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Beware of the old bait and switch
By Don Callis - WINNIPEG SUN
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Extra, Extra, read all about it! AWA owner Gagne signs Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan Match of the Century! Excited yet? Well, don't dust off your Hulkamania T-shirt and AWA memorabilia just yet. You see, the Gagne in question is Dale Gagne, and unless Verne had a son living in his garage all these years, there is no relation to the famous wrestling family. Maybe this guy is a troglodytic brother-in-law who used to come to visit every Christmas, who really knows/cares? Oh yeah, he bought the rights to the AWA name from a bankruptcy court.

This new juggernaut of the industry offers this tremendous advertising message which has no doubt come from the best ad firms of Madison Avenue: "If you're a fair, festival, casino or promoter, the match of the century, Hogan vs. Austin, is an e-mail or phone call away." They left out the part about birthday parties and wedding socials, I guess.

I can see it now, Hogan vs. Austin headlining the Minot Raccoon and Soybean Festival, coming on right after the goat-roping event. Maybe he can have the Rolling Stones do the entrance music live and President George W. Bush can be special guest referee.

The really funny thing is that there used to be a time many years ago when a self-respecting wrestling promoter would actually attempt to come up with something remotely believable when performing the old carny bait and switch. This is a whole different ball game.

Managerial legend Bobby Heenan used to suggest something to the effect of there needing to be some sort of I.Q. test for wrestling fans. I think in this case an I.Q. for aspirant wrestling promoters would be more apropos.

K-5 NEWS

Ultimo Dragon, who has been under WWE contract for the past few months is now on a leave of absence. Dragon first wrestled in Canada for the IWA promotion in 1995 and was, at one time, arguably the best overall wrestler on the planet. He is booked to wrestle for the EMLL promotion in Mexico City and apparently the feeling is that he will not return to WWE as he had hardly been used. Not utilizing a performer of this calibre who has been instrumental in training some great light heavyweight talent across the world is not a compliment to the writing staff in Connecticut ... Raven has been telling friends that he is very excited about making his first ever independent visit to Winnipeg, when he heads in Thursday, May 6th for a big TCW show. Tickets are going fast, so call Ticketmaster or Tony Condello at 229-9173 for details ... Ted Turner, who was instrumental in creating an environment of competition that led to the highest level of mainstream interest in the industry in recent memory, is apparently interested in starting something up again. Turner is nearly freed from any obligation in terms of non-compete and TBS as a network can start broadcasting wrestling again in 2006. Turner may well find other ways to get back in the business. He is said to be interested in some recent high profile departures from WWE. Perhaps even more importantly, the corporate "genius" who made the decision to not only get out of a business that had helped put the network on the map, but also sell it off for a fraction of what he could have gotten if he had simply chosen to remain status quo and continue airing it, is now gone from the company ... Jeff Hardy is rumored to be near a deal with WWE to return to television ... Brock Lesnar is getting ready to show some NFL teams what a 285-pound man running a 4.6-second 40-yard sprint looks like. My football friends tell me that given his lack of actual football experience, Lesnar will have to be a defensive lineman, as learning all of the schemes involved with being an offensive lineman would likely be too much on short notice.