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  Friday, August 10, 2007

10/23/2003 3:48:00 PM

Thursday news update: Smackdown preview, Ratings, WWE schedule, MLW, Savage embarassed, Former huge short-lived TV star involved in title switch and funny list of most important people in sports entertainment

by Dave Meltzer

We're looking for your thoughts on last night's TNA PPV, so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to

Tonight's Smackdown line-up:
*Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. A-Train & John Cena
*Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas
*Eddy & Chavo Guerrero vs. Basham Brothers for tag titles
*Zach Gowen vs. Tajiri
*Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar & Big Show
The show opens with the introduction of the new General Manager, and I'm presuming most of you already know who that is. Anyway, by the end of the show, that turns into a real show of incompetency. Main event tells a story all right. Several angles are getting kicked off.

Want to mention Mark Price for the report from the Smackdown tapings on Tuesday night.

This coming Monday's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter features a look at the life of Stu Hart and Mike "Hawk" Hegstrand. I think for all serious wrestling fans, this should be a collectors edition of the newsletter and is one of my personal favorites. It also has the most detailed story of Hulk Hogan's latest maneuverings including on the cancellation of the PPV, as well as complete coverage of No Mercy. It's a jumbo-sized issue with about 37,000 words of text, so it's basically about half a book worth of material, both on their lives and also all the major news in pro wrestling from all over the world over the past week. Like with people such as Lou Thesz and Fred Blassie, the Hart story is a long and fascinating journey and one of the most interesting personalities I've ever had to research. Stu did not hold world titles and he was not someone known world wide for drawing big crowds, yet he was one of the most famous and influential men in the history of the industry.

We've talked with several members of the family, as well as numerous friends, and picked up famous stories about him, from early in life, stories of the dungeon, stories of how he got started so many men who came such major historical figures in wrestling and why he's almost like a grandfather figure to a generation of wrestlers in Canada. Indeed, so much of the modern success as far as being great wrestlers inside the ring that the Canadian stars in WWE have can be partially attributed to the style they grew up with, as almost all were big fans of Stampede Wrestling, where the in-ring was so important in the presentation.

We have a lot about the loss of Owen Hart, Stu's awards, legends he's trained, and attempt, if unsuccessful to try and decipher how different pro wrestling would have been without him.

He look at how Stu got started as a fan of pro wrestling and his early hero. The name Jack Taylor means almost nothing to current Canadian fans, and even less among U.S. fans, but we talk about his historical importance to Hart and the early days of wrestling. We look at his early days of wrestling, his behavior in the dungeon that would come across as sadistic to many when seeing "Wrestling with Shadows" and try to at least look at it with the value structure he had growing up.

We talk about Stu's sports dreams growing up and why they were curtailed, and the pressure it put on his sons. We talk about Bret and Owen in their amateur wrestling days, as well as stories of shooters, which were Stu's favorites, such as the guys who hurt people in the ring because they were so tough but were hated for doing so, as opposed to those who shot in the gyms.

We look at Stu's early life, which is a fascinating story in itself. He never bragged about it and, aside from the biography of his life, this is a story that has never been talked much about. We also have a detailed history of Stu's career as a wrestler, as well as a complete history of the famous Stampede Wrestling promotion with a lot of behind the scenes stories never reported on previously.

We look at the many major tragedies that took place in his life in recent years, as well as his part in the lawsuit that divided the family after the death of Owen. We have a lot on Stu after the death of Owen and lots of the famous Stu Hart stories that need to be documented for posterity.

We talk about the early days of people like Chris Benoit and Brian Pillman, as well as Superstar Billy Graham, Abdullah the Butcher, Billy Robinson and the Mongolian Stomper, as well as Dynamite Kid, Bret Hart, Owen Hart and more.

We look at Stu Hart in his youth, and the famed dungeon stories, as well as how the public perception in Calgary of one of its most famous families has changed from one extreme to the other over the years in that city, and how in wrestling, the city of Calgary has a unique connotation.

We look at famous shoots involving some of the biggest names in wrestling and even boxing, and what Stu perceived happened in them, as well as the people Stu would talk about as the toughest men who ever lived, like Lou Thesz, Karl Gotch, Luther Lindsay and George Gordienko, as well as who his favorite wrestlers of today were.

We've got stories of the very few times people can remember Stu get truly violent, including with the man who was possibly the biggest local superstar Stu ever created.

We talk about the great workers and the strongmen in the territory, as well as the beginnings of the career of Billy Graham under Stu, and the famous story of Graham repaying Stu.

We look at the various books on the family, the grandchildren in wrestling and the death of wife Helen.

We look at his pro wrestling start, his running mates in the New York territory who all became well known promoters in their day, how he met his wife, and her thoughts on life in the wrestling business.

We look at how Stu got his wrestling territory, and the history of Big Time Wrestling, Klondike Wrestling, Wild Cat Wrestling and Stampede Wrestling in Western Canada.

We look at the rib Stu's territory was best known for, and the business ups and downs of Western Canadian wrestling. We look at how one interview nearly put Stu down forever, and what happened. We look at his near bankruptcy in the 60s, and the business turnaround in the late 60s. We look at how a loss of temper in a famous match led to the creation of a huge babyface star by accident, and what many consider the glory days of the territory. We look at Stu's comeback matches, including his final match that aired on national TV in Canada at the age of 71.

Bret looks at the kind of fans Stampede Wrestling drew and why it was a unique form of wrestling compared to most of the territories he worked. We go through the 70s, and the introduction to North American wrestling of the true high-flying junior heavyweight style popularized by Dynamite Kid, and what is considered by many fans as another glory period. We look at the angle, which should have led to a business peak, that was so successful that it backfired and nearly killed the company.

We look at why Stu sold his territory to Vince McMahon, and a fascinating comparison between that purchase and the purchase a few months earlier of Georgia Championship Wrestling. We look at how that deal fell apart, and what Stu demanded from Vince in exchange for selling.

We look at the last rebirth of Stampede Wrestling, which actually got more international attention than any other, and so many modern day pro wrestling superstars getting their in-ring start, including many you probably aren't aware of.

We look at the early career of Chris Benoit, as well as Stu's days as a football player and amateur wrestler.

We've also got a story on the death of Road Warrior Hawk, Mike Hegstrand, including talking about the glory days of the Road Warriors and just how big they were, as well as the health problems he battled late in his life. We look at the beginnings of the team and how they first came to be, and their early days in wrestling and first success in Japan in part one of a two part story.

We have the circumstances of his death, where the Road Warriors stand as a tag team in wrestling history and something amazing that showcases just how invincible fans found them to be because of how rare in their heyday they ever lost. We talk about perhaps their most famous match ever in Japan, and an unbelievable story illustrating how big they were in that country. We look at the famous wrestlers who they spawned, as well as their forgotten beginnings in pro wrestling and original wrestling school classmates.

We look at the booking by Ole Anderson that put them over the top immediately and an unsung forgotten hero in their early success. We look at their success in Chicago and what really ended it, as well as why they were better in a many territories environment than what pro wrestling turned into. We look at their early financial success including one of the biggest contracts ever signed up until that point in time. We look at the unique way they got over in Japan without ever wrestling a match in that country at first.

We look at when the aura disappeared, as well as the split up of the team, the formation of the Hell Raisers, and Hawk's many health problems in recent years.

We've also got complete details of the No Mercy PPV, including where the top angles are scheduled to go, poll results from the show, the biggest challenges of the night, as well as early business notes and match-by-match rundowns with star ratings.

We've also got more details on Hulk Hogan with both New Japan, TNA and two other proposed promotions and everything behind the scenes, including full details of what is planned next for TNA. We look at Hogan's role in Japan, a new business venture Hogan is starting, Vince Russo and a lot more.

We've got tons more on the movie careers of both Rock and HHH, as well as HHH's current schedule, and changes in the release of his book. We look at another major superstar form the past who looks to be making a pitch to get in, and the career of Kevin Nash and a big angle change.

We've got details of the two major heavyweight championships in shootfighting both being vacated at the same time. We've got more of an update on Tim Sylvia, his punishment, the title change, and the UFC heavyweight title situation, details of the next show, an interesting angle that has come up stemming from all this is facing the Nevada commission and UFC, Fedor vacating his title and Pride's plans, and analysis of the big Cro Cop vs. Nogueira match-up.

We've also got not just the ratings from the past week, but details on the ratings including segment-by-segment breakdowns so you can see what the audience turned on and off on both Raw and Smackdown, as well as how the shows did against major competition.

We've also got results from the major league pro wrestling events held around the world over the past week, as well as the major TV rundowns.

We've got tons of WWE injury updates, more on attempts to promote house shows, changes in Raw and why, fine WWE looked to have paid to a commission, Vince's first grandchild, details of John Heidenreich's angle and how he got called up so soon, the sister of WWE star appears in an angle, all the developmental news, more on the shit in the Guerrero angle, future of RVD and more on his interviews where he says what he thinks, Japanese star getting a look, plus all the business notes from the past week and house show highlights.

We've also got a note about one of the most famous stars in Mexico and a battle of his name, plans for the biggest hair match in Mexico of the year, potential changes in AAA television, where Vampiro stands this week in the Mexican promotional war, famed rock band connection with a Budokan show this week, plans for the biggest show in the history of NOAH, update on Masahiro Chono's neck injury, international promotion appears before Nevada commission to try and get a license and what the commission has told them and another former world champion confirmed for a major show in Japan.

We've also got notes on a major story coming in USA Today, Savage and Jimmy Hart confrontation, wrestler inducted this week into his local area sports Hall of Fame, update on Rocky Johnson, MLW and ROH.

We've also got notes on the last TNA show, more business deals Jeff Jarrett is trying to put together, impressive newcomer, upcoming angle notes and outside the ring problems with talent.

We've also got the desperate measure Pride is going through for the next Tokyo Dome show, update on Ishii's trial, and more on the last Pride show.

If you are a new subscriber ordering 24 or more issues, you can also get a free classic issue of the Observer sent to you today. Just send your Visa or Master Card order with your name, address, phone number, Visa or Master Card number and an expiration date to or you can order by faxing that information to 408-244-3402. You can also subscribe via paypal at or subscribe via check, cash or money order, as well as credit card, by mail, by sending to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228.

New subscribers ordering 24 or more issues have to let us know what major story of the past 11 years you are most interested in and we'll send the issue with the best coverage of that story. We've got coverage of every major PPV event and world wide spectacular, every major star switching promotions, histories of companies like FMW, Rings and New Japan, retirement and obit issues of every major star who fits into those
descriptions over the past 11 years, as well as our biggest issue every year, the annual awards issue, and our most controversial issue of every year, the Hall of Fame issue.

Our most requested issues in our history are November 17, 1997 (full details of everything leading to the most famous wrestling match finish of modern times at the Survivor Series plus a history of in-ring double-crosses), December 21, 1998 (the complete Vince McMahon-Bret Hart conversation right before the Survivor Series match so you'll know exactly what was said--the conversation played in edited form both on the inaugural broadcast of Confidential as well as in Wrestling with Shadows, but everything that was said between the two about the match that was going to take place that same night), August 1, 1994 (the most detailed coverage anywhere of the Vince McMahon steroid trial, an issue praised in numerous newspaper article and Sex, Lies and Headlocks), March 26, 2001 (death of WCW and history of pro wrestling on the Turner networks), October 22, 2001 (why the adult audience has left pro wrestling in such great numbers and what needed to have been done to save them), July 8, 1991 (Ric Flair leaves WCW as world champion/Zahorian steroid trial), February 8, 1993 (the life and times of Andre the Giant), May 13, 2002 (the life story of the most incredible pro wrestling career ever, a look at Lou Thesz, in one of the largest issues of our history), January 27, 2003 (part one of the two-part series covering the career and life of The Sheik), February 3, 2003 (Part two on The Sheik including thoughts from people who worked with him and where he stand--ACWAs historically), March 24, 2003 (history of the WWWF title, inside behind the Sammartino, Backlund and Backlund era), April 21, 2003 (history of WWF continues with the expansion nationally, the death of the regional territories and the rise of Hulk Hogan), May 12, 2003 (The life and death of Elizabeth, and the rise of fall of Lex Luger), June 9, 2003 (Part 1 of history of WWF vs. WCW wars and what many say was the greatest year in U.S. wrestling; plus a look at Fred Blassie), June 16, 2003 (Freddie Blassie through the eyes of his biggest rivals and friends), June 28, 2003 (Part 2 of the history of the WWF vs. WCW war and the plans to make new superstars in the early 90s, what happened, and the night where the three biggest wrestling companies in the world combined for a joint show and what happened), August 25, 2003 (2003 Hall of Fame issue with huge profiles on the controversial career of Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit as well as historical features on Earl Caddock and Francisco Flores) and September 15, 2003 (Part 3 of the history of the WWF vs WCW war with the seeds that closed the collapse of the industry in the 90s, Zahorian trial, Gulf War controversy, Flair leaves WCW while holding world title and much more). You can also order any of these issues on their own for $4.

Observer subscription rates are, in the U.S., $11 for 4 weekly issues, $28 for 12, $54 for 24 and $90 for 40. In Canada and Mexico, rates are $12 for 4, $30 for 12, $57 for 24 and $95 for 40. In Europe, you can get the fastest delivery and best rates by sending to For the rest of the world, rates are $14 for 4, $36 for 12, $72 for 24 and $120 for 40 issues. There is a $1 processing fee for all non-check or cash orders.

--There are no WWE house shows this weekend until Sunday, due to Saturday's wedding between Paul "HHH" Levesque and Stephanie McMahon

--Stu Hart's funeral is today in Calgary

--New NWA champ Jeff Jarrett will be working a three-way on Saturday night in Cornelia, GA for Wildside's Fright Night show in a defense against Rainman and A.J. Styles. Also Iceberg vs. Shawn Hernandez in a age filled with weapons of mass destruction, Altar Boy Luke & Gabriel vs. Azrael & Slash, and Terry Ray Gordy Jr. vs. Seth Delay for jr. title

--The key thing on last night's TNA show was the official announcement that the 11/30 PPV is now "rescheduled." More people are catching on to this one than I imagined, as almost everyone who called last night had already figured it out.

--Not a big deal, because the deaths of Hawk and Stu Hart were given a graphic at the start of the show last night, but I did think TNA should have had Mike Tenay say a few words about both like WWE had Jim Ross do on Monday. Even if Hawk hadn't had his last PPV match with TNA (which he did) and Stu's grandson wasn't on a recent show, they were both a huge part of the industry's history. If an NFL player of similar historical renown passed away, the announcers would mention it at some point that weekend during the game.

--Randy Savage was on WMMR in Philadelphia yesterday doing his challenging Hulk Hogan to a shoot deal. The host then played an audio interview where Hogan explained that Savage has blamed his failed marriage and failed relationships on him. Savage called Hogan a liar and we're told it came off as a total embarrassment to Savage, which wouldn't be the first time (thanks to Todd Gurule)

--A Memorial Fund has been set up in Mike Hegstrand's honor at Mike Hegstrand Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 432, Indian rocks, FL 33785 and flowers and cards can be sent to Dale Hegstrand (Mike's wife) c/o Reese Funeral Home, 6767 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.

--UPW from last night at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana before 220 fans (this was the show where up until yesterday, Roddy Piper was to appear at, which shows where Piper's drawing power is nowadays): Skulu (King Adamo in Z-1) b Lil Nate, Predator (Z-1) b Big Babi Slymm, Matrix & Preston Scott b Nakoa & Saia, Hardkore Inc. b Team Squash, Hardkore Inc b Los Chivos, Ballard Brothers b Hardkore Inc. Mike Henderson won three-way over Shawn Riddick and Tommy Wilson, Ballard Brothers b Ruckus & Apocalypse-DQ, Erica Porter b Desire (not TNA woman), Frankie Kazarian b Andrew Hellman to keep light heavyweight title, Tom Howard b Adam Pearce to win UPW title back due to interference from Evan Marriott (the real one, not a wrestler using the name). They announced Tom Howard vs. Sting for 12/17. (thanks to Jake White)

--Rage in a Cage on Saturday night at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix is headlined by Dan Severn vs. Homer Moore, which is actually a pretty tough opponent for Severn

--Ch. 4 in the UK tonight at 10:40 p.m. has a show on backyard wrestling (thanks to Grove Rohan)

--OVW has expanded its television to WB-17 in Lexington on Saturday nights at 11 p.m.

--There is a funny item in the new WWE Magazine, listing the 20 most important and powerful people in the sports entertainment world. Guess who was No. 1? "The Entire McMahon family," followed by Austin and HHH. Torrie Wilson was No. 15, ahead of Jim Cornette and Mick Foley, who were also in the top 20. I wonder where Hulk Hogan, Bob Sapp and Antonio Inoki ranked?

-- ACWA from Saturday night in Morganville, NJ: Don Montoya won Royal Rampage, Ryan Wing b Montoya, Kevin Knight b Wing, Trinity Campbell b Alicia, Sienna Blaze b Alere Littlefeather, Bobby Piper & American Express b Orphan & Slayer & Father Ozzy, Campbell b Blaze, C.J. Summers b Roman in a bullrope match

--Tom Prichard will be holding an advanced wrestling clinic and evaluation for indie wrestlers for at least one year experience on 12/6 in Garfield, NJ at Bodyslam U. It starts at 8 a.m. and will run all day. for more info, call 973-473-1599 or e-mail

--Jersey All Pro wrestling's 6th anniversary show on 11/8 at the Meadowlands Expo Center in New Jersey has Raven & Sabu vs. Dan Maff & Homicide, with Bill Alfonso managing Raven & Sabu, plus Dunn & Marcos vs. Christopher Street Connection, Jerry Lawler vs. Al Snow, with Mick Foley as ref, Slyk Wagner Brown & April Hunter vs. Dirty Rotten Scoundrelz plus Derek Wylde, Roderick Strong and Ruckus. They appear to be building a 12/13 show in Rahway, NJ headlined by Terry Funk vs. Maff

--Bam Bam Bigelow is selling an original 17x17 ECW ring on ebay

--Lita will be appearing on TSN's Off the Record on 11/6 (thanks to Dave Bernier)

--Low Ki has canceled his 11/1 ROH appearance due to a schedule conflict

--Masahiro Chono is officially off the 11/3 Yokohama Arena show due to his neck injury. A replacement for him in a tag match involving Bob Sapp will be announced on Saturday.

--Ric Flair will be appearing at the Peoria Civic Center on 1/15 as a special guest during a Peoria Riverman vs. Dayton Bombers hockey game (thanks to Joel Kolsrud)

--Tuesday night results from Arena Coliseo in Mexico City: Chamaco Torres & Rayo Tapatio II b Koreno & Messala, Halcon Negro & Loco Max & Mogur b Brazo de Oro Jr. & Brazo de Plata Jr. & Sombra de Plata, Angel Azteca & Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata b Arkangel & Dr. X & Nitro-DQ, Averno & Mephisto & El Satanico b Felino & Safari & Olimpico, Brazo de Plata & Gigante Silva & Negro Casas b Black Warrior & Damian el Terrible & Mascara Magica & Shocker

--Sunday results from Leon: Bengali & Gitano del Norte & Sika b Cats & Mongol Chino Jr. & Super Vaquero, Flecha Azul & Los Orientales I & II b Los Caifanes Rockeros I & II & Raiden, Ultimo Guerrero & Super Parka & Rey Bucanero b Perro Aguayo Jr. & Angel del Espacio& Felino (thanks to Kris Zellner)

--All Pro Wrestling runs its 6th annual Halloween Hell show at the garage in Hayward, CA on Saturday night at 6 p.m. with Super Dragon vs. Vic Grimes and a tuxedo-evening gown match with Chris Cole vs. Cheerleader Melissa

--With Sunday Night Football not airing this past weekend due to the World Series, the two hours of Raw on 10/13 placed No. 1 and No. 6. Fairly Odd Parents on Sunday night finished second, and that was not the same thing as the No Mercy PPV show.

--NWA East on 10/25 at the McKeesport Sportatorium with Nikita Allanov vs. Justin Idol

--NWA Florida on 10/25 at the Leaman School in St. Petersburg is headlined by Scoot Andrews vs. Steve Madison and Shane Twins vs. Rod Steel & Mikey Tenderfoot

--Chris Sabin has pulled himself off the IWA shows this weekend due to the eye injury suffered last Thursday. He did work last night, but is scheduled to have stitches removed tomorrow. Tonight in Salem, IN has B.J. Whitmer vs. Jimmy Jacobs, Ian Rotten vs. Cash Flo, J.C. Bailey vs. Chris Hamrick and Tracy Smothers vs. Jaimy Coxx. Friday night in Highland, IN is Sabu vs. Bailey, Smothers vs. Nate Webb, Colt Cabana vs. Jacobs, Alex Shelley vs. Hamrick.

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Congress looking at WWE; What changed in last few days; Most detailed look at WWE business in every aspect; Gotch: One of biggest Observer bios in history; Details of next week's 2 Observers, special rates and how to get 2 free classic issues updated 8/10/2007 12:04:00 AM EST

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