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Billionaire Ted Time Warner Merger

Hey Scott, I just recently watched an episode of Raw from early 1996, and at the end of one of the Billionaire Ted skits Vince mentions that the WWE paid for an ad in the New York Times warning stockholders in Time Warner of the millions of dollars that Turner Broadcasting was losing from propping up WCW. Was this the same merger that eventually did destroy WCW, or something else? If it was the same it's pretty amazing that Vince, or people around him, had the foresight to realize that WCW would probably have to go if a merger took place and that it was a big sticking point for the merger to even happen.

Well, that would certainly be some misleading math.  They were certainly not losing millions of dollars in 96.  It wasn't like boom period numbers or anything, but Nitro was doing pretty damn well for them.  

And really, WCW was not a sticking point for anything.  It was always Ted Turner's cheap programming source and tax writeoff plaything and everyone knew it.  If they weren't mismanaged into the ground in 2000 they'd probably have been kept around on TNT or at least TBS for that exact purpose.  But nearing 100 million in losses for those couple of years was just too much to swallow, no matter who was running the company.  

Comments

  1. There were two different mergers -- each with their own issues. The first was Turner and Time Warner, the second was AOL/Time Warner.

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  2. Pretty much merger 1 severely limited Turner's power, merger 2 almost destroyed them.

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  3. Maybe they should have kept the belt on the Nacho Man.

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  4. The Billionaire Ted skits were head-scratchingly cruel, delusional, and just plain odd. They were also oddly specific, they stated that Hogan got his money from other areas of the Turner company rather than WCW. They did say that WCW was losing millions in 1996. They try to make out Ted Turner to be racist and sexist, which, maybe he was, but that's pretty funny coming from a company that basically said non-white wrestlers had thicker heads, and had vignettes opening Raw at the time of Sunny rollerskating in a bikini with her ass cheeks hanging out. They also refer to Hogan and Savage as over the hill, even though Hogan would win their title again...7 years later! They also seemed obsessed with the idea that Turner was trying to run the WWE out of business. Maybe Bischoff felt that way, but I don't know about Turner. Basically, the Billionaire Ted skits made the WWE look really petty and almost deathly afraid of any real competition. At least Bischoff's barbs against the WWE at the time seemed fairly revolutionary and, at times, could be pretty funny. WWE's attacks just seemed like sour grapes.

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  5. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 8, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    "Head-scratchingly cruel, delusional, and just plain odd"


    See also: all the times Vince took shots at JR, even when Ross was working for him.

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  6. Exactly. All the stuff against Ross over the years has a very similar vibe to the Billionaire Ted skits. They were probably even worse, because at least WCW was the competition, Ross worked for WWE and was a huge plus for their product.

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  7. Not to mention that WWE was hypocritically using old guys at the time too, like the Warrior and Jake Roberts. Plus, they make fun of Hogan for getting hit with a woman's heel and being handcuffed to the ring and the general wackiness of that, even though, not too long after that, an artificial leg would be used in a match between Shawn Michaels and Diesel, and not too long before that the Undertaker's ghost floated out of the arena where he lost his casket match.

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  8. Brad Siegel: a name that will live in wrestling infamy.

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  9. Can someone please explain to me how owning a pro wrestling company is a tax writeoff thing?


    I see this all the time in regards to not only WCW but obviously TNA for the past decade plus. Does the IRS look at the books and go whoops didn't notice you also own a pro wrestling promotion, better add another zero to that refund.

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  10. Lesbian Segull > Brad Siegel

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  11. I could be wrong, but I don't think it's a write off per se. Anytime your income is lessened, you pay less in taxes. Also there are other breaks you can get while running a money losing company, as part of a larger interprise, like tax breaks for hiring veterans.

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  12. It's hard to explain in brief. Tax writeoffs and tax law is some people's (not mine) entire job and life's work. But I'll give you the 5 minute version.



    A failing business venture--or rather a business venture that doesn't make money--can be written off against the profits of the company as a whole. XY business, a subsidiary of XX corporation, generates no net profit and thus owes nothing in taxes. Now XY needs to show a profit (or failing that at least a profit motive) occasionally in order to still be classified as a valid subsidiary but XY can fail for multiple years before this becomes an issue (and then can be reorganized and renamed XZ, which happens very often).



    Now you might wonder why anyone would do this. The money you lose on the subsidiary is more than the money you "save" on taxes. Even if your corporate accounting team sucks you're not paying 30% in taxes. So why not just save the money and not run a failing subsidiary?


    Because if the subsidiary is eating through money you can hide assets in there. You can hide salaries in there. Say that I'm XX corporation with XY subsidiary. XY subsidiary is 100 million in the red. Now I can move some of XX's assets into XY subsidiary. Especially with fixed costs. XX corporate offices house XY subsidiary's primary office. Well now, I'm moving as much of XX fixed assets under the XY umbrella as I can without getting caught (figuring this out is how some people make a living). A person who works on XY for 30 days a year and on XX business 330 days a year, I'm doing whatever I can to move them onto XY's books. I'm funneling as much XX's assets (especially PPE, property, plants and equipment) onto XY's books.


    Theoretically this is a no-no but again, it's only illegal if you get caught.


    Now ideally you want all subsidiaries of your corporation to make a profit and make shareholders more money but holding onto one lemon that's very good at hiding assets can be semi-beneficial. I don't know the particulars but I imagine a wrestling business might be useful to a media corporation. You can write off larger shares of media production under the wrestling company than it actually uses. You can push general corporate salaries onto their books. Equipment that the corporation uses (trucks, etc) all will be capitalized onto the wrestling company.



    As I said this is a (very) cursory explanation that I wrote up in 5 minutes. But hopefully you kinda see where I'm going here.

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  13. It's just another example where WCW just seemed cooler than WWF during that era. Obviously things changed quickly but for that moment in time...

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  14. I always loved Vince playing the victim during this period.

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  15. MaffewOfBotchamaniaOctober 8, 2014 at 2:45 AM

    Scott Hall name-dropping Billionaire Ted on his Nitro debut was beautiful though.

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  16. Seriously. He bought out territories by basically saying “Sell
    to me, or I’ll drive you out of business”, he signed exclusive deals with
    venues, tried to blackmail PPV companies into not showing NWA shows by pulling
    his own shows, tapped wrestlers up, and all manner of dirty tricks, but WCW
    puts a TV show on a Monday night and he loses his mind. I love the guy because
    I love wrestling, but if I didn’t love wrestling, I’m pretty sure I’d loathe
    this guy something fierce.

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  17. Jonathan Livingston Seagull>Lesbian Segull

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  18. Flock of Seagulls > Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

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  19. Steven Seagal > Flock of Seagulls

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  20. He also said "Scheme Gene", the Night after Hogan turned, in the final Nitro segment.

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  21. 'I have released every writer for the WWE and effective immediately resign from this company'.

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  22. I will be gleefully overjoyed, probably to tears, the day this company goes out of business or is eaten by a bigger corporation and all these assholes are out of a job.

    People act like things never change but as badly mismanaged and as poor of a product as they produce, it will happen, sooner or later and I'll fly to Connecticut and piss on their grave.

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  23. He was the champion though. While this wasent early 90's with Hulk, or even before that when the WWF Title meant "You're number one", its still sort of holds true

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  24. No, seems to fit the usual daily trend of Scott picking the worst emails of the bunch

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  25. You'll probably be dead by the time it happens tbh

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  26. I think it will happen in the next 10-15 years but even if it does take a little longer I'm I'm good shape and will wait!

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  27. I'll do a blade job over said grave

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  28. I think if business is ever on a major decline, we'd see a drastic overhaul of the product before they just let the business die. Same as what happened when it looked like WCW was gonna run them out of business

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  29. Coukd be the old 'day late and a dollar short' thing though.

    I like wwe wrestling but fuck the McMahons now that Vince is weak and old.

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  30. Yeah like I've said before, the day Vince days will one of the saddest but most exciting days in wrestling history

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  31. HHH and Steph both said that they didn't actually start dating until mid-00. When the initial storyline began they barely knew each other in real life. it was spending so much time together pretending to be a couple that made the feelings spill over into real life. And by that point, HHH was definitely the top HEEL, at least.

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  32. While he was a top star, there were dinosaur-like steps between he and rock/Austin. Nothing wrong with that, but they tend to always lump HHH in with the other two like they were all truly on the same level.

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  33. I liked how honest HHH was about it on his documentary. It was pretty cool to hear that he went and talked to Undertaker about it, and Taker was just quietly supportive and told him, step by step, how that was all going to play itself out. HHH said that every little thing that Taker said would happen did happen, as far as some people being supportive, and others going to Vince to 'warn' him not to let them date, etc.

    That whole doc was pretty good, actually. It helps re-humanize HHH a bit, and shows how hard he worked to get what he got even before dating Steph. And it was nice to hear Foley get his due directly from HHH, especially after the whole "no big stars ever put me over" statement from a few years back.

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  34. I literally cannot go back and watch Larry matches. He may have been really good in his day, but I will always remember him as the shittiest announcer ever on WCW, constantly putting himself over the talent.

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  35. He's always been the guy who works with the draws.

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  36. Oh, I love love love that documentary. Everyone who hates HHH should watch it, and everyone who likes him should too. Great piece of work and very open.

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  37. Propaganda at its finest.

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  38. Steph (and the company) always see Mr. Levesque as the "Top Star," no matter what. Rock in 2000 was THE man, heel/babyface/whatever. Not HHH.

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  39. You could describe just about everyone who wasn't on the Austin/Rock/Hogan tier as "the guy who works with the guy who draws the money". HHH has been one of the top draws (at times *the* top draw) his entire main event run, whether or not he was working with Rocky/Austin. Cornette saying otherwise doesn't make it false.

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  40. Sounds to me that somebody's a little too caught up in the HHHatred

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  41. HHH was undeniably #2, though. The whole thing is semantics not worth analyzing so much.

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  42. The company had its most successful year ever when he was the #2 guy behind Rocky in Austin's absence. And not being on the Austin/Rock/Hogan tier doesn't mean that you're "the guy who works with the guy who draws money". Ironic that you're criticizing the company's alleged revisionism while not shying away from rewriting history yourself.

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  43. I called the guy a B+, you mentioned a year where he was the #2 guy behind the Rock. People were buying tickets to see Rocky. There's nothing wrong with being #2, but he's been retconned into being a #1. He never was.

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  44. Propaganda is what deceitful governments engage in to reinforce tyrannical rule. This is wrasslin'. It isn't that important.

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  45. I avoided it for the longest time because of preconceived notions of the Tripster along with the title, but it was one of the WWE's best along the Warrior Network doc and the Austin one IMO. I'm sure others have been close, but those are the three that really stand out for me.

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  46. If anyone ever wanted to really start a competitor that would be the time, but the lack of competition this century makes it very difficult to imagine anyone really being able to compete. Then again I never thought WCW would go out of business and be bought by WWE for such a low price...

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  47. "Even though he had yet to be born, Triple H influenced Bruno Sammartino's no-flash style throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1980s, a young Triple H told Hulk Hogan to 'train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins' and begat Hulkamania."

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  48. I'm still hoping on some oil-rich Arab wrestling fan to start his own promotion, and use the big bucks to bring in some major players

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  49. He was the number one heel at the time.

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  50. The Doc WAS good until they spent 25 minutes of Hunter/Steph, totally dragged it down. Then skipped like 4 years of wrestling once he made his 02 comeback

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  51. What sort of major players would you be looking for this Arab to bring in?

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  52. I'm still wondering if Marty a Jannetty ever had a good match after that email asking if he did last week. If these are the good emails, the inbox must be full of some of the worst questions of all time.

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  53. Some names people will recognise while the promotion is built up...

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  54. The guy makes me sick. Just a delusional piece of shit. One of the worst men in the history of wrestling right behind Benoit. A complete and total monster.

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  55. But what are names of guys people would recognize? Goldberg? Who else?

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  56. He's an oil-rich Arab offering new opportunities and a lighter schedule... he could bring in current names from WWE. You know, like WCW did

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  57. In the days of no compete clauses and what not I really don't see that happening. It isn't the Wild West like it used to be. I guess he could hire punk. What big WWE stars would even be looking for that sort of at best lateral move? Kofi? Orton? Who's a big star you would even like to see make a jump? Bryan?

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  58. Arab money can buy you out of anything, even a no-compete clause. Yeah he could get Punk, he could lure away Bryan, Orton etc. Why not? Same way WCW did simply by offering more money, less workload and the idea of building a promotion to compete with WWE. Obviously we're talking a crazy hypothetical that will never happen, but it COULD happen if the Arab decided to. These guys buy football (soccer) teams, businesses etc all the time

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  59. But Punk doesn't want to wrestle in Kuwait.

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  60. THAT I agree with. They did devote too much time to it while glossing over later events.

    One thing I was surprised by was how much the Undertaker was all over the doc. Totally out of character, too. I get the sense that while they may not be best friends, they certainly respect each other a lot.

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  61. I still like Bret's. The nonsense is kept to a minimum, and it's a nice long doc that covers a really interesting career.

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  62. I do remember enjoying that one. The HBK-Bret one is very good too.

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  63. Manchester City Wrestling Federation?

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  64. Agreed. My favorite thing about 2000, aside from the awesome roster, was the fact that they had a true Top Heel and Top Babyface. That was always kind of a rarity in WWF. Hogan had Savage (for a year), Austin had McMahon. But at other times it was always the "heel of the month" formula to feed to the top face. 2000 was WWF's most "NWA-like" year, IMO

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  65. An Arab company having a guy named GOLDBERG headlining might not play well in certain parts of the world. . .

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  66. Jesus? Yeah, that's put butts in the seats

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  67. Yeah, a "bury the hatchet" thing might have been nice. Although I can understand them not wanting her porn history attached at all

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  68. Horrible, horrible voice for announcing.

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  69. Yeah, but most heels are. Ric Flair might have drawn as a face/heel in the old territory days and latter NWA, but the WWF model was always that the heels work "with the draw"

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  70. Yeah, true. They put the guy over at Wrestlemania that year and, even after losing the belt, had it back on him within a month. He and Rock were 1A and 1B that year til Austin returned.

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  71. That's the thing. The company doesn't retcon him as being the top guy (Steph referring to her husband that way doesn't mean anything). And people don't buy tickets just to see one guy. Rocky was 'the man', sure, but HHH in his role was the second biggest attraction. Years ago Meltzer did an entire comparison of HHH and Bret Hart as draws when fans tried to claim that Bret was a bigger draw. In addition to completely disproving that notion and proving that Trips was the much bigger draw, he also made note that HHH at his peak was consistently drawing excellently even when Rocky and Austin weren't on the card.

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  72. Certainly (obviously) some of it is - his work ethic isn't though, and that's what I like/admire the most about it. It's a super motivating doc from that alone, if you are into reading/learning from successful people.

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  73. downvote HHH rules

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  74. Had to look that up - knew there was inside joke i wasn't getting

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  75. Well, in 2002 Trips was THE top guy.

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  76. I don't see the problem. He was the clear #1 heel, and if you're talking about the time period where HHH and Stephanie were together on screen as when it started, Austin was injured, so it was Rock, then probably HHH as the #2. Once Austin was back he was #3. I don't have a problem with it.

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  77. Yes, it's a Cornette quote - but I think it concisely and effectively summed it up. I don't really see HHH as one of the company's top draws, much less its top draw at any point - but then I've only sporadically watched the product since 2002, so maybe I missed the point in WWE history where Hunter was anything other than a good heel pushed to astonishingly high (and, I'd argue, unjustifiable) levels of dominance. Maybe I'm biased because I stopped watching largely due to HHH's unending ubiquity and repeated burials, but I'm struggling to think of any time - bar his run in 2000 - he was approaching face of the promotion levels.

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  78. "Maybe I'm biased"

    Seems that way. Your opinion of the guy's work doesn't change how big of a star he was. Many people don't like Hogan, but he was one of the biggest stars ever. HHH obviously isn't on that tier, but he was always one of the three top draws (his specific position varied) on the roster from 2000 onwards.

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  79. You would have to be completely brain dead and unquestionably biased MTO not respect the things HHH has done in the industry, let alone the sheer number of great matches he has had with a variety of opponents.

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  80. In pro-wrestling? Why, I never!

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  81. Rock was THE man. Just not THE man who had the most 5* matches with the most varied workers.

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  82. "Hi, I live wrestling, but I really wish the only real provider of it on an easily accessible manner was gone. "

    Seems legit.

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  83. "Hi, I'm a guy that thinks the only wrestling in the entire world is wwe sportz entertainment."

    Seems legit.

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  84. It just about is. Most people don't know what ROH or TNA is, never mind other indies or japan. In fact, I think saying that to 75% of Raw viewers, it is the only wrestling out there.
    Some may have heard of ROH but don't know where to watch it free weekly. Ditto Japan...and TNA? So yeah, my comment stands.

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  85. Sooooo....because some people who watch Raw haven't heard of ROH or NJPW I can't watch them?

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  86. You're right, it doesn't make sense. In fact, I have absolutely no idea where you came up with that notion.

    And art of wrestling? Look, I'm a fan. But if you think that wrestling is anything more than an entertaining con job, you're a total mark. There is no art...there is money. Ask any worker. When maybe 5% of the audience thinks its an "art" you'd be a fool to follow their advice.

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  87. Wrestling is absolutely art. And you just used the phrase "mark" in a wrestling discussion. This conversation is over.

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  88. "Wrestling is an art." Jesus.

    Performing, though, is an art. But then you'd have to admit that Hulk Hogan was an artist and I'm dying to hear that one.

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