wrestling / Columns

The Custom Made News Report 03.25.09

March 25, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, one and all, to YOUR Wednesday news report for 411mania. I am Ryan Byers, and your usual host Steve Sullivan is down for the count battling a nasty illness. As such, I took on the last minute call to step in. And, because there’s nobody to stop me from doing otherwise, I’ve decided to revive the old Custom Made News Report format that I used to use on 411mania in 2007 and 2008. If you like it, great! If you don’t like it, Steve should be back with your standard Happy Go Sucky next week.

With that said, let’s get to the news.

It Comes in Threes . . .

Last week, many wrestling fans were saddened when Andrew “Test” Martin, who wrestled with the WWF at the height of its popularity and was on the company’s roster as recently as 2007, dropped dead. Though toxicology reports have yet to return, many are already speculating that this may be yet another stereotypical “wrestling death” of the type that claimed many of the profession’s top stars of the 1980’s and the early 1990’s. Some had argued that this type of death was behind us, as the wrestlers of today lead a lifestyle which is arguably more clean cut than that of their predecessors. Test passing away slapped many of those individuals in the face and told them that the issue may not have vanished after all.

Then, just a few days ago, the body count climbed even more, and the rose colored glasses that some fans wear slipped off even further.

Abismo Negro & Steve Doll

One of the two men to pass away was Abismo Negro, real name Andres Alejandro Palomeque Gonzalez. Though not well known to English speaking audiences in the United States, Negro had been a prominent wrestler in Mexico’s AAA promotion for over fifteen years immediately prior to his death. His first gimmick with Triple A – adopted not long after the promotion was formed – was “Winners,” a Chippendale-esque dancer who teamed with future WCW star Super Calo. The breakup of that team resulted in a feud and in Winners losing his mask. Though he wrestled without a hood for a time, in 1997 Winners vanished and a new rudo character, Abismo Negro, debuted in his place. Negro was a mainstay of Mexican television, both continuing to appear on AAA programming and becoming a regular on morning television program Vida TV . He also represented AAA on the cards of many other promotions, including making guest appearances with the WWF in 1997, TNA in 2004, and Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2006.

Though he was part of a completely different wrestling world than Abismo Negro, Steve Doll will now often be linked to that luchadore because their deaths occurred on the same day. Doll’s debut in professional wrestling came in the mid-1980’s. As he gained experience in wrestling’s territorial system, that very system was in the midst of its great decline. Doll’s tag team with Scott Peterson, the Southern Rockers, was one of the final hot acts of the Portland Wrestling territory. Peterson was ultimately replaced in that team by fellow Pacific Northwest star Rex King, and that version of the Southern Rockers would remain together for over a decade, including receiving a brief run in the early 90’s WWF as Well Dunn. However, the team never took off, and Doll was back on smaller wrestling circuits until World Championship Wrestling decided to use him as an enhancement talent, primarily on their WCW Saturday Night program. It was during this run that Doll would become the answer to a trivia question, as he was one of two wrestlers in the ring when Scott Hall debuted on Monday Nitro to kickstart the angle that would eventually become the nWo. Doll’s last somewhat prominent run in professional wrestling came in the late 1990’s when he teamed with Reno Riggins as the Tennessee Volunteers for Music City Wrestling, one of the first developmental territories of the WWF.

The causes of death for the two men are about as different as their careers. Negro had reportedly been battling personal issues for years, with those problems resulting in him no-showing many AAA dates, particularly in 2007 and 2008. Long-time wrestling fans can no doubt read between the lines to figure out what those “personal issues” were. Early reports indicated that he was riding on a tour bus the morning off his passing when he had a panic attack and asked to be let off. He was later found face down in a river, with the official cause of death from his autopsy being drowning. Doll, meanwhile, had been battling numerous health problems in recent years. In 2007, an intestinal blockage resulted in a seizure and a surgical procedure in which several feet of the man’s innards were removed. His organ failure continued and ultimately caused his death, with both his kidneys and heart giving out during his final day on earth.

It is true that whether these men’s deaths can be linked directly to drug use and/or the lifestyle that professional wrestling has perpetuated for many years remains to be seen. However, regardless of whether that connection can be made, their deaths are still jarring. Abismo Negro and Steve Doll dying within twenty-four hours of one another is the kind of event that should result in fans being shocked. It should not even begin to approach the realm of normalcy Unfortunately, due to what we have seen over the course of the last fifteen years, the immediate reaction of most fans is ” . . . not again.”

Sadly, with decades of decadence in the wrestling industry’s past, we will no doubt be saying that for several years to come, even if the “sport” cleaned up its act several years ago as many now attempt to argue.

All the Stuff from Stamford

Austin Missing ‘Mania?

For the last year, wrestling fans have been hearing rumors that former WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will be coming out of retirement in order to have one final match at Wrestlemania XXV, which is taking place in his home state of Texas. Originally, the story was that WWE was attempting to set up the Hulk Hogan versus Steve Austin match that many mat watchers have wanted to see for years despite the fact that Austin has repeatedly stated that he had no interest in wrestling the Hulkster. More recently, grappling audiences began to speculate that Austin, who is being inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame during Wrestlemania weekend, could be the opponent for Chris Jericho, who has been harassing legendary wrestlers for several weeks. With the event being less than two weeks away and Stone Cold still having not appeared on WWE television to promote WMXXV, those fans who continue to hope for his appearance are begin to speculate that he might be an unannounced surprise.

However, it appears that rumors of Austin’s return can now officially be killed. Figure Four Weekly is reporting that Austin has been signed on to be a part of the cast of an upcoming action movie entitled The Expendables. The Rattlesnake’s filming schedule requires that he be in Brazil the day after Wrestlemania, which, according to F4W, means that the biggest star of the 1990’s will be making his appearance at the Hall of Fame ceremony and taking a flight out almost immediately afterwards. In short, Steve Austin might not even be in the country when Wrestlemania takes place, let alone in the building.

Of course, WWE did manage to successfully work many fans and reporters in 2008, when John Cena and company sources unequivocally stated that Cena would be unable to work for several months due to an injury, only for the leader of the Chain Gang to appear at and win the Royal Rumble days later. After that happened, yours truly and several other cynics became significantly more skeptical of internet reports that a certain individual would not be at a certain place at a certain time. It is not outside of the realm of possibilities that a similar scenario could present itself with Austin. Yet, one has to wonder whether that sort of speculation is well-founded in this instance or whether it is merely the fantasy of marks hoping against hope that they get the Stone Cold Wrestlemania moment that they have been anticipating since learning that the event was coming to Houston.

With that being said, there are still plenty of reasons to order – and enjoy – Wrestlemania even if the Bionic Redneck no-shows. Granted, this year’s storylines headed in to the big show haven’t been that great, particularly when it comes to the purported main events. However, from a workrate standpoint, there’s no reason that this can’t be the show of the year from WWE. Triple H and Randy Orton are familiar opponents capable of putting on a ‘Mania level match. Though some decry the Big Show’s participation in the Smackdown Title hunt, he, Edge, and John Cena are smart enough to work around whatever limitations the Giant may have in their three way title match. Money in the Bank has never failed to deliver exactly what is advertises. Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker should absolutely tear down the house after what each of those men has done at Wrestlemania over the last several years. Hell, even the Colons against Johnny Nitro and Mike Mizanin could deliver the goods if they don’t get too bogged down in the lumberjack match gimmick.

So, we may not get Steve Austin. We may not even get compelling stories in our Austin-free environment. Yet, when it comes to pure in-ring performances, this may still be a ‘Mania not worth missing.

Flair Up to His Old Tricks?

The one exception to the “lack of compelling storylines for Wrestlemania” statement that I made above has been Chris Jericho’s issue with the legends of professional wrestling. Week in and week out, Jericho’s promos have been the most entertaining part of Raw, and they have kept me interested in seeing his ‘Mania match even if the men he is wrestling are not quite of the caliber of the opponents that many originally envisioned for him. The streak of awesome angles involving the former Y2J continued this past Monday night on Raw, when he gave quite the beatdown to “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Yes, some have cried foul on the logic hole resulting from the fact that Flair ally Jerry Lawler was sitting at ringside and not lifting a finger during the massacre. However, the performances of both Flair and Jericho were still off the charts and well worth the ten or so minutes that I spent watching them.

Perhaps the most notable part of the angle was the amount of bleeding that the Nature Boy did. In a now “PG Rated” environment in which blading is not looked highly upon, Flair tapped an absolute gusher, leading some to wonder whether the creative team was getting desperate and therefore allowing a little bit more leeway when it comes to gore. In later reports from PW Insider, though, it turned out that the gash in Flair’s head came not from a razor blade but rather from Jericho bashing him in the head with a camera. The wound apparently required twelve staples to close, making it one of the nastier cuts we’ve seen lately in mainstream wrestling.

I should make it clear that the following paragraph is pure speculation on my part, but I still have to ask the question: Does anybody think that Jericho and Flair were in cahoots and opened up the Nature Boy’s head in an accidentally-on-purpose fashion? The blood added to the angle significantly, and both of them are savvy enough to know that it would . . . yet they are also smart enough to know that they shouldn’t defy an anti-blading edict in the current WWE environment. Plus Flair has a history of this type of behavior, blading at Wrestlemania VIII despite a ban on the practice and getting in to a rather heated exchange with Vince McMahon because of it.

Again, it’s pure speculation on my part, but I’m allowed to come up with a conspiracy theory once in a while, aren’t I?

The Word from Dixieland

TNA Elects to Keep Governor

Virtually ever major source of wrestling news reported this week that TNA has decided to sign the performer formerly known as Daffney in WCW, who has recently been performing on the company’s shows without a contract as “The Governor.”

I’ve met Daffney, and she may be one of the nicest professional wrestlers that a fan could interact with, so I’m glad to see her get the deal. This is doubly true when you consider the fact that she may hold some sort of record for wrestling’s longest gap between contracts with nationally televised promotions, as she started up in WCW in roughly 1999 and didn’t get her TNA deal until ten years later. Really, though, I have to question what the purpose of this character is. As many people have pointed out, Sarah Palin is no longer a major player in the national news. In fact, since the 2008 election came to an end, she has been a virtual persona non grata despite numerous efforts on her part to remain in the limelight. Thus, a character parodying her makes the company seem out of touch with popular culture.

Additionally, what is the purpose of this character continuing to be present in storyline terms? Granted, I very rarely watch TNA anymore, but my general understanding of the storyline is that “The Governor” is a Sarah Palin impersonator who was brought in by the babyface female wrestlers to embarrass the Beautiful People of Talia Madison and Angel Williams. This storyline was presumably blown off when the good girls revealed to the bad girls that they were being duped and then dumped fecal matter on to them. If my understanding of the storyline is accurate, I have to wonder why “The Governor” is still around. Even if we assume that she is a trained wrestler and is remaining on the roster so that she can continue to assist in the babyfaces’ feud against the Beautiful People, why is she doing it under the Governor name? Why is she still cutting promos in her fake Sarah Palin voice? Why wouldn’t she announce who she really is or drop the act?

It’s goofy things like this that TNA started to get away from when they started up the Main Event Mafia storyline. Perhaps this is an indication that the bad comedy is slowly creeping its way back in to the company.

Roxxi Homeward Bound

Certain corners of the internet began some heavy speculating when TNA performer Roxxi LaVeoux was supposedly “sent home” after the company’s last pay per view. Rumors were swirling on various messageboards that she had some sort of altercation with fellow female wrestler Rhaka Khan, either a backstage altercation or some sort of stiff work in the ring leading to a disagreement between the women.

Fortunately, PW Insider stepped up to act as a rumor killer. It is true that Roxxi was at the pay per view and not at the TV tapings which immediately followed it. However, this was not because of any sort of altercation with Khan or because of any other disciplinary measures being taken against the former Nikki Roxx. Instead, the Boston native was not at the tapings in the Impact Zone because of a new company policy under which wrestlers are not brought in to the show when they are not being used in on camera roles.

A couple of thoughts spring to mind as a result of this story. First of all, it warns those of us who think that we may have the inside line against going too far when it comes to jumping to conclusions. (An ironic statement given what I just wrote above regarding the Jericho/Flair angle . . . but I digress.) Additionally, doesn’t this new policy strike folks as just a little bit odd? I could see the reasoning behind not flying an individual in to Orlando for TV tapings if the prior pay per view was on the road. After all, airfare costs money. However, what is the harm in bringing an unbooked performer back to the Impact Zone for television if the pay per view is also at the Impact Zone? Last I checked, the hotels of undercard talent were not paid for by TNA, so, unless that has changed, I fail to see what the additional expense is. Besides, given that injuries can and do happen in professional wrestling, one would think that the promotion would want a few extra bodies on hand to act as replacements if need be.

Of course, that policy is far from the biggest of TNA’s problems, so I will just let it rest at this point.

Random Video Interlude

I don’t get many opportunities to do this anymore, so, when I do, I have to make sure to bring the JOSHI~! Here is a music video tribute to one of my personal favorite performers from that genre, Aja Kong. Please enjoy seven straight minutes of an agitated Japanese woman killing her opponents dead.

(And, for those of you who might be put off by the still photos in the first thirty seconds, there is eventually actual match footage used.)

Foreign Fanatics

Japanese Mixed Notes

When I wrote this column on a regular basis, I enjoyed recapping and previewing major Japanese shows for those of you who subsist on a diet of solely American professional wrestling, particularly when those shows involved former or current stars from the US. I can’t quite do that in the same style if this column is an RVD-esque one-shot deal. However, I figured that I would still pass along a few brief Japanese notes of import for any of you who may be considering following the puroresu scene. General updates regarding the country’s major promotions are as follows.

New Japan Pro Wrestling: NJPW is coming off of a major show on March 22 and is building up to its next big card on April 5. The April 5 show features reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defending his title against TNA’s Kurt Angle in a match that most are expecting Tanahashi to win. The winner of Tanahashi/Angle has Hirooki Goto waiting in the wings, as he won a single elimination tournament on the March 22 show to earn a title shot in May. TNA also has a bearing on the April 5 card in that the Murder City Machine Guns won New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles back in January and are scheduled to defend them against NO LIMIT at some point in TNA. The winner of the NO LIMIT/Machine Guns match will face Rysuke Taguchi and Prince Fergal Devitt for the belts on April 5. My guess is that NO LIMIT will take the belts back on American soil, but that remains to be seen. A final note which may be of interest to American fans is that former WWE wrestler Val Venis (using that name) recently made his debut for the company. He is being featured prominently in the company as the tag team partner of former WWE wrestler A-Train, who is known as Giant Bernard in Japan. Venis had a special singles match against Tanahashi on the March 22 show.

Pro Wrestling NOAH: Things are pretty quiet in NOAH these days, but they are starting a new tour on April 11 which will feature many names which are familiar to American wrestling fans. Of course, NOAH regulars and ROH semi-regulars Takeshi Morishima, KENTA, and Go Shiozaki will be present on the tour, with all three participating in a big round robin tag team tournament. Also on board for the tournament are Bull Buchanan and D-Lo Brown. These two have been a team in Japan for several years and are quite popular with audiences there. I may be mistaken, but I believe that this will be D-Lo’s first tour of the country since his release from his most recent WWE deal.

All Japan Pro Wrestling: AJPW is gearing up for two big round robin tournaments. The first is their annual Champion Carnival singles tournament. Names familiar to American fans are Keiji Mutoh (a.k.a. The Great Muta), former WCW cruiserweight Kaz Hayashi, and Aaron Aguilera, who was briefly Carlito’s bodyguard Jesus in WWE and worked under his real name in the short-lived Wrestling Society X. In All Japan, he is the masked ZODIAC. The company is also holding a junior heavyweight tag team tournament in the coming months. Hayashi is participating in that as well, and so is recently released TNA star Petey Williams. Williams will team with fellow Canadian wrestler Phil Atlas, who is a relative unknown in North America but has toured with AJPW previously.

Dragon Gate: Dragon Gate just had its biggest show in company history, drawing a respectable crowd at Japan’s vaunted Sumo Hall. Of course, many of the Dragon Gate wrestlers who have in the past been involved with ROH and PWG were present. Naruki Doi went over visiting New Japan wrestler Koji Kanemoto in the main event, while CIMA won the company’s junior heavyweight title from Masato Yoshino. Elsewhere on the show, Cyber Kong was victorious in a mask versus hair match. It is interesting to note that, over the last several months, DG has not brought in nearly the number of US independent stars that they used to.

The Juice is Abused

Remember Juventud Guerrera? The lovable, egocentric luchadore who reportedly got tanked on a WCW tour of Australia and ran over Brad Armstrong’s foot with a motor vehicle? The guy who during his WWE run was so toxic in the locker room that everybody refused to travel with him expect for Bob Orton, Jr.?

Well, he’s back in the news. After being let go by WWE, Guerrera returned to wrestling in Mexico, and he’s stayed there ever since. However, the backstage antics that he became known for the United States have apparently continued, leaving him with few to no friends. According to the latest Figure Four Weekly, Juvi was backstage at an AAA show when he drew the ire of former ROH wrestler Jack Evans by biting him. Evans, who has been working for AAA regularly for several months now teaming with Teddy Hart, immediately got the better of the Juice and reportedly broke his nose. Juventud is now claiming that he no longer wants to come in as a full-time member of the AAA roster, as was supposedly the original plan.

No offense meant to the former leader of the Vulture Squad, but, when JACK EVANS of all people is getting the better of you in a legitimate fight, it may be for the best that you just hang up your wrestling boots.

Live and Let Dubai

This isn’t news per se, but I have to share word of what may be the GREATEST ANGLE EVER. I’ve mentioned this a few times on the forums that the 411 Wrestling staff use to communicate with one another, and the general consensus there is that an American promotion needs to steal this Japanese storyline immediately.

Pro Wrestling ZERO1, which I am frankly amazed still exists, introduced a unique tag team championship in 2007. Though the titles are technically a couple of years old now, they did not gain much traction until the early part of this year. They are referred to as the World Dubai Tag Team Championships and are allegedly sponsored by Mr. Burj-al, a “wealthy Sheik from Dubai” and his wife. Why a wealthy Sheik would care about ZERO1 is beyond me, but that’s one of the things that makes the storyline so great. Apparently the Sheik and his wife a big fans of mixed tag team matches, because the championship that they created must be held by teams consisting of one man and one woman. (Insert joke about gay marriage here.) The best part of all, though, is that the storyline tells us that any duo who wins the titles and successfully defends them ten times will be awarded a “palatial residence in Dubai.” Yes, that’s right. A wealthy Sheik from one of the wealthiest countries on the face of the planet loves mixed tag team wrestling in ZERO1 so much that he not only decided to create a set of belts for the promotion but also so much that he is potentially awarding the champions with real estate in a market which is almost impossible to by in to. This is phenomenal.

For the record, the current champions are Minoru Fujita and Saki Maemura. They have two successful defenses, meaning that they need eight more before they get their vacation home in the Middle East.

Linking In & Wrapping Up

Well, that should do it for this brief revival of the Custom Made News Report. Before I go, though, I have a few links to share:

~ The tight deadline I had to get this out on prevented me from doing any of the indy show previews that I used to do when writing the column full time. However, I did want to let everybody know that CHIKARA is getting ready to host its annual King of Trios tournament during the weekend of March 27. CHIKARA’s tournaments are always insanely fun shows. You can find ticket information at CHIKARApro.com. 411 newbie Kevin Ford has his own preview of the show up here.

~ It also wouldn’t be one of my columns if I didn’t plug SHIMMER. That company announced that its next set of DVD tapings will be held on May 1 and May 2 in Berwyn, Illinois. Ticket information is available at the SHIMMER Forums.

~ As far as 411 plugs are concerned, go read Ari Berenstein’s Wrestlemania countdown column.

~ Also, go bitch at me for voting for foreign competitors in our Wrestler of the Week column.

~ Finally, because he’s nice enough to pretend that what I say is still in some way relevant to this website, I’ll link to Lansdell.

And, with that, I’m out. To quote Jerry Springer, be good to yourselves and each other.


article topics

Ryan Byers

Comments are closed.