LOOK AT THIS FRICKING WEBSITE!!!
Doesn't the new look kick at least seventeen different kinds of ass? I love it, and am pleased as hell to be part of the "relaunch" and truly hope you enjoy visiting the new World Wrestling Insanity as much as I've enjoyed single-handedly creating it.
Okay, that's not entirely true. I don't really care whether you enjoy visiting or not.
But in keeping with the theme of the day, I thought it would be both fun and appropriate to look back at where this website came from, how it's evolved, and where it's going next.
As far as I know, a tale like this has never been created. More than likely because anyone who historically has pissed off our humble webmaster Salvatore "James" Guttman hasn't lived to talk about it, what with his numerous mafia connections (What? You think you landed interviews with the likes of Jesse Ventura, Eric Bischoff and Siva Afi by being a NICE GUY?).
But it's a new day here on this site, and it's time to break some new ground. With that, I give you The True Wrestling Story of World Wrestling Insanity.
The equivalent of watching YouTube back in the day.
A long time ago (1994), the Internet was just beginning to pick up steam. If you were a wrestling fan surfing the various bulletin boards, chances are that the Information Superhighway had little for you in terms of actual content.
In fact, the only thing I can really remember from that era was accessing was a DOS-based list of professional wrestlers' real names. For the first time, stupid marks worldwide found out the true identities of The Undertaker (Mean Mark Callous), Hulk Hogan (Sterling Golden) and Andre The Giant (Andre The French Giant).
Over the next few years, services such as Prodigy got in on the act, publishing live chats with the likes of Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman and Siva Afi. America Online (motto: "You've Got Mail! Also, a network of crappy mini-sites.") was soon host to the World Wrestling Federation's official online presence, including opinion pieces from Kevin Kelly and semi-nude photos of Sunny.
WWF.com showing off what made them so popular in the mid-90's.
As professional wrestling began to explode (not literally; though that would have been cool to see), a host of newfangled "websites" began popping up dedicated to the squared circle, including Wrestlezone, Wrestleboard, Wrestlemaniacs, Wrestlepsychopaths, Wrestlescoops, Wrestlenews, Wrestlenewz, Wrestlenewz U.K., Wrestlecrap, Wrestlepoop, Wrestleshit, Wrestleweb, Wrestleweasel, Wrestlewalrus, and the groundbreaking Geocities.com/willdavis/tx/wreslting.html
Such sites thrived on news and rumors, which during the height of the famed Monday Night Wars was being produced on an hourly basis. Fans had an insatiable appetite for knowing which color nWo t-shirt Sting would be wearing on the next Monday Nitro; whether Yokozuna was finally joining The Hart Foundation; which promotion Siva Afi was in "serious" negotiations with; and how many Von Erichs were still alive.
WCW.com tells it like it is.
The competition for eyeballs was intense. Some websites generated traffic by boasting exclusive pictures of Sable posing in some manner of undress; some claimed to have the definitive word on the order of matches for the next day's pay-per-view offering; others yet drew us in promising news of the latest Steve Austin storyline, only to bombard us with 2,000-word advertorials for a weekly newsletter with the same amount of text as "a small book".
Some bit the hand that fed them (not literally; though that would have been cool to see) by challenging the various promotions they covered. One likened Monday Night Raw to little more than "porn". Another one torched the pro wrestling business by trying to blame freak accidents such as those affecting Owen Hart and Junkyard Dog on evidence of a "culture of death".
Shockingly, that site is still in business, while most of the ones offering us photos of Francine in a string bikini are no more.
Then in 2001, a funny thing happened: wrestling began to suck.
The always controversial ecwwrestling.com
Perhaps it was the fact that the World Wrestling Federation purchased World Championship Wrestling. Perhaps that whole September 11 "thing" put people in a bad mood (I know it put me in a bad mood - that's just one day before my birthday! Thanks a lot, Al-Qaeda!) Or perhaps the nation was too caught up in "XFL Fever" to really care.
Regardless, with only one dominant promotion in North America, wrestling websites were going around with less swagger (not Jack Swagger; though that would have been cool to see) than normal. News updates became less and less frequent. The once-powerful wcw.com (motto: "There is no such website! SWERVE~!") disappeared, "Netcop" Scott Keith ran out of things to bitch about, and Scoops Central never recovered from the loss of Chris Hyatte.
It was the end of wrestling online as we knew it.
... OR WAS IT????
Best buds Triple H and JG yuk it up on the mic.
... It wasn't.
As we approached the mid-way point in the decade, a generation of "actually funny" writers began to grace the online wrestling community.
Some constructed Valentine's Day cards; some created crossover cartoons; some reprinted wrestler diaries; some documented every last detail of Monday Night Raw; some refused to review the WCW Thunder video game.
A few more? Okay, sure...
Some warned us that world needed more Kane; some called out prominent web writers on their news coverage (no, not me); some fantasized about raping Canadian web writers (again, not me);
and others yet thought it was just kind of hilarious to misspell names.
But only one man vowed to carry out his vision of insanity in the world of wrestling and bring it to the masses. His name?
Melvin T. Rothenhammer.
Whatcha gonna do, brother... when Guttmania runs wild on youuuuu?
Unfortunately, Rothenhammer died mere hours before his website (InsaneWrestlingWorld.org) was set to launch, and in stepped former Massachussets Governor James Guttman to pick up the slack.
Armed with a staff that included adult film star ZAH, international recording artist Derek Burgan, oil tycoon Mallory Mahling and former NWA Western States Heritage Champion Matt Dawgs, World Wrestling Insanity went live on October 5, 2005.
Look at WWI on that first day. Um, wow! To paraphrase Troy McClure: "They haven't changed a bit, have they?"
A combination of hilarious commentary, the drunken ramblings of Dr. Tom Prichard and reviews of wrestling's most popular programs (Raw, SmackDown, Jakked, LiveWire, Byte This), WWI was set to recoup the $389,000 Guttman had invested in it almost overnight.
Only one ingredient was missing.
Me! Who else could I have possibly been referring to?
When The Notorious D.O.G. made his WWI debut on Jan. 20, 2006, the wrestling world was impressed with his sense of humor, rugged good looks and astute observations about the wrestling industry, as evidenced by his first column ("Why Chris Benoit will always be adored by wrestling fans").
To prove he was an equal-opportunity employer and to even out the awesomeness provided by yours truly, Guttman also gave space to a ragtag bunch of misfits. They included Crazy Uncle Ralph (doing a "James Guttman's uncle" gimmick; in truth, they're really father and son); death-defying acrobat Dan Crocker; ex-Pittsburgh Steelers conditioning coach Mike Rickard II; That Guy Who Cried At The NWA Convention; and all-around piece of shit Aaron Wood.
Between the website revenue, kickbacks from wrestlers such as Demolition and Siva Afi who wanted to hear audio interviews of themselves, and profits from his best-selling book, Guttman was becoming wealthier than he could have imagined.
Still, he had one more trick up his sleeve....
Just some of the wrestler-hosted audio shows of Club WWI.com
Club WWI.com debuted in August 2006, a combination of audios programs hosted by WWI staff, exclusive shoot interviews with everyone in the business from Dave Hebner to Earl Hebner (first question on both shows: "How much money was it for the plastic surgery, brother?"), and podcasts hosted by wrestlers including D-Lo Brown, Bull Buchanan, Orlando Jordan, Ivory, Erik Watts, Dr. Tom Pritchard, Paul Roma and Vince McMahon.
For the low cost of $44.95 a month -- wait, you didn't buy Matt Dawg's claim that membership costs as little as a cup of coffee, did you? Check your credit-card bill, suckers! (JG's note: F*ck you) -- stupid marks worldwide had access to hundreds of hours of exclusive content for the first time ever!
And speaking of which, Club WWI continues to live and die by the fact that it's highest-rated program, Complete and Utter Bulldog, boasts a new episode every week (or whenever I feel like doing one). Along with The Big Rybowski, The Liz, and a wide variety of guest co-hosts, how many other podcasts can boast they've broadcast programs:
In the shower.
In Buffalo, New York a/k/a Stinktown (sorry, Jay Winterz, but it's true).
In Scotland, home of the Loch Ness Monster/Aaron Wood.
In a cemetery.
In various restaurants and pubs.
In Madison Square Garden, chatting with James Guttman.
In a hot tub.
In the men's room of a train station.
In a bar with ZAH, until one of us dropped my tape recorder into his beer.
In Quebec City.
In a car.
In Toronto's Air Canada Centre, interviewing actor and musician Stu Stone.
In someone else's house during a Super Bowl party.
In bed (the audio of which included more than an hour of yours truly snoring).
But enough with the cheap plugs. If you haven't subscribed to Club WWI yet, what the hell are you waiting for? It's $77.95 a month well spent!
Come on... did you really not think I'd sneak something like this in?
WWI, much like the similar-sounding WWE, let some of its Superstars explore other opportunities (e.g. rehab) over the years, allowing new columnists to shine.
In recent years, Guttman recruited jet-setting playboy Mike Johns to make up shit about wrestling shows while complaining about the latest moves in TNA. Infomercial king R.D. Lee (real name: Artie Lee) provided video game reviews, interviews with indepedent standouts such as Siva Afi, and just generally equals ratings. Nobel Prize winner James Bullock is responsible for passing along the latest Ring of Honor results (because someone has to, I guess); Jamie Kennedy now has a hidden-camera show where he X's unsuspecting victims, and Justin Henry... um, talked about his Uncle Mark or something.
I'm sure there are a handful of others I'm missing, but let's be honest: how many of you have actually read down this far into the column?
It's amazing to see how far WWI has come since its humble beginnings as an Angelfire home page designed largely to sell long-distance calling cards:
When WWI began.... Fans were pleading for the original ECW stars not to prostitute themselves by appearing in another promotion.
When WWI began.... TNA had just debuted on Spike TV and sky was the limit for how far it could go.
When WWI began.... the sentence "Randy Orton Tweeted it last night" would have been met by confused glares.
When WWI began.... Hulk Hogan still Knew Best and was happily married with his family full of freaks.
When WWI began.... Ric Flair was waaaaaay too old to be wrestling any more.
When WWI began.... Ole Anderson was still a jerk, but the general public didn't know it yet.
When WWI began.... John Cena still wasn't funny.
When WWI began.... Edge wasn't exactly "The PG-Rated Superstar", if you catch my drift.
When WWI began.... the idea of Bret Hart appearing on Raw was about likely as Aaron Wood appearing in a porno.
When WWI began.... it served as the launching pad for James Guttman to write two successful books, one of which is soon going to be turned into a Broadway musical (keep that on the down-low for now).
When WWI began.... it gave me the excuse to write marathon columns about crap like this.
For True Wrestling Stories... I'm Canadian Bulldog.
Canadian Bulldog has been writing about
since 2003, and became a WWI Superstar at
World Wrestling Insanity
in January 2006. Need more Bulldog? Check him out on
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of nutty prank e-mails to wrestlers.