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Fall back five years ago and the wrestling world was rocked when news broke early in 2019 that we lost a legend. It was on January 2, 2019 when we lost wrestling legend "Mene Gene '' Gene Okerlund was the greatest interviewer during one of the hottest periods in wrestling history. Starting in 1970 for the American Wrestling Association as the fill-in interviewer and ring announcer. Though as the interviewer he clearly flew under the radar, but must've been someone special for Vince to take him AWA when Vince was in the midst of his national expansion.
From his debut in 1984 to his departure in 1993, Gene would become one of the most recognizable faces and voices in all of professional wrestling. Gene would eventually jump ship to WCW again proving exactly why he was one of the greatest interviewers in pro-wrestling, sticking with WCW until 2001. Returning to WWE following the closure of WCW it was time for Gene to step away from the screen, but he would still make occasional appearances from time to time. Sadly we would lose Gene at the age of seventy seven years old. There will never be another like "Mene Gene!
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Rumors are around that the fan favorite documentary style show on Vice TV called Dark Side of the Ring will be returning for a season five. The main question that a lot of fans will be asking is what stories could be next for Dark Side of The Ring. Last season ended with an episode centered around the troublesome Marty Jannetty.
Even though the producers Evan and Jason have told various stories in great detail there are still a number of stories to tell from the long history of pro-wrestling. To know when or what will be focused on in season five we will have to wait and see, but this allows the fans to construct lists of potential stories we'd love to see included in season five.
Extreme Championship Wrestling
A few seasons ago the producers mentioned that they would like to have an episode focused on a specific company. Honestly it doesn't have to tell the story from square one, but telling the story of ECW would make for a very interesting addition to the archives of Dark Side of the Ring.
A colorful character from wrestling's past and one of the many legends that helped make Memphis one of the hottest territories in the business for a time. "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert was a one of a kid character during wrestling's hottest period and deserves to have a light shined on a career that was cut short.
The "Bad Guy" was set to have an episode dedicated to his career this past season, but his passing was to fresh for those affected by it to relive it. Scott was able to finally find his purpose to live a lot longer then most people expected him to and corrected his legacy. It would be a very emotional episode for Dark Side of the Ring to have Scott Hall included.
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On this day in Wrestling history we celebrate what would've been the 71 birthday of the Sylvester Ritter. Formerly Big Daddy Ritter and starting his career as Leroy Rochester, he would achieve his biggest success as The Junkyard Dog. Before hitting it big The Dog spent time in Stampede Wrestling as Big Daddy Ritter and was apart of the first ever Ladder match on record.
Dog would achieve superstardom within the ranks of Bill Watts's Mid South Wrestling. Ultimately it was his charisma that made him the biggest star in wrestling not within WWE from his rivalries with Ted DiBiase and of course his feud with The Freebirds. Though Bill Watts would fall due to the oil crisis I believe that losing Dog was a massive loss that he never recovered from though he tried.
Sadly after making the move to WWE it was clear Dog had lost a step and wasn't the same performer he had been in Mid South. Due to this Dog would never reach the same level in WWE as he had in Mid South. One thing I had never known about Dog is that actually fought a few matches in the early days of ECW. On June 1, 1998 the wrestling world lost Sylvester Ritter in a single car accident he was only 45 years old. Thank you for the memories Dog and I know he still has smile knowing that he still has records for attendance in the old Mid South arenas.
Speaking of the Mid South region Happy Birthday to long time promoter Leroy McGuirk who had operated the Mid-South territory prior to Bill Watts taking over the region.
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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.
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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.
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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"
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.