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2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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

MAY

Probably a wise move, especially if you want to run shows in Japan. After two weeks of televised vignettes promoting his debut, WWE reevaluated the push of the new character Hirohito, who was to be billed as a relative of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, the man who ruled the country during World War II. Initially, the character (to be played by Kenzo Suzuki) was going to be brought in with a top push, but felt his in-ring work was not worthy of the spot. In addition to that, the company had heard from its connections in Japan that moving forward with an angle where Hirohito comes to the US and gets retribution for how his "ancestor" was treated in WW II would not be appreciated there as the company got serious heat when they did the Yokozuna character years ago. Since Japan’s become a lucrative market for the company, that added into the decision to drop the gimmick and instead put him on Smackdown (Hirohito vignettes aired on Raw) under his real name.  It also came out that Hiroki Suzuki, the wife of Kenzo, has signed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment to become the promotion's first Japanese diva. 

Voices of experience. WWE.com updated it's "True/False" section, with Mick Foley and Terry Funk providing answers. Both believed that ECW should return, Foley believes that WWE fans will see Funk again in WWE, Foley feels that the Hardcore title should NOT be brought back, both agree that they should not have taken as many risks in the ring as they did, both agree that wrestlers never should wear pantyhose on their heads again (Funk says "That was one of the dumbest things I ever did"), and Foley confirmed that he will be back with WWE sooner or later.

Sadly, he still hasn't gotten to make his Smackdown debut. WWE had planned to bring up Tough Enough 3 winner Matt Cappotelli to take on Chavo Guerrero for the Cruiserweight Title (and win the strap), at the start of the month, but he suffered a concussion on a house show on April 24th against Bob Holly and could not work at the Smackdown taping. So, Stephanie McMahon made the decision to put Jacqueline in the bout instead. She had been lobbying to wrestle against a man for a while now, and not only was she given the match, but the title as well in what many felt was an embarrassing blow to the Cruiserweight division. 

Healthy, ready to go, ... and sitting at home. Scott Steiner was been cleared to return to WWE but was not expected to come back to wrestle. Despite the fact that they could have used a name brand talent on Smackdown, WWE felt that they didn’t have anything creatively for him. They also felt that, even though he has largely been healthy during his WWE run, his is too fragile physically to push on television because they feel that his body has taken a lot of punishment over the years. WWE ended up letting his contract run out without using him again. 

I guess calling him "Grandpa" wouldn't be an insult now.  Ric Flair became a grandfather as his daughter Megan gave birth to a daughter named Morgan Lee.  Flair was given off that week's Raw as a result.

59 press releases, no shows. Court Bauer and Teddy Hart announced the formation of H2Wrestling, a new promotion which was set to debut on Saturday June 26th at the Roxy in Boston, Massachusetts. The promotion was being backed by WGO Properties, an Asian company based out of Hong Kong which handles a lot of musical acts in the Asian community. WGO had a connection with Bauer as they purchased the video library and assets of Bauer's former company Major League Wrestling after MLW folded in February. The company would issue tons of releases, and create a lot of buzz on the internet, but would never run a single show.

Ring Of Honor's loss is 3PW's gain.  With NWA:TNA not allowing Christopher Daniels or AJ Styles to work for Ring Of Honor, 3PW Wrestling came to terms with both wrestlers to have them appear on every 3PW event for the rest of 2004. The agreement also gave 3PW the exclusive rights to Daniels and Styles in Philadelphia.

The Innovator Of Office doesn't have the same ring to it. Former ECW World champion Tommy Dreamer announced that he was done as an in-ring talent with World Wrestling Entertainment while hosting WWE.com's Byte This Internet show. When asked by a caller about when he would return to the ring, Dreamer stated: "As for myself, for returning to the WWE, I will drop a bombshell right here on Byte This. I will not be returning as a wrestler here in the WWE. My contract expires here in July and I was notified that I will no longer be a wrestler, which is is really upsetting to me, but that's the business. Look at Kerry Collins and Eli Manning, he's got to step aside for the younger talent. WWE would like to keep me around in a management role so I've been doing a lot of that and I've also been doing some announcing work, so who knows where my world will take me. I am real excited about my new endeavors and I have no clue what the future will hold, but as long as I still have the support of the fans who know what I stand for, that's all I need."

Makes you wonder what would happen if WWE went back to USA Network. USA Network's Executive Vice President Jeff Wachtel stated in an interview with Television News that a film based on the death of Owen Hart and the subsequent lawsuit filed by his widow Martha Hart was being produced, titled "Ring of Lies." Wachtel claimed that the film wasn't revenge WWE by USA Network over WWE leaving them for TNN (now SpikeTV) noting that the film is "inspired by a documentary about 'a 5-foot-2, 110-pound woman who basically brought the WWF to its knees."

Round two. Former WWE champion Steve Austin and his ex-fiance, Tess Broussard were involved in another domestic incident, which led to San Antonio police being called. According to The National Enquirer, Austin called the police after Broussard jumped out of Austin's vehicle as it was still moving during an argument. Austin also claimed that Broussard bit him as he made the call to authorities. Broussard then claimed to police that Austin attempted to strike her with his vehicle, and called the police first in order to hide that fact. The tabloid reported that Broussard left Austin's San Antonio home (where she has been living since their breakup several months earlier) to visit him at the apartment he had moved into after their last domestic situation in an attempt to discuss a reconciliation of their relationship. While visiting, Broussard allegedly found email correspondence from a "British female fan." Later in the evening, as the couple was driving, Broussard accused Austin of being involved with the woman, which set off the incident. The couple had been drinking, according to the tabloid's report.

You get the feeling he won't be getting another chance anytime soon.  Brian "Grandmaster Sexay" Lawler was released by WWE. Lawler got himself some heat by showing up late to the May 8th WWE house show in Lafayette, Louisiana. Lawler arrived 15 minutes before the start time of the event and was given a warning by the agents and told that he would fined if it happened again. WWE later decided that Lawler wouldn't get the chance to do it again, and released him, despite being pictured in a graphic for a Battle Royal the following week on Raw. Lawler's abrasive personality was reportedly a major factor in releasing him. 

Didn't anyone tell Angle to respect the veterans? Kurt Angle was a little miffed at a  show in Columbia when The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young improvised during a skit they did. After lifting Dawn Marie’s skirt, they mauled Kurt and did their schtick where they acted like sex-starved kids, kissing Kurt and giving him a hefty does of their, ahem, charms. Angle didn’t know they were going to do it and was said to be a little ticked that he got ribbed. Young and Moolah are classic ribbers from way back (literally).

For a short time, the world was a little quieter.  Jim Cornette was forced into silence for several weeks due to an enlarged voicebox that was believed to be the result of all the years of screaming while working as a manager and commentator. Cornette commented in a WWE.com article, "No tumors, no polyps, they're just swollen and inflamed. Overused. They're tired. They want peace. … Mine are just aggravated. Really pissed off. Angry vocal chords are what I have." Cornette would soon be back to his loud ways. 

Winds of change.  TNA announced that they would debut a one-hour afternoon show called Impact on Fox Sports Network beginning on June 4th. The show would be produced at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, and immediately cross promotional plans were made with "Best Damn Sports Show Period", the flagship show of the network. That same week, the Jonny Fairplay signing finally paid a dividend, as Fairplay appeared on Survivor All Stars on CBS and plugged the new show on FSN. 

Respecting the past of the industry. The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, housed in Schenectady, New York held their 2004 induction ceremonies. Paul and Maurice Vachon, Angelo Savoldi, Mae Young, The Fabulous Moolah, Harley Race, Verne Gagne, Johnny Rodz, Killer Kowalski, Nick Bockwinkel, Dave O'Hannon, Lord Littlebrook, (The Missing Link) Dewey Robertson, Destroyer Dick Beyer, S.D. Jones, Angelo Mosca, Jim Powers, Ida Mae Martinez, Bill Eadier, Johnny Valiant, and Terry Funk were in attendance. The 2004 inductees were Mae Young, Gordon Solie, Lord Little Brook, Terry Funk, Harley Race, Verne Gagne, William Muldoon, Vince McMahon Sr., Angelo Savoldi, Freddie Blassie, The Vachons, Len Rossi, and Dr. John Bonica.

Really, why would WWE want women who could actually wear a bikini AND wrestle? WWE looked at a slew of female talent before Raw in Los Angeles, including Japanese superstar Takako Inoue, who had a ten-minute tryout match with Jazz for the agents.  Independent workers Cheerleader Melissa, Erica Porter, Valentina and Desire (not NWA:TNA's Desire), were at the show for a workout and to be looked at by WWE management as well.  Despite good reports on most of them, none were signed. 

Well, get in there already! In an interview with IGN.com to promote the Legends of Wrestling: Showdown video game, Sting made it clear that if the timing was right, he would love to work for WWE. In the article, Sting noted, "If it were done properly, I would do it. This last Wrestlemania would've been a good one, Wrestlemania XX, just the fact that I've never been a part of one. I would definitely do it. You know, Vince and I have talked several times over the past few years. The Wrestlemania before, he wanted me to repel out of the ceiling and do something with Stone Cold Steve Austin, and we were set to do it, we were going to do it, but once the attorney's get going, and it's not my attorney, he's only doing what I ask him to do, but once their attorney's get involved, it's tough. When I talk to Vince, it's easy. Anyway, I had to call Vince and tell him that we couldn't do it. He's been great every time I've talked to him, so you never know. It's something I'm interested in."

Maybe he just didn't want to be blamed if the Raw show didn't draw well. Triple H was backstage at the Judgment Day Pay-per-view, instead of the Raw brand house shows for the weekend. Many people on the Smackdown brand felt it was odd that HHH was at the PPV on Sunday instead of working on his own brand’s house show. The feeling was pretty much the same among Raw wrestlers. But many realized that HHH is the number two guy at shows in World Wrestling Entertainment now, behind only Vince McMahon.

While the "six appeal" commercials are dumb, the ring does set them apart from the rest. Jeff Jarrett made a mention of a "futuristic ring" for the FOX Sports series when he appeared on the Between the Ropes radio show in Florida, confirming a PWInsider.com report that the company has purchased a six-sided ring. 

Maybe they were afraid of being overshadowed by America's Top Model.  For the first time, there was no WWE presence at the UPN Upfront presentation, which took place at the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden. They announced Smackdown coming back for another season and rolled a video package from December '03 of WWE Superstars visiting the troops overseas. It got a nice ovation from the crowd, but that was it. Every other year, a bunch of wrestlers and Vince McMahon were there and they posed for pictures at the after-party luncheon. This is the first time in the history of Smackdown on UPN that Vince wasn't there at all.

She was so much cooler as the psycho with cool music, than the aerobics instructor who smiles.  Victoria had her character and music changed when the license to use the T.A.T.U. song (which ended up becoming quite a hit after WWE had already gotten the license for it) ran out. Of course, that doesn't explain why she started doing an impression of a Solid Gold dancer during her entrance and stopped being a "cool psycho" babyface.

That has to get her in the Guinness Book Of World Records.  During an appearance with Mae Young on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Fabulous Moolah said that age is just a number. She stated that Mae and her were trying to show seniors that you don't have to sit around and wait to die. She said that Vince McMahon has already promised them that they can wrestle a match on WWE TV when they turn 100.  That's only twenty years away!

They should have called it "Become the world's highest paid timekeeper"!  WWE announced the details of their $250,000 Raw Diva Search, stating that anyone could enter, although all the finalist spots were taken up by professional models and actresses. The winner was promised a one-year WWE contract and $250,000. Part of the fine print of the deal was that the winner would not have to participate in any actual wrestling matches.

A different kind of toughness.  TNA founder Jerry Jarrett underwent triple bypass heart surgery in Nashville, Tennessee. Jarrett had been taken to the hospital prior to a TNA PPV broadcast after experiencing chest pains and feeling dizzy. He had remained hospitalized pending the outcome of medical tests and underwent successful surgery.

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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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