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RollerJam was an American sports entertainment television series depicting roller derby. It was shown on The New TNN from 1999 to 2001. It was derived from the original roller derby, only this particular version used inline roller skates to modernize the sport (although several skaters used the traditional "quads"). The program was taped at Universal Studios Stage 21 in Orlando, Florida for the first and third seasons (1999 and 2000) and the former American Gladiators arena in the show's final season. The first few weeks of the show's second season, which ran from August to October 1999 were taped at MGM Grand Las Vegas.
The producers of the RollerJam series decided to copy the model of World Wrestling Entertainment by introducing actors to play on-screen characters in storylines, keeping with the sports entertainment genre. This was to the dismay of many skaters and fans who wanted Rollerjam to remain true to the focal point of skating competition. Two most notable were veteran movie actor Tom Nowicki, who played general manager Kenneth Loge III, and stage actress and former Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley, who played Leo Seltzer's "granddaughter" Lisa Seltzer. (Many feel these moves led to the series' demise.) Other characters included Julie Amazon (a Chyna-like bodybuilding skater in Season 4), The Prophet (A character in Season 4 only who would interrupt games to make speeches... and later managed the Sundogs), Canine and Disable (Minions of the prophet who skated for the Sundogs, and "captured" Lindsay Francis during the first game of Season 4), and Devo (a convict character who skated for the Hot Dice).
The most points ever scored in one jam was 28 in Period 3 of a game between the New York Enforcers and the Illinois Riot. The Riot came back from from a 20+ point deficit to win 46-43 in the highest scoring game in RollerJam history. Roller Derby legend Ann Calvello, best known for her brutal feuds with Dru Atkinson and Joan Weston, skated a match race with Kenneth Loge III in RollerJam's finale... winning, of course.
Former ECW director Ron Buffone believes the show that preceded RollerJam, ECW on TNN, was treated as a lead in for RollerJam, citing RollerJam to be "That stupid roller blading show." Some ECW wrestlers, including Axl Rotten and Tommy Dreamer, made an appearance as "enforcers" for the Florida Sundogs against the New York Enforcers.
Between January 1999 and January 2001, Knoxville, Tennessee television impresarios Ross K. Bagwell Sr. and Stephen Land, under the name Pageboy Entertainment, collaborated with CBS to stage this new televised revival. Bagwell and Land recruited numerous stars from the Roller Derby of yesteryear, as well as newer stars from various athletic backgrounds, including nationally ranked speed skaters, to skate in the six-team World Skating League (WSL). Jerry Seltzer was named RollerJam "commissioner".
RollerJam games were televised out of "RollerJam Arena", (now, the TNA iMPACT! Zone) situated on the grounds of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Initial teams, each consisting of seven men and seven women, were the New York Enforcers, the California Quakes, the Florida Sundogs, the Nevada Hot Dice, the Texas Rustlers and the Illinois Riot (Original names of the latter three teams were the Las Vegas High Rollers, Texas Twisters, and Illinois Inferno. These names were changed prior to the start of the first season). Despite strong funding and four seasons of broadcasts on The Nashville Network (TNN, now known as Spike TV), the venture never became a "live" attraction. Fabricated storylines and uncharismatic characters were being featured more than actual competitive skating, raising the ire of many skaters and fans of "true" roller derby. Two notable veterans from Roller Games, Rockin' Ray Robles and "Latin Spitfire" Patsy Delgato, were featured in the second season of RollerJam.
The rules to the game were almost the same as Roller Derby rules, however a major rule difference involved younger players, who were allowed to use in-line skates, which differentiated the league from others.
Key players Edit
- Sean Atkinson, men's captain of the California Quakes. Atkinson is the first third generation skater in roller derby history. His parents Buddy (Jr.) and Dru Atkinson and his grandparents Buddy (Sr.) and Bobbie Atkinson all skated for Leo Seltzer's original derby. His younger brother, Seth, is also a skater and helps run independent roller derby promotion XSL (Xtreme Skating League), which is a hardcore roller derby promotion equivalent to the old ECW style of wrestling. Coincidentally, Seth is also a trained professional wrestler as well.
- Stacey Blitsch, women's captain of the California Quakes and leader of the "Bod Squad" faction. Later skated in the ARDL for the Bay City Bombers. She now skates for the American Roller Derby League's Bay City Bombers based in San Francisco.
- Lindsey Francis, skated for three different teams: Sundogs (twice), Rustlers, Enforcers
- Richard Brown, manager/skater of three teams: Florida Sundogs, Nevada Hot Dice and Illinois Riot
- Mark Weber and Jason McDaniel, the "X-Men" of the Hot Dice
- Denise Loden, women's captain of two teams: Sundogs and Riot and leader of the Riot's "Oral Authority" faction
- Shay Brown, women's captain of the Nevada Hot Dice and leader of the "Showgirl Sizzle"
- Laura Weintraub, skated for the Hot Dice's "Showgirls" and the Riot's "Oral Authority". Like Blitsch skated in the ARDL for the Bay City Bombers. Along with Stacey Blitsch, she now skates for the American Roller Derby League's Bay City Bombers based in San Francisco.
- Mark D'Amato, men's captain, leader and later "owner" of the New York Enforcers; known as the team's (and league's) main villain or "heel" after the manner of characters or personalities from the world of professional wrestling. Later skated in the ARDL. Known as the Quadfather because he used old-school four wheeled skates, Mark started skating professionally on Roller Games in Los Angeles in the 1970s (which allowed him to be grandfathered under league rules; most players wore in-line skates). He died due to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in March 2002.
- Karen L. Magnussen, first women's captain of the New York Enforcers; leader of the "Sisters of Suffering" faction. Later skated for the Nevada Hot Dice. Known as the most underrated skater in the league, preferring to stay out of the limelight in favor or focusing on the sport.
- "Big Nasty" Tim Washington, the "enforcer" of the Enforcers and formerly "Titan" of the American Gladiators. Both he and Brian "The Blade" Gamble are now professional wrestlers.
- Kenneth Loge III (actor Tom Nowicki), the "general manager" of the WSL who fought for morality and wanted to rid the sport of sex and violence (met with obvious resistance). It was a character similar to ECW's Cyrus and The Network.
- Amy Craig, played for the California Quakes and later the Illinois Riot as a member of the "Oral Authority". Arguably the fastest skater in Rollerjam.