Heh, I'm of mixed emotions about Puder. I really did think he was the best of the Tough Enough 4 guys when the contest occurred last year. Certainly more charismatic than The Miz and seemed more interested in learning than some of the others.
However, I've watched him in dark matches for the past few months and certainly in the last couple of months on OVW television. I have to say that he never developed anything beyond the "fists of fury" punching and the Keylock. That's all he had coming in and that's all he was showing in his OVW television match last week. Well, that and being able to take a kick or a punch.
Unlike what you may have seen in some of the OVW reports floating around, most of the audience at the OVW shows really didn't care one way or another about Puder. There were even chants beginning to grow in the audience of stuff like swishy "oh, I hate you, I hate you! You brute!" whenever he went for the multiple punches, as it looked rather "girlish" while the more seasoned guys having to job to him would flop around like they were being hit by lightning. It was too obvious a setup to push Puder and I think some fans resented it. And this from a promotion who usually LOVES the Tough Enough people when they finally get to perform at the shows.
Frankly, I think they went about him all wrong in OVW. People kinda knew who he was, but not enough to care about him. He did perhaps two or three dark matches, always with a tag-team partner, and then suddenly he was thrust into the main event picture two months back. Worse yet, all his matches were five-second squashes against some of the best wrestlers in OVW. It didn't help his credibility in the promotion and a majority of fans were bored by him because he had nothing to show that excited them. The only people in the audience really cheering him on where the OVW students in the audience, everyone else just cheered for someone ... anyone ... to beat him.
Now, having said all the above negative statements, I do think his personality was finally starting to come through, even if all he knew how to do in a promo was dance back and forth like he badly needed to use the little boy's room. Moreso, I think if he had been given a program with someone the same size and age but with more experience - say like a Seth Skyfire or even an Aaron Stevens - someone who could carry him through the matches, he may have gotten over better. Then he could have been bumped up and the audience would have accepted it more.
The stories going around that Heyman planned to turn him babyface against Johnny Jeter just seemed like a really good way to kill any heat that Jeter's heel turn had. After all, people had been waiting for months now to see someone beat Puder and we were suddenly supposed to cheer him on against a guy that we wanted to see Matt Cappotelli take on? Naw, I'm almost glad it turned out this way, so we wouldn't have to watch that occur.
From this OVW viewer's perspective, I would definitely say it was cost-cutting, but also that Puder was given the ball to run with and he really just didn't do enough to prove keeping him around. Sad, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
No, he DID wrestle. I'll leave it to your imagination to figure out what happened.
Also, Ken Kennedy is leaving to be with sick relatives, so Jeter's former cronys are now gone. If they build it up as Jeter getting rid of them (which I'm sure they will) it will build him up even more.
Not this week, I believe. OVW is doing their annual big houseshow for the Davis Arena fans next week, so they filmed the September 24th episode last night at the same time they filmed part of the episode that will air on September 17th.
I'm not 100% certain, but if I'm reading the logic of the storyline right, we'll see a match on the 17th filmed last week that had Puder jumping into the ring and attacking Jeter after Jeter's match with Nick Nemeth. The match between Nemeth and Jeter was too long and too good to simply blow off and it wasn't shown on the program last week, so I'm sure it'll turn up for the September 17th show. Thus, making Puder's last stand logically fit the September 24th show.
I live in the L.A. area and I know there are a lot of indy feds peppered throughout the L.A. and Orange County, and even Riverside areas. UPW is based out of Santa Ana, which isn't too far of a haul from Riverside.