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  Friday, May 29, 2002



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

So long but not goodbye

By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling


This is it. This is the last. I knew that one day I would have to write this. I just didn't think it would be so soon or under these circumstances. Funny how life goes sometimes, eh?

What you are reading is probably last piece I will ever write for SLAM! Wrestling -- a site that Greg Oliver and I created six years ago and with your support, became one of the most highly respected pro wrestling Web sites out there. For reasons I will explain shortly, I have decided to resign from the site as an editor and a reporter. From this day forward, I will not be a part of the daily updating of the site in any capacity. That will be SLAM!'s responsibility and I am sure they will do the best job they can.

I regret having to take my leave but there are circumstances beyond my control that have forced my hand. The most prominent reason is that two of my best friends -- Greg Oliver and John Molinaro -- no longer work with me here at CANOE (The Canadian Online Explorer).

As most of you are aware, SLAM! Wrestling is a part of SLAM! Sports which in turn is the "sports section" of CANOE. SLAM! Wrestling was something we three did in our "spare time". In reality, John Molinaro was a Jam! (Entertainment) Editor, Greg was a part of the management team and I remain the Senior CNEWS (News) Editor and part-time JAM! Showbiz reporter. Last December CANOE laid off Greg Oliver and last month John Molinaro was released from his duties along with approximately half the staff at CANOE. As you can imagine, it has been a painful and disconcerting time for all concerned. Here I am, the sole 'Survivor' of SLAM! Wrestling. The kicker is there's no Mark Burnett to hand me a cheque for a million dollars. What a drag.

Another reason that I am taking my bow is that the current WWF product is boring me to death. At least a screen full of static has some life to it. WWF programming has none at all. Nothing the federation has done since WrestleMania has made me stand up and take notice. Though I have been a passionate and devoted wrestling fan for 25 years, my interest fell to an all-time low right after the "draft". Ah, the "draft". Another in a long line of WWF angles that has failed in every way imaginable. With 17 per cent of you saying in our current poll that you've turned off the WWF completely and another 49 per cent saying you don't watch as much as you used to, I can see that I am not alone in thinking that the current state of WWF programming isn't worth wasting precious time, attention or energy on either.

The WWF has now become what they've always despised. They are World Championship Wrestling: The Sequel...and not the good WCW from the eighties and early nineties either with such stars as Cactus Jack, Sting, Arn Anderson, Rick Rude, Ricky Steamboat, Steve Austin, Ric Flair and Vader either. Ah, those were the days. It's Vince Russo style WCW only it is Vince McMahon driving the company into the ground this time around. As long as there's no competition for the WWF and Vince McMahon remains at the controls, I don't see things changing any time soon. Ratings will continue to slide. House show attendance will decrease even further. Talent will be laid off and programming will be cut. It wouldn't surprise me if Raw and Smackdown! were reduced to an hour each by the end of the year. I can tell you one thing for sure, if I was a WWF mid-carder I would be actively exploring other shores or a second career because the future doesn't look too promising.

While we are on the topic, as I wrote in my editorial months ago, I still believe Vince McMahon should promptly resign from the World Wrestling Federation. If not, he should do the next best thing and that is quit trying to be the next Donald Trump or Ted Turner. News Flash Vince! Nobody in the general public is ever going to see you as anything more than the owner of a controversial but successful pro wrestling company no matter how many football leagues or record labels you start. It is his blessing and his curse. He should live with it and stop trying to be something he's not.

Just think of all the money Vince has wasted in his bid to "legitimize" the WWF. What he should have done is invest the money he spent on the XFL, that over-priced greasy spoon in New York and other futile projects in a national television network so his product could have a stable home. That's the Achilles Heel of the WWF. The future of the company has always rested in the hands of other network executives. All it would take for the WWF to tank is for the current television contracts not to be renewed and for no other network to be interested in WWF programming. If that ever happened, the WWF would be a shadow of its former self relying on syndication rights or they'd be ancient history. It's as simple as that. For all his supposed "genius", Vince McMahon's WWF is no better off than when the first episode of Raw aired. Without strong ratings and the power that comes with them, it is the television networks and not Vince McMahon who still decide the fate of his company.

Anyhow, enough of that. Back to business.

There are a few people I wish to thank before I split the scene...

  • Former SLAM! Producer and head chieftain at CANOE, Jim O'Leary. He gave Greg Oliver and I the green light to start SLAM! Wrestling all those years ago. He rarely interfered, trusted our judgment and was always extremely respectful of the site and our efforts. He helped pave the way for its success behind the scenes in so many ways. Without him, SLAM! Wrestling would still be a dream and not a reality.

  • Former SLAM! Producer, Dave Watkins. Just like O'Leary before him, Watkins gave us the freedom to run the site on our own and supported us through all the ups and downs.

  • All of the regular contributors and "staff members" like Stephen Laroche, Aaron Henry, Nick Tylwalk, Chris Gramlich, Eric Benner, Jon Waldman, "Bloodthirsty" Bob Kapur, Pejman Ramezanpour and Donnie Abreu. Like us, they did what they did because they love wrestling. Greg, John and I will always be in debt to them for their hard work, invaluable assistance and most of all...their friendship. Hopefully, you may see many of these familiar faces when our future project is launched.

  • To all the public relations people and talent over the years who've gone out of their way to accommodate and help us out.

  • To all the editors, writers, photographers, reporters and ad people at Sun Media for their assistance. Shouts go out to Perry Lefko, Tim Baines, 'Coach' Glenn Cole and The Calgary Sun for actually seeing wrestlers as newsworthy people.

  • Thanks to my wife and son for their patience when Daddy had "work to do" or whenever the SLAM! Wrestling staff invaded the house on those special Sunday nights.

  • My best pals and partners in crime -- Greg Oliver and John Molinaro. You put up with me. You backed me up. You motivated me to do things I never thought I was capable of. Wherever life takes us, I will forever be proud of the result of our teamwork. So many tales to tell, so little time. It was a wild ride that I will never forget.

Last and by no means least, you, the readers. The decision to take my leave wasn't made in haste. Greg Oliver, John Molinaro and I have put our hearts and souls into SLAM! Wrestling. It is not easy to just walk away from that. It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and the work we've done. We did what we set out to do and that was put together a wrestling site that treated the subject matter seriously and with the respect it deserved. A mainstream journalistic site that held such values as integrity, accountability and accuracy in the highest regard. I like to think we lived up to the standards we set for ourselves and that's why we were fortunate enough to garner respect from other media, the business as a whole and more importantly...you the fans. Unlike some promoters out there (That means you, Vince!) we never took your readership or your support for granted. Which is why we worked on this site for six years without being paid a dime for our efforts. You are just as responsible for the achievements of SLAM! Wrestling as anyone mentioned above. Through your support, you gave us the power to live out our dreams and also to inform you as best that we could. Thanks for placing your trust in us. We hope that we didn't let you down too often.

As for me, I'll still be around at CANOE, editing the CNEWS section every day and writing movie reviews and stories for JAM! Showbiz. I will carry with me so many great memories. All the pay-per-view gatherings at my place. My chats with The Undertaker, Mick Foley and Booker T. My interview with the late, great Owen Hart just a year before he died. Buh Buh Ray Dudley for helping me cover my first ECW show when I was stopped at the door by some sort of mix-up. Chatting with Roddy Piper about our kids. My interview with Killer Kowalski in which he ripped on the Chyna book. Our battles with the WWF. Meeting Bret Hart. Email (both good and bad) from readers. The threats of being sued. It's been a blast and I don't regret a single moment.

If there is anything you should take with you from the six years we operated the site please remember:

  • Wrestlers are real people. They aren't superheros. They aren't indestructible stuntmen. They have families waiting for them at home. Friends they rarely get to see. Respect them as performers but first and foremost as people.

  • Don't take what the WWF or any federation says at face value. Be critical. Use your head. Don't be a mark. If you see a yellow-feathered bird that has a beak, webbed feet and waddles around making a quacking sound, it is probably a duck no matter what Vince McMahon or anyone else tells you.

  • In 1990, I sat in the 500 section of SkyDome watching WrestleMania 6 as an unruly and appreciative fan. In 2002, I was fortunate enough to sit in a press box and cover WrestleMania X8 for SLAM! Wrestling. The morale of the story...hard work, dedication, sacrifice and a whole lot of luck pays off if you believe in yourself and your abilities.

With that, I bid SLAM! Wrestling and you, the patient readers, a fond farewell but not goodbye as we might be seeing each other again. I look at this situation like a well-earned vacation. Until then, please continue to visit SLAM! Wrestling and take in what it has to offer and feel free to email me your thoughts and questions.

Thanks for reading our drivel. Thanks for your years of loyalty and devotion to the site. It will never be forgotten.




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