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September 8-10 (Half) Weekly Recap
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK
We finished the season! With the pennant race decided early on Wednesday, most of the slate this week was pretty humdrum. That said, the last day of the season featured an insanely close race for the batting title one game, and a four-strikeout inning and a walk-off in the other. However, the highlight is the fact that the season finished with minimal interruption. Plus, the AA managed to draw 179,150 fans this season, the highest verifiable number in all of professional baseball this season, so that's an accomplishment in itself.
LOWLIGHT OF THE WEEK
Well, fall made an unwanted early arrival and it put a damper on the AA schedule, as two games were rained out on Monday, and the season-ended doubleheader between Chicago and Sioux Falls (caused by an earlier rainout) was originally scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m., but subsequently cancelled, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of Chicago players and fans. The bad weather also casts some question marks as to how the weather will look for the upcoming American Association Finals.
TUESDAY ROUND UP
Milwaukee vs. Winnipeg-Postponed due to rain
Will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday.
Sioux Falls vs. Chicago-Postponed due to rain
Will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday.
St. Paul 4, Fargo-Moorhead 3
Fargo-Moorhead struck first as Drew Ward homered in the first, which was followed by back-to-back jacks from Alex Boxwell and Brennan Metzger in the 5th to give the RedHawks a 3-0 lead. However, St. Paul rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 5th to tie it, including a two-run single by Drew Stankiewicz. In the bottom of the 8th, the Saints took the lead on an opposite-field homer by John Silviano to take the lead, which proved to be the deciding run in a Saints win.
W: Aaron Brown (1-0), L: Bret Helton (4-3), SV: Jameson McGrane (15), HR: FM-Drew Ward (16), Alex Boxwell (4), Brennan Metzger (5), STP-John Silviano (13)
WEDNESDAY ROUND UP
Chicago 3, Sioux Falls 2-Game 1 (7 innings)
In a game of missed opportunities, Sioux Falls had the bases loaded with no outs in the first and one out in the second, but did not score against Luke Westphal either time. The Canaries finally broke through on a two-run single by Damek Tomscha in the fourth. However, Chicago tied the game in the fifth and Edwin Arroyo hit a solo homer and give the Dogs a win in game one of a twin bill. Sioux Falls stranded 10 runners, wasting a complete effort by Eddie Medina. Jalen Miller struck out seven over 2.2 hitless innings of relief to earn the win.
W: Jalen Miller (4-3), L: Eddie Medina (1-9), SV: Adam Choplick (5), HR: CHI-Edwin Arroyo (4)
Chicago 5, Sioux Falls 3-Game 2 (7 innings)
In game two of the twinbill, Chicago (unknowingly) ended their season with a bang, earning a doubleheader sweep. After both teams traded runs, Sioux Falls led 3-2 going into the 6th, but the Dogs scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to steal a victory. Blake Allemand was 3-for-4 with a triple to lead the way for Jake Dahlberg, who allowed three runs in 6.0 innings to earn the win. Alex Boshers struck out eight over 5.0 innings of two-run ball, but settled for a no-decision in a loss.
W: Jake Dahlberg (4-4), L: Ryan Fritze (2-1), SV: Paul Schwendel (1), HR: SF-Alay Lago (4)
Milwaukee 3, Winnipeg 0-Game 1 (7 innings)
In game one of a twinbill, Milwaukee shut down the Winnipeg bats, with three pitchers combining to hold the Goldeyes to three hits with 16 strikeouts. Drew Hutchinson struck out 11 over 5.0 shutout innings to earn the win, while Adam Walker drove in two to give the Milkmen all they needed. Frank Duncan tossed a complete game for Winnipeg, but took the loss.
W: Drew Hutchinson (2-2), L: Frank Duncan (5-7), SV: Peyton Gray (14)
Winnipeg 3, Milwaukee 0-Game 2 (7 innings)
In the second game, Winnipeg flipped the script, winning 3-0 while holding Milwaukee to three hits. Evan Grills tossed 5.0 spotless frames, allowing just two hits and striking out seven to earn the win. Wes Darvill went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI to lead the Goldeye offense in the win.
W: Evan Grills (3-2), L: Tim Dillard (2-1), SV: Victor Capellan (12)
St. Paul 4, Fargo-Moorhead 2
For the second straight night, Fargo-Moorhead struck first, as Drew Ward homered in the 4th, his third straight game with a longball. However, John Silviano hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the 4th, his third straight game going deep. The Saints scored two runs on a single and throwing error in the bottom of the eighth to once again steal a win from the RedHawks. Matt Solter struck out nine over 5.1 innings of two-run ball for the Saints, albeit in a no decision.
W: Jose Velez (2-0), L: Ryan Flores (0-2), SV: Jameson McGrane (16), HR: FM-Drew Ward (17), STP-John Silviano (14)
THURSDAY ROUND UP
Sioux Falls vs. Chicago-Cancelled due to rain
The doubleheader to finish the regular season was cancelled due to rain, bringing a sour and unfortunate end to the season for the last-place Chicago Dogs.
Winnipeg 4, Milwaukee 3 (11 innings)
Winnipeg pitching ended the year with another fantastic pitching performance, with Josh Lucas striking out 13 and allowing just two hits over 7.0 shutout innings. However, Milwaukee tied the game in the 8th. Kyle Martin, who hit a two-run homer in the 4th, homered again in the 8th to give the Goldeyes the lead, but the Milkmen tied it with two outs in the 9th to send the game to extras. After John Gorman struck out four batters in the 11th inning, he earned the win as Jonathan Moroney capped off the Goldeyes' road odyssey with a walk-off double. Goldeyes pitching struck out a league-high 23 batters in the win.
W: John Gorman (2-2), L: Christian Correa (0-1), HR: WIN-Kyle Martin 2 (16)
Fargo-Moorhead 7, Winnipeg 4
For the third-straight night, Fargo-Moorhead took the early lead, this time leading 6-0 after 5 1/2 innings. Tyler Pike struck out 11, but hit a wall in the 6th, allowing four runs and failing to finish the inning. However, the RedHawk bullpen shut down the Saints to finish off the season with the win. Dylan Kelly doubled, homered, and drove in two runs, while Forrest Allday had two hits and two RBI. Drew Ward also locked down the batting title despite an 0-for-4 night after Correlle Prime flew out to the left-field wall in his final at-bat.
W: Tyler Pike (4-5) L: Pete Tago (0-1), SV: Tyler Wilson (2), HR: FM-Dylan Kelly (5), STP-Alonzo Harris (7)
|Sioux Falls Canaries||31||27||2|
|St. Paul Saints||30||30||4|
The best-of-seven American Association Finals will begin on Saturday night in Franklin, Wisconsin as Milwaukee will host Sioux Falls. The two teams will play on Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee, then travel to Sioux Falls and play Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as Thursday if necessary. Games 6 and 7 would be next Friday and Saturday in Milwaukee if necessary.
Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 10, 2002
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Hi all! Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday. I was out of town for a funeral and I completely forgot. Back to the normal schedule next Wednesday. Hopefully this post can bring everyone some entertainment, because holy shit what a nightmare the last week has been.
- So let's take a look at the WWE right now, shall we? Raw ratings are the lowest they've been in 4 years. Smackdown ratings are the lowest in history. Live attendance is at its lowest levels in almost 5 years. The brand split is 10 weeks old and so far, not one new star has really been created. Sure, some have been introduced, but no one is over in any real way. All its done is dilute the star power of both shows. Ticket sales for the split roster shows have fallen off a cliff due to half the stars people want to see not being on any given show. But Dave says this is a rebuilding phase for the company. The brand split was obviously a totally bungled effort and Dave doesn't seem to understand how they fumbled everything this badly. And then, to top it off, they're doing the exact same angle on both shows (heel authority figure vs. top babyface). Nothing about the 2 shows feels all that different. Same production, same style of booking, same website, same writing teams, plugging each others' house shows, sharing PPVs, airing highlights of the other show, etc. None of this feels like "creating our own competition." It just feels like more of the same (18 years later and this has been the case the whole time. Never once have the two shows ever felt particularly unique from each other in any meaningful way because they've never truly allowed Raw and Smackdown to actually compete).
- That's not to say there hasn't been some effort. They've been trying to make stars out of Angle, Jericho, and Edge. But unfortunately, Edge blew out his shoulder this week and will be out for awhile (ends up only being about a month). Kane was due for a big push after the split, but he's out injured also. They tried for a few weeks with Bradshaw but seem to have already given up on that (they'll try again in about 2 years and it finally clicks). Kurt Angle is still entertaining, but he's being booked as a comedic heel which pretty much limits him to the midcard. Brock Lesnar is getting a strong push, but there's rumors he's been the victim of politics (Dave mentions again how Triple H went to Vince and talked him into stopping Lesnar's gimmick of winning matches by ref stoppage, which was something that was setting him apart and was actually getting over) and now every time he wrestles, even though he wins, he's looking way too vulnerable against lower card guys like the Hardyz. Lesnar is the one newcomer they've brought up lately that has a real star aura about him and they aren't doing shit to protect him (imagine if Goldberg debuted and was having to struggle to beat lower card guys in competitive matches). Orton was tossed out there to languish with no real direction. Leviathan was given the terrible Deacon Batista gimmick and brought up to the main roster way before he's ready. So on and so forth. All of those guys have superstar potential, but WWE isn't doing any of them any favors right now. Goldberg is pretty much the only hotshot bullet they have left in the chamber. If/when they ever bring him in and that doesn't work either, then what? "The problem is that WWE has become WCW, in nearly every way," Dave says before listing several examples of how WWE is falling into many of the same traps.
- Which brings us to Steve Austin and his recent appearance on WWE's internet Byte This show. Austin went on and pretty much called it exactly as it is, saying the writing and creative direction of WWE is terrible right now and that the brand split has been a flop. Austin even made the same WCW comparisons as Dave. And that's pretty much what it is. A top star publicly complaining about the company's product (and not getting punished for it) is textbook WCW. Not to mention the way Austin walked out and no-showed Raw the night after Wrestlemania (again, not being punished for it). Once again, that's some WCW shit. If anyone else on the roster walked out or complained about the management and the writing in a public forum, they'd be punished or fired. Double-standards like that were a huge reason for all the locker room discontent in WCW (I can't find the video of this interview, but here's a recap).
- This just goes on and on with Dave critiquing everything wrong with WWE in 2002. They brought in Scott Hall and that went exactly how everybody else knew it was going to go. They brought in Nash and he's doing the same politicking and complaining he did in WCW. They brought in Hogan, put the belt on him, and he's already lost most of his steam. Shawn Michaels is back, but in a non-wrestling role (Dave mentions off-handedly here that Shawn is still claiming his back is injured and he's retired, but there's talk of him doing a one-off match sometime soon and see how things go from there. Needless to say, that's the seed that eventually becomes Shawn's entire second half of his career, but we'll get there). Dave also talks about Shawn claiming that he's found religion and he's a new man and says you have to take that with a pretty big grain of salt. Scott Hall said the same thing and most of the stories of wrestlers who claim to have found religion and cleaned up are usually full of shit, but time will tell with Shawn. And who knows, Dave says maybe he'll end up being one of the few who really means it (damn near 20 years later and, yup. Shawn was legit). There's an issue with using all these older wrestlers in full-time roles and Dave says guys like Hogan will be a lot more valuable if used sparingly. Even Ric Flair, who Dave admits is one of his all-time favorite performers and who can still cut the best promos in the business....but Dave says Flair isn't the answer either and they need to get him off TV because having him such a big part of the show every week is diminishing returns. And finally, to wrap all this up, he talks about other companies that went through hard times and what they had to do to rebuild. WCCW in 1983, AJPW in 1990, WWF in 1998, etc.
- Tough Enough 2 is in the books and the show ended with the controversial decision for both Linda Miles and Jackie Gayda being declared the 2 winners, while the 2 male finalists were shit out of luck. The final decision was made by WWE producers Kevin Dunn and John Gaburik, as the show is mostly Dunn's pet project. Coaches Al Snow, Hardcore Holly, Ivory, and Chavo Guerrero also had input. Vince McMahon obviously had final say if he wanted it, but he reportedly had no impact on the decision at all and doesn't really seem to give a shit about the show one way or another. Dunn was told simply to pick the 2 who had the most immediate potential so they can do something with them ASAP. Of the 4 finalists, Linda Miles is thought to have the most potential. Dave breaks down her athletic career (including a WNBA tryout) and says she is by far the most athletically gifted woman the WWE has ever signed and picked up the in-ring part pretty quickly. She's also tall, which is usually a good thing for the guys, but with the women, it may work against her in WWE's eyes since she'll tower over all the other women (and some of the guys). She's also attractive, but not in that sex-kitten T&A way that WWE likes. Which brings us to Jackie Gayda, who became the star of the show after her steamy hot tub session with another contestant in which she cheated on her boyfriend and became the villain of the show in a lot of peoples' eyes. She also has the look WWE is wanting, but to be fair, she earned it. It was widely believed that nobody had the passion and desire to win as much as Jackie did and even after tearing her ACL, she refused to drop out of the contest. She has since undergone surgery and is already close to fully recovered (remember the show was taped months ago). The boyfriend she cheated on is still dating her and he was with her at the live finale TV special. On WWE Byte This, host Kevin Kelly mocked the dude and joked about how Gayda will dump the guy as soon as she's on the road full time away from him.
- Some final Tough Enough notes. Specifically, about the other 2 finalists: Kenny Layne later became Kenny King, 2-time X-division champion in TNA, ROH tag team champ, ROH TV champ, and others and he still wrestles in ROH to this day. Dave says Kenny seemed the most disappointed about losing and he was also the best in-ring wrestler of the 4. Dave thinks he'll still end up getting a developmental deal at some point, he's too good for them to just let him get away. The other guy (Jake Sokoloff) never ended up doing anything in the business. The feeling on him was the he had the look to be a superstar but he just could not grasp the business at all, forgot things constantly, and didn't seem to be all that motivated. But looks alone still got him to the finals, though Dave doubts he'll get a developmental deal. He'll probably be able to milk this Tough Enough thing and get some indie dates if he wants. And if he improves enough to be a passable wrestler, then WWE will likely sign him in a heartbeat. But for now, he's basically a modern day Van Hammer. Anyway, the 3rd season of the show is scheduled to film starting next month and they're already going through applications. Hugh Morrus is expected to become a coach on the show. There's a lengthier screening process this time and they're trying to bring in serious contenders, rather than out-of-shape goofs just so they can make fun of them, like in previous seasons. They're expected to take Tough Enough 3 more serious and attempt to find some real stars this time (that season will result in John Morrison and Matt Cappotelli becoming names in the business).
- Riki Choshu held a press conference to talk about his departure from NJPW after 28 years there and what his future holds. Choshu pointed the finger of blame squarely on Antonio Inoki and accused Inoki of forcing him out of the company. Choshu had lost his position as booker awhile back and due to his high contract, Inoki wanted him gone. They also butted heads over the amount of money Inoki was spending to open his Los Angeles dojo, noting that the place is losing $10,000 per month and hasn't produced a single star. Choshu took his complaints to NJPW president Tatsumi Fujinami, but even he is powerless since Inoki owns the majority interest in the company. Choshu said that, after all these years, he finally understands why Giant Baba never trusted Inoki. Choshu also talked about the loss of Keiji Muto, Satoshi Kojima, and Kendo Kashin, who all jumped ship to AJPW along with several NJPW office employees. Choshu said Inoki never even tried to figure out what happened or address the problems that led to those guys leaving and didn't even seem bothered by it, even though it was a huge blow for NJPW. Inoki responded to Choshu's comments, saying Choshu was earning and spending too much money. Inoki refused to talk about the L.A. dojo expenses and claimed NJPW's failure to make new stars in recent years was Choshu's fault. Tatsumi Fujinami also chimed in and, perhaps not surprisingly since he still wants to keep his job, he sided with Inoki. Basically repeating the same things: Choshu barely wrestled and was neglecting his office duties and was being paid way too much. Fujinami also defended the L.A. dojo, saying he was against it at first but now sees it as an investment in their future. So what's next for Riki Choshu? No one knows. He said he's going on vacation and word is he may start his own promotion. Dave thinks he'll pretend to start a promotion, and try to do an "invasion" angle with AJPW or Zero-1 but that's just speculation. Dave also has reason to think Choshu might try to poach some wrestlers from NJPW to come with him, in particular Hiroshi Tanahashi or Shinya Makabe.
- Let's talk about wrestling books, shall we!? Dave first talks about how, in the early 90s, right after the WWF steroid scandal broke, he had a meeting with some publishers about writing a wrestling book, but the general consensus was that wrestling fans can't/don't read. The huge success of Mick Foley's book changed that and suddenly everybody was getting book deals. Foley had two #1 bestsellers. Rock's book went to #1. Chyna's went to #2. So on and so forth. Dave mentions that Sable got a huge offer for a book, but it never materialized for whatever reason. Flair, Lawler, Heenan, Hogan, Austin....all had offers or are working on books. Lou Thesz and Dynamite Kid put out excellent books. On and on. There's no shortage of wrestling books on the market now and, since we're on that subject, Dave has read FIVE recent books and decides to give each one a full review. So let's see what we got:
"Stu Hart: Lord of the Ring" by Marsha Erb. First of all, Dave mentions that Bret Hart has been writing his own autobiography for years that is said to be almost encyclopedic in its detail (yeah, Bret's book is an incredible must-read if you haven't read it. I personally think it's the best wrestling autobiography ever written). Anyway, this book mostly focuses on Stu and the glory days of Stampede Wrestling. Well written and Dave says it's surprisingly accurate, which is pretty incredible given that the author had no previous experience or knowledge of the wrestling business, but it was very well researched and Dave doesn't seem to have any fact-checking to nit-pick here. Erb bent over backwards to try to be fair to everyone in the family, many of whom have wildly different versions of the same stories. Some in the family weren't as cooperative, but she did the best she could with what she had and it's a really good book. He doesn't classify it as a "must-read" the way Foley's first book or Dynamite Kid's book was, but he puts it a level just below those.
"First Lady of Wrestling" by Missy Hyatt. Came out last year but he just finally read it. It's basically a sex-and-tell book, with Missy dishing the dirt on err'body. There were some major omissions (Missy doesn't even acknowledge her recent marriage for example) and some of the names/stories/locations are changed to protect some people she's still friendly with. Dave admits he's been good friends with Missy since way back in the mid-80s when she first started her career and it sounds like he knows some of the dirt on stories that she might have changed. Because of her lawsuit settlement with WCW, she wasn't allowed to write much about her leaving the company, but she did talk in detail about the circumstances leading to it. She tells a lot of stories about her first husband, Eddie Gilbert, though she tries to protect his memory and doesn't go into the details of his death. But the overall theme of the book is basically, "here's all the wrestlers I fucked and here's what it was like." Dave doesn't really address that other than to say that's probably why the book is so popular, so if you're into that, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, not much to talk about from a wrestling business perspective.
"Secret of the Iron Claw: The Story of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty as told by Fritz Von Erich" by author Ron Mullinax. The saddest of the wrestling books. As he was dying of brain cancer, Fritz Von Erich sat down with Mullinax (one of Fritz' only friends he had left at the time of his death, noting Mullinax is a lifelong wrestling fan and was probably Fritz's biggest fan) and basically shared his life story. Which, if you're familiar with the Von Erichs, is a sad story. Not here though. To his death, Fritz refused to stop "working" and as a result, the book is full of exaggerations and outright bullshit. Dave notes that it's "almost complete fiction." And of course, Dave gives a few examples and then tells the real story (example: in the book, when talking about the athletic backgrounds of all his children, it mentions Kevin Von Erich being recruited by the Dallas Cowboys. Not true. He was a starting fullback in college but didn't get any pro offers. Or the claim that Kerry Von Erich could have gone to the Olympics as a discus thrower. Again, he was good and even set some records in high school, but he gave up the sport early in his college career and was nowhere close to Olympic-level. Just shit like that). It also portrayed wrestling as real. Fritz did admit that sometimes, in order to entertain fans, they would stretch it out a little to have longer matches, but he still claimed the fighting was all real. Also claimed they invented using entrance music. No. Fritz also invented the cage match, the barbed wire match, the Texas Death match, and more. Needless to say, no, no, and no. Fritz also took credit for Vince McMahon's later success, saying that he came up with the idea of going national in 1973 and he told his big secret plan to Vince Sr., who passed it on to Vince Jr. and the rest is history. So if you want to re-live the old days of reading Apter mags where everything is portrayed as real and half the stories are total bullshit, then this is the book for you. But Dave thinks it's kinda sad that, even as he was taking his dying breaths, Fritz couldn't drop the gimmick and stop being a worker. Despite all this, Dave seems to have a soft-spot for the book, because he lived in Texas during the WCCW golden age and it's a period close to his heart, but it's among the worst wrestling books he's ever read.
"Hey, Boy! Where'd You Get Them Ears?" by Paul Boesch. This was actually written back in the 80s but was never fully finished or released until it was recently published by Boesch's family. Again, Dave admits he's in a unique position here because he knew Boesch and when he first wrote the book, Dave was one of the first people to get a copy that Boesch had printed up himself. Anyway, this is a really good book....for the 80s. But of course, back then, people protected the business and Boesch was no different, so there's some reality in here, blended with some fiction, while other things are simply glossed over to avoid talking about them at all. For someone who tries to mostly keep kayfabe, it's a really honest book otherwise. Having read this new version, Dave also says a lot of stuff has changed since he read the original in 1988. The final chapters in particular, focusing on Boesch's later years and his honest feelings on people like Vince McMahon, Bill Watts, Jim Crockett, and others are totally toned down from the original manuscript. Seems like Boesch's family didn't want to ruffle some people's feathers and they heavily edited Boesch's true opinions. Anyway, it's a must-read if you're a fan of that era and followed Houston wrestling, but Dave admits it's probably not going to appeal to many people beyond that.
- (This isn't book related, but Dave recounts a story from Paul Boesch here that's too good not to share. He talks about a time during the dying days of Mid-South when they drew a disappointingly small crowd. Boesch pulled Dave aside and started giving him excuses for why the crowd was so small. It was a rainy day. There was a Houston Astros game that got moved which ended up competing against the show. The local economy was bad. On and on and on. Boesch told Dave every single excuse he could think of for why the crowd was so small. When he finished, he said, "I just wanted you to hear every excuse now, all at once, so you know that if anyone ever tells them to you again, don't listen. What really happened is I booked a main event that people didn't want to see. Period." Dave says, sure enough, in the 15 years since, he's heard every excuse imaginable for promoters when their shows don't draw. But at the end of the day, it comes down to that.)
"First Goddess of the Squared Circle" by Fabulous Moolah. The worst of the bunch, Dave calls it a 200 page insult to the intelligence of wrestling fans. Moolah presents her entire career completely in kayfabe, writing as if every match she ever wrestled was real. Even her 1999 WWF women's title victory over Ivory is portrayed as a real contest where the much, much younger Ivory underestimated Moolah. Stuff like that. She "protects the business" to an embarrassing degree. The book also contains never-ending praise and ass-kissing of Vince McMahon and his father. Unquestionably the worst of the wrestling books that has been released in the past few years.
- Rumors that AAA in Mexico may be forced into a name change. Apparently there's some issue with Televisa owning the "AAA" name and apparently the promotion is having issues with the network. AAA owner Antonio Pena is said to be considering renaming the promotion PAP (Promocioes de Antonio Pena). If this does happen, it'll be bad news for them. Not just the name change, but Televisa is the highest rated network in Mexico. Losing their show on there would be devastating. (This clearly doesn't happen.)
- You may remember Carlos Colon's brother Noel was murdered last year. Well the guy who did it was found guilty of first degree murder and other charges and sentenced to 99 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Noel Colon ran some kind of business and they found porn on one of the employees computers, which led to the employee being fired. After he was fired, he returned to the office, shot Colon twice in the head and twice in the throat.
- AJPW merch sales have tripled because Keiji Muto is a t-shirt selling machine.
- Pretty much every promotion in Japan is taking the month of June off because the World Cup is being held there, and trying to compete against the World Cup is madness. It'd be easier to just set your money on fire.
- Atsushi Onita issued a challenge to Riki Choshu for an exploding barbed wire match because Onita never passes up an opportunity to get his name out there. They actually already faced each other 2 years ago and it was pure garbage as a match, but it did huge PPV buys and still holds the record for the 2nd highest Japanese PPV of all time (1st place is a Royce Graice vs. Kazushi Sakuraba match in PRIDE).
- Davey Boy Smith's father is still trying to get the police in England to open up a murder investigation into the death because he still refuses to believe that his son would have put any drugs into his system.
- At an indie show in Nashville, Jim Cornette got into a backstage altercation with Ed Ferrara. It was for Bert Prentice's promotion and Ed Ferrara was there because Jeff Jarrett wanted to have Ferrara, Jeremy Borash, and Don West do commentary, as a test-run for the upcoming NWA-TNA debut. Cornette was there because he's always there for these shows. Cornette has hated Ferrara ever since he portrayed the character making fun of Jim Ross in WCW, mocking his Bell's Palsy. And of course, Ferrara is just one step away from Vince Russo and I'm not sure if you've heard, but those two don't get along all that well. Anyway, Ferrara showed up and went around shaking everyone's hand as you do. He approached Cornette and went to shake his hand and....no. Cornette started talking to him, quietly at first, but we've all heard Jim Cornette talk. So he gradually got louder and louder and before you know it, Cornette was screaming and cursing at Ferrara about making fun of Jim Ross' medical condition and all that. Then Cornette spat in Ferrara's face and said that was for JR. Then he challenged Ferrara to take matters outside, but people got between them and it fizzled out. Fun times.
- The NWA title will be decided in a Royal Rumble-style battle royal. They obviously can't use the name "Royal Rumble" but from Dave's understanding, it'll be basically the same rules. He thinks establishing yourself as a second-rate WWE by copying the Rumble on their debut show isn't exactly the best way to set the tone but so be it. Dave expects Shamrock to win because they won't put it on Jarrett immediately (although expect him to end up with the belt soon) and plus, people in TNA think Shamrock is still a big PPV draw because he did big numbers for UFC in 1995. Dave isn't quite so optimistic and thinks they should have just done a tournament. They could have stretched that out over 4 shows instead of 1.
- Speaking of Shamrock, here's the story with him. He had been negotiating with WWE and they had agreed to let him have a 12-dates-per-month deal, same as Hogan, Nash, and Undertaker. But they wouldn't guarantee him the amount of money he knows he can make this year by fighting in UFC, and WWE refused to allow him to fight while under WWE contract. So that pretty much ended that. The TNA schedule is only 1 date every two weeks, which is enough to keep him in the public eye while still allowing him to train and prepare for potential UFC fights against Tito Ortiz and Dan Severn, both of which are rumored and would do huge business. So there you go.
- Indie wrestlers James Storm and Chris Harris had a barn-burner of a match at that same Nashville indie show where Cornette was actin' a fool. Because of the match, it's rumored they'll be brought in to TNA.
- Many of the TNA wrestlers have only signed single-show contracts or, at most, very short-term deals. As XWF proved, this is a bad idea. If somebody in TNA somehow manages to get over, WWE's gonna swoop in and they'll be on Raw by next week. You can't be serious about building a promotion without signing guys to long-term deals so you can safely build around them.
- We're a week closer and ticket sales for TNA's debut show are still reeeeeally bad. Third row seats are still available as of press time. Dave estimates less than 300 have been sold so far, in a building that holds 7,000. They're going to have to heavily paper the crowd to fill the building for TV.
- UFC filed a trademark lawsuit against the makers of Fire Pro Wrestling, a video game that uses characters from multiple wrestling and MMA promotions. They settled it out of court, with the FPW makers paying UFC an undisclosed amount of money.
- Shawn Michaels will be returning to TV as part of an NWO babyface turn. As of now, the plan is not for him to wrestle, just to be an on-screen character. But Dave thinks it's only a matter of time, unless Shawn's back really just can't handle it. But WWE definitely wants him back for another match and Shawn has shown interest in the past.
- Edge suffered a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum in the Smackdown cage match with Kurt Angle last week. He may be able to rehab it and return in a month or so, but if he needs surgery, it'll be more like 3 months. Couldn't be worse timing, since Edge is getting the first real sniff of the main event scene ever in his career, with Kurt Angle busting his ass to make Edge a star.
- Goldberg had a meeting scheduled with WWE this week, but he canceled it and never rescheduled it. Shows you how interested he is. NJPW is sending someone to the U.S. to meet with Goldberg later this week to try to get him to work the October Tokyo Dome show.
- Notes from Smackdown: Maven suffered a broken leg while doing a slide under Christian and his foot got caught in the canvas. This is pretty much exactly how RVD broke his leg in ECW. Anyway, Maven has a broken fibula and will be out 4-6 weeks. He continued the match though, all the way to the finish. They were just starting an angle where Torrie Wilson was gonna be Maven's girlfriend, so tough break (in 2 ways) for him. Undertaker had a match with Randy Orton and Dave gives Undertaker credit for making a real effort to help Orton look good in defeat. It was a damn good match and that was almost entirely because of Undertaker. It's not just him though, Dave notes that everybody Orton has been working with lately is going out of their way to get him over. He seems to be the chosen one right now. (Orton actually talks about this match in the recent Last Ride documentary).
- The upcoming Madison Square Garden house show is going to feature Hulk Hogan teaming with Steve Austin against Ric Flair & Eddie Guerrero. So much for the brand split. Anyway, it'll be Hogan's first time wrestling in the Garden since 1992 and, brand split be damned, they're putting Hogan on the MSG show.
- On his WWE.com blog, Jim Ross wrote about Davey Boy Smith's funeral and noted that his son Harry Smith will get an opportunity to try-out for WWE when he turns 18. He also said they were interested in Jim Neidhart's daughter Natalie, who wrestled as part of that Matrats thing last year. Dave hopes they encourage these kids to go to college first rather than signing them up as soon as they turn 18. It's a hard business and it'd be a good idea to have some kind of fallback plan in place rather than throwing them into the deep end while they're still kids.
- Jim Ross also wrote that he's planning to release his autobiography in 2004 (ended up being 2017 but close enough right?)
- Jeff Hardy has been pulled from all house shows but will continue working TVs on Monday night. Dave doesn't explain why, but earlier in this same issue, he once again hinted that Jeff looks like absolute shit these days and isn't half the wrestler he was a year ago. It's pretty clear that Dave knows about Jeff's drug problems but isn't outright saying it. Cuz yeah, Jeff was in deep at this point. Seems like WWE realized it too.
- There's all sorts of rumors going around about WWE working with various Japanese promotions. Rock vs. Keiji Muto. WWE/AJPW partnership. Joint show with WWE and NJPW. Having WWE developmental wrestlers work Japan. etc. etc. Dave says there may be a little truth to the last one, it's been discussed, but the rest of it is all just bullshit made up by people in Japan trying to work the wrestling magazines and newspapers there. WWE isn't interested in any of that shit.
- This week's episode of WWE Confidential was interesting because it talked about Davey Boy Smith and they didn't shy away from his drug problems, going deep into the story of his addictions. Although it's worth noting that, while everything else was talked about, steroids were never mentioned. They showed some clips of the lost interview from 1999. If you recall, when Smith returned in 1999 after Owen Hart's death, they filmed an interview with him and Diana where he talked about Bret, Owen, and lots of other issues. This was in the midst of the Owen lawsuit and WWE made the decision never to air the interview and it's been sitting in the vault ever since, with this being the first time any of it was ever seen. None of the clips shown here had anything to do with Owen or Bret. That stuff is all still in the vault somewhere to this day. But they played clips of him talking about his drug issues and his marriage with Diana. They also showed the bump in WCW that messed up his back on the Warrior trap door and even had footage of one of his last matches at an indie in Canada, teaming with his son.