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GSL Code S 2020 S1 | Ro16 | Group C | Rundown

As a hairy man once said, we're halfway there.

Group C:

  • Living Legend with six GSL Finals and lets not mention how many trophies: soO

  • Protoss Hope looking to solidify his position at the top of the food chain after reaching back to back Finals: Trap

  • Dark Horse ready to reignite the flame: PartinG

  • Underdog Supreme here to do the impossible: Bunny

Lets be clear, heading into tonight there was one clear favorite, Trap solidified himself as one of the very best players in 2019 and as the other Protoss players falter it's only natural to look at him when it comes to pushing the race forward. soO on the other hand is a man on a timer, similarly to other older players we're just waiting at this point for his final run before heading off to the military, so it's incredibly hard to both anticipate his level or judge it on any given day, so the pro player turned streamer turned pro player PartinG had the door wide open for him tonight accordingly after playing himself into shape over the course of the Ro24 and finally the designated punching bag of the day unfortunately was a role left up to Bunny, who nevertheless had proven before he wasn't to be underestimated.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously

This is not a drill, PartinG not only held on against the initial onslaught tonight, the once upon a time Champion then showed world class perfect macro play to secure 1st place in dominant fashion.

What followed definitely wasn't pretty, in fact it was more than a little disappointing, nevertheless Trap recovered in time to put down the other two players in the Group, earning himself 2nd.

M1 | Trap [ 1 : 2 ] Bunny | ★★☆☆☆ | Sorry, What?

  • Ever Dream | You would think after going for fast triple CC the Terran would have to chill out a bit, instead Bunny bunched up a few Marines along with some Tanks, marched them across the map and killed the pure Gateway army waiting there to die with all the Probes and third Nexus, outrageous scenes in this opening game of the night.

  • Golden Wall | The quality kept spiking as the Terran then put down a Barracks and Factory just outside his opponent's main, however not only did Trap scout the lack of base inside Bunny's base, the Protoss then simply didn't take his Nexus & instead ran a Stalker towards the proxy, which pretty much ended the game then and there.

  • Eternal Empire | The failed mine drops and endless posturing with mini Doom Drops made the Terran look impossibly behind from the very start, so when just a few Zealots completely ruined his mining at the third CC as the Protoss was taking his fourth Nexus it made the game feel already over. It was at that point, however, that the decision not to add almost any splash damage to his composition came back to bite Trap as he found himself out of position and then had to run into Widow Mines he couldn't see as his opponent blasted him with Vikings and Ghosts on top of that, so as the army supply doubled for Bunny, the fourth Nexus got killed and opponent was left with only a few Disruptors, the throw was complete.

M2 | soO [ 1 : 2 ] PartinG | "★★★★★" | NA Ladder Games

  • Ever Dream | In a true display of peak Starcraft we got to watch what happens when you try to 12 Pool against PartinG while he's cannon rushing you; as it turns out, you just die, the Protoss player placed every building perfectly and eventually pushed like a boss thanks to the power of the Immortal & Warp Prism duo, classic case of play stupid games win stupid prizes.

  • Zen | I know what you're thinking, why would you ever do the same terrible build again? Simple, your opponent doesn't like to scout and the map is garbage to defend on, so thanks to those factors soO got the free win with his second 12 Pool of the night.

  • Eternal Empire | Why does this scenario keep happening? In any case, PartinG wasn't interested in giving up the entire match for free, so he scouted the 12 Pool and had the perfect defense accordingly. From there soO tried pulling a fast one with his quick Lair, unfortunately for him the Protoss kept scouting, the bane of any cheeser's existence. PartinG then caused even more bleeding by taking out 17 Drones over the course of a few Glaives attacks as he expanded and even when his first real push came out the Protoss correctly identified soO was on his last legs & this would be the only opportunity for the Zerg to come back, so he went home and expanded instead after cancelling the fourth Hatch. It was then time for a Colossus upgrade to the Protoss army in order to deal with the ridiculous number of Ling Bane on the map and what followed were so many engagements where soO tried his best to break through, yet virtually every Force Field was perfect and PartinG's control never faltered. After contesting one of the hardest angles to attack from on the map repeatedly, the Protoss did eventually break through to an incredible position that allowed him to take out two bases for the price of one, making his lead insurmountable and closing the game out in style not too long after thanks to an endless supply of Stalkers rolling over the Swarm.

M3 | PartinG [ 2 : 0 ] Bunny | ★★★☆☆ | Hunting Wabbits

  • Nightshade | Bunny failed to scare PartinG with his fake proxy Barracks and to make matters worse not only did the Protoss just expand as you regularly would he then took out an add-on virtually for free to further irritate the Terran. The game slowed down from there for both players as no one felt like dying for no reason but things did start picking up when PartinG moved out to contain his opponent as a drop was trying to ravage his base back at home, shortly after which all hell broke loose. After taking a few close fights and dealing more econ damage, PartinG packed his bags and went home to defend his fourth base while leaving the Terran technically stuck on two and even though the desperate push coming into him looked a lot more dangerous than expected, last time I checked Storm is pretty good especially when delivered through a Warp Prism and fighting SCVs & severely bruised Bio.

  • Ever Dream | The pretty much failed DT drop and Blink "transition" with a Robo Bay behind it and a proxy base felt like PartinG was throwing everything at the wall and hoping something would stick. Bunny tried taking back control of the game by putting down his third CC really early, however through a combination of mind games, Stalkers doing their thing and a Colossus marching across the map to sell the fake, the Terran completely misread the situation and hunkered down for a while on technically just two bases. The proxy shenanigans did eventually get dealt with by Bunny, but at that point the Protoss army had teched completely out of control plus upgrades weren't looking too hot for the Terran, making it so PartinG was in full control until the end, which came not too long after he positioned Observers perfectly everywhere to give himself the room to pull off a million Storms and Disruptor shots, not to mention a Zealot counter attack that may as well have been the main push, crippling Bunny's economy even further and forcing him into desperate fights he could never win, the DT blink play and multi pronged attacks that actually ended the game in PartinG's favor were just the icing on the cake.

M4 | soO [ 0 : 2 ] Trap | ★★☆☆☆ | soO Long

  • Ever Dream | When the delayed two Oracle hit squad got basically nothing done and the Protoss player's third Nexus couldn't even go up for what felt like a long time, it honestly looked like Trap was done tonight. Instead, an Immortal and a few Sentries strolled across the map and killed the unsuspecting soO with what felt like minimal effort, "when macro player sometimes cheese" in a nutshell.

  • Eternal Empire | The calm openings here, solid handling of the Archon drop play and stellar Ling onslaught on the Protoss player's third Nexus made it look like this one was going to be incredibly straightforward for the Kong of Kongs. The fast four bases and even Spire with Hive, however, made me question whether this was even soO playing, someone notorious for loving low tech units. Trap identified the situation and took a fourth base accordingly, seemingly absolutely unafraid of going late, only to find a perfect timing before the Greater Spire and even upgrades could be utilized to the fullest, wrecking both the fifth and fourth bases with 25 Drone kills only to have DTs fully kill them off just a little later. The then stuck on three bases Zerg was quickly running out of options and the mass Ling play vs Archon Zealot already felt like the writing was on the wall, so when the Protoss army came back under still morphing Broodlords the game had as unremarkable an ending as you would expect.

M5 | Trap [ 2 : 0 ] Bunny | ★☆☆☆☆ | Cutest Thing I've Ever Seen

  • Simulacrum | Watching one Adept walk cross the map to kill three SCVs and deny the CC for a while already felt good for the Protoss, the failed Widow Mine drops and how well Blink Stalkers did picking off defense were just the proverbial cherries on top. Although once again the splash damage was getting delayed, a ridiculous worker lead was accumulating, leaving Bunny with a very tight window to take this one away. Instead of having to find that opportunity, though, Trap served it up to him on a silver platter, pushing into a basically three base Terran and showing abysmal control to lose all his tech units off that. The econ difference, however, did pay off in the end as the Protoss leveraged his lead to switch into Disruptors which got a lot of work done along with a swarm of Zealots, eventually tipping the army supply over to him and in doing so securing the outcome of the game.

  • Eternal Empire | The choice to go for Drilling Claws felt fine enough on this map, nevertheless I can honestly say I've never seen Mines do less damage than they did here, largely thanks to the air tight defense and perfect Observer placements by Trap. Slower bases and less workers somehow didn't slow down the Terran macro machine too much, though, and the Protoss did try to throw the game again by attacking into the defensively postured opponent's concave which resulted in far too many losses, however Bunny didn't identify as much and ignored the SCVs he lost in favor of sniping Nexuses, ultimately sealing his fate. Trap still almost lost this one when he couldn't cleanly hold the multi pronged attacks on his bases, however a timely proxy Nexus and Disruptor switch allowed by his econ lead made it so no matter how many sick fights the Terran kept pulling off his engine was always going to run out of fuel first.

Things aren't looking too great so far in the Ro16, it's two out of three times now where individual performances and disappointments overshadowed the games and even the day itself.

  • Match of the Night - without a doubt M3 for me; all jokes aside with the "5 star" ladder games where G3 was great none the less, PartinG fully displayed his power in the match against Bunny who lest you forget made Trap sweat both times they played each other; the PvT on display in the winners' match was nothing short of a master class performance, strongly recommend it if you miss seeing PartinG at his best like he was today.

Finally, here are some of my closing thoughts on each player:

  • PartinG played incredibly well tonight, this was a truly vintage performance from the Protoss master & if he wasn't up against someone coming out of Group D next there was honestly an incredibly high chance he makes at least Ro4 this Season, which I think is a testament to his progress. It's funny when someone of his caliber becomes an underdog, because it's not the same as a rookie heading into deep waters for the first time, PartinG has already been in the highest pressure scenarios and stood on the biggest stages, so there's always a chance he leverages that to his advantage. It will still be incredibly unlikely for him to move on further, but with performances like tonight, how can a small part of you not believe in him regardless?

  • Trap had an off-day, that's the most polite way of putting it, while still ending things out with a 4-0. If you're just someone who looks at the scores, that's going to feel a lot better than actually watching the games, where as soon as Trap stopped defending pretty much everything went to shit. The timings felt off, decision making looked disastrous and even the Protoss player's control was shaky more than a few times. Frankly, this sort of level just doesn't represent who Trap truly is, so I hope for his sake he shapes up for the Ro8, otherwise it's going to be a quick and painful night for Jin Air's strongest uncrowned player.

  • Bunny kinda got screwed today, I will never stop preaching about how stupid the M5 "rematch" truly is; that said, the buck stops with you at the end of the day, if you couldn't even beat this version of Trap - someone as it turns out he's historically even had a good matchup with - there wasn't much hope taking down any of the monsters coming through Group D next. I really liked a lot of what Bunny delivered today in terms of his performance and definitely appreciate the macro prowess he displayed, just needs slightly more intangible power to reach the next level, honestly, which always sucks because you can't really point to what has to change for him to reach it.

  • soO is a legend of this game, no amount of terrible performances are going to overshadow that; nevertheless, what happened today was incredibly disappointing in the context of knowing he's on his last runs before the military, contrast what Classic did in this position and it feels even worse. I hate that some people are always going to meme on the guy for his lack of GSL trophies when he's done so much more than most players who've touched this game, but lets be real if this version of soO somehow bullshitted his way to the Ro8 he would have gotten destroyed there and that's just the sad truth. I hope this isn't the last we see of him, but it seems like things are going in that direction considering he has already shown interest in casting even before "retiring".

As always, if you think differently let everyone know why in the comments below.

Catch you on Saturday May 16th for the final Group D in the Ro16, where Maru will have to deal with long time nemesis INnoVation while Zest tries to figure out which one of them he can bop to earn his own spot in the next Round & the whole time RagnaroK will be there thinking how nice it would have been to be in Group A instead.

Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:

-M

P.S.

Ro24 Rundowns:

Groups A | B | C | D | E | F

Ro16 Rundowns:
Groups A | B
submitted by d1MnZz to starcraft

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 29, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002 6-17-2002
6-24-2002 7-1-2002 7-8-2002 7-15-2002
7-22-2002

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Most of you know the homie SaintRidley has been recapping the Observers from the 1980s (and if you don't know, now you know). Anyway, he got blasted by storms in Iowa the other day and has intermittent internet and asked me to pass along word that he won't be able to post the latest issue of the 1988 Rewind this week. Hope everything's okay with ya dude!

  • Dave opens the issue with some high praise, a rare thing for the top story. But this week's episode of Raw was the first time WWE showed real effort in months, with a clear plan to build a Raw vs. Smackdown storyline and to make the brands as distinct as possible. Raw felt like a completely new show, starting multiple new storylines that hint at long-term booking (we're so used to WWE disappointing us nowadays that it's kinda cute to go back in time and see someone buy into the false hope of improvement like this). They also had a super hot crowd, which helped a lot. The ratings also saw a spike this week, due to fans wanting to see what Raw looks like with Bischoff in charge. The announcers were moved away from ringside and stationed near the stage, similar to the old Nitro set. During the matches, the arena was darkened to give it a more old-school feel. Things felt more spontaneous and less predictable than they have in ages. The European title was done away with, unified with the IC title. Dave feels the belt was useless the last few years anyway.
  • The show featured DX reuniting, but ended with Triple H turning heel and giving Shawn Michaels a pedigree. Dave expects it to lead to Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels at Summerslam, but we'll see. This also necessitated Triple H moving back over to Raw, and in exchange, they moved Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman over to Smackdown at the end of the show. Eddie Guerrero had a match with The Rock and also had a segment where they went back and forth on the mic. It was the most confident Eddie has ever been on the mic and he held his own with Rock and came out of the night looking to be a bigger star than ever. The show wasn't all good though. They had a segment where they put D-Lo Brown and Shawn Stasiak in the ring and Bischoff berated them for being boring and buried them for trying to wrestle, which Dave thinks sucked. The DX reunion followed by Triple H's heel turn blew through potentially weeks of storyline progression in only one hour, but that's typical these days. But Dave thinks of all the potential revenue they could have made on DX merch if they'd been given a chance to have even a short few-week run, but alas. He also thought the announcers playing dumb (like Jim Ross having to pretend not to know who the Island Boyz were during their debut, despite the fact that he's written about them a million times in his weekly WWE.com column). Also too much backstage stuff, which is fine for TV, but sucks for the live crowd when they bought tickets to watch half the show on the TitanTron. But overall, it was the best Raw in a long time and the first sign that maybe WWE's latest reboot is going to mean real change. And that's the top story. Raw was actually good for once and it's the biggest news of the week.
WATCH: Triple H turns on Shawn Michaels - 2002
  • daprice82 Editor's Note: No one is going to care, but I have a story about this Raw. At the time, my girlfriend (now-wife) and I were in Peoria, IL for the 2nd annual Gathering of the Juggalos! We were 19 years old and drove there from Memphis in my shitty ol' Chevy Blazer and spent the weekend woop-wooping it up. Well, that Monday afternoon, we left Peoria to drive home. We got maybe 30 miles out of town when I realized that my previously full gas tank was almost empty. Pulled into a gas station, confused, but filled the tank again, and drove on. Watched the tank slowly drain as I drove along and within 30 minutes, I was on E again. I was losing gas somehow. Pulled off an exit and stopped at the single nicest truck stop I've ever seen. This place had everything. It was a gas station, connected to a Subway, with a lounge area that had recliners, full showers, washers and dryers, etc. If you're gonna be stranded somewhere, it was the best option. I ended up calling my dad and he drove 7 hours to come pick us up. So while we waited, my girlfriend and I spent the rest of the day into the night, hanging out in this lounge, sleeping in the recliners, and watching TV. And low and behold, they had the TV on Raw that night. I remember I was dozing in and out and I remember waking up when I heard the DX music hit and groggily staring at the TV like "wtf?" And then I saw Triple H turn on Shawn and was like "Whoa!" and then I fell back asleep and that's all I remember.
  • WWE announced that it's re-evaluating its quarterly and annual business efforts due to lower-than-expected revenue this year, stemming from PPV buyrates and live attendance plummeting. To keep the company in the black, WWE is making $20 million in budget cutbacks. Most of the cuts are coming from administrative expenses, but the developmental program is going to be hit hard (more on that in a bit). For next quarter, WWE is predicting an overall profit of $1.5 to $2 million. But that is a bit misleading because that figures in the $3.5 million settlement from the PTC lawsuit. If not for that settlement, this quarter would be the first money-losing quarter since 1997 (assuming you don't count the Q1 of 2001, when they had all the massive XFL start-up costs). Plus, they're running twice as many house shows now than they were the same quarter last year, and the numbers are still that bad. There's a ton of year-to-year comparisons here, which is super fun if you're a numbers person but TL;DR - business ain't great.
  • So what about Japan? Business there is an interesting story also. NOAH has surpassed NJPW in average attendance per show for the first half of 2002, which shows just how staggering of a collapse NJPW has had. The biggest success story of the year has been AJPW, which was on death's door a little over a year ago, with the entire roster jumping ship to form NOAH and the company lost its television deal. It's a miracle they survived at all, much less become as hot as they have this year. The reason, of course, is Keiji Muto (and to a lesser extent, Satoshi Kojima), both of whom jumped ship from NJPW at the beginning of the year and immediately gave the promotion a huge shot in the arm, spiking live attendance by nearly 70% and tripling merch sales. Meanwhile, NJPW is still stinging from those losses, plus they ran Riki Choshu out of the company, made Tadao Yasuda IWGP champion which was a huge flop, they have no good foreign talent, their junior division is stale as can be, and current champion Yuji Nagata is still trying to get his momentum back after a humiliating MMA loss to Mirko Cro Cop on New Year's Eve.
  • So about those developmental cutbacks. WWE cut ties with Les Thatcher's HWA promotion and also dropped the contracts of several developmental stars there. Among the names cut: Steve Bradley, EZ Money, Jon Heidenreich, Mike Sanders, BJ Payne, Horace Hogan, and several others you probably never heard of. HWA wrestlers Lance Cade and Charlie Haas are being reassigned to OVW, which will now be WWE's only developmental territory. Others, like Shannon Moore, Victoria, and Barry Buchanan are expected to debut on the main roster soon and were kept. In 2001 fiscal year, WWE spent $1.1 on developmental costs and had relationships with 4 promotions: HWA, OVW, UPW, and IWA Puerto Rico. Now we're down to one, with Jim Ross reportedly ordered to cut that developmental budget in half. Dave doesn't like this. With WWE being the only game in town and in need of new stars more than ever, he feels they should be expanding their developmental system rather than shrinking it. Creating new stars is vital to the future of WWE and limiting themselves to one promotion with a pool of only a dozen or so people seems short-sighted. He also disagrees with some of the people who got cut. Not everyone in developmental is going to be a star, but some of them at least deserved a shot (namely Steve Bradley, who had been there for 3-4 years, is still in his twenties, is a good worker and strong promo, but never got a chance on the main roster because he doesn't have the right look). Why some of those people were released while Jackie Gayda and Chris Nowinski are stinking up the ring on Raw is beyond Dave. He also thinks Les Thatcher had a pretty impossible job. He was given a roster full of wrestlers that were mostly leftovers from WCW. Young guys who came out of WCW's Power Plant and worked a fast-paced WCW style that doesn't apply to modern day WWE. Then they had Thatcher, Danny Davis, and Jim Cornette train these guys. A bunch of old school veterans training these young guys in the ways of 80s wrestling. So now they learn a whole new style....which also doesn't apply to modern day WWE. It's a broken system. Anyway, everyone who was cut has 90-day non-competes. Word is TNA is only interested in Mike Sanders, out of the names released.
  • WWE Vengeance is in the books headlined by one of those classic matches that can single-handedly make a show. The Rock defeated Kurt Angle and Undertaker in a triple threat match to become the first 7-time WWE champion, although Angle was clearly the one who had another star-making performance. Dave nitpicks the fact that Rock pinned Angle (rather than the champion Undertaker) to win the title, but he'll wait and see if it leads to anything storyline-wise first before criticizing it too much (it leads to nothing, turns out it was just a cheap way to get the title on Rock without Taker having to do a job). But it was an excellent match that gets 4.5 stars. Most of the other matches were good too, though some of the booking was weird and doesn't seem to make long-term sense. They teased a feud between the Raw and Smackdown announcers, which Dave thinks is fine so long as it stays verbal. None of us needs to see Jim Ross or Michael Cole in matches. Dave also gives Tazz credit for improving greatly in his commentary role over the last year. He sucked when he first started but he's the best color commentator they got now. They had the first face-to-face meeting between Angle and Lesnar, which is a subtle tease to what Dave expects to be a big time feud in the future. John Cena pinned Chris Jericho in a match that exposed how green Cena still is and Jericho wasn't able to carry him to anything good and the crowd couldn't have cared less about the rookie. RVD beat Brock Lesnar by DQ to retain the IC title. RVD was super over since they were in Michigan. Bad finish but I guess they didn't wanna give Brock the IC title since he's almost definitely winning the world title from Rock in a month. There was a forever long segment with Bischoff and Stephanie trying to woo Triple H to sign with their respective shows. Anti-Americans won the tag titles from Edge and Hogan. That's basically it.
  • We have a section called "Treatment of Minorities Within Pro Wrestling" by Todd Martin (presumably the same Todd Martin from the PWTorch?). The piece touches on wrestling's past portrayals of race and the false impression that things have gotten better due to the success of people like The Rock, when in reality, the racism is just more subtle. Martin takes a look at WWE's hiring processes. Very few minorities have come up through the developmental program, but it's hard to say if that's WWE's fault. Maybe there's just not many minorities trying to break into the business that way, there's no statistical evidence either way. But you can look at the wrestlers they chose to hire from WCW and how they fared in the WWE system. Midcard comedy wrestlers like Shawn Stasiak got a chance but not midcard comedy wrestlers like Norman Smiley. Nepotism got Horace Hogan a contract, but it didn't do anything for Stevie Ray. Examples like that. Or the Luchadores. Martin argues that, with all the talented Hispanic wrestlers WCW turned into stars, it's inexcusable that so few of them have even gotten so much a developmental offer from WWE. And the only ones who did were the ones fluent in English, which you can argue for. Can't argue size either. Someone like La Parka dwarfs over Crash Holly or Spike Dudley, but WWE has no interest. Wrestlers like Psicosis, Juventud, La Parka, Silver King, and others helped carry WCW through some of its most successful years and none of those guys even got a glance from WWE. Martin asks if Booker T's current jive-talking gimmick is any better than his early GI Bro or Ebony Experience gimmicks? Especially when they have him on TV hotwiring cars and doing stereotypical criminal shit like that? In regards to Eddie Guerrero's current Mexican stereotype gimmick, even Jim Ross recently said that it's taking Hispanic relations back 25 years. If the Booker T or Guerrero characters were portrayed on a normal network TV show with a majority-white cast, they would be seen for the racist caricatures that they are. Martin ends the piece by saying he doesn't believe WWE's decision makers are overtly racist. It's just that the company has created a hierarchy of implicit beliefs about how different types of people are portrayed and they may not even realize that they've built such a system.
  • Dave adds his own "editor's note" to the end of this piece and says he chose to publish it because of the detailed research and data used and found it a fascinating article that deserves discussion. Dave disagrees with some of it though and argues that some of it is just a difference in philosophy. For example, WWE tried the Lucha Libre experiment before with the Superastros show and crowds were dead for it. WWE and WCW had very different fanbases and presented different products because of it. So it may not be so much racism in that case as it is WWE fans have never shown any interest in that style of wrestling. He also argues against some of the examples Martin used (for instance, Stevie Ray was considered by WWE but he was already in his 40s and was never the caliber of worker as his brother, which is why they passed). But that being said, Dave thinks other parts of the piece make some interesting points that are well worth a read.
  • TNA week 5 felt like a whole new product due to the heavy influence of Vince Russo. We'll get into that later, but for now, buckle in, we've got a few paragraphs of TNA drama to get through. The first 4 shows presented a product with an emphasis on hard work and long-term angles. This week featured the classic Russo recipe of crash TV and constant, edgy swearing, in an attempt to market "to that 15-30 age group male demo that hates women because they can't get dates and enjoys seeing them harassed and abused." The show ended with a big injury angle to Scott Hall, which is all well and good and might get people interested in next week's show, except it came on the heels of multiple other "serious injury" angles during the same show and by the time Hall did it, it was something like the 3rd stretcher job of the night and it felt meaningless. Same with every promo being filled with curse words. The whole show was yet another example of why Vince Russo needs someone to filter his worst instincts. In this case, that should be Jerry Jarrett, but he was away from creative dealing with budget and legal issues all this week (gonna hear a LOT more about that soon). On that note, just based on very rough, preliminary PPV buyrate figures, production costs, etc. Dave estimates this company is already about half a million dollars in the red, and that's not counting the significant startup costs they have yet to recoup, with estimates that the company is currently losing about $120,000 or more per week.
  • As of this week, TNA's budgets have been slashed. They've also moved tapings to the smaller and cheaper Nashville Fairgrounds location and signed a 3-month lease. It's reported that switching buildings will save $27,000 per week. They're also eliminating pyro, cut new deals with the production crew, and will be flying in fewer stars, relying mostly on people that can drive. They also don't plan to use managers, will cut back on the TNA girls, and will be using Ken Shamrock and Scott Hall on alternate weeks, since they're the two highest paid guys and it's expensive to have them both on the same show. The Fairgrounds building has been used for wrestling tapings before and never looks good on TV, but TNA is insisting they can dress it up to look good. The budget cuts are expected to be so heavy that TNA's new break-even point for PPV buys will be 20,000 per week instead of 50,000. Dave thinks 20,000 is a much more attainable goal, but if it comes at the expense of the product looking minor league and low budget, it's gonna fail. The building also has no air conditioning and with TV lights, it's going to be brutally hot during summer months. Jerry Jarrett has been posting frequently on the wrestlingclassics.com message board and admitted that they weren't anywhere close to the 50,000-buys-per-week they needed. Here's a post Jerry wrote explaining their plans for the company and the new, Russo-iffic direction:
Jeff (Jarrett) and I are wrestling purists just as many fans here. The difference is that we have put up everything we have in our effort to present an alternative to sports entertainment. Our plan was simple. We believed that there were 50,000 wrestling fans who would pay $10 per week, or $40 per month to have an alternative to sports entertainment. This was based on the fact WWE has from 300,000 to one million fans of sports entertainment who will pay $35 per month to see their product. We were well aware that production values, talent, storylines, content, etc. were all factors that could negatively effect the buy rate. We still thought the market would support us enough to make the plan successful. We are finding that many of the wrestling purists did exactly as I did ten years ago, and that is, go on to something else. We are finding that there are many fewer fans who really want an alternative to sports entertainment than we anticipated. Therefore, we can either attempt to attract a few of the WWE fans, or pack up and go home. We have risked everything in our venture. Therefore, not because of our personal taste, but out of necessity, we are compromising our wrestling purist instincts and attempting to create a broader fan base. ECW did a great job of creating a product for the hardcore wrestling fan. The simple fact was that the base of their fans was not sufficient to keep them in business."
  • Ray Gonzalez, one of the top stars in Puerto Rico, shockingly announced he's leaving WWC and most expect him to jump to IWA. Gonzalez claimed WWC was late in paying him, which he says breached his contract (reportedly paying him $800-$1000 per week). As a result, his lawyers sent WWC a letter saying because of this, he was quitting the company. Gonzalez no-showed WWC events this weekend. This is going to badly hurt WWC's upcoming Anniversary show because Gonzalez was a major part of multiple top angles that the card was built around. Gonzalez has been the top heel in WWC and arguably has kept the company alive the past 5 years, and is most responsible for getting Carly Colon (Carlito) over as a big star. IWA has already started advertising a mystery wrestler to be the top heel in upcoming shows this weekend, and it's no secret that Gonzalez is expected to debut for the company and be that guy. Dave also mentions several other WWC wrestlers who no-showed events last week because they were late in being paid. Many of them are as much as 10 weeks behind on pay, but this week, they were summoned to the office where Carlos Colon paid them about 5 weeks worth of what they're owed. Lots of death-of-ECW vibes going on here lately.
  • Lots of rumors that AJPW star Genichiro Tenryu will be showing up at the NOAH show this week to challenge GHC champion Yoshinari Ogawa. Needless to say, this would be a big deal if it happens because AJPW and NOAH basically hate each other. No word on whether this is an angle or not, but given how much Motoko Baba hates NOAH, it seems unlikely. Of course, it also remains to be seen if Tenryu will even show up or if it's all just rumors. Tenryu is currently feuding with Muto over who should have become president of the company, so this could be just a kayfabed angle to make it look like Tenryu is really anti-AJPW (looks like it was just a work, he doesn't end up going to NOAH until 2005).
  • Dave recaps AJPW's latest Buddokan Hall show, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the company, which featured Keiji Muto wrestling 3 different matches under 3 different gimmicks. All told, Muto worked a total of about 36 minutes between the 3 matches and was banged up like hell the next day. There were also a lot of old legends on the card, like Abdullah The Butcher, Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and more. Stan Hansen and Motoko Baba came out to give speeches about the company, with Ms. Baba breaking down crying when talking about her husband, and more. I managed to find most of this show on Dailymotion, enjoy:
WATCH: AJPW 30th Anniversary show
  • While we're on the topic, Dave saw a recent AJPW match with Tenryu defending the Triple Crown title against Satoshi Kojima in a match that many are calling the match of the year. Dave saw it and gives it 4.75 stars and calls Kojima possibly the best wrestler in the business when it comes to carrying the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. He doesn't agree or disagree that it's the best match of the year, but he sure loved it.
WATCH: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Satoshi Kojima - AJPW Triple Crown match 2002
  • Mitsuharu Misawa suffered a dislocated shoulder in a recent match. Popped it back in, worked the next day, still in pain, went to the hospital because that's what happens when you wrestle again right after dislocating your shoulder. Anyway, the doctors were like, "Hey, maybe don't do that for a minute" but he's Misawa so he vows he won't be missing any dates and then he hit the doctor with an emerald flowsion. Dave doesn't say this, I'm just assuming.
  • NJPW continues to decline. They held back-to-back shows at the 10,500-seat arena in Sapporo this week. The first night only drew 4,100 fans which was the smallest crowd they have drawn in that city in years. Second night was better, but still only 6,000 fans to see Yuji Nagata retain the IWGP title over Bas Rutten. In another era, this win would have been huge for Nagata but nobody cares when a wrestler beats an MMA guy in a worked match anymore because Inoki pretty much beat that horse to death.
  • There's talk of bringing back Chyna to work the August Tokyo Dome show for Antonio Inoki's UFO MMA promotion, presumably just to make an appearance (oh, if only). There's also talk of bringing her in for NJPW's September tour and having her beat male prelim wrestlers every night. Needless to say, there's a whole lot of people in the company against that idea. Especially because her loss to Joey Buttafuoco in a celebrity boxing match a few months ago actually got a lot of coverage in Japan, so coming off that and showing up to beat male NJPW wrestlers isn't a popular idea. But Inoki gonna Inoki, so we'll see.
  • Latest on the ECW bankruptcy proceedings. The trustee has filed a motion demanding that the InDemand PPV company pays them $724,456.40. That total is the money they owed ECW, minus $25,000 because ECW failed to produce the March 2001 PPV they were contractually obligated to produce. This case is a textbook example of why trying to run a PPV-only company like TNA is going to be so difficult. InDemand is still holding onto ECW PPV money from over a year ago. Anyway, of the $724k, a big chunk of it will go to attorneys, back taxes, commission fees, etc. Video game maker Acclaim, who owned a percentage of ECW, is expected to get a big chunk as well. Whatever is left over will be used to pay off existing creditors but there's not gonna be much. A lot of those creditors are just never going to get paid. It's also expected that Acclaim will end up owning the video tape library rights, since WWE hasn't yet made a bid to acquire it.
  • Former Crockett/WCW wrestler Chris Champion suffered a major stroke and is in critical condition. Champion also wrestled as Yoshi Kwan for a bit in WCW. A lot of people expected him to be a major star in the 90s, but it just never panned out, usually due to his own personal issues (I looked it up, he ended up surviving this go round, but he died in 2018 after suffering more strokes).
  • If you're wondering what Jim Crockett Jr. is up to these days, he works in real estate in Dallas. When Shaun Assael interviewed Crockett for his book on Vince McMahon, everyone in Crockett's office was shocked because they had no idea that their coworker was once the 2nd biggest wrestling promoter in the U.S. throughout most of the 80s. That's how much he's left the wrestling business behind.
  • Just gonna paste this quote here: "For whatever this is worth in case this becomes a major historical question down the line, the actual idea to make David Arquette WCW champion came from Tony Schiavone." Dave notes that Schiavone didn't have any decision-making power to make it happen, but he was the one who made the suggestion at a production meeting. According to those there, when Schiavone made the suggestion, Vince Russo's eyes lit up like it was the best idea he'd ever heard and the rest is history. (Vince Russo has confirmed this story himself. Last I heard, Tony admits he was involved in coming up with the idea but he refuses to take sole credit for it).
  • The Chicago-Sun Times interviewed Greg Gagne's son JP who is a pitcher for Notre Dame. In the interview, he talked about how famous wrestlers used to stay at his house all the time growing up and said that his friends love the story of how he once rode Space Mountain at Disney World with Ric Flair. Hehe.
  • Shane Douglas is now the booker for XPW and is involved in an angle where owner Rob Black's wife Lizzie Borden is leaving him for Douglas (don't get too close to her Shane, you might lose a thumb! More on that in a couple weeks...). Also, at the first show with Douglas as booker, there was a scaffold match where Douglas came out and shot the guy on the scaffold with a tranquilizer, causing him to plummet to the ring below, which then exploded. Don't worry, I wouldn't write all that without having a video for ya:
WATCH: Shane Douglas XPW tranquilizer gun scaffold spot
  • Notes from TNA PPV Week 5: Sabu debuted to face Malice in a surprise ladder match. It was fine. Sabu won, which earned him a contract to face Ken Shamrock for the NWA title next week in another ladder match. Don't worry, we have more ladders to come. Jeff Jarrett is being booked like the Stone Cold of TNA and Dave ain't here for it. Francine and Jasmine St. Claire had a shower scene together backstage, later leading to Jasmine in a wet t-shirt. K-Krush cut a promo complaining about being fired by WWE, just in case you weren't aware that most of this roster is full of WWE rejects, they make sure you know it. A 4-way match with a bunch of the young guys completely fell apart with everyone except Christopher Daniels looking totally lost and confused. Dave says rarely do matches even in OVW fall apart as badly as this one did. Another little person match that Dave says was one of the worst matches of the year and was highlighted by one of them breaking a watermelon over the other's head. Negative 3 stars. Even worse, the match went waaaay longer than it was supposed to, which cut into the time for AJ Styles vs. Low-Ki and a match that should have been great ended up being a huge disappointment. Plus a drunk guy in the crowd took away everyone's attention and they couldn't get the audience back. Jerry Lynn attacked AJ with a ladder afterwards because whooohoo ladders! Francine and Jasmine ripped each other's clothes off like every other time you've seen it in WWE. Then Blue Meanie DDT'd her and she did a stretcher job. Brian ChristopheLawlewhatever he is this week cut a long promo trashing his father to continue getting fans interested in a match they can't possibly deliver. Why not just challenge Austin or Rock while you're at it, Dave wonders. Fuck it, if you're gonna do dumb shit, at least go big. Scott Hall vs. Christopher in the main event was bad because Hall just returned from working IWA in Puerto Rico for several days and was pretty much on a drunken bender the whole time. And then Hall did a stretcher job to end the show, which was kinda lessened by Francine having done the same thing 30 minutes earlier. And there we go. After only 5 shows, this shit is already WCW 2000 all over again.
  • Despite all the publicity they got, TNA also barely made any mention of the angle last week with the Tennessee Titans football players. Apparently the players caught some shit from the Titans GM for it and since they aren't coming back and they can't do a match or anything with them, TNA decided to just forget it happened.
  • In case you're wondering why TNA hasn't made a play for Scott Steiner yet, apparently he and Jeff Jarrett had been friends for years, especially during the WCW days, but they recently had a falling out of some kind. Hence, TNA has no interest in using him.
  • The reason WWE is running back-to-back tapings for Raw and Smackdown next month in Seattle is to test the market. WWE did a site check last month at Safeco Field for next year's Wrestlemania, but there's question as to whether the Seattle market will be able to sell out a big stadium like that, so the decision was made to do this. If they have a double-sellout both nights, that'll pretty much guarantee that Seattle gets Wrestlemania. If the shows do poorly, they may reconsider and select a new city (I guess these shows end up doing okay).
  • The Rock is set to star in another major movie, this time a $100 million budget production based on the video game SpyHunter. The hope is to have the movie out around Christmas 2003, in order to cross-promote it with the new video game coming out around that time. This adds more to Rock's Hollywood plate and it's looking like he's going to be around wrestling even less next year (this movie ends up stuck in developmental hell for years and never gets made, but Rock ends up doing the voice for the video game in 2009 instead).
  • Dave isn't sure why yet, but the long-planned Hogan vs. Vince match at Summerslam is now off. Dave suspects they may be holding off until Wrestlemania, which is great if they have a long-term plan and now that they're doing the Bischoff vs. Stephanie storyline, Vince is planning to take himself off TV for a little while anyway. So we'll see. In the meantime, the whole mess last week with Triple H talking Vince out of getting slapped by John Cena because "nobody should be laying hands on Vince until the Hogan match" ended up being for nothing.
  • Notes from Smackdown: in talking about Stephanie McMahon trying to be a babyface, Dave says she's basically the wrong person for this gimmick but she's a McMahon, so what are ya gonna do? He also jokes that "when this thing goes down and I write the book, I think my title will be "Wrestling Promoters Should Be Banned From Having Children: Unless They Don't Allow Them To Work In Their Promotion." I dunno, seems wordy to me. They also did the bit with Stephanie as GM and all the wrestlers backstage watching on the monitors, leading Dave on a Cornette-style rant about how WWE can't even be bothered to separate heels and faces in different locker rooms and it takes you out of the show when they're all sitting around backstage together watching the TV and carrying on conversations. Sure, kayfabe is already dead, but can we at least try to create an illusion of it within the show itself? This was also the last Smackdown before the PPV and there was some discussion over the finish of the Rock vs. Angle match. Paul Heyman and Michael Hayes wanted Rock to lose clean to the ankle lock, since he was winning the title on Sunday anyway and Angle was doing the job. Pat Patterson and Triple H argued against it, saying Rock shouldn't be tapping to anyone, even though Angle's gimmick right now is that he can make everyone tap (even Hogan last month). So instead, we got the Undertaker run-in DQ finish and Dave says this kinda shit is why WWE is unable to create long-term storylines. There was also a bunch of bickering with Heyman, Triple H and Hayes over the finish of the Jericho/Cena match as well, which Jericho was apparently upset about.
  • In an online chat this week, Goldberg didn't rule out going to WWE but said he hasn't met with anyone in the company. He also said that if WWE had kept Vince Russo, then there's zero chance he would have gone. When asked about Japan, he only said he's considering all offers. Goldberg is said to have no interest in the WWE schedule and is content with the idea of working a few big shows a year in Japan. That's all well and good but Dave says the reality is that the biggest money opportunity for Goldberg is in WWE, where there's several dream matches that would do huge PPV business and earn him far more money than he can ever make in Japan. WWE also gives you the kind of celebrity exposure in America that can open up acting roles. But the problem is, giving Goldberg a reduced schedule could cause some issues in the locker room. Then again, Rock and Hogan are already working reduced schedules.
  • This week's episode of WWE Confidential was the best of the series yet, focusing on the Bischoff and McMahon relationship. It was weird to see these two, out of character, reminiscing about a time when they legitimately would have gladly killed each other. They even showed Bischoff's 1990 WWF audition tape.
  • Various WWF notes: Kevin Nash did an interview and said he has spoken to Steve Austin since the walkout and gave his opinion on why Austin left. "I think Steve was burned out. He's got a broken neck, bad knees and a bad back. I know what it feels like when I wake up every morning. And he's had a couple multi-million years. Maybe it just isn't worth it to him anymore." Bischoff did a radio interview and noted he's been in L.A. constantly pitching TV ideas and said there's no interest in wrestling anywhere in Hollywood right now. Vince and Linda McMahon have purchased a new vacation condo in Boca Raton, FL. It's an 8-bedroom 10,000 sqft. condo on the 7th and 8th floors of the Excelsior hotel. The double-unit condo recently appraised for 14 million.
  • DDP did an interview and admitted that the stalker angle was the most disappointing thing he's ever done in wrestling because he wanted so badly for it to work and it flopped. DDP also said that Steve Austin hasn't called him since he was forced to retire and admitted he was kind of hurt by it. He said he knows Austin is going through a lot right now, but they're friends and if Austin can't take the time to care about what's going on in his life, then he can't be bothered to waste time worrying about whatever Austin is going through either.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Mainstream stories about wrestling deaths in the works, TNA files lawsuit accusing marketing firm of defrauding the company, Observer Hall of Fame preview, TNA in deep financial trouble, and more...
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