Monday, September 30, 2013

Picked Up The Pen To Write A Little Wrestling Note....

Has it really been that long? Was the last thing I wrote on this blog a full report on last year's Wrestlemania event? Have I not had a clear thought or interest in the world of pro wrestling since then?

Did I need to re-introduce myself to the industry again with a clearer sense - one not tainted by the bitter taste of swallowing "sports entertainment"? Was it time for me to let go of a thirty-plus year intimate and loyal relationship that I had with psychology, or did I need to sell my soul to the devil and realize that at the end of the day, the profits of the almighty dollar spoke in a much louder and deafening tone that artistic value and tradition?

Was it time for me to evolve emotionally and intellectually? Did I need to jump on the train for the greater good? After all, as a former promoter myself, isn't success measured by growth of the product?

Was it time for me to conform and play by the NEW rules of the game? Was it time for me to realize that we were now in 2013 and not in 1985? Shouldn't I be embracing the WWE's trail-blazing accomplishments in achieving the impossible and turning itself in to a multi-billion dollar empire when everyone said it couldn't be done?

Maybe it was time for me to realize my place in the business, ... or lack of.

Maybe it was time to look in the mirror and realize that I wasn't the same person I was when I broke into the business in 1992. Maybe the reality needed to set in that the last time I ran my own show was in the beginning of 2007. Perhaps it was hard to swallow the pill that MY best days in this business - whether it be meetings in the WWE offices, writing for the "Apter Mags", working behind-the-scenes in WCW, pioneering the first ever interactive pro wrestling radio and television show, "...And Justice For Brawl", or trying to help TNA Wrestling grow an audience as booker of a small northeast promotion called NWA Cyberspace - were far behind me?

Maybe I looked out into the independent circuit and realized that I don't recognize any of these names anymore, and none of them have any clue who I am. After 20 years in this business, my friends are few and far between, and my credentials are as old as the paper it's written on. I can walk into any indy show and not a single person will know my name or any of my accomplishments. They have no idea the years of experiences I carry with me, as I'm just another blurred face in the crowd.

How does this old school guy stay relevant today? A guy who broke in at a time where he helped protect kayfabe. A guy who earned his stripes the hard way, long before the technological and social media age - when business was conducted by talking and sealed with a handshake. When the strength of your networking abilities and passionate work ethic determined how far you could go in this business. When only a few and chosen were invited to be a part of the "secret society".

Maybe it's time for this guy to move on? Sit back and enjoy the show for what it is...and I have. I've watched it through the eyes of my seven-year old son. I see his passion for it. I wrestle with him on the floor and see glimmers of myself at his age. My dream come true was never to work for the WWE, but to share those moments with my own kid.

But as he gets older, he gets more curious. He hears the stories. He hears people refer to me as "DieHard". He finds the old photos. The scripts, the tapes, the articles, ... the WORK I put into the business. Not only does he want to know about those days that I worked with the n.W.o., but more importantly to him, he wants to know why I don't do it anymore.

And I really don't have an answer. Did I really walk away? Did the business use me for all it could and spit me out like so many other forgotten names and legacies? Did I run out of places to go, or money to throw away on an event where it would be impossible to even fathom breaking even? Why do I no longer have a relationship in a business where I dedicated 20 years of my life?

Because in reality, just as Vince Russo warned me on so many occasions, there is NO FUTURE in pro wrestling.

How many indy workers have you seen that should be on TV and aren't? How many talents gone to complete waste? How many workers who have lost their true perception of reality thinking that one day they'll get "the call"? They hold onto that dream forever and refuse to let it go, meanwhile they've lived an entire life in denial. And for anyone who knows me, knows I'm the last person to tell anyone to stop chasing their dreams. I'm the poster-boy for never giving up. After all, where do you think the name "DieHard" came from?

But this is the pro wrestling business, and the only reason anybody spends their life chasing this dream is because they are in a fucking coma! It will NEVER happen. It breaks my heart to see so many talented guys and girls working on getting noticed for a business where nobody is looking. Try-out camps have become a part of the business. When the fuck have you ever heard of "sport" who takes money from prospects just to get looked at? This isn't a real sport where you have 30 teams in a league, and the minors, with high school and college scholarships. There's ONE team with a small roster, and it's a traveling circus. And if you don't make that ONE team, then all your hopes and dreams have died in an instant. And I say one team, because the other one is doing so financially bad, they might be out of business by the time this little rant is posted.

Holy shit, I really wasn't planning on writing this much...

Long story short, I don't hate the business nor what it has become. I miss it, but I understand it... NOW, I "get it". But it's been a really long time since I wanted to work for the business. I've been there, and done that. Yet I've recently realized, that my new goal is... having the business work for ME!

There may only be one team to play for, but there are always going to be millions of fans to entertain.

I don't have a full plan yet, and anything I do is going to be treated like my "side bitch". This business doesn't deserve my full dedication anymore. I've already given it 20 of the best years of my life. But the next time my son asks me about my involvement in the wrestling business... I'm gonna have a much better answer for him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

n.W.o: The Revolution - DVD Review

The n.W.o. – it’s hard to believe how long it’s been since its inception. And while leaving one of the most profound marks on pro wrestling history, it amazes me how seldom it is referred to in today’s WWE Universe.

This DVD doesn’t do any better. It’s nothing more than a short cliff-notes narrative documenting their place in history, yet completely misses the mark of detailing the true impact and influence both on-camera and behind the scenes that changed the business.

After producing two compelling in-depth reality documentary style DVDs in the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels Rivalry and the recent CM Punk: Best In The World titles, WWE did a piss-poor job in capturing the true essence, aggressive nature and legitimate pressure that struck the industry as a whole during this era. This DVD is nothing more than a crash course on what the n.W.o. was and who the players were.

Before I go any further, let me state and advise to anyone interested in purchasing this DVD, that I am reviewing the blu-ray edition. Not because I wanted to watch Eric Bischoff’s perfect hair bounce, and not to watch Hulk Hogan’s terrible matches in high quality, but for the additional 90 minute Legends of Wrestling roundtable discussion that is NOT included on the standard DVD. This roundtable (as seen on WWE Classics on Demand, hosted by Gene Okerlund and featuring Jim Ross, JJ Dillion, Kevin Nash and Michael Hayes) is worth the price of the set alone and makes up for ALL the faults on the actual documentary.

n.W.o: The Revolution is a short documentary the compiles and rehashes a TON of old interviews that are at least 10 years old. The bulk of the DVD recycles interview bits with Eric Bischoff (2003), Hulk Hogan (2002), Scott Hall (2002), and Vince McMahon (2009). It’s obvious that the dated Hogan and Bischoff interviews were used due to their current affiliation with TNA Wrestling, but the lack of new content and recent comments takes away from the importance of the storytelling. These sound bytes were recorded during a time when WWE was still overly protective with the information they released to the public. Their most recent efforts provide a closer and non-filtered look into the true nature of behind the scenes storytelling, and by using the recycled material; it takes the viewer out of the moment.

On the flip side to that coin, there is an entire generation of fans in the WWE Universe who probably weren’t even born during the Monday Night Wars and who can use this DVD as their first introduction to the new World Order and their place in history. Not to mention, they have probably never seen the re-used footage before – so it’s all new to them anyway.

Maybe I’m being a little over-critical on the choices of production, as there are many new interviews with talents who were actually apart of the time such as Booker T, Billy Kidman, Bill Demott, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Sean Waltman and Dusty Rhodes – but they were still underutilized in the production of this DVD. On a refreshing note, there is some great input by current WWE stars Cody Rhodes – who discusses what it was like being an 11 year old fan whose father was working for WCW, monitoring the ratings, and ultimately joining the n.W.o. on-screen; Matt Striker – who was a young aspiring wrestler in training heavily influenced by the times; and Joe Henning – who watched his father wrestle the last great years of his life wearing n.W.o. colors.

The other bone, which I find bigger to pick, is with how the telling of the story was actually executed. Rather than give it the gritty “True Hollywood Story” treatment, it was more of a polished celebration that gently covered controversial topics as if it were being taught to an elementary class. The kid gloves weren’t only on, that were double strapped and extra padded. It plays as a compilation of n.W.o.’s greatest hits and archived interviews, which is ultimately a huge disappointment, considering what we have grown accustomed to based on the efforts put out in the rivalries series.

This DVD is full of denial. If you can read between the lines, it clearly says that Vince McMahon wishes the n.W.o. was his creation. It eats him alive knowing that something so brilliant wasn’t his own. There is barely any talk of how the n.W.o. revolution almost killed WWE’s business. Barely any talk of the WWE’s fear of losing talent. And there is never any talk from those who were on the WCW roster who were opposed to control and politics that came with the n.W.o.

Very early into this DVD, I found myself getting bored and hoping for it to be over with. I knew the product I wanted to see, and was well aware that I wasn’t going to get it in this installment. This DVD feels like it was designed for the new generation of wrestling fans who may have heard of it but really didn’t know of its true impact to the business because it is rarely referenced to on WWE programming. And the reason for that is clear – the n.W.o. almost killed RAW and the WWE, and Vince refuses to praise it and how good it really was. Had it been his own creation, we never would have heard the end of it and would have seen more reincarnations over the last decade.

Another creation Vince can’t take credit for and one that he has never had the opportunity to prostitute under his logo is Sting. I actually loved seeing the praise for how much Sting meant to WCW and the entire n.W.o. angle because it feels like a last ditch effort begging for Sting to end his career in the WWE rather than TNA. It still baffles me that Sting has never worked a day in his life for Vince McMahon, and that fact alone eats away at his core. Vince McMahon may be convinced that he is the almighty God of the wrestling world, but Sting is the one guy that God could never get on the payroll.

Admittedly, the WWE was forced to acknowledge their efforts and failed attempt to resurrect the n.W.o. in the WWE in 2001, claiming that it was just shell of itself that didn’t vibe with the fans. As Booker T says, “You can’t blame Vince for trying to squeeze the last bit of juice.”

As it closed, I felt there was a huge chunk missing that was never covered, in terms of the shoot style of storytelling that it influenced. Not only in the hands of the n.W.o., but in how it pushed the WWE into the “Attitude Era”, namely with Degeneration-X. Yes, it’s mentioned, but its significance really isn’t recognized. Breaking the fourth wall – or in this case, the kayfabe- is perhaps the greatest signature of the era. It is what really turned Monday Nights into a war. The rules were thrown out of the window, competitors were acknowledging each other on television, and the curtain that protected an exclusive world was pulled in front of the public. This DVD basically summarized the success of the n.W.o. as being cool bad guys, without an explanation of the real mystique.

Fortunately, the roundtable discussion on the blu-ray covers it ALL and asks the burning questions real enthusiasts want to ask. For more information on what the roundtable covers, check out this mini-review of that piece of content: WWE Legends of Wrestling n.W.o.

What are your thoughts/reviews on the DVD? Do you agree or disagree with me? Post your comments below and feel free to share this review with your friends.

You can interact with DieHard Derek by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

The n.W.o. Roundtable Discussion and The Information That SHOULD Have Been On The DVD

If you read my n.W.o: The Revolution DVD review, then you know it’s not worth your money. But if you’re still inclined to make the purchase, then be sure to spend your money on the blu-ray edition with the additional 90 minute Legends of Wrestling roundtable discussion that is NOT included on the standard DVD. This roundtable (as seen on WWE Classics on Demand, hosted by Gene Okerlund and featuring Jim Ross, JJ Dillion, Kevin Nash and Michael Hayes) is worth the price of the set alone and makes up for ALL the faults on the actual documentary.

Here are some of the key points worth noting:

-Kevin Nash talks about his and Scott Hall’s contract negotiations with WCW, and how they were offered more than “Sting money” – which was a term Sting’s contract of 750K per year , which no one else was making in the early days of WCW.

-Another term that fans are smartened-up to is “Favored Nations” – which is a clause added to a contract stating that if another performer receives better terms, the said individual is entitled to equal compensation. After learning this, Nash tells the story of how Hall’s agent already had the clause in place for him as a former Intercontinental champion, and how Hall pushed for Nash to sign as a former heavyweight champion at 1.2 million so that his contract would get bumped up as well.

-Nash discusses talks he had with his pregnant wife. His decision was based on more money and less days; a smaller ring; and older guys on the roster which would result in less risk of injuries. He admits to going to Vince out of loyalty and asking him to match it, but Vince declined because had he made the exception for him, he’d have to do it for a number of other performers on the roster.

-Interesting clips of some rehashed Eric Bischoff interviews where he calls out the early 90’s WWE product for being too animated and to cartoonish. He also admits that the n.W.o. concept was not completely original and was a rehash of a New Japan angle.

-An interesting point is brought up, as such in what the chances were that Hall and Nash’s contracts with the WWE would be up within five days of each other. This was an opportunity to fulfill inter-promotional dream matches.

-Nash talks about the WCW office not “getting” the n.W.o. gimmick. Merchandising wanted to do combo packs selling their t-shirts. In order to keep it real, Nash wouldn’t allow it. He took the shirts and sold them to fans on the street.

-Jim Ross discusses the lawsuit filed by the WWE against WCW for intellectual property. He then goes into talking about when they decided to swerve the fans by announcing that Razor and Diesel would be returning to RAW, and how WCW panicked and offered Hall and Nash an additional 400K each to their contracts – causing WCW to pay 800K to sign two guys who were already signed. No wonder WCW went out of business.

-There is talk of Hulk Hogan not wanting to turn heel and potentially ruin his legacy. They also mention how the back up plan was to have Sting join if Hogan decided to balk on the idea – yet, Sting didn’t want to do it either. Nash says Hogan was smart enough to hear the boos and knew the business well enough to make money with it.

-If this roundtable does anything other than give a first-hand look at that the strategy and impact of the n.W.o., it gives a newfound respect for Eric Bischoff. He was an underdog who took the chance and the fight to the Gods…and won…at least for 83 weeks.

-Michael Hayes talks about the WWE locker room and their conflicting jealousy and fear of going out of business. He also mentions the concern for the employees at WWE headquarters who would have been unfortunate casualties of war.

-Jim Ross also mentions that the n.W.o.’s affect on the Monday Night Wars forced enhancement matches to disappear, because management was now forced to micro manage every segment for star power. So much, that WCW’s attempt to spoil Mick Foley’s pre-taped title win backfired when 800K fans switched the channel to RAW and killed WCW’s 83 week streak.

This is just a few examples of could have made the n.W.o. dvd great, and makes us question why these topics weren’t covered or talked about in greater detail in the actual documentary. It never covered how the n.W.o. helped build new stars such as Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, Goldberg and reinvent an aging Sting.
There was so much potential left on the table and omitted based on poor choices by the dvd’s producers. But if there is any salvation to wrestling fans, it’s THIS roundtable discussion that gives you more in 90 minutes of discussion than the actual assignment itself.

What are your thoughts/reviews on the DVD? Do you agree or disagree with me? Post your comments below and feel free to share this review with your friends.

You can interact with DieHard Derek by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CM Punk : Best in The World DVD Review

If you follow my writings or know a little bit about my history, you’d know that CM Punk is not a favorite of mine. About a year ago, I wrote an article entitled, “CM Punk is a F*cking Douchebag”, which talked in detail about the time I had the opportunity to work with him while I was the booker at NWA Cyberspace.

For the most part, I got a ton of heat from the fans. Mostly ass-kissers who were telling me to stop whining like a little bitch, yet those same ass-kissers have never done ANYTHING in this business to even warrant an opinion. I told it exactly the way it went down, and what my dealings with the future WWE champion was like. It’s a true story, and even though I was the employer and he was the employee, most fans marked out and took the side of their hero. Personally, I could care less. It is what it is, and at the time, it was business - something a mark wouldn’t understand.

The reason I bring that up is because I don’t want any reader of this review to think that I am somewhat (if not fully) biased towards my review of CM Punk’s new WWE DVD release, “Best In The World”. Like my previous story, I am here to tell it like it is. My job is simply to observe and report - no more, no less. I kept an open mind when watching the DVD and was professional enough not to let my own personal experiences blur the lines of my integrity. With that said, I think you’ll enjoy my review and perhaps find a few surprises along the way.


The documentary starts with a black title card, spelling out the voiceover passage from CM Punk himself. It reads:

“I’m a guy for all intents and purposes should have never made it to the WWE.”

“I’ve had roadblock after roadblock…thrown in my way. But not only did I get passed those roadblocks. I did it by flipping off the people that put up those roadblocks.”

“I feel that I have a responsibility to the younger wrestlers on the roster, the ones who aren’t signed yet. And the future of pro wrestling as a whole to help make this place better and to change this place. I certainly can’t do it by sitting on my couch in Chicago”.

With that opening narrative alone, I automatically assumed we were in for a self-indulged ego trip. Here is a guy who was walking out of the company just over a year ago because his face wasn’t on the plastic cups and lunch boxes. The same time last year, people we giving me shit for the article I wrote, calling me a whiny bitch because I was paying THIS GUY to do a job for MY COMPANY and he was difficult to work with. But the night that he cut that epic promo that supposedly changed the business, nobody ever once called him a little whiny bitch who couldn’t get a stable spot on the roster, so he planned on walking away on July 17th, 2011.

Who is this guy? The king of the indies who got his WWE contract and was convinced he was better than the rest. Meanwhile his career didn’t do shit for the 5-6 years he was on the roster. Oh, but let’s blame creative, who had nothing for him. Now all of a sudden, because of one shoot promo, he thinks he’s a locker room leader? He thinks he can make the WWE a “better place”? He thinks he’s the best in the world? Well, after watching this two-hour documentary…maybe I was wrong?

Unlike most of the DVDs in the WWE catalog that are hosted by Matt Striker and some clueless diva, this one felt, dare I say, “real”. It was produced like an MTV reality show mixed in with the gritty hard hitting E! True Hollywood Story formula. It clearly showed Punk as who is really is – a loner in his own world.

Having the experience of working with him before, it’s an accurate vision and portrayal of an angry young man hell-bent on proving his critics wrong. Just as I had seen with my own eyes, a man who keeps to himself in the locker room with his earphones drowning out everything around him…including those who are working with him, paying him and who need to give him direction. It makes you think that Punk does what he wants because he truly thinks he is bigger than the business. He has that Shawn Michaels swagger from the mid-90’s. The one where Shawn would tell anyone and everyone , including Vince McMahon, to go fuck themselves and that the product sucks and needs to change. If that’s the reputation Punk was shooting for, at least he’s in good company. The difference is, now he needs to prove himself just as Shawn did.
CM Punk’s life story is at times heartbreaking, yet it serves as a good motivational and inspiring piece. A kid whose blood family lost interest in him, so he proved the world wrong and created his own family from a group of friends whose sofa he took permanent residence on. Knowing this now, it’s easier to understand why he is who he is, and why his outlook on life is so narrow. But now that we know this, he’s shown us his cards and we can see into his “thousand yard stare”, revealing that there are chinks in his armor after all.

On a personal note, although I may not have known his story prior to working with him, I can say from experience that I was one of those people who saw his raw talent and wanted to give him the opportunity to shine. But he shut out the world. Even though we weren’t looking to exploit him, we wanted to give him a place where he could do what he does best. I’d call it a character flaw. He’d call it a defense mechanism.

I like how Punk talks about the similarities between him and Rowdy Roddy Piper. I had never examined the comparisons between the two until he brought it up in the DVD. Not the biggest guys in size, but they had the biggest mouths and drew the biggest heat to sell-out crowds.

After learning that he was initially self-taught in the craft of pro wrestling and performed in the wildly popular backyard federations, you could easily see the confidence, passion and determination of a kid destined to chase down and tackle his dream. The home movie footage is almost a prophecy of what was to come later in his WWE career.

I was surprised to see WWE dedicate so much time to establishing his friendships with Colt Cabana and Chris Hero. It was an “out-of-suit” approach that is rarely seen in WWE videos unless those talent are part of WWE’s alumni. I applaud the WWE for taking the chance on emphasizing the importance of Punk’s indy matches with Cabana and Hero, because without it, the story could never be complete. Those matches are what helped shape his character, his origins and his fan-base. His epic encounters with his best friends and their travels around the country are stuff of legend, and a missing element in today’s generation. Punk proves he earned his stripes the “old school” way, and even though the territories no longer exist, they treated their travels as if they did. That alone earned a great deal of my own respect, and now I know he was more than just an over-hyped indy dreamer.

Joey Mercury describes Punk as “unapologetically confident”. He continues to say, “I didn’t like him but I respected him. He was smug an arrogant. He wasn’t always the best in the world, but he believed he was”. Ironically, that was the same CM Punk I met and worked with. I’m a big believer in first impressions, and the impression that I got from him was that he was a fucking asshole. But if you ask anyone else about their first impression upon meeting him, they’d give you the same exact answer.

Again, I was very impressed with how the WWE covered Punk’s time in Ring of Honor. Although the WWE didn’t directly give ROH the props they deserve, Punk did more than enough in paying tribute. His time in the organization is full of cherished memories, epic matches and his first home in the wrestling business. I loved hearing about his brutal matches with Raven and his legendary encounters against TNA superstar Samoa Joe. I almost sensed that WWE regretted not signing Joe when they had the chance. As much as I love seeing Punk in the ring against Daniel Bryan, can you imagine the business WWE could do with Punk vs. Joe?

Seeing Punk as WWE champion inside of a ROH ring was a humbling experience for the viewer as much as it was for the man himself. You feel as if you are witnessing and sharing his experience in coming full circle. It also makes you wonder how much WWE acknowledges his achievements in Ring of Honor and why they continue to hold him back from performing at that level. Granted, Punk has aged and his style has been modified to better suit who he is today, and they type of experience the WWE roster offers him with their form of entertainment rather than a pure form of wrestling. But when the product is slipping and suffering, and Punk is your top guy, shouldn’t you listen to him when he can offer valid recommendations? Isn’t that how WWE re-grew their balls and formed the attitude era? It’s been almost 20 years, aren’t they due for a resurgence? Why not let Punk lead the way? Oh right… because Triple H is just as much of a cockblocker as Vince is. Nice way to keep it in the family. I guess the “E” in WWE stands for EGO.

Speaking of egos, one of the most eccentric pieces of this documentary is hearing from Paul Heyman , as he discusses in detail what it was like working with Punk in OVW. Call him what you want, but there is no denying the scary eye for talent Paul Heyman has implanted in his head. Pair that with a tongue that has no filter, and you’re looking at a mad genius. Sure, Heyman is notorious for promoting above and beyond the realms of reality, but when you splice in opinions from the doubters such as Michael Hayes, Scott Armstrong, Triple H and even the beloved John Cena, it only strengthens Heyman’s case for being dead on right about his judgment.

Heyman talks about how much Punk hated being trapped in OVW. Granted, these days EVERYONE goes the developmental system before getting called up to the main roster. It’s not like the days when you made a name for yourself in the territories, got press in the “Apter Mags”, or had some kind of TV experience working for the opposition. Everyone goes through re-development and re-packaging. But it was Paul Heyman who fought and said, “Change absolutely NOTHING about CM Punk…including his name”. Heyman knew the importance and the impact of leaving CM Punk intact.

CM Punks literally owes his career to Paul Heyman. What you see today on Raw is NOT a storyline. Punk is a true to heart Heyman guy, and in this DVD you see exactly how Heyman takes him under his wing and guides him through the turbulent and political criticisms that haunted him by saying he would never be called up to the main roster. You grow eager to hear more about Punk’s education through Paul Heyman, how he turned the negative indy stigma into a positive fighting drive to redemption, and the influence of being branded a “Paul Heyman Guy”.

When I listen to doubt and criticism of Michael Hayes and John Cena, I realize that I shared the same perception of CM Punk. I easily gave up on a guy because I didn’t have the patience to deal with his bullshit. I knew what I wanted to get out of him, but I didn’t take the time to “get” him. I realize that trying to work with CM Punk without getting to know and understand CM Punk is like watching a movie from the middle. How do you expect to follow that story if you don’t know where it came from or how it all started? How can you invest in moving forward when you haven’t invested in the taking the time to understand the legends? And by sticking to his beliefs, no matter how many bridges he burned or people he rubbed wrong along the way, he is changing the course of what the face of the WWE should be. As they said in the DVD, his attitude may have “hindered his growth, but not his heart”.

Around the 55 minute mark in the DVD, CM Punk was already on the WWE roster competing for the re-imaged ECW. At that point, I figured now the ass kissing and “fluff” of the DVD will begin. They will do away with the origins story and push how hard he worked and the great matches he had once he got called up, then nonchalantly take credit for giving him the global exposure to become what he is today. Same old WWE bullshit, right?...WRONG!

Just because he was called up doesn’t mean it was smooth sailing for him. After all, why fueled his rage that led to his shoot promo? What did he endure for six years before he decided to walk away from everything he has fought so long and hard for? Would the WWE allow him to be so critical of their use of him on their own product?
Well, they do. And CM Punk discusses his frustrations during his six year run, starting with his first meaningless ECW championship win and on to his first World Heavyweight title win on the Smackdown brand. You still hear the criticisms of how those within the company felt he tarnished the belt and wasn’t positioned to be “the guy”. Basically, his reigns were to appease the fan-base.

Skepticism and underlying blame is volleyed back and forth from Triple H saying, “The title doesn’t make the guy. The guy makes the title”, to Michael Hayes stating the Punk “having the title was not the drawing factor”, and ultimately in his own defense Punk retorts with, “The focal point should always be on the title”, which I completely agree with.

On the flip side of the coin, Triple H and Hayes have their points. Was CM Punk just a fan favorite who wasn’t strong enough to carry business? Was it too soon to bless him with the pressure of being a brand champion? Or did CM Punk underestimate the responsibility of being the top draw for the company? Here is a guy so eager to be the best in the world that perhaps the only achievement he made was becoming his own worst enemy.

Punk was no longer in his own world. He was in the WWE Universe. A universe that had legends such as The Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena and Chris Jericho to name a few. Legends and icons of the business who looked at him saying, “Who the fuck is this guy and who the fuck does he think he is?... .It doesn’t matter what he did in front of 400 people on an indy show, this is the WWE, where history is written”. And while I feel Punk’s sentiment when he literally gave away the title because the Jericho/HBK program needed it more than he did – I understand it from a business point of view. Triple H clearly states that Punk was not going to be “the guy” He was simply going to be “the guy with the belt in the middle of the card”.
Maybe that was the wake-up call Punk needed, or maybe that was the gasoline he wanted to set a bigger fire?

After winning the title for the second time, he tells the story of Vince McMahon approaching him with the challenge of “being a heel”. In hindsight, it was an opportunity to take the dog off the leash, but at the same time it unleashed the locker room asshole I warned you about before. The problem with Punk is that he thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Although I too am a firm believer that rules were made to be broken and the only way to prove them wrong is to go against the grain. Punk admitted to becoming very opinionated and not wanting help from the creative teams. He would tear up their written scripts in their face. And while Punk makes for a fascinating heel, I think the real challenge would be to force him to remain a babyface.

It’s easy to draw heat. It’s easy to tell the fans to fuck off and spit in their faces. The real challenge is being a good face. It’s easy to be hated, but it’s hard to be loved. Look at John Cena. He’s the textbook good guy, and people still take big wet shits all over him. Even before Punk recently turned to the darkside, he spent the better part of 2012 as a weak babyface. He just can’t do it. Sure they fans bought into his rebellious theories and his anti-establishment stance, but at the end of the day, they were still cheering for a guy who was doing what HE wanted to do for the good of him and him only. He’s the first admit that he’s not a role model. But have you ever tried being one? Have you ever embraced the love of the fans? All you know I heel. All you speak is heel. All you do is heel. If you aren’t pissing people off, you can’t do anything else. Pull on their emotions, not just their anger. THAT makes you the best in the world. I “get” that it’s not your gimmick, but until you’ve tried and succeeded, you can never fully achieve your claim.

There are very few people who know the real Phil Brooks. And as much of an asshole as I think CM Punk is to work with, I respect his loyalty to his friends. In an emotional story told by Joey Mercury, he had succumbed to the demons of drugs. He lost his job with the WWE and his was on the verge of losing his home. In a heartbeat, Phil Brooks wrote him a check and bought his house out of foreclosure. While it’s not a story that would make headlines or change the course of the WWE Universe, it changed my perception with a sense of humanity that I personally didn’t think this man had in him. Would he do it for anybody else? I don’t know? Does he believe in charitable causes? I don’t know. But I do know he did it for a friend, and by doing so, there is a part of him that healed his own wounds. Wounds that have been blistering since his family turned his back on him. Again, proving people wrong- that you CAN choose your own family.

Finally, as the documentary draws to a close, we hear everything that led to the contract negotiations and the “pipe bomb” promo that somewhat changed the landscape. I say somewhat, because the product is piss poor as we speak and the effect of the promo fizzled within months due to the inept booking of the WWE creative team. It could have had the lasting power of the n.W.o. , but not only did creative drop the ball, they also kicked it away.

After watching the infamous “pipe bomb” promo again, I realized how good it really was. I knew it then, but I KNOW it now. I knew I was witnessing an “event” when it happened live, and as time has passed I shit on WWE for not capitalizing on the momentum.

It was interesting to know that CM Punk resigned his deal with the WWE halfway through was expected to be his final show at Money In The Bank, and we can only wonder what would have become had they not come to terms. But I am glad they did. I have appreciated what Punk has done in the last 300 plus days as world champion. I believe he truly not only wants to change the company, but the business as a whole. I believe in his disgust of sports entertainment and his purists beliefs as a pro wrestler. Now that I know his history better, I believe in him as a locker room leader and a big brother to younger stars. I believe he is the last of the “old school mentality” guys (with the exception of Dolph Ziggler, who has the tools to be a mega star). I believe he can change the game and that he can lead the cavalry. I still believe that CM Punk is a fucking asshole…but I now believe in CM Punk, and there is a good chance he may in fact be what he always claimed to be…the best in the world.

What are your thoughts/reviews on the DVD? Do you agree or disagree with me? Post your comments below and feel free to share this review with your friends.

You can interact with DieHard Derek by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 23, 2012

REPOST: GLOW Revival “Dead On Arrival” Due To Shady Promoter; Several Girls Not Paid

**Editor's Note - I am reporting this article that was originally posted by This article serves great importance because it is a prime example of some of the horror stories that occur daily in this business, and by none other than one of the biggest con-men and pathological liars this business has ever spawned. I personally have had numerous encounters dealing with this individual, but normally do not air out my dirty laundry in public. Apparently his con artists antic have caught up with him and here is yet another story of a someone (Eric Nyenhuis) who should be blackballed from this business.**

We’ve been on a bit of a GLOW kick here at Ringbelles for the last week or so. Having talked to the utterly charming and intelligent Angelina Altishin (GLOW’s Little Egypt) for the most recent edition of the Women of Wrestling Podcast, we’ve been keeping an eye on goings-on at Cauliflower Alley’s 2012 Reunion, where Lisa Moretti (aka GLOW’s Tina Ferrari and WWE’s Ivory) was honoured, Angelina presented two seminars to atendees, and several GLOW originals made special appearances. Even WWE’s Kharma was spotted on local news, putting over the original GLOW product. However, one thing we haven’t mentioned (other than in passing in this week’s Roundup) was that running opposite Cauliflower Alley, across town in Henderson, NV – there was an attempt to revive the product with a GLOW-branded show billed as “A Night of Fan Appreciation”. There had even been talk that this would herald a GLOW “Season 5″ as a TV product.

It seemed a bizarre day to try and launch a revival, given that anybody in the Las Vegas area with any interest in wrestling would almost certainly be going to Cauliflower Alley – not to mention that with a large number of GLOW originals already committed to be at Cauliflower Alley, even those who were hardcore GLOW fans (if such a thing still exists in 2012) would have had a difficult decision to make. The day after, the best we could cobble together was a partial talent list and a partial set of results – and it became clear that the revival wasn’t exactly a success. We first heard of a crowd of possibly 50 (and that was taking into account local trainees). We’ve even heard an estimate considerably lower than that. That, unfortunately, was only the tip of the iceberg, as we’ve since heard various shady stories regarding promoter Eric Rolphe Nyenhuis. Click through to after the jump for the full story.

At this point, we may as well go right to this YouTube video posted today by Freakshow Wrestling’s Scorch The Clown where he calls for a boycott on any future events promoted by the aforementioned Eric Rolphe Nyenhuis (who calls himself the new CEO of GLOW, under the name Eric Danger Nyenhuis).

Scorch actually makes a lot of points in this video that we’ve been busy confirming ourselves over the last couple of days, and we’re able to confirm that we’ve heard similar stories from various parties involved in the ill-fated reunion. Most notably, we’ve independently confirmed that a number of girls were stiffed on pay and lied to about a number of things. Rather than being put up in the Gold Coast Hotel, the girls were to be put in a sub $40 per night flea pit, the promised “limousine transport” to/from the hotel ended up being a number of people crammed in the back of a van, and unsurprisingly the promise that the venue had paid catering also turned out to be false. Perhaps most damning is the fact that (as mentioned by Scorch), Nyenhuis was caught trying to sneak out of the venue before the show was over to avoid having to pay several of the talent. He then tried blaming investors etc, before jerking around the girls for several hours as they ended up following him around Vegas until his trail went cold. One of the girls had been given a hotel room key, but nobody had told them where they were supposed to be staying – and it was only through the good graces and contacts of Stu Stone (who worked on the show as a manager and managed to pull in some favours) that they were eventually able to find a hotel for the night. The next morning, Nyenhuis was still nowhere to be found – meaning that fly-in talent who had to get back to the airport had to organise their own transport back.

As for the show, the promised “hair and makeup artists” turned out to be Nyenhuis’ girlfriend – GLOW original Roxy Astor and her daughter Kayla (who worked the show as Brittany Astor), the sound guy was Astor’s son, and the photographer was Roxy’s other daughter’s boyfriend. Promotion was non-existent outside a facebook fan page (which has since been taken down by Nyenhuis’ business partner, who was *also* lied to) and the event was described as “unprofessional”. From what we’ve been able to gather, only four matches were put on, and outside of the Legends Battle Royal (which was won by GLOW original Hollywood), none of the other three had a finish. Taeler Hendrix (working as Vanessa Hendrix Wundor – aka VH1) had some sort of a no-contest with Kitana Vera (as Lil’ Figi) (we’ve been unable to determine the exact finish), Buggy Nova (as Donna Dead) went to a Double DQ with Brittany Astor) and Sara Del Rey (as Sara Death Ray) went to a 15 minute draw with Candice LaRae (as Robyn, The Super Hero).

The one thing that we’ve heard throughout from every source is that nobody is blaming or knocking the GLOW girls, either originals or new – and that the utter failure of this project lies solely on the head of this shady promoter, Eric Nyenhuis. It brings us no pleasure to bring this to the attention of our readers – and even though we assume Nyenhuis will disappear off the grid for an extended length of time after this debacle, we believe (and hope) that nobody else should have to put up with the (in the words of Scorch) “Bullcrap” that a number of these performers have had to over the last few days. Please, we urge that any wrestlers who are approached by this man in future heed this warning.

We will bring you more news if and when any develops.

Dean Ambrose - Pro Wrestling's Next Big Thing

There aren't many times when I look at a young wrestler and try to predict his future in the business. After all, what's the fucking point? Under the WWE creative umbrella, he'll win a title 3 months after debuting, flip from babyface to monster heel atleast four times throughout the year, and eventually be recycled into a new gimmick until he's frustrated enough to quit the business or wrestle for TNA until they go out of business. But there is a new guy about to be called up to the main roster and debut. There isn't a single thing about him that ever needs to be changed. And to think, he's still in his infancy. You are about to witness what could potentially go down as one of the business' greatest antagonists. And you will get to witness it from the beginning, and for years to come. I give to you, Dean Ambrose.

He's not big, but he's tall enough. He's not ripped, but he's solid. He doesn't really look the role, but that will play into his advantage. And he's got a mouth on him that spews a promo like a true traditionalist of the business. A down right gritty renegade who flips the bird to flamboyancy of the entertainment portion but gives his last breathe to finish the fight. When I look at Dean Ambrose, I see Terry Funk in his early twenties.

You may remember him as Jon Moxley, and you may have followed his career on the indy scene in Ring of Honor, to name a few. Feel privileged for that opportunity, for it will hold a special place in your heart to know that you witness the birth of greatness for a mere twenty dollars in a VFW hall. While his name has changed, his formula and ingredients haven't. Ambrose is designed to be a star, and anyone who has the opportunity to share the ring with him will declare it an experience.

I hold high praise for Ambrose, not for what he has done - but for what he believes. In the early 80's, I found my passion for the business through characters who I believed truly existed in the real world. Later on in life, when I first started to break in - I realized that the magic that made them so effective to my imagination was that the person they were in real life wasn't too far off from who they portrayed themselves to be in the ring. To me, that meant that there was some reality to this business. Terry Funk is another who brings truth to my words. The man you meet is the same as the man you watch, cheer and jeer for. The man is a walking, living, breathing character. Ambrose doesn't play it...he IS it!

Recently, Ambrose's debut has been pushed through social media following a series of verbal attacks on hardcore legend Mick Foley. When have you ever heard of a newcomer getting an endorsement from a legend to kickstart his career?

At a house show in December, I saw Ambrose perform in a match against Daniel Bryan. While Bryan's work has been praised as one of the best in the business, it far different from the style Ambrose brought to the fight. It was a clash of two styles which surprisingly, Ambrose garnered more attention. While Bryan's moveset seemed well thought out and better choreographed and designed - Ambrose seemed sloppy, unprepared and trying to adjust to Bryan's dance. You might be asking, "So why are you so high on Ambrose if he looked sloppy?" The answer is, because he designed it that way.

Ambrose came staggering to the ring as if he had been sleeping off a hangover in the locker room from an all night drinking binge the night before. As if an agent yelled to him, "AMBROSE! GET THE FUCK TO THE RING! YOU'RE ON 2 MINUTES!" He sold what he was doing backstage without ever having to say what it was. He let our imaginations run free, but not too free where we got lost in disbelief. We were free to believe what he was feeding us. BIG difference. His ring style simply said, "I came in here to fight. What the fuck is this guy doing flying and bouncing all over the place? Stay still so I can beat the shit out of you!"

Ambrose sold like no other. You bought into his pain, his cockiness, and his arrogance. You almost wanted to fight him yourself.

The office has had him touring with the crew and performing at local house shows to evaluate his work and make sure he's ready for TV. He's been winning his matches so that fans get acquainted with him and his style. In one of his recent wins, he finished the match by rolling down his knee pad and planting a bare knee into the face of his opponent. No finishing move needed. A simple heel tactic that hasn't been seen since the 80's that screams in volumes, "I came here to fight. I came here to win. And I came here to hurt someone". Very reminiscent of Jake "The Snake" Roberts when he first arrived on the scene and stunned the world with his DDT.

Now all that I have written is glorifying Ambrose's ring work. I haven't even begun talking about his promo skills. In all honesty, I could write for hours on how good and effective he is in engaging the audience and keep relevance while portraying a character like he was Marlon Brando. You feel his pain in his words. You sense there are tears in the eyes behind the sunglasses. He paints a perfect picture of how he continues to interpret his feud outside of the ring and into his real life - a trait Don Muraco was legendary for.

If this were a comic book, Dean Ambrose would easily be the character Deadpool. He is an experiment of taking the best qualities out of some of histories best characters and breeding them into one new man. He's a genetic gimmick freak stirring qualities from Funk, Flair, Muraco, Roberts, Arn, Piper, Race - to name a few.

Watch the video above. You are about to witness a legend in the making... as long as the sitcom machine doesn't botch this natural born wrestler by stuffing penciled words down his mouth and allows him spit on his own. If they do it, generations from now will emulate his antics much like Ric Flair is emulated today. I predict, Dean Ambrose will be pro wrestling's next big thing.

Last of a Dying Breed Leads To Extinction

Back in the 90's, when the n.W.o. gimmick started to fade with the overkill of adding older wrestlers who flat out refused to put over the younger talent, I was a huge advocate of passing the torch to the next generation of young stars whop would bare the burden of carrying the success of the industry on their backs. After all, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart and Randy Savage only had so much left in them. They were in their twilight of their career and new stars had to be handed the responsibility of keeping the business alive.

Luckily, the young stars that were promoted were names like Chris Jericho, The Rock, Eddie Guerrero, and even a guy like Triple H. Watching this past Wrestlemania, it truly was the end of an era. Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker are "yesterday's names". Michaels is already retired. Taker is on his way out. And Trips married the bosses daughter and will be running the show for the next 50 years.

So who are the new stars of today? John Cena is a no-brainer. CM Punk has finally found his mojo and will become of the next big stars for the business. But then what...? Who else is there? Jericho's career near it's end. He wants to go out on top, spend time with the family and pursue other projects. It won;t be long until we hear that Jericho will be taking another hiatus, and perhaps a more permanent one. Then what? How much more can Cena carry on his back? Orton can help with the load and switch back and forth. Who's the next big star? Who will get "the call"? Sheamus? Maybe. I think he's a great worker, but the gimmick is limited. Who else?...I'll wait.

See, even though the torch is being offered up, there really isn't anyone there to take it and run with it. Alberto Del Rio is a great heel, but the fans don't get him. I don;t think Alberto gets himself. The "entertainment" is so overwhelming in his character and in how he responds to the other characters, that Del Rio almost comes off as confused in the ring. He's like, "Mira Papi, I'm to wrestle. I didn't know I had to act like a Telemundo novela."

Dolph Ziggler is ready and willing - but I don;t think the office is 100% sold on him right now. They see a work horse looking to steal the show and they figure, "Let's not feed him. The more he starves, the harder he'll work for food." But Ziggler isn't a quitter, and his day will come when people start referring to him as the next Shawn Michaels. How long did Michaels have to carry around Marty Jannetty? Then he had a manager in Sherri Martel. And then they let him go on his own. And then he had a bodyguard. And THEN... he became world champion and arguably the greatest of all time. I urge you fans to stick with Ziggler, because there will be a day when he is the hottest thing on the wrestling market. I called it for Shawn Michaels back in 1992, and I call it here on Ziggler.

The one that bothers me the most is Wade Barrett. The WWE invested so much into him with the ill-fated Nexus angle, and then they tried to get him over on his own. Now, he's just a guy who can get the right shoe to fit. He's uncomfortable in the ring, he's uncomfortable to watch, and he's as wooden as Pinnochio's penis.

Barrett has the tools to be a hard nosed competitor and respected in the same breath as William Regal, Fit Finlay and even JBL. He has the same rugged style and approach blended with a a technical twist. So why isn't he getting over? The night the Nexus angle took off, I was convinced that I was convinced that i was witnessing something big. I thought this was a game changer like the n.W.o. was. This army of rookies became the main antagonist of the show, main eventing with John Cena - and Barrett was their leader. How could that fail?...I don't know, but it did. And since the angle was dissolved, Barrett was repackaged as an European tough guy who boasted of being a bare knuckle champion. But what did any of the prove in the ring. In the squared circle, you were still a chump. Nothing became of Barrett. Even when he's out with an injury, it has no effect what so ever with the progress of the show. he was filler material right off the cookie-cutter clone line. Only difference was that he had a little size on him, other than that, same shit as everyone else.

Sure, you'll always have one that rises above the rest. You'll have your Cenas Ortons, Jerichos, Punks...but they amount to nothing if their opponents are less than nothing. They are only as good as the match they can design with their opponent. Anybody remember matches where Bret Hart had to wrestle Kwang, or Skinner, or that fucking French pirate with one eye? Remember Hogan trying to get over Zeus, The Dungeon of Doom and the fucking Yeti? Hogan was the best at getting people over. Look at what he did for The Ultimate Warrior. Not even The Warrior can believe it. It's almost cliche to hear an old school traditional wrestler refer to themselves as, "The Last of a Dying Breed". But maybe it's true. Remember the dinosaurs? Funny how we refer to Hogan and Flair as one of them, what happened when the dinosaurs no longer roamed the earth? What will happen when the Hogans, Flair, Stings and Undertakers wrestle in the ring? Will it be the end of the wrestling world much like the dawn of time?

The WWE creative plan needs to be re-evaluated. They may book for the bigger picture better than TNA does, but their product still comes off as day-to-day. Especially when there are reports that scripts are being rewritten minutes before show time. It's a fucking wrestling show. Exactly what needs to be re-scripted for the greater good. Call me crazy, but when there were less scriptwriters, it was considered the golden age of the business. People actually wanted to get involved and help protect the secret of the kayfabe magic. And yes, I'm saying this about all the creative bookers in the business - me being one of them.

Just let them wrestle already. Let the championship be the prize for being the best. Then you wonder why the new kids on the block are so green? Because they are too busy working on their acting skills rather then their wrestling skills. They are more focused on memorizing the script rather than the spots in their match. I look at the business the same way an adult looks at today's youth - "THAT is what is going to lead the world and take care of me in the future?"... I guess it is really coming to an end, isn't it?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tales From The Booker: Working with Some Indy Divas

Miss Asia is a rare breed. Chances are that you have never heard of her. The reason is, while she performed as a manager in the northeast, her claim to fame was under her real name (Daisy Hawkins) and as the co-owner of NWA Cyberspace.

Daisy and her late husband (and dear friend of mine) Billy "Firehawk" Hawkins followed their dreams and launched the CSWF (Cyberspace Wrestling Federation) in 2001. Plagued with some of the worst booking and marketing in the history of independents, things changed in 2004. While spending more money than any other organization to put on a better and unique product, Firehawk and Daisy were the first to book and stack their events with high profiled members of the TNA roster.

Names such as Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, Elix Skipper, America's Most Wanted, Rhino, Sharkboy, Matt Bentley, Tracy Brooks, Petey Williams, Bobby Roode and a host of others filled monthly events in Wayne, NJ - and became somewhat known as the first unofficial TNA house shows in the northeast. Firehawk and Asia gave the fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with the TNA stars before they secured the Spike TV deal. Fans were exposed to an alternate product that would one day compete against Vince Mcmahon's empire.

Unfortunately, Billy Firehawk passed away from health issues in the summer of 2006 - and the company pretty much died with him. After his untimely death, Daisy was swindled for money from various shady NWA promoters and decided to leave the wrestling business for good.

Regardless of the stories you hear regarding Daisy and Firehawk, they should always be remembered for spending their own hard earned money to bring to life their life long dream - and, give the fans something no other independent organization was able to afford. Daisy spent a lot of money to make the fans happy and give them a unique experience at every event. Those who say otherwise, were the ones trying to get their hands in her pocket or those who were too pissed off because they weren't invited to be a part of it.

Daisy was a pioneer as a strong female leader who tried to finance and run a successful wrestling organization. Long before Dixie Carter stepped into the spotlight, Daisy Hawkins had already gotten her feet wet as a business woman in the wrestling business.

Tara was a regular in the northeast promotions, primarily in her homebase of NYWC in Deer Park, NY. While working with Tara in NWA Cyberspace, we paired her as the manager of Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Ken Scampi). Even though she was a trained wrestler, it was difficult pairing her up with some of the other girls on the market who were more rugged competitors or had extensive television experience.

On the flip side of the coin, the role of the valet was faded out. Add in the fact that she managed a babyface comedy team, we were limited with what we could really do with her. Here are a few never before seen backstage clips to give you a better idea:

Yeah - rough. I know. But I liked them a lot. And when I like somebody, I hate to be the booker that says,"creative has nothing for you right now". So rather than deliver the bad news and stop booking them, I just decided not to air the footage and used them as internet blooper exclusives.

Later on, creative really didn't have anything left for them. And paying Tara to be in their corner wasn't really worth the investment. But just as we were about to start cutting back on her bookings - Tara must have known that days were numbered. When she arrived to the next event, she had been enhanced. Those knockers were about three times the size they were when I last saw her. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a sucker for boobage - so we made her our backstage interviewer. She wasn't terrible on the stick, but it was difficult for her to emphasize the points of the storylines. The interviews were way too generic.

One of the worst moments I had with Tara came when she was interviewing Josh Daniels backstage. As a side note, anyone who saw me in action as a booker must have thought i was a lunatic. It's so hard finding good help, that if you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself. So not only was I running the show, but I was directing AND shooting too.

Tara is interviewing Mike Kruel, when Josh Daniels storms in on the promos and chases him out. In the process, Daniels had thrown a steel chair against the wall...that ricochet and cracked Tara in the head. I was behind the camera following the action and as soon as I called cut, I was called to the "gorilla position" because there were concerns with the next match that was about to go on. When i get back, I find a pool of blood on the floor and found out that Tara's head had been busted open the hard way, She was rushed to a local hospital and stitched up.

Tara was a real trooper and always ready to offer her assistance. I had a great time working with Tara and wish that we could have done more. But the business was changing and we had to adjust ourselves to it.

Tara fell off the map shortly thereafter. It was later reported that Tara was doing "private wrestling sessions" and apartment wrestling. Apparently, somebody found her on an online site where she charged...uh, perverts, I guess?... to be smothered and wrestle in her bra and panties. Pretty different from being part of an actual wrestling show - but I guess it paid the bills. Tara had so much potential but not enough drive to get it done. It really sucks that she resorted to take the easy way out and sell herself. But in any case, we wish her nothing but the best. And for those can see the photos she posted in her private session advertisements below. (And I'm sure I have some promo shots with her new boobage somewhere in the vault... to be continued).

Cindy Rogers was a great talent to work with in NWA Cyberspace. She was a rough and rugged bad-ass whose style was strong enough to compete with the men. So much, that in the final NWA Cyberspadce show (a tribute to the late Billy Firehawk) she was a surprise entrant in the main event gauntlet match for the Heavyweight title.

The two challenges that I had with Cindy was her promos and her in-ring style. Promos are a hard thing no matter who you are, and if you;re not born with the gift of gab, then you have a lot of mirror practice to work on. In this business, if you can't cut a promo or show any type of expression to build up your match then you're dead in the water before the bell even rings. Luckily, i was able to pair her up with a great manager in "The Sure Thing" John Shane who served as her much needed mouth piece.

The problem I had with her ring style was that it was much different than the other "divas". Cindy didn't flaunt her body and get over on her looks. She knew she was a brute. But when the other girls were too busy flaunting their "T&A" for the enjoyment of the crowd, Cindy was left cracking her knuckles in the corner ready to fight.

We ran a match with Cindy Rogers and Tracy Brooks, and it was literally a clash of styles. Cindy was better suited to wrestle men, and the more I look back on it, the more I regret not making it part of her gimmick. Then again, maybe I did consider it - and then reality struck. How is a male going to feel knowing that he was booked in a match against a female opponent? Even Chris Jericho dreaded wrestling Chyna for the WWE Intercontinental Title. Nobody ever said that the job of creative booker was an easy one.

Cindy was a great girl and talent, and luckily enough, former WWE women's champion Jazz debuted for our company. The immediate thought was to have a stiff-fest between these two brawlers. But that could only go so far. So instead, we decided to make them the anti-barbie team. Check out the video and enjoy what could have been the start of something great had the company didn't fold.

Lacey was always one of my favorite female workers, because she had the natural ability to combine cute girl next door with sexy sultriness without the need to go over the top and "enhance" her look for added attention. Her in-ring skill always impressed me because she understood traditional psychology and mixed it in with traditional wrestling. not grappling. Not high flying. But pure wrestling.

Although I didn't follow her work in Ring of Honor, it was the reputation she had built that led me to pursue her services for my organization NWA Cyberspace. And because her services were so in demand, it was difficult for me to build a storyline around her. I wanted to have her as one of the center pieces of our women's division, but her schedule didn't permit it. So I was forced to take what I could and when I could, and she became nothing more than a roster member who helped shape the division, but never lead it.

I haven't heard much of what she has been up to lately. And i'm surprised that her ability hasn't helped elevate her to a mainstream position in WWE or TNA. Sure she has the young girl look, but isn't that what they are looking for? Oh, her boobs aren't big enough? Well, neither are AJ's, The Bellas, Alicia Fox, know what, who's wrestling anyway. Lacey or her boobage?

It's a damn shame that a talent like the Lovely Lacey has...well, I won't say gone to waste, although it has been severely overlooked and unrewarded. She's considered one of the top indy workers in America, but until she gets her moment to prove on television to a national audience, the Lovely Lacey will be lost in the purgatory of local success.

While digging through the DieHard Wrestling vault, I came across some never seen (or in my case as a booker/promoter, never used) promos of fomer TNA Wrestling Knockout, Tracy Brooks.

I've always been a big fan of Tracy. I got to know her pretty well while running NWA Cyberspace. As far as I can remember, she was booked on about 90% of the shows I ran. Whenever I had a special event, Tracy was the first one called. Maybe I had a small crush on her. Maybe her boobage was absolutely mesmerizing. Or maybe we just partied like rockstars when the shows were over. Either way, Tracy has always been a favorite of mine.

Unfortunately, these aren't the best pictures of her. I have so many buried in my files, that when i came across these I was almost convinced they weren't mine. As you can see, aside from her pretty face - there isn't much to sell with these pics. When I say sell, I mean, there is no "WOW" factor to them. Not trying to be sexiest in any way, but this is the wrestling business and I put strong emphasis on "business". I need money making marketing material. And in Tracy's case - that requires some good boobage.

I have tons of shots that we used for posters and promo material, and believe me when I say, her assets were huge selling points. These pics? Not so much. Maybe that's why they were vetoed and buried. So after all these years hidden in darkness, I share them with you for the first time! Enjoy!

Foxy Foxxy (aka Foxxy Dreams) is one of the most unique characters that I have encountered on the northeast indy scene. I had met her through her husband (the very underrated Damien Dragon), as he had worked a handful of my NWA Cyberspace events, and she accompanied him tot he shows with her children in tow to root on their dad. We continued running into each other at NYWC events in Deer Park, NY, where she was a fixture on their roster managing (and feuding) with her husband, along with Ken Scampi and Dan Barry.

On the very final NWA Cyberspace event, I finally had the chance to work directly with Foxy and was about to begin a controversial storyline with her before it was decided to fold the company. In the story, she would have managed a stable of "studs" who were rumored to have had extra-marital affairs with her. In a search for the truth and a resolve to the conflict, her husband would endure physical and mental torture as he was forced to chose between his career and his family. Unfortunately, the company closed and storyline died in its tracks.

Foxy and Damien are two passionate professionals who knew their limits in the business and chose to live out their dreams while appreciating the little things. Those little things were their family and their adorable children.

There had been times I wanted to book Foxy for a spot, but she couldn't find a babysitter. Now before you chuckle at the thought of a performer turning down a booking because she couldn't find someone to watch her kids - then take a look at yourself int he mirror. You will more than likely never have a family of your own to make such a decision, and if you were to ever choose business over your family - then you don;t deserve them. I gained a huge amount of respect for Damien and Foxy. She knew her limits and chose to step back and let her husband continue the dream while sat in the bleachers with her kids as his number one cheerleader. The fact that nothing was more important to them except family instantly won my respect and a spot whenever they were available (and had a babysitter).

I've seen people give up the world (literally) just to be one of Vince McMahon's cookie cutter foot soldiers. None of them with any balls or dignity to put their families first. Even thought Damien and Foxy never got the call from Vince or Dixie, they always knew their was a higher calling to their children and their role as parents.

Foxy Foxxy is as dedicated to her family as she is to her craft, and with that said, I tip my hat to her.

Just stumbled across another batch of never used promo pics for The Lovely Lacey. Thought it would be nice to share these with you.

Now since my last Lacey post (earlier today), I decided to use this new invention called "The Internet" - you may have heard of it. Little did I know, Lacey announced her retirement in 2008. That would explain why I haven't heard or seen much of her...even though it is now 2012. But who's keeping track right?

For those interested, here's what I found:

"In August 2008 the Wrestling Observer and many more wrestling news sites confirmed Lacey had quit wrestling to return to school, confirming rumors that the 'ambush' served both to further the feud between

On November 22, 2008 Lacey made her return to both wresting and ROH during its Pay Per View taping. She came out during the I Quit match between Aries and Jacobs, revealing herself to be the second Aries had selected for the match. Lacey acted as if she was going to throw in the towel to save Aries but became conflicted when Aries told her not to. Jacobs brought her into the ring, intending to hit her with his spike weapon but she slapped him. Later in the match she prevented Tyler Black (the second for Jacobs) from throwing in the towel.

On the official Shimmer forum, promotor Dave Prazak stated "Lacey will not be wrestling anywhere any time soon" because of many unnamed reasons, but she may make "appearances" "

So there you have it!... and some new pics too!

Can there ever be too many pictures of former TNA Knockout Traci Brooks? I don't think so. As a matter of fact, before you even try to answer that question, you should know that I still have a ton more where that came from.

She's photogenic. She's hot. She has monster boobage. She... Seriously? Need I say more? How she's a "former" knockout is beyond me. Not only is she a TNA original and dedicated herself to the company since its inception, but she actually gets the business. She understands what the people want. She\'s fully aware that TNA creative is as clueless as a door knob, and not only have they dropped the ball on the Knockout division - but they've also kicked it away.

Mind-boggling, isn't it? But I guess it's better than the mind-numbing program that's aired on Spike TV on Thursday nights.

Monday, December 5, 2011

John Cena Heel Turn - A Catastrophic Mistake

Over a year and a half ago, when The Nexus was in full push mode, there was talk of turning John Cena heel. He lost a match and was forced to wear the colors of his enemy, but there was no heel turn. A year later, during rise of CM Punk, there was talk of turning Cena heel again in order to give Punk the opportunity to shine on his own. Again, they were just rumors and creative found a way for both Cena and Punk to co-exist as fan favorites.

This year, the chatter started again. As build up began for Cena's match against The Rock at Wrestlemania 28. Theoretically, the storyline needs an aggressor to move forward and build heat for the event. Given that The Rock isn't a full time roster member, you'd think it would be a no-brainer that they'd use his A-List Hollywood ego to get him over as a heel. Looking back at history, The Rock had already done this upon the much anticipated arrival of Goldberg in 2003. But the WWE Universe has been split over the popularity of John Cena for quite sometime.

While younger fans adore Cena, the older demographics despise him - much like many wrestling fans did for Hulk Hogan when he was forced on them as the "go-to-guy" and spotlight hog throughout the 90's. For Hogan, a heel turn was the only thing that could resurrect his aging career. But Cena is still in his prime. Does it make sense to toy with something that works so well...? Or is the real question, does it still work so well?

During last week's edition of Monday Night RAW, WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper invited Cena into the legendary Piper's Pit. As the WWE creative writing has been improving by leaps and bounds over the last few months, it was time to address the Cena issue in the open public. Why are the fans booing him? What is it that they don't like about him? Is it time for Cena to respond to the haters and give them something for them to really hate him for?

Piper said it best when he referred to Cena as "the face of the company", because he truly is. There is not one piece of WWE merchandise that doesn't have Cena's image plastered on it. His likeness is synonymous with the WWE brand. He IS the WWE brand and he IS the Hulk Hogan of this generation.

In my personal opinion, I truly believe that a Cena heel turn would be catastrophic for merchandise sales. Not just because he's the face of the company, but because he is the ONLY legitimate idol.

Wrestling fans respect guys like Randy Orton and CM Punk, but they're NOT idols. John Cena is a genuine good guy who cherishes the children, supports the troops, fights for the greater cause, and appreciates everything the WWE Universe has given him. In his promo on Raw, he summed it up by saying - "If you don't watch, we don't work". John Cena is a true leader, but most of all, he's a true hero. And a hero that kids can idolize is something that today's youth desperately need.

This is an era where role models are hip hop artists who brag about being millionaire womanizers, and whose stories depict a rise from a life of crime to the criminally insane wealth they've glorified in their music. An era where real sports stars are arrested on drug chargers every other week and tainting the legacy of the game for using performance enhancers. An era where citizens around the world have lost confidence in their government and leaders. It's become a dark era of chaos and despair. An era where the world looks for a hero to save them from the ruins. And if he can't come to save them from reality, at least give us one in an animated world where we can briefly get lost in our dreams and wish that he was in fact real.

Have you ever seen the George Clooney movie, "Up In The Air"? There's a scene where Clooney's character is sent to perform the grim task of informing a group of corporate employees that they are being laid off. When his sidekick botches her first attempt to break the news to a 56 year old man with two children, Clooney comes in to make the save and reveal the silver lining. The dialogue goes soemthing like this:

"Why do kids love sports stars?"
"Because they fuck lingerie models..."
"No. That's why we love sports stars. Kids love sports stars because they followed their dreams."

Randy Orton is NOT an idol because he lacks charisma. He's a great and intense character, but his goal is to severely hurt his opponent and render them into a state that may be career ending. CM Punk is NOT an idol because he makes it okay to disrespect authority as he marches to the beat of his own drum. While we admire his willingness to stand up for what he believes in and challenge the authority of "the man" - it can easily backfire and turn a young child into a rebel against his parents and teachers. While I believe in the fight, I also believe in just cause. Kids are easily influenced but not capable of making their own decisions without the proper guidance. So having them idolize a character like CM Punk runs the risk of having the youth backfire on society as they run wild without a care for order.

Like it or not, John Cena is the proper balance of a well rounded character. He's a leader, an achiever, a motivator, an ambassador, a Samaritan, and a hero. He's proven that goals can be achieved and dreams can become reality through hard work and persistence. He fights the rising trend of youth bullying with his "Rise Above Hate" apparel. He challenges authority ONLY for the greater good and equality of the people, not for selfishness and self gain. If anything else, Cena is a symbol of what this world has lost and the last of a dying breed.

You may hate him, but what you don't realize is that you need him. He is not only the face of the WWE brand, but the face of responsibility for the WWE Universe. A universe whose product is based on the foundation of full contact violence, yet can pull itself away from the fantasy warfare and fiction to remind your kids that they are trained professionals and... I can't believe I'm saying this... entertainers. It's FAKE. It's a STORY. It's a bunch of CHARACTERS. The responsibility lies in telling the kids NOT to follow the things you see on TV...but if you are, then follow a guy like John Cena.

Ironically, Cena's catchphrase is "You Can't See Me". And the truth is - the fans can't see him right now. Nor can they appreciate him. But the time will come, like it did for Hogan, when those little kids who wear his merchandise will grow and look back at the positive figures in their childhood. I have a six year old son of my own, am I'm proud that he' a John Cena fan. And while they may be few and far between, John Cena will stand amongst them being honored as a legitimate hero . And the kids who follow him now will be there to thank him later as adults for giving them something to believe in when the entire world was turning to shit.

You're right John - They CAN'T see you now. But one day they will.