From The Flea’s Bag 04.24.04

NWATNA vs. ROH, Not as bad as YOU thought it would be and a Burial.
\page Hello everyone. I’m Flea. Just wanted to touch base on a few things and get some networking going again as the impending return of 1ryderfakin.com is right around the corner. All that will be down on Page Six.between here and there are a few random items I want to cover- so if it appears to be a dreaded “Random Thoughts’ style column, well.formatting at this point is rather moot- besides, attempting in vain to clean-up the IWC is a thing of the past, something that will also be addressed on Page Six. I suppose I should get started.

Quick question- What do you call a “Brand Split’ version of your columns when.naaahhh. That’s kinda like teasing a dog with 3 legs.

Let’s get to it.

NWATNA VS. ROH

Hopefully all of you have been following the “war’ between the NWA/TNA promotion and the supposed / alleged “underdog’ promotion of Ring of Honor. As per usual with the know-it-alls in the IWC, including one very guilty party on this site, the blame has been placed in the wrong camp with absolutely no mind paid to simple things like “common business sense’ and “long term planning’. Quick recap and then we will move along:

Rob Feinstein (RF), Head Cheese of ROH and RF Video gets caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, in this case being entrapped (yes, entrapped) into appearing ON CAMERA at the home of a supposedly 14 year old boy after a night of drunken chatting. Nevermind the fact that what was done to him (by the esteemed site Perverted Justice) was 100% in the wrong (and lambasted publicly by the Local Police Department and anyone who doesn’t have a grudge to begin with against RF), not to mention the dubious credentials of the person behind the idea that RF could be easily persuaded into a situation like this; the fact of the matter is RF shit in his grits and now is forever branded as a freak, in a business where homophobia runs rampant, regardless of the homoerotic overtones quite evident to anyone who has watched more than one show. It’s no secret that RF walks on the wild side- and it never helped that he was just a tad more flamboyant about it than his fellow closeted business associates and employees, but to be made a laughing stock by people with a TON more skeletons in their closets is more hypocritical than say.a CONVICTED WIFE BEATER with a known alcohol abuse problem on National TV drinking beer by the case and- I’ll get to him later. Back to RF and why people are bitter, self serving and quite frankly too stupid to know any better.

So, when the shit hit the fan, you had your normal outcry of people in the business putting as much distance between themselves (oddly enough not caring about the lack of “payoffs’ that foregoing a solid place on the Indy scene would cost them) and RF as possible.then the holier- than-thou types who predicted the end of ROH and RF Video.throw in several “Isn’t it a shame that hardworking wrestlers have to deal with this’ columns and WHAMMO! You have yourself a nice little overblown (hawr) controversy, complete with a Guilty Party Scapegoat and the Time Honored Placement of the Underdog Status of yet another “Little Philly Promotion That Could’ drilled into the brains of a small, but very vocal crowd of the IWC. Whatever and then some – after a few weeks in was back to business as usual- ROH’s show after the “bust’ did a packed house, with several future dates expected to be strong as well.

And this is where reality sank in- to back up for a second, the main point of contention with just about everyone involved is that RF no longer be associated business-wise with either RF Video or ROH, proof of which was provided by Gabe Sapolsky, RF’s erstwhile partner and probably the most embarrassed and humiliated party involved. Additional proof of RF’s non-involvement was provided, which begat the normal skeptics crying foul and the usual suspects saying you’re JUST PLAIN FUCKING STUPID if you have no concept of Pennsylvania Law, which evidently states that even though the State Record still lists RF as the Primary Owner and Operator, that is simply not the case as the proper business transfer paper work was filed, signed sealed and delivered. So quit looking for the Smoking Gun and accept the fact that no way in the world would Gabe, his partner and the ever suspicious “silent’ partner continue to be involved with an sick individual like RF, lest they be incredibly stupid. A certain Leap of Faith, of course, is involved; but it’s moot considering the wrestling business itself is built entirely upon the suspension of disbelief to begin with. And here is where the fun started.

The OTHER little promotion that could, (notseemtogettheirheadsoutoftheirasses), NWATNA, has been working on a TV deal for quite some time now, seeing as the PPV per week is a nice concept, but to be profitable (at least that’s what everyone says) you MUST have a TV product. Actually, in hindsight (and going forward for that matter) all they really need(ed) to do was to book and solid alternative to WWE and build from there- the promotion has been a clusterf*ck since it’s inception. Trust me, I’m a sucker and had no problem paying $10 a week, but too many times was I burnt with bullshit like Piper, Russo and bush league tactics, nonsensical and shortsighted booking and above all else, the total unwillingness to make new stars, when the opportunity is RIGHT THERE. Basically, NWATNA * is * the “development league’ that so many people whine that WWE desperately needs- young stars like Chris Harris, James Storm, Abyss, etc. are getting more training / seasoning being forced to come of age professionally in a “thrown to the wolves’ live PPV environment than any of their peers in OVW, regardless of Jim Cornette’s genius. Harris, specifically, has the makings of a “star’, much along the lines of a Barry Windham- he just needs to learn how to throw a punch that looks real. I’m shocked, given McMahon’s fetish for big monsters, that an offer hasn’t been made to Abyss- but what’s the hurry? These guys will be there, hopefully not buried by a promotion that can’t make them look like champions for more than one show in a row.

Point being- they could get the greatest TV deal in the world, but if the product stinks, they are pissing up a rope.

Anyway, the TV deal is in the works, with all signs being FOXSPORTSNET as the network of choice for NWATNA. And wouldn’t you know, the two top Indy promotions end up in a war that no one really cares about, save the parties involved (rightly so) and a bunch of ninnies and whiners who think it’s the wrestlers and wrestling fans are the ones getting shit on, when all it boils down to is proper business etiquette and planning ahead, before you get caught in a mess with screwy details like “guilt by association’ and “once again, wrestling crawls out from under it’s rock to ruin society’.

I’m sure you have seen the BULLET POINTS detailing what happened, how it happened, why it happened and the underlying blame game being played by both sides. Once upon a time, it was suggested that points are better made when you use bullet points, but that was before wine and a guardrail made the whole advice thing moot.but, I’ll comply.

If you are on ROH’s side, you see a inbred hillbilly promotion trying to play hardball with an underdo, thereby taking money out of the pockets of wrestlers that are only trying to make a living. Why can’t Indy legends like Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles work both? Who is Jerry Jarrett to say otherwise?

If you are on NWATNA’s side, you see that ROH has been built upon the lies and illegalities of Rob Feinstein, with the lion’s share of funding coming from bootleg videos, with no royalties being paid, unless you count the possibility of “gainful employment’ or maybe a grand or so for spilling guts and burning bridges in the form of highly entertaining “shoot’ interviews. NWATNA wants no association (alleged or otherwise) with ROH, which includes exclusive commitments from all wrestlers in question.

Or, you can be a total jerkoff and go for option 3- why can’t we all just get along? Page Six, Page Six and Page Six.

You know why “everyone involved can’t get along’? Because NWATNA is on the verge of taking the next step in a business filled with landmines. They have already done their best to clean up their own product, which means no overt and gratuitous profanity, no half-dressed-Lollipop-sucking-poor-excuse-for-a-titty-dancer girl in a cage, and also, no BLOOD, unless absolutely necessary.

Sidenote: For a good period of time that’s all this promotion was- ass, shit, ass, piss off, shit, ass, blood, blade, comeback from promo and watch this skank try to dance, OH WOW TITS EXPOSED ON PPV, shit, ass, f*ck (I think I heard that a couple times) blood and middle fingers. In a surprising turn of events, Russo actually cut a promo and took responsibility / blame for the wrestling business becoming gratuitously SHOCKING and vowed that the NWATNA product, from here on out, WILL be your Daddy’s wrestling show. Well, they have cleaned it up, but Russo still books like a schizophrenic drunk. Baby steps, I guess.

So, the product was sanitized to meet FOXSPORTSNET television standards, standards which have become increasingly scrutinized by everyone from worry-wart soccer moms up to and including the newly invigorated FCC, who seem to be hell-bent on taking a tit flash from Janet Jackson and turning it into the modern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, without the public beheadings (yet). Which is all well and good- in American society, the standards set for perversion are pretty much on the same level in real life as it is in politics- as long as you don’t get caught in bed with a Dead Girl or a Live Man, it’s all a matter of what you deem appropriate. This most recent fetish with censorship will pass, just like it always does. In the meantime, that means walking on eggshells, especially if you want to deal with any kind of media outlet.

Did you catch the part about being caught with a Dead Girl or Live Man? I guarantee both Bob Ryder and Jerry Jarrett have heard that one.which is why they want to put as much distance between them and ROH as possible. This came in the form of a Letter of Liability that NWATNA requested that all parties involved with ROH sign- basically, it puts the signees legally and, more specifically, financially liable should any damages occur to NWATNA as a result of RF’s failure in the “Caught (nearly) with a Live Man (boy.jesus)’ Department. All NWATNA wanted was legal and “too be held accountable proof’ that RF was no longer involved with ROH, something that the “silent partner’ said NO WAY IN HELL to, for reasons that are nearly as suspicious as the original entrapment of RF himself.

Here is the scenario most likely considered by Jarrett and Ryder when NWATNA asked for legal and financial accountability from ROH.

NWATNA gets a relatively sweet TV deal, which naturally means promotion for the product must be done. Promotion in the form of a “Wrestling Expose’, which would be 2 Parts “Here’s the Product’ and 1 Part (and this is the one that sticks in the unwashed masses minds) “The Disgusting Underbelly of the Independent Wrestling Business’, which would most likely focus on, you guessed it- a small Philadelphia promotion whose Owner was caught ON CAMERA attempting to foul an underage boy. Now, this is pretty much a given that this will occur, as it always does whenever Wrestling attempts to stray into the “casual viewing audience’ scene. WWE at this point is bulletproof and profitable enough not to have to worry about a “guilt by association’ tag- after all, they ARE the wrestling business and are about as above board as any other publicly traded company. But for a relatively small promotion like NWATNA, this would kill any momentum they have right out of the gate. Unless.

When the “Special Report’ Corespondent (attempting to make his/her bones burying a company on his/her way to a surefire Pulitzer once he/she gets done having to waste his/her Journalistic Efforts on crap like wrestling) confronts Jerry Jarrett with the question “Why are your workers (therefore your company) associated with someone who preys on young children?’, Jarrett can whip out a legal document PROVING that “We have tried our best to disassociate ourselves with that company and how they run their own By God Business business in no way, shape or form reflects upon the integrity of the NWATNA name’. Bingo. Off the hook. At least to a certain degree and more importantly LEGALLY disassociated, and financially able to lay the blame if FOXSPORTSNET suddenly gets cold feet after the “SHOCKING EXPOSE’ airs. That’s all they wanted. And, unfortunately, have been thrown under the bus by people who should know better, but have agendas to prevent them from doing so.

Dave Melzter quoted Sapolsky as making an analogy as to why it was not in his “silent partner’s’ best interest not to sign the document. He said: “That would be like a WWE Shareholder signing a Letter making them personale liable…’. Bullshit, Apples and Oranges. As a shareholder, I am already financially responsible for what Vince does- that came when I bought the shares. If he decides to do something that would affect business in a way the product tanks, I’m on the hook for a good chunk of dough. The difference is I could sell at anytime, where as Jerry Jarrett’s entire business and reputation in the industry is hinging upon how serious people take the charges against RF and how intense the Watchdogs would target FOXSPORTSNET for airing a program that has association with a company whose alleged owner is an alleged pervert. Damn right I would have something in writing.which is funny, because all they wanted was 100% assurance that RF was no longer involved, which, for whatever reason, ROH was unwilling / unable to provide up to the standards that Jarrett wanted, therefore, NWATNA played hardball. A situation needlessly escalated and because people have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, a nice little war started. For the Want of a Nail, right?

Point blank- if Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles were given the option of working for a promotion that, in addition to receiving a paycheck, allowed them National Exposure on Television or continuing to work once every two months for promotions like ROH that have already taken them as far as they can go- Daniels has been an Indy Legend for several years now- Nick Dinsmore, in three TV apparences and One PPV cameo is more of a household (albeit) gimmicked name- Styles has the potential to be a big star in his own right- wouldn’t in make sense to take NWATNA’s side in all of this? I haven’t read anything that would keep them from continuing to perform in Japan or, in Daniels case, the Super 8 tournament in Delaware. This appears to be strictly a NWATNA vs. ROH issue- both wrestlers have now been compensated for the pending missed payoffs (which was very generous and I suppose the right thing to do) by Jarrett and just this week, AJ Styles was made NWATNA Champion and will hopefully become the focal point and centerpiece of the program. Which is fine by me- I’m just bummed the guy ain’t a foot taller.

I’m not sure what good the above paragraphs will do, but hopefully at least one or two of you are seeing this a little clearer now, instead of being sheep for people who have nothing better to do but bitch and moan and lay blame whenever anyone tries to make a relatively sane business decision. This begs the question “Why is RF Video still named RF Video’. The answer to that has been explained away by people obviously much smarter than me- of course, that * still * begs the question “Why is RF Video still named RF Video?’ Draw your own conclusions and pick your own side. Forest for the Trees, kids.

SPEAKING OF WHICH

The last time I typed about this stuff, I attempted to explain a few basic principals of economics and how regardless of what the People That Know Everything Say, the WWE’s business is doing very well, and signs are pointing up, up and away, much like I said they would. Long term planning paid off- Benoit and Eddy have been chasing their dreams since last fall and everything came together just in time for Wrestlemania XX! BUYRATES! MERCHANDISE! That alleged GLASS CEILING if not broken, at least cracked! But people just can’t admit it’s a fun time to be a wrestling fan and no matter how much you hope and pray (and I’m convinced most people do) Vince is not going bankrupt anytime soon.

The only “glaring’ glitch right now is Smackdown has no direction, but that can be contributed to a basic rebuilding of the product due to injuries and departures. Think about it- if Angle was healthy, he and Eddy would be tearing down the house. Brock would be in the mix. Most likely Austin would have been moved to Smackdown, just for shits and giggles. Hell, they could do worse than pushing Bradshaw as a know-it-all Money Driven Hick- I like it just because it shows that Vince McMahon, no matter how successful he gets, still has a fetish for Ted Turner. Justin “Bradshaw’ Layfield is waaaaaaaay more of a parody of Turner than “Billionaire Ted’ could ever be. C’mon, Juan- don’t take this shit so seriously. Smackdown is just treading water until they can get their ducks in a row. Look at how strong RAW is now.supposedly, they used to not be able to have a decent match / feud to save their lives. Right now, the program is as strong Top to Bottom as anything they have done since the Glory Year of 2000. I compare (and have stated before) the last year has been much like the 96-98 rebuilding period- throw a bunch of shit against the wall, see what sticks and go upwards from there. Only this time they only have themselves as the standard bearer as opposed to being given a template from ECW and an opponent in WCW. Of course, the business isn’t cyclical.nope. No way. Until the next boom hits and then everyone will jump right back on the cyclical cycle. It’s the same movie.

Case in Point- WWE plans to dump a nowhere show like Confidential. So what does everyone suggest fills that time slot? Why, AN ECW BRAND REVIVAL, of course! Because everyone knows having garbage matches with depleted and green bunch of castoffs worked GREAT the first time it was tried. Ummmm, who’s still standing? Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Nope- planning for the future, WWE will have a cheesy Sunday Morning Recap show, detailing what you may have missed during the week, along with “behind the scenes’ (but not “insider’ bullshit) that will hopefully capture the imagination of the “future’ fan- i.e. the ones that aren’t able or ain’t going to waste their Saturday Nights caring about Chris Benoit. Sunday morning is perfect- you get the hung-over College Crowd who needs time to kill in between the Early SportsCenter and College Gameday, etc and you also start yet another brainwashing of the 10-17 year olds, who will be rushing Mom and Dad out of Church so they can watch John Cena rhyme, rap and talk about “Deez Nutz’. Pretty much the same way the last wrestling boom started- make wrestling “cool’ again and then ride the groundswell of support. This will be my third time though it and one I’m looking forward to the most- if only to shut up all the naysayers who think that public perception only improves if you continue to beat a dead horse. Wow- I almost forgot the 30-45 year old crowd who will spank the Sunday Morning hardon to Ivory.who has much more appeal than most of the chicks that time of day.unless Condi Rice is on Meet the Press.

Oh come on- tell me you wouldn’t let her give you a blowjob while talking Foreign Policy.Right Eric? Of course if you Foreign Policy knowledge is limited to wondering why a couple of Jewish Lawyers like Ben Layden and Al Kayda gets so much press, you probably couldn’t relate…(FLEA UNO…!!)

So once again, the right business decision was made, one that will get the “in’ crowd back “in’. The rest of you will have to wait for the next ECW revival, I guess. Just save those columns you either wrote or read- if you are going to rehash history and live in the past, why start from scratch everytime?

GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD

For reasons of their own Brock Lesnar and Steve Austin chose to end their associations with WWE. Nice of everyone to know what’s best for the individuals involved (more than they know for themselves, evidently) and crucify them accordingly. Goldberg, on the other hand, was never welcome and should have never been on my cloud. Now all that’s left is for YOU to pick the next poor soul that is getting buried due to the politics of being a Superstar. Benoit and Eddy are officially off this list- I suggest Dinsmore. After all, why does he have to be a retard when he could very well be put into an Undercard tag team and featured on Velocity?

PAGE SIX

The percentage you’re paying is too high priced
While you’re living beyond all your means
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
From the profit he’s made on your dreams
But today you just swear that the man was shot dead
By a gun that didn’t make any noise
But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest
Was the low spark of high-heeled boys

The IWC 100, Ladies and Gentlemen, is dead. I took a good, long, time off from reading the normal litany of IWC columns and much to my surprise, when I got back into it, I was thoroughly disgusted. I think I gave to many people too much credit for going above and beyond at times, while certain folks mired in obscurity and mediocrity took it upon themselves to lower the bar even further! All it took was another Brand Extension Draft, which begat “they need to do this to do this to do this and this and here is how it will work best’ columns, combined with the utter bullshit that came about from the Feinstein bust and through the TNA / ROH war and BOOM. Absolutely rotten. Even the build-up to WMXX was ruined with people crowing about the utter lack of common sense the WWE exhibited by making the Main Event a Three Way Dance. Well, that match blew everyone away and quite frankly, you were a moron to have any doubts. Next up, YOU CAN’T REPEAT THE SAME MATCH TWO PPV’S IN A ROW. Ha! They did and it was even better, if not technically, but “heat’ wise, as the booking played the Canadian audience like a fiddle. Of course, now everyone is convinced that.doesn’t really matter does it? I don’t surf anymore and only read a select few. Kind of like everyone else- I’m no longer going to attempt to beat into your heads that there are many, many great writers out there, most of whom are still linked from the IWC 100 Lists.I’ll end it here, as I have no intention of getting mean or personal, but Goddamn folks- all I really asked (and pimped) is that you take pride in your work and try to make something appealing to your reading audience. It’s really not that hard, you know.

If you must know, the best column (or more accurately series of columns) that I read in the last several months was Rick Scaia’s annual Road to Wrestlemania, which was not only a great read, but kept a majority of the IWC Bullshit out of it.just a fan giving you (hopefully yourself a fan) a great rundown of a highly anticipated show. Two people reading just dropped dead- whooops! No they didn’t.they are running to their computers to flame me and rake me over the coals. Let Em.

In happier news, The Wrestling Dead Pool is still up and running. I have some catching up to do as we had TWO winners when Hercules Hernandez croaked. SCOTT ROGO! CRIPS ACTING COACH! CONTACT ME ASAP! Each of you are owed $10! Drop me an email – ryderfakin@yahoo.com to collect. In the meantime, I’ll go through the emails and try and find YOU. CONGRATS!

Which leads me to this- 1ryderfakin.com will be active again in just a short period of time with a special surprise (actually a bunch of surprises). Trust me, if you are stealing money from your employers pretending to work while surfing the Internet all day, you are going to LOVE me. I would if I were you.

I think that covers it. Type to you soon.

Thanks for reading

*** this just in – Scherer is reporting that Ted Turner is contemplating his own wrestling promotion again, as soon as the “no compete”clauses fall off the books. Check the story out for yourselves – it’s going to be the talk of a majority of the columns you read for the next few weeks…and if you have a column yourself, snap to it. YOUR opinion is dying to be read…trust me. I know these things…I just ain’t judging no more.

Want some Inside Gossip? The above has been talked about for several weeks now, making it’s way around the A-List, which is why Vince got the head start with a parody of Ted Turner. It’s highly possible that this chraracter will have some staying power, as Vince has a reason for everything. Just like the rest of us…

FLEA