VIP Exclusive Features FREE SAMPLE - PWTorch Newsletter Back Issue #247 TEXT (20 Yrs. Ago): Cover story on WCW drawing mere 600 at Omni while WWF sells out Boston Garden, Hogan negotiates with WCW, Keller’s rare early-career interview with Sabu, more (10-09-93)
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PRO WRESTLING TORCH NEWSLETTER #247
OCTOBER 9, 1993
COVER STORY by Wade Keller, editor
HEADLINE: Omni draws 600, Boston Garden sells out
SUBHEADLINE: Why is WCW’s house show business nearly dead and WWF’s is in semi-stable condition?
It was a strange week for the house show business in America. Actually, in some ways it was typical. The WWF drew an average of 9,000 fans over three nights this weekend in California, Smoky Mountain Wrestling continued on course with around 500 at its weekend shows, and independent promoters from Tod Gordon to Eddie Sharkey drew crowds in the hundreds.
But two house shows stand out, one that took place Sunday night and one that won’t take place for another two months. WCW drew 600 fans in an 18,000 seat building just miles from its headquarters and the WWF sold out a 16,000 seat arena one hour after tickets went on sale.
The question asked this weekend was: What caused WCW to draw only 600 fans in the Omni arena in Atlanta while the WWF sold out Boston Garden one hour after tickets went on sale Friday morning'
WCW has strong exposure in the Atlanta market, with TBS’s high visibility, plus a syndicated show out of Marietta on Ch. 14. WCW advertised the Omni event on radio and television. A lineup with Rick Rude defending the World Title against Ric Flair, Sting vs. Sid Vicious, Paul Orndorff vs. Rick Steamboat, and The Nasty Boys vs. Marcus Bagwell & Too Cold Scorpio was not a weak lineup.
Steve Prazak, promoter of the small North Georgia Wrestling Association, says Atlanta is just burned out. “We offer free tickets to fans and we couldn’t draw 50 people to our last TV taping,” Prazak says. “Wrestling fans have left the Omni angry too often due to Dusty’s screwjob finishes. The luster of wrestling is gone in this area.”
WCW announcer Jesse Ventura says, in his opinion, the only thing that might be wrong is WCW running house shows in the first place.
“I think it’s the direction the wrestling business is going in,” Ventura tells the Torch. “I can see the end of house shows being in sight. The oversaturation on TV has hurt attendance to the point where I perceive wrestling ending up as a TV show only. It would be like American Gladiators, except that Gladiators in a lot of ways was patterned after (pro wrestling).”
Ventura sees the future of wrestling at arenas being annual tours, like the Gladiators, Harlem Globetrotters, or circuses. “If there was enough prepromotion, people would have the desire to see it live.”
Perhaps it is the WWF’s strongest syndicated network that puts it in the position to draw at house shows.
One WCW performer, who asked not to be named in order to protect his job, agrees. “Management doesn’t care about house shows anymore,” he says. “They’d just prefer to stop house shows and save on expenses.”
He adds, though, that the problems run deeper.
“They’re serving fans the same thing they’ve been serving for five years,” he says. “Our product sucks. They get Gene Okerlund and they want Bobby Heenan, yet our product is wrestling and they don’t have many good wrestlers.”
Ventura sees Okerlund as a worthy asset. “We’ll have the best broadcast team when Okerlund comes aboard,” Ventura says. “He’s the best hardsell man in the business and he conducts a great interviews.”
Ventura says the TV numbers are strong enough that house show business being down is just part of a trend. “Verne Gagne had a fear of oversaturation, and then it came true,” Ventura says. “But I think this is just wrestling going through its trend. It goes up and down. You just have to fight your way through the downtrends.”
The WCW performer says the downward trend can only be broken if the TV shows begin to feature angles that draw fans to arenas.
“We go from one match to another and it’s over as soon as a wrestler is pinned,” he says. “The WWF builds up to things and peaks things at the right time so people buy tickets. There aren’t new angles anymore in WCW. It’s all rehashing of angles Dusty did years ago. Since nobody’s over, any good angles Dusty comes up with won’t get over anyway.
“I like him personally, but I think Dusty’s stale. After so many years of producing seven hours of TV a week, he’s burned out. He does things a certain way and he doesn’t surprise the fans any more.”
Eddie Gilbert, who’s currently out of pro wrestling, agrees that Dusty is stale. “There should be term limits or something on bookers,” he says. “In 20 years, I haven’t seen a booker peak after his first year. They all peak with their best angles in the first year. They need to rotate, get some fresh ideas in the booking position.”
With WCW’s cable ratings now in line with the WWF’s, the answer may lie in booking in a way that compells people to part with their money or it may lie in building stronger syndication and improving marketing.
SURVIVOR SERIES SHOCKER
One hour after tickets went on sale, Survivor Series was sold out. Over 10,000 tickets were sold for Boston Garden between 11 a.m. and noon on Thursday, Sept. 30 at the Garden ticket box office and by phone. In preceding weeks, tickets had been pre'sold through mail order to New England residents on the WWF's mailing list. Tickets were $9, $13, and $16. The Garden drew only 3,200 for Hogan's return earlier in the year and 5,000 for the last event. The WWF did not expect a sellout this quickly as they plugged ticket availability on the pre'taped weekend shows in Boston. At 11:45 a.m., only single'seating was available. No tickets were given away to radio stations ahead of time.
SHAWN MICHAELS UPDATE
A friend of Shawn Michaels tells the Torch that Michaels, after missing several of his scheduled appearances, came to agreement with Vince McMahon to take about three months off from wrestling. Michaels felt overworked and was burned out from the pressures of life on the road. McMahon was accomodating when he realized Michaels's feelings. McMahon is also known as one who likes to turn what appears to be a bad situation into a benefit to the company. Look for an eventual Michaels return, when and if it occurs, to be well plotted and effective. Any independent appearances by Michaels in the next few months would be a surprise.
WWF SUPERSTARS TAPINGS
The WWF brought Superstars television tapings to Worcester, Mass. at the Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 28. In the openers, not taped, Barry Horowitz beat Mike Davis and MVP pinned Duane Gill to little crowd reaction.
In the first Superstars match, Diesel won a squash. Razor Ramon (wearing the Intercontinental Title) won a squash. After Ramon won, Adam Bomb, Rick Martel, I.R.S., and Diesel came to ringside and taunted Ramon. Mr. Perfect, 1'2'3 Kid, and Marty Janetty came to ringside to even the sides. Perhaps a preview to Survivor Series. Perfect continues his heel'mannerisms as he was cold to Ramon and Kid while the babyfaces were celebrating in the ring for driving away the heels.
Tatanka and Ludvig Borga won squash matches. Pat Tatanka pinned 1'2'3 Kid after a head scissors into a forward roll. The match began almost as if it were a martial arts exhibition. Both men worked hard with many high'risk moves. Best match of the night.
Owen Hart won a squash. Quebecers lost by DQ in an apparent squash match when Pierre refused to pin Mike Davis. Quebecers double'teamed their opponents after the bell.
In a match taped for Coliseum Video, Undertaker defeated Bomb in a match that was move'for'move virtually the same as in New Haven the night before. Harvey Whippleman did an interview for Superstars regarding Giant Gonzales. Gonzales came to the interview area and Whippleman fled.
Doink beat Barry Horowitz. Bastion Booger and I.R.S won squash matches. Jim Cornette came out and gave the same speech he gave in New Haven before The Rock & Roll Express came out for a squash match.
TATANKA’S STREAK ENDS
In Tatanka's first television pinfall loss in the WWF, Ludvig Borga with help from Mr. Fuji at ringside, pinned Tatanka. Five minutes into the match, Fuji came to ringside wearing a Japanese flag. Borga deferred to Fuji for advice and approval throughout the match. Borga threw Tatanka outside of the ring setting up Fuji to jab Tatanka with the flag pole. The referee quickly got between Fuji and Tatanka first. As Tatanka began to pick himself off of the floor, Borga nailed him with a chair and threw him into the ring while the referee's back was turned. The referee turned around in time to count Borga pinning Tatanka with one finger on his chest.
As Borga's music played, Yokozuna came to ringside. Borga held Tatanka as Yokozuna bonzai splashed him twice. Lex Luger began to run to ringside, but was stopped by The Quebecers. Luger eventually got past the tag champs and cleared the ring of the heels. Tatanka did a believable job selling the injury, appearing to be legitimately crying.
In a match taped for Coliseum Video, Ramon beat I.R.S. by countout in a successful Intercontinental Title defense. Ramon won by countout by tying I.R.S.'s tie to the ringpost which Ramon ripped off of him earlier in the match.
The Smoking Gunns and Bam Bam Bigelow won squash matches. Doink appeared on the video wall during Bigelow's entrance talking about their match'up at the Survivor Series. Rick & Scott Steiner won a squash.
In a match taped for Mania, Martel defeated Owen Hart by countout when Jerry Lawler rammed Hart's head into the ringpost. In a match taped for Coliseum Video, Randy Savage pinned Lawler. About ten minutes into the match, Lawler left the ring and began a trek back to the dressing room, but was met by Bret Hart. Lawler backed up to the ring and Savage rolled him up for the pin.
In the main event for the evening, not taped for television, Bret Hart & Luger defeated Borga & Yokozuna by countout. Luger knocked Yokozuna out of the ring with his steel plate forearm while Hart and Borga fought outside of the ring, leading to the countout victory. A lackluster match. WEST COAST SWING
The WWF debuted at the new San Jose Arena on Friday night, Oct. 1 in front of an est. 6,500, perhaps a disappointing crowd. (The arena was sold out the night before with 19,000 attending the NHL's San Jose Sharks' debut at their new home arena.) In the opener, Men on a Mission beat Well Dunn after Mabel hit the somersault spinkick. The highlight of the match saw Oscar trip over the ring barricade during the match.
The Quebecers came out to say the Steiners would not be there and protested Jack Tunney signing them to face Bomb & Bigelow. I.R.S pinned 1'2'3 Kid after reversing a flying bodypress, continuing a losing streak for Kid beginning to rival Barry Horowitz's. Kid appeared to get cut on the ringside stairs. After the pin, Kid got sympathy applause from the crowd as he lay bleeding in the ring. Kid vs. Michaels was originally scheduled.
Ramon pinned Martel after the Razor's Edge. Since this was not a television taping, Ramon did not wear his title belt to the ring (and he won't at house shows until Oct. 12). Martel untied the top turnbuckle which eventually backfired on him leading to the pin. Ramon vs. I.R.S. was the advertised match.
Luger pinned Borga after hitting him with the forearm. The crowd reacted only to Luger's entrance, but nothing that he did in the ring. A fan at ringside was holding up a poster with the Finnish flag's design.
Perfect pinned Diesel with a roll'up after Ramon distracted Diesel at ringside. The Quebecers defeated Bomb & Bigelow by countout to retain the tag team titles. The fans, as has been the case at other house shows, were into this match, siding with Bomb & Bigelow, who played the babyface role. Before the finish, Johnny Polo ran to ringside in a jumpsuit and shoved Luna Vachon to the floor. As Bigelow and Bomb argued, teasing a break'up, they were counted out. Bomb eventually sided with Bigelow and threw Polo out of the ring and got a big pop.
In the main event, Yokozuna defeated Undertaker to retain the WWF Title. The fans reacted to this like a main event caliber match. Toward the end, Fuji nailed Paul Bearer with the Japanese flag. After Bearer chased him to the locker room, there was a ref bump. After what seemed like a million come'back'to'life pop'ups by Undertaker, Yokozuna hit him with the dreaded salt basket and got the pin. Undertaker cleaned house after the pinfall loss to regain his heat.
When the next card was announced as being in San Francisco on Dec. 5, the fans booed, wanting the matches to return to the new arena. San Jose Arena has set a new standard for parking at $7.
The same crew an est., 5,500 in Sacramento the day before and an est. 15,000 in Los Angeles the day after.
The main event for Survivor Series has Luger & Tatanka & The Steiners vs. Yokozuna & Borga & Quebecers… Tatanka was on WAAF in Boston promoting the Series. Tickets went on sale the next morning' On the Sept. 25 'Radio WWF,' Jim Ross said, 'Don't be fooled by pay-per-view ripoffs. Save your pay'per'view dollars for Survivor Series… The Wrestling Observer reports that Bret Hart will take three months off after an angle at Survivor Series, probably an injury angle'Minneapolis/St. Paul has lost all local WWF television. KITN Ch. 29 is most likely to pick up Superstars. New ownership takes over a few weeks. The WWF hopes to return to Target Center as soon as local TV returns' Because the WWF has few markets where both Challenge and Superstars are on non'Fox stations, the WWF may tailor 'WWF Superstars' as a show exlusively for Fox affiliates. Any Fox affiliate that carries a WWF show will carry Superstars. The WWF will then acknowledge Fox as 'the home of WWF Superstars' during the program, perhaps hanging Fox banners at the tapings if they follow through with the plans… Nov. 20 at the Philadelphia Spectrum, announced matches are Borga vs. Luger, Hart vs. Lawler in a cage, Rock & Roll vs. Head Shrinkers, Quebecers vs. Steiners, Bigelow vs. Doink, and Kid vs. Polo' The Sept. 20 Raw drew a 2.1 rating, the Sept. 18 Mania drew 1.1, and Sept. 19 All-American drew 1.9… On a Canadian radio interview over the weekend, Bret Hart said Flair was overrated as a wrestler and rated him a 3 on a 1'10 scale…
HOGAN NEGOTIATES WITH WCW
In the past two weeks, Hulk Hogan negotiated with WCW to make appearances on WCW television programs. Over a month ago there were reports of Hogan asking for $1 million from WCW to appear on a payperview (meaning about 70,000 extra payperview purchases would be necessary for WCW to break even if its cut was $15 per purchase; Beach Blast had a total of 95,000 purchases).
This time, Hogan wasn’t looking to wrestle, nor was he looking for money. Our sources say Hogan simply wanted to promote his movie, “Mr. Nanny,” scheduled for an Oct. 8 release date. Hogan was offered a slot on last Saturday’s TBS program to promote his movie if he would in turn promote WCW during his plug. When Slyvester Stallone was interviewed by Jesse Ventura to promote his movie this past summer, Stallone promoted WCW and put on a WCW hat. WCW apparently would have been more than happy to give Hogan free publicity for his movie in exchange for the coup of having Hogan promote WCW as the number one promotion in wrestling. Hogan turned down the offer.
“Hogan must still have a pretty strong alliance with Vince McMahon,” says one WCW insider. “Why else would he turn down the type of publicity TBS could have given him if all he had to do was promote WCW'”
Hogan will make an appearance on the Tonight Show this week to promote the movie. He appeared on Regis & Kathy Lee on Monday. In other media publicity interviews, Hogan has taken a proVince McMahon stance. Hogan has also returned to saying he took steroids for rehabilitative purposes, a similar stance that he used on the Arsenio Hall Show which was the springboard nearly two years ago for the string of national media scrutiny of the WWF.
It appears Hogan’s negotiations with WCW have completely ceased. Interestingly, Hogan’s movie company, New Line Cinema, was recently purchased by Ted Turner, so technically Hogan is already working for Turner.
Because Hogan is still featured prominently on the openings of some of the WWF TV programs (he’s featured prominently twice on AllAmerican), it is presumed within the industry that Hogan and McMahon will put aside any differences they’ve had in the past for at least one more big show, perhaps Hogan’s official retirement (so he can come out of retirement a year later, of course).
VADER DEFENDS AGAINST STEAMBOAT
WCW taped three weeks of “WCW Saturday Night” on Sept. 28 in Atlanta, Ga. at Center Stage. The first show taped will air Oct. 9. In the opener, Yoshi Kwan (mgd. by Harley Race) lost to Ric Flair (with Fifi) via backslide in an above average TV match.
Lord Steven Regal (mgd. by Bill Dundee) wrestled Arn Anderson to a timelimit draw in a TV Title defense by Regal. Anderson hit Regal with a spinebuster at 14:58 and the referee hit the mat twice before the time limit bell rang. The last three minutes were exciting, but the rest was below average.
Rick Steamboat defeated Vader (mgd. by Race) by DQ in the TV main event for the WCW Title. Before the match began, Vader tossed around the ringside railing. Steamboat suplexed Race in the ring, but Vader responded with an attack and a splash to open the match. When the action spilled outside of the ring, Vader dropped Steamboat on the rail while Race distracted the referee. Vader injured his wrist while splashing Steamboat. Steamboat chopped Vader twice, Race accidentally hit Vader, and Steamboat came off the top rope onto Vader for a strong near fall. Then the referee was bumped, so Race came in and chopped Steamboat. Steamboat quickly gained the advantage, so Kwan ran in and chopped Steamboat. Vader made the save and began a doubleteam attack on Steamboat. Cactus Jack then entered with a shovel and cleared the ring. In the end, Vader was disqualified for hitting the referee, but thus retained the title. Above average match.
In the TV finale, Bobby Eaton pinned Joe Edmonds with the Alabama Jam.
MORE WCW SATURDAY NIGHT TAPINGS
In the opening match of the WCW Saturday Night taped for an Oct. 16 airdate, Johnny B. Badd defeated Paul Orndorff. Badd wore Atlanta Braves merchandise to the ring. Orndorff pinned Badd with his feet on the ropes, but after referee Nick Patrick was informed of the infraction, Orndorff was disqualified.
Marcus Bagwell & Too Cold Scorpio defeated Brian Knox & Robbie Baker after Scorpio pinned Baker after the 450 degree splash. Tony Schiavone interviewed Bagwell & Scorpio at ringside. Missy Hyatt interrupted the interview to talk about her team, The Nasty Boys, to conclude the program.
In a match not taped, Scott Studd defeated Rip Rogers with a rollup in Studd’s tryout match. Rick Rude defeated T.A. McCoy. Rude wore the former NWA Title belt to ringside. Rude injured his leg coming off the top rope with a knee drop, but won with a “Rude Awakening.”
Schiavone interviewed Rude regarding his match against Flair at Halloween Havoc. The two-referee stipulation was discussed. Rude speculated whether Fifi will accompany Flair or show up with him.
The Nastys (mgd. by Hyatt) defeated Sam Houston & Pez Whatley when Jerry Saggs pinned Houston after a top rope elbow drop. Brian Knobbs grabbed the house microphone and challenged Bagwell & Scorpio to come to the ring. Bagwell & Scorpio came out. Scorpio sunset flipped Knobbs as Bagwell counted the pin. Good fan heat during angle.
Sting beat Eaton with the Scorpion. During the match, Sid Vicious was interviewed on a split screen from the dressing room. Schiavone interviewed Orndorff, who challenged Badd to a match on next week’s program. Vicious (mgd. by Col. Robert Parker) then beat Larry Santo.
The Hollywood Blondes defeated Jason Johnson & Dave Hart when Austin pinned Hart. Schiavone interviewed the Blondes. Parker came out to congratulate Austin and asked Pillman about his “lame leg.” Austin didn’t react.
Jack pinned Kwan in a “falls count anywhere” match. Jack clotheslined Kwan over the railing and later DDT’d him in the ring for the pin.
Schiavone interviewed Flair and Fifi. Flair said that being the man and staying the man are two different things, predicting Rude’s title reign would be cut short.
Vader defeated Steamboat in a rematch from the previous week’s program. The match was billed as a “Human Cage Match” with Equalizer, Maxx Payne, Harlem Heat, Vicious, Anderson, Dustin Rhodes, Davey Boy Smith, The Shockmaster, and Sting forming the “human cage.” While the referee was distracted, Vicious interfered by powerbombing Steamboat leading to the pin. Above average TV match.
Sept. 30 in Anderson, S.C., WCW cancelled its TV tapings when fewer than 100 people showed up for the taping… Sting is in for a renewed push… Latest word out of WCW is that Eric Bischoff is tired of TV being “the Dustin Rhodes show,” so he’s ordering his push to be toned down. Instead, the latest candidate for World Title reigns next year is Vicious… Starrcade’s headline match is being advertised in cable guides as Vicious (presumably as a babyface) vs. Vader in a “Who Rules the World” match and Rude vs. Sting (for the World Title). Starrcade will be subtitled: “The Night of Champions” and all belts will be on the line… Lord Steven, Bill Dundee, Michaels Hayes, and Terry Taylor have been wrestling on the weekly Tuesday night Kinnesaw, Ga. cards. WCW trainees also work the cards. Kinnesaw drew fewer than 100 last Tuesday… The Sept. 18 WCW Saturday Night drew a 2.2 rating (beating Raw). The Sept. 18 Power Hour drew 1.5. The Sept. 19 Main Event drew a 1.6… Oct. 3 at the Omni, 600 fans attended, down from 1,100 last month. Results: Ice Train beat Dick Slater, Arn Anderson beat Jim Neidhart, Nastys (without Hyatt) beat Bagwell & Scorpio, Steamboat beat Orndorff at 19:59, Rhodes & Shockmaster beat Harlem Heat, Sting beat Vicious when Parker’s interference backfired, and Rude beat Flair by DQ when Flair was caught using Rude’s brass knuckles… Jesse Ventura is in “Demolition Man” which opens this Friday, the same day as Hogan’s movie…
MORRISTOWN, Tenn.—On the Oct. 2 pretaped SMW program, Tracy Smothers defeated Robbie Eagle with a jawjacker. Brian Lee, Tammy Fytch, and Ron Wright were interviewed. Fytch showed off a new ring she said she bought with Wright’s credit card. Wright again asked to see Dirty White Boy, saying he had tried to get in touch with him but he couldn’t call him because there was no phone in the room that Lee and Fytch were keeping him in. Fytch assured Wright they were keeping Dirty posted on his condition and quickly wheeled him off the set in his wheel chair.
A video review aired of the Bob Armstrong situation, showing the Terry Funk match where he defeated Armstrong for the commissionership and the Ninja match where he was forced to leave SMW. They then cut to a conference room where Brian Matthews, SMW’s ring announcer, was standing outside the door. He said he had been waiting there all day for results of Armstrong’s meeting with the board of directors, appealing his requirement to leave SMW. Bob then entered the hallway, and said the board of directors listened to his arguments, but said he did sign a contract saying he would leave SMW forever if he lost to Jim Cornette’s mystery man. Armstrong said he would leave, but a friend of his who had been watching the situation would come in and pick up where he left off in getting even with Cornette. He then said he wanted to introduce the friend. He went into the conference room and returned with a mask on, calling himself “The Bullet.”
After the clip aired, Cornette came out and threw a fit, saying it was a violation of the contract because Bullet was really Bob Armstrong and everybody knew it.
VAN HORNE DEBUTS
Darryl Van Horne gave his debut interview. He was wearing a black suit and a Turkish cap. He said he had just returned from the University of Cairo where he studied hieroglyphics, archeology, macrophelia, and parapsychology. He said he was bringing in a member of the Egyptian Royal Family who would be a revolutionary wrestler and make him a world famous manager. He referred to the crowd as a bunch of illiterate rednecks
Killer Kyle defeated Gator McAllister with a side slam. During the match, commentator Les Thatcher said Kyle was going to be the man Cornette picks to unmask the Bullet.
On “Down & Dirty with Dutch,” The Rock & Roll Express were the guests of Dutch Mantell. They talked about the situation at the end of last week’s show where there was confusion and a staredown between Scott Armstrong and Robert Gibson when Gibson mistakenly thought Scott had hit Morton with a chair. The Express said they reviewed the videotape and were confident that Scott was merely making the save and had not hit Morton. They blamed Dutch Mantell for trying to stir up trouble by bringing the situation up during the interview segment.
The Heavenly Bodies defeated Jason West & Chris Canyon when Jimmy Del Rey pinned Canyon following a moonsault. After the match, Cornette and the Bodies gave an interview. Thatcher said Cornette had so many problems he should hire an octopus for a secretary. Cornette said he tried to hire an octopus, but Thatcher’s girlfriend already had a job. Cornette and the Bodies talked about the Steiners coming in and vowed they would defeat the Steiners and they would see to it that Arnold the Dog would be hauled off to the dog pound and be put to sleep.
Cornette then called The Bruise Brothers out and forced them to watch a clip of the Bodies beating up The Steiners in the WWF. He said they could learn from that clip what a real tag team is and how a real tag team gets the job done.
Bobby Blaze was doing an interview when Chris Candito came out and began ridiculing his Jr. Heavyweight Title. Candito said he would beat Blaze for the belt and throw it into a river where it belongs. Candito slapped Blaze leading to a pullapart brawl.
Up next, Sensational Sherri was interviewed via videotape and again she talked about how she was going to neutralize Fytch when she comes in next week for some cards to be in Smothers’s corner.
In the TV main event, Dirty White Boy defended the TV Title against Dark Secret. Smothers did color commentary during the match. About a minute into the match, Lee came out and began arguing with Smothers. They began brawling at the announcers table, but soon brawled into the ring. Lee hit Smothers with a low blow and put him in a full nelson. He encouraged Dirty to join in the attack, but Dirty simply walked out of the ring and returned to the locker room. The match was declared a nocontest.
SMW ON THE ROAD
Oct. 1 in Paintsville, Ky. at the H.S. (650), Horner beat Candito, Bruises beat Scott & Steve Armstrong, Rock & Roll beat The Bodies, Smothers beat Lee by DQ with Dirty caged at ringside, and Smothers won a battle royal and Candito, because he was the last man eliminated, was tarred (syruped) and feathered.
Oct. 2 in Morristown, Tenn. at the East H.S. (400), Kyle beat Blaze, Horner beat Candito, Scott & Steve beat Bruises, Rock & Roll beat Bodies, and Smothers beat Lee by DQ with Dirty caged at ringside.
The Steiners debut on Oct. 7 in Hazard, Ky… K.C. O’Connor is a fulltime employment, not parttime as listed last week… Smothers’s ankle was only twisted, and he’s back in action already… The “Parade of Champions” weekend with Sherri and the Steiners is as follows: Oct. 7 in Hazard, Ky., Oct. 8 in Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 9 in Barberville, Ky., Oct. 10 in Johnson City, Tenn… Monday, Oct. 4 in Callico, Tex. TV was taped. Dirty wrestled Brian Lee in a TV Title match and Fytch interfered on behalf of Lee for the DQ, leading closer to Dirty’s fullfledged turn. The Bruises turned babyface and brawled with the Bodies. Line of the week from Daryll Van Horne: “Cornette is a brilliant strategist, perhaps one of the greatest managers of all time, a very smart man, which is why he has to be one of the first to go.” A feud between heel managers seems to be brewing. Candito beat Blaze for the Jr. Title and Horner won TV belt…
RICH WON’T WRESTLE, WILL INTERFERE
MEMPHIS, Tenn.—On the Oct. 2 live broadcast on WMCTV in Memphis, Dave Brown opened the program interviewing promoter Eddie Marlin. Marlin was scheduled to referee the Tommy Rich vs. Jeff Jarrett match on Monday night in Memphis at the MidSouth Coliseum. Brown told Marlin the USWA Board decided Marlin could not referee because of his inherent bias toward Jarrett. Instead, heel referee Paul Neighbors would be locked inside the cage to prevent him from interfering.
The American Eagles (Ken Wayne & Danny Davis) defeated The Intruders in a squash.
Rich was supposed to wrestle in the opening match, but he came out in street clothes and was not ready to wrestle. His match was postponed, but later he still wasn’t ready. He said he didn’t want to wrestle, so instead he did color commentary for the first portion of the program.
Brian Christopher beat Kip Morris in a squash. Rich, doing color, told playbyplay announcer Brown that he was tired of Brown nagging him about not wrestling, so he would get in the ring. Rich then entered the ring and beat on Morris after Christopher had already defeated Morris.
In a lengthy, but very good interview, Randy Savage talked about his match scheduled for Monday night at the Coliseum against Jerry Lawler for the USWA Unified Title. Savage said a victory over Lawler was guaranteed.
In another of Vince McMahon’s classic heel interviews, he said three things in life were guaranteed: death, taxes, and a Savage victory Monday night. It appears McMahon will still end up wrestling in Memphis, but not this Monday.
Lawler came out on the set and gave a live interview responding to the previous two interviews. Lawler said Savage’s interview was longer than “Gone with the Wind.” Lawler then promised to burn Savage Monday night with a fireball. A music video then aired containing exclusive scenes of Lawler burning his opponents, ending with his most recent burning of Giant Gonzales. For no apparent reason except Lawler’s promise to burn Savage, the match is being called, “Fire on the Mountain.” Since SMW doesn’t actually have fire on its “Fire on the Mountain” cards, it seems fair that the USWA can have a card of that name without any mountains in the area.
Tony Falk & Tony Williams defeated PG13 by DQ when Rich jumped in the ring and beat on Falk and Williams.
Jeff Jarrett beat Sgt. O’Reilly by DQ. Rich attacked Jarrett and choked him with his tie. The Moondogs and Dog Catchers then entered the ring and eventually the Dogs stuffed referee Neighbors into the small cage at ringside. The Dogs then tipped over the cage with Neighbors in it. A video aired of Jarrett playing golf with Reed of the Williams & Reed comedy team often seen on the Nashville Network.
In the TV main event, Jeff Gaylord & Mike Anthony & Spellbinder beat Lee Vincent & Rock & Roll Phantom & Leon Downs.
LAWLER VS. SAVAGE AT COLISEUM
The lineup for the Oct. 4 card at the Coliseum was as follows: Gaylord vs. Downs, Spellbinder vs. Phantom, Anthony vs. Pain, Eagle #1 vs. J.C. Ice, Eagle #2 vs. Wolfie D, Miss Texas vs. Brandi Wine, Christopher (with Toni Adams) vs. Falk (with Miss Texas), Jarrett vs. Rich for the USWA Title, Moondogs vs. Dog Catchers (Dogs’ hair vs. Catchers’ belts), and Savage vs. Lawler.
Steroid Distribution Sentencing
The Oct. 1 Los Angeles Times reports that a federal judge senticed a Los Angeles physician Thursday to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to receive and distribute steroids and human growth hormone to bodybuilders and athletes. The sentence is reportedly the longerst handed down for this type of offense. Dr. Walter G. Davies pled guilty last year and his lawyer asked for probation, but U.S. District Judge John G. Davies saw differently. David Hasselhoff, star of TV's 'Night Rider' and 'Baywatch' was named as one of his customers. Dr. George Zahorian was mentioned along with a doctor from San Francisco as receiving three year sentences for similar charges.
Eastern Township Wrestling
Sept. 18 in Newport, Vt. at the Municipal Building (60), Taboo beat Boomer, Gabriel Jean beat Little John, Bobby Pininski beat Dave the Animal, Winnie & Lord Penguin beat Donny Myers & Pretty Boy Floyd two falls to one.
Sept. 25 in Waterville, Conn. (50), Tabu pinned Boomer, Bobby Finiski beat Little John by submission, Pretty Boy Floyd beat Fifi Lamore, Jerry Chromea & Johnny Myers beat Lord Penguin & Winnie the Grizzly two falls to one. Airs weekly Sunday 1 p.m. Ch. 60 Manchester, N.H.
Sept. 30 in Tampa, Fla. at the Sportatorium, Dancing Wolfe beat Red Devil, Manny Fernandez beat Greg Smitt, Big Sid Powers fought Magnificent Bill Pain to a double countout, Rico Federico beat Jeff Bradley to retain the Jr. Heavyweight Title, and Southern Posse beat Big Bill Tyree & Chris Nelson.
Pro Wrestling America
Oct. 2 in Minneapolis, Minn. at the NE Armory (400), The Hater fought Blake Beverly to a DDQ, Johnny Love pinned Jerry Lynn, Randy Gusto beat The Chosen One by DQ, T'Rex pinned The Jungle Fighter, The Storm Troopers beat Dan Jesser & John Scarlet, Billy Blazxe pinned Scott Zappa, The Punisher pinned The American Ninja, and Road Warrior Hawk pinned The Convict Nailz.
East Coast Wrestling Federation
Sept. 22 in Carthage, N.C. at the Moore County Fair (350), Devastator pinned Grave Robber, Wolverine & Sub'Zero beat The Black Dragons (tag champs) by DQ, T.C. Flexer beat John Savage by submission, and High Voltage beat Willow the Wisp after a moonsault to retain the ECWF Title. Same crew drew 500 and 700 the following two nights.
Global Wrestling Federation
Oct. 1 in Dallas, Tex. at the Sportatorium (672), Scott Putski pinned Black Bart, Awesome & Krusher Kong beat Mike Davis & Action Jackson ('Angel' Dave Sheldon, scheduled to team with Davis, no'showed), Iceman Parsons (mgd. by Baboose) pinned Chris Barrett, Steven Dane beat Alex Porteau in a taped fist match, Action Jackson beat Moadib by DQ, and Chris Adams fought Killer Brooks to a DCO. TV wasn't taped as planned. The next taping is Oct. 15. There is talk of GWF airing on Ch. 39 now that it's off Ch. 11.
Professional wrestler Kahn the Warlord (real name Jerry Kennett), is running for mayor of Bunn, N.C., population 366 located 30 miles northeast of Raleigh, N.C. He is the only candidate who has filed' Wrestler and trainer Billy Anderson worked as a referee in the filming of 'Ed Wood.' WWF road agent George Steele has a substantial role in the movie also. Louie Spicoli and Jesse Hernandez were extras' The ECW tapings Friday and Saturday night (Oct. 1, 2) in Philadelphia at ECW Arena drew under 500 both nights. Gordon says it was a mistake to run shows only 13 days after his 'UltraClash.' We'll have more details on the tapings next week, although Sabu turned babyface and Terry Funk turned heel leading to a Nov. 13 match at ECW Arena with Sabu & Road Warrior Hawk vs. Funk & a partner to be determined. The Headhunters no-showed the tapings Paul Heyman booked the cards' Dennis Coraluzzo and Tod Gordon have come to an amicable agreement, with Coraluzzo conceding the Philadelphia area to Gordon. They are blaming the heat between them on a former associate lying to them about each other'
Atlanta, Ga. Omni arena does not have a rich history of World Title changes, despite recently being the headquaters for the NWA'linneage World Title. Dusty Rhodes is the only NWA Champion to win the title in Atlanta, defeating Harley Race to begin his second title reign on June 21, 1993. St. Louis, Mo. is the site of the most NWA Title changes since 1948 (when the latest version originated). The belt changes there a total of five times.
Thanks for reading this week's Torch and thanks to all of the correspondents who contributed to this issue's news. If you attend any arena events this coming weekend, the deadline for any 'Ringside Beat' reports is late Monday afternoon. The deadline for all other news is late Monday night. If you view the UWFI pay'per'view this week, please call in comments, a 1'10 score, and your pick for best match by Sunday evening (612'854-4274).
Next week's issue will feature a full report on Tuesday night's UWFI event, a trailblazer of an event. Plus, Chris Zavisa's column will run, along with a new BBL, part four of the 'Torch Talk' with Jerry Jarrett, another 'Torch Triple Play,' and all of the latest news. And as always, please spread the word about the Torch and tell fellow wrestling fans how they can subscribe.
TORCH TRIPLE PLAY
ITEM #1: Gilbert says politics is next
Plans to enter primaries next year in Henderson County
Now that Eddie Gilbert has left ECW - and not on the best of terms - some believe his bridges are burned. Once thought of as a sure-fire future leader in the business, Gilbert's reputation has crashed. He has been accused of lying, cheating, drinking too much, being a hothead, and being unreliable, if not unstable.
Gilbert says his current reputation is unfair. He says he doesn't have a drinking problem. "I don't even like to go to bars," Gilbert says. "Alcohol has never been a problem. And in terms of honesty, I think I'm too straight forward sometimes. In the same way Funk told WCW what he thought and wasn't hired, sometimes I tell people what they don't want to hear." While he admits to experimenting with "just about everything" out there, he says drugs are not currently a problem either.
Gilbert says the problem is the wrestling business itself. "I still love the business," Gilbert says. "I just want to see it succeed. I think what McMahon is doing with Jarrett and Cornette is great. People need to band together to keep the blood flowing in this business."
Gilbert sees no place for him in wrestling right now, so he has gone home to Tennessee. He says he's going to enter another facet of life that interests him - politics.
"A lot of people don't believe me," Gilbert says. "They say this is a game, or it's a work. But it's not. I'm serious. I've been interested in politics ever since I was a kid when my parents were heavily behind the Nixon/Agnew ticket. I remember putting their bumper sticker on my dad's car. And if people give me the benefit of the doubt on this one, I'll show them how serious I am by next year."
The primaries for court county clerk and city executive positions in Henderson County, Tenn. are next May.
"I've been meeting with friends who I went to high school with who are involved in managing campaigns," Gilbert says. "I've gone to Republican meetings, too. I think I have a chance no matter which seat I go after."
Gilbert says his mother and father were loyal Republicans, and he is, too… well sort of. "I believe in a woman's right to chose to have an abortion," he says. "I think I'm a fiscal Republican and liberal on peoples' rights."
Gilbert says he'll just have fun running for office. "I might even surprise a few people in the end," he says. "Then they'll know I meant what I said."
ITEM #2: Pierson heads ESPN2 wrestling
Says ESPN2 exposure not important, TV ad revenue is
"It's nice, but we can get by without it," says Grey Pierson of the Global Wrestling Federation about being on ESPN2.
ESPN-2 kicked off Oct. 1 with a universe of 9-10 million homes, only a fraction of ESPN's 61 million homes. Part of the line-up for ESPN2, which will target 18-35 year olds rather than ESPN's 25-54 target, is GWF wrestling. It is scheduled to air at 8:30 a.m. EST Saturdays and 2 a.m. EST Sundays.
Pierson says at first, ESPN2 will broadcast old GWF tapes from its library, but soon will be running first-run weekly material.
"The new target demographics for ESPN2 are perfect for us," Pierson says. "Our show on Ch.11 shows us strongest in the 18-35 demographic."
Pierson along with two partners bought the house-show portion of the GWF from Max Andrews in July 1992, giving them the rights to use the GWF name on house shows. Three months ago Pierson purchased the TV end of the promotion from Andrews, although Andrews still operates the TV end of the business.
Pierson says the GWF barters advertising time with about 50 stations across the United States that air the GWF's weekly television show. Recently he bought time on a Dallas station to promote local house shows. The GWF mainly runs only Fridays at the Dallas Sportatorium.
"We must be doing something right because we're still around after over a year," Pierson says. "The end result of giving away tickets to our shows has been people attending regularly. No one made them come, so they must like it."
Pierson says his first exposure to wrestling came a few years ago when he represented the Von Erich's. Pierson, a practicing attorney since 1987, had rarely watched wrestling before buying the GWF. He says now he avoids watching wrestling or following any other promotions because he doesn't want to be like them.
"If I follow them too much, I might start thinking traditionally like they do," Pierson says. "I've been untraditional throughout my life. I know it's an oddball approach, but it's too late for me to change, now. And I'm having too much fun in wrestling to want to change."
Pierson says ESPN2 exposure might help him get better name talent who want national exposure, but it is revenue from house shows and syndication that are most important. He hopes to eventually be running a full-time house show schedule so wrestlers can work for him full-time.
ITEM #3: Sharkey says times are tough
Minneapolis show draws 400 with Hawk vs. Convict on top
PWA promoter Ed Sharkey says this summer was the worst summer in his 35 years involved in wrestling. Saturday night solidified that feeling.
Sharkey says he made money on the show he promoted Saturday night, Oct. 2 in Minneapolis at the NE Armory, but he expected to draw more fans. Four hundred fans turned out to see Road Warrior Hawk pin The Convict in the main event.
"I could have easily drawn two or three times what I drew Saturday night five years ago with the guys I had on this card," Sharkey says.
But drawing fans isn't the only problem; the number of wrestling cards has taken a dive also.
"This was the first summer where we didn't go on the road," Sharkey says. "We didn't go to the Dakotas or Iowa, we didn't run any shows at fairs, nothing. Wrestling goes through ups and downs and this is a down period to be sure."
About half of the revenue from Saturday's show came from the ticket-buying public. The other half came from trading tickets for ad space on the posters and in the program plus wrestlers selling tickets to friends.
"The Chosen One and Tommy Ferrara are from Minneapolis, so they know who to sell tickets and ads to," Sharkey says. "They're worth more than, say Randy Gusto, who's from North Dakota and doesn't have the local connections. Ferrara's worth more to my cards than some big names from out of town."
Sharkey thinks overexposure of wrestling is part of the problem. He thinks part of the solution to wrestling's woes would be for the big promotions to subsidize the smaller promotions.
"WCW's got this training center going and they've got four or five wrestlers there," Sharkey says. "But those guys aren't going to be ready to draw money. You can't just train and then go on TV. You have to go on the road, pay your dues, and really learn to wrestle. I've turned out more wrestlers in the last few months by accident than they have by trying.
"If a big promotion subsidized me, gave me a new ring and a couple hundred bucks per show, I could give them good talent in a year that takes me three years to give them now."
Sharkey promotes the PWA full-time, but says what he made in the last year isn't enough to equal a sustainable income.
"I'm just too damn dumb to do anything else, to be honest with ya'," Sharkey says. "I just hope the big promoters are smart enough to take advantage of what smaller promoters like me have to offer. It would be worth their while."
Sting pins Rude in non-title main event
World Championship Wrestling
September 26 (matinee)
Columbia, S.C. - Township Auditorium
Estimated Attendance: 950
Shanghai Pierce (with Tex Slazenger) pinned Mark Starr in 8:15 when Slazenger tripped Starr during an attempted suplex and held down Starr's foot. Starr was impressive, executing some difficult moves including a dive over the top rope. The heels beat up Starr in the center of the ring leading to the next match. *1/2
The Shockmaster pinned Tex Slazenger in 40 seconds with a bearhug turned into a spinebuster. "Uncle Freddie" bumbled into the ring to make the save for Starr. In the process, his hardhat fell off, but the liner remained stuck to his head. The bell to start the match rang after Shock threw Pierce over the top rope. DUD
Cactus Jack pinned Yoshi Kwan in 4:40 after a double-arm DDT. Nothing here that wasn't at Fall Brawl. Kwan and Race took good bumps, but Jack topped them by wiping out three sections of the ringside railing. The crowd was into Jack. **
Lord Steven Regal pinned Erik Watts in 15:22 to retain the TV Title after Sir William hit Watts in the back of the head with an umbrella. Regal and Dundee used the house mic to draw "cheap heat," setting the trend for every other heel of the afternoon. The actual wrestling was good, but the match shouldn't have gone past ten minutes. Sir Williams was called both "Penguin" and "Pringle" (as in Percy) by the fans. **1/4
Ricky Steamboat wrestled Paul Orndorff to a 20 minute draw in 17:30. (Hey, guys, we DO have digital watches this far South.) Good psychology from both men, but too many restholds and a couple of sloppy moves each. Steamboat hit the top rope press with time running out, and referee Nick Patrick had to hold the start of his count to ensure the draw. Orndorff asked for "five more minutes," but when Steamboat obliged by heading back to the ring, Orndorff broke for the dressing rooms. **1/2
Davey Boy Smith defeated "Stunning" Steve Austin by disqualification in 15:01 when Austin hit Bulldog with a chair. Austin stole the show here. On his way to the ring, a lady at ringside took a swipe at Austin, so he turned and made sparring motions toward the lady. Bulldog was over huge with the kids. He set up Austin for the powerslam, but when he swung around, referee Randy Anderson got knocked over and was unable to count the pinfall. **1/2
Sting pinned Rick Rude in 16:28 of a non-title match after a splash from the top rope. Nothing new here. Rude told Sting he "wasn't shit." Sting pulled down Rude's tights. The wrestling, however, was top-notch. At 13:00, Sting went for the Stinger splash, but Rude reversed it into an atomic drop. Sting then powered out of the Rude Awakening and came back with the flurry that led to the pin. As Rude left with the belt, some of the fans were heard chanting, "You ain't shit!" ***1/2
Ric Flair & Arn Anderson defeated The Nasty Boys in 13:26 when Anderson pinned Brian Knobbs after hitting him with his own boot. No Missy, and no Fifi, but the crowd did not seem to care. The Horsemen received a standing ovation and were over to the n'th degree. After the styling and profiling, Flair sold for the Nastys for the majority of the match. Anderson got the hot tag and took over on the Nastys when Knobbs took off his boot and nailed him in the back of the head. Flair raced across the ring and made the save by side-rolling Knobbs off of Anderson. While the referee was tied up with Flair & Saggs, Anderson clocked Knobbs with the boot for the win. ***
Notes: The crowd was not as large as usual, but was as rowdy as always. WCW promoted the event well on the syndicated show, radio, and the "see WCW live" TV commercials. They return Dec. 30 for a "holiday spectacular" with Sting headlining. [Patrick McNeill reporting]
World Wrestling Federation
September 26 (matinee)
Chicago, Ill. - Rosemont Horizon
Estimated Attendance: 5,500
Tatanka pinned Bastion Booger after a bodyslam. Tatanka was over big time, but Booger got little reaction. *
Mr. Perfect wrestled I.R.S. to a draw. Perfect was about to pin I.R.S. when the bell rang. This was awful. I.R.S. played with his tie for the first five or six minutes, while Perfect milked the crowd for cheers. Punches, a clothesline, and a Perfectplex at the finish were the only highspots. Perfect grabbed the briefcase after the match and taunted I.R.S. I swear, if it were not for Hennig's presence in the ring, the crowd would have booed these two out of the arena. A big, fat, DUD!
Men on a Mission defeated Well Dunn. Mabel pinned Dunn after a reverse crescent that hit at about the shins. Dunn did Rick Rude-type gyrations every time they hit an offense move. Nobody in this crowd above the age of 6 cared about M.O.M. Oscar makes P.N. News look like Chuck D. Dump M.O.M. - push Well Done. *1/2
Yokozuna pinned The Undertaker after Yokozuna hit Undertaker with the bucket while the ref was down. Undertaker got a bigger pop than Curt Hennig - Considering this is Chicago, that's amazing. Not a whole lot of action. Some staredowns, some brawling, and Undertaker did the top rope walk. Paul Bearer kept him from going after Yokozuna after the pin. When the Undertaker came out, they turned the houselights on, and they stayed on for most of the match. One star for the match, one star for crowd heat. **
Diesel pinned The 1-2-3 Kid after a Hogan-style boot to the face. This was okay, but they should let Kid do more. Kid got in some nice kicks, but no aerial moves. Diesel seems to be getting bigger. There was not much reaction to either wrestler, but people were still making their way back from intermission. Disappointing. *1/2
Bam Bam Bigelow (mgd. by Luna Vachon) & Adam Bomb won by countout over The Quebecers. The finish was strange. Just as a nice four-way brawl was about to start on the floor, Johnny Polo, who didn't come out with either team, ran to ringside. He stood between the two teams, and got into a scuffle with Luna. He then rolled in the ring, followed by Bomb, Luna, and Bigelow. While Polo was talking to those three, the Quebecers simply stood there with the belts, looking directly at the ref as he counted them out. It was also strange to see Bomb and Bigelow play to the crowd like babyfaces, while Luna worked ringside as a heel. Good match, but the finish knocks this down a star. **
Razor Ramon pinned "The Model" Rick Martel after the "Razor's Edge." People started leaving a few minutes in, but this was actually a pretty good match. Martel, despite a low profile recently, worked really hard. In fact, this was probably the best match I've seen him wrestle in the past two years. Ramon hit the Razor's Edge after breaking out of two Boston Crab attempts. The people who stuck around were really into the match. The only negative here was that Martel has been invisible lately, so it's hard to justify putting this on last. But, looking back at the rest of the card, there weren't many options. **1/2
Notes: Diesel and Quebecers replaced Michaels and the Steiners. In all fairness to the WWF, the revised line-up was in the paper the day of the show. They also announced the changes at the beginning, but did not offer refunds. Had Michaels and the Steiners shown up, and Perfect-I.R.S. lived up to potential, this could have been an excellent show. As it was, the card was mediocre. Also, Ticketmaster tried to pull the scam by saying the cheaper tickets were "sold out." This is the second time they've tried that when I call for tickets. Nice try, guys. WWF returns Dec. 28 with Luger vs. Borga. [Phil Raetzman reporting]
TORCH TALK with Jerry Jarrett, pt. 4
HEADLINE: Jerry Jarrett says the basics are what draw fans
The following is the fourth installment of a "Torch Talk" interview with Jerry Jarrett conducted June 2, 1993 from his home in Hendersonville, Tenn. In this edition, Jarrett talks about the importance of letting wrestlers perform up to their potential rather than asking them to hold back on highspots to "preserve credibility." He also explains why he believes no matter how much wrestling changes, it is still basically the same elements that draw fans to arenas. Future editions of the Torch will feature more of this extensive interview with one of wrestling's ten more powerful people as voted in the 1992 Torch Yearbook.
Wade Keller: What is your opinion of wrestlers earning guaranteed money versus being paid based on the house'
Jerry Jarrett: We cut out guarantees years ago. They're self-defeating. You kill the guy's work ethic. Ten years ago we had a minimum guarantee of $50 or $100, you were on one of the two. What would happen is the promoter would get over in Columbus, Ms. and he would say, "I lost $800 the last time I ran this show and I paid everybody $80 and $100. The payoffs today should be $70 and $140, but I'm just gonna say $50 and $100 because I've got to recoup the $800 from the last show." So the guarantees became offsetting. That's terrible. Remember, I spent 15 years as a wrestler running up and down the roads and I'd have a hat on as a promoter for my towns and I worked for promoters in other towns.
I remember, I worked the HIC Pavilion in Hawaii and I knew I didn't have a whole lot to do with it, but when I talked to a promoter over there - Lord Blears - he said, "Jerry, we've got a minimum guarantee of $75." I said that wasn't a problem because I wanted work over there. Tojo (Yamamoto), that's where he started, so he wanted to go. So we went over and worked. They were hanging from the rafters, it was packed. I got my check and it said $75. I made a little mental note then, "If I'm ever in this, I'm not going to do that." On the other hand, we've gone to towns with Jackie Fargo and The Interns and other top names and we didn't draw. We would sit in the dressing room and talk about how embarassed we were. Then the promoter would come in and we'd tell the promoter to give us 10 dollars a piece for our gas to get back home. Then, times were different. Today, you show me a wrestler who says, "I didn't draw nothing, so don't pay me nothing."
Keller: Do you think the odds are the business will be in better shape in five years than it is today'
Jarrett: There's one thing wrong with the way the business is today, and that is a lack of new, exciting talent. If somebody would go and open up a can and get a Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting, Ultimate Warrior, Iron Sheik, Plowboy Frasier and congregate that talent that had worked every night in a territory and had the experience and knew how to make interviews and knew the difference between wrestling and drawing money, if somebody could get a crew of 12 fresh new people, that company would thrive instantly.
Keller: Nationally or regionally'
Jarrett: Either way. Instantly. There is one problem with the wrestling business today. That is you cycle and recycle all you want to, and it's still gonna shape up as being the exact same talent. Remember the TV show "All in the Family'" That show ran its course. It went from great popularity to mediocre popularity. Then all of the stars said, "I'm going to go out and have my own television show." And they all failed. Then O'Connor got "In the Heat of the Night" and was able to revive himself in a totally different character. Some of the talent that has gotten stale and old could probably go do a sitcom and do very well because they'd be in a very different environment. When you take wrestlers and repackage them from one national company to another, and their candle has burned out, it's hopeless. Even Johnny Carson got old. That was the most popular television show of all time. He got old. I hate to face the fact that I've gotten old.
Keller: How is wrestling's formula for success different than it was 20 years ago' There obviously have been changes in the way to be successful. Those who don't think so could fairly be considered out of touch.
Jarrett: The success formula for a regional basis is tremendously more difficult. I spend more time on a Memphis TV today preparing for Saturday than when I drew 18,000 dollars. We drew 18,000 dollars for seven years on average every Monday night in Memphis. I'd lay out TV in the car with my briefcase on my lap driving to Louisville on Tuesday. Today you do tremendous amounts of post-production. We tape at the matches and before I talked to you, I pulled all the film from the Mid-South Coliseum and pulled the highlights that I think will help us draw money and cut out the ones I thought would hurt us. I put together some videos and pulled Undertaker film out and repackaged it because last time he was here we were trying to sell Undertaker against Giant Gonzales and now we're trying to sell Undertaker vs. Brian Christopher. We reworked that. In the past, I didn't have to do very much to tell them that Jerry Jarrett was just about the hottest star in the country. Our TV was all they saw. If I just looked better than the rest of the guys on the TV show, I was the hottest property. Today, they can watch hours of cable wrestling, four or five hours of WWF, and that sh-- from Texas on ESPN. Then there's some guy with a talk show in this area, it's horrendous.
What you have to do is go back to the very basics. If two cars stop on the intersection and two guys get out and start fighting, all of the people will stop and tie up traffic for three miles to watch the fight. That's instinctive, so you have to remember that. We've got to have two guys and transfer that to wrestling like they stopped off the interstate to have a fight.
On a national basis, I have some theories, but I don't want to second guess WCW and Titan on the record. I have some very definite ideas on how they ought to be done. I have a relationship with the WWF, so by letter or by phone, I express my opinions and they take it for just that - free advice. I don't have any relationship with Turner so I don't express my opinions there.
I can tell you this, on a national level, there is no difference today from the heyday. There is no more competition from what they had back then. All they have to do is what they did then, and they'll experience another heyday. Everybody I know that had ownership made a million dollars from 1982 to 1985. I mean everybody. We sat down here in Tennessee and made well over a million dollars in profit during those years. New York and Crockett were in business then. So, the one thing that is different is the two majors could go around the country and pluck seasoned box office talent. Their hat trick is getting new talent today.
Keller: Is there a difference between wrestling in the ring today than in 1983 or earlier' Is today's wrestling a little faster paced and less realistic'
Jarrett: Let me tell you a story. I told you about the relationship I had with Eddie Graham. We were very close. In 1978, Eddie Graham had a plane and he called me and said, "Jerry, I want to pick you up in Nashville and I'll take you to Memphis with me." I said okay. On the way down, he said, "I wanted to get you way up here so that you'd know I wasn't telling anyone else this and I just wanted you to know it. You are killing the wrestling business." I said, "What do you mean'" He said, "All this shit you're doing in Memphis, chain matches, scaffold matches, coal miners glove matches, you've just carried it too far." I said, "Well, I'm making a lot of money, Eddie. And I don't think so. I think a good movie is a good movie. Whatever I see in this movie, the more adventure or the more action, it won't preclude me from coming back. I can tell you what. Nick Gulas and Roy Welch are absolutely up sh--'s creek if they try to get another booker to follow me. I think I can follow myself."
The reason I tell you that story is that was 1978. So, I hear the same doomsday people saying, "Holy cow, they've done everything that can be done." They haven't. The singers change, but the song don't. Here in country music we have a saying that the song sells, as in, it's not the singer of the song, the song sells. I can't carry a tune in the shower, and I don't know what your musical talents are, but if you had sung "Achy Breaky Heart," you'd have been a hit. In the wrestling business, it's the song that sells, not the singer.
Keller: What about wrestlers who are doing things that just weren't done 10 or 20 years ago, such as Jushin Liger or Cactus Jack' The argument there is if the style isn't credible, people won't stop their cars on the freeway to watch a fake fight. Where do you find the balance between credibility and outrageousness'
Jarrett: I sat in on a National Wrestling Alliance meeting as a kid, literally a kid, and heard this same thing discussed with Argentina Rocca. They said, "He's killing the business with all of that aerial shit." I'm telling you, the wrestling business doesn't change. Everything is relative to its day and Argentina Rocca set the wrestling world on its ear because he was such an aerial artist.
Keller: A lot of veterans of this business would disagree with your philosophy: Let the wrestlers do what they're capable of doing.
Jarrett: Sure, hell, you think we need to still go back and have a 16 foot pole vault record' I listen to ESPN and I get a kick out of them arguing about whether Muhammed Ali could beat Joe Louis. Well, Joe Louis told me riding to a car in Memphis to referee our matches, me being a stupid mark asking, "Who would've won that fight, Joe'" He told me, "In track, every year records are broken. In baseball, every year, records are broken. Any sport that is able to be measured, every year the athletes are better. Muhammed Ali would have knocked me out in the first round. You'll get the old-timers who will argue you blue in the face, but, Jerry, every year the athletes are better than the previous year."
When you think about that - "Anytime there is a sport that can be measured" - you can put a tape measure to the javelin and the discus, you can put a stopwatch to the runner, everything that can be measured the athletes are better today than they've ever been. So why do we want to ground the wrestlers and say, "That's too many dropkicks'" (laughs)
Keller: Many have argued to the contrary, saying if you do too many dropkicks, too much off the top rope, if you take too many outrageous bumps, then pretty soon the realism or the fans' ability to suspend disbelief disappears.
Jarrett: Ah, now you're getting into technique. The difference between me and some other booker is I tell the guy, "If you can do a triple somersault and land on that guy, great." The key concern is then doing moves in a way that makes sense to all kinds of fans, where they don't question the authenticity, including the aftermath of the move. If the triple somersault actually hurts the wrestler more than a single somersault - if that's what appears to be the case - then it doesn't hurt credibility to execute moves like that.
I really care about the business. I want my children to continue in the business. Everybody who will listen to me, I try to tell them what I think we ought to be doing. All of a sudden I look around and I see myself as the senior statesman in the business. Isn't that a shame' I had the good fortune to have as my peers, Jim Crockett Sr., Vince McMahon Sr., Sam Mushnick, Mike LaBell, Roy Shires, Don Owens, Leroy McGuirk. I remember when Bill Watts was just getting started.
I've seen a lot of transformation and I don't think it's necessarily bad. I think one of the two companies some day will say they've got to set up five regional territories. I think they'll be forced to do that.
Keller: Do you think WCW has a chance to improve its financial standing by becoming strictly a television promotion and eliminating all house shows'
Jarrett: It won't work. The wrestling business is a unique business. Kids who watch cartoons, for instance, know it's fantasy. Kids and adults watch wrestling and because we play in the arenas, they can see these little figures come out of their TV sets and see that they're real. When you can't do that, it goes back into the realm of fantasy.
Keller: Do you think if people aren't attending arena events, just the knowledge that arena events are taking place is important to television ratings'
Jarrett: I don't believe the ratings, personally. I live by them, like everybody else because it's the Bible of television, but remember, Nielson lives off of subscribers and gets six to eight thousand dollars a month. If we got a report back that said no one was watching, do you think we would have paid them next month and the month after' I have charted the ratings and during the February sweeps after our best show rating-wise on television, we drew the worst house the following Monday night. After our worst rated TV show, we had the best house at the Coliseum. I'm talking about a 100 percent increase in the gate.
Keller: Was the distinctive, noticeable difference in the line-up or quality of angles that would account for that'
Jarrett: No, you know, we have the same crew. When we drew the least money, we had the best ratings. That's not to say that's impossible, but I'm talking about charting this for 20 years. I find no correlation between ratings and what we draw at the house. That leaves me to believe there should be a correlation and therefore possibly the Nielson ratings are wrong. It's a big deep dark secret how they come up with the numbers. They won't tell anybody. I just know this, I believe a test pattern would get a 1.2 rating.
CARLIE GILL COLUMN
HEADLINE: Lucha Libre’s future in the United States
For years, fans of Lucha Libre have clamored for more coverage of this style of wrestling. There are several reasons for the scant coverage, the biggest likely being that because Lucha fans were a small group among readers and because the Mexico groups did not promote shows in the U.S., the belief was there just wasn’t enough reader interest to warrant featuring Lucha promotions to a great extent.
That was before Aug. 28 when 17,000 people packed the L.A. Sports arena for Antonio Pena’s AAA in conjunction with Ron Skoler’s IWC. A reported 8,000 other people were turned away at the door.
That’s one surefire way to get people to stand up and take notice.
I freely admit to being a novice when it comes to Lucha Libre. I had heard almost nothing but negative things about the style, so it was with a little trepidation that I sat down to watch my first two Lucha tapes. Aside from being confounded by several of the gimmicks (cross dressers'!), overall I found myself finally understanding the frustration of die hard fans of Lucha Libre.
It isn’t for everyone but it certainly shouldn’t be written off to the extent it has been. With the AAA promotion, every TV show is produced on the level of the U.S. payperviews with fireworks, magnificent entrances, and matches of high quality. The arenas are occasionally a little dark but the overall visual quality of the show is far ahead of much of WCW’s television. And who can not get into the heel announcer going crazy over a “rudo” win by enthusiastically screaming “La Rudo, rudo, ruuuuudooooo!”
Some believe the next wrestling promotion to capture the interest of fans will be the one that manages to be completely different from anything seen before. Lucha fits that mold.
To understand what Lucha Libre is, it is perhaps helpful to realize what it is not. If you contrast it with the predominant style of wrestling in Japan, the Lucha style is noticeably “softer.” There won’t be any Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi style battles to the death. And although highspots are one of the staples of Lucha Libre, the wrestlers tend to land easier, sometimes barely touching their opponent. With that in mind, it is too easy to write it off as ballet or gymnastics. To take that stance is to not only disrespect a very talented group of workers, but also hold Lucha to standards far above U.S. wrestling where punches miss by six inches and “devastating” clotheslines barely make contact.
Kurt Brown, editor of the former Viva La Lucha newsletter and an experienced Lucha wrestler believes the criticism is more based on a lack of cultural understanding than an outright dislike for Lucha Libre. He defends the style by pointing out how much more variety fans are likely to see from a Lucha style match. “A big difference is that when I was working the U.S. style, you’d only learn one way to get out of an armlock, but in Lucha Libre you have five, six, or seven ways to get out of the same hold and that adds a lot of variety and excitement for the audience.”
Besides the tremendous variety of holds and highspots Lucha Libre has, another characteristic is the way it presents matches. “I once saw a magazine that described Lucha as the personification of good vs. the personification of evil,” Brown says. “It’s a style where the Rudo is representing a type of wrestling, the rough style, and his style clashes with technicos who uphold the scientific style. It really is very fascinating to watch because since there are rarely any interviews, it’s as if they are expressing themselves through the match. The emphasis isn’t really on competition as much as it is on being a morality play.”
Lucha is famous for hair vs. hair, mask vs. mask, or hair vs. mask matches. It is a great dishonor to lose one of these matches (although there is always a good payday for the person) because masks are so revered in Mexico and because losing one’s hair, particularly when your opponent only shaves threefourths of it and leaves you looking like a mess, is just humiliating anyway. Just like the cage match was once considered the ultimate way to settle a feud in the United States, a specialty match involving one’s hair or mask is the way to settle an ongoing morality play in Mexico.
At the Aug. 28 AAA/IWC show in Los Angeles, the heat and devotion shown by the primarily Hispanic audience to their heroes was stunning to many in attendance. When Perro Aguayo, a legend and top babyface, came out to highfive fans there was a stampede to reach out and touch him. “We were in the second row and people were literally crawling all over us,” Brown says. “They reacted to Perro like a true superstar. It was kind of like a Bruce Springsteen concert.”
With everything Lucha has going for it right now, can they really keep up their momentum and take their place as the “wrestling of the ’90s'”
Brown is hedging his bets. “They’ll mainly rely on Hispanic areas,” he says. “I don’t believe they’ll branch out nationally. But Ron Skoler and his associates just did a tremendous job promoting. He really knows what he’s doing. There were posters all over, he had spots on Spanish radio stations, an ad in the main Hispanic newspaper and even got on one of the big news shows. If the promoting stays strong and the cards are up to standards, I could see the style being successful for a very long time.”
As the Hispanicspeaking population in the States continues to grow, Lucha Libre is the only “sport” they can call their own. Combine that with solid promoting, and Lucha Libre is sure to be an expanding force in the United States.
(Carlie Gill of Anchorage, Ak. has contributed a monthly column to Pro Wrestling Torch since December 1992.)
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
BUSINESS-WISE PROMOTERS WANTED
Bruce Mitchell's column in Torch #246 had a lot of truth for promoters and wrestlers to think about.
I would like to add one point that doesn't seem to be brought up enough. Promoters need to learn how to promote and market their shows. Promoters in most cases seem to be simply matchmakers or wanna-be bookers. The world has changed since the 1950s when a poster in 20 locations could be called marketing.
There is a lot of competition for the entertainment buck and those who can't market lose. That is one reason why most wrestling shows fail.
For example, I purchased advance tickets to both of Dennis Coraluzzo's shows this year in the Twin Cities. Both shows were very good and I thought Coraluzzo seemed to be a nice man. But that doesn't change what I thought of his marketing.
For the first show, Coraluzzo made a small attempt to mass market with newspaper ads that I'm sure cost him $200 to $400. For the second, I don't think he made much attempt to mass market as I had a heck of a time finding out how to buy advance tickets.
The only way I really knew about the show was through the Torch and Pro Wrestling Focus on KFAN. If he hoped to draw 1,000 people (a number the show easily could have drawn), he never had a chance.
Marketing doesn't always cost thousands of dollars.
After the first show, I should have been put on a mailing list. If I was willing to pay $30 for two advance tickets, it would be worth 29 cents to see if I would come to another show. That's one way to keep your market while trying to build new customers.
Many small papers frequently trade tickets for ads. That is how the Globetrotters, circuses, and ice shows receive so much advertising. Wrestling in the Twin Cities never does that to my knowledge. Even the WWF passes up that opportunity.
Statement stuffers are often available at some companies free of charge if you provide the insert and possibly a few tickets. To my knowledge, this is seldom done. I have never seen anyone use bag stuffers at area supermarkets for wrestling shows either.
And don't forget posters, radio appearances, pre-autograph parties, and local television appearances. Obviously, marketing takes work. However, if making money in wrestling was as easy as putting up 20 posters and renting a ring, everybody would do it.
The programs, which sell for $1-$2 seldom tell why they are wrestling, helping bridge or build a storyline for non-television promotions. Wrestling in the United States is built on storylines. If promoters want that to change, they better do it slowly.
Very seldom do wrestlers work with the promoter to help publicize the event. That makes no sense. Wrestlers need to reach out to bring customers to the event and not just a few buddies who work out at the gym.
Then it makes little sense in not having return dates planned or ways happy fans can find out more details on upcoming shows. The average fan is not going to subscribe to the Torch or Observer, but will still buy tickets to the shows.
Promoters need to learn from mistakes of others and simply not duplicate from the past.
Mitchell basically pointed out that promoters don't have business plans and an idea for generating more revenue than expenses. Until we get some business-wise promoters in wrestling, there will never be a resurgence.
Your recent interview series with Jim Cornette was one of the most interesting things I've ever read in the Torch. This is the reason I get the Torch. Great behind the scenes stuff.
By the way, why does WCW have this amateur challenge video thing' Don't they have enough amateur wrestlers like Charlie Norris, Big Sky, Ice Train, Harlem Heat, Yoshi Kwan, Thunder and Lightning, etc.'
The new Torch looks great and I like the format for your news pages. Recent interviews have been super, too.
AAA IN THE UNITED STATES
The AAA event in L.A. was a surprise and a good sign. It's nice to see that wrestling can still draw. I would disagree with Ron Skoler's comments saying Arn Anderson cannot hold anyone's interest. If Anderson is wrestling at his best, I don't think any of the Lucha guys could convincingly beat him. All that flying and acrobatics looks exciting, but wouldn't look credible against an "intelligent American-style wrestler." But, since that style is in decline and most fans don't have anything good to compare Lucha to, maybe we might soon be saying "Viva la Lucha."
Also, I hope the NWA situation turns out well, especially in light of the Heyman (Crockett) WWN. They should start out slow, with a plan to be nationwide, then worldwide, over a three-to-five year period.
Finally, thanks to Chris Zavisa my Japanese tape viewing is a lot more interesting. Zavisa's column is the most interesting and informative source for Japan wrestling insight anywhere. Japan wrestling, especially All Japan and All Japan Women, is the most interesting. New Japan is better than the WWF and WCW, but isn't enough to keep my interest. The wrestlers in All Japan are much better than any other men's group, namely Kobashi, Akiyama, and Kawada.
Michael F. West
SUMMERSLAM FINISH NOVEL
WCW was crucified for its TV tapings in Orlando, Fla. that revealed title changes months ahead of time, yet when Vince McMahon does something that was against what seemed obviously predetermined - Lex Luger winning the WWF Title - he is criticized. Did I miss something' What gives'
What McMahon did with Lex Luger in my opinion was brilliant. Everyone knew Luger was going to win the belt. Wrong! What a novel concept: A finish to a match that surprised people. McMahon deserves credit for being different.
KELLER’S BBL EDITORIAL
HEADLINE: The story of wrestling's hottest free agent
Sabu doesn't think he's big enough to be a long-term main event wrestler. He does think he's good enough to draw money for a promotion.
And he knows he's worth a return phone call.
Sabu, 29, received a tryout with WCW this summer. He wrestled his friend from Michigan, Max Anthony, at WCW's training center. Harley Race and Grizzly Smith looked on.
"I wanted to work for FMW half of the time and WCW the other half," Sabu says. "Grizzly Smith told me that would be fine. He told me not to lose my Japanese connection. He said WCW would work around my schedule, he was that impressed with me. Harley said, ‘You won't get a higher recommendation than from Grizzly and me. You're as good as in.'"
Sabu didn't hear back from them for weeks. Finally, a couple months later he called WCW and Grizzly told him Dusty Rhodes hadn't gotten around to calling him.
"I'm hurt," Sabu says. "I'm pissed off. Before, I would have done anything for them. Now, I wouldn't want to adjust my style or change my name. If I didn't have a job in Japan, I would be willing to change, but now I don't have to. And I don't want to."
Sabu is considered the hottest free agent by a lot of followers of wrestling. He is in demand in Japan (New Japan has offered him a job) and in the States from independent promoters in the Midwest and East. Yet, despite the deep respect everybody who has crossed Sabu's path seems to have for him, Sabu is not being chased by the big two promotions.
Sabu says if he gained 25 pounds, with his talent, he believes he could be a main eventer. "I don't want to do no juice (steroids), though," he says. "People tell me my size doesn't matter because of my gimmick, but it does matter."
Sabu says he doesn't understand how people can take steroids with all of the health risks associated with the drug. I guess it's like people not understanding how Sabu can wrestle barbed wire matches, rip apart his own skin, and exchange blood with other wrestlers in FMW.
Sabu says Lightning ("1–2–3") Kid getting hired by the WWF was a good sign for him. "It gave me hope," he says. "And the big two testing for steroids gives me hope, too. When I wasn't getting any work in wrestling for five years, my family told me I wasn't going to make it. They were behind me, but tried to let me down easy because all they saw on TV were steroid guys on the WWF television."
Sabu says it is especially frustrating not getting offers from the big two because of the mix of talent currently being hired, especially by WCW.
"I used to watch the national promotions and say some day I would be as good as those wrestlers," Sabu says. "Today, I believe I'm as good as they are yet I'm not getting the chance."
Sabu says he wants to move on from FMW because FMW is considered a "brawl and bleed" style of wrestling. "It's an easy style to wrestle because if you get lost during your match, you just grab a chair," he says. "It's hard only on your elbows and forehead."
Sabu would like to wrestle for New Japan, but he won't accept New Japan's offer (which would pay him twice as much as FMW pays him now) until FMW promoter Atsushi Onita is through with him. "I'm loyal because he gave me my first break, but I would like to wrestle New Japan style," he says. "I want to wrestle Liger and those guys. I won't be considered on their level until I wrestle them."
Sabu says he is very loyal to the wrestling business in this country and wants to see it succeed. He says some day, he sees himself in a front–office position in wrestling in this country. In FMW, he helps train the younger wrestlers.
"They tell me to give advice to all of the Americans," Sabu says. "And I do. At the beginning, they snickered at me. Now, they listen. Even if they think it's wrong, they'll try it because I'm saying it. It's the same with the Sheik. If he asks me to try something, I'll try it even if I don't like it because I respect him."
Some wrestlers in this country, if not most, are either indifferent to wrestlers around them or do what they can to hinder the progress of fellow wrestlers, fearing they will lose their spot in the promotion if somebody else gets noticed. Sabu sees things differently.
"I want to help wrestling thrive in this country," he says. "My heart is 100 percent into the wrestling business. If the wrestlers I work with are good, I can have a better match. If other wrestlers have good matches, it makes the promotion I work for look better."
Sabu says his loyalty in this country currently lies with the World Wrestling Network. Friday and Saturday (Oct. 1, 2), Sabu wrestled on the ECW/WWN tapings. He hopes WWN takes off so he can be in on the ground floor.
"I have faith in what Paul E.'s doing," Sabu says. "Paul tells me I can work Japan and he will work around my schedule. That's great. Right now, I don't know if I would take an offer from either the WWF or WCW. I'm loyal to FMW and WWN right now."
Sabu's loyalty to wrestling goes beyond dedicating himself to having good matches and improving. Sabu has no other hobbies. "There's nothing else between me, my mom (whom he lives with and cares for due to her diabetes), my dog, and wrestling," he says. "That's it. I'm not a sissy. It just makes me more focused." He keeps a notepad near his bed and he takes notes when he watches wrestling tapes. If he's not wrestling or watching tapes, he says he's reading about wrestling, talking on the phone about wrestling, or practicing new moves on the trampoline in his back yard.
He grew up idolizing his uncle, The Sheik. He spent the last ten years learning from him. And until a few years ago, Sheik would not acknowledge Sabu as his nephew. Sabu says one of the most important moments of his life took place on his last plane trip home from Japan.
"We weren't talking or anything," Sabu says. "And Sheik put his hand behind my head and said, ‘You know I'm proud of you, don't you'' I said, ‘Really'' He said, ‘Yeah.' I never thought I'd see the day he'd put me on his level. He has, so now I know I'm ready for the big time."
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
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He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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