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2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

By THE PWINSIDER.COM STAFF on 2005-01-03 09:00:00

OCTOBER

Makes you wish Blue Ridge Cable was your provider. WWE 24/7 debuted as a test in Pennsylvania on Blue Ridge Cable, at a price of $6.95. The first month of programming included 70's AWA action, a classic Saturday Night's Main Event, a History of ECW program hosted by Tazz, a look at Raw vs. Nitro on "The Monday Night War", old Madison Square Garden WWE Title matches, old episodes of Primetime Wrestling and Tuesday Night Titans, WWE Home Video releases, the first In Your House PPV, and a collection of matches featuring Andred The Giant as part of the "Hall Of Fame" series.

Can't we all get along, Part 5. There was what was described as a “near-violent situation” between Vince McMahon and Ric Flair at Raw at Madison Square Garden. According to backstage sources at the show, Vince went nuts when Flair did his promo about "breaking in virgins" and "making them bleed", and stalked around backstage waiting for Flair to finish. When Flair came back through the curtain, McMahon was seen and heard screaming at Flair about how it was inappropriate and out of line for Flair to say that on TV. Vince was said to be irate about the commentary and people were talking about his tirade on Flair for the rest of the night. Some even wondered how Vince could be so upset about that when later in the show he booked Gene Snitsky to come to ringside with a baby carriage and has been running an angle around “Lita’s miscarriage”. Some later claimed that Vince was entertaining several television executives at the event, and he was worried about their reaction to the Flair line.

Guess he doesn't have anything else to do these days. The following report was posted on the website of former WWF Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man on October 3rd:"Rumors have surfaced that Kane has given his notice to WWe. It is not known at this point if the rumors are for real. It seems WWe made a substantial cut in the dollar amount on the renewal of Kane's contract. Kane was said not to be happy with the numbers and has given his early release notice. The story is developing and we will have more on this huge turn of events." Actually Kane was not giving notice, and was in fact about to take time off to film his movie for WWE Films. The next day, HTM wrote, "WWe has now confirmed the story HTM broke early today that Kane will in fact be leaving the WWe. They have since switched from "there is no truth to this story" to "yes Kane will be leaving for a movie roll (sic)." More than a few wondered how Kane going to make a WWE produced film could be construed as Kane "leaving" WWE.

Round Four. Steve Austin filed a $125 million lawsuit against estranged girlfriend Tess Broussard. The lawsuit alleges, among other charges, that Broussard mislead Austin about her name (Brenda Tess Broussard) and her "porn star past." Austin also alleges that Broussard is actually 51 years old and once put a gun in his mouth in a jealous rage because he had friends visiting his home in Austin, Texas where they were both living at the time. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also alleges that Broussard has been "harassing Austin's ex-wife and children", broke into his home and carved up his walls and furniture with a knife, and "stole his eight WWE championship belts." Brossard's lawyer denied Austin's charges and said it was "All fantasy from a desperate man." Broussard filed a $10 million lawsuit against Austin in the fallout of the Beverly Hills, California incident where she ended up stabbing Austin's business manager George Vrabeck after Austin attempted to give Broussard a $1.5 million check to end their attachment and move on.

Could it be true? Vince Russo revealed that he had given notice to TNA and would be done after the November 7th Victory Road PPV. There was a lot of talk that Russo has just tired of his lack of creative input, but also that he wanted to focus on his Ministries. However, many were still skeptical, feeling that Russo would be back sooner rather than later. 

Can't blame him really, All Japan has been around for a tad longer. D'Lo Brown announced that he was no longer associated with TNA during an interview with USA Pro Wrestling's Frank Goodman on USA Pro's New York area hotline. Brown stated that he chose All Japan Pro Wrestling over TNA and it was,"The right choice at the moment." Brown stated that it was a case where he could make more money for his family working Japanese dates and independents and that there was nothing personal with TNA, as it was a business decision. As to whether there was heat on Brown over his decision to not put TNA before his Japanese commitments, Brown said that he gave TNA his schedule for a six month span so they were aware of his commitments. 

Can't we all get along, Part 6. Kid Kash and Chase Stevens of the Naturals got into a huge argument that almost became physical backstage at an Impact taping. There have been issues between the Naturals and Kash simmering for awhile, based off Kash's vocal feelings that workers such as The Naturals, America's Most Wanted, etc. don't deserve their push in TNA and theories as to why they are receiving it. Kash was complaining about Andy Douglas being stabbed last week in Nashville, basically saying that it made the locker room look bad and weak. Stevens got into Kash's face, but Monty Brown stepped between them and calmed the situation.

2 Cold comes home. Former ECW World Television champion 2 Cold Scorpio returned to the United States on October 16th to face AJ Styles and Chris Sabin in a Three-Way Dance for 3PW at the ECW Arena return in Philadelphia, PA. It was Scorpio’s first appearance in the ECW Arena in six years.  Prior to the match, 2 Cold Scorpio did a promo with Tod Gordon saying that he was coming back to the U.S. full-time, which was just a ruse to make the fans think he might win the match (and the title match the following month that went to the winner).  Scorpio has been working full-time for Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan. 

If he couldn't get Vince to see clearly, who can?  Pat Patterson was sent on the road to the house shows by Vince McMahon to get a first hand look at how things were operating, with the intention being that he would report back to Vince and talk about/implement changes in the product. Patterson ended up being very vocal to Vince McMahon that one of the major problems that he sees on the Raw brand is the over-pushing of HHH, especially at the expense of building new talents. The situation had gotten so heated that people believed that Patterson might quit working for WWE. Rumors swirled for two days, then it became official that Patterson would leave WWE after the Taboo Tuesday PPV. The company line was that he was retiring. Unofficially, people are saying his leaving is due more to the direction of the product and McMahon’s decision to not implement changes than wanting to retire, though Patterson had lessened his work load in the past and was working as more of a consultant than a full time employee for a while. It can't be understated how big a move this was since Patterson has been one of McMahon’s most trusted lieutenants for years now.

Patterson reportedly felt that HHH is over-pushed and as top guy has not "made" any new talent, other than Chris Benoit, into top guys. And even with Benoit, looking at how he has been pushed since losing the title, you can even make a case that he was important while he was champion, but much less so now. Then there is the one-month title reign of Randy Orton to consider, which many WWE people have told me they felt was "HHH cutting out Orton’s legs from under him". Patterson was the only one in the company who has been willing to stand up and say that.

Ratings aren't what they were, but they still beat out most cable shows. With World Wrestling Entertainment's deal with Spike TV scheduled to expire next year, negotiations to hammer out a new contract were ongoing, but WWE wasn't content to just wait and see what happens. WWE started shopping around for a new cable partner, which could include their old home at the USA Network or even Turner Broadcasting, according to an edition of The Hollywood Reporter. WWE had "preliminary discussions" with NBC Universal (which now owns the USA Network), the FX Network and (irony of ironies) Turner Broadcasting in regard to moving their fleet of cable shows from Spike TV if their current agreement should expire this coming September without a new deal being inked. WWE is "desperate to get out of there," says an unnamed executive source.

Sometimes you really have to wonder if these guys think before they act. A lot of fans in Florence, Italy at an October 9th Smackdown show went nuts during a three-way tag team match between The Dudleys, The FBI and Kenzo Suzuki-Rene Dupree. The FBI, given that they were in Italy, were over huge in the match. After the FBI had eliminated the Dudleys, they faced off with the champs. The champs cheated to win and the crowd booed heavily. Then Kenzo either jumped on the Italian flag, or pretended to, and the crowd got hostile, throwing garbage at the ring before FBI made a comeback and the crowd chilled out. A few people who were at the show said it was a scary scene.

Given the way some superstars act, it could be argued that they never have grown up.  WWE announced that Mick Foley would be releasing his next book, Tales From Wrescal Lane, a collection of children's stories featuring WWE stars as children.  Foley made appearances at WWE and Ring Of Honor events, plugging the book. 

Regardless off what you think of him, the whole thing made TNA look petty. Richard Trionfo sent word from a TNA Impact! taping that a fan who regularly attended the tapings, Casey, had been ejected for the show. Trionfo placed the blame on TNA ring announcer Jeremy Borash. Since that report, PWInsider.com heard from regular Florida correspondent Mark in Florida (who witnessed the incident) as well as the fan who was removed from the show. There are some comments made about Jeremy Borash below. It should be noted that numerous people who work for TNA feel that Borash does a tremendous job and if anything, is overworked. That said, no fan should be tossed for being a fan and enjoying himself.

Mark in Florida sent the following....I was at the IMPACT/XPLOSION tapings last night and am not surprised that "Casey" was thrown out, after all doesn't he realize that Jeremy Borash is the star of the show and cannot be criticized. It is OK for Jeremy to make off-color remarks about Nashville fans when they can't hear him, but his fragile ego -- obviously more fragile than ever since Tim Welch now shares the announcing duties and Sahadi took over promos -- can't take it. It's a shame that Jeremy doesn't realize that this is wrestling and that this is what fans do -- we chant, we pick on wrestlers, referees and even the guys that sweep the ring. We are the HEEL section. It wouldn't be much of a show if Jeff Jarrett just decided half way through his promo that he was going home because someone said he looked like a penguin, or if Tracey wouldn't come out because someone said her a** looked big in that dress, or for that matter "The Fat Guy" Scott D'Amore would check himself into a Jenny Craig retreat with what we say ABOOT him. TNA, Jimmy Hart and Colin Bowman from Notable & Notorious have done a great job getting awareness of TNA out to Orlando's wrestling fans. They all work their butts off during the week to make sure that TNA gets an audience and they come to us and address any concerns that production staff may have with regards to offensive signs or signals. The earlier poster said that "We are not wrestling sheep." That's true, but if TNA wants that from us, then perhaps the bleachers may be getting emptier, even without them tossing out true fans that care. It's a good job that Jeremy wasn't brought in as the ring announcer for Saturday's Miss Monster show. If he gets offended by one fan in a crowd of 600, imagine what he would've been like in front of 10,000 fans who were much the worse for wear (only 1 ejection there from all accounts). If TNA are going to make a move to a bigger stage, Jeremy should perhaps attend a wrestling boot camp in the hopes he can become more of a man and lot less of whiny prima donna. This is wrestling, not Swan Lake!

Casey, the fan who was removed from the taping, sent the following....It seems that over the month or so. I'm down there in the Pit, just heckling everybody - I mean refs (telling them they suck, etc..), Jeremy Borash a lot, almost every wrestler that walks down(Jeff Hardy, mostly). It's all to get under their skin, which is funny to see how they react. It's great because Borash gets P****d because I always call him Ryan Seacrest or Carson Daly, which is great or the "We Want Tim chant." I think that's what sent him over the edge, but it's not obscene. It seems that Borash or somebody in the back finally had it up with me chanting stuff, so they decided to toss me out of the show. That was crazy in itself because they wouldn't tell me the reason why they tossed me out. They took me and were like, "Get out of our building." Borash said that I had 30 complaints that have been filed against me for who knows what. It seems that TNA can't handle one person yelling at everybody, which is sad. That doesn't make it a real wrestling show then.

One TNA source noted that Casey is among the fans who receive a VIP front row seat every week and other VIP fans (they all handle street team responsibilities for the company in order to receive front row) had complained about his conduct. The source claimed that Casey was asked to watch it with his language during the taping and when he didn't, he was then escorted out of the building. The same source said that while the tapings are free, Universal advertises them as a family-friendly event, thus TNA has to be aware of anything that might cause problems with the management at Universal Studios and/or Fox Sports. 

Not exactly the Million Dollar Prize from Tough Enough.  TNA held a "gut check challenge" in Atlanta, won by a female worker who uses the name Jamie D. She won $4000 and training at TNA's Asylum school in Orlando, Florida. D is a Canadian worker trained by Petey Williams, Joe E. Legend, and Scott D'Amore. 

Wrong choice, TNA. Terry Funk opted out on working the TNA Victory Road PPV due to TNA's possible use of Kevin Nash at the event. According to one source, Funk's whole attitude about working the show changed the second he learned Nash might be involved. There has been some underlying heat there since 2000 when Nash very selfishly destroyed (and some might look at it as taking advantage of) Funk during a match at WCW's Souled Out 2000 PPV. Funk would have been used against Dusty Rhodes, a match that the company had been building for over a month. Turns out Funk was right, as TNA soon  officially announced that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would be appearing at the show. 

Ouch (this one really hurt)! Going up against the epic New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox battle, as well as the usual Monday night fare, Raw on October 18th did just a 3.0 cable rating, with a 4.2 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is the show's lowest non-holiday number since they did a 3.0 on 12/8/1997. For those curious, the hour of CSI that preceded Raw did a 2.3 cable rating. Raw did hours of 3.0 and 3.0. The company spin was that they went against Monday Night Football and the Yankees-Red Sox series, but MNF did its lowest rating ever on this week and Raw goes against the playoffs every year, so it really doesn't wash.

Farewell Pat! Vince McMahon came out at the end of the Taboo Tuesday Pay-per-view and thanked everyone for coming out and said that the company is what it is because of the fans. He then said that he had one more person that he wanted to thank and that was Pat Patterson. McMahon said that for the last time, he wanted to introduce Patterson, who came out. McMahon explained that tonight was Pat's last night with the company and said that he gave up his life for wrestling and thanked Patterson for that. Vince said that Patterson had put up with a lot of Vince's "bulls**t" and a lot of other people's "bulls**t." Patterson thanked everyone, but Vince wouldn't let him leave, saying that Patterson had to sing for the crowd. Vince made Patterson sing "My Way" (which he's well known for singing at karaoke bars when on the road for the company). As Patterson went to leave, Shane and Stephanie McMahon came out to the ring and held the ropes open for him. They played Frank Sinatra's "My Way" over the audio system as they went to the back, with Patterson singing the song the entire way back to the locker room.

Sometimes heart will take you far. WWE signed up one competitor who didn't make it into the Million Dollar Tough Enough contest. A wrestler by the name of Brian Carlucci really impressed WWE management after tearing his biceps during the first day of training, then completing an obstacle course with his arm injured the second day. Although he was cut from the contest, management signed him to a developmental deal. Some of the officials at the tryouts used Carlucci as an example of the heart they were looking for in their future superstars to the others. 

Speaking of heart (no pun intended).  Shawn Michaels, suffering from knee problems worked through a three way match on Raw, further aggravating the injury, then wrestled against Triple H at the Taboo Tuesday Pay-per-view, despite having what was later diagnosed as a torn meniscus.  Michaels gutted it out, with he and Triple H putting together a match based around the real injury. He later underwent surgery with Dr. Jacobs in San Antonio, Texas and the procedure was a "complete success".

Doh! Mark sent this one. ...They said on the Taboo Tuesday PPV that Val Venis was out of the voting for the Intercontinental Title match due to his injury from a Kane beating on Raw. OK, that's cool, but on WWE.com they had an interview with Val saying why fans should pick him, and that interview was done on Monday night in Chicago! 

This is going to get messy.  WWE filed a fourteen count complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Jakks Pacific, Inc.and THQ, their longtime toy and video game licensees, accusing them of racketeering and bribery. In a statement issued after the lawsuit was filed, Linda McMahon, the Chief Executive Officer of WWE, stated: "We very much regret having to take this action today, but regret even more the facts and circumstances which have compelled us to do so. WWE's intellectual property is a valuable asset of the Company, and we believe the actions taken today are necessary to preserve the integrity of our licensing process and essential to ensure that WWE receives appropriate and fair compensation for the grant of a license to use our intellectual property." Jakks has been WWE's toy licensee since late 1995 and the current toy licenses are otherwise set to expire in 2009. The joint venture of Jakks and THQ obtained the videogame license in 1998, with its term also scheduled to expire in 2009, subject to a right to renew the license by the joint venture for another five years on certain conditions.

It's sort of like when Skipper let Gilligan steer the Minnow. Vince McMahon missed Raw and Smackdown due to health related reasons attributed to  complications from the bout of Diverticulitis that he suffered back in June. Executive Producer Kevin Dunn was not at the shows either, away on a previously planned vacation. Vince's absence resulted in Stephanie McMahon being in charge of the shows this week. When Vince is away, chaos usually ensues and this time was no different. The mood and scene backstage was described as "crazy". Due to Vince McMahon not being at the shows, they have had to communicate with him about the direction of the programs via the phone. He made changes in Raw show, which he does pretty much every week, but because they were done late, the company’s agent and production meetings were delayed for about two hours. The Smackdown production meetings were delayed for two hours as Vince was calling in changes to the show. Adding to the backstage chaos for Smackdown was David Lagana, who has held head writer duties since Bruce Prichard started taking time off, being on vacation as well. With Lagana gone, Paul Heyman was heavily involved with putting together the show with the wrestlers. 

Vince trying to control things via phone led to a much talked about disagreement between Stephanie and Vince McMahon concerning whether the company should show footage of the Tough Enough guys taking bumps poorly, if at all, from Big Show. Vince was said to want to air the footage as it happened while Stephanie wanted it edited so it doesn't show that people weren’t really hurt by Show. When Smackdown aired, the non-selling of the slams by several of the contestants was edited heavily. Bruce Prichard had returned from his "personal leave" and was producing segments at both shows. There are at least some workers who are less than happy about this since his concept of the business went out of style in about 1985. There was a big hit in wrestler morale at Smackdown over Prichard's return, as the feeling was that Smackdown had been a stronger show since he had taken time off. There was a definite concern among Smackdown wrestlers that Bruce Prichard’s return to the company will mean that he goes back to his old position as co-head of the Smackdown Creative, along with David Lagana.

Maybe he knew he had no chance of beating Daniel Puder.  WWE announced that John Meyer has already dropped out of the Million Dollar Tough Enough competition, before it even started. WWE.com reported that  ".....After all of this, John Meyer, who was picked as one of the final eight, has chosen to withdraw from the competition. The move has turned out to be one of the more shocking turn of events in recent Tough Enough memory. Be sure to watch SmackDown! this week to find out more on Meyer's decision. As a result John quitting, the competition has been left with only seven finalists. WWE fans will have the opportunity to meet each finalist this week on SmackDown! on UPN at 8/7 CT. Additionally, voting for your favorite Tough Enough finalist will now begin on November 4." However, nothing was said about his decision on Smackdown. 

Get well Mean Gene! The Minnesota Star-Tribune noted that Mean Gene Okerlund had undergone a second kidney transplant. Okerlund's son Todd was quoted as saying, "So far, so good." A distant relative donated the kidney. It is the second transplant Okerlund has undergone. 

He's not really what you would call an asset anymore. Former WCW World champion Lex Luger was backstage at Universal Studios for a TNA taping, but did not appear on Impact! Luger ruffled quite a few feathers that afternoon when the bus that takes the workers from the hotel to the taping was delayed close to 45 minutes waiting for him to board. Luger hung around backstage and was expected to meet with Jeff Jarrett, but was unable to do so as Jarrett was busy, so Luger was told he could leave the taping early. There wasn't exactly a positive response to Luger's appearance backstage among the wrestlers, partially because of the bus incident. Reportedly, Luger wasn't in "very good condition" to be put in front of the audience or on camera. 

Now, what if it had never been reported? The TNA enhancement workers were given word that they will no longer be paid for their services due to budget cuts. While they originally were not getting paid when TNA made the move to Florida, a TV match paid $200 while a dark match paid $100. It recently dropped to $100 per show if you were used in any capacity. If the workers were booked and not used, they weren't paid. As one might imagine, there were quite a few unhappy enhancement guys at the end of the night. The word going around the next morning was that some of the wrestlers wouldn't continue to work for TNA as they don't want to lose time at their day jobs for nothing, but that could be typical wrestler bravado. Whether they actually continue to work or not is anyone's guess and we'll start to see that next week........ or we would have, had not the story been broken on PWInsider.com and other internet sites. By the next day, the word going around was that TNA was going to continue to pay enhancement talent $100 per appearance at the Impact! tapings. There was a lot of unhappiness that the word got out publicly. The latest line is that the decision to no longer pay was never official, but if that was the case, why were the wrestlers informed that it was?

Rest in Peace. Former WWF valet Marianna Komlos, who appeared for several months with the company for short stint during 1999-2000, passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Komlos was 35 at the time of her passing. Kolmos debuted for the company originally as Beaver Cleavage's mother in a series of vignettes that were immediately discarded after several weeks. She then portrayed the character of Chaz' girlfriend Marianna during a storyline where he allegedly beat her, which ended with G-TV revealing she was faking the injuries. Kolmos left the company shortly after the storyline had concluded. According to a number of bodybuilding websites (which was Kolmos' primary career), Komlos had been ill for well over a year at the time of her death, dealing with breast cancer and several other major medical issues. At one point, Kolmos had defeated the disease but it returned after it had gone into remission.

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For a comprehensive look at every news story, major event, television show and Pay-per-view, Elite Members can look at the PWInsider.com Weekly Newsletter archive, which has a detailed look at EVERYTHING in professional wrestling in North America in 2004. To become an Elite Member, click here.

For Mike Johnson's extensive look at Ring Of Honor in 2004, click here.


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