WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
WRESTLING GLOBE NEWSLETTER
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wrestling Globe Newsletter by Mike Aldren – All the latest professional wrestling news, gossip and occasional opinion direct to your mailbox.
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WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
3/1 Raw TV results from Oklahoma City, OK: Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase Jr. was a no contest; Jack Swagger over Santino Marella; MVP over Zack Ryder; Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly & Eve Torres over Maryse, Alicia Fox & Jillian Hall; and ShoMiz over Triple H & Shawn Michaels to retain the tag titles. The show drew a legitimate sellout of over 12,000 people.
3/2 NXT TV results from Wichita, KS: Darren Young over David Otunga; Wade Barrett over Daniel Bryan; and Matt Hardy & Justin Gabriel over William Regal & Skip Sheffield.
Superstars tonight on WGN has Chris Jericho vs. Goldust; Evan Bourne vs.
William Regal; Kofi Kingston vs. Chavo Guerrero; and Kane vs. Mike Knox.
The Harris County (Texas) Medical Examiners office officially listed the death of Edward “Umaga” Fatu as accidental, caused from acute toxicity due to the combined effects of Hydrocodone, Carisoprodol and Diazepam.
Fatu, 36, suffered two heart attacks, the first on the evening of December 4 at his home in Spring, Texas, and the second in the hospital the next day while on life support. All three drugs under various brand names are reportedly drugs of choice for a number of pro wrestlers used to kill pain, ease anxiety, aid sleep, or when abused simply taken for recreation purposes. Fatu, who was under contract to WWE from 2002-2003 and 2005-2009, was released in June 2009 following a second Wellness Program violation and his subsequent refusal to attend a rehabilitation facility.
Days before his death, Fatu had told friends, including some current WWE and TNA wrestlers, that he was leaning towards signing back with WWE, which was prompted by his participation in a November 2009 wrestling tour headlined by Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair in Australia. He would have been subject to pre-contract screening that includes substance, cardiovascular and neurological examinations. Several wrestlers said privately that Fatu had a reputation for mixing painkillers and alcohol during the later stages of his career. People who were in regular contact with him also said he came across as out of it sometimes during telephone conversations.
In August 2007 articles by Sports Illustrated and The Washington Post named Fatu as one of a number of pro wrestlers and other professional athletes to have purchased pharmaceuticals from an online pharmacy. This was his first violation of the Wellness Program. He specifically was reported to have received Somatropin, a growth hormone, between July and December 2006. Somatropin is most commonly prescribed to children to help stimulate stunted growth and also used to treat mass muscle wastage in AIDS patients.
Three other wrestlers named in those articles have also passed away; Eddie Guerrero, 38 (heart attack), Chris Benoit, 40 (suicide), both under WWE contract at the time of their deaths, and Brian Adams, 44 (an initial autopsy failed to show a specific cause of death although it was eventually ruled that a mixture of prescription drugs slowed his respiratory system enough to kill him), another former WWE performer.
Most of the contracted wrestlers implicated in those articles were suspended without pay for 30 days, although Randy Orton was a controversial exception at the time.
Fatu was well liked and respected by those who worked closely with him in WWE. He was a member of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family; the nephew of Afa and Sika, younger brother of Rikishi and the Tongo Kid; and currently has two nephews in WWE developmental, Rikishi’s sons, who wrestle as Jimmy and Jules Uso.
His career highlight came three years ago at Wrestlemania 23 at Ford Field in Detroit. He was managed by Vince McMahon in a match against Bobby Lashley managed by Donald Trump, with the stipulation that the losing manager would have their head shaved. The event did 1.2 million buys, the most purchased pro wrestling pay-per-view in the history of the industry.
Despite his previous tenure and respect within the company, WWE did not acknowledge his death on television in any way, which one can speculate was for PR reasons, which will forever remain a sore point with some of his family members and his fans around the world.
WWE cuts this past week included three wrestlers, one diva, and one referee. It’s predicted there will be more over coming week’s, mostly for budget reasons with the demise of ECW and the creation of NXT with fresh talent moving up from developmental.
A surprise cut was Scott Armstrong (Joseph James Jr.), 50, a senior referee on the Smackdown side, who was regularly assigned major matches and was well regarded, but may have paid for the sins of others.
Armstrong, who had been with the company since 2006, is the oldest son of “Bullet” Bob Armstrong who has three other sons that wrestled–Brad, Steve, and Brian James–the most famous of the modern era, better known as Road Dogg during the mid-late 90s. Armstrong started wrestling in
1983 primarily in the Georgia and Alabama territories as well as Jim Crockett Promotions which later became WCW, where he formed a tag team called “The James Boys” with brother Steve. He worked for WCW from 1992 until 2001, spending it’s final year in business as a referee. He also wrestled as Dixie Dynomite in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1992.
The other cuts were Gregory “Hurricane” Helms, Charlie Haas, Paul Burchill [Paul Birchall], and Maria Kanellis. Everyone cut had the standard 90-day no compete preventing them from jumping to TNA straight away.
Helms, 35, did himself no favors in January when he was arrested with Chris Jericho for public intoxication in Northern Kentucky following a Smackdown taping in Cincinnati. If he wasn’t on the endangered species list before, he was following that incident. Helms and Jericho were play wrestling in the back seat of a taxi, but things went beyond playful when their female friend caught an accidental elbow to the face. Both ended up arrested and each paid $159 in fines and court costs. The women didn’t want to press charges. Helms came to WWE in 2001 as the Cruiserweight champion following WWE’s purchase of WCW. He made his debut as “Hollywood” Gregory Helms (he was “Sugar” Shane Helms in WCW previously but only Shane McMahon was allowed to be called Shane in WWE) as part of the Invasion storyline dropping his title straight away to Billy Kidman. This was likely punishment for an altercation he had with Marcus “Buff” Bagwell prior to his start in which Helms threw a frozen water bottle, causing Bagwell’s head to split open. Bagwell had cut a promo on Helms in front of a bunch of people saying that he would never be a superstar in WWE and made fun of his southern accent. Helms later got over as The Hurricane and his merchandise was one of WWE’s top sellers for a few years. He suffered a broken neck in 2007 and was out for nearly 18 months. When he eventually returned to a full-time schedule he was drafted to ECW and did the Clark Kent/Superman gimmick where he was Gregory Helms, the reporter, and The Hurricane, the superhero wrestler. He was sporadically used right up until his release, except for a short lived program with Burchill ending with Helms winning a loser leaves ECW match. It would be no surprise to see him in TNA this year due to the Jeff Hardy-Shannon Moore Carolina connection and he is very good friends with other people there. He was also dating Velvet Sky (Jamie Szantyr) for some time but they broke up last year.
Hass, who is almost 38, had been with the company for around 8 years.
The funny story here is that he asked for his release last year but was instead given a raise. This was to prevent him going to TNA as Kurt Angle was pushing for him to be signed. His career started solidly in the early 2000s as The World’s Greatest Tag Team with Shelton Benjamin, who were introduced as the flunkies of Angle. When they split as a team Benjamin received a nice singles push while Haas was left behind. In 2008, he developed a comedy gimmick where he would impersonate old wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart, but that was never going any where once the gimmick ran it’s course. He married former Diva Jackie Gayda in 2005, and today they run a nutritional store, Custom Muscle Nutrition, in Frisco, Texas, which they opened in 2008.
Helms and Hass were both implicated in the 2007 Sports Illustrated expose as customers of an online pharmacy selling illegal drugs. Both received packages of steroids and growth hormone, violations of the WWE Wellness Program. They were suspended without pay for 30 days although Helms was out injured during his suspension. Haas later said that he thought his purchases were legal, and he was doing it for maintenance after he had both his knees reconstructed.
Burchall, 30, was never given much of an opportunity. He was started on Smackdown from developmental in 2005, created his own gimmick, The Pirate, and was sent back to developmental. The common myth is that the creative team came up with a bad gimmick, but the main issue was that Vince McMahon was unaware of the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Johnny Depp’s character, and felt a Pirate could not work as a baby face. He was brought back on Raw and later drafted to ECW as a heel with a new storyline sister, Katie Lea. WWE changed the spelling of his real name from Burchall to Burchill so they could own the name. There was talk at one point of doing an incest angle, but that idea was dropped before it started with the move to PG. As with Helms he wasn’t featured following the loser leaves ECW match. Katie Lea was saved and moved back to Raw while he never appeared on television again.
Maria, 28, was cut the day after her birthday. She became endangered in January after she used a promotional tour in the UK to promote her outside projects–an upcoming music album and clothing line. She did a televised interview where she talked about settling down, getting married, and having babies. She’s currently dating an NFL player. The final straw may have been when she wrote on Twitter that she would rather stay at home than come in to work. Although she said publicly her release came as a surprise, privately she said she wasn’t surprised and is looking forward to expanding her career–she’s already hired an agent. The timing was bad as she had just started a romance angle with Matt Hardy on Smackdown. She said her biggest wrestling regret was never getting a run with a women’s title belt. She was voted 2009 Diva of the Year by fans on the WWE website and is a contestant on the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC.
Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, 80, was announced this past week for the 2010 WWE Hall of Fame. He will be inducted by Pat Paterson. Vachon is patriarch to one of pro wrestling’s most accomplished families. He is the brother of wrestlers Paul and Vivian Vachon, and the uncle of former WWE manager Luna Vachon. He was among the AWA’s all-time great heels with a career spanning four decades. After retirement in 1986, Vachon, a native of Montreal, Quebec, settled in Carter Lake, Iowa, near his wife’s home town of Omaha, but tragedy struck when he was the victim of a hit-and-run driver, resulting in the amputation of his leg. The Vachons moved to Omaha shortly thereafter. He later appeared in beer commercials and was a restaurant critic for a Quebec City television station. His last appearances on WWE television came at the In Your House 7 pay-per-view. He was sitting near ringside, when Kevin Nash
(Diesel) ripped his artificial leg off and used it as a weapon in his match with Shawn Michaels. He also made an appearance at the 1998 Over the Edge pay-per-view, in a segment where he and the late Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski were mocked by Jerry Lawler, including Lawler trying to steal Vachon’s artificial leg.
Most of the Hart family is flying in from Calgary for the Hall of Fame.
Stu’s induction will probably be reinstated in the storyline within the next couple of week’s and there are two other names that we know of yet to be announced.
Pat Paterson, 69, came in for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view a couple of week’s ago. He still consults for the company since his semi retirement five years ago and is one of Vince’s most trusted confidants.
He mostly comes in for big events or events that Vince wants help with.
Much of his time these days are spent on golf courses and he also enjoys taking cruises and spending time in Italy. He is said to be in good health for his age.
Jim Ross was in Stamford, CT, last week negotiating a possible contract extension. “Lots of interesting conversation ensued,” Ross wrote in his blog. “Even went by my old department. Saw many old friends. Nothing finalized but a potential plan is in the works. Some fun and important projects were discussed. I am excited to hear what might be next.” Ross appeared before at the live crowd at Monday’s Raw in Oklahoma City and said it’s his goal to return to the broadcast booth at Wrestlemania 26.
“If all the necessary arrangements can be made from a business perspective then that goal will hopefully become a reality.”
Raw on Monday night did a 3.7 rating and 5.3 million viewers. NXT on Tuesday night did a 1.2 rating.
Gail Kim suffered a foot injury during the Pajama Pillow fight match.
It’s not thought to be serious. The actual PJs the Divas used in the match were purchased from a local Walmart. Apparently there was quite a debate on who got to wear what. Chavo Guerrero also needed stitches near his left eye following his Superstars match with Kofi Kingston that airs tonight.
Michelle McCool missed house shows last weekend due to bronchitis.
Tiffany, Goldust and Tyler Reks have now been assigned to Smackdown. No update on Tony Atlas.
Joe Doering was recently assigned to developmental. He was trained by Scott D’Amore in Windsor, Ontario. He worked a few shots with TNA in
2005/06 before becoming a regular and headliner with All Japan Pro Wrestling. He has a similar look to Jon Heidenreich.
G-Rilla, a former Los Angeles bouncer, who was under developmental a while back, was re-signed and is back with FCW. He real name is George Murdoch, no relation to Dick.
WWE recently purchased UPW’s (California) tape library. The group was founded in 1998 by Rick Bassman who is responsible for discovering a number of WWE stars including John Cena, Chris Masters, Melina and TNA’s Samoa Joe.
The latest DVD project in the works is a special on Ricky “The Dragon”
Steamboat. Some people were interviewed for the project last week. There is no release date at press time but it’s expected out later this year.
They also have a Divas title in the works. PG rated of course.
MMA fighter and pro wrestler Bob Sapp landed the lead heel role in the next Conan movie. WWE’s Shad Gaspard had also auditioned for the role.
Ironically they both share the same nickname, The Beast.
WWE has created a new online store for tickets for live events in North America. The store is available at WWE.com and is part of a partnership with Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation. This may have something to do with recent events where there were issues with counterfeit tickets sold on Stubhub.
A funny note. Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen recently went on Twitter and wrote that he wanted to go to Wrestlemania but the tickets were too expensive. A short time later, Ring of Honor wrote to him and offered free tickets to come to their show during Mania weekend in Phoenix.
Wild Card, which was a new tentative pay-per-view scheduled for May 23 in Detroit, has been renamed as WWE: Over The Limit.
The Miz and John Morrison appeared on Cartoon Network’s Destroy Build Destroy on Wednesday night. The show features two teams destroying large structures and building their own creations from the debris. The team with the best creation gets to destroy the other team’s creation. A bit like NXT.
The latest Linda McMahon campaign video is online at
http://tinyurl.com/yfozja6 featuring photos of her family during the past 30 years. The video is voiced by Stephanie McMahon and you could be mistaken for believing it was produced in a network quality television studio.
Ted DiBiase Sr. and Jr. are in the UK right now on a media tour to promote Wrestlemania. The Miz is also doing one this week in Australia.
TNA WRESTLING NEWS
The final Thursday night Impact tonight on Spike includes AJ Styles vs.
The Pope vs. Abyss vs. Desmond Wolfe in a four corners match for the TNA
heavyweight title; Jeff Jarrett vs. Tomko; and Rob Terry vs. Doug
Williams in a non-title match.
Spike TV officials were made aware last night that Rob Van Dam has
signed with the company. Hulk Hogan also alluded to the signing today
during an in-studio radio interview in New York City. Van Dan has made
no public comment so far alhough we know TNA has been working hard in
the last few days to get the deal done, and keep it a secret. Story is
The original TNA Knockout, Traci Brooks (Tracy Brookshaw), 34, was
released earlier today in a cut that not many people saw coming. It’s to
do with the trimming of the Knockout roster and her last match with
Hamada was not well received. She had been with the company since April
2003. She managed more than she wrestled and was involved in a number of
angles managing Shane Douglas, Michael Shane, and Robert Roode during
the past few years. Brookshaw grew up in St. Mary’s, Ontario on her
dad’s pig farm. She appeared in the Toronto Sun several times as a
Sunshine Girl, in which she mentioned it was her goal to become WWE
Women’s champion. She started training as a wrestler with Ron Hutchison
and later with Rob Etcheverria of the Squared Circle Gym in Toronto.
Scott D’Amore was instrumental in bringing her into TNA, along with
other Ontario wrestlers such as Eric Young. Most recently she had been
wrestling while the announcers played off her Erb’s palsy (a paralysis
of the arm) that she suffered as an infant. Last year she posed nude for
Playboy but the pictorial was bumped from the magazine to the Playboy
website. She married Frank Gerdelman, better known as Frankie Kazarian,
on January 7, but personal problems ensued soon after when naked photos
of Kazarian surfaced on the Internet. She had claimed to friends that
her computer was hacked and that the photos were intended just for her
Awesome Kong (Kia Stevens) was also apparently granted a release from
her contract. She recently wrote on her Twitter account thanking Dixie
Carter for wishing her well in her future endeavours. Kong had requested
her release several week’s ago following the backstage altercation with
Tampa radio DJ Bubba the Love Sponge. She had been unhappy with certain
things for some time. TNA officials will neither confirm or deny that
Kong has been granted a release.
Monday’s show is scheduled to end at 11:08pm ET so they have the extra
time for an overrun. Epics will follow the show which will be a special
on the X-Division. Epics also has a replay in the old Thursday 9pm
There are currently huge billboards up promoting the March 8 show in New
York City at Times Square, Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.
TNA are still shopping around for a new agent following the recent
departure of Scott D’Amore. David Taylor had a tryout at the last PPV/TV
tapings but we haven’t heard that he was hired. They may be looking at
other people too.
Eric Bischoff blamed last Thursday’s Impact rating on the Olympics: “How
did the Olympics do? Think there were many men 18-49 watching?
Seriously, we have known from day one that the way to gain market share
and grow ratings is just like I did in 95. The wrestling audience
gathers on Monday nights. Have for almost 2 decades. Giving them an
option and getting them to sample our product will increase the
ratings.” This may have been a good argument had Raw not done such a
strong number last Monday also up against the Olympics.
Bischoff and Hogan visited Rikishi’s wrestling school in Burbank, CA,
this past week to take a look at some on the students. Hulk’s son Nick
has been training there of late.
400 fans turned out for the Hogan Fu-Fest last Friday at Shannon’s Steak
and Seafood restaurant in St. Louis. “TNA Wrestling has forwarded
documentation from Hogan Fu-Fest to officials overseas at the worldwide
headquarters of Guinness World Records to verify the event as the new
record for Largest Gathering of Mustached People,” according to the TNA
website. Dixie Carter also held a staff meeting at the TNA offices in
Nashville last Thursday with many employees sporting Fu Manchu’s. Some
guys had full Goatees, and not Fu Manchu’s, so Carter found some
clippers and made all but one guy shave their face.
Matt Morgan is giving a speech on ADHD tomorrow morning at the
University of California, Irvine.
The Honky Tonk Man said on the Fight Show in Canada that he plans to
file lawsuits against Bubba the Love Sponge and TNA for making
slanderous remarks about him which cost him bookings. Of course this
won’t happen and the free publicity has actually had the opposite effect
on his bookings.
Ken Anderson is booked for AAA’s Rey de Reyes event on March 12, one of
Mexico’s biggest wrestling shows of the year.
OTHER WRESTLING NEWS
We reported earlier the passing of former wrestler/promoter Angelo Poffo
at the age of 84. Funeral arrangements are still pending. This will
likely be a private service for close family and friends. Messages of
condolence can be left at www.lannypoffo.com. Angelo was the father of
Lanny Poffo and Randy “Macho Man” Savage who both had been caring for
him for the last few years up until his death this morning.
Percy Pringle, the 90s WWE wrestling manager Paul Bearer and perhaps
future Hall of Famer, has started taking bookings again after more than
three years out of the business. He recently did some voice over work
for the new WWE game and appears at a legends show at the Atlanta, GA
Airport Sheraton on March 12 and 13. More info at www.legendsmania.com/.
Former WWE announcer Kevin Kelly has signed with Ring of Honor to voice
online pay-per-views. More info at www.rohwrestling.com.
Nick Hogan’s latest project is to become a superstar disc jockey. He is
booked for a gig with Frank Vazquez in Long Island on March 27. Vazquez
(DJ FX) is one of the most recognized DJs in New York and New Jersey,
and is well respected throughout the nightclub scene.
VH-1 didn’t renew Brooke Hogan for another season of her reality show,
Brooke Knows Best, which was a spinoff from Hulk Knows Best. TV
producers pitched a new dating show concept to her but it wasn’t
something she wanted to do. Hulk Hogan said in interviews this week that
he recently sent her music to P-Diddy in the hope his record label would
Tooth Fairy with Dwayne Johnson is looking at finishing it’s theatrical
run at $55 million domestically and $90 million worldwide. The movie has
done big business in Russia, Australia, and throughout South America.
The latest musings from Jim Mitchell at http://tinyurl.com/yescj9q.
Tommy Dreamer, via his Twittetoday: “After 20 years I have finally
gotten a real job. I start next Monday. Something called jury duty $12 a
Today’s Diva of the Day is Maria at
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Japan's Hikaru Shida makes her SHIMMER debut against Mia Yim.
WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
Hardcore legend Terry Funk
Fitness model and WWE “Diva of the Decade” Trish Stratus