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Ric Flair and Bruce Prichard Talk TNA Wrestling and Dixie Carter’s Problems

August 25, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Ric Flair continues to broadcast the best podcasts in the business. Flair recently had on former WWE and TNA executive Bruce Prichard and the two gave a fascinating critique of Dixie Carter and the business of TNA Wrestling.

I can’t say it enough. Flair is killing it on his podcasts, so much that I find myself getting excited every week when a new one gets posted. What makes Flair different than all of the other pro wrestler gone podcasters is that Flair has conversations with his guests. Flair doesn’t just as questions, Flair has conversations, offers anecdotes, and reminisces in a way that you feel as if you are eavesdropping on him and his guest at dinner. That is what makes every Flair podcast so much fun to listen to (and his weekly anti-marriage rants).

Former WWE and TNA Wrestling producer Bruce Prichard was a recent guest on WOOOOO! Nation with Ric Flair and while they discussed a variety of topics and told a lot of great stories, it was their discussion on TNA that I found most fascinating. The two pulled the curtain back on what it’s like to work in TNA from a talent and producer’s perspective, specifically the frustrations working with TNA president Dixie Carter.

The two offered an intriguing analysis of TNA and the root of its problems. From listening to Flair and Prichard it starts at the top with Dixie and the owners of the company. Listening to Prichard and Flair’s reflections on their times in TNA help make sense of TNA’s steep decline in recent years.

Ric Flair: You’d have to admit it was rough there, holy cow!

Bruce Prichard: It was rough because unfortunately you didnt have the backing and you didnt have the tools to turn it around. You had the talent. You had the knowledge.

Ric: One of the most difficult things for me was as nice as she is and she is a nice person, Dixie’s (Carter) communication to the talent and what was actually going on was just light years apart from what was really taking place. Would you agree with that Bruce?

Bruce: Oh whole heartedly, it was rough.

Ric: Bruce could tell somebody something in that role, the role that I’ve worked under and it should be like this is the bottom line, that’s it. But then Bruce had to deal with Hulk (Hogan) and on came Eric (Bischoff) and in came (Vince) Russo and Bruce has got all of this to deal with and then he’s got Dixie out in the parking lot and I don’t know why to this day she likes to pull the talent aside or the talent will pull her aside whichever way it goes, and they’ll make a deal with her and of course she doesn’t relay it to Bruce (laughs). “Well Dixie told me this,” I’ve been through that with her, you know what I mean? It’s just strange. It’s not malicious, it’s just a very difficult way to do business after you’ve been in the professional atmosphere of the WWE. Is that a fair statement?

Bruce: Yeah, that’s fair. You really just summed it up. It was difficult to do your job. After you would put something into motion, something else would be put into motion and you never even knew about it until it was way after the fact or too late. I’m sitting there going, “Um what’s this?” (Dixie)”I talked to him, don’t worry about it.” Don’t worry about it?

Conrad Thompson: Bruce, do you have an example of a story like that?

Bruce: Unfortunately there were too many to even remember but a lot of times there were things that, to sum it all up out of let’s say out of 50 talent on the roster you had, well when I started there were seven or eight different versions of contracts. They were all completely different. There were instances where talent was guaranteed 150 dates, but they were only able to work 70 because they only ran 70 events yet they’ve got a contract for 150. There were just so many things like that unfortunately there were different people at different times in that position that things got grandfathered in and the right hand a lot of times didn’t know what the left hand was doing and people would just go into business for themselves. And it was challenging to deal with an office in Dallas, Texas that’s an energy company that builds power plants and that doesn’t understand the wrestling business or the entertainment business. That doesn’t understand the nuances. To them an independent contractor is a plumber so one independent contractor is gone it’s just replacing another. That’s not how you do it with talent. They may be independent contractors but they’re talent. Ric Flair goes, I can’t just replace him with an independent contractor and have the same thing.

There is more talk about TNA, specifically both pontificating about Jeff Jarrett’s return the company as well as plenty of stories about working together in the WWE. It’s another fantastic podcast and I’d recommend checking out the entire thing over at the WOOOOO! Nation with Ric Flair page.

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Jeff Jarrett Returns To TNA Wrestling

June 25, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

In a bizarre scene for those who followed the tumultuous breakup of TNA Wrestling and Jeff Jarrett, Jeff and wife Karen returned to TNA on Wednesday night. Jeff announced his in-ring return in an angle that has created a lot of buzz for a lot of different reasons.

The return of Jeff Jarrett to TNA has brought TNA the kind of buzz they have been looking for over the last several months. While the interest lies with the out-of-ring fallout from Jeff’s return, the story has a lot of people talking. What this means for TNA, Global Force Wrestling, and Jeff are all questions people are asking.

There are multiple reports coming out of his return. Wade Keller at PWTorch.com reported that there is a lot of heat backstage between TNA wrestlers and management. TNA wrestlers were told that they were not allowed to appear on Jeff’s GFW shows and many of them had to cancel or pass up big paydays or face a breach of contract. Those wrestlers are reportedly not very happy that they missed out on the paydays while TNA does business with Jeff.

I have some personal experience with this kind of a situation and it sucks. I was doing announcing for both CZW and Ring of Honor back in 2002. For whatever reason, CZW had heat with ROH and implied that talent shouldn’t be working for both companies. Fans of this era may recall the Briscoes leaving CZW shortly thereafter. I made a choice and wound up staying with CZW (maybe the worst career move I ever made) and then a couple of years later CZW and ROH are working together on the invasion and CZW is bringing back some of those old wrestlers. I was angry and felt stabbed in the back having given up a great opportunity and money out of loyalty, yet CZW did business with ROH later when it was convenient. A much different situation admittedly but I can truly sympathize with those talents today.

Dave Meltzer on his F4Wonline.com podcast reported that the deal between Jarrett and TNA did not close until earlier in the afternoon. Meltzer speculated that it could lead to a Hall of Fame induction. Meltzer also speculated on what this all means for Global Force Wrestling. Meltzer speculated it could be anything from an invasion angle to a full out sale of the company to Jeff and Toby Keith. Again these were just speculations and not confirmed reports from Dave’s podcast.

Jarrett resigned from TNA in January 2014 after a failed attempt to buy the company. Jarrett created GFW later that year but didn’t start running his first shows until a few weeks ago. GFW has television scheduled to tape coming up but nothing has been announced regarding a home. Jeff has also appeared on a few New Japan shows this year.

In the ring, Jeff was pinned by Jeff Hardy in a cage match at Final Resolution which was supposed to end his career in the ring within TNA. This would be Jeff’s first match back in TNA since then. I know some that are crapping all over the angle but I will say this. Jeff was a far better worker in TNA than people give him credit for. His matches with Kurt Angle in particular were some of Angle’s best. He can still go. I just think that TNA hot-shotting an angle like this a few days before a PPV does nothing for anyone. As an example, Jeff’s return posted on TNA’s YouTube channel only has 22,000 views as of this writing. Casual fans don’t know the story and it is that backstage story that will sell this angle and make Jarrett a draw. I think TNA need to get out there and tell the story, with at least a few weeks of build to let it sink in and educate new fans that may not be aware of the backstage issues.

We’ll see what happens next with this whole invasion angle or sale. I think it is a lot to do about nothing. I think it could turn out to be Jeff coming back for a few matches, a Hall of Fame induction, and some open doors for Jeff and GFW to make a deal, possibly working with TNA to bump ROH off of Destination America. More to come for sure!

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TNA Wrestling Reportedly Make A Play For Rey Mysterio Jr.

June 24, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling are fighting for their television lives and they are looking for some heavy hitters for assistance. According to reports, TNA are making a big play for a former WWE star in hopes that he can give them a much needed boost and open up a new audience.

Dave Meltzer had the story in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. According to Dave, Dixie Carter is making a big play for Rey Mysterio Jr. According to Meltzer, the company is doing everything it can to entice the former WWE world champion.

The company made a big play this past week for Rey Mysterio Jr., who is still most likely headed to Lucha Underground, even though nothing official has been announced yet. John Gaburick and Dixie Carter both talked with him. They pushed the idea that they could get his merchandise into all the stores, and open doors for movies and TV to him, and they would build around him as their long-sought-after Mexican superstar. They also noted that if he signed with them, he could work anywhere he wanted on his off days.

This is yet another aggressive move by the company to sign a former WWE Latino star. The company reportedly made a big play for Alberto Del Rio shortly after he was released from his WWE deal. Interestingly enough, Meltzer doesn’t indicate whether Rey accepted, considered, or turned down the offer although all indications are at this point that he hasn’t signed a deal.

It is a very intriguing story when you put it in context with all of the rumors about Destination America dropping Impact Wrestling in September. The idea that TNA would somehow have the resources to sign a Rey Mysterio contradicts a lot of what we have read about TNA’s current state. TNA’s owners Panda Energy certainly have the funds, but I can’t see how TNA could have presented Panda with reasonable investment strategy into pouring all of those resources into one wrestler at a time where the company’s future is in doubt.

A TNA defender could look at this story as the glass half-full and conclude that TNA has a firm commitment from Destination America to stay past September. How else could TNA in its right mind make a serious offer to Rey when Mysterio is aware of all of the turmoil surrounding the company? Why would Mysterio even consider it at that point? A skeptic would say that TNA may be using this story to deflate all of those cancellation rumors. Maybe TNA management knew that Rey would not sign yet used this story to alleviate concerns of staff that the company is in jeopardy of losing its TV deal?

I also don’t see how TNA could make those promises about merchandise when I can’t recall ever seeing a piece of TNA merchandise in my local mall or department stores. I also don’t recall seeing any TNA talent in any recent movies or starring television roles outside of reality TV. The story almost sounds like a joke if you really sit back and think about it.

One option this brings to mind is a player-owner type of a deal. When CM Punk’s contract was coming due before his big run at Money in the Bank, I floated the idea of TNA signing Punk to a deal where he became a part owner, receiving a small percentage of the company’s revenue. Of course that never happened, but it would be a creative way to get a deal done. Paul Heyman wanted a similar deal when he negotiated with TNA several years ago to come in and book and we all know how that worked out.

I will say this. I’d love to see Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio one more time. I think these guys had one of the most underrated series of matches in WWE history. Other than that, I see no reason why Rey Mysterio would sign with TNA. It’s a fun story and I believe that TNA did make a play, I just can’t believe that anyone from TNA really thought they had a shot of signing him.

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Can Ring of Honor save TNA IMPACT Wrestling?

June 08, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The pro wrestling world has been talking with Destination America’s recent agreement with Ring of Honor that came as a surprise to everyone, including ROH talent. ROH has already been airing on the Sinclair station in my market, but now I have two opportunities to DVR ROH.

The other interesting part of ROH on Destination America is that it is a lead in to Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling’s IMPACT show on Wednesday night’s only several days after reports came out that Destination America was cancelling TNA from its line-up beginning in the fall.

What Destination America is doing with airing two different wrestling promotions is not new. Back in the day (1980’s), the CW affiliate in my market was an independent station that aired Saturday Nights beginning at 10:00pm local time – WWF Superstars, NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) World Wide Wrestling, American Wrestling Alliance (AWA), followed by Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), so what Destination America is doing is not new in airing two different promotions back to back.

I have the same questions as others do – will ROH end up being the sole wrestling show on Destination America this September. Yes, the ratings for debut show for ROH at 167,000 viewers was low, but you must consider that the announcement that was posted on social media only came days before ROH the debut show on Destination America which already aired on Sinclair stations (including the station in my market), the Friday before.   IMPACT’s ratings were half of what they were on a Friday night airing.

Something that you have to consider is that Destination America is a newer network under Discovery Communications. Most, including myself, had never heard of Destination America until it was announced that IMPACT was moving to the network. I had to search through my cable guide to locate the network.

Destination America, if they can get influence both ROH and TNA, can do some innovative stuff. I recall listening to Dixie Carter on Jim Ross’ Ross Report podcast a few months back asking Dixie what the chances would be if ROH and TNA management could sit down, put egos aside – see each other as potential partners, not enemies and have lunch on how the two companies could maybe work together and have a talent swap and maybe some dream matches for die-hard fans.

I am not trying to be an ‘arm chair booker’, but as a wrestling fan since 1986, and with what the now defunct World Championship Wrestling did with the New World Order invasion storyline, Destination America has a potential gold mine if they could get ROH and TNA to work a program together that would create a buzz in the wrestling world that has been in a slump since World Wrestling Entertainment purchased WCW in 2001. This could bring back the fans that gave up on wrestling after the demise of Nitro and Thunder and even could possible generate interest in the casual fans. With ROH being owned by Sinclair Broadcasting they understand as does Destination America is that you need to be different and attractive in order to generate ratings which in turn generates revenue and everyone from the fans to the networks, to the advertisers benefit.

There are two big differences between each company. On one side you have ROH, which is more of the old school sports feel and IMPACT which is still stuck in the WWF late 1990’s attitude era, with each show every week not getting any better. I think in order for both companies to do a successful program together, TNA needs to change their product to a more sports feel and look. Even if the two sides never work a program, which would be a missed opportunity, IMPACT still needs a huge overall, and it seems obvious that Billy Corgan isn’t changing things for the better.

ROH’s run on Destination America is only a trial run through the end of the year and really has nothing big to lose since they already air on Sinclair stations. The only loss would be the additional 57 million homes they would be seen in. However, TNA has a lot more to lose. Let’s say for the moment ROH and TNA never work a program and ROH ends up passing TNA in the ratings, would it be enough to save to IMPACT and cause Dixie (who is a smart individual based on interviews with her I have heard) to wake up and realize their company could end up on the chopping block.

However, with that said as above, If Destination America wants to become the new face for professional wrestling, they need to call a meeting between the two companies and make waves in order to get more people talking and bring the fans to their network on Wednesday nights.

When Spike moved IMPACT from Thursday to Wednesday, it was the beginning of the end from the company on the network. Time will only tell if this is the same with Destination America. It will be interesting to see what happens in the weeks and months to come.

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TNA Wrestling Respond To Reports Of Destination America Cancellation

May 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling are fighting back against reports that Impact Wrestling has been cancelled effective this September by Destination America. Unfortunately TNA are spending more time attacking and threatening the source as opposed to commenting on the actual story reported.

Dave Meltzer earlier this week reported in the current issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Destination America has exercised its option to cancel all TNA programming effective in September. While the word “cancel” is subjective, the essence of Dave’s report is that TNA is not being renewed.

TNA loyalists (fans) immediately shot back accusing Dave of being a “hater” and the report being another of Meltzer’s continuous “lies” about TNA Wrestling. As a subscriber of Dave’s since about 1988, the irony of those statements have not been lost. For starters, Dave’s reviews of Impact have been extremely positive since TNA went to Destination America. Thus the accusations of Dave being a hater are obviously being made by those who don’t read Dave nor listen to his podcasts. Furthermore, I am unfamiliar with these countless “lies” Dave has made about TNA. Would it be the lie Dave was accused of when he reported Impact was not being renewed by Spike? Would it be the lie that Dave was accused of when TNA waved the white flag on the Monday night venture? Was it the lie Dave was accused of when he reported that Vince Russo was still working for TNA? Was it a lie when Dave reported that TNA were in negotiations to sell the company to Toby Keith? Right, point being I don’t recall one report Dave has made about TNA in the last several years (or ever) that wasn’t eventually confirmed. Yet these TNA supporters (and boy are they completely oblivious to reality) continue to call Dave a liar yet continue to lie about Dave’s credibility. Ironic isn’t it?

This brings me back to TNA. TNA released a very short statement to ProWrestling.net somewhat denying Dave’s report with threats of legal action.

It has come to our attention that several internet news sources have falsely attributed statements to TNA, its executives and broadcasting partner. These false statements constitute defamation and if necessary we will seek all legal remedies available to us.

Let’s read into that for a second. For starters, TNA are not denying the reports of Destination America cancelling or not renewing TNA programming. Nowhere in this statement does TNA say that those reports are false. The only thing TNA is accusing the reporters of is attributing statements to TNA, executives, and broadcasting partner. Number two, the threat of legal action is an interesting bullying tactic. The problem here is that if TNA does seek legal action against Dave, Dave may have to reveal his sources and it could get extremely embarrassing for the company. Dave has been doing this for a long time and my hunch is that Dave is not reporting anything he can’t back up. Now as for other sites, that could be a problem depending upon the way they “report” the story.

Dave responding to a fan asking him on Twitter about TNA filing a defamation suit against him responded with the tweet…”@KevinGedert2 Why haven’t they threatened me is the question. Why haven’t they addressed one thing written?” This could turn into a very embarrassing game of chicken for TNA if they continue to make those threats towards Dave.

Ironically Dixie Carter has remained mum on the report. Dixie, who is very active on Twitter continues to tweet yet has ignored commenting on the story that her company’s television deal may be cancelled or not renewed.

New TNA booker Billy Corgan (who joins an esteemed creative team featuring Christy Hemme and John Gaburik among others) has questioned Dave’s credibility in a tweet. Meltzer responded on Twitter, “Sort of sad about Corgan, his words are almost identical to Russo about Mike Johnson when he did that story last year.”

I have to admit that I am enjoying this game of chicken. If the reactions from those within TNA and the company weren’t almost identical to reactions when reports of Spike dropping Impact I may be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately the biggest victims here are the talent. I don’t know what talent are being told but the company owes it to the talent to address this report with honesty and integrity. Anything less could damage the company’s integrity internally beyond repair.

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Destination America Reportedly Cancels TNA Wrestling Programming

May 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling is facing a familiar crisis. A new report suggests that Impact Wrestling may be homeless come this fall as Destination America has reportedly exercised its option to cancel Impact Wrestling programming by the end of September 2015.

Dave Meltzer is the first to break the story in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer’s story is somewhat cryptic in that he reports Destination America has cancelled the show yet closes his article by saying that the decision is not definite. Definite or not, the point here is that TNA Wrestling is in big trouble.

“Destination America made the decision to cancel TNA Wrestling, with the time frame given at the end of the third quarter (roughly the last week of September, when the current television season ends). Key people at the Discovery Channel network were informed of the decision at that point.
The word internally was that while they considered the ratings good, the ratings were not good enough to justify the cost of the programming. The other problem was that so many regular station advertisers specifically did not want to advertise on the show.

It should be noted that when the word was sent out, it was stated specifically that TNA would remain on Friday nights, with original episodes, until that point, and informing people for the fall season plans for Friday nights. Just days later, they were moved to Wednesday.”
Again, Meltzer ends the article suggesting that this news may not be definite.

“In the television industry, being canceled two straight years, which is still not a definite although those at the station have not been told anything new since official word was given of the cancellation, is not a good sign.”

Meltzer says the decision came down to ratings. According to the report the ratings just weren’t good enough to justify the costs to carry Impact Wrestling. Meltzer also reports that Destination America struggled to find advertisers for the program.

I, like many questioned the move to Friday nights when it was announced. While the idea to capture the SmackDown audience is nice, the reality is that Friday is a terrible night for a pro wrestling show. Several reports suggested that the decision to put the show on Fridays was Destination America’s when it happened.

No matter how you slice it, TNA is in dangerous territory right now. Dixie Carter and other TNA officials claimed they had multiple suitors for Impact last year although many were skeptical of those claims. TNA has scaled down a great deal over the last year, cutting many high-priced contracts and scaling back production. That could be looked at as a positive and a negative for a company searching for a new television deal.

I think it is fair to say that nothing is certain at this point, which could make running this company a total nightmare. Booking a pro wrestling in a lame duck situation won’t be easy for anyone in TNA. Dixie Carter will have a lot of fires to put out over the next several months and unfortunately for her, she is running out of water fast.

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

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Can TNA Wrestling Survive?

May 01, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

They have defied the odds.

When they first started, no one gave TNA Wrestling (then known as NWA TNA) much of a chance to compete with WWE. They started out as a weekly show on pay-per view, which had never really been done before. They brought in Toby Keith, and pro football players to try and increase interest. They brought in legends like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Jim Duggan to try and keep old school fans interested. And, they also had some great performers like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels that could keep fans of actual good technical wrestling captivated.

Some of the best matches I had the privilege to watch during the 2000’s usually involved Samoa Joe, Frankie Kazarian, Jay Lethal, AJ Styles and CM Punk applying their trade in the six sided ring. TNA even brought some of my favorite WWE and WCW stars into the promotion like Booker T, Kevin Nash and Sting to give them a fresh new run in Impact Wrestling.

It’s been a rough decade, but TNA Wrestling finally seems to have really hit their stride in terms of putting on a good wrestling product. They have some really good talent, like Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, MVP, Eric Young, The Hardys, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, The Wolves, and EC3. I believe their move to Destination America has made their product more watchable than their stint on Spike TV.

Just as they experience upwards movement in terms of their quality, reports have surfaced that the company has been paying their employees late, and is experiencing financial trouble. TNA announcer Taz recently departed the company, and admitted he had been paid late several times. He left on good terms with the company, but his admission about getting his checks late was very telling.

These reports seem similar to the ones that plagued ECW in the late 90’s and right up to the company’s fall in 2001.

The difference between the two is that TNA seems to be better funded. They are owned by Panda Energy, and seem to be getting support from its parent network, Destination America. ECW, on the other hand, was run by Paul Heyman. Although he is one of the greatest wrestling minds ever, and is a creative Einstein when it came to booking, his business acumen was less than stellar. He ran his territory like a mom and pop shop, and eventually the train that was WWE proved to be much too strong to run from, and in 2001, the company went under.

Usually, when a company can’t pay its wrestlers on time, the prospects of the promotion staying afloat aren’t good. And its not like they have huge overhead on their roster. They have cut their payroll considerably, and seem to be trying to right the ship fiscally.

If TNA goes out of business, it would be a real shame. This company has excellent potential, and some nice pieces that could make them a force to be reckoned with in the future.

The best thing for TNA to do is look for a new buyer. One guy who could possibly bring energy and excitement to the company is Mark Cuban.

He basically turned the Dallas Mavericks from one of the NBA’s worst teams to one of the perennial contenders in basketball every year. You can see the passion in how he operates the team. He’s their biggest cheerleader, and roots them on every game. Plus, he has the cash, and it’s a real labor of love for him.

TNA needs an owner like Mark Cuban.

Another key move would be to bring in an experienced creative guy who knows what works and what doesn’t work. I’m a huge fan of Jerry Jarrett, but he’s in his early 70’s, and who knows if he even still watches wrestling today. What he and Jerry Lawler did as co-owners and co-bookers in Memphis in the 1970’s was just phenomenal.

Perhaps one thing TNA could look into is merging their promotion with another wrestling organization. I always thought it would be a good idea for them to join forces with Ring of Honor. I think you could get some really great matches out of that, and develop a talent roster that is solid and rival that of WWE someday.

It probably wouldn’t hurt to take TNA from being somewhat of a national promotion, and just mainly become a regional company. Maybe base them in Nashville, and have them tour just the main cities in the South like Memphis, Charlotte, Birmingham and Atlanta. Have a music or entertainment heavy hitter like Toby Keith or Garth Brooks put some money into their organization.

Personally, I think it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan, because there is a lot of choices out there, in terms of different promotions and styles. Losing TNA Wrestling would not be a positive thing for the industry, because then, federations like Lucha Underground and Global Force would be ions behind Vince McMahon, who doesn’t view them as competition anyway.

Come someone please get Mark Cuban on the phone?

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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TNA Impact Wrestling Paycheck Troubles and WWE Thoughts

April 16, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The cracks in the TNA armor are starting to show again.

Even with solid numbers and a fan base that are more cult-like than the rise and fall of fan support for the WWE, TNA’s Impact Wrestling is dealing with its own issues of late. One issue in particular has re-invented itself to a point that the smoke it is causing could lead to a real fire if not put out soon.

Wrestlers aren’t being paid in a timely fashion, according to a story by Mike Johnson of pwinsider.com.

TNA is well behind on pay to their wrestlers, according to many talents who reached out to PWInsider.com under the agreement of anonymity over the past several weeks.  One wrestler claimed the company is behind two pay periods while others have claimed they are still owed money dating back to February.  With no TNA dates scheduled until the live Impact broadcast on 5/8, it has been a growing source of aggravation for TNA wrestlers as they are working the Indy scene to supplement their TNA income.

In asking sources within the TNA office in Nashville, I am told that the pay issues are legitimate and have been a source of great frustration within Nashville over the last several weeks as well.  While one source I spoke to denied talents were behind two pay periods, they did concede they have been behind on checks being cut to talents and that it was something TNA was trying to get a handle on over the last week.

One of the factors involved is that TNA’s checks are not cut in Nashville by the company but are outsourced to Dallas, Texas where TNA’s parent company Panda Energy is headquartered.  This alone adds another step to the process.

TNA had these issues before when it was struggling to stay afloat on Spike TV and the fledgling promotion had to scale back its production of shows, cut back its pay-per-view events and even release talent to remain the niche outfit it has been since its creation by Jeff Jarrett.

For everything TNA is – with better technical wrestlers as a whole (Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Eric Young) and stronger talent in the Knockouts division and in the tag team scene, these issues should be a constant habit that the talent has to deal with.

The Death of the Divas in WWE

With the sudden retirement of AJ Lee and the need for more talent and promotional angles, have we final witnessed the beginning of the end of the Divas in the WWE?

The current champion, Nikki Bella, who is sided by her sister, Brie, cannot carry a division that has Paige as its main “face” attraction and a couple other stars (Naomi and Natalya) on its current roster. There is not enough interest in the division, which of late has shown more wrestling and less glam. Still, with the loss of its main attraction – the cute girl with the killer abs who just happens to be married to WWE’s biggest enemy in CM Punk – it looks as though not even a shot of epinephrine can save the group that appears to be on life support.

It would be in Stephanie McMahon’s best interest to watch Gail Kim and Awesome Kong go at it and see how women’s wrestling is really done.

Life After Rusev

Now that the table is set for the third installment of Rusev and the current United States Champion, John Cena, what happens to Cena once the dance with the Russian ends? Is there life after defensing America for the 15-time world champion?

I would think, the WWE may take Sheamus and his Red Rooster wannabe look and work a program with these two stars.

The WWE has put Sheamus back in the same position he once was when he came to the WWE – a brutal force with the Irish accent – who runs through his opponents with ease. The only person who should be able to stop the immovable object is the irresistible force that Cena has with the company.

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Kurt Angle Dishes On Why He Did Not Return to the WWE

April 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In 1985, Hulk Hogan graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the craze of professional wrestling had exploded on the mainstream consciousness of sports readers and in entertainment circles. There was something about a man who had a receding hair line, was bigger than most football players and preached to the masses to “train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins.” Hulk Hogan did his best to bring some legitimacy to the business at a time when Kayfabe walls were being torn down and the last bastion of a “sport” shrouded in secrecy was starting to crumble in each promotion amongst the NWA, AWA and WCCW.

If not for the heavy promotion of Vince McMahon, and his vision of taking the business to another level, there would never be this constant see-saw of emotion between what is real and what is scripted and in the simplest terms “fake”.

In 1998, Kurt Angle, a decorated Olympic wrestling hero and champion walked into the then WWE as a new hope to add more “reality” to the business. What Angle delivered was “wrestling” to a business that moved further away from the days of Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers and Pedro Morales. It was another attempt at showcasing the business as entertainment. It was also a move back toward the roots of what McMahon’s father and grandfather had built over the years before the wide-eyed promoter came in always wanting more, preaching bigger is better and living on the concept that professional wrestling is a production, not just a show.

For those reasons alone, it still shocks me that Angle did not re-sign with the WWE when his contract with TNA Wrestling was about to expire. And to show you how wrestling has come full circle, the man who went from grappling on a mat to performing super-human feats in a ring for thousands every night, was candid as he could be in an article in Sport Illustrated.

Angle spoke on many topics ranging from his out of the ring feud with Brock Lesnar, another decorated college wrestler, to his desire to wrestle other performers, to his desire to come back to the company where it all started and was stopped short of the front door. In this business, there may be times when wrestlers go off script and voice their opinions (whether it is a work or not) and then there are times when they are just plain real.

This is one of those times.

As read in the article in the “Extra Mustard” section of SI.com, by Justin Barasso

Instead of wrestling every Friday night on Destination America, the 46-year-old Angle’s original plan was to finish up his TNA contract last September and re-sign with the WWE to finish out his career.

“I haven’t spoke openly about this,” said Angle, “but I opened up my options and was going to decide between TNA and WWE. I wasn’t going to leave TNA unless WWE was offering a fair deal.”

Angle, who lost his father when he was only 16 years old, developed a close friendship with Vince McMahon during his eight year run with WWE from 1998-2006. Yet, when Angle called McMahon, he was informed that a different man now runs the day-to-day operations.

“Paul [Levesque] is in charge,” said Angle. “I found that out when I contacted Vince. I’ve always had a good relationship with Paul, so I didn’t consider that a problem. But he decided they had enough talent.

“For the Vince McMahon who I knew, enough was never enough. He always wanted more. I don’t know what was going on over there, but they even canceled our meeting. I never went to see them. They didn’t even sit me down and talk to me.”

The experience was extremely humbling for Angle.

I consider Kurt Angle to be one of the best wrestlers of all time in this business. A throwback to the days when Ed “Strangler” Lewis was winning world titles and Vern Gagne was using his wrestling skills to promote his new creation call the AWA. A man who came to the business at the right time, to show there were “real” wrestlers out there who could excite and entice viewers and create a new genre of fans. For those reasons alone, finishing where he started was simple a formality in my mind. Guess I was wrong just like Angle. It also shows the fan of today just how different the WWE is from just a few years ago. There are return engagements for The New Age Outlaws, Lesnar (who Angle talks about in the first part of the interview) and guest appearances by Hogan and Ric Flair, DX and The Outsiders. But Angle is stopped before he reached the door of the WWE’s corporate offices. I find that to be one of the unkindest cuts of all.

The credentials of his career speak for themselves. Angle is the only wrestler in history to be a Triple Crown winner in both WWE and TNA, as well as the only one to have held the WWE, WCW, TNA, IWGP, and World Heavyweight Championships in his career. Angle is also a two-time King of the Mountain winner, winning at the 2007 and 2009 Slammiversary pay-per-view event, making him the only wrestler to have been both King of the Ring (WWE) and King of the Mountain (TNA). Between WWE, TNA, and Japan, Angle has won 13 world championships and 21 total championships. In 2010, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter named Angle the Wrestler of the Decade of the 2000s, and in 2013 he was the second inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame. It does not get much better.

The man Angle is now is certainly not the man he used to be. His body is beaten. His demons have affected him. His personal life has changed over the years. But when he is in the ring, Kurt Angle is still golden and in terms of the business, he is money.

Oh, It’s True. It’s Damn True. And the WWE, in its desire for change cannot see what it is missing or will miss once Angle finally decides enough is enough.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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TNA Wrestling, WWE Royal Rumble and Other Wrestling Thoughts

January 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There are two things that TNA and Impact Wrestling do better than the WWE and it isn’t even close – they promote both their tag team division and the Knockouts better than their rival company and use both divisions as main event programming to keep its fan base interested.

The niche promotion that has more lives than a cat on steroids found a home on Destination America and gave an uneven performance for its first venture in the new year. The fact there are two heel stables and no real “face” faction other than Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Kurt Angle to fight the good fight is concerning. But the match between the Hardy’s and The Wolves proved that extreme tag team wrestling is still alive and well. Here’s hoping TNA develops more tag team talent to challenge The Revolution and can bring in more X-Division style talent to build tag teams as a way to continue the high-paced style this company is known for.

The spot that may have been the best of the opening show Friday night was the confrontation between Havoc and Awesome Kong. If this is what TNA gives us on a weekly basis, then there will be no shortage of enthusiasm from its fan base. When is the last time two behemoth women got in a ring and beat the hell out of each other? This isn’t Lita and Trish Stratus – this is more hell, fire and brimstone than anything else. Can both deliver and more importantly, can both keep the Knockout’s Division running at such a high level? TNA has grown plenty of talent with Madison Rayne, Velvet ISky, OBD, Taryn Terrell and Angelina Love. A match between Havoc and Awesome Kong could be the main event attraction of the Year, should it live up to the hype the company will throw at the rivalry.

DO NOT GIVE THE RUMBLE TO DANIEL BRYAN

The “Yes” movement is back, alive and well as of last week when Daniel Bryan made his triumphant return to the ring in a match against Kane and then in a six man tag team match (I hate the impromptu matches like that, by the way). What worries me is the WWE will try to capitalize on the momentum of Bryan again and give him the Royal Rumble victory.

 realize the momentum the WWE hoped Roman Reigns would get from the WWE Universe on his way to the Royal Rumble is not the response they had hoped for. As Eric Gargiulo pointed out last week, the injury Reigns suffered last year may have something to do with that. The other reason may be that the fans do not want Reigns shoved down their throat. The “Yes” movement and Bryan came naturally, as it evolved – fans identify with the underdog, which was a huge win for the company. I am not saying a Royal Rumble win for Bryan is a bad thing, but not giving someone else a chance to shine at WrestleMania may not be what is best for business.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAT PATTERSON

We celebrate the birthday on Monday of one of the greatest champions of all time in the WWE.

The 74-year-old creative consultant for the company was the first Intercontinental Champion in the company.

In 1979, Patterson debuted in the then World Wide Wrestling Federation, working as a heel, under the tutelage of manager The Grand Wizard. As a villain, Patterson’s primary feuds were with WWF North American Champion Ted DiBiase and WWF World Champion Bob Backlund.

During a television taping on June 19 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Patterson defeated DiBiase for the WWF North American Championship by using a pair of brass knuckles to knock out DiBiase. Patterson was unsuccessful, however, in winning the WWF World Championship from Backlund.

In September 1979, the WWF North American Championship and the (fictional) South American Championships were unified to create the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Patterson was crowned the company’s first Intercontinental champion after an alleged tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. While Patterson’s tournament “victory” is widely listed in wrestling title and match histories, the tournament itself never actually took place.

Patterson held the Intercontinental Championship until April 21, 1980 when he was defeated by Ken Patera in New York City, New York. The match ended in controversial fashion after Patterson placed his right leg on the ropes just before the three count was made.

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