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2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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

JULY

Not exactly what you would expect from a thug. John Cena's tough-guy raps were replaced on an edition of Smackdown by a childish promo about "poop" on Kenzo Suzuki.  Unlike Cena's usual raps, this one was written for him by Brian Gewirtz, and reportedly Vince McMahon enjoyed the toilet humor. In the past when Cena was getting over with his raps, they were done as a collaboration of Cena and writer David Lagana. The way the process would work back then was that Lagana would give Cena the subject matter and Cena would write his own rap material. Cena would then run it by Lagana, who would make sure it was "presentable to Vince McMahon. After the two tweaked the promo, Lagana would pitch the verbiage in writing to Vince, who would then approve it or ask for/suggest changes to it. Once it was done and approved, Lagana would give it back to Cena, who would then memorize his lines for TV.  It was Stephanie McMahon's decision to have Gewirtz work with Cena instead. 

Take a few steps close to the door please. Linda Miles, aka Shaniqua, was sent down to OVW with the idea of getting more seasoning before being moved back up to the Raw roster but instead started butting heads with OVW's Jim Cornette in a big way. Miles had what was called a "horrible match" with Jillian Hall at OVW's TV Taping, where the blame was firmly placed on Miles. After the taping concluded, Jim Cornette tried to discuss the situation with Miles, with it quickly turning into a full blown out screaming match between the two before the entire OVW locker room. Miles tried to make excuses for the bout, but each one was shot down by Cornette, who threatened to pull her off TV and put her in the OVW beginner's classes. One person who witnessed the argument joked that all the weeks Cornette tried not to speak (he has an enlarged voicebox) were, "shot to hell" by the incident. Miles ended off being pulled from all the OVW house shows her scheduled match against Victoria at OVW's big Six Flags event was canceled. The feeling was that OVW won't be pushing her from this point on while she remains in Louisville to train. After an absence, Miles did finally return to OVW to train but after a few minutes, left again, which had been a pattern for her.

Desmond Tutu probably can't sing heavy metal either. Chris Jericho received several honors during his homecoming to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Premier Gary Doer presented Jericho with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt and Mayor Sam Katz presented Jericho with the key to the city. The morning of his big day, Jericho was on the Chuck the Hater show on CJOB radio in Winnipeg. They discussed how he was being invested in the Order of the Buffalo, the second highest honor awarded in the  province. Other recipients include Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa and The Pope. When Chuck the Hater asked Chris how he felt being inducted into a group like this, Y2J replied that it must indeed be an honor for Theresa, Desmond and Pope to be included in a group with Chris Jericho.

Back to the drawing board. Kevin "Mordecai" Fertig was sent back to Ohio Valley Wrestling for more seasoning.  He was brought up the the Smackdown roster with the goal being to have him work against the Undertaker, but pretty much everyone who had ever seen him work said he wasn't ready yet and was being pushed too soon. But, he is big and we know what that means to Vince McMahon. However, it became obvious quickly that being big wouldn't be enough. The decision was made to bring up Heidenreich (who had been dropped off the Raw roster) for a program with Undertaker instead. 

Okay, fess up.  Who won it? One of the latest items up for bid on the WWE's Auction site was the Katie Vick outfit from one of the Triple H segments. 

Making more moves.  Word started to leak out that TNA, extremely happy with the look of the Impact tapings at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, was thinking about moving their weekly PPV events out of Nashville and bringing them to Orlando as well. 

Gee, can't imagine him being an annoying person. Jonny Fairplay and Ron Niemi (who works backstage at Impact! and is a fixture in the Florida independent scene) got into it at the Orlando Ale House following a TNA taping. According to several who witnessed the scene, Niemi and Fairplay began arguing after Fairplay tried putting himself over to the wrestlers at the bar, bragging that more fans would rather watch Fairplay then Bobby Heenan. Niemi (who was said to have already been upset at Fairplay for blowing off NWA Florida booker Aaron Royal earlier in the night) loudly defended Heenan and reminded Fairplay that he hadn't yet accomplished anything in the business to be making such claims. The argument started to get ugly between the two, which led to Shark Boy removing Fairplay from the bar. Fairplay returned and got back in Niemi's face, which led to Fairplay being thrown out of the establishment. It ended up with Niemi and Fairplay almost getting into it again in the parking lot of the bar, but security stepped into the situation. The feeling among the wrestlers was that Niemi was in the right, especially since he was defending Heenan, who is well respected. It was also felt that Fairplay never should have come back to the bar. One source close to Fairplay claimed that the whole incident was caused by Niemi's misunderstanding Fairplay's comments about Bobby Heenan. The source claimed Fairplay was discussing today's fans not caring about older names and that Niemi (who it should be noted helps Heenan get bookings), reacted loudly and negatively. The source noted that both sides had been drinking, which likely escalated the situation.

It's the one of the few tape libraries Vince doesn't own ... yet. VCI Entertainment, which has released a number of DVDs under the "Wrestling Gold" title, came to terms with Kevin Von Erich to release a series of DVDs dedicated to the Von Erich family and World Class Championship Wrestling. The first DVD realsed was "The Best of the Von Erichs" featuring matches involving Kevin Von Erich, Kerry Von Erich, David Von Erich, Mike Von Erich, Chris Adams, The Fabulous Freebirds, Gino Hernandez, Jimmy Garvin, Kamala, Iceman Parsons, Andre the Giant, Jake Roberts, and Steve Simpson. Based out of Dallas, Texas, World Class Championship Wrestling was one of the top wrestling territories in the early-late 1980s, buoyed by the popularity of the Von Erich family. Kevin Von Erich, the final surviving member of the family, had been in negotiations recently with WWE about purchasing his tape library, but the two sides were unable to come to terms on a deal.

Not that it really mattered, given what WWE has done with both teams since. There was a lot of maneuvering going on backstage before the WWE Tag Team championship switch at the Smackdown tapings in Winnipeg, Manitoba between the Dudleys and the team of Billy Kidman & Paul London. The Dudley Boyz had actually suggested holding off on the tag switch until at least Summerslam to make it mean more. Several road agents, including Dean Malenko and Dave Finley, fought for the surprise switch to Paul London and Billy Kidman and management agreed with them. There was a feeling that doing the switch and having the Dudley Boyz challenging the new champions could help bring some luster back to the championships. Of course, they ended up breaking up London and Kidman, and the Dudleys were put on hiatus.

So, yelling at people doesn't work? Veteran Steve Keirn was said to be fitting into his role as an agent well backstage and was liked by many of the wrestlers. Several sources stated that instead of blaming wrestlers and telling them they screwed up when mistakes are made, Keirn will use stories from his career to explain why things the performers do in the ring may need to be changed up and handled differently to get a better reaction from the live crowd.

Little did he know that WWE would fire him while he was still recovering. Test confirmed during an interview that he would be out for action for a year because he would be undergoing neck fusion surgery from Dr. Lloyd Youngblood.

With all due respect, I'd rather they stick to movies that wrestling. Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, and Goldberg all signed for roles in the new Adam Sandler film, a remake of "The Longest Yard."

Dancing right out the door. WWE released former tag team champion Rikishi on July 16th. Rikishi had been out of action with an ankle injury and there were those in the company that felt he wasn’t exactly hurrying to return as quickly as he could have due to the fact that he had a high downside guarantee and thus made just as much money not working as he would have working. There was also an incident where he appeared on an independent show, which I was told was not cleared with the office beforehand. Also, the company had wanted him to lose some weight so that they could possibly change his gimmick, but he hadn’t done so. Talk of him being released as soon as he was cleared to wrestle circulated, and came to pass.

Back in the ring, but not for long. Kurt Angle returned to in-ring action at WWE’s second show at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall, teaming with John Bradshaw Layfield to take on The Undertaker and Eddie Guerrero. Angle had been out of action with neck problems for the last few months, having his last match at Wrestlemania XX.  Angle's neck would continue to cause him problems, and result in him taking more breaks away from the ring, for the rest of the year. 

Because calling him "Hollywood" all the time just sounds goofy. World Wrestling Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Marvel Comics, seeking to maintain the rights to the "Hulk Hogan" name as it launches its WWE 24/7 Video on Demand service. According to an article that ran on the Bloomberg News wires, Marvel is claiming that WWE's rights to the name have expired. WWE claims it owns the rights until March 2005. WWE needed the Hogan name in order to market and distribute the WWF, WCW, and WWE matches they want to use as part of the Video on Demand service. WWE originally licensed the rights from Marvel in 1985 when the comic book company came forth during the national WWF expansion, citing that Hogan's ring name was infringing on the rights of their "Incredible Hulk" character that was created in the 1960s by Marvel patriarch Stan Lee. The original agreement between the two companies covered the terms "Hulk Hogan", "The Hulkster", and "Hulkamania."

Sadly, they didn't think to put him in a remake of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogalou. The July 22nd edition of The Hollywood Reporter reported that WWE Films will be producing its first action movie "The Marine" starring John Cena. The film, which has a $15 million budget, is the story of an injured United States Marine who returns home to "find his girlfriend caught up in a kidnapping." The film, to be shot in Australia, was originally going to be a vehicle for Steve Austin before he left WWE. A previous planned WWE production starring Triple H as a biker had been stalled due to politics involving the talent agencies representing WWE and the planned director John Millius. They were originally hoping to shoot it first.

Guess they wanted to make Matt Zylbert happy.  Rob Van Dam was programmed on Velocity two weeks in a row, leading many to think that he was being de-pushed because he had yet to sign a new contract witht he company.  However, it was revealed that he had signed a new contract, making his being relegated to the secondary show, especially with Summerslam looming, even more bizarre. 

Whoo! Ric Flair's autobiography, "To Be The Man" reached number 5 on the New York Times Bestseller list for nonfiction books, with an article in USA Today noting that the book sold nearly 13,000 copies for the time period of 7/4-7/11. The article also noted that a recent book signing in Charlotte was attended by fans who drove from almost seven hours away.

Good thing he didn't have a guitar handy.  Jeff Jarrett went on a tear backstage at the end of an Impact! taping in Orlando, Florida. Ring announcer Jeremy Borash was, unfortunately for him, the worst recipient. Jarrett heavily ripped into Borash, as the plan was for Borash to make announcements counting down the end of the America's Most Wanted vs. Kazarian and Michael Shane match for the last minute, thirty seconds, etc. Since Borash failed to do that, Jarrett's feeling was that he screwed up the finish of the match. When Borash returned to the locker room, Jarrett gave him a heated reprimand. Borash was not the only person on the wrong end of Jeff Jarrett's wrath, as he was heavily complaining to wrestlers about going under their scheduled match times, and not being able to improvise from what was already planned in order to make sure they fill up their segments. Obviously, the timing of the show has to stay within synch since they only have an hour to fill (not counting commercial breaks), but if they end up under that timeframe, it is just as bad, since the show is done live to tape. One person who was backstage at TNA's Impact taping noted that Jeff Jarrett was more upset with the production team as the ring mic didn't work when Jeremy Borash was supposed to be making countdown announcements, more than Borash himself. Keith Mitchell heads up production for TNA.

Yeah, breakup with the guy because he's a wrestler and he wants to work for the top company.  Makes sense.  Joanie Laurer (Chyna/Chynna Doll) was a guest on the Howard Stern radio show and announced that she had broken up with her boyfriend (X-Pac) because he decided to go back to WWE after he gets out of rehab.  She also stated that she had a sex tape of her and Sean Waltman (X-Pac) and that she might sell it. 

Think about it, would you want to fight him? Former WWE star Sean O'Haire was arrested and charged with assault and battery on two women on July 27th, but gave his side of the story to The Savannah Morning News. "I'm a professional fighter," O'Haire told the newspaper. "If I was going to assault these people, they'd be in the hospital." O'Haire's version of the story is that one of the women started dancing with him in Club Hypnotic's VIP room. After he spurned her attention, she pushed him. He told a bouncer to get her away and flicked her hat off, calling her a, "stupid b**ch" in the process. O'Haire claimed that three men and another woman began going after him, leaving him with a split lip and a torn shirt. O'Haire said he was surprised to learn of the warrant for his arrest and cooperated with authorities. "You can make up anything," he said. "Just common sense shows it's ridiculous and they're trying to get something out of it."

Goal achieved, or at least it had seemed so. Former WWE champion Brock Lesnar signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings, achieving the original goal he set forth for himself when he walked out of World Wrestling Entertainment after Wrestlemania XX. Lesnar would be earning the base salary of $230,000. The Vikings were the first team asked about Lesnar when he revealed his intentions to play football, and the team made it clear at the time that they weren't interested in signing him as a publicity stunt.

There is no truth to the rumor that Vince asked the talent to line up in size order, biggest first.  Vince McMahon and nearly the entire WWE creative team popped up on July 28th at Ohio Valley Wrestling for a visit in Louisville, Kentucky. They were in Louisville to scout WWE's developmental talent, checking out their progress inside the ring and also their promos. The only exceptions were Stephanie McMahon and Bruce Pritchard, who were in attendance. Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis also made the trip to Louisville. WWE was also strongly considering expanding their developmental program in an attempt to groom more future stars. 

The Dungeon is sold. The Calgary Sun reported on Friday that the famous Hart family mansion, which houses the infamous dungeon, was officially sold.  The Hart mansion will remain intact, although many of the mementos will be moved into a museum that is currently in the planning stages.

Check that temperature in Hell again. Bruno Sammartino stopped by the Raw taping in Pittsburgh as part of a documentary that is being made about him, the first time Bruno has even visited a WWE event since the late 1980s when he had his fallout with Vince McMahon. It was noted that Sammartino wanted to talk to Ric Flair to discuss comments made about him in Flair's book, but they didn't speak. A number of the workers took time to speak to Bruno, and he did have a sit-down meeting with Vince McMahon. WWE had been heavily courting Bruno to return to the fold and be inducted into their Hall of Fame next year in Los Angeles, but Sammartino has been hesitant because he doesn't want to be seen as ignoring all the history and issues between the two sides.  

I wonder if he is wishing they liked the 80's gimmick instead. Mike "Nova" Bucci worked a Raw tour as a "fitness guru" type heel which eventually became Simon Dean. Bucci tried to get heat by doing different exercises and checking his pulse at different points of his matches. His work was praised backstage by road agents, who were happy with the gimmick and think it would get over. Bucci had previously tried out a gimmick on house shows where he was obsessed with the 1980s, had a "Miami Vice" type look dressed in white pants and jacket, while doing spots that played off of the 80s such as the Karate Kid "Crane Kick."

Well, aren't you just shocked? With its rescheudled debut show just a week away, H2Wrestling, for all intents and purposes, shut down operations as Executive Producer Court Bauer resigned from the project after issues arose with his overseas investors, WGO Properties. The group, rising from the ashes of MLW, was a joint effort from Bauer and Teddy Hart, and saw a lot of talk and press releases, and numerous show changes, before shutting down.

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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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