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CM Punk, TNA and Other Pro Wrestling Thoughts

October 24, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Go to a WWE event and the chants are heard throughout the arena.

“CM Punk. CM Punk.”

It has been the same battle cry of the WWE Universe (if there still is a universe) since Punk walked out on the job after the Royal Rumble. Punk has not been part of a match, program or even a tease about returning to the ring.

Punk’s hiatus from the WWE is not a new thing, having left on two other occasions – the first after his infamous shoot interview that led to a “WWE Title vs. WWE Title” with John Cena. The other time he took “time off” was after his loss at WrestleMania to The Rock.

Since then, Punk has not been part of a world championship program.

The WWE is in a fairly peculiar situation because while it appears Punk is serious about his retirement from professional wrestling altogether, his wife, AJ Lee, is still a major part of WWE programming and the biggest draw on the women’s side of the ledger.

  • Right now, even in the fall of retirement, Punk is in the driver’s seat.
  • He is easily one of the top three biggest draws in the company still to this day.
  • The mere fact he generates such an outburst from the fans is a concern for the company.

Whether they admit it or not, the company is taking on water to some degree because of poor matches, poor feuds and injuries.
The company still needs him, along with Daniel Bryan and John Cena, to lead the “face” faction because there has not been a steady influx of younger talent to be brought in from NXT.

As long as the “Second City Saint” is walking the streets and not in a wrestling ring, his legend becomes more popular and in the process, he sticks it to the company that made him a star.

BETTER BUSINESS AT TNA WRESTLING

While the WWE is trying to figure out how to handle a champion that only wants to wrestle on his terms, the product in TNA is better lately.

There is something to be said for being under pressure, which is exactly what Impact Wrestling has been under as of late. But a string of solid wrestling packages have put TNA in better stead.

Over the course of the last month, wrestling between faces like Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, Eric Young and Austin Aries have boosted ratings as well give the fans quality matches that make wrestling matter.

So much has been made of how TNA is the second rate promotion. But judging WWE and TNA is not a fair representation of how the business is today.

TNA is about wrestling and shoot interviews and some of the iconic feel of the former NWA. WWE is about the gut shot, the light everyone’s hair on fire and see who screams moment.

I am a fan of the more traditional style of TNA and also understand how it can be abused in the wrestling community as the red-headed step child.

SCOTT HALL

On Monday, the wrestling world celebrated the birth day of Scott Hall, or Razor Ramon, as many of us knew him in his WWE days. Hall and Kevin Nash helped to define professional wrestling as The Outsiders, the party crashing duo who helped to create the NOW.

Hall may not get the notoriety that he deserves because of his out of ring issues with substance abuse, but when he was in his prime, there were only a handful of wrestlers who could match his in-ring ability.

The 56-year-old was a star in many promotions before making his mark in the WWE.

Beginning with his time in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), Hall maintained a perennially high profile as a wrestler, as he became a four time WWF Intercontinental Champion, a two time WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, a one-time WCW World Television Champion and a nine time world tag team champion (seven times in WCW, once in TNA, and once in the AWA). In addition, Hall is a two time world champion, having won the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship and the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship. He is also notable for being a founding member of the New World Order. On April 5, 2014, Hall (as Razor Ramon) was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Hall was what Randy Orton is (minus the titles) today.

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TNA Reportedly Make A Play For CM Punk

October 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling are not ready to roll over and play dead yet. With no TV deal in place past 2014, the company recently made a bold move. A move was made that could have majorly shaken up the pro wrestling landscape.

According to a new report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, TNA made a play to bring back CM Punk. Dave Meltzer reports that TNA were hoping to bring Punk in and use him as a chip in closing a television deal.

For whatever this is worth, TNA, through an intermediary who is friends with C.M. Punk, made a play for him just like they did for Alberto Del Rio several weeks back. The idea pitched was a huge deal to be the top star of the company and money similar to Hogan, with the idea he could be their flagship guy and if he signed now, could help them broker a stronger television deal.

Meltzer reports that Punk declined the offer and has no interest in returning to pro wrestling whatsoever. The timing of the move comes a few months before TNA’s extension with Spike TV is scheduled to run out. You have to give TNA some credit for going for it, yet I can’t seriously believe that they thought they had a real shot.

This isn’t the first move that TNA has made recently at an ex-WWE superstar. TNA reportedly reached out to Alberto Del Rio immediately after his contract was terminated with the WWE. Del Rio reportedly turned down their offer as well. I don’t know if these are desperation moves, moves simply for public relation purposes, or some kind of delusional strategy on the part of Dixie and company.

What is interesting to me is that they let Sting and Hulk Hogan walk due to money issues, yet were willing to spend even more money on Punk. Meltzer reports that Punk’s deal was for more money than Hulk which would have likely made him the highest-paid star in TNA history. I’d also assume that Del Rio’s figure was somewhere in Hulk’s range. TNA could have kept Hulk and used him in these television negotiations, yet expenses were cut. Hogan could have quite possibly got a better deal to return to WWE anyway, but they didn’t even make a serious play according to reports.

I speculated months ago that TNA could make a run at Punk. I thought that TNA or even ROH could make a deal with Punk which gave him ownership in the company as part of the deal. It would have been a one-of-a-kind deal in 2014, although points in a territory were common place back in the territory deals in regards to wrestler deals. I envisioned a scenario where Punk would be a player-owner, similar to what Paul Heyman wanted (booker-owner) but that isn’t happening.

I am not sure what TNA felt they could offer Punk that he couldn’t have gotten if he stayed in the WWE. A better schedule for sure, but the pay couldn’t have been comparable. Plus, Punk is astute and well aware of TNA’s television troubles. Imagine the egg on Punk’s face if he did agree to a deal with TNA and they couldn’t reach a television deal for 2015.

It’s hard to rationalize what TNA’s real motive was here. Why would a company make a high-dollar offer to someone like Punk with no deal in place? I would think that their time would be better suited trying to get a deal done as opposed to chasing an elusive prize they had virtually zero shot of signing.

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TNA Wrestling Has Some Life Left

September 12, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I applaud TNA for trying to add new life into its niche wrestling program by bringing back former ECW stars to its roster. The added excitement of hardcore rules, the chance to see great tag team action and another opportunity to save TNA from falling off the cliff just may work – for a short amount of time.

Since the WWE has moved away from the old Attitude Era and won’t even consider Bully Ray or AJ Styles, but will bring in a veteran like Sting, the thought of Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno and the Dudley’s makes my temperature rise ever so slightly. Anything that brings back the past in a positive way in professional wrestling works for me.

This – this new lease on life, so to speak – works for me. I happen to like TNA for its NWA style, its ECW antics and more realistic – if that is such a word – wrestling angles. In this case, wrestling does matter, even moving to New York gives this outfit a better chance of sticking around.

But for the most part, the tag team wrestling of late, the hardcore rules matches and the better than average angles is what is keeping me glued to the screen.

In a way, maybe TNA has Paul Heyman to thank for his conception of ECW and the hardcore style we see today.

ECW was a professional wrestling promotion that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1992 by Tod Gordon. ECW closed when then owner Paul Heyman declared bankruptcy in April 2001. After purchasing the assets of ECW, World Wrestling Entertainment relaunched the Extreme Championship Wrestling franchise as a WWE brand from June 2006 until February 2010 to complement their existing Raw and SmackDown brands. The promotion showcased various international styles of professional wrestling, ranging from lucha libre to puroresu and hardcore wrestling.

ECW had its origins in 1989 under the banner Tri-State Wrestling Alliance owned by Joel Goodhart. In 1992, Goodhart sold his share of the company to his partner, Tod Gordon, who in return renamed the promotion Eastern Championship Wrestling. When Eastern Championship Wrestling was founded, it was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). At the time, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert was the lead booker of Eastern Championship Wrestling. Gilbert, after a falling out with Tod Gordon, was replaced in September 1993 by Paul Heyman. Heyman, known on television as Paul E. Dangerously, had just left World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and was looking for a new challenge.

It is a program that has its place in wrestling today and fits the TNA profile for more conventional “sport”. Fans up north are familiar with the programming of ECW and TNA’s bring has brought back the brand and changed venues to make it more accessible and popular to the fan base.

I love it.

If TNA is going to continue to show improvements it must continue down this path. The tag team division is red hot with Team 3-D, The Hardys and The American Wolves leading the way. The X-Division is solid (welcome to the club, Tajiri). Bobby Roode is again on the side of good instead of evil. The Knockouts are top notch (better than the WWE) and of course, there is actual wrestling on the card when we watch every Wednesday (which was also a good move by the Board of Directors to have more of a following in the middle of the week.

Everything adds up. But now comes the hard part of sustaining the success. Like it was said before earlier this week, this is the start of something big or the first nail in the coffin. I tend to think the latter not the former. If that is the case, then TNA just took old school and made it new again.

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Is IMPACT Wrestling’s move a new start or the nail in the coffin?

August 21, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Total Non-Stop Action recently announced with only a one week notice its viewers that its flagship show Impact Wrestling is moving from its long running Thursday  to Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM citing that basically the move to Wednesday’s won’t allow for viewers to choose between the NFL and Wrestling.

I remember during the dying days of World Championship Wrestling when the company’s Thursday night show Thunder moved to Wednesdays due to SmackDown during that time becoming the new number one wrestling show on Thursday nights.

TNA is touting that Impact Wrestling has seen ratings increases over the summer.  However, the show still has a week or two where the ratings see a decline, then an increase.  Either Spike TV is experimenting to see if the ratings will increase now that Impact Wrestling won’t be going head-to-head with the NFL, or they are looking for a night where the show’s ratings will tank completely and give Dixie and Company a viable reason that they (Spike) have a solid justifiable case not to renew the show, or is this move due to the rumors that Vince McMahon is moving SmackDown back to Thursday nights and Spike and TNA recall how bad they (TNA) was beat during its very short Monday night run against Monday Night Raw.

I have watched some of Impact Wrestling and have noticed some difference increased in ring action, but TNA still struggles with standing out as different.  I recently listened to an interview with Bully Ray on the Ross Report.  Ray suggested that TNA should be a cross between the 1980’s Georgia Championship Wrestling, National Wrestling Alliance and the current New Japan for in ring action with very little other storylines – let the story be told in the ring.  Jim Ross went on to say that TNA tends be a WWE lite at times.

TNA should spend less time trying to look like World Wrestling Entertainment from attitude era and focus on doing something different and innovative that will turn heads and get viewers talking.  Yes, there have been some that say TNA is heading in the right direction with a reboot or refocus on more in ring action.  Bringing back the six-sided ring isn’t really the answer.  You can have a six-sided ring, and eight sided ring, but if your product stinks, it won’t matter what your ring looks like or how many former pay-per view shows you give away for free.

So there is still one big mystery that neither Dixie Carter or Spike TV are talking in depth about which is Impact Wrestling remaining on Spike TV.  The other question is Dixie secretly shopping around Impact Wrestling to other networks.  When Dixie commented on the “ongoing negotiations…” she did state that there are other networks that have expressed interest in Impact Wrestling.  I have never been in the television industry, but did spend some time in the radio industry and know that in some cases when there specific negotiations, depending on what is being discussed in can be proprietary until the final deal is ready to be made public.

If Dixie is smart, which I know she is, is talking with other networks in the event all rumors are indeed true that Spike is not renewing Impact Wrestling.  Several wrestling websites are reporting that TNA is taping shows through the end of the current Spike TV deal.  In addition, TNA has cancelled house shows for September and into October.  Bound for Glory in Japan is the only television they have on the books.

I want to see TNA succeed.  It is good for the business.  Without a television deal, TNA won’t succeed.  TNA needs cable TV, but the question remains, does Spike TV need TNA.  Spike will answer that question very soon I’m sure of it.

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Petey Williams Speaks On TNA, Injuries, Retirement, and His Career

August 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Petey Williams was perhaps the most understated member of Team Canada in TNA. Williams wasn’t as profoundly obnoxious as Scott D’Amore, as comically demented as Eric Young, or as imposing as Alastair Ralphs. Williams is shorter than the chiseled, camera-friendly Bobby Roode, and he doesn’t have the natural, arrogant smirk of Johnny Devine.

Despite that, the two-time former TNA X-Division Champion gets his name chanted at wrestling cards he doesn’t even appear at, thanks to a spectacular invention.

One week after Williams, 32, performed in his retirement match against X-Division doppelganger Chris Sabin, independent wrestler Alex Reynolds executed the Canadian Destroyer, the prodigious flipping piledriver, during a CZW tag team bout. After a roaring beat, over 500 fans in Voorhees, NJ chorused with “PE-TEY WILL-IAMS”, an homage to the hold’s master.

The Destroyer is synonymous with Williams in the same manner that bringing a python to the ring is the calling card of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. This past May, Buff Bagwell, of all people, performed the move at an AIW event in Cleveland. As video surfaced, and Bagwell became a trending name, Williams’ name also escaped viewers’ lips in conjunction with the sight.

“Everybody thinks I get upset (to have others do the move), but you know what they say, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Williams jokes. “I’ve done something in pro wrestling that a lot of people can’t say that they’ve done. I’ve created something that’ll live past when I’m dead and gone. When I’m 70 years old, I’ll be sitting on the couch with my grandkids, and there’ll be some wrestler doing the Canadian Destroyer, and I’ll say hey, that was me.”

On May 5, 2004, Williams stood out from a new-plastic-scented, identity-seeking Team Canada stable by performing the Destroyer before a PPV audience. In an eight-man tag, Williams spotted up Sabin in the hijacker-clasp, and sunset-flipped Sabin into a perfect, Memphis-outlawed piledriver that astonished the TNA Asylum upstate in Nashville.

“The first person I did it to on television was Chris Sabin, but the first person that had ever taken it was Evan Bourne, back when he was Matt Sydal,” recalls Williams. “I explained the move to him, having no idea how it was going to turn out. He just goes ‘Okay!’ So I set it up, we did it, the place went nuts, and the rest is history.”

“Ten years ago, wrestlers were afraid of it, but now they’ve seen me perform it so much, and they trust me. It’s not that I was trying to talk anyone into it, but I just had to assure them that I wasn’t going to break their neck. I think now, people are lining up, like, ‘I wanna take the Destroyer tonight!’ Sonjay Dutt didn’t even want to do it, and I finally managed to assure him. After we did it, he was like, ‘Petey, that was so easy!’ For that reaction that we got, he said he’d rather take the Destroyer than a bodyslam.”

Safety first for wrestlers whose acrobatic, smack-echo’ed styles induce as many winces and cringes as they do cheers. Williams’ recent decision to walk away from wrestling is, in part, due to the accumulation of such aches and pain over his twelve-year career.

“I hear about all of these guys getting concussions and neck injuries, and I watch their wrestling style, and I realize my wrestling style’s a little bit harder than that, because I’m taking German suplexes on the neck, and piledrivers and whatever. I’m like, ‘Man, I’m gonna be 33 years old; maybe I’d better get out now, and not have to be in a wheelchair when I’m older.”

My wife’s due with my next daughter in a couple of weeks or so, and I just didn’t book any shows in or around this time. Then I just said, ‘You know what? I just gotta start doing different things in life.’ You kinda have to look at your future, and ask what’s really more important: providing for my family, being there for them, or pro wrestling?”

Health concerns aside, Williams recognizes TNA as among the most secure places he’s worked, knowing that he could put his body in the hands of the experienced professionals there, and come out as fresh as possible in such a physical vocation. In the indies, however, that luxury isn’t always available.

“You lay faith in the promoter to pair you up with somebody trustworthy, because you may have never met this person before. In a match last October, I was doing my basic opening moves, and one of them was a second-rope hurrachanrana. My opponent’s like, ‘Oh, that’s easy; I can do that okay.’ And when I went for that, he for some reason ducked his head, and I totally landed on my own head. I pop up, and my shoulder felt really weird.”

“I had an MRI, and the doctor told me I had a torn supraspinatus (rotator cuff muscle in the upper back). He tells me the only way I can really fix this is through surgery; there’s no amount of rehab that’s really going to make this better, nothing you can take, no injections, etc. He tells me I can’t wrestle for the next couple of months. I look at him like, ‘Well, that’s not going to happen,’ because I’ve got shows booked.”

“Right now, it’s feeling better, but it’s been probably about ten months, and I still feel it every morning.”

Several months before the October 2013 injury, Williams had another scary moment, this time in a special appearance at TNA’s Destination X in Louisville. Williams was booked in a triple threat match with fellow X-Division pioneers Sonjay Dutt and Homicide.

“Homicide suggests to me he’ll do the Gringo Killer (vertebreaker), and from there, Sonjay will give him the moonsault double stomp. I’ve never taken it from Homicide before, as many times as I’ve worked him. He assured me, ‘I’m really safe with it now. Before, I used to kinda kill guys,’ and I told him I was fine with it, that I wasn’t even questioning it.”

“Then the way we did it wasn’t the way we practiced it – he was supposed to kick me, set me, turn me up, then down. Instead, he just grabs me from behind and says, ‘Oh, let’s just go with it this way.’ When he flung my legs up, he had my upper body trapped, and it kinda compressed by body, and I really couldn’t move. It felt like a lightning bolt went through my upper back and chest area. I rolled out of the ring, so I was at least able to move.”

“The ref came over to check on me, and he made the “X” gesture. I literally couldn’t even sit myself up; I couldn’t use my core muscles to pull myself up, it was too much pain in my neck. I asked him to just lift my body up, to get me into a sitting position, and then I managed to get up, so I was able to walk to the back. The doctor told me he thought it was just a bruised spinal cord, and I thought, ‘A bruised spinal cord? That’s it?’ I iced it, took some anti-inflammatories, and it didn’t get any worse, which I’m happy about, but I couldn’t do certain things in the gym for a while.”

Constant pain has been a motivating factor for a number of wrestlers to leave the industry. With a family at home, and the opportunity to get out with what are now just nagging pains, Williams is, so far, handling the adjustment to ‘civilian life’ well enough. It appears, though, the man once known as “Maple Leaf Muscle” won’t be a civilian for long.

“I’m going to become a US citizen, probably within a month. I’m probably going to work in law enforcement now. That’s what I went to school for while training to be a pro wrestler, so that’s been my other area of passion. It’s a career where I don’t have to travel, don’t have to leave my family, and I can earn a pension. My wife’s a police officer, and that’s how we kind of came together.”

Jesse Ventura once opined, “You get into wrestling to get out of wrestling”, and “The Body” accordingly found his calling in politics and movies. Williams’ escape route allows him to keep it far more local, where family, both biological and acquired, will be his constant.

“It’s about being a Dad, and also stopping by some local shows to say hi to the guys. I still wanna keep up with wrestling, and I’m actually enjoying it a little more, following it casually as a fan. It reminds me of back when I was younger, and I love being a fan of the sport.”

“I went to the Ring of Honor show in Dearborn (July 19), near where I live, and I got to say goodbye to a few guys I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye to, like Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Jay Lethal, Tyson Dux, and it was Kevin Steen’s last match, and it was good getting see all of that. I really, really enjoyed it for the first time since becoming a pro wrestler, sitting in the back of the crowd, watching the show. I didn’t have to stress out about most the stuff you’d usually stress out about when you wrestle.”

“It would have been nice to be on that show, but I didn’t bring any of my wrestling gear, so even if they’d asked me, I would have said no,” Williams laughs. “But I do miss it, of course.”

Somewhere down the line, Williams isn’t against the idea of donning the tights and doling out another Destroyer. In his words, the time would have to be right, because in wrestling, never ever means never.

“You know, I never really said I’m ‘retiring’, because who ever really retires? How many times has Terry Funk ‘retired’? I think he may still be wrestling!” Williams jokes. “I just like to call it my ‘last match’, because I may never, ever wrestle again, but I could have another match in a year, five years, ten years. Who knows, right? I think every wrestler I’ve seen retire come back, so I don’t want to say that.”

Williams at least offers a bizarre scenario, declaring with a chuckle, “I would break my retirement if I could wrestle Buff Bagwell with Scott Steiner as the referee.”

Dueling Canadian Destroyers? It’s more enticing than even a WWE contract to Williams now, who said regarding the company, “Even if WWE called me and said “We’d like you to move to Florida for NXT,” I wouldn’t because I have a family, I have a daughter with one on the way. I’m married, I have a mortgage. I’m set to where I am in life right now; I’m totally content with it.”

As it stands, Williams’ last match (not ‘retirement match’) was with Sabin in Clinton Township, Michigan for XICW on July 5. Williams put over the man whom he’s shared his personal and professional lives for over ten years in an emotional walk-off.

“I’ve had two people I’ve wanted to have my last match with. One of them was this guy named Gutter (Caleb Stills), a local independent wrestler in Michigan, who was actually my first match over 12 years ago. I’d talked with him about it for years, having my last match with him as well.”

“He was actually on the show that day, and I asked the promoter if he’d put me against Gutter, or Chris Sabin. He said he wanted me against Sabin, which is fitting, because Sabin’s my best friend in the professional wrestling world. We’d always travel together, trained together, and we’re both from (Scott) D’Amore’s school. It was the right way to go.”

Sabin is just one X-Division icon that Williams will miss taking to the mat with. His list of favorite opponents reads as a Who’s Who of the division’s finest.

“I loved working with Alex Shelley, of course. At the end of his TNA run, I liked working with Low Ki. At the beginning of his run, I didn’t, because he was not easy to work with. Maybe he felt uneasy, that he had to prove himself, but when we started hanging around with him, he really eased up, joked around with us, which he didn’t usually do. But after that, I was having really good matches with him and everything, and I was really sad to see him go!”

“I really liked when I had my run with Frankie Kazarian, with a really good Slammiversary match. We had a bunch of house show matches as well, including one where I was ‘married’ to him for about a week straight. I just had good chemistry with him. All of the X-Division guys pretty much. I don’t think there was any that I didn’t like working with. I liked Sonjay, Lethal, AJ Styles, Daniels, Kazarian. I never really got to work with Samoa Joe, never had a singles match with him, which is kinda weird. But yeah, I could work those guys every single day for the rest of my life.”

The world will have to deal without the authentic Canadian Destroyer, but imitations are welcome. The cover-versions conjure up the image of Petey Williams in all his glory, and that’s the fitting legacy for Williams: an understated man paid tribute with an enthralling act.

“Any time I’ve been at shows, I hear, “Petey, you’ve got the best finishing move ever,” and person after person says it to me. People might think it gets old, but it really doesn’t. I appreciate everybody saying that, and I thank everyone for all of the support.”

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Dixie Carter Comments On Spike Not Renewing Impact Reports

August 13, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Dixie Carter is living in a land of delusion off of the river of denial. Carter recently made her first public comments about Spike cancelling Impact. Let’s just say it appears that Dixie never got the memo or read the news on TMZ.com.

For someone with a background in public relations, Dixie is one of the absolute worst promoters I have ever seen with the media. Dixie rarely shoots straight and gives the impression she is living in an extremely isolated world away from the realities of TNA Wrestling. Regardless, these interviews are gifts to blogs like mine so keep them coming.

It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Spike TV will not be renewing their deal with TNA Wrestling. Their deal runs out in October and TNA are allegedly fighting hard to find a new home for Impact. Anything short of a new deal will either sink the company or necessitate drastic changes which will change the look and feel of TNA from top to bottom. You’d think an owner in that predicament would be worried right? Not Dixie!

Dixie was a recent guest of Ring Rust Radio and they asked her point blank about the reports and what kind of other options TNA has come October.

“Dixie Carter: Every two years I go through this. This is just the first public negotiation I’ve ever had. I think social media has really changed this kind of thing. I’m used to every two years negotiating with Spike and negotiating with other networks. This time is absolutely not any different. We’re still talking with them, but there are other people, thank God, that are interested in our product. I want to grow this brand; I want to grow it domestically. I want us to be able to start having the kind of success domestically that we’re having internationally. I’m not going to stop and none of us are going to stop until we get there. I’m real excited to see and I think we’ll know sooner than later what’s going to happen.”

Are there really other people? If I had a television show that was up this fall and I didn’t have a deal in August, I’d be petrified! At this point the fall schedules are all but set for most networks, the big ones anyway. Sure she could get a new deal but getting on a good slot for the fall at this point is almost impossible. I think when you have credible reports from multiple sources citing that your television show is not being renewed, you need to address them instead of blow them off as some kind of social media thing. It’s not fair to your fans and most importantly your employees.

A new report has shed some light on the failed Spike TV and TNA negotiations. A new report claims that Viacom wanted 10% ownership in TNA as part of a new deal. Dixie said no and Spike walked. This new report does shoot down some theories about Spike walking due to Vince Russo’s return to the company. It would also make a lot of sense as TNA does bring in decent ratings for Spike on that night. Passing on a renewal really didn’t make much sense until now. Keep in mind that Viacom bought into Bellator MMA as part of their negotiations so this does seem completely logical to me.

I can’t blame either side at this point. Viacom has all of the leverage here and it doesn’t take an accountant to see how poorly TNA has been run at times. I could certainly see them taking a shot and at the same time I can see Dixie not wanting to get bullied into selling. That said, Dixie also has to understand the stakes here and without a BATNA she has no other choice but to sell partial ownership or continue the company with a drastic reduction in revenue.

Either way things are going to get very interesting here between now and October. That’s something I haven’t been able to say about TNA in years!

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Jack Swagger, Tag Teams and Other Wrestling Thoughts

August 11, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s a good thing to have someone in the wrestling business fighting for Old Glory again. The idea to make Jack Swagger a “Real American” in terms of fighting for his country and having the thousands in attendance each week cheering for the USA is one of the trademark spot of the older wrestling generation.

Whether it was Hulk Hogan or Sgt. Slaughter or Jim Duggan, there has always been someone to jump at the chance to fight for the country he loves and create controversy. But what happens when the man who fights for our country doesn’t have anyone to fight anymore?

The program between Swagger and Rusev has been good for the WWE over the past month, but it should end at SummerSlam. What happens to Swagger then? Fan support in this case is not as much for Swagger as it is for Zeb Colter, who has tugged at the heartstrings of the WWE Universe. What combination or individual comes in and takes Rusev’s role as antagonist? Wrestling used to be famous for that. The Iron Sheik. Nikolai Volkoff, and Ivan Koloff were famous for challenging America and challenging the faces of promotions – generating heat from the crowds during the era of Kayfabe – and guaranteed bank at the gate.

Unfortunately, I do not see Swagger doing that for the WWE, mainly because there is not as much charisma in his talent and act as there is in his manager. Maybe a program with Kofi Kingston, who we finally may see turn heel, or Big E makes more sense. If the WWE wants to tweak Swagger’s character more, that would make plenty of sense.

TNA Rewind
This coming week, the Hardy’s and Team 3D will meet again in another historic tag team match. Whether you want to admit it or not, if you want to see “good” tag team wrestling outside the Uso’s or Rhodes brothers, turn the channel on your television on Thursday nights.

While the contract with Spike Television does not run out until October, Impact wrestling has turned up its game in the tag team division and has brought two great matches in three weeks to Thursday night.

If the match with Bully Ray and Devon is half as good as the match between the Hardy’s and The Wolves, there may still be some hope for TNA keeping its contract with the current cable channel.

Goodbye, Farewell
I am not going to rehash anything that has already been said about the release of Alberto Del Rio other than I am not bothered by his release. What I can say is this, the WWE is a business and a publically traded one. It acted like a business and did what was best for business.

Personally, I did not like the character from the start and thought Del Rio was stale and boring and dropped from a heavyweight to a lightweight in a nanosecond within the company. Part of that problem became evident when Del Rio became a world champion first and did not work his way up the WWE food chain.

Happy Birthday Hulk Hogan
And finally, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Hulk Hogan. The 61-year-old Hogan continues to be part of the center of the wrestling world. This past week Hogan announced that he would entertain the idea of wrestling at WrestleMania 31 – his opponent none other than John Cena.

While this would be the ultimate “passing of the torch” I beg the WWE and the wrestling world to not allow this to happen in any way, shape or form.

If this is the WWE’s idea of replacing Undertaker on the card with a match like this, then the ultimate “jumping the shark” event will take place and ruin everything the company is doing to change the culture of the business. JUST SAY NO!

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The Brilliance of The Hardys vs. The Wolves

August 02, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

I saw greatness on Thursday night. On Thursday night, I saw what tag team wrestling was all about.

If you watched the TNA Impact wrestling match between the Hardys and The Wolves, you saw the passing of the torch of one great combination to another.

I am not a huge fan of the current state of tag teams in the business because of the continual changes and thrown together teams we see night after night. But watching these two teams in the ring, you could sense there was something special on the screen and possibly the finest hour of the Hardy’s in some time. Even on the losing end of the match, Matt and Jeff showed us vintage moves, cohesion and an intensity we remember all too well from the team’s time in the WWE.

The Wolves may be the best tag team in the business today (a match with the Usos would end speculation).

The brothers started They first began teaming together in 1993 in independent promotions in North Carolina, winning the NWA 2000 Tag Team Championship in NWA 2000, and founded the Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts, where they held the OMEGA Tag Team Championship. They both signed contracts with the WWF in 1998, and were given Michael Hayes as their manager.

After dumping Hayes, they had a quick stint with Gangrel, and then Terri, before gaining a permanent manager in their real-life friend Lita. The addition of Lita led to them being renamed “Team Xtreme”.

They split as a team in 2002, but reunited in 2006 to feud with MNM, before focusing on their singles careers again in 2007, although they occasionally teamed together.

Following a scripted feud between the two brothers in early 2009, Jeff left WWE in August, with Matt departing in late 2010. The Hardys reunited in TNA in January 2011 as members of the Immortal stable. In August 2011, Matt was released from his contract with TNA.

The Hardy Boyz gained fame for their participation in ladder matches and Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches. Overall in WWE they are seven-time tag team champions, having won the World Tag Team Championship six times and the WCW World Tag Team Championship once. Both brothers also won singles championships during their run as a tag team.

Over the course of their careers in the ring, Jeff has been the more successful of the two, having won multiple world titles.

While the match between the two teams was potentially the tag team match of the year, it cannot bring back the days of when I was younger and could watch The Briscos battle Funks or Mike and Eddie Graham lock horns with Pak Song or see Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernoodle tangle with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. For every high-flying move made by the foursome in the ring Thursday night, the arm locks, drop kicks and cross body blocks proved to be the “real deal” in terms of Kayfabe wrestling and was a favorite of mine from the days of the NWA and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

The Wild Samoans may have ruled the northern part of the United States in the WWF, but I would take A Youngblood Indian chop over a head butt any day of the week.

The Wolves are the reigning two-time TNA World Tag Team Champions. They have previously wrestled for Ring of Honor (ROH), where they are two-time ROH World Tag Team Champions.

The two started out as members of Larry Sweeney’s alliance Sweet N’ Sour Inc., but forged a tag team on their own. As well as being a tag team unit, the two wrestlers have had strong singles careers, with Edwards being ROH’s first World Television Champion and the first to complete the Triple Crown Championship after winning the ROH World Championship, which he then went on to drop to Richards.

They were originally managed by Shane Hagadorn when they portrayed villainous characters, but later abandoned him to become fan favorites. They left ROH in 2013, and debuted for TNA in January 2014, winning the TNA World Tag Team Championship a month later.

No matter who you root for and how far back you go in wrestling history, watching these four in the ring the other night proves “wrestling” is alive and well. And as long as there are teams like The Wolves and The Hardy’s fans old and young will be treated the business – the way it they are supposed to be.

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Rampage Jackson Says TNA Had No Idea What They Were Doing

August 01, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

While most of the pro wrestling community was surprised to learn that TNA Wrestling would not be renewed by Spike TV, one former TNA star was not. Rampage Jackson says he saw the writing on the wall which is why we won’t ever be seeing him in TNA again.

Rampage was the first major MMA star to agree to work with TNA and earned TNA some much needed publicity when he came over. Many were skeptical but a hot confrontation between he and Kurt Angle created enough buzz to quiet any doubters. Fortunately for those doubters TNA immediately dropped the able creating frustration among fans and the former Pride FC champion.

Rampage recently appeared on The Fight Nerd and talked about his frustrating tenure in TNA. Jackson opened up for the first time about his frustrations and the lost opportunity between him and Angle.

To be honest with you, you haven’t seen me in a while. I soon as I saw the operation, there were no plans for me to go back. They had a lot of momentum with me when I came out with Kurt Angle…I was supposed to wrestle Kurt Angle. They lost all momentum. They didn’t utilize me. I gave them a couple of ideas on how to utilize me. They wanted me to wrestle professional fighters in pro wrestling. They had no idea what they were doing in my opinion so no you won’t see me in TNA ever again.

That is just absolutely amazing to me. I know TNA has its defenders but those plans are indefensible. According to Jackson they were going to book him to wrestle MMA fighters because you know, fans would rather pay to watch the same two guys go through a worked wrestling match as opposed to a real fight. That is just ludicrous to me! If that is the case and I have no reason to doubt him, he is right. They had no idea what they were doing and it’s a damned shame because for one week they had something special with Jackson and Angle. To be fair to the current creative team, Rampage’s creative was handled by the Hogan and Bischoff regime.

Jackson also tells the interviewed that he “saw the writing on the wall” in regards to TNA’s current instability. It’s fascinating in the sense that this guy, who has never worked in pro wrestling, knew how to book his angle better than the actual pro wrestling company.

Check out the interview and more on Rampage’s brief tenure in TNA below.

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Dixie Carter Has Nobody to Blame but Herself

July 29, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

When I work at six in the morning, I’m usually in bed at about seven at night and up around four in the morning. I pop on the coffee, pop on America This Morning have a bowl of Special K Chocolately Delight and hit the internet for a while. I check my e-mail to see what our death match overlord’s reaction to my latest article is (Most of it “You know they’re gonna kill you right?). I have the sites I check while trying to down my less than perfect coffee: Facebook, CCB, The Real TSM, Cageside Seats, Spoony Experiment Forum, Twitter, and ProFootballTalk. This morning, I woke up to news that Spike had made the decision to not renew TNA. Apparently, the revelation that TNA was keeping Vince Russo on staff as an announcing consultant despite Spike saying that they didn’t want Russo on staff was the last straw.

The big question is why Dixie? What does Vince frigging Russo know about announcing that makes him so special to have him give his opinion over announcing? You want somebody to tell you that the announcing duo of Mike Tenay and Taz is godawful? I’ll do it and I’m probably cheaper to pay than Vince Russo. Or, if you really want somebody who knows something about wrestling, try and bring in Jim Ross to critique the announcing. There’s nobody better at calling the action than Jim Ross and he could probably point out some key problems with the announcing. Probably the biggest one being the fact that you employ an announce team consisting of Mike Tenay and Taz.

The biggest problem is that Dixie Carter made the very stupid decision to bite the last hand that fed the company.

What source of revenue does TNA have left besides television?

PPV? They have no presence of PPV with the exception of a few events that the average wrestling fan is more inclined to stream than to pay $39.95 for. If they don’t stream, there is a very good chance that TNA is going to do the rematch of the big main event the next night or book a title change a few weeks later, nullifying any reason to buy the card in the first place. They’ve tried to make up for it by booking One Night Only cards, except the big problem is that they tape a bunch of them and don’t air them for about five or six months and people read the results and declare they have no interest in paying for them. Or, they wait until a place like /woootube/ streams it for free or it’s get upload onto Youtube/Daily Motion. They thought they would get more money by doing less PPV’s and building them well, but they forgot to do the second part.

Live events? TNA could make some money by charging people money to write jokes about the crowds. Heck, it’d probably make more money than the gate of a live event. Instead of deciding to reboot their live event plan, the company has continued to run events at minor league baseball stadiums in-front of a few hundred people. It seems a bit more logical than running a 7,500 seat arena for the first time and then wondering why only 300 people showed up.

Merchandising? Those Mr. Anderson shirts, plastic Eric Young beards and masks, and that 250 dollar Lockdown turnbuckle are flying off the shelves, aren’t they? They don’t have a DVD deal with any big box outlets so you have to buy through the TNA site, no shirts are for sale at any clothing stores or retail stores and TNA’s toy deal with Jakks Pacific (Another great example of Dixie Carter star-f***cking anything associated with the WWE) did nothing for them. My local Wal-Greens had a Crimson figure sit on their shelves for about two years, if you marked it down to 99 cents, people would complain that it would still cost too much to buy a Crimson figure. My nephew actually has some TNA figures: Hogan, Sting, Angle, and Nash mostly because Uncle Robert won’t people 65 bucks to some asshat on e-Bay for an Angle figure.

While TNA still has television overseas, the Spike TV deal has kept them running at this point. If Spike dumps them and let’s face it, this is the company that thought staging a kiss between Velvet Sky and Tayrn Terell at this year’s Guy Choice would help their cause, what network takes them? They can’t get anywhere close to Universal (Goodbye Esquire, NBC Awful Attempt at Countering ESPN and G4), ESPN would laugh at them, and I don’t think WGN/ION don’t want to deal with wrestling after their dealings with Vince. The one network that I could see having some interest would be Fox, they need something content for Fox Sports One or Fox Sports Two. With Professional Crazy Old Person Rupert Murdoch preparing to launch an all-out war against an all war against ESPN by trying to buy Time Warner, he might need some wrassling on his schedule. If not, could also go with Jeff Jarrett’s GFW group (I’m waiting for the database to turn heel) if it’s cheaper to produce their show than TNA’s.

If I’m Bob Carter, I seriously and I mean seriously ponder whether or not the decision to insist that Jeff Jarrett/King of Mexico/Best Dad Ever/MMA Enthusiast and Suplex Enthusiast Toby Keith to keep his daughter in a position of power was either super stupid or supercalifragilisticexpialidociously stupid. Maybe he put’s in a call to Vince tomorrow morning selling the prospect of buying TNA on “Hey, you need some content for that Network of yours and I’ll sell cheap!”

Dixie, I hope Vince Russo was worth it.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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TNA Wrestling Reportedly Losing Spike TV Contract

July 28, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling is literally on life support. Multiple reports indicate that Spike TV will not be renewing their contract with TNA. TNA will have the next sixty days to secure a new deal or face a grim situation in the near future.

TMZ.com was the first to go on record and report that Spike TV have opted not to renew their agreement with TNA Wrestling. Negotiations have been ongoing for months with many believing that a deal was imminent. Unfortunately a big email blunder looks like it may have tipped the scales and given Spike second thoughts on pursuing future business with the company.

Dave Meltzer reports on F4Wonline.com that Spike TV/Viacom were very upset when news broke that Vince Russo was employed by the company. Meltzer reports that there is heat there and the Spike folks don’t like Russo. While it is unfair to blame Vince Russo entirely for the lack of a TV deal, he will certainly come out of this looking like a buffoon.

Many including Meltzer had inclinations that Russo was back in TNA for some time now, yet none were able to confirm this. Those suspicions were confirmed when Russo sent Mike Tenay and Tazz production notes through an email and mistakenly copied Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com. Johnson broke the story, Russo denied it making it worse, and eventually Russo was reportedly forced to admit his mistake and his employment with TNA.

Russo is getting a lot of the blame today but again, that is unfair. This email was only recently revealed by Johnson. Spike has had months to renew their deal with TNA, yet for other reasons they opted not to do so. I predicted earlier in the year that Viacom was going to make a play for the WWE although that has never been confirmed. Russo’s email almost certainly sealed TNA’s fate, but there were other issues at play here, none yet which have been identified.

Whether you are a fan of TNA or not, the move is very surprising on Spike’s end. TNA do bring in over one million fans a week, a pittance compared to the WWE, but yet a significant bargain related to the cost to Spike. Spike is now in the MMA game and always appeared to have seen TNA as an opportunity to promote the MMA shows. This could simply be a story of Spike wishing to rebrand itself with pro wrestling on the outside. Finding advertisers could have also been an issue. I would even ponder that the major talent cuts (Hogan, Styles, Sting) were an issue. Just the perception that Spike was involved with a company in financial duress may have been enough to sever ties altogether.

The big question is what happens to TNA now. According to most reports, TNA cannot survive in its current state without a television deal comparable to the one with Viacom. Seeing the lack of success the WWE had in attracting serious bidders for their brand isn’t a good sign. Sure, there are hundreds of cable channels anymore but how many are willing to ante up Viacom money for a pro wrestling company with only a handful of recognizable stars?

Any television executive doing his or her due diligence would see a number of red flags during negotiations. One, the creative team should be an immediate red flag. The head of the team is inexperienced and has a track record of losing viewers throughout the broadcast. Two, their house show attendance is evident that there is not a loyal following here. Would any of TNA’s current viewers even go out of their way to follow Impact to another station? Three, there are only two recognizable stars and one’s contract is up this fall. Should I keep going?

I think the person to blame here for this debacle is Dixie Carter. I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone mismanage a pro wrestling company at that level to the extent she has. She has hired all of the wrong people, supported all of the wrong people, and doesn’t have a clue as to what her fans truly want out of her company. Don’t blame Vince Russo for telling Mike Johnson he was in TNA, blame Dixie Carter for him being there altogether and lying about it.

She never ceases to amaze me. Meltzer reported on his latest F4Wonline.com podcast that Dixie was telling people within the company that it was her decision to leave Spike TV. If that were true and I don’t (neither does Meltz) believe it for a second, she is even dumber than I thought. This goes back to a history she has had of lying to her employees. Keep in mind that this is a woman who came from the world of public relations.

Unfortunately the loss of TNA impacts everyone who is a wrestling fan whether you watch TNA or not. You are stuck with one national company that can do whatever they want. Exciting talent that had an alternative to the WWE will now have fewer options than ever before. It has to be incredibly disheartening to be an independent wrestler who may not fit the WWE mold. The WWE talents as well have to be disheartened in that they now have zero negotiating leverage when their deals are up.

Do I think TNA will survive this? I think they will be on life support for a long time. I could envision a scenario where they drastically cut costs, operate as an independent wrestling business, and exist in name only to fulfill international obligations.

But the TNA that you see on Thursday for the next two months will cease to exist unless the right television deal is secured. Unfortunately the chances of that happening are about as good as Dixie Carter looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for her failures as an owner.

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TNA Must Stop Cheating on The Exam

July 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

At some point, TNA is going to have to come up with its own material and stop immediately using a program the mother ship, WWE, is currently involved in.

The program with Sanada and James Storm – which led to the Japanese star turning on his mentor and one of the 10 greatest international wrestlers of all time in The Great Muta, was simple appalling.

I have been wanting to write a piece about Muta for some time now and maybe this is the right spot, but under the wrong circumstances. The lesson here with TNA, which looks every bit the sinking ship that I don’t want it to be, is that if you continue to cheat when it comes to test time (live or taped programming) sooner or later, you get caught with your pants down.

In this case, as it is so obvious with a chair shot to his mentor, Sanada is trying to be the rebel Seth Rollins, which does not make the least bit of sense. Someone please help the writers for TNA. Maybe Dave Lagana and Matt Conway need to go.

OK, I am done with my rant of Thursday night’s show. We can now move on to the part where we discuss The Great Muta. Ah, I feel a lot better now… Forgive the need to vent – I was losing sleep over this one.

As a teen and college student, there wasn’t a Japanese or foreign superstar I could think that was as dynamic as Muta – a man whose resume in this business reads like one of the great performers of our time.

He is considered a semi-retired Japanese professional wrestler who first gained international fame in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He is mostly known for his work as The Great Muta in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) during the 1990s, but he has also worked in United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Taiwan. He is a former owner and president of All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), as well as being a full-time wrestler for the promotion from 2002 to 2013. He also gained the rank of the Master Sergeant during his military service in Japan.

Mutoh (which is his real name) is credited as one of the first Japanese wrestlers to achieve a fan base outside of his native Japan in the United States. The Great Muta gimmick is one of the most influential gimmicks in puroresu, having been emulated by many wrestlers including Satoshi Kojima (as The Great Koji), Kazushi Miyamoto (as The Great Kazushi) and Atsushi Onita (as The Great Nita). In addition, countless independent wrestlers have paid tribute to Muta through emulation and imitation.

He is one of three wrestlers to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (the other being Shinya Hashimoto and Satoshi Kojima). He is an eight-time World Champion, having held the NWA World Title once, the IWGP Title four times, and AJPW’s Triple Crown three times. He also has held a dozen World Tag Team Championships in the U.S. and Japan. Between NJPW, AJPW, and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Mutoh has held 21 total championships.

What Muta did in the 1980s and 1990s was create a cross-culture of acceptance of Japanese stars who were considered equals of the Flairs and Stings and Windhams of the time and when he challenged Sting and Windham (after Flair bolted for the WWF) the cross connection of wrestling as a world-wide appeal was complete.

This latest foray between TNA Impact and Muta’s Wrestle-1 (W-1) is something the WWE has not tried as a luxury to introduce new wrestlers (Sanada) into American-based programming. For that, Impact gets a pass, but not for the way the Japanese style is portrayed.

What this segment, which ultimately will lead to a Storm-Muta
confrontation, does is show how poorly the company has booked one of its best commodities in Storm. There basically is not place for him in the company right now, with no true program and no real angle. His heal turn is wasted because of a poor creative unit.

And in the process, it has embarrassed one of the true all-time greats in the ring – purely because TNA wants to try and capitalize on something the WWE is winning with, not something that could have been more original and could have paid homage to Muta’s greatness – not make a mockery of him.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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