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WRESTLING COLUMNS

This, That & Some Other Stuff
November 1, 2005 - by Brad Dykens

Hello friends, fans and admirers: It's been a long time since I took some time out to write a little something for OWW. This won't be an epic article like my trip down memory lane entitled "A Slice of WWF Nostalgia" or an educational piece like my "Promoting the Promoters" article. This will just be a plain voicing of my opinion and letting you all know what is going on with the website.

It goes without saying that Online World of Wrestling continues to grow on a daily basis. The web host representative whom I correspond with has recently reported that our combined daily hits is somewhere in the one million range. It's disappointing that with a million hits a day that I've only gotten two Pay Pal donations in the last two years. Not that I'm begging. But please donate today! brad@blackpants.net

I could go on and on about how grateful I am to my official Editor, Kirsty Quested, but I will keep it short and just say that she is truly indispensable and I am forever appreciative of her help on the site and her friendship. Of course, she has it easy today because my column will be 100% free of errors! Thank you Kirsty.

I would first like to address the recent complaints that have come in concerning the 10 Commandments for Columnists that Kirsty and myself have established. Some writers have expressed that they feel the rules and limitations are unfair. Well I stand by the 10 Commandments and insist that they were implemented for good reasons. The purpose of the 10 Commandments is to decrease the number of columns posted, while increasing the quality. That's just good business. We set up these rules and regulations to encourage writers to do their absolute best, and then go one step further.

I have recently had the opportunity to relive some old WCW pay per views via the miracle of tape trading. I specifically got my hands on the 1998 editions of Bash at the Beach, Road Wild, Fall Brawl and Halloween Havoc. What a great time to be a wrestling fan! I made it my mission to find some WCW PPVs after reading a great book called Death of WCW. This particular time period was when the storylines were still entertaining but the backstage situation in WCW was in turmoil. This of course led to the storylines going to crap and putting the company out of business two years later. Regardless of the unfortunate conclusion, WCW was great, and I miss it terribly!

The land of WWE has been rather interesting lately. They jumped to the USA network and left behind a sweet deal with Spike TV. Possibly the most unfortunate consequence of the move, was the loss of the two weekend b-shows, Velocity and Heat. I know a lot of fans didn't care about those programs, but I found great pleasure in watching these particular shows; Now that they are gone, I miss tuning in to see some of my favorite wrestlers who don't seem to get a fair shake on RAW or Smackdown!. I know you can see them on WWE.com, but it's just not the same. Over on UPN, SmackDown!'s ratings continue to disappoint, but it's hard to feel sympathy when WWE hardly seems to care about the show. I am in no way blaming the talent, as the SmackDown! roster is loaded with great wrestlers - some of my favorite wrestlers! But the writers, and people in charge, just don't give it the proper attention it needs (and deserves) to thrive. So now they appear to be attempting to pull the trigger on an Invasion angle, a gimmick they severely botched four years ago when a bunch of WCW mid-carders tried to take over the WWF. Granted this time around, since it is a homegrown storyline, with homegrown employees, it has a better chance of getting over. But who is invading who? It already makes no sense.

For years, I have been a silent advocate for the brand split. While all I heard from other fans was that WWE needed to end the brand split, I persistently proclaimed that the split was a good idea - and good for business. I felt, and still feel, that it benefits the talent, as it gave more opportunities to rise to the top. They have done a good job making some new main event stars, like JBL (who I love), Edge, Eddie Guerrero (my favorite wrestler), Chris Benoit, Randy Orton (to a lesser extent) and of course John Cena and Batista. However, some truly deserved workers were still lost in the shuffled and constantly overlooked. Christian, for example, who at one point was the most over wrestler in the WWE! Thank god he quit yesterday! Shelton Benjamin was on the verge of stardom after a series of good outings, including a victory over Triple H. Where is he now? Last, but certainly not least, William Regal, who I feel could main event any PPV against Chris Benoit with a well-scripted build. Anyway, I was discussing the split. While I still think it's a good way for WWE to do business, I'm glad they are (probably) going to end it; If they aren't going to give both brands and equal playing field, then why bother. Combine the rosters, kill off a few guys who might have made money for you later on, fire some of your weak links, and see what happens.

As many of you have echoed in my mailbox, a lot of people have been praising some of the new crop of talent popping up in the WWE recently. I'm so excited to see Bobby Lashley on SmackDown!, and very relieved that he will receive a steady development, as opposed to being shoved down our throats immediately. I see many similarities between Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar, who despite making a series of poor career choices, is still one of my favorite wrestlers. Also on deck is the entertaining and innovative Mr. Ken Kennedy; what a great gimmick! Great look. Great talker. Great future. Chris Masters got A LOT of bad feedback during his initial stint on RAW with his fatiguing Masterlock Challenge segment. I was one of the biggest critics of the Masterpiece's efforts, but as I type these words today, I am here to admit that I was wrong. Chris Masters has molded himself into a great talent and a legitimate future prospect. I give all credit the credit in the world to Masters himself for the transformation, as I feel WWE creative had nothing to do with it. Finally Paul Burchill has quietly burst onto the scene as William Regal's latest pupil. WWE has done practically nothing to showcase Burchill's hidden talents. I'm certain that they are just testing this young man's attitude and will eventually give him the exposure he deserves upon passing their tests. We can just sit back and watch these great young superstars develop into tomorrow's main-eventers.



Where Would Eddie Be Without the Brand Split?

Turning our attention away from WWE, let us now talk about the promotion Vince McMahon "does not consider competition" -- Total Nonstop Action. When WWE left Spike TV, TNA swooped in and convinced Spike to let them fill the wrestling void. Spike TV gave TNA a Saturday night timeslot and TNA has really picked up the ball and run with it. In just four weeks on the air, Spike TV has shown such faith in TNA that they gave the company a 2-hour primetime special, which airs this coming Thursday. I urge every wrestling fan to watch this program, because it really is a major turning point for the industry as a whole. For Spike to offer a 2-hour special after just four weeks on the air -- that is a HUGE deal! For anybody who isn't already on the TNA bandwagon, I suggest you get on soon or you will be kicking yourself later. I know you may not know who the wrestlers are, but if you just watch the product regularly, you will get to know the talent; The Online World of Wrestling website offers a list of TNA wrestlers and in-depth profiles for each and every one of them. Not watching because you are unfamiliar is NOT a viable excuse. Hey.. you.. watch TNA!

The five episodes of iMPACT! that have aired on Spike TV so far have been fast-paced, action-packed, and very educational. Between matches, TNA has shown short video packages, introducing their talent to the viewing audience. They have also introduced the fans to some of TNA's innovations, such as the Ultimate X match and the Monster's Ball match. The one aspect of TNA that makes it truly unique is that they have consistently delivered impressive Pay Per Views since they started their monthly schedule back in November. I have yet to hear a wrestling fan complain about spending money on a TNA PPV... I can't say the same for WWE; As a matter of fact, I can't remember ever hearing a wrestling fan say declare that a SmackDown! pay per view was worth the money they paid.

As is my tradition, I will continue to sing the praises of my favorite promotion - Ring of Honor! I freely admit, it's not for everyone. It takes a truly special fan to understand what Ring of Honor brings to the table. The whole C.M. Punk storyline several months ago was a stroke of pure genius. For those of you who don't know, C.M. Punk signed a developmental contract with WWE and was booked on a farewell tour of ROH, which concluded with Punk winning the ROH title in his "final match" with the promotion, and turning heel in the process. Through some creative booking, C.M. Punk was repeatedly forced to return to ROH and defend the ROH title. Every time Punk was advertised, fans anticipated it would be the night Punk lost the title. ROH did great business for two months before Punk finally did drop the title to James Gibson (aka Jamie Noble). Only problem was, James Gibson had also recently signed with WWE, so the cycle continued. He would end up dropping the title to ROH Legend, American Dragon Bryan Danielson, who vowed to never sign with WWE or TNA for as long as he was ROH Champion. ROH also never fails to deliver a great product. I have enjoyed each and every ROH tape or DVD that I have watched. I am never disappointed, and I hardly ever hear anyone walk away from an ROH show without a good feeling. Everyone should experience Ring of Honor so I implore you to head over to ROHwrestling.com and get yourself acquainted with some DVDs.

C.M. Punk set Ring of Honor on Fire in 2005.

Speaking of C.M. Punk. Here's the update on him for those not in-the-know. He is currently in OVW engaged in a minor feud with former OVW Champion Brent Albright. Punk proved his toughness by suffering a busted nose in one of his initial match-ups with Brent Albright. He was back in the ring right away. C.M. Punk is by far one of my all-time favorites, but I'm afraid for him right now. I find it hard to imagine a character like C.M. Punk getting a fair shake in the WWE. Due mostly to his size, but also to the fact that his gimmick relies so much on the exploitation of several Pepsi trademarks, like his Pepsi logo tattoo on his arm, and his dreaded finisher, aptly named The Pepsi Plunge. In a company that is so anal about owning everything it endorses, I don't think we'll ever see those words uttered on WWE television. So that means C.M. Punk will need to be partially repackaged. Okay, but what about his name? I would like to think that Phil Brooks was smart enough to trademark the name "C.M. Punk" before signing his soul over to WWE. If that is the case, will WWE opt to give Punk a new name too? Herein lies the source of my fear. I fear it will be impossible for WWE to utilize the C.M. Punk character to its full power. I hope I'm wrong, but let's sit back and see what happens.

I would be remiss if I did not address the Jim Ross situation currently taking place in the WWE. It's a challenging topic to debate, because you can literally go back and forth a dozen times on whether it is good or bad. I think the unanimous verdict among WWE loyalists is that it is beyond bad. I also think everyone by now has figured out that this is all just a dumb storyline. It all started when WWE made the decision to remove Jim Ross and replace him with a younger guy named Mike Goldberg. I can't help but remember the time WCW replaced Bobby Heenan with Mark Madden for the same reason, but I digress. Anyway, Goldberg came to his senses and backed out after some friends clued him in on just what kind of businessman Vince McMahon really is. At this point, it became known that Jim Ross needed to take time off for colon surgery. So instead of dropping the storyline, WWE went through with JR's irrational on-air firing, an angle that served absolutely no purpose, except to put over the entire McMahon family as the company's top heels. So let me get this straight, you removed JR because he was too old, so you could make Grampy Vince & Nanny Linda the focus of the show. Okay. It had an immediate impact on the fans perception of the McMahon Family, although they will tell you that it was just great heat. The overwhelming feeling was that Ross deserved a more respectful sendoff, as he has already done enough embarrassing things to put Vince McMahon over on TV in the past. I guess if they stopped it right there, it wouldn't have been so bad, but fans were treated with a series of inappropriate "JR is full of crap" jokes from McMahon family members. The exclamation point was a segment produced for RAW that was probably only funny to one person - Mr. McMahon. The skit featured Vince pretending to be a doctor (Dr. Hiney) with his assistant (Nurse Slobberknockers) performing surgery on Jim Ross' posterior. Vince began extracting objects from JR's butt, each item less funny than the previous. The final punch line was delivered as Vince pulled out a bust of JR's head out, and proclaimed "I think we found the problem JR, you've had your head up your ass!" --- uhg --- This, of course, set up a match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Coach at tonight's Taboo Tuesday with JR's re-employment on the line. Your guess is as good as mine what will happen. Buy the PPV, I guess, or drop by OWW afterwards to read the results.

Also in the news recently, was the highly publicized appearance by Jerry Jarrett at WWE Headquarters. Jerry Jarrett, if you didn't know, is the father of Jeff Jarrett, both of whom have a great deal of stock in TNA. Never one to pass up an opportunity to take a jab at the competition (TNA, except they are not competition, right Vince?) WWE.com quickly reported that Jerry Jarrett was there and this resulted in various reporters on the Internet desperately trying to ascertain the precise reason Mr. Jarrett was there. They speculated that Jarrett was there to broker a deal to sell TNA to Vince - totally untrue. There was a more recognized report suggesting Jarrett was there to sell the Memphis library to McMahon. This report was revealed to be untrue as well, since Jarrett sold the library to Jerry Lawler years earlier, who in turn sold it to a Cleveland-based company, who botched the deal and now it's all held up in the courts - possibly forever. Anyway, the real reason Jerry Jarrett went to WWE headquarters was to present them with a large Russian wrestler, in the hopes that WWE would sign him. It is still unknown why Jerry Jarrett would offer up such a talent to WWE and not give TNA the first look. Perhaps we'll never know. My theory, albeit far-fetched, is that Jarrett was just waving the big Russian under WWE's nose, hoping they would publicize the fact that Jarrett was at WWE, which they did on WWE.com, thus implying that he was betraying TNA. It's scarcely plausible, but what if he was just setting WWE up to humiliate itself, after pulling out on the deal and bringing the Russian to TNA instead, as a big F-U to WWE. That's my crazy theory for the day.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge collector of wrestling books. I currently have over fifty wrestling books on my sagging shelf. I wanted to make mention of the book I am working my way through right now. Most fans, including myself, remember J.J. Dillon as the well-spoken manager of the Four Horsemen. I purchased his biography hoping to hear stories of the Four Horsemen and of the NWA. What I got was all that and a whole lot more. It turns out, J.J. Dillon was an accomplished wrestler before making the transition to manager. It was great reading about the Dillon running up and down the roads working for various territories. Most astonishingly was the chapter dedicated to his time wrestling in Nova Scotia, where I am from! Granted this all happened before I was born, but I got a cheap thrill out of knowing J.J. Dillon spent significant time in my neck of the woods. Dillon is one of few men who have literally done it all in the wrestling business, he ran a fan club, he passed out programs, he refereed, wrestled, booked, managed, scripted, and performed just about every backstage duty you could think of. I had great respect for James J. Dillon before I started this book, but now I have an even greater appreciation for what he contributed to the wrestling industry. If you ever see this Mr. Dillon, thank you for writing your book, and thank you for entertaining me.

Last night I took the time to listen to the Honky Tonk Man on the Monday Night Mayhem Radio program. Honky Tonk is one of those wrestlers who I think used to be great, but I feel a greater embarrassment for the high opinion he now has of himself. He may very well be one of the greatest workers the industry has ever seen, but he is by no means an Icon, and the term "Legend" doesn't even apply all that much either. Honky Tonk can often be found bragging about turning down the offer WWE made to him to sign a Legends Contract because it was "a crock of shit". He claims they wanted to bring him in to put over Randy Orton. He makes a lot of claims about this contract, which I'm not convinced ever existed. If it did exist, then I might suggest it was WWE's way of making fun of Honky Tonk Man. On the radio show, he was asked about the Legends Ceremony that took place at WWE Homecoming, to which he proclaimed that it was a "crock of shit." He buried all the guys who signed Legends contracts because they thought Vince McMahon would give them one last shot at glory. That's all Honky's opinion, and he's certainly entitled to it, but a lot of the Legends that took part that night aren't still active like Honky is, so they have nothing to lose by letting WWE parade them around. Hell, they deserve to be paraded around for all their contributions to the wrestling business. Honky concluded the dialogue by asking the hosts what the hell Kevin von Erich was doing there, saying he was never even in the WWE! That is a good segue into my next topic.

Just hours before his appearance at WWE Homecoming, Kevin von Erich finalized a deal to sell the WCCW tape library to Vince McMahon.

I've heard a lot of people complain about certain guys in the WWE Hall of Fame, or guys who signed to a WWE Legends contract, citing that their involvement in the WWE was so limited that they don't belong on that pedestal. One specific friend constantly reminds me that Harley Race's run in the WWF was pathetic, and therefore has no right to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. The same friend argues that The Valiants, Nikolai Volkoff and Bob Orton are anything but Hall of Fame worthy. I've heard other people ask what makes Dusty Rhodes a WWE Legend? And seriously, what business does Kevin von Erich have in a WWE ring? Okay, here are my thoughts on that. To me, WWE is more than just a wrestling promotion. It can be said that Vince McMahon owns a high percentage of the wrestling industry (past and present). I like to refer to it as the "WWE Umbrella" which encompasses WWF, WCW, ECW, AWA, WCCW, Mid-Atlantic, OVW, DSW and all the other promotions Vince now owns the rights to. In essence, the McMahon's have purchased the entire wrestling business.

So when I hear the term "WWE Hall of Fame", I actually feel that it is a "Wrestling Hall of Fame" and I agree with each and every man and woman who have been inducted. There are many names who I feel have been overlooked, but that's another story for another time. I do feel the need to mention that the absence of Bruno Sammartino in the WWE Hall of Fame will lend a constant aura of illegitimacy until that injustice is resolved. So what business did Kevin von Erich have in a WWE ring? Well Kevin von Erich is a wrestling legend, and World Wrestling Entertainment represents ALL wrestling.

by Brad Dykens


Editors Note: In case anyone plans to complain about Brad breaking the 5th, I have just this to say: it's his bat and his ball and he'll be going home with them if he can't play
Shawn Taylor wrote:
This was an excellent article, and I agree with your contention that the WWE Hall of Fame moreover represents the Wrestling Industry Hall of Fame. However, it would be nice to have an outside entity establish a valid and respectable Wrestling Industry Hall of Fame. Additionally, it would be nice (and establish more validity) if fans and wrestlers could vote for HOF members.
FISHERMAN92J@aol.com wrote:
Brad Brad Brad: Where should I start at here? At one time I would say you had the best wrestling web-site around until I have been informed by different wrestling web-sites owners that all you do is steal their stories and their pictures and post them on your web-site. When you get a chance you need to put your web-site in the OWW Hall of Shame. Your columns as well as others just plain out suck dude. You people just go on and on and bore the hell out of us, well not me just I just skip through the garbage.....

Now you get on here and beg for what? money from the peeps? Pay Pal? Oh your not begging but please donate today? I would say that is begging. When the time comes where you have to beg from the peeps, then it's time to give up your half fast wrestling web-site. Thank You!!!!!!!
ant heald wrote:
this is bugging me,well 2 things, 1stly FISHERMAN92J@aol.com just shut up u pathetic lil pile of horse manure the only reason your'e havin a go at the good people here at OWW is probbally cauze ur mummy cut ur pocket money and u only get 3.50.

2ndly WWE HALL OF FAME is WWE not the whole of wrestling. They made it for the best wrestlers from WWE's history not AWA,ECW,WCW,WCCW or any other feds ITS THERE HALL OF FAME the whole wrestling bisneuss has a hall of fame and its called Legands Of Wrestling (the game)
Ike Eisen wrote:
Vince McMahon in an interview about a year ago said he felt a certain responsibility for giving recognition to the contributions made by wrestlers who have been in the business, even the ones who never competed in a WWE ring. I do believe part of his logic does come from the fact that he owned the film libraries of his former competitors, making WWE the de facto archivist of American pro wrestling.

But yes, much still needs to be done before the WWE HoF is seen as a legit Hall of Fame instead of a venture to reward loyal former employees and move merchandise. What about the rival promoters who have helped shape the business? The announcers who called the matches? Also, there seems to be some redundancy with the recent WWE Legends program, which gives recognition to former WWE wrestlers without having to enshrine them in the HoF. What is the spin on a retired wrestler becoming a WWE Legend, but not being eligible for the WWE HoF? Does this mean that we will see Skinner and Koko B Ware in the 2006 HoF?
john byrnes wrote:
IN THE WORDS OF Y2J.....FISHERMAN92J@aol.com WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP! GREAT COLUMN MR. DYKENS. i REALLY ENJOY ALL OF YOUR WORK, AND THE PEOPLE OF OWW. Maybe That jerk fisherman can hand hang out with that jerk Laydon Rose(sorry if i got the wrong person)
wrote:

wrote:

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