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2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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

FEBRUARY

You get the feeling JR wasn't being totally honest here? Zach Gowen, the one legged youngster who became the first amputee to wrestle on Pay-per-view, was been released by World Wrestling Entertainment. According to a statement posted on WWE.com. Gowen was informed of the decision while meeting with WWE's Executive Vice President in charge of Talent Relations, Jim Ross. Ross was quoted on the site as saying, "Zach is only 20 years of age and I would be very surprised if we don’t see him in a WWE ring again some day." A cancer survivor, Gowen received some mainstream press in USA Today after he joined WWE during the Vince McMahon vs. Hulk (Mr. America) Hogan storyline. Gowen had been heavily pushed into the summer of 2003, feuding with Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar, and The Big Show. Gowen had competed for NWA: TNA before joining WWE.  

Million Dollar Man back on the shelf.  Mark Henry suffered a shoulder injury during a house show match with Chris Benoit in Youngstown, Ohio. The next night on Raw, a match was done between the two to give a storyline explanation tot he injury. Henry had shoulder surgery with Dr. James Andrews, and was expected to be out for several months.  He has yet to return to Raw.  Henry, an Olympic hopeful weightlifter, signed a lucrative ten-year contract with WWE, but has yet to become more than a mid-card talent with the company.  

Doesn't every son want to see his dad and sister fight it out? The World Wrestling Entertainment's McMahon Family was profiled on American Family Business on CNBC.They introduced the piece by saying that the McMahons have been ruling the wrestling business for 75 years and they took the sport from a regional to a global company. They opened up with footage of the storyline of Vince McMahon wrestling his daughter Stephanie McMahon. Vince noted that Shane McMahon came up with the storyline and he initially balked but agreed. When asked about her husband, Linda McMahon said Vince doesn't back down from how he feels, but wants to know everyone else's opinions. She calls him a "marshmallow." Shane says working with his parents is a dream come true. Vince said that the pluses outweigh the minuses of working with family. 

Pretty good way to make sure you're not invited back. During the taping of a match for NWA:TNA, Jerry Lynn was dropped hard on his neck by Juventud Guerrera, with sources saying that Juvi was simply very sloppy and careless in not protecting Lynn. To make matters worse, Guerrera didn't apologize to Lynn for the stinger in the back, which enraged many. Lynn was said to be very aggravated, commenting that he spent the match doing nothing but making Juventud look good, and he was rewarded by being dropped carelessly on the mat. Lynn was in a lot of pain from the stinger, and was being iced down by a trainer in the back afterwards. Dutch Mantell and Bill Banks then started filming Lynn so they would have footage of the effects of the drop, and Lynn in pain, for television. One source felt it was ridiculous that while Lynn was in real pain from a real injury, Mantell and Banks immediately started filming it for television.

Maybe seeing a football player in the ring is what inspired Brock Lesnar two months later.  Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher (who is a friend of Erik Watts) appeared during an edition of NWA:TNA for a brief publicity stunt/appearance. Don Callis, Jonny Fairplay and the Red Shirt Security were in the ring, and called out Brian Urlacher. Callis told Urlacher that he was not going to be allowed to remain in the building, and could leave the "hard way" or the "easy way". The Red Shirts attacked Urlacher, but he easily laid them out with a tackle, and then pressed Fairplay over his head and threw him into the Red Shirts at rinsgide. Urlacher then left. While not garnering a great deal of national attention, the appearance did make sports headlines all over Chicago. The Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo made it clear that Urlacher would not be making a return appearance, as his $56 million dollar contract forbids him to participate in that kind of physical activity. 

Well, you could say that they were just a few months off with the idea. NWA:TNA was supposedly very close to finalizing their first three-hour PPV, titled “Bound for Glory”, for Sunday April 4, 2004. The location that was the favorite to host the event was Fort Campbell, KY. Like previous three-hour PPV plans, this one didn't materialize either, with more than a few critics pointing out the logical flaw in using weekly two hour PPV events for ten dollars to push a three hour event for thirty.

Flying the friendly skies sure beats taking bumps. Tammy "Sunny" Sytch, at one point the most popular woman in wrestling, announced on the USA Pro Wrestling message board that she would be leaving the wrestling business to become a flight attendant for Continental Airlines. Sytch claimed that the business wasn't "fun anymore" and that she had been having problems stemming from a torn right quadriceps suffered a year earlier.  Chris Candido later confirmed the story, stating that Sytch was going to be taking a certification test in Houston, and that he was going to continue to pursue his wrestling career while she was going to work as a flight attendant. 

Certainly not the type of thing that happens at the Shriner's convention!  An incident took place at the hugely successful Mid-Atlantic Legends Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Buddy Landel ended up being the talk of the convention, openly drinking and having a pretty loud, fun time during his appearance. While Landel didn't seem to be very out of hand according to some, it didn't sit well with Arn Anderson, who sent word to Landel to chill out "or else." Landel walked off the panel after being informed of Anderson's comments and did not return. Landel signed for fans who stopped him in the hotel lobby and told them he was kicked off the panel for drinking. Later on, while leaving the hotel some time later, Landel was involved in a fracas outside the hotel's front doors, getting into an argument with a couple. It degenerated into a fistfight with the male guest. Landel got into a car and left. Several police cars ended up coming to the hotel. The hotel was also trying to track down information on him, as apparently he left an unpaid tab at the hotel bar.  

They didn't even let him try to get Mortis over on television. WWE released Smackdown talent Kanyon, effective, February 9th. Unlike the release of Zach Gowen, WWE did not say much about Kanyon being let go, and did not even wish the wrestler well in the future. WWE simply posted the following on WWE.com: WWE’s Talent Relations Department has announced that Chris Kanyon has been released from his contract as of Monday, Feb. 9. Chris Kanyon issued the following statement regarding his release from World Wrestling Entertainment on the message board of his website: "As was reported earlier today on WWE.com, I was released from my contract with the WWE effective Monday 2-9-04. For the past year or so I have not been 100% happy with the direction of my career and of my life in general. This release actually comes at a very good time for me…. I have not completely decided what I will do at this time, but there are many prospects for me in and out of pro wrestling and I am excited about the potential for my future. I know a lot of this sounds like politically correct bull, but the truth is I am happier, more motivated and more excited than I have been in a long time. My past 12 years in this business have been phenomenal and have provided me many great opportunities and memories. I am sure that whatever I decide to do in the future will provide many more great opportunities and memories for me, my family and friends. I will keep everyone updated on my future."  

And speaking of former WCW stars being let go. Ernest Miller was informed he was being released at the February 11th Smackdown taping in Tacoma, Washington. He was informed he was being let go after the weekly meeting that was held before the show. There was a feeling among many in the company that he just didn’t want to work to improve his in-ring work. Miller had handled commentary duties on Velocity prior to being moved into the Smackdown roster as a full-time worker. His lone PPV match for the company was at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.

There's quite a few female indy workers that would be happy to show up three hours early every show. Shaniqua, who had gotten some heat backstage because many in the company felt she wasn’t working as hard as she should be given how new she is to the business, was fined $200 at the February house show in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan when she arrived late and missed a pre-show practice session that she was expected to attend. She did show up early the next day in Vancouver.

Guess he forgot his notes before doing the Chris Benoit DVD.  WWE.com announced that Todd Grisham had joined the Raw brand announcing team. Michael Cole, in the WWE.com piece, noted that unlike others who tried out for the gig, Grisham showed up with notes and backgrounds on the wrestlers.

He's tall, and umm... he's tall. Kenzo Suzuki, formerly of World Japan, arrived to train at Ohio Valley Wrestling. He was signed to a developmental deal late in 2003, despite not being overly impressive in the ring in New Japan, World Japan, or in a TNA match with Perry Saturn. 

The beginning of the end. First Major League Wrestling scrapped their February 14th show in Orlando.  Then they released a slew of announcements regarding the impending returns of Amazing Red, Taiyo Kea and Ekmo.  There were rumors of Ken Shamrock coming in, and of the company expanding outside of Florida.  Then MLW owner Court Bauer sent the following statement via email on February 10th: "Due to an unavoidable circumstance beyond our control, MLW will be suspending live events indefinitely.  We would like to thank everyone who has supported us from the beginning, especially our fans in Florida, our talent and crew  This is unfortunately a decision that we could not avoid, as it is truly out of our hands. Again our thanks and apologies to all of our fans who have supported MLW since day one." Major League Wrestling, which had attempted to recapture some of the flavor of ECW while mixing it with elements of lucha libre and Japanese wrestling, would never return.

Maybe she just made up the number.  During a conference call with investors, Linda McMahon talked about the "Escape The Rules" marketing campaign for Raw, saying it was part of their continued efforts to help establish Raw and Smackdown (which gets "Smack Your TV" as their catchphrase) as separate brands. However, Linda said that 70% of the fans that watch Raw or Smackdown don't watch the other show, so they are looking at cross-brand promotions to help in getting fans to watch both programs.

I understand some weren't appreciative of my joke that it was the first ever "mother-daughter" spread in Playboy.  Sable and Torrie Wilson appeared together in Playboy magazine, with their issue featuring two separate covers, and a full-nude layout of the two together inside.  Sable and Torrie were then sent on the talk show circuit to promote the issue, as well as Wrestlemania. 

Not really anything funny about this at all. Former WWF and WCW superstar Ed "Brutus The Barber Beefcake" Leslie caused an anthrax scare at a Boston subway station, where he has been working as a fare collector, when he left a bag of cocaine unattended at the station. It was assumed at first that someone had left anthrax, which is also a white powder, but Leslie finally came clean and admitted that it was his cocaine.  Leslie agreed to enter a rehabilitation program. 

All things considered, it was probably better that she not appear on the show. Former WWF Intercontinental champion Joanie Laurer was taken off of a planned NWA:TNA appearance.. NWA: TNA's website announced simply, "Due to unforeseen circumstances, Joanie Laurer will NOT be appearing on Wednesday's TNA PPV." Laurer would have been a guest on Jonny Fairplay's segment, making her first American wrestling appearance since leaving WWE in 2001. Reportedly, Laurer and TNA agreed to a deal verbally, but a contract was never signed. NWA:TNA sources claimed that part of the reason that Joanie Lauer did not appear at NWA:TNA was that she wanted a first class airline ticket to the show and NWA:TNA refused to give her one because she had previously agreed to fly coach. 

Is it really shocking that he got into trouble again? Jake Roberts was being prosecuted by British officials for animal neglect of his pet snake Damien, according to the UK Sun newspaper. RSPCA officials removed the snake from Roberts' home London Colney, Herts after a tip that it was being starved. The Burmese python died several days later, according to the Sun. Roberts, 50, has been living in the United Kingdom for some time, working various independent events. He denied the charges but faces jail time of up to six months if convicted.

Can't we all get along, Part 2. There was a fight on February 25th between Teddy Hart and CM Punk in Nashville, Tennessee. According to sources who witnessed the incident, Hart and Punk got into a confrontation at a café the boys can eat for free at near the Fairgrounds where NWA:TNA tapes their weekly PPVs. Punk was leaving the restaurant as Hart and his entourage were coming in. When the two ran into each other, Hart asked Punk if he had a problem with him and to step outside if he did. Punk didn't back down and obliged. Once they got outside, Punk slapped Hart across the face. A short fight took place, which was finally broken up by Sabu, among others. Hart began claiming he was trying to shake Punk's hand which Punk then responded wasn't the case and that he was standing right there if Hart still wanted to do something. I was told at that point Sabu got in the middle of the situation and told everyone to stop, which they did out of respect for his status as a veteran. According to one person who saw them later on in the locker room, Hart ended up with a fat lip and a bruise on his face, while Punk scraped up his elbow and was bruised "on his forehead." TNA management spoke to everyone involved and basically warned them that it was not to happen again or people would lose their jobs.

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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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