October 2002: News and Notes
One conclusion I drew from the first episode of Renaissance: the commentary team of Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks is a weakness. There are a couple of options out there to fill a lead announcer gig, most notably Joey Styles, but the difference in quality between Tony and Joey isn't a massive one. Getting a better color commentator would probably be easier. Jerry Lawler is still out there and he'd be a massive upgrade over Tracy, but there's no way I'm putting him on Renaissance after he spent years screaming about puppies and acting like a horny old lecher on Raw. I guess I could put him on Nitro and move myself to Renaissance, but then we lose the experience Mike Tenay and I have spent almost a year and a half building up and have to start from scratch on both shows. There are no easy solutions, it seems.
Since I've sent Charles Robinson and Dusty Rhodes to Renaissance, I hired Marty Rubalcaba and Cowboy Bob Orton to serve as secondary referee/road agent options on Nitro.
Sting hurt his elbow taking a back suplex from Chavo Guerrero Jr. on the September 23rd Nitro. Luckily it wasn't serious, and a few days off was all it took for him to heal up.
We've signed an extension with The Score to keep Nitro airing in Canada. I was hoping to move onto a bigger network, but the only one that was interested (MuchMusic) didn't want to air a 2-hour show.
American Dragon and Kenny Omega showed good chemistry during their match. That could be something to keep in mind if we sign Omega to a contract in the future.
I tried to snatch Raven away from WWE, but I backed off once the bidding war built to the point that he'd have been one of my two or three highest paid guys (and that's assuming the amount would've even been enough to win the bidding war at that point, which I doubt.) Raven's a good brawler and talker and I thought we could've done some interesting things with him and Salvation, but he wasn't worth that kind of financial investment at 38 years old. If I ever go all-in on trying to outbid Vince for one of his guys, it'll probably be someone that I think would be a game-changer and perfect fit for our product, like an Angle or Jericho type.
We've had a ton of re-signings over the past few weeks. I honestly don't want to take the time to even list them all, but among the highlights are Sting, Lance Storm and Chuck Palumbo.
Though they promoted the idea that two winners from the Tough Enough show would get contracts, they wound up signing three of them right away. Jackie Gayda, Linda Miles and Kenny King were all signed from the show.
The Rock's contract is expiring soon. I called him up to make an offer, knowing full well that it was maybe a one in a million chance he'd be interested in jumping. Sure enough he rejected the thought of even negotiating.
NJPW might be recognized as the current #1 in Japan, but All Japan just scored a major coup by signing away one of their top stars, Kensuke Sasaki. When you combine in-ring skill with current popularity, Sasaki may very well have been the top guy in NJPW right now. This is a huge blow for New Japan, which concerns me as their American ally. (On a sidenote, I've booked two world title matches featuring a major NJPW star as the challenger, and in both cases the star in question left NJPW to sign an exclusive deal with AJPW soon thereafter. First it was Keiji Mutoh, now Sasaki. Hopefully Inoki doesn't believe in curses, otherwise we may never have access to any top NJPW stars again.)
Obviously with Sasaki on the way out, he and Manabu Nakanishi had to drop their IWGP Heavyweight Tag titles. They did so the same day Sasaki announced his impending departure, as Yuji Nagata and Tatsumi Fujinami won the titles in an excellent TV match taped on October 5th. While I get that they had to make a quick decision, I think it's weird they used Fujinami in this role since he's already the IWGP Heavyweight champion. That's an awfully tough schedule to ask from a 48 year old...
..Or it would have been, if Fujinami hadn't dropped the big belt a week later. On the October 12th taping, Osamu Nishimura won the IWGP Heavyweight title from Fujinami in a good main event. This is the first title in the 11-year career of Nishimura, who was a New Japan Dojo graduate in 1991. That's a bit of an odd choice. Nishimura is a great technical wrestler, but he's probably their least charismatic and least over main event-level guy. He's not really any more over than upper midcard guys like Kojima, Tenzan, Liger and young Hiroshi Tanahashi, and is well behind true main event stars like Chono and Nagata.
In very sad news, Chocoball Mukai passed away in a car crash. Mukai, 35, was a porn star who took up wrestling as a side career in 1999. He was with FMW until they went out of business earlier this year and made a few independent appearances afterwards, with his final match coming in late September when he and Headhunter A defeated Giant Singh and Toru Yano.
Roland Alexander's All Pro Wrestling has gone out of business. They had been in operation since 1991, running in California for most of their existence until last year, when they started holding all of their events in Arizona. Considering their highest attendance total of the year was 53, this news wasn't exactly a surprise.
Originally Posted by K-Nection
Loving both shows and I'm curious to see how quick the American women are going to learn Japanese now they are performing in Japan every week.
It is sad to see Flair go out but he is stubborn and probably would have (unwillingly) jobbed for many years after this point and a man of his status doesn't really deserve that. I think it was a very heroic ending for him.
Hopefully it'll be soon, because it's going to be difficult to book them in non-wrestling segments until then.
I'm not sure what'll happen when Flair's contract runs out. I'd like to keep him around, but he'll probably refuse to accept a non-wrestling role.
Originally Posted by michgcs
Was DDP upset at losing to Helms?
Not at all. He didn't complain even with no beneficial road agent notes, but I added a Protect note anyway just because it fit the planned finish. I was pretty surprised he was so accepting of that, especially when Shinobu Kandori threw a fit about losing to Kyoko Inoue the very next show despite them being very close in popularity.
Originally Posted by Beejus
Pretty surprised to see Helms pick up the win over Page, way to keep the SHC on it's toes. But I get the feeling DDP will have something else going on at Havoc, so it makes sense to get him out of that right away.
I like the idea of not doing a spotlight segment for every episode, too. It makes sense, because not every Nitro has "the greatest moment in sports entertainment history" despite what Tony may claim.
I thought it would be a good idea to throw at least one surprise in the first round, and it felt like everything would align too neatly if there were no second round matchups between two winning heels. Plus the finish furthers DDP's storyline with Kim, so it all worked out nicely.
Are you saying Tony was LYING when he said that this was going to be one of the greatest nights in the history of our sport?!