I miss real tag team matches

Jericho posted a link to the classic Raw tag match with him/Benoit vs. HHH/Austin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-SomfgOE0E&feature=youtube_gdata_player.  As I was watching, I just couldn't believe how fast paced it was compared to any style match these days.  Then I realized that because Vince hates tag teams, they haven't really put on a proper tag match in so long that they forgot why the formula has worked (and always will).  That the matches can be worked at a much higher pace where you can either hide the shortcomings of out of shape guys and still have fun matches that plays to each wrestler's strengths, or stick 4 talented guys in there and just light the building on fire like these guys did back in the day.
Evidence item # 4,278,321 as to how clueless Vince is in regards to product quality these days.

 

Well, there was the period a few years ago with Jericho/Show v. Batista/Rey that was really great precisely because they worked the formula like you're talking about.  It's becoming more of a problem of a self-fulfilling prophecy these days where Vince has no confidence in the tag teams, so they're emphasized less and given shorter matches, so people care about them less, so Vince has less confidence in them, and on and on.  

The SmarK Rant for Impact Wrestling–05.24.12

The SmarK Rant for TNA Impact Wrestling – 05.24.12 This trainwreck at least HAS to be more interesting than Smackdown these days. Taped from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz Hulk Hogan gives the troops a peptalk backstage, and he goes over the format sheet for tonight and talks about how all the MOMENTUM that TNA has are breaking the format because they can’t be contained by regular TV production. So it’s Open Fight Night, which means a title shot tonight and anyone can challenge anyone else, and Hogan grills Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles about which of them should get the shot tonight. The upshot is that Hogan wants Roode to lose tonight, so it’s not Bully Ray getting the shot. Ouch. This was an interesting reality-show type backstage segment, filmed and produced differently than their usual ones. Eric Young & ODB v. Gail Kim & Madison Rayne This comes from a pretty brutal challenge promo by Gail Kim, as she delivers a stilted speech about being the most dominant Knockouts champion in TNA’s history. Young trades headlocks with Kim, and ODB comes in to clean house on the heels as we take a break. Back with Rayne working ODB over and getting an elbow for two. ODB spears Kim out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Young, but of course he’s not allowed to do anything. Or I guess not, as he slams the girls, but ODB nags him about putting his pants back on. And who hasn’t been there? Sadly, she’s so distracted by Young’s speedo that she gets tripped up and pinned by Kim at 8:50. I’m assuming this was non-title but it wasn’t really made clear. Rob Van Dam v. Gunner Apparently Gunner injured RVD some months ago, and RVD wants to settle it. I’m down with that kind of reasoning. They brawl outside and Gunner throws a chair in, but RVD gets into a slugfest with him instead and hits the spinkick. Rolling Thunder, but he misses a spinkick in the corner and Gunner takes over. He charges, however, and runs into a leg lariat and then gets Van Daminated. His own damn fault for bringing that chair in. Five Star Frog splash finishes impressively at 2:48. *1/2 TV title: Devon v. Garrett Bischoff Devon throws out the challenge based off getting eliminated in a battle royale last week. But they’re still cool with each other. Devon puts him down with a back elbow, but misses a splash to allow Garrett to get a neckbreaker. Devon shrugs that one off cheerfully. And then the Robbies run in for the DQ while Devon is casually holding a headlock. The babyfaces team up to get rid of the doofuses (doofusae?) and Garrett can barely clothesline someone over the top rope properly. Meanwhile, Hulk eliminates Jeff Hardy because his win-loss record just isn’t up to snuff lately. Hulk promises to choose between Angle and AJ later. Bully Ray v. JOSEPH PARK, ESQ. Bully calls Joseph out of the audience, but he’s never been in a fight before and he’s a little intimidated. But then he uses his LAWYERING skill to go all Matlock on Bully Ray and accuse him of masterminding Abyss’ disappearance. Bully takes offense and beats the hell out of him. Gut Check Challenge: Austin Aries v. Joey Ryan Ryan looks like a skinny 80s jobber trying to look like goofy 80s Scott Hall. Aries easily dominates him, but goes up and gets crotched for two. Ryan with a back elbow for two. Aries fires back with a spinning elbow, but Ryan bails to the apron and gets a sunset flip. Aries rolls through it and dropkicks him, but Ryan hits a pumphandle suplex for two. Pretty nice little sequence there. Aries comes right back with a throw into the corner and hits him with the dropkick into the corner, and finishes with the brainbuster at 4:10. Good effort from the indy geek here. He needs an image makeover, but I’d hire him. ** TNA World title: Bobby Roode v. AJ Styles Hogan brings out both potential challengers and then picks AJ because he knows Roode better. AJ dominates and tosses Roode, and we take a break. Back with Roode sending AJ into the post to injure the shoulder, and back in for two. Roode works the arm, but charges and gets backdropped to the floor, and AJ follows with a dive. AJ gets distracted by something on the ramp and that allows Roode the chance to hiptoss him onto the stairs, and back in for two. And we take another break. Back with Roode dropping a knee for two and going to a surfboard, but AJ breaks free and tries the springboard. Roode breaks that up, but AJ fires back with the springboard forearm after all, and gets two. To the top, but AJ fights him off and comes down with the missile dropkick for two. They trade finisher attempts and Roode catapults him into the corner and then follows with a spear for two. Into the crossface, but AJ rolls him over for two. Roode tries it again, but AJ reverses to an Indian deathlock, forcing Roode into the ropes. AJ sets up to finish, but Roode backdrops out and into the spinebuster, and the fisherman’s suplex gets two. Another one is reversed into the Pele kick and AJ goes out to the apron, but blows the 450 springboard, allowing Roode to finish with the suplex at 21:13 and set the record for longest reigning champion. Hell of a TV match, though. **** After one last break, Bobby Roode celebrates his win and calls out Hogan to celebrate with him, but Hulk brings out Sting, who is apparently the SHOCKING special guest promised all episode. So next week it’s Roode v. Sting in a lumberjack match on the first live show. Whoopee. The Pulse The closing angle was pretty underwhelming, but I actually enjoyed this show more than RAW as of late. It was certainly more logically booked. I’ll probably stick with this over Smackdown for a while and see where the live TV thing goes.

Behind-the-scenes at WWE, Part Deux

Hello again, Scott
Since the first entry went so well, I figured I’d peddle along the rest of the information that the writing assistant on GameFAQs.com spilled in the rest of his topic.

My bank account thanks you.

On the interview process and pay:
“Pay was $13 an hour with time and a half for overtime, and there was lots and lots of overtime. I worked 50-60 hours every week.
Interviews were pretty typical. They asked me questions about past job experiences, why I wanted to work for WWE, and made sure I knew the high demands I was getting myself into. I don’t think a degree would be enough necessarily. The other writer’s assistants got in because they had a good amount of TV experience. One of them, the oldest, used to be Howard Stern’s personal assistant for a few years. Another worked on Maury. Another worked for ESPN. I had an internship at CNBC while in college, have a documentary that’s played around the world (rather not divulge it) and had some people put in a good word. Plus I was hired by a clueless dude as stated earlier. But a big part of interviews is also just being clean-cut, professional and charismatic and acting like someone that people would want to work with.”
On if he hid his WWE fandom when interviewed:
“No on the contrary. I wrote “Life-long WWE fan” on my resume and brought a picture of myself at age 10 dressed up as Kane to show the interviewers. I had three interviews, two of which were just normal HR corporate people who didn’t really know anything about the product and didn’t recognize Kane in the photo so they were just mildly amused. The third interview, and the guy who probably made the decision to hire me, was by a guy who was head of Creative or something at the time. However by the time I actually started working he had already been let go, and from what I heard from coworkers he was pretty much wildly incompetent and knew nothing about the product. So it was probably kind of a fluke that I got hired at all.”
On meeting Vince:
“Yes I met Vince on one occasion. I was leaving work for the evening and bumped into him at the elevators. I was sort of blindsided and blurted out “Hi Vince!” instead of Mr. McMahon but he didn’t seem to mind. I introduced myself as a new writer’s assistant and he shook my hand. We shared an elevator down and he said something like “Welcome aboard. You know we need a lot of smart minds in that writer’s room” and I said yes sir. I said that it was a dream come true to be working there and I was a fan since I was 6 years old. That made him smile and he said “Thank you.” He got off to leave and since then I only caught a few glimpses of him backstage at Survivor Series. Seeing him in the halls of the building is like seeing a Mewtwo.”
On Vince’s presence at shows:
“Vince goes to every TV taping and has for the last however many thousands of years. I remember a note coming in towards the end of my run there that Vince may start not going to every single show soon, and that was groundbreaking news. I’m not completely sure but I think Triple H travels with Vince every time.
Vince was very close to coming back on TV at one point around the Kevin Nash conspiracy text message crap, and even facing Punk in a match on RAW, but changed his mind and decided to remain off TV.”
On Triple H:
“Triple H gets a ton of undeserved heat. I’ve never heard of him changing feuds purposely to get more attention, or burying guys because of a vendetta against them. I don’t think he gives a crap. He has a day-to-day job at Titan Tower as head of Talent Development. He’s there every day in a suit and tie. His concerns these days are with developing FCW talent and bringing them up in the best way possible. And when Vince has a crazy idea, Triple H is often the voice of reason in the meetings. In my time there I got the impression that the storylines will make much more sense when Triple H inherits the reigns. The IWC should consider him a friend, not a foe.
The only thing is that Triple H vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania 28 was locked in stone, and no one was gonna tell Vince or Triple H otherwise.”
On how the writers view wrestlers:
“The writers don’t usually have strong feelings for or against any particular guys. They’re just characters in the fiction that they’re writing. Although some guys have a reputation for being crappy ring workers, like Mason Ryan and Zeke Jackson. But on other people opinions are usually mixed. For example, I never gave a crap about Ted DiBiase, but one of the writers really liked him for some reason. Though ultimately it all just comes down to making a good show. They realize that they’re responsible to serve all the characters on their roster, with first priority being the talented ones who can work storylines and draw. So when Barrett was doing nothing for a while in early September, there came a point where they said “Alright, we’re not using Wade to his full potential.” The Barrett Barrage became a story, Wade got a win streak and was pushed back into the limelight for a time until his injury.”
On proposed angles that were rejected or dropped:
“Hm the first one that comes to mind was kind of a joke. With the tag division in pathetic shape, Brian Gewirtz suggested to throw Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater together as a tag team and call them The Rock and Roll Kids. We all kind of laughed about it but he even pitched it to Vince. Vince didn’t go for it.
There was brief discussion of some wilder ideas, like making Mason Ryan gay or giving Alex Riley a long-term storyline where he fakes having cancer to get sympathy from the crowd. Both of these never made it anywhere.
Kaitlyn was supposed to be the third heel diva to join Beth and Natalya in the Divas of Doom. They even went so far as to have her turn on AJ at Smackdown, but due to poor planning the segment was really poorly done. Kaitlyn, Beth and Natalya didn’t really know what to do and it didn’t look good so it was edited out of the show and planned to be re-done the following week. However some other Diva drama came up backstage or whatever, leading to the whole division being kind of in the doghouse in Vince’s mind. Vince ultimately decided there didn’t need to be a third heel diva at all, and broke up Divas of Doom soon after before deciding to push Tamina.
Ziggler and Swagger breaking up was teased at first, but Vince told us to drop it and keep them together.
There was talks for a long time of Layla returning with an eccentric fashion-centered gimmick in the style of Lady Gaga, but obviously that didn’t happen.
When Punk was feuding with Del Rio we had an idea of having Del Rio cutting a promo, when someone dressed up as a WWE ice cream bar comes out from the back. Del Rio assumes its Punk and beats him up, but then tears off the costume to reveal that its Ricardo tied up with tape over his mouth, and it was just a scheme by Punk to mess with Del Rio. It didn’t make much logical sense and never made it to air.
A few of us wanted Cody to go absolutely batshit psychotic after his mask was destroyed and be more of a loose canon character I guess like how Dean Ambrose is. Instead he went back to being regular heel Cody. I’m not sure why.
There were some plans to have Drew McIntyre feud with Sheamus by having Drew bully Sheamus with a picture of him as a little fat kid. There was also a lot of background with them because they wrestled together in the indys but it never got off the ground.
Hunico introduced Primo and Epico and Camacho and the initial plan was to form a stable, but Vince was concerned that it was too gang-like and racist and split them up pretty quick.
At the time I left, the idea was for Zeke’s losing streak to culminate in a heel turn, but that’s yet to happen.
There was an idea to having something that makes the Usos stand apart — one idea was that Jimmy could be really smart and Jey could be really stupid.
They were considering doing a relationship between a face Diva and a heel superstar. I believe the frontrunner was Kelly Kelly with Wade Barrett, but that never happened.”
On meeting Superstars and personalities:
“I had a brief interaction with John Morrison backstage at Survivor Series. I introduced myself awkwardly saying my name was John as well. It was right before he was planning to leave, while I (constantly) was afraid of getting fired any day now. So he said something like “One of us won’t be here anymore in a few weeks!” and I said “Maybe two of us” and he said “Nah you’ll be fine! You have a great name!”
I also saw Sin Cara without his mask backstage (spoilers: looks like a mexican guy). I speak spanish so I wished him good luck. That was the night his knee exploded >_>
I shook Mark Henry’s hand, which is an enormous mass of muscle.
I was ten feet away from The Rock cutting his (completely live btw) backstage promo at Survivor Series. There was a large crowd of crew watching him backstage completely in awe as he went through the whole thing. Backstage promos are usually pre-taped during the show, but Rock insisted on doing it live so he could interact with the crowd.
Personally from what I saw at Survivor Series Punk is kind of antisocial. He may very well be a decent guy too, but I wouldn’t call him approachable.
I saw Michael Hayes regularly. He’s funny as hell. I had John Laurinaitis call me into his office to clear something up with me. I saw John on a few occasions and he was always really nice. He would occasionally pop into the writer’s room just to say hello.
I think Undertaker was backstage at a Raw in Texas just to say hi to people. He was bald with a long grey sort of wizard beard, which I was really hoping he’d have at Wrestlemania but no dice. I didn’t see him as I didn’t travel, but I heard it from the writers who went.”
On being backstage at Survivor Series:
“You’re encouraged to introduce yourself and meet everybody, but everything was so hectic and everyone so busy that I was very hesitant to interrupt most people. I only approached guys who were standing around and not doing much at the time. I was told that even if you think no one is paying attention to you, it doesn’t go unnoticed when you fail to introduce yourself. That being said I did shake the hand of many of the agents including Dustin Runnels, Arn Anderson, and Bill DeMott who gave me the nicest warmest smile and greeting I could imagine. 
But yeah there’s a huge amount of people. If it was a RAW or better yet a Smackdown taping I would’ve been more willing to interrupt people, but it was a big 4 PPV. For christ’s sake, The Rock was walking around backstage. Tension was high.”
On the HHH/Awesome Truth conspiracy angle:
“You’re right, it was a mess and the writers knew it, but by that point they kind of had written themselves into a corner. There’s times where ideas take on a life of their own and you just kind of have to see them through and try to end them and forget them. This was definitely one of those times. I don’t really remember if there was more to it than what made it on TV.
However I thought Awesome Truth was really entertaining, and their run-in at Hell in a Cell was awesome. The walk-out on Triple H didn’t make much sense, but it made for captivating TV for two weeks. Sometimes that’s the only goal.”
On Cena’s work:
“Anybody who calls Cena lazy doesn’t know the first thing about him. The guy is a freakin workhorse and model employee. Him saying he’s not changing for anybody is just his character right now. It doesn’t mean he’ll never turn heel ever ever ever. As far as complaining about his cheesy promos, millions of people love them so the WWE doesn’t give a crap. And this is just speculation, but I believe he used to limit his moveset in the ring to limit the risk of injury — since losing Cena to injury would be a huge wrench in everything. However I think he’s been doing much better in the last couple of years than in the late 2000s.”
On other wrestlers who go the extra mile for WWE:
“I think Miz and Sheamus are two guys who are willing to do anything WWE asks of them, in the ring and out. You’ll notice whenever there’s a wrestler on a talk show or doing some kind of promotion, it’s usually one of them because they’re just good at it and willing to do it. Guys like Punk and Orton would never want to do these things.”
— 
On the TV-PG direction:
“WWE is always looking to expand. They want to be a large media company, that makes movies, has a network, etc. This kind of expansion needs money. And making money is made harder when there’s a segment of the population that thinks you’re trash TV or not suitable for children. Children is how most media companies make money.”
On how the company views TNA:
“I don’t think anyone at WWE really thinks about TNA or has time to care about what they’re doing. They’re not real competition, and they have a very different approach to wrestling that WWE. WWE aspires to always be as sophisticated and professional as possible in their presentation. They want to be grandiose and mainstream, not appeal to a niche. Not to say there’s anything wrong with TNA’s approach, it’s just not what WWE is trying to do.”
On smarks:
“Smarks are seen as a minority that usually shouldn’t be listened to — which from a business standpoint is sort of true. Dirtsheets are sort of laughed at because they’re wrong all the time. Most of what’s on dirstheets is just news aggregated from press releases or superstar twitter accounts. A small portion is speculative stuff about backstage stuff and most of that is total BS. Dirtsheets are an ad-revenue based business so they do what they gotta do to get eyes on their sites – including making stuff up. I think if there were real insiders, surprises like Brodus’s debut or Brock’s would be spoiled well in advance.
I think the writers like to stick to their own ideas until the possibility to make money rears its head. Like when an entire arena is chanting YES YES YES — they go ahead and make a new t-shirt.
But like I said the writers are wrestling fans themselves. They love a great Tyson Kidd match as much as the next smark, but they also know that putting him on RAW against Heath Slater is gonna make the ratings nosedive for that segment.
As for the last question, as much as the writers may hate to admit it they are smarks themselves, so they get a kick out of some smarky things. For example Santino’s joke a few months ago about repealing the rule instated by Jack Tunney about not allowing reptiles at ringside. That came straight from Brian Gewirtz because he always thought that was a funny rule. Most non-smarks wouldn’t get that reference at all.”
On dirtsheet sources:
“No idea who the “sources” were. I wondered that a lot while I worked there. It certainly wasn’t anyone that I worked with on the writing team. Could possibly some dot com guys or crew people that got second hand knowledge of upcoming storylines. Most of what’s on the dirtsheets is made up bullcrap though. Very rarely does a true backstage story make it out. When you hear something like “The original plan was to have so and so win, but a last minute change…” that’s almost always completely wrong.”
On the writers’ reaction when a heel is cheered or face is booed:
“I think it’s just part of the business. Also the writers are well aware that there are smark cities and mark cities, so they have a good idea of the kind of reaction certain things will get in certain places. Occasionally they’re completely wrong though. Many of them expected Zack Ryder to get heavily booed at Survivor Series because “New Yorkers hate Long Islanders” but they couldn’t have been more wrong.”
On bad pitches:
“I don’t know about pitches really because I was never in the room for the Vince meetings where things were pitched to him. However if the writers thought it was a bad idea, it would never get pitched to Vince in the first place. The bad ideas that make it on TV are often coming from Vince himself.”
On the writers’ involvement with the WWE Network:
“I even brought that up one time like “Who exactly is going to write and work on all these shows on the new network?” and my coworkers didn’t really know. I assume the plan was/is to bring in new writers to work on those shows — specifically ones with lots of reality TV production experience. But to this day I have no real idea what part of the company was working on the network. There was a lot of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing at WWE.”
On any writers left over from the Attitude Era:
“Gewirtz and Ed Koskey. I’m not sure when Dave Kapoor started, but they’re the oldest. Everyone else has been around less than three years. Most less than one.”
On NXT:
“NXT is written every week by only two writers, and they pretty much have free reign to do whatever they want, so they had a lot of fun with the whole Maxin/Bateman/Curtis soap opera. I remember people questioning when the season would end. At one point the 100th episode in Las Vegas was supposed to be the end, with Bateman and Maxine getting married, but it kept going after that for some reason.
I don’t know much else, but the road team writer that worked on NXT was always praising Bateman, Maxine and Curtis for their talents and enthusiasm. They all loved working together. You gotta remember that although NXT and Superstars are just web shows in America, they do air on TV internationally and actually pull good ratings in some parts of the world.”
On the Divas:
“The biggest complainers are probably the Divas, and rightfully so. They always wish they were getting more TV time and longer matches and I can’t blame them. Daniel Bryan as I stated before complained a lot about the girlfriend story with AJ, but I bet he ain’t complaining now.
The divas all seem very nice and friendly. I only managed to introduce myself to AJ backstage at Survivor Series. She was sweet and introduced herself as April. Beth, Natalya and Alicia walked by me on a few occasions backstage and smiled or nodded professionally.”
On Kharma:
“By the time I started Kharma had already left for several months for her pregnancy, so I don’t know what they had in mind long term. They were probably playing it by ear and seeing what kind of reaction she got.
I remember hearing about her miscarriage way before it made it to the dirtsheets. Like months before. When we’d try to find out when she’d be back, the answer we’d get would basically be that she’s on an indefinite personal leave until further notice.”
On Randy Orton:
“Don’t know much about Orton. I get the impression that he too is a joker that messes around with people, but pretty reserved like his on screen character. The only thing I saw him do backstage at Survivor Series was take pictures with a family that was brought backstage for some reason. Also I heard a story from some random RAW/SD where Orton was waiting in gorilla to go out for his match up next, right behind the curtain. In gorilla is usually Vince, Triple H, the agent of the match, sometimes Stephanie and a writer or two if they’re not busy doing something else. Anyway Orton’s getting ready to go out, and he turns his back to everyone and starts peeing in a trash can in gorilla. Triple H is like “Randy what the hell are you doing?” and he just shrugs and says “I always get the urge to pee before I go out.”
On Jinder Mahal:
“Well I guess he was brought in for the Indian audiences, though his storyline with Khali and Ranjin Singh (played by Raw head writer Dave Kapoor) was kinda dropped. I guess Jinder is one of those guys that Vince saw something in. I remember we would get notes from meetings with him on the road that would say like
* From now on VKM wants Jinder to speak only in Punjabi
then a few weeks later he cuts a promo in english, then we’d get a note like
* VKM says Jinder should always speak in an indian accent 
and then that wouldn’t last very long either. 
*Jinder Mahal will start wearing a turban to the ring 
The last Jinder-related note I remember was
* VKM wants Jinder to put his turban in a glass case before his match. 
So these ideas all coming from Vince, I think it was safe to assume Vince saw a lot of potential in the Jinder character as an anti-american heel.”
On other random superstars that he was asked about:
“Christian- It’s acknowledged that he’s getting older and is probably best served to put over younger talent at this point in his career. He does have a rep for complaining when he feels he’s not being used right.
Curt Hawkins – Respected for being good at his position. He’s a good jobber because he bumps well and makes guys look good.
Evan Bourne- Evan Bourne was kind of a hush hush topic. The head writers didn’t really tell us much about what was going on with him until it was pretty public knowledge that he had fucked up twice. But lots of people fuck up twice. Evan just had the misfortune of breaking his ankle right as he was gearing up to come back.
The Great Khali- When Henry was champion there was a point where he was supposed to feud with Khali, but his injuries threw a wrench into the whole story and he dropped the belt. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Khali gets pushed again one day.
Hunico- I think it was at a Smackdown taping where there were a number of heels in the ring cutting a promo. During a commercial break, Vince told them via headset to give the mic to Hunico, just to see what he could do on the fly without warning. Hunico cut a good promo off the top of his head and that really impressed Vince. I think he’s been in Vince’s good graces ever since. 
Jack Swagger- Swagger is complicated. I got the impression that nobody had much faith in him on the mic, and though his character is obviously stale and has degenerated to jobber status, at the time that I was at WWE the roster was very thin. People kept getting injured and no new stars were coming in. So we kind of needed someone in Swagger’s position — a big guy who looks like a serious competitor but can be beaten to make someone else looks good. And like I said earlier, Vince had no intention of splitting up Ziggler and Swagger, so a face turn was not in the cards for the time being. Quick story about Swagger. On the Muppets episode of RAW after he lost to Santino, Swagger kicked the glass beaker out of frustration. It flew into the barricade and smashed on a little girl and her father. WWE took them backstage to check on them and apologize, they met a bunch of superstars and Swagger apologized personally. The father left extremely satisfied with the professionalism of the company and a potential lawsuit was avoided.
JTG- He’s a good jobber and makes guys look good. But I remember he got in big trouble for pulling Tamina’s hair during some random NXT promo. WWE doesn’t even want to think about man-on-woman violence on the program
Mark Henry- He was doing great and Smackdown ratings were up noticeably while he was champion, but he was working injured and then got even more injured to the point that they had to make him drop the title. One day the writers came back from the weekly meeting with Vince and said “Welp, Daniel Bryan is gonna cash in and win this Sunday”
The Miz- I got the impression they didn’t really know what to do with Miz a lot of the time. I don’t know much about his situation now. Maybe Vince is pissed at him. I’m sure the writers couldn’t care less and don’t have any vendetta. It’s a bummer though, because I’m personally a Miz fan.
Sin Cara- I think in general people like Hunico better than Sin Cara because Hunico came up through our own farming system and is very familiar with the WWE style. Sin Cara as has been brought up many times before had a lot of trouble adapting to the American style of wrestling. Also he was a bit of a puss, as he would often complain of some nagging injury. His neck or his shoulder or whatever. There was always something with him. But he’s a god in Mexico, and we just started going to Mexico a few times a year, so to have anyone else but Sin Cara play Sin Cara on a permanent basis would get them eaten alive. I think WWE still feels theres tons of money to be made off Sin Cara, but I’m a big Hunico fan personally.”
On feuds within the company:
“Not among wrestlers. I heard that Cena and Rock aren’t huge fans of each other, but they’re professional about it. Like I’ve stated before Gewirtz doesn’t like Paul Heyman because of some history they have. I hear the Divas all mostly hate each other and are very catty and competitive because Diva TV time is so sparse. Don’t know much else.”
On Vince’s treatment of Jim Ross:
“It’s clear that Vince has something against JR, but nobody knows why. Vince got a big kick out of any opportunity to embarrass JR on TV, but Jim is always a good sport about it. I remember nobody wanting to be the one that gets on the phone with JR because he’ll talk your ear off for two hours. I think some people think JR was a better EVP of Talent Relations that Laurinaitis is.”
On the reaction to the Cranky Vince twitter feed:
“Yes I first learned about it while working there and we would laugh about it all the time because Vince can be like that sometimes. He says “GODDAMMIT” a lot from what I hear. However the consensus is that it’s probably a former writer, because they know a lot of stuff only insiders would know but it doesn’t really match what’s currently happening in real time. So I think it’s just an ex-writer guessing.”
On anyone not on TV that the company is high up on:
“Good question, but no one really comes to mind. Of the FCW group, I know there’s high expectations for Husky Harris and Bo Rotundo as well as Richie Steamboat. One writer based out of Baltimore was friends with Calvin Raines so he’s been rooting for him. I think Seth Rollins is looked down on a bit as an indy darling, but it’s not serious. The Baltimore based writer also watched TNA pretty regularly, and often said he wished WWE raided them for talent. Specifically Bobby Roode and James Storm.”
On dark matches and house shows:
“The agents script house shows. Usually one of them is assigned to book and run the whole show. They used to send us reports via email after every house show. One of my favorites was — I think maybe from Arn Anderson — “Alex Riley went out for his match, slipped on the turnbuckle while going up for his taunt, and that was the best part of the match”
Dark matches seem to be reserved for developmental talent nowadays and matches on Superstars usually just comes down to who isn’t being used that night on RAW/SD.”
On if the writers dislike the gimmick PPV format:
“I’m sure some of them do, but its completely out of their hands. It’s ultimately (I’m assuming) a business decision. Giving each PPV a gimmick makes it special and gives you a reason to buy, unlike the generic ones where buyrates can vary wildly based on feuds. They probably want to create some sort of predictability in their business model. For example there’s already low expectations for any December PPV because people usually splurge on Survivor Series and then save their money for holiday shopping and the Royal Rumble.”
On the possibility of Slammy awards and fan polls being rigged:
“Online and TV polls are 100% real. They’re pretty honest with all that stuff. The viewer polls are real, and that glitch or mistake in the accounting system was real. I don’t think it’ll be a problem. The script will just say like “CHRISTIAN vs. [VIEWERS CHOICE]” or something like that. It’s not a big deal. They’ll probably decide on the fly who wins, or already have finishes planned for each of the possible opponents.”
On any ideas he had that were successful:
“My responsibilities were not really to be creative. I was welcome to throw in my 2 cents on discussions and brainstorms, but I didn’t write anything. I was mostly just the creative team’s bitch. However there are two things that made it to TV I can take credit for. When the Slammys were coming up and we were given the task to come up with names for the awards, I’m the one that threw out “Game Changer of the Year” which everybody liked and eventually made it to air.  For the montage for Pipebomb of the Year, an email was sent out asking us to reply with some of our favorite quotes from the past year and a couple of mine got in. The only one I remember is R-Truth saying “THE GRITS ARE GON HIT THE PAN!” 
Also on my last week working there, I suggested combining a Miz vs. Truth and Sheamus vs. Somebody match into one tag team match. Leading to Sheamus teaming up with R-Truth, which to my knowledge had never occurred before or since. Pretty minor things, I know.”
On any of his ideas that he wished were approved:
“Probably turning Swagger or Miz face. Or bringing up Brad Maddox. I pitched an idea for a love triangle between AJ, Zack Ryder and eventually AJ’s “old boyfriend” played by Brad Maddox. This was way before the AJ/Daniel Bryan storyline.”
On his favorite and least favorite memories during his tenure:
“Greatest memory was probably meeting Vince in the elevator, or some of the moments from Survivor Series. Watching the Rock cut his promo live. Standing around backstage with some of the superstars watching the matches on a big TV. Little things like at one point I was given the task to fetch Stephanie her iPad while she was in gorilla and she gave me a smile and a thank you when I handed it to her. 
Least favorite memory is probably several uncomfortable moments being reprimanded by my boss Brian Gewirtz, who is a genius but not much of a people person.”
On working there diminished his fandom:
“No. This was a concern of mine before I started. Like I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it anymore after looking behind the curtain, but it’s been quite the opposite. While I worked there I really enjoyed seeing how things I read in the script would translate to the screen, and how people would react to storylines, and playing dumb on the forum. Now that I’m not there anymore, whenever they’re backstage I look out for people I know or can just imagine how the stories and discussions came up. Or a joke from months ago like Nattie Neidfart will make it on screen and I’ll crack up. It’s fun and gave me a new appreciation for the business.”
On if he has anything left from his time at WWE:
“When I was released they took my ID Badge, Blackberry and laptop so I don’t really have anything from there besides free DVDs and action figures that anyone could have.”

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 99

(No mean-spirited trick post this time around, fear not.  I only like to screw with my audience’s heads once or twice a year at most.)  What if they gave a PPV and nobody cared? The Netcop Rant for WCW Slamboree 1999 – Live from St. Louis, Missouri. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Mike. – Okay, those not aware of my patented rating system, I’ll be using the Hot Poker Up the Ass system to rate the matches tonight.  In a nutshell, for bad things that happen, I shove imaginary flaming pokers up Tony Schiavone’s ass , and for good things, I cool him off by shoving cool, refreshing bottles of Surge(tm) up his ass.  In order to prevent permanent scarring to poor Tony’s tender areas, we’ll limit ourselves to 10 pokers and bottles of Surge(tm) either way. – Opening match, WCW World tag team titles:  Kidman & Rey Mysterio v. The Vanilla Midgets v. The Flock 2.0.  STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!  You don’t start out the show with the only match that is guaranteed not to suck.  (Well, another theory would say you do open the show with it because it’s a hot start to the show.)  Big mistake, I’m predicting it right now, because you can only go downhill from here.  (You can say that about a lot of WCW things in general.)  Anyway, Horsemen get a big heel pop, Flock gets a big face pop, and the champs are somewhere in between.  Saturn, Kidman, and Malenko start out, with Saturn and Kidman double-teaming Malenko. Kidman does the over-the-top bump from the belly-to-belly early.  Great double-team german suplex from the Horsemen.  Why is Rey dressed like a Godwinn?  Horsemen are drawing mad heel heat.  Beautiful sequence as Malenko alley-oops Rey to the top rope, and he comes back with a moonsault.  Just gorgeous.  Everyone fights to the floor, leaving Benoit against Raven.  Horsemen seem to be controlling the flow here, stomping everyone into oblivion at one point and tossing the fallen team members to the floor with regularity.  Big highspot crashup leaves everyone fighting on the floor.  Benoit and Saturn are left in the ring by default and Benoit takes advantage with the ROLLING GERMAN SUPLEX~! Malenko must be in a bad mood today or something, he’s spitting on the faces a lot.  OH MY GOD…Malenko actually powerbombs Kidman without it getting reversed!  This is a historic day!  Dragon suplex from Benoit gets two on Kidman.  I’m impressed at Tony actually calling the match. (I’m less impressed with 1999 Scott for NOT calling the match.)  Raven gets a hot tag and does his rolling vertical suplex~ on Benoit. It’s cooler when Benoit does it.  (Less cool once we realized what damage it was doing to him.)  A true pier-six brawl with everyone doing big moves on everyone else.  Kidman and Rey do the alley-oop rana on Benoit, but when they try it on Saturn he reverses to a superbomb. Kidman goes for the shooting star press, but Kanyon comes out of the audience and pushes him off the top, into an Evenflow DDT for the pin. Malenko had Saturn in the Texas Cloverleaf at the time, but I guess Saturn didn’t give up.  The Flock 2.0 is the new champions, which is the right booking decision.  (Yeah, until Kanyon turned on them for that Jersey Triad bullshit.)  We’ll give Tony 8 bottles of Surge(tm), which should give him some leeway for the crap ahead.  Too much brawling for my tastes, but I’d give it **** easy.  (I don’t see how this couldn’t have ruled.)  – DDP video package. – Gonnad v. Stevie Ray.  An automatic 2 hot pokers for anything involving Gonnad (see Starrcade 98 for the precedent).  (Yeah, I wasn’t a big Konnan fan…well…ever, really.)  We play the CRZ version of the Catchphrases of Doom (basically it involves yelling “you suck” at the TV).  We run through the 3 moves of insufficient doom very early, but Vincent interference gives Stevie Ray the advantage.  Stevie Ray is the only guy in wrestling who has a lazy CHINLOCK for christ’s sake.  I mean, the whole idea of a resthold is that it requires zero effort, but Stevie can’t EVEN DO THAT RIGHT!  (Oddly enough, his color commentary was entertaining in a twisted way, whereas his brother got all the wrestling talent and can’t do coherent commentary to save his life.  That’s some odd DNA.)  Stevie comes off the second rope and Gonnad puts his foot in the air, in the general vicinity of where Ray’s head would be, but no contact is ever made.  Stevie sells anyway.  nWo interferes freely, and Rey Jr. tries to even the odds, so Stevie Ray is nice enough to slowly put Gonnad into the Slapjack and wait for Rey to come off the top rope and allow Gonnad to get the cradle for the pin.  We’ll add another 3 hot pokers for the match, and a bottle of Surge(tm) for at least keeping it short. – Kevin Nash video package. – Sting video package. – DDP meets Bam Bam Bigelow backstage and they have a male bonding moment.  (That ended up being the start of a bad storyline.  They had such a hot series of feuds going over the tag titles, and then the DDP/Bigelow/Kanyon team sucked the life out of the division for good.)  – Brian Knobs v. Bam Bam Bigelow.  The usual international objects line the ring.  Knobs is usual no-selling shitty self.  They fight outside the ring.  I think someone is severely overestimating the Nasty Boys’ worth on the cosmic scale for Knobs to get a job.  (Or severely underestimating Hogan’s influence.)  See, he’s a heel because he yells “Nasty!” every couple of minutes, I guess.  Knobs sells like the Rock — Starts at 100%, takes a bump, shakes his head for a minute, then is back to 100%.  (You shut your filthy whore mouth, 1999 Scott!)  Pretty boring hardcore match, too.  They fight to the back, where a conveniently placed souvenir stand awaits. Knobs pulls back the Wizard of Oz’ magic curtain, revealing a huge section of empty seats.  That’s a no-no, Brian. (Obviously 7000 fans were running to the payphones to call their friends and tell them to tune into the PPV mid-show.)  Knobs hits a version of the Nastie’s patented Shitty Elbow off the balcony to a table below, but Bigelow just no-sells, suplexes Knobs through said table, and gets the pin.  2 hot pokers for Knobs’ involvement.  (So let’s give Brian Knobs a BIGGER push!)  – World TV title match:  Booker T v. Rick Steiner.  Booker gets a rather anemic pop.  Steiner controls with shoulderblocks to start, but Booker comes back with his spinning kicks.  Steiner won’t sell Booker’s stuff for some reason.  (Because he was a grumpy shithead after the team split up?)  Steiner controls with some slow suplexes.  Really dull stuff here.  Steiner is just punching, choking and resting.  Crowd has absolutely no interest in this match.  Booker comes back with the axe-kick and spinebuster.  Missile dropkick, but Scott Steiner runs in and allows Rick a Steinerline for two.  Booker whips Rick into Scott for two.  Scott trips Booker and Rick Steiner gets the neckbreaking bulldog for the pin and TV title.  Oh, fuck you, WCW.  5 hot pokers for putting the TV on Rick Steiner and making a royal fuckup of Booker’s TV title reign.  (Luckily Booker would keep rising up the card, although Steiner would also continue failing up the card.  I kind forgot what my point was supposed to be.)  – Charles Robinson v. Gorgeous George.  Robinson’s robe and haircut is too funny, as he looks like a dead ringer for Flair.  The real Flair and the nurse (Asia?  Oh, I get it, ha ha) (Asya, actually.)  are at ringside.  George has kind of a cheerleader outfit thing going.  Please let this be short.  Please. They fight over a wristlock to start, with Charles even mimicking Flair’s selling.  Then Stall-O-Mania 99 breaks out, with Robinson bodyslamming the beauty queen on the floor and other shenanigans. Robinson chokes out George.  They trade chops and Robinson even pulls out a Flair flip, and gets slammed for it.  Flair Flop follows.  This is like watching a midget match in Mexico.  The evil nurse hurts George’s leg, and Robinson goes to work on the knee.  Well, can’t fault the psychology, that’s for sure.  Charles gets the figure-four (on the wrong leg, of course, but it’s reversed.  Then Flair interferes, and Savage interferes, and George drops an elbow off the second rope for the pin. This fell under WCW’s specialty division:  Entertaining crap.  5 hot pokers for the stupidity of the idea and putting this on a PPV, but 2 bottles of Surge(tm) for the principles at least making an effort not to suck.  (I seem to remember Little Naitch being ridiculously entertaining in this role and probably living out the dream of a lifetime in the process.)  – US title match:  Scott Steiner v. Buff Bagwell.  Buff jumps Scott before the bell, but a couple of blatant shots to the Konnans turns the tide.  Brawl outside the ring allows Scott the chance to chat with the fans.  Steiner continues beating on Buff while yelling at ringside fans. Half-assed Tiger Driver gets two.  Belly to belly lays out Buff, and Scott grabs a chair, which ends up getting used against him.  Buff comeback.  Two bad looking dropkicks and an atomic drop, but the ref is bumped.  Predictably, Rick Steiner runs in, waffles Buff with the chair, and Scott gets the SHITTY REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM for the submission.  The reunited Steiner brothers beat on Buff.  Bagwell did NOTHING here.  I officially give up on Buff — the neck injury has ended his career.  (Yup.  Not much more to be said there.) 2 hot pokers for the bad match.  Both Steiner brothers are singles champions — the Apocalypse is officially upon us. – Goldberg video package. – Nash/DDP/Sting/Goldberg video package.  None of this does anything to explain why either Nash/DDP or Sting/Goldberg is even happening, but I suppose it fills time nicely. – Flair video package.  Same one we’ve seen for the past month or so. – Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Ric Flair.  Flair boots Johnny Boone out of the match and replaces him with Charles Robinson.  (Man, the days when I used to give a shit about referee names.)  Stalling from Flair to start.  Piper throws his 1982 potato punches and Flair stalls again. Piper does his devasting eye poke and hand-clap, but Flair hits a low blow to take control.  Then Arn beats him up.  Then Asia beats him up. What a classic.  Flair should be ashamed for resorting to this crap. They “brawl” outside the ring.  Double KO spot — I feel like someone should be yelling “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”.  Figure-four, reversed by Piper.  Flair shows his ass on a sunset flip attempt. Robinson converses with AA while Piper gets a couple of pin attempts. Piper gets the figure-four, and AA breaks it up.  Piper puts the sleeper on him, then on Flair.  Asia breaks it up.  Piper kisses her, and puts the sleeper on her.  Flair gets an international object, hits Piper with it, and gets the pin.  Oh, great, now Eric Bischoff is out.  He declares Piper the winner.  Um, HELLO?  Didn’t he lose the Presidency? And how exactly did Piper win that match, anyway?  This makes no fucking sense. 10 hot pokers for this whole clusterfuck.  Even Tony Schiavone is having trouble explaining what’s going on.  (I remember exactly none of this, but at least it’s less embarrassing for Flair than his TNA run was.)  – Sting v. Goldberg.  The announcers are still trying to rationalize the last match.  Okay, anyway, on with this, which also makes no sense but at least it should be a decent match.  Goldberg messes up a backdrop and hits the powerslam early.  Sting stalls.  Back in and Sting clotheslines Goldberg out.  Goldberg stalls. Goldberg with a cross-armbreaker, and Sting escapes and dropkicks the knee.  Boston crab, which Goldberg powers out of.  Sting goes to the headlock.  Hmmm, maybe DDP *did* carry that match on Nitro.  Sting with a couple of Stinger splashes, but Goldberg catches him and slams him to a big pop, but Bret Hart comes in with a chair and it’s a big schmozz as Bret hammers Goldberg.  I suppose someone jobbing would have been too much to ask.  The Steiners attack everyone for fun.  Very disappointing match.  3 hot pokers for the match, 1 bottle of Surge(tm) for Bret Hart making an appearance, even if it is a token one.  Why did they even bother doing the match?  (So they could advertise it for PPV buys and then not have to deliver, of course.)  – DDP-Nash video.  Why are they even fighting again? – WCW World title match:  DDP v. Kevin Nash.  (I had actually forgotten that DDP’s title run was actually only a month.   Seemed much longer in retrospect.)  Okay, let’s see if DDP can carry the Laziest Man in the History of our Sport.  Tenay reminds us that DDP and Nash started out as a midcard jobber team.  Okay, maybe not in those words.  Hey, this was also the very first Thunder main event. How come they don’t mention that?  Nash gains control and runs through his usual stuff.  DDP comes back with the equalizer of choice tonight — the groin shot — and chokes him down.  He cuts off a turnbuckle pad to distract the ref and hits Nash with a microphone.  I feel like I’m in Memphis here.  Nash comes back and we have a slugfest.  DDP knocks Nash out with a baseball slide, and brings him in, then gets a two count with his feet on the ropes.  Another lowblow.  Must have been training with Scott Steiner.  DDP decides to start working on the knee.  Nash blocks the ringpost figure-four.  Another slugfest, won by Nash.  Snake Eyes to the exposed turnbuckle, and Jackknife powerbomb draws Randy Savage into the ring for the ultra-cheap DQ ending.  No, wait, here’s Our Hero, Eric Bischoff again, to restart the match.  On whose authority?  (The anonymous Nitro GM?  Joe Laurinaitis?)  DDP gets controls and gets a two count on an ugly clothesline.  They my favorite of moves, the sleeper.  Gosh, nothing I love more than a good sleeper and reversal spot.  DDP gets a chair but it backfires and Nash gets a two-count.  A DDP lowblow gets two.  Nash hulks up, and powerdrops DDP to win the World title.  Oh, how inspirational.  Nice to see the booker being so selfless and allowing DDP to escape without a stretcher job. (Yes, Nash not only sunk the company, he also booked himself to win the World title…TWICE.)  Call it 4 hot pokers, with no real redeeming value. The Bottom Line:  Well, our final tally stands at 36 hot pokers, and 12 bottles of Surge(tm) to counteract the burning.  That’s a grand total of 24 hot pokers against, which puts Tony in serious pain. Everything pretty much went actually as everyone thought it would, except for the brain-dead Bischoff thing, which means my recommendation falls right where I thought it would before the show:  Thumbs down.  (99 under the Nash regime was horribly non-memorable and yet shitty at the same time.  But just wait until we get to NEXT year’s show…)

Michael’s Impact Review

IMPACT WRESTLING ON SPIKE TV
OPEN FIGHT NIGHT #2
MAY 24, 2012
THE IMPACT ZONE – ORLANDO, FLORIDA

–  Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz.

–  It’s Open Fight Night #2.  Hulk Hogan is in his office reading the show format sheet?  AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and Bully Ray are with him.  He shows them the format sheet, Bully Ray tosses it aside.  He basically tells them its an open forum for ideas tonight.  Great idea.  He says Bobby Roode is on the road to becoming the longest reigning World champion in TNA history.  AJ Styles says it is important as Kurt Angle being a gold medalist.  Angle says he has won more titles than anyone in the room.  Ray says EVERYONE fears him and he can intimidate him if he wanted to.  Angle and Ray go back and forth until things turn towards AJ.  AJ says he has been there the longest and he wants to end Roode’s streak.  Angle says he beat him the last time they fought.  AJ says its because Daniels and Kazarian helped him.  Jeff Hardy speaks up and says let the fans decide.  FINALLY Angle asks Hogan what he wants to do.  Hogan says Bully won’t get the shot because he has been a main eventer for only a year.  Fucking horseshit is what I say.

–  Now inside the Impact Zone, and Gail Kim heads to the ring along with Madison Rayne.  She says she is the most dominant Knockouts Champion in the history of the company.  She built the division and everything revolves around her.  She has one blemish on her resume.  The Knockouts Tag Team Titles.  She wants to challenge Eric Young and ODB-Young to a match for the titles with Madison.  
TNA KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
1.  Gail Kim & Madison Rayne vs.  Eric Young & ODB-Young
–  EY and Gail begin it and she works his arm.  They trade holds until EY gets in trouble for a waistlock.  ODB comes in with a fallaway slam.  We’ll be right back.  Back on Impact Wrestling, ODB is in trouble and Madison comes in.  She boots ODB in the head for 2.  Gail back in and ODB spears her down.  HOT TAGS AROUND and Madison hammers EY as he struts around the ring.  Madison slaps him in the face and EY drops trow.  Hiptosses and bodyslams for everybody!  ODB tagged back in and hits a running powerslam on Gail for 2.5.  Gail jumps into the arms of ODB and Madison trips her up and holds the legs down for the win @ 9:48.  We have NEW TNA KNOCKOUT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!  (Comedy match, but good wrestling and a decent opener.  C-.)
–  Hogan is shown in his office and says its been a while since he’s seen him.  He punctuates it with a “holy shizzz”.
–  In the Impact Zone, Rob Van Dam heads out to the ring and calls out Gunner.  Leading to:
2.  Rob Van Dam vs.  Gunner
–  The brawl on the outside and Gunner throws a chair in the ring.  He comes in and trades shots with RVD. Step over kick drops Gunner followed by Rolling Thunder.  He charges the corner for the monkey flip and gets nailed in the jaw with an elbow.  Cover gets 2.  RVD battles back and Gunner grabs the chair.  RVD with a side kick to the chair and Gunner is out.  RVD heads up top and NAILS A FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH ACROSS THE ENTIRE RING FOR THE WIN [email protected] 2:52.  (Simple squash but great ending.  D+.)
–  Back on Impact, Devon is in the ring.  Oh yeah, we forgot to defend the TV belt last week.  He took part in the battle royal last week so he couldn’t defend his belt.  He wants to give Garret Bischoff a chance at the belt since he eliminated him last week.  Dear God.
TNA TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
3.  Devon vs.  Garret Bischoff
–  Devon begins with a side headlock takeover.  Garret returns with the same and Devon misses a shoulderblock.  Both men back to their feet.  Devon grabs a side headlock and here comes ROBBIE T and Robbie E for the DRAW @ 55 seconds.  (DUD)  Devon takes out both men and now Garret helps him out.  
–  Hogan is in his office and tells Jeff Hardy he is eliminated from contention.  
–  Bully Ray makes his way to the ring and fucks with crowd plants before entering.  Hogan eliminated him from contention and he is pissed off.  He will take it out on everyone in the Impact Zone.  Please be my guest.  He calls out Joseph Park and here he comes down to the ring.  Park wants to hold court with the IZ as a jury.  Crowd chants guilty and Ray drops Park.  He whips him with a chain and tells him “not guilty”.  
–  Next Gut Check victim is Joey Ryan.  He is from PWG and looks like the Genius off of growth.
TNA GUT CHECK #2
4.  Joey Ryan vs.  Austin Aries
–  Nice chain wrestling to start and Aries takes him down on a drop toe hold.  Ryan slaps him and Aries beats him to the outside.  Aries grabs his chest hair and Ryan slaps him away.  He goes for a pump handle slam and Aries counters with a ROARIN elbow.  Ryan on the apron and he slingshots into a dropkick by Aries.  He slugs Aries down in the corner.  Wheelbarrow Slam by Ryan gets 2.  Aries catches him with a dropkick to the corner and Brain Buster ends it @ 4:07.  (Ryan is impressive.  Aries keeps making it look so easy.  B-.)
–  THE DECISION (not that one) is next!
–  Bobby Roode is headed to the ring and it’s only 10:20?  Can TNA give us a 30 minute main event?  Come on, a man can hope, can’t he?  AJ Style and Kurt Angle head to the ring and now, Hulk Hogan.  Hogan rambles and its is taking away from the match.  Finally he decides on AJ Styles.
MAIN EVENT
TNA HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
5.  Bobby Roode vs. AJ Styles
–  Roode bails immediately to slow the pace.  Test of Strength and Roode backs AJ to the corner for chops.    AJ explodes out the corner with a dropkick.  Roode to the outside and we’ll be right back!  Back on Impact after 3 minutes of TNA promos on the other side of 3 minutes of regular commercials.  AJ gets backdropped to the floor and Roode slams his shoulder to the ringpost.  Back inside, cover gets 2.  Roode works the arm over the ropes and stomps on it.  AJ tries fighting back and Roode smacks the arm again.  Roode charges and AJ backdrops him to the floor.  AJ slingshots to the floor.  AJ sends Roode into the ringsteps.  AJ charges and gets HIPTOSSED on top of the ringsteps!  Back inside, Roode covers for 2.  Elsewhere, Hulk Hogan is notified his guest is here.  We’ll be right back.  Back AGAIN on Impact, and Roode drops AJ with a high impact suplex.  Cover gets 2.5.  AJ on the apron, tries a slingshot back in and Roode hits the ropes.  Roode charges into a shoulderblock and AJ springboards into the ring with a forearm.  Cover gets 2.8!  Roode sets AJ on the top rope.  Roode tries the superplex.  AJ headbutts him down.  HIGH MISSILE DROPKICK CONNECTS FOR 2.99999999999!  Roode tries the fisherman suplex, AJ blocks, hits the ropes and SPEARED by Roode.  Cover gets 2.9!  Roode clamps on a Crossface, but AJ counters with a roll-up for 2.  Bridging Chinlock by AJ applied!  Roode makes the ropes.    AJ charges into a DOUBLE R SPINEBUSTER!  Fisherman Suplex by Roode gets 2.9999999999999999999999!  AJ up, side steps Roode, and PELE KICK!  AJ looks up the ramp, goes for the springboard 450, Roode gets the knees up, Fisherman Suplex gets Roode the win @ 21:30.  (Great match.  Clean finish, no ref bump, no bullshit.  Just clean wrestling.  A.)
–  Roode is celebrating in the ring as he has became the longest reigning TNA Champion in the history of the company.  He calls for Hulk Hogan to come out to celebrate with him.  After the commercial break, of course.  
–  Back on Impact and Roode is calling for his confetti shower.  And down pours his Mexican America colored confetti.  Roode drinks champagne as Hulk Hogan comes out.  Hogan congratulates him and says one more person wants to celebrate with Roode.  The lights go out and Sting appears.  He beats Roode out of the ring.  Hogan announces that when Impact goes live next Thursday, Roode will face Sting in a Lumberjack Match.  
FINAL THOUGHTS…
–  Son of a bitch.  I’m pulling for the under dog.  I’m amazed at how great that main event was…and then BLAM!  Back to reality with the last 3 minutes of Impact!  STING?!?  Fucking Sting?!?  Even I, the same guy who painted his face like Sting and went to countless WCW/NWA shows in the late 80’s and early 90’s screaming for Sting is saying “fuck this guy”!  How am I supposed to care about Sting vs Bobby Roode next week.  Remember when Roode beat the living FUCK out of him at Victory Road?  Why do I care?  No no no, TNA.  BAD TNA!  See you next week.  Sorry about the swearing.

TNA Files Suit Against WWE

http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/118-daily-updates/25776-tna-files-lawsuit-against-wwe-and-former-employee

Not sure why WWE would be so hot to get Flair back that they'd risk contract tampering charges.  Obviously the writing was on the wall as far as Flair's TNA involvement when he appeared at the Hall of Fame and Wrestlemania, and boy does TNA have some damning evidence in their favor from all that silliness, too.  I kind of hope that TNA takes them to the cleaners just to finally teach Vince a lesson, but I feel like he'd just raid the shit out of TNA in retaliation.  
I know that there's no way he'd want to, but I think that Flair going down to Florida to train their FCW geeks would be 100 times more valuable than putting him on RAW to pop a rating and hit on Vickie or whatever stupid thing they'd have for him after going to all this trouble.  Or even managing the Rex/Hawkins Dynamic Dorks team or something along those lines to find SOMEONE who can give these guys a rub.  

This week with Caliber…

This week with Caliber, now presented to you in left-alignment!

Last week, I talked about my favorite memories as a kid, and this week I thought I’d go with live events. In some cases, the holy grail of being a wrestling fan.

I always like to hear about people’s experiences from wrestling events, so if any of you guys have any worth while stories, do share.

The first live show I went to was a
Raw, and I was damn excited. Of course, my dad got some terrible
seats, and I was almost at the top of the Key Arena in Seattle. This
was of course during the time when Raw was recorded for 4 weeks. Man,
was that terrible. Because I had no idea just what the hell what was
going on. Who was this guy in blue that came out to kick Ahmed
Johnson? Oh yeah, that’s right, I was there for the debut of Farooq.
Good things come to the good. Also, the music for the Bulldog was
louder than almost anything I’d ever heard before in my life.
The biggest bummer was the fact that I
looked forward to Monday Night Raw like nothing else, and now I knew
what was going to happen for a month. Well, almost a month, even as
an 11 year old die hard wrestling fan, more than 4 hours of
wrestling, crappy wrestling, was more than I could take.
There was an upside though. See, this
was 1995, or 1996. Oddly enough I can’t remember. Anyways, at the
time, wrestling was at an all time low. No one at school I knew
watched it, and it was like I had leprosy. But when I went to Raw, it
was like I landed on the Island of Misfit Toys. Everyone here was
like me. We all loved wrestling. Seeing people in wrestling shirts
blew my mind. It was like seeing a UFO. Then once it was all over, I
went back to being the only person at my school who knew how to apply
a Figure 4.
My next event was a house show during
the Attitude Era. The seats were a lot better this time, as I was 2nd
level, but front row. So I could see everything, and didn’t have to
sit and stand with the whim of the crowd.
When The New Age Outlaws came out, we
of course did their whole shpeel with’em, to which Bad Ass screamed
into the mic “GODDAMN THAT WAS LOUD”. Afterward, Road Dogg told
us a story about being in the showers with Mark Henry, and when he
bent over, all he saw was “black hole suuuun…” so that scored
him points with the Seattle crowd.
The main event was Stone Cold vs Kane
vs Undertaker vs Mankind. Sgt. Slaughter was the special guest ref,
and he told us he was given explicit instructions to not let Stone
Cold Steve Austin leave Washington with the title. Well, he failed at
that. I really wanted one of those DX jerseys, but alas they had
none. But I did end up with a Stone Cold hat & shirt, and I was
in hog heaven with that. I use to wear it to school all the time, and
there were a few very religious girls who absolutely hated me,
because they thought I was being blasphemous. Which made me love the
shirt that much more. 
Afterwards, while we were walking to the car, The Headbangers were like, 100ft or so away talking to fans. My friends and I weighed out the pros & cons of walking over there. We opted for the car instead. 
After that, my next stop was the most
infamous Raw in Washington’s history, in where I was treated to the
main event of Booker T vs Buff Bagwell. Thing was, people said it was
a disaster, but everyone I could see loved the absolute hell out of
it. The two guys in front of me were pretty awesome, because they,
like me, got a pair of Christian’s sunglasses, and were drinking
themselves into oblivion.
That’s what I love about a wrestling
show, is when you find really cool wrestling fans.
I popped really big for Buff Bagwell,
and knew I was seeing something historic. Of course, it was historic
for the wrong reasons.
It was at this point I decided I’d only
go to PPVs. House shows & TV are great and all, but PPVs are
really where it’s at.
Now, in 1999, I told my friend that
within 10 years, I’d be at WrestleMania, watching Hulk Hogan come
down that isle in the red & yellow. He said I was crazy, that
there was no way. If I was smarter, I would have bet him, because
sure enough, I was there at WM19. I was so excited. I mean, it was a
dream come true, really.
There was talk about Cena taking on
Jay-Z or Fabolous in a battle rap, and I prayed that wouldn’t happen.
It was answered, as he came out to trash some card board cut-outs.
I’ve never seen the DVD of the show in full, so I don’t know if that
made it or not.
I was on my feet the entire time for
Hogan v Vince. I know that everyone who’s a smark is suppose to hate
Hogan, but I just can’t. He’s the Hulkster, man. I was beyond stoked
to see the red & yellow hero live, right before my eyes. It was
awesome. Of course, the real highlight came when Roddy Piper showed
up, and the guy next to me who’d been dressed exactly like Piper
absolutely lost his mind. I mean, I honestly thought he was going to
rush the ring. Unfortunately he didn’t.
We decided to leave during the middle
of the Angle v Lesnar match, because we didn’t really care about it.
Then as we’re walking through the arena, you hear this “oooh!” as
we then hear someone say “Brock just died in the ring!”. For that
second there, I thought he actually did. But then we saw Arn Anderson
down below, to which my friend yelled “Arn, you’re a legend!”.
Arn turned and smiled. Then my friend, who hated The Horsemen, yelled
“Arn, you’re fat!”. So, I guess he finally got his justice.
After WM, I passed up house shows,
Raws, and Smackdowns for a few years. Then I finally got back to the
real thing when I went to Elimination Chamber PPV. Honestly, that was
the most fun I’ve ever had a PPV. I had incredible seats, and it was
a damn great PPV. There was a family in front of me who had 2 little
kids, and for most of the show the kid kept holding up his mom’s
“Batista Bomb Me!” sign that was cut out in the shape of an old
cartoon bomb. I guess the mom didn’t have the heart to tell the son
she was trying to get Batista to fuck her.
I also had the awesome pleasure of
having 4 Canadian fans sitting behind me. So, you can imagine how not
annoying it was the whole time Shawn was wrestling. I mean, it’s bad
enough I have to watch JBL in action. Now I’m forced to watch it
while hearing “You screwed Bret” for about 9 hours.
The pre-show match was Melina vs Beth,
and this was during the time that Santino was with her. Man, did he
get a monster pop. During the Smackdown chamber, everyone thought
that Taker vs Triple H was going to happen at WM, because of how much
they tore it up during the end of the match.
I don’t know if anyone else experiences
this during the live shows, but isn’t it funny when the little kids
get all befuddled and start defending Cena to all the grown ups? I
mean, kids these days have balls. I would have never done that as a
kid. They must love the Dr. of Thuganomics.
That’s it for this week, next week I’m thinking we’ll venture into my favorite and least favorite wrestling video games from my youth. So those waiting to talk about Raw & Royal Rumble on the SNES, next week is your week. Any questions for the mailbag, [email protected] is the addy. 
– Caliber Winfield
Str8 Gangster, No Chaser – Caliber gets GLAMOROUS, interviews Matt from Botchamania, as well as plenty of horror talk, Top 4’s, and The Man Movie Encyclopedia.

A Former Writing Assistant Speaks

Now HERE’S an interesting discussion-starter for people.  Glad it’s from someone who was already fired because whenever I’m contacted by WWE people it’s always “Don’t print this and don’t mention my name or even read it really or I’ll get fired.” 

Hey Scott,
So on the WWE board at GameFaqs.com, there’s a poster who worked as an assistant for the writing team from September to December last year and is giving away some neat insights about the day-to-day workings of the writing process and some tidbits on some of the stars and personalities. It seems legit; the detail of his work was pretty, uh, detailed, and he posted a pic of the office he worked out of and a couple of the one-sheets from the shows. Some of the information is obvious (Cena and Orton have backstage pull on their angles, etc.) but there have some some interesting things he’s revealed (Sheamus was the planned Rumble winner since the previous summer and not a last-second swerve as a result of Chris Jericho, D-Bry being against pairing up with AJ). I’ve gleamed some of the better bits from the topic and thought I’d pass them along since a common cry on the Blog of Doom is “What are they thinking?” And I think it at least beats a fantasy booking e-mail.
I’ve included a lengthy list, so feel free to cherry-pick. If you’re asking why I simply didn’t include a link to said forum, it’s because the WWE board is inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have enough “karma” built up on the site to keep the trolls out. If this makes for a blog entry, I’d be more than happy to do a follow-up e-mail later on as the topic continues.


His duties: 
“Mainly note-taking and updating many documents that helped the writers do their jobs. There was a document that had the last 6 episodes of Raw and Smackdown broken down by segment. Another that listed the ‘Last 5 Times’ something was done (like the belt being used as a weapon, or a chair being used, or interference in a match). That stuff had to be updated every week so the writers could refer to it whenever needed.
There was a ton of word processing basically. Each week to write the shows we would write the numbers 1 to 11 on the board (the segments of the shows) and just discuss the stories and where to put things. Then I or another assistant would create a “one sheeter” out of those. Basically list each segment and a few bullet points of what they would consist of. The writers would then use this as a guideline to write the scripts.
The writing team is divided into a home team that stays in Stamford, and a road team that travels to all the shows. Unfortunately I was on the home team. My only backstage experience was at Survivor Series which was pretty dope.”

On who he answered to:
“Probably Brian Gewirtz, who was my true boss. If the writers told me one thing and Brian said another, Brian’s word goes. Always.”

On scripting promos and on-the-fly changes:
“Cena has been known to throw the script out and do his own thing on occasion. I’m sure Punk does occasionally. Ziggler has gone off script a time or two and was reprimanded for it. It’s hard to tell for me because the writing process is sort of an assembly line. We wrote the outline and first drafts of the script in Stamford after approval by Vince, then they’d go to the head writers and always through at least three more drafts. Then there’d be another meeting with Vince on location at the arena the morning of every show. More changes are made. Then there’s last minute changes that are made with so little notice that they don’t even have time to be put down on paper. Then of course someone may go out in front of the crowd and forget part of their lines, or choose to improvise for whatever reason. But the bulk of that happened outside of my view. So most times the Raw that aired monday was very different than the one that left the offices the week before, and I didn’t always know where the changes occurred.”
On backstage pull:
“About as much input as you would expect. Orton, Punk and especially Cena have a lot of say in their stories I think. After Survivor Series, Cena felt he shouldn’t lose clean again (or preferably at all) until Wrestlemania, and so he didn’t. When Jericho was in talks of coming back, it was under the conditions that he work with Punk and put him over at Wrestlemania (Jericho’s demands, not WWE’s). He also came up with the light bright jacket thing and paid for it himself (I heard $10g for the first one). Cody Rhodes said in a recent interview that he had his leather vest cape thing custom made and paid for it himself, so I guess to a certain degree the wrestlers are responsible for their own characters. But on the other hand, Daniel Bryan complained a lot about being put into a story with AJ because his last girlfriend storyline with Gail Kim was so bad, but he couldn’t really do anything about it.
So I guess you could say it varies quite a bit.”

On the tag and Divas divisions:
“The thing with Vince is he goes through these weird and seemingly random phases. For a while he’ll be into the tag division, then he couldn’t care less. He’ll want to do Diva storylines, then he doesn’t care if they make it on the show at all. He’ll hire someone like Tamina and not do crap with them for years, then one day ask “Why aren’t we doing anything with Tamina Snuka? She’s a Snuka goddammit!” and Tamina will get a random push.
Right now I guess he’s in the mood for some attention on the tag division.”

On HHH and Stephanie:
“Triple H is super cool. I actually met him in the men’s room. While he was washing his hands I nervously introduced myself and he took a second to stop, look me in the eye, say good to meet you and make sure he got my full name right. Also from my understanding he was the voice of reason that would reel in many of Vince’s crazy ideas in the meetings.
Steph is very nice also, but does have a tendency to stare at you in a sort of psychotic-looking manner. But she’s friendly and jokes around and tries to know everyone’s name. 
They’re just normal people really.”

On the anonymous GM:
“There were a few directions they were considering. The obvious one being Vince, but they also were heavily considering JBL. But Vince killed the story. In fact at one point when the head writers pushed him to at least tie up the loose end some how, Vince suggested to reveal that it was Laurinaitis all along in a “throwaway line backstage.”
The whole thing was dropped though. When Vince stops caring about something, it’s dead.”

On FCW:
“Sure there was a booklet that had bios of the “top talent” of FCW. We would also get weekly FCW DVD’s of the latest show which were available for whoever had time to watch them, but any decisions as far as new talent debuts or anything like that were done by Talent Development, which Triple H is in charge of together with Matt Martolaro, former FCW announcer.
But on occasion we would have a task like “We need a list of the top 5 choices for names for Donny Marlow.” And we discussed as a group and put our favorites on the board. They had to be cleared by the legal team to make sure we could trademark them. Marlow and Hunico themselves liked Camacho best, so Camacho it became.
I remember seeing paperwork for Ryback ‘s debut plan. It included the design of his attire as well as storyboards for his vignettes, but I guess they decided not to do the vignettes.
That’s the thing about the place, and about TV in general I guess, it’s so so SO fluid. Things change constantly and at last minute and you have to learn to just go with it.”

On Punk at Survivor Series: 
“I can tell you a CM Punk story from Survivor Series. Punk was warming up because his match was coming up soon. He was jogging in place and such backstage psyching himself up. MSG is a relatively small arena backstage, so things were a bit cramped. About 20 feet away Miz and Truth were about to pre-tape their backstage interview with Matt Striker (who btw purposely opens his stance up so he’s shorter than the people he interviews).
The PA asked everyone to quiet down so Miz and Truth could record there thing. It’s at this moment that Punk starts doing box jumps. While everyone else is silent, he’s jumping loudly on and off a storage crate. The PA comes over and says something like “I’m sorry Punk but we’re trying to tape this thing. Could you please keep it down?”
Punk says nothing, continues jogging in place but turns over to Miz and Truth and flips them off.
I think he was just joking around, but he did seem like kind of a douche.”

On Kane’s re-masking and feuding with Cena instead of Henry:
“From what I can recall, though Kane was taken out by Mark Henry, Glenn Jacobs did not want to come back and feud with him for whatever reason. So they instead had him return on RAW and go after Cena, though I think it was already planned when he was written off with the broken ankle that he would come back with the mask.
However the design of the outfit, as well as the look and filming of the vignettes teasing his return were both done by other departments and had nothing to do with the writers. We were as anxious to see what he would look like when he returned as everyone else.”

On the Natalya Neidhart “farting” gimmick:
“We used to make fun of Natalya a lot because from what we heard she had kind of an eccentric personality. It was in good fun though and not malicious, but at some point the “Nattie Neidfart” joke came up and we had a good laugh talking about stupid stuff like changing her move to the “shartshooter.” Several weeks later when I was already fired and the story actually made it to TV my jaw dropped and I cracked up. You’d be surprised how much stuff is done just as a rib on people.”

On Daniel Bryan:
“Everyone knew that DB would not hold the briefcase until Wrestlemania. I don’t know why that became part of his story, but likely it was a promise he could break later to facilitate a heel turn. I heard that Bryan winning MitB was actually a last minute same-day decision. From what I could tell, nobody had much faith in Bryan as a draw while he was a face. Bryan almost had to turn heel, because he wasn’t very good at giving face promos. When he first won the championship and started cutting promos still as a face, he would emphasize the wrong parts and say things in the wrong tone. It actually came out kind of obnoxious and heelish, which probably encouraged the decision to turn him. However when he became champion, Vince and the writing team wanted to do a very “sophisticated” and slow-burn gradual heel turn which obviously worked wonderfully. I think they had a lot of fun with that story. I remember something in the notes that came in once that said something like 
* From now on, when Daniel Bryan wins any match he should celebrate like it’s the biggest victory of his life
This is was when he was right in the middle of the gradual heel turn and that’s where YES! was born.”

On Nash/Punk/HHH:
“It was Nash not being medically cleared to compete by the time he was supposed to face Punk. The writers had to scramble and think of a reason to stall the story, and then it became Kevin Nash vs. Triple H. Again the story took on a life of its own and they had to go through with the feud, even though it was pretty clear Nash had nothing to offer. Instead of Big Daddy Cool, he was screaming all of his promos. His ring abilities were shoddier than ever. So it was decided Nash and Trips would have one blow off match and we’d be done with Kevin Nash on the show. Punk vs. Nash almost happened on RAW a few times, just to tie up the loose end, but I think they didn’t want Nash competing a big match before his match with Triple H so it never happened.”

On Brodus Clay’s gimmick change:
“The whole writing team was under the impression that Brodus would come back as the monster heel depicted in the vignettes. It was Vince who saw things differently. When the vignettes were already airing and the writing team asked him when they should debut Brodus, Vince said something like “What’s his character? We don’t have anything for him. I don’t understand who Brodus Clay is. Let’s hold off on his debut until we have a better idea.” 
Backstage it was well known that Brodus has a lot of charisma, loves kids and is a great talker. Vince decided he wanted Brodus as a face, and for some reason, despite Brodus having no dancing ability, he wanted Brodus to dance.
They worked on the gimmick for weeks, mainly down in FCW (as dark segments I assume). All of it was completely out of the writers hands and was probably handled by Talent Development instead. The reason his debut was teased so much was because at first we thought he was ready, then Vince would decide he isn’t ready yet. His ring work isn’t up to par, or the choreography isn’t good enough, or the outfit needs work still, or the whole production needs more time, or the timing is off. All kinds of stuff like that.
When Brodus finally debuted, the writers came into work the next day and the reaction was as mixed as it was [on the IWC]. Some thought it was cheesy and a disaster, some thought it was fun and entertaining, some thought it just needed time to get over.
In the end, it was a way more fun and original idea to make him the Funkasaurus than generic monster heel #622978 I think.
Although admittedly after a while we had Laurinaitis tease Brodus’s debut just to get him heat. There was an idea that Brodus would debut as a monster, but then turn on Laurinaitis and break out the dancing character. Or that Laurinaitis would be under the impression that he was bringing in a monster, only to be dismayed when Brodus shows up dancing. There were a few possibilities, but they ultimately decided to drop Brodus and Johnny’s connection all together.” 

On Zack Ryder’s depush:
“I didn’t feel that the writers had anything against Ryder really. I think Gewirtz feels that he’s a natural underdog, and that’s why people like him. The moment you give him too much exposure or success, he’s no longer an underdog and becomes annoying so they try to stick to that.
Any personal feelings that stop someone from getting more success probably come from Vince himself. Absolutely no major plot points, no title wins or face/heel turns get on TV without Vince’s approval.”

On planning for the Royal Rumble:
“The winner is determined months in advance usually, but it’s always subject to change. The way they usually book is that they set up the main events for PPVs all the way from now until next Wrestlemania. They then work backwards between PPVs to develop the storylines on RAW and SD. There’s a document that charts the main events, but a lot of the stuff ends up changing. When I flipped through this document in September, Sheamus was already scheduled to win the Rumble, but he was also supposed to take on Mark Henry for the WHC at Wrestlemania. But things happen. Henry got injured and had to drop the title, Bryan cashed in and became a phenomenon, etc. Del Rio was supposed to take on Orton, but he got injured as well. Sin Cara and Mysterio, same deal. So most of the stuff they had planned did not actually come to fruition. And even before the Rumble there was lots of consideration about making the winner Jericho instead since they knew they wanted Jericho to take on Punk at Wrestlemania. I think ultimately it was decided that Sheamus needs a Rumble victory more than Jericho, and Jericho could get to Wrestlemania by other means.
As for the specifics, Michael Hayes does most of it with some of the agents. They plan the list of participants, then work on the order and some of the big spots. The reason it was 30 people and not 40 again this year was because the roster was so thin because of so many injuries. Hell even with 30 they had to resort to guys like Jey Uso and Michael Cole.”

On Sheamus as the next Cena and a Cena heel turn:
“Sheamus is being built as the next John Cena. Which is a good thing, because it will free up Cena to do other things in the future, like turn heel. Kids love Sheamus. He moves merch. He’s good at press appearances and talk shows and junk. He’s the best possible candidate to replace Cena as the top babyface.  As far as the man personally, I don’t remember hearing anything interesting. He’s just a loyal hardworking guy. Last I heard he wanted to add a cloverleaf as another finishing move.
From what I’ve heard, Cena would LOVE to turn heel. The Thuganomics character was a lot more like his real persona, and I know he feels limited by being a face. It’s the company and Vince that doesn’t want to take the leap until they have an established replacement for him, which is most likely Sheamus. It’s not just the show itself, but they need someone that can do all the Make A Wish stuff, the PR appearances, the sponsorships, etc that Cena does. Cena works his ass off for the company, and nobody else even comes close right now. So there’s a lot of things lost in turning him heel.”

On the planning process from September onward:
“Tough question to answer. Like I said they had a very skeleton idea of the major feuds and matches all the way through to Wrestlemania. They always work backwards from the PPV card to book the Raws and Smackdowns in-between, so they always know what the end goal is. As far as specifics of matches and promos, that’s usually a week by week basis, with the team planning one week ahead of real time. Some feuds that were story-heavy, like Cena vs. Kane, would sometimes have “grids” which is basically a chart with four columns representing the four weeks until the next PPV. Writers were encouraged to work in that grid style, keeping in mind how one week relates to the next, rather than winging it week by week.”

On the sanitized TV-PG product:
“A lot of the restrictions nowadays are not so much about PG vs Non-PG but because the world has gotten more aware and more critical about health and sports as a whole. For example, whereas blood was rampant in the Attitude era, now if someone bleeds they practically stop the match and have a cut doctor with gloves work on them. This is not because of PG, but because of higher concerns over hepatitis and things like that that are tied to legal issues about workplace risks and red tape like that. Same goes for chair shots to the head. Has nothing to do with PG, but with society up in arms about concussions and life threatening head injuries in the NFL and anywhere else.
However PG was a roadblock on a few occasions. For example in the Cena vs. Kane story, we were told that lighting anyone on fire was not PG and was not a possibility, and even lighting any THING on fire was unlikely to be approved. When you’re dealing with a Kane story that’s kind of a kick in the balls.”

On the writers as a group:
“The writers are a lot like [the IWC]. They want stories to be entertaining, deep, and make sense. But sometimes their plans are derailed by what Vince wants to do. Sometimes they’re so busy working on the main storylines that the midcard guys like Primo and Epico fall through the cracks without having a storyline for weeks. They’re doing their best. And I believe Vince has always been the way he is.
You gotta realize that Vince has lived and breathed this company for 30 years. It’s all he thinks about, so he’s a very unusual guy and very disconnected from the “real world.” He has no time to watch TV. He has no idea whats going on in pop culture. He’s never seen most major movies of the last 40 years that everyone has seen. Like I remember making a reference to The Shining, and Brian Gewirtz said “I can guarantee you that Vince has never seen The Shining.” He has to have other people explain these things to him because all he knows is the WWE.”

Part two:  http://www.rspwfaq.net/2012/05/behind-scenes-at-wwe-part-deux.html

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 1998

The Netcop Rant for WCW/nWo Slamboree 98 Live from Worcester, Massachusetts (Oh man, just reading this one over makes me think it’s LONG overdue for a re-rant, given all the historic stuff and interesting tidbits that I wish I would have known about 14 years ago.)  Your hosts are Veni, Viti and Vici. Recap of Bischoff’s grandstand challenge from Thunder. This becomes a recurring theme all night. (So yeah, historic thing #1:  Eric Bischoff challenges Vince McMahon to a fight, putting up a sign on the fake dressing room door that says Vince “Reason For The Ratings” McMahon.  The implication here is that the WWF’s ratings victory over WCW, which was a new thing back in 98, was somehow an aberration caused by Vince being all over TV and not by their stars.  So anyway, Bischoff issues a challenge for a fight, but in the buildup to the show WCW’s legal team makes him note that Vince would not be there to cover their bases.  However, the WWF’s legal team sues for falsely advertising Vince McMahon as appearing, because in wrestling when you say someone is NOT going to be there, you are implying that they ARE going to be there.  Thankfully they settled that one out of court without the judge having to rule on the nature of reality itself within the WWE Universe, although I don’t believe the official terms were ever disclosed.  It involved a lot of money, though.)  Opening match, TV title: Fit Finlay v. Chris Benoit. Cool wrestling sequence to start, but it slows down a lot. Many chinlocks from Finlay bring it down. A beautiful spot near the end, as Benoit tries a tope suicida, but Finlay simply holds up a chair, which Benoit slams into in mid-air. Cool. (Bret Hart once talked about how wrestlers get hit with chairs without it hurting or doing damage.  Short answer:  They don’t.  To expand on this, I often wondered how Benoit could slam his head into chairs repeatedly in stupid spots like that one without suffering brain damage.  Short answer:  He didn’t.)  Back in the ring, Finlay goes shoulder-first into the turnbuckle and Benoit does the triple suplex, but Fit blocks. Then a Crippler Crossface, but Fit’s in the ropes. Oh, dear lord, I don’t like the looks of this. Cue Booker, in a suit and tie. Benoit stands and yells at him, and Finlay baseball slides into him, knocking him out. Tombstone, and Finlay retains. **1/2, and may I be the first to say GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING SHIT DO I HATE THE FUCKING WCW BOOKING COMMITTEE AND I HOPE KEVIN FUCKING SULLIVAN FALLS INTO THE TOILET AND DROWNS THE NEXT TIME HE’S FIGHTING SOMEONE IN THE BATHROOM!!!!  (Well that’s a bit extreme, 1998 Scott.  The finish was right out of the RAW lazy booking playbook, though.)  Okay, I’m better now. Bryan Adams v. Lex Luger. Wow, demoted to second from the bottom. That’s gotta be a slap in the face. A gigantic, heaping plate of suck steak with fried suck potatoes on the side and suck pudding for dessert. (Mmm, suck pudding…)  Adams swings at Lex and he ducks and catches him in the Rack out of nowhere for the submission. Whoa, that last one was almost a wrestling move! DUD (Two matches in, two dead wrestlers.)  Cruiserweight battle royale: Chris Jericho comes out to introduce all the participants, in a bit so funny at times (“Rock rock til he drops, rock rock never stop!”) that I nearly spit out my Coke. I can’t even do it justice. (Chris Jericho when he was young and hungry and trying to Zack Ryder himself up the card was a thing of AWESOMENESS.)  No Malenko, though, oddly enough. A nothing battle royale which comes down to Juvy and Ciclope (!). They have a staredown, and suddenly Juvy jumps over the top and eliminates himself. Que? Ah, Ciclope is unmasking to be…drum roll…DEAN MALENKO! (The crowd came UNGLUED for that one.  One of the great swerves in WCW’s history, actually.)  Cruiserweight title match: Chris Jericho v. Dean Malenko. Dean looks like a tool in the Ciclope suit. He absolutely goes medieval on Jericho’s ass, and the fans pop like nuts. You hear that sound, WCW, it’s HEAT for this feud. (Yeah, but then it kind of died off after this, because they didn’t know where to go with it.)  Juvy cheers Dean on at ringside for the added touch. Good but not great match with terrific crowd heat, including several “Jericho sucks!” chants. Jericho tries the Liontamer a couple of times but Malenko keeps reversing it. Jericho tries the SuperFrankensteiner, but Malenko turns it into a gut-buster from the top rope, seemingly buggering up his knee in the process. Texas Cloverleaf, and Jericho has nowhere to go but Tap-Out City. The arena just explodes! **** for the whole thing, including the battle royale. (Apparently an exception to my non-rating of battle royales, although I hadn’t really established that rule back then.)  Juvy taunts Jericho a bit more as Malenko celebrates the title victory. Unfortunately, the show pretty much descends into silliness from there. We cut to a “Vinnie Mac Cam” outside the arena as a white limo pulls up. Nothing comes of it. (Except a giant LAWSUIT!)  Bowery Death Match: Raven v. DDP. It’s an enclosed cage with two garbage cans full of weapons on either turnbuckle. 80 million sharp objects and DDP goes for the bullrope. He tries to hang Raven a couple of times. Absolutely zero wrestling here, just senseless foreign object shots out of the Gangsta playbook. Okay, pay attention because now the Hyper-Fighting Booking Style of WCW kicks in: Ref gets bumped and is out for like six minutes. The Flocks runs in past the riot squad and cuts open the cage to interfere. Van Hammer is under the ring, and he comes out and holds off Riggs and Sickboy and Reese. Then two of the riot squad come in themselves and reveal themselves to be Kidman and Boulder. DDP is up and takes *them* out with a pair of Diamond Cutters, but Raven DDT’s DDP and then after another sequence gives DDP a Diamond Cutter of his own. But Page is up at 8 or so, delivers his own Cutter to Raven, and beats the 10 count up for the win. Yay, this feud should be over now. –** (That sounds pretty harsh to me.)  Then *another* riot squad member comes in and handcuffs the remaining Flockers, then Raven, then unmasks to be Mortis, who then unmasks again to reveal what Mortis looks like without the mask. I hope this kills those dumb “Mortis is Chris Champion” rumors. (I’m assuming that rumor came from Chris Kanyon having a similar name and some doofus on RSPW confusing the two.  And add Kanyon to our dead wrestler count for this show.)  Mortis smokes Raven with a chair. This is what Steve Austin was referring to when he noted that ECW is a “bunch of violent crap.” They didn’t even bleed here, despite a VCR shot to Raven at one point. There was no flow or storyline to this mess, just a bunch of weapons and Diamond Cutters. And ECW logic kicks in again: Raven isn’t put out by a friggin’ VCR to the head, but a Diamond Cutter knocks him out cold? Puh-lease, I have to endure enough of this garbage when I watch ECW, I don’t need Scott Levy importing it to WCW in a watered down form. I hated almost everything about this and I hope I never, EVER, have to see Raven v. DDP again. And furthermore, what about all the Jake Roberts and “childhood friends” hints and shit they dropped? Were they just making it up as they went along? Next match, please. (Yeah, I dunno if that was Raven going into business for himself and trying to come up with a storyline or what, but that went nowhere, and later there was that stuff with Raven being a rich kid that got dropped and forgotten too.)  Ultimo Dragon v. EDDY~! Guerrero. Crowd just dies like THAT. (Speaking of dead…here’s another one to the tally for a total of four dead people thus far.)   Whoa, that’s not a good sign. The match is very lacklustre, mainly Sabu stuff (spot-rest-spot). Fast forward to the end: Eddy hits a tornado DDT (with the announcers correctly noting that Chavo uses it) but misses the Froggy Splash. Ultimo with the Dragon Sleeper, but Eddy flips out and puts Ultimo in his own. Nice. He puts both feet on the ropes, and Chavo jumps up and tries to break it up. While they argue, Dragon tries to kick Eddy but misses and nails Chavo. Eddy with the brainbuster and Froggy Splash #2 for the pin. A disappointing, Worldwide-worthy match. **1/2  (It’s gotta be better than that.  I need to watch this show again, I’m pretty sure.)  Chavo snaps and wipes the mat with Dragon for not freeing him from Uncle Eddy. Eddy looks very proud, but Chavo is about to hit him, too. Eddy begs him on, but Chavo can’t do it and gives him a kiss on the cheek instead. Is this feud EVER going to blow off? Do we get another two months of teases again?  (Nope they blew it off pretty quickly after this.)  US Title match: Goldberg v. Saturn. Apparently, the Gauntlet match that was announced on Thursday has already been scrapped and replaced with a Saturn-Goldberg match. That’s WCW for ya, here today, gone later today. (Just to clarify here, the bookers changing their mind on an advertised match after they were already announced…that’s something that WCW did.  So to do that would be a bad sign, right?)    I guess this is a face turn for Saturn, who told off the Flock in a previous interview, but putting him against Goldberg isn’t a great way to get him over a face, or a major factor in anything. Oh, well, there’s always Glacier. (The Raven v. Saturn feud ended up being pretty hot, although Saturn didn’t get any farther up the card than that position either in WCW or when he jumped with the Radicalz.)  Lots of standing around with the occasional good move tossed in. Goldberg comes so close to imitating Warrior’s mannerisms at times in this that it’s almost eerie. Be afraid. Not as good as Spring Stampede, and it’s the usual Goldberg ending. * In what I guess is the payoff for this whole stupid Vince McMahon angle, Eric Bischoff actually has Michael Buffer introduce a “match” between them, complete with referee. Vince, of course, doesn’t show up so it’s a win by forfeit for Eric. Words don’t do justice to how incredibly pointless this was. Why not challenge Steve Austin and then declare yourself the WWF champion when *he* doesn’t show? Same thing. (Vince would of course go on to make much crazier grandstand challenges to people who would never care a bit about answering him.  Oh, and when we finally did that payoff for the Eric v. Vince feud in 2002, it was…a hug.  ON THE FIRST SHOW.  And people were surprised when Brock lost…)  Bret Hart v. Randy Savage, Grudge Match From Hell. Hey, do you think I make up these match titles? (Well sometimes I do.  Mostly when midgets are involved.  Oh, and Randy Savage makes five dead wrestlers.)  Bret gets screwed out of the main event again. This is bad wrestling that segues into weak brawling outside the ring when they realize that the in-ring stuff isn’t working. So they go into the crowd, walk over to the hockey boards, do a shot there, and then walk back to the ring. Bret works on the knee. Move, taunt, move. In retrospect, I’m becoming more and more happy that Vince dumped Bret when he did. (In retrospect of that retrospect, I wish one of them would have swallowed their pride and made up so that Bret could go back to the WWF before Goldberg kicked a hole in Bret’s head to end his career.)  This is a 1995 Savage match, with Randy taking punishment then mounting a one-move comeback, that being the Big Elbow. Savage’s knee gives out, and he can’t make the pin. Sharpshooter, but Savage actually reverses it into his own. Elizabeth (what? She’s still here?) bounces out and gets into a shoving match with referee Roddy Piper, which allows Bret to deck him from behind with brass knucks. Ah, nice to know he’s become a total snivelling coward in the Hulk Hogan tradition. You know, this is exactly the sort of heel turn that Bret whined about Vince wanting him to do. (That’s because WWF Bret actually give a shit about his character and motivations, unlike WCW Bret.)  And speaking of Hogan, he runs in and wraps Savage’s knee around the ringpost, which allows another Sharpshooter and a submission win for Bret. *1/2 Overbooked as usual and non-sensical to boot. Let me get this straight: Bret hates Hogan so he’s teaming with him, Savage hates Bret for teaming with Hogan and hates Hogan because he lost the World title to him because of Bret, and Hogan hates Savage so much he’s willing to help Bret. The question I have is why didn’t Bret help Savage to win on Nitro so that this match would be a title match? Oh, yeah, because he wants to win the title from Hogan, who he hates so much that he’s willing to help. You know, maybe it’s me, but this seems like a lot of trouble on Bret’s part, and furthermore who’s gonna want to see two mega-heels go at it? Why would Hogan even agree to give Bret a title match? (Hmm, so WCW was also known for characters changing motivations without any internal logic at the drop of a hat?  Sometimes from show to show because the creative team couldn’t keep their own storylines straight?  Interesting…)  Anyway, next match… Main event, WCW tag team titles: The Outsiders v. Sting & Giant. Just Giant, he had to drop the “The” when he joined the nWo I guess. And Hall actually shows. Seems a little wobbly coming in. I called the ending to this before the show even started, it should be noted. Hall brings back the survey, even though he’s endorsing nWo Hollywood while doing it. The usual crap once the match starts. Sting has deteriorated so much I’m surprised he doesn’t fall to pieces once he gets in the ring. He plays Ricky Morton, and makes the hot tag to Giant. Giant tries a top-rope splash, but falls flat on his face. Nash goes for the powerbomb, but Hall comes in and turns on Nash, decking him with the belt. Giant pins Nash and we have new tag champs. Rhodes and Hall celebrate with Giant as Sting looks stunned, probably because he’s trying to understand the booking just like me. DUD. (Don’t worry, once the Wolfpac threatened Hogan’s spot too much they reversed everything and turned them all heel again anyway.)  The Bottom Line: Why in the HELL would Scott Hall turn on Kevin Nash? I knew it was coming because that’s exactly the sort of thing that WCW has resorted to lately, but there’s only so many shock heel turns that can be done. (Hmm, so swerves and heel turns just for the sake of being shocking are a bad sign?  I see.)  Kevin Nash, Sting and Randy Savage are pretty much the only faces left on the upper card, and of those Sting is only one that even resembles a traditional babyface. There’s just no one for the fans to cheer for anymore. And none of it interests me as a wrestling fan. nWo v. nWo? Great, let them kill each other, it’s about time we got rid of them. I’m sure there’s others who agree with me on that one. (They probably would have some good coin off that too, had Kevin Nash not gotten out-Nashed by Hogan.)  There’s no “big money match” on the horizon — Nash v. Hogan won’t happen because of egos (didn’t happen until 99, long past anyone caring), and Hart v. Hogan won’t draw because the fans hate both of them now. (Happened on Nitro, no one cared.  Probably should have headlined a Starrcade.)  I don’t even know if I liked this show or hated it. Hall’s heel turn wasn’t really a heel turn because he was already a heel. I guess maybe it’s a Nash face turn, but he’s still nWo so he’s a heel, right?   (Nope, this was Nash’s face turn as it turns out.)  There is such a thing as too much character development, never more evident than in this case.  (You could say that having too many writers overthinking the details instead of paying attention to basic storytelling ruined things for WCW.  I see.)  WCW seems so concerned with shock value that they probably don’t even realize what a great reaction the whole Jericho-Malenko bit got. You know why it got a great reaction: Because Jericho’s a great heel and the storyline is timeless. And the face went over. (After the heel initially won to make the fans think that the babyface couldn’t beat the heel.)  Where does the upper card go now? Hall v. Nash, I guess, but that’s a dead-end feud. Hart v. Piper? Who wants to watch that? (A sharply decreasing number of PPV buyers.)  Hogan v. Savage…again?  (AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN) I dunno. Thumbs in the middle for Slamboree, leaning towards up, but I don’t know what they’re going to do when they run out of heel turns and they have to depend on, you know, wrestling to carry them. (Oh wait, I’ve got it!  We’ll beat our biggest star on the biggest show of the year, then the guy who beat him will just lay down for a fingerpoke from Hulk Hogan and lose the title to him!  That’ll put butts in seats!) 

Grantland on Cena/Punk

have you seen the new masked man article on grantland? wanted to get your take on his opinion:
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7964226/indie-wrestling-coming-age-cm-punk-daniel-bryan-wwe-new-bipolar-universe

I mainly want to address his last point, which is about Hulk Hogan dominating everything in the 80s while the IC champion had the leftover scraps.  Hulk Hogan was WWF champion for that entire period, because he was the focus of the promotion and thus the CHAMPION.  If they're gonna have Cena be the new Hulk Hogan, then they should put the title on him and let Punk and Bryan fight for the worthless Smackdown title instead because no one gives a shit about it anyway.  Having the #1 belt on a guy who is clearly the #2 guy does no favors for the guy or the belt.  Either they need to get Punk away from Cena and have him be the undisputed TIPPY TOP GUY on Smackdown, or they need to stop pretending that the WWE title is the most important thing when clearly the John Cena Championship is the most prestigious belt in the company.  
A very interesting article otherwise and a good read as usual.  

Extreme Rules Buyrate In

http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/118-daily-updates/25765-lesnar-vs-cena-buys

147K domestic, 109K international, for a total of 257K.  Last year’s show did 210K total, so Brock = 50,000 buys or about 2 million dollars in added revenue give or take.  Everyone involved should be VERY happy with that result.

On the flipside, the Wrestlemania buys continue to trickle in, and WWE very quietly revised their initial count of 1.3 million nearly 100,000 buys downwards, to 1.2 million instead.  So they don’t break the record, and in this case 100,000 buys is basically an entire B-show’s worth of revenue, so that’s a pretty major adjustment down. Could go lower when the official numbers come out next month, too.  

Irredeemable #37

The last issue of Irredeemable was of course the one I was most excited to get this week, and I can't help but feel a tad disappointed in the wrap-up, even if the ending itself was pretty well done and moving.  I think Waid was actually referencing an issue of Action Comics from the early 80s (I'll avoid spoilers for those who haven't read it yet), and it was a nice finish, but there was so much stuff left unresolved and unanswered that I don't know if it justified the whole serial format.  Especially when so much of the middle of the run was a such a slog with Tony stuck on the prison planet and basically doing nothing to advance the story.  It was still an awesome series, but I can't help but feel a little bit of Lost syndrome from the finale, with expectations that were probably ridiculously high and a story that was just really good to wrap it all up.  

I'll definitely miss it and I might go back and start again from the beginning now that we've got the whole story, though.  

Monday Nitro – December 30, 1996

Monday Nitro #68
Date: December 30, 1996
Location: Knoxville Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, Tennessee
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

We close out the 1996 series with this. It’s the night after
Starrcade and the NWO is about the same. Piper beat Hogan via sleeper
but the title wasn’t on the line after Piper GOT TO WRITE THE CONTRACT
HIMSELF. Eddie won the US Title and that’s about it. The idea here is to
set up the main event of Souled Out. Now the logical idea would be to
have Hogan vs. Piper II but that would be insane in WCW. Let’s get
to
it.

The NWO arrives to open the show, bragging about how awesome they
are. Hogan brags about life in general but Giant doesn’t look that
happy. He points out that the name plate on the world title says The
Giant. Hogan has been champion FOUR MONTHS at this point and they never
changed the plate?

Giant dropped the ball last night (Luger beat him, I believe in the
first WCW win over an NWO wrestler) but Hogan says it’s all ok because
the NWO is awesome. Giant wants a title shot but Hogan tries to talk him
out of it. Hogan says that Giant’s title shot means a bye for the NWO.
Giant wants to be lead dog. This goes on for awhile.

Theme song opens us up.

Tony and Larry talk about how great last night was for WCW. We get
stills of Luger vs. Giant. Sting came in and whispered to Luger as well
as Giant. He left his bat there and Luger hit Giant with it for the win.

Amazing French Canadians vs. Public Enemy

The Canadians beat them down on the apron and the Enemy has to chill
on the floor. Once they do get into the ring they clear out the
Canadians and single out Oulette. Now the Enemy won’t let the Canadians
in the ring. The Canadians try to leave but get beaten down by their own
flags which isn’t a DQ somehow. The Public Enemy tries to put Jacques
through a table but go through it themselves. We FINALLY get to a
traditional match structure as the Canadians win with the Cannonball.
This wasn’t a match so no rating but it was kind of fun.

Cruiserweight Title: Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

I’ll pause to let the internet explode. Dragon holds the J Crown and
the Cruiserweight Title while Liger beat Rey last night with the Liger
Bomb. Dragon kicks away to start but Liger speeds things up. They both
hit clotheslines but no one goes anywhere. There’s the surfboard by Liger and a suplex for two. Rolling Thunder gets two.
Dragon grabs a backbreaker out of nowhere to send Liger to the floor,
following up with a suicide dive. Dragon goes up but jumps into two
feet. At least he was trying a splash there. Brainbuster and superplex
get two for Liger. Out of nowhere Dragon hits a super rana and tiger
suplex to retain.

Rating: C+. Good match but short. At this point,
Dragon had TEN championships including a title from Mexico. Think about
that for a few seconds. It’s a big deal when people have two and Dragon
had ten. These two would have a great 18 minute match in Tokyo less than
a week after this where Liger won the J Crown.

Big Bubba vs. Konnan

This is a strap match. And there’s no Bubba but he has a replacement.

Mr. Wallstreet vs. Konnan

This is the touch the corners variety. Wallstreet, who has no issues
with Konnan, jumps him and whips Konnan down. Konnan does the get the
strap between the other guy’s legs and pull spot. We get the same finish
that you almost always get for this: Wallstreet drags him around,
Konnan hits it at the same time, Konnan dives to win it. WHAT WAS THE
POINT OF THIS??? It lasted like two minutes and there was no issue
between these two.

Hogan and Bischoff come out. Hogan is all perky because he still has
the title. Bischoff says that Hogan won last night and Hogan says that
he knew he’d win the whole time. This is a really basic “Hogan is
awesome” promo with nothing happening after it’s over.

Hugh Morrus vs. Kensuke Sasaki

Both are big power guys. They hit the ropes and no one moves. A
double clothesline puts both guys down but then they pop up. Sasaki
chops away but Morrus punches. There’s no selling at all here. Morrus
elbows him down and hooks a chinlock. Eric comes up on commentary and
says they won’t show the ending to the PPV last night because he has the
tape. Sasaki hits a powerslam and there is NO reaction. No one knows
who Sasaki is and there’s no point to this match as far as stories go,
so why should they care? Top rope elbow misses and Morrus hits the
moonsault but Sonny comes in for the DQ.

Rating: D-. Why did this match happen? I mean, no
one knows who Sasaki is so a win over him doesn’t matter. Morrus didn’t
even get the pin because they did the DQ ending. This was Sasaki’s first
WCW match in a year and his last ever with the company. But hey, he’s
Japanese so we’re supposed to care I guess? I don’t get it.

We get stills of Piper’s win last night which is supposed to be some big deal.

Harlem Heat vs. Faces of Fear

The announcers rave on and on about how great and important and
inspiring the Piper win was. Larry says that it was huge because people
had wondered who would win if they fought for years. So we’re supposed
to remember Wrestlemania but not all of the other matches they had. Got
it. Tony plugs Souled Out which was on a Saturday. Stevie and Barbarian
start but it’s off to Booker for some kicks quickly.

Booker goes up but is quickly belly to belly superplexed off. Off to
Meng who stomps away and works on the back. And get this: THERE’S A
MIDGET MATCH LATER!!! I know they like going back to the 80s but can’t
they steal some good ideas? Colonel Parker comes out and spanks Sherri
with his riding crop so they get in their 9000th fight. A Rougeau comes
out to throw salt in Stevie’s eyes. Kick of Fear takes Stevie down but
Booker jumps off the top and clocks Meng so Stevie can get the
unconscious cover.

Rating: D. This match sucked too. I don’t get what
they’re thinking with half of this card as its like they had no idea
that Nitro was happening tonight and threw together a bunch of matches
to fill in two hours. This was probably the longest match too, clocking
in at about 4 minutes. The fans just don’t care at all either, and can
you blame them?

DDP says he’ll fix things with the NWO and move on. He won’t go into
details though. It’s implied that he’s going to join them but he hates
that he has to.

Hour #2 begins. This one has to be more interesting than that first
hour which would work well as an informercial for putting a screwdriver
into your head.

We recap Hogan and Giant from earlier, as well as Hogan lying about winning.

 Piper has arrived.

Disco Inferno vs. Glacier

There’s a big black spot all over the ring from the stuff that
Jacques threw at Stevie in the previous match. After the bell, Disco
says drop out of the match or face the wrath of his new leg lock.
Glacier flips him over and we’re ready to go. Disco gets kicked a lot so
he hides behind the referee and comes back with a clothesline. He sets
for his new leg hold but can’t remember how to do it. Instead he hits a
pretty good neckbreaker but Glacier pops up and hits a superkick to end
it.

Rating: D+. Ice > Fire I guess. The match was,
again, pointless and nothing interesting. Glacier would stay undefeated
until roughly July while Disco would stay a joke for years to come. At
the end of the day though, he took a stupid gimmick and kept a job out
of it for how many years? That proves something, although it might be
that WCW is stupid enough to keep him around.

Stills of Benoit vs. Jarrett where about 5 people interfered and Jeff got the pin while unconscious.

Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

Ok, this HAS to be good right? Woman looks pretty good here. Benoit
controls to start and Jericho has more rainbowish tights. Huge powerbomb
and an elbow gets two for Benoit. Another powerbomb attempt is
countered into a backslide. Jericho doesn’t mean much yet so this would
be a huge upset. Rollup gets two for Jericho. Jericho gets sent face
first into the middle buckle but Jericho comes out with an atomic drop
and superkick. Lionsault (not yet named) misses so he goes up top for a
cross body. Jericho charges into the corner but gets tied up so that a
belly to back superplex from Benoit gets the pin.

Rating: C+. Again, these two getting some time means
a good match. Jericho still didn’t mean much but he was rapidly gaining
steam. Well whatever steam he was able to get in WCW before they turned
him into nothing. The heel turn worked far better for him than the face
run did.

The Horsemen minus Arn have an interview but Debra is all nice to
Woman. She’ll have none of the lies though and yells at Mongo. Jarrett
comes out and says he wants to be a Horseman and lead WCW. He wants to
know where Arn is but Flair says he’s off partying. Benoit says Jarrett
isn’t a Horseman. PREACH IT BROTHER!!! Flair wants to go party. Can you
imagine the REAL Horsemen against the NWO? As in them kidnapping say
Wallstreet and breaking his leg then saying they’re coming for the gold?
WarGames: Horsemen vs. NWO. Think that might work? Instead we
get….this. Thanks Benoit.

Lee Marshall does his phone thing.

Octagoncito/Mascarita Sagrada vs. Jerito Estrada/Piratita Morgan

Again, I get that this is a huge deal in Mexico, but this means
NOTHING to American audiences and are a comedy act here. Jerito is
taller than the top rope if that tells you anything. He and Sagrada have
a small vs. big match and this is going nowhere. The others come in and
Octagoncito cleans house. Sagrada pins Jerito with a rollup. This was
short and not terrible, but it’s totally out of place here in Tennessee.

Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Neither gets an entrance as we start immediately after returning from
a break. Dean quickly takes him to the mat to control early. Rey sends
him to the floor to make sure nothing speeds up all night. Back in and
Dean hooks another hold but Rey reverses into one of his own. Dean
throws him into the air and then hits his gutbuster for no cover. Half
crab by Dean keeps things slow.

Rey speeds things up by running the corner and hitting a dropkick.
Dean stays on the back then forearms Rey in the corner. Rey comes back
with some of his own but Dean tries to throw him onto the top. Rey was
supposed to land on his feet on top but can’t get it so he crotches
himself to improvise. That’s much better than trying to stand and making
it look stupid.

Dean counters a rana into a big powerbomb for two. Rey comes back
with a rolling cradle for the same. Another powerbomb is countered into a
sunset flip for two. Mysterio knocks him to the floor and hits a BIG
seated senton to the floor, sending his own face into the floor at the
same time. West Coast Pop is countered into a Boston Crab and we get a
nice pinfall reversal sequence out of it. Rey goes up top for a rana but
the bell rings at 9:24 for a draw.

Rating: C+. Another good match which actually means
something but the fans DO NOT react at all. Can you really blame them
though? They’ve had to sit through an hour and a half of totally
worthless matches with guys most of them have never seen before which
aren’t getting any kind of time to get anything going with. Now all of a
sudden they’re supposed to get fired up? It doesn’t work that way. The
match was pretty good (time issues aside) but the dead crowd holds it
back.

Lex Luger vs. Greg Valentine

This is exactly what you would expect: Valentine gets in some early
offense and pounds away for maybe two minutes or so. Then Luger makes
his comeback and the Rack gets the submission.

Here’s Piper for the talk to close the show. He reminds us that he
won last night and that it’s his last fight. Hogan and Bischoff come out
and talk about how Piper is lying to them. Hollywood says he didn’t end
Piper last night because of Piper’s son begging. Piper wants to do it
again right now but here’s the NWO. Giant comes out very slowly. Even
Nick Patrick is finally in the NWO shirt.

They give Piper a big shoulderbreaker and hit his bad hip with a
chair. The tell Giant to chokeslam him and he reluctantly puts Piper in
position for it. Giant drops him though and never picked him up off the
mat. Giant stands off by himself while the NWO huddles. Hogan says
that’s strike three and slaps Giant. Giant grabs him by the throat while
the NWO backs off. He says he wants the gold and Hogan promises him a
title shot. Giant lets Hogan go and Hogan says he’s got the shot. He
gets on the floor and then says get him.

The NWO runs in and Giant beats up all of their low level guys but
everyone eventually gangs up on him, allowing Hogan to take him down
with belt shots to the back. They rip the NWO shirt off of him and Hogan
hits him in the head with the belt as the NWO stands tall to end the
show. Oh and Piper is taken away in an ambulance.

Overall Rating: D. Where do I even begin? Ok first
and foremost, the ending is the typical problem with WCW at this point:
the NWO isn’t allowed to look weak. Giant defecting should have been a
big moment, especially with him choking Hogan into giving him a title
shot. So what happened? He was beaten down like EVERYONE else has been
two minutes later. Why should I buy Giant as being any different than
the other guys when the same thing happens to him? There was no reason
to and it didn’t work.

As for the rest of the show, it sucked. The crowd was dead (with good
reason) and there was no interest in anything on the rest of the card,
because WCW put no effort into anything else on the card. Where was
Eddie? The guy won the US Title last night but can’t be booked here? We
can get Public Enemy vs. Canadians and a midget match but no US
Champion? This show has taken a BIG downturn in the past 6-7 shows and I
don’t think it’s going to get any better soon.

Remember to like this on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @kbreviews