Wrestling Observer Live 2-9-01 with Tony Jones

by Todd Martin

Wrestling Observer Live 02/09/2001
Hosted by Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez with Special Guest, Independent Wrestler Tony Jones

By Todd Martin
Filling in for Tom Ryan

Segment 1

Dave mentions how the WOW PPV replays have been cancelled, due to unprecedented complaints over the quality of the original show. Dave can only remember 2 times when anything like this happened. First was a UFC show where the main event of Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo did not take place, and the PPV distributors felt it wasnít fair to the viewers, and second, the 
WWF Over the Edge 1999 show due to the Owen Hart tragedy. Dave and Bryan discuss how even shows as horrid as the Heroes of Wrestling and some WCW shows didnít have their replays cancelled.

Dave discusses briefly how much he enjoys EMLL and Blue Panther, who he feels is one of the best wrestlers in the world, a better technical wrestler than Dean Malenko. He watched Smackdown and then EMLL and the EMLL wrestling blew Smackdown away this week. Bryan says a large part of that is his intelligence isnít insulted as much by the announcers because he doesnít understand everything they say.

The way the WWF has been trumpeting Jim Ross and Jesse Venturaís past problems makes Dave think that Vince is going to script problems between the two on future XFL telecasts. Bryan thinks this will make the show more interesting. They remember when JR was portrayed as a heel nutcase, and how that adversely affected the show. WWF announced 54 million viewers watched the XFL. Bryan jokes that this is over double the amount they registered to vote. (Or 300 times, whateverÖ) They point out that neither Survivor or Friends drew that much, let alone the XFL.

Smackdown did a 4.0 rating this week, the same as last week. Dave thought Smackdown was the best American TV wrestling show in a couple of weeks. Bryan says Rock vs. Big Show was better than he expected, able to be watched as opposed to absolutely horrendous. Dave says Big Show worked as hard as he could, given his limitations. Bryan says Big Show looked flabby, and maybe 
he does weigh 415, but he just lost muscle as opposed to losing fat. Dave says Big Show looked gigantic. Dave mentions how Stephanie did the worst choking on the ropes spot in the history of wrestling to Chris Jericho, to where she was choking his belly. (Although Dave may be forgetting when Spice had to do that spot a couple of times while managing Madusa last year) Dave says if he were a wrestling fan who didnít like football, he would find all the XFL references really irritating. Bryan says he fast-forwards, so it isnít that bad.

Eyada.com poll results for Thursday: What do you think the XFL rating will be this week? 4.0-4.99 got 11 percent, 5.0-5.99 got 19 percent, 6.0-6.99 got 32 percent, 7.0-7.99 got 26 percent and 8.0 or greater got 13 percent. Dave predicts between 7 and 8 and Bryan predicts between 6 and 7. Poll for the weekend: Which of these products would have the best chance in US? Pride, 
EMLL, AAA, New Japan, None have a chance.

The Ross Report this week says that Shawn Michaels, Al Snow and Rhino have all signed contracts. Shawn might be on WWF TV again this week. Rhino has no set date. Chyna is #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Dave and Bryan joke about whether it will be on the fiction or non-fiction list. Again, JR points out how him and Jesse didnít get along, and Dave says this killed his 
interest in any legitimate friction.

XFL has been getting a lot of flak for substituting Jim Ross for Matt Vasgersian on the A-game. Dave says they largely did this switch because Ross did a better job than Vasgersian. Dave says critics have the right to reprimand the XFL for creating this angle with Ross and Ventura, but it isnít valid to say that just because Vasgersian did baseball he is more worthy to do football than wrestling announcer Ross. Neither is football, so neither is more qualified. Dave says there will be constant lying in the XFL, so it might be more like WWF announcing anyway. Dave says this weekís Sports Illustrated article brought up how any XFL players can go to NFL camp after this season, and top players probably will get a look. One story brought up how Vasgersian was the NBC announcing choice, and Vince took advantage of 
that, but Dave says Vince has final say on all XFL matters.

E-mail comes from Christi Wolf a.k.a. Asya, who is responding to criticism about her in Chynaís book. Asya says when she first started wrestling for WCW she didnít know who Chyna was. Dave is amused by the fact that people like her are entering wrestling completely oblivious to whatís going on in wrestling. When she learned who Chyna was, she was happy, thinking that maybe society was going to be more accepting of muscular women like her and Chyna. Dave says society isnít very negative towards people who look like that if they look like they do so naturally, only when they do what they do to start taking on a mannish appearance through drugs, and Bryan brings up how muscle magazines glorify that look to an extent.

Segment 2

Dave continues the Christi Wolf note. Now she is let down, because Chyna is not the role model she could be. The next part definitely needs to be quoted, as she says, ďMaybe some day when her feet come down to Earth sheíll realize how lucky she was to be at the right place at the right time. Chyna did not get hired because of her wrestling skills. No, Chyna, you got hired 
for your Amazon status. Same as me. Fact is, Chyna, you need to stop believing your own hype. Vince McMahon made you a star. Joanie didnít make Chyna, The McMahons made Chyna. (And damn it, Bret screwed Bret!) Vince gave you the world. You say you paid your dues. What, 3 years? Try telling that face-to-face to Madusa, another girl you ripped in your book. Hereís a woman 
who paved the road for you and me in this business.Ē The letter degenerates from there, saying how she could beat Chyna in a shootfight and how Chyna might be trying to keep her out of the WWF because sheís afraid of the competition. Dave points out how ridiculous and irrelevant bringing up shooting prowess is to her point and brings up the fact that thereís no reason the WWF would possibly have any interest in Asya. Dave agrees with 
Wolf that Chyna doesnít have the right to rip Madusa for her wrestling talent. Bryan wants to find out what exactly Chyna said about Asya in the book. Both him and Dave read the book really fast.

E-mail brings up how the Eyada XFL ad says that ďSaturdays on NBC, the XFL finally hits the fanĒ and wonders whether theyíre equating their show to excrement.

E-mail wants Abdullah the Butcher on the show. Dave says no. Dave says he saw the Abdullah the Butcher shoot video with RF Video that he says was the worst interview he ever saw.

E-mail asks if Stu Hart and Strangler Lewis ever fought each other, and who would win a shootfight. Bryan points out how Stu Hart just bullies younger wrestlers, and is skeptical if Stu Hart could hold his own in a legitimate situation. Bryan says most of the guys Stu stretched, your grandmother also could have stretched in that manner. Dave refers to what happened when football greats Lawrence Taylor and Anthony Munoz did some Tough Man matches, in that even world-class athletes can be taken advantage of given the situation if they are out of their element. Dave says Strangler Lewis probably only had 6-10 shoots his whole life, but his reputation was great. Dave doubts they wrestled each other even though they overlapped at the end, and certainly not in a shoot. Stranglerís prime was 1915. Dave says up to the modern UFC/MMA era, who could beat who in a shoot is just speculation.

Tony Jones joins the show. Dave brings up his amateur wrestling history at San Francisco State, how he once beat world champion Stephen Neal and asks his opinion about all this. Tony says the story on that is that he attended a wrestling meet with some division I schools and a few II schools at the time. He was the number 3 seed in the tournament, and Neal was a freshman or redshirt at the time. When he was warming up before the tournament he sparred with Neal and gave him a couple 
lateral drops. He didnít know who Neal was until 5 years later.

As far as their discussion goes, Tony says different disciplines are important because different types of fighters are going to have varying degrees of success given the rules and setting. Being out of shape and practice also matter. Tony says practice is so important to an amateur wrestler that there were times at college where he was too sick to go to classes but he went to practice, because missing even 2 practices can get you 
too out of shape to compete.

Dave mentions Tonyís diverse background, having worked for UPW, APW, Urban Wrestling, BattlArts and more. Tony started wrestling with Roland Alexander at APW 4 years ago. Dave asks about Urban Wrestling, and Tony says it is up in the air right now. A lot of the wrestlers havenít been in contact with them since October. He doesnít know whatís going on as it regards BET, and as far as he knows, they havenít taped since October.

Dave asks about the Northern California-Southern California feud thatís taking place now between APW and UPW. Tony says he never thought it would happen, even though he thought it was a cool idea. Tony describes the APW invasion angle on a recent UPW show, and says him and Roland Alexander got tremendous heat. One fan was throwing ice at him and Mike Modest. He was very pleased with the angle.

Segment 3

E-mail says that since WWF said the XFL drew 54 million viewers when it drew 15 million, and that Big Show lost 60 pounds when he really gained 10, does that mean when Vince said he made a woman climax six times, he really made her climax once?

Dave asks Tonyís opinion of the final production of Beyond the Mat. Tony says he saw it at the premiere with Barry Blaustein, Terry Funk, Jake Robertsí daughter, Mick Foley and others. Tony liked it, feeling it was as positive as it could have been. There were some shots that didnít end up making the movie that Tony was glad didnít end up in it. In particular, he did a tour of his messy room that heís glad they didnít show. That said, he 
walked away feeling like there was something missing from the film. (Which I agree with very strongly)

Tony wishes the movie emphasized a little more how hard it is to get into the business. Tony says how he and Mike Modest talk about how it would be nice if wrestling were like the real world where if you do your job well, youíre going to keep your job. Dave says itís all about being at the right place at the right time. For example, Dave says, any woman bodybuilder could 
have been Chyna if put in that place at that time. Now she has a crappy, contrived book on the New York Times bestseller list thatís ahead of so many well-written books by excellent authors who have really interesting lives because of the WWF marketing machine. (One would think Dave has given up on having Chyna on the show) Tony says Vince is a genius in that he knows what 
people want, and when it isnít working anymore, he switches it up. Dave brings up the Chyna example again, and how Vince changed her from ďthis beast-womanĒ to a sex symbol. Tony says a big part of the equation is knowing the right people. (Self high-five)

Dave brings up the much-discussed scene in the movie where Jim Ross told Tony he needed to add weight to his upper body after his match. Tony says he appreciated that Jim Ross gave him feedback, like many other WWF personnel like Pat Patterson and Jim Cornette. Tony says he made a mistake because training for the WWF debut, he cut weight and worked on cardiovascular conditioning, which made him too small for the wrestling environment. Dave says many people thought the scene made it seem like Jim Ross was telling Tony to take steroids without saying so explicitly. E-mail asks whether Tony felt pressured to do that. Tony says that pressure always exists, and people take 
shortcuts in college and in pro wrestling. Tony says he didnít feel it particularly from JR, though.

Segment 4

Nitro Preview for this Monday: Lash LeRoux vs. Yun Yang and Billy Kidman vs. Elix Skipper in qualifying matches for a 6-Man Cruiserweight Title Match at SuperBrawl, Chuck Palumbo vs. Sean Stasiak, and Dustin Rhodes challenges for a title. Dave says AJ Styles and Air Paris are supposed to wrestle Evan Karagias and Jamie Knoble, although that isnít listed on the preview.

E-mail suggests the 54 million mark for XFL fans might have been all the fans over the weekend added up. Dave says that still doesnít reach 54 million, but that mark came from something in Nielsen that said that was the number of viewers that saw even 1 second of the XFL. The legitimate number of people who watched the XFL game on Saturday is 15.7 million. 4.6 million watched the Sunday game. Bryan says maybe they added relatives that didnít attend the games. Dave says maybe they added all the males between 12 and 24 that should have been watching the game, but were out.

E-mail brings up an article that suggests Jim Ross has no qualifications for being a good wrestling announcer, saying, ďwhat, does he read his script better than the others?Ē The article implies that a wrestling announcer doesnít need to have any skills. Dave says JR is going to have a bad week in 
the media.

Dave asks Tony about working for BattlArts. Tony says he was brought out for a 2-week tour by Pancrase referee and BattlArts promoter Yuji Shimada. He worked a tag match against the owner of the company, Yuki Ishikawa, which was a controlled shoot, very stiff but a worked finish. He came back for a second 
tour, and they wanted him to teach amateur wrestling to their wrestlers. The day before a card, they wanted him to have a shoot match with another wrestler, and they went for 35 minutes. They then brought in another wrestler for 10 minutes, and they kept bringing in new wrestlers like that. Eventually after a number of wrestlers and about an hour, he tapped out to a 
rear choke. They want him back and he says he wants to go back.

Tony discusses his time in the Urban Wrestling Alliance. His original gimmick was HTK, Hard to Kill, a street-smart Tupac Shakur-like character who has been shot multiple times and keeps on coming back talking trash. (Finally a 2Pac reference on WOL!) Tony says he isnít the sort of guy that looks like he has been shot 5 times, and he tried to alter the character to be more like himself. After talking with the owner of the company, the new character ended up being HTK, who was from the streets but went to college and now puts down the inner city. The name then became Honor, Truth and Knowledge, but ultimately management didnít like it very much.

Dave asks about the difference in reaction he received in WWF and WCW. Tony says he has had positive reaction from both, and Beyond the Mat has helped a lot. At least it gives him credibility so the promoters know he is a wrestler.

Terry Taylor has been very helpful to Tony. He called Tony in October of 1999, telling him he wanted to bring him into the Dojo and give him a look. Taylor said he would call him back in a week, but he never received a call. He called WWF and asked for Taylor but found out he had left for WCW. So, Tony called Bruce Prichard and brought up how Terry Taylor had offered him 
this opportunity. Prichard said he wasnít obligated to fulfill Taylorís plans, but took a look at his file, and they brought him in the next week to train at the Dojo. It was just him and another wrestler, and Tazz was also there training. He talked with Terry Taylor later, and Taylor said he wanted Tony as well. Tony went to a couple of arenas to get a tryout match, but 
there was not enough time at either card. However, at the second card, he was told that if he came out to Reno, Nevada, he would get a look. He went there and got a tryout just in front of the WCW office people like Bischoff, Taylor, Ric Flair and Kevin Sullivan.

Tony was then sent to the WCW Power Plant, and he says everything they tell you about the Power Plant is true. It was brutal. The first day was particularly bad, and the next couple days were sparring. At one point, they were trying to break him with wrestling. They had one of the other guys try unsuccessfully, and then Reno tried. They were so frustrated they couldnít break Tony down that Sarge had him go run laps. Tony feels they punished him for doing what they wanted. At the same time, they broke another kidís ankle, which Tony feels was accidental but nonetheless very brutal.

Segment 5

Dave says this is the final segment of the show, but the daunting voice of Al informs Dave that he still has a half hour to go.

Dave mentions how a Washington Post article reported that the Rock will be in the XFL booth this weekend. The story says the WWF was disappointed with Jesse Ventura this last weekend, finding him not controversial enough, so they are bringing in Rock to spice thing up.

E-mail asks if Roland Alexander would have gotten a percentage of his contract if Tony had signed with the WWF. Tony says Roland would get a percentage of his pay for a specific gig, like an agent if he got him the gig like an agent.

Dave asks how Tony would compare and contrast training in the WWF, WCW, UPW, APW, BattlArts and the other places he has worked. Tony says all of them are different. APW trained him to plan for 25-minute matches. UPW trains people for television matches. WCW tries to break people down. There are also 
subtle little differences. Tony thinks there is a West Coast/East Coast difference as well.

First caller is Chris from New York. He says at one point in Beyond the Mat, Vince McMahon thought a Fisherman Buster Tony delivered to Mike Modest was a mistake. Tony says Vince is a genius and it is okay, and he just thought it was a botched up Perfect Plex. Tony says it makes them both look bad, but 
Dave points out it is Vince who is the one who looks bad.

Chris brings up scene where they showed Tony saying sometimes he only got $25 a night, and then Roland saying he is one of the best paying independent promoters, and asks if that upset Tony the way Blaustein positioned that. Tony says he had no knowledge that was going to be done, and he very much respects Roland. He says it was shot like Roland was a liar, but that wasnít 
the way it was at all. When asked about his pay, he was only a year in, and he got more later.

Chris asks if Tony has encountered any racism in wrestling. Tony says the worst racist experience he had was in college, wrestling against the University of Oregon. His team was very diverse, and while one of his black teammates was wrestling, someone in the audience made an extremely racist comment and the rest of the audience laughed. Tony says there is a difference between big cities like San Francisco and smaller places that 
sometimes is overlooked by those who live in big cities. Dave says it seemed when Tony was in the Urban Wrestling Alliance that he wasnít ďblackĒ enough for the promoters, and Tony says he felt that way. He always wanted to be a wrestler like Ric Flair, not a wrestler/hip-hop star. Tony asks Dave what he 
thought about Urban Wrestling. Dave says the wrestling was better than he expected, there were too many women, and the storylines were too outrageous.

Segment 6

E-mail asks if the new ownership has the time to absorb losses and turn WCW around. Dave says if there are signs of a turnaround, they will have the resources to get funding to last the time. If there arenít signs of turnaround, they are in a world of trouble.

E-mail asks whether the WBF adversely affected the quality of the WWF, and whether this could happen again with the XFL. Dave says he hadnít thought about it, but it probably did, and that it very well could happen again. Vinceís primary focus is going to be the XFL, and that could mean neglect to WWF storylines.

E-mail asks if, given the lack of unions in and legislature for wrestling, whether the imperfect media is still the best way to pressure wrestling companies to change. Dave says yes, although the media doesnít really understand wrestling, and given its reaction to the XFL, Dave thinks the sports media doesnít really understand entertainment. The only people who understand wrestling in the media are the small circle of wrestling people.

E-mail asks which decade will have worse effects on the wrestlers: the steroids of the 80ís or the high spots of 90ís. Dave says now we have both. Bryan says the 90ís, because wrestlers are not only destroying their bodies, but theyíre also destroying their brains, with people like Foley. Tony agrees, and says how Dynamite Kid has become the standard wrestler, as 
opposed to the exception. Dave says the career span of wrestlers is going to decrease a lot due to the new style.

Tony tells a story about how when he was sparring in college, he lifted his opponent up and when he came down, his ankle was snapped in three places. That was the sickest thing he had ever seen until he saw Sidís leg break.

Dave closes out the show having taken a whopping one phone call, and says that heíll be back tomorrow. Hopefully for Dave his weekend will bring with it much needed sanity. That said, this is a very entertaining interview that covers a lot of ground.