This Week in ‘E – A Change of Hart

The Hit Man to possibly return, Wellness gets tightened up and the little Dragon finally does the inevitable and signs with the company.

Opening Witty Banter
It looks as if TNA put together another pretty solid show last night at Final Resolution. The top two matches have already been lauded as TNA MOTYC and the Tag Title match seemed like it was a fun opener. But who else had Cody Deaner in the pool to be the “Fired” in the Feast or Fired match? I’m all for TNA building momentum into their big January 4 “coming out party.” Plus it looked as Ring of Honor put together a pretty solid Final Battle and built momentum as well for the new year. And with the Royal Rumble (and thus WrestleMania) on the WWE horizon things are looking up all around on the wrestling front. It’s a good time to be a wrestling fan it seems. Time to watch Inglorious Basterds and knock this sumbitch out.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
The big, big rumor of the week is about Bret freakin~! Hart possibly returning to WWWE for a short time engagement. According to all the usual sources the deal is said to be from January 1, 2010, until April 10, 2010. This would make Hart available to guest host Monday Night RAW on January 4, 2010, when WWE goes head-to-head with TNA Impact. This time frame would also allow Hart to appear at WrestleMania XXVI in some capacity. Hart recently appeared Wrestling Observer Radio and naturally would not comment on the situation. The prospect of Hart returning to WWE entered WWE fans’ minds once again this past week on RAW when Vince McMahon asked guest host Dennis Miller who he would like to see on the show, and Miller responded by saying Hart’s name.

In addition to that (and to continue to fuel rumors) Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart came out recently and said he was at WWE HQ recently to film footage for a Hart Foundation DVD set.

Okay, before I even get the potential Bret return, how cool is it going to be to have a Hart Foundation disc set? Even if most of the good ones are already out on various docs, how great is it going to have the Stampede ten man, Owen-Davey for the European Title, that Owen/Davey-Austin/Michaels Tag Title match, at least one Bret-Owen match, that great Action Zone tag match with Bret and Davey against Owen and Anvil, probably a Bret-Davey singles match and a wild amount of fun ‘80s tag matches against the likes of the Bees, Rougeaus, Bulldogs, Rockers, Demolition and others. Yeah I’m in line for that one.

As for Bret’s impending return, a recent discussion with the esteemed Pulse Glazer allowed us to come to the same conclusion – we’d pretty much pee ourselves if that music hits and Bret actually walks out on the RAW stage at some point soon.

Hart was my boyhood idol as opposed to Warrior or Hogan, so nostalgia would overtake me if he returned. It would be great to see him back, just perhaps for his own psyche, allowing him to finally bury that hatchet from 1997. That four-month window rumored in the contract is traditionally WWE’s most creative time of the year so he would be handled well in that regard. Pus just think of the knowledge the criminally young locker room would gain from having Hart around a couple times a month to learn from. Then think about the exposure Tyson Kidd, DH Smith and Natalya would gain from having “uncle Bret” around.

That all being said, I just pray that if Hart does sign a contract, it is so ironclad and outlined with what he will and will not do that there is no danger of ruining himself any further. This all being said it is still considered a rumor at this point, but a fanboy can dream (and think of dozens of witty column titles to coincide with this story.)

After impressing WWE management at their recent tryout at SmackDown in Philadelphia, The Briscoe Brothers were invited (and completed) a weeklong tryout down in Florida Championship Wrestling. ROH knew of the tryout and gave their blessing. So far no deal has been offered to Jay and Mark.

If they do sign with WWE, file me as cautiously optimistic regarding their future and how they are handled. On a side tangent, no start date has been given to Bryan Danielson yet.

In addition to TNA picking a fight with WWE, the UFC is looking to go head-to-head with WWE a couple of times in the new year as well. UFC is running Fight Night 20 on January 11 on Spike, the Monday after the TNA special. Then it wa announced this week that UFC 111 will air live on PPV on March 27, 2010, the night before WrestleMania XXVI.

I’m personally intrigued more in the ratings battle between Fight Night and RAW than I am between Impact and RAW. The January 11 battle could be a better litmus test for where both companies in regards to casual fans. I’m not so worried about the same PPV weekend battle in March. WrestleMania is such a name that people buy it without even knowing the card. UFC would need to have to produce a wild card to sway people I believe. Plus in the era of every bar showing UFC for free I think many could easily watch UFC for the price of a few beers and then actually spend (and split) the 50-some bucks among friends for WrestleMania.

In a sign of Hogan’s signing with TNA, he was removed from the awesome opening “yessir we got a great show lined up” video that airs before every show. His line was replaced this past week by Million $ Man’s “everybody’s gotta price” line. Jeff Hardy has also replaced the shot of Mankind wining the World Title.

It is not a big deal at all but I knew I noticed Hogan’s removal this past week. I felt like I had that little bit memorized and knew it sounded different. It’s hardly noticeable but just another sign that WWE is paying attention to TNA a little bit now.

Jim Ross has re-signed with the company according to his own blog. He figured a return to the company around WrestleMania time sounded about right.

Apparently TNA has been pushing hard to sign JR, but what does the company offer him really? He already has a small travel schedule and I’m sure great pay and benefits. He’s already established himself as the voice of this generation so he doesn’t need to go to TNA to further cement himself in any way.

WWE has tightened up the Wellness Policy a little bit more and made language a little clearer. It is now written officially that performers who leave the company and return will have any previous “strikes” against them still on the books. That means should a guy like Booker T, who has two previous strikes already, return to WWE he would only have one more “strike” before he would be gone. It has also been stated that should a performer be fired for suffering their third strike, he or she cannot return to the company for a period of one year. Their return would be on condition of passing all company pre-screenings and subject to random testing. Plus the fine for a marijuana test failure or for breaking the policy’s alcohol rule (WWE performers are prohibited from using or consuming alcohol at any time within a twelve hour period prior to any WWE event or WWE scheduled performance) will now be $2,500. The fine used to be $1,000. SmackDown’s locker room is now apparently pretty much “weed free” due to the fine, while RAW’s roster still smokes it up.

I’m kind of glad that the language about the strikes is all cleaned up finally. So Masters is only one click away from another dismissal. Plus I’m sure WWE is really glad Hardy and Umaga are not on the payroll anymore. They dodged a couple disasters there.

WWE has finally officially signed Richie Steamboat to developmental deal. He will go to FCW but it is expected he won’t stay long as he’s already got a lot of the talent of his daddy and the generational pedigree the company loves. Plus he has spent the past two years on the road learning from a variety of people and places, including George South down in the Carolinas, Harley Race in Missouri, Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan and WWC down in Puerto Rico.

I’m excited at the possibilities of young Richie. It is also great that his old man sent him around the worl before he signed with WWE. It ain’t the territories of old like Ricky grew up with, but it’s the best we’ve got these days. But it is kind of sad that Ritchie, with under three years of experience, is already being talked about as being a main roster talent, when twenty years ago it look at least a decade of experience in order to become a featured guy in the WWF.

Wrestler of the Week
Week of December 14 – 20: John Cena
Despite losing the WWE Championship at last weekend’s TLC pay per view he rebounded nicely on RAW by becoming the Superstar of the Year. He defeated CM Punk in squash-tastic fashion and then took out old rival Randy Orton to earn his Superstar of the Year honor. Then he cut an impassioned promo declaring he will not lose another match until he becomes WWE Champion again. Welcome to another John Cena super-push.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Major League Baseball All-Star Johnny Damon will host WWE Monday Night RAW this coming week live from Tampa, Florida. Expect him to use his platform on RAW to plug the Wounded Warrior Project, which is an organization that strives to raise awareness for severely wounded service men and women. He has never been associated with WWE or pro wrestling in the past, so his appearance will be intriguing in a variety of ways. Plus WWE is finally going to apparently go ahead and shoot this Little People’s Court segment with DX and Hornswoggle. It’s not fair to bash something before it even airs, but judging by past interactions it should be awful. It would have at least made a lick of sense the week Verne Troyer hosted, but now it’s just bad. And considering there is still six (SIX!) weeks before Royal Rumble this show will probably be a complete

On Last Week’s Episode…
Marshall brings love to the Tribute to the Troops special

Eison covers SmackDown.

Eison also handles the reigns of Superstars.

Marshall, Innarelli and Wheeler analyze RAW’s Slammy Awards telecast. Sue me, I liked the show a lot. The awards presentations were good campy fun and I was a fan of Dennis Miller’s work. Plus a Bob Barker sighting~!

How They Rated
SmackDown! (12.4.09) – 2.1

Superstars (12.10.09) – .9

A.M. RAW (12.13.09) – .9

RAW (12.14.09) – 3.3

ECW (12.15.09) – 1.0

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
The Pulse Wresting fantasy draft continues, and somehow I didn’t make the second round…but I’m not bitter.

Ditch brings the awesome puro coverage I’ve come to love and expect.

Follow me on Twitter here.

For more relevant, interesting and exciting wrestling information from your truly, check out my gig as the Pro Wrestling Examiner over at Examiner.com.

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