And better than ever
For makin' things better
Well, the first line is true.
It's been so long I don't even know what to talk about. Bischoff? The
exciting TNA lawsuit? The shocking jumps between Raw and Smackdown? I
can't decide. There's so much news to get caught up on, how about we skip
the small talk and dive right in? Cool? Cool.
Most of this probably came from the Torch.
- The Bisch is back. He'd been in talks with WWE for over a year. His role
is similar to what Vince Russo had suggested last month. The injury to Nash
and the death of the nWo may have accelerated the plans for Bischoff to be
on TV, but signing Eric wasn't a last minute thing as Bischoff told WWE.com
that his return had been in the works for about 10 days which would be
before Nash got hurt.
- Bischoff has heat with many wrestlers, as you'd expect. Although the bulk
of his heat is with former disgruntled employees, he has heat with wrestlers
he's never worked with due to his conduct at his first Raw. Several
wrestlers were offended that Bischoff didn't go out of his way to introduce
himself to guys he hadn't worked with before, aside from top WWE superstars.
Some longtime WWE guys were against the decision to hire Eric, as they
stayed with WWE during the big War and have seen former WCW guys get bigger
pushes. And now Eric. But there are wrestlers in favor of Bischoff's role
as long as it spikes business.
Eric has been telling the wrestlers that he's having the time of his life.
He says his WWE deal allows him to keep working on his outside projects,
like whatever he's doing with the Survivor producer guy.
- The injury to Kevin Nash has dramatically changed WWE plans for the
summer. The top 3 matches at SummerSlam were set to be Rock vs. Brock,
Vince vs. Hogan, and HHH vs. Nash as part of the nWo storyline. Obviously
that one is out, the GM storyline and Bischoff's arrival may put off
Vince/Hogan, so only Brock's title shot is left.
- Part of the reason for the nWo being killed is the deteriorated
relationship between X-Pac and management. X-Pac hurt his neck again
several weeks ago at a house show. Plans kept being changed because of his
not being able to wrestle, or the time he and Nash wanted a tag team match
finish changed a few weeks ago where the nWo would lose to Booker and
Goldust, and Pac quickly got heat on him for trying to get out of doing jobs
on TV. With his rocky relationship with Brian Gewirtz it's possible X-Pac
was worried that he was being booked poorly on purpose.
Regardless, he's been taken off shows, JR said he was on a "leave of
absence", and indications are his future with WWE might even be in
- More on X-Pac. He was actually sent home due to a medical emergency that
concerned management. On the Sunday before his last Raw appearance he
passed out at the airport and woke up in the emergency room, having no idea
what had happened. He disclosed everything about the situation to
management, including that he had to start taking medication for his neck
injury because it'd grown excruciatingly painful. The medication may have
been what caused him to pass out. He was sent home while WWE waits for more
on his condition because they were concerned for his health and they last
thing they want to do is put him in a situation where tragedy could result,
especially considering that X-Pac has previously battled a pain pill
During his time off he's getting time to deal with some family issues that
have needed addressing. Whenever references to the nWo is made on TV,
Nash's name is mentioned but X-Pac's isn't, which means management may not
want to draw any attention to him.
- X-Pac is still under contract, but his situation is "tenuous". He passed
out and was taken off the road, as was covered last week. Friends say he
was also asked to take a pay cut, which most people think he has too much
pride to accept. One wrestler said he doesn't see X-Pac coming back. The
situation is in the hands of lawyers and agents at this point, and it's
possible he could reach a contract settlement. Then he'd probably go to
Japan or TNA, or both.
- At the agents meeting a few weeks ago, Johnny Ace told the wrestlers that
he'd like for them to work out in the ring prior to Raw. Several veteran
mid-card guys are unhappy about it, saying they work 4 days a week and are
already stiff and sore from house shows. Another guy said that most
wrestlers just go through the motions to make management happy. "It's a
real game and if you don't play it, you're out. We show up at the building
by one, eat, and then go to the ring and pretend like we're doing something
The disgruntled wrestlers were given ammo to work with when Mattie Smalls of
the Island Boys was injured during a workout session the next week. Among
the wrestlers conspicuous by their absence at the sessions has been Tommy
Dreamer, who used to run similar workout sessions during his ECW days. One
wrestler was annoyed, saying that if Steve Regal shows up, there's no excuse
for Dreamer not being there. Tommy is a popular guy or a "writing team kiss
ass" depending on who you talk to.
- There was some controversy coming out of the split announcing at the last
PPV. A widely circulated report said JR and Lawler were unhappy about the
decision to have Cole and Tazz do an hour of the show. Others have told the
Torch that JR, among others, expressed concern about how the angle was to be
handled, but otherwise was in favor of letting the Smackdown team do some of
the PPV. What concerned JR was that the original version of the segment
made Cole and Tazz seem like whiners, which could have led to backlash
against them. One source said "My take on it was that everyone's concern
was that the segment made it seem like Michael and Tazz got to announce on
the PPV because they deserved it, not because they whined about not getting
The segment was altered to just Tazz speaking and the announcers handling
things professionally, but even so when JR and Lawler left at the end of
Heat the crowd turned on Cole and Tazz anyway. Paul Heyman produced the
- Jerry Lawler was upset with the comments Brian Christopher made at the TNA
show a few weeks ago. Lawler actually called Jerry Jarrett to express
concern over how it was presented. Even though Lawler plays into the jokes
about being attracted to younger women, WWE never suggests that he hangs
around outside schools to pick up underage girls like Brian said.
- Kevin Dunn hired Tough Enough Josh to work on the production side of WWE.
Josh is actually being groomed to be a play-by-play announcer, which
surprised a lot of people who didn't see that as being one of Josh's career
goals. Dunn apparently sees potential in him, though. But Josh hasn't given
up on being a full-time active WWE wrestler.
- Wrestlers continue to praise HBK's attitude since he came back. It's no
act," one guy said. "Shawn has changed and it's for the better."
- Wrestlers got their Backlash checks last week, which contained a note from
JR saying that the buyrate was in the 400,000 range.
- Wrestlers say they miss Austin's leadership in the locker room. One guy
said while guys like Taker and HHH are company guys, Austin would say what
- Wrestlers say that HHH and Stephanie arrive to arenas and leave together,
but rarely are they ever seen together backstage during the day.
- The agents have been advising wrestlers to grab more holds in recent
weeks. Wrestlers think the company is trying to redefine the in-ring style
by slowing things down and bringing back more submissions. In related news,
more than a few heads turned over Bischoff's comment to Stasiak about using
a boring armbar, but even Bischoff enemies say he's not to blame as he
probably isn't even aware of what the agents have been saying. JR and
Lawler mocking Bischoff's comment were reflective of the new attitude,
- Steven Richards has caught Vince's eye and is said to be in line for a
- There's heat on HHH for his pep-talk comments. Even though the WWE.com
article made it seem like Hunter dominated the conversation, wrestlers say
he was only one of a handful of people who spoke up. Johnny Ace called the
meeting, addressed the wrestlers, and then allowed the other agents and the
top wrestlers to add their thoughts. Undertaker also spoke up and echoed
many of the things HHH said. Although some wrestlers were insulted and feel
like they've already done everything that was suggested to help them get
pushes, most agreed that there were good points made by everyone who
- Wrestlers say Justin Credible is among the guys who should have learned a
few things from that meeting, as his rep is that he doesn't go the extra
- Jerry Jarrett made a cryptic comment on the wrestlingclassics message
board that referred to some internal sabotage. "We have experienced a huge
problem internally with our marketing. We are working with In-Demand, our
PR firm, and our entire staff to correct these problems." People inside the
company have said that Jay Hassman, who used to work for WCW in the PPV area
and who once organized a group in an attempt to buy ECW and who wrote the
original business plan for the XWF, had been hired by Jerry to handle the
PPV marketing. He was recommended to Jerry by colleagues as an expert in
the PPV industry.
While Jay was working for TNA he was also working for a marketing group
called Team Sports, which also does work for WWE. As of last week, Jay
Hassman no longer works for TNA. Jerry has not commented publically except
his implications that the actions of people within his company have set them
back. Torch calls to Jay Hassman weren't returned before press
Jerry was originally given indications that his first shows drew strong
buyrates in a small sample of markets and that, if those numbers stayed the
same nationally, it would mean a buyrate of 80,000 or more. But it turns
out those numbers may not have been reflective of the rest of the country.
Those figures may have been supplied to him with the intent of misleading
him to keep on producing big-budget shows for several weeks until he ran out
of money, only to then learn that the buyrate figures weren't
Eagle-eyed Torch readers have sent in reports of TNA ads being shown on
cable systems that don't offer the TNA shows. And there's been instances of
cable companies that were airing TNA but they didn't get any marketing
materials by Hassman or In Demand. If Jerry had kept on operating under the
impression that buyrates were strong, he might not have discovered the
apparently counterproductive marketing choices being made.
Jerry spent upwards of $250,000 in production costs the first week to give a
good impression. He kept on spending that money through Week 5 because of
the early buyrate figures he got, figures which were mysteriously backed up
in a press statement by In Demand. Now Jerry is reeling because he was
budgeting the shows as if buyrates were in the 50,000 - 100,000 range, when
actually they were more likely in the 10,000 - 25,000 range. If he'd known
3 weeks ago that the shows weren't being marketed properly and the buyrates
were lower than a few select markets indicated, he could have adjusted his
budget accordingly. Now after weeks of unknowingly overspending, he's
having to make cutbacks which could threaten the strength of the programs
and thus the long-term viability of the project.
On Tuesday they announced that they're exploring syndication of a one hour
show to help advertise the PPVs. That's a change in Jarrett's original
formula, as he didn't want to "serve two masters" with TV and PPV. But the
term "infomercial" is being used to describe their TV show, not a weekly
series like Raw, so ideally something like that could boost knowledge about
the product without watering it down. His original concept wasn't proven
wrong, though. If the first events had been marketed as Jerry had set
forth, buyrates would have been higher and maybe in the 50,000 - 100,000
range he was after. That they drew 10,000 - 30,000 buys even with limited
advertising should be motivating, and with proper ads they could draw what
Jerry had intended.
- Jerry Jarrett speaks about the lawsuit. Jerry realized they weren't
available in markets that they were supposed to be in. Jay Hassman would
give excuses or say he'd look into it. They got what's called a "flash
report" from In Demand, which indicated an early estimated buyrate of around
80,000. But on July 10th a PPV executive named Frank "Corky" Romano
attended the TNA show and told Jeff that the buyrate figures were
disappointing. Plus, the initial flash reports they'd gotten were printed
on In Demand stationary, but they didn't come from In Demand.
So Jeff immediately called Jay Hassman, who said the numbers he told them
were the numbers he'd been given. Then he called back and said what
happened was he'd been given the number of PPV boxes that were in the homes
of people who bought the show, not the actual number of buys. Jerry said
that made no sense, and for it to be true then every home that bought TNA
must have 5 TV's with PPV boxes. That's when they looked into everything
and realized what was going on.
They also discovered that Jay was working for Team Sports, which also
markets WWE shows... I think it was said on the Torch site that they handle
the Fanatix shows. Bob Ryder wrote a column saying that at no time did Jay
ever say he was involved with WWE, and if they knew that they wouldn't have
hired him. Bob said Jay told them repeatedly, responding to specific
e-mails from Bob, that they were cleared on Dish Network and Cablevision.
He even told them which Dish Network channel they'd be airing on, but in
reality they weren't cleared on either system. Jay also forwarded an e-mail
allegedly sent by an In Demand official about the DirecTV buyrate for the
first show, but the e-mail appears to have been a fabrication and the In
Demand official denied any knowledge of it.
Bob says they went from thinking Hassman was screwing up to realizing it had
to be intentional, as there's no explanation for the phony e-mails or lies
about clearance. Jerry says it'll take them about 3 months to get their
marketing into full gear. The PPV industry moves slowly... note the
Vengeance ads still featuring Austin, even though he'd been gone for over a
month. Jerry wants fans to understand that the product will look lower
budget for the next few months, but once trusted indicators point to
increased buyrates, they'll increase the budget and move back to a larger
At this point there is no evidence pointing towards the specific involvement
of anyone except Jay Hassman to sabotage TNA. But if evidence shows that
WWE or In Demand had any part in it, a criminal investigation could follow.
As of now there's just the question of why Hassman would work against the
Jarretts. Now it's back to square one in terms of their marketing approach
and seeing whether their formula can be successful when it's advertised the
way they originally planned.
CLOSING OF THE
- Russo is writing PPV's on his own, but Jerry will have great input in the
writing. They will meet before Russo begins writing each week's show.
Jarrett will lay out his expectations and where he wants things to go,
especially relating to how the X Division will be portrayed. Russo will
then write the script and Jerry will make changes. The 4th TNA show, which
was widely praised, was written entirely by Jarrett with some last second
detail work done by Russo. Russo wanted cameras to be backstage like in
WWE, but Jerry said any backstage segment needs an explanation for why
cameras are present, like Goldylocks overhearing Sinister Minister chew out
his guys. Jerry defended the hiring of Russo on various websites.
- The original finish for Shamrock/Sabu was for the lights to go out with
Shamrock on the ladder, and when they came back up Malice would be standing
on the opposite side. He'd knock Ken off, take the belt, and leave. What
actually happened was some music played, the lights briefly went off, and
Malice ran down in full view of everyone while Ken Shamrock had to pretend
he couldn't get the belt unhooked. Both the sound and lighting guys screwed
it up. Maybe they're working with Jay Hassman!
- Sabu threw a hissy fit after his match with Shamrock. He trashed a locker
room by throwing chairs and breaking mirrors. Jeff Jarrett had to go in to
calm him down. Sources say Sabu was complaining that he was told to take as
much time as he wanted during the match, but during the match he was told by
the referee (who was told by the production truck) to go to the finish
early. He also complained that Shamrock worked too stiff with him.
Shamrock wasn't in the same area when Sabu was complaining.
- Marcus Bagwell was supposed to be in a multi-week storyline where he'd
lose every week and then make his "I quit" speech, only to be brought back
shortly thereafter with a fresh persona. Instead, due to his backstage
antics, Jerry hasn't brought him back yet. Bagwell caused major delays in
the shooting of a pre-taped segment. It took a meeting with Jerry to get
Bagwell to agree to get dressed, then it took him 15 minutes to get ready.
Then he demanded several retakes of his segment. THEN he complained with
how he was to be used the next week. As a result, there hasn't been a next
week. Bagwell has called the office several times looking for his next
date, but one is not being offered yet.
- Several wrestlers said Sabu was "in no condition to perform" prior to his
debut PPV. Sources say he actually passed out before the show and there was
concern over whether he'd be able to appear. He was said to be so out of it
that he forgot most of the planned spots for his match, which is why Tempest
(Crowbar) was whispering to him all match.
- After widespread criticism of the raunchy content in a recent show, Jerry
defended Russo. "People think every one thing that goes wrong is Vince
Russo's fault. No, it was Jerry Jarrett's fault."
- Jerry also spoke out about Jerry Lynn saying "god damn" during a promo,
saying he doesn't tolerate taking the lord's name in vain. Jerry said he
politely confronted Lynn backstage, explaining his stance, and that Lynn
apologized and said he simply got caught up in the moment.
- Jerry Lynn is crediting his improved mic work to being able to play off
his real life feelings, such as the comments he made about struggling
financially early in his career. He has moved to Nashville but hasn't begun
training TNA wrestlers yet, which is why he moved. But he is the agent for
the X Division and has been encouraging those wrestlers to sell more than
- Low Ki is becoming the Rob Van Dam of TNA in that nobody wants to work
with him. More than one of the guys involved in the 6-man match complained
about Low Ki's stiff kicks, and sources say he caught Elix Skipper with
kicks to the throat and the groin during the match. This puts TNA in a
tough spot because Low Ki was one of the most over people at the
- The feeling among wrestlers who are upset with Low Ki's kicks are that he
and others with that style should clear it with guys ahead of time. "It's
ridiculous that some of these guys are basically being worked by the fans
into thinking that they need to top themselves with their highspots every
time they go out there," said one guy.
- TNA officials say the angle with the Titans players got carried away.
They weren't supposed to jump the railing. The backstage area was said to
be in chaos after they came over. Harley Race ran down and told friends
that it was the first time in 20 years he's had to run to the ring because
of a shoot situation. When Jeff Jarrett got backstage he said it was no big
- Former WWE development chick Kim Neilson was backstage at the July 10th
show. She's banging Sonny Siaki, well isn't that something. Sonny's heat
has spread from management to the locker room. "His biggest problem is that
he thinks he's the Rock," said someone. Another guy said Sonny's only
concern is showing off his arms. He again pulled down his Elvis costume,
which management was again not happy with and now the wrestlers have picked
up on it.
- Brian Lawler is probably the most unpopular guy in the locker room.
Sources say he's rubbed most everyone the wrong way already, but nobody has
said anything to him yet. Someone said people think Brian has a "Napoleon
complex". One wrestler said Brian just speaks his mind and doesn't care
what anyone thinks of him.
Next week will have a lot less pointless crap. OR WILL IT? See you
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