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ET CETERA - Wanna know how the WWF's Japanese tour is gonna go?
by Jay Spree on 2002-01-17

It seems astonishing, but there is surprisingly little to actually talk about this week. Well, anything that doesn’t revolve around Hall, Nash, Hogan, or the letters “n” “W” and “o”.

I’m really, really, REALLY loathe to write a column about the pros and cons about bringing these guys in, and what the impact might be on the WWF and the business in general. Suffice it to say that, despite my rampant marking out for Scott Hall, the WWF have given me no reason whatsoever to believe that they can build any sort of successful angle out of this, and the three parties in question have given me every reason to believe that they will be an entirely destructive force on the WWF locker room. How pissed do you think Hunter was when Jericho, of all people, got to live out EVERY wrestler’s wet dream and unify the damn titles? Multiply that by about a million and you’ve got Hogan’s feeling on the matter. That’s just one example – I don’t know if any number of surveys or “Hey yos” (which I guess will no longer be a cool way to open my emails) will counterbalance the negative impact backstage.

That’s about all I really want to say about that, being as everyone else in the internet wrestling community has devoted more than enough opinion on the matter. Problem is, what else is there to rant about?

WWF Japan

Well, I haven’t seen anyone else write about this, so at least it’s different, if not necessarily good.

Yes, the WWF has its sights firmly set on running a tour of Asia, including the elusive “promised land” that is Japan. While this sort of plan traditionally had “bad idea” written all over it, this is one of the few times in history that the WWF has a roster talented enough to at least appease, if not impress the puro fans who expect hard-work, pacing, and LOTS of psychology. Interestingly enough, this is one of the few areas where the Fed’s recent and alleged talent acquisitions may prove to be a good thing…

The response in Japan has been pretty huge. Buck Woodward said that on his recent trip, there were WWF posters up EVERYWHERE. Shin’ya Hashimoto – one of Japan’s biggest draws – has stated that he’d like to work out some sort of deal with the WWF. While they appear to be lukewarm to the idea, the fact that such a big name would be eager to help and/or use the WWF to put himself over is a good indicator of the strength of the brand over there.

While the US main event style of Austin and The Rock may not be exactly to Japan’s tastes, Triple H, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho could arguably all hold their with the Japanese fans. A healthy Benoit would likely be right at the top of the card, given his history and success there in the past (both he and Tajiri have done promotional work there). Rob Van Dam has had Japanese experience, and guys like Edge, Val Venis and Lance Storm are all familiar with the style as well. Not that I want to write off Rock and Austin’s chances of success – no doubt, the two would be respected for their star value; I would simply argue how they would be accepted as, y’know, wrestlers. I’d guess Malenko might lace them up, as would TAKA and Funaki, and maybe Eddie Guerrero’s sins would be forgiven for a tour at least.

Interestingly, lumbering stiffs like Big Show, Taker and Kane would be a huge draw there despite their lack of ability, thanks to Japan’s fascination with oddities and big men (hence the success of El Gigante and Giant Silva there) – a bunch of seven footers would go down very well.

If the rumours are true concerning the nWo members, this would be nothing but good news for a tour of the orient. Hulk Hogan, a former IWGP champion, could arguably sell out the dome himself if marketed correctly. And even though some have been quick to rubbish Scott Hall’s Japanese success, the fact is that New Japan don’t call you back for repeated tours a) if you can’t wrestle, and b) if you’re not over. They certainly don’t put you in a program with a major draw (Masahiro Chono). Nash fits back into the “seven foot freak show” category, although all three of these guys took part in the WCW tour of Japan, and founded the nWo Japan stable, which is still fondly remembered (and is in part why Hall and Chono were reunited). If (when) Scott Steiner signs, they’ve got another guy with a rich heritage in the country, especially with Rick already working shots there.

I would also point to Dr Death Steve Williams’ presence backstage at Smack!Down. Time heals a great many wounds, and if both sides would swallow their pride, the WWF would have another huge drawing weapon in Japan (perhaps Dr Death and IRS will be surprises at the Rumble?).

The WWF has all the tools it needs to put on a five star show in Japan… then again, they’ve also got all the tools to put on a five star show here, and it’s something they still manage to goof up. The difference is that Japan is a market that Vince has never really been able to crack: For the first time, he has the capacity to make it a regular thing, a big thing, and a very profitable thing.

But only if he does it right.

In honesty, the Japanese will probably sell out the show no matter what it’s like, just out of curiosity. They know the strength of the brand, but they really aren’t familiar with the product. Whether or not Vince markets the right sort of show will determine how many times he can go back to Japan… I don’t think he’s been there in over ten years, so that alone tells you something.

The Fed cannot go to Japan with a sports entertainment show, and I think they are at least smart enough to have figured out that much. Similarly, they cannot go there with a card featuring names like “Boss Man” – this has to be an almost pure WRESTLING show; they have to go there with the mindset of “Let’s show these bastards how to wrestle”. I know the boys will all have that in mind (especially the returning heroes like Benoit, Jericho and Storm), but if they’re booked in matches against Ray Traylor, there’s only so much they can do.

Something else I think they should try is offering the show as a worldwide PPV. The curiosity factor of a Japanese Tour may or may not be enough to woo casual fans into buying the show, but it would give the entire wrestling community – who have long been clamouring any semblance of well-worked, pure wrestling – something worth buying. And even if it’s only that hardcore 1.1 ECW fanbase that buys the show… hell, you’ve already done better than something like Backlash. I personally don’t know ANYONE who wouldn’t buy a show featuring all the great workers on the roster busting their asses as best they can to earn the respect of the Japanese fans.

Of course, given the WWF’s recent track record, I no longer have any faith in their ability to successfully do anything. But this is something that I really hope they can pull off.

WWF, ichiban!

Peace
J$

Ultimo got his arm fixed and is trying for a comeback? OH MY GOD!……Hebner’s got a FURNITURE STORE in Richmond? Working the Friendly Tap into WWF TV isn’t too much of a stretch, but THIS……So Diana Hart’s book gets pulled, while Stu and Martha get to put THEIR cock-eyed slant on all things Hart and wrestling later in the year, while Martha whores the Owen story to Artisan. This family never ceases to amaze……Frye and Shamrock at the next PRIDE show? Cool……Booker, I’m telling you: Going on Stern with your IQ is a REALLY bad idea……”Well your honour, Chris Adams and I were roughhousing, and then it went too far.” “Went too far? How so?” “Well sir, I shot him.” “Ah, I see. You’re free to go - case closed.”……Tony ”Ahmed Johnson/Big T/Fat T” Norris played Suge Knight? In the MC Hammer story, no less? Man, I love wrestling SO MUCH……While I am totally unsure about Mikey’s ?WA, York and Matthews and Adam Flash are a good start. Check em out……I know all the fuss about Bradshaw’s “ribs” has died down lately, but do you remember when he tried that sh!t on Steve Blackman at an airport, and Blackman kicked his ass? I miss ol’ Mr Charisma……So the good doctor was backstage at Smack!Down, but only visiting friends (like who, JR?) and we shouldn’t read anything into it. The question is, why not? I’d rather see him in the uppercard than the friggin’ Bossman……NOAH is hyping a tag match with Kobashi and Akiyama against New Japan guys? In FEBRUARY? That really doesn’t sound like a very good idea for Kobashi’s knees and elbows……Lionel Tate is a piece of sh!t. Jim Lewis is a piece of sh!t. Neither of them deserves $1 million damages, but both of them deserve more jail time……“So you tell me, if the league didn't mean anything, then how did it warrant three days of front page, when it did indeed fold?" Okay Jess, I’ll tell you: The league, as an entity in and of itself, meant nothing. However, it and its demise as a consequence for all of those involved – including Minnesota Governers (that’d be you), billionaire promoters (that’s be Vinnie) and national TV companies – is very pronounced and newsworthy. It’s exactly the same as the Dream Team at the Olympics – they win a game, it’s in the scores section. They lose a game, it’s front page. It’s called being a “lame duck”, Jess. If I were you, I’d familiarise myself with the term……Y’know, I’m pleased as punch that guys like Sting and DiBiase found something to believe in that changed their lives for the better. But jeez, stop ramming that crap down our throats……And by the way, if Sting “devoured” DiBiase’s book, he REALLY needs to get out more, or read some Shakespeare or something……”Are you there God? It’s me, Y2J. WHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHY?”……So, the WWF is in a huge hole and needs every hand on deck, so they send Rocky off to work on the Scorpion King. Great move, guys. It’s not like he’s headlining the show or anything……Mind you, given the crapstain of a flick that SK is said to be, maybe they needed him even worse than the WWF, which is a scary, scary thought……Vince, now would be a good time to get on those creaky knees and go see if DTV wants to cut you a deal before things get any worse……Lawler says the only chicks too young for him are "the ones who wear pajamas with feet in them, or write their love letters in crayons." Is there any woman, ANYWHERE on the planet that goes for this stuff?……I mean, that HASN’T already instigated divorce proceedings……Rena Mero……Rena Mero……Rena Me……


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Quotes from the boys: Moondog Manson says "After a long hard thought about what I wanted to do, I realized retirement isn't what I wanted. Why would I give these knuckleheads the satisfaction of retirement when I can terrorize them ten fold in the ring.".
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