This Week in ‘E – More Farewells to Luna, Lance and Serena

The wrestling world loses the original anti-Diva, WWE releases their own anti-Diva and much more on Lance Cade’s untimely demise. A real buzz kill week this time out.

Opening Witty Banter
I’m back from a wedding in Chicago that was one of those trips I just didn’t want to end. While I don’t need to bore you with details it does mean that I’m way behind the eight ball when it comes to wrestling and in catching up on many things in life. So that being said, forgive if this isn’t up to my best standards.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
Luna Vachon was found dead on Friday, August 27. She was 48.

Gertrude “Luna” Vachon was found at approximately 10 AM EST in her mother’s home in Florida. No reason has been given for her death but an autopsy has been scheduled. She was staying with her mother after her own home was recently destroyed in a fire.

Luna came from a famous wrestling family. She is the daughter of Paul “The Butcher” Vachon and the niece of Vivian Vachon and WWE Hall of Famer Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon.

She debuted in 1985 in Florida as part of Kevin Sullivan’s macabre Army of Darkness stable. She joined the World Wrestling Federation in 1992 where she served as the valet for both Shawn Michaels and later Bam Bam Bigelow. She then worked in the women’s division and managed Bull Nakano to the WWF Women’s Championship before she left the company in 1994.

Luna then made stops in Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling before returning to the WWF in 1997. She originally managed The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust before transferring into the Parade of Human Oddities and later feuded with Sable. She then managed her real life husband Gangrel (David Heath) and worked in the women’s division before leaving the company again in 2000.

She continued to appear on the independent circuit but shifted vocations and had become a tow truck driver in her native Florida at the time of her death.

When will this end? Rest in peace in Luna

In other not nearly as sad Diva news, WWE released Serena last week. While the decision was made days ago, it was not announced on wwe.com until after this week’s SmackDown had aired, so to keep up some semblance of kayfabe I guess. It is believed the release was disciplinary, as it was rumored she was partying too much on the road, and thus not living the Society gimmick. When they did the bar skit a few weeks back where Punk caught her drinking, it was essentially an on air warning from the company.

On her Twitter she made the following statement about her release:

“To each and every one of my extraordinary fans, I would like to thank you for your love and support. The past year of my life has been an amazing journey. The people I’ve come to know will always be in my heart and the unique places I’ve been have shown me how beautiful the world is. I feel very blessed. I fell madly in love with pro wrestling when I was just 11 years old. I pursued my childhood dream with every ounce of passion I had and I couldn’t be more proud of where my career has gone so far. I am so excited about the future and continuing to become as great as I can be, hopefully inspiring others along the way. ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined’…Dreams do come true ☺.. I love you all– Serena”

Serena signed with WWE back in the summer of 2009. She made an immediate impact in Florida Championship Wrestling using a variety of monikers. She was called up to the SmackDown brand in January 2010 as a follower of CM Punk and his Straight Edge Society. To show her loyalty to Punk she shaved her head and has kept it at a buzz cut since then. She worked primarily as a manager and valet for the Society on television, staying out the ring as a wrestler. She had her first on-screen match last week on SmackDown when she teamed with SES member Luke Gallows to defeat Kelly Kelly and The Big Show in a mixed tag match.

Serena started wrestling in 2005, originally training at Ohio Valley Wrestling. After he training she became a mainstay in OVW and also made numerous appearances for SHIMMER. She also made brief appearances for Ring of Honor, TNA Wrestling and Wrestlicious, among other organizations.

That’s too bad, as she was doing great in her role as the Society’s lady. She showed great willingness in shaving her heads for the gimmick, but I guess the company felt she was too much of a partier and drinker out on the road. It’s one thing to have a few beers and whatnot, but it was apparently too much for their liking. She’ll bounce right back on the independent circuit, ROH and maybe even TNA.

The war of words between Chris Nowinski and WWE has continued. In an interview with The Hill, he gave some more thoughts:

On WWE’s claim that he never spoke with Lance Cade: “They don’t think I’ve ever met my 2003 tag team partner in the WWE developmental system who I worked with in Cincinnati and Louisville in 2002-2003 almost daily and saw regularly while working with WWE until 2007?”

On why he spoke out: “When someone would disrespect a deceased former employee, when she’s seeking [a Senate seat], as a patriot you have to say something. You want to make sure good people are in those jobs.”

On WWE’s claim that nobody asked him to take steroids: “The point I was making was that they reward people who take steroids.”

“I can never prove I had that conversation with Lance because Lance died when he was 29 years old. They want to call me a liar — the person who can confirm it is dead after he worked for them for [almost a decade].”

On not telling WWE about his concussion history when he was hired: “[I] was unaware that I had a concussion history until the last one.”

On WWE’s claim that the average talent works 135 days a year: “Not every talent performs 200 days a year. I may have rounded up.”

Okay, I think he backpedaled a little bit on the last one was kind of funny. 200 days is a huge round up from 135.

In more Lance Cade news, his push was apparently abruptly stopped in September 2008 after the Cade/Jericho/JBL vs Michaels/Batista handicap match main event that saw Cade pick up the pinfall over Michaels. However he felt he had a bad match and Michaels got mad about him leaving the building before shaking his hand and thanking him. Michaels has always been very selective about who he puts over clean and would not have done it for somebody he thought did not deserve the rub. The following week saw a Jericho/Cade vs DX match that ended in a DQ, as he was still being somewhat protected at that point. He was blamed for a missed spot, however, as he was out of position when Michaels did a superkick and Cade decided to sell it anyway despite it clearly having missed. The week after that saw him lose a no-DQ match to Michaels with a decisive defeat and multiple brutal chair shots in a form of punishment. He was then booked against D-Lo Brown on house shows, kept off of the following week’s RAW and released the day after that.

Then the seizure thing happened and with Michaels no longer supporting him, WWE released him. It was noted that the creative team, including Vince McMahon, was frustrated and upset about it as they had penciled in Cade to be a major star in 2009.

After working the indies and touring Japan, with Hustle, he was called in August 2009 by Michael Hayes. The idea was to bring him in as a top heel on SmackDown to feud with The Undertaker. Vince McMahon was negative about this idea because he did not believe that Cade took the opportunity seriously enough. He was re-hired the following month but the Undertaker feud was scrapped and he was sent to FCW. By December there were plans to push him on ECW but by then he was going through painkiller withdrawal, was having trouble sleeping, and got hooked on sleeping pills instead. By February 2010, after others noted he was slurring his words and unable to focus on conversations, he requested to be put into rehab. WWE monitored him while he was in the program and received positive reports about his progress. By March, however, he received a phone call from Michaels and was informed that he was done and would never be a top guy. The following month he was released.

Cade was described as being very hard on himself and not handling pressure very well. After a match he would go over his mistakes again and again, even if they were minor and the match was good. It was felt that he was frustrated about never living up to the expectations that others had of him early in his career. He was also frustrated that he was not making it to the top of the card fast enough, despite only being in his twenties.

More insight on the sad end to another one gone too soon.

Speaking even more on Cade, Charlie Haas gave an interview with Hardcore SportsRadio where he talked about the loss of his friend.

“It’s been a rough year for me. The two people who were with me when we found my brother dead were Umaga and Lance Cade. They were with me on December 14, 2001 when we found Russ dead in his apartment. Now I look at that as both of those gone in six months, my two best friends. It sucks.”

As an unabashed fan of Charlie Haas, that is incredibly sad to read about. Here’s hoping he does well in ROH and gets another chance at some stardom.

A big pile of information concerning new FCW talent also came out last week. The current FCW champion, Mason Ryan (real name Barri Griffiths) has told people he thought he was far too green and did not deserve to be given the title. He is a Welsh and has a similar physique to Batista. A lot of people like him because of his respectful attitude. He is expected to be called up for the next season of NXT.

Austin Watson, formerly Consequences Creed in TNA, was given a name change to avoid confusion with Percy Watson. He is now Xavier Woods, a combination of Xavier McDaniel and Tiger Woods. He is also expected to be on NXT soon.

A number of other name changes were also handed out. Celeste, a bikini model from Texas, had her name changed to avoid confusion with the UFC Octagon Girl. She is now Ricki Vaughan (in the ’80s there was an Oregon wrestler named Ricky Vaughan who later became known as Lance Von Erich). Joe Anoa’i was given the name Roman Leakee. Phil Friedman, a former MMA heavyweight fighter, is now James Bronson (a blend of the actors James Brolin and Charles Bronson). Shane Canterbury, son of the former Henry Godwinn, is now Buck Dixon. Bill Carr, who has a similar look to the Big Bossman, is now Bobby Dutch. Fady Madani is now Fadh Rakman (after the former heavyweight boxer Hasim Rahman).

John Laurinaitis auditioned a group of models in Los Angeles during the SummerSlam week, seeking ones that could prospectively be trained to become wrestlers. All candidates are to be 18-25 years old. Laurinaitis has also told agents that WWE is only interested in hiring women who can be deemed attractive enough to get into Playboy. The third season of NXT is rumored to feature 4 male and 4 female rookies, hence there is an urgency to hire more potential Divas.

Meanwhile, Andrew Leavine, a four-year starting lineman at Florida International University, has signed a developmental deal. He is 22 years old, 6-5 and 292 pounds, from Brooksville, FL. Brooksville has a population of just 7,200 yet Leavine is the third resident to be under a WWE contract after the Rotuna Brothers (Husky Harris and Bo Rotundo). Leavine graduated with a degree in Parks & Recreation in April and signed as a free agent for the Miami Dolphins but was cut in mini-camp. He refused offers from Arena and Canadian Football League teams due to having a wife and child, since he feels he needs something with greater potential future. He wrestled in high school but did not place in the state meet.

Okay that Buck Dixon name works better if it’s HOG’s son. Is Johnny Ace that big of a pervert or does he think these hot girls really sell the WWE brand, especially in today’s PG environment? This third season of NXT could even be more of a trainwreck if females are included this time.

WWE is obviously high on Alberto Del Rio and want another SmackDown superstar. He has done well with management but some of the wrestlers consider him to be too aloof, like his gimmick. The term that he has got Mil Mascaras blood in him has been thrown about. Management has already spoken with him about trying to not rub certain guys the wrong way.

Where’s JBL when you need him to rough up and haze some out of line “rookie?”

The Road to…The Night of Champions
Six Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship
Sheamus (c) v. John Cena v. Edge v. Chris Jericho v. Randy Orton v. Wade Barrett

expected matches:
Undertaker versus Kane for the World Heavyweight Title
Melina versus Alicia Fox for the Divas Championship
Kofi Kingston versus Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Title
Daniel Bryan versus The Miz for the US Championship
The Hart Dynasty versus The Nexus for the Tag Titles

Wrestler of the Week
Week of August 23 – 29: Cody Rhodes
WOAH! You’re only smoke and mirrors! Rhodes’ new gimmick, entrance and entire character have grown on immensely. He was always pegged as the week link of Legacy but he has been doing phenomenal in his new “Dashing” role. Once again on NXT he was the star of the show. He went nearly a half hour with MVP on NXT and reminded everyone that both men can wrestle and put on a great show when given the time and chance. How often do you see a one-match show and that one match given to two mid-carders? Then on SmackDown he continued his grooming tips and just continues to grow in his role as a meterosexual pompous ass.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Tonight is the celebration of RAW’s 900th episode, despite last week’s taped show actually being the actual 900th broadcast. Surprisingly, knowing USA Network in the summertime, this is not a three-hour show. However much like WWE’s regular three-hour Monday night supershows, the entire roster is expected to be on hand. No matches, interviews or altercations have been announced so far but I’m sure plenty of build for Night of Champions and irregular matches and interactions will be the order of the night.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Chantal brings the SmackDown fun.

Tim and Kelly have a fun episode of Superstars covered.

Logan holds down the fort with NXT coverage.

Marshall, Wheeler and Pruett bring impeccable RAW coverage every week.

How They Rated
SmackDown! (8.13.10) – 1.6

Superstars (8.19.10) – .63

A.M. RAW (8.22.10) – .47

RAW (8.23.10) – 3.23

NXT (8.24.10) – .93

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Continuing with AWA month on IP here is a great piece by David B., plus SK’s rants on SuperClash III and the AWA DVD documentary: part 1 and part 2.

Logan continues the build to In Your House 5. “Tell Me a Lie” is coming; I can feel it…

Ditch is awesome. Go read him.

Mark has been a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over three years now, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” commentary-style column into his current Monday morning powerhouse known as “This Week in ‘E.” He also contributes to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for Examiner.com and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.

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