Take a trip back to a memorable timeline in sports entertainment with the most important stories reported as fact in the journalistic world of pro wrestling dirt sheets.
Following the timeline of the last Dirt Sheet History looking back at January 2007, we get a glimpse into the top scoops from February of 2007 as we read Dirt Sheet History!
This feature is usually once per week but I decided to add an extra edition this week to thank everyone for helping Wrestling On Earth grow to new levels this Summer. We’re doing some amazing numbers we never thought we would get and that is thanks to all of you guys and gals.
Reminder that you can find all past editions of Dirt Sheet History looking at 2004 through 2006 right here. Now enjoy February 2007.
* The biggest surprise on the recent cut list was Bill DeMott, the head trainer of Deep South Wrestling.
DeMott ran a high intensity boot camp style conditioning program that the wrestlers hated. He was seen as trying too hard to “break” the wrestlers and make them “pay dues” in an “old school” way to the point that trainees grew disgruntled. Some quit and others suffered injuries severe enough to require hospital visits because they were so fatigued before their in-ring lessons. DeMott was also criticized internally for being overly harsh verbally toward trainees, jumping on them for any mistakes. It got so bad that WWE brass in Stamford, Connecticut had cameras installed at the training facility so they could monitor his training sessions. There were apparently times he’d turn off the cameras right before berating trainees. However, the office usually backed him up when people would complain about him to talent relations.
* After a recent TNA television taping, Bob Backlund was seen walking back to the hotel instead of getting a ride. Someone saw him on the side of the road and offered him a ride, but he turned it down.
* On 1/22, Vince McMahon asked Shawn Michaels what he thought about facing John Cena in a singles match for the title at WrestleMania. WWE recognized that Michaels had caught fire after Triple H‘s injury and he needed to be in a higher profile match. The idea of a four-way match with Edge and Randy Orton has also been discussed. The original plan as of 1/12 was for Cena vs. Edge vs. Orton in the wake of Triple H’s untimely injury. That changed and at the moment, Cena vs. Michaels looks like the marquee match that will be going down at WrestleMania. Also, no plans are definite for Orton or Edge other than the possibility of those two winning the tag titles back and doing a title defense, but that was only preliminary talk.
Also, the idea of a Batista vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania was first brought up back in the fall. The plan at the time was for Batista to go over, thus ending Taker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak. However, since that time, Undertaker has gained a lot of steam. Batista on the otherhand has been generally performing subpar to poorly in his matches as of late, although he hasn’t really lost any steam due to his poor performances as he is still quite over with the fans. Internally, they believe that some of the fans are starting to see right through him, citing the chants for Mr. Kennedy at the end of their Royal Rumble match. If they go through with this match, there is the possibility of a Batista heel turn in which Taker could chase him through the summer. A Batista Mania win would risk an unplanned heel turn because most fans would likely resent him for breaking the streak.
* Goldberg expressed his frustration with TNA using his name.
”If it wasn’t for a phone call from (Brock) Lesnar, I wouldn’t have known about that,” said Goldberg. “Brock said, `You know that they are using our name again.’ I told him it pisses you off to a point because you see people capitalizing on your name, and it benefits you in absolutely no way, except for the fact that it keeps the name out there. If it were not for wrestling, I wouldn’t be doing this Showtime gig and the Spike TV gig, because as many bad things that were associated with it, that profession kind of put me on the map. I owe a lot to it, and I owe the fans even more, but it pisses me off as a promotion that somebody would do that. That is no big deal. It just gives me more of a reason to beat the hell out of them even more.”
* Because Bam Bam Bigelow passed away with little to no money left, several Northeastern wrestlers led by wrestling legend Afa started to raise money for his funeral. Afa was recently contacted by WWE (it’s been rumored that he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year along with Sika), and in the course of his conversation with Vince McMahon, McMahon agreed to pay for the funeral. There were two funerals for Bigelow, one in New Jersey and one in Florida. McMahon paid for the NJ one. Local wrestlers in Florida raised money for the Florida one. Several members from his old biker club were at the NJ one, along with wrestlers from the NJ area. Also, Mick Foley was there. DDP flew from California and Brother Ray flew from Florida to attend the funeral as well.
* ECW has now become a vehicle to make Bobby Lashley a superstar. Vince McMahon is determined to make Lashley look as strong as possible. The new idea is to make Lashley into an unstoppable, dominant champion. The ECW brand is now the catalyst that gives Lashley the credibility to be one of the company’s top stars. ECW as a concept is pretty much dead, only surviving because they have a television commitment on Sci Fi to live up to. The main point of the brand is that when it’s all over, Lashley can be moved over to one of the other brands and be seen as an equal to the other world champions.
Considering that WWE wants Lashley to look as strong as possible, that pretty much explains why Lashley beat Test cleanly the week before their match at the Royal Rumble. Also, McMahon had given up on Test as being taken as a serious contender by the time of their 1/23 match. His future as an ECW headliner seems to be in doubt, especially considering that Gene Snitsky has taken his place. McMahon was trying to overcompensate for Lashley’s lackluster performance at the 1/16 show. After seeing that show, which featured a three-way match between Lashley, RVD and Test, McMahon became so enraged that he vowed that the show would never be aired live again. He also exclaimed that there wasn’t a single guy on the ECW roster that knew how to work. Although, he’s probably changed his mind since then as the show has been live the past few weeks. McMahon was particularly upset about the main event as he felt that Lashley sold too much when he’s supposed to look strong. Arn Anderson, who was the agent for the match, took heat for how bad it was laid out. However, Anderson said that the problem with the match was that Test and RVD insisted that they get their trademark moves in, and thus there were a lot of spots in which Lashley had to sell.
In regards to the 1/23 match with Test, even though many in creative felt the time for the blow-off was at the PPV, there were no disagreements from the creative team on Test losing the match when the finish was brought up. A sea of “yes men” nodded in approval for the finish.
* Hulk Hogan said in an interview that he received heat over the fact that when he was at UFC, the crowd constantly chanted “Hogan, Hogan” during the matches.
* John Cena has “overcome the odds” yet again as his movie, The Marine, is the No. 1 DVD rental in the United States.
* On a recent interview, Kurt Angle claims he has seen Trish Stratus naked, but wouldn’t give the details.
* WWE is trying to reach deals with Mexican wrestlers Shocker, Mistico and Perro Aguayo Jr. WWE is interested in these wrestlers because they want to build their base among the growing Hispanic community. The SmackDown television audience is heavily Hispanic.
Mistico (he later became Sin Cara) is only 24 years old and was ranked number 5 in the PWI 500 in 2006. If he goes to WWE and flops, it could really hurt his reputation. He probably won’t be the star he could be if he stayed in Mexico. Several people have pegged him to be a living legend who will be able to earn a lot of money for the next several years. WWE originally wanted to bring Mistico in back in 2005 for their ill fated “Juniors” Division as their centerpiece wrestler. But by the time Stephanie McMahon and some of the other writers got a hold of the idea, they thought it was supposed to be a comedy division and thus they signed Super Porky and a bunch of American & Mexican minis. The division was dropped within a few months because it flopped and all of the minis were soon released.
* In an update to yesterday’s report, Andrew “Test” Martin has in fact been suspended by World Wrestling Entertainment for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. His suspension will run for 30 days. He’s eligible to be on television should WWE need him, but as a general rule, suspensions are really only for house shows. That explains why he hasn’t appeared on the most recent weekend house show events. Also, Test won’t be paid during his suspension.
* As I reported earlier today, WWE has made the decision to pull the four way ladder tag team match from Sunday’s No Way Out pay-per-view. Apparently a decision was made by Vince McMahon over the weekend that The Hardy Boyz would no longer be teaming with MNM as McMahon wants Matt Hardy, Joey Mercury, Jeff Hardy, and Johnny Nitro to go back to singles competition on their respective brands.
After that decision was made, having the match at No Way Out only to have the angle disbanded didn’t make sense. Therefore Stephanie McMahon stepped in and booked Deuce and Domino to challenge Paul London and Brian Kendrick for the WWE Tag Team titles.
* Johnny Ace has been burying Rob Van Dam‘s matches even more in recent agents meetings. He’s been incredibly negative on him ever since he kind of mocked him during a meeting before a recent SmackDown/ECW taping (which was due to Sylvan Grenier being arrested for speeding the week before) when RVD said that the guys couldn’t leave the arena during the afternoon to go to the gym anymore. RVD’s comment infuriated Johnny Ace to say the least.
There is a lot of talk going around about Paul Heyman being brought back. He wouldn’t be brought back to the creative team, but rather, to lead the ‘ECW Originals’. People in creative are talking about booking Heyman’s return to television. They might do an angle where Heyman cuts a major promo by saying that before he was ousted last December, he was simply doing what Vince McMahon was telling him to do. However, he’s back and will finally stand up to Vince. He will then help lead his boys in their war with McMahon and the new breed of ECW. WWE has pretty much kept Heyman under contract to prevent him from possibly going to TNA.
* Super Crazy‘s win over Johnny Nitro on RAW two Monday ago, which wouldn’t have been dreamed about three weeks ago, is not only due to his minor push as of late, but also because Johnny Nitro happens to be in the doghouse due to his relationship with Melina. Although, Melina’s really the one in the doghouse. Melina had heat on her when she moved over to RAW last spring due to her reputation on SmackDown, and apparently, she hasn’t done too much to change her reputation. So well, while Melina’s in the doghouse, Nitro may be doing jobs to some wrestlers he wouldn’t have been losing to a few months ago. Interestingly, J.R. went out of his way to praise Nitro during his match with Super Crazy, since he was the one who was losing. This was opposed to burying him as the booking has been doing.
* TMZ.com has a video of police responding to an animal rights protest that got out of control. The protest was led by former WWE Diva Joanie “Chyna” Laurer and the Barbi Twins. The protesters marched on a facility that apparently conducts tests on monkeys and confronted doctors as they tried to leave the building. Had police been a few minutes later arriving, things could have gotten pretty ugly.
* Jillian Hall doing the airhead singing gimmick is, in fact, a shot at Hulk Hogan and his daughter Brooke Hogan. Vince McMahon thinks that Jillian looks just like Brooke, although others don’t really see it. Whatever the case may be, Jillian’s “singing” is intended to be a spoof on Brooke Hogan by Vince McMahon.
* Last night in Philadelphia, Takeshi Morishima defeated Homicide by pinfall to become the new Ring of Honor World Champion. Morishima is one of the top stars of Japan’s Dragon Gate promotion, which has a working agreement with ROH.
During the match, Morishima hit Homicide with two T-Bone suplexes, but Homicide kicked out. Morishima hit a lariat, then finished Homicide off with the suplex for the victory. A very pro-Homicide crowd was stunned at the finish. Homicide was visibly crying, losing the belt he worked four years to win.
* TNA superstar Raven brought his new wife to TNA’s Against All Odds pay-per-view in Orlando, Florida two weeks ago. It was her first time he had done so as she got into a verbal altercation with a massage therapist backstage that Raven had a history with.
* Mike Awesome (real name Michael Alfonso) has passed away. He was found dead on Saturday evening in the Tampa area according to those close to the family. He was only 42 years old.
* Brother Ray asked Jeff Jarrett if he could turn heel, but was turned down.
* The Associated Press ran an article questioning that whether or not the hair vs. hair stipulation at WrestleMania 23 between Donald Trump and Vince McMahon was an April Fool’s joke because the event will take place on April 1st. WWE spokesman Gary Davis responded to the article saying that was most certainly not the case.
* Vince McMahon is said to be on a mission to “fix” the ECW brand because he’s had enough of the lowered ratings and the various problems. He wants to make it a brand that can stand on its own two feet and be a long-term permanent fixture in the WWE world.
* Donald Trump appeared on the Imus in the Morning program on WFAN in New York and MSNBC. He promoted his WrestleMania match with Vince McMahon, calling Vince “a great guy.” He said WM is totally sold out and that 100,000 people will be in attendance. When the host asked him who his wrestler was, he told him it was a guy named “Lindsay” in reference to Lashley. Also, it took a few moments to think of him before “Lindsay” came out. The host tried to get Trump to admit that wrestling was fixed, but Donald chose his words carefully and put over the wrestlers as great athletes. He referred to “Lindsay” as a “black gentleman who is the strongest guy he’s ever seen.”
* CM Punk is back in line for something of a major push.
* Jim Cornette continues to get along well with Vince Russo backstage in TNA. He is not less frustrated with the booking in TNA, but is said to be more of a team player than anyone anticipated as it was first thought that Cornette would distance himself as far as possible from Russo.
* WWE has come to terms on the release of ECW Superstar Test (Andrew Martin).
* The Associated Press has published an article looking at the competition between the UFC, boxing, and professional wrestling. Basically the article states that UFC is a much hotter commodity right now than WWE and unlike WWE they have built a number of new stars.
WWE Senior Vice President of marketing, Geof Rochester is quoted in the article by saying that WWE has “the next Rock in John Cena” and they are not worried about UFC as a direct threat.
While WWE may not admit publicly that they see UFC as a threat, they have introduced Vladimir Kozlov as an MMA character and have tried several attempts at hiring away UFC announcer Mike Goldberg.
– Tune back in next time for more Dirt Sheet History as we continue 2007.
Stories are credited from Rajah, PWTorch, PWInsider and The Wrestling Observer. Month name photo art is by Phillip Martin.
Past editions of Dirt Sheet History are found here.