Class" trophy: Pele Primeau defeated Bobby Dempsey and Shane Hagador defeated Smash Bradley.





NOVEMBER 1, 2005


By Wade Keller and James Caldwell


With Joey Styles and Jerry Lawler announcing, Todd Grisham announced that Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio won fan balloting to face Edge and Chris Masters in the opening match. Edge backed out of the match, saying a victory over Hardy or Mysterio would do nothing for his career. Edge was replaced by Snitsky.


(1) Rey Mysterio & Matt Hardy beat Snitsky & Chris Masters at 14:10. Mysterio received the hometown crowd pop and took the opening beat down before tagging out to Hardy as two referees - each representing Raw and Smackdown - counted nearfalls during the match. Snitsky and Masters worked on Hardy before Hardy scored a botched top rope suplex that nearly took Snitsky's head off. Mysterio took the hot tag and the action broke down into a four-way brawl. Masters took the 619 from Mysterio before Hardy scored with the Twist of Phate. Mysterio hit a springboard splash on Masters for the win. Solid action, albeit a bit long. (**1/4)


Maria, who was wearing a Mankind mask, approached Mick Foley about their luggage being switched. Maria eventually stripped off her Halloween costume and Foley tried to play off Maria's sensuality.


(2) Eugene & Jimmy Snuka beat Rob Conway & Tyson Tomko at 6:20. Snuka won the voting for which legend to team with Eugene by a slim margin over Jim Duggan and by wide margin over Kamala. Snuka stayed on the apron until Eugene could make the hot tag. Snuka hit a top rope splash on Conway after spending some uncomfortable moments trying to balance. (1/2*)


(3) Mankind beat Carlito at 7:17 with Mr. Socko. "Mankind" beat out "Cactus Jack" for which gimmick Mick Foley should appear as. Carlito took the early advantage before Mankind came back with signature spots outside of the ring. Foley pulled out Mr. Socko and stuffed it down Carlto's throat for the victory. Foley didn't look into the match and Carlito couldn't carry Foley. (3/4*)


Vince McMahon approached Eric Bischoff backstage. Bischoff was complaining about the Smackdown brand beating his Raw brand in the opening match. McMahon told Bischoff to suck it up and start asserting himself rather than complaining. McMahon, who was possibly sending a few hidden messages, told Bischoff, "I'm tired of changing your damn diapers." McMahon left and Bischoff tried to hold his chin up high after McMahon told him no more excuses.


Todd Grisham announced the voting results for who would be the third wrestler in the WWE Championship match. Shawn Michaels won the voting by a slim margin over Kane and large margin over Big Show. That set up Kane and Show to team together against Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade for the World Tag Titles.


(4) Kane & Big Show beat Trevor Murdoch & Lance Cade at 7:48 to capture the World Tag Titles. Murdoch and Cade were overmatched and Murdoch bumped around the ring for the larger Kane and Big Show. After Big Show took a hot tag, Kane clotheslined Murdoch over the top rope. Cade took a double chokeslam then Show scored the pin to capture the tag belts. Afterwards, Todd Grisham tried to interview Show and Kane, but Trevor Murdoch interrupted by talking trash from the apron. Show and Kane delivered a second chokeslam to quiet Murdoch before walking out of the ring with the belts. (3/4*)


(5) Batista beat The Coach & Vader & Goldust at 4:24 in a Street Fight. Prior to the match, Coach talked to Vader and Goldust about becoming World Champion. Batista absorbed an early attack by Vader and Goldust, but came back with an attempted spinebuster on Vader, who couldn't get off the ground to help Batista. Batista yelled at Vader then hit the move again leading to a Batista Bomb on Coach for the win. Pointless match. (DUD)


Todd Grisham spoke with Shawn Michaels about his opportunity to capture the WWE Championship. Kurt Angle interrupted and proposed a plan to work together in eliminating John Cena from the WWE Title match. Angle said they could finally settle the score of who the better wrestler is and the best wrestler would walk away with the WWE Title. Michaels, who debated whether to give into Angle's proposal and sacrifice his babyface conscious, said he would think about the plan.


(6) Trish Stratus beat Mickie James, Candice Michelle, Victoria, Trish Stratus, and Maria at 6:19 to retain the Women's Title in a lingerie battle royale. Mickie James, Victoria, and Trish were the three remaining participants. Mickie sacrificed herself and took Victoria out of the match to give Trish the win. Trish celebrated the victory then tried to speak with Todd Grisham about the victory, but Mickie interrupted and proclaimed Trish's greatness. Trish tried to play off the accolades and looked uncomfortable listening to Mickie. (1/2*)


(7) Ric Flair beat Triple H at 23:36 to retain the Intercontinental Title in a steel cage match. After Ric Flair begged for a cage match against Triple H on the previous two weeks of Raw, the fans responded by voting a steel cage match over a "one fall to the finish" and "submissions" match. Triple H opened up Flair early on by slamming him headfirst into the steel cage. Triple H slowly and methodically beat on Flair before locking in a figure four. Flair gathered his energy, told Triple H, "F--- you," and reversed the figure four to take the offensive advantage. Flair sent Triple H into the steel cage, opening up Triple H from the forehead. Flair delivered a low blow then cracked a steel chair over Triple H's head repeatedly. Flair crawled out of the cage to win the match and retain the IC Title. The fans stood and applauded Flair's victory. Solid effort in trying to create an epic match between two of WWE's top names. (***1/2)


(8) John Cena beat Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels at 16:45 to retain the WWE Championship. Angle attacked Michaels immediately after the opening bell, showing he wasn't willing to work Michaels as he originally suggested. Eventually, Michaels and Angle found themselves standing over Cena's fallen body and decided to work together. They delivered a double team suplex on Cena, sending him crashing through the Spanish announce table. Michaels and Angle returned to the ring and wrestled for several minutes, exchanging nearfalls. Cena came back out of nowhere and knocked over Angle and Michaels. Angle took Cena down with an ankle lock after Michaels was knocked to the outside. Michaels decided to break up the ankle lock with a top rope elbow drop as Cena nearly tapped out. The fans were split in their allegiance to Cena as he nearly tapped out with adult males hoping for Angle to score the win. Michaels hit Angle with a superkick after breaking up the ankle lock then turned around and walked into an "FU" by Cena for the clean win. Great action and story in the ring with Michaels's drive for the WWE Championship taking over and eventually costing him the match. (****)

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WWE Raw - 10/31/05

By Wade Keller and James Caldwell




ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA -- One day before WWE's interactive Taboo Tuesday PPV, the main drawing card of the show was removed from the deck in favor of Smackdown's champion. Steve Austin, who refused to lose his scheduled match against The Coach, backed out of the PPV and storyline all together, leaving WWE without an opponent for Coach. Vince McMahon appeared on Raw and informed Coach that Austin would not answer his challenge, citing an "accident over the weekend" that would keep Austin off Raw and the PPV. McMahon gave Coach a warm-up opponent in the form of Funaki, who was quickly disposed of by Coach and his two new friends, Goldust and Vader. Coach asked for a better Smackdown opponent and Batista answered the challenge. However, Batista was quizzically subdued by Vader, who appeared to have gained several pounds, and Goldust. Coach and his two new friends left the ring feeling good, setting the stage for the new feature match of Coach & Vader & Goldust vs. Batista at Taboo Tuesday.




(1) Kurt Angle beat Tajiri via submission at 3:58 when Tajiri tapped out to the Anklelock. Tajiri got in some early offense, but Angle dominated after reversing Tajiri's tarantula maneuver. Afterwards, Angle took the mic and replayed last week's show-closing moment of John Cena being forced to tap out by Eric Bischoff. John Cena quickly hit the ring, ducked a clothesline, and shoulder tackled Angle out of the ring to the outside. (*)


(2) Eugene beat Rob Conway via DQ at 3:10 when Conway used a chair on Eugene. Eugene hit the ring running after Conway came out, but Conway took the formulaic advantage by cutting Eugene off as he tried to re-enter the ring after some brawling outside. Eugene "hulked up" after Conway slammed his head into the mat then scored a nearfall, thinking he won the match. Conway grabbed a chair from outside of the ring and walloped Eugene, prompting a DQ. Conway beat on Eugene until Kamala, Jim Duggan, and Jimmy Snuka made the save. Snuka hit a top rope splash then Jerry Lawler came to the ring in a burger king costume and hit a top rope fist drop. (*)


(3) Triple H pinned Viscera at 0:15 with the Pedigree. Before Viscera could get both legs over the top rope, Triple H cut Viscera off and hit his finisher. Afterwards, Triple H sent Viscera to the outside and smashed the steel ring steps over his head. Triple H took the mic and told Ric Flair he takes no responsibility for the bad things he'll do at Taboo Tuesday. (n/a)


(4) Kane & Big Show beat the Heart throbs (Antonio & Romeo) at 2:45 in a Texas Tornado match. Kane and Big Show played a game off "can you top this?" trying to work over their undersized opponents. Eventually, they hit dual chokeslams for the dual pin. (3/4*)


(5) John Cena and Shawn Michaels wrestled to a No Contest at 9:18 when Kurt Angle interfered. Throughout the match, the children and women cheered heavily for Cena, while Michaels received strong applause from adult males. Michaels played the heel in a match-up of two babyfaces with Michaels setting the tone early by delivering a stiff chop after shaking hands prior to the opening bell. After Angle interfered while both men were on the mat following a missed elbow drop by Michaels, Cena went for the FU on Angle, but Michaels superkicked both Cena and Angle with Cena taking the bigger blow. Michaels stood over Cena and played with the WWE Championship belt before placing it on Cena's fallen arm. Decent action that carried the wrestling portion of the show. (**)




Chris Masters hosted a Smackdown Masterlock challenge. Eric Bischoff introduced Teddy Long and Rey Mysterio before Mysterio and Masters exchanged words. Mysterio hit Masters over the head with a mic, leading to a brawl between Raw's heel mid-carders and Smackdown's elite. Smackdown came out victorious... Ric Flair cut a short, but sweet promo saying he's tired of kissing Triple H's ass... Carlito called out Mick Foley, but Foley appeared on the video screen in the form of Dude Love, Cactus Jack, and Mankind... Jerry Lawler hosted a diva costume party. Micki James dressed up as Trish Stratus in continuation of her stalker gimmick. Trish and Micki cleared the ring of Victoria before joining Maria and Ashley to throw Candice Michelle in the air... Todd Grisham dressed up as Chicago Cubs legendary announcer Harry Caray and interviewed Mick Foley and John Cena in character... Considering it was Halloween and Disneyland is just on the other side of the freeway from the Arrowhead Pond, many fans wore Halloween costumes... Torch Scores: JP-4.0; BM-3.0; PM-3.0; JC-4.0; DG-2.0; WK-2.5...




WWE Smackdown - 10/28

By Wade Keller and James Caldwell




SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- One week after capturing the United States Title from Chris Benoit in tainted fashion, Booker T forced Sharmell to apologize to Chris Benoit for her actions. Pretending to doubt the existence of video footage showing Booker's illegitimate victory, Booker watched as Teddy Long rolled video from last week's victory. Booker, who looked disgusted after watching the video, told Sharmell to shut up and apologize to Benoit in the ring. Instead, Sharmell mockingly apologized for forcing Booker to be more of a fan before slapping Booker across the face. Sharmell left the ring before apologizing to Benoit for what he was about to endure. Benoit turned around and took a belt shot to the face, which opened up the former champion. Booker and Sharmell celebrated their devious plot to turn on Benoit and capture the U.S. Title. Of course, we were still left without an answer to where Booker felt he could actually capture the title without Sharmell's help.




(1) Rey Mysterio beat Matt Hardy, Christian, Hardcore Holly, and JBL at 7:00. The match was set up during the Peep Show segment at the top of the show when a flurry of wrestlers interrupted Christian. With all five men vying for two spots in the Taboo Tuesday PPV match between Smackdown and Raw, each man wanted to assert himself for the fans. Mysterio, who will be the hometown favorite with the PPV taking place in San Diego, scored the victory on Christian with a springboard huricanrana then shook hands with Matt Hardy after the match. Well-paced opening match. (**1/4)


(2) Short Sleeve Sampson pinned Pitbull Patterson at 2:30 with a splash. The match involved the usual "midget" or "juniors" comedy including the referee being taken down by both wrestlers. UPN executive Palmer Cannon sat in on commentary and joked that the juniors division action would lead to a sure-bet increase in ratings. Afterwards, Simon Dean came to the ring in response to the juniors causing him to crash on his moped. The juniors attacked Dean for interrupting. (n/a)


(3) MNM (Mercury & Nitro w/Melina) beat Animal & Heidenreich and William Regal & Paul Burchill & the Mexicools (Super Crazy & Psicosis w/Juventud) at 12:00 to capture the Tag Team Titles. After a sloppy exchange near the end of the match including OVW's Tolands attacking Animal ringside, MNM hit the Snapshot on Heidenreich for the upset victory. Melina screamed from ringside and sold the victory as a major occurrence for MNM. (*3/4)


(4) Eddie Guerrero & Batista & Roddy Piper beat Randy Orton & Bob Orton & Mr. Kennedy at 10:27 when Piper made Bob Orton pass out to his sleeper hold. Prior to the match, Batista presented Guerrero with a present for taking a chair shot for him on last week's show. Batista unveiled a green low rider complete with Mexican flags and green trim. Guerrero and Batista rode the low rider to the ring with Guerrero's old "babyface" music playing. Solid TV match, but no major storylines were forwarded. (*1/2)




Roddy Piper confronted Bob Orton backstage before Randy Orton intervened and defended his father's honor. Piper said the Ortons represent reverse evolution and the next generation might be walking on all fours... Vito and Nunzio approached Teddy Long and demanded a tag title match. Long granted them a handicap match against Bobby Lashley on next week's show instead. The Boogeyman appeared from behind Teddy Long's office door and scared the Smackdown GM before smashing an alarm clock over his head...




Despite less effort being placed into the brand, Smackdown currently has more potential than Raw. The two keys to Smackdown are not having the McMahon family taking up all the storyline space and having two well-developed and compelling relationships - Chris Benoit-Booker T and Eddie Guerrero/Batista.


I'm really enjoying the camaraderie between Guerrero and Batista right now. They're harmonious in walk, thought, and in-ring moves that they form a great tandem. Where they go from here with Guerrero possibly turning heel or simply remaining babyface and not allowing his competitive spirit to get the best of his friendliness remains to be seen. In the mean time, I'm just going to enjoy watching Batista and Guerrero work together as a well-oiled machine... Torch Scores: JC-7.0; PM-6.5; JP-6.5, DG-6.5, WK-6.5;





TNA Impact - 10/29

By James Caldwell and Paul Madavi




ORLANDO, FLA. -- Brother Ray and Brother Devon returned to Impact after being last seen facedown on the mat in a pool of their own blood on the October 8 edition. However, Team 3D was more concerned about addressing the funeral procession held by America's Most Wanted, Team Canada, and Jeff Jarrett on the October 15 edition. Brother Ray warned AMW about not finishing the job, sending a terse warning to the current NWA tag champs. Following the promo, Team Canada interrupted and delivered a four-man sneak attack. 3 Live Kru made the temporary save before Jeff Jarrett and AMW helped Team Canada in the battle. Setting up next week's NWA Title match between Rhino and Jeff Jarrett, NWA Champion Rhino made the final appearance of the show to even the sides as the show closed.




(1) Abyss (w/James Mitchell) pinned Lance Hoyt at 3:45 with the Black Hole Slam. Instead of switching from camera shot to shot during ring introductions, TNA focused on each wrestler as he came to the ring to place emphasis on the talent involved in the match. Hoyt delivered weak right hands then walked into Abyss's finisher for the victory. After the match, James Mitchell handed Abyss his trademark bag of thumbtacks. Before Abyss could use the tacks, the lights went out then came back on to reveal Sabu standing in the ring. Sabu showed that his arm was covered in barbed wire, which scared Abyss out of the ring.


(2) Christopher Daniels pinned Jerrelle Clark at 2:30 with Angel's Wings. This match aired in replacement of the scheduled match between The Naturals and Buck Quartermain & Lex Lovett after Chase Stevens suffered a cracked vertebrae taking a move from Quartermain. Daniels made short work of Clark for the victory.


(3) A.J. Styles & Sonjay Dutt beat Roderick Strong & Alex Shelley at 9:35. The finish came when Styles hit the Styles Clash on Strong for the victory as Dutt held off Shelley outside of the ring. After a quick burst of match action, TNA went to a commercial break then came back with Team Canada's Scott D'Amore complaining to Mike Tenay and Don West about unfair treatment to Petey Williams. The minor distraction was quickly erased by A.J. Styles, who took the match over and looked like a star. After Strong came back with a sick backbreaker, Styles used a distraction by Dutt to set up Strong for his finisher and the win.


(4) America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm w/Gail Kim) beat 3 Live Kru (B.G. James & Ron Killings w/Konnan) at 4:03 when Storm pinned pinned B.G. following a superkick. Prior to the finish, B.G. set up Chris Harris for a pumphandle slam, but Gail Kim popped onto the ring apron and distracted the referee. That allowed James Storm to enter the ring and roll Harris to the outside. Storm played dead while B.G. watched Konnan chase Kim outside of the ring. Meanwhile, Coach Scott D'Amore ran to the ringside area and tried to pass a hockey stick to AMW, but Kip James followed D'Amore and stole the stick before handing it off to B.G. James. As B.G. prepared to hit Storm, Chris Harris ripped the stick out of B.G.'s hands allowing Storm to pop up to his feet and prepare for a superkick on an unsuspecting B.G. James. Afterwards, Konnan argued with Kip as B.G. tried to keep the two heated rivals separated.




Mike Tenay stood in front of the camera with Don West and apologized to TNA fans for the equipment malfunction during the Ultimate X match at the Bound for Glory PPV. Tenay said Petey Williams, Chris Sabin, and Matt Bentley would compete in a re-match on the Thursday night special. Jeff Jarrett interrupted and brought Larry Zbyszko with him to the ring to announce an NWA Title match between himself and Rhino at the Impact special... Larry Zbyszko granted 3 Live Kru a re-match against Team Canada at the Genesis PPV. Kip James threw his name in the hat for special referee... TNA featured a well-done video package on the history of the NWA Title going back to the days of George Hackenschmidt. The video feature was part of the renewed working agreement between the NWA and TNA...




Right off the bat, there was something different about this episode of Impact on Spike TV. Rather than moving from crowd shot to crowd shot in order to achieve the Tonight Show with Jay Leno effect of getting everyone in the audience - except the one lone sole in the deep left corner of the studio - on camera in the opening shot, TNA focused on one single, solitary image of Abyss slowly making his way through the entrance tunnel to the ring. TNA used an establishing shot to focus on Abyss without the sudden camera shots of the fans, placing an emphasis on talent instead. Somewhere, somehow, someone backstage discovered a bottle of Ritalin for the trigger happy production crew.

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Ohio Valley - 10/22

By James Caldwell and Killian




LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. -- One week prior to the most anticipated OVW Title match in some time, OVW Hvy. Champion Johnny Jetter and Matt Cappotelli were profiled in-depth. Throughout the show, OVW featured separate interview segments between champion and challenger to hammer home the key points of their match. Neither man was live at the Davis Arena for the show, which heightened the sense of anticipation prior to their match next week. Matt Cappotelli came across as a man ready to explode after waiting several months simply to get his hands on Jeter, much less receive his awaited OVW Title shot.




(1) Rene Dupree and Robert Fury wrestled to a no contest when Mark Henry interrupted. Henry, who was making his return to OVW, chased Dupree out of the ring. Fury decided to stick around and he took a belt whooping from Henry for his trouble.


(2) Chris Cage pinned James Gibson. During the match, Aaron "the Idol" Stevens taunted Cage as Gibson worked over the neck, which Stevens injured last week using the Idolizer DDT on the concrete floor. Cage shook off the attack and won with a pin.


(3) Brent Albright & Elijah Burke beat C.M. Punk & Doug Basham & Mo Green. The scheduled match was Albright vs. Basham, but the action broke down leading to a handicap match. Punk and Albright brawled outside of the ring to the side door of the arena. Burke scored the pinfall victory on Mo Green then Doug Basham jumped him afterwards.


(4) Bobby Lashley pinned Dean Visk (w/Kenny Bolin and Ken Doane). Lashley decisively won the anticipated blow-off match with a spear and powerslam. The match had been brewing for several weeks after Visk and Doane repeatedly mocked Bobby Lashley. Lashley had enough and broke away from the group, eyeing Visk for his chance at redemption. After the match, Doane attacked Lashley with some punches while trying to avoid Lashley's stiff right hands. However, Lashley landed a stiff knockout punch that sent the television champion out of the ring. To conclude the match segment, Lashley stood inside the ring and stared down Doane, who found himself outside of the ring regrouping with Kenny Bolin.




WWE Raw's Maria tried to interview Micki James - formerly Alexis Laree - about her name change, but Ken Doane's valet, Sosay, interrupted and engaged in a verbal disagreement with Maria. Ken Doane ran in and separated Sosay from Maria before cutting a promo on Bobby Lashley... The Tolands congratulated Seth Skyfire and Chet "the Jet" for winning the Southern tag titles last week before issuing a re-match challenge...




Ohio Valley - 10/29

By James Caldwell and Killian




LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. -- After an entire summer and half of the fall season waiting for his OVW Title shot against Johnny Jeter, Matt Cappotelli failed in his first attempt to defeat his former Thrillseekers partner. Cappotelli came close as he delivered what looked to be the knockout punch in the form of a superkick, only to have Mr. Kennedy interfere on Jeter's behalf to save the champion. Kennedy pulled the referee out of the ring before Cappotelli flew onto Kennedy and the referee, who was knocked out in the process. Kennedy handed Jeter the OVW Title then took a superkick to the mouth. Cappotelli turned around and ducked a title belt shot before taking a low blow from Jeter, which resulted in the final blow to Cappotelli's title chance. After much hype and ceremony, Jeter walked out of the Davis Arena still OVW Champion.


Prior to the match, OVW played a video package of champion and challenger in a split-screen preview with both men voicing the same lines of "I am the real Thrillseeker" and "I will leave tonight the OVW Champion" simultaneously before their faces came together.




(1) Elijah Burke pinned Doug Basham. The finish came when Burke blocked a top rope cradle DDT attempt and hit the Elijah Experience. Good, fast-paced match.


(2) WWE Raw's Maria and Sosay wrestled to a no contest in a catfight when both women's dresses were ripped off. The match was set up earlier in the show Maria was very excited about Jeter-Cappotelli backstage. "I am so excited about Cappotelli vs. Jeter, there is a puddle underneath me!" she said. Ken Doane's valet, Sosay, walked up to Maria and saw that they were wearing the same dress. After checking each other out in disgust, a catfight ensued in the ring. After both women ripped off the other's dress, Bobby Lashley and Ken Doane hit the ring to separate the two women.


(3) Brent Albright pinned C.M. Punk after a three-quarter nelson suplex. Prior to the match, Albright tried to shake hands, but Punk slapped him across the mouth. Albright appeared to have the match won with his deadly Crowbar submission, but Punk broke out of the hold and applied his own submission hold. Albright could not power out of the hold so he settled for breaking the hold by grabbing the ropes. Eventually, Albright hit a suplex for the win, but not before Punk established himself in the match.


(4) Johnny Jeter pinned Matt Cappotelli to retain the OVW Title. Details above.




The main event for next week's OVW TV show will be Ken Doane defending the TV title against Bobby Lashley... The 25-minute OVW title match aired commercial-free on television...


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The Most Half-Assed Mitchell Column Ever



By Bruce Mitchell, Torch columnist


To: Steph

cc: Paul, Kevin Dunn


Re: Enemies List


After this last month I think it's time we revised and expanded this little jewel. Baby, it's your best idea yet! We'll get 'em all, the ungrateful sons of bitches...




Enemies List

Jim Ross

Spike TV

Mike Goldberg

Bill Goldberg


Bret Hart

Chris Jericho


Steve Austin

Steve Austin's Career Counselor

USA Network

Phil Mushnick

Daniel Puder

Tabbo Tuesday voters

Chris Rock

Shane Douglas

Jim Ross

Joey Styles

Hulk Hogan

Ultimate Fighters

The X Division


Ted Turner

Mark Copani

One quarter of Raw's viewership

Eric Bischoff

Paul Heyman

Jim Cornette

Brock Lesnar

Bruno Sammartino

The Internet

Molly Holly

Randy Savage

Big money advertisers like the NFL gets

Dana White


Matt Hardy

J.J. Dillon

Black People



Old People

Jim Ross

Buh Buh Ray Dudley

Devon Dudley


Vince Russo

Linda McMahon

Shane McMahon

Marissa McMahon

Declan McMahon

Jonathan Coachman

Jerry Lawler

Bret Hart

Bob Costas

Lex Luger

Some of the Divas

Stockholding Conference Callers

Bob Carter

Dixie Carter

Mike Tenay

House Show Customers

Neilsen Media Research

People without big necks

People without big foreheads

Jesse Ventura

Chris Benoit

Alex Marvez

Billy Gunn

Bret Hart

Shelton Benjamin

Jim Ross







McNeill Library

11-05-05: Conventional Wisdom

By Pat McNeill, Torch columnist

Nov 5, 2005, 18:07



"McNeill Factor"

Headline: Conventional Wisdom

Originally published: November 5, 2005

Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #886


It takes a very special type of person to become a wrestling promoter. Every weekend, someone looking at the PWTorch website can find links to dozens of different shows throughout North America. Each show is a pretty impressive undertaking in itself, as a promoter and his crew have to put together a wrestling ring, find a willing venue, advertise the show, and assemble twelve to twenty trained professional wrestlers and a referee or two.


Then you have the conventioneers, the hardy men and women who organize and put together wrestling conventions. Although they're growing in number, wrestling conventions, especially ones involving semi-famous wrestlers, are a lot rarer in North America than independent wrestling events. Why is that?


?Wrestling conventions take a lot more effort than putting on a show,? explains Mark Stoddard, one of the organizers of next month's Holiday Bash Pro Wrestling Expo in Somerset, New Jersey. "With a show, you know all the wrestlers are going to be there at the same time. Here, we coordinate a bunch of different schedules.?


Actually, Stoddard and partner Daniel O'Connell have something even more ambitious in mind for their Thanksgiving weekend. The expo will start at 10 AM on November 26th and run for six hours. At that point, Stoddard and O'Connell will put on their wrestling promoter hat and get ready for the evening's entertainment. As the promoters of Piledriver Pro Wrestling (PPW), they'll be running a show, called the "Holiday Bash?, that night in the same building, headlined by the reunion of former WCW Champion Big Van Vader and his manager, the legendary "King? Harley Race.


The Business Side: Sure, many promoters are big wrestling fans, but what are the advantages to running a convention rather than a show? For starters, there's the money. Tickets for the November 19th "Fan Slam? convention in Totowa, New Jersey, run by Tommy Fierro, are priced from $12 for General Admission to $125 for a "Super Ticket?. Better still, convention organizers don't have to worry about involving their local state athletic commissions, most of whom charge fees or percentages of the gate for the privilege of holding a wrestling event in their state. "I promoted wrestling events for many years under the name ISPW. I was partners with King Kong Bundy in the company and we were running shows every weekend at different high schools in NJ as fundraisers,? said Fierro. But things have changed over the past couple of years as the popularity of pro wrestling has ebbed. "The schools in this area don't want to touch wrestling anymore,? said Fierro.


Plus, a wrestling convention presents many more opportunities for the organizers to showcase their creativity. It's one thing to offer autograph sessions or question and answer periods, but how about the opportunity to have your hair cut by former WWF legend Brutus "The Barber? Beefcake? You can get that at FanSlam for a mere $20, plus a Polaroid photo commemorating the event. Ever wanted to sit down for lunch with Terry Funk and Jerry "The King? Lawler? It would have cost you $55 last month at the K & S WrestleFest convention in Long Island, New York.


Stoddard and O'Connell are busy trying to line up a local motorcycle dealership as a vendor for their show, in the hopes of holding on to people who have interests other than wrestling. Their venue for the event, the massive Garden State Exhibit Center, hosts a number of motorcycle conventions and expos, and they want to make regular visitors feel at home. Stoddard and O'Connell are also working with local video game mavens to make arrangements for fans to compete against NWA Heavyweight Champion Rhino at a wrestling video game on the big screen. No word yet on how much they'll be charging for that attraction.


Frankly, with the number of wrestling conventions on the rise, it is becoming more and more important to have a hook, some sort of factor which differentiates one convention from the next. Stoddard thinks having his show on Thanksgiving weekend is going to help him, due to the lack of competition. "I've heard that you don't want to do wrestling events on Thanksgiving weekend,? explains Stoddard. "But I figure that after people spend Thanksgiving and the day after with their families, by Saturday they'll be tired of looking at each other, and they'll want to go out and do something together.?


Fierro agrees with the importance of having a hook. Although he has been organizing conventions for over a decade, last April's "Tribute to WrestleMania " was his most successful to date. "I had eighteen workers from the first WrestleMania there. With the 20th anniversary the next day, it was the perfect concept and it worked big time. Over 1,800 fans came out to see it.? It also earned Fierro the ire of the WWE legal department, who sent him a nasty letter the day before the convention, asking him not to mention the "WrestleMania? name in his advertising. According to Fierro, he didn't hear from WWE again. "Maybe they were upset that they didn't think of the idea themselves first, who knows?? he laughed. The hook for this year's FanSlam? A rare wrestling convention appearance by "The Living Legend? Bruno Sammartino.


Putting The Word Out: The one thing all the major convention promoters agree on is the need to saturate the local market with advertising. K & S Wrestlefest organizers Ken Pulvidente and Steve Muraglio credited much of their success to the local cable spots they ran during episodes of WWE Raw. The two New Yorkers are selling a Double DVD-R of their event, and have already told Slam Sports of their plans for another convention in 2006. Stoddard and O'Connell plan a similar carpet bombing for their Holiday Bash convention, including local cable ads on WWE Raw, TNA Impact and UFC programs on Spike TV.


Fierro is a big believer in the value of storefront posters and local print advertising. "I know if I was an average "Joe Blow? wrestling fan living in Totowa, NJ,? Fierro explains, "and he opens the newspaper and sees that Bruno Sammartino and Hillbilly Jim are coming to his town, he's going to flip out for it. If fans know about it, they are going to come to it.?


No End In Sight: As in most industries, convention promoters are looking at trends. There's been a growing number of wrestling conventions over the past couple of years. In many cases, the organizers create competition for themselves due to their own successes. "We got the idea for our convention by going to the (Bill Apter) WrestleReunion show this past summer,? Stoddard admits. Once they decided to run their own convention, the two men sought out advice from other veterans of the convention scene. "We met up with Harley Race at a convention, and he was great,? Stoddard enthuses. "Harley let us pick his brain for an hour and forty minutes, just bouncing ideas off of him. You have no idea how much that helped.?


In other cases, the conventioneers help each other out. Greg Price's successful "Legends Fanfest? events in the Carolinas have led to one of his sponsors, Tony Hunter's Carolina Championship Wrestling, doing their own "Fanfest? in South Carolina on November 18th and 19th. Price will be a sponsor of Hunter's event, and will spend his time at Hunter's event promoting his 2006 Legends Fanfest, which will take place in Maryland next summer.


Not everyone is thrilled with the proliferation of wrestling conventions. Tommy Fierro feels that it's too much. "It has come to the point where everywhere you turn there's a wrestling convention somewhere,? he grouses. "After John Arezzi, I was the only one promoting conventions on a regular basis for many years. After last year's Mania convention, everyone and their mother started running conventions on the East Coast.?


But for right now, there's no question that the allure of wrestling conventions is strong enough to bring diehard wrestling fans in the door, and to separate them from their wallets. Stoddard is focusing on running his convention in a professional manner. "We're trying to make this a great experience for the fans, as well as the wrestlers. "One legend told us about a promoter booking him on a flight with a six-hour layover. That kind of thing creates bad feelings, and we're hoping to avoid that.?


Fierro, meanwhile, has no trouble maintaining his enthusiasm after hosting conventions for over a decade. "I remember the first time I went to a convention. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I had never been to anything like this before, so being in a huge room with tons of tables selling all different types of wrestling merchandise and meeting wrestlers was a dream come true. I thought it was the coolest concept ever invented.?

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Caldwell Library

Is there a market for women's wrestling? (#886)


Nov 5, 2005, 18:08



The Perspective with James Caldwell

By James Caldwell, Torch columnist

Original Headline: Is there a market for women's wrestling?

Originally Published: November 5, 2005

Torch Newsletter #886


Since the days of Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter carrying a wrestling promotion during the '50s and '60s, women's wrestling has taken on a different role in North America. Promoters have been afraid to create a full-fledged women's wrestling promotion without a host of T&A and ridiculous gimmicks for fear that wrestling audiences don't want to watch undersized and potentially undervalued female competitors "wrestle.?


In turn, promotions ranging from your local wrestling promotion to WWE have tried integrating women's wrestling into the mix as "special attractions? or buffer matches. Currently, WWE only has a handful of female wrestlers on roster after releasing Jazz, Nidia, Gail Kim, and Molly Holly earlier this year and WWE's way of replacing those wrestlers was to hire models from the diva search contest. Subsequently, the women's division - which was instantly taken down a notch when WWE pushed Ashley into the mix before she was ready - consists of Trish Stratus, and well, Trish Stratus.


At the local wrestling scene, many promotions feature just two or three wrestlers on a regular basis. The same match between the same two wrestlers in the same second slot on the card becomes a repetitive exercise in placing bets on who'll score the first nearfall this week. More importantly, those same two or three wrestlers realize no growth as wrestlers. Working the same wrestler consistently and repeatedly doesn't allow women to develop their skills against a larger, smaller, faster, or slower opponent. When there's no room for growth, the potential for women's wrestling is left on the table.


One start-up promotion running out of the Chicago area hopes to change that. Dave Prazak, who is one of the voices of Ring of Honor and helped book women's matches for the IWA-Mid South promotion from late 2002 to June 2005, is giving a crop of female talent an opportunity to work with peers from across the country in order to grow, develop, and gain exposure.


"We want to give women wrestlers a chance to wrestle other wrestlers in North America,? says Dave Prazak, whose Shimmer promotion will hold its first DVD taping on November 6. "We want to round up all the good workers...and have them work with one another to develop.?


Prazak hopes fans who attend the first show will be the type of fans who "enjoy and appreciate the product,? but the ultimate goal is to allow female wrestlers an opportunity to compete and grow as athletes with the hope that additional exposure will allow talent to command a higher booking fee at independent shows. Making money with the promotion isn't even a chief concern.


"We want to draw 150 (people) to the live show every other month and break even,? says Prazak.


But, how can a wrestling promotion draw a consistent audience to its shows when the concept of women's wrestling has been watered down by WWE's move towards T&A, bad independent wrestling matches, and the notion that female competitors are less athletic than their male counterparts?


Prazak hopes his marketing technique is one part of the solution.


"The name of the promotion indicates the type of product we're going to promote,? says Prazak. "'Wrestling women' has a bad connotation. We're going to focus on the athletic side.?


Aware of the stigma attached to women's wrestling, Prazak has separated the words "women? and "wrestling? from each other like two people straight out of divorce court. Instead, Prazak calls the talent "women athletes,? implying that the competition is between skilled competitors who just happen to wrestle.


Another piece of the solution is scheduling. Prazak plans to run the Shimmer shows every month or every other month to keep a consistent following, but also to ensure the market isn't over-saturated. For women's wrestling in North America, many promotions run into the "All-Japan mystique? trap or what I like to call the "golden ring syndrome.?


During the 1970's on through to November 11, 1994, when All Japan Women's realized the pinnacle of success - a Tokyo Dome show - women's wrestling took on a life of its own as the symbol of what female in-ring competition can ultimately become. Television ratings were good, the product was appreciated, and lengthy tours were standard money-makers.


However, success in Japan was aided by the mystique surrounding the concept. When AJW ran shows on Fuji television beginning in 1975, there wasn't a bra and panties match or lingerie pillow fight opposite the serious wrestling competition.


Many promotions, most notably Women of Wrestling (2000-2001), have tried to run weekly shows in North America featuring gimmick matches and a host of innuendo-laced characters. (Can you say EZ Rider?) W.O.W. lasted six months and many have wondered how it even lasted that long.


"You can't do it every week,? says Dave Marquez, New Japan USA Vice President. "It's not a full-time market - rather - it's a saturated market.?


But, what can North American promoters take from Japan's success with women's wrestling that isn't a direct result of the mystique surrounding the concept?


"A good product that holds the attention (of the audience) can be successful - man or woman,? says Dave Prazak.


It's a basic, underlying factor that applies to all forms of pro wrestling, yet something that many women's wrestling promoters often times forget. W.O.W. featured "wrestlers? who were incapable of working ring crew, much less sell a wristlock. Local wrestling shows will often feature women wrestlers who aren't prepared to compete in the ring, but are used because they can generate a certain response.


"There are some very, very good women wrestlers out there,? says Chris Hero, an independent wrestler and trainer at Chikara pro wrestling in Pennsylvania, "but the division is polluted by so many who don't necessarily respect it and just want to go out there and get a reaction.?


In many ways, the concept of women's wrestling is hurt the most from within rather than external variables of T&A in WWE and over-saturation. Female wrestlers who put on a pair of boots and bounce around the ring without training or a sense of understanding diminish the concept and create the stigma of illegitimate pro wrestling. That stigma follows around the female talent who are solid workers and can actually compete in the ring. Yet, because many promoters are simply looking for the quick reaction rather than building up the concept, wrestlers such as Cheerleader Melissa, Sara Del Ray, Lacey, and Daizee Haze suffer.


"What promoters do is get these girls who aren't necessarily ready, aren't completely trained, and are booked to fail,? says Chris Hero. "They're a little extra attraction.?


Dave Prazak doesn't want his crop of 20-24 female talents to be "extra attractions? on a small-time independent show. Prazak believes in the abilities of trained female athletes who aren't simply looking for a chance to earn a quick $25 bouncing around the ring in a skimpy outfit in between matches involving a few school teachers playing wrestlers on the weekend.


Yet, even when legitimate female talent is booked on local shows, there are only so many available match slots and the male wrestlers are given priority because they drive fans to the arena. And it is the local independent show - where women's wrestling matches are packed in between the male counterparts - when I believe the most damage is done.


At the heart of the issue is the physical match-up between male and female wrestlers. Pro wrestling is a male-dominated sport where moves are executed and made to look real by men. Consequently, when an audience is trained to expect a certain reaction following a move, or expect a certain move to be sold a certain way, women are placed at an instant disadvantage - the in-ring product is designed for how a male body reacts, not for how a female body reacts.


When watching a series of men's matches where the action looks legitimate because of the way moves are sold, the instant change to a women's match can throw an audience off and create the notion that what the women are doing in the ring is fake wrestling. The women may make one or two mistakes that would be glossed over if part of a men's match, but viewed as a glaring error in a women's match.


"There are some girls who work hard - Sara Del Ray wrestles just like a guy,? says Chris Hero. "A lot of women wrestlers - it doesn't look natural for them - so it comes off as them acting like wrestlers.?


The stigma created by women wrestlers who aren't properly trained is exactly that - women who are acting while trying to be wrestlers. The unnatural flow of a match can deprive viewers of their suspension of disbelief and instantly remove any credibility attached to the performance.


Certainly, Dave Prazak understands the knock on women's wrestling, especially when female talent is given one slot on a male-dominated show without room for growth.


"We're going to book quality talent,? says Prazak. "The perception needs to be proven wrong by quality women's wrestling.?


With women's wrestling on the down slope due to the cheap "bra and panties? matches in WWE, matches between untrained competitors at your local show, and business going down in Japan, Prazak has an uphill battle to climb. He understands the stigma and wants to fight the idea that no one cares about women's wrestling in America.


By placing his crop of female talent in an independent promotion, where the product isn't instantly exposed by male wrestling that could hinder the product's acceptability, Prazak has the beginnings of a successful formula.


With a solid schedule in place to not wear out the market, a solid marketing plan in place to negate the stigma attached to women's wrestling, and a DVD distribution deal through Ring of Honor to get the first DVD product out to the market by early December, Prazak is setting the table for a resurgence in women's wrestling on a national scale.


I firmly believe there is a market for women's wrestling despite the many factors which have hurt the concept over and over again - a constant stream of untrained wrestlers, promoters who have haphazardly featured female competition, and WWE's fixation with the Ashley Massaros of the world. There is something to be said for any type of pro wrestling that features a solid roster of quality competitors who are hungry for a fresh opportunity to work in front of an appreciative audience, which is something Shimmer hopes for at their first taping on November 6.


"When you have the same two, three, or four girls, it gets stale,? says Chris Hero. "(You) need an outlet where you can have two matches and actually build to a no. 1 contender and not just hand out title shots left and right.?


That outlet may be Shimmer and the women's pro wrestling movement may begin November 6 in Berwyn, Illinois. It's a small, ambitious step for a concept that will feature the best and brightest talent in the country. Realizing the "golden ring? of women's wrestling may be unrealistic, there's something to be said for progress. Female wrestlers who actually care about the sport and are committed to a solid product deserve that opportunity.


"I am excited and proud to be part of a roster of amazing women from all across the country,? says Allison Danger, one of the centerpieces of Shimmer. "Fans here have waited far too long for an alternative to bra and panties matches and diva searches.?


Yes, yes we have.

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Keller Library

Rolling analysis of TNA's first prime time special (#886)

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

Nov 5, 2005, 18:10



This Week with Wade Keller

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

Original Headline: Rolling analysis of TNA's first prime time special

Originally Published: November 5, 2005

Torch Newsletter #886


-The opening minute or two of TNA's Thursday primetime special edition of Impact featuring the video montage about the evolution of the promotion was smartly done. It gave TNA a big league credibility to show that it has had some major names go through its doors including Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sting, Rick Steamboat, Harley Race, and Ken Shamrock. The video told an effective story for first-time viewers of how TNA has featured some big names over the years, but also has stars of its own. The way the video showed off the athleticism and charisma of its current top stars such as A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and even Rhino and Jeff Jarrett was well-done. It was clear from the vignette and the regular show opening that TNA is not a cheap knockoff or minor league. It felt like it had a history and gave the impression that anyone could show up at any time and there were some home-grown stars worth paying attention to. The catch phrases of "This is TNA: The new face of professional wrestling? and "Two-hour adrenaline rush? are fitting and set the stage well.


-The way they shoot the Universal Studios soundstage has improved over the last couple of years. The camera angles, the hanging logos, the fog and pyro, the tunnel entance, and the rowdy fans all adds up to something that feels different and fresher than WWE's stale SETTING. I am still a bit shocked that WWE didn't unveil something really new and special for the start of Raw on USA Network a few weeks back. Same with the move of Smackdown to Friday nights. WWE is in desperate need of symbolism that there is something new going on. TNA sets that tone early. It's also a visual example of what I talked about way back when the brand split first took place. It's an example of an entirely different way to present wrestling. Had WWE really separated the production staff into two brands and let one get creative, Smackdown and Raw would probably look and feel as different from one another as TNA and WWE do today. Some of that is settings (Universal versus Major Arena), but a lot of that can still be accomplished just through a different vision.


-The opening six-man tag was okay. Jeff Hardy's presense made the segment worthy of being the first match ever for TNA on prime time basic cable. The downside is that Diamonds in the Rough sounds corny without context and on first appearance look like jobbers. Hardy's ring entrance was cool, and he and Sabu hit some interesting highspots. The match had just enough action and was just long enough to be a worthy opening six-man tag.


-Jeff Jarrett's promo was okay, although he belabored his point a bit. Monty Brown was a hoot, as usual. At first he seems like a stereotypical bad acting wrestling promo, but the more you see of him, the more it sinks in that he's just like that and it's not really an act. His slow-cadence mock applause of Jarrett after he bragged about putting a rematch clause into his contract was funny. The promo also set the stage well for Brown being a top contender chasing the NWA World Hvt. Title. Brown also looked good in his quick squash. I liked the small touch where when the fans called for multiple Pounces, his opponent didn't just get up easily for it. His opponent sold that he was already out completely, so Brown had to lift him and set him in position. Brown's intensity is unmatched in wrestling. I could have done without the close-up of the snot on his goatee at the end.


-The vignettes on both Rhino and the X Division were strong. One thing that the McMahon family does not get, and it's just a killer fault of theirs, is that a big thing that most everyday wrestling fans get off on is cool moves that they've never seen before. It's also cool, larger than life, charismatic personalities. But the moves are a big part of pro wrestling's appeal. (And yes, being able to tell a story with those moves is vital, but just because some highspot artists don't doesn't the moves aren't an asset in the right context.) The X Divison video is the type of thing that hooks an entire corner of the potential pro wrestling market that the McMahon family ignore. TNA isn't, and it's why they have a legitimate fighting chance even with less star power, budget, experience, and machinery behind them.


-The six-man X Division tag match was the highpoint of the show. Sonjay Dutt really has a chance to be a special part of the division. He plays to the crowd with a confidence that most others in the division don't have. His cocky strut while walking on the top rope was a standout moment in the match. Another standout moment was when Joe was first tagged in. It's palatable that the tenor of the crowd changes instantly from "we love cool moves? to "someone's gonna get their ass kicked.? Joe delivers a nonchalance and intensity at the same time, mixed with a suddenness that defied preconceptions about his bodytype. He has that something special that is hard to define, isn't like anyone else who's ever come around, but the fans have bought into. He is money if utilized well. A.J. Styles is A.J. Styles; there's almost nothing he does in the ring that isn't just a small bit cooler in execution than anyone else who does the same move. Roderick Strong, Christopher Daniels, and Alex Shelley, in descending order, all had moments to show they belonged, too. This match was enough to get sampling viewers disgruntled with WWE's approach a reason to seek out TNA in the future.


-Rhino's promo was okay if mainly because it was carefully crafted to have Shane Douglas and Raven do most of it for him. He did a better job than before of acknowledging his history of being thwarted by political cames without sounding whiny or bitter. He was treated as a jobber in WWE, so it's important if he's holding TNA's top title for that to be explained. It's not as if he's just so special in the ring or behind the mic that his jobber status in WWE can be easily erased. So a little explanation in the midst of a brief, but intense, promo is the best approach. Overall, though, he still feels like a transition champion who belongs on the mid-card.


-The vignette on Jeff Jarrett was well done, with Mike Tenay - who has credibility when he talks even with viewers who have never seen him before - talking about Jeff Jarrett has been everywhere and has the most experience. It helps establish for skeptical viewers why Jarrett might belong on top.


-Team 3D, stripped of their outfits and better known name (The Dudleys) are exposed for being rather bland. Especially compared to X Divison action, there's just nothing particularly interesting about their act the way they were presented against Team Canada. The strength of BRD is his ability to talk like few others in wrestling, yet TNA didn't feature that at all. In fact, WWE rarely featured it. Boy, did ECW, though, and it's what got the Dudleys over to begin with. The Team 3D vs. Team Canada match was the low point of the show. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't special. Everything else on thes how to this point had something special about it. What really helped, though, was that the crowd was into the match.


-During the Team 3D-Team Canada match, Mike Tenay took what would be characterized as the closest thing to direct shot at WWE since TNA premiered on Spike TV. He said, "If you know somehow who maybe has been turned off by other wrestling products and is looking for a new wrestling alternative, call them.? TNA produced a show strong enough to this point, with enough that was different than what WWE has been presenting, for Tenay's request to resonnate. Sometime a little bragging about what you believe are your strengths helps confirm what viewers were already thinking.


-TNA did a good job throughout the show of building up the "Ultimate X? match as being something to stay tuned for. What TNA failed to do was what they always fail to do - give some dimensions to the personalities involved. There was no excuse to not figure out a way within a two hour show to set the stage for the clash of personalities in this match. The concept of the match would only be stronger if you cared about the personalities involved. When the match began, first-time viewers were sold on only one thing - the style of match historically produces amazing athleticism. It would have been only better to have given viewers some semblance of an idea of who to root for and why. Unlike, say, Sonjay Dutt, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels, there's nothing about Matt Bentley, Chris Sabin, or Petey Williams that jumps out enough to give a new viewer an idea of what they're all about. Bentley's kind of cocky, Petey loves Canada, and Sabin is, well, a guy.


-That weakness addressed, the match itself had some of the same strengths of the earlier six-man tag, although a more generic version of it, helped only by the gimmick aspect of the match. Credit TNA for not interrupting any matches until this one with commercials. That's an overused technique on TNA shows in the past and by WWE in recent years. Just over ten minutes into the match, they went into a sequence where each hit their finishers. That would have meant more had they done a vignette earlier establishing each of their finishers. Petey's Canadian Destroyer, though, drew a "That was awesome!? chant. When's the last time that was heard on WWE television? Try never. The first "sports entertainment? moment of the show came when Tracy and Scott D'Amore got into a brief scuffle in the ring, which added nothing to the match since they did nothing to build up to the moment. They did avoid embarassment with the "X? falling off the cables. Maybe I've seen two or three too many "Ultimate X? matches for me to be the ideal judge of this match, but it felt as weak as their PPV effort last month. But most viewers probably had never seen the concept before, so it worth featuring since so much is on the line. That said, I'd put the match on the shelf for at least six months.


-The hype for Rhino's accomplishment of winning the Monsters' Ball, the Gauntlet, and the World Title all in one night helped build his credibility. short video of him hitting the Gore would have helped, too. The crowd helped by chanting his name when he came out, making him seem like a star. The crowd in some ways was the MVP of the night because they popped for almost everything. They gave Jeff Jarrett some old-style heel heat, too, with a chrous off boos during his introduction. I'm not saying it's not smart of Jarrett to do it this way, but he reserved the entire bag-o-tricks for himself. He didn't go more than two minutes without reaching in for a short-cut. A minute into the match, he and Rhino brawled into the crowd. Nobody else on the show got to do it. Then they brawled into the announcing table. Nobody else on the show got to do that. Then out came the table that fans were chanting for during the Team 3D match. Then came the distraction from Gail Kim (who's animated grossed out reaction to getting Rhino's sweat on her was Melina-like). All that within the first six minutes. Jarrett knows his strengths and even more so his weaknesses and how to cover for them compared to others on the card who have to get by on in-ring storytelling and athleticism alone. That said, Jarrett did show great energy and vigor in everything he did, knowing in almost every way this was the most important performance of his career. The first time he went 90 seconds without reaching into the bag-o-tricks, he settled into a plain chinlock. Oh, and the first bump b a woman and a ref took place in the next few minutes. Then came a low-blow and then a Death Sentence through a table by AMW at ringside. All of that within 13 minutes.


-The show-closing image of Team 3D beaten up and handcuffed backstage gave a hook for a future show. Not a particularly creative hook, but it was something.


-For all of the show's strengths, there were a number of things that could have been included, that wouldn't have taken up much time, and would have helped sell the product to new viewers and make them repeat viewers. What stood out most was the lacking of promos. TNA wants to diffferentiate itself from WWE, and WWE is known more for talking than athleticism. But TNA may have gone too far. It made sense for Jarrett and Rhino to have some mic time, but they aren't TNA's strongest talkers. BRD (a/k/a Bubba Ray Dudley) could have given an edgy promo. AMW could have injected some comedy. The Ultimate X contestants could have established a glimmer of personalities with a little mic time. James Mitchell is beyond underuutilized.


-Since it's likely TNA had a variety of people tuning in as the show was in progress, and since the show was pretaped with more a week to post-produce, and with Dave Sahadi on staff, it would been a crowning touch to have a WrestleMania-level post-show two minute music video that highlighted the memorable moments on the show, reminding and reenforcing to viewers who saw it from the beginning the special moments in the show, and giving a compact, dense highlight reel of what some viewers might have missed.


-With Jim Ross taken off the air, Mike Tenay established himself as the best play-by-play man in wrestling, outshining Joey Styles who did a good job on Taboo Tuesday. Tenay was enthusiastic and energetic, but never overbearing. He gave off a sense of credibility so his hype carried weight. Don West may be an acquired taste, but here he added energy without seeming to stray into overhyper mode.


-Overall, about what it needed to be for TNA not to have any major regrets. It succcessfully focused on TNA's strengths compared to WWE.




Random Thoughts

By Wade Keller, Torch editor


In a PWTorch.com Instant Poll, we asked readers to respond to five different scenarios where they had to pick one wrestler over others. When asked which of the four listed wrestlers would be most valuable to TNA over the next few years, A.J. Styles received 54 percent of votes, Samoa Joe received 37 percent, Monty Brown received 7 percent, and Jeff Jarrett received just 2 percent. I would probably have Samoa Joe above Styles, but it's close. I also think Monty Brown shouldn't be underestimated. I would have those three far above Jarrett, whose limitations are even more obvious when you look at all of the shortcuts he resorted to in his TNA prime time special main event.


There have been three prominent singles wrestlers from WWE who were the subject of TNA speculation recently - Matt Hardy, Chris Jericho, and Christian. Hardy had a chance to sign with TNA, so did Jericho, and now so does Christian. Of those three, 57 percent felt Jericho would be the best acquisition, 40 percent felt Christian would be, and only 3 percent felt Hardy would be. I also can't disagree with the order, but I'm surprised that Hardy finished with so few votes. I think all three could be extremely valuable to TNA, but because Jericho has so much main event PPV experience and is a former Unified Champion in WWE, he would mean the most. Christian is the best talker of the three and if he were to show up in TNA soon would have tremendous impact fresh off of WWE TV. Hardy has been damaged by treated as a mid-carder by WWE since his return.


Between John Cena and Batista, 58 percent picked Cena as being more valuable to WWE over the next few years. I agree with that, also. Both are solid, neither are spectacular, but due to age, charisma, and upside, Cena is the better choice if they had to chose just one of them.


Jeff Hardy talks in this week's "Torch Talk" about how he and his brother Matt might have done if they weren't each other's brother. According to our poll, 71 percent think Matt will be more valuable to WWE over the next few years than Jeff will be to TNA. Matt seems more focused and determined, although he has a real uphill battle to be put in a money position anytime soon. Jeff, though, is limited by the perception that he's not 100 percent committed to pro wrestling, his lack of promo experience, and being treated as a novelty act by TNA instead of a serious contender. A win over Monty Brown at TNA Genesis would change that, but that's not likely going to happen.


The most intriguing of the five polls was whether Randy Orton or Ken Kennedy would be more valuable to WWE over the next few years. The newcomer Kennedy easily beat former World Champion Orton in the voting by a 66 to 34 percent margin. Kennedy has made a big splash in his few weeks on Smackdown. I also agree with this voting. I think Kennedy has shown enough already in terms of being an interesting personality and a solid worker in the ring that's I'd roll the dice with him rather than get behind Orton. Orton seems to have levelled out as a personality and as a worker. There's just something missing in him and it might be a few years before he gains the maturity and life experience to break through whatever is holdling him back. Kennedy exudes charisma and energy and is fun and entertaining to watch. Orton falls short in all of those categories.


McMahon-Ross Skit: Vince McMahon's skit digging into J.R.'s behind two weeks ago was a glimpse of what might happen to all of us if we became multimillionaires with no one to answer to, an arrogant sense of invincibility, a mean-spiritedness toward someone who is popular with your customers against your wishes, and you stopped maturing at age 14. I'm sure USA is thrilled with that display. Characters may be welcome, but are seven minute skits of a 60 year old character digging into the butt of a popular character who was dumped from the show for no good reason and pulling out various objects which ranged from silly obvious jokes to subtle in-jokes really welcome?


The absence of anything being said about what the departure of Steve Austin from the PPV line-up meant to Ross's future was spitting in the face of fans who cared enough to invest emotionally in that storyline up until the night before the PPV. Who knows now if WWE will even address the Ross situation again now that Austin bowed out.

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Guest EastCoastJ


The following are excerpts of Pro Wrestling Torch #357, cover-dated October 21, 1995...


-Well, that didn't last long. The cover story detailed Bill Watts's quick exit as WWF Booker. Excerpt: After just a two month run in the World Wrestling Federation, and only 18 days after Vince McMahon gave Watts a vote of support in front of the entire crew of wrestlers, Bill Watts and the WWF cordially parted ways on Friday, Oct. 13.


When Watts was hired in early August, the idea was he would fill most of the gap being left by the retiring Pat Patterson who held what amounted to the main booking position in the WWF for the better part of a decade. Within two weeks, Watts had fully replaced Patterson as the main intermediary between management and wrestlers at TV tapings and pay-per-views. Watts was providing booking input while being acclimated to the position by Patterson.


About six weeks after being hired, Vince McMahon told the wrestlers at a group meeting on Sept. 24 that Watts was the new man in charge of wrestling operations. He had high praise for Watts and said that Watts would be providing fresh ideas for the WWF and that all wrestling matters would be handed over to him. McMahon said he would not overrule Watts.


Just over a week after that meeting, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, word began to leak from the WWF of major disagreements between Watts and McMahon. Watts was seen blowing up on Tuesday over being overruled on a wrestling matter by McMahon and threatened to quit. Over the next few days, denials of a Wednesday Torch 900 line report of Watts quitting or being on the verge of quitting were plentiful. By Friday, wrestlers were informed in Syracuse before the scheduled show that Friday was Watts's official last day. He was leaving over disagreements regarding being overruled on decisions by McMahon. Wrestlers were told Jerry Brisco would be the short-term, interim replacement.


Watts said in a 1991 "Torch Talk" that he could work for McMahon and in fact would thrive on such an opportunity. "When you're working for somebody, you have to realize you're working for them," Watts said. "It's theirs, not yours."


Watts may not have had such a problem with being overruled had he not explicitly been told and had it not been announced to everyone by McMahon that he would not overrule him. Sources say that in recent days before the blow up, McMahon had whispered to some close to him that he wasn't really going to give Watts total control. Watts, meanwhile, had whispered that he was going to change the WWF more than McMahon realized. Given the egos and stature of both men, such attitudes were a recipe for disaster and it didn't take long before disaster struck.


To think McMahon would seriously hand over total control to Watts was naive and unrealistic, ignoring that what McMahon says and how that applies to his real world are often remarkably different.

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Torch Talk Library

Jeff Hardy: Jeff on Matt's decision to sign with WWE (11-04-05)


Nov 5, 2005, 18:04



Torch Talk with Jeff Hardy, pt. 6

Originally Published: November 4, 2005

Torch Newsletter #886


The following is the sixth and final installment of a two-and-a-half hour "Torch Talk? interview with Jeff Hardy conducted Sept. 15. In this installment, Hardy talks about his brother Matt's decision to sign with WWE instead of TNA, plus his thoughts on TNA getting on Spike TV.


Wade Keller: As far as when you found out Matt was going to TNA, you said a while back in this interview, you were genuinely excited. How did you then find out he was going to WWE instead? What did you tell him? Were you disappointed or understanding or supportive?


Jeff Hardy: I didn't know. He had been doing a lot of appearances and he was still at this point saying to me he was torn and he didn't know what to do exactly. He said if TNA had a TV deal, he would feel a lot better. He said something the Sunday before the Monday Night Raw when he first came back that he had had an appearance. I didn't even know Matt was at Raw. Somebody called me and asked if Matt was at Raw. I didn't know. I just knew he had an appearance (non-WWE) yesterday. I had no idea he was there. Then Matt called late in the evening saying he didn't have to be in the building until about 8:30 or whatever. They were hiding him in a limo. He let me and my dad know that day. He hadn't told my dad he was leaving that week, either. He was kayfabing us.


Keller: What was your first conversation with him like once you knew?


Hardy: Oh, I wished him luck and everything. In the back of my mind I knew he would be going back at some point. Let me know how it goes. That was it. It was a quick conversation.


Keller: What do you think would have happened had Matt signed with TNA? Would it have made a big difference in terms of TNA's success. Looking at the context, if he signed with TNA and had already started or started on Oct. 1, he wouldn't have lost to Edge, he wouldn't have lost to Rob Conway on Raw, he wouldn't have been shown up by Edge and Amy (Dumas) on promos. This would still be the same Matt Hardy whose name was being chanted by all of these fans at all of these arenas who hadn't been on national TV since then. I'm loading this question, but shoot it down if you think I'm overstating it, but do you think Hardy would have made a huge difference to TNA when it comes to ratings and star power and WWE fans tuning in out of curiosity to see what Matt Hardy had to say? Do you think I'm overstating it?


Hardy: No, not at all. I totally think even a part of WWE might have had a little fear knowing how strong of a power Matt and I are together. I'll always admit and I'll always know it. At least I think we are much stronger together than we are apart. I don't necessarily mean just tag team matches. It doesn't mean we have to be a tag team all the time. If he had come to TNA, man, it would have been awesome. Us together, I feel we're so much stronger. I think he would maybe admit - then again, I don't know if he would say it at this point now - I think we're totally stronger together; still doing individual things. Say for example he did come to TNA and the Hardy Boys were back together, whatever, but still doing our individual deals. It would have been awesome. I think it would have been the best move.


Keller: This might be a tough question to answer, but do you think if you were not in TNA that he might have gone there? Do you think, taking into account what we talked about earlier in terms of what came through in the dynamic on the DVD interview, that his desire to prove himself on his own is so great that that was actually a pretty major factor in not wanting to end up perhaps back under your shadow again. No matter how much momentum he had going into TNA with his controversy and his name being chanted, do you think he might have even feared that if he went to TNA, he'd be right back where he was when you guys were a team in that you'd get all the attention?


Hardy: You know, that's a great question, man. Actually, I think that could very well be true. Just knowing how much he enjoys putting together (indy) shows and running shows and just being so involved in wrestling to the fullest extent to his liking and what he envisions and making it happen, I've never really thought about it that way, but that could totally be the truth. This is one question I'd like to take somewhat of a survey on: Would Matt Hardy - and this is going way back to before we made it to WWE and all that - have made it without me? And then vice-versa. If we weren't brothers, but we were the same people coming from whatever background, would he have made it to WWE on his own and would I have made it on my own. It would be interesting.


Keller: The reality has set in now and Matt is in WWE. We've touched on it a few times, but overall what do you think is going on? Do you think he is getting buried by management to get back at him for going into business for himself, so to speak, by going public with the situation with Amy and Adam. Or do you think they just perceive him this way and they're portraying him how they think he would be portrayed? Or do you think things will actually work out really well and people who are kind of concerned that maybe he is getting buried just don't see the big picture yet, but things will all work out?


Hardy: He doesn't seem to be as upset as he would have been as far as losing to guys like Conway or Snitsky or whoever. All the losses don't seem to bother him like it would have in the past. But I can't help but feel that the deep down part of him is (hurting). The things he probably says to himself, asking, "What about this, what about that? Are they testing me?? I just think there is a series of tests going on. I don't know who's writing them out up there, but there are several things going on. They're pushing him and testing him, just seeing how he reacts to them.


Keller: I think it's fair to say about Matt, he's not the type of person who is going to sell or reveal if he is devastated because he has too much pride to admit that things didn't work out when he had a choice and might have made a wrong choice. So, it's hard to read him because he might be genuinely satisfied with things and think things will work out, or he might absolutely be devastated, but there is no way he would admit to it... I think you said it right earlier, that he always had a soft spot for WWE because it's the biggest company with the biggest platform and I think he looked at it and saw a ready-made feud with Edge, and the last person in the world he wanted to benefit from the break up of him and Amy is Adam, at the same time he also knew it was his ticket to get to the next level. I have no way of knowing whether you being in TNA had any affect on his decision, but I think it is true as you said he always wanted to be with the bigger group. Plus the TV deal hadn't been announced yet for TNA. I bet if TNA had announced the Spike deal a few weeks earlier, it might have been enough to change his mind. It's hard in his position to risk staying with TNA and then find out the TV deal fell through and then have Vince McMahon say, "Oh, that deal we offered you a month ago, that's pulled from the table because you had your chance and now you have no leverage.? I think he was scared to wait it out.


Hardy: I don't know if you ever heard this interview, but on some radio station, Matt was in the car and the first girl he was seeing at the time, Lori or something, they were riding to eat, and he did this interview, man, and the guy asked him, "So if you do show up in Orlando, you gotta a certain in down there.? Matt said, "Excuse me?? The host said, "Your brother Jeff.? Matt just said, "Well, I know other people besides Jeff in TNA.? I'm not bothered by that that much, but I'm like, dude, why couldn't you have just said, "Sure, my brother's down there and that would be great.? Why say you know other people, too?


Keller: It comes through in the DVD. He really has a desire to overcome your shadow and it probably comes through even in radio interviews. It's probably great for him because it probably drives him to succeed. In a sense, it's a gift because it motivates him and gives him a reason to reach the highest levels he can because he feels deep down he needs to be a leader and be able to stand on his own two feet.


Hardy: Right on. Right no. And he looks great in the ring. He's wide open and looks the best he's ever looked. There's always a possibility (it will work out).


Keller: I don't think any wrestler should be judged on one interview or even their first four interviews. And Matt isn't a bad interview. He had a disappointing first interview, but it wasn't the greatest circumstances, either, having the Vince McMahon handshake at the start of it. It says something about management's attitude toward him that that was enough for them to lose confidence in him. There are a lot of wrestlers who could have a "disappointing interview,? and they'd give them chance after chance after chance.


Hardy: Right, right. I wonder how much control someone has over his promos in the ring in terms of what he can and can't say. With all the craziness going on, there's no telling what they try to control.


Keller: We talked about the impact Matt could have had if he had signed with TNA. Another wrestler who could have had a major impact would have been Mick Foley. How privy were you to the rumors and the information that TNA management thought they could have Mick Foley under contract by the time they debuted on Spike TV?


Hardy: I never had heard that. I'm not on the Internet hardly ever. I just heard about that at the pay-per-view. Damn, I didn't even know that. I saw him at the Sabu benefit show. He was there. But had he signed with TNA, that would have been huge! That would have been a big-time plus.


Keller: What are you looking forward to most as far as TNA being on Spike TV. Because Fox Sports Net was practically invisible to so much of the country. Spike TV is a stronger network with a better timeslot. What do you personally look forward to the most with this national battle with WWE now?


Hardy: Actually, I just heard about the way they're going to be replaying our Saturday show on Monday nights as well. Wow, it seems it won't be too long before we do have the chance to go head-to-head with Raw. I don't know why WWE is leaving Spike to go to USA, but it seems like something is there where Spike is eager to compete with WWE. I don't think it will be long before we're going head-to-head with them. That is really something to look forward to.


Keller: Do you think TNA has enough talent not just in terms of workrate, but in terms of overall star power, charisma, experience, talking ability, all of that, that entire package? If TNA didn't add any more talent and acquire any big names, can they compete head-to-head with Raw on Monday nights?


Hardy: Oh, yeah. I totally believe so. I am confident and believe in the whole show 100 percent. If it were a two hour show, yeah, we have way enough talent to go head-to-head with them.


Keller: TNA really focuses on the fact that they have wrestling action and their wrestling angles are a little traditional.


Hardy: I check out Matt's match, but otherwise I don't watch much of Raw. I just think once people see TNA who haven't seen it with that (six-sided) ring, it's such a new approach and new look.


Keller: If they did two hours every week, with mostly wrestling every week and some traditional style promos, but nothing outlandish, would that compete with WWE with their more character-driven, more humor-driven, more sports entertaining driven product? That's what WWE does, with the diva competitions and skits. Would TNA fulfill a niche and each would have a huge audience based on TNA being an alternative that provides more athleticism but is otherwise more conservative? Is that a key to TNA surviving?


Hardy: I can't say how the show would be perfect or how to make it better in terms of how it's laid out, but it seems there might be a little too much wrestling. They might need a little more pretaped spots during the show. Especially when you get to two hours... I think with me, there's something the world hasn't seen yet. It comes along with me cutting promos. There is such a part of me, in terms of emotions and my face and how I act that can come across and be mind-blowing I think. Once we establish that, man, which I think will be pretty soon on Spike, I think that's going to be something to see. I'm not saying I'm doing it on my own, but it's going to be a very colorful part of something new as far as what people know of me from WWE.


Keller: In TNA, it's so tough in that one hour slot, and they want to establish how they're different, and they don't want to offend the network because they want to seem very safe. But once they get on Spike TV, and if they do get a two hour slot, then the rules change. With Spike TV as their friend, they're not trying to prove to some future network that they're safe and not going to cause controversy. Spike might tell them to go ahead and push the envelope a little bit. Let's see what happens if you don't just focus on athleticism. It might actually change the product. So do you think TNA has the wrestlers and the bookers to be competitive with WWE in that way?


Hardy: Yeah, I think so. If everything is played right, I know there is potential there. Especially if Spike puts us on head-to-head, them having our back, we have the talent to come across as competitive.


Keller: What do you think of Monty Brown? I think he has a chance to be TNA's own star who carries himself as a real major breakout homegrown star. Do you agree with that? Do you see great potential in him?


Hardy: Yeah, totally. The PPVs I did see before I went to TNA, he always stood out. Then to meet him and actually get to know him a little bit, he's a super guy. He's got great potential. The sky's the limit when it comes to his success in pro wrestling.


Keller: Is there anyone in TNA who you feel is underutilized?


Hardy: No, I can't say that. I think everybody is utilized pretty fairly. I was very impressed with the Ring of Honor guys on the last pay-per-view. I was blown away by their match. I actually sat down with Roderick (Strong) afterward and talked to him for a while. He was very respectful. I think those guys were great.


Keller: Is there a little bit of a divide between the guys who have been to WWE before and the guys who haven't? I've heard from wrestlers that there is a little bit of a divide between the loyal TNA guys who have been there forever and the former WWE guys who have been to the big show and think they should be looked up to a little bit.


Hardy: Yeah, it does seem so. There's nothing that explains the feeling I get when it comes to that, but overall, first of all, it seems that anybody who has been to WWE should definitely be paid somewhat more. But that's hard to know what anyone is being paid in terms of whether they're being honest with it. It's a touchy situation, secretive deal. It's personal, something you want to keep to yourself anyway. Some people, though, walk around and you can't help but have the vibe that they think (highly of themselves). I guess that's just part of being in WWE at one point, then being somewhere else. It's hard not to have that vibe of a veteran when you've been up to the show. I used to joke about it, Wade. I wouldn't even dare joke about it now. I remember talking to Christian one time, and I said, "Yeah, I'm trying to make it in the minor leagues.? He got a kick out of it. But now I'm totally thinking we're pro.


Keller: That's a good feeling to have. Do you think the locker room has a different feeling since the Spike announcement?


Hardy: Everybody is very confident. I didn't sense a strong vibe, but I just hope people aren't overconfident. I hope they keep the same mentality that we've had as a group throughout all of this. The time since I've been there, I hope they don't get a little too in over their heads. When the time comes to actually go head-to-head, I still hope they keep the cool mentality.


Keller: It's tough to have the adrenaline rush if you're not live head-to-head, but being on Spike in general has to be a rush.


Hardy: I've wondered why for a while - when TNA started, they did the shows in the bigger civic center in Nashville. I've always wondered if we could go back to that bigger building in Nashville, that place would sell out. I've wondered why we haven't done that yet. That led to me finding out that TNA is being really smart by not being in a hurry and taking their time. It's a long process to get to the level - I'm talking maybe ten years. They're not in a hurry. I think that's very good to take their time and not rush things.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

-Paul Heyman's WWE contract expires at the end of December. He was earning $250,000 a year with his WWE deal, and it's unlikely WWE will be willing to match that. Heyman is telling people that he has opportunities in Hollywood, including pitching a movie script he has written. He also has been closely studying the MMA industry and believes he has the next big concept that will revolutionize the industry a second time just as he did in the late-'90s with ECW. While those paying attention believe he is doing a great job booking OVW, few believe that anyone in a position of power in WWE values what he has accomplished in OVW or values OVW enough to care enough to secure him as a booker. That said, there is enough respect for his wrestling mind that he may be offered a deal just to keep him away from TNA or another competitor that could spring up.


Don't tease me like this...

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Paul Heyman doing being in the MMA industry would be very interesting, as well as him having a booking position in TNA. We'll see what happens in December/January.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

I think if anyone could put together a good promotion like that, I think it would be Heyman. And I also think that if done right, a shoot-style promotion would be very successful. But it would be so hard to get it right. It's a matter of finding the right guys, which I don't think are in wrestling right now. Heyman would have to look for fighters and train them to work. Heyman would be able to successfully get out the characters and build fights, but the problem is conditioning the audience.

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-There was an altercation between Roderick Strong and Danielson near the end of their Oct. 29 match and heated words between them backstage afterward. Says one ROH wrestler, "They were jaw-jackin' pretty hard when they got backstage after the match." When asked, Strong didn't want to talk to friends about what happened. Gabe Sapolski had to calm them down backstage. Sapolski tells the Torch: "Well things did get very heated at the finish and they did cross the line. There is no guessing about it."

Reporting this incident like it was a shoot when ROH has put footage of it on its website and played it up big as a storyline is embarrassing reporting by Wade. It's pretty clear Wade trusts Sapolsky too much and it's easy for him to pull the wool over Wade's eyes and use the Torch as a propaganda tool for his promotion.
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