This Week in ‘E – Fallout from the Hart/Hogan Battle

Ratings fall out from last week’s Monday night battle, the debut of The American Dragon and the company cleans house in developmental.

Opening Witty Banter
As I sit down to finish this off I just wonder where the hell my weekend went? A long weekend that was supposed to be used productively sure ended up being wasted away pretty quickly. But my long weekend isn’t quite over yet as tomorrow I’ll be live in the heart of Minneapolis watching Mike Tyson~! inside a WWE ring. Entertaining and surreal for sure.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
With all the talk this week surrounding the fall out from last week’s Monday night battle, here is my take on things, originally published on examiner.com.

The television ratings for both TNA Impact and WWE RAW from January 4 are in. And while TNA can certainly claim a victory on their part, it was more of the same for World Wrestling Entertainment.

WWE Raw scored a 3.6 Nielson rating, the same rating as they had last week. The show had hourly ratings of 3.51 and 3.73, with hour one doing 5,441,000 viewers and hour two drawing 5,773,000 viewers.

Meanwhile TNA Impact scored an 1.5 rating, averaged out over the course of the three hours. The first hour did a 1.69 and 2,536,000 million viewers. The second and third hour had a 1.33 average and 2,034,00 viewers. The five-minute overrun scored a 1.26 rating, with 2.2 million viewers. TNA’s drew hourly ratings of 1.7, 1.4 and 1.2.

Not surprisingly TNA’s highest rated quarter hour segment was the start of the second hour, which featured the arrival of Hulk Hogan and his confrontation with former new World order members Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Kevin Nash and Eric Bischoff. The segment drew a 1.88 rating. The lowest rated part of the show was also in hour 2, which featured the Desmond Wolfe-D’Angelo Dinero match and an interview with TNA World Champion AJ Styles.

Meanwhile WWE peaked with a 4.1 quarter hour rating for DeGeneration X-Chris Jericho and Big Show tag team match at the top or RAW’s second hour. The overrun featuring Bret Hart-Vince McMahon verbal confrontation did a big 4.4 rating, the company’s highest television rating in a long time. Hart’s first appearance at the start of RAW, which went against Hogan’s first appearance on RAW, received a 3.7 rating. The show drew RAW’s highest ratings since the August 24 show, which was the night after SummerSlam.

The combined Monday night wrestling audience was around 7.8 million viewers, which is obviously the highest it has been in a very long time.

TNA pulled out every trick they had in order to emphasis the live aspect of their show and the special vibe of the night. In addition to the debuts of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff many other unexpected stars showed up as well. Scott Hall and Sean Waltman both made their returns to the company and immediately reunited with their old new World order buddies. Jeff Hardy made a surprise return to the company, completely overshadowing the return of his running buddy Shannon Moore. Ric Flair, while rumored to be a part of the show since it was announced, surprised many as well with his brief appearances. In addition Sean Morley, Orlando Jordan and The Nasty Boys all made appearances and look to be in TNA, at least for the short-term.

With that much new talent something will have to give in regards to the old roster. From the looks of the special and the television tapings that followed the next night, it seems as if this “old guard” will dominate much of the scene in addition to a few handpicked TNA faithful that the new regime seems to be high on.

As for WWE, the show felt much like a regular RAW episode only with the improbable appearance of Bret Hart. However the company traditionally picks up the pace at the beginning of each year, as the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania always brings out the best in the entire company. Hart is scheduled to be with WWE through WrestleMania, which will make this “WrestleMania season” especially memorable.

Not surprisingly internally WWE were not real pleased with their ratings, as they felt that with Hart’s appearance and the added excitement surrounding the evening that the show would easily break a 4.0 rating.

Naturally TNA and Spike TV seem incredibly pleased with their live show, the ratings and mainstream coverage it brought to the company as a whole. It seems like a lock that TNA will air again on Monday nights in the near future.

It could be good business for entire wrestling industry if TNA does begin running regularly on Monday nights. Competition brings the best out of Vince McMahon and WWE. Plus it brings more exposure and availability for the wrestling talent themselves. While both shows used stars of yesteryear to anchor their Monday night platform it was a ploy on both sides to attract old viewers and casual viewers of days gone by and then hook them in with today’s stars and presentation.

While Monday night was a fun trip for wrestling fans, the true test for both companies now begins. This new year could be an exciting time for TNA, WWE and wrestling in general.
…
Speaking of Bret, he will not be on RAW tonight. He will return to the show for the January 18th RAW from Knoxville, Tennessee, which will be guest hosted by Jon Heder and Don Johnson.

Dammit…I was hoping I was going to see Hart live for the first time since 1993…

WWE has released a series of their developmental talents from their Florida Championship Wrestling training grounds this past week. In what has become a sad tradition it looks as if the annual “house cleaning” has started. Traditionally WWE releases talent at the beginning of the year, shortly after WrestleMania and in the summer months.

The talents that were released include:

– DJ Gabriel

– Sweet Papi Sanchez
– Dino Carter
– Chris the Bambikiller
– Lennox McEnroe

– Lift Swayner
– Leroy Morgan
– Dylan Klein

Gabriel (real name Steve Lewington) was the biggest star of the group. He was brought up the ECW brand early last year with Alicia Fox as his valet. He had minimal success in the beginning but after Fox moved to the SmackDown brand in the 2009 draft, he became persona non grata on ECW and was used only sparingly and in an enhancement roles.

Sweet Papi Sanchez (Jose Torres) had a successful run in Puerto Rico under a mask using the name “Black Pain” before joining FCW.

Leroy Morgan (Max McGuirk) is the son of former WWF ring announcer Mike McGuirk and grandson of legendary wrestling promoter Leroy McGuirk.

Dylan Klein (Johnny Riggs) worked in Ohio Valley Wrestling as part of The Riggs Brothers tandem with Jason Riggs previously before joining FCW. He actually asked for his release weeks ago.

As for Carter (Rashad Goff), Bambikiller (Christoph Herzog), McEnroe (Bryan Wilcott) and Swayner (Aaron Reed) I have virtually no information on but it is sad to see someone lose their dream job.

Apparently Jeff Hardy’s jump to TNA last week was a big surprise to those in WWE as apparently he had a verbal agreement to return to WWE. At the SmackDown taping Vince McMahon was no-selling the news. He has already been taken out of the opening video package and replaced by Kofi Kingston.

What bad move for Hardy to move to TNA. He immediately looked less impressive, less over and less popular in his TNA appearance than he did in his last year in WWE. As a mark here’s hoping his TNA run is quick and he comes back to WWE quick to finish off his feud with CM Punk.

Speaking of Jeffykins, his court case stemming from his September 11 arrest went before a grand jury in Moore County, North Carolina yesterday. According to PWInsider the grand jury found that there was enough evidence to indict Hardy, and the case will now move to superior court. The case is expected to be set on the docket within the next week.

The charges still facing Hardy include:
– Felony possession of cocaine
– Felony drug trafficking of opium
– Felony possession with intent to redistribute a Schedule III drug (two counts)
– Maintaining a dwelling for drug use and/or distribution
– Possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor)

Hardy was set for a probable cause hearing on January 27 that would have determined whether there was enough evidence available to move on to the grand jury step. Apparently that hearing was determined to not necessary.

So how bad is TNA going to look if Hardy ends up going to jail over this? And how great is WWE going to feel if he does get convicted while not on their watch?

Sylvester Stallone admitted in a recent interview that Stone Cold Steve Austin broke his neck while filming on the set of the upcoming film The Expendables. Stallone, 63, explained in a recent interview with the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail that while filming a fight scene with Austin for the upcoming action movie he suffered a hairline fracture in his neck.

“Actually, my fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin was so vicious that I ended up getting a hairline fracture in my neck. I’m not joking,” Stallone said. “I haven’t told anyone this, but I had to have a very serious operation afterwards. I now have a metal plate in my neck.”

The movie already looks to be one of the greatest “guy” movies in a long time just based on the cast list alone. It features a who’s who of veteran action stars, including Stallone, Austin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, MMA superstar Randy “The Natural” Couture and even a cameo from Stallone’s ‘80s action movie contemporary Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film opens in theatres on August 20 and I cannot wait.

In more movie news, Mark Henry, Kane, MVP, Chris Jericho, The Great Khali and Big Show will all appear in the SNL parody film MacGruber. They will play henchmen in the movie, which will see The Big Show “make out with another man”. Chris Jericho is the only one with a speaking role. MacGruber will be released on April 16th.

So let me guess, Porter, Henry, Kane and Khali play “black guy #1,” “black guy #2,” “hired goon #1” and “hired goon #3.”

“The Best in the World” finally officially stepped in the ring as an official WWE superstar when he beat Chavo Guerrero in a dark match at Monday’s RAW taping. At this past week’s FCS taping it was announced that “International Superstar” Bryan Danielson would be debuting at next week’s taping. According to Pwinsider.com, Danielson asked to be sent to developmental because he felt he was rusty during his match with Chavo after being out of the ring completely for the past couple of months.

Do you realize FCW can now single handedly be the best WWE show of the week if they run a best-of-seven series between Danielson and Low Ki?

WWE sent out the following press release this week, announcing a new promotion with KMART…
WWE(R) And Kmart Rumble with “Royal Riches” Promotion

Kmart and WWE launch second year of collaboration with exclusive offers including the chance to win a trip for two to WrestleMania XXVI

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– World Wrestling Entertainment(R) and Kmart announced today they have again collaborated to create “Royal Riches,” an exclusive, multiplatform marketing promotion supporting WWE’s first pay-per-view event of 2010, Royal Rumble(R). Royal Rumble is taking place Sunday, Jan. 31 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., marking the kick off to the “Road to WrestleMania(R) XXVI.”

From Jan. 10 through Jan. 31, all Kmart stores will feature product boutiques showcasing WWE licensed merchandise including men’s and boys’ apparel, footwear, bedding, DVDs, and video games. Additionally, Kmart will debut Mattel’s new line of WWE action figures and accessories. Consumers who purchase $35 or more of WWE merchandise at Kmart will receive $10 off their Royal Rumble pay-per-view order. Consumers also have the opportunity to win other promotional offers through the duration of the program including further discounts on WWE merchandise, and an opportunity to win a trip for two to WrestleMania XXVI on March 28 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

“Kmart continues to look for ways to bring value to our customers by offering exclusive and exciting products through our relationship with WWE,” said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer, Kmart. “Whether in store or online, Kmart’s customers know they can find all of their favorite WWE products in one place.”

“After the overwhelming success of last year’s collaboration with Kmart, we are thrilled to expand our efforts by coming together again to offer WWE fans a great value for their shopping dollars and build excitement around our Royal Rumble pay-per-view event,” said Jim Connelly, senior vice president, Consumer Products, WWE.

Kmart will feature select WWE merchandise available for purchase online at www.kmart.com/wwe, as well as a dedicated WWE section in its weekly circular. The microsite will feature live chats with WWE Superstars on Monday, Jan. 11 and Monday, Jan. 18 giving fans the chance to communicate directly with their favorite WWE Superstars. WWE will support the promotion through WWE Superstar and Diva meet and greets at select Kmart stores, as well as in-store radio and in-store TV broadcasts. In addition “Royal Riches” will be promoted in WWE Magazine, live events and online.

In select markets (tentative schedule below) Kmart and WWE will conduct in-store appearances and autograph sessions with WWE Superstars including:

Jan. 10 (Minneapolis): Ted DiBiase – 3 to 5 p.m. at 14230 Burnhaven Dr., Burnsville, Minn.

Jan. 16 (Birmingham): Ted DiBiase – 1 to 3 p.m. at 5980 Chalkville Mountain, Birmingham, Ala.

Jan. 23 (Chicago): Rey Mysterio – 1 to 3 p.m. at 3443 W. Addison, Chicago, Ill.

Jan. 26 (Columbus): Ted DiBiase – 6 to 8 p.m. at 5005 Olentagy River Rd., Columbus, Ohio

Hmmm…the K-Mart next to my place just closed down. I didn’t aware they were still doing good business.

Tiffany and Drew McIntyre got engaged recently. They are aiming to marry in May.

Nice work Mr. McIntyre…nice work…

Ludvig Borga was found dead in his home on January 10. He was 47. No cause of death has been determined but foul play is not suspected at this point.

Borga (real name Tony Halme) was a big star in World Wrestling Entertainment in 1993 and 1994 as a villain who had a strong dislike for America. The Finnish-born Halme played up his nationalistic roots while in the WWF and feuded with top top stars like Lex Luger and Tatanka.

He also worked for the UWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Catch Wrestling Association. He was also a Gladiator on the Finnish version of American Gladiators, using the pseudonym Viking.


After his wrestling career finished he got into boxing and had a brief stint in Ultimate Fighting Championship, losing to Randy “The Natural” Couture in his only UFC appearance.

He served in Finnish parliament from 2003 – 2007 for the small, radical True Finns Party. In 2004, he received a suspended sentence for firearms and drugs violations after he fired a gun in his home while his wife was present. In 2006 he was convicted for driving while impaired and was later involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, reportedly due to delirium caused by excessive alcohol use. He also wrote four books and even recorded an album.

It’s sad to see another one go down before the age of 50. I’m intrigued to see what is determined to be the cause of death.

Wrestler of the Week
Week of January 4 – 10: Bret “Hit Man” Hart
Yeah I went there. I’m giving the nod to a guy who didn’t even wrestle this week. But the truth is no one had a bigger week in WWE than the Hit Man. His appearance seemed like a pipe dream not too long ago and now it is a reality. His return has certainly got the wrestling world taking and buzzing and injected some much-needed life into WWE. Plus his face-to-face appearance with Shawn Michaels was something long-time fans never dreamed they would see again. It was immediately one of those “moments” that will be talked about for days, weeks, months and years to come.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Mike Tyson will guest host WWE Monday Night RAW live from Minneapolis, Minnesota, on January 11, 2010. WWE.com had originally posted the announcement on Tuesday, December 22, only for it to be quickly removed. The post was republished on Wednesday, December 23, making the announcement truly official. Tyson will arguably be the biggest name to guest host Monday Night RAW up to this point. His appearance could not come at a better time as Spike TV will be broadcasting a live UFC Fight Night that will run head-to-head with RAW, in what will surely be a bigger cable ratings battle than the January 4 battle against TNA Impact. Tyson is now the third boxer (behind Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather) to guest host RAW, but he will surely be the most explosive and talked about. Tyson is an admitted pro wrestling fan and should provide for a great show live in Minneapolis. No matches have been announced but the build to the Royal Rumble will begin in earnest tonight, which always provides for quality entertainment.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Eison brings the love to SmackDown.

Eison also covers Supastas.

In what was arguably the biggest RAW in years, Pulse had the night covered with reports and analysis from Marshall, Innarelli, Glazer and Wheeler.

How They Rated
SmackDown! (12.25.09) –

Superstars (12.31.09) – .7

A.M. RAW (1.3.09) – 1.4

RAW (1.4.09) – 3.6

ECW (1.5.09) – .9

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
The Pulse Wrestling fantasy draft is in the books. Check out the two finalists and the eventual winner.

John Wiswell is back with his annual Riren 100 countdown of the bes matches of the years. Here is the entire countdown: 100 – 75, 74 – 50, 49 – 25 and 24 – 1.

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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