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[S] King's Survivor Atlantis: The Final Reckoning

Right after Winners at War, we are kicking off the endgame with our last newbie season, which takes place in Greece, just like the first season. 18 new castaways will face off, and there will be a returning twist, the Edge of Extinction, but this time, there will be no returnees. It will be just 18 castaways forced to battle the elements and each other, with minimal twists other than the EOE, and the fire making challenge. Without further ado, we will see who will be competing on this season!
Fotia (Greek for Fire) Tribe:
Ava Vasquez, 59, Kindergarten Teacher, u/TDSwaggyBoy
Mother of two, grandmother of seven, Ava is a very kind individual. She made it her goal to help her children in any way, shape or form she could, wanting to give those she loves the best life possible. Even to the point of prioritizing their well being over her own. She always wanted to make a difference, and eventually became a kindergarten teacher in order to help make the years of said toddlers the best she could. Ava still remembers her kindergarten teacher, a kind and warm individual, and she hopes to be seen the same way as her.
Darleen Rojas, 38, Retail Manager, u/Ripecornball60
Darleen was the popular girl in school when she was young. She was a pageant queen, and planned to be a model when she was older. She got through the rigorous casting process to become a model, but sadly fell short at the final call, where she found out she had breast cancer. Going through Chemotherapy was a life changing experience. She lost her hair, her passion, and her job opportunity. She worked at a Retail store for 3 years, until she had a flirt with the manager. He promised her the store in exchange for her "assets". She accepted the offer, and Darleen became the store manager. The previous manager and her dated for 3 more months, until the worst happened. She found him cheating on her. This caused her to break up with him, and kick him out of working for her. Trying to fill his hole in her heart, Darleen used an abandoned break room in her store, and transformed it into a nightclub club she calls the "Hidey Hole". There, she has 1 night stands with women and men alike. She is out here due to one of her "clients" saying someone as manipulative as her could win.
Ellie Ruchkin, 24, Bowling Alley Worker, u/Jckboy100
Ellie is a super nice girl, to almost everyone... however, if you do anything to cross her, she won't forget it. Growing up as an only child made her learn how to entertain herself, and learn how to take care of herself when her parents weren't around. She wants to play this game to see if she has what it takes to win the title and check that comes along with it.
Erik LeFort, 34, Writer, u/Gemini_B
Erik grew up in a typical family. At a fairly young age he realized he was gay, but was luck that his family supported him. That, alongside with supportive friends helping him overcome the few bullies he faced, he wants to be a beacon of hope for gay people everywhere and want's to show what a loving family can do. Despite his want to help others though, he's not afraid to play dirty if it get's him further in the game.
Ethan "EJ" James, 20, College Student, u/JTsidol
Ethan was always struggling In life, that never allowed him to do anything, his dad was extremely angry at him, after his mother died at birth, blaming the death on him, when he was 7 he began abusing him, until at 17 he ran away, now he‘s studying hard to finish college, and he hopes he can get the money to help him study and have a better life.
Kim Juri, 35, Poker Dealer, u/Gemini_B
Kim Juri grew up with a fairly poor family and at a young age secretly turned to gambling to support her family. She got very good and became a poker dealer at a casino. She wants to destroy this game because she knows how to lie, cheat and play dirty. She's here to win, and nothing will stop her.
Krista Ayers, 34, Unemployed, u/breadon17
Krista is a single mom of four, so life isn't very easy for her. She can't find a job and she has an abusive boyfriend who is trying to take everything she knows and loves. She applied for Survivor so that she could get the money she needs to survive and feed her kids.
Kyle Simmonds, 26, Poker Player, u/asiansurvivorfan
Kyle was raised in a very divided home with his parents constantly fighting, and his Dad being an alcoholic. This caused him to start taking part in things he shouldn’t be taking part in like gangs, drug, theft, etc. When he was 20, everything changed for him when his friend signed him up for a local poker tournament. He was reluctant at first, but decided to give it a shot. He surprised everyone including himself at that tournament, as he completely dominated and won. This really gave him the boost he needed in life as he proceeded to continue his success by winning more tournaments and at a higher level too. He plans on handling the game like a poker match and wants to bring all his cards to the table.
Vaso Dragovic, 45, Journalist/Former Yugoslav Soldier, u/Twig7665
Vaso was born in Serbia, which was in the once prosperous country of Yugoslavia in the mid 1970s. He lived a normal life up until his teen years, where he watched the country he once knew as a dream turn into a nightmare. The country became a war-torn hellscape, and he was forced to join the military at the young age of 16. He witnessed countless atrocities, and to escape the war, he had to smuggle himself onto a boat bound for the United States in 1996. With no food, no money, and no shelter, he joined a gang to get himself what he needed to survive. After over a year of selling drugs and being in a gang, he left it and went to go live in a rehab facility until he was was 29, in 2004. He then began work to try and fit back into society. He now works as a journalist for a news company. He signed up for the show to see if he has the skills to win it.
Pouli (Greek for Bird) Tribe:
Alfred "Void" Vallentino, 28, Magician, u/swoldow
Alfred grew up on the streets of Las Vegas in poverty, with both of his parents as struggling actors. To make a few extra dimes, he started to teach himself basic magic to perform on the streets and sometimes skipped school to make more money. He was extremely bullied at school for his passion and lack of money, which led him to be socially isolated from everyone else. He grew more attached to his magic, as he kept working harder and harder until a famous magician with a Vegas show caught wind of his act, and let Alfred open for him. Since then, Alfred has rose to the top of the food chain, and began to experiment with his suspenseful acts to make the audience feel all sorts of emotion.
Katrina MacQuoid, 58, Prosthodontist, u/Gemini_B
Katrina’s parents we’re performers in Kentucky. They lived and breathed theater and expected their daughter to be the same. Though Katrina loved being the center of attention, and still does, she never loved the stage the way her parents did. Her parents wanted her to continue to pursue something arts related, and she became an advertising adjective, but never felt satisfied. When she learned that Kentucky was looking for jobs in the dental field, she felt it would be a perfect field to enter. She always found teeth interesting, I mean, are they bones? But they fall out? So weird. She returned to school at age 35 and became a Prosthodontist at age 43. She’s worked as a Prosthodontist since then and (While not at the level of Peter) has a firm understanding of the most important hole in the human body, the mouth. While she’s liked by many people because of her fun personality, she has trouble forming 1 on 1 bonds and has never found the special one. As a child she often got in trouble for anger issues with her parents, so she began to hold in her anger and let it out in huge, uncontrollable fits when her parents weren't around. This holding in of anger until she can’t contain it is a habit she continues to have, blaming her rages on “Hurricane Katrina” as a sort of justification of her actions. She’s never left Kentucky and while she’s very book smart, she can often be very ignorant on other subjects.
Lila Herring, 21, Secretary, u/AngolanDesert
Lila is a very competitive spirit. She always wants to challenge herself and see how far can she can make it. When she saw that survivor auditions were going out, she knew she could win and provide for her poor family.
Lukas Reed, 24, College Student, u/Jck100
Lukas Reed is a shy, humble young man. Coming from a devastating childhood with the loss of his young sister, him and his dad suffered hard. This shaped him into the man he is today, coasting through college, now he wanted something to step out of his comfort zone and try out this highly social game, and see how he can do.
Luther Dane, 32, Fisherman, u/Twig7665
No one knows much about Luther, due to his tendency to keep everything he knows a secret, and it causes people to see him as a strange loner, a title he does not mind. He was in a car accident in his teen years that killed everyone in the car but him, and he began to think of himself as an untouchable person, someone who could survive almost anything. This caused him to grow reckless when he's not fishing, and made several poor choices in his twenties, including messing with police, which caused him to be sent to jail for several months for interfering with a cop's duty. Now out of prison, he continues to be reckless, but stayed away from police this time. Will his reckless personality help or hinder his journey on Survivor? Only time will tell.
Madyson "Maddie" Anderson, 25, Nurse, u/JTsidol
She’s lived a normal life, she wants some fun, she’s single, hoping that she can get a showmance to lower her target, then strike at the right time.
Marshall Keaton, 28, Marine Biologist, u/TDSwaggyBoy
Marshall was born to a loving family of five, being the oldest of three kids. His father, Dominic, always expected Marshall to follow in the family's footsteps and become a lawyer, just like his old pops. At a young age, Marshall never seemed to agree with his father's plan - being a lawyer is so boring, bro! He went through the entire process, getting accepted to law school, only to then drop out.
Marshall and his father got into a massive argument about it, and Marshall ended up leaving his home afterwards. They are still not on speaking terms.
Marshall then studied to become a marine biologist, as he always found sea creatures to be fascinating.
Now with a girlfriend of 2 years, Marshall hopes to win the money for the both of them. He's got this, yo!
Nolan "NK" Kristoffson, 19, Drummer, u/Twig7665
Nolan was born the younger of twins to a large, fairly poor farming family. He was the youngest, and he resented most of his family. He saw his twin Matt as the antithesis of himself, and while he was able to go to college because of a football scholarship, Nolan had to drop out and help out at the farm. He finally had enough at the age of 18, and told his parents about him wanting to become a drummer, and his parents kicked him out, so he lived at his friend's house for the past year. They were able to get him a drumkit, and they formed a garage band. Inspired by his hard life being constantly outshined by his brother, he wrote angry, edgy lyrics, and they started performing gigs. He shortened his name to just his initials, and now drums for a living. He is playing King's Survivor to finally outshine his perfect twin brother.
Ximena Verez, 22, Fencer, u/asiansurvivorfan
Ximena grew up poor and therefore had to start earning money at an early age by delivering stock. On one of her trips, she was kidnapped and abducted by a group of men that worked for a wanted druglord and rapist. She along with her 3 fellow captives were beaten, abused, and raped for 4 years missing and undetected. After years of mistreatment, Ximena and the other captives were finally found and released. Although it was reliving to be free again, she was deeply traumatized by everything her captor did to her and had an extremely tough time trying to adapt to the real world again. She decided to seek help and was sent to a rehab facility where she got help relieve her trauma. One of the things she picked up was the martial arts which eventually developed into an interest in fencing. Despite it being a male dominated sport, Ximena was adamant on showing young girls they can accomplish anything no matter the hardships they’ve gone through. After her time in rehab, she managed to recover and now spends her time competing in championships all around the world. She came to be a voice for domestic abuse victims.
Link to Season
Episode 1: The eighteen new contestants are shipped into Greece, where they learn of the return of the Edge of Extinction, from the season of the same name. They are then split into their two tribes: the green Fotia tribe, which means "Fire" in Greek, and the orange Pouli tribe, which means "Bird". Ava, Darleen, Ellie, Erik, EJ, Kim, Krista, Kyle, and Vaso draw green buffs, and Void, Katrina, Lila, Lukas, Luther, Maddie, Marshall, NK, and Ximena's buffs are orange. They are then instructed to get as much stuff off the boat as they can, and Krista finds the advantage menu, which can give the user either a reward steal, an extra vote, or an idol. At Fotia, EJ tries to be a mafioso, so he bonds with Ava, and forms an alliance with Darleen and Kim. At Pouli, NK and Void bond very well over being outcasts, and they pull in Lila, Luther, Maddie, Marshall, and Ximena to form "The Outcast Alliance". The Fotia tribe wins the first immunity challenge of the season, forcing the Pouli tribe to vote someone off. Wanting to cut off the weak links as quickly as possible, NK suggests to get rid of Katrina, but Ximena gets the idea to split the votes in case one of them had the idol, and Void individually talks to both Katrina and Lukas to get them to vote each other, and also try to get one of them to play their idol, but neither of them have the idol, so at tribal council, Katrina becomes the first person sent to the Edge in a 5-4 vote.
Episode 2: Lukas tries to figure out who voted for him, so he tries to ask around his tribe, but does not get an answer and likely only angers his tribe. Void finds the hidden immunity idol so Lukas wouldn't, and he shows it to Maddie to make sure she's loyal to him. At Fotia, Ava and Ellie get into a bit of an argument, and EJ tries to get Ellie onto his side by talking to her. Vaso tries doing the same thing with Ava. Ava and Darleen form an alliance, as Darleen wanted to get her own numbers so she could topple EJ sooner rather than later. Once again, the Fotia tribe wins immunity, and the whole Pouli tribe is ready to vote out Lukas, since he's the only outsider and he has already proven himself to want to play way too hard, so Lukas is voted out 7-1.
Episode 3: After Lukas' vote out, the Outcasts must turn on one another, and the lowest in the pecking order was Maddie. At Fotia, people start to see Krista as an easy target, so both Erik and Ellie form fake alliances with her. Kim also leaves her alliance with Darleen and EJ after having a fight with the latter. Vaso, not trusting anyone, looks for and finds the idol. Pouli wins their first challenge of the season, winning the reward, but their winning streak is cut short before it even began, as the Fotia tribe wins immunity for the third time in a row. Maddie tries to manipulate Marshall into flipping from his side, to hopefully bring a few others with him, but Marshall stays loyal to the majority. Maddie becomes the third person voted out in a 6-1 vote, getting sent to the Edge.
Episode 4: When the tribes meet up again, a tribe swap is announced, and the purple Telikos tribe, which means "final" in Greek, is introduced. The Fotia tribe consists of four former Fotias- Ava, Ellie, Erik, and Kyle, and one Pouli- Marshall. On Pouli is three Fotias- EJ, Krista, and Vaso, and two Poulis- Lila and Luther. Finally, on Telikos is two Fotias- Darleen and Kim, and three Poulis- Void, NK, and Ximena. At Fotia, both Ellie and Kyle bond, and the two of them decide to form an alliance and pull in Erik. At Pouli, Krista makes it clear to Lila that she's going to flip, given how EJ had been controlling the Fotia tribe since the start of the game. This causes Lila to see Krista as a bit of a loose cannon, so she keeps an eye on her. At Telikos, Darleen finds the idol, and she keeps down about it, knowing that she's in the minority. NK impresses his team with his leadership, and he also bonds with Ximena. Pouli loses the immunity challenge again, which lowers morale significantly for them. When they get back to camp, Vaso decides on a whim to flip from his old alliance, seeing as he's not gonna vote in the majority if he doesn't. The new target is the mafioso himself, EJ. He tries talking to each of the tribe members individually to try and get them to vote Lila out, who has kind of became the punching bag of the season, but it doesn't succeed, and EJ becomes the fourth person voted out in a 4-1 vote.
Episode 5: Knowing that they are unified, the Pouli tribe are at peace-for now. At the Edge, Lukas finds a way to practice for the Edge challenge, which he finds very useful. Maddie also finds an extra vote that she could give to someone, but they won't be able to use it because reasons. At Telikos, Void and Kim bond over being from Vegas, and a new alliance is formed, with Darleen and Ximena, leaving NK on the outs of the tribe. At Fotia, Erik and Kyle bond strongly, and Ellie tries to get Marshall on her side to take out Ava if they were to lose, since she was the weakest in the tribe. Pouli loses the reward challenge, but Fotia loses the immunity challenge for the first time in the season. Marshall becomes torn between going with the majority and putting himself on the bottom or voting against the majority and still being on the bottom. Ultimately, he decides to go with the majority, thinking Ava didn't have the idol, which is true, she didn't. She becomes the fifth person voted out in a 4-1 vote. Back at camp, Ellie and Erik solidify their alliance by forming a final two deal. They think that since the last season they saw before they left was Blood Vs Water 3, which had a final two. On the Edge, Katrina finds an advantage to penalize who she thinks has the best chance at returning to the game. At Pouli, Vaso and Krista decide they need to stick together because they two Poulis were gonna get them one after the other if they didn't stick together. Lila becomes seen as an even bigger threat than she used to be, and Krista and Vaso try to pull Luther aside to try to convince him to flip on his alliance. He refuses to in secret. Fotia continues their losing streak by losing the reward challenge, but since the host announced that two tribes will be going to tribal council in a joint tribal council, Fotia fights tooth and nail to win the challenge, and they are able to succeed. The whole Telikos tribe decides that Krista is too much of a loose cannon to make it to the merge. Vaso and Krista target Lila, and Luther and Lila target Krista for being weaker than Vaso, as they don't know when the merge will occur. At tribal council, Krista is blindsided 7-2 and is sent to the edge.
Episode 6: The merge is announced. The 12 remaining contestants watch the first six castaways to be voted out compete in a challenge to return to the game, which Maddie wins despite being penalized by Katrina. Krista then raises her flag to leave the game, leaving the game first. The people who formed the Thymamai tribe, which means "remember" in Greek, are Void, Darleen, Ellie, Erik, Kim, Kyle, Lila, Luther, Maddie, Marshall, NK, Vaso, and Ximena. Luther decides to go rogue from his six person alliance, leaving them in a severe minority. Maddie tries to get a good relationship with Marshall again, and it works, but it causes most of the tribe to turn on her again. Lila finds the merge tribe idol, and like many before her, she keeps quiet because she does not want to attract more attention. Erik wins the immunity challenge, and when talking to others about the vote, he finds most people are content with just sending Maddie right back to the Edge. Maddie tries to target Kim, but does not succeed as she is voted out 12-1 and is sent back to the Edge.
Episode 7: After Maddie's blindside, cracks begin to form in the final twelve. While Erik tries to remain humble after his immunity win, which he succeeds in doing, soon people start to throw out names like there's no tomorrow. NK throws out Kim's name, Ximena throws out Kyle's, Darleen does the same with NK, and Kyle throws Marshall under the bus. At the first post-merge reward challenge of the season, a group of Void, Erik, Kim, Luther, Marshall, and Ximena win, and they get Chinese takeout. Darleen wins immunity, saving her from going to the edge for one more vote. The two biggest threats at the moment for the people still in the game were Kim and Kyle, because most people believed there was some sort of poker alliance going on between the two. As it turns out, there was a sort of alliance going on there, so the ten people who weren't in it decided to split the votes between Kyle and Kim, with seven votes on Kyle, who was much more physically strong than Kim, and three votes on Kim. Kim figures out this plan, and tells Kyle to play his idol if he has one, which he does not. Kyle votes for Marshall, and Kim votes for NK, leading to Kyle getting voted out 7-3-1-1. He chooses to stick around at the Edge.
Episode 8:Erik and Ellie get into a fight for whatever reason, and their alliance becomes no more. Ximena and Vaso both decide to help out with the tribe, causing their standing within the tribe to get better. Darleen tries making her relationship closer with Luther, wanting to have a good social game so she doesn't end up as a goat. Erik wins immunity for a second time, cementing his status as a challenge threat (which is really odd, since his challenge stats are on the lower side). People finally begin to catch on to how physically strong Vaso is, so a group of four, led by Void, consisting of him, Darleen, Kim, and Ximena, while another group of four, Vaso, Erik, Ellie, and Luther, vote for Lila, seeing her as an easy target. The rest, deciding that Kim would be better off on the Edge, vote for her. Both Vaso and Lila play their idols, and Kim is the ninth person sent packing in a 3-0-0 vote.
Episode 9: After Kim's vote out, Void, Ximena, and Darleen strengthen their trio to try and have a better shot at making it to the end. Void and Darleen also form a new alliance with Ellie, Erik, and Luther to give themselves the majority of the tribe. Marshall and NK start to form a bromance, and Darleen wins immunity again. Erik and his alliance plot to get rid of Lila, due to her status as an all-around threat and the fact that she could easily win with her story in the game. Void also tries unsuccessfully to get Vaso on board, he instead gets into a fight with Ximena and really hurts his standing in the tribe, causing him to gain enemies in Ximena, Lila, Marshall, and NK. He is saved when the majority, thinking that Lila happened to be the bigger threat, vote her out instead in a 5-4-1 vote. Back at camp, Darleen bonds with Ximena, and it causes Ximena to make the reckless decision to flip from her alliance and try to join Void and Darleen's. Still, she had a dislike for Luther that she could not shake. When Vaso wins immunity, she becomes the main target. Still not giving up, she talks to her rival Vaso to try and get him to help her vote out Marshall, which he agrees to do. Still, it is not enough, and Ximena becomes the eleventh person voted out in a 7-2 vote.
Episode 10: After Ximena's vote out, only eight remain in the game. They compete in a reward challenge, which Void, Darleen, Erik, and NK win. Seeing as Vaso and Marshall were more physically threatening than NK was, despite NK winning a reward challenge. After Erik wins immunity for the third time, he tries to get everyone to vote Marshall out. When Luther later bonds with Marshall, he feels remorse for doing so, but knows it must be done. Void is not told about the plan to blindside Marshall, and he thinks that Vaso is the person being voted out, as does NK. Nk also finds the idol. At tribal council, Marshall is voted out in a 5-3 vote, and for the first time in the season, Void was on the wrong side of the vote.
Episode 11: Luther shows everyone he can win challenges and wins the reward challenge. Then, Luther brings along Void and Darleen as to show that he is playing a loyal game and he can be trusted. When they get back, Luther does some damage control with Erik for not picking him, and they get back on good terms, and also have a stronger bond than before. Vaso tries to get people on his side to blindside someone that he didn't like, so he talks to NK first, and when it didn't work, he starts targeting him, but also talks to Erik. This conversation goes down a lot better, and it helps him convince Erik to go after NK. Erik then talks to Luther and Darleen about the plan to similar success. Void, Ellie, and NK himself decide that Vaso needs to go, and NK reveals to Void his idol. Erik wins immunity for the fourth time. At tribal council, NK plays his idol, and Vaso is sent to the Edge in a 3-0 vote.
Episode 12: After Vaso arrives at the Edge of Extinction, they receive letters they wrote to themselves before the game. Back in the actual game, NK wins a reward challenge, and he chooses too bring along Void and Erik, to try and get some allies, since he was almost voted out at the last tribal council. Unfortunately, only Void is willing to help NK, as Erik was closer to Ellie and Darleen. The Ellie/NK alliance dissolves after NK gets into an argument with her, and he loses another ally. Things get dire when he loses the immunity challenge to Void, leaving his only option, to find an idol. He does not find one, and he knows that he's most likely going at that point. NK tries to vote for Darleen, and Void throws a vote onto Ellie due to being too close to Darleen. In the end, NK becomes the final person sent to the Edge of Extinction in a 4-1-1 vote.
Finale: Void, Darleen, Ellie, Erik, and Luther await the return of the player from the Edge. Lila wins, and she becomes a target the instant she arrives back into the game. Luckily for her, she wins immunity, and she shares the reward with Void and Erik, intending to do what NK did in the previous episode. This time, it succeeds, and she gets both Void and Erik on her side. Luther joins their side as well. Darleen and Ellie vote for Void and Luther, respectively. The other people still in the game voted for Ellie, but Darleen plays her idol for Ellie, and a tie between Void and Luther occurs. Erik decides Void is the bigger target of the two, while Lila votes for Luther. It results in another tie, causing Darleen and Erik to draw rocks, and ultimately, Darleen becomes the twelfth member of the jury. After Darleen's shocking rock draw, the four of Void, Ellie, Erik, and Luther decide to stick together to take out Lila if she loses immunity, which she does, to Void. At tribal council, not wanting anyone to flip on his closest ally in Erik, Void plays his idol for him, causing no votes to be negated, and for Lila to be voted out in a 4-1 vote over Ellie. In the final immunity challenge, Erik makes a desperate deal to Void to take him to the final two, trying to downplay his great all-around gameplay as similar to Bao's from Cook Islands- someone who has a great physical and strategic game, but their social game has a lot to be desired, and Void agrees to the plan. Void then is able to beat out Erik in the final immunity challenge, and he keeps his word, sending Luther and Ellie to fire. Luther's survival skills aided him immensely in this final challenge, and he wins the fire making challenge with a handy lead. Ellie becomes the 14th and final member of the jury. Our third all male final three consists of Void, Erik, and Luther. Void is called out for trying to be seen as trustworthy, while being caught in multiple lies during the game. Luther's game is seen as weak all-around, since he followed Void and Erik and didn't really do much in the game. He does get some votes due to how bitter the jury is towards Void and Erik, and he gets Ava, EJ, Maddie, and Marshall's votes. Kim, NK, and Vaso all respected Void's game, so they voted him to win. Ultimately, Erik is voted the winner of the final newbie season of King's Survivor due to having a great social and physical game, and never receiving a vote throughout the entire game. He may not have had the best strategic game, but he didn't need it to win the game. Void wins the Fan Favorite for being the biggest personality of the season and for his robbery.
Winner: Erik LeFort, u/Gemini_B Fan Favorite: Alfred "Void" Vallentino, u/swoldow
For King's Survivor's last season, we will be going out with a bang. 20 memorable contestants who never won before will compete for one last chance at the million, and one will win. Who will be on this season? We will find out soon enough.
submitted by KingTyson27 to BrantSteele [link] [comments]

Film Rankings with Explanations, Ratings, and Tiers

During quarantine, I've had the opportunity to rewatch every movie in relatively short succession. I've seen them all 2-10 times and have been a lifelong Bond fan. I enjoy every Bond film, even the "bad" ones, but I wanted to try and rank them. I used a scoring system to help me, but ultimately went with my gut (e.g. License to Kill MUST be better than The World is Not Enough). I thought a tier system of ranking was useful, because it really is splitting hairs to rank some of these. Feel free to critique my ratings, my ratings weightings, and opinions!

You could say I have too much time on my hands
Tier 7: The Worst
  1. Die Another Day: Best Sword Fight
- Why it's not irredeemable: For being the lowest ranked film on this list, it's not without its moments. Bond getting caught, tortured, then escaping from MI6 was interesting and novel. The ice hotel was neat, as well as the chase scene. I'll even defend the much maligned invisible car, as the Aston Martin Vanquish is quite a car.
- Why it's not higher: Personally, I think Halle Berry is a terrible Bond girl, alternating between damsel in distress and super woman as the plot demands it. Moreover, Graves and the plot in general is pretty cheesy and boring. Perhaps most damaging is the deadly serious tone of the movie, which doesn't even provide the fun and excitement Brosnan's films generally provide the viewer.
- Most under-appreciated part: The fencing scene is the best action scene of the entire movie. It's surprising it took Bond this long to fence, but seeing them go at it across the club was a blast.

Tier 6: Disappointing
  1. Quantum of Solace: Best Car Chase
- Why it's this high: The action is quite good, likely meriting the distinction of the best car chase in the entire series (the pre-credits sequence). Mathis is a good ally and it is sad to see him go.
- Why it's not higher: My biggest beef with Craig's Bond films is that they are too serious, so when the plot and script isn't top-notch, the movie watching experience is just kind of dull. Quantum of Solace takes a bold risk in making the first Bond sequel, but unfortunately it's just not that good. Greene seems like a rather pathetic Bond villain, and his henchman (the worst in the series?) ends up in a neck-brace after getting tripped by Camilla. Also, the shaky cam is distracting and exhausting.
- Most under-appreciated part: I actually thing the theme song is pretty good! Maybe I'm just too much of a Jack White groupie, but I think it rocks.

  1. Moonraker: Best Locales
- Why it's this high: I'm pleased to see Jaws making a return, as he is an amazing henchman. On that note, the pre-credits sequence with Bond and Jaws falling out of the plane is exhilarating. Holly Goodhead is a very good Bond girl, beautiful, smart, and competent. Roger Moore always does an excellent job playing the role with suavity and wit.
- Why it's not higher: Gosh it's cheesy. Particularly egregious is Jaws' love story. The theme song is terrible and Bond doesn't have any solid allies besides Goodhead and Jaws.
- Most under-appreciated part: They really go all out with the settings here. Obviously, space is pretty polarizing, but I think Bond clearly should go to space at SOME point during the series. In addition, Italy and Brazil were gorgeous views, while Drax's estate is magnificent.

  1. Spectre: Best Shooting
- Why it's this high: Rewatching this for the second time, I realized Lea Seydoux does a good job as the Bond girl, and it's actually quite believable she and James could work out, as she is the daughter of an assassin and can understand him (as Blofeld points out). Seeing Bond show off his marksmanship was quite satisfying, especially that one long shot during the escape from Blofeld's compound. Bonus points for Bond's DB10 and resurrecting the DB5.
- Why it's not higher: The fatal flaw of this film is making Blofeld Bond's adopted brother. How did Bond not recognize him? How is Blofeld able to keep himself secret from British intelligence yet every criminal worth his salt knows of him? The worst part is that it actually cheapens the plot of the other Craig movies. I believe the Bond franchise should stay clear from sequels from here on out. Yes, they can weave a great story if done correctly, but it's so much more difficult to make great sequels (e.g. Star Wars only made two worthy sequels in seven tries) than to do one-offs. As usual for a Craig film, Bond has little charisma (save for his surprisingly good rapport with Moneypenny) and little in the way of jokes to lighten the mood.
- Most under-appreciated part: The train fight scene with Dave Bautista is great! Gosh it was awesome to see them go at it, break through walls, and a priceless expression on Bautista's face when he knows he's done. Bautista is the first decent henchman since the 90s, so glad to see the series go back to this staple.

  1. The Man with the Golden Gun: Best Potential, Worst Execution
- Why it's this high: This Bond movie frustrates more than any other, as it has the potential to be an all-time great. Bond's debriefing starts off with promise, as it turns out the world's top assassin is gunning for Bond! For the first time in the series, Bond seems vulnerable! M makes a hilarious quip as to who would try to kill Bond ("jealous husbands ... the list is endless"). Furthermore, the legendary Christopher Lee is possible the best Bond villain, a rare peer of 007.
- Why it's not higher: Unfortunately, the movie opts to change course so that it's just Maud Adams trying to get Bond to kill Scaramanga. Goodnight is beautiful, but maybe the most inept Bond girl of all-time. They used a SLIDE WHISTLE, ruining one of the coolest Bond stunts ever (the car jump).
- Most under-appreciated part: Nick Nack is a splendid henchman, showing the role can be more than just a strongman.

  1. Diamonds Are Forever: Great Beginning and Ending, but Bad Everywhere Else
- Why it's this high: Is there another Bond with such a great contrast between the beginning/ending and everything in between? Connery shows his tough side, as he muscles his way through the pre-credits scene. Particularly good was the part where he seduces the woman, then uses her bikini top to choke her. At the end, Bond expertly uses his wine knowledge to detect something is amiss, then dispatches Kidd and Wint in style. Other cool scenes include Bond scaling the building to reach Blofeld and Bond driving the Mustang through the alley.
- Why it's not higher: This is one of the films that I find myself liking less and less over time. Vegas, and especially the space laboratory scene, just seem cheesy. Connery is officially too old at this point, and Jill St. John just isn't a very compelling Bond girl. I would've preferred to have seen more of Plenty O'Toole, but alas 'twas not meant to be. Leiter is uninspired as well. Having Bond go after Blofeld for the millionth time just seems tired at this point.
- Most under-appreciated part: Mr. Kidd and Wint are the creepiest henchmen in the Bond universe, but I'd argue they are some of the best. Their banter and creative modes of execution are quite chilling and thrilling.

  1. A View to a Kill: Best Theme
- Why it's this high: Is it a hot take to not have View in the bottom five? Let me explain. I contend Duran Duran's theme is the very best. The ending fight scene on the Golden Gate Bridge is actually one of the most iconic ending set pieces in the series. The plot is stellar on paper, as the horse racing part was a very Bondian side story, and the idea of an attack on Silicon Valley actually seems even more plausible today.
- Why it's not higher: It's self-evident that Moore is way too old for the part. Some parts are just mind-blowingly ridiculous, such as the fire truck chase scene through San Francisco and the part where Stacey is caught unaware by a blimp behind her. Speaking of Stacey, she may be beautiful, but she spends most of the movie shrieking whenever something goes wrong.
- Most under-appreciated part: The scene with Bond and Ivanova is cool (I always like it when he interacts with other spies) and quite entertaining how he fools her with the cassettes.

Tier 5: Below Average
  1. Octopussy: The Most Characteristically Roger Moore Bond Film
- Why it's this high: Maud Adams has great screen presence as Octopussy, and her Amazonian-like women are cool to watch fight. Bond's deft swipe of the egg was nicely done. On a related aside, I wish Bond films would emphasize Bond's intellect more, as it seems the 60s and 70s films would allow Bond to showcase his vast knowledge more frequently than he does today. Gobinda is a fierce henchman, while India in general is a cool location. The plot is realistic, yet grand (war-mongering Russian general tries to detonate a nuke to get NATO to turn on itself).
- Why it's not higher: This is the first Moore film where he simply was too old and shouldn't have been cast. Yes, it's too cheesy at times, most infamously during the Tarzan yell. Bond also doesn't use any cool vehicles.
- Most under-appreciated part: People tend to focus too much on Bond dressing as a clown, but the scene where Bond furiously tries to get to the bomb in time to defuse it is one of the tensest moments in the series. Moore's "Dammit there's a bomb in there!" really demonstrated the gravity of the situation (I get goosebumps during that part).

  1. Tomorrow Never Dies: Most Tasteful Humor
- Why it's this high: Brosnan really settles into the role well here. He gives the most charismatic Bond performance in 15 years or so. His quip "I'm just here at Oxford, brushing up on a little Danish" is an all-time great Bond line. Teri Hatcher is stunning as Paris Carver, delivering a memorable performance with her limited screen time. The plot is original and ages well, highlighting the potential downsides of media power, while Carver is an above average villain.
- Why it's not higher: Wai Lin is good for action, but the chemistry between her and Bond is non-existent. By the end of the movie, Pryce just seem silly (especially the scene where he mocks Wai Lin's martial arts skills). There aren't any good Bond allies, as Jack Wade doesn't impress in his return to the franchise. In general though, the movie has few things terribly wrong with it, it just doesn't excel in many ways.
- Most under-appreciated part: Dr. Kaufman is hysterical. At first, I thought "this is weird," but by the end of the scene I'm cracking up. I genuinely wish they found someway to bring him back for World, but c'est la vie.

  1. The World Is Not Enough: Less than the Sum of its Parts
- Why it's this high: According to my spreadsheet, this is a top 10 Bond film, while on my first watch on this film I thought it was bottom five. I think the truth is that it's somewhere in between. I like the settings, everything from the temporary MI-6 headquarters to Azerbaijan. Elektra is an all-time great Bond girl, with a nice plot twist and character arc. The glasses where Bond sees through women's clothing are hilarious. The sense of danger is strong, with everyone from Bond to M being in danger. The return of Zukovsky is a nice plus.
- Why it's not higher: I think two things really doom this film. First, Renard is totally wasted a henchman. The idea of him not feeling pain is a cool one, but he just seems boring and extraneous. I don't even think Carlyle acted poorly, he was just misused. Secondly, the ending (after Bond killing Elektra which is quite good) is rather terrible. The whole scene in the sub just isn't entertaining or engaging.
- Most under-appreciated part: I'm going to defend Denise Richards as Christmas Jones. Although no Ursula Andress, Richards is absolutely gorgeous and did not actively make Bond's mission more difficult, which is more than some Bond girls can say *cough Britt Ekland. In particular, I found her introductory scene to be quite memorable and convincing. Also, the Christmas quip at the end is quite cheeky.

Tier 4: Solid
  1. The Living Daylights:
- Why it's this high: Dalton brings a breath of fresh air to the franchise here. His more serious take makes for interesting movies that seem more unique than most. I'm happy to see this subreddit appreciate Dalton more than the casual fun does, but I wouldn't go as far as the Dalton fanboys and say he's the best Bond or anything like that. I do wish he got the role sooner and did more films. Moving on to Daylights, it's got a good intro for Dalton and good plot in general. Surprisingly, Bond's fidelity doesn't bother me one bit, as it actually makes sense that Kara falls in love with James by the end, given all they've gone through.
- Why it's not higher: The biggest reason is that the villain is just terrible. Whitaker seems silly and pathetic, a terrible contrast to Dalton's serious nature. I think Whitaker might be the worst in the series, and a Bond movie can't be great without a good villain. Also, Dalton doesn't have much charm and is abysmal at one-liners, which, in my opinion, IS a facet of the perfect James Bond.
- Most under-appreciated part: The Aston Martin Vantage is a beautiful car, and the chase scene across the ice is great! It's both exciting and funny! Not sure why people don't talk about this chase scene and this car more; it's arguably the highlight of the movie for me.

  1. Thunderball: The Most Beautiful
- Why it's this high: Thunderball used to be top five for me and here is why. The underwater scenes, the setting, the score, and the Bond girls are beautiful even to this day. Domino is excellent, while Volpe is a tour de force, oozing sexuality and danger. I think the underwater parts are interesting and novel, creating a staple of sorts for the franchise. The DB 5 is always welcome, and the jetpack use was quite cool for the time (and to some extent now).
- Why it's not higher: Some would say it's boring, while I would more generously admit the plot is slow. Furthermore, the theme song is all-time bad (apparently they could have used Johnny Cash!!!), and there is no great henchman for Bond to dispatch.
- Most under-appreciated part: Two plot ideas I liked a lot: Bond being injured and needing rehab, plus the part where all the 00s meet up and then are sent to the corners of the globe.

  1. Never Say Never Again: Guilty Pleasure
- Why it's this high: Rewatching Never for the third time, I was struck by how fun this movie is. It's exciting, funny, and fast-paced. Basically, it's a more exciting version of Thunderball, with better pacing and better humor. I think Irvin Kershner did a great job managing this star studded cast. Carrera is a firecracker as Blush, Sydow is a convincing Blofeld, and Basinger is a classic Bond girl. Connery clearly has a blast returning to the role, doing a great job despite his advanced age. If anything, this one might not be ranked high enough.
- Why it's not higher: The music is terrible. Normally I don't notice these things, but one can't help but notice how dreadful this one is. The theme is awful as well. I'd argue this is the worst music of any Bond film.
- Most under-appreciated part: The humor! This is one of the funniest Bonds, as I found myself laughing out loud at various parts (e.g. Mr Bean!).

  1. The Spy Who Loved Me: Best Intro
- Why it's this high: There's a lot to love about this one, so I get why this ranks highly for many. It is simply the best introduction, starting with Bond romancing a woman, followed by a skii chase, then jumping off the cliff and pulling the Union Jack parachute! The Lotus is a top 3 Bond car. Jaws is a superb henchman. Triple X was an excellent Bond girl, deadly, charming, and beautiful. Of course, Moore is charming and the locations are exotic (Egypt was a cool locale). If I had to pick one Moore movie for a newcomer to watch, it would be this one.
- Why it's not higher: The theme song is bad, and Stromberg is a below average villain. I also think the last 45 minutes or so of the movie kind of drags.
- Most under-appreciated part: The whole dynamic between Bond and Triple X is great. Whenever Bond movies show Bond squaring off against other spies (see View to a Kill, Goldeneye) it's just a pleasure to watch.

  1. Live and Let Die: Most Suave
- Why it's this high: Roger Moore superbly carves out his own take on Bond in an excellent addition to the franchise. The boat chase is my favorite in the series, and Live and Let Die is my second favorite theme. Jane Seymour is a good Bond girl, while Tee Hee and Kananga are a solid villain/henchman duo. Unpopular opinion: I find J.W. Pepper to be hilarious.
- Why it's not higher: The introduction isn't very good, as Bond isn't even included! The second climax with the voodoo isn't great. Bond blowing up Kananga has aged terribly.
- Most under-appreciated part: When Bond is visited in his apartment by M and Moneypenny, Bond rushes to hide his girl from his coworkers. Finally, when they leave and he unzips the dress with his magnetic watch is one of the best uses of a Bond gadget in the series, showcasing why Moore might be the most charming Bond of them all.

  1. You Only Live Twice: Best Blofeld
- Why it's this high: Just your classic, fun Sean Connery Bond movie. It was a great decision to send Bond to Japan for his first Asian visit, giving the movie a fresh feel. The ending set piece battle is potentially the best of this staple of 60s/70s Bonds. Tiger Tanaka is one of Bond's cooler allies. Pleasance killed it as Blofeld; when I think of Blofeld, I think of his take. In what could have been cheesy, he is actually somewhat frightening.
- Why it's not higher: The whole "we need to make you look Japanese" part seems both unrealistic (who is he really fooling?) plus surprisingly impotent coming from Tiger Tanaka who seems to be a competent and connected man otherwise. Honestly though, this movie doesn't have a major weakness.
- Most under-appreciated part: The fight scene with the guard in the executive's office is probably the best hand-to-hand fight in the series up until that point.

Tier 3: Excellent
  1. Dr. No: The Most Spy-Like
- Why it's this high: Nearly 60 years later, this film is still a blast to watch, due in no small part to its focus on the little things of being a spy. I adore the scenes where Bond does the little things spies (presumably) do, such as putting a hair across the door, or showing Bond playing solitaire while waiting to spring his trap on Prof. Dent. I also enjoy the suspense of Bond sleuthing around the island, while he and the viewer are completely unaware of whom the villain is until quite late in the film. It's easy to take for granted now, but this film established so many series traditions that were ingenious. My personal favorite is Bond's introduction at the card table: "Bond .... James Bond."
- Why it's not higher: The film just doesn't have the payoff it deserves. Maybe it's just a result of the time and budget, but from the point Bond escapes on, it's just mediocre. Particularly egregious is the "fight" between Dr. No and Bond where No meets his demise.
- Most under-appreciated part: Ursula Andress was a surprisingly well developed Bond girl, with a shockingly violent backstory (she was raped!). Obviously, she is beautiful and the beach scene is iconic, but I was pleasantly surprised to conclude she is more than just eye candy.

  1. License to Kill: The Grittiest
- Why it's this high: On my first watch, this was my least favorite Bond film, as I thought it was too dark and violent to befit 007. By my third time watching, I've decided it's actually one of the best. Fortunately, I don't have to go on my "Ackshually, Dalton did a good job" rant with this subreddit. I liked the wedding intro and the concept of a revenge arc for Leiter (although come on he should've been killed by a freaking shark). Also, Lamora and (especially) Bouvier are great Bond girls. Bouvier is both competent and beautiful, and it's great to see Bond choose her at the end.
- Why it's not higher: The theme song is atrocious, Dalton is so angry (dare I say charmless?) the whole time it's almost puzzling why Bouvier and Lamora fall for him, and Bond doesn't use any cool vehicles.
- Most under-appreciated part: Sanchez is actually a sneaky good Bond villain.

  1. For Your Eyes Only: The Most Underrated
- Why it's this high: I think Moore is a bit underrated as Bond. Yes, he was too old towards the end and yes, his movies were at times too campy, but he himself played the role admirably. He was the most charming and witty of all the Bonds, so by the time he got his first relatively serious plot to work with, he hit it out of the park. Anyhow, the climactic mountaintop assault is one of my favorite Bond action climaxes. Columbo is one of the best Bond allies, and the plot twist where he turns out to be good and Kristatos bad was well-done.
- Why it's not higher: The intro is just silly. Bibi's romantic infatuation with Bond is just uncomfortable?
- Most under-appreciated part: The theme song is a banger. What a chorus!

Tier 2: Exceptional
  1. Skyfall: The Sharpest Film (From Plot to Aesthetics)
- Why it's this high: One of the best plots of the entire series. The idea of an older Bond who had lost a step, along with making M the focus point of the movie, works very well. Seeing Bond's childhood home is also pretty cool. Bardem's take on Silva is delightful and a lot of fun to watch. Even the cinematography is a series peak, while Adele's them is excellent.
- Why it's not higher: One thing most Craig Bond films suffer from is the lack of a Bond-worthy henchman. Skyfall is no exception. More importantly, Bond girls are mostly irrelevant to the film. Yes, Severine is both beautiful and interesting, but she's scarcely twenty minutes of the film.
- Most under-appreciated part: Setting the new supporting characters up nicely. The Moneypenny backstory was well-done. Casting Ralph Fiennes as the new M is a great choice in of itself, but he also got a nice chuck of background story to help us going forward.

  1. Casino Royale: The First Bond Film I'd Show a Series Newcomer
- Why it's this high: Craig's take on Bond feels like a breath of fresh air. In particular, his hand-to-hand combat scenes are so much better (and more believable) than any other Bond. The parkour chase scene is one of the best chase scenes in the series. Le Chifre is an excellent villain, but, more importantly, Vesper is an all-time great Bond girl. The conversation between Vesper and Bond on the train is probably the most interesting of any film. Bonus points for Jeffrey Wright as Leiter and the Aston Martin DBS.
- Why it's not higher: There are hardly any humorous parts or much charm displayed by Bond in general. More importantly, the movie should have just ended when Bond wakes up in rehab. The rest of the movie feels confused and superfluous.
- Most under-appreciated part: The decision to change from chemin de fer to poker makes for much better (and understandable!) cinema. The poker scenes are the best of Bond's many gambling scenes throughout the series.

  1. Goldeneye: The Most Fun
- Why it's this high: Wow, rewatching Goldeneye I was struck by how entertaining the whole thing is. The opening jump is breath taking, the scene where Bond drives his evaluator around is hilarious, and Xenia Onatopp is a livewire. Sean Bean is a formidable villain as 006, and a great foil to James. Bond and Judi Dench's first scene together is amazing. Goldeneye feels like the first modern Bond, yet so true to the predecessors. Wade and especially Zukovsky are excellent allies.
- Why it's not higher: Simonova is a forgettable Bond girl. She's not annoying, unattractive, or acted poorly, but is just below average in most regards (looks, back story, chemistry with Bond, plot).
- Most under-appreciated part: the action is just so much better than any Bond before it

  1. From Russia with Love: The Best Henchman (Red Grant)
- Why it's this high: Interesting settings, beautiful women, and an engaging story make this a classic. I'm not the first to point out that the scenes with Grant and Bond aboard the train are some of the best in the entire series. Grant is one of the few villains who feels like a match for 007. Furthermore, the addition of Desmond Llewyn as Q was crucial and Kerim Bey is one of the better Bond allies.
- Why it's not higher: The helicopter scene should've just been omitted, especially when combined with the subsequent boat chase. It's just awkward to watch.
- Most under-appreciated part: The gypsy scenes are quite exotic and entertaining.

  1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Most Heartfelt
- Why it's this high: James and Tracy's love story is charming, and when she dies at the end, this is the one and only time in the entire series where the viewer feels genuinely sad. Diana Rigg did an excellent job convincing the audience Bond could finally fall in love with one girl. The skiing scenes were beautifully filmed, and the score was exemplary. Personally, I quite liked Lazenby's take; however, some of his lines and jokes fall flat. To his credit, he looks and acts like Bond more than any other actor.
- Why it's not higher: Honestly, it does drag at times in the first half, plus there is no theme song!
- Most under-appreciated part: Bond's Aston Martin DBS is a beautiful car, combining 60's sports-car beauty with Aston Martin's elegance.

Tier 1: The Best
  1. Goldfinger: The quintessential Bond
- Why it's this high: From the opening ("Positively shocking") to the seduction of Pussy Galore at the end, this film has it all. Goldfinger is an all time great villain, while Odd Job is an exceptional henchman. Connery delivers a master performance, and drives THE classic Bond Car, ejector seat included. The reason I put it #1 is not necessarily because it is the best film (although it is great), it checks all the boxes of what a perfect Bond film should do.
- Why it's not higher: I cannot think of any notable imperfections.
- Most under-appreciated part: The golf scene between Bond and Goldfinger is a delight to watch, demonstrating Bond's wits for the first and only time on the golf course.
submitted by BoolaBoola19 to JamesBond [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Nov. 26, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001 5-7-2001 5-14-2001
5-21-2001 5-28-2001 6-4-2001 6-11-2001
6-18-2001 6-25-2001 7-2-2001 7-9-2001
7-16-2001 7-23-2001 7-30-2001 8-6-2001
8-13-2001 8-20-2001 8-27-2001 9-3-2001
9-10-2001 9-17-2001 9-25-2001 10-1-2001
10-8-2001 10-15-2001 10-22-2001 10-29-2001
11-5-2001 11-12-2001 11-19-2001
  • With the defeat of the Alliance at Survivor Series (more on that in a bit), the WWF basically reset the whole promotion and also brought back Ric Flair and Jerry Lawler, all of which led to the first positive ratings boost Raw has had in quite awhile. The Invasion angle, after being arguably the biggest flop of an angle in wrestling history, came to an end where WWF won in a confusing mess of a main event. With the exception of the one successful Invasion PPV, all the potential money in doing a WWF vs. WCW feud was completely squandered due to an incredible string of dumb booking and bad business decisions. But that's allegedly in the past now and Raw this week felt like one of those old WCW/Vince Russo company reboots, with the old storylines being dropped and everything starting fresh. Dave hopes this goes better than the 3 times Russo tried to reset WCW.
  • So anyway, let's start with Ric Flair. He had verbally agreed to a deal with WWF on the night of Survivor Series to accept a buyout from WWF on the remainder of his Time Warner contract. The deal wasn't officially signed until about 3 hours before the Raw where he debuted, at which point Flair officially signed with WWF and Time Warner released him from his remaining WCW deal. It was a photo finish because WWF didn't know if Flair would get the release in time and they didn't really have a backup plan if he didn't. With WCW no longer in business and no more WCW office staff, the Time Warner people are left handling all the old WCW contracts and because of that, things were moving more slowly than normal. As seen on Raw, the plan is for Flair to play an adversary to Vince McMahon, with each of them owning 50% of WWF, which will ultimately lead to the long-talked about brand split, with Vince in charge of one side and Flair the other since they can't get along as co-owners. Flair has had on-and-off again talks with WWF ever since WCW folded back in March but the hold up was always Flair not wanting to walk away from his WCW contract, which guaranteed him big money until Feb. of 2003. In recent weeks, the XWF had also spoken with Flair about buying out his contract so there was some pressure there and ultimately, WWF apparently made a good enough offer for Flair to accept it. He will turn 54 years old in a few months and signed a 3-year contract. He's expected to work some matches, but only on big shows and his first match won't be for a few more months because he wants to get back in the shape he wants to be in, since he hasn't really wrestled in a long time. Flair's return, in Charlotte NC no less, got the huge pop you would expect and Flair later told Dave it was one of the top 3 or 4 biggest highlights of his career.
WATCH: Ric Flair returns to WWF in 2001
  • Then there's Jerry Lawler, who had actually agreed to a deal with XWF and even worked their television taping last week. When the decision was made to blow off the Invasion angle, it meant Paul Heyman would be taken off television. They would need a new announcer for Raw and the natural choice was Lawler. He has been close to coming back several times over the last few months, but there was always opposition within the company from some people due to the way Lawler kinda nuked his bridges behind him when he left. If you don't recall, Lawler was extremely vocal with his displeasure over how WWF fired his now ex-wife Stacy Carter and the heat got so bad that WWF pulled their developmental deal away from Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis because of their Lawler connections. After Stacy Carter left Lawler (for former WWF developmental wrestler Mike Howell), he began mending fences with the company. They actually asked Lawler to come in a couple of weeks ago, but by that point, he had already agreed to do the first round of XWF tapings as well as appear on WWA's tour of England. Lawler actually signed a contract with XWF which has a non-compete, but his longtime friend Jimmy Hart asked Lawler to work the tapings and then if he still wanted to go to WWF, they wouldn't try to stand in his way. Lawler said the decision wasn't easy because he had committed to XWF and enjoyed working for them, but he also recognized that at this stage in his life, he needed to accept the job that was most stable for his future and XWF is anything but a sure bet. Much like Flair, there was some last-second contract wrangling and he didn't actually sign his new 3-year WWF contract until just before Raw went on the air. He's making roughly the same $250,000 per year he was making before he quit the company last time. Lawler went out on the air having not seen Survivor Series or really without having watched much WWF television at all this year and had zero knowledge of any of the current storylines so that was mostly left to Jim Ross to get over for most of the show while Lawler cracked jokes. Lawler's new deal still allows him to take independent bookings and coincidentally enough, Lawler will still be working with Jimmy Hart to promote local shows in Memphis, which will act as something of a developmental territory for XWF.
WATCH: Jerry Lawler returns to WWF in 2001
  • Raw also saw the departure of Mick Foley. As noted in the past, Foley hasn't been happy with the direction of the company for awhile and a couple of weeks ago on Raw, he cut a promo alluding to all his issues with how the company has been dropping the ball, which was more shoot than scripted. Even though Foley seemingly left the company in kayfabe 2 weeks ago, Vince legitimately wanted to give Foley a real proper send-off, since he's literally never had the chance to do that with any of his top stars (most top guys who leave the WWF usually do so on bad terms behind the scenes). So they had a pre-taped segment on Vince's private jet, with Foley and Vince talking about everything Foley has given to the business and then when the plane landed and Foley walked off, in a sitcom-like goodbye, Vince smiled and said, "Have a nice day." Dave feels like it was a pretty clumsy goodbye and paled in comparison to how, say, NJPW for instance treats its retiring legends. But better than nothing, he supposes. It was long expected that after Foley retired from in-ring competition that he would stay with the company in an ambassador role, but turns out that is still pretty restricting. Foley wanted more control over his ability to do non-wrestling projects and the WWF contract meant they largely owned and controlled whatever he wanted to do. So Foley is off to go do....whatever he wants now. Dave says he can write more books, but without the WWF machine to help promote them, it's going to be a tougher hill to climb.
  • During the WWF quarterly investor call, Linda McMahon surprisingly made very few excuses for WWF's current business struggles and basically admitted that they just haven't been producing good television. Dave runs down all of WWF's business declines over the recent quarter, the company projections for the first quarter of 2002, profit and revenue numbers, comparing quarters from this year to last year, merchandising and licensing, and all that fun business/stock shit. If numbers are your thing, this story is for you. One interesting thing to note is that, due to the decline in PPV buys and the increase in TV rights fees, that means that television is now the top priority and the company's leading source of revenue (it remains that way to this day). Because of that, WWF has to be careful not to alienate sponsors anymore, which is why things aren't nearly as risque now as they were in, say, 1999. Because TV is now the top priority and they can't afford to take too many risks. During the call, Linda first talked about the business being cyclical and made some other excuses for low attendance (9/11), the failing WWF Times Square restaurant (9/11) and things like that. The usual excuses. But then she admitted that the WCW Invasion angle had been a failure and blamed that for much of the company's recent issues. Which, well...yeah. However, when talking about why the angle failed, she first blamed it on a skill level difference in the performers (basically saying that the WCW wrestlers weren't as good as WWF stars) and poor audience response to the WCW stars (specifically the night of the infamous Buff Bagwell/Booker T match on Raw). She also blamed "creative confusion" behind the scenes (in other words, the fact that plans were changing on a daily basis, which is something that falls squarely on her husband). Linda used a football analogy explaining why they dropped the angle, basically saying it failed and they had to back up and punt. With the exception of RVD and Stacy Keibler, all the other members of the WCW/ECW group have been temporarily written off television. Many of them are understandably nervous about their futures. Some will be fine but Dave thinks some are right to be worried. Aside from Booker T, almost none of them would be that terribly missed if they were released. But with the plan still being to do a brand split and running 2 touring groups simultaneously, they are going to need a lot of wrestlers. Most of them are still working house shows, despite being "fired" on TV after the Survivor Series loss.
  • Oh yeah...Survivor Series is in the books. It was pretty much a one-match show with the WWF vs. The Alliance main event being the only reason anyone cared and the storyline is that everyone's jobs were on the line. For the undercard Alliance wrestlers, many of them really did feel that way. With all the big stars in one match, the rest of the show wasn't great. But the main event delivered and then some. Edge beat Test to unify the Intercontinental and U.S. titles, thus ending the history of the U.S. title, which was dropped. Dave talks briefly about the history of that title (it comes back about 2 years later). The Dudleyz beat the Hardyz to unify the WWF and WCW tag titles, which is also the end of those belts and their history dating back to 1975. Matt Hardy was legit injured in the match when his face slammed into the cage and nearly knocked out his front teeth and he ended up needing a brace put in to keep his teeth in place at the dentist the next day. There's also a chance he suffered nerve damage from a deep cut to the gums. Trish Stratus won the WWF women's title that has been vacant ever since Chyna left the company months ago. Chyna was never acknowledged on commentary and it was never really explained why the title was vacant. Former ECW women's wrestler Jazz debuted in the match and Heyman put her over huge on commentary. And the main event was a 4.5 star show-stealer that was wild, out of control, and just crazy enough to be riveting. Now, 10 months after ECW really died and 8 months after WCW really died, their names were "officially taken off life support and allowed to die with no dignity after a branding manslaughter," as Dave so eloquently puts it. And with that, WCW and ECW are finally, truly dead.
  • Speaking of truly dead, the XWF television tapings are complete and it's uncertain what their future is. They filmed 10 episodes of TV and the situation with Hogan is still confusing. After initially pulling out of the XWF, Hogan showed up as a surprise and wrestled Curt Hennig at the tapings, which was Hogan's first match in over a year (since he left WCW). The match was said to be about what you'd expect from those 2 at this stage in their career wrestling in front of a few hundred fans in a free theme park studio. Hennig was managed by Bobby Heenan, who even took a bump for the first time in years. Hogan did a promo after saying he's planning to win the XWF title but it's unknown if any of this will ever air even if they do get a TV deal. Hogan reportedly did the match as a favor to longtime friend Jimmy Hart, who is hoping to use the Hogan footage to dangle in front of TV execs to secure a TV deal. Hogan is said to be torn because he wants to be back in the spotlight and wrestling again, but he also doesn't want to be associated with another failure and XWF is by no means a sure thing. XWF is planning to film more TV shows in January and are claiming they want to run a full 145-date house show schedule in 2002. Attempting to do that without viable TV is suicide though. They're also hoping to get guys like Sting, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash when they're available, but that's not a sure bet either. They're also filming segments with celebrities like Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, and Willie Nelson who will appear on the show. So that's basically where we're at with XWF (amazingly, I can't find footage of this Hogan/Hennig match anywhere. Looks like it may have never aired).
  • Martha Hart threatened a lawsuit this week against Diana Hart over Diana's new book "Under The Mat." Martha's lawyers demanded a public retraction, apology, and for the book to be removed from print and taken off bookstore shelves no later than Nov. 28th or else a lawsuit would be filed. Her lawyers also demanded that Diana Hart and her co-author Kirstie McLennan and the companies that published and distributed the book negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Martha is alleging the book is "filled with distortions, misstatements, and unjustified slurs that attempt to destroy the reputation of my family and me, and undermine the memory of Owen. I have no choice but to deliver a formal libel notice." Dave notes that Diana Hart has pretty much alienated herself from the entire rest of the Hart family, including members of the family who have usually been on her side. Diana responded to the lawsuit threat calling Martha a rich bully who is trying to silence her. "Martha has the money to fight me on it and I don't," she responded in an interview. "Maybe she thinks that's how she'll win this but I know what I've written is true." Dave says the book negatively portrays Martha throughout the whole thing and also painted a negative portrayal of Owen's marriage to her. As mentioned last week, Diana recently appeared on a late night talk show to promote the book in Canada and seemed totally out of it, which drew comparisons to the infamous Farrah Fawcett/David Letterman interview a couple of years ago. This week, Chyna was on that same talk show and the host mentioned Diana's recent appearance and joked that he didn't think Diana could have even read her own book, much less written it. Anyway, Dave wouldn't be surprised to see Diana get hit with more lawsuits because the book is just outrageous and full of obviously libelous material and he's shocked any publisher dared put it out to begin with.
  • Dave wants to take a moment to thank all the people involved with helping to promote his new "Tributes" book. He spent the last week in Toronto doing promotion on all the news stations, radio appearances, several TV shows, Off The Record, some afternoon talk shows, book signings, Q&As, and more. He thanks all those people, the publishers, the readers, etc. The book is available at most major bookstores throughout North America now as well as Amazon. In its first week, the book outsold both Diana Hart's book and Kurt Angle's book in Canada. To be fair, Dave admits that Angle's book has been out for a couple of months already, but it was still on the bestseller list until just a week or two ago. But still, Dave's pretty proud of how this all turned out and is eternally grateful to everyone who helped and yada yada.
  • The voting is open for the 22nd annual year-end Observer Awards. Needless to say, 2001 was an interesting year. The wrestling bubble burst, ECW and WCW went extinct, and WWF went from being the most successful company in the world to...well, still the most successful company in the world, but they had the greatest angle of all time handed to them and fumbled it and as a result, business collapsed. Anyway, Dave breaks down all the categories and what they mean and all that fun shit. Cast your votes now!
  • Carlos Colon's younger brother Noel Colon was shot and killed in San Juan, Pureto Rico last week in his office. Noel worked as the president of a transportation company and had just fired an employee. That employee left and then returned with a gun and shot Colon 4 times in the head and chest. Colon was rushed to the hospital but died there (no word if Carlos helped cover this one up too).
  • Hayabusa is still hospitalized. He was expected to be moved to a rehab facility but got sick with pneumonia in the hospital, which apparently isn't uncommon for people who basically can't move for long periods of time.
  • Lots of drama coming out of the King of the Indies tournament a few weeks ago that was held by APW in California. For starters, APW lost more than $10,000 on the show so that's bad news. And then there was a lot of arguments over who should win. APW owner Roland Alexander at first wanted Low-Ki to win the tournament but then Christopher Daniels pushed for Donovan Morgan to win because he's the local guy who has to help carry APW. So Morgan was going to win. But then, the owner changed his mind again and decided American Dragon should win (which he ultimately did). This, along with some bickering over who would run APW's training school, led to Morgan and Michael Modest apparently quitting and planning to open up their own wrestling school and promotion.
  • Chyna was scheduled to play the starring role in a stage production called My Darling Judith, but the play was cancelled just before its opening. No reason given, but Dave suspects poor ticket sales.
  • Hey, the XWF has its own section now! Anyway, a bunch more notes from the recent tapings: Nasty Boys became the first tag team champions. Rena Mero is the commissioner and with Roddy Piper running the show and they teased friction between them, which is supposed to lead to a Piper heel turn eventually. Piper also hosted a Piper's Pit segment, which they called "In Your Face with Rowdy Roddy Piper" because they can't legally call it Piper's Pit. Low-Ki worked the tapings, using the name Quick Kick. Juventud Guerrera won the cruiserweight title. They also set up a mixed tag storyline with Jerry Lawler and a new valet named Kitten against Simon Diamond and Dawn Marie, but with Lawler now back in WWF, who knows what will become of that. Former WCW women Leia Meow, Gorgeous George, and Nitro Girl Chiquita are doing a Charlie's Angels gimmick. Buff Bagwell was supposed to come in as one of the top babyfaces, but the crowd brutally booed him and chanted "Bagwell sucks" and "You got fired!" so on the taping for the next episode, they had no choice but to turn him heel. And then they did a promo thing referencing his being fired from WWF and the rumors of his mom calling in sick for him and all that shit. Dave says that's fine for the internet crowd, but this is a company that is allegedly trying to land a national TV deal and compete with WWF, and Dave doesn't like that they're referencing obscure stuff like that which most wrestling fans know nothing about (much less a crowd of tourists that were mostly just looking for somewhere to sit down for a little while and got begged into being part of a wrestling audience). Booking for the minority of internet hardcore fans is Russo-type shit and Dave hopes they don't make a habit of it (XWF isn't around long enough to form any habits). Vampiro appears to be getting pushed hard as one of the top stars. And a couple of matches sucked so bad that they re-taped them the next day.
  • As for the XWF in general, the reports have been mixed. Everyone involved had nothing but great things to say about how well-run and organized things were and everyone was treated well. The matches were said to be pretty bad considering most of the roster are either green bodybuilders or washed up 80s stars. Jerry Lawler was said to be fantastic on commentary while Tony Schiavone was, well, Tony Schiavone (people these days tend to forget how much 2001 Tony didn't give a single iota of a fuck about wrestling anymore). Of all the wrestlers, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels reportedly impressed people the most, which doesn't surprise Dave at all. Roddy Piper was more coherent than he ever was in WCW, while Rena Mero got shockingly little reaction, to the point that even people backstage were surprised at how not over she was.
  • Notes from Raw: as mentioned, Heyman was "fired" from commentary and replaced by Lawler. It was a way to totally write Heyman off as an on-screen character, and he will continue to work backstage as a writer. Dave says they should bring him back eventually as a heel manager because good lord, can that guy cut a promo (they do indeed bring him back about 6 months after this, as Brock Lesnar's manager). Trish vs. Lita was arguably the worst 2:44 of wrestling in a major promotion that Dave has seen all year. Then a Dudleyz vs. RVD handicap tables match went sideways when the table didn't break as originally planned and they had to improvise some spots to finish the match. Then they had a segment with Vince firing Shane and Stephanie. First Shane came out, said he lost to a better man, and walked out. The original plan was for Shane to be humiliated and dragged out kicking and screaming, much like Heyman and Stephanie were, but Shane didn't want to do that and Vince ultimately agreed. Also, among the wrestlers privately (because no one dares say it publicly), there was some heat on Shane because he took everyone's finishers the night before and was carried out of the arena, but showed up on Raw not selling anything. Then they did do the kicking and screaming and crying gimmick with Stephanie being dragged out. Shane will be strictly behind the scenes for now, but Dave expects Stephanie back on-screen sooner than later since Triple H is returning soon. Then, Vince McMahon made William Regal literally kiss his ass (the debut of the Kiss My Ass Club) with Vince actually showing some of his bare ass and Regal kissing it. Dave found this whole thing pretty awful and he apparently wasn't alone, as viewers tuned out of this segment in massive numbers according to the ratings. And then the Flair debut to end it.
  • Notes from Smackdown: they hyped up the December PPV with Michael Cole reading lines that were clearly edited into the show during post production where he teased that they would have a unification match and crown the first ever undisputed champion in the 100-year history of professional wrestling. For starters, that's obviously not true. But even if it was, Dave is just amazed that WWF actually acknowledged that pro wrestling existed prior to 1984. Sharmell Sullivan debuted on the main roster after shockingly little time in developmental as a backstage interviewer. Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle was a really good match and for once, Undertaker actually went out of his way to sell for Angle and treated him like someone who is on his level.
  • Dave also reviews Smackdown from the previous week since I guess he didn't get a chance before because he was out of town doing book publicity tour shit. Anyway, he says the much-talked about Paul Heyman promo was indeed one of the best promos he's seen in a long time. In regards to the entire Invasion storyline, Dave also says, "Got a feeling this angle will historically be looked at as the single greatest botched angle in wrestling history." (18 years later and....yup. I don't think there's even a close 2nd place) Dave thinks it's sad to imagine how great this angle could have been if they had Heyman delivering these kinds of promos the whole time and really building the Alliance up as equals to WWF, but alas. Dave also seems to think the "What?" chants are getting annoying and notes that people were even doing it at the XWF tapings.
  • Remember how company president and COO Stuart Snyder was fired a few weeks ago? Dave has more details. Snyder was actually brought in to help WWF expand into other forms of entertainment, such as WWF-produced movies and the failed WWF casino idea in Vegas. Snyder actually didn't have much knowledge of the wrestling business, but Vince wants the WWF to be an overall entertainment conglomerate, not just wrestling. But with business plummeting right now, they decided it might not be the right time for that kind of expansion and Snyder was let go. Also, Snyder was said to be pushing hard for WWF to settle their conflict with DirecTV, but Vince refuses to budge on that issue and refuses to settle and that was a touchy issue with them. Vince has never been good about backing down from a fight publicly, even when it's the smart or right thing to do.
  • Torrie Wilson appeared on the Howard Stern show this week. She mentioned that she recently got engaged to Billy Kidman. Dave says that's gotta be rough on Kidman, because the WWF sees Torrie as a potential megastar while they clearly don't have any plans for him. That sort of thing can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. Anyway, that's all Dave seems to know. He didn't actually see or hear it. But DDP was also on the show with Torrie. Here's the full interview and it's basically what you'd expect when Howard Stern has a hot chick in front of him:
WATCH: Torrie Wilson & DDP on Howard Stern (2001)
  • In OVW, Rico Constantino lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Prototype, which means Constantino is finally going to be moving up to the main roster. He got a standing ovation from the crowd afterwards and thanked them for their support. Dave thinks it's going to be interesting to see how his run in WWF goes. Constantino is already 40 years old and that's a tough age to be starting out in the WWF, but he's also really good and well-rounded at all aspects of the business, so who knows.
  • Mike Awesome suffered a torn ACL and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Awesome says he's trying to avoid needing surgery and is getting a second opinion but with all the rumors of Alliance guys being let go soon due to all the company layoffs, it's a pretty bad time to be sidelined with an injury. Wrestlers in the past have continued working with torn ACLs so it's not unheard of, but it's definitely not the best idea.
  • The first major review of the upcoming Scorpion King movie starring the Rock is in and it's very negative. Ain't It Cool News reviewed the film calling it a "sad, cliched, poorly acted, horribly written and sadly directed piece of garbage." So.....not great. The movie comes out next year.
  • Lita was on the cover of TV Guide in Canada and was interviewed. She said her worst injury in wrestling was a dislocated collarbone and shoulder blade from being power bombed by Eddie Guerrero outside the ring.
  • On his website, Kurt Angle made a post saying that his wife's recent comments about RVD (that he was too dangerous and keeps hurting her husband) were just her opinions as a fan and not his. However, for what it's worth, Kurt Angle was on ESPN a few weeks ago and mentioned a wrestler who had broken his nose in a match recently and then said he would refuse to dignify the guy by even saying his name on the show. But he was clearly talking about RVD. Definitely seems to be some heat between him and Angle.
  • You may have noticed that William Regal has been suffering bloody noses pretty much every time he wrestles lately. His nose is smashed and infected and bleeds with pretty much any physical exertion and he now needs surgery on it to fix it. But he can't get the surgery until they treat the infection.
  • DDP was on a radio show doing an interview and admitted that he ended up missing out on about $500,000 by taking a buyout and signing with WWF rather than sitting home and collecting the rest of his WCW contract. Given how his WWF run has gone, probably not the wisest decision in retrospect.
WEDNESDAY: Yuji Nagata to face Mirko Cro Cop, more on WWF essentially resetting the company, Chyna on Howard Stern, and more...

► Observer Rewinds remaining: 5

submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Oct. 1, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001 5-7-2001 5-14-2001
5-21-2001 5-28-2001 6-4-2001 6-11-2001
6-18-2001 6-25-2001 7-2-2001 7-9-2001
7-16-2001 7-23-2001 7-30-2001 8-6-2001
8-13-2001 8-20-2001 8-27-2001 9-3-2001
9-10-2001 9-17-2001 9-25-2001
  • The wrestling industry in the United States is in uncharted waters right now and Dave is starting this issue by examining the overall situation. Part of it is due to outside factors. The mood of the country is still shaken by the events of 9/11 and the effects of the attack on the economy are still uncertain. WWF is the only major pro wrestling company and its closest competitor is UFC, which isn't even wrestling. Dave says it's been a horrible year for the business, with WCW and ECW folding. Wrestling magazines closing up shop. The Invasion angle was totally botched. By every metric, business is declining. It's a terrible time to start a new company in the U.S. because getting a major league product off the ground is a just too expensive. Dave thinks the WWA idea in Australia might be the best option right now. Build some buzz over there where the market is easier and then try to strike a deal to air it in the U.S. But the biggest problem with WWA is, well, Vince Russo is the guy in charge. Dave says that Russo's idea of wrestling was a massive failure in WCW and the problem is that he didn't learn from it, and to this day continues to blame his WCW failures on outside forces (18 years later, that hasn't changed). Dave expects WWF to feel the crunch of business declining and suspects that many of the low-paid developmental wrestlers under contracts should probably start being concerned for their jobs.
  • WWF and DirecTV struck a temporary deal to air the Unforgiven PPV. If you recall, they have been negotiating a new deal and it wasn't going well. But the two sides agreed to air Unforgiven under the terms of the old deal while they continue to negotiate a new one. Not airing the show would have cost both sides around $1 million each in lost profits, so needless to say, they both want to settle this. So for now, negotiations continue...
  • The unpredictable concerns over the economy in the wake of 9/11 are already becoming noticeable. Merch sales for WWF were down significantly since the attacks. House shows this week did okay but most of those tickets were bought when they first went on sale weeks and months ago, prior to the attack. The next round of house shows go on sale this week and seeing how those sell will be the real test. One WWF house show in Fairfax, VA was already cancelled this week due to low advance sales. WWF is also scheduled to return to Madison Square Garden in 2 weeks. Tickets for that show went on sale before 9/11 and were already weak and needless to say, they aren't picking up any steam now. Rock is working that show (one of the few house shows he's doing) and it seems that since returning from filming Scorpion King, even the Rock doesn't have the same drawing power he had beforehand. That being said, WWF has lots of revenue streams, lots of cash reserves, lots of stock they can sell, and they pay their wrestlers far less than any other sport. So WWF is uniquely positioned to weather this storm and probably still be okay.
  • For UFC, on the other hand, 9/11 couldn't have happened at a worse time. UFC's parent company Zuffa is based out of Las Vegas and the attacks have hit the Vegas casino business hard, with cancelled trips, people spending less money, etc. Nobody wants to get on a plane these days, much less just to fly to Vegas and throw away money in an uncertain economy. Zuffa owner Lorenzo Fertitta, who operates casinos in Vegas, also owns an investment company whose major offices were in the World Trade Center. Financially, Fertitta is getting hit on all sides right now, right as he's trying to get the revived UFC off the ground.
  • Oh yeah, speaking of WWF Unforgiven, that show is in the books and was highlighted by Kurt Angle winning the WWF title from Steve Austin in his hometown by making Austin tap out clean. The crowd was kinda flat for most of the show, despite a lot of good matches. From a long-term booking standpoint, Angle winning the title doesn't make a ton of sense, because there's a lot of mileage in Austin as champion, but it seemed as though the decision was made to give the crowd a feel-good ending considering the last few weeks the country has had (Bruce Prichard later admitted that, yeah, having Angle win the title here was purely a short-term "give the American audience something patriotic" decision). There were also a bunch of minor injuries during the show with Perry Saturn, Edge, Jericho, and Austin all got busted up lips or eyes.
  • The biggest story coming out of the show was the UndertakeKane vs. Kronik match which was so bad that it resulted in Kronik leaving the company after only debuting 3 weeks ago. Dave says it was the worst WWF PPV match of the year. No word on why Kronik left yet (some say they quit after the match and others say they were fired) but they have already reached out to Russo about working the WWA tour in Australia. The big story going around is that Jim Ross told them they would be sent to OVW or HWA for more training and in protest, they quit but Dave hasn't been able to verify that. If it's true, Dave suspects WWF was hoping they would quit because those 2 guys have lots of experience (both have worked for WWF in the past) so Dave feels like this might have been a way to push them into quitting. Considering they're not great workers anyway and they were notorious troublemakers in WCW, Dave doesn't understand why they were even hired in the first place, aside from the fact that Brian Adams and Undertaker are friends and it was basically a favor for Taker. (Dave clarifies a bit of this in later issues, not all of that is entirely correct).
  • Other notes from the PPV: Dave points out that Raven is in the best shape he's been in years. The first Edge vs. Christian match, which needed to be a star-making performance for both guys as they branch off as singles stars, was good but the lack of crowd reaction hurt it a lot. The aforementioned Kronik match gets negative-2 stars. RVD was one of the few guys to get a reaction, as the crowd was nuclear for him. This is the match where Jericho got his eye busted from a kick and needed stitches and Dave says RVD is getting a reputation for this sort of thing, which isn't good. And Angle's family celebrated with him in the ring after he won the title and they played it up as if he finally achieved his life-long dream, conveniently forgetting that Angle's already won the title once before. Lots of 3 and 4 star matches here, but the crowd really hurt the show overall.
  • UFC 33 is happening before you read this but after press time, so Dave hasn't seen it yet. And I wouldn't normally cover this but this show is legendarily bad, so here we go. Things were looking good at first. The show sold out weeks in advance, setting a record live gate and attendance for the company and UFC did a hell of a job promoting the main event for months beforehand. But then 9/11 happened and the economic woes of that are expected to take a toll on the buyrate. Then, due to 9/11, the high-profile Felix Trinidad vs. Bernard Hopkins boxing match got moved to within 24 hours of the UFC PPV, which is also expected to cause a major hit to UFC's PPV numbers. Then 10 days before the show, Vitor Belfort had to pull out of the show due to an arm injury in training, completely derailing the main event they spent months building. Vitor somehow fell through a glass window during training and suffered a horrible cut that required 40 stitches and partially severed his tricep. When he couldn't go, UFC scrambled to find a new, big name opponent for Tito Ortiz. First, they reached out to Ken Shamrock and offered him $180,000 to take the fight on a week's notice. Shamrock countered, asking for $500,000 and that pretty much ended those negotiations. So then Frank Shamrock was offered $150,000 but also turned it down, not wanting to risk his 4+ year unbeaten streak by taking a fight on such short notice with no time to train and prepare. It eventually went to Russian fighter Vladimir Matyushenko. Many insiders are predicting Matyushenko will win because he's a better wrestler and punches harder. Dave gives credit to Ortiz for also taking this fight without having time to prepare for it and thinks it's a hell of a risk for Ortiz. So we'll see.
  • Antonio Inoki and the promoters from PRIDE and K-1 held a joint press conference in Japan to announce another Inoki New Year's Eve show taking place on 12/31. It will be a joint show with PRIDE fighters, K-1 fighters, and pro wrestlers. The hook for the show is that there's expected to be a lot of Inoki's guys (all of whom fight for PRIDE) going against K-1 fighters, so basically inter-promotional MMA with a wrestling twist.
  • The idea of Universal getting into the wrestling biz is back on the table and it looks to be a go starting in November. Hulk Hogan had been in talks with Universal off and on for most of this year about starting a new promotion but as of press time, word is Hogan is not involved in this. Hogan is said to be more interested in returning to WWF than he is running his own promotion but until his lawsuit with Time Warner (over the whole Vince Russo/Bash 2000 incident) is settled, he probably won't be doing anything. Hogan is trying to argue in the lawsuit that the incident damaged his career, and it's going to be hard to prove that if he goes back to WWF and has a big money-making run there. Plus he's still recovering from a recent knee surgery. Jimmy Hart has continued negotiating with Universal and it appears he and Nasty Boy Brian Knobs will be running this new promotion, with Kevin Sullivan helping with booking. A 2-hour pilot is scheduled for filming in November and several former WCW stars and other unsigned names (mostly old 80s stars) have been contacted about coming in. They're also looking at some younger indie names and seem especially interested in former ECW star Super Crazy. Dave expects this to be run like an old Memphis-style studio territory show and figures Jerry Lawler will probably be involved too unless he re-signs with WWF before then. Anyway, Dave doesn't seem to have high hopes for this succeeding (indeed, it does not).
  • And now we have an article from Ben Miller. Dave drops an editor's note and says to welcome Ben Miller as a columnist for the Observer and expects him to have a column in here once a month or so. It's fine I guess, but it's really just an opinion piece by some guy who isn't Dave. But to his credit, it's a well-written column that makes some good points about what WWF needs to do to improve and make the Invasion angle and upcoming brand split work. But it just feels out of place here in the Observer. I believe Miller later become a columnist on the website and was involved for years after this.
  • In Puerto Rico, former WWF wrestler Tiger Ali Singh now wrestles for IWA and since 9/11, he has become the biggest heel in the promotion, with the fans chanting "terrorist!" at him (just in case you're wondering, Singh is from India and is not Muslim).
  • Remember the MMA fighter Brian Johnston who suffered a major stroke backstage at the last PRIDE show? Good news! It was originally thought he would be paralyzed from it and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but in the last few weeks, he's made a miraculous recovery, regaining a good deal of movement on his right side and is even able to stand with assistance. He still can't talk but he has total recognition of people who visit him. Doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery and should be able to walk again, although it would take an even bigger miracle for him to ever compete in MMA or wrestling again. (Here's an article about him from 2013. Long story short, he mostly recovered. He still suffers symptoms and doesn't have full motor control, but he recovered well enough to pretty much live a full life. But no, he never fought again).
READ: Brian Johnston: Where Is He Now?
  • Antonio Inoki finally made it back to Japan after being stranded in the U.S. after 9/11. As soon as he got back, he spoke with the media and criticized NJPW for the main event of their upcoming Tokyo Dome show, saying nobody wanted to see it and bashing them for not booking Fujita vs. Ogawa instead. Dave thinks this is some peak-WCW shit. The most popular icon in company history rips into his own company right before a big show, saying their main event sucks and nobody wants to see it. That's gonna do wonders for ticket sales. At least in WCW, the owners of the company weren't criticizing it publicly. While we're on the subject, Dave reviews the most recent NJPW TV show and says it's WCW-in-its-last-year levels of bad. Three different matches get negative star ratings. ("dAvE iS bIAsEd fOR neW jaPAn!")
  • Bushwhacker Butch was hospitalized this week with a staph infection. He had complained of a neck injury and then passed out and was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with staph and pneumonia. As of press time, he's still hospitalized and breathing through tubes (yeah he ended up getting sepsis and nearly dying).
  • In regards to the WWA tour in Australia, Vince Russo is reportedly pushing to have toplessness or maybe even full-frontal nudity for a women's bra & panties-type of match on the PPV they're filming. One of the women is former ECW/WCW valet Kimona/Leah Meow (so yeah, this match happened, but she wasn't in it. It was 3 women and a guy in drag, all nameless people who never went anywhere in the business. It was called a Skin To Win match. Two of the women (Penthouse Pets brought in to "wrestle" end up getting their tops taken off but they were wearing pasties because I assume they were forced to. When this PPV aired in the U.S., the match was edited off. Russo's brilliant billion dollar idea that would have revolutionized the industry, foiled by the censors again!).
  • Dave has been hearing rave reviews about a 4-way indie match featuring American Dragon, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels and Scoot Andrews, with many who saw it calling it the independent match of the year. Dave hasn't seen it yet but expects to have a tape in a week or two and will report back.
WATCH: American Dragon vs. Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Scoot Andrews - 2001
  • The New York Times did an interview with Linda McMahon for a story about how WWF is handling the current real-world situation in the wake of 9/11. The story hasn't ran yet but it's expected to reference WWF's exploitation of the Gulf War in 1991. In the interview, Linda mentioned that the name 'Raw Is War' is going to be changed to simply 'Raw' and that the December PPV Armageddon will be renamed (it becomes Vengeance). She also admitted that the events of 9/11 did play a part in Kurt Angle winning the WWF title this past week (I completely forgot Linda admitted it here).
  • Notes from Raw: Dave says it was a strange show. For starters, the night before at the PPV, they talked about having a big birthday celebration for Stephanie on Raw the next night. But that didn't happen. Stephanie's birthday was acknowledged, but there was no big party or angle about it. They also spent the entire episode teasing what would happen when Austin showed up but the entire show aired and....he never arrived. Dave again points out that hyping something for 2 hours and then simply not delivering is some WCW shit (it's also some 2019 WWE shit). There were several little things like that throughout the show also. Dave thinks back to 18 months ago when WCW used to do dumb shit every episode and he would always write, "WWF would never do this," and here we are 18 months later and it's happening all the time. Shane McMahon announced a match with Kurt Angle defending the WWF title against Booker T, leading Dave to wonder how in the hell Shane, as part of the Alliance, has the authority to make WWF title matches. DDP is now doing a self-help gimmick (who'da ever guessed?). RVD has been getting over huge as a face lately, so of course they put him in a match with Rock (the most popular guy in the company) and had him lose clean, which accomplished nothing other than killing RVD's momentum.
  • Sean O'Haire got into a fight in the crowd at an indie MMA show last week and was actually choked out by another fighter before the police broke it up. The guy who choked him out was also a lot smaller than him, but he also came up behind O'Haire to do it. But size doesn't matter and Dave says when a trained fighter gets the jump on you from behind and puts you in a choke, you're probably going to sleep no matter how big you are. That being said, O'Haire is lucky he doesn't work for Bill Watts because losing a real fight (to someone smaller than you no less) as a pro wrestler would get you fired back in Watts' day. O'Haire and the other guy were arrested after O'Haire was awakened from his slumber.
  • Eddie Guerrero is expected to leave rehab soon. During his time in treatment, Guerrero has been living with Tom Prichard, who has also been battling some addiction issues. Guerrero is still being paid his downside guarantee and is expected to be brought back to TV when he's done with rehab. Dave talks about how some guys don't succeed in rehab but then points out how William Regal is seen as the best case scenario. Regal had a nasty drug habit and was on the verge of washing out of the business and being deported, but he cleaned himself up and is now back on WWF TV in a prominent role and doing great. Dave hopes the same for Guerrero. When he's out, he'll probably spend some time in OVW first before returning to WWF.
  • Jim Ross answered a bunch of media questions on some conference thing last week. It was mostly a discussion about the future plans for WCW and since there isn't any definite plan yet, he had to be vague. Praised Booker T, RVD, and Kanyon for being 3 of the WCW guys to adapt well to WWF. Others praised Hurricane for the same but Ross was kinda dismissive of him, seeming not to agree. Noted that Jazz from ECW has signed and will be working with Sharmell Sullivan in OVW. Speaking of Sharmell, she was pretty much only signed as a favor to Booker T. He also praised Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera but basically said there's no place for them in WWF right now. Ross was asked about Ken Shamrock and praised him but said Shamrock has a lot of MMA stuff he wants to do and only wants to wrestle in WWF part-time. But they want him full-time, which is why he hasn't been brought back at all. In regards to Rock's blooming Hollywood career, Ross shrugged it off and basically said Rock is under contract to be a wrestler full-time and that's what he loves to do. Ross predicted that Rock may take off once a year to film a movie but that the WWF is his priority. Time will tell on that. If his movie career takes off, Dave doesn't see Rock sticking around.
  • Various WWF notes: the list of wrestlers who are hurt right now in WWF is absurd. Dave says it would be easier to list who's not hurt. Anyway, Dave lists everyone who's hurt, their injuries, their surgeries, when they're expected back, etc. There's going to be a WWF-themed episode of NBC's The Weakest Link show featuring WWF stars taping this week. Mick Foley is appearing on Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Shane McMahon was on the Opie & Anthony Show and was asked about Stephanie's breast implants, which led Shane to respond that "they are 2 good reasons to tune into Smackdown this week." Dave thinks that's kinda weird. Sara Undertaker has dyed her hair brown and is training to wrestle.
  • WWF is meeting with former WCW wrestler The Wall next month. He was originally going to be signed and brought in when they bought WCW, but then they learned he had a pretty nasty drug problem so they passed on him. Dave kinda doubts they'll hire him. He's big, but he's also not very good and already in his 30s with a drug strike against him. They might sign him and send him to developmental but they already have a ton of guys wasting away down there already.
  • If you've been noticing all the references to Ric Flair on WWF TV lately, it's not an accident. There has been a lot of consideration recently of buying out the remainder of his Time Warner contract. The reality is WWF has completely failed to create any new stars out of the WCW names they signed and if they are serious about running WCW as its own brand next year, they need big names. The other names discussed were Sting and Goldberg, but they both have a lot higher contracts with more time left on them and economically, it just doesn't make sense to WWF right now to bring them in. That being said, Dave kinda questions how valuable Ric Flair could be in WWF these days. WWF has a younger audience than WCW did and Flair isn't getting any younger. He can talk his ass off but as far as working matches, Dave doesn't seem to see much value in Flair as an in-ring guy beyond a few nostalgia matches with big name WWF stars. All in all, Dave feels like bringing in these big name WCW stars would have worked much better if they did it at the beginning of the angle months ago. Although in the end, it doesn't matter who they had. The way it was booked, with WWF just rolling over WCW like they were nothing and nobody wanting to sell for or put over the WCW stars, it would have still failed no matter who they had.
  • The latest on Triple H is that he isn't expected to make it back by Survivor Series as originally hoped. Now it's looking more like December (not quite).
FRIDAY: First season of Tough Enough comes to an end, WWF ordered to pay the World Wildlife Fund's legal bills, details on new XWF promotion, more on Kronik, NJPW ticket sales, and more...

► Observer Rewinds remaining: 13

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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jan. 1, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
Hi everybody! Man, I missed y'all. So in case you missed my explanation for why I took the last 2+ months off, basically my whole life changed recently. Wife got a new job that required us to move to a new city. Which meant I also had to find a new job, we had to sell our house, find a new place to live, get settled in a new city, and all that fun stuff. It's been a really hectic and crazy couple of months, but everything has worked out great and we're all good now. A million thanks to everyone for all the nice messages and well-wishes during all this. You guys are awesome and SquaredCircle is by far my favorite corner of the internet.
In the midst of all this, I finally managed to get caught up on writing these things. My plan is to hopefully keep the usual M/W/F at noon EST schedule that has worked so well for the last couple of years. But full disclosure, that may not always be possible. My last job was pretty comfortable, I could sit at my desk and surf Reddit while working at the same time and it was never a problem. My job situation has changed so this will probably be posted during my lunch breaks and that might vary. So while I will always try to post at around the same time as everyone is used to, that may not always be possible. So just bear with me while we make this work.
That's pretty much it. And now, let us begin....the final year of the Observer Rewind!
Oh yeah, one other thing. I hate to come back after such a long absence and drop a turd. But this issue kinda sucks and there's almost nothing major happening this week. But don't worry, they get better from here!
  • Dave opens the first issue of 2001 with a look back at the top wrestlers of 2000. The Observer award votes are still being tabulated and whatnot but Dave decides to look at the top candidates and give his own personal thoughts.
Kurt Angle had a star-making year. One of the best talkers in the business and already one of the best in-ring guys after only really one full year. Dave says if he continues to improve at this rate in 2001, barring injuries, he may be the best in the world by this time next year (yup).
Chris Benoit is probably the best in-ring guy in wrestling today and his jump from WCW to WWF (along with the other 3) pretty much tore the heart out of WCW and they've never recovered. Benoit was going to be a main eventer and likely multiple-time world champion in WCW, headlining PPVs and TV, and who knows what may have been different if he had stayed. They almost certainly would have still self-destructed, but at least the matches would have been better.
Triple H is the likely Wrestler of the Year winner and Dave wouldn't argue it. He spent 2000 as one of the top guys (alongside Rock) in WWF and had numerous MOTY-quality matches, was a top draw for PPV, tickets, ratings, everything. Held the title repeatedly. An incredible feud with Kurt Angle that unfortunately fizzled out but was great while it lasted, etc. Hard to argue that Triple H had the best 2000 out of anyone in wrestling.
Toshiaki Kawada. Without him, AJPW ceases to exist in 2000. His star power and that alone is the only thing keeping that promotion alive and the feud with NJPW has put Kawada in a position of having dream matches that will sell out the Tokyo Dome. His match with Kensuke Sasaki was one of the biggest matches in the history of Japanese wrestling. And in ring, he's a Benoit-level worker. You could argue that other wrestlers were better this year, but nobody was more valuable to their promotion than Kawada was to AJPW.
Mitsuharu Misawa didn't really have the kind of amazing in-ring year that he's been known for in the past. But the importance of the NOAH split from AJPW is hard to overstate and was likely the biggest business story in wrestling all year in Japan (worldwide, Dave thinks the slow death of WCW is a bigger story in the long-term). If this award was for most influential wrestler outside the ring, Misawa would get it due to the successful start of NOAH.
The Rock should probably be the favorite. He's not the in-ring talent that Triple H has, but he's still pretty damn great and has had some classic matches this year. He was the top draw for WWF by far and kept the company afloat with Austin out injured for most of the year. Plus, his sheer celebrity and mainstream value to the company is huge.
Kazushi Sakuraba is a controversial pick and there's been a lot of debate over whether he qualifies, since he's MMA and not pro wrestling. Dave argues the case to why he should be eligible but it's hard to make a fair comparison to wrestling. But Sakuraba's historical legacy in MMA was cemented this year when he started beating members of the Gracie family one-by-one in PRIDE. Speaking of......
  • Kazushi Sakuraba added another Gracie head to his mantle last week, defeating Ryan Gracie at PRIDE 12. It was controversial because Gracie came into the fight with a shoulder injury suffered in training a few days earlier and doctors had told him not to fight. Gracie agreed to still do the fight but only if it was limited to a 10 minute time limit, which fans didn't find out about until the day of the show and booed the shit out of it. There may have been an agreement made before the match because though Gracie's injury was well-known (Gracie cut a promo about it before the fight, about how their family is tough and they don't listen to doctors and yada yada. Basically, giving themselves an out if/when Gracie inevitably lost), Sakuraba never went after it in the fight. But he dominated the match and won by decision after the 10 minute time limit. He has now beaten Royler, Royce, Renzo, and Ryan in the span of the last 13 months (and that's why they call him the "Gracie Killer").
  • The next major story is a recap of the recent RINGS show, and then a brief note that TV ratings aren't available and then....that's it for the top front page stories. We're already halfway through the bulk of the issue and there's not much on actual wrestling at all so far. Just a bunch of MMA recaps. Let's see what the second half brings us...
  • RVD will likely be appearing at the AJPW Tokyo Dome show in late January. No word if he'll work a match but he's at least hoping to be there for the Stan Hansen retirement ceremony, since Hansen helped him a lot in his earlier years when Van Dam worked for AJPW in the early 90s.
  • The biggest show in Pro Wrestling NOAH history took place last week, selling out a 12,000 arena. Shinya Hashimoto debuted, pinning Takao Omori. Kenta Kobashi beat Jun Akiyama in a match many are calling the best of the year. Hashimoto is expected to work a few more shows for NOAH but he isn't signed.
  • A couple of rookies in NOAH are getting a lot of praise. Takashi Sugiura is already being compared to Kurt Angle, because he's a former amateur wrestler who is making a good transition. And the other is Kenta Kobayashi (later KENTA and then Hideo Itami), who will actually main event a show next month, teaming with Kobashi (the names are SO similar) against Misawa and Marufuji.
  • Dave saw NJPW's latest show (which aired on PPV in Japan) featuring an inter-promotional match against with AJPW's Masa Fuchi and Kawada against NJPW's Takashi Iizuka and Yuji Nagata and he gives it the full 5 stars. Which is funny because on most lists you find online, this match isn't listed. Most people thought NJPW didn't get a single 5-star match between 1997 and 2012 but in a throwaway paragraph reviewing this show, he calls it a definite 5-stars and potential MOTY. So there ya go: the lost 5-star classic.
WATCH: Masa Fuchi & Kawada vs Takashi Iizuka and Yuji Nagata - AJPW vs. NJPW inter-promotional match
  • Antonio Inoki will have a 5-minute "exhibition match" at his New Year's Eve show (Dave is seemingly unaware at this point that Inoki's opponent will end up being Renzo Gracie).
  • Legendary wrestler Johnny Valentine is on death's door. Back in August, he broke his back falling off his front porch, which nearly killed him. In September he nearly died from a lung infection. He's been in and out of comas throughout that time and now he's back in the hospital again for the same reason (he ends up hanging on until April).
  • Dave saw the latest TV taping from the UPW indie promotion in California. WWF sent the Hardyz and Lita to work the show. Juventud Guerrera, Christopher Daniels, and Michael Modest were on it as well. WWF developmental wrestler Nathan Jones recently started there. Of all the guys working for UPW, Prototype (real name John Cena) shows the most promise. He's got an incredible look and superstar charisma, but he's not that good in the ring yet. Dave hopes he won't be rushed to the big leagues too soon because he will be exposed and it's hard to overcome the rep as a bad wrestler. Lots of people have been comparing Cena to a young Sting. Either way, Dave thinks the guy has a ton of potential to be a star if they don't fuck it up.
  • RVD seems to have accepted the idea that he's not going back to ECW and has said at some point in the next few months, he'll decide whether he's going to WWF or WCW. His agent has had talks with both companies. WWF is interested but they're more interested in Jerry Lynn because apparently the wrestlers in WWF who have worked with both of them prefer Lynn (RVD kinda had a reputation for accidentally hurting people). WCW is interested but can't do anything because there's a hiring freeze right now. RVD is probably the most marketable free agent on the market right now but there's still no guarantees of anything for him.
  • Randy Savage will appear in the Spider-Man movie as villain named "Saw Bones McGraw" (close enough, Dave). They're filming scenes with him and Spider-Man in a cage match.
WATCH: Randy Savage as Bone Saw in Spiderman
  • ECW held a show at the ECW Arena that was said to be somewhat of a weird show. The crowd was down from usual, only about 1000 people, rather than the usual over-packed crowd. Everyone on the roster were given checks post-dated for the following Tuesday, which now leaves them 6 weeks behind on pay. But there's no more shows scheduled until the PPV next week. Super Crazy returned, even though his father died the night before. And during the main event, Sandman tried to recreate the famous chair incident from a few years ago, asking fans to throw chairs in the ring, which many thought was pretty negligent considering how dangerous that is for all the fans at ringside. Justin Credible caught a chair in the head that he wasn't prepared for and several fights broke out in the crowd during the incident also, due to fans getting hit by other fans. Then security ended up attacking fans and it was a whole mess for awhile there. (And that, folks, was the very last real ECW show ever at the ECW Arena. Pour one out for the end of an era.)
  • Notes from the latest ECW Hardcore TV: neither the Dudleyz match or the Tazz promo from the tapings aired. Dave assumes WWF wouldn't allow it. Joey Styles talked about Mikey Whipwreck having 17 documented concussions which Dave thinks is pretty scary. That's basically it.
  • Notes from Nitro: Kevin Nash, DDP, and Sid Vicious all returned and none of them were punished for walking out last week, nor was Scott Steiner punished for his off-script promo. Nor were he or DDP punished for their backstage fight. Eric Bischoff flew out the day before and basically sat down with everybody to hash out their problems. He gave everyone the impression that he'll be taking over the company in 2001 and is trying to start things with a clean slate. Needless to say, there was a lot of resentment from the undercard wrestlers about top stars being able to just walk out of live TV tapings, shoot on the mic, and get into fights and not only go unpunished, but be put right back on TV the next week in their same top positions. Lex Luger walked out earlier this year and came back in a stronger position than when he left. Buff Bagwell has been in and out of trouble all year, is hated by much of the locker room, but still gets significant TV time in the uppercard. Meanwhile, guys like Lance Storm and Mike Awesome are out there every night busting their asses (with Awesome fighting to overcome the career-killing 70s guy gimmick) and they're barely a focal point of the show. Some in management wanted to punish everyone who walked out, but with Bischoff expected to take control any day now, they were afraid to because it's no secret that DDP and Bischoff are close friends, as are Bischoff and Nash. So it was believed any punishment levied against them would just be overturned by Bischoff anyway. Anyway, this is the Nitro that isn't airing in the U.S. but was still taped for international markets. Not much in the way of storyline progression, mostly just matches.
  • Former wrestler Tom Zenk was on a radio show discussing the potential WCW sale to Bischoff, calling it "a fire sale to the arsonist" and saying Time Warner is selling the company because it's not profitable, to the guy who made it unprofitable to begin with.
  • Remember an incident last year where Bagwell punched a ring crew member and got charged for it? Bagwell plea bargained out of it and was ordered to pay a $500 fine, one year of probation, and perform 20 hours of community service. At the time, Bagwell was suspended for 30 days over it, which cost him approx. $45,000 in pay. A rare example of WCW actually punishing someone.
  • WCW sent a few guys (David Flair, Mark Jindrak, Sean O'Hair, and Jung Dragons) to work the NWA Wildside show, which is their developmental territory. Speaking of, wrestlers Air Paris and AJ Styles have been stealing the shows at the Wildside events lately.
  • Road Dogg was sent home from the Smackdown tapings and was suspended indefinitely without pay. At this time, there's no plans to bring him back. He showed up in bad shape to the tapings and had a match teaming with K-Kwik against Lo Down that was said to be an embarrassment because of his performance. WWF wants him to get his life in order before they even consider bringing him back. He's gone through rehab a couple of times but it never took. Dave says the difference between WWF and WCW is that chances are, you're not going to see Triple H and X-Pac going on TV for the next few weeks doing Road Dogg's catchphrases and trying to go into business for themselves on his behalf, unlike some people. (Here's the match. I dunno, doesn't seem any worse than Road Dogg's usual bad matches. But you do hear the commentary talking about Road Dogg looking out of it and hinting that maybe he has a concussion. And you can definitely tell that he's a little off his game, but if you didn't know to specifically look for it, I doubt you'd really notice. He was never Ric Flair in the ring to begin with.)
WATCH: Road Dogg & K-Kwik vs. Lo Down
  • Notes from Raw: they had a hardcore match with Blackman, Holly, and Raven that ended up outside in the 9 degree winter weather. Dave feels sorry for those guys out there in tights and no shirt wrestling in that. The RTC cut a promo talking about how bad the internet is. (I went on the Network and watched this and it's great. Bull Buchanan cuts a promo on the APA's "Always Pounding Ass" shirt and then Goodfather finished it off with this quote: "The internet has become a harbinger of nothing more than filth and decay. The world wide web is there to trap you until it slowly strangles all the goodness from each and every one of you!" Well, he's not wrong.)
  • WWF officially sold the hotel and casino they bought in Las Vegas a few years ago. The original plan was to remodel the hotel as a WWF theme hotel, with a TV studio and small arena so they could hold live shows. But they quickly realized that it just wasn't feasible and have spent the last two years trying to sell it. They finally unloaded it for $11.2 million which is about $2 million more than they paid for it in 1999, so at least there's that.
  • There's been talk of bringing Bobby Heenan back to WWF to do commentary on one of the B or C-level shows, but that discussion seemed to go nowhere. Larry Zbyszko will also be getting an announcing audition soon and has pitched himself to be the new WWF on-screen commissioner as well.
  • The Rock was supposed to be doing announcing for the Orange Bowl Parade but WWF pulled him out of it. The company is being extremely protective of Rock right now and want to make sure he looks good in any non-wrestling mainstream thing he does, and there was concern about him doing commentary on a parade since, I mean, wtf does Rock know about parades? They didn't want him to look out of his depth or put in a situation he wouldn't be good at.
  • Update on WWF possibly moving out of Titan Towers: right now, many of the employees are doubled up in offices because they've outgrown the building and are out of space. There's been talk that they may sell the building and move to a new location soon.
  • Davey Boy Smith had another hearing for allegedly making death threats towards Bruce Hart. He pleaded not guilty. Bruce's estranged wife Andrea is now living with Davey Boy. His previous charges stemming from threats against Diana Hart Smith and Ellie Neidhart were dropped. Smith now says he's been clean since July, that he wants to open a wrestling school, and that he's no longer in the WWF. In a Calgary Sun story, Smith said, "I was involved in that (Hart) family for 20 years and I'm sad to say it was the worst 20 years I ever had." That led Bret Hart to speak out to defend his family name, and he said, "If it wasn't for my family and the opportunities my father gave him, Davey would still be working in the Wigan mines. He's talking about a dysfunctional family at the same time he has taken off with my brother Bruce's wife--you're right in the thick of it, buddy." (It's amazing how much of the Hart family drama played out in the Calgary Sun over the years.)
  • The Chyna issue of Playboy reportedly sold more than a million copies, while the first Sable issue did around 800,000. Dave expects a lot more WWF women in Playboy considering those kinds of numbers.
WEDNESDAY: Paul Heyman in talks to sell ECW, Antonio Inoki's New Year's Eve show, Vince McMahon Playboy interview, WCW fires Mark Madden, and more...
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Nov. 6, 2000

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-3-2000 1-10-2000 1-17-2000 1-24-2000
1-31-2000 2-7-2000 2-14-2000 2-21-2000
2-28-2000 3-6-2000 3-13-2000 3-20-2000
3-27-2000 4-3-2000 4-10-2000 4-17-2000
4-24-2000 5-1-2000 5-8-2000 5-15-2000
5-22-2000 5-29-2000 6-5-2000 6-12-2000
6-19-2000 6-26-2000 7-3-2000 7-10-2000
7-17-2000 7-24-2000 7-31-2000 8-7-2000
8-14-2000 8-21-2000 8-28-2000 9-4-2000
9-11-2000 9-18-2000 9-25-2000 10-01-2000
10-09-2000 10-15-2000 10-23-2000 10-30-2000
  • Bret Hart officially announced his retirement this week due to concussions he suffered starting back at Starrcade from a Goldberg kick. Doctors actually speculated that Hart may have had a concussion going into the match, but the kick magnified the damage. Following the Goldberg match, Hart continued to wrestle for a couple of weeks and got rocked again several times, particularly in a hardcore match with Terry Funk. Doctors said he's suffered about 10% brain damage, some of which may be permanent. Despite the injury, there was always the possibility that he could have remained an on-screen character in some role. But Hart was fired by WCW last week, which basically left him with no real options, since he has no intention of ever working for WWF again and said he doesn't want to end his career by working his way down the minor league food chain like so many other wrestlers do. Dave says Hart will be remembered for many things, and while his career had no shortage of memorable moments, the name Bret Hart will always be mostly associated with what happened in Montreal 3 years ago and with the death of his brother Owen. The first was the most historically influential match in modern times and Owen's death was the biggest mainstream news story in wrestling history. The last 3 years of Bret's life have been hell, from a disappointing WCW run, injuries, and the utter destruction of the Hart family in the wake of Owen's death. Dave thinks it's sad because if this was Japan or Mexico, the wrestling culture there is different. If a star on the level of Bret Hart retired there, they would have elaborate retirement ceremonies and make a huge deal of it. But here in America, he was double-crossed out of the WWF to avoid giving him a fond farewell, and then he was unceremoniously fired from WCW rather than having a chance to officially retire in the ring or give a speech for his fans. Then again, with the state of WCW, nobody would have believed a Bret Hart retirement speech anyway, since everyone would just suspect an angle. But it sucks that he's having to hang up the boots while unemployed and with no outlet to be given the send-off he deserves.
  • Dave recaps Bret's career, starting as a teenager in the Amarillo territory with Dory Funk, his time in Japan, and then starting in Stampede and working his way up the ladder there (he started as an opening match jobber). Forming the Hart Foundation with Neidhart, their years together in WWF, his singles run, becoming IC and WWF champion when business was down and Vince needed someone who wasn't exploding with steroids to be the face of the company. As WWF champion, business was weak in the U.S. but Hart was a huge draw when WWF toured internationally (which they did a lot more back then because U.S. business was so bad). And then of course, Shawn Michaels, the Screwjob, and off to WCW where he was the hottest star in the business upon arrival. But from there, he was the victim of injuries and horrible booking and Hart in WCW never clicked. Dave goes on and on about the countless times WCW dropped the ball with how they booked Bret. Anyway, Hart has ruled out ever wrestling again, for fear of more brain damage and not wanting to live the rest of his life as a drooling vegetable. He also shot down the idea of ever being a manager because he's unhappy with the direction of the business and says he's leaving the industry entirely, not just the in-ring part. He plans to spend the next year working on a book about his life and doing some acting. Luckily, he should be well off financially. He earned north of 7 figures during his last four years in the business and has a Lloyds of London disability policy that will pay him the equivalent of 6 months salary, which will be another million or so.
  • Bret Hart announced his retirement in his Calgary Sun column and since you can't just easily find this online anymore, here's what Bret wrote:
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That'll be the beginning." -- Louis La'Amour.
I'm really sorry to have to say that my professional wrestling career is over--forever. Although I've expected it to end for some time now, I could in no way ever prepare for it.
I suppose it doesn't do much good to speak negatively about how this or that has gone for me. I feel it is more fitting right now to remember the more positive aspects of my long and great career. I have not one regret. I'm proud of all my achievements, especially my seven World Heavyweight Championships.
I will miss the cities, the countries, especially the people--all colours, all religions, all ages, all languages. I've always tried my absolute best in every match, in every city, big or small, in countries all around the world.
I cannot begin to explain how proud I am to have touched so many people with the ability to wrestle. My heart is filled with memories. Like when I was mobbed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem by Palestinian children, tears in their eyes, kissing my hands. In Belfast, Ireland, being cheered on by both Catholic and Protestant fans, the emotions that poured out as I walked around the ring high-fiving our victory together. The time I was in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, where they waved Canadian flags and chanted O Canada! I could go on endlessly, but maybe it's easier to say I was privileged to be the only world champion who really travelled the world.
I hope that my fans who have kept the faith, believing in me, may in some small way take some lesson from me that will help them in their lifetime. I will never forget how touched I was in Rochester, N.Y. in one of my last matches, when a bunch of die-hard fans held up a sign that read: Parking $10, Program $5, Ticket $35, watching Bret Hitman Hart wrestle--priceless."
I'm forever grateful for the doors that opened bringing me to America. Thank you for having me, for giving me so much. I thank all my fans everywhere. I owe you all for everything I am.
As for the wrestlers, it would mean a lot to me to always be remembered as "one of the boys." I've made great friendships that will last my lifetime and look forward to an easier life filled with reminiscing.
To all of you who worked with me, carried me, and trusted me, those who allowed my success to continue while theirs did not, all from a deep sense of tradition and honour. I tried to always work hard to be champion in your eyes first. My greatest accomplishment is knowing that I never seriously harmed one wrestler. It may not seem important, but I want it remembered that in all the years I never, ever refused to lose to another wrestler--except once--and that was that fateful day in Montreal, where it's clear that I stood up for "the boys."
I could begin to list all the great wrestlers I either watched or worked with, but it would take forever. I will simply say that I'd give anything to climb into the ring with so many of you just one more time. To most people, wrestling is stupid, it's fake, it doesn't mean anything. When I think about it, I'm reminded of a quote by George Braque: "Art is a sound turned to light."
I drift back to a time when I was 23 years old, wrestling for my father, in Regina, making $150 a night. It looked like it was going to be a near full crowd on hand to see me take on my arch rival, The Dynamite Kid, in a ladder match. The title and a bag supposedly containing $5,000 dangled from a string above the ring. Whoever could climb the ladder and grab it first would be the winner.
We were both so young when I look back on it now, so intense, when the bell rang, we tore into each other, ferociously, eventually spilling out onto the floor. I went to slam Dynamite's head into a steel chair. He, of course, had his hands up for protection, but I had no idea he would hit it so hard. His head bounced back, I tried to turn, but our heads smashed. I split the back of his head open and shattered my face, one of those rare accidents.
I could tell it was bad. I could poke my finger through a gaping hole in the middle of my nose. The blood poured. We fought on. I remember Dynamite jumping up high, gripping that heavy steel ladder coming down straight down on my head. I didn't move. The crowd gasped. I dreamed a smile--because he never even touched me. He really was the best. Finally, I had him right where I wanted him, but the referee was down. That's when J.R. Foley crept up on the apron and whacked me across the back with his heavy walking stick. Down I went. The crowd was furious--so unfair. Dynamite began to climb to the top, his fingers reaching. Suddenly, I jumped up, throwing a perfect desperation drop kick, just like he asked me. "...just barely touch the ladder with your toes. I'll control how I go over."
Sure enough, the ladder wobbled and tipped, he grimaced, over they both went, with amazing timing. Dynamite leapt off, straddling the top rope, bouncing up and out right on top of J.R. Foley. But the ladder hit the top rope with such force, bouncing all the way back, heading right toward me. I was lucky I saw it. I rolled and rolled as fast as I could. It crashed with a thud, missing my head by only inches. I sat up, checking to see if Dynamite was hurt. He appeared to be all right, but still both of us knew we'd be going for some stitches.
He was riding with me, so he had to duck down when we drove past the fans on the way to the Pasqua Hospital. From there, we drove back home, all night, so that we could wrestle the following night, too tired to say a word to each other.
But if I can stop right somehow try and explain just what it is that I will miss the most about wrestling, I loved it all so much. I stood that big steel ladder up, one step up, climbing higher and higher, the crowd soaring with me, louder and louder, the blood dripping off my nose...reaching...I pulled that belt down and there it was--it happened. The crowd exploded.
We blew the roof loud I could not hear a single sound except the beating of my own heart. If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you live, you also have to find the courage to finally say goodbye.
I'll put my guns in the ground. I can't shoot them any more.
  • The WWF/Owen Hart lawsuit was verbally settled out of court, pending a court approval scheduled later this week. Various sources have pegged the settlement at $18 million. It's believed Stu and Helen Hart will receive somewhere between $2-3 million, with the rest going to Martha Hart and her two young children. Martha told the Calgary Sun that the whole ordeal has been a nightmare and she can't say much more for legal reasons but that she's satisfied with the settlement. It's believed that WWF may file suit against the company that manufactured the rigging equipment, but Vince McMahon would only say that they are exploring their options on that. Martha Hart had previously vowed she would never settle before the case went to court, but those close to her say she was tired of the stress and was particularly upset that the case had torn the Hart family apart. Stu and Helen in particular were eager to settle and get it over with. The first round of settlement talks went poorly, with McMahon reportedly offering $17 million and refusing to budge, while Martha's initial asking price was said to be $32 million. It ended with Martha "cutting a promo" on Vince (oh Dave...) and talks broke off. The case was made more complicated by different Hart members' inability to stop talking to the media against lawyers' advice. At one point, Ellie Neidhart (Nattie's mom), who has sided against her parents and with WWF in the case, took a document from Stu Hart regarding all of the Hart children getting money out of the case and passed it on to WWF's lawyers, which engulfed the Hart lawyers in a storm of controversy and nearly blew up their whole case. The original Feb. 2001 court date was postponed indefinitely following that and with no new court date in sight so it was likely to continue dragging on for months and maybe even years. So ultimately, Martha decided to settle (yeah I think to this day, Martha blames Ellie for almost destroying the case and that's why she was forced to settle). As of press time, Bret Hart hasn't yet commented on the settlement, but he knew it was coming. He was on the Observer Live online show the day before it was finalized and said he understood Martha's position and would support whatever decision she made.
  • The downward spiral of Davey Boy Smith hit a new low this week when he was arrested on 2 separate occasions for allegedly threatening the life of his estranged wife, Diana Hart-Smith. Dave talks about Smith's worsening drug problems in recent years along with all his health issues in between and how he's been in and out of the hospital constantly in the last two years. He also had a motorcycle accident a few weeks ago, multiple rehab stints, etc. Anyway, Smith was arrested on Oct. 25th and again on Oct. 26th. The first time, it was on 2 counts of threatening to kill his wife and her sister Ellie (again...Nattie's mom). After being released the next day, he allegedly threatened his wife again and was arrested again. She thought he was still in custody and went back to the house and was surprised to find him there and that led to the second arrest. Police have been to their house several times in the last few months for domestic disputes. There was also an incident a while back with Smith getting into a fight with Diana's new boyfriend, a Stampede wrestler who wrestles under the name Dick Butkus Jr. during which 85-year-old Stu Hart had to get involved and help break it up. Anyway, Smith spent this past weekend behind bars in Calgary, spending his time signing autographs for other inmates, but was released on the 30th on bail. But he faces 5 charges related to all his threats. Part of the conditions for his release were paying a $10,000 fine and he's not allowed to have any contact with Diana, Ellie, Bruce Hart, or Diana's new boyfriend. (Dave later mentions that Davey Boy is shacking up with Bruce's estranged wife Andrea now. Man, this fuckin' family, I tell ya...) He's also not allowed to drink or take any non-prescribed drugs and is ordered to stay away from where his wife is staying, along with staying away from Bruce Hart's home and Stu Hart's home. He was also ordered to enter rehab, even though he denied in court that he still has a drug problem.
  • Davey Boy is still under WWF contract, though he hasn't wrestled a match in months. But the WWF has suspended him pending the company's own investigation of the charges. In the past, he blamed his drug issues and back problems from taking a bump on Ultimate Warrior's trap door in the ring when he was in WCW. Dave recaps the series of events that led to him getting rehired by WWF and talks about how they hired Jim Neidhart back as well and it was no secret that Smith, Diana, and Neidhart's wife Ellie were all planning to testify against the family in the Owen Hart case if it had gone to trial. So it wasn't exactly a coincidence that both Smith and Neidhart got jobs that neither of them really had any business getting (Neidhart was hired as a trainer, which everyone knew he wasn't qualified for and Smith was brought back as a wrestler despite a crippling back injury and more crippling drug problem). Neidhart was quietly released a few weeks ago and with the Owen Hart lawsuit finally settled, it probably doesn't look good for Smith (indeed, he never stepped foot in the WWF again).
  • WCW Halloween Havoc is in the books and was possibly the worst wrestling PPV of the year. At this point, you'd think everyone in WCW would be putting their best foot forward to impress potential buyers, especially if that buyer ends up being the WWF and Vince becomes their new boss. But it was almost all bad matches and abysmal booking. The only bright side is that it was in Vegas and a lot of the tickets were sold to casinos for giveaways, so the show ended up being one of the biggest live gates WCW has had in awhile, even if the crowd wasn't exactly all wrestling fans. Russo is now out of the picture (claiming post-concussion syndrome and stress), but the show was booked by guys like Ed Ferrara and Bill Banks, who are basically mini-Russos and are just keeping his chair warm. So it wasn't quite the same scattershot chaos as most Russo-booked shows, but it still had the same lack of understanding about what makes a good wrestling show that Russo has perfected. Everyone involved (Ferrara, Banks, Terry Taylor, Johnny Ace, etc.) were told to continue Russo's stories rather than changing direction so everything mostly stayed the same.
  • Other notes from Halloween Havoc: the opening tag title three-way match was the best and really only good match on the show., due to Mysterio, Kidman, and Alex Wright's performances. In typical WCW fashion, they had a top notch snafu showing Palumbo and Stasiak in their street clothes backstage, just seconds after being in their gear and doing a run-in on the previous match. So they put up a thing on the screen that said "taped earlier in the day" to cover for it, but then during the segment, Palumbo and Stasiak were talking about what they just did in the ring minutes earlier. David Flair looked totally lost in his first blood match with Bagwell and even though he's been a midcard star in WCW for over a year now, Dave says if he went to OVW, he'd still be the worst guy on the roster. David Flair is just not ready for the big leagues and it shows. Negative star. Mike Sanders vs. The Cat in a kickboxing match was a total clusterfuck that Cat apparently refused to do the job for since it's "his" gimmick match, so he lost by count-out instead, even though the time limit for the last round had already expired and it was just a mess. Negative half star. Mike Awesome vs. Vampiro is negative 2.5 stars. That's three matches in a row in the negatives, with 2 DUD rankings book-ending them. Dave expected Awesome/Vampiro to actually be good but it had more blown spots than any match he's seen on PPV in years. They were apparently supposed to do a table spot to end the match but they couldn't find any tables under the ring and the match fell apart and Vampiro ended up taking a top rope powerbomb that gave him a concussion and shook him up badly (didn't stop WCW from having him take another powerbomb at the Thunder taping the next day, even though he told them beforehand about the concussion, but we'll get there). And babyface world champion Booker T was booed by a good chunk of the crowd during his match with Scott Steiner.
  • The latest PRIDE event in Japan drew a sellout crowd mostly due to so many pro wrestlers being involved. It also saw Naoya Ogawa defeat Masaaki Satake in a match most people believed was worked. Ogawa is Antonio Inoki's protege and he's keeping Ogawa protected. Dave says it definitely helps Ogawa keep his name and star power in a highly publicized match, but it doesn't say a lot for PRIDE's credibility. There's also suspicion that Nobuhiko Takada's fight against Igor Vovchanchyn was somewhat worked. Takada lost, but Igor is one of the top ranked heavyweights in the world and Takada went nearly 2 full rounds with him. Most people suspect the finish wasn't worked, but that Igor was told to take it easy on him because Takada is still a big draw and they wanted him to look strong in defeat against a guy he had no chance with. There were several other wrestlers on the card as well. Inoki came out at intermission and announced he was putting together his own show at the Osaka Dome for New Year's Eve (this ends up being the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye show, which also sees Inoki come out of retirement for his final "match" ever. More on all this in a bit).
  • Genichiro Tenryu, at age 51, defeated Toshiaki Kawada to win the tournament and be crowned AJPW's newest Triple Crown champion, filling the vacancy left over after previous champion Kobashi left for NOAH. This complicates the AJPW/NJPW angle. There's 2 Tokyo Dome shows coming up in January. The first is NJPW's Jan. 4th show and there's another one near the end of the month that's an AJPW show, but will have some NJPW involvement. But Motoko Baba wants to protect the champion because she's hoping AJPW will still survive after the NJPW angle is over. In the past, companies like UWFI and WAR were desperate to survive and started working with NJPW, only to be devoured by NJPW's booking and left to die after the angle ran its course. Mrs. Baba is hoping to avoid the same fate, so she's not going to let Tenryu work a NJPW show and lose (remember, at the last show, NJPW's champion Kensuke Sasaki lost to Kawada and they won't let that happen 2 times in a row). Now that he's not the champion, it frees Kawada up to have a rematch with Sasaki, where he will presumably return the favor and do the job, but it won't be to unify the titles anymore.
WATCH: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW Triple Crown Championship match
  • Let's look at some various poll results. Every issue has results for the polls they run online every day or so. Usually I skip over these because they're boring but they're kinda interesting this week. "How should WCW handle the situation with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall" got 55% of voters saying Nash should be suspended for going off script on live TV. As for the future of ECW, 30% of voters think it won't last much longer, while most everyone else thinks it will struggle but continue to survive. Whoops. And finally, Bret Hart's greatest match was 35% for the match with Owen at WM10 and 33% for the match with Austin at WM13.
  • Stan Hansen has an autobiography that was released in Japanese that is selling like crazy in Japan. Hansen is near the end of his career, but he's probably the most popular American wrestler in Japanese history and has been a top star there since the 70s. (Hansen had an English autobiography released in 2012 called The Last Outlaw. I'm not sure if it's the same book translated to English or if there's another one out there in Japanese from 12 years earlier).
  • NOAH will hold tournaments early next year to crown their first heavyweight, tag team, and junior heavyweight champions.
  • Shinya Hashimoto was pulled out of upcoming NJPW shows because they're apparently doing an angle where he is starting his own promotion, in order to do a feud with NJPW (turns out this wasn't an angle at all. Hashimoto really did get fired from NJPW around this time and started Pro Wrestling Zero-One. The real story there is murky and no one seems to know for sure exactly what led to his firing. I think he ended up doing one or two more matches for NJPW over the next year or so, but otherwise, this is the end of Hashimoto in NJPW).
  • Dave recently had a chance to read the book "Bodyslams!" by former WCW ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta and liked it. It's not better than Mick Foley's book or anything, but Dave gives it credit for accuracy. Mostly it glosses over a lot of the scandalous stuff and is more about Cappetta's personal experiences rather than giving much detail on what was happening in the business at the time. Dave thinks the book could have gone into more detail on the things going on behind the scenes in WCW during pivotal periods like when Jim Herd, Kip Frey, or Bill Watts was in charge. Overall, definitely better than The Rock's farce of a book but still lacking what made Foley's and Dynamite Kid's books so fascinating.
  • Steve Allen, the famous comedian and first ever host of the Tonight Show, died last week at age 78. This is only relevant here because most recently, Allen has been one of the lead spokespeople for the PTC and has been one of the most vocal opponents of WWF programming. Ironically enough, early in his career, Allen worked on TV as a wrestling announcer in the 1950s, though he never took it seriously, and in 1990, he appeared at Wrestlemania 6.
  • The documentary "Gaea Girls", which is about a young woman trying to get into Japanese women's wrestling, has been winning some awards and been admitted to some film festivals.
WATCH: Gaea Girls documentary
  • "Walker: Texas Ranger" this week did an episode loosely based on Owen Hart's death. It's about a wrestler, in costume, who fell from the ceiling during a show. Although in the case of this show, it was a murder ordered by a ruthless promoter trying to take over the territory of another promoter, who's a kind, older guy. The obvious parallels were a more evil version of Vince McMahon and a gentler version of Stu Hart. Dave thought the episode sucked and also got really sad by it. Dave says he hasn't watched Over The Edge again since Owen's death and seeing it fictionally re-enacted for a TV show was really depressing.
WATCH: Walker: Texas Ranger re-enacts Owen Hart's death
  • Scott Hall was arrested this week for probation violation while he was already in court for a child custody hearing. This charge stems from some 1998 case where he keyed up a limo outside a strip club in Orlando. At the time, Hall had been given probation and ordered to complete a bunch of community service by April of 2000. He never completed the community service, so....probation violation. Hall was in court with his estranged wife Dana and he filed for sole custody of their 2 children, claiming Dana is "emotionally and mentally unstable and an unfit parent" but then Hall got arrested at the courthouse and the hearing was postponed. Speaking of, Dana herself has had 2 contempt-of-court charges against her recently for refusing to let Hall have visitation with their kids when she was supposed to.
  • PPV news: CMLL in Mexico is holding a big year end show in December and are negotiating for it to air on PPV in the U.S., which would be the first Lucha Libre PPV to air here since When Worlds Collide in 1994. And remember a few months back when a promoter in Australia brought in Dennis Rodman and a bunch of other kinda big name stars and ran a show? Well it will also air on PPV in the U.S. and Canada and Mexico next month. That show was headlined by Rodman vs. Curt Hennig which ended in a double-count out because apparently Rodman refused to do the job. Word is that show was terrible, like this year's version of Heroes of Wrestling, but Australia is so starved for live wrestling that the crowd heat was still off-the-charts.
  • Juventud Guerrera worked an indie show in Puerto Rico and right now, he's trying to get hired in WWF, or at least stay out of trouble long enough to get rehired by WCW. Guerrera has reached out to WWF through friends he has there, but after what happened with him last month in Australia, WWF apparently isn't interested.
  • The latest OVW show saw Nick Dinsmore win the OVW title from Rob Conway. On the same show, Brock Lesnar wrestled a dark match against former UFC fighter Ron Waterman. Lesnar won and hey, who knows, maybe he's got a future in beating up UFC fighters.
  • Ted Dibiase and Nikita Koloff are on a church tour together where they wrestle matches against each other and then preach sermons or something.
  • The lines between wrestling and MMA got blurrier this week when Atsushi Onita went to the PRIDE offices and met with their promoter. Onita then issued a challenge to Antonio Inoki for a match, saying he wants to retire (of course) and his last match has to be with Inoki. PRIDE officials put out a statement saying they wouldn't promote one of Onita's exploding barbed wire matches, but that they would gladly promote Inoki vs. Onita under PRIDE rules in their ring. Inoki responded, telling reporters that he's retired. There's rumor that Onita will be appearing at Inoki's New Year's Eve show to set up some kind of angle.
  • Paul Heyman and Sabu have a court date scheduled for later this month over their issues. If you remember, Sabu left ECW to go try to go to WCW but his contract prevented it. Heyman then sued Sabu for breach of contract when he started working other shows (particularly for XPW). Meanwhile, Sabu has also filed some legal paperwork to try to get out of his contract, so hopefully that will all be settled soon.
  • Speaking of ECW, there doesn't seem to be anything new happening on the TV front. Negotiations with USA have apparently stalled. So....not great news. The latest episode of ECW Hardcore TV shows the signs of how things are going. The in-ring action was good but the show is beginning to look more and more low-budget by the week, as the company continues struggling to stay afloat. The announcers weren't flown in (it was dubbed in later in post-production) and the lighting was terrible.
  • Still nothing new on the sale of WCW but rumors are flying like crazy because everyone is paranoid. For the first time, in an interview, Linda McMahon acknowledged that it's true that WWF is in discussions to purchase WCW but word is no substantial progress has been made yet.
  • Notes from Nitro: it was a sad episode because the crowd was tiny and it almost felt like a bad indie show, especially because the small crowd was pretty dead. It was a disaster, with a total of 1,454 fans in the building and only 768 of them paid. Even worse, they tried to paper it but only 33% of the free tickets that were given out were used. WCW literally can't even give this shit away. Ric Flair returned as the new CEO of WCW and got almost no pop at all from the crowd, then cut a boring promo. Dave thinks it's sad that this is where things have gotten for him. The greatest of all time, cutting middling promos in front of a small crowd for a dying company. Then Jarrett came out to talk and the mic went dead. The fans chanted for Scott Hall all through the Kronik/Palumbo & Stasiak match. Kevin Nash was on commentary but after last week, he was finally ordered to stop talking about Hall. So instead of mentioning Hall himself, when the crowd started chanting, Nash kept asking, "What are they chanting?" but the other announcers wouldn't acknowledge him.
  • Thunder was taped immediately after Nitro and the only notable thing there was a Lance Storm vs. Norman Smiley match that was apparently so bad that Storm went on his website afterward and pre-emptively apologized to the fans for the match. As of press time, it hasn't aired yet so I guess we'll see (the 2000 Thunders aren't on the Network and I can't find this online, so no idea how bad it was or wasn't).
  • Backstage morale in WCW isn't great, which probably goes without saying. Word is much of the crew, wrestlers and backstage employees alike, are so drained by all the negativity and sale rumors that everyone has pretty much mentally quit. They're all just going through the motions every week now while waiting to see what's going to happen with their jobs.
  • Buff Bagwell did an interview with the Observer website a few days before the Halloween Havoc PPV and had plenty of interesting things to say. He ripped on Vince Russo for the way he booked himself along with guys like Luger and DDP and basically just how awful Russo's booking is. He also complained about WCW fining people for showing up late. He complained about not getting a big raise like everyone else got back in 1998 because he was out with a neck injury when Bischoff was giving raises and complained about being underpaid compared to all the other "A-talent" like himself. Talked about how screwed up WCW is, saying Lex Luger is being paid $1.3 million a year to do jobs for Hugh Morrus. "Are you kidding me? Hugh is a great guy and all that, but he's not A-talent. I love him to death, but he's never going to draw a dime. We're talking about drawing money and he's never going to draw a fuckin' dime. And Luger is putting him over at house shows? Nothing is adding up. I know for a fact that if they try to get me to job for (David) Flair at Havoc, I'm going to walk out the door. I'm not doing it." In response to all this, WCW put Hugh Morrus over big on Nitro while they had Bagwell job to Luger in 2 minutes on the same show. Well, at least someone in WCW gets punished for the shit they say.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For only the second time ever in writing these Rewinds, I have hit the 40,000 character limit. So once again, the rest of this Rewind will be posted in a comment below, so keep scrolling. Upvote it for visibility I guess?

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