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    This last week has been one of the worst periods in the history of my wrestling fandom. Austin's walk-out from Raw and the WWE's subsequent "no longer a member of our active roster" stuff frustrated me and pissed me off at every turn. Why did Austin do it? Why did it ever get to the point that he did it? After what I felt was a few weeks of improvement, how could things even hope to be decent without Stone Cold Steve Friggin' Austin on the show? What the fuck is happening?

    And if that wasn't bad enough by itself, out come the reports of Austin assaulting Debra at their home in San Antonio. I don't need to rant about the evils of such a thing, I'm sure nobody reading this would condone that kind of behavior. But it upsets me, it disappoints me, it makes me sick. Maybe I'm stupid or naive for assuming or hoping that the guys we see on TV each week, the guys we love watching, are decent people when the cameras are off... but I do. And getting slapped upside the head with such evidence to the contrary doesn't leave a pleasant taste in my mouth.

    I just can't believe that things have fallen apart so quickly. I've been reading what people have to say about the situation, and the general opinion seems to be that Austin has had some sort of personal meltdown or that he's self-destructed or whatever dramatic term you care to use. Then there's some who don't see there being a relation between the two issues, Austin's behavior at work and his behavior at home, which I happen to disagree with. Not only do I disagree, I really hope that's not the case.

    I've seen the remarks like "I know he was upset, hey I heard Byte This, so I can understand him walking out" and that sort of thing. I saw criticism of Confidential saying that Vince and JR acted shocked like they couldn't understand why he'd do it, despite them even playing part of Byte This where Austin was venting his disgust. But that's the thing... we've heard Austin's feelings, we've heard the stories that he was unhappy, and we think we understand. He was upset cause things have sucked, so he grabbed his bags and left.

    But then someone like Jim Ross, who knows Austin and has probably heard far more frequent and detailed rants than what Austin said on Byte This, says he can't understand and that it made him physically ill. I won't pretend to know what the etiquette is or what the proper behavior is supposed to be for wrestlers at any time, let alone in this situation, or let alone how a specific person like Austin would react to any of it. But it seems that people who would actually know these things, like JR, don't feel that Austin's unhappiness in any way justified his behavior... the leaving, not wanting to talk things out, trying to sneak away. The Rock's "people who don't want to be here can get the F out" speech on Raw certainly didn't seem to support Austin's actions, and Rock hardly seems to be in a position where he'd be forced to mindlessly repeat the company line if he disagrees. And these are Austin's friends talking. I think people like that would be in a better position to judge the situation and know if what Austin did was screwed up or not.

    So with the notion of Austin's behavior being irrational came vague comments from sites like 1bob that Austin might have other issues he's been dealing with. Then JR in the Ross Report made comments to the effect of he didn't know everything that was bothering Austin, before himself bringing up the "other issues" line on Confidential. Then comes Saturday night and the story about Debra. To do something like that indicates some significant problems all by itself, but judging by Debra's "I can't believe he hit me" comments in the police report this looks like another example of bizarre irrational behavior. So, yes, I would say the man has some problems right now, and I don't think it's unfair to assume that these problems may have had some impact on his behavior last Monday.

    Am I saying you're wrong if you don't agree with that? Not at all... it's just my take on the situation. But I saw a column/article earlier today by someone who so strongly wanted to support Austin's walkout, and thus not concede that maybe his actions were the result of a man not in his right mind, that Austin's behavior towards Debra was written off as "so maybe he's just a wife beater". Well, doesn't that make you feel all better about everything? Maybe I'm being stupid and naive again, but I would much rather hope that this entire situation is the unfortunate result of the man having some sort of breakdown and that, with plenty of help, he can eventually return to being the person he used to be... rather than just assume that the person he IS would do something awful like this.

    It's hard to deal with the fact that Steve Austin is gone from wrestling for the foreseeable future. It's harder yet to look at this situation and see the position he's ended up in. Whatever the case may be as it relates to what I talked about above, he clearly needs help of some sort, and I can only hope that he's able to get it.



    They had a veritable butt-load of NWA-TNA news this issue, so in honor of their debut show this week I will enrich you with all you could ever want to know. And more!

  • They debut with their PPV this Wednesday. This could be the start of a longterm #2 promotion, or the debut could be forgotten as quickly as the WWA was. The Jarretts may be getting in on the ground floor of the next big thing in programming, or they could be victims of a market that isn't ripe.

    They are banking on there being an appetite for an alternative product for a small core group of loyal fans who can afford an extra $40 a month. But the road has been rocky, oh yes. Ticket sales for the first event have been a disaster. Only 330 tickets were sold 9 days prior to the show. The Jarretts have taken over local advertising themselves, after originally having it done by a promoter from New Jersey, and they hope to get at least 2000 in the arena so that it looks decent on TV. They've been talking with an arena in Nashville about holding the shows there regularly, which they'll start doing in July, which would cut costs and hopefully build loyalty among fans in a "homebase city".

    TNA has sent mixed messages and gotten mixed feedback about their roster. Rick Steiner and Buff have been signed, although only for 4 shows and they aren't considered main talent. Still, they're associated with the dying days of WCW and don't send a good message to Joe Consumer. The thinking is that they need the "credibility" of some national names to mix with the newer talent at the beginning, with the goal being to use the established names to help build up the unknown guys. The problems is the lack of "established name" talent, a fact painfully obvious if Buff and Rick Steiner are the ones being hired.

    Scott Hall has been signed for 4 shows also, but at least he has a history of being part of successful angles and whatnot. The hope from TNA and Hall is that he'll be around for a while, but that depends on him and his drinking.

    The most controversial announcement was that the tag team of the Shane Twins will play Rod & Dick Johnson, guys dressed in skin-colored body suits with caps on to make them look like wieners. The gimmick is apparently a short-term idea that will quickly lead into a long-term angle for them. Lenny & Lodi will be known as the "Rainbow Express" and will be an openly gay babyface tag team, as opposed to most gay gimmicks which are heel. But they'll be managed by Joel Gertner, who will be a heel.

    The gimmickry has led to backlash in some circles from fans hoping that the product would be different than a "ha ha" WWE approach. But those who want a more serious wrestling product will apparently get that as well, since the roster features strong matches with some of the best indy talent.

    Aside from the "Gauntlet for the Gold" Royal Rumble style battle royal for the NWA title, there is a lingerie battle royal, and six-man tag with Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, & AJ Styles vs. Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, & Jimmy Yang. Christian York & Joey Matthews will fight the Dupp Brothers, and Teo faces Hollywood in a hardcore midget match. There will also be an opening ceremony with legends.

    The first shows will be a "work in progress" as they react to early buyrates, fan reaction, and their own evaluations of what is and isn't working. Jerry has the first 2 shows scripted, but the third week (the second live show) could go in several directions depending on how they react to the first shows. Since nobody has ever tried this approach, it's hard to predict an outcome. But a successful alternative to WWE would benefit everyone.

  • Mike Tenay did a radio interview saying he'd play an extension of the "traditionalist" role he played in WCW.

  • Bob Ryder has been quiet about the promotion on the main pages of "the website he co-owns with Joey Styles", but he's been talking on their message board.

    Mainly commenting on Wade's list of "rumors" about the promotion, Bob sez the rumor of him being a silent partner is "a total fabrication", although he admits he's much more than just the company travel agent. About the talks with Shane Douglas: that rumor was "for the most part true", although Bob denies that Shane cut a promo on him.

    About the poor ticket sales: if they have to paper the house to get a decent crowd, they will. Their business plan relies on PPV buys and the live gate is not a factor in their failure or success. About the lack of advertising: they'll be running spots during Raw, Smackdown, Sports Center, etc. in the top 10 markets across the country. Promotional spots should start Monday on cable and satellite systems, and on major radio stations.

  • They have dropped plans for a middleweight division. Instead, they will have an "X" championship. The plan is for the X division to mainly feature cruiserweights, but they decided they didn't want to limit the smaller wrestlers with their own division. Good heavyweight workers will be allowed to compete for the title occasionally.

  • They say they chose to air on DirecTV channel 192, which isn't considered a prime channel, because they'll be able to air in "all day ticket" format on Fridays and Mondays. Bob Ryder talked about how happy they are with the support from DTV, and that they expect DTV to account for a good amount of their buys.

  • Star Choice and Viewers Choice Canada aren't carrying the show. Bell Express Vu is offering the first show.

  • The entire crew of office workers was said to be against the idea of signing Buff. Sources say the only reason Buff was signed was because the office wanted to sign Brian Christopher, and Brian was insistent that Bagwell be signed too. Brian had been trying to use WWE as leverage, saying he'd been told that he'd be getting a contract offer in the near future.

  • A source reports that Ricky Steamboat was hired to take Dusty Rhodes' place in the legends ceremony. Many people say that Dusty rejected the Jarretts' financial offer, which included a small percentage of PPV sales. Dusty is said to have told them that he didn't want to take a chance on PPV sales, and then asked for nearly 10 times the money the Jarretts had offered.

  • There's been talk of having a character called Triple T, named TrailerPark Trash Timmy or something similar, as a spoof on HHH. There's also talk of using David Young as "Luke Warm" Austin Suggs, hoping to inspire "Austin sucks" chants. But the character wouldn't be a glorified jobber like Gillberg was, as Jerry is very high on David Young.

  • The Wall and the Sinister Minster are scheduled to appear on future shows.

  • NWA Wildside wrestler Rick Michaels is designing the customized costumes for the promotion. Sources say the Jarretts have only ordered 3 costumes that are specifically intended for new characters.

  • An NWA official says the pay range for wrestlers "who will be around for more than a cup of coffee" ranges between $300 and $1000. The top wrestlers will get a percentage of PPV revenue if the company exceeds 50,000 buys.

  • Monterey Artists are scheduled to do the production work for the PPVs. The company has done several live events, but has no experience with wrestling. Well-respected former WCW production team guy Keith Mitchell will be directing the production team.

  • Even friends of the Jarretts say that Jerry and Jeff have almost no knowledge of the ECW product or it's wrestlers.

  • The office staff consists of Jerry, Jeff, Ron Harris, Ed Ferrara, Jeremy Borash, and Bob Ryder. Bob is only there 2-3 days per week. Ron's main role is serving as a liaison between the office and the production team.

  • Shane Douglas is bragging about turning the Jarrett's down. He says he ended the conversation with "Because you signed Francine, you don't have the Franchise!" Sources say the heat between Douglas and Francine goes back to ECW, and because of that Shane had heat with Tommy Dreamer too.

  • The first TNA show is not currently scheduled to be offered on Cablevision in the northeast, which covers about 1.8 million homes. Due to a dispute between Cablevision and DirecTV, Cablevision is refusing to work with any events that also work with DTV. A deal could be worked out before the show, though.

  • Scott Hall has said that he'd be interested in working with younger talent or learning to help write TV scripts.

  • Jerry says he'll do whatever it takes to get at least 2000 people in the arenas, even if it means cutting ticket prices to $5. He tells the Torch "I can't believe I was initially was asking people to pay $120 for four tickets when the same family of four could watch our events on PPV at home for just $9.95".

  • TNA has withdrawn their relationship with the New Jersey promoter who's job of promotion hasn't even gotten 350 tickets sold. The company used a concert promoting approach, but that usually works only to raise awareness of a date and location for an act the public is already interested in. Since nobody is aware of the TNA product yet, the promoter's approach failed.

  • Wrestlers are being asked to be at the arena on the 19th at 2 pm and food will be available to them at the arena. Otherwise, they're on their own as far as hotel and meals go. Younger wrestlers are being told they can leave after their match, but they'll be looked down on if they don't stay for the whole show. Veterans are being told they can leave right after their segment is over.

  • Disco Inferno turned down a TNA job offer because they wanted him to drop the Disco persona and take on an "Ad Man" gimmick. The idea was for him to spoof NASCAR drivers who have ads all over their cars. Disco was told he could sell ad space on his ring gear and keep the money, but he didn't want to give up the Disco Inferno persona for the money being offered.



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