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The Wade Keller Appreciation Thread

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I said I'd do this a long time ago, and Bix hasn't let me forget, and he's right -- it needs to be done.

 

So this will be the thread where I use the powers of Google, the website, the Torch board, etc. and post as many ridiculous Wade Keller quotes as possible.

 

Anyone who has stuff to add feel free to do so.

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Whoever finds the original column about WCW needing ropes that light up and make noises when bounced off of wins the thread.

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One thing WWE is disciplined about is not pulling surprises for the sake of surprises.

There isn't another wrestling site on the net that I know of that so often, so quickly, and so openly publishes the harshest of criticism and the greatest skepticism about our news and opinions in the Feedback section.

 

Some popular sites never print anything remotely negative from readers regarding gapping holes in their logic, obvious conflicts of interest ("Wrestling promotions should invest in their websites because they can be profitable and powerful!" when they really mean "Wrestling promotions should invest in their websites because I work for one and I want to see that source of my income increase!"), rewriting news as if it's their own when it's really week-old news from the Torch newsletter and website, and distorting what other websites reported and then sanctimoniously refuting that twisted version of the story as if they are the police of the net.

 

Instead, we pride ourselves on our willingness to take the hits from readers when they disagree with us or catch us making an error. We want to be held accountable and don't try to hide our mistakes or faults - which I believe also justifies our shining a spotlight periodically on what we believe are our strengths.

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The wrestling found in AAA can be really exciting--"the wrestling of your dreams," so to speak. At other times, it can be tedious, frustrating, and confusing. Despite what some of the staunchest supporters of AAA will have you believe, it may never be a style that you will particularly like.

 

The positives are obvious. It is the most innovative, high-flying wrestling style in the world today. Unlike so many WCW TV matches, most TV matches in AAA forward the ongoing storylines and "have meaning". There is a sense of rich tradition that emanates from the matches, wrestlers, announcers, and fans.

 

There are limitations to its popularity, though. For instance, many people like wrestling because of the interviews. As hard as that is for some followers of Japanese wrestling to understand, interviews and the exaggerated soap opera issues of wrestling are what makes many people fans of the spectacle. Thus, simply putting a superior in-ring product in front of them isn't going to sway them froma good, angle-filled SMW or WWF show with less good wrestling. That doesn't make the person "less hardcore" of a fan, it just makes them a fan of a different, but very real, aspect of the diverse pro wrestling industry.

 

The way wrestling angles are created and forwarded in Mexico is different than in the US. AAA's storylines are not often forwarded by traditional US-style angles. Instead, they are usually based on loyalty or national pride and forwarded gradually during six-man tag matches where small disputes lead to all-out feuds.

 

Even if the soap opera aspects of wrestling that churn forward the WWF or ECW storylines are not imperative for you to enjoy wrestling, you still may not like the lucha style in the ring. When AAA is on, it is as spectacular and more graceful than All Japan Women. But when AAA is off, and their down moments are plentiful, you better be really into the personalities and the historical feuds or you will be bored. Many six-man tag matches never gain momentum, but rather degenerate into low-blows, faked low-blows, heel and face referees arguing, mask switching, and three-on-one pinfalls. What's more, the emphasis in general on tag matches makes it tougher to gauge who is a good worker with stamina and ring psychology versus who is merely able to tag in, execute a few moves, and tag out.

 

AAA's top stars aren't all 1990s versions of Ric Flair or Shawn Michaels, either. Perro Aguayo is ordinary. Konnan, despite the ability, hasn't put on an impressive athletic performance on TV this year. He openly says, Why take risks when you can be just as over doing the basics?

 

The basics may be enough for his hardcore fans to be satisfied, just as the charisma, color, and energy of the Ultimate Warrior was enough for his followers. But it won't be enough for someone who doesn't know Konnan from Conan O'Brien. Konnan knows he has to win over new viewrs Nov. 6 so his performance will probably be his best of the year.

 

Even if AAA is "on" and everyone is working hard, the style is still confusing. Thankfully, Chris Cruise and Mike Tenay will be prepared to do everything they can to eliminate confusion.

 

There is no doubt that AAA/IWC as it exists now is not far from being ready for mainstream America. With American wrestlers like Konnan, Love Machine, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Rey Misterio Jr., there is as much (or more) high-quality American talent in AAA/IWC as there is in WCW.

 

All AAA/IWC has to do is put the product in a major US arena, provide major league production values, fill the building with hardcore fans who know the wrestlers, hire announcers who understand and are enthusiastic about the product, add a few American-style interviews, and offer it to wrestling fans nationwide and it could catch on. Nov. 6, they get to do just that.

 

But will it merely be successful as a niche style, or will it revolutionize the American wrestling industry?

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Speaking of the XFL, as a football fan I truly believe the quality of play on the field is going to pleasantly surprise many. The way the game is produced, shot and miked is going to be extremely unique and will take you to places many never thought possible in a professional football game. Sounds like fun to me.

To main event in the WWF, you have to be better all-around draws than those who are main eventing. Triple H, Steve Austin, and The Rock are without question considered better all-around performers than Jericho and Benoit.

 

The perception of Jericho in the WWF locker room is mixed. Some really like him a lot since he is easy going and funny. Others aren't enamored with him and consider him "smarmy nice" and a bit "shallow" in his approach to the business. As far as his working ability goes, while he has a rep among "smart fans" as a great worker, that's not at all his rep among the top tier wrestlers in the WWF, who find working with him a challenge because his timing isn't always great. Jeff Hardy is considered a much better all-around worker and prospect than Jericho at this point.

 

Chris Benoit is perceived as being a nice guy and not the least bit controversial, and obviously in the ring he is considered a great athlete. His faults, though, do hold him back. It's not so much his size, since he and Kurt Angle are the same size, but it's his lack of interaction with the crowd during his matches (his matches would be no different were he wrestling in an empty arena) and his limited interview skills. There just aren't a lot of layers to his personality, and that holds him back from being somebody you can build intricate storylines around week after week. He doesn't have the aptitude to carry a WWF-storyline week after week with expansive, diverse interviews. Kurt Angle is considered better than Benoit in most key ways to drawing money in the WWF.

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It might be time for Eugene's wise identical twin brother, Felix, to show up and get revenge. It's a little known fact, but Eugene was the fifth out of seven children. His mother, Bischoff's sister, named her children in alphabetical order, beginning with Andrea, then Brib, Corbin, and Dwayne, followed by Eugene and his twin brother, born six minutes after him, Felix. Felix is also a pro wrestler, wrestling mainly in Norway where he is the Northern Pride European Middleweight Champion.

Since when is the use of the word "retarded" an acceptable way to describe someone's booking? It's insensitive, classless, and shows a real lack of vocabulary. It's a word I would imagine is thrown around by immature teenagers on the Internet trying to sound cool and irreverent.

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Chris Jericho is currently finding out that it isn't that easy to live up to the grand entrance and hype the WWF gave him. After his match with The Big Show on the September 27 Raw, Show was so upset with the way several of the spots in the match played out that he punched a wall in the locker room and threw a fit backstage. Wade Keller adds that one person said that Big Show was so mad, he "wanted to kill Jericho." It appears that The Big Show's main concern is the short-arm scissors maneuver that Jericho awkwardly executed late in their match. Paul Wight isn't smooth enough to effectively salvage a situation in which he is being made to look bad in and he thought that Jericho handled the situation poorly. Jericho applied the same arm lock on Ken Shamrock when they wrestled several weeks earlier. Early on in the WWF, there was some concern that Jericho would wrestle cruiserweight-style matches like he did in WCW, however, after his match with The Big Show, the criticism is opposite - that he wrestled as if he were a superheavyweight, expecting Big Show to sell moves that, due to the size difference between both men, lacked credibility while making Big Show look weak in the

same process.

 

The next night at the September 28 SmackDown! tapings, Jericho faced off with the Road Dogg. During the match, Jericho slapped Road Dogg hard across the eardrum and then followed up with another stiff slap. Obviously, Road Dogg wasn't pleased with how Jericho was wrestling and thus gave him a full-force slap back. Jericho got the message that he should ease up on his moves, but later defended himself backstage, stating management asked him to wrestle an aggressive, stiff-looking match in order to overcome his "soft image."

 

Thus far, fellow wrestlers watching Jericho's matches aren't overly impressed. The wrestlers feel that he is "too WCW" and that he has a long way to go before he will adapt to the "more efficient and internally logical" style the top WWF wrestlers strive for. In addition, several wrestlers are comparing Jericho's movement in the ring and timing with that of Shane Douglas, which is not something good. Add to that, his facial expressions in the ring are said to be too cartoonish.

 

At the October 4 Raw, when Jericho went on-one-one with The Rock, more wrestlers were displeased with Jericho's work. When Jericho placed The Rock in a chinlock, the timing was judged as a crowd-killer and his punches and kicks were said to look weak as well. Due to Jericho having a generally poor match with The Rock, more people are taking note of Y2J's in-ring limitations now than ever before because Rock is a top star who has a track record of having good matches in the past.

 

Despite the impression that the Big Show and Road Dogg incidents may have given Jericho, he is personally liked by almost everyone in the WWF for being an overall nice, easy-going guy who made the right move by signing with the WWF.

They flashed back to last year when Jericho interrupted Regal's etiquette lesson in the middle of the ring. Jericho then said that his plans are to humiliate and embarrass Regal week after week because that is what the Jerichoholics want to see. He said he has his own amalgam.

Amalgam? I don't think that word means what he thinks it means.

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Saying Triple H is the No. 1 wrestler on Raw when John Cena is the champion is like saying Huey Lewis & the News is my favorite band when there is Weezer out there as well.

WWE has its non-athletic super-duper-mega-star in Hulk Hogan, but in the ring, he's no Shawn Michaels, who at 40 years of age is wrestling like he's 38.

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Matt Hardy is versatile, capable, can sorta talk, and has plenty of fans, so he's valuable in an Intercontinental Title hunt, but I'm with the WWE people who say there's no main event potential for ol' Bow Legs McGee. No offense to my bow-legged readers.

It's bad business to have headlines on websites pointing out how tolerant WWE is of its performers calling for the killing of gays and making racist comments that are treated as "everyday insults by heels" and "no big deal" by the announcers who show outrage at much less offensive comments by heels otherwise.

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Ah yes, I'd almost forgotten about the ridiculous backstage criticism of Jericho's early WWF run. He's too loose, too stiff, flies too much, doesn't fly enough, "too WCW", so forth & so on. And yet he was the only person who ever made Chyna look good.

WWE has its non-athletic super-duper-mega-star in Hulk Hogan, but in the ring, he's no Shawn Michaels, who at 40 years of age is wrestling like he's 38.

Now THAT'S funny.

 

Cool thread, but Loss, whenever possible, could you provide the date or at least the year he said this stuff, to put it into context?

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How you, Average Wrestling Fan, can change the course of wrestling history

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

July 11, 2001 12:29 pm

 

Once a year in the Torch Newsletter we publish a list of Wrestling's 15 Most Influential People. Usually that list consists only of people who draw a paycheck from the wrestling industry and take part in major decisions that change the course of what fans see on TV. However, never before has the opportunity been greater to have as much influence as those on that list. Here is a step by step guide to how you can achieve Great Influence over Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and any other great promoter now or in the future.

 

-First, come up with something that's being done poorly and imagine how it could be improved. This can be any pet idea you have. (Admit it, you have more than one of these.) For instance, reviving the NWO, or pushing the light-heavyweight division, or pushing hardcore wrestling, or bringing back lucha libre style wrestling, or bringing Jim Cornette in as booker, or bringing Jim Cornette to Raw as a color commentator, or booking a revival of Smoky Mountain Wrestling on Raw.

 

-Sit back and watch as the idea is being done poorly. Do not say anything to anyone! Make sure you stay quiet, because timing is everything. Don't tell your friends, don't write letters, don't even complain to your dog. It's important, for your idea to eventually be accepted, that the idea it is replacing fail miserably first. Do not contribute to the complaining, and definitely don't offer Band-Aid solutions. Be sure the existing concept fails as miserably as possible.

 

-Then, when the timing is right, start sending dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of e-mails to various wrestling websites that run reader feedback. Tell them, under dozens of made-up names, how something isn't being done right and is doomed to fail. Say that you're never watching wrestling again because of how lame and doomed this angle is. Be sure to make it clear there is no hope. This will strike fear into the promoters and wrestlers who thought that things were going just fine. But now that it appears all over the internet that the fans are rejected their idea, they'll get desperate for new ideas and suggestions. They'll be insecure and looking for a savior.

 

-Then, a few days, or at most a couple of weeks after that first letter campaign, bombard these same websites with letters suggesting your idea. Write letters under dozens of made up names under various e-mail services. Don't just use Hotmail and AOL (where it's easy to make up e-mail names; that's too obvious). Send these letters to various

websites that you know are read by the top promoters and power brokers. Make it seem as if there is a groundswell for your idea. Be sure on some letters to use ALL CAPS, while on other letters, ignore the shift-key entirely. Sometimes use three dots between every sentence, other times use perfect punctuation. This guarantees that the website editors reading the letters will assume that they are "different people" writing. Use different grammar, also.

 

-During this time, if at all possible, befriend a few internet columnists. Offer to help them. Interact with them via e-mail, or over the phone if possible. Become friends with them, be chatty about subjects you share in common. Then, when the time is right, tell them you have an idea for a column. Suggest that they write a column about

your idea. Be sure you make this suggestion right around the time you're doing your e-mail campaign. Repeat the above step with any radio show hosts.

 

-Then, try to get as many internet sites as possible who do polls to ask a "yes or no" question regarding your idea that you've popularized beyond reality. Then, when the poll goes up, spend an entire afternoon hitting "yes" over and over again on the poll. Make sure the poll is as lopsided as possible (although make sure the poll numbers don't end up more than 90 percent in your favor because then the poll will completely lack credibility and people will grow suspicious that some shenanigans have taken place).

 

At this point, the gullible, overworked wrestling promoters, and especially his "yes-men" who long ago figured out how to manipulate him, will see the "groundswell of support" for your idea and push for it. Without a doubt, if you follow all of the above steps, your idea will be given a try. Just as politicians rely on polls to decide what they say and how they say it these days, wrestling promoters have a similar crutch. Rather than take responsibility for their own ideas, they are now cowardly reacting strictly to what they think is the consensus of the "internet." That way, if it doesn't work, it's the fault of those damn hardcore fans. If it does work, they take credit for doing the proper research and figuring out what the "real wrestling fan" really wanted.

 

Then, after your idea is implemented, your job isn't done yet. Now you must send hundreds of e-mails to various websites praising the angle as the greatest thing that has ever happened to pro wrestling. Talk about your friends who weren't watching wrestling, but heard about your idea and now are watching again. Talk about how you're taking out your credit card right now to spend money to support the promotion because of this idea. (Efficiency Tip: Do two tasks at once, if possible. Type these letters while talking to your website and radio show friends about how great the idea was.)

 

Of course, you must now vote "thumbs up" in every internet poll possible. Then, when the results come in, encourage your internet friends to tout the results in major headlines. (Again, be sure the "thumbs up" rate doesn't go higher than 95 percent or it will completely lack statistical credibility and people will know something is up; 88

percent thumbs up is a good point to stop.) It helps if these internet friends are looking for jobs in the business themselves somewhere down the line. You can tell them if you ever get a job, you'll hire them! That guarantees good press from them forever.

 

One problem: What if the idea really doesn't work. What if the reality is the people in the arena don't respond to it, or only small pockets of people respond to it? Easy. Just tell everybody that they didn't hear it correctly, and that the response was overwhelming. Tell people that fans off camera were standing, but the fans on camera were all "comp tickets" given away to non-fans, so they don't really matter. Lie, lie, lie, spin, spin, spin. Overwhelm people with as much evidence (real or fictional) that contradicts anything that will dampen the sheer exhilaration of your successful pet idea.

 

What about critics or your idea? Answer: Personal attacks. Be sure to call them names and do anything you can call into question their motives. Say they are jealous, have a person grudge, or are just in general miserable SOBs who hate anyone who is successful. Attack, attack, attack. Make it personal! If some non-conforming website writers

point out flaws in your idea, write letters criticizing them as "non-fans" or "grumpy people who should find something better to do than rain on others' parades." Better yet, have your wrestling columnist friends who wants job in the business lambast the critics for "thinking too hard" and "not just sitting back and being a fan."

 

What if the ratings don't go up? That's more difficult to explain away, but there are hundreds of excuses to explain ratings stalls or drops. Just check out the excuses used by Kevin Sullivan, Vince Russo, Paul Heyman, and Vince McMahon over the years during their poor ratings periods. Blame the season, blame what aired on other channels, blame the network itself for a lack of support, and (of course) blame the internet and the media.

 

The only problem with this overall plan is that when the idea works, you can't take credit for it. While you can be tremendously influential, you can never let it be known it was you who made it happen (outside of your inner circle of friends, who will heap praise on you for a plan/scam well executed). That would reveal the scam. Instead, try to make it seem like it was an idea of the boss.

 

Nothing pleases a boss more than public credit for something, even if he didn't come up with the idea. In this case, he will think it was his idea, anyway, since all he did was come up with the idea based on "fan demand." If possible, plant the seed with as many people as possible that it was the boss's idea. If the public thinks the idea was the

boss's, the boss is much more apt to defend it, and do anything possible to make sure it works. After all, he doesn't want to be held responsible for a failed concept.

 

And if your plan works, then you can use the same tactics the next time you have a marvelous idea that you want to assure is implemented.

 

Remember this, most of all: You are a genius, all of your ideas are great, but nobody will listen to you, and it's unfair. Remember that politics will work against your ideas being heard, especially if you have only one voice, only one name. The internet offers wondrous opportunities to make your once voice seem like tens of thousands of

people. Seize the opportunity to let the wrestling world know exactly how it can save itself.

 

P.S. If somebody catches on to your plan/scam and calls you on it, just make a lot of references to conspiracy theories, JFK, and UFOs. Talk about how there is no way possible you could so cunningly manipulate a genius as smart as Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, or whoever the boss is at the time of your scam.

Background: This was directed at Paul Heyman after ECW was resurrected in the Invasion angle on RAW. Keller was convinced Heyman actually put this process in motion.

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Site traffic does not reflect the Torch's actual readership. For those who don't know, believe it or not, most Pro Wrestling Torch readers do not visit the site regularly. Of course there was a drop in traffic when a large number of VIP Forum members were either banned or chose to leave voluntarily. This tiny, small group of Torch readers was responsible for a vastly disproportionate amount of traffic on the pwtorch.com site. I assure you, the Torch is healthy, and has more subscribers than ever. In fact, I have plans to revolutionize pro wrestling and MMA journalism over the next year or two. Stay tuned.

BBL by W*de K*ll*r

Headline: Totally Obsolete

By W*de K*ll*r, Torch editor

Originally Published: April 14, 2007

PWTorch Newsletter #963

 

The frustration in TNA is said to be palpable. Signing Samoa Joe, The Dudleys, Christian, and Kurt Angle and moving to prime time was supposed to improve things more than a couple tenths of a rating point each week. Although Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett keep PPV buyrate figures private, there is zero sense within TNA or from outside sources of any momentum in that area.

 

It is time to reexamine the business plan.

 

TNA's business plan, as initially explained by founder Jerry Jarrett in these very pages, was to fill the gaping hole left behind by WCW. The argument goes that there are millions of people who used to watch pro wrestling on Monday nights and hundreds of thousands who used to order PPVs once a month who are not accounted for in WWE's post-WCW ratings. So TNA could swoop in, offer a different yet similar product, and those who weren't thrilled with WWE would see TNA as a viable alternative. In theory, it should have been easy to reach the 2.0 ratings level that would have made them a serious player in the cable ratings world, enough of a success story to attract multiple sponsors, and watched by enough eyeballs to draw profitable PPV buy totals which would put them perpetually in competition for top level WWE names, especially those looking for lighter schedules. That was the plan.

 

What's gone wrong in that perfect (and perfectly reasonable, on the surface) plan? A lot.

 

For one, TNA is not WCW. And it's not 2002 anymore. WCW is a distant memory. The pro wrestling industry and pro wrestling fans have adjusted to a world dominated by the McMahon product. There are three brands to choose from, each a little different from the other, and it creates for enough fans a feeling of choice that was missing when WCW went under.

 

WCW succeeded for a few years against Vince McMahon due to dozens of factors, of which TNA has about three or four. They're on national cable, they have some familiar names, they're not WWE. They don't have a multi-decade history on national cable on one of the strongest cable networks in history. It does not have a multi-decade history of building a fiercely loyal fanbase, especially in the Southeast. It doesn't have the budget to produce a show such as Monday Nitro out of the gate, moving from town to town, major arena to major arena. It doesn't have the budget to out-produce WWE at its own game with bigger and better and fresher sets. It doesn't have the brash, forward-thinking Eric Bischoff. It doesn't have the NWO concept, Hulk Hogan, the acquisitions of Scott Hall & Kevin Nash, and Sting and Ric Flair at relevant stages of their careers to build around. The list goes on.

 

TNA is focused on "competing" with WWE. What they should be focused on is "success." And those two mindsets are vastly different.

 

TNA believes it can be a similar alternative to WWE. As long as it plays on WWE's field, it's competing for the same fans. The vast majority of fans want to watch the no.1 promotion whether they're watching two, three, or four hours of wrestling a week. They are also more likely to watch multiple shows if those shows are cross-promoting each other. Only a small fraction of WWE fans are willing to watch a sixth hour of wrestling between Monday and Friday. An even smaller fraction of fans are willing to pay $30-$40 (plus tax) to watch a second or third PPV in a given month with second and third tier stars.

 

That leaves TNA, after nearly five years in business, at a crossroads. Do they "stay the course," burn through more money, take baby steps forward, and stick to a five year plan that's been converted to a seven year plan and may need to be converted to a ten year plan once things haven't improved substantially by year seven? It's an option, and it may work. If the Carters are committed and see the payoff by Year 20 as big enough to justify the yearly deficits incurred along the way, then they can stay the course.

 

They can wait for another break, like a Kurt Angle level talent having a falling out with Vince McMahon, or another Christian-type who wants a lighter schedule, and continue to court the Mick Foley and Chris Jericho types who say they're not playing TNA to get a better WWE offer but inevitably often end up doing just that.

 

They can wait for another WWE dry spell, like this fall where WWE had sputtered so badly that a solid two-hour live TNA program with heavy cross-promotion and an advertising blitz, had a decent chance to win over a lot of disgruntled WWE fans.

 

They can bet on a two hour timeslot making a big difference, since Christian, and Kurt Angle, and moving to Spike TV, and moving to Thursdays, and moving to prime time didn't. They can bet that moving to Monday nights would make a difference, reigniting the seven and eight year old memories of the Monday Night War era and bring back millions of wrestling fans.

 

The problem is, a lot of those wrestling fans get their combat sports fix from WWE and UFC now, and adding a third combat sports brand into their schedule is tough, what with YouTube, NetFlix, DVD sets of great HBO shows, and a half dozen other sit-on-your-couch entertainment advancements that Dutch Mantel and Jeff Jarrett may or may not have heard of or experienced.

 

Moving to Monday nights might expand their audience. It might not. Nitro succeeded because it had WCW Saturday Night to promote it, and Vince McMahon coasting on USA with Henry Godwinn and Marty Jannetty TV main events. The 2007 McMahon has experienced losing. He won't be blindsided again. He will fight, and fight hard quickly, if he sees TNA making any inroads. He'd love to slam TNA hard and fast if they made a big move.

 

TNA needs to be ready to spend a lot of money and do everything right to compete with Vince McMahon at his own game, and even then, the odds are against them. They'd need the equivalent of a talent raid of Shawn Michaels, The Hardys, and Undertaker to capture the jaw-dropping moment of Hall & Nash showing up on Nitro, followed by a steady stream of others. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Goldberg would make TNA feel like an old timers league, and without an influx of young hot names from WWE or a stronger base roster, it'd be a short-term fix with limited results to try that route.

 

CONCEPT OVERHAUL IS THE ANSWER

 

So what's the alternative? Shut up shop? Be happy being a distant fourth brand (after Raw, Smackdown, and ECW)? Cross your fingers, push Jeff Jarrett even harder, and do a rain dance in Orlando the day before WrestleMania next year? Those are options. A better option is to differentiate themselves from WWE. Throw out everything they've done and start over with a new concept that will make them appear completely different than WWE, thus avoiding such damning comparisons.

 

No UFC fans say that UFC isn't as good as WWE because Chuck Liddell can't cut a promo like Ric Flair or Shawn Michaels. No UFC fans say that UFC isn't as good as WWE because Undertaker's ring entrance is cooler than Anderson Silva's. They're different products.

 

TNA, as a "worked" product, is always going to share being "a work" in common with WWE and thus be under the same genre category. That's okay. But there are lessons to be learned from UFC's success, even though it's not a work. Most of the million people buying UFC PPVs semi-regularly these days didn't know five years ago that they'd be in love with a new combat sports product in 2007. TNA can create a new pro wrestling genre that fans today have no idea they'd be in love with a year from now, looking forward to watching each week, proudly wearing t-shirts indicating they are fans of, and eager to spend limited entertainment dollars to watch on PPV each month.

 

The cheapest route for TNA is also the surest bet of success. It's still a gamble, and the odds might even be against them, but the odds are better than trying to compete with Vince McMahon at his own game, one that's already been through a difficult and trying test in the late-'90s, and one that when he's motivated is almost impossible to compete against.

 

This is where vision and guts comes into play. Oh, and being up on today's entertainment scene. It's where one begins to lose faith in major change happening, as Jeff Jarrett is notoriously out of touch when it comes to pop culture outside of Nashville. Dutch Mantel? Even worse. Vince Russo? Better, but is he willing to try to use his skills and energy toward a completely different vision than the one that contributed to a huge wrestling boom ten years ago, when the world was a different place? Probably not. But maybe. And it might be the only way.

 

There are a lot of directions TNA could go that would be entirely different than their current WWE-lite product. One I would suggest, which seems the most obvious, is to be a hybrid between WWE and UFC. Determine the best qualities of WWE that are palatable with the best qualities of UFC and combine them.

 

THE NEW CONCEPT...

 

This concept includes presenting each wrestling match as a precious opportunity, one that could lead to a wrestler getting a title shot or being dropped from the roster (a quality of most every UFC fight). That means presenting each wrestling match with state-of-the-art moves that look like two people engaged in an actual, realistic fight, not an exhibition based on a bankrupt simulated fight style that is reminiscent of the late-1970s (as Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton displayed on Monday). That means dropping all crazy and outlandish cartoonish gimmicks and building around personalities real people can relate to instantly (as UFC does, which is one of the reasons more 18-34 years olds watched a bunch of relative MMA nobodies on Spike TV last Thursday night in the Octagon than Labron James vs. Shaq on TNT).

 

It also means drawing from what WWE does well that UFC can't. For instance, controlling the outcomes of matches so that the most charismatic athletes with the most realistic yet entertaining in-ring style get the big wins. It means being able book rematches in the most dramatic fashion possible without worrying about an upset screwing things up (as happened with Matt Serra upsetting Georges St. Pierre on Saturday's UFC PPV).

 

(KB EDIT: This is about where he lost me, if you're still reading....)

 

It means getting rid of a lot of things; addition by subtraction, ultimately. No more gimmick matches, at least not for a while (and when they're brought back, if they are, on a rare basis and only under realistic circumstances where there's a purpose besides someone dreamt it up at a booking meeting and thought it'd be cool to look at). No unrealistic three-way matches or even three-on-three tag matches. Everything would have to become more realistic, and the rapid-fire tags leading to premature pinfalls despite the losing wrestler having barely been in the ring would have to be eliminated.

 

It also means no more ref bumps. In fact, referees don't even need to be in on the finish of TNA matches. The wrestlers would need to step up and make sure that they weeded out those annoying pinfalls where they forget to lift their shoulder before the three count, but since it's not the finish, the ref awkwardly stops at two-and-three-quarters and makes a big show of how the shoulder was lifted slightly off the ground. If the ref's didn't know the finish ahead of time, wrestlers would have pay compete attention to telling their story realistically enough for the ref to just follow the rules and have that lead to the intended finish. If the ref buys into the finish, then surely the fans will. There's no reason, in a promotion that's trying to get away from fakey WWE finishes, that the ref should have to be in on the finish ahead of time. It'd be one of those things where word would get around that in TNA refs aren't in on the finishes, and that alone would add intrigue to the product. It would mostly, though, act as a way to force discipline into the new in-ring style.

 

Under this new concept, no more mat holds where the victim willingly just sits there. The mat wrestling would become 80 percent real. In other words, if you apply a lazy headlock where every fan watching knows if their best friend applied it that way while wrestling around the house, they'd just "do this, and then do that" to get out of it. So, within reason, there would be a genuine (80 percent) struggle by the victim to get out of the hold so the fake holds would be eliminated and the real holds would look completely real to the viewers. There would be an exception here or there, worked into the new style after months or a year or so, if a certain hold looks realistic and cool even if there is a relatively fail-safe escape from it or unrealistically complex application of it. But they would be few and far between, and the credibility built up with all of the other holds, would make the more interesting yet "faker" holds acceptable to the viewers' eyes.

 

How about highspots? They're still okay. In fact, that's one of the keys to the new formula. But like the mat holds, a lot of attention must be paid to making them more realistic. More liberty can be taken here, because fans will accept a move looking contrived if it's exciting. There's no value in a loosely applied, easily escapable headlock which today's wrestling fans know isn't even a real fighting technique because nobody uses it (at least not that way, with that posture or angle) in real fights. It's both fake and boring. But TNA's base audience would accept, and anticipate, big highspots that they can't get in UFC because even though it's less than 100 percent realistic, it's exciting. There's a reason Shonie Carter's spinning backfist is remembered years after it KO'd Matt Serra, yet nobody remembers any of the dozens of highspots executed in the latest four minute eight-man X Division match on TNA Impact. Carter's "highspot" was both rare and consequential. The key is for TNA to differentiate itself enough from WWE in terms of the fakery, lame ref bumps, convoluted finishes, and cartoony characters, that TNA fans could proclaim that they love both UFC and TNA. They love UFC because it's totally real, and they love TNA because it's not embarrassing to be caught watching, but it's generally more athletic and crazy than UFC. And more consistently good, because there won't be any dud fights written into the scripts like UFC fans suffered through with Saturday's Diego Sanchez vs. Josh Koscheck grudge match.

 

The key for TNA would be to find as many ways to be both realistic and exciting, then default to 70/30 ratios of exciting to realistic or realistic to exciting, but never less than that. And anything that is either 95 percent exciting but 5 percent realistic or 95 percent realistic but only 5 percent exciting would be scratched off the list of moves or holds ever displayed in a TNA match.

 

Weight divisions would be an option worth seriously considering. Probably three to start.

 

Wins and losses would begin to mean 1,000 times more than they do now. Matches would be precious commodities. Wrestlers on the roster would only perform once a month on TV at most. To drive home the point that wins and losses mean everything, certain indy wrestlers could be brought in to work a two month program where they score a couple upset wins, but then lose three and a row and are never seen again. That would show W-L record means something. House show results would be counted; they'd be posted on TNA's website and talked about on TV when it comes to title contention.

 

To spread out the star power, even if top stars performed in the ring less frequently, wrestlers, like in UFC and Pride, would form factions. They'd train together (sometimes in real life, sometimes because it made the most sense for marketing the wrestlers). If a wrestler wasn't on the show, he'd be at ringside for one his faction members (just as Tito Ortiz was cheering on Kendall Grove and giving him advice on Saturday night).

 

By taking this approach, PPVs would begin to mean something, and thus, from the fans' perspective, would be worth purchasing. If you listed the last 100 matches from Impact and TNA PPVs, how accurate would you be if you had to put check marks next to only PPV matches? They're more often than not interchangeable, which is why TNA, in its current state, doesn't draw well on PPV. Even most TNA Impact fans can live without seeing the PPV matches because it's the fourth brand, and Impact gives them their fourth brand fix each week.

 

NO NEED TO CHASE WWE ANYMORE

 

A successful execution of this approach would eliminate TNA being compared to WWE unfavorably as WWE-lite, the place where WWE castoffs and has-beens go, with a couple exceptions (who aren't enough to close the gap with the vast majority of fans). Instead, TNA would be seen as a place where wrestlers go who don't want to be part of a promotion where immobile muscleheads like Batista headline, or guys like John Cena are pushed to the top even though fans don't like him and he doesn't have matches that are either very exciting or very realistic. TNA would be the place that attracts combat artists who are tougher in real life than WWE sports entertainers, even if they're not as muscular or shorter. UFC has broken that stereotype. Randy Couture showed size isn't a primary factor against Tim Silvia last month. Matt Serra showed that height isn't everything on Saturday night. And Roger Huerta and Leonard Garcia, two unknowns among the majority of casual UFC fans, put on the match of the night that everyone was talking about the next few days at the proverbial water cooler. TNA can learn from that.

 

TNA, by making the style (a) different from WWE's and (B) the primary vehicle driving the product, would immunize themselves from needing to compete for WWE's top stars. No more need to try to chase down Chris Jericho for big bucks when he may or may not make a bit of difference in terms of closing the enormous gap with WWE - which TNA realized the sheer vastness of more than ever when seeing the WrestleMania 23 spectacle two weeks ago. TNA could create its own stars, in-house. It would attract wrestlers with tremendous talents who were missing certain things Vince McMahon inevitably requires. It would give TNA its own "identity," something Paul Heyman, in a rare gift of advice stated publicly when asked in interviews about TNA. Jim Ross has said similar things in his blog about TNA's need for an identity.

 

What TNA is promoting today is a style many see as totally obsolete. It's a mish-mash of minor league unknowns, has-beens, and few top names (but not enough), all wrestling an unrealistic style or a fresher style that's treated as undercard filler, all while repeating many of WWE's worst qualities over and over again. Fighting that battle is going to be expensive with only a small chance of a payoff. In 2001, if TNA landed a Spike TV deal with the talent and production values they have today, they'd be in a better spot, although some of their flaws might still be crippling. Drop this TNA product in 1995 and it'd be seen a revolutionary in certain ways, as it would have preceded the cruiserweight era in WCW, the hardcore and TLC era in the WWF, and ECW's national exposure. It's not 1995. It's not 2001. It's 2007. Jeff and Dutch and Vince are trying to build a great CRT television in a plasma era. They're trying to build a great VCR in a DVD/DVR era. They're trying to build a better Hummer in a Hybrid era.

 

The great part for TNA is that the current roster is filled with talent ready to take this on. Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Alex Shelley, Austin Starr, Senshi, A.J. Styles, Jay Lethal, and others. Some could possibly convert, such as Tyson Tomko, Christian Cage, Homicide, Rhino, and others.

 

It goes without say, but I'll say it. I've referred to TNA as TNA throughout this article. Under no circumstances should any consideration be given to keeping the TNA name. Not that a great new concept perfectly executed couldn't succeed with the TNA name, but it'd be an unnecessary obstacle and a hindrance to drive home the major overhaul of the product. A lot of wrestling fans won't watch TNA no matter how good it becomes because the name has been soiled by obsolete wrestling booking and a parade of has-been former-stars.

 

They could be branded NCC (New Concept Combat), taking pro wrestling right out of the title and opening the door to advertisers who won't touch "pro wrestling" with a ten foot pole. It could be branded Transcontinental Wrestling Association (if there was a love affair with the legacy of TNA and its logo). It could be called Ring Combat Wrestling, a blend of the new and the traditional. But it cannot be TNA.

 

If the new concept TNA presented moved to Monday nights, that would be great. If Rob Van Dam becomes available, he could fit in (assuming he's willing to play by the new rules; he'd probably be enthusiastic). Same with Rey Mysterio next year. So some of the current goals remains the same. Some WWE castoffs would fit in. But TNA, if they executed this new concept well and got rid of all of the flim-flam (as painful as it'd be to get rid of ref bumps, the latest greatest gimmick concept match, and murder plot lines), would have a real shot at profitability quickly.

 

It's a concept that a huge segment of both WWE fans and UFC fans could get excited about. There are hundreds of thousands of UFC fans who think WWE is too fake to watch regularly, but otherwise might be interested in a worked combat product with everything from UFC ratcheted up a notch because of its worked nature. There are hundreds of thousands of WWE fans who think UFC isn't their thing because they love the promos and the highspots and the drama, and this hybrid concept could give them enough of that but with that dose of realism and sense of consequence that would make the absence of WWE's name brand, superstars, and huge stage less relevant.

 

The question shouldn't be what can be done to compete with WWE. The question should be what concept of a combat TV series backed by a deep-pocketed financial backer and a partnership with a strong cable TV company would have the best chance to succeed quickly? The first question is driven by familiarity and Jeff Jarrett's desire to be a star. The second question is driven by profit motive.

 

What choice would Bob Carter want Dixie Carter to make?

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Reaction to TNA New Concept

By W*de K*ll*r, Torch editor

 

Last week's "Totally Obsolete" BBL column has stirred a lot of discussion in various circles over the past week since it was first published. Torch subscribers have been debating the merits of it in the VIP Forum. The article, I'm told, was forwarded to every top executive at Spike TV. I've also received a number of emails from readers, some salivating at the concept presented and others skeptical of it seeming like a fake UFC knockoff.

 

PWTorch subscriber Scott Delonnette writes: "Loved your column in the newsletter about TNA this week. What you described had me almost literally salivating at the thought of a fresh, exciting new concept that would provide a genuinely different product to WWE. I like UFC but wouldn't describe myself as a massive fan because a lot of the technical submission stuff is lost on me, but I honestly belive that the hybrid you described would be a real shot in the arm for TNA and provoke a bit more (mainstream) interest in the brand. The sad fact is, though, that in your column, you put more thought into the future of that company than probably anyone on the booking committee has in the last 12 months."

 

I do think TNA management is committed to their concept, at least for now. They've come too far (much more slowly with much greater losses than necessary, say critics rightfully) to just throw in the towel now on trying to be WWE-lite, with the argument being there's a big enough market for a WWE-lite to turn a profit.

 

Assuming TNA doesn't overhaul their product and change their name, there are still ways to incorporate some of what I wrote into the existing product. An imperfect, but still great example of much of what I was talking about was on display by Chris Benoit and MVP on last Friday's Smackdown. Just the headlock that MVP applied and Benoit fought legitimately to get out of was one of the most remarkable acknowledgements of pro wrestling's ability to incorporate the reality of what UFC has done to the image of what a real mat hold looks like into a pro wrestling product. It was a glowing example of my idea of applying holds that are 80 percent real, with a legit struggle on the part of the subject to get out of it, within reason.

 

TNA, with it's current structure, can weed out or at least greatly downplay the corny stuff that isn't necessary or beneficial at this stage of their evolution. If their goal is to be different from WWE, as Dixie Carter says (and thinks they already are), they need to really decide what it is that is distinctive and a competitive advantage, and then focus on that without muddying the waters with so much other stuff.

 

I want to clarify something about my article, because I don't want it to be written off by people who think I was saying TNA should try to pretend they're real, or even present themselves as an MMA promotion in any shape or form. No way. The idea is to learn from UFC and basically use it as a "friendly reminder" of what pro wrestling was supposed to be in the first place, which was a realistic, but dramatized exhibition of worked fights. Pro wrestling has strayed so far from what is realistic because the creative license of undisciplined bookers had moved them far from anything that is believable.

 

What I'm talking about ruling out is the stuff that is unncessary and frankly undiscplined for no good reason other than people stopped thinking about how to make it look real. For instance, on ECW last week, RVD took a freseh Marcus Cor Von to his back with a trip. Then he set up a relatively elaborate legdrop and Cor Von just lay there waiting for the leg to strike. In the concept I presented, those spots would be "critiqued" out of the promotion because it was unrealistic that Cor Von would just lay there. He was too fresh. It was obvious to any viewer and a distraction from buying into it.

 

Some would say that isn't necessary because exciting moves are all that matter. But to me that's like saying movies with stunts shouldn't worry about hiding the camera crew or director or landing pad in scenes because everyone knows movies are staged and viewers just want excitement. I'm saying, if you can still be very exciting, but just choose the exciting moves that are also realistic, why not? It takes a little extra thought, but it would benefit the product and take away most of the "groan" moments that undercut getting wrapped up in a well-executed match.

 

The same goes for the presentation of characters. There's a way to promote vibrant, diverse personalities like UFC does without being over-the-top corny. TNA could still do some major tweaking, while still retaining the core look and style of traditional pro wrestling, and accomplish a lot and maybe live up to Dixie's claims that TNA is truly different from WWE.

I'm on the MVP bandwagon. He's worth investing in, protecting, and being groomed for top tier star spot. At first, the silly outfit, county fair entrance set, bling-bling cartoonish gimmick, and just an overall amateurish look threw me off. Not to mention, so many bad talent hires on the Smackdown side in recent years that came and went, the worst of which was still Kenzo Suzuki. But his match on Friday's Smackdown sold me on him once and for all.

 

First, he showed he belongs in the ring with Chris Benoit at WrestleMania. Then, on Friday, he topped that with a very, very good 21 minute TV rematch against Benoit. Not only does he have a ring presence and carry himself with confidence, but once the bell rings, he backs it up with more than the standard approach to working. He's doing little things that the Carlito types don't. He conveys the impression that he's really in a fight and trying to win. He's not "performing" and "going through the motions" of a wrestling exhibition. He looks like he's in a fight for his life. Granted, it helps to be in there against Benoit, but I'd venture to say he's responsible for taking Benoit to the next level. Benoit seemed more motivated and energized than usual against MVP.

 

The highlight of the match for me was a headlock mid-match. If you've got it on tape or DVR, go back and watch it. It was the most realistic headlock I've ever seen in a pro wrestling match. MVP had Benoit locked in it, and Benoit was legitimately scrambling to get out of. MVP kept shifting his weight and his free hand and legs to try to limit Benoit's movement. And he appeared to be squeezing his head hard. Watch almost every other wrestler apply a headlock or chinlock and you can see light between their arm and chest and the head they're supposedly squeezing. And there's usually no attempt to get out. It's like they're just both resting or filling time, and posing for cameras or something.

 

MVP does a lot of little things right. And he does them better than almost everyone else, who are stuck in a 1990s pre-MMA world style where it's okay to have fake-looking mat holds. Whether WWE fans are MMA fans or not, most have been exposed to it. And now they have a higher standard for how two people fighting on the mat look and what a mat hold looks like. MVP is setting the pace for a new style that inevitably will become the standard style - because the wrestlers who go to the effort to adopt it will have an advantage getting over because fans are going to get more into their matches. And it will catch on. Who would have thought MVP would be leading the charge?

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There's something to learn from good wrestling matches from 20 years ago, but you are right - the psychology that matters most in 2007 is that which will appeal to today's audience, which has been exposed to UFC and other MMA all over cable these days. They know what a real fight looks like, and pro wrestling has essential the same supposed rules, so pro wrestling matches ought to morph into looking more like those than a headscissors filled match circa 1978.

 

If you want to win over agents from the 1970s/80s, a good way to humor them is to make it seem as if you can't get enough of their era of wrestling on tape. I'm sure they're sincere, but even if they're not, it's a good career strategy.

This is just really warming up. I don't think I've posted anything truly transcendant yet, just stuff that is a little wacky.

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Keller's idea for the "new TNA concept" is utterly laughable and would be roundly condemned by most wrestling fans. Hey, Wade: remember all those worked boxing matches that have stunk up pro wrestling PPVs over the year? EVERYONE hated those, and what he's recommending here ain't too different.

 

(Personally, I've had the idea of doing a "worked shoot" division within a company: assemble a bunch of guys who can believably work the UWFi style, give 'em a championship called the Tapout Title and let them do their own thing for two or three matches per night. I think it'd be interesting to see how fans responded to matches like that in between ordinary wrestling matches. But I sure as hell wouldn't try to promote an entire federation like that. Failed in Japan, would fail here too.)

 

Background: This was directed at Paul Heyman after ECW was resurrected in the Invasion angle on RAW. Keller was convinced Heyman actually put this process in motion.

Huh. I remember reading that article, and it almost sounded plausible, kinda like seeing a new Michael Moore movie before you find out whatever he lied about this time. Truthfully, out of everyone involved in high levels of wrestling offices, Heyman is the one guy I think might do something like that. I don't think he DID, and to publish a whole article like that out of spite like Keller apparently did is just childish, but I wouldn't be shocked if years later it turns out that's what happened.

 

There's something to learn from good wrestling matches from 20 years ago, but you are right - the psychology that matters most in 2007 is that which will appeal to today's audience, which has been exposed to UFC and other MMA all over cable these days. They know what a real fight looks like, and pro wrestling has essential the same supposed rules, so pro wrestling matches ought to morph into looking more like those than a headscissors filled match circa 1978.

Yep, God knows that "realistic" workers like, say, Sylvester Turkay are so much more over and draw so much more money than the Hardyz of the world.

 

For one, TNA is not WCW. And it's not 2002 anymore. WCW is a distant memory. The pro wrestling industry and pro wrestling fans have adjusted to a world dominated by the McMahon product. There are three brands to choose from, each a little different from the other, and it creates for enough fans a feeling of choice that was missing when WCW went under.

Big fucking "HUH"? Is he actually saying that ROH or some damn other indy company is on the same level as the WWE? I wouldn't put TNA on the same level as Vince, much less any of the non-TV-having li'l regional feds.

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Guest evolution93

Hmm...wait until you get to his match reviews. I'll start with the Hardy-Regal match from last week (by the way I subscribe to the VIP site, so I hear his audio updates too)

 

 

Matt Hardy beat William Regal in 9:00. Cole said Regal has been broken up about McMahon all day. JBL said McMahon gave Regal a second chance. JBL went from mourning McMahon to celebrating with glee Smackdown acquiring Torrie Wilson. Very slow opening few minutes with first gear headlocks out of 1977. These two have hardly kept up with the times like Chris Benoit, MVP, and Undertaker. When Benoit applies matholds, it looks like he's fighting someone on speed who's desperate to escape and could fight back; Regal applies holds like he's fighting someone on downers who's barely putting up a fight. That sense of urgency and realism is missing. Even though the holds he applies would hurt, they are applied in a way that implies the target is a willing victim. It picked up at 8:00 for the first time with a killer back suplex by Regal onto Hardy's head. Hardy caught a charging Regal with a boot and then hit a Twist of Fate for the clean win. (*)

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There's something to learn from good wrestling matches from 20 years ago, but you are right - the psychology that matters most in 2007 is that which will appeal to today's audience, which has been exposed to UFC and other MMA all over cable these days. They know what a real fight looks like, and pro wrestling has essential the same supposed rules, so pro wrestling matches ought to morph into looking more like those than a headscissors filled match circa 1978.

 

If you want to win over agents from the 1970s/80s, a good way to humor them is to make it seem as if you can't get enough of their era of wrestling on tape. I'm sure they're sincere, but even if they're not, it's a good career strategy.

This is just really warming up. I don't think I've posted anything truly transcendant yet, just stuff that is a little wacky.

 

Well, the TNA new concept is, but that's fresh in our minds anyway.

 

The Heyman deal is pretty close.

 

As someone who was around for the Keller/Mitchell vs Ryder/Scherer deal over the first ECW PPV, I'm curious if JDW has any insight to offer us on that, especially if he thinks the infamous "Bragging about getting the PPV cancelled" WON hotline update from Mitchell really existed and was quickly replaced, or if Ryder & Scherer totally made it up.

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Oh, and for those who don't know what I'm talking about w/ Ryder et al:

 

The following is a summary of the events as best as I have been able to

determine. This information comes from a variety of sources, including

a high level ECW source.

 

Following the incident in Revere that involved a 17 year old

rookie, ECW officials contacted Rob Feinstein and asked him

not to sell any tapes of the incident and to return all

copies to the company. By the time Feinstein had received

the message he had already sold between 30 and 40 copies of

the tape.

 

ECW was concerned about the situation, and wanted to try to

control the damage to the extent possible. ECW was very

concerned about the incident and feared it would be the

ammunition that their enemies were looking for.

 

ECW contacted their sponsors, their affiliates, Network One,

Request TV and Viewers Choice to advise them of the

incident. They were told "there was an accident, it will be

negative, but people will try to blow it out of proportion."

ECW informed them that things were under control, but felt

it was important they know about it upfront before being

informed of it from outside sources.

 

Wade Keller, editor of the Pro Wrestling Torch, began

running daily updates about the incident on his 900 number.

ECW attempted to contact Keller for several days to respond

to the reports and finally made contact at 5am on a

Tuesday morning just as the Torch was being finalized for

publication.

 

During an approximately hour long conversation with Keller,

ECW officials explained their version of the incident and

that it had been an accident. Keller asked how they planned

to cover things up to keep the PPV people from knowing, and

ECW responded by saying they had no intention of covering

anything up...and in fact had initiated the contact with

their affiliates and with the PPV companies so they would

have advance warning of the sitation.

 

Keller and Bruce Mitchell did not believe ECW, and proceeded

to contact Request TV. They reached Hugh Panero, the

President of Request TV. Panero was unaware of the

situation and knew very little about ECW other than the fact

they were a wrestling company and planned to do a PPV.

Panero was told about various incidents that have taken

place in ECW over the past year. Based on these conversations

Panero became aware of the tape of the incident. It's not

clear exactly how Panero got a copy of the tape, or if he

actually saw the tape...but his first knowledge of it's

existence apparently came in conversations with the Torch.

 

Panero reacted by deciding to cancel the ECW PPV.

 

ECW has not received official notification of the

cancellation. No contract had been signed, but plans called

for a signing to take place on December 28. ECW officials

received word a few days ago that the contracts would not be

signed because of content.

 

On Monday of this week, Wade Keller contacted ECW again and

asked if they stood by the comments that they had made about

informing affiliates and PPV companies. ECW officials once

again said they had informed everyone involved and offered

to give Keller the names of contact people who had been

advised of the problem. In the case of Request TV, the

President of the company had not been informed by ECW...but

their contact person at the company had been made aware of

the incident.

 

On Tuesday Wade Keller contacted ECW again and said "I have

good news...I called Network One and they verified your story.

They were informed."

 

By this time the word had leaked that the PPV had been

cancelled, and various hotlines began reporting that the

reason was concern about ECW content.

 

Late Tuesday a note was posted on RSPW from Dave Scherer

that for the first time mentioned involvement on the part of

Keller. Scherer outlined the basic scenerio and asked

Keller to respond and to explain his actions.

 

Throughout the day on Christmas more information began to be

available, and on his Wednesday update Dave Meltzer said

that Bruce Mitchell would have more information about the

story on his Thursday update.

 

Bruce Mitchell, a Torch columnist and contributor to the

Observer Hotline, updated his report on the Observer Hotline

at approximately Midnight late on Wednesday night. In the

report, he said that he and Wade Keller had been involved in

advising Request TV of the incident(s) and implied they had

provided a copy of the tape of the Mass Transit incident to Request

officials. Mitchell commented "ECW should have burned the

tape when they had a chance". Mitchell said a complete

report would be in the next issue of Torch and it would be

the most comprehensive and accurate report he had ever

filed.

 

Observer Hotline messages normally remain active for 24

hours, but the Mitchell message was altered and all

reference to involvement by Mitchell or Keller had been

removed by 8am Central this morning. The message still

concerned the cancellation of the ECW PPV, and still

contained much of the same information as the original

update, but all reference to involvement on the part of

Mitchell and Keller had been removed.

 

ECW officials are working to try to repair the damage, and

a representative of ECW flew to Denver for meetings with Request

TV on Thursday.

 

There has been no comment from Wade Keller or Bruce Mitchell on

any of the online services or on RSPW regarding this situation and

their involvement in it. Prodigy members who sent EMail to Keller

received a form letter response that the allegations were not true and

that someone was spreading incorrect information.

 

In a phone call to Georgianne Makropolous, who had never spoken to

Mitchell prior to last night, Mitchell told her that the reports were

wrong and that he had nothing to do with the cancellation of the PPV and

had nothing to do with sending the tape to Request TV.

 

On his Friday update of the Observer Hotline, Dave Meltzer commented

on the controversy and said many people on the internet were blaming

Keller and Mitchell. Meltzer said they had nothing to do with the

situation and that they had not sent the tape to Request. Meltzer did

not comment on why the Mitchell update on the Observer Hotline was

changed. I was told by a source very close to the situation that

Meltzer is the one that instructed Mitchell to change the update.

 

Request officials are being flooded with EMail from concerned ECW

fans, but no replies have been received yet. Wade Keller has

also been receiving a number of EMail messages, but his reply has

been a form letter denying responsiblity and suggesting that

people wait for the rest of the story.

 

That's about as much as I know. If I get more information, I'll

post it.

 

Bob Ryder

Prodigy Wrestling

BRYDER wrote:

> The following is a summary of the events as best as I have been able to

> determine. This information comes from a variety of sources, including

> a high level ECW source.

 

One would hope that ECW source you're talking about is Paul, Bob. And

if it is, perhaps you could get him on the record about a few of these

things. That really shouldn't be a problem for you - he does seem to go

on the record for other people.

 

> Following the incident in Revere that involved a 17 year old

> rookie, ECW officials contacted Rob Feinstein and asked him

> not to sell any tapes of the incident and to return all

> copies to the company. By the time Feinstein had received

> the message he had already sold between 30 and 40 copies of

> the tape.

 

> ECW was concerned about the situation, and wanted to try to

> control the damage to the extent possible. ECW was very

> concerned about the incident and feared it would be the

> ammunition that their enemies were looking for.

 

> ECW contacted their sponsors, their affiliates, Network One,

> Request TV and Viewers Choice to advise them of the

> incident. They were told "there was an accident, it will be

> negative, but people will try to blow it out of proportion."

> ECW informed them that things were under control, but felt

> it was important they know about it upfront before being

> informed of it from outside sources.

 

> Wade Keller, editor of the Pro Wrestling Torch, began

> running daily updates about the incident on his 900 number.

> ECW attempted to contact Keller for several days to respond

> to the reports and finally made contact at 5am on a

> Tuesday morning just as the Torch was being finalized for

> publication.

 

> During an approximately hour long conversation with Keller,

> ECW officials explained their version of the incident and

> that it had been an accident.

 

I believe by "ECW officials", you mean Paul Heyman. It's okay to say

his name, Bob. He's quote extensively in the Torch about that very

conversation. It was on the record. You won't get in trouble.

 

BTW, the date of the conversation/interview was 12/3 if anyone cares to

know. *shrug*

 

> Keller asked how they planned to cover things up to keep the PPV people

> from knowing,

 

Hold on here for a moment, Bob. Keller asked "how they planned to cover

things up"? Which person involved in the conversation told you this

one, Bob? Paul or Wade? If it was Paul, I've got a quote below you

need to keep in mind.

 

> and ECW responded by saying they had no intention of covering

> anything up...and in fact had initiated the contact with

> their affiliates and with the PPV companies so they would

> have advance warning of the sitation.

 

*nod* Paul's on the record as saying in the 12/3 conversation that they

_sent_ the tape to everyone, and had informed everyone.

 

> Keller and Bruce Mitchell did not believe ECW, and proceeded

> to contact Request TV.

 

Okay, Bob, here's where it gets tricky and I get lost a bit. I'm a

little slow, so I might need help on this.

 

On the face of it, that statement implies you know the intent of Keller

and/or Mitchell. Um.... you don't mean to imply that, do you? You

don't really know why they called Request, do you? You don't really

know if they believed Paul's statements, now do you? Or did you talk to

them their intent and whether they believe what Paul said on 12/3?

 

I mean, you do seem to be putting thoughts in their heads here.

 

But even trickier, Bob, is the question of - if Keller doesn't believe

what Paul told him on 12/3, why did he wait until 12/19 to contact

Request? Sixteen days is a long time to wait if you're out to "make"

news and "get" ECW. Don't add up.... much like so much of this

nonsense.

 

Keller got a direct quote from Paul that "he didn't believe", ran it in

the issue he published that day, then sat on his ass for sixteen days

before trying to verify whether the quote "he didn't believe" was true

or false. Bob, this is plain goofy. With all due respect to a man of

your position, you are plain goofy if you even buy that without talking

to Keller first.

 

Oh, FWIW, here's what Paul has to say about lies and verifying his word:

 

"In the three and a half years I've been running ECW, I've told you to

assume everything I say is a lie and to verify it," Heyman said. "Seek

the truth and verify."

 

Ask him about that, Bob, the next time you talk to him. Actually, given

what Paul's saying in the quote, you might want to keep it in the back

of the mind as you try to assimilate every word you're told that next

time you talk to Paul Heyman.

 

*thinks*

 

Until this moment, I hadn't thought of the irony of applying that gem of

Paul-think to the quote itself. *shakes head* Assume for a moment that

Paul's lying in that quote. That means we should assume everything he

says is _true_ and we _should not_ attempt to verify it. *rolls eyes*

Damn, he's good.

 

> ECW has not received official notification of the

> cancellation. No contract had been signed, but plans called

> for a signing to take place on December 28. ECW officials

> received word a few days ago that the contracts would not be

> signed because of content.

 

You are sure there wasn't some form of contract, Bob? Uh.... just

asking.

 

> On Monday of this week, Wade Keller contacted ECW again and

> asked if they stood by the comments that they had made about

> informing affiliates and PPV companies. ECW officials once

> again said they had informed everyone involved and offered

> to give Keller the names of contact people who had been

> advised of the problem. In the case of Request TV, the

> President of the company had not been informed by ECW...but

> their contact person at the company had been made aware of

> the incident.

 

Funny thing is, Panero, after spending a day looking into it, is pretty

definative _on the record_ saying Request didn't get the tape. As in

_nobody_ at Request got the tape.

 

Since Paul says to take everthing he says as a lie and verify it,

perhaps you, Bob, can get someone at Request to go on the record and

contradict the company President that yes, Request did in fact get a

copy of the tape prior to 12/19 or 12/20, or even 12/23 when Paul again

said on the record that a tape was sent to Request. Because the Pres

was pretty clear that "We never received a tape."

 

Don't add up, Bob. Like a lot of this.

 

> On Tuesday Wade Keller contacted ECW again and said "I have

> good news...I called Network One and they verified your story.

> They were informed."

 

A question, Bob. Does Network One have anything to do with PPV, or

getting a tape to Request and Viewer's Choice? Or are they related to

the affiliates?

 

Are we talking apples and oranges. Or PPV and affiliates. Request is

on the record - no tape. Viewer's is on the record - no tape. The

Request guy the President, the Viewer's guy the VP of Programing. Buck

Stops Here type of guys, wouldn't you agree. It's in there interest to

be right when quoted.

 

Seems to me like someone here is passing the buck. A whole lota bucking

going on here.

 

> By this time the word had leaked that the PPV had been

> cancelled, and various hotlines began reporting that the

> reason was concern about ECW content.

 

That does seem to be the reason.

 

Viewer's Choice dropped the PPV quite some time back due to content -

the use of Sandman's kid. They're on the record as saying that.

"Portrayals of kids about to be beaten are not the kind of images we

want to be in partnership with. So we passed on the show." The kid in

question is Sandman's kid. Sounds like content to me.

 

Request dropped the PPV due to The Fire and Revere. Sounds like content

to me as well.

 

Tyler, The Fire and Revere were booked by one man. ECW content is

controlled by Paul Heyman. Viewer's and Request passed because of those

booking decisions, Bob, the decisions of one man. Again, there's some

serious bucking going on here. *shrug*

 

> That's about as much as I know. If I get more information, I'll

> post it.

 

*nod* Do that, Bob.

 

Maybe you could bring some quotes next time. Unnamed, "high level" ECW

officials doesn't fly when Paul's quotes are already on the record. And

if you're bringing in new quotes from Paul, how about you independently

verifying them before you drop them on us. Remember what Paul said

about his word, verifying it, and lies.

 

We've also had the good fortune of been educated on rsp-w _not_ to

believe anything unless we see it, or people are willing to go on the

record with direct quotes. "Heresay" I believe is the word that's been

thrown in people's faces on rsp-w in the past. Not by me, since I

believe it's a misapplication of the word and concept. But I do recall

reading it somewhere around here. Funny how that's quickly forgotten

when it's advantageous to forget it. *shrug*

 

Pro Wrestling Cardinal Rule No. 1 - It's All a Work

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Not that I trust Keller to report on high school amateur wrestling, but I gotta take the Torch's side on that one. I've never dealt with Mitchell, he comes off as a hand-wringing whiny moralist in his writing, but to the best of my knowledge he doesn't have a reputation as a congenital liar. If anything, he seems like one of those annoyingly self-righteous 100% Honest types. Meanwhile, I've been to Ryder's home (yeah, make the jokes, get it outta yer system already), and if that slimy bastard told me the world was round I'd have to seriously consider pre-Columbian theories of geographic geometry.

 

 

 

 

...and yes, Ryder's DVD collection is the most phlaming phaggy thing you could possibly imagine, complete with old Disney movies, various musicals, and a couple of Lindsey Lohan's kiddie flicks as I recal.

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Maybe we've underestimated Russo all along, and his booking is out of sequence on purpose, and it will all come together in the end. Maybe he's Tarantino, not Ed Wood.

Before the first Ruschoff Nitro:

 

It's not too late for Awesome and Heyman to work together. If Awesome hasn't signed anything yet with WCW, but if Awesome if feeling pretty lowly for plotting such a betrayal of not only Heyman but also his ECW cohorts, he could call Heyman and offer to play out that scenario to save face. That said, he could actually probably legally

sign a contract with WCW and still go against script and cut a pro-ECW interview on the live Nitro show tonight. If he has a valid ECW contract, WCW could sue Awesome, but not ECW. And if WCW sued Awesome, what would WCW say in court?

 

"Your honor, we tried to covertly get a wrestler under contract to one organization to jump to our organization before doing the 'time honored tradition' of dropping the title first, but it backfired and he cut a promo on us instead of the competition, to whom, by the way, he never gave his notice. Yeah, we got a piece of our own medicine. We think he should pay us damages."

 

Yeah, that would fly. I'd like to hear Judge Judy's response to that.

 

If Awesome swerved them tonight, WCW would be embarassed, but no monetary damages would have been incurred by WCW outside of Awesome's plane ticket (which Heyman would gladly refund to WCW; he'd frame the cancelled check).

 

Would it be worth the risk for Awesome to make such a bold move? In a way it's less bold than leaving a locker room full of "former colleagues" high and dry without a World Champion to represent the organization they have worked so hard to build to national stature. If he pulled a swerve on Bischoff on live Nitro, there would probably be more WCW wrestlers cheering Awesome from the back than wanting to chew him out or beat him up (maybe not openly, but deep down inside). But after his surprise pro-ECW promo, if Awesome left the arena through the crowd, the fans would probably mob him as a hero and protect him as he made his way to the getaway car waiting outside the arena - driven by Heyman himself. ECW cameras could be present to film Awesome leaving the arena in the getaway car.

 

Awesome could then show up on ECW on TNN on Friday and explain why he did what he did. It might be the highest rated edition of ECW yet. It certainly would be the most anticipated.

 

Again, assuming Awesome and Heyman haven't been in on it all along, they could still devise this plan today, but claim they were in on it all along. That way Awesome would save face and be a hero when he returned to ECW.

 

But what about the wrestlers who Heyman deceived over the weekend? Maybe he didn't work all of them. If he has been working with Awesome all along, maybe he took the locker room leaders aside, met with them one-on-one on Saturday (which is actually what happened), and told them of the situation. They would enjoy the prospects of surprising Bischoff so much, they wouldn't tell a soul. The rest of the wrestlers who weren't filled in ahead of time would certainly understand Heyman's need to work them.

 

Maybe Heyman planted the story with Bubba the Love Sponge (who broke the story last Thursday on his Florida radio show). Maybe Awesome's cousin, Horace, leaked the story on purpose to Bubba the Love Sponge, wanting the story to get out to help garner publicity in the days leading up to Nitro.

 

Maybe tonight, if Bischoff does send Awesome to the ring on live TV to cut an anti-ECW promo, he won't be quite as cocky as he would have been had PWTorch.com reader Dave not sent me his conspiracy theory. Now Bischoff might be holding his breath as Awesome gives his promo, hoping Awesome doesn't pull a double swerve.

 

Such a bold move by Awesome and Heyman would make Awesome a hardcore favorite for the rest of his career and Bischoff would be burned at his own game.

 

If the promo goes down as Bischoff wants, Heyman will be burned at his own game. Remember, Heyman made this sort of angle famous when ECW Champ Shane Douglas won the NWA World Hvt. Title in a tournament in Philadelphia and then proceded to immediately throw it to the mat and declare the NWA "dead" in front of slack jawed NWA officials.

 

In a way, no matter what the outcome tonight, somebody will be on the receiving end of their own promoting tactic.

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There is no doubt in my mind Eric Bischoff had something very big in mind when he boldly said, during his Thunder interview in May, that at the Great American Bash last month he would make an announcement that would change the landscape of the industry. Whatever the plan was fell through, and that plan was probably a Fox deal.

 

WCW instead turned Goldberg and insisted, with a straight face no less, that that was their Big Plan all along. Only the most gullible of people bought that story. Only the most shameless of shills passed that off as believable.

 

Last night Plan B went into effect. Actually, Plan B has been in effect for the past few weeks. I think there is a good chance that Russo's mysterious hiatus was part of a work all along. If it wasn't, it was the impetus for a solution that began playing out publicly last night, a solution that can make both Russo and Bischoff, and more importantly Brad Siegel, happy.

 

The solution can be revealed with an announcement on WCW TV, perhaps tonight or perhaps within the next week or two, that because of internal politics, WCW is splitting into two promotions. They can blame WCW's struggles on internal politics, and suggest that if the two warring philosophies are given their own promotion, both can work. One will operate Nitro and the other will operate Thunder. Each will run PPVs on alternate months. Each will have a completely separate roster and separate storylines.

 

The split-up will be real, but it will be the result of a cooperative effort behind the scenes. The two groups will operate independently of each other on every level creatively,

although likely share the same front office staff when it comes to advertising and legal matters. Many former rival newspapers across the country operate this way, with each paper having completely separate editorial staffs, but sharing the same printing, distribution, and advertising staffs.

 

Terry Taylor and Ed Ferrara's run the last three or four weeks has been nothing but a dress rehearsal for being the head writer for the Thunder-based promotion run by

Bischoff and Hogan. (Perhaps they call it the NWO, perhaps Thunder Wrestling Association, perhaps WCW2.)

 

Russo then continues to write Nitro, but he no longer has the burden of also writing Thunder. Russo got burned out writing two shows a week. Remember, most of the time he

was in the WWF he only had to write Raw, not both Raw and Smackdown. With this new WCW-split set-up, he only has to write one show per week. Taylor and Ferrara showed the last few weeks he can write a TV show themselves. (Although, inside sources say Russo has had considerable input the last two weeks on the TV shows.)

 

Hogan no-showing Nitro and Thunder this past week was a work. Russo and Bischoff weren't upset. They just wanted to perpetuate the idea that they were upset with Hogan to bring into question whether or not Hogan would even show up. The announcers were told to play up that element of backstage controversy on the air.

 

Remember, Bischoff and Russo did have legitimately differing views on whether big name talent should be babied or not. Just last week Bischoff pushed for Scott Steiner to be forgiven for his verbal assault on Taylor. Bischoff spoke out in favor of Lex Luger and Liz, and Kimberly and Dallas Page. The perfect compromise is to split WCW and let

Bischoff do things his way and let Russo do things his way.

 

The scaled back schedule (only one show per week, only one PPV every two months) for each creative team will allow them time to think, proofread, recharge, and pace

things better. The competition between the two crews to improve ratings at a faster pace could lead to "good business sense" rather than "internal politics" dictating what decisions are made by both Russo and Bischoff for once.

 

Can WCW's roster, split in half, be enough for either promotion to thrive? One answer is: Who cares because WCW couldn't be worse off than they are now. The real answer

is: Each promotion could survive with half the talent because they only have to put on half as many shows.

 

Of course, in the long run, there will be an interpromotional feud. Brad Siegel is known for liking "Big Concepts." Bischoff and Russo, to keep Siegel happy, came up with a

big concept that, even without Fox as part of the equation, can keep Siegel happy for at least a few more months.

 

After all, even if the ratings are mediocre for split crews, the real payoff, according to Bischoff and Russo, is next year when they feud the two promotions against each other.

Imagine the money behind Jarrett vs. Hogan or Booker vs. Nash when the two promotions finally cross paths.

After Jericho's big anti-Internet rant after King of the Ring 2002:

 

A number of people who were around Jericho and talked to him Sunday night said that without question Jericho was legitimately upset with the lack of overwhelming unanimous praise for a match that, frankly, he thought was better than most others did. His comments on his website were milder than his mood, actually. His rant wasn't a work... although at this point, it's probably in his best interest to turn it into one.

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Chris Jericho walked into the WWF believing his own press and having no experience in a profitable, winning promotion like the WWF. He immediately rubbed people the wrong way with his attitude, which wasn't mean-spirited, but was unintentionally aloof and dismissive. To read a lot of detail regarding the situation, check out our 12/1/99 Torch Today update which went in-depth on the Jericho situation.

 

Jericho's problems came to a head when Vince McMahon confronted him in part over problems he had with how Jericho was performing. The discussion got heated and at one point McMahon offered Jericho his release if he didn't think he could meet his expectations.

 

Jericho's rep is much improved, although as reported in last week's Torch newsletter, lately I've heard a couple of stories about him returning to his old ways of a year ago and rubbing people the wrong way with his words, actions, and how he carries himself. He has had a rep within the WWF locker room since he arrived for being the wrestler "whose offense looks like it hurts the least but in reality hurts the most" (the opposite of Kane's rep).

The segment was average. Typical Jericho, if that's your thing.

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The circumstances are bizarre enough that there are still many who believe McMahon brought Russo back merely to get him to agree not to write his tell-all book about his time in WWE. The last thing McMahon needs now is a Martha Stuart-level scandal, truthful or not, perpetrated by a bitter former employee. It's possible McMahon never intended for Russo to be part of the creative team, but strung him along initially just to get him to agree in writing not to publish his book.

If I was a longtime WWF wrestler, I would be pissed at Chris Jericho's push.

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Chris Benoit showed more confidence and swagger (not to mention proper syntax) behind the mic at the start of Raw than at any time I can remember. Like Booker, sometimes latent talent rises to the occasion when given the stage and spotlight. Being well-prepared and well-produced can't hurt either. It wasn't a memorable interview, but

it was effective at getting across his points without embarrassing himself by stumbling over his words.

Strong Point: The four-minute Jericho beating was savage and was the stand-out moment of the show.

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Strong Point: The four-minute Jericho beating was savage and was the stand-out moment of the show.

Oh my GOD.

 

Was the Torch always a subtle version of "Sean Waltman Does The News" and we didn't notice it until Jericho jumped, or was that the beginning of Wade losing his mind and thus taking his sources at face value?

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