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After learning of WCW's plans in creating a competing program to go heads up against the flagship Monday Night Raw program, WWF Chairman Vince McMahon has made the call to begin going LIVE every Monday night. Rather than tape several episodes at a time as has been commonplace for some time now, the WWF owner felt it necessary to keep up pace with the plans of WCW.

While this will be a much more expensive venture, it is a smart move to try and maintain and possibly gain viewership with live programming every week. To save on expenses, Raw will return to the Manhattan Center full time (at least for now) to keep the travel cost of production minimal. With dirt sheets and the infancy of this thing called the internet, Raw Spoilers have been accused of slightly hurting ratings on the weeks the company airs pre-recorded episodes.

One thing Mr. McMahon was unable to do was secure the usual time slot for his WWF Monday Night Raw program this coming Labor Day. Due to the USA network's contract with the U.S. Open, Raw will again be preempted this week as WCW Nitro will make it's debut live on TNT. 

WCW will have no excuses as all eyes will be on their debut episode of Nitro. If WCW President Eric Bischoff can produce a memorable first edition of the program, it could become a serious contender in the Monday night ratings.

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WCW NEWS

There is obviously a lot of excitement in regards to the debut episode of Monday Nitro this coming Monday but there was a certain amount of eyebrows raised when the press release sent to TV outlets announced that the inaugural episode would take place at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter had a certain theory in his latest issue.

 

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The way we can look at it, it's Eric Bischoff sending the signal that he plans for WCW to become the top promotion in the United States. And when you have arguably the two biggest draws like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, you're certainly entitled to think that way. I know that Bischoff has spoken vocally about erasing the stigma that WCW has had for so many years about being a "Southern wrasslin' promotion" and for him, booking the inaugural Nitro in Sacramento was a way to accomplish that. I don't think it'll be a regular occurrence but I'm expecting WCW to hold more events outside of the Southern/Continental areas.

We already know that on September 11, Nitro will emanate live from Montgomery, AL and on September 18, the night after Fall Brawl, Nitro will take place in Pensacola, FL. As for Fall Brawl, it's scheduled to take place in Raleigh, NC on September 17.

It is said that Eric Bischoff wants to have Ric Flair & Hulk Hogan considered more as special attractions and it could be a very real possibility that Flair, Hogan or a combination of both could only work PPVs or Clash of the Champions events for the subsequent future. Bischoff feels like with the crop of talents he secured to new contracts (including the arrivals of Tommy Dreamer and Terry Funk, who were set to be staples of ECW until Bischoff got them to sign), the upper midcard is strong enough with the likes of Sting, Lex Luger & Vader to allow Flair & Hogan to wrestle less frequently.

WCW is apparently working for a major surprise for Fall Brawl, especially the War Games match. There will also be some focus on something revolving around the vacant World Television Championship, with the departure of Lord Steven Regal.

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Luger mentioned in the press release? Aww man, I was hoping for a "surprise" appearance on the debut edition of Nitro. :D

I like the realism of Bischoff trying to move WCW out of being looked at as just "southern rasslin" by having Nitro debut in Cali. I think trying to run Arco Arena is a little ambitious for WCW at the time. The buzz around Nitro should help sell some tickets, but I was hoping we'd get the Mall of America. As a fan it just really POPPED and made Nitro and WCW feel different right off the bat. Even Vince said when he saw it he said something like "Oh boy, we're in trouble".  

Looking forward to War Games, anything will be better than the cartoony thing we got in real life. 

BRING IT, WCW!

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-There are many rumors floating around right now with the resurgence of the National Wrestling Alliance. While the alliance itself has never been defunct, the idea of one major promotion holding the banner went away in the early 90s with WCW pulling away and releasing themselves the the title of NWA. These two tried once again in 1992 to get together but again, the relationship fell apart. The NWA has been relatively quiet until September 1st when it was announced that Dusty Rhodes was named interim President of the NWA and would begin operations with a new group of talent in Los Angeles of all places.

-Why Los Angeles? It is said that there is a major Hollywood producer serving as the financial backer for the group and is said to have major pull when it came to contracts which explains the signing of big names like Sid, Cactus Jack, Bam Bam Bigelow, Steve Austin, and Brian Pillman. Rhodes himself has had issues with some of these men in the past but it is said that communication has been key to rebuilding the relationships. 

-When will it happen? Championship Wrestling from Hollywood will air this week on Friday September 8th. In order to save some money, Rhodes and the NWA has set up a television taping on Thursday night from the Regent Showcase Theater in Los Angeles. Rhodes is said to have signed Scott Hudson and a major name to do color commentary. 

-What does all this mean? When you break it down in means that the NWA is back and have aligned themselves with one promotion to make their name relevant again. With Rhodes doing the booking, anything could happen when it comes to the ring but it is known that Dusty can book but can he book in the 1990s, in Hollywood, without himself as the major attraction? The biggest problem is that they don't have a real television deal yet. It is said that Rhodes will be putting together a month's worth of tapings to send out as feelers to promotions to see who would be interested. MTV would be great, ESPN would be better but they can't expect to compete with WCW on TBS and TNT nor the WWF on the USA Network. With the mysterious Hollywood backer, will they ever get enough momentum to get on pay per view? Who would know about it and who would watch it? They have the names but right now their audience is limited. In order for the NWA to grow, its audience needs to expand and we will see if Rhodes can make that happen over the next couple of months or else the NWA may die once and for all. 

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Two pieces of Titan news....

It was announced on the September 10th edition of Raw that Jeff Jarrett will be making his return to the company on the September 17th edition. After he and Brian James "Armstrong"  (The Roadie) walked out on the company immediately following the IC Title loss to Shawn Michaels at the July IYH PPV, the two men were contacted to return. After nearly two months of discussions it looks like the WWF finds Jarrett valuable enough to put the past behind them. It remain unclear how or even if the Roadie will be returning alongside Double J. 

 

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In the land of the WWF, there have been recent reports after the success of the latest episode of Monday Night Raw which aired as a 90 minute special that the USA Network is now pressuring Vince McMahon to remain at the 90 minute time range. McMahon is currently against lengthening the program, at least on a full time basis, but is open to exceptions for special occasions. For the moment it appears Raw might be sticking to the 60 minute format, with an opening for 90 minute expansion in the future.

The September 17th Raw is also slated as a 90 minute special heading into the 3rd installment of the In Your House PPV. Is it a coincidence that the first two Raws after the U.S. Open are both 90 minutes AND up against the new fledgling Monday Nitro program? 

We'll see what the future holds. 

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The big surprise this weekend was Jim Cornette appearing in the ECW ARENA. Has hell frozen over? Cornette was granted exclusive permission by Vince McMahon to participate in a series of ECW arena events. Since ECW Arena events are only ran Saturday nights and at average on a tri-weekly basis, the WWF owner felt it didn't conflict with his own promotion. There's likely more to this and Vince probably has his eyes on a few talents to steal away. There's always an agenda with Vince McMahon.

Rumor has it... Jeff Jarrett and Brian Armstrong were all but gone from the WWF and had a verbal agreement with Paul Heyman and ECW before the former was announced as returning to the WWF next week on Raw. This rumor holds more water not that we've seen the debut of a Memphis style crew at the most recent ECW Arena event. One has to wonder if Vince hired Jarrett back because he wanted him in the WWF, or if Vince simply didn't want Jarrett to venture "elsewhere".

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Lots of excitement after the NWA Championship Wrestling tapings and then early reports of ratings seem to be positive. The true problem is that it is regional at this point but NWA officials are trying to negotiate with a bigger company and could get into Dish but again, not everyone has a Dish and the viewership will be nowhere near the levels of the WWF and WCW. Some officials are reaching out to ESPN and MTV to try and get a deal together but nothing is in place. With wrestling right now, it would take a monster product to get national television and even with that, the NWA doesn't have the notoriety to get a prime slot. Their best bet may be to get on either of these channels and then try to utilize a Friday night slot and turn it into something better. With all the sports on ESPN, it may prove to be difficult to get consistent viewing. With MTV, they may just not be in the market unless the NWA can prove to be a viable commodity that will make MTV money along with help with cross promotion. For the time being, they must find a better suitor to get a deal done and if they don't by the end of the year it may be a short rebirth for the NWA. 

 

A lot of positive praise for the way that the show came off. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were given bonus' by NWA officials after their match for really putting on a great match. This is said to be the staple of the NWA for the foreseeable future with heavy wrestling and heavy stories to supplement. Look for some up and comers like Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, and Chris Candido to be solid television performers with guys like Hunter Helmsley to supplement with more story. Then you look to your big names with Sid, Cactus, Bigelow, Gordy, and Williams to be the ones to really be the draws while Austin and Pillman will be utilized as true stars of the promotion. 

 

The call to keep Jesse Ventura out of the booth was made at the absolute last minute. Ventura got cold feet after he was approached. He is currently the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and was looking to transition back to wrestling once his current term is up. Ventura didn't think he'd be good in a weekly role but would like to be part of the promotion still. When Sunny was called up she was ecstatic but Scott Hudson had some reservations. He is a consignment pro and has taken it in stride. It is said that Hudson is spending a lot of time with Sunny to get a better rapport and that should transcend to the show over the next couple of weeks. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

With the Sept 17 Raw in the bag, the WWF heads towards their IYH PPV this Sunday Sept. 23 in Saginaw, MI

* While Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie both re-signed with the company it was interesting to see Jarrett return on his own and have Mabel added to his entourage as some type of a bodyguard role. At this time it's unclear if the Roadie is being repackaged or if there are plans to reintroduce him as the same character. 

* The Doink the Clown you saw on Raw is in fact the original, Matt Borne. The man who played the baby face Doink for the last two years, Ray Apollo, was released after the character had gotten stale and the fans began to chant "Kill the Clown" during his matches. It looks like Vince had a change of heart with the character, bringing it back with a much better talent playing the gimmick.

* Owen Hart and Yokozuna have been on quite a tear with their Tag Team Title Open Challenges. As Jim Cornette continues to trash the towns he's in there have been rumors of who may show up to accept the challenge at the IYH in Michigan on Sunday.

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