This Week in ‘E – The War Has Started
by Mark Allen on December 7, 2009

The wrestling world loses another brother, TNA fires the first shot in a supposed new war and WWE tries to get in good with the comic book geeks.

Opening Witty Banter
This week was once again quiet on the wrestling news front until this weekend before tragedy struck and TNA picked a fight. Time is short but I’ve got all your WWE related news right here…

Now let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
After being admitted into a Houston, Texas hospital on Friday morning, it was officially reported that Edward “Umaga” Fatu died of two heart attacks at approximately 5:00 PM CST. He was 36. Umaga was put into an ICU Unit after he fell asleep while watching television only to have his wife find him the next morning not breathing and with blood coming out of his nose. He was immediately rushed to the hospital.

He was a member of the famed Anoi’a wrestling family. His mother, Vera, is the brother of the WWE Hall of Fame tag team Afa and Sika, better known as The Wild Samoans. His brothers were both wrestlers as well. Sam is better known as The Tonga Kid and Tama and his brother Solofa, Jr., is better known as Rikishi, or simply Fatu. He is also cousins with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

He began training to be a wrestler in 1995, naturally at his uncles’ Wild Samoan Pro Wrestling Training Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His first real major break was when he and cousin Matt Anoi’a were signed to the World Wrestling Federation in 2001. They worked in the developmental territory Heartland Wrestling Association as the tag team known as the Island Boyz, using the name Ekmo and Kimo respectively. They also worked in Memphis Championship Wrestling and Japan’s Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, also using the name The Samoan Gangstas.

Eddie and Matt were called up to the RAW brand on the World Wrestling Entertainment roster in the summer of 2002. They were renamed Jamal and Rosey, and were henchmen for RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff under the moniker Three Minute Warning.

Eddie was released from his WWE contract in June 2003 and resurfaced in TNA Wrestling shortly thereafter using his real name. He traveled to Japan in 2004 using the ring name Jamal and was a huge hit in All-Japan Pro Wrestling. His skills improved considerably while in Japan and he caught the eye of WWE officials once again.

Fatu re-signed with WWE in December 2005 and looked to reform his old tag team with his cousin Matt, but Matt (still wrestling as Rosey) was released from the company before the team could make their return to television.

He re-debuted on WWE television on April 3, 2006 (the night after WrestleMania 22) as Umaga, which was a Samoan savage gimmick that was clearly an idea similar to his uncles’ old Wild Samoans characters. He tore through the RAW brand in 2006 leading up a series of WWE Championship matches against John Cena in January 2007. The two men met in a fantastic Last Man Standing match for the Title at Royal Rumble 2007 that saw Cena retain the Championship. The match was considered one of the best pro wrestling matches of the year 2007.

He rebounded and won the Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Hardy shortly thereafter. He was chosen to be Mr. McMahon’s hand picked representative to battle Donald Trump’s representative Bobby Lashley in the Battle of the Billionaires. Naturally Umaga lost and McMahon’s head was shaved, but Umaga continued to rebound and be a threat on the RAW brand. Umaga lost the Intercontinental Title to newcomer Santino Marella in April 2007, but regained the Championship in July of that year. He then became an enforcer for the RAW brand’s top villains battling all the top heroes, including Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Batista and Shawn Michaels.

Umaga was drafted to the SmackDown brand during the 2008 Draft but was injured shortly after the move. He returned to action in January 2009 but was injured once again shortly after his return. He finally came back healthy in May 2009 and entered into a feud with CM Punk.

His final match in WWE was a loss to Punk in a Strap Match at the Extreme Rules pay per view in June 2009. He was released the next day from his WWE contract. It has been reported that he was released after refusing to go to rehab for violating his second WWE Wellness Policy violation.

His last international exposure on the pro wrestling scene was as a part of Hulk Hogan’s tour of Australia in November 2009, where he competed in all four of the tour’s events under a variety of monikers. His final professional match was on November 28, 2009, in a loss to Ken Anderson on the final night of the tour.

RIP Umaga…

For the first time ever, TNA Wrestling IMPACT will go live in a head-to-head battle with WWE’s Monday Night RAW on January 4, 2010.

The announcement was made last night on Spike TV during UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter Finale 10 live event. Hulk Hogan was interviewed by UFC color commentator Joe Rogan during the show, who made the announcement official.

After the announcement was made, TNA Wrestling sent out the following press release touting the live special:

HULKAMANIA IS COMING BACK TO MONDAY NIGHT ON “TNA iMPACT!” LIVE JANUARY 4 ON SPIKE TV

Hulk Hogan’s First Live Appearance On Spike TV’s “TNA iMPACT” Will Be In A Special 3-Hour Live Episode Monday, January 4 At 8:00 PM ET/PT

The biggest name in professional wrestling history, Hulk Hogan, will make his first live appearance on Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling’s “TNA iMPACT!” in a live 3-hour special on Spike TV Monday, January 4, 2010 at 8:00PM ET/PT. Hogan and TNA President Dixie Carter attended “The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights” Finale in Las Vegas where Hogan made the announcement in an interview with Joe Rogan.

“TNA iMPACT!” will be going against “WWE Monday Raw” on USA Network, the first time two wrestling companies have broadcast live head-to-head since the “Monday Night Wars” in the late 1990′s between WWE and WCW. This “iMPACT!” special will broadcast live from the TNA iMPACT! Zone at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fl.

Hogan’s first appearance inside the six-sided ring of TNA Wrestling will follow weeks of speculation after Hogan and Carter announced their partnership on October 27 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Hogan has hinted in various media interviews that he’ll have multiple surprises in store for TNA Wrestling fans.

“I knew when I signed with TNA, that it would be important to make a statement with the first episode. Going head-to-head on January 4th, makes the statement loud and clear: Game on!” Hogan said.

“TNA is kicking off 2010 in the biggest way possible with the biggest name in the history of our sport. Hulk Hogan is a pop culture icon, and his arrival will change not only TNA, but the entire professional wrestling landscape. We’re firing that first shot,” Carter said.

Joining Hogan for the three-hour live “iMPACT!” will be TNA World Heavyweight Champion “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Kevin Nash, “The Samoan Submission Machine” Samoa Joe, “The Boss” Bobby Lashley and “The Blueprint” Matt Morgan.

“TNA iMPACT!” will resume its normal timeslot on Thursday, January 7th at 9:00 PM ET/PT with an encore viewing of the live “iMPACT!” special.

As indicated in the press release, TNA will air a three-hour show that will go head-to-head with WWE Monday Night RAW, which will air in its usual two-hour time slot from 8:00 PM CT to 10:00 PM CT on the USA Network.

TNA President Dixie Carter gave her feelings on her Twitter account last night by posting, “Hogan to debut Jan 4 in a live 3 hr iMPACT! special up against Raw. How’s that for a 1st shot? Spread the word.”

Okay, time for a rant. Vince McMahon works at his absolute best when he has real, direct competition. When World Championship Wrestling and Eric Bischoff put the WWF’s back against the wall in 1996, McMahon came back swinging with a wild veracity. McMahon thrives on competition. It’s what keeps him sharp I feel. TNA has been poking around and been on the radar for over seven years now. They have done things in the past to get WWE’s attention. They’ve taken verbal, on-air jabs, taken their former talent and basically tried to present themselves as an equal “number two” to WWE. With the signing of Hulk Hogan back in October, WWE’s eyebrows were raised once again, but backstage reports claim that top brass wasn’t really all that worried. Now TNA picked what I believe to be their most opportune time available (the Ultimate Fighter finale) to announce they would be going head-to-head with WWE at their first opportunity in 2010. With Hulk Hogan leading the charge and rumors of Ric Flair and Rob Van Dam following close behind, this is arguably TNA’s most loaded attempt at a challenge to WWE. However where I feel TNA failed in this opening salvo is that they gave the master genius an entire freakin’ month to come up with a returning shot. While I applaud TNA for giving themselves a month of promotion time for this big super event (because let’s face it, normally TNA is awful at promoting future free TV events), this could backfire on them. WWE will now have a month to find their biggest celebrity guest host or their most prized wrestling legends (hi Rocky and Steve!). Plus the month of January always gets WWE creative going as the Royal Rumble is only weeks away and the company actually gets on fire when it comes to booking for WrestleMania so potential is there to put together a home run show. Not to mention McMahon is almost literally in bed with USA Network head honcho Bonnie Hammer, who is basically begging WWE to go to three hours every week anyways, so expect WWE to pull together a three hour special as well. TNA Wrestling (and Dixie Carter herself) threw out the “first shot.” I’m afraid for TNA (but very excited as a wrestling fan) to see how McMahon fires back with a response shot. Welcome to the big leagues TNA, you may have finally awaken the monster. And as a wrestling fan I cannot wait.

World Wrestling Entertainment is further expanding its market into new media areas with the release of a new comic book line, hitting shelves in 2010.

Here is the press release straight from Titan Publishing:

TITAN PUBLISHING TO LAUNCH WWE COMICS

Titan Publishing has announced its partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment® in the launch of WWE Comics. Over the course of the agreement, 20 issues will be produced and distributed to comic retailers and specialty stores in the US and Canada. The comic’s flagship title will be WWE Heroes featuring WWE Superstars and Divas, with the first issue debuting on March 23, 2010.

The series will take the biggest WWE Superstars and Divas beyond the spotlight of the squared circle and into a brand new fictional universe.

“Each week more than 1.6 million teens watch WWE programming on television in the U.S. This is an important demographic for the comic book industry and vital for a successful launch in the industry,” stated Ned Hartley, Editor, WWE Heroes. “We’ve got some truly amazing stories to tell – our first issue is going to blow you away! The “in-your-face, no-holds-barred” attitude of the WWE works so well as a comic, we just can’t wait for people to see the great surprises that we’ve got in store.”

WWE Heroes series features Superstars Triple H®, Undertaker®, Randy Orton®, Batista®, Shawn Michaels®, Big Show®, John Cena®, CM Punk®, Kane®, Edge®, Chris Jericho®, Matt Hardy®, Rowdy Roddy Piper™, Carlito™, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler® and Kelly Kelly®. The WWE Heroes cycle is written by Keith Champagne, who has penned acclaimed comics such as Justice Society of America, Green Lantern Corps, World War III and Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.

Issue #1 reveals an eternal rivalry set against the backdrop of the history of WWE. Why is the ruthless Shadow King so obsessed with WWE? What is the reason for his eternal and supernatural war with the Firstborn? And could his ancient opponent really be a member of the WWE roster?

Artwork is provided by comics’ artist, Andy Smith, who has worked as a penciller for major comic publishers such as Marvel, DC, Image, Acclaim, and CrossGen Entertainment.

An alternate cover exclusive to comic stores of issue #1 features a specially-commissioned cover by comics’ artist Liam Sharp, who has worked on titles including Hulk, X-Men, Spider Man, Venom, Gears of War, Superman, Batman, and Spawn: The Dark Ages.

WWE Heroes #1 on-sale March 23rd 2010
Available from all good retailers and specialist comic stores.

For more information on WWE Heroes comic, visit: http://www.wwecomics.com

Avenues like this are why World Wrestling Entertainment are the far and away leader in professional wrestling entertainment. Whether the books are any good or not, this new comic line is another area that they can attract new fans, viewers and thus money-spending consumers. In the past individual performers such as Ultimate Warrior, Chyna, Sable and Kevin Nash have had their own stand alone comics and World Championship Wrestling had their brief comic book series back in the early ‘90s under the Marvel umbrella, but this is a first for the WWE brand as a whole to be featured in comic form such as this.

According to PWInsider.com, WWE is working out a deal with the SyFy network to re-brand Extreme Championship Wrestling. The network, which was initially happy with ECW’s ratings back in 2006, has apparently lost appeal in the show. The current deal between the two sides ends in December. The two sides have had talks about dropping the ECW name and freshening up the show. There was talk of a “magazine style” show but thankfully that was shot down. Apparently WWE’s most recent pitch is to use the hour to focus exclusively on brand new talents.

I think this a fantastic idea! I would have no problem whatsoever with ECW going away. Those three letters haven’t meant anything since 2006 when Bobby Lashley won the ECW Title and Paul Heyman was let go from the company. Essentially the show right now is just a showcase for new talent mixed with some veteran “teachers.” A new name and perhaps a Television Title to replace the ECW Title will inject some freshness into that hour of television. Let ECW rest in peace.

In March, WWE will release a three-DVD set counting down Shawn Michaels’ greatest 25 matches.

Right after I read this I saw backlash from people bemoaning another Michaels set and how all of his good matches are already out there. Are they nuts? How great is it going to be to have Mind Games, Hell in a Cell, Iron Man, WrestleManias 24 and 25, something from his rivalry with Rose and Somers, something with Marty and his best with Hunter all in one spot? Plus all the others I didn’t think of off the top of my head.

TBOonline.com is reporting that Oleg Prudius (Vladimir Kozlov) will be taking his Oath of Allegiance today in order to become an American citizen.

Not only does Vlad love double double E, but he loves U.S.A. as well…

WWE is back safe and sound after their trip to the Middle East for their annual Tribute to the Troops special. Here is the quick ‘n’ dirty spoilers for the show, which will air presumably the Saturday night before Christmas on NBC:

MVP beat Chris Masters

Mark Henry & Rey Mysterio beat CM Punk & Carlito

John Cena cut a promo. He ran down Chris Jericho and then had a stare down with Sheamus, hinting at a rematch (as this will air after the TLC pay per view.) Neither man had the WWE Championship with them.

The Miz beat John Morrison

R-Truth did the Santa thing and danced with the Divas

John Cena beat Chris Jericho

It looks like it should be a pretty good show, but as always with Tribute to the Troops it’s not about the matches, but rather the experience.

The Road to…TLC
TLC Match for the Unified WWE Tag Team Championships
DeGeneration X (Shawn Michaels & Triple H) v. Chris Jericho & The Big Show (c)

Tables Match for the WWE Championship
John Cena (c) v. Sheamus

Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Undertaker (c) v. Batista

Ladder Match for the ECW Championship
Christian (c) v. Shelton Benjamin

Intercontinental Championship
John Morrison (c) v. Drew McIntyre

rumored matches:
Kofi Kingston v. Randy Orton
Melina v. Maryse for the Divas Championship
Mickie James v. Michelle McCool for the Women’s Championship
Mark Henry v. The Miz for the US Championship

Wrestler of the Week
Week of November 30 – December 6: Chris Jericho
RAW was awful, ECW and Superstars were both middling and SmackDown was decent. No one really stood all that much on WWE TV this week so it’s easy to go with the default answer of Chris Jericho. He competed in the main event matches on both RAW and SmackDown, going one-for-one in the process. He is now poised to main event RAW once again this coming week and continue to build to his main event TLC match at…TLC. Creativity rules!

RAW’s On Tonight!
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will guest host RAW tonight live from Dallas, Texas. Cuban is a billionaire entrepreneur who is not only owner of the Mavericks NBA team but also Chairman of HDNet, the HDTV cable network that is showing Ring of Honor Wrestling. (Cue arrival of Bryan Danielson to coincide with Cuban’s hosting.) Cuban is a legitimate billionaire known for free spirit and eccentric behavior. He has been fined numerous times by the NBA for his outspoken behavior in criticizing officials and players. In addition to his recent partnership with Ring of Honor he has been seen at numerous WWE events in the Dallas area over the years. He was actually involved in an in-ring confrontation with Randy Orton and then-RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff at the 2003 Survivor Series, also held in Dallas. During the confrontation Orton took out Cuban with his patented RKO finishing move. As for in-ring action, expect Sheamus to try and put John Cena through another table, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton to have another confrontation and Mark Henry to stake his claim for a US Title shot against The Miz. Plus it looks as if Maryse and Melina are on a collision course for the Divas Championship so I’m sure there will be some sort of tag team match to further the issue.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Eison and Wheeler bring some love to SmackDown that saw Kane and Eric Escobar officially become faces, Drew McIntyre finally steps up to a new level and Festus speaks.

Eison covers a Superstars that sees Dolph Ziggler beat Matt Hardy with a backslide…yes a backslide.

RAW was one of the worst of the guest host era. Marshall, Innarelli and Wheeler have their thoughts on the show.

How They Rated
SmackDown! (11.20.09) – 2.1

Superstars (11.26.09) – .75

A.M. RAW (11.29.09) – .55

RAW (11.30.09) – 3.2

ECW (12.1.09) – 1.0

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
The Pulse Wrestling fantasy draft is over and the participants first show is up. Make sure to check it out and vote for your favorite four picks.

Ditch finishes up his great work on the life and times of Misawa.

Follow me on Twitter here.

For more relevant, interesting and exciting wrestling information from your truly, check out my gig as the Pro Wrestling Examiner over at Examiner.com.




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  • Matt Briner

    WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, HOLD THE PHONE.

    …Christian and Shelton in a LADDER MATCH FOR THE ECW TITLE???

    When the hell did THIS happen?!?!? How long have I been away?

  • incognito

    I think TNA may have unwittingly forced Vince’s hand…he may have to bring out the Ace he’s had up his sleeve the past several years a bit ahead of schedule. He’s preparing the move that will change sports entertainment forever – the Hornswaggle heel turn!
    Hornswaggle’s going to come out at the opening of the show and hug John Cena to his usual enormous pop from the slavering ‘tards…but then the camera will slowly pan down to the “Kick Me” sign he just placed on Cena’s back…the ultimate betrayal! Payback WILL be unleashed, but if you want to know how Cena strikes back, you’ll have to wait till January 4th, only on WWE Monday Night RAW!!!

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