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    It's not every week that I see Raw before writing this update, but on most weeks that I do see it Raw is usually a grand program. And that was certainly the case this week, as I thought it was quite good, I did. I'm looking forward to SummerSlam more than I've looked forward to any show in recent memory.

    The Raw main event was just tremendous. The crowd heat was top of the line, which helped Washington crowds out of my personal list of "crowds I hate because they suck" after last year's debacle in Tacoma. I'm concerned about SummerSlam in Nassau, though. But anyway, the finish to the match I didn't see coming at all, though it was sure a nice way to continue building for the PPV. You just know people will impress us with their "knowledge" of the "business" by saying things like "sure Taker does the job on TV so he won't have to at the PPV", but I counter that by showing MY knowledge and saying that the Undertaker rules and I hope he kicks Test's ass.

    Something in the main event, or perhaps a combination of factors like the crowd heat and Rock and Triple H wanting to go and the strong action and the different angles combined into one match, had me fondly reminiscing back to the glory days of 2000 when all was right with the world. Rock/HHH next week will hopefully be a rocket buster, as they say.

    How about Jericho and his skinny white legs! How about Stacy's butt! How about Mini Dust! That move where they shook him like they were cleaning a carpet was BRUTAL. Ouch! How about Matt Hardy turning heel again! At least the crowd really booed him, which I don't remember ever happening the last time they tried it. Good luck to you, Matt.

    Good show.
    SummerSlam is just two weeks away! Here's the card as we know it today:

    • The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar - Undisputed title match
    • Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H - "fight"
    • Chris Benoit vs. Rob Van Dam - I/C title match
    • Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair
    • Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio - (rumored)
    • Storm/Christian vs. Booker/Goldust - Tag team title match
    • Undertaker vs. Test

    Boy, that last one kinda sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn't it? Not only has the building of the show been strong, most of those matches seemingly have the potential to rule. What a delightful combination!
    Let's jump right in.
    These tidbits are brought to you by the famed Wrestling Observer!

  • William Welch, who wrestles as Messiah, had his thumb cut off with garden shears when he was assaulted at his home. The police thought it might have something to do with the wacky world of wrestling, with the "things that make you go hmm" story being that Messiah left XPW months back amidst rumors that he'd been doing Rob Black's wife. Black's wife Lizzy Borden is a porn star, and I really don't know how it works where you'd be jealous over her doing 1 guy but doing 5 at a time is okay as long as there's a camera on, but maybe that's why I'm not married to a porn star. Anyway, his attackers also tried cutting off his other thumb AND his weenus! Zoinks!

  • Bret Hart was released from the hospital and has made impressive progress. He's doing 5 days of physical therapy a week.

  • Don West's announcing situation in TNA is "tenuous". Former WCW names have been tossed around, including Mark Madden, but Jerry Jarrett doesn't like Mark's look. I don't think Mark is all that sexy either, but is he really any worse than Ed Ferrara with those freakin' dreadlocks?

  • Ron Killings aka The Truth aka K-Krush aka K-Kwik did a radio interview saying he'd never work for WWE again. Sure he won't.

  • Lesnar destroying Hulk was a way to get rid of Hogan for a while. He asked for time off due to problems with his knees and back getting worse. It's not clear when he'll be back, be it a few weeks or a few months. Hogan asked to be taken off of the show in Australia over the weekend due to the pain he'd be in during the long flight and the fact that it was his birthday on Sunday.

  • While reviewing Raw and the attack on Lilian Garcia, Dave snuck in the line "nice knowing you" as if to imply that she won't be back. A little birdy told me that there are literally thousands of slash readers losing sleep over this story, wondering if Lilian will be back or not, so I thought I'd mention it. He didn't actually state that she was gone, though, and I think a lot of times there's instances where Dave might just be guessing or even making a joke... but unless he actually clarifies his comment as such, people will assume that he's serious. She was mentioned on Raw and the evil Howard thing continued, so if I had to guess I'd guess that she's not gone.

    Speaking of Lillian, I was reading the Torch recap of Raw and they told a story of this time Lillian said she didn't think Trish should have to wrestle, and Triple H told her to shut up. I would bet you dollars to donuts that when the Torch originally printed that story, they said it was Shane McMahon who said that. Can't they even keep their own stories straight, the wacky bastards.

  • Jeff Hardy did an interview where he said he was taken off house shows in order to finish his band's first album. He and Shannon Moore have a band called Peroxwhygen that will surely give Neurotica's smashing sales record a run for it's money.

    I don't think I mentioned this last week, as for the most part columns that run in the Torch newsletter make me want to hang myself, but Jason Powell talked about the Hardys and how Jeff is suffering from "major out of ring issues" that have resulted in him losing weight, his skin getting pale, and so on. The implications aren't nice but, of course, it was never specifically said what his "issues" are.
    I got a lot of comments last week... "Seadawg, why did you cover the TNA lawsuit without giving the other side of the story? Have you secretly been hired by TNA to spin the news?" Well, I did get a virus e-mail from yesterday, but other than that I don't think I have any connection to TNA. I was just waiting for Wade to cover the story with the unbiased insider coverage that only he can provide. Ha. Haha. Hahaha. Really, though, he has been on top of the lawsuit story, which could turn out to be a major situation if WWE played any part in it. Or it could be a big waste of all our time.

  • J Sports & Entertainment filed suit against Jay Hassman and his assistant Len Sabal. They're suing for $50,000 in fees that they paid to Hassman, plus additional expenses, plus compensatory damages as deemed by the court. There is no theory provided as to why Hassman would do the things he did.

    The suit gave details about the Jarretts' deal with In Demand, such as... if there aren't at least 13 episodes of TNA, the Jarretts lose rights to all revenues from all the events. If they aren't able to produce 52 weeks of shows, they would incur a 13 week revenue penalty. Hassman's actions, sayeth the lawsuit, set up the Jarretts to quickly run out of money.

    The suit also goes into marketing stuff, saying that Hassman met with In Demand without the knowledge of the Jarretts and told them that he'd be responsible for marketing the shows. He "thereby purported to relieve In Demand of its marketing obligations". The Jarretts didn't know this, they thought In Demand was still handling the marketing.

    It also talks about the WWE connection. Hassman apparently told In Demand that he wouldn't be involved with TNA any longer because of a conflict of interest, his working for Team Sports which markets WWE stuff, and that Len Sabal would take over the handling of TNA. The Jarretts say they didn't know about Hassman's WWE conflict, and they would have been against Sabal taking over because they think he's incompetent. Sabal attended the first TNA show and was told not to come back.

    Len Sabal issued a statement about the case, which you can read at the Torch's site. His statement suggests that the Jarretts backed themselves into a corner by failing to produce two lines of credit that were promised to In Demand, $1 million for the first two shows and $5 million for the next 6-8 months until PPV revenue started coming in. Because of this the Jarretts are in breach of their agreement with In Demand in numerous instances, and are "trying to deflect all attention away from their failures and impending door-closing to whomever they can manage to weave into their twisted web".

    Jay Hassman hasn't made any public statements, nor has In Demand. Neither has WWE but their connection seems limited to their association with the company Hassman worked for. It looks like the Jarretts have no choice but to keep on running events, or else lose all revenue the events have generated (because they haven't done 13 shows yet) while hoping that the lawsuit ends up in their favor.

  • In a column he wrote for the newsletter, Wade examined the different theories about this case, broken down by suspects. It doesn't seem that Jay Hassman would have stood to gain anything by sabotaging TNA, and there aren't any indications that he has a personal grudge with anyone in the company, so he would have had to be acting on behalf of someone. BUT WHO?

    THE WWE THEORY: Would Vince and Linda really risk being connected with this just to assure that the Jarretts wouldn't become successful? It's nice to be the only game in town when it comes time to sign contracts, but deep down they gotta know competition is a good thing.

    THE IN DEMAND THEORY: If they didn't believe in the TNA project, they stand to benefit the most from the company dying early, as they'd get every penny of the PPV buys as per the "if they die before 13 shows" thing in the contract. Rather than invest all the effort into marketing this if they didn't think it would succeed, In Demand could have schemed with Hassman to help the Jarretts run out of money. If it turns out that In Demand was involved, or if the Jarretts think that's the case, to indicate it would basically force TNA to shut down since In Demand would have no reason to help them if they were being accused of this.

    But this theory isn't that strong because In Demand would stand to make a lot more if TNA was successful than they would through this scenario. Plus, if TNA did well, In Demand would have much needed leverage with WWE, which currently makes up 70% of In Demand's revenues.

    THE SUPER THEORY: That last part leads to the theory that WWE and In Demand and Hassman are all in it together, with In Demand having no choice but to bow to WWE's wishes. Since In Demand relies on WWE for survival it could be that, even without WWE's knowledge, In Demand is behind this in order to protect WWE interests.

    THE ANTI-THEORY: All the conspiracy stuff could be fiction created by the Jarretts to try saving face and getting a settlement to cover their losses. Perhaps the Jarretts got Hassman to help with this and have now turned him into the fall guy.

    Or it could be none of the above. But the story sure won't be encouraging for others who are thinking about starting a wrestling company.

  • Ric Flair is thinking of running for Governor of North Carolina again. One wrestler commented "There isn't a better politician in wrestling than Flair, and wrestling is full of politicians. He's not very genuine. His whole career he has a pattern of telling one person one thing to make them happy and telling another the opposite to make them happy, so he'd be perfect for politics".

  • There's talk of Matt Hardy jumping to Smackdown.

  • Shawn was at Raw last week, he wasn't home in San Antonio. The "via satellite" interview was done from backstage.

  • Lita is now able to take off the hard collar she's been wearing since her surgery. She still has to wear it to bed or when she does anything strenuous.

  • Flash Flannigan told TNA reps that his WWE no-compete clause is only 30 days, while everyone else got 90 days. While at a TNA show Mike Sanders told wrestlers that he believes Paul Heyman was the major force behind him losing his WWE deal. Sanders thinks he was caught in the middle of a feud with Heyman and Nash, and that Heyman was down on him as an announcer because Heyman was announcing when Sanders first auditioned for that role.

  • Victoria is being heavily praised by co-workers for her work ethic. "I've never seen a woman work as hard as she does," said someone who probably wants to bang her.

  • Linda Miles was at Raw on Monday. Jackie Gayda has been in Louisville looking for an apartment for her and Linda to share. They're both expected to be sent to OWV for an "extended development run".

  • Booker T is still gettin' it on with Sharmell, even though she was cut. Some people apparently felt Terri should be cut instead, but she was kept due to her seniority.

  • The two top mainstream names in TNA might not be around for a variety of reasons. Scott Hall's 4 show contract expired after the last show. He's interested in returning and probably will be brought back if management can fit him into the budget, but a new deal hasn't been reached yet. TNA wrestlers continue to rave about Hall's behavior backstage. They say he's been sober for every appearance and that he'd been submitting general ideas for improvement to management.

    Meanwhile, there's talk that some in TNA want to approach Ken Shamrock with a buyout offer. Jerry Jarrett has told confidants that he's disappointed with the lack of charisma Shamrock has shown. Ken is believed to be one of the highest paid wrestlers in the company, and he's flown in every week from San Diego, so cost cutting may also be why they want to be rid of him.

  • Jeremy Borash has locker room heat after some comments he made on a radio show. He was asked about the indy manager in Florida who's been outspoken about how the Shane Twins have been poorly used as the Johnsons (tOA readers will know him as Ron Niemi. - CRZ) Borash went off on a rant about how it shouldn't matter if they're getting paid, and how he moved to Atlanta for free to work for WCW after years of getting $20 to do ring announcing. Some wrestlers took this as Borash putting himself over for "paying his dues" in wrestling, which guys would take as a joke especially compared to guys who work indies like he was comparing himself to. At least one wrestler was bragging that he planned to confront Borash about his comments in front of others at the August 7th show.

    One TNA official defended Borash by saying it's unfair if he has heat because the guys don't know how hard Jeremy works hard and that he's very easy to deal with.

  • The wrestlers are staring to share payoff information with each other, which is leading to bad feelings. Guys are under the impression that AJ Styles is getting $800 per appearance. Low Ki is getting $600. But other guys, even those who've worked top matches, are said to be making $500. Some wrestlers chalk the complaints up to "petty jealousy", but AJ being the first guy to have a TNA shirt made for him probably didn't help matters. A number of the wrestlers think the Jarretts are investing too much in Styles.

  • The latest plan for the Styles/Lynn feud is for Styles to be the heel, which has some wrestlers asking even more questions about why they'd choose to market an AJ Styles t-shirt first.

  • Word backstage was that the July 31st crowd was smaller than the July 24th crowd. If even the fans in Nashville aren't coming back, it's not a good sign for PPV buys. It might not have helped that the July 24th show lacked a monitor for the crowd to see the many backstage segments. One official estimated the crowd size at the last two events at between 500 and 700 paid, but said some of the fans took advantage of a "buy one get one free" deal that was advertised. Ringside tickets sell for $15, while general seating is $10.

  • After the first show at the Nashville Coliseum they switched the entrance ramp to another side of the building and had the ringside camera guys stand on stools to improve the look of the show. Jerry was heard telling the crew that the building had to look a lot better than the previous week. "If we have another show like last week's, we're done" someone claims to have heard Jerry say.

  • Road Dogg has about 45 days left on his house arrest. There's still plans to use him once he's available.

  • New Jack contacted one of the Harris twins about the possibility of working for TNA. He was told that they aren't doing the hardcore style at this time, but to be patient.

  • A source says TNA is not aggressively going after a syndication deal, but they are open to working with anyone who's interested in their shows.

  • A TNA source thinks Buff Bagwell will be brought back at some point, if only because he still has a number of dates on his 12 show deal. The source said the Jarretts are just giving Buff some time to think about the way he acted during his last appearance.

  • Mortimer Plumtree is very well liked by the office, but hasn't been brought back due to budget cuts. He was helping out with a number of production chores backstage and will return if and when the budget permits. Simon Diamond is another budget casualty, even though he offered to save the company money by flying to Georgia and driving to Nashville.

  • One TNA official says Ricky Steamboat is worth every dime he's being paid just because of what he brings to the locker room.

  • There's no talk of bringing in Air Paris, who teamed with AJ Styles during their brief WCW run. Even friends say Paris has become "very lazy" and isn't in shape to wrestle an X Division type match.

  • A key source says that Jasmin St. Claire was asked to briefly show her breast a few weeks ago, but she rejected the idea.

  • The official line is that Jerry is the booker and Russo is the writer, meaning Jerry tells Russo the matches, the finishes, and stresses the major points. Then Russo fills in the rest.
    I'm returning to school shortly, so in all likelihood there won't be any Tuesday updates for the next few weeks as I get all settled in. At least not from me... but I am in negotiations with several restaurant quality pinch hitters. I can't promise anything though, but if someone is there be sure to check 'em out. I'll be back soon.

[slash] wrestling

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