WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT
5/10 Raw TV results from Pittsburgh, PA: Chris Jericho over DH Smith; R-Truth over William Regal via DQ; Evan Bourne over Zack Ryder; Tyson Kidd over Miz in a non-title match; NXT rookies over John Morrison, Santino, Yoshi Tatsu & Goldust; and Randy Orton over Edge & Ted DiBiase in a handicap match. Dark match was Dos Caras over Matthew Justice.
The Smackdown/NXT tapings are tonight in Buffalo with an NXT rookie eliminated and Kofi Kingston vs. Christian to determine a new IC champion.
Paul Heyman posted an insightful blog at http://tinyurl.com/2vezwsj on former WWE champ Brock Lesnar and his upcoming UFC heavyweight title unification fight against Shane Carwin. He describes Lesnar as one of the best athletes ever who wants to be known in the same light as Muhammed Ali, Wayne Gretsky, Michael Jordan, or Babe Ruth.
WWE executive Jared Bartie (VP of General Counsel) has been suspended for harassing a female co-worker within WWE's sales department, reports author Irv Muchnick. We first heard rumors regarding the suspension of a WWE exec several weeks ago which occurred soon after Wrestlemania weekend. For what its worth, Bartie's bio was abruptly removed last night from WWE's corporate website although the company has not yet confirmed Bartie's departure. "My source said that Jared Bartie, who was described as having been drinking, hit inappropriately on a female accuser who was an executive in the WWE sales department," Muchnick wrote in his blog. "I do not know the length of Bartie’s suspension, or when it was to have begun or ended." Muchnick added that the female accuser was recently fired for allegedly performing a sex act on another subordinate male employee on work premises during business hours.
Today's Manchester Journal Inquirer reported that during the past four years the McMahon family has received an estimated $182 million in corporate dividend payments, and are slated to recevie a further $11 million in June. Linda McMahon's Senate rival Rob Simmons has already jumped on the story noting that Linda as WWE CEO hired lobbyists to secure taxpayer-financed subsidies intended for job creation while firing 10 percent of the company's workforce last year. "While Linda McMahon was handing out pink slips to scores of workers because she claimed the company couldn't afford the $8 million cost, she was siphoning hundreds of millions out of the WWE corporate treasury into her personal bank account through their unusually lavish stock dividend program," wrote the Simmons campaign in a press release. "And to top it off, she was slashing these jobs at the same time she was taking advantage of taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars in tax credits predicated on job creation. This is just one more devastating arrow in the Democrats' quiver that they would use to expose McMahon as a greedy corporate executive more concerned about accumulating massive wealth and power than she is about protecting jobs and people."
Vickie Guerrero was announced last night as the new Raw GM, taking away power from guest hosts, although at the close of the show she resigned after some intimidation from Randy Orton. Despite that angle, she may be sticking around as creative was surprised with how much heat she recieved from the fans in Pittsburgh. My impression is that she wouldn't be working during the summer while her daughters are on school vacation. Creative does have a couple of other people in mind for the GM role if she takes leave.
The new storyline idea with Ted DiBiase is that he came into a large trust fund from his dad, The Million Dollar Man, and is now using the money to pay off guys to do his bidding. There is real talk of making someone his "Virgil" in the near future.
Buzz Aldrin was confirmed as guest host for next week's commercial free Raw in Toronto. They also announced John Cena vs. Sheamus and The Miz vs. Bret Hart for the U.S. title. The show is billed locally as Bret's Canadian homecoming.
WWE is working on getting actress Betty White, 88, to host Raw following her Saturday Night Live appearance last week which drew SNL's hightest rating in over two years.
The updated line up for the Over the Edge pay-per-view: John Cena vs. Batista in an I quit match for the WWE title; Big Show vs. Jack Swagger for the World title; Chris Jericho & The Miz vs. The Hart Dynasty for the tag titles; Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk in SES pledge vs. Punk's hair; and Edge vs. Randy Orton.
Jim Ross in his blog noted that he was alive and well after tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma and Kansas on Monday. He wrote, "Both our home and the restaurant were unscathed and avoided Mother Nature's wrath. We got a slew of text messages from many of the biz's biggest names this morning which is always nice to receive. Bottom line we are o.k. and thankful that we received no damage or injuries but, unfortunately, some of our fellow Okies weren't so lucky." More musings at www.jrsbarbq.comm/blog.
Fanhouse at http://tinyurl.com/23qdxdn interviewed Maria Kanellis about her WWE release and creative frustrations. "I didn't have a creative outlet. I couldn't do the storylines I wanted to do. I'm auditioning for movie roles and TV shows right now and just the auditions themselves are more creatively fulfilling than what I was able to do because there you sometimes don't get a lot of time to do stuff. For me, it got boring in some sense because you get out there and they take it away and I wanted to do these grandiose storylines and it just never quite happened."
Northeast promoter Tommy Fierro gave notice after recently taking a job in WWE's TV studio. He cited travel issues which was costing him more to get to work than he was making. He didn't mind the travel but blogged that his decision to quit was purely a financial one. "By no means is this WWE's fault. I knew what I was getting myself into before I signed my contract to start there. They are a great company and the people I worked with up there were all great people. I knew what I was getting myself into before I signed my deal, but at the time I didn't care. I thought I would make ends meet someway, somehow. I always did in the past. After waiting seventeen years to get hired by the WWE, I was going to do whatever it took to finally catch my break and work there. I owed it to myself. But like I said, after only a month I realized that this wasn't going to work out." He added that he would continue to promote his ISPW shows in New Jersey and work on his wrestling podcast website.
Bill Apter interviews Roddy Piper at http://tinyurl.com/3y36gul. Piper puts over Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Undertaker and John Cena as the only true franchise players in the business today. He also jokes that if Vince McMahon made him GM he would fire the writers.
Bret Hart's youngest daughter Alexandra just gave birth to a baby girl named Kyra Beans Doenz weighing in at 8lbs 11oz. The baby's middle name comes from Alexandra's nickname, Beans.
There are back to back Smackdown tapings on 7/27 and 7/28 in Corpus Christi and Laredo, TX prior to WWE's tour of Australia and New Zealand.
TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION WRESTLING
Jeff Hardy appeared in court yesterday but his attorney got the trial continued until next month. No other details are available at press time. This is the second time the trial has been delayed.
Desmond Wolfe is running away with the fan voting for who deserves the next heavyweight title shot with 50 percent of the total votes.
People are pushing for Shane Helms and Mike Knox to come in. Helms would almost be a given considering the Carolina connection.
Kurt Angle did an interview with RingTheBellRadio.com. He talked about working a part-time schedule moving forward and said he is keen to sign a new deal. "I don't want to leave wrestling because I love it so much and the wrestling fans are so loyal and I want to keep that fanbase. I don't think I'll leave TNA for quite some time. I want to stay with them and sign a nice long-term deal." He also talked about the company doing strong business in Pittsburgh claiming the steel city does double the TV tapings compared to other markets. "Pittsburgh is a great wrestling city, WWE does really well here and TNA does really well too and we are talking about doing a PPV here the next time we come back and hopefully I’ll be wrestling for the world title." On how TNA house shows differ from WWE shows: "You know, Vince McMahon likes to keep his wrestlers away from the fans. He doesn’t want any fans in his little fantasy world. But I don’t blame Vince for that and that’s not a bad mentality to have. But we have more of a Southern Hospitality. We invite our fans into our locker room, we invite them to meet all of the wrestlers, we let the fans get into the ring if they choose to do so. I think it’s worked really well too, because our (attendance) has been up 30 percent in the past year. I attribute that to how TNA runs the house shows, and the fans really enjoy it. They go home happy, they get all of the wrestlers autographs, they get to take pictures with whoever was in the main event. I think it’s a really great idea and it’s done really well for us."
Eric Bischoff has started doing regular audio segments at www.mondaynightmayhem.com. He put over Rob Van Dam as a great pickup saying that he brings a different vibe and energy to the product. "I hope that change (the heavyweight title switch) is something that resonates with people who might not have otherwise tuned into TNA previously. One of the reasons RVD is here is to expand our audience, and he is clearly a guy that is worthy of being the TNA World Heavyweight Champion." When asked about Jim Ross or Paul Heyman coming in, he claimed he's not talked to either for several months. "Heyman... no idea. But who knows, time will tell. Never say never right?" So, he totally avoided answering that question.
Stars & Stripes has a story on Jesse Neal at http://tinyurl.com/32uspox. The story details his former career in the U.S. Navy and how he survived a suicide bomb attack on his ship which later led to a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Dixie Carter is quoted saying that TNA fans have accepted and gravitated towards Neal in a short space of time.
The Coshocton, OH Tribune has a story on Madison Rayne to promote TNA coming to town. She says its great having Hogan and Flair in the locker room: "Sometimes it can be scary for the younger talent when we have the opportunity to work with someone they watched and idolized growing up, because you never know if you're going to get that perfect image of the person you have in your head or a jaded person that has been through a lot... They've come with positive attitudes and have lifted everyone's spirits. They have made themselves seen and heard and available to anybody who needs advice or has a question." Story is at http://tinyurl.com/346p6u6.
Mick Foley is throwing first pitch at the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball game on 5/26. The team is doing a package deal for $49 where you can meet Foley before the game plus you get free buffet and a Mr. Socko gimmick. Details at http://tinyurl.com/359o9ak.
OTHER WRESTLING NEWS
Some notes from Mike Lano on the passing of Robert "Kinji" Shibuya last week in California. Shibuya had been suffering from Altimer's disease for some time and his wife had moved him to a nursing home near Oakland. He did actually tour Japan--twice with All Japan under Giant Baba after he got his start in Honolulu during the 1950s, and was also a star in Detroit and Indianapolis. The funeral is scheduled for Sunday at 3pm at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church in Union City.
Greg Oliver wrote a nice tribute at http://tinyurl.com/35e52lu.
A 28-year-old Oklahoma man has been charged with felony child abuse after powerbombing his girlfriend's 4-year-old son to discipline him. Tulsa World at http://tinyurl.com/34qfak2 reports that David Laird of Bartlesville was babysitting during which he repeatedly slamming the child into a doorframe--a move Laird says he picked up from watching pro wrestling. The child was hospitalized and treated for multiple injuries including fractures to his skull and chest, and bruising to his shoulders, back, legs and genitalia. Laird originally said the child had fallen off a clothes dryer, but eventually came clean. He is currently behind bars awaiting a court date with bail set at $100,000.
The UK's Swindon Advertiser featured an article on local wrestler James "JD Knight" Dunn and his hopes of making it to WWE after a recent tryout. Story is at http://tinyurl.com/35f5389.
The Philadelphia Inquirer at http://tinyurl.com/379zzg9 has a story on Tod Gordon's Carver W. Reed & Co. Inc. pawn shop as it celebrates its 150th anniversary. Gordon was the founder of ECW during the early 90s until he sold the company to Paul Heyman.
Terry Funk and former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas were guests this week on Arda Ocal's radio show at http://tinyurl.com/2vdtc8h. Funk talks about young guys coming up in the business and "paying dues" compared to his era.
Dragon Gate USA's Mercury Rising event from Phoenix will premiere Friday on pay-per-view. There is a preview video at http://www.vimeo.com/10672713. Complete line up: CIMA, Dragon Kid & Gamma vs. BxB Hulk, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino; YAMATO vs. Susumu Yokosuka; Tommy Dreamer vs. Jon Moxley; Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Jack Evans; and Shingo vs. Genki Horiguchi. More info at www.dgusa.tv.
National Wrestling Superstars has a double-shot this weekend. Friday at the Kenilworth NJ Veterans Center, 333 South 21st St in Kenilworth, the NWS presents the 2010 Chris Candido Memorial J-Cup Tournament featuring a junior heavyweight tournament. Then on Saturday, they run the Flemington American Legion, 41 State Highway 31 in Flemington with former WWE star Kamala plus a three-way with Ring of Honor's Alex Payne, EWA's Hurricane John Walters and Kevin Matthews. More info at www.nwswrestling.com or call for tickets at 732-888-1704.
Traditional Championship Wrestling runs in Pine Bluff, AR on 6/12 with TNA's Pope, Mr. Anderson, plus Jim Duggan and reality TV star Matt Rivera. More info including a weekly web series at http://www.traditionalwrestling.net
Stacy Keibler made Maxim's annual Hot 100 list of women, ranked at No. 82.
Today's former Diva of the Day is Stacy Keibler at http://www.thewrestlingpress.com/DailyDiva.
BROADCASTER KEVIN KELLY REMEMBERS THE IGLOO
Editor's Note: Kevin Kelly was a WWE announcer and talent scout among other functions from 1996-2003, and is currently the voice of Ring of Honor Internet pay-per-view. He may inadvertently be responsible for the creative direction you see from today's market leader, as he is creator of the Attitude Era storyline that saw Stephanie McMahon marry Triple H, in which later life imitated art.
Closing the “Smellon” Arena--Pittsburgh Memories
I was lucky enough to work at the Sportatorium in Tampa once in 1994. I’ll never forget it. I made sure to memorize as much about that famous building, absorbing the spirits who swirled around me that night. I sat at the same broadcast position as my idol, Gordon Solie and dreamed of going back in time to work with him. Now, it’s a trinket store and I wonder if the new owners realize the history of that famous address.
I never got to work in the Eddie Graham Sports Arena in Orlando but the day they knocked the building down, I took a ride out to see the bulldozers at work. I thought about the history… the consecutive sellouts every Sunday night. I felt the same spirits guiding me.
On June 28, 1998, Terry Funk said to me, "Kevin, if he does this, he’ll be the biggest hardcore legend of all time." I said, "What if he doesn’t?" Terry patted me on the arm and slowly walked from the Mellon Arena floor. A sick feeling overcame me as I worried about the destiny of self-destruction that our mutual friend was going to walk with.
Later that night, Mick Foley flew from the top of the steel cell structure and crashed through the Spanish Announce table, landing on the cement floor. Soon, the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh will come down but memories of Mick Foley and countless others will remain forever in the Steel City.
Progress is important to American society. It’s important to us that we move on… build it newer, bigger and better. We take from the earth and give back to it. Renewable resources and "green" initiatives… more parking and luxury boxes. Whatever the reasoning, the "old" is coming down and "new" is going up. But in the case of the Mellon Arena, change will be a good thing.
From the minute you’d walk into the Mellon Arena, the smell of deodorized garbage would smack you right in the mouth and it didn’t leave until you left. Like Madison Square Garden…the Mellon Arena wreaks and neither building has a winning NBA team in it. Newer arenas look nice, smell nice… have nice locker rooms. Pittsburgh had a phone that we would make prank calls to. It was named for a regional bank but the Pittsburgh building was always the "Smellon Arena" to me.
Tony Garea (WWE agent and former wrestler) had better things to do than monkey around with us. The man was a tag team champion who had defended his titles in Pittsburgh many times throughout his career. He deserved better but we couldn’t help ourselves. You see, someone got the number to the oddly-placed phone, staring right at us, on the wall backstage of the Mellon Arena.
Once is ok, twice is odd but why is this phone still ringing? Were these the questions that Tony asked himself? I don’t know but I could tell he was getting frustrated when the ringing would miraculously stop just as Garea was about to answer it. I would have loved to have heard what Tony said to the young security guard holding up the wall but I was too busy giggling with my goofy conspirators, who shall remain nameless to protect them from persecution.
I first met Eugene in 1997. Not the wrestling character but his namesake and to me, as much a part of my Mellon Arena experience as the smell, prank phone and Mick Foley.
His father brought Eugene to the matches for years. I don’t know how or when but Eugene and his dad would always stop by and visit backstage during the afternoon before the show that night. It’s rumored that Davey Boy Smith once gave Eugene a Soma. It’s rumored that Eugene had a sexual attraction to the Fabulous Moolah. These are allegations and I refuse to either confirm or deny.
But as strange as that sounds, I think both Eugene and his dad liked it. Dad did whatever he could to take care of his son and the smile that Eugene wore was contagious and constant.
Mick Foley is a hardcore legend who is synonymous with Mario Lemieux in creating lasting memories on the floor of the Mellon Arena. June 28, 1998, we huddled around the monitor in the TV locker room. Steve Austin paced nervously. Not because he was on next, with Kane in the main event but because Austin knew what Mick was going to do.
No prank calls this night. No playing around with Eugene. Terry Funk’s words swirled around my mind, the West Texas lilt in his voice floated in the upper portion of my ears.
As Mick flew from the top of the cell and nearly killed himself, we all gasped. Steve Austin ran to the Gorilla position, concerned for Mick, hoping to hear that he was ok. Terry Funk and the medical staff went down to ringside but somehow Mick got up. And finished the match…
As we know from history, the worst fall was yet to come, when Mick broke through the top of the cell, landing flat in the ring with a steel chair following down, breaking teeth and knocking Mick out. Terry was right… Mick became the biggest hardcore legend that night in Pittsburgh at the Mellon Arena.
When the Mellon Arena is no more, the memories of WWE events will last in the minds of us who were there to live them. While the new building will smell better, have better locker rooms and more luxury boxes, it will be hard to replace the feel of the old building. New memories will be made and new fans will enjoy the shows, but I hope they all hear some of the stories that we have about the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.