By Mike Mooneyham
May 7, 2006
“God” may have been a no-show at last weekend’s Backlash pay-per-view, but help for Shawn Michaels is on the way in the form of the self-proclaimed “King of Kings.”
Triple H will join forces with Michaels to reform DX, one of wrestling’s most infamous factions in the late ’90s, and the wheels already are in motion.”
The reformation will take shape at WWE’s Vengeance pay-per-view next month in Charlotte. Premature news of the pairing was inadvertently leaked last week in a marketing snafu on the Canadian Viewer’s Choice Web site. The release was quickly pulled. A similar item promoting the return of DX, however, was later posted on the Web site for Charlotte’s Bobcat Arena, which is hosting the show.
Triple H will continue his babyface turn leading up to the June 25 PPV.The original D-Generation X formed in 1997 when real-life buddies Triple H and Michaels began teaming in the ring, and were later joined by such names as Chyna and the late Rick Rude. An integral part of WWE’s popular “Attitude” era, the stable would later include The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) and X-Pac (Sean Waltman).
– TNA might be well advised to sit down and takes notes as WWE prepares to launch a third brand to join its Raw and Smackdown divisions.
WWE owner Vince McMahon decided on a recent 12-hour plane flight to Europe to move forward with plans to bring back ECW. It’s too early to tell how this move will affect TNA, but it undoubtedly will put pressure on that company to secure contracts for talent who may find another option working for the new WWE brand.
WWE currently is looking at smaller venues, in the 1,500- to 2,000-seat range, for possible ECW house shows that could begin as early as July.
WWE has signed a number of ex-ECW performers to short-term contracts and, depending on the initial success of the venture, could raid TNA and Ring of Honor talent to help fill out the ECW roster. Former ECW performers already signed include Sabu, Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney, C.W. Anderson and Jazz.
TNA, which is struggling to turn the corner and become a profit-making company, may have missed its best chance to throw down the gauntlet and challenge WWE. And bringing back the likes of Scott and Rick Steiner, Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell certainly doesn’t help bolster TNA’s claim as the alternative to WWE. If anything, it only brings back memories of the dying days of WCW, giving its show a look that closer resembles WCW’s Thunder than the cutting-edge production it needs to be.
The resurrection of ECW could be one of the biggest stories of the year in wrestling. It’s water-cooler talk that already has a number of fans excited about the possibilities. Given WWE’s track record in such matters (see the botched WWE and ECW invasion angles of 2001), expecting a slam dunk is being far too optimistic. But with Paul Heyman most assuredly at the helm of the division, it could give wrestling and WWE in particular a major boost heading into 2007.
This revamped version of ECW, while unlikely to recapture the unbridled spirit of its predecessor, could be a very successful venture if handled properly. Heyman, ECW’s chief architect from 1994 until the company’s demise in 2001, would have to be given significant creative control over the product, and chances for a smooth operation could hinge on his tenuous relationship with the WWE front office, and Stephanie McMahon (Levesque) in particular.
Sources say Stephanie, who engineered Heyman’s removal from the Smackdown creative staff two years ago, was against adding an ECW brand. Her father, though, was encouraged by the phenomenal success of the WWE-produced ECW DVD in 2004 and the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view in 2005, and more recently by the fact that this year’s ECW PPV scheduled for June 11 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City sold out the first day tickets went on sale.
ECW is expected to be cast in a heel, outlaw role in this new worked version of competition among the WWE brands. Ironically, it was a role ECW relished and cultivated during the wrestling wars of the ’90s, although in its later years the Heyman-run company was subsidized by McMahon.
WWE’s biggest hurdle at this point is to secure a television spot for ECW. The brand can’t exist solely on the Internet, and needs its own voice and its own identity. With no immediate openings available, WWE could work out a deal with USA network to put an ECW show in the late Saturday night (2 a.m.) time slot presently occupied by the A.M. Raw show.
– Much-maligned announcer Joey Styles deserves major kudos for unofficially kicking off the new ECW era with a brilliant performance on last week’s Raw. Styles fired the first shot in his emotionally charged worked shoot promo and provided a strong starting point for ECW.
Not surprisingly, Styles wrote his own material. What was surprising, to viewers and many WWE performers alike, is that he was allowed to say things that clearly hit close to home with WWE creative and management. WWE needs more heartfelt, reality-based programming and less mindless, sophomoric segments that only serve to waste valuable TV time and cause viewers to reach for their remotes.
Styles, who has been replaced as lead announcer by the returning Jim Ross, should find a much more suitable home behind the ECW announce desk.
Readers’ reactions to last weekend’s Backlash PPV were mostly negative. While the three-way headliner with John Cena retaining his WWE title against Triple and Edge was strong but far from outstanding with an extremely predictable outcome, the disappointing finish of the McMahons vs. Shawn Michaels match was aptly described by announcer Jim Ross, who called it “BS.”
The most disappointing match, however, was Ric Flair’s three-minute job to Umaga. Repackaged with a ’70s gimmick and a new name, the former Jamal from Three Minute Warning (Eddie Fatu) is being groomed for a title shot with Cena, but placing Flair in what amounted to nothing more than a squash didn’t do favors for anyone.
“Why would they have Flair talking about winning the world title ‘one more time’ just a short while ago – not to mention having high-profile matches with HHH – yet choose to job him out to Umaga?” asked reader Jack Hunter. “Flair not only deserves better, but business in general will always benefit from exploiting the best talent wrestling’s ever had, not burying him.”
– Comcast Sports South is now airing Deep South Wrestling on Sundays at 11 p.m. The Atlanta-based outfit is a developmental territory for WWE, and features the legendary Assassin No. 2 (Jody Hamilton) as its figurehead president.
– WWE champ Rey Mysterio threw out the first pitch of last Tuesday’s Major League Baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. He sent a fastball right over the heart of the plate for a strike.
The first time Mysterio threw out the first pitch at a Major League game, it didn’t quite go according to plan. “I threw out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game last year, but the pitch was low and outside for a ball,” Mysterio told the WWE Web site.
Mysterio made sure he was prepared for last week’s game at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. “I grabbed the ball, rubbed it on the world heavyweight championship for good luck, got some pointers from some Reds pitchers and wore my Eddie Guerrero T-shirt. I think the combination of all those factors helped me to throw the perfect pitch. After the pitch I looked over towards the dugout and Albert Pujols gave me a big thumbs up.”
– WWE has pulled Kurt Angle off the road after the former Olympic gold medalist suffered a cracked rib on the overseas tour. Angle was forced to forfeit his spot in the King of the Ring pay-per-view.
– Jackie Gayda and Charlie Haas are expecting a baby boy later this year. The two were married last year.
Wrestling great Sam Steamboat (Sammy Mokuahi), one of the top Hawaiian stars in the history of the business, died Tuesday at the age of 71. He passed away due to complications from both Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
– Samson R. “Sam” Shelton, the St. Louis teacher accused of breaking his one-time student’s neck and leaving her for dead, moonlights as a pro wrestler.
Shelton, 26, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping after, police say, he broke 17-year-old Ashley Reeves’ neck and then left her in the woods for than 30 hours before accompanying investigators back to where she lay. The 6-1, 200-pound Shelton allegedly used his forearm to break the neck of the 5-5, 120-pound high school junior. The teen was described as having a “relationship” with Shelton.
The wannabe pro wrestler worked under the moniker The Teacher for Ultimate Wrestling Alliance.