~~~~~THE TBL NEWSLETTER~~~~~
Volume 3, Issue 17
Official Newsletter of:
The Balrog’s Lair
“Still an Internet Original!”
“It’s What You’ve Been Waiting For”
Here – Barely
I’ve been sick.
And still am. So, I’ll dispense with much of the pleasantries and let you know that we have an all new column debuting this week. Rick Esley has joined the TBL Newsletter with “The Logical Approach”. Rick used to write on TBL and Online Onslaught and I really think you’ll enjoy his work. Anyway, enjoy the newsletter.
Check Out Roland’s Website: Salty Ham!
Goldberg and WMXX Update
Despite the fit that Goldberg threw at Armageddon a few weeks ago, rumor has it that Vince McMahon still really wants a Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar match at Wrestlemania XX. But it won’t be Champion vs. Champion as originally thought.
Instead, the winner of the Royal Rumble is rumored to face Triple H. The interesting thing is that Triple H may face someone from the Smackdown brand, like Kurt Angle, John Cena, Chris Benoit, or even Eddie Guerrero.
Source: Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter
Wrestlers Getting Ready For Cuts
The rumor going on backstage among many of the WWE wrestlers is that the company will be cutting many wrestlers. Billy Kidman is concerned that he will be cut. However, cutting him might upset his real life wife Torri Wilson.
Source: Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter
Lesnar’s Elbow Update
Brock Lesnar’s elbow surgery turned out to be more complicated than originally thought and will need more time to heal. Lesnar was at the Smackdown taping this week, but isn’t expected to wrestle for another week.
Maven’s official website www.MavenHuffman.com posted the following on 12/31/03:
Dear Maven fans,
Maven’s mother, Sherma, is currently battling cancer as she has for years. Unfortunately this disease has spread internaly. As a show of strength and will, just as her son shows in the ring, Maven’s mother has continued to fight this disease and fight the odds. However, because the disease has spread, the current condition has become critical and Maven’s mother is in the hospital as you read this. Due to this, Maven has taken time off from WWE televised and house show events, with the companys blessing, to spend time with his mother in this tough time. We have all learned of Maven’s reziliance in the ring and we certainly know that his mother carries the same.
Mavenhuffman.com asks for all of your prayers in this tough and difficult time and ask you to send your wishes to Maven. To email Maven, write to Fanmail@MavenHuffman.com and send out a prayer tonight for his mother and their family.”
Fairplay Close To Deal With TNA
Jonny Fairplay, from the last Survivor, is said to be close to signing with NWA: TNA. He should debut soon, if no problems get in the way. Fairplay used a lot of wrestling catchphrases on the show and was hoping to get a deal with the WWE, but they have never contacted him.
Fairplay is the former assistant of Roddy Piper.
Torrie And Sable Back In Playboy
Torrie Wilson and Sable will both be doing pictorials for the March edition of Playboy, according to Playboy.com. This comes after Stacy Keibler, Trish Stratus and Lita recently turned down the opportunity to pose for the magazine.
Source: Wrestling 365
Nash Announces His Leaving WWE
Kevin Nash announced his departure from the WWE on his website this week with these words: “I met with Vince [McMahon] and we talked about the possibility of my staying with the company in a creative role. This would have meant working 5 days a week and spending too much time away from my home and family so I decided not to stay with the company. There are many options in wrestling with other companies and I am also looking into more film and television appearances.”
Benoit Could Get Big Push
Reports are that the WWE is getting ready to give Chris Benoit a huge push leading to him winning the Royal Rumble and going on to face Triple H for the World Title at RAW. Management is strongly considering having HHH face a SmackDown performer at the big show.
Still, this is only a rumor.
WWE Considering Angle Heel Turn
The WWE is considering a Kurt Angle heel turn to put him in a program with Eddie Guererro. This would explain why Angle is involved in the Chavo/Eddy split angle. Chavo is now expected to move on to the cruiserweight division and feud with Rey Mysterio.
Source: PWTorch.com VIP Updates
Big Meeting Planned for RAW
WWE is planning a big meeting backstage at RAW tomorrow. Management will be telling talent to “give it all they have” during these tough times. A similar meeting took place at the Smackdown taping on Tuesday, but the one for RAW is expected to be more intense. The general feeling among the wrestlers is that they already give it their all and the problems are caused by the booking and Vince McMahon’s decisions, not their work. Most feel that McMahon is trying to use them as a scapegoat for the problems he has caused.
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THE LOGICAL APPROACH
By Rick Elsey
First off I’d like to say hello and thanks to all the TBL readers for checking out my new column. My name is Rick Elsey and I’m a thirty-two year old male from Amarillo, Texas. I have been a fan of the wrestling industry since I was five years old. Like most of us on the internet, I am what you would call a “smark”. I know just enough about what goes on to taint and jade my view of the business. However, I also know enough about what goes on to appreciate the things that I miss from the days when I didn’t know so much… which leads me to my column for the week. See, I figured I’d introduce myself and then explain briefly what I like and don’t like about the industry today. But then I thought for a minute and realized that you probably don’t care what I think… so I will instead try to provoke a little thought instead.
Today’s wrestling scene is much different from the scene of twenty-years ago. For as much money as the “Attitude” years brought in what with the Nitro, the nWo, DX, Stone Cold vs. Vince and everything that fell in between; the aftermath of the Monday Night Wars has left the current state of the industry in shambles. Now before everyone points out that WWE is thriving regardless of the low rating, low house show gates and generally poor backstage morale… I am not talking about any of that. I am speaking of how the industry approaches the product it’s feeding to us. Today’s wrestling is too reliant on the methods that were employed during the Monday Night Wars. I am referring to the concept of “Crash TV”.
Now that you know where I’m coming from, allow me to go back twenty years ago to the dawn of the “Hulkamania” era. Most of nation only received four hours of wrestling TV at that time. WWF “Superstars”, the one-hour flagship program for Vince McMahon’s organization which I watched at 6:00 pm on KFDA, our local CBS affiliate on Saturday night. Saturday afternoons belonged to the NWA as “World Championship Wrestling” held the 5:05 pm to 7:05 pm timeslot on TBS. Sunday night the NWA gave us a random one-hour show sometimes promoted as “The Main Event” or “The Power Hour”. The main purpose of these shows was to build interest for major house shows across the country. Titles rarely changed hands on TV; storylines were given weeks, upon weeks of time to build, and big names such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and the likes hardly ever wrestled on TV. The reason for this was simple; the companies knew that their money was in the house show market and the newest form of viewing, Pay-Per-View. TV was basically a long infomercial used to hook us into the product so we’d shell out money for tickets to our local shows.
When Nitro went two hours in 1996 and began giving away huge name main events, usually reserved for super-shows such as Clash of the Champions or Saturday Night’s Main Event; Vince McMahon changed the way he was promoting his shows and followed suit. But what many fans today fail to realize is that this was all done because of the competition of the Monday Night Wars. Well I don’t know if anyone at WWE has looked around lately… but the war is over. And unfortunately for WWE, the fan base that was at one time a two company combined 12 million people plus watching on Monday nights has dwindled into less than 5 million. And I’m probably being generous at that. So what I would propose… since I figure it is obviously the most “logical approach” (quick title plug), is that Vince go back to promoting his business in the manner he did when WCW was not competition. Why market to an audience that doesn’t exist? The current audience is predominantly the same audience, with a few new stragglers. It wouldn’t take but maybe a year to re-educate the fans to except the old way of promoting the product, gearing the focus towards house shows and Pay-Per-View, while teasing the big names on TV and using the time to really building young talent.
Imagine if you will, a Raw without Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Kane or Chris Jericho. Now you have plenty of time for feature matches show casing many talents who are in serious danger of being included in the upcoming cuts, such as Tommy Dreamer, Spike Dudley, Steven Richards, Rico, La Resistance, Lance Storm, The Hurricane and others. Randy Orton, Batista, Matt Hardy, and RVD can have the main events each week, thus gaining more importance and becoming extremely familiar to the fans. Triple H and Shawn Michaels are already stars. People are going to pay to see them… it is not necessary to have them taking up a lot of TV time. Part of the reason that many talents of both rosters are not over is more due to the time they receive (or in most case do not receive) than how they are booked. During the late 80’s and early 90’s we saw Hogan, Savage, Warrior, Andre, and DiBiase less than anyone. But we saw Tito Santana, Greg Valentine, Big Bossman and Mr. Perfect every week. Vince made us pay to see the big stars and he used the rest of his time to showcase his mid to upper card line-up. This is a formula that worked very well.
If you will remember back to the Hogan era, the main event storyline between Hogan, Savage and Elizabeth ran from December ‘87 to April ’89. A storyline today runs one month from Pay-Per-View to Pay-Per-View. And Vince wonders why no one gets it… could it be because they don’t have enough time to get it? Vince is still booking his programs like he is in competition with WCW. Let me say this loud and clear: TNA IS ON PPV! NO ONE ELSE IS RUNNING NATIONAL TV! STOP FIGHTING THE WAR! Sorry. Sometimes I lose my composure.
Taking things a step further, shaving one hour off Raw and Smackdown, pulling Velocity and Heat from the air, and re-instituting a Saturday Night’s Main Event type monthly free show would be some fresh new steps in rebuilding the fan base and stopping the over saturation of the product. There is too much wrestling on TV from the same company. Maybe I’m in the minority when I say that two separate rosters is not “competition”, but I do not think I am. But if WWE absolutely has to have all the extra time, use Velocity as an exclusive Cruiserweight show. Showcase the amazing talents of the most under utilized talents on the roster. And the changes to formatting shouldn’t stop there; Heat could use some serious overhauling as well. WWE is missing out on a huge opportunity to introduce us to the rising stars of its developmental program. WWE should give OVW the Heat slot and let us see the stars of the future before they hit the main roster. I mean what better way to make us care about the star than to watch them start from scratch?
Granted, these examples of how WWE booked in the past are not a fail safe for fixing the things that are wrong, but they would be a great start. Their approach to how they handle their talent is possibly and even greater task. But regardless, WWE must dedicate itself to helping to rebuild the industry it helped to take down. As for myself, I just hope that someone inside WWE has the fore thought to challenge the current trend and bring a sense of purpose back to the industry we all love. There may be those of you who disagree with the solutions I have presented, while I’m sure many will agree with me. And for those of you who do not, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,
“ROUNDING THE SQUARED CIRCLE”
“WELCOME TO DIVAOLOGY 101 ”
“TAKE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND SHOVE IT”
VISIT MY HOME PAGE: http://members.aol.com/samjerry
Trying to come up with an Article when you have a terminal case of Writers Block, is like trying to sew jelly together. Sure I could have done the standard review of NITRO II or SmackDown, or write about what I liked/dislike about the current storylines and/or players, but I wouldn’t want to read it myself, let alone foist it off on someone else. After spending hours (OK, ten minutes) racking what few brain cells I have left, I came up with the following Pulitzer Prize candidate. If any of the two or three of you that actually read it have a comment, send it to GrandpaDudley@TheAcmeCorp.Com.
The Political Correctness Police have gone the way of Saddam. No longer is a Garbage Man a “Sanitation Engineer,” or a Bar Tender an “Adult Beverage Dispenser,” and so on. If someone is butt ugly, they no longer need be referred to as “Facially Challenged.” Now that I have given you the introduction to “Call ‘Em Like You See ‘Em 101,” I will move on to Lesson One: Life’s A Bitch, Then You Marry Her. The WWE is proud of their Divas, and I thought I’d give you a few thoughts about them. If I miss one or two, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Delicious Trish – The kind of woman every man dreams about … and never gets. Can you picture yourself coming home after a hard day at work and being greeted by her at the door holding two glasses of champagne? She’s also a pretty good wrestler, who has come a long way. Hugh Heffner would give his right arm (or at least the girls hanging on it) to have her pose for Playboy.
Lita – Matthew Hardy comes home and is greeted by her, or so it’s said. Would you want to swap places with him? There are questions about just how good a wrestler she is. There are those who think she isn’t the same person she was before her neck injury. Word is Heffner would like to have you see her with a staple in her belly also.
Lard Ass Molly – It’s a good thing that she’s an accomplished wrestler, because Heffner wont be calling anytime soon. Not to worry. she is being sought after by the publisher of Double Wide Monthly.
Gail Kim – The jury is still out on her wrestling skills. She came into The WWE and won the Women’s Championship in her debut, but “what has she done for you lately?” She has a lot of potential, and that goes for her wrestling skills also.
The Amazon Queen – She just might be the best female wrestler in The WWE, she certainty looks the part. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Heffner has her number on his speed dial; all she needs to do is have that fungus Stupid Stevie removed from her ass.
Jazz – It’s said that Helen of Troy had “The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships.” Jazz has “The Face That Sunk Them.” It’s a good thing that she’s as good as she is in the ring. She inspired many great responses in last years “Jazz Is So Ugly … ” Contest.
Ms. 44 DDD – She has absolutely no wrestling skills, but doesn’t need any. Once a Manager and the wife of Goldust, now a backstage interviewer. Notice that nobody looks at her face or the mic when talking to her. Plastic Enhancement is one of mans greatest innovations.
Miss Jackie – Other than the outfits she wears, what can anyone say about her? She is Rico’s dance partner and never wrestles. Did the Tough Enough judges blow it? Only time will tell.
Ivory – A very accomplished wrestler, who began her career in GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling), where she was the resident hottie, Tia Ferrari. If Playboy ever does a Mature Ladies Issue, her phone will definitely ring.
Jacqueline – Another very good wrestler, who spends most of her time as a referee. I’m sure there are many men out there that would love to see her au natural.
Lillian Garcia – While technically not a Diva or a wrestler, she has all the assets to be a Diva. She blows many ring announcements, but nobody seems to care. Her singing is only one her attributes.
Legs – In a recent interview, she said she has slept with four men in her lifetime. One was David Flair. David Flair? Had to be in a moment of extreme weakness. Testicle is one lucky man. Anyone who wouldn’t trade places with him? I thought not. Told Heffner, “Don’t call me, I wont call you.”
Blondie – Her Playboy Issue sold more copies than any other, and her centerfold is hanging in mucho high school lockers. If her husband, Billy Kidman, passed on, they would never be able to wipe the smile off his face. Her ring skills leave much to be desired, but she wants to learn; not happy with just being eye candy.
Dawn Marie – An import from ECW, where she met her roomie, Simon Diamond (now in MLW). What she lacks in wrestling skills, she makes up in “cat fighting” (an ECW must) skills. All she seems to do now is lose to Blondie in various contests (Bikini, Santa’s Helpers, etc.).
Nidia – Another Tough Enough entry, Ms. Trailer Park Trash spends all her time in the “Care and Feeding of Jamie Noble.” When their romance ends, and it looks like it will soon, maybe we’ll get a chance to see her in the ring; we sure wont see her in Playboy.
Our Lady of A Thousand Wrinkles – She was very proud to have the largest selling Playboy Issue … until Blondie’s came along. Not a wrestler, she spends all of her time playing The Emperor’s “Assistant.” Interesting because she once sued him and The WWE for sexual harassment. Word is she and Blondie will both be appearing in Playboy again in the very near future. Heffner must figure that 1 + 2 = $$$.
I think covered most everyone, but like I said above, if I missed anyone, “Oh well.” I’m sure Grandpa Dudley would love to hear from you. Hell, as long as it isn’t Grandma Dudley, he’s glad to hear from anyone.
THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW
By: Julian Radbourne
It’s that time of year again, folks, when thirty of the (supposedly) top wrestlers in the wrestling business compete in one of the toughest (supposedly) matches in the history of the game, the Royal Rumble.
The Rumble is probably my second favourite pay-per-view of the year, behind Wrestlemania. As many of you probably know, I’ve been watching the WWE since 1989, and the Rumble match itself always held a special place in my heart, probably because unlike most other gimmick matches, it only comes around once a year, and it isn’t done to death.
The first Rumble I saw back in 1990 featured a moment that will remain as one of my favourites in WWE history, and I’m not including the moment where the Warlord entered and was promptly dispatched from the ring seconds later. I’m talking about that moment.
This match featured the first ever in-ring encounter between World Champion Hulk Hogan and Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior, the two most popular wrestlers in the company at the time. I must admit that I marked out with the best of them at seeing these two wrestling giants in the ring together. It was a moment that many fans will cherish for years to come, and the start of the journey that led to one of the biggest matches ever at Wrestlemania VI. Many of today’s so-called smart fans will probably criticise me for being such a big fan of this story line, but back then, long before the dawn of the Internet, this was like a dream come true. For the Hulkster, it was indeed the ultimate challenge. Hogan went on to win the Rumble that year, but back then, winning the Rumble didn’t really mean that much.
Of course, there have been other memorable moments in Rumble history. Who can forget Ric Flair’s sixty-minute plus performance to win the vacant title two years later? Drawing number three, this was Flair’s defining moment in his WWE career. In an era of steroid-filled monsters, Flair outlasted them all, and claimed the one World title he hadn’t won. The sad thing here was that at the time everyone’s dream match was Flair v Hogan. This would have been a perfect way to start promoting the match on television, but because Hogan wanted to wind down his schedule at the time, this dream match was never featured on pay-per-view. It would have been a perfect main event for Wrestlemania VIII.
During the early years, one of the things that drew me to the Rumble match was the chance to see heels pounding the hell out of other heels, and the same with the faces. At that moment in time the WWE were very reluctant promote heel v heel or face v face matches. This changed with the introduction of the so-called “Attitude” era, the era of the beer-swilling anti-hero, where the line between hero and villain became blurred a little.
The Rumble still remained compelling viewing however, mainly because that after a few years, winning the match actually meant something, with the stipulation that the winner would be granted a title shot at Wrestlemania two months later adding a little sparkle to the proceedings. But one setback to this meant that it became obvious that only a select few had a real chance of going over. The era of the underdog in the Rumble came to an end.
This stipulation however has led to some dire matches at the following Wrestlemania. Yokozuna v Bret Hart at Wrestlemania IX will never be remembered as a classic, but at least the powers-that-be stuck to their guns that year, and they more than made up for it the following year, booking Bret and Lex Luger as joint winners, so that both of them would be competing in high-profile matches at Wrestlemania X.
A few years later, the WWE would use the Hart/Luger ending again, when in 2000, The Rock won the belt, only for the Big Show to contest decision, insisting that he was the last man in. The big lump would later prove his point, lose a number one contenders match, but still go on to main event at Wrestlemania. This wasn’t exactly the most memorable of years for me.
Apart from the Rumble match itself, there have also been some great under card matches. The 1991 match pitting World Champion the Ultimate Warrior against Iraqi-sympathiser Sgt. Slaughter, held at the height of the first Gulf War, may have infuriated many fans, but take away the Iraqi angle, and you’ve got booking at it’s finest. You’ve got Randy Savage, who has been feuding with the Warrior over the title for months, trying to get one last title shot, with the Warrior refusing his request. Savage and his manager Sensational Sherri then do everything they can to interfere in the Warrior’s match with Slaughter, costing him the title and setting up the thrilling retirement match at Wrestlemania VII.
Then we have the classic I Quit match between Mankind and The Rock. Mrs. Foley’s baby boy was riding the crest of a wave going into this bout. His feud with The Rock, and his title victory made for compelling viewing at the time. Of course, this match will be remembered for the number of chair shots Foley took, for the way it was portrayed in Beyond The Mat, and for Foley’s comments about The Rock’s actions (or non-actions) after the match in his first biography.
In recent years we’ve seen some puzzling booking. A couple of years ago we saw a heel v heel encounter as champion Kurt Angle defended the title against fellow villain Triple H. This was during Angle’s first title reign, and the original plan was for Angle to face Chris Jericho, a singles match that had never been seen on pay-per-view before. While this would have been a boon to many fans, a match between to of the companies up and coming stars, Triple H apparently threw a hissy fit and convinced the powers-that-be to change the plans. Jericho was thrown to one side as Triple H was put into the title match. Triple H dominated the match, making Angle looking very weak and very lucky to come out of the match with a victory. This did nothing for Angle’s career, but a great deal for Triple H’s ego.
Just one year ago, with the brand extension in full effect, we saw the good and the bad with the two title matches. Scott Steiner and Triple H literally stunk up the building with their awful World title encounter. One comment I read at the time summed it all up for me – both guys were built like tanks, and both guys moved like tanks. Then, moments after that debacle, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit put on an excellent match, the sort of match that will probably win countless Match of the Year awards in the next few weeks. Both men received a standing ovation for their efforts that night, and it was something that was really needed.
But looking forward to this year’s event, I must admit my heart missed a beat when it seemed like we Brits wouldn’t be getting a look in. It seemed odd that Sky, in their infinite wisdom, were going to turn their back on one of their most popular shows, but thank heavens for Sentanta Sports. We Brits, having been loyal supporters of the McMahon family since Sky first transmitted their shows in 1989, deserved nothing less.
Since the brand extension, the Rumble match has regained some of it’s lustre, as we’ll once again have a chance to see wrestlers competing against wrestlers they don’t normally go up against. Seeing the Raw and Smackdown guys beating the crap out of each other just once a year is worth waiting for.
As far as the under card goes, it looks like it will be dominated by the two title matches. This year sees Triple H defending his newly-won title against his old buddy Shawn Michaels. Okay, this is nothing new for pay-per-view. It makes you wonder just who will win, considering Triple H has proven somewhat reluctant to put other guys, apart from his close friends, or guys who are past it, over in the past. Add in the last man standing stipulation, and you have a mystery on your hands. Of course, you also have to wonder how a match between a part-timer and a man so injury prone will pan out.
Then we have Hardcore Holly against Brock Lesnar for the WWE title. This story line has been quite a while in the making. While it’s obvious to many just who is going to win, the fact that this match is going ahead shows one of two things – that the Smackdown brand could be lacking in main event talent, and that the company is showing loyalty to a long-time employee. I was never a fan of Thurmann Plugg. Hardcore Holly is another matter entirely. This match won’t be a mat classic. Given the story line there will probably be a great deal of blood spilt. I’m just glad that someone “new” is getting airtime in a main event match.
So with the Rumble just a few weeks away, yours truly is looking forward to a WWE show for the first time since….well….Wrestlemania last year. Thank heavens for Sentanta Sports. Let’s hope Sky and the WWE can sort out their acts in the future.
Finally, another reminder here – voting in the Two Sheds Review 2003 Wrestling Awards is still going, and will close on January 31st. So log onto my website at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com and get voting!
Another Newsletter almost done.
For those of you who worried about me since I did zero Rages this week – I’ll be back this upcoming week to Rage away. The flu made me wanna die.
But others showed up on TBL to make your wrestling week complete. This week, we saw all of the TBL staff come together to do a 2003 Year End Awards Roundtable. Some required reading there. Trevor threw out his H&S Year of 2003 recap – which you should read. Eddie also was into recapping the year with his N&A Year of 2003 in the WWE. Check it out too. And Erico got in on the fun with his Year In Review (Part 3). And finally, Rico Sparko got an advanced copy of the WWE Originals CD and reviewed it.
I’m going to go take some medicine.
Check Out Roland’s Website: Salty Ham!
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