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Calgary pub puts sleeper hold on WWE
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


Bottoms Up Sports Pub was the last remaining watering hole in Calgary where grappling fans could grab a cold one and a plate of chicken wings while watching WWE pay-per-views.

But last Sunday marked a sad milestone for the 17th Ave. neighbourhood pub.

December to Dismember became the first big WWE event which didn't make it onto the big screens at Bottoms Up.

"I'm the longest standing carrier of commercial WWE pay-per-views in Western Canada," said Spencer Tapley, the pub's owner and a former Stampede Wrestling star. "I've shown every event without exception but enough is enough -- enough losing money."

Bar owners pay between $600 and $1,000 to broadcast WWE events to their patrons, a price tag which Tapley can't possibly justify with the dwindling interest in Vince McMahon's brand of 'rasslin.

"Four years ago, our WWE events drew up to 125 paying customers, almost capacity for the pub," he said. "But compare that to last month, when we only had nine or ten people show up for Cyber Sunday. I'm taking a bath on these events."

It's a problem WWE is seeing across North America, with live attendance and PPV buys continuing to slide -- December to Dismember is expected to be one of the least watched pay-per-views in company history.

Like most mat fans, Tapley blames a poor product for the dip in interest but he feels WWE's decision to add even more events was the final nail in the coffin.

"The problem is the dilution of the product and the bad storytelling, for sure," he said.

"But if there was one single WWE pay-per-view a month, even with the bad booking, it would still draw. Three shows a month is just too much."

Outside the realm of WWE, pay-per-view business is booming at Bottoms Up.

"TNA Wrestling outdraws WWE, two to one," Tapley said. "And for UFC events, we get well over 100 buys at $20 a head. I'm basically turning away somewhere between 60 and 80 people for Ultimate Fighting pay-per-views, much to the enjoyment of my competition."

But Tapley's soft spot for sports entertainment ensures he'll give WWE events one more chance -- after the current rash of rapid fire PPVs pass by, and WWE moves into its traditional strong season.

"After football is done, I'm going to show the Royal Rumble in January and Wrestlemania in April," Tapley said. "If the fans can show they support it, we can take it from there. But if Wrestlemania does not draw, I'm sad to say I'm done with WWE."

WRITER RELEASED: Paul Heyman is the latest big name to be axed from the WWE payroll.

The Mad Scientist of Extreme was called into a meeting with WWE boss Vince McMahon before the Raw TV tapings Monday and was released from his contract.

It's believed WWE bosses blamed Heyman for last weekend's disastrous ECW pay-per-view, though insiders say Heyman was vocally opposed to the booking before the show.

Heyman had been serving as a writer on the creative team for ECW and an on-air talent for WWE's third grappling brand.

SHOW ON SABBATICAL: The world's largest athlete has decided to hang up his tights -- for now. The 7-ft. 500-lb. Big Show has announced he is taking a sabbatical from the ring to heal a plethora of injuries which have nagged him for the past year.

The move was expected after Show dropped the ECW title to Bobby Lashley last weekend.


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