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Richard Craig

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BIG-ASS UK UPDATE

Well, hello everybody: remember me?

Yes, things have finally cooled down enough (work-wise) for me to spare the time to return to slash (I may not have posted for a while, but I *always* read!) to let everyone around the world know what's up in the good ol' U of K.

Before I begin, I would like to take the opportunity to send some shouts out to CyanIndigo for making me laugh (and being such a g*ddamn flirt!), Marvellous Martin & Kirk Wagstaff (for giving slash some UK-flava in my absence) and of course our ruler, CRZ for welcoming me back after such a long period of time.

First thing I would like to mention is that WCW have now confirmed that they are indeed going to tape episodes of Nitro and Thunder here in the UK this November. The tapings are scheduled to be augmented by two house shows across the four-day 'swing'.

The dates are:

Friday November 10, 2000 (Nitro Taping) London Arena
Saturday November 11, 2000 (House Show) Telewest Arena, Newcastle
Sunday November 12, 2000 (Thunder Taping) MEN Arena, Manchester
Monday November 13, 2000 (House Show) Birmingham NEC Arena

As yet, tickets are *not* on sale. The trouble is, at the end of this month, WCW's premier shows will *not* air in the UK, as things stand. Currently, they are shown in a four hour block during the *analogue* transmission of TCM (Turner Classic Movies) on a Friday evening. This is not planned to continue beyond the end of this month. Worse still, over 80% of BSkyB's subscribers have upgraded to digital, where WCW is not shown at all. This would leave WCW only airing four-week old episodes of Worldwide (themselves heavily censored) on Channel 5, the UK's fifth terrestrial 'netlet'. If they are planning to run such a swing in the UK (including the *first* TV tapings for either of the 'Big Two' in this country) then my gut feeling is that Nitro and Thunder will be picked up by another station, possibly Bravo (which already shows ECW Hardcore TV) or perhaps even British Eurosport.

Sunday, er, scratch that, *Monday* July 24 saw "WWF Fully Loaded" beamed into UK homes by Channel 4 on a fifty-minute delay. Despite many fans deep cynicism regarding the channel's pledge that they planned to show FL unedited, I have to give the channel credit for keeping its promise. *Nothing* was removed, and we even got to see things that had been cut from episodes of "HeAT" previously broadcast on Channel 4. Of course, the immense blade-job that Triple H pulled out during his 'last man standing' match was the pinnacle of C4's relaxed attitude. This was surprising, since they had made reference to the "excessive blood" (from January's Royal Rumble, which was their inaugural PPV as UK broadcaster) as being a reason for the edits to "Backlash". At least we fared better than the Germans watching on Premiere, who apparently had to watch the conclusion to that contest in *black and white*!!!

Speaking of "Backlash", a damning indictment of the Buh Buh/Trish angle was handed down by the regulatory body for TV standards and fairness, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) in their latest bulletin. The ruling, which was borne from a *solitary* complaint by one lousy F'N parent, has already influenced subsequent WWF programming. Whilst I have yet to witness this week's Raw, I understand that the table spot involving the 'ho' was shown from an angle which masked the true impact of the bump. What cheeses me off is that here you have a parent that should not be complaining about something that was shown well after the watershed (when TV in the UK can become sexually-explicit and extremely violent): did they not understand that they shouldn't be taping something for their young children at 2am in the morning? Furthermore, despite the fact that the WWF removed all scenes of Trish being pulled by her hair with 'crowd shots' and froze the picture just before the moment of impact, the BSC *still* felt that was insufficient!!

I have included the ruling from the BSC's website, which basically concludes that the angle "Endorsed the concept of violence against women in a sexual context."

The Complaint: A viewer complained about violent content with a sexual undertone and was concerned about its possible effect on children.

The Ruling:

The standards committee watched this programme and noted the scenes in question. The Commission has stated previously that it acknowledges that, superficially, this style of programming is violence presented as pantomime with larger than life characters and outlandish plots. Nonetheless, the Commission had serious concerns about these scenes which contained a clear link between aspects of sexual arousal and violence. A scantily clad woman was assaulted in the wrestling ring, was seen to be hoisted into position so as to be 'slammed' through a table (replayed several times from different angles), events which were described as 'orgasmic' by the commentators, and, finally, was taken (apparently unconscious, wearing a neck brace) for medical attention.

The committee found these scenes- which appeared to endorse violence against women in a sexual context- to be wholly unacceptable despite the late hour of transmission. The complaint was upheld.

As I mentioned earlier, this parent obviously (thanks to Channel 4's marketing of HeAT as a 'kid's show' did not realise that PPVs are all meant for the over-14s, or that in the UK, they all attract '15' or '18' certificates on home video. (To help US readers understand, that is equivalent to an 'R' and 'NC-17' rating respectively.)

Leaving aside the hypocrisy for now, and the fact that it only takes one complaint to spoil things for the millions of WWF fans throughout the UK and Ireland, what is also grating is the fact that the BSC has a problem with something that the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) passes uncut without fuss.

I could also, with little or no hesitation, comfortably bet that if the gender roles were reversed, there would be no ruling condemning the "endorsement of violence against *men* in a sexual context." Why is it that out of the WWF's three primary markets, the Commonwealth countries are the ones that don't appear to 'get it'. I used to say that I'd like to live and work in Canada or the US, but as the WWF is probably cut *more* throughout Canada (at least we here in the UK got to see each and every one of Mae Young's table spots), I think I'd have to pass. I am actually pursuing a job application which would lead to me working in the States, so if it came off, I could look forward to uncensored WWF shows, week in, week out.

I have decided to pass on attending the next WWF UK PPV, scheduled for Saturday December 2, 2000 at the Sheffield Arena. Tickets for this event sold out within around 40 mins, making it the fastest selling UK event in the Fed's history. Why have I chosen to pass on this show, I hear you ask? Well, providing I have secured that first full-time position within the air transport industry that I have sought for several years now, I plan to log onto Ticketmaster.com on November 11, and acquire myself a ticket for Wrestlemania 17 in Houston. Economy (coach) tickets between London and Houston are pretty cheap right now, so that is what I'd like to do for my next proper holiday come the end of March next year. I has wanted to wait until there was a PPV at MSG, but since that would mean I'd need to wait til 2002, I will have to forego that idea. (My reasoning being that MSG got Wrestlemania 10 in '94, Survivor Series in '96, Summerslam in '98 and the Royal Rumble in 2000: will King of the Ring 2002 emanate from the Garden?) If I don't get tix for WM17, I plan to pick a State, and take in Raw and Smackdown! tapings, and hopefully an ECW house show/PPV.

The young UK promoter John Feltham recently ran what sounded like a successful first supercard in Halifax, Yorkshire last Saturday night. The event, which can be read about at www.evilintentions.co.uk, was headlined by XPW's Sabu, who sqaured off against The Dirt Bike Kid. The pair had previously fought at St Valentine's Day Massacre a couple of years ago. Apart from some weak tables which broke under the Kid's own body weight, this sounded a good match. The event is set to be released on home video, although whether there are plans to release the tape in NTSC format, I do not know. Furthermore, the build-up to the event featured an auction which raised 700 (U.S.$1017) for the Brian Pillman Memorial Fund. This effort should be applauded, as this guy is only 18 years of age, and managed to book big talent, hire a venue, get sponsorship, advertise and promote the event, run pyro to name but a few of his accomplishments. Hopefully, this will give the indy scene in the UK a big boost, and end up as representative of the true UK scene, as opposed to the BWF (British Wrestling Federation), who trail around the country, *blatantly* infringing WWF copyright, and running a show which belongs back in the early 80s, it's so bad.

Beyond the Mat is released on VHS on September 18, priced 14-99 (with the DVD hopefully out before Xmas). Other videos recently released include ECW November to Remember 99 and Guilty as Charged 2000. The next volumes in this series are Living Dangerously 2000, Living Dangerously 1998 and Heatwave 98. These are tentatively scheduled for a 4th September release, although this is likely to change several times. This means that for now, at least, it would seem that Hardcore Heaven is set to be skipped *again*: the 99 version was missed out, with the vids jumping from Living Dangerously to Heatwave. The WWF's latest videos include Judgment Day* and InsurreXtion 2000 (leading this fan to speculate that this signals the two annual UK PPV events- May and December-getting their own names, to be used each year.) As yet there is no word of the name of the next PPV, although weak rumour has it pegged as WWF Destruction, which certainly fits the trend set by 'Rebellion' and 'InsurreXtion'... (*Judgment Day is available exclusively via www.wwfvideo.co.uk and shall not be in the stores until September.) The next batch of videos will include "Lord of the Ring", which is the A&E Austin bio, "TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs", "Divas: Postcards from the Carribbean" and "King of the Ring 2000". These are set to be released on, or just after August 22, again exclusively through www.wwfvideo.co.uk... (The official home video retailers for the WWF in the UK now have the license to release each video simultaneously with their release in the States.)

"WCW Spring Stampede 2000" is available in all good UK video stores from this Monday (August 14), priced 14-99. Warner Home Video have recently run a promotion, whereby you can purchase *any* WCW video and get a second one (again, there is no restriction) absolutely free. I am not aware if Spring Stampede will feature in this promotion.

I have yet to hear when WCW movie "Ready to Rumble" is to be released in the United Kingdom, but I would have to say I hope this is one film which earns the infamous distinction of 'video premiere'!!

On the musical front, the latest single from Wyclef Jean, "It Doesn't Matter (Anymore)", which, of course, features The Rock, is now to be released in the UK on August 28, the day after Summerslam. Now, if JR gets clued up, I could see him plug the single to UK fans during his obligatory "hello to those fans staying up late with us on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland" bit. With the singles chart in the UK in complete dissaray, it only takes a couple of humdred thousand copies to be sold per week to hit No. 1. With the Rock having such a large 'teenage mark' following, and the principal buyers of singles being teenagers and the over 10s, I really feel that there is a chance that this record could hit the Number 1 position here in the UK. I plan to buy a copy of the single, just to see if this feat could be achieved, giving the WWF the mainstream publicity in the UK which it is currently enjoying throughout the U.S.

Well, I think that's plenty to be going on with for the moment. Suffice to say, I hope to send another column to slash in the very near future, and would like to thank everyone for reading this one.

See Ya Later,

Richard Craig
(A Scotsman enjoying the hot summer sunshine in)
Bedfordshire, ENG, UK
[slash] wrestling


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