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NOVEMBER 2019 WRESTLING CHAT.

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20 minutes ago, LoneWolf&Subs said:

Hey guys, I’m 33, and watching Columbo again. Don’t shit on old detective shows.

Generational traitor!

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This has been brought up in the past but not in this particular discussion so I think one has to account for "twitter Meltz" when figuring out the whys of how people feel about him. If someone doesn't read the newsletter directly or listen to the radio show all they really see directly of him (i.e. not second hand) are his tweets and twitter is pretty much him at his worst.

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One of those times it pays to only read the print Observer, no radio show and no following him on social media.

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The bigger problem with Meltzer's journalism is not that Meltzer can get things wrong (when you're on second-tier journalism), but because: People of this generation want their own news names, but they don't rise someone up to Meltzer's level. 

Even in the old era, there were other names. Didn't like Meltzer? Read Isaacs. Didn't like him? Read Scott Keith. And so on, and so forth- and they had their own biases and works towards it, but it was checks and balances to make a nice varied style.

Now, if Meltzer's the only name out there- and anyone else rising is shut down as unimportant or failed journalism- you get this world where literally ONE GUY decides if something is good or bad. Maybe this isn't a "NJPW makes their booking to please Meltzer" claim that I can see is a little farfetched, but even then, if literally one person decides if something is good or bad, inevitably people will start to make their style "Meltzer likes this type of match. I'll wrestle like that so Meltzer will like me and hype me up so I become a star on the indies." 

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2 minutes ago, SorceressKnight said:

The bigger problem with Meltzer's journalism is not that Meltzer can get things wrong (when you're on second-tier journalism), but because: People of this generation want their own news names, but they don't rise someone up to Meltzer's level. 

Even in the old era, there were other names. Didn't like Meltzer? Read Isaacs. Didn't like him? Read Scott Keith. And so on, and so forth- and they had their own biases and works towards it, but it was checks and balances to make a nice varied style.

Now, if Meltzer's the only name out there- and anyone else rising is shut down as unimportant or failed journalism- you get this world where literally ONE GUY decides if something is good or bad. Maybe this isn't a "NJPW makes their booking to please Meltzer" claim that I can see is a little farfetched, but even then, if literally one person decides if something is good or bad, inevitably people will start to make their style "Meltzer likes this type of match. I'll wrestle like that so Meltzer will like me and hype me up so I become a star on the indies."  

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2 hours ago, LoneWolf&Subs said:

Hey guys, I’m 33, and watching Columbo again. Don’t shit on old detective shows.

When you hit Barnaby Jones or Ironside, give me a call and I'll trade you my apple sauce desert for your sciatica pillow.

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AEW are really sleeping on a Sami/Hager tag team

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FWIW on the "Mabel is the third man"  Dave did report that Mabel was one of the names discussed (Bischoff denies that any of the people rumored were ever considered) and then a week or two later reported it was almost certainly going to be Hogan.

Bisch, being the disingenuous asshole he often is, has used "Mabel was the third man" as a cudgel to dismiss Meltzer since the early days of 83 Weeks, but, in Eric's defense, the proceeds from that t-shirt go to Mabel's family.

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10 hours ago, BEN! said:

 

Mauro Ranallo leaving WWE blaming it on JBL despite Ranallo himself saying JBL had nothing to do with it.  The stretching he did to make it sound like Ranallo was being bullied despite them bending over backwards to accommodate him. 

Anything said by the parties afterword can be discarded, IMO. Mauro disappears, comes back with a cush job that he wanted and JBL is "retired" several weeks later. No lawsuits at all. That's how big corporations do business.

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It's funny that he expects a WWE employee to out another WWE employee for bullying and causing him to go into a mental breakdown, though.

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I am sure everyone will dismiss it because Meltzer is history's 2nd greatest monster (behind Jimmy Carter (and this is a Simpsons reference before anyone goes there)) but here is (as of now) the biggest reported breakdown of what happened with the Saudi flight

Spoilers because it is long

Spoiler

One of the craziest few days in WWE history included a problem with getting talent out of Saudi Arabia after the Crown Jewel show, the best episode of Smackdown which could change the trajectory of the Wednesday night wars, and the company announcing a new deal with Saudi Arabia.

On 11/4 after the stock price reached an 18-month low of $53.16 per share leaving the company with a $4.182 billion price, the company announced an extension of its deal with Saudi Arabia to confirming two shows per year instead of the originally contracted one (the second these past two years being added) through the original conclusion of the deal in 2027. The company also announced that the Saudi General Entertainment Authority is continuing to work through completion of a new television deal in the Middle East region.

At press time, that announcement stopped the free-fall and it seemed to steady at $55.42 per share on 11/6, upping the value to $4.596 billion. Even at this price, forgetting about the Saudi deal and figuring in more declining network numbers, the value of the television deals makes this a low price based on expected profits over the next five years.

The announcement was likely necessary to save the stock price as the business media was starting to do stories about concern that the deal was falling apart.

The result of the problem in getting talent out of Saudi Arabia led to a Smackdown show the next day with the only talent available being the women and the three male wrestlers on the roster who didn’t go to Saudi Arabia and the one who had his one plane and was able to get out of the country and make it to the show on time. The only solution was to bring in the top talent from NXT, and the last minute idea from Paul Levesque to do a Smackdown vs. NXT feud with NXT dominating was approved by Vince McMahon and led to the best episode of the show in recent memory.

The story is very complicated and left very bitter feelings among much of the crew, many of whom are saying they will never go back, although others are very skeptical whether that will be the case. And some have expressed questions regarding with working for the company, although the nature of the contracts and their ability to be frozen means that you really can’t quit until your contract expires if you want to stay working in the industry. The company is releasing nobody these days. In addition, saying you would never go back this week and actually doing so next summer when the next show is likely to take place are two different things.

Exactly what the true story is would be known by only a few, as even one person very close to the top who would know just abut everything said that it’s not a subject they have any power over so it’s something best left alone. Vince McMahon knows, and everyone else across the board is left with believing all, some or none of his version.

Most, but not all, of the talent, as well as those in the company not in Saudi Arabia who were in constant contact with talent and every person but two in the company who contacted us claimed the story that there was a mechanical problem with the flight was a cover story even before the early reports of that being the reason came out. WWE remains insistent that the mechanical problems were the entire issue and noted that the statement made by Atlas Airlines should have ended all speculation.

Hugo Savinovich, currently an announcer with AAA, who spent years with WWE as a Spanish language announcer, was a part-owner of WWC during its glory days an has promoted international tours all over the world, did a few interviews saying he knew the mechanical story was a cover-up. While he has plenty of contacts in WWE, he also said he had them in Saudi Arabia, but didn’t go deeper. Much of the talent was telling a similar story at the time to friends and loved ones, and throughout wrestling people were insistent the mechanical failure was a cover. Nobody has come up with proof of that, nor will they. It will likely remain one of those wrestling stories that everyone tells but nobody knows what it and isn’t true.

Some dismissed his original interview in Spanish because of the idea that the number was $300 million and $600 million thrown around, but that was a mistranslation of how he said it and those figures are not at all accurate, past the idea that the ten-year value of the deal could be in that financial category. In an English language interview he noted that he knows talent, people in the WWE office, and has connections in Saudi Arabia from his promoting days and they all confirmed his story. Within the pro wrestling industry, whether accurate or not, most believed something closer to the Savinovich story because that was the story going around from those who even had close ties with WWE.

WWE released a statement from Atlas Airlines, who handled the charter, claiming that was the problem.

“A chartered WWE passenger flight operated by Atlas Air is currently delayed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia due to a mechanical issue,” wrote WWE in a release. “The flight was scheduled to depart at 0300 local time on November 1. Our top priority is always to ensure our passengers arrive safely and on time at their destination. The aircraft is being repaired and will be inspected and certified before returning to service to transport our passengers to their final destination. We regret that operational disruptions delayed the flight and apologize to our passengers who were inconvenienced.”

WWE believed this statement should have ended speculation and given an answer as to the delay.

The story with talent, and with all those who believed the mechanical problems were a cover, were they were told by a WWE official during the show that the Saudis owed WWE a huge money figure and that Vince McMahon had delayed allowing the television broadcast of the show in Saudi Arabia until they got it. According to people in the country, the broadcast strangely was delayed 40 minutes.

Others in WWE claim that while the broadcast was delayed, that it had nothing to do with money payments and was a technical issue that caused the delay. At a WWE meeting with talent on 11/4, the talent was told the delay in the airing of the show was a decision made by Saudi Arabia and had nothing to do with any money issues.

The recent WWE 10-Q earnings report showed a major accounts receivable figure that was far higher than usual in the second quarter, and then even higher in the third quarter. In the third quarter, the accounts receivables was listed at $143 million and that 46 percent, which would be $65.8 million, came from one unnamed account. George Barrios, in the earnings conference, which took place less than 90 minutes before the show started, said that since 9/30, the date the report covered, that the company had received $60 million from an outstanding debt. There was also a listing in the 10-Q, which covers the period up through 9/30, about WWE not having been paid yet for the Super Showdown show on 6/7 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

But that was as of 9/30 and Barrios at the investors call talked about that $60 million payment being received after the current books they were discussing were closed, without saying what it was.

During the press call, Barrios and Michelle Wilson were not answering questions about the deal, such as whether there would be shows next year, one or two shows, and the key reason the stock price dropped was the projection for profits for this year were going to be lower this year than previous projections. One of the reasons talked about was the lack of a Middle East television deal that three months ago they anticipated being completed by this time. He did indicate hope it would be completed by the end of the year. The WWE release about the adding of a second annual show throughout the ten-year period of the deal talked about both sides in negotiations for a new television deal.

The story going around from the talent was that they were told, after several hours, which included the appearance of military police according to one wrestler waiting for the flight, that the plane they were supposed to leave on at 3 a.m. after the show had a mechanical issue. Then, about six hours later, while in the plane the entire time, they were told that the pilots had timed out and thus, even if fixed, the plane couldn’t take off and they needed to leave the plane. They were told to leave the airport and go to hotels. Many of them called home, both to their families and told them the ordeal, and others to people they may have had appointments with and also had the same story. A lot of tweets from talent and family members of talent were also sent, as well as from family and many friends of talent that were overseas. They were first told they couldn’t get another flight out until 8 p.m., but then that story changed and then they were told they couldn’t get a flight out until 3 a.m. They did get on that flight, although it left about 90 minutes late.

Keep in mind this is talent that probably does anywhere from 90 to 120 flights a year, and every one of them has run into mechanical problems and delays as a matter of course, likely multiple times per year, and that those are for the most part of the job and taken in stride. Perhaps it was being in a foreign country, and perhaps it was just that foreign country.

It was known that the WWE stock price fell greatly while McMahon was in Saudi Arabia. While the declining network, arena and licensing numbers should have been the prime long-term concern, it was not the key reason. The Saudi shows were figured into the stock price, as well as the idea of new TV deals in that market.

A major complaint was that McMahon, who left Saudi Arabia right away with Kevin Dunn and his staff on his personal jet, got out of the country during a bad situation and left the talent stranded. McMahon’s private plane, and the private plane that flew Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to Buffalo (where they were not originally scheduled to go) as well as a private plane that Hulk Hogan and his crew, including Ric Flair and Jimmy Hart got on, all got out early.

WWE sources said that he was already out of the country before learning of any mechanical issues or travel problems with the crew. Flight records show that McMahon left the country at about 12:40 a.m. local time, more than two hours before the flight that never took off was even boarding.

But there were also an estimated 20 people, roughly a dozen wrestlers as well as others needed for Smackdown in Buffalo that were able to get out of the country on a late chartered plane, although they ended up not being able to arrive in time for the show and instead were diverted to landing in New York.

What was notable is that WWE claimed the talent made arrangements for the flight and gave the impression they paid for it with the idea they were so loyal they didn’t want to miss Smackdown. We were told that, in fact, nobody paid a dime for the flight and WWE both arranged and paid for it, which makes the WWE’s wording in the release strange.

The fact WWE was able to get about 20 people out early would indicate Saudi Arabia wasn’t keeping the talent there, as most of the talent were saying, but also led to issues with the idea that WWE should have made an effort to get everyone out, and not just the key people they needed the next night for television.

The WWE’s statement read : “More than 175 Superstars, production crew and employees boarded a 747 charter flight back to the United States on Thursday. After the door closed, due to several aircraft problems including mechanical issues, all passengers sat on the tarmac for more than six hours. With SmackDown set to emanate live from Buffalo, N.Y., several Superstars felt so strongly that they arranged for their own separate charter in order to make it back to the U.S. for the show. Due to unforeseen issues, that charter will not land until after the live broadcast on FOX.

As always with WWE, the show must go on. Live at 8/7 CT on FOX, SmackDown will feature Superstars, such as Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Carmella, Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke — plus, additional surprises.”

They were told that they would be leaving at 8 p.m. Then they were told they would be leaving at 3 a.m. They got on the flight and ended up with yet another delay, leaving after 4 a.m. and then arrived about 12 hours later at JFK Airport in New York, ending the ordeal.

The situation is this. Obviously the substantial money this deal entails is something the company doesn’t want to lose. The fact they went right after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi last year, amidst heavy criticism, tells you how badly they want to keep the relationship. Saudi Arabia does as well, as it is part of its campaign to use sports and entertainment to clean up its worldwide image and open up doors. Many people won’t do business or perform in that country, but the more that do, the more it opens things up for those who don’t and removes the stigma. WWE backing out of the deal, which it’s doubtful they’d even consider given doing the show last year at the worst time possible, is also something Saudi Arabia very much wouldn’t want, which is the key in them paying so much for shows that one would think WWE would be willing to do for a far lower price almost anywhere else, given WWE sells shows all the time in foreign countries for nothing close to the price these shows go for. WWE has not released the actual price due to confidentiality in the contract, but based on revenues recorded in the category it would fit in, it appeared to be in the $45 million range. And a $60 million payment that was just made, and $65.8 million which was owed based on the latest 10-Q report which had to be the Saudi Arabia deal, indicates a figure in that range or larger.

The story continued at Raw on 11/4. Vince McMahon called a meeting at 3 p.m. with the Raw locker room. Vince McMahon basically said the same story that the company has been saying. He said that there was no issue with Saudi Arabia and that the feed to the Saudi Arabian television network was cut at the request of Saudi Arabia, not himself. He opened up for questions and nobody asked any questions. Nobody said anything about the story given. It was noted that there was a feeling that saying anything negative wouldn’t do anyone any good and nobody spoke up.

There was a feeling that saying anything won’t do anyone any good and that was the correct call. Randy Orton said something but he was just trying to break tension by being funny and Vince said, “Anybody else want to just kiss my ass?” The meeting was about to wrap up when Paul Levesque called out Karl Anderson for making a remark on Twitter about who is going to be the locker room leader on Monday. Anderson didn’t say much of anything. The situation with Anderson was that besides that remark, he tried to be funny by teasing the idea he was mad and wouldn’t go back, only to joke about it, saying that he needed to pay for a new pool. His wife responded back saying that it’s actually a second house, but indicated not wanting him to go again for concerns about him being more important than the second house.

A.J. Styles spoke but didn’t say much. He was very unhappy that the delay caused him to miss one of his son’s wrestling matches. Rusev started and mostly thanked Mark Carrano of Talent Relations for his work in quickly booking hotel rooms for everyone while they were stranded. Nobody voiced anything negatively. There were some remarks about how at times during this ordeal they didn’t have access to Wifi and thus couldn’t contact their families.

As far as what happens next show is anyone’s guess. The basic gist is that the few guys who already wanted to leave want to leave even more. But the only smart response from that group is to sit and wait until the expiration of the contract and not get hurt, since that can extend the contract. Most aren’t looking to leave, and some probably have an interesting chapter for a future book.

With two live hours on FOX the day after Saudi Arabia, this led to yet another problem. The show as planned couldn’t take place since none of the talent except the women and The Miz, who didn’t go on the trip, that were advertised, weren’t there. It isn’t known whether Miz refused like Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens, or because of his reduced wrestling schedule, he simply wasn’t scheduled.

It should also be noted when going forward that WWE has had a policy for those who didn’t wish to do the show, Bryan, Owen and John Cena, that they could do so and would not be punished. Bryan ended up getting the WWE title shortly after the show he refused to work on, because he was uncomfortable with going there after the first show and the decision to do a second show. Owens never was asked nor gave reason to management when he asked not to do these shows, but his position in the company didn’t change negatively. Those close to him have said there were a number of reasons, including the one speculated, which would be accurate, that he didn’t feel comfortable going to a country that wouldn’t let his long-time best friend, Sami Zayn, appear. Most likely WWE assumed that was the issue and didn’t need a long explanation since Owens and Zayn being close is well-known and one could easily understand his feelings.

Now that women have been allowed, Zayn and Aleister Black seem to be the only talent Saudi Arabia that won’t be on future shows, although how much in the way of women’s wrestling they would put on a show is still a question. They will no doubt have at least one match at every show, but whether they would bring an entire crew, like they did with the men, is an unknown.

It is possible WWE simply won’t send Black for fear of offending the Saudis because there are religious representations in his tattoos.

The key is they seem to have a policy in place where you can refuse to go and not be punished for it. Perhaps next year, and my gut says in at least some cases this could happen, those now saying they will never go may change their tune. But who is to say? But it could be an issue with far more refusing the next time. Wrestlers historically have never been able to have solidarity on issues and the Smackdown crew had just gotten back from Australia, then went to Saudi Arabia, then flew back late and missed television, and now have to fly to Europe for a week-and-a-half.

Chris Jericho, who appeared on the first show, earning $100,000 for it, had said after, and this was before signing with AEW, that he would never go back.

As it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise because if Bryan, Zayn, Miz and the women were in Saudi Arabia, they would have been forced to do an NXT show or perhaps a show with all NXT talent and the appearances of Heyman & Lesnar and perhaps trying to get Hogan and Flair or other legends at the last minute to do another date for name star power.

Under crisis of sorts, a number of NXT top talent was told on 11/1 that they were needed in Buffalo for Smackdown. That came down to the wire as they didn’t arrive on their own chartered flight until 7:55 p.m.

With the exception of the first segment, which was a Lesnar segment, which are all a combination of Vince McMahon and Heyman, as well as Lesnar signing off, all the other segments, which was basically the NXT invasion with NXT talent kicking the ass of Smackdown talent in every segment, was largely the brainchild of Paul Levesque. Still, this was McMahon’s show, as he was the one who was in charge of the show and of approving every segment.

This ended up being a blessing in disguise in a number of ways. The main event, where Adam Cole retained the NXT title over Bryan was a classic match, wrestled in a very different style than normally seen in WWE. It was very technical, but also strongly physical, more like a New Japan main event. Bryan as a wrestler/worker in this match put on the best individual performance in a match in a main roster ring in a long time. With the new characters all being pushed hard, the show came across as fresh. Where it goes from here is a question. It makes sense to have NXT guys on Raw or Smackdown leading to Survivor Series. Plus, giving more exposure to that brand should help it in the ratings. And whatever happened on Friday is not something that anyone should be ultra critical of regarding the idea of brand exclusivity, because under the circumstances, it was tremendous work to put together such as a show at the last minute.

 

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9 hours ago, odessasteps said:

One of those times it pays to only read the print Observer, no radio show and no following him on social media.

Then make sure you note this old man

Quote

A quick note regarding the Observer. Previously, the print edition and the web site edition were identical. But due to issues when it comes to getting the issues printed and mailed out, we need to have a hard Wednesday night deadline for the print edition. Because of the importance of the Wednesday night ratings, our web site edition comes out on Thursday.

This creates complications and far more work, but I can’t see a better way to do things. So for those who get both wondering why, that’s the reason. All of the Thursday stories in the web edition including the Wednesday ratings would be in the following week’s print edition.

 

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I know it's a couple pages back but wanted to say that Ali might be my favorite person in WWE and considering all the great people there that says a lot.  The guy has one helluva story and I can't recommend enough the podcasts he's been on.  I believe he was Jericho's pod but also remember him on another yet the show name escapes me.  And for @Curt McGirt Ali was saying his character made the kid hate him and that's when he realized he had to stop with that gimmick.  It was tough for him to get bookings at first due to them wanting that gimmick but eventually he was able to get enough exposure being himself.  And it's fascinating hearing not just his background but also about his time as a cop.  It appears he was a good cop in a land full of bad ones and if there more like him around then things would be so much better.

Regarding Adamle it's sad reading that and I still regret whatever jokes I laughed at regarding his WWE run.  But unless he's too far gone I wonder if alternative therapies might be of use.  Whether it's medical marijuana or hyperbaric chambers (I think that's the right one)  in his case it might be worth looking at.

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11 hours ago, Casey said:

I have no clue if I'm Gen Y or a Millennial, since they keep changing the parameters every couple of years.

Same thing now.

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23-38 for clarity's sake is now a millennial. Blame demographers. Z is next. I'm a damn millennial now, so I am fine with it. I feel less old.

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38 minutes ago, NikoBaltimore said:

It appears he was a good cop in a land full of bad ones and if there more like him around then things would be so much better.

A real Cop Land scenario. That’s a kind of story a mainstream wrestling company is too afraid to touch. 

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1 hour ago, RIPPA said:

Then make sure you note this old man

 

Considering i often dont read the observer the day I get it (i havent read this weeks yet and its friday) and how much of it i dont even read these days (mma, japan, ...), that's fine with me.

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On 11/8/2019 at 9:41 AM, Ryan said:

23-38 for clarity's sake is now a millennial. Blame demographers. Z is next. I'm a damn millennial now, so I am fine with it. I feel less old.

I'm right on the cusp; I'll be 39 on Thanksgiving. I definitely identify more with Gen X than I do millennials or Gen Y or whatever the hell else it's called. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go play street hockey, then watch Clerks while enjoying grape Gatorade.

Edited by Nice Guy Eddie
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Such a Boomer mentality.

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Looks like Lee, Riddle and UE will be at Smackdown/Raw tapings tonight.  Doesn't look like they're going to have any airplane issues.

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How DARE he break kayfabe and show that he's traveling with enemies like the Undisputed Era.

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6 minutes ago, nofuture said:

Looks like Lee, Riddle and UE will be at Smackdown/Raw tapings tonight.  Doesn't look like they're going to have any airplane issues.

Barefoot on an airplane is some quality, long lasting heel work.

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2 hours ago, NikoBaltimore said:

I know it's a couple pages back but wanted to say that Ali might be my favorite person in WWE and considering all the great people there that says a lot.  The guy has one helluva story and I can't recommend enough the podcasts he's been on.  I believe he was Jericho's pod but also remember him on another yet the show name escapes me.  And for @Curt McGirt Ali was saying his character made the kid hate him and that's when he realized he had to stop with that gimmick.  It was tough for him to get bookings at first due to them wanting that gimmick but eventually he was able to get enough exposure being himself.  And it's fascinating hearing not just his background but also about his time as a cop.  It appears he was a good cop in a land full of bad ones and if there more like him around then things would be so much better.

Lillian Garcia's.

Ali is the best babyface in the world for my money right now. In a better timeline he'd be getting pushed to the moon somewhere.

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