AS I SEE IT - 12/16/2002:
Sixth Annual Year-End AS I SEE IT Awards
by: Bob Magee
As 2002 winds to a close, it's time for the sixth annual AS I SEE IT Year-End Review.
As usual, I should note that my selections are based on what I've actually seen this year, either live, TV, or via tape; which primarily means North American wrestling.
2002 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR:
- Ring of Honor
One of the advantages of living in the Philadelphia area is that I get to see good independent wrestling nearly every
week... of all types; ranging from workrate-based to hardcore to a mix of legends and locals.
This year's Promotion of the Year award goes to one of those promotions... Ring of Honor.
No other promotion in the United States has consistently given fans such high quality matches month after month, most times more than once on the same show. The Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams 60 minute Iron Man Match, on July 27th far surpassed anything offered on Monday or Thursday nights for this entire year.
In one year, fans attending Ring of Honor shows in Philadelphia and Boston have seen such talent as: Low
Ki, "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels, American Dragon, Jay Briscoe, The SAT, Xavier, and Da Hit Squad from the Northeast...Eddie Guerrero, James
Maritato, and Spanky from WWE...Tony Mamaluke, Adam Jacobs, Jimmy Rave, Slim J, David Young, and Jeremy Lopez from NWA Wildside... The Amazing Red, “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, and Jerry Lynn from NWA-TNA... Michael Shane and Paul London from Texas...CM Punk, Chad
Collyer, and Colt Cabana from the Midwest... Ikuto Hidaka, Dick Togo, Shinjiro
Ohtani, Masato Tanaka, Donovan Morgan, Samoa Joe, and Mike Modest from Japan...and "The Anarchist” Doug Williams, Jodie Fleisch, and Jonny Storm from the United Kingdom.
No US independent promotion has shown this variety of talent to their fans. For that matter, WWE hasn't shown this variety talent, either....even though it has it.
The promotion is adding shows in New York City (February), Pittsburgh (January), and Buffalo, NY in 2003 to its regular shows in Philadelphia and the Boston area.
If you're a WRESTLING fan, go see them.
2001 winner: WWF
2000 winner: WWF
1999 winner: WWF
1998 winner: WWF
1997 winner: WCW
2002 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
- Kurt Angle, WWF/E
Despite the seeming inability of WWE to give this talented athlete the all-out push that many think he deserved, few achieved a level of
excellence in the ring this year like Kurt Angle.
Both as a single and as a tag team wrestler, Angle combined technical excellence in the ring with an ability to get over his character as the
lovable doofus. Matches as a single such as his Summerslam match with Rey Mysterio, against his partner Chris Benoit at Unforgiven; and as a tag team wrestler with Chris Benoit against Edge/Rey Mysterio vs. No Mercy, and in TV matches against The Guerreros helped cement that reputation.
Here's hoping 2003 brings Angle the main event push he deserves.
2001 winner: Chris Jericho, WWF
2000 winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, WWF
1999 winner: Chris Benoit, WWF
1998 winner: Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: Eddie Guerrero, WCW
2002 WORST WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
- Shane Douglas, Major League Wrestling/XPW
Douglas, sadly, is a shadow of the talent who helped ECW rocket to being one of the most innovative and exciting promotions ever in the mid-1990s through his matches with Terry Funk,
Sabu, and others.
Between working backstage in XPW having to overcome Rob Black's reputation and product style...because of the injuries he's suffered over the last 5 years... and due to continuing to carry far more size that he ever did back in his WCW days; Douglas is limited in the ring, and reduced to working matches that almost parody the work of his ECW days.
While he continues on the same path in 2002, we'll see if Douglas enjoys helping Rob Black prostitute the ECW Arena that he himself helped make famous in 2003, both in the ring and backstage.
2001 "winner": Buff Bagwell, WCW/WWF/independent
2000 "winner": Kevin Nash, WCW
1999 "winner": Hulk Hogan, WCW
1998 "winner": Giant Silva, WWF
1997 "winner": Hulk Hogan, WCW
2002 TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR:
- Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, WWE
Two of the most talented individual workers in North America (or for that matter, the world) made the best tag team around this year. Their incredible technical performances made their matches with The
Guerreros, and Edge/Rey Misterio must-see whether on free TV or pay-per view, particularly the one with Edge/Rey Mysterio at this year's No Mercy.
In the world of sports entertainment their ability to do entertaining promos that got over their characters, Angle as the technically skilled lovable doofus and Benoit as the humorless technical super-machine that can't figure out if he should love or hate his partner, added an element that got the casual fan to watch them and learn to appreciate their technical excellence.
2001 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
2000 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1999 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1998 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
1997 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
2002 ANGLE/FEUD OF THE YEAR WINNER:
- AJ Styles-Jerry Lynn, NWA-TNA/Ring of Honor
In a year with such good in-ring work (if you knew where to find it) 2002's Angle/Feud of the Year was a program that got over primarily on what they did in and around the ring with AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn working on NWA-TNA PPV's weekly and on Ring of Honor monthly shows in Philadelphia.
So much for the theory that a 20 minute promo is needed to get over a 7 minute match. Like the sign at a Monday Night Raw said so well... "Shut up and wrestle".
These two did...better than nearly anyone.
2001 winner: ECW turns on WWF, July 9, 2001, Phillips Arena, Atlanta
2000 winner: The Stephanie McMahon-Vince McMahon-Shane McMahon-HHH-Kurt Angle soap opera
1999 winner: Test (Andrew Martin)-Stephanie McMahon Wedding angle
1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin
1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle
2002 WORST/MOST TASTELESS ANGLES OF THE YEAR:
- Katie Vick.
Need I say more?
Honorable mention goes to XPW's Rob Black for his plan to feed a dog to a snake live on a membership-only portion of the Extreme Associates adult website this past February.
While it was all a work (although with Black, one couldn't be 100% sure)...the response to the angle wasn't. It generated a reported 1000 calls to the Los Angeles Police Department, West Hollywood Animal Care and Control, and even the activist group
2001 "winner": Vince McMahon "Kiss My Ass" angle, Monday Night RAW, November 19, 26, and 28
2000 "winner": Stacey Keibler-David Flair and Mark Henry-Mae Young "pregnancy angles"
1999: The Paul Wight/Big Bossman "cancer angle"
1998 winner: Ric Flair "heart attack" angle and the Hawk/Scott Hall drug angles
1997 winner: DeGenerationX/Nation of Domination "racial angle"
2002 MATCHES OF THE YEAR:
- WWE: Edge/Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, No Mercy, Little Rock, AK, October 20, 2002
Any of the matches this year involving these teams (or including the Guerreros to boot) might well qualify. This was an exciting WRESTLING match featuring WRESTLING, and just WRESTLING... not cute catch phrases, not the father of a diva in a pretend bisexual
menage-a-trois, but world class WRESTLING with world class WRESTLERS.
It's matches like this that leave fans wondering why WWE doesn't get what fans are telling them...with dropping TV ratings and dramatically dropping live show attendance...to paraphrase a certain Democratic Party political slogan, "It's the wrestling, stupid".
- Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams - 60 minute Iron Man Match, Ring of Honor, Philadelphia, PA, July 27, 2002
An un-f#$#ing-believable 60 minute match (a legit 60 minutes, as ROH used the gym's scoreboard clock to keep time) in a building that had to be 120 degrees, yet kept at an incredible pace at an incredible level by four world class
wrestlers that was far and away the best match I've seen anywhere or anyplace this year.
Daniels pinned Low Ki in 25:31, Low Ki won by submission over Spanky in 41:50, and Low Ki won by submission over Doug Williams in 48:47. Low Ki won the match and the ROH Heavyweight Title, as with 45 seconds left, Christopher Daniels had Low Ki in the dragon clutch sleeper, with Low Ki not submitting as time ran out.
Doug Williams and Spanky were out of the match for the last five minutes after Williams gave Spanky an unbelievable tornado DDT off the apron to the floor...and the fact that Williams simply couldn't stand.
Williams was said to be nearly delirious from the building's heat, and Low Ki was shown as exhausted to the point that he could barely speak in a post-match promo that later aired on the promotion's Philadelphia TV.
- 2001 winners
WWF: Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz - Tables, Ladders and Chairs II - WrestleMania X-Seven,
AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001
Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Scoot Andrews vs.
American Dragon, East Coast Wrestling Association, Wilmington, DE, September 22, 2001
- 2000 winners:
WCW: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett, "Bash At The Beach", Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL, June 9, 2000
WWF: "Tables, Ladders and Chairs" Match - Matt/Jeff Hardy vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge/Christian, SummerSlam, Raleigh, NC, August 27, 2000.
ECW: Psicosis-Yoshihiro Tajiri, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 19, 2000
- 1999 winners:
WCW: Chris Benoit-Bret Hart, Monday Nitro, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, October, 1999
WWF: Matt/Jeff Hardy-Edge/Christian, Tag Team Ladder Match, "No Mercy", Cleveland, OH, October 17, 1999
ECW: Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 28, 1999.
- 1998 winners:
WCW: Chris Jericho/Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko, November 29th, Knoxville Civic Coliseum
WWF: Mankind (Mick Foley)-Undertaker Hell in a Cell Match "King of the Ring" PPV, June 28, 1998
ECW: Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam, August 8, 1998, ECW Arena
- 1997 winners:
WCW: Rey Mysterio, Jr.- Eddie Guerrero, WCW "Halloween Havoc" PPV, 10/27/97, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV
WWF: Shawn Michaels-Undertaker, "In Your House: Badd Blood" PPV, 10/5/97, Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO
ECW: Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji-TAKA Michinoku/Dick Togo/Terry Boy, "Barely Legal" PPV, 4/13/97, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA
2002 CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
- WWE: WWE Summer Slam 2002, Fleet Center, Boston, MA, August 25, 2002
The best WWE PPV this year, with a main event that got a great buildup (note well: Brian
Gewirtz....it IS possible) and good to excellent matches including Rey Mysterio-Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero-Edge, Rob Van Dam-Chris Benoit, and Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.
- Independent: Ring of Honor "Road To The Title" Philadelphia, PA, June 22, 2002
Did you ever get a meal that was so big, and so good, it took you until well into the next day to fully appreciate it and digest it? If a wrestling show was a meal, "Road to the Title" would be it for 2002.
This show featured an unbelievable set of matches, all in one night: Spanky-Paul London, “The Anarchist” Doug Williams-Jay Briscoe, Jodie Fleisch-“Wonderkid” Jonny Storm, The Amazing Red-Xavier, AJ Styles-Jerry Lynn, Doug Williams-American Dragon, Low
Ki-The Amazing Red, Christopher Daniels-AJ Styles. Although the line has become
cliched, in this case it's true... that any one of these matches could easily be a main event match for any independent show in the United States and in most promotions overseas.
The Low Ki-Red match featured the stiffest looking and scariest sounding kick I've ever seen. Doug Williams's Chaos Theory (an incredible rolling German suplex) popped a crowd that's used to seeing everything. Jodie Fleisch and Jonny Storm brought over their incredible in-ring artistry from the United Kingdom.
Honorable mention goes to the November 9th Ring of Honor "All Star Extravaganza" show with Paul London-Michael Shane, Chris Daniels, Donovan Morgan and Samoa Joe-Low
Ki, Homicide & Doug Williams, Xavier-Jay Briscoe, Paul London-The Amazing Red, AJ Styles-American Dragon, Shinjiro
Ohtani/Masato Tanaka-Steve Corino/Low Ki.
WWF: WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001
Independent: 2001 Super Eight tournament, ECWA, St. Matthew's Parish Hall, Wilmington, DE , February 24, 2001
2000 winner: WWF "Fully Loaded", Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, July 23, 2000
1999 winner: "Anarchy Rulz", ECW Odeum Sports and Exposition Center, Villa Park, IL, September 19, 1999
1998 winner: "Survivor Series", St. Louis, MO, Keil Center November 15, 1998
1997 winner: "Barely Legal", ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 1997
2002 WORST CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
- World Wrestling All-Stars Eruption, Melbourne, Australia, April 13, 2002
It's hard to imagine that a show with AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, and Sabu could be viewed as no more than 2 hours, 15 minutes of one's life that you can't get back; but that's the way that many fans felt after a show that SLAMWrestling.com's John Molinaro described as "booking out of Plan 9 from Outer Space".
This PPV was compared favorably only to 1999's "Heroes of Wrestling" PPV, and the infamous Herb Abrams BlackJack Brawl on September 23, 1994
from Las Vegas, NV.
Fans knew they were in for a unique experience during the opening 30 minutes of the show, when you could clearly hear time cues and camera directions from the production staff bleed over into Jeremy Borash's commentary. Fortunately, these days Jeremy is now in a somewhat more professionally run promotion.
As for the matches, how about paying money to watch Puppet the Psycho Dwarf versus Tio in a Weapons Match? I'd sooner watch a six hour tape of XPW's The Best of Pogo the Clown.
How about Midajah vs. a Penthouse Pet called Queen Bee in an Evening Gown Match? This made Jackie Gayda-Trish Stratus look like Manami Toyota-Kaoru Ito. Perhaps Rob Black will sign them both to an "exclusive contract" in an attempt to get the paid crowds at the ECW Arena to over 250, or hire them to wear less than an evening gown for his "other businesses".
Then there was Nathan Jones-Scott Steiner. When you have to depend on Scott Steiner, still working hurt, to carry a wrestler whose main strength is that he's big (think Big Show minus 5 years experience)...you're in trouble.
Finally there was The Funkster (aka NWA-TNA's "Bruce") vs. Quebecer Pierre. I like a good comedy match...emphasis on "good" comedy match. I'll be nice and just say it was brutal.
2001 "winner" WCW "Sin", January 14, 2001, Indianapolis, IN.
2000 "winner" WCW Slamboree, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, May 7, 2000
1999 "winner": WCW Fall Brawl 1999
1998 "winner": WCW Fall Brawl 1998
1997 "winner": Hardcore Heaven 1997, ECW, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2002 BEST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
- Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in Kentucky and Indiana)
The purpose of TV for a wrestling promotion is: to get over the characters/performers wrestling within the
promotion... to develop the storylines those performers are involved in, and
thus... to get fans to attend live shows, buy merchandise, and buy PPVs (if the company airs them).
The purpose of TV for a wrestling promotion is NOT: to get over relatives/significant others of the booker to the exclusion of others, give insight into the sexual and personal peculiarities of the owner, promoter, or to feature bad attempts at Borscht Belt comedy.
Given that, the best television program this year has been Ohio Valley Wrestling's weekly TV show, airing in the Louisville, KY area only (unfortunately for many viewers, unless you get tapes of the weekly shows or read the spoilers available).
Jim Cornette and Danny Davis are old-school enough to remember when TV had a
purpose... to get fans to come to the shows and draw money, and not what certain well-known wrestling shows have turned into. Their TV succeeds in doing that.
2001 winner: Monday Night RAW, TNN
2000 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network and TNN
1999 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1998 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1997 winner: Monday Nitro, Turner Network Television
2001 WORST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
- WXW Rage TV - aired on WGTW 48/Philadelphia, northeastern Pennsylvania, north central New Jersey, and syndicated in parts of American Samoa, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
The Philadelphia market, extending into Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and parts of Maryland gets a considerable amount of independent wrestling on TV, as well as the usual syndicated WWE material. It can safely be said that WXW Rage TV isn't one of the highlights of the average fan's viewing.
For the few good matches featured on the show, WXW depends on occasional visits from lower level WWE workers, Da Hit Squad (Ring of Honor and
JAPW), and the members of the extended Samoan family.
Over 2002, viewers got two year old WXW matches from the Allentown (PA) Sportsfest (a major youth sports event in the area), then matches from last year, then year old matches from the 2001
Sportsfest, then finally current product taped in a Days Inn in Allentown.
It wasn't worth the wait.
The show's production quality is laughable, with the show hosted by Jessica Dally, who makes former WWF announcer Stephanie Wyand sound like Gordon
Solie. With a nasal voice, she does bumpers between matches, and does little or nothing to get over the talent, a difficult task to begin with.
Despite their TV, the promotion does draw consistently at shows run primarily in Allentown and Hazleton, PA.
To the relief of Philadelphia viewers, the WXW Rage TV show no longer airs on WGTW as of early December, due to the fact that the promotion's plans to run shows in Philadelphia were scrapped. WXW Rage TV has been replaced by Rob Dimension's Premier Wrestling Federation TV out of Pottstown, PA.
Dishonorable mention goes to GLOOW, which also airs on WGTW, Channel 48 in Philadelphia. I didn't give it the award because I don't consider it wrestling...just bargain-basement level oil wrestling televised by a station management that doesn't seem to know better, including not figuring out that the last two letters of the promotion's name stand for Oil Wrestling.
I've no problem with any consenting adult doing anything they like with their time, including hitting the local bar or strip joint and watching such "matches". I don't have any problem with GLOOW doing such matches, either...in the proper environment. I just don't think they need to be put on broadcast TV....especially when they're being referred to as professional wrestling.
One also has to wonder what some of the evangelical Christian shows such as Jimmy
Swaggart, Peter Popoff, This is Your Day, Breakthrough with Rod Parsley, Hour of Power, Shepherd's Chapel, and True Light Fellowship that airs on WGTW would think of GLOOW and XPW airing on the same station that they put forth their versions of a Christian message? Perhaps they should let WGTW's Dorothy Brunson know.
2001 "winner": Monday Nitro, WCW, TNT
2000 "winner": Monday Nitro, TNT
1999 "winner" Monday Nitro, TNT
1998 "winner": Music City Wrestling TV
1997 "winner": USWA Television, USWA
2002 TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
- Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV
Mike Tenay has gotten over a promotion that started from scratch, that has had a variety of quality from the
Russo-esque "Dupp Brothers" and Miss TNA, to the matches of the pioneering X Division to matches on top featuring former WWE talent; in a promotion that had production budgets varying from OK to just above bar-show indy level.
He had to do all this with Ed Ferrera, and the totally inexperienced Ed West, known previously only for hocking merchandise on the Home Shopping Network.
He did all this well enough to keep those who buy these weekly PPVs able to remember constantly changing storylines, to appreciate the in-ring action of the X division, and to want to keep buying them.
Here's hoping that Panda Energy, the new owners of NWA-TNA, put enough money into the advertising of the product that more people get to watch Tenay's good work.
2001 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
2000 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1999 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1998 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1997 winner: Mike Tenay, World Championship Wrestling
2002 WORST TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
- Jessica Dally, WXW Rage TV (see "Worst TV Show" entry)
2001 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW, TNT and TBS
2000 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW
1999 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW
1998 "winner" Bert Prentice, MCW
1997 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW
2002 NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR:
2002 brought us...
- The WWF "brand extension", basically half as much talent for the same price. It has proven thus far to be a failure with RAW ratings dropping to as low as 3.1. The ratings for Smackdown with more of an emphasis on wrestling, has stayed relatively steady.
House show crowds are dropping. To cite one example, the crowd at a WWE house show at the 6000 seat Stabler Arena in Allentown drew the lowest wrestling crowd in Arena history with 900 paid customers. similar show in Reading, PA drew 600 paid customers. Other shows have been outright cancelled due to lack of advance sales.
- The Parents Television Council was forced to surrender on July 3, 2002 as WWE Entertainment, Inc., and the PWBTS-sponsored Wrestling Fans Against Censorship; along with others who believed in the right of wrestling fans to view their entertainment without the interference of outside organizations won their 2 1/2 year battle when the PTC was forced to settle by outright apologizing and acknowledging the fact that their information was inaccurate. The apology involved claims that WWF/E programming was somehow involved for the so-called "wrestling deaths" of several children, including the well-publicized murder of Tiffany Eunick by Lionel Tate; along with the claim that numerous advertisers withdrew their advertising from WWF/E programming, particularly Smackdown. The PTC was also forced to pay WWE $3.5 million in settlement of the lawsuit.
- The adventures of NWA-TNA, with weekly PPVs starting in July 2002, with a sort of schizo quality early on featuring great X Division matches mixed with Vince Russo's peculiar ideas such as hardcore midgets and goofy skits, bordering on a bad Tuesday Night Titans show.
As Russo's role seemed (?) to be reduced, more good quality wrestling was featured. The promotion nearly ran out of money in September, before being purchased by Panda Energy late in the year.
- The Philadelphia independent wars, which have gone on throughout 2002 between Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, and 3PW with the competition keeping the level and variety of wrestling presented to Philadelphia fans on a high level, regardless of the style preferred.
Even with the competition, Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling finally got smart enough in November to cooperate in doing a afternoon-evening doubleheader. This allowed ROH to have its highest Philadelphia crowd ever, and CZW to have its second largest crowd ever (as of this writing).
In late August, the California-based XPW entered into the mix. XPW's presence seemed intended to rule or ruin, with the company making a $30,000 deposit on what is reported as a $120,000 exclusive lease for the ECW Arena.
XPW's actions will continue this as a story in 2003, with CZW and 3PW moving to new homes for their monthly Philadelphia shows, and ROH remaining at the Murphy Recreation Center.
- 2002 was another year where too many left the wrestling world and all of us, including wrestling legend and 7 time NWA Champion Lou
Thesz, Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods, Davey Boy Smith, Big Dick Dudley, Ted "Rocco Rock" Petty, Billy Travis, Wahoo McDaniel, Randy "Pee Wee" Anderson, Jeff Peterson, former Portland promoter Don Owen, former owner of the PWI family of wrestling magazines and of Ring Magazine Stanley Weston, Nelson Royal, Japan's Thunder Sugiyama and former FMW promoter Shoichi Arai, Jeff
Raitz, Robbie D, Swede Hanson, Dave Casanova, and "Dream Machine" Troy Graham.
2001 stories: WWF purchase of WCW, ECW closes its doors, WCW "Invasion angle" goes nowhere, WWF ratings and live attendance drop
2000 stories: Mainstreaming of wrestling continues, WWF-ECW-TNN-USA TV network roulette, WWF goes public, PTC censorship attempts continue... but with organized efforts fighting them, WCW set to lose as much as $80 million
1999 stories: Deaths of Owen Hart and Brian Hildebrand, Foley's "Have A Nice Day" goes to #1 on New York Times Best-Seller List, WWF CD DEBUTS at number 4 on Billboard Chart, ECW TV on TNN, Parents Television Council censorship attempts
1998 stories: Changes in WWF product (making it more adult in nature), ECW's 1998 problems, Mainstream attention given the wrestling business, Jesse Ventura's election to Governorship of Minnesota
1997 stories: Brian Pillman death, Bret Hart leaving WWF/Title Change Doublecross
Since it's Santa's time of year...here's some gifts for the "naughty" and the "nice".
- For Vince McMahon...tapes of the following classic angles and their build-ups (from three different eras) to show that fans aren't interested in necrophilia, lesbian make-out scenes on TV OR PPV, and people kissing the buttocks of a 50 year old multi-millionaire for their wrestling entertainment... and that there are better ways to draw money, one of which was even his own:
* Bill Watts "The Last Stampede", Mid-South, 1984 - this angle with Bill Watts and Junkyard Dog vs. The Midnight Express drew over $250,000 per house in Tulsa, New Orleans and numerous other arenas; at a time when the only thing pushing the Mid-South product was a one-hour TV show in localized markets....and when ticket prices weren't 25% of what they are today at a WWE show.
* Ric Flair-Vader, Starrcade 1993, Charlotte, NC - the buildup to this match, where Vader was treated as the unbeatable monster, and where Flair promised to retire when he lost (remember when retirement stipulations meant something?)..led to this match to a sold-out house in Charlotte...with tens of thousands marking out at home via PPV...and an unforgettable night.
* The Rock-Steve Austin, Wrestlemania 17, Houston, TX, - the build to this match (by McMahon himself) had live and PPV crowds enthralled, with the two hottest babyfaces in North America going against each other at a time when the WWF title still meant something.
- For people like Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy and a dozen others who've suffered repeated concussions hitting the glass ceiling...the patience to hang in there until the ratings or buyrates hit the point that even Vince McMahon gets over his psychosexual compulsion with only pushing "big men" or members of the extended McMahon family.
- For HHH: tapes of 3PW to remind him that being romantically involved with the company owner doesn't mean that you have to put yourself on top, tapes of NWA-TNA to remind you that you don't have to put yourself over for their title if you
are the owner (OK...TNA critics...until the promotion is six months old, anyhow).
- For Greg Sirb of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission...a man who has done nothing about XPW, a promotion that has violated numerous regulations concerning wrestling, promotions, and promoters... a hyperlink containing the regulations published by your own Commission concerning the regulations for promoters operating within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which
* A license before selling tickets for a professional wrestling event.
* A $10,000 surety bond before selling tickets for a professional wrestling event.
* [Not falsifying the existence of] a $10,000 surety bond before selling tickets for a professional wrestling event.
One more Christmas present: the ability to grow a set of testicles so that you actually DO something about all the above... unless Vince McMahon has already copyrighted both the word and/or the marketing concept before you could get a set, or unless your wallet has gotten too fat to grow them.
- For Rob Black, Kevin Kleinrock, their supporters who love to send hate mail and create cute graphics using my
name.. have fun at the ECW Arena.
No matter how many dollars you make exploiting the sexual predelictions and perversions of others, the building and Swanson and Ritner will never be the XPW Arena to anyone other than you and your Cali Kool-Aid drinkers.
Despite your best wishes, CZW, Ring of Honor, and 3PW will continue to run against you in 2003.
If they're smart, they'll remember what I said...that if they work together, the Philadelphia-based independents that have thrived since 1989 will continue to do so, whether you throw away $20,000 a month with paid crowds of 200 or less...or not.
And they'll do it long after you run out of money, and leave the owners of the ECW Arena with a white elephant, and fans with nothing more than a lot of memories.
That's the AS I SEE IT year in review.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)