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Top 5 Stories 1 Yr. Ago: Flair's autobiography, TNA draws ratings, Angle to return, Mordecai

Jul 8, 2005 - 3:09:00 PM
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Each week new editions of the Torch Newsletter features the "Top Five Stories of the Week" feature. The following is a look back at the top five from one year ago this week. For subscription info about the Torch VIP ESub Membership option, which saves money by skipping the actual home delivery of the paper copy of the Torch Newsletter (although you still have a chance to read the weekly Torch Newsletter online), click here: Torch VIP ESub Subscription Info. Sub prices range between $1.05 and $1.37 per week - same price U.S. or overseas.

Torch Newsletter Archive
By Wade Keller, Torch editor
Top Five Stories of the Week
Originally published: Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly newsletter #815
Cover dated: July 10, 2004


1. TNA draws strong ratings during first month on Fox Sports Net

TNA Impact's ratings on Fox Sports Net have been so impressive in the first four weeks that TNA officials and wrestlers believe odds a great they'll get a prime time slot soon on a Fox station. Although the rating is a combination of 24 FSN affiliates, it has averaged around a 0.3 in its first weeks, the same range that FSN's top rated series, "Best Damn Sports Show" draws in prime time. It has FSN executives realizing that in a better timeslot, the show could quickly become consistently the top rated show on the network by a wide margin. There is also continued talk of FX, Fox's national cable station that features general programming (such as hit cop drama "The Shield"), picking up the show. Many in TNA want to go head-to-head with Raw just because they believe it would instantly generate a Monday Night War buzz in the industry again. They also believe they have a product that could compete reasonably well with Raw, even if beating Raw in the ratings would be considered unreasonable for the first couple of years. The 0.3 rating is not far off from the 0.5-0.7 ratings of Heat, Velocity, and Experience on Spike TV. Those ratings are not considered impressive by wrestling standards, since just five years ago Heat was drawing above 3.0 ratings (before Smackdown was launched). ECW, when it was on TNN before TNN acquired WWE programming, it often drew ratings above 1.0. It was often the highest rated show on Spike TV. The battle TNA faces is the perception that pro wrestling is fad whose time has passed, but the early ratings success of Impact is providing some evidence that such is not necessarily the case. Ratings on cable are so tough to come by, and pro wrestling has a track record of being one of the top rated programs on all of cable. Even in WCW's dying days it was one of the top rated shows on TNT or TBS most weeks, and often the top rated of all weekly series. If it wasn't for the massive losses due to lack of payroll discipline and other money-losing aspects of the company, it would have been impossible for Turner executives to even broach the subject of cancelling the programs. Jerry Jarrett, the founder of TNA who remains very involved in the promotion in a consultant-type role while trying to let his son Jeff sink or swim on his own mistakes, always believed with a money backer to help that a second promotion could thrive even in the depressed marketplace. The challenge of getting a TV station to give them a chance was a much bigger undertaking than he imagined. Needless to say, morale is up in both the front office and among wrestlers because there is a feeling that those who suffered through tough times in the first two years will be in a position to be rewarded nicely should the promotion ever get a great primetime slot and begin making money. One thing is for sure: If TNA begins drawing significant revenue in a year or two, Jerry Jarrett will never let the promotion get in a position of ever losing money unnecessarily because he saw it happen in WCW and would know what mistakes to avoid and because he is known as one of the most frugal promoters in the history of the business, which is why he outlasted every other territory promoter of his generation.

2. Angle plans to return at Summerslam, likely will face Eddie Guerrero

With Kurt Angle already medically cleared to return to the ring, the current plan is for him to return at Summerslam (with some warm-up matches at house shows in Australia and perhaps the U.S.) and face Eddie Guerrero at Summerslam. With Undertaker making it decisively clear on last week's Smackdown that he is a babyface despite smothering his longtime manager in cement just days earlier, it sets up Undertaker challenging Bradshaw for the WWE Title at Summerslam in the other big Smackdown-brand PPV match. Angle has come to realize he must wrestle a more conservative style than he has in the past, but he has told friends he believes he can get away with it by wrestling smart. In the past, he has attempted to defy doctor warnings, but now he realizes that to have any semblance of an in-ring career from here on out, he must be extremely stingy with bumps and any high-impact moves that could affect his neck.

3. Modecai character discontinued, Fertig sent back to Ohio Valley

Kevin Fertig, who has been playing the Mordecai character in WWE, is being sent back to Ohio Valley Wrestling for more seasoning. It appears that Rey Mysterio beating Mordecai on Smackdown last week was the killing off of that character. The poor crowd reactions all along and Fertig's inability to convey the persona effectively caused management to conclude it wasn't worth continuing the push. As much as Fertig didn't seem comfortable or believable playing that type of character, the problem seemed to be the character more than his in-ring work, although his work at the Great American Bash didn't impress anyone enough to earn the character more time. It's tough to imagine anyone making that character work, even a great worker. Fertig will not be wrestling as Mordecai in OVW.

4. Ric Flair book hits book stores, reveals personal side of all-time great

It's too early for sales figures, but given how well the Ric Flair DVD sold, Ric Flair's new autobiography, titled "Ric Flair: To Be the Man," should be one of the all-time best selling wrestling books. Flair's book is already being critically praised for containing many previously unreported stories from the road and details on Flair's personal life. With so many big name autobiographies in the past being disappointments due to the lack of any critical introspection on the part of the authors or lack of enough experiences to write about, Flair's book may be seen ultimately as the best of all, or at least in the same category as Mick Foley's. Flair also is getting praised for not pulling punches regarding a many major names he has crossed paths with. [More: See "Cover Story" by Bruce Mitchell]

5. Jeff Jarrett given back NWA World Title after week of controversy

Ron Killings pinned Jeff Jarrett to apparently win the NWA World Title on June 23, but his use of Jarrett's guitar led to the title being held up. It took a week, but on the June 30 TNA PPV, Russo announced he was giving the title back to Jarrett.


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