Wednesday, 31 August 2011

New Pic Trish Stratus, Eliza Dushku

New pic Madusa, Asya, Blue Meanie

Jim Ross New Blog HIghlights

Jim Ross is back with a new blog over on Here are some highlights from this entry:

- Get well wishes to Rey Mysterio who had knee surgery in San Diego this past Friday. Rey had ACL and MCL issues addressed and will be out of action for several months. This is the same knee that Rey has had multiple surgeries so his rehabilitation work will be even more magnified and important.

- Many have asked me via Twitter @JRsBBQ and in the Q&A Section of this site to comment on the ESPN/Grantland article regarding Ric Flair's personal finances and other personal issues. Ric has been a friend for well over three decades and I was uncomfortable reading the piece. Ric has always enjoyed life to its fullest, and beyond, which, last I looked, wasn't a crime.

Lots of famous athletes and entertainers have had financial hurdles to overcome. If Ric has the issues that Grantland outlined, I wish Naitch well and he has my support.

- Several people have asked me about Samoa Joe. I personally like Joe's work and feel that his best days lie ahead. I do not know Joe. I've never conversed with him that I can recall. Bottom line is 1. he has a contract where he now works and 2. I am not involved in talent acquisition for WWE.

- Could Scott Hall fit in the announce booth as a color commentator? It's not an easy transition for many former wrestlers to make the move from the ring to the announce table so it wouldn't be automatic. However, Scott is a bright guy who is glib and he knows the genre well. If he put in the work that it would take to be an asset who's to say that Scott Hall wouldn't be a good broadcaster? I do know that it takes great focus, commitment and study to be as good as one needs to be in today's world. I don't know if Scott has an interest in this matter but it was a question from a Twitter follower.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ric Flair furious over a website article

TMZ posted the following:

Wrestling icon Ric Flair is FURIOUS over an article which claims the Nature Boy is suffering from a serious medical condition caused by years of hardcore boozing ... because Ric claims it's NOT TRUE and now he's threatening to sue.

The unflattering article -- which paints Flair as a troubled, irresponsible mess of a person -- ran on an ESPN affiliated website called ... and the report is mostly based on court documents.

But Flair is particularly pissed about the reporter's claim that he suffers from Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy -- a disease caused by years of alcohol abuse which often leads to heart failure.

A rep for Flair -- -- whose real name is Richard Fliehr -- tells TMZ, "While the information gleaned from courthouse records may be credible, Mr. Fliehr is currently evaluating his legal options with respect to falsehoods in the story, specifically the untrue statement that he suffers from alcoholic cardiomyopathy."

The rep adds, "Our client understands that these allegations are part of the territory when you are not only famous, but a living legend."

Friday, 26 August 2011

TNa Knockouts Pics

Jim Cornette Interview sneak peak

Hulk Hogan Interview Highlights

Hulk Hogan on Personal Branding, Family Life and Reality TV

Aug. 22 2011 - 9:23 am
0 recommendations


I recently had the great opportunity to speak to one of my childhood idols, the legendary Hulk Hogan. He is someone who best represents the idea of “personal branding,” as his stage name is known around the world by his millions of fans. He’s created a legacy, even despite his hardships, and has inspired many people. Hulk is one of the most sought-after, instantly recognizable celebrities in the world. He is a twelve-time professional world wrestling champion—six titles with WWE and six with WCW—and the winner of the Royal Rumble in 1990 and 1991. He has appeared in several movies, including Rocky III, was the co-host for NBC’s American Gladiators, and is the executive producer, judge, and host of Hulk Hogan’s Championship Wrestling on CMT. Hogan is a frequent guest on every major talk show, such as Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In this interview, Hulk opens up about how he was originally branded in the wrestling business, his family life, reality television, and much more.

Your real name is Terry Gene Bollea, but your stage name is “Hulk Hogan.” How did you come up with that name, and what role does it play in your life?

Hulk Hogan

Well wrestling was different back in the day. I started off as the “Super Destroyer,” and they had me under a mask, because they didn’t want anybody to see me because they thought It had potential. They didn’t want people to see me screw up in the beginning because they would remember me – as big as I was – so I went through a couple of name changes, including “Terry Boulder,” and “Sterling Golden,” and different promoters gave me different names.

Then as I was wrestling as Terry Boulder. I was on a talk show with Lou Ferrigno, and I was actually bigger than he was! I went back to the dressing room that night and all of the wrestlers go ‘Oh my God you’re bigger than the hulk on TV’ so they started calling me Terry ‘The Hulk’ Boulder. Then when I went to New York, and wrestled for the WWF with Vince McMahon Sr before he passed away he had different names for different groups. Names like Pedro Malvez For Puerto Rican Americans, and Bruno San Martino for Italian Americans, and Chief Jay Strong-boat for the Native Indian Americans. He wanted me to be an Irish American so he gave me the “Hulk Hogan” name and it symbolized me being “Irish.” That’s how the name came about.

How does that name play into your life?

The only time I’m not Hulk Hogan is when I’m behind closed doors because as soon as I walk out the front door, and somebody says hello to me, I can’t just say ‘hello’ like Terry. When they see me, they see the blond hair, the mustache, and the bald head, they instantly think Hulk Hogan. My response is “Hey Brother, how ya doin.” Sometimes it’s not that animated, but usually 24/7 I’m Hulk Hogan. Nobody at the mall or at the airport calls me Terry.

It’s changed my life – it’s been very positive. All the negative stuff, or the low periods of my life, are just the downfalls of doing business. But if you look at the big picture, it’s been great to have that character and image in this career.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Jeremy Borash Interview - TNA

Interview: TNA's Jeremy Borash talks to Phil Allely

By Phil Allely

During a recent media tour of the UK TNA’s Jeremy Borash gave hope to UK fans that Hulk Hogan’s in-ring career is not over yet and more intriguingly he may well appear once again on these shores.

Affectionately known as JB, Borash is an enigma in the world of wrestling, proving to be a very useful and productive all-rounder. He has pretty much done it all in this industry that he loves so well. Having worked as an announcer, commentator, ringside warm-up guy, backstage hand, producer and much more, he even made the acclaimed documentary Forever Hardcore, which looked at the (real) story of legendary extreme wrestling promotion ECW.

These days JB is the man who whips live audiences into a frenzy at TNA live shows, announces play-by-play spots on the newly promoted to primetime UK TV show Xplosion, and of course he is the popular face of TNA/Impact Wrestling through his many media junkets across the globe.

Sun Sport’s Phil Allely caught up with renowned lifelong wrestling fan JB on one such media tour recently, finding the ever talkative TNA ‘ringmaster’ to be more than willing to share his thoughts on the company he works for.

“You know I’m proud of what we have done with Xplosion. It’s now got a great TV slot in the UK. Our deal with Bravo was great, we finally got to the UK market through it and we made some big leaps there too. We did have a short time where we dropped off the UK’s radar earlier this year, but now we have this agreement with Challenge and we are seen by 95% of the country. We have the number one show on the channel (Impact Wrestling) and it’s nice to be able to say that Xplosion is now up there too in second place. Before we got to it Xplosion was a rehash of Impact and as it followed that show people were not that interested in watching the same thing again, you know they’d already seen most of the action. There were some cool retro bouts etc., but nothing to grab your attention the way we needed to. We’ve now went with new segments, exclusive matches and of course the Spin Cycle sections, which I’m especially proud of. The whole show is proving to be a huge hit”. Said Borash of his recently promoted to prime time TNA TV show.

TNA’s TV shows are seen in over 100 countries and unlike other regular programmes theirs are proving to be ratings winners, especially in the UK.

“Well I think it’s all down to our product, on TV we try to be original. Our fans are very intelligent. We try to give them something that makes them come back for more. They are also very vocal, their loyalty has helped us build on our success and if they get into our stuff they sure let you know it”.

The UK has been a hotbed of top quality TNA live action over the last few years. The Maximum Impact tours selling out each and every venue they visited. Combined with regular media visits, fan parties and other promotional stunts the company seem to be concentrating their marketing to these shores. JB of course has his own feelings as to why that is.

“You know no matter where I go (for media days) the UK always impresses me the most, we treat our UK fans right, this is not a secondary market to us, it is just as important as the States. The fans just get us in the UK. They are also very media savvy too, we have done fan parties and other events that have blown us away with the turn out. We do some great merchandise giveaways, I mean for example right here and now I could tweet a picture and say there’s a signed Hulkster tee shirt at this location. Then I can watch out the window and see a lucky fan show up in no time at all to claim it. I love this stuff, it’s cool to see fans appreciate and support what we are doing, it makes it all worthwhile. Keep watching our tweets/Facebook, there will be more UK fan days etc. soon”. Said the clearly excited JB, who seemingly is always in full on PR mode.

Borash’s role within the TNA/Impact Wrestling framework seems very complex, the man himself finds it hard to explain what exactly he does. “You know I’ve always wanted to learn everything I could about this business, every aspect of how it works and is put together. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do just that. I have the opportunity to work on producing, make documentaries, work behind the scenes, be part of the tours and of course get to do these media days. First and foremost however I’d say I’m an announcer. But I do love being able to participate in so many parts of what makes TNA so special”.

The upcoming UK tour (January 2012) has of course confirmed its leading pair of big names as Sting and Kurt Angle. Does the annual UK Tour hold esteem in the locker room and just how important is it to have legends like this on the card?

“The UK tours are so popular in the locker room that people will pretty much do anything to try and get a spot on them. It’s a great way to showcase your work, they are so much fun and we get to meet and perform in front of some of the most fun fans we see anywhere. Once dates are announced there is a real buzz backstage about them, with everyone (from the top to the bottom) wondering just what they need to do to get booked for them. Having Sting there will be amazing he and Kurt are both at the top of their game. It’s hard to say who is better these days, they are both on fire right now. Whoever has the belt will certainly have their work cut out keeping it in their hands. We always pull out all of the stops in the UK and January won’t be any different”.

Many thought the signing of Hulk Hogan would hinder TNA’s fresh approach to the wrestling business, having been with TNA since the beginning Borash is surely someone who has seen just how much the Hulkster has helped the company.

“You know I was excited about it, hulk is such a well-known figure that it is going to help raise your profile just having him associated with you. He is recognised everywhere, no matter which part of the world you visit he is known by name. His being here has helped us so much, our growth has an awful lot to do with Hulk Hogan. As a fan it still amazes me to think I’m working with this guy, he is such a legend and I am here walking around backstage and hanging out with him. You know I get asked a lot if he will ever wrestle again and to be honest I know Hulk, he is strong and tenacious, he’s not a quitter and even though he’s had a rough time as of late, he is still here and working hard. Best I can say is ‘never say never’. I’d like to think that you’ll also see him in the UK someday soon too. It’s inevitable I’d say, I’m sure he wouldn’t rule it out. Hulk would love the fans in the UK, I guess we’d probably break even more ticket sale records if he did though (laughs)”.

You can catch up with TNA on Challenge every Tuesday at 10pm (Impact Wrestling) and Wednesday at 10pm (Xplosion, unless a PPV is airing that week). Challenge is on Sky #125, Virgin Media #139 and Freeview#46. Visit for more information on TNA programming, fan day events and tour updates.

Well worth a read Ric Flair Expose

Below is courtesy of http://www.grantland,.com/

Ric Flair has been physically attacked by at least three of his four wives.

In a 2005 divorce case with Elizabeth Harrell — wife no. 2 — Flair's lawyers detailed their accusations. "On more than one occasion," they wrote, "Plaintiff (Beth) has assaulted the Defendant (Flair), striking him about the head and body in an effort to provoke him into a physical confrontation."

In 2009, Flair filed a criminal complaint against Tiffany Vandemark — wife no. 3 — whom he accused of "hitting him in the face with a phone charger."

And in 2010, Flair and his current wife, Jacqueline Beams, returned to their Charlotte, N.C., home after dinner at the Lodge Restaurant. There, for reasons never made explicit, Jacqueline punched him repeatedly in the face. She was arrested.

The story of Ric Flair was once about a college dropout who rose through the ranks of professional wrestling to become a legend. It was about his nickname, "The Nature Boy," and his signature figure four leglock, both lifted from an older wrestler named Buddy Rogers. It was about his multiple championships, his bleach-blond hair, his fast-talking patter (by his own reckoning, Flair was a "stylin', profilin', limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin'-n'-dealin' son of a gun!"), and his signature, trademarked cry: "WOOO!"

Today the story is about a man known in the court system as Richard Morgan Fliehr, 62, born in 1949 and adopted by parents who raised him in Minnesota. That's what he was called this past April, when a judge ejected Fliehr from his Charlotte home because he couldn't pay his rent. That's what he was called in May, when he faced an arrest order for an unpaid $35,000 loan. That's what he's called on the paychecks from Total Nonstop Action, a second-tier outfit where he's still compelled to perform despite suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and where almost everything he earns goes toward old debts: lawyers, ex-wives, the IRS, former business partners, and anyone who made the mistake of lending him money.

Richard Fliehr declined to comment on the legal matters discussed in this story.

The Mecklenburg County courthouse in Charlotte contains thousands of pages documenting Fliehr's legal adventures. There, it's possible to unearth the gory specifics of a lifetime: how he passed out after attacking his son Reid in a fit of anger after the boy broke his drunken mother's arm by pushing her out of an elevator; how he lost a fistfight with his daughter's boyfriend; how he exposed his genitalia to airline attendants.1 One can also read how Fliehr allegedly flew into steroid-induced rages against his wife and children; how he suffered anxiety attacks and at least one nervous breakdown, how he broke his back in a 1974 plane crash; how he was mistreated by powerful bosses such as Eric Bischoff; how he bought millions of dollars' worth of jewelry for the women in his life; how he was cited for letting a drunk 20-year-old woman drive his car in North Carolina; how he used the same NWA title belt as collateral for two different loans.

Taken together, the information produces a rough timeline that illustrates Fliehr's self-destructive impulses. It includes excesses that Hollywood screenwriters wouldn't have the audacity to invent, and yet it follows its own logic — one bad decision comes after another, each magnifying the damage of the one to follow.

1990: Fliehr's poor decision-making expressed itself from the beginning of his professional career, but the consequences began to emerge after his 40th birthday.

He had a lifelong enemy in the IRS. Throughout the '80s, he did not pay his taxes. Finally, the state of North Carolina issued its reckoning: a 1990 notice that he owed more than $62,000 in back taxes from 1982, '83, and '88. Fliehr presumably paid without consequence. He wouldn't always be so fortunate.

In November 1990, Fliehr was caught traveling 95 mph in a 65 mph zone in Beckley, W.Va. He was forced to apply for a restricted license so he could drive from airports to his wrestling events. The superior court granted his request almost a full year later.

The same year, a woman named DeAnn Siden began to stalk Fliehr. Siden spent the next eight years following him from city to city, getting kicked out of wrestling venues, and eventually threatening his life. She claimed the two had an affair.

During the time of the stalking, Fliehr had been married to his second wife, Elizabeth, for seven years. They would have two children, Ashley and Reid. His first marriage to Leslie Goodman lasted from 1971 to 1983 and produced two other children, David and Megan.

1991: In August, Fliehr switched from WCW to the WWF. The NWA filed a lawsuit against him, angry that he was using his NWA title belt from 1990 in televised WWF promotions. Fliehr refused to return the belt, but a judge ruled that he could not use it for any commercial purpose. Additionally, he was barred from referring to himself as the NWA champion.

1992: DeAnn Siden, the stalker, gave birth to a girl named Tiffany. She claimed the child was Fliehr's.

1996: Macrolease International, a New York company, sued Fliehr for failure to pay $66,000 in gym equipment and fees for his Gold's Gym in Hickory, N.C. They earned a default judgment, meaning that Fliehr chose not to plead or defend himself in any way. This is the first documented sign of Fliehr's inability or refusal to repay his debts.

In March, Fliehr was arrested for letting a 20-year-old woman named Colleen McCune drive his car with a blood alcohol content almost twice the legal limit.

1997: A Charlotte painter named John Henighen received a $1,500 judgment for work on the Fliehr home. "We painted their large house inside and out," he wrote. "Had one day's work left for one painter and they would not let us complete the work and have not paid a red penny towards all the painting we did, which took 3 weeks or more and she Mrs. Fliehr treated us badly. Rude."

1998: Fliehr, unhappy with a proposed three-year contract with WCW, missed several appearances and was sued as a result. He countersued soon thereafter, complaining of mistreatment, especially by executive producer Eric Bischoff. While his appearances were being reduced, wrestlers like Hulk Hogan were promoted. Fliehr and his lawyers alleged that Bischoff treated him "in an increasingly hostile, rude, threatening and degrading manner. … [Bischoff's] language is crude, rude and 'socially unacceptable' even in the world of professional wrestling. He has threatened to bankrupt Plaintiff, put Plaintiff out of work, banish him to some foreign country and has referred to him as 'garbage.'"

They settled, and Fliehr stayed with WCW until 2001.

On January 3, DeAnn Siden phoned Fliehr and threatened to kill him and her own daughter if he didn't meet with her. She later phoned Elizabeth multiple times, voicing threats such as, "You will be sorry, you bitch!" and "You bitch, you are not going to get away with this!" Over the next month, Fliehr and Elizabeth identified several of her calls coming from the McDonald's restaurants where she worked.

After these calls and years of confrontations, Fliehr finally had his lawyers pursue criminal warrants for Siden's arrest.

In response, Siden made the bizarre move to file a domestic violence complaint against Fliehr. In the complaint, she said he had threatened to kidnap her if she didn't bring her daughter to visit from Houston, and "would tie me up, beat me up, and rearrange my face." She contacted Fliehr and told him she would drop her suit if he dropped his. Instead, a judge issued an injunction preventing her from having any contact with the family.

That seemed to end the drama, at least as far as Fliehr was concerned. In 2003, Siden was arrested for stalking another wrestler, Kurt Angle, and threatening to kill his wife.

Bad Money: The Early Signs of Trouble

2000: A judgment against Fliehr showed $15,000 in back taxes, interest, and late penalties to the state of North Carolina from 1989.

Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T) received a default judgment in March for the more than $20,000 Fliehr and Elizabeth owed on a loan. Again, Fliehr chose not to make any plea or defense after the suit was filed. Matters would soon become more critical, and he could no longer afford to stay above the legal fray.

2001: Back in 1999, Fliehr and Elizabeth purchased $19,871.21 worth of furniture and financed it through Household Bank, operating in North Carolina. Fliehr left the repayment to his wife, as he did with most financial matters, and the family suffered the consequences. Elizabeth was tricked by the bank into paying more than $26,000 on the principle, and they didn't sue until it became clear that Household still showed a balance of $7,921.07 plus interest accruing on the account. In September, bank representatives called Fliehr at 1:30 a.m., threatening his wrestling earnings. The bank asked if Fliehr thought he deserved special treatment. In a different phone call, Elizabeth heard a voice in the background say, "Tell him you're Steve Austin." Austin was a popular wrestler at the time.

The case was settled out of court. It's tempting to see this incident as an innocuous case with a relatively small penalty (especially by Fliehr's standards), but it gives the first hint of Elizabeth's method of dealing with money.

In November, Fliehr returned to the WWF.

2002: In May, Fliehr and a group of other wrestlers, including Scott Hall ("Razor Ramon") and Virgil Runnels III ("Dustin Rhodes a.k.a. Goldust") were on a chartered flight back to the United States after a series of shows in Europe. They began drinking, and the situation quickly deteriorated. Two flight attendants, Taralyn Cappellano and Heidi Doyle, would compile their allegations into a 2004 lawsuit. Chief among the chronicled misdeeds was Fliehr's sexual aggression. He wore nothing but a jeweled cape, the flight attendants said, and "flashed his nakedness, spinning his penis around." He separately grabbed each woman's hand and placed it on his crotch, and then "forcibly detained and restrained" Doyle "from leaving the back of the galley of the airplane while he sexually assaulted her." Other wrestlers on the flight passed out syringes to the flight attendants with instructions to dispose of them. The specifics of the assault aren't clear. At other points during the flight, Hall licked Doyle's face, told her he wanted to "lick her pussy," and asked Cappellano to "suck his dick." Runnels advised Cappellano that, "You and me are gonna fuck."

Fliehr has insisted that there's no truth to the allegations, but WWE settled with the women out of court.

In May, a man named Troy Wilkinson sued Fliehr for failing to pay him a share of a project involving the sale of "Crown Point," which likely related to gyms managed by Wilkinson in which Fliehr owned an interest. Fliehr admitted to owing Wilkinson $35,000 plus interest, though Wilkinson was demanding only $22,500 at the time. The two settled out of court.

2004: The federal government issued a lien on Fliehr's property and rights to property for $874,000 owed in back taxes from 1994, '95, '96, '98, and '99. A lien is a claim on property used to secure any tax debt. It stops short of a levy, which actually takes the property to pay the debt. This was the first of the really significant sums demanded by the government.

Ward Cagle, a Charlotte resident, sued Fliehr in July for breach of contract. Cagle had loaned Fliehr $40,000 in 2000, and Fliehr had agreed to pay the money back within 70 days. Nearly four years later, it was still unpaid. He did write Cagle a check in April 2001 for $44,000 (the loan plus interest), but it bounced. The men settled out of court, with Fliehr reportedly paying Cagle $10,000 and giving him a motorcycle.2

2005: Peter Wirth, a general contractor and part-owner of Testa & Wirth, put a lien on Fliehr's home in Charlotte due to $107,000 Fliehr and Elizabeth owed for work done on their home. "I will be able to get a list of people who say the Fliehr's [sic] do not pay their bills," Wirth wrote. "I thought of them as true friends and keep doing work for them figuring we might straighten out at the end. … Mrs. Fliehr was well aware of the past due bills and smart enough to know all of the work she asked for would have to be paid for."

Among the work Wirth's company performed was the installation of a $9,000 cedar ceiling, a $5,000 circular staircase, and almost $4,000 in marble work. Wirth's name would come up again before long.

Fliehr was also sued, again, by BB&T for repayment of $35,000 on a $400,000 loan they'd given him in 1998 to start "Flair with Wood," a business that operated his Gold's Gym in Hickory, N.C. "It seemed like it would be a home run in Hickory," Fliehr later said. He went on to speak about his partners in the enterprise, saying, "They just robbed, stole, cheated, and left me holding the debt." He told lawyers he couldn't sue them because they lived in Dallas, Texas, and the DA and BB&T wouldn't press charges. "They didn't have to," he said. "They had me."

Fliehr eventually paid off the $35,000. He sold the Hickory club.

Don Arnold/WireImage

Divorce from Wife No. 2 — Elizabeth

Fliehr left his wife in February 2005 for his "safety, health and wellbeing."

In the divorce settlement, Elizabeth accused Fliehr of "cruel and barbarous treatment," which included all of the following: abandoning the family, failing to provide love or affection, slapping her, kicking her, choking her, biting her, pulling her hair, verbal and emotional abuse, demeaning her in public, exposing his genitalia to the parties' friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers, excessive use of alcohol and prescription drugs, steroid use and attendant bouts of rage and violence, adultery, exposing the children to his "paramour," crippling them financially because of his spendthrift ways, starting a fistfight with his son Reid at a wedding reception, taking his son to a strip club and serving him alcohol, opening up wrestling scars in order to appear bloody after he called the police on her, insulting her friends with racial slurs, bragging about the size of his genitalia, calling Beth fat, old, and a slut, accusing her of dressing "sexily" for other men, saying she would be "nothing in this town" without him, demanding sex, and, finally, forcing her to have sex.

She withstood it all, she noted, despite suffering from a cracked lumbar, osteopenia, and high cholesterol, and stood by Fliehr "in the midst of his nervous breakdown and frequent anxiety attacks." Not to mention the times she played his "loyal wife" during skits, bleached his hair, picked out his wardrobe, and helped in developing the "Nature Boy" persona.

In turn, Fliehr had some accusations of his own. Elizabeth, he said, was emotionally unstable, "as verbally abusive as any person [he'd] ever known," and physically violent. She spoke in a vile and profane manner, using the word "fuck" as a "noun, adjective, adverb, exclamatory remark and in every other way one can imagine." She told her kids to "fuck off" and told Fliehr to "get fucked." She projected her weaknesses and faults on others, was "mentally and physically slovenly," and lounged around the house. She was mean-spirited, belligerent, and had nothing nice to say about anyone. Further, she refused to engage in a meaningful or intimate relationship, and even encouraged him to look outside the marriage. She would often assault him in an attempt to provoke a fight, and was compulsive in her habit of making things up about Fliehr to humiliate him.

In her original affidavit, Elizabeth gave some insight to the couple's lifestyle and subsequent debts. She and Fliehr were accustomed to spending $5,500 per month on clothing and more than $2,000 per month on dining out, as well as $750 per month for a home lease that had expired. In Fliehr's response, he noted that Elizabeth had requested $17,000 per month for child support, despite the fact that both children were grown and out of the house, and $950 per month in gas. These demands were curtailed in later versions of the affidavit.

The Fliehrs acquired more than $750,000 in jewelry throughout the course of their marriage. He owned 20 guns — nine Magnums, four shotguns, four rifles, one 9mm semiautomatic pistol, and two other 9mm handguns.

But the truly lasting legacy of the marriage, especially for Fliehr, would be debt. Before the settlement was finalized, the couple already owed more than a million dollars. Most of those debts stayed with Fliehr and were aggravated when Elizabeth was awarded a lump sum of $140,000 and $15,000 per month in alimony for two years (a total that declined gradually as the years went by). Fliehr would eventually owe her more than $700,000. Combined, they were also liable for $1.15 million in taxes.

Lost somewhere were the two children, particularly Reid, who Fliehr admitted had "significant difficulties in the past two years, some of which are the result of the dysfunctional family dynamic in our home." He had been arrested during the divorce proceedings (he was bailed out by Fliehr's lawyer), and Fliehr attributed this at least partly to his upbringing. Reid Fliehr has since been arrested for assault and battery, possession of black tar heroin, and DWI. Ashley Fliehr, too, would clash with the law. In 2008, she was arrested for kicking a police officer after her father got in a fistfight with her boyfriend.

Each child used a Yukon Denali, Jet Skis, a Sundancer boat, and a Land Rover between them.

In April 2005, the IRS began to seize Fliehr's WWE earnings to pay back taxes.

In November, while stuck in a Thanksgiving weekend traffic jam, Fliehr was charged with assault after a motorist on I-485 in North Carolina said Fliehr grabbed him by the neck and kicked the vehicle's door. Witnesses to the incident never showed up for court, and the case was dropped.

2006: Gary Wright of the Charlotte Observer reported that Elizabeth's attempt to have Fliehr held in contempt for not sharing his Carolina Panthers season tickets failed.

A company called Conbraco Industries, which manufactures water valves, filed a suit against Fliehr for repayment of a $300,000 loan. According to a source close to the situation, Conbraco provided Fliehr with the financing to open 10 Gold's Gyms. When the gyms were sold or closed, Fliehr still owed more than $200,000. He stopped making his regular payments in April 2003.

Conbraco eventually received a favorable judgment; Fliehr owed them $185,000 plus interest from 2003 and $10,000 in attorney's fees.

Fink's Jewelers filed an action against Fliehr for $81,000 plus interest. Receipts show that Fliehr bought at least $76,000 of jewelry in a four-month period between November 2004 and February 2005. The case is ongoing.

On May 27, Fliehr married his third wife, Tiffany Vandemark. As his marriage to Elizabeth came to an end, he allegedly cashed in an annuity to buy a $100,000 engagement ring for Tiffany. He also bought her a Louis Vuitton bag and a Rolex watch. The wrestler Triple H was his best man.

2007: Greg Leon, who owns seven restaurants in South Carolina, loaned Fliehr $47,750 in October. According to Leon, Fliehr and Tiffany visited him at the time of the loan to decide on collateral. Fliehr offered to give him the engagement ring off Tiffany's finger, but a female friend of Leon's balked at the notion, and Leon reluctantly said no.

"I should have taken the ring," he said, "but that's just degrading." Instead, Fliehr gave him a Rolex watch, a motorcycle, and a boat. When it became clear that the debt wouldn't be repaid, Leon sold the Rolex. The boat and motorcycle, however, turned out to have no proper title. The boat is at a marina and the motorcycle stays in Leon's garage. A South Carolina judge awarded Leon a full judgment against Fliehr in early 2008, but the full amount hasn't been repaid.

When asked what it was like dealing with Fliehr, Leon said he regrets ever having done business in the first place. "I thought he was an honorable man."

But Fliehr had been a victim, too. Earlier in the year, he and his ex-wife finally began to realize the extent of their financial mismanagement. They filed a complaint against Scott Storick (among others), a man who had been their financial advisor and had gradually milked them in a staggering multiyear process.

The Storick Episodes

In the simple version of the story, alleged in a lawsuit, Storick repeatedly convinced Elizabeth to purchase replacement life insurance policies for herself and Fliehr. He told her that it would be a better deal for both, when the truth (speaking broadly) is that life insurance policies accrue money as they age, and prematurely dumping one before it pays off is a waste of money.

The problems began in 1994. At the time, Fliehr had whole life insurance with Guardian, a low-risk policy that accrued value over time. The beneficiaries were Fliehr's parents and Elizabeth. Scott Chamberlain, a representative of Principal Life, convinced the Fliehrs to switch their coverage to a universal life policy by showing that the premium payments would be less and the death benefit more. What he didn't explain was that because universal life policies oftentimes fluctuate more wildly with the market, less cash is guaranteed. Also, the new policy essentially meant that the insurance company could charge higher premiums if they determined over time that Fliehr — already an aging professional wrestler who would later admit to using steroids — was increasingly likely to die.

When Fliehr and Elizabeth figured out what happened, Storick entered the equation. Also a Principal Life agent, he "exhibited great concern" about Chamberlain's mismanagement and guided the Fliehrs into buying a Principal whole life policy. But he left out the fact that Fliehr's original Guardian policy, with all its accrued value, had yet to expire and could still be used. Instead, he led them through the process of surrendering that policy in favor of the new one. The new annual premium was more than twice the Guardian rate, and Storick benefited from the commissions. (The policy was put in Elizabeth's name "to prevent Mr. Fliehr from borrowing against the cash value of the policy.")

Storick became close to the couple as time went on. He was their main financial advisor and became so trusted that "Mrs. Fliehr confided to him the combination of her home safe."

That's when the policy churning began. In 1998, he sold Elizabeth a life insurance policy from Guardian, his new company. When he became a Travelers agent in 1999, he convinced Beth to replace both of Fliehr's Principal policies with Travelers universal policies. In 2000, he had Beth replace her own policy with a Travelers option.

Every time he made a switch, Storick approached Elizabeth as a friend, promising her that he'd found a better deal. Instead, Fliehr and his wife forfeited any accrued money, exposed themselves to greater risk, and lined the pockets of Storick and his successive companies.

In 2002, when Storick went to General American, it happened again. Two new policies for Fliehr.

By the time it was over and the divorce was settled, every active policy was surrendered to Elizabeth, though none of them were worth anything like their purported payout value. Fliehr was left without life insurance (at a time in his life when he was becoming less and less insurable) and with a net cash loss around $270,000.

But it didn't end there. If it was so easy for Storick to churn their life insurance policies, why not sell them annuities too? An annuity is a stock market investment, with the idea that at a specified date you'll receive annual payments. Many investors use them as retirement security, but the key aspect of an annuity is that it acts slowly. There's rarely an immediate benefit, and taking money out early often comes with associated penalties.

By telling Elizabeth that annuities were good substitutes for a savings account, he convinced her to buy 12 annuities for $1.24 million between 1994 and 2003.

In one particularly ruthless case in 2003, he advised Elizabeth to repay money borrowed from Fliehr's mother by purchasing two final annuities totaling more than $700,000. He didn't tell her that annuities are perhaps the worst kind of investment for debt purposes since they take too long to pay out. In the end, almost all of this money was levied by the IRS for back taxes.

In early 2000, Storick told Elizabeth that in order to use $150,000 she'd made from the sale of Fliehr's gyms as collateral for a different loan, she would have to put the money in a mutual fund. This advice, nearly absurd in its inaccuracy, was swallowed hook, line, and sinker. She listened, and lost $53,000 to the market by 2003.

After the divorce Fliehr received less than $150,000 on all annuities, after an initial investment of $1.24 million.

Storick couldn't keep the Fliehrs to himself. In 1999, he introduced Fliehr to Peter Wirth, the contractor who would later sue the family for unpaid work. Within a year, Storick and Wirth convinced Fliehr to invest $220,000 in a commercial real estate project. Next came a new project and an investment of $142,000. Then another for $101,000. A series of maneuvers by Wirth followed (including contracting the construction of an office building to his own company, Testa & Wirth, at a discount rate). By the time Fliehr's divorce went through, he'd made no return on the property investments and had lost almost $150,000.

Fliehr sued both men, eventually settling out of court for $230,000. Of that total, $60,000 went to his lawyers, and the remaining $170,000 went to pay part of the $708,000 he owed Elizabeth in back alimony payments.

After it was all over, Elizabeth Fliehr still considered Scott Storick a close friend.

2008: A Charlotte golf club, The Tournament Players Club of Piper Glen, received a $5,000 judgment against Fliehr for unpaid membership fees.

Blair Academy, a New Jersey private school attended by Reid, won a $33,859 judgment for unpaid tuition.

Chris Porter, a business partner, sued Fliehr for $115,000 on a $140,000 loan.

According to Fliehr's response to the lawsuit, Porter had convinced Fliehr to start a company called Ric Flair Finance, which was "intended to use the fame popularity of Fliehr in order to build a lead generation company for mortgages." Porter told Fliehr that they didn't need a lender or broker license to start the online company, which would generate leads and pass them to lenders for a fee. Fliehr advertised the company on WWE television broadcasts and before a NASCAR race in Delaware. When RFF finally launched, the "business model … turned out to be completely illegal." North Carolina shut down the company for noncompliance.

C&G Leasing sued Fliehr for $130,000 plus interest owed on a loan to rent gym equipment. In a deposition with C&G lawyers, Fliehr said he stopped making payments because "I couldn't afford to make them," and continued: "I'm saying that the crux of the matter is, I will make it good. I just can't do it today. That's where I'm at with a couple other things. … Right now, I can't do it. I'm going to court for a divorce on Tuesday, and things are tight again. The last divorce cost me $5 million. This one is costing me a lot, too. I never really saw it coming."

William K. Diehl, Fliehr's former attorney, demanded $180,000 in fees. "In the past, you have promised to pay me, but you have failed to do so," Diehl wrote in a letter. "I will also want you to bring me up to date on exactly the status of your obligations to Beth. You mentioned last night that she's excited that you have left Tiffany and she wants you to come home. Great idea!"

The letter also reveals that Fliehr signed a consulting deal with WWE and was planning to start a reality television show.

In August, Fliehr signed a security financing agreement with Conbraco. As collateral for the $185,000 he owed the company, he put up two championship belts, wrestling gear, a Rolex watch given to him by Shawn Michaels engraved "To Be the Man," framed magazine covers, an autographed poster of Michael Jordan, a poster of Fliehr and Vince McMahon, and any future earnings from the Storick lawsuit (these were never collected by Conbraco since they went to paying Elizabeth's alimony).

In September, Fliehr got in a fight with the 22-year-old boyfriend of his daughter Ashley at an apartment in Chapel Hill, N.C. When officers responded, they found Fliehr bloodied and bruised, lying on a bed. They described him as "elusive," and said he "just wanted everything forgotten." The Associated Press reported that Ashley "became belligerent and kicked an officer." She was charged with resisting arrest.

The Divorce from Wife No. 3 — Tiffany

Just two years after their wedding vows, Fliehr and his third wife were separated.

In June 2009, Tiffany hired a moving company to retrieve her possessions from Fliehr's house. She allegedly broke into the home using a shovel. In the process, she destroyed five "Flair Bear" stuffed animals and took 25. Also taken from Fliehr's house were 12 action figures, two handguns, three robes, a ruby necklace, and Fliehr's dog. One of the destroyed Flair Bears was found in a "lewd and lascivious" position in Fliehr's pool.

The ruby necklace was worn by Fliehr's mother and given to him after her death as an inheritance.

The dog was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Natch. Fliehr confirmed with his veterinarian that not only did Tiffany take the dog, but also had the "temerity to re-name Defendant's dog."

Fliehr, at this point, had debts totaling $1.7 million. He now earned a $32,824 net monthly income from WWE.

Tiffany was $754,948 in debt. "I struggled to maintain our living expenses along with an enormous debt that I had amassed during my previous marriage," said Fliehr. "I borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from WWE, my family, and friends to make ends meet. Tiffany and I also accrued marital liabilities related to our own failed business ventures& Tiffany knows as well as anyone that we have no assets and a lot of debt."

Fliehr, bereft of a life insurance policy, had been persuaded to buy a new policy through Tiffany's mother. Tiffany was designated as an owner as well as a beneficiary, with 75 percent of the payouts going to Fliehr's children. Following their separation, Tiffany canceled the policy, leaving Fliehr, again, without life insurance.

Despite his troubles, Fliehr gave each of his children $1,600 per month for allowance. He spent $14,000 on Christmas gifts in 2008, bought Tiffany $200,000 worth of jewelry and a 2006 Porsche, spent $1,300 per month to dine out, and lived in a home that cost $5,000 per month.

Fliehr paid $7,000 per month as part of a separation agreement, but the payments lasted only until mid-2009. By May 2010, all matters had been settled and the case was dismissed.

2009: Fliehr's contract with WWE expired in June, and he was hired soon thereafter by TNA. As of February 2011, he made $22,000 per month with the organization (though the figure, a source told me, can fluctuate from month to month).

He filed a June complaint against Tiffany for assault and stalking after she hit him with a cell phone charger while trespassing near his home. In the complaint, one question asks whether the defendant abuses drugs or alcohol. Fliehr circled "alcohol" and wrote "a lot" in the space provided.

On November 11, he married Jacqueline Beems, his fourth wife.

2010: Three months into their marriage, Jacqueline was arrested for punching Fliehr in the face after a night on the town. She spent three hours in jail.

The State of North Carolina issued a certificate of tax liability against Fliehr for $45,000 in back taxes from 2008.

The federal government placed another lien on Fliehr's property for $627,758 in back taxes from 2005 to 2008.

Fliehr purchased a new Corvette and Camaro, both immediately subject to the IRS lien, leaving a total purchase balance of $110,000.

Ring of Honor, a wrestling promotion company, won a judgment for more than $40,000 against Fliehr for his failure to make contracted appearances.

Fliehr trademarked his familiar cry of "WOOO!" to make a trust for Jacqueline and his children.

2011: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Fliehr's former lawyers, sued him for $88,000 in legal fees. They had helped him in his divorce proceedings against Tiffany and also advised him on other matters, such as how to protect trademarks such as his signature phrase: "To be the man, you've got to beat the man."

Wells and Donna Hall, property owners, received a default judgment against Fliehr for $17,000 in unpaid rent from 2010 and damage to property.

The Morehead Inn won a $4,000 judgment for money owed after a party Fliehr threw for his daughter Ashley.

In April, Fliehr received a judgment of ejectment from his home on Sharon Road in Charlotte. He was $4,542 in arrears on rent. The judge ordered that he "be removed from the premises." A source close to the situation says that Fliehr has caught up on rent and is still living at the property, which costs $3,683.00 per month.

As of February, TNA had not paid him royalties for six months.

He and Jacqueline still spend four to five thousand dollars per month traveling and dining out.

On May 26, an order for contempt and arrest was issued on Fliehr for failure to pay $35,000 he owed to Highspots, Inc., a wrestling merchandise company. They had previously tried to sell an NWA title belt Fliehr used as collateral to recover the loan, only to discover that it was already being used as collateral for Fliehr's debt with Conbraco.

Michael Bochicchio, the owner of Highspots, told me that he'd arranged a six-figure deal with Fliehr for promotional appearances and DVD projects, but that it fell through. He became Fliehr's friend during the process, and still describes him as "the greatest wrestler of all time." Soon, Fliehr asked to borrow money. The initial sums were small, only a few thousand, and were consistently repaid. Then he began asking for more.

"I felt like, you know what, this is still a good investment for my business," said Bochicchio. "I didn't mind doing it."

Fliehr put up the title belt, which Bochicchio called "the holy grail of wrestling merchandise," as collateral. When the deal fell through and Fliehr still owed $35,000, Highspots tried to sell the belt. They had an offer of $100,000, but soon discovered the conflict with Conbraco.

"We made our bed with Ric Flair, and it took us two years to get out of it," Bochicchio said. "He has absolutely no plans for the future. He could never separate Ric Flair from Richard Fliehr."

Shane Ryan is a staff writer for Grantland. Follow him on Twitter at @TobaccoRdBlues.


DVD Review The Greatest Cage Matches of All Time

WWE DVD Review: The Greatest Cage Matches Of All Time

By Phil Allely

You have to hand it to the WWE they certainly do know how to compile a best of compilation better than most wrestling organisations. The advantage they have of course is that they own the majority of the best match footage form the sports glory days and now they are happily embracing this rich heritage and showcasing them on DVD.

This triple disc set brings together a collection of fair to excellent cage matches from the WWE, NWA, AWA, WCCW and WCW, all of which have not only the curiosity factor, but make for rewarding viewing.

So for those unaware of this particular match style here’s a brief rundown of what to expect in this box set. Cage matches were usually the final match in a feud for wrestlers. These matches were always heavily hyped and often headlined live events, pay-per-views and of course sold-out arenas. The interesting thing was that the imposing cages themselves varied too and the performers often relied on blading to intensify what were at times dull bouts.

The matches on offer here range from the late 1970s and bring us right up to 2009. Those earlier matches are a bit sluggish at times, but the atmosphere and electricity in the air more than make up for the fast-paced action we see these days.

The good news is that in this set for every slow match (let’s simply say Bob Backlund and Lex Luger) there are at least five worthwhile cage scraps to savour. Highlights include a nice Ric Flair versus Kerry Von Erich blood bath from 1982, a hard-hitting tag team brawl pitting Ivan and Nikita Koloff against the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, a superb Road Warriors and Fabulous Freebirds war and some modern classics featuring Steve Austin, Mankind, Triple H, Edge, Chris Jericho and The Rock.

What’s nice about this set is that many of the matches featured are indeed rare ones, they have yet to appear on DVD and the cage gimmick enhances the in-ring action well. These days the blood-letting may have stopped in the WWE, but you don’t need to see the claret flow if the combatants can tell their story well and construct a wild, violent and believable match we can all buy into. That is what this box set best displays, the bouts here all tell stories, they wind up feuds, tie up loose ends and in some cases they take a key player to the next chapter in their career.

The Greatest Cage Matches of All Time is a nicely produced three disc offering that should keep everyone interested until the final match of disc three. The only drawback is that like any other stipulation heavy release there are only so many cage matches you can watch in one sitting, so break your viewing up to get the full impact of the content here.

The Greatest Cage Matches of All Time is available now form and all good retailers.

RRP £29.99

Cert 15

Runtime 8hrs 8mins

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Young Bucks Slam TNA

The Young Bucks tag team (formerly Generation Me) recently spoke to Canada's Slam Wrestling about their decision to quit TNA Wrestling several months ago. Matt Jackson expressed a great deal of frustration with the way TNA is run - largely due to the fact that TNA creative did not have a clear vision for them:

"I don't think everyone's on the same page. I know that a lot of guys don't know where to go when they have a question about something, because nobody knows who's exactly in charge of what."

"One week we were running with Tara and the next we're not. One week Nick and I have heat with each other, and the next we're in a stable together. Towards the end, people in the office didn't know if we were heels or faces, so we flip-flopped. We knew then, we had to get out."

"One thing, though, from my time with them that I would have never guessed was, how unorganized the 'big leagues' were."

Nick explains that despite all the turmoil behind the scenes in TNA, their departure from the company came down to money - or lack thereof.

"We asked for our release because we were not being used enough to budget money for our families. We simply weren't making enough money. We asked for help and they didn't really want to do anything for us. So, it obviously wasn't going to work out."

Matt added:

"We knew we were going to quit for a while. The writing was on the wall. Overcrowded locker rooms, we hadn't been seen on TV regularly in months, and no continuity with our characters led us to wanting out."

The Young Bucks have received several complaints from veteran performers in the both the TNA and WWE locker rooms for the way they've handled themselves behind the scenes.

The Bucks have developed a reputation for being aloof and disrespectful to their superiors - and do not put all the blame on TNA for why their run there did not work out:

"I'm sure they could have done more with us, but I'm also not going to stick the blame completely on them. I'm sure there are things that we could have done differently too. All in all, we are proud of our run there and feel like we did have the capability to show what we could do, at least a couple of times.

"We could of 'played the game' a bit more. In professional wrestling, you need to do this to survive. We may have been a little too passive and let things happen to our characters that probably shouldn't have. Maybe we could have been a little more protective? You live and learn."

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

WWE Name History - A Brief Rundown

Back in 2002, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) underwent a number of transitions before becoming the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) brand that we know today. Here's a brief guide to exactly how and why such changes took place.

Back in 2000, the World Wide Fund for Nature, who also used the abbreviation 'WWF', took out a lawsuit again the World Wrestling Federation. It was eventually rules that the WWF trademark belonged to the environmental group, and the wrestling organisation launched its "Get The F Out" marketing campaign, changing all references on its website from to 'WWE'. The site URL was also changed from to This was a big step for a brand whose site had become as popular as many other instantly recognisable URLs, like and A press release then announced the official name change from to 'World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.', or WWE.

At this time, he previously used 'Attitude logo' also became prohibited on all World Wrestling Federation properties. However, it was not until 2011 that the company announced an official re-branding, which dropped the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. title altogether, to become, simply, WWE. This decision was said to have been made in order to reflect the organization's worldwide expansion plans. It would also fall in line with the company's future plans of launching a WWE television network, which is currently expected to take place from 2012 onward.

There has also been a significant extension during this time, which falls in line with this name change. The 'Raw' and 'Smackdown' branches were both announced as being a 'WWE Brand Extension' just months before the official name change, whilst the relaunch of the Extreme Championship Wrestling franchise also took place under the WWE brand name.

Bingo Ballance Interview

Irish Wrestler Bingo Balance talks Indy grappling

By Phil Allely

Phil Allely was lucky enough recently to catch up with veteran Dublin born wrestler Gary ‘Bingo’ Balance. Their conversation took in many aspects of Indy wrestling in the UK/Ireland and offered forth some interesting things about just what life is like for someone in Bingo’s place. Having toured Ireland, the UK and Europe the 26 year old now has his sights firmly set on cracking America.

PA: So Gary, firstly thanks for taking the time to chat with me, can you tell me how long you have been in the wrestling industry and how has it changed since then?

GB: I’ve been involved in wrestling since 2005, a little over six years, now. To be honest, I don’t think things have really changed that much. If anything, I tend to see the same trends, and the same things, popping up over and over, like a numbing, never-ending carousel of inevitability! (laughs) not to put it too bleakly! The industry itself hasn’t changed much, to my mind, since I began. All I have to go on, really, is the Irish scene, and that’s receded quite a bit over the years. There was a notable boom period during 2006 and 2008, but it’s not been repeated since. Shows are still being run, and there’s still some great talent in the country, but the lack of cooperation between promoters- even on the most rudimentary level- prevents the scene from growing and reaching a larger audience. It’s a shame, but there are a lot of personal issues, residual bad blood, and people grinding axes, and I don’t think the scene will ever reach the heights it did a few years ago. Pessimistic, perhaps, but that’s my own outlook.

PA: Even with the faltering audiences do you still enjoy what you do?

GB: Oh, definitely, yeah. If I wasn’t still enjoying it, I wouldn’t be doing it. There are aspects of being involved in wrestling that drive me mad, I’ll admit, but I still get a buzz from performing, and being in the ring and, overall, the good outweighs the bad. I take pride in my work, so if it ever got to the point where I was “phoning it in”, I’d just stop. I never want to be at the stage where I’m just going through the motions.

PA: So Gary where have you been fortunate enough to travel?

GB: I’ve had the pleasure, first off, of seeing a lot of Ireland itself. If I wasn’t involved in wrestling, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to see a lot of the places I’ve seen, explore the country I live in, and experience the things I’ve experienced, good and bad. I’ve had the chance to wrestle in front of huge audiences in Waterford, Tallaght, Balbriggan, Donnycarney and Cork, but also in front of tiny audiences in places like Wicklow and Offaly. I’ve been to places where we’ve had plush dressing rooms and conference rooms to hang out in, but also spent shows getting changed in caravans, corridors of restaurant kitchens, alleyways, outdoor sheds, or in the back of a ring van. To get to experience both is quite sobering, and keeps you grounded.

Travelling to- and seeing- a lot of the UK has been really enjoyable too. I’ve worked a lot in England, and in Scotland, and always enjoy travelling over. The only minor negative is that sometimes you don’t fully get to “take in” a place, if you get me. You’d pretty much just arrive at the Airport, get picked up, go to the venue, wrestle, and go back to where you’re staying. That said, I’ve enjoyed times where I’ve had a few hours to kill in a place I’m not used to. I had occasion to hang out for a few hours in Newcastle, Milton Keynes and Stonehaven, recently, in Scotland, and enjoyed the chance to see those places very much.

I’ve also been over to Germany a few times, which was cool. The last time, though, was a bit of a trial. It involved a ten hour car journey (round-trip) in the company of guys that didn’t speak English, it was bitterly cold, and I had to spend about six hours at the airport before my flight. I was dying to get some sleep, but was paranoid about someone stealing my stuff, or missing my flight! I’m back in Germany in November, though, so I’m hoping that trip will go a little better!

I’ve really valued being able to travel around, though, and see a bit of the world, while doing something I really enjoy.

PA: Have touring former WWE, TNA, WCW stars proved to be helpful and inspirational to you, do any of them pass on ideas/help?

GB: Some have, yeah. Irish Whip had a good few ‘imports’ back in the day, and it was a great learning experience picking up bits and pieces from them. Assimilating advice has been something I’ve tried to do, and get better at, over the years; some advice I’ve gotten wouldn’t necessarily work for what I do, while other advice might definitely help flesh out my performance, so I’ve found it helpful to mentally filter stuff I’m told, and see what I can use.

Most of the guys that came over were sound, bar one or two, maybe. Most inspirational to me, I think, was Doug Basham. I really liked his attitude, he was refreshingly down-to-earth, and he had a great work ethic. Along with that, he never played the “veteran” card, despite having infinitely more experience than the rest of us. There have been guys that came over that threw the whole “veteran” thing around, who I might respect out of courtesy- purely for having been in wrestling longer than me- but not as people. I respected Doug as a worker, though, and as a person. I was disappointed not to have gotten a chance to work with him while he was over, and think we would’ve had quite a good match together.

PA: so for those of us on the outside looking in, can you describe your life as a wrestler today, what does a week/month offer you?

GB: I’d generally have a few shows per month, at home or in the UK. It depends on the month, really. Some, I could have a load of bookings, while others I might just have one or two. It depends how many I’ve managed to secure. Sending off mails seeking bookings is one of the most soul-destroying aspects of independent wrestling, I have to say! A lot of places won’t even bother responding, which is frustrating, but not unexpected. It pays off, though, when you manage to get your foot in the door somewhere. I get enough to keep myself busy and active, anyway. Sometimes, a promotion might get me to do a training seminar, as well, which I enjoy. I was the Head Trainer in IWW for a number of years, and have always liked teaching, and helping guys along.

Along with shows, I go to the gym a few times a week, play football- which I’ve found great for helping with my cardio- and spend time with my girlfriend and family, and some of my wrestling mates like Se├ín South, Bam Katraz, Brother Skelly ,The Ballymun Bruiser and Vic Viper.

PA: so tell me Gary is this your dream job?

GB: On balance excuse the pun I think it is, yeah. As I said, there are aspects of it that vex me a little, but that’s the same with every job. You take the good with the bad. If I could comfortably make a living through wrestling, though, it would be a dream job, yeah.

PA: So what if one of the big US league’s (WWE/TNA/ROH) came calling would you go? and would you miss the smaller local shows you do?

GB: I don’t expect WWE to turn up at my front door with a lucrative contract any day soon, though I obviously MIGHT consider it if they did! (laughs). I actually tried out for TNA earlier this year, in London, and was happy that I gave a good account of myself. I knew that I wouldn’t get a call-back, and that I wasn’t what they were looking for at the time, but I was glad to have done it and put myself on their radar at least. I got good feedback from D’Lo Brown afterwards, which was encouraging.

I have a realistic view of my own performance, and what I have to offer, and I genuinely don’t think the idea of me turning up in one of the bigger promotions one day is that crazy, to be honest. Would I take up the offer if it arose? I would. Absolutely. I’ve been working away for the past six years, and I’d be kicking myself when I’m older if I didn’t take the chance, and go for it. I’d miss the shows I do domestically, but I think any wrestler who’s serious about what they do wants to wrestle in front of larger audiences, and do it on a bigger scale. I’d have to give it a shot. Definitely.

PA: if you were forced to retire tomorrow, what would be the one moment that you would want to be remembered for?

GB: I hope my most memorable moment is still to come, to be honest, but if I did have to retire tomorrow, I guess it would probably be the Zero Gravity tournament win in 2007. It was a big night for me, and truly a surreal moment to become IWW’s first Zero Gravity Champion. There was an opening ceremony at the start of the show, where all fourteen participants were introduced to the crowd, and it was a truly humbling experience standing there in the ring with some of the best cruiserweights around- guys like Kid Kash, Pac, El Ligero- knowing that at the end of the night, I was winning the belt. It was weird! My worry at the time was that me winning would be an anti-climax, considering some of the other competitors involved, and the fans would s**t on it. (Not literally- that would be hideous.) The atmosphere in Balbriggan was electric that night, though, and the crowd responded fantastically when I got the win. I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. It was an incredible night.

Good as that was, though, I’d hope to be remembered for more than one moment, and that I’d left a decent body of work behind. As I say, I hope my best moments are still to come. Here’s hoping…

PA: For those people that have never had the opportunity to see Bongo Balance in action describe your style and why those people should see you in perform?

GB: I wrestle a fast-paced, high-flying style, but without a lot of the superfluous flips, and bells-and-whistles associated with “indy” wrestling. I have nothing against that kinda thing; done well, it can look fantastic, and there are guys out there that can put together and perform these intricate spots superbly. For me, personally, though, I couldn’t work a loaded sequence of flips, leaps, ducks and switches in without making it look horribly choreographed, and I try to avoid that, wherever possible. I hate stuff looking overly-rehearsed. I’ve been influenced by guys like Austin Aries, Paul London, Evan Bourne, Amazing Red, Chris Jericho, Brian Kendrick and Eddy Guerrero, amongst others, for most of my career, but my own style has evolved over time, albeit subtly. I would’ve been a big ROH fan when I started out, and enjoyed that type of wrestling; its influence could be seen in my early stuff. Nowadays, though, I’d favour WWE’s style of pacing matches, and feel I can work better within that kind of structure. Condensing that waffle into a snappy, media-friendly soundbite: “I’m a high-flyer.”

People should see me perform as, regardless of the number of people in the crowd, I always aim to give an audience their money’s worth. I still remember what it was like to be a fan, myself, and never want to short-change someone who’s taken a chance on local wrestling. Along with that, I would wrestle a style uniquely different to what’s in WWE at the minute, so you would definitely see something in one of my matches that you hadn’t seen before. I enjoy innovating, and coming up with my own moves, and a number of the ones that I use are my own creations. That’s really the extent of my “hard-sell”!

PA: So what does the future hold for Bingo Ballance?

GB: Though I’d love to say, “a lifetime of RIDICULOUS wealth”, I think, realistically, that’s a little unlikely! For something actually achievable, though, I want to venture into the States and Canada next year, and sort out some bookings there. I’ve wanted to do that for quite some time, but due to commitments over here, and my own procrastination- the eighth deadly sin- I haven’t gotten around to organising anything. I’ve only myself to blame! I hope to give that a proper go next year, though, and sort something out. Long-term, I still want to be doing this in five years’ time, if my body hasn’t packed it in by then!

PA: Do you think UK/Irish wrestling is losing out due to a lack of TV programming? Could we claw back the old Big Daddy style of popularity if we tried?

GB: That’s a really good question, I have to say. Truthfully, I don’t think British/Irish wrestling will ever be as popular as it was back in the World of Sport days, or as popular as WWE is at the moment. That may be a little bit negative or pessimistic, but I just don’t see it happening. For it to happen, there would need to be a British promotion getting a regular, prime-time slot on terrestrial television, and I don’t see that as feasible. If Channel 4 couldn’t get a decent following airing WWE, I definitely don’t think it would get one airing British wrestling. Don’t get me wrong: I think the level of quality in British wrestling at the moment is phenomenal- and there are some truly terrific workers out there- but public perception, I’ve found, towards British or Irish wrestling isn’t good.

The growing trend for a lot of promotions is to advertise “American pro wrestling” or “American-style pro wrestling.” It’s smart, and it’s good marketing, but it’s very revealing. Certainly, in Ireland, the prevailing attitude of your average Joe Soap is that anything Irish-made- be it TV, films or whatever- is inferior to its American equivalent. Thus, promotions tend to exclude “Irish wrestling” from posters and promotional material. I can’t presume to speak for the average British punter, but the fact that “American pro wrestling” is touted does say something. To get the public to follow British wrestling again would involve radically changing perceptions, and I think in the modern age of consumerism and self-entitlement, that is a huge uphill battle. Huge.

That aside, to even get a show “TV ready” you’d need super production values, and a lot of financial backing, and I think wrestling’s too big a gamble for any investor.

PA: Thanks for your time Gary, I’m sure all of our readers will be watching out for your name on upcoming local wrestling cards and we’ll maybe even see you grace the ring of the WWE/TNA someday soon too.

MVP Interview Highlights

Former WWE Superstar MVP spoke with The LAW this weekend. Here's what he said about Chris Benoit and his WWE departure. The full interview can be downloaded here.

Paying tribute to Chris Benoit in his matches:

"I can't comment on how the WWE organization chooses to run their business regarding Chris' memory. It's a business decision, and that's up to them. Personally, Chris Benoit was my friend and my mentor. The Chris Benoit that I knew that took me underneath his wing, that allowed me into his world, that allowed me into his home, that wasn't the guy that committed that heinous act that day. Anyone that knows Chris, the few people that were in his inner circle, know how much he loved his family. So what I say is, people forget how fragile the human psyche actually is. Everyday people lose their mind, snap, and do horrible things. Up until that point, Chris Benoit was one of the greatest people I'd ever known. He was as good a person outside the ring as he was a performer inside the ring. As much as it pains me to have to consider how he died, I have to consider why. He literally lost his mind, there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. My friend and mentor made the ultimate mistake, and then he paid for it with the ultimate sacrifice. I can't forget everything that he was to me prior to that point. Everything that he did for me, everything that he offered to me selflessly of himself. I say that when I do that rolling German (suplex) spot, yeah, that's in honor of my friend and mentor. When I do that variation of the Crossface, that's a hat-tip to my friend and mentor. I can say that he was a huge part of the reason I was successful in the WWE, because he took me under his wing and helped me be a force, to be a player mentally, and I'll never forget that, no matter what anyone has to say."

His exit from the WWE:

"I just saw some things coming that just didn't feel right; it started to feel like a job, I felt like I was coming to work. I respect Vince's vision, but it just wasn't what I wanted. I didn't want to be a television soap-opera superstar, I wanted to be a professional wrestler. I always wanted to wrestle in Japan, it was always a dream of mine, and I just wasn't happy. I went to John Laurinaitis, who had been trying to get me to come to his office to re-sign a contract, because I had about a year left on my deal. I was just ready to go, and I explained that to him, and I said, 'I'd like to go to Japan.' He's known about my feelings for Japan, how I always wanted to go. Johnny Ace actually had a 10 year career in Japan, so we would talk about Japanese wrestling all the time. He was sympathetic to my position, and he spoke to Vince on my behalf, and they were gracious enough to grant me my release. We're on good terms, the door's open. I could come back at any time, at least that's what was discussed, but right now I'm literally living my dream in Japan."

Toronto Sun PIece on WWE Natalya

OTTAWA - Nattie Neidhart may have had a recent in-ring attitude change — as one half of the Divas of Doom.

But she hasn’t lost her way.

The WWE superstar, part of the storied Hart Family, can’t wait to come home, as part of Tuesday’s Smackdown! TV tapings at the Saddledome.

“I’ve been in WWE three years and I’ve evolved ... I’ve grown a lot,” said Neidhart. “There’s been an evolution and that evolution turned into the Divas of Doom, with Beth Phoenix.

“We stand up for what we believe in. It’s our point of view that we’re role models and we’re revolutionizing what Divas should be, much the same way as Trish Stratus did.’

“We’re not Barbie dolls. But we are still strong, bold and beautiful. It’s like Beth said, ‘We’re here to stop the stinkfaces and booty popping.’ “

Attitude aside, she’s still a proud Canadian — passionate about what she does passionate about her country ... and passionate about her hometown. She knows that Canadian wrestlers usually get a hero’s welcome, no matter how hated they are by fans in the U.S.

“Going back to the Saddledome is like going back home,” she said. “I lived in Calgary for a good part of my childhood. My grandfather (Stu Hart’s) home was like Grand Central Station (with people coming in and out). We felt like Calgary’s version of royalty. We go to so many places, more than 250 days a year. But when I go home to Calgary, there’s just a certain smell in the air. It’s hard to find an unfriendly person and I have so many childhood memories.

“I was a student at Vincent Massey junior high. My whole family went to that school. My grandfather would drive myself and my sisters to school in an old Cadillac.”

Neidhart later went to high school at Bishop Carroll. When she was younger, while other kids found comfort in the sandbox, the aspiring wrestler found hers in the infamous Hart Dungeon.

With the Hart bloodlines come expectations. And Neidhart does her best to live up to those, throwing everything she has to not only her in-ring persona, but being a good person away from the business.

On a recent visit to an orphanage in South Africa, she was approached by a young girl, who had made herself and was wearing a Nattie Neidhart costume.

“She said I had inspired her. It was extremely touching to know I had that kind of impact,” said Neidhart.

“My grandfather was given the Order of Canada and he was recognized for all of the things he did outside of the business. And my uncle Bret Hart was named the WWE’s fourth-greatest wrestler of all-time.

“I knew when I started this, I would have to be excellent. My grandfather told me to find something I loved and I would never have to go to work.”

No question she has found something she loves. Something she pours her heart and soul into. And she has proven to be a great ambassador.

Diva of Doom or Calgary sweetheart ... Canadian fans will love her just the same.

Wrestling snippets from US paper Post and Courier

Hulk Hogan brought energy, enthusiasm and a renewed sense of hope to TNA when he joined the company in January 2010.

With Eric Bischoff in tow, Hogan was seen as a possible savior, someone whose presence alone would give the company greater exposure and ultimately higher ratings and pay-per-view buyrates.

Detractors pointed to Hogan’s advanced age, diminished ring skills and a reputation for getting over at the expense of younger talent.

While Hogan may have given the company added exposure, it hasn’t necessarily translated into bigger numbers or profits. Cliques and power struggles have only served to frustrate any cohesive creative direction.

Former WCW boss Bischoff, Hogan’s major advocate, also has drawn criticism from circles that claim his interests lie more with Hogan than with the company’s rank-and-file, and that he has conducted business in an arrogant manner.

“There’s entirely too many chefs in this kitchen,” said one TNA performer. “It’s unbelievable how protective Bischoff is of Hogan.”

“Dixie (Carter) is in way over her head,” said another. “She’s swimming with a bunch of sharks, and they see blood.”


Is Hulkamania beginning to wear thin in TNA?

Hogan reportedly got into a heated argument with TNA head writer Vince Russo at the recent Hardcore Justice pay-per-view. Sources say the spat centered around a finish for the Sting-Kurt Angle TNA title match, with Hogan telling colleagues that Russo didn’t know anything because he was never a wrestler.

Although the two reportedly later made up, backstage tension has remained at a high level while locker-room morale continues to decline.

“Until they make radical surgical changes in creative, and unless they get some people who comprehend the wrestling business, they are doomed to be the financial drain on Panda (majority owner Panda Energy) that they are now and have been since inception,” said TNA co-founder Jerry Jarrett. “The core of their problems is the creative development of their product. They have to cut the cancer out.”

Jarrett says he remains puzzled as to how Russo has maintained power in TNA.

“He obviously has qualities that I don’t recognize or understand,” said Jarrett. “How can a person who has a 15-year history of failure still keep a job?”

No matter what the creative makeup might be, Jarrett says, the organization is in desperate need of change.

“Whoever is doing it, their product is unwatchable. My own grandchildren can’t watch it anymore.”

Veteran wrestling star, trainer and booker Jody Hamilton, in his book “Assassin: Man Behind the Mask,” questioned TNA’s hiring of Russo in 2002, and linked the writer, among others, to the downfall of WCW.

“After Russo drove WCW into the ground, Jerry Jarrett hired him to write for his promotion. Why would Jerry do something like that? I don’t understand how some guys, who have been given credit for being so smart about the business, can be so stupid.”

That’s one move, Jarrett says emphatically, that’s he’s not willing to take credit for.

“I would deserve the label ‘stupid’ if I had made the decision to hire Vince Russo,” he explains. “But I made the horrendous mistake of yielding to my son’s (Jeff) wishes.”

Jarrett’s opinion of Russo is well-documented in his 2004 book on the creation and development of TNA.

“There are numerous statements where I tried to tell Jeff what an idiot he was. It was just a problem from Day 1.”

Former TNA writer and agent Dutch Mantell claimed in an interview last year that TNA didn’t know its audience.

“In their eyes, if you don’t understand it, it’s not the writing, it’s you. The joke seems to be on them. I’ve been around a lot of offices with the death knell, and the TNA office has got the death knell about it. The only money they’re really making is off Spike, and if Spike balks, they’re screwed.”

Mantell says he tried to warn the company, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

“I told Jeff Jarrett that his big mistake was allowing bigger con men than him to get in there. That’s what he did,” says Mantell.

Even the return of 16-time world champion Ric Flair had little effect on ratings for Thursday night’s edition of Impact. The show scored a 1.05 rating, down from a 1.07 rating the previous week, and the lowest mark since June 9 and second-lowest rating of the year. The 1.46 million viewers was 12 percent below Impact’s average viewing audience this year.

TNA officials reportedly asked that a strong 12-minute segment featuring Flair and Sting be reshot because Sting didn’t react strongly enough when Flair mentioned Hogan’s name. Flair, 62, is scheduled to meet Sting, 52, on an upcoming show. If Flair wins, Sting has to leave wrestling “forever.” If Sting wins, he gets a shot at Hogan, 58.

-- Brooke Hogan recently took it to Twitter to dispute claims that she and her dad are “in some perverted relationship” following her nude photo reveal at the Hulkster’s birthday bash in Miami.

“I’m so sick of people saying me and my dad are in some perverted relationship,” she wrote on Twitter. “Go home and do your own thing! Stop picking on me!”

Hogan was photographed next to a racy shot of his 23-year-old daughter, putting his hands over her more private parts to block them out.

The exhibit was put together by a local photographer under the title “Women in Cages,” with the intent of creating awareness against animal cruelty.

Hogan also responded last week to outlandish statements made by ex-wife Linda that implied he was involved in a homosexual relationship with longtime friend Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake (Ed Leslie).

“Feel sorry for Linda Hogan I can’t believe how low a person will go, even to lie to hurt others just to stay in her perverted spotlight,” Hogan responded on Twitter. “She will have to answer to the power upstairs for her evil lifestyle, I can only pray for her, what a wasted life, God bless her.”

-- Chris Jericho, who made his WWE debut nearly 12 years and launched the “Raw is Jericho” era, told the Between the Ropes radio show last week that the product’s TV rating shouldn’t affect the overall quality of programming. He said some performers use the rating system as a “cop-out.”

“I don’t care about PG-13 or the Attitude Era,” said Jericho. “If you’re a great performer, you can make it work no matter what it is. And I never really cared because I might have gone five percent into the Attitude Era or five percent into the overly PG era, but I pretty much just did my thing and made it work with whatever was given to me by the boss of the company.”


Wrestling saved Ron "R-Truth" Killings from life of crime.

-- Charlotte resident Ron “R-Truth” Killings said in a recent interview that Jackie Crockett, son of the late promoter Jim Crockett Sr., rescued him from a life of crime.

Killings, 39, who was an aspiring young rapper at the time, told Charlotte Magazine that he thought he was destined for the entertainment industry, but he took a detour in his late teens and early twenties. “I thought I could make a living selling drugs,” he says. Crockett discovered Killings in jail and offered to pay for his training. Killings, who had already been in and out of jail numerous times, was given a job setting up and breaking down the rings.

“I felt like I’d been in three or four car wrecks back to back,” said Killings. “I was tired of the way I was living. I credit wrestling with getting my life together.”

-- Mike Chioda, WWE’s head referee, was suspended 30 days due to a Wellness Policy violation.

It was Chioda’s first violation.

Also suspended for 30 days for failing the company drug test was recent Tough Enough winner Andy Leavine.

Leavine was sent back to Florida Championship Wrestling following his victory in June and only appeared on Raw once after he was announced as the winner.

-- WWE stock hit a 52-week low of $8.75 per share on Friday. The price closed slightly higher at $8.82 at the end of the day.

-- The match “everyone” wants to see: TNA comedy act Eric Young posted on Twitter that he’ll be meeting former Hollywood teen idol Scott Baio on an upcoming episode of TNA Impact.

-- Luther Hatfield, who wrestled as Bobby Fields of the famous Gulf Coast-based Fields Brothers, passed away Aug. 13 at the age of 77.

Hatfield was part of an extended wrestling family that included father Virgil “Speedy” Hatfield, a referee and matchmaker, and brothers Don and Bobby Fields (Hatfield), direct descendants of the original Hatfields (of the feuding Hatfields and McCoys fame). He wrestled from 1950 until the late ‘70s.