The Custom Made News Report 03.23.08
Welcome, one and all, to the Custom Made News Report. We’re seven days away from Wrestlemania, which not only means big things for WWE but also big things for TNA as they march towards their first live show and Ring of Honor and various other independents as they also hold major cards in conjunction with WM. Throw in a little bit of international news, and you’ve got everything you need for what should be a rather interesting column.
Well, it should be a rather interesting column assuming that I don’t manage to foul it up.
Just days after the death of legendary wrestling manager Gary Hart, I am sad to report a second passing in the wrestling world, this one occurring just south of the border with the state in which Hart gained the majority of his fame. Lucha libre star Bestia Salvaje died this past Thursday in Guadalajara, Mexico, with the cause currently believed to be liver failure.
Salvaje was a second generation wrestler, having been raised by luchadore Espectro II alongside a brother who would go on to work under the name Corazon Salvaje. He was trained by legendary lucha maestro Diablo Velazco and made his wrestling debut in 1983 under the name of Freddy Rodriguez. He continued in that role for several years before adopting his more popular persona in 1986. Perhaps the biggest win of his career came in 1988, when, in the main event of CMLL’s fifty-fifth anniversary show, he pinned El Hijo del Santo to retain his Mexican Welterweight Championship. In the early 1990’s, he went on an impressive run of winning hair matches, taking down the likes of veteran Kato Kung Lee and Huracan Sevilla (who, as a random aside, once had the great gimmick of “Darth Vader”). The latter part of the decade saw a reversal of Salvaje’s fortunes, as he lost his hair on numerous occasions, though at least those defeats kept him in high profile matches, including bouts against Hector Garza, Negro Casas, and another encounter with Santo . . . this time in a tag match in which Bestia was accompanied by Scorpio, Jr. and Santo got paired up with Casas.
It was by Scorpio’s side that Bestia gained the majority of his fame in the early twenty-first century, as the two allied themselves with major star Shocker to become the initial incarnation of Los Guapos. Shocker left the group in 2001 after tension developed between he and new member Emilio Charles, Jr., leaving Charles, Scorpio, and Salvaje to carry on the Guapo name. This lasted for only a brief time, as, shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, somebody in CMLL decided that it would be a good idea to repackage Los Guapos as Los Talibanes. Yes, they were wrestling as members of the Taliban. This wouldn’t have gone over well in the United States, but seemingly nobody saw the problem with it in Mexico, with the gimmick allowing Salvaje to remain relevant in fans’ eyes until he departed CMLL in 2005.
Over the course of the last three years, Bestia Salvaje continued to work in IWRG and for local promotions around Guadalajara, with most reports indicating that his last match took place in January of this year. He started to slow down in the latter half of 2007, which some people suspect had something to do with the liver disease that ultimately lead by his passing. He is survived by his aforementioned brother and his wife Maria Del Angel, also a professional wrestler.
Money, Money. Yeah, Yeah.
This week, a story about Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s involvement with Wrestlemania was confirmed. It’s hard for me to say that the story was confirmed, though, as anybody with half a brain should have known this one already.
Floyd Mayweather, the best heel in WWE today
According to Figure Four Weekly, Mayweather is NOT receiving a $20 million payday for his Mania appearance. It is not known exactly what he is making for his match against the Big Show, but the $20 million figure, which was leaked to the press and even reported as legitimate by the Associated Press, is a bit of an exaggeration. It is believed that the boxing star has some sort of longer-term deal with WWE that could potentially result in him earning as much as $20 million, though those are potential earnings as opposed to guaranteed earnings, and they are certainly not all for his one appearance at WM or even all of his WWE appearances leading up to that match.
From the first instance in which the $20 million payoff for Mayweather was reported, I suspected that there was something fishy going on, as the economics underlying such a number make no sense. Has Mayweather’s stint on WWE television gotten Wrestlemania some mainstream attention? Of course it has. Will the rivalry with the Big Show lead to more people buying ‘Mania than otherwise would have? That is far more debatable, and, even if Mayweather does result in more buys, it seems statistically improbable that his presence will result in more than $20 million of extra income to the ‘E. After all, Wrestlemania 22, which did not feature a match built around a celebrity, did 980,000 worldwide buys in 2006. Wrestlemania 23, which was largely built around a match featuring involvement by Donald Trump, picked up 1.2 million worldwide buys in 2007. Even if you assume that all viewers worldwide are paying fifty American dollars for the show (which they aren’t), even if you assume that all of the money paid by viewers to their cable providers is profit to WWE (which it isn’t), and even if you attribute all of the extra buys in 2007 to the Donald (which they probably shouldn’t be), WWE only picked up $11 million from bringing Trump on board. There would be no justification for them paying Mayweather – who is not nearly as recognizable – significantly more money than the bump in PPV profits caused by Trump’s appearance.
Of course, this is professional wrestling, so this is not the first time that logic and facts have been shoved aside for the purpose of telling a good story.
Vince McMahon, you are NOT THE FATHER!
Another big match taking place in just seven days will be Fit Finlay against John “Bradshaw” Layfield in a Belfast Brawl. This match resulted from the beatdown that JBL laid down on young Hornswoggle, who, according to a recent plot twist, is Finlay’s son. Of course, we have yet to receive an explanation as to why Finlay and his boy conspired to pass off the midget as Vince McMahon’s offspring for a period of several months, but we now have some insight in to the creative team’s thought process as it relates to other parts of the angle.
That insight comes to us by way of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. According to the WON, various creative team members, including Stephanie McMahon, were not particularly thrilled with the direction that the story was taking. This was in large part due to the fact that it ate up a large portion of television time each week but, over the long haul, did nothing to boost ratings. The angle continued in large part due to the insistence of Vince McMahon, who was convinced that he would eventually be able to prove people wrong about the program’s potential. Well, Vince finally gave in, deciding that giving the Little Bastard back to Fit would be the best way to simultaneously salvage something from the storyline and put an end to Hornswoggle’s run as a pseudo-main eventer on Raw.
Frankly, I couldn’t agree more with the writing team’s assessment of the angle. It really WAS going nowhere fast for several months, and, though I don’t think that much of it was actively bad television, I could have thought of five hundred more productive uses for the television time. When Hornswoggle was first announced as McMahon’s bastard son after weeks of buildup, I originally thought that he was just a placeholder. After all, numerous WWE wrestlers had been suspended heading in to the show with the big reveal. One of those men was Ken Kennedy, who many insider reports had pegged as the guy slated for the “son” role. I figured that Horny would parade around as the son for a month, do some inoffensive comedy, and be replaced by Kennedy once his thirty days on the sidelines expired. For whatever reason, that wound up never materializing, and the ‘Swoggle angle dragged on and on and on. Though the character did seem popular with children and probably sold a fair amount of merchandise to the kids, at the end of the day there are plenty of guys on the roster capable of doing that AND appearing in segments that will actually draw television viewers and pay per view buyers. As such, you may as well invest heavily in them as opposed to a fellow who will never quite break through as a legitimate main event star no matter how hard he tries.
Guts and a Pretty Face
Not long after this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw went off the air, WWE.com reported that Candice Michelle suffered a shoulder injury in her tag team match with Maria Kanellis against Jillian Hall and Victoria. The injured area appeared to be on the left side of her body near the clavicle, a bone that Michelle snapped in a particularly nasty looking spot on an October edition of Raw. Now, according to Montreal’s Main Event Radio, Candice will be gutting through whatever the injury is in order to compete in her scheduled match at Wrestlemania. This bout, for those of you who may have forgotten, will see her again pairing up with Kanellis, with their opponents being Melina Perez and Beth Phoenix. (And, in case you missed it, 411’s Larry Csonka was able to score an exclusive interview with Melina earlier this week.)
I’m of two minds on this decision by WWE and Michelle. I’m sure that several readers will remember my rant about Candice’s broken collarbone when it first happened. WWE horribly mishandled the injury, dragging the wrestler all over the ring when it was VERY possible that she had a serious neck injury and then attempting to give her water while she was strapped in to a backboard. (My rant on those topics is archived here.) Because of those issues, I’m somewhat concerned with whether WWE actually has Candice’s best interests in mind in allowing her to compete in this match. Yet, on the other hand, we are talking about a tag team match which will probably last all of three minutes, during which Michelle can remain well-hidden and well-protected. Furthermore, it’s not as though the extent of the injury has even hit the internet at this point. Taking those two factors in to consideration, it’s hard for me to get too worked up about the injured performer attempting to “gut through” her health problems.
I just hope that, no matter what the facts underlying this situation are, both WWE and Candice Michelle have her health and safety in mind first and foremost when determining whether she will go on and the role that she will have in the match.
On April 6, 2008, the Custom Made News Report will begin its latest lengthy, multi-part feature in the vein of last year’s Great WWE Countdown. What will the subject matter be? For how long will it run? Will I drive myself crazy attempting to write it?
You’ll have to stay turned to find out.
We’re not just going to talk about Floyd Mayweahter’s financial situation this week. Oh no. We’re also going to look at the financial situation of one Steve “Sting” Borden, who many of you will recall re-signed with TNA wrestling late last year with the understanding being that he would work a limited schedule.
Well, recently word came out about just how much the Stinger is making for that limited schedule. Much like the Mayweather story, this comes to us courtesy of Figure Four Weekly. According to that newsletter, Sting is making something on the order of $9,000 per week, no matter how active he is on TNA programming. At fifty-two weeks per year, that’s a $468,000 salary . . . not too shabby if you’re only going to be required to work three or four pay per views and a couple of weeks of television headed in to each of those shows.
Though it seems like all I do in this column is criticize TNA’s business moves, I again have to call this one in to question. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sting as a performer, and I think he’s worked his ass off when put in to big match situations by TNA, especially when you consider the fact that the guy turned 50 earlier this week. I also don’t begrudge him for taking a high dollar deal that involves relatively little work because, let’s face it, virtually every one of us would do the same thing if we had the opportunity. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if the payoff here is going to be worth TNA’s investment. For all of his talent and hard work, the former WCW Champion has meant very little to TNA’s bottom line for his entire time with the promotion. His presence, when properly promoted, has slightly bumped up a television rating or two, but he hasn’t proven himself to be a massive TV draw and hasn’t significantly increased any pay per view numbers. One can argue that’s because Sting was overexposed during his last run with the company, but the fact remains that we still have no clear indication that he brings in any revenue that could not be generated by a wrestler with a lower salary. Here’s to hoping that history is proven wrong in this particular situation.
Hall of Lame
ProWrestling.net has an interesting story up about TNA and the WWE Hall of Fame, noting that an unnamed TNA performer purchased a ticket to the ceremony for the purpose of seeing Ric Flair’s induction. He was then asked by Jeff Jarrett not to attend the show, with the rationale being that, if this wrestler is shown as a member of the audience on television, TNA will look second rate.
This may sound ridiculous to some, but, frankly, I have to side with Jarrett in this instance. Remember the movie Beyond the Mat? Remember Dennis Stamp, the old school wrestler who refused to attend Terry Funk’s retirement show because he wasn’t booked? Stamp’s role in the movie has been played up for laughs in many circles on the internet, but the fact of the matter is that his reasoning for not wanting to attend the show without being an active part of it was sound. In pro wrestling as in other segments of the entertainment industry, appearances are very important. In order for fans to perceive wrestlers as superstars, those wrestlers have to act and look like superstars at all times.
Stamp, though he may have been a bit deluded as to his relevance to pro wrestling in the late 1990’s, had the right idea. If he were perceived as an old timer coming around to shows just for the sake of being seen, that perception would become reality in the eyes of many. This could in turn hurt his opportunities for future bookings. The same basic concept applies to TNA and this mystery wrestler. If he were to be seen in the audience of a WWE show, essentially appearing as as a fan, public perception would be that he is on a level lower than the WWE stars who are on stage. Granted, if this individual went to the show and got on camera, it wouldn’t be a major focus of the show. In fact, it may not even last for more than a handful of seconds. However, the potential for the harm to TNA’s public perception is still there, and I think that Jarrett was justified in nipping the situation in the bud, no matter how slight the risk.
This week, we’ve got MORE PURO~! Take a look at this highlight reel of “brother” YASSHI and Shuji Kondo, two of the fine professional wrestlers who came out Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumon academy.
To view videos that have appeared in previous editions of the Custom Made News Report, be sure to check out my new YouTube page.
Territorial War Brewing in Florida?
Here’s a story to keep an eye on from PW Insider. It may wind up having no impact on professional wrestling, or it may wind up changing the scope of the Florida indy scene greatly . . . only time will tell.
Apparently, Steve Keirn, the WWE employee who was placed in charge of the company’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory, has been approaching many venues throughout the state who currently host indy cards and asking them to sign EXCLUSIVE deals with FCW. This would result on those venues running Keirn’s shows and Keirn’s shows alone, locking out any other Florida indy group from using the premises. Specific venues were not mentioned in the story, but Keirn has been around wrestling for decades now and is no dummy. Chances are good that he has specifically targeted the armories, community centers, and fairgrounds that host the state’s biggest indy cards, both because those venues would be ideal for FCW and because he wants to minimize his competition. Yes, FCW may be backed by WWE, but the fact of the matter is that Vince and company spend a surprisingly low amount on developmental, which means that Keirn will need to bring in all of the money that he can on his own if he wants to succeed.
Of course, the biggest group on which this could potentially have an effect is Full Impact Pro, the sister promotion to Ring of Honor which exclusively runs its shows in the Sunshine State. Over its several years of existence, FIP has scored some very good indy venues, and, though they probably wouldn’t be put out of business by their inability to use those same locations, they could certainly be driven out of some towns in which a dedicated FIP fanbase has sprung up. Though this would be unfortunate for FIP and any other indies who may find themselves in the same position, I personally wouldn’t blame any venue for signing an exclusive FCW deal. After all, WWE developmental territories have traditionally featured numerous cameos from big television stars on their programs, which, if marketed properly, could push ticket sales and therefore revenue well beyond what would be brought in and passed along to the owner of the venue by most independent promotions.
As I said at the outset, this could be a big deal, or it could be nothing. I’ll be sure to keep tabs on this one and provide more information as it becomes available.
Domo Arigato, Sara Amato
This was a big week for SHIMMER Champion and Ring of Honor/CHIKARA star Sara Del Rey, as she got some mainstream recognition in the Chicago area alongside other well-known female athletes.
This was all kicked off by an article in the April issue of Chicago magazine entitled “Women Who Kick Ass.” It profiled four ladies with ties to the Chicago-land, including mixed martial artist Felice Herrig, boxer Rita Figueroa, American Gladiator Beth “Venom” Horn, and wrestling’s own Sara Del Rey (listed under her legit name Sara Amato). The article would have provided some nice exposure in and of itself, but then Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl picked up on the story and gave some further publicity to our favorite Death Rey. He initially ran a poll on his website, asking readers which of the four women featured in the article “kicked the most ass.” Believe it or not, Sara managed to come in first, getting 54.62% of the vote, with Horn getting 39.58%, Figueroa getting 3.43%, and Herrig getting 1.37%. Dahl then wound up discussing the article and the poll on the March 19 edition of his radio show, announcing Del Rey as the winner and plugging the next SHIMMER event, which will take place on April 26 in Berwyn.
Of course, there’s little reason for the event to be plugged. Why? Because, believe it or not, it SOLD OUT with almost two full months remaining prior to the card. That’s particularly impressive when you consider the fact that no matches for the show have been announced and only one wrestler (Croatia’s Wesna Busic) has been officially named by the promotion as appearing. However, if you can’t get in to the show, you can still look forward to Volumes 15 and 16 of the SHIMMER DVD series, both of which are currently set to be released within the next month.
Here are a couple of small updates to stories that I have discussed in previous editions of the report:
~ Some people are probably sick of me talking about CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament from late February/early March of this year, but I feel the need to point out that the show is now available on DVD from Smart Mark Video. My copy of the shows arrived in the middle of writing this column, so you’re all lucky that I chose not to just quit and spend the entire weekend watching them.
~ Remember last week when I hoped that Jeff Hardy had his house well-insured? Well, it turns out that he didn’t have it insured AT ALL. Please, for the love of god, if you’re a homeowner reading this column and don’t have insurance, get it. I can’t imagine somebody not carrying insurance on something so valuable. Hell, I rent an apartment and probably own less than $5,000 worth of stuff, but that didn’t stop me from getting renter’s insurance.
Before we go, let’s talk to the readers!
Samer has some comments on the proposed World X Cup teams that I put together last week:
Gedo? Why Ryan? WHY?? Mistico would fit well in team Mexico in my opinion. And knowing TNA, the 4th wrestler on team Canada will end up being Teddy Hart.
Gedo is really pretty good. I know that he still gets a bad rap on some parts of the internet because Scott Keith made Gedo hatred in to a running gag when he reviewed the second stage of the Super J Cup, but that show was THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. It’s time to get over it and realize that a.) Gedo has improved since then and b.) he was never really all that bad in the first place.
As far as Mistico is concerned, I would like to see him in TNA. However, I excluded him from the World X Cup team I put together in the report because I decided not to include anybody affiliated with a major Mexican promotion given the headaches that TNA has had trying to work with those companies over the years. Misitco is, of course, the crown jewel of CMLL, which knocked him out of the picture.
And I wouldn’t mind Teddy Hart showing up in TNA. Though he reportedly causes a lot of headaches backstage, everybody I’ve heard talk about his time working at the Wrestling Society X tapings didn’t have a negative thing to say about him. So, apparently he can contain himself in short spurts, and he wouldn’t need to be involved with TNA for more than three or four shows if he were just doing the X Cup. Of course, he’d also automatically become the best wrestler on Team Canada, and I don’t know that TNA would want to have two of their regulars (Devine and Williams) upstaged like that.
Davy wants to talk about the Rock and Rey Infection:
There are three Rey Mysterios?
Do the cousins know that they are competing as the same character?
Also the Rock no-showing Wrestlmania offically ticks me off, he just needs to cut 15 minute segment to make the fans happy again. Can’t he take one day off? The Rock has no respect or love for pro wrestling fans anymore, he wouldn’t talk to the media during the Chris Benoit wrestlefrenzy, but Bret Hart and Ultimate Warrior (neither or whom like modern wrestling) came out to support their craft, while the more well known and respected Rock didn’t bother talking.
Yes, there are three Rey Misterios. The original (a.k.a. Rey Misterio, Sr.) has been working since the mid-1970’s and actually lost his version of the Rey Misterio mask in 1988 to Fishman. He still uses the Misterio name, though. The guy currently wrestling in WWE as Rey Misterio is Rey Sr.’s nephew. Rey Sr. trained him as a teenager in the late 1980’s and passed on the name and a version of the mask to him. The third Rey – generally known as El Hijo de Rey Misterio – is Rey Sr.’s actual son and just made his debut in 2006 after training under his father, though he used another name for a while before adopting the Misterio moniker and mask. All three guys know that the other two exist, and I’ve never heard a single thing about any discord being caused by multiple people using the name.
On the Rock front, I don’t think that he “owes” professional wrestling fans an appearance at Wrestlemania. The fact of the matter is that, according to numerous reports, it was VERY difficult for him to even get the time away from taping necessary to appear at the induction ceremony. Yes, he’s a movie star, but he’s also not at the stage a stage of his career in which he’s powerful enough to throw his weight around and get whatever he wants. He still has to play by the rules as he attempts to move up the Hollywood food chain. We should all just be happy that we’re getting something out of Rocky as opposed to nothing.
And now, plugs:
~ Since we were on the topic of women’s wrestling earlier, I may as well let everybody know about Captured Beauty, a relatively new website covering that topic. This week, they had a fun interview with Daizee Haze.
~ And while I’m plugging things that aren’t technically part of 411, I may as well give a nod to The Cool Kids’ Table, the podcast-turned-full-on-indy-website run by 411’s own three way dance of Brad Garoon, Jake Ziegler, and Samuel Berman. Particularly entertaining this week was the March 21 edition of Berman’s “The Up & Under.”
~ Moving back to this here website, be sure to take a look at Michael Weyer’s fun look at Wrestlemania IX.
~ Oh, and I don’t know how I’ve failed to plug this so far, but Randy Harrison has officially replaced me as the guy who reviews obscure wrestling aired at odd hours on ESPN Classic. Go see what he has to say about the AWA.
~ Finally, I liked TNA Impact this week. I really did. Read all about it in the Impact Crater.
With that, another week concludes. Be sure to head over the to MySpace, where you can add me as a friend to receive notifications every time I post a new column on this here website. Also be sure to join me seven days from now, at which time I’ll have a full Wrestlemania preview and all of the last minute news heading in to the biggest show of the year!