The Odyssey Behind 2001: A Strange Wrestling Odyssey



Last night, I finally was able to upload the final episode of 2001: A Strange Wrestling Odyssey onto the Hardway HQ Podcasting Network.


For a lot of people reading, I can only imagine the thought process: It was a 12 episode podcast series, why does this deserve a blog post?


The answer is simple: This was a process more than 6 years in the making.


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The original concept behind 2001: A Strange Wrestling Odyssey was NOT supposed to be a podcast at all.


The idea was to be a book.


For a long time, I was infatuated with the short timeline that World Championship Wrestling was “owned” by Fusient Media Ventures in 2001. The tale was an interesting one, as Eric Bischoff, former WCW Executive Vice President, gathered up some serious capital with Fusient, headed by Classic Sports Network creators Brian Bedol and Stephen Greenberg, and made a deal to purchase the promotion. At the same time, Time Warner, WCW’s owners, were just about to make a monumental merger with America On-Line, to merge the two conglomerates to make a revolutionary synergy in the business world.


To make things even more interesting, once the merger went through, TBS and TNT cancelled WCW programming, making the promotion worthless. Fusient, thanks to a 90 day wait on a closing of the sale, backed out, leaving the World Wrestling Federation wide open to purchase assets, 24 contracts, and the vast tape library. Add in the fact that there was a bit of a conspiracy behind-the-scenes, the end of the Attitude Era, and the WWF became the only game in town, you had a compelling story.


From 2014 to 2015, I wrote countless emails and letters to various people involved with the time period, including the WWE, looking for any information I could get. Sadly, I barely got any responses back, mainly due to a lack of credibility on my end. Plus, Guy Evans’s “Nitro: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner's WCW”, which was announced in 2017 and released in 2018, told the entire story from that saga in complete and utter detail. I thought it was an absolutely incredible read, and just like that, the book idea was dead.


Thankfully, I was able to release my “WCW Sale Conspiracy Theory” podcast to the Hardway HQ Podcasting Network, which also got me trending on Squared Circle on Reddit for a couple days back in November 2015. The information from that time was just fun to unleash and purge from my inner sanctum. In my mind, the situation was completed.


However, in my heart, I knew there was more to discuss.


I had accidentally consumed myself with so much audio content from old Wrestling Observer Live episodes on Eyada, wrestling matches from the internet and WWE Network, and the written word from countless articles from Archive.org that I wanted to lay out a vision for a podcast. 12 episodes covering the 12 months of 2001.


It was going to be an epic trek. It was going to be a long journey. I prepped for an odyssey. Starting in January 2018, Hardway HQ would present 2001: A Strange Wrestling Odyssey.


It didn’t get completed for 3 years.


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The initial concept I wanted to do was get 12 of my friends to join me for each episode. A different person would bring a different vision and feelings regarding each month from their perspective.


Nick Reigota would join me for January, Ed Scanlon would jump on for February, Cheyenne Ortiz (ACE play-by-play commentator) would jump in for March, and so on and so on. My apartment in East Brunswick would have a complete cast of characters coming in and out recording, but it would be worth it.


Instantly, I wasn’t able to connect on a date to recording with Cheyenne, and Ed wasn’t sure on the time period of the 2001 product, so Nick stepped in to record January and February with me. We recorded the episodes prior to the 2018 New Year’s celebration, so I had nothing but time to edit and prep the audio.


January 2001 went up on January 18, 2018. So far, so good.


February 2001 went up on September 17, 2019. 21 months later. TWENTY-ONE MONTHS LATER.


A lot happened within those twenty-one months. First, the immense time and consuming energy that went into Project: Diverge on April 21, 2018 took a lot out of me. Then, the hiatus of HardwayHQ.com, due to professional and personal reasons, until March 2019 left the footage completely dormant. In all honesty, once the ball started rolling again, it wasn’t a priority. I just...forgot about it.


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And then, out of the blue, I rediscovered it one September day.


I was going through random audio folders, looking for a clip when I saw the “2001” folder. I opened it up and saw a random folder with “February 2001” on it. It was the raw audio from late 2017. I listened to it and suddenly rediscovered my passion for that time period.


It was also wild on discovering HOW much had changed from the initial recording in 2017 to September 2019. Even the talk of how “the XFL would never return” came into a unique header, seeing how the league was reforming for 2020. The wild webbed world we weave.


Hearing that audio, I knew what we had to do. I called Nick Reigota, and asked if he would be down to helping complete the saga we had started. He was down, and off to the races we went.


Of course, there were some starts and stops, thanks to the nature of our pandemic and meeting up to discuss things, but we made it through. On December 16, 2020, we completed the final episode of 2001: A Strange Wrestling Odyssey with the month of December. After the long journey, I surprisingly felt accomplished and relieved.


The amount of topics we covered, from ECW’s final moments, to WCW’s multiple switches of power, to the Invasion, to the XFL, to the World Wrestling All-Stars and Women of Wrestling, to wrestling based video games, and of course, Chris Jericho becoming wrestling’s first Undisputed World Champion, were insane. Going back and seeing how much the game was forever changed in 2001 is one of the most compelling stories in entertainment history.


I implore you to check out the entire 2001: A Strange Wrestling Odyssey podcasts. It’s a great look back to wrestling’s last golden era and how the industry remained the same until 2019. It’s a nice nostalgia flashback.


Plus, it took a long time to complete. Make it worth my while.


Jon Harder

jon@hardwayhq.com






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