By Mike Mooneyham>

Dec. 14, 2003

Jerry Tuite, who appeared in WCW as The Wall and more recently in NWA-TNA as Malice, died on a tour of Japan last weekend due to acute cardiac arrest.

The 35-year-old Tuite was found unconscious in a Tokyo motel by All Japan Pro Wrestling management and several wrestlers who went to his room to check on him. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Jerry Tuite

Jerry Tuite

Tuite had just completed a tour for All Japan where he had been working as Gigantes. Tuite, who had a history of drug problems, wrestled his last match on Dec. 5 at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, teaming with (Bull) Buchanan and Justin Credible (Pete Polaco) in a six-man bout against Nobutaka Araya, Tomoaki Honma and Kazushi Miyamoto.

The Ocean Grove, N.J., native trained at the Iron Mike Sharpe Wrestling Academy and made his pro debut in 1994. The 6-9, 310-pound Tuite, with the choke slam as his finisher, was brought into WCW in 1999 as The Wall and rushed into a high-profile angle with Hulk Hogan. Tuite, however, never rose above mid-card status.

Tuite was sent to WWE’s developmental territory following the purchase of WCW, but later was given his release so he could deal with personal issues. NWA-TNA ran a graphic on Tuite’s death on the company’s pay-per-view Wednesday night, although no mention was made in the commentary. Neither WWE nor NWA-TNA acknowledged the recent deaths of Larry Booker (Moondog Spot) or Mike Lockwood (Crash Holly/Mad Mikey), both of whom had wrestled for NWA-TNA earlier this year.

NWA-TNA announcer Mike Tenay posted his thoughts on Tuite’s passing on the company’s Web site.

“I speak for the entire TNA organization when I say we were saddened to hear of the passing of Jerry Tuite this past weekend in Tokyo, Japan. I first met Jerry in WCW where he was known as The Wall, the bodyguard to Alex Wright’s Berlyn. He later became a member of the Misfits In Action as Sgt. A-Wall. In TNA he appeared on several of our early shows as Malice, a member of Father Mitchell’s New Church. In the Orient, All Japan billed him as Gigantes. Whatever name you knew him by, you knew that you were dealing with a man who worked hard to improve his craft and his look. He was very easy to work with and truly cared about becoming a better wrestler. Outside the ring, I’d use the term gentle giant to describe his actions.”

– The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) made a big splash by delivering a 4.6 rating for his quarter-hour segment last week on Raw. Rock, who was doing production work for “Be Cool,” the sequel to “Get Shorty,” happened to be in the area and agreed to stop by for the skit with Mick Foley and La Resistance.

Sources say Rock showed up early to mingle with his co-workers and spent the entire afternoon catching up with old friends and saying hello to newcomers on the WWE roster.

“Just looking at my calendar, I knew that I had this week open,” he told the WWE Web site. “I was out here anyway, doing pre-production stuff … I just wanted to get the ball rolling and have fun now.”

Rock later announced that he will appear at Wrestlemania XX in March, and has even agreed to work a number of shows leading up to the big event. He is expected to reprise The Rock ‘N Sock Connection with Mick Foley in a special attraction tag-team match at Wrestlemania, most likely against a pair of Evolution members.

– Eddie Guerrero and Charlie Haas were involved in a backstage altercation Tuesday night at Smackdown tapings in San Diego. Guerrero, who suffered a hyperextended elbow during a match pitting Los Guerreros against Haas and Orangeburg native Shelton Benjamin, lashed out at Haas for working too stiff. Punches reportedly were thrown, but the two shook hands and apologized after Jim Ross and John Laurinaitis defused the situation. Haas later explained that he was unaware that Guerrero had been injured.

– Nathan Jones has officially quit the wrestling business. WWE released Jones from his contract after he told management that he wasn’t happy and didn’t feel like pursuing the profession any longer.

The 6-10, 300-pound Jones, who had been plagued by back problems, told friends that he didn’t feel like he fit in the business. According to an article posted on the WWE Web site, Jones couldn’t handle the grueling travel schedule. He picked Dec. 6 in Perth, Australia – the last day of the overseas Smackdown tour – as the day he decided he just couldn’t take it anymore. He packed his bags, shook hands with many of his colleagues and left.

Some pointed to the recent tour – that included South Korea, Singapore and Australia – as the event that pushed Jones over the edge. It was described as the worst plane ride in WWE history, with the company-chartered Boeing 757 taking a scary 150-foot drop at one point and three aborted attempts to land in a blizzard in Russia as the plane was running out of fuel. “You couldn’t see anything,” said Chris Benoit, who called the flight the scariest one he’s ever been on.

Rick Bassman, the head of Southern California’s Ultimate Pro Wrestling, where Jones trained, told the WWE Web site that the Aussie appreciated the opportunity and genuinely liked his colleagues in WWE, although he was extremely shy and it may have taken him longer to feel comfortable backstage.

“At 14 years old, the guy was 6-6 and 270 pounds,” Bassman said. “He didn’t have much of a home life to speak of. He was basically adopted, in all the wrong ways, by a bunch of street criminals … They were pretty abusive of him, emotionally and mentally. He was in prison for eight years. He had the same experience there again. He was in solitary confinement. I mean, the guy has lived a very odd, different life. And it may have been those sorts of things that made him shy.”

“I think if you actually ran an IQ test on him, without question he’d be at genius level,” Bassman added. “The guy can take apart and build a computer from scratch. Like Bradshaw, Nathan’s been trading (stocks) for about the past year. He knows the market really well. I know for a fact that he can discuss American politics better than 95 percent of the people … in the audience. He’s an extremely well-studied guy. He’s very, very smart.”

– Ric Flair will speak at a Media Day pep rally in Charlotte at 5 p.m. Dec. 26 before the Continental Tire Bowl Game. He’ll be speaking with NFL Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure.

-Kevin Nash, who has pocketed millions of dollars over the past decade as a result of inflated contracts, said in a recent radio interview that he doesn’t think WWE is going to offer him another big deal when his current one comes up for renewal in February. The injury-prone Nash, who has worked only a handful of matches over the past three years, added that he didn’t believe he should have to settle for less money on a new contract than he got with his last contract, because he has “a family to feed.”

And you wonder why WCW went out of business. – George’s Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the Armageddon pay-per-view tonight beginning at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5.

– Roddy Piper made an appearance on last week’s NWA-TNA show, bringing D’Lo Brown as his mystery backup. Brown teamed with A.J. Styles to defeat Jeff Jarrett and Kid Kash in the main event.

Piper also mentioned that he was the man Hulk Hogan never beat. It must have slipped his mind that he put Hogan over as recently as WWE’s Judgment Day pay-per-view earlier this year.

– Sting will meet Jeff Jarrett in Wednesday night’s NWA-TNA main event. This will be the company’s final live show of the year due to the holidays. – According to an article Friday in the Hollywood Reporter, WWE Films has acquired an untitled horror movie pitch from writer Dan Madigan with plans to develop it as a starring vehicle for “one of the organization’s most popular wrestlers,” most likely Triple H.

The lead character, stated the article, is a remorseless, relentless, vicious and sadistic monster cut from the same cloth as such horror franchise icons as Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.

– Steve Corino was sentenced to one year of probation as part of a settlement of his forgery case, according to an article in The Norristown (Pa.) Times Herald.

The 30-year-old Corino was placed in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. The program, which does not require defendants to acknowledge guilt, allows offenders to clear their records after probation. Corino brought a $13,100 check to court to cover restitution towards an ex-girlfriend who brought the charges against him, as well as her travel expenses to attend a previous hearing.

The decision made by the District Attorney to place Corino into probation and settling the case, rather than going to trial, was based on the payment to Corino’s ex-girlfriend.