Tales from the Territories
Memphis set the bar as far as the series was concerned and then the AWA raised the bar to unprecedented heights. To a point I don't even think that me talking about some of the stories is worth or could possibly do them justice and I think it would be better if you just took the time to watch the episode.
In my opinion, the American Wrestling Association will always have a lasting legacy on the wrestling business due to the talent that walked through the door. Names like Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Curt Hennig, Scott Hall, and of course Ric Flair became household names in the AWA. It was in the AWA where Flair met Dusty Rhodes and at first wanted to call himself "Ramblin" Ricky Rhodes before going by the name of Ric Flair. It was Verne Gagne that brought Hulk Hogan back to pro-wrestling following the success of Rocky and gave him a spotlight.
Legends and Icons called the AWA home and made Verne's baby one of the most prominent and successful territories of the era. To break down each name that called AWA home would be to list out years of future Hall of Fame inductees and World Champions. Losing sight of what was important and what made the territory unique ultimately led to the downfall of the promotion. Verne Gagne knew real talent and clearly loved the wrestling business, but when the business started to change he wasn't comfortable moving forward.
Andy Was Real
Terry Funk would always say "they might not believe everything is real, but they will believe that I am real." Andy Kaufman loved the wrestling business enough to work matches into comedy specials against audience members as a way to prove he was the Intergender Champion of the World. Over the years I knew about the rivalry, but the more I've learned about the rivalry the more I've grown to love the rivalry and have a tremendous respect for Andy Kaufman. Honestly, this would also give some insight on the business acumen of both Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett.
For fans who might be unaware the Memphis territory was a weekly territory which meant they had to draw and keep drawing on a weekly basis. Weekly sell outs of arenas like the Mid-South coliseum were needed for continued success of the territory. I do believe this is one of the main reasons that Lawler and Jarrett would alternate running the territory, each man running the company for a six or eight months usually before the other would assume control. Lawler of course always had a say in his own angles or feuds.
The week to week layout of one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history that sadly most fans have never learned about or will understand. Andy gave credibility to not just wrestling, but to Memphis Wrestling as a whole and helped elevate the wrestling business long before Vince McMahon. The fact that David Letterman would tell Lawler decades later that it was Andy Kaufman & Jerry Lawler's episode of the Tonight show that helped the show's popularity start to flourish. It can't possibly be understated the historical importance of this feud and the legacy it leaves behind even all these years later.
Memphis Where Wrestling Was Real
I have been looking forward to this show since it was announced and I know that it's something that has been done before, but stylistically it is unlike anything we have seen. Wrestling fans have proven that they love the stories from a bygone era and that's exactly what this show provides. It doesn't just focus on the dark side either it's more or less a story about an era when wrestling was simple and before the wrestling business changed forever.
It might be difficult to understand or believe that there was a time when a pro-wrestling fan who lived in Florida wasn't aware of what was happening in arenas in New York, Seattle, Dallas, or even in Georgia. One promotion in Georgia had nationally televised programming on TBS that promotion was Georgia Championship Wrestling. This was a time when the only way you could watch multiple promotions on television is if you knew the channel to look for them on. At this time it is bygone era, but turn off your phone and step away from social media as harken back to the golden age of pro-wrestling. Join me as sit under the learning tree for some "Tales from the Territories"
You Can't Kill David Arquette
Everyone knows the significance that April 2000 has in the wrestling world as that is when WCW made the questionable decision to allow David Arquette to win the WCW World Title. Arquette was starring in the upcoming Ready to Rumble movie featuring various WCW stars. I always thought that this was one of the worst decisions the company could've made, because though it got press they didn't need to take it so far. Think about the Andy Kaufman angle in Memphis with Jerry Lawler. They didn't need Andy to win the World Title to get press; they had him feud with the right person.
The decision to win the World Title aside, I always respected David Arquette for donating all his earnings from his time in WCW to the families of Brian Pillman, Droz, Bobby Duncum Jr, and Owen Hart. Though he might've been given a chance he earned respect by his gesture. Arquette would start a road to redemption and fix his reputation among wrestling fans. Ultimately, Arquette was out to prove "You Can't Kill David Arquette."
I haven't watched a lot of programs or documentaries on Hulu, but as a wrestling fan if you have access to the documentary then it is definitely worth your time. David Arquette has my respect as a wrestling fan for over twenty years.
Creating a Promotion
News broke earlier this week that former WWE stars Ethan Carter III and Adam Scherr will be starting a wrestling promotion with a television deal pending. Since his WWE release EC3 has done his own thing only working for Ring of Honor outside of working on his concept that being Controlling Your Narrative. Last year Braun Strowman was one of the more shocking releases from WWE and since then he has been attached at hip to his former co-worker. Braun appeared alongside Ethan Carter at Ring of Honor's Final Battle back in December as a member of Ethan's new faction called CYN. Below is some information including in the press release:
“Now that I have your attention, here’s the truth.” – ec3
The “Control Your Narrative” concept has manifested itself from an idea, to a movement, to a live touring/televised wrestling company.
“We, collectively as wrestlers, can no longer wait. We can not wait on companies that answer only to shareholders. Companies where billionaires collect talent as “toys.” Companies that fire their entire roster for the mistakes their office made. Companies that are complacent in presentation.
“The world was changing and everyone felt fear and anxiety. The best therapy is to create.” – Koszewski
Jeff Hardy Revisited
Around a month ago or so I tried to piece together an idea to bring Jeff Hardy forward into the main scene in WWE for one last run. However, last week Jeff Hardy was released from his WWE contract after rejecting to attend rehab. This isn't the first time that this happened, but we will not speak of that this time around as the reason why he left the company it is more what I would like to see from him now that he's free from WWE.
Based on the end of his run under the WWE banner it is very likely that Jeff Hardy could benefit from finally having time off. Since his return to WWE in April 2017, he hasn't really spent much time off the road and taking sometime away from wrestling wouldn't be the worse thing for him especially being on the other side of forty at this point. Wyatt has slightly kept himself in the public eye, but hasn't returned to the ring and I think that Jeff should focus on doing the same idea. It is never a bad idea to step back and attempt to heal up from injuries and taking some family time that he didn't have the chance to do.
I was asked when the Wyatt release became news where did I hope to see the former "Eater of Worlds" appear and I was sold on Impact Wrestling being the best spot for him. At this point, AEW is still trying to figure out the best way to fit in all the new signings they have had in the calendar year so avoiding AEW wouldn't be a bad thing. However, going the route of Matt Cardona could benefit the veteran as well by having a short run in AEW to start off before heading to other companies. I think at this point Jeff could look to have some dream matches before settling down to rejoin his brother for one more run before they hang up the boots.
The reason this article is here and not in the AEW section is I don't think Jeff Hardy joining AEW right away is the best decision for the veteran. Right now I think time away from wrestling is the right decision to allow his body to heal up before returning to the ring. I would like to see him appear in Impact Wrestling, MLW, or Terminus (aka Johnathan Gresham's promotion) to start and then build to a debut in All Elite. I do expect both Jeff & his brother will be ending there active wrestling careers in the next few years so allowing them to go out on there terms would be the best ending for one of the best tag teams in the last two decades.
Dark Side Opinion
I had mixed feelings about this season because of the long hiatus and the wide assortment of topics covered this season. Over the years I've been called a homer for WWE and always jump at the chance to defend the promotion after seeing some episodes this season it's hard to defend the past. In a lot of cases for anyone we've all made mistakes, but this series has done an amazing job of giving insight and providing a unique look at topics we never thought we'd hear about again or ever.
Honestly, my favorite episode was Brian Pillman which started season with Kanyon's profile and the Collison in Korea episode a close second. In my opinion, there wasn't a bad episode this season it was more that a lot of the topics were subjects I didn't really know a lot about prior to the Dark Side of the Ring. Johnny K-9 or Bruiser Bedlam is the main culprit of that only knowing a minimal amount of Bruiser from Jim Cornette prior to the episode. Also Collison in Korea, Luna Vachon and Dynamite Kid fit within the ranks of topics I didn't have much knowledge about prior to watching Dark Side of the Ring.
It was shocking to see well known WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt featured in the season finale episode covering the Steroid trial. A lot of what was spoken about regarding Dynamite Kid and Xtreme Pro-Wrestling I had already heard or known about, but that didn't make it any easier especially Dynamite. Grizzly Smith, Warrior, FMW, and Nick Gage covered the rest of the season. None of the episodes were bad it was more a long the disappointed they couldn't elaborate more route.
Hopefully, next year we will be seeing a return for another season which would likely kick off in May or June much like it did this year. If Dark Side of the Ring is in fact the highest rated show on Vice there would be no reason that Dark Side wouldn't be back for season four. In the pre-season show we heard the producers talk about the idea of seeing ECW or another company profile be included in season four which would be interesting. I sent a tweet to the producers of Dark Side in September imploring them to explore Eddie Gilbert, Adrian Adonis, and ECW in season four next year.
RIng of Honor Hiatus Part 1
I learned of the news from noticing the stream that Ring of Honor personality Brian Zane had been answering certain questions he could answer and just discussing ROH as a whole. A while back I closed the ROH section of the website as it had become difficult to keep up with the promotions events and news around the company considering their status. Instead of fixating on certain subject and not giving an announcement of this magnitude a fair amount time I will be expanding my opinion to include various parts as opposed to just one. Below is the tweet taken from the official Ring of Honor Twitter account.
October 27, 2021
Prior to the launch of All Elite Wrestling in 2019 there was few that doubted Ring of Honor's position as one of the top three wrestling promotions in the United States. Not on the level of WWE, but certainly more stable then Impact Wrestling at the time it was clear ROH was a stable promotion to work for and knew where they belonged in the wrestling landscape. Initially, ROH called HDNET home which is now AXS TV or the home of a few different wrestling programs namely Impact Wrestling. In 2011, ROH was purchased by Sinclair Broadcasting which was a surprise to most in the wrestling world, but this move gave a struggling company more stability and a chance to expand it's presence in the world of wrestling. Sinclair was more widely accessible at the time compared to AXS which allowed ROH to be available in more homes across the country.
The background is all well and good, but somewhere along the way the train got derailed and for the first time in twenty years the questions weren't around money for the promotion. Working agreements are excessively difficult, because both parties want to make sure their companies best interests are being met. Working agreements are especially tough when it comes to promotions in different parts of the world.
Quote taken from cagesideseat.com article: "Word’s long been that Sinclair valued Ring of Honor as cheap content for their syndicated channels. That, and this statement’s promise that the company will return, certainly make it seem like they’ll be back next spring."
It is unclear what the plan is for Ring of Honor, but what we do know is Final Battle this year will take place and will be the last event until Supercard of Honor in April 2022. I don't believe that going on a hiatus is bad thing for any company! It allows for a chance to scout new and undiscovered talent, redefine a direction, and come up with a long term plan. I remember a few years ago when CZW did something similar and I even thought that WWE should've went on a hiatus for a few months last year to refine a direction.
Ring of Honor does deserve praise for running the safest shows of any promotion in the United States during the pandemic. The presentation of the Pure and Women of Honor tournaments that have both taken place in the last year. I wish that the Women of Honor had more of an opportunity to continue to build the foundation of the division that had only laid the ground for before this announcement. I would expect that in April they'll pick right where they left off. On that note I will leave a link below to a letter written by Maria Kanellis Bennett who worked for the promotion and very closely with the restart of the ROH's women's division. Click here for the full letter!!
As mentioned above will likely be reopening the ROH section of the site to give this story it's proper coverage and allow it to be housed were it should be in the proper section. I will continue to follow this story and share my opinion on the situation. All we know for sure is that another set of TV tapings and Final Battle are all that is left for 2021 before the company will go on a hiatus. I hope the best for Ring of Honor and all those amazingly gifted athletes that call ROH home.
Part 2: Chyna
This is the part that is hard to put into words, Joanie wanted to return to WWE, she wanted to be a reclamation project. I will not comment on much that was talked about during the documentary, but if you can go out of your way to watch it, then make a point to do so. Vice has done it again!! They have been producing the best wrestling documentaries around which really make us think about well the dark side of wrestling. Conversations with her former employer could've been done differently and in an attempt to slowly rebuild the bridge by taking it slow. I don't know how bad the bridge was burned, but I do wish Joanie would've been able to reclaim her place in WWE history.
This is the part that is tough to talk about, "Vice Versa" hit a home run and made you think about how things could've been different. In my opinion, WWE put Chyna in the same category as Chris Benoit which is horrible and that is an understatement. Chyna helped Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero find their place in WWE and without her who knows where these two legends would've ended up. Had Chyna stuck around a little longer, she could've helped Trish and Lita find their place a bit sooner within the company. Lita was one of Chyna's final feuds within WWE in 2001.
Mental health is the hardest thing to assist someone with, because you have to know where to start, and they have to accept your help. Trying to help someone who isn't ready won't work! They will push you away, and 99% of the time it will leave those around you confused why nobody asked for help or offered to help. Chyna needed help, Chyna wanted to be accepted, Chyna wanted to find someone who loved her for her. She had that, but someone needed to step in and give her the knowledge again, she never lost those things. It is hard to speak on this subject, because not every person has the same battle so making a generalization makes it even harder.
The right way to talk about this, is remembering that even when the chips are down, someone is out there that will listen. People have tools nowadays that weren't around ten or fifteen years ago, and even though talking about this is more accepted, that doesn't make it easier. Mental health is a hard subject to speak on without having expectations about the conversation before the conversation happens. Meaning you think that someone will have a negative reaction or a one-sided reaction sorta like pitying you for your issues instead of just listening or actually talking to you. Please know that if you need help know that there are people that are there to help even if you just need someone to listen to you so you can vent.
Part 1: Chyna
Honestly, it is hard to put into words what last night I watched the Vice documentary centered around Joanie Lauer aka Chyna. It is impossible to explain the amount of times I was at a loss for words watching the documentary. I remember watching the final episode of Dark Side of the Ring in this part of season 3 when I saw the promo for the upcoming documentary on Chyna. Unfortunately, for various nobody has been able to tell the story of Joanie in the world of wrestling even though she more the deserved her story being told.
Joanie made her debut in WWE in 1995 attacking Terri Runnels aka Marlena who at the time was Goldust's valet. Upon her arrival, it took a little while for her to get her feet under her in WWE, but once she did, the rest became history. Chyna became one of the biggest stars during the "Attitude Era" through her part in D-Generation X. Once the faction ran its course Chyna joined Triple H jumping ship to the Corporation joining the faction that was the opposite of what DX had been.
The Corporation didn't last as a faction and within a year of turning heel and joining The Corporation the faction had split, merging together with the Ministry of Darkness. By the middle of 1999, Chyna had become one of the biggest stars in all wrestling. In October 1999, Chyna became the first women's wrestler to win the Intercontinental Championship. From there a feud with Chris Jericho proceed becoming the reason Jericho found his footing in the WWE. Chyna would move on to help another future legend find his footing in a new company as his "Mamacita." Eddie struggled from his debut due to sustaining injury very early in his run and didn't get comfortable until he was able to stand alone and develop his chemistry with Chyna.
Suddenly, Chyna would make the move back to the Women's division after spending the better part of the last two years competing with men. According to reports, it was Vince that wanted her to go back to fighting Women instead of staying in the ring with her male counterparts. Without Chyna who knows the career that Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero would've had in WWE.
Chyna would depart WWE in the middle of 2001 after seven years under the WWE banner and becoming one of the biggest stars the company had made. It is unquestionable to say that Chyna was a major piece of the "Attitude Era" and stood out as someone the company was able to build from the ground up. I will not discuss the relationship with Hunter or anything about that, because it is a very personal subject and a touchy one to discuss. I could continue talking about this documentary for hours, but we will split this discussion into two parts.
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