Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
June 6th, 1988
-- Electronic Media Magazine had an article about pro wrestling, and Randy Savage and Elizabeth were on the cover. Dave says it was a standard WWF press release with exaggerated numbers, and a few quotes mixed in from Jim Crockett. "The funniest part of the story was where it said that top wrestlers can earn $10 million a year. Not on this planet they can't. I would be surprised if any wrestler besides Hulk Hogan has ever earned anything approaching $1 million in any calendar year." The magazine also had an ad for Jim Crockett's Learning The Ropes sitcom, which Dave has heard is pretty bad.
-- 5/27 in MSG before 16,000 was headlined by Savage vs Dibiase. 5/28 in Bloomington, MN drew 1,850 headlined by Andre vs Duggan. Dave says they won't return to the Twin Cities for a long time with those numbers.
-- There is nothing new regarding the possible acquisition of JCP by Turner, other than that the Charlotte Observer picked up on the story and even wrote a follow-up article the next day. According to the article, no completion of the sale is expected until 6/6. Dave's sources tell him it could be July. The newspaper said the amount would be $10 million, but Dave has been told that figure is way off, but he doesn't know if that was too high or too low. He says for a frame of reference, Crockett purchased the UWF for $4 million. Dave also corrects himself from last week and says that if the deal happens, Turner will purchase 100% of the Crockett family stock, including that of Jim Crockett. Frances Crockett denied to the Charlotte Observer that any negotiations were even taking place, but TBS officials confirmed there was something to the story, but declined to go into specifics.
-- "Lots of unrest around here. As of the last word, none of the contract balloon payments, due on 5/1, have been paid and I'm told there are about 10 wrestlers due sizable amounts of money, at least 1 in the six-figures. Several guys are making noises about quitting if the money doesn't come in, but realistically, unless Titan will take them, and Titan isn't going to add too many guys this summer, than the only alternative is to go to a promotion in which they'll make a lot less money. This is the time Titan could brutally wound this group by stripping them of several key personnel. It is no secret Steve Williams wants out, since he seemingly made that clear in Houston on 5/13. In addition, Williams was pulled from the main event on the 6/8 'Miami Mayhem' TBS special and replaced by Dusty Rhodes, who teams with Sting against Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson."
-- The Sunday Main Event show had a good match with Mike Rotunda vs Ron Garvin. This week will be Arn & Tully against Ron Garvin & Mighty Wilbur. "That'll keep me glued to my TV set on a summer afternoon."
-- They are going back to building up a TV show for a main event, and then running out of time two minutes in. Last weekend, they did it with Flair/Arn/Tully vs Dusty/Luger/Nikita, and t his week, they did it with Midnights vs Fantastics. "I wonder if they hired someone with the specific job of getting fans pissed off at them?"
-- "And speaking of that, you aren't going to believe this, but of course you have to. 5/29 in Greensboro was the first card there since the Crockett Cup, and before that of course was Clash of the Champions. Remember the Midnight vs. Fantastics finish? Remember the Road Warriors vs. Powers of Pain finish at the Cup? Well,t hey ran the exact same finish again this month as well in a six-man title match with the Powers of Pain & Uncle Ivan apparently losing, but instead winning via DQ over the Roadies & Sting. Once again, I'm told a lot of the crowd fell for it, but they were down to 4,000 fans this month."
-- 5/27 in St. Louis drew 3,100 fans headlined by Rhodes & Luger vs Windham & Blanchard. 5/24 in Hillsville, VA drew 3,500 fans headlined by Luger vs Blanchard. 5/20 in Norfolk drew 4,000 fans and had Crockett out with both Flair and Luger in interviews taped for TV, so Dave expects the Bash main event to be announced soon.
-- In the 4/2 issue of New Musical Express, a British publication, Rick Rubin talks about producing songs for wrestlers and being a big fan of the NWA and the Four Horsemen. He joked about buying the NWA one day, but Dave doesn't think he was serious.
-- There will be unification matches taking place with Jerry Lawler vs Kerry Von Erich.
-- Brickhouse Brown won the CWA title via forfeit on the 05/23 card in Memphis. Champion Max Pain was attack by Brown and the Cuban Choir Boys and suffered a leg injury and was unable to appear for his title defense later on the show.
-- Robert Fuller is forming the Stud Stable in Memphis with Jimmy Golden, Gary Young, and valet Sylvia. At the same time, Tojo Yammamoto came in with a masked wrestler called Sin Sing. The Stable wanted Sing, but not Yammamoto, which prompted a babyface turn to set up a feud. Sylvia knocked off Tojo's hat. Later, Jeff Jarrett was challenging Robert Fuller when Sylvia came out and said Jarrett couldn't even beat her, much less Fuller. She then slapped him, then Jarrett held off Fuller before Golden attacked him also. Tojo came out with his kendo stick to make the save, and somehow, it got away from him and Sylvia started hitting him with the stick. Finally, Sin Sing made the save.
-- Instead of doing the last MSC show on a Monday, as is customary, because of the Memorial Day holiday, it was moved to Sunday night. Lawler vs Dutch Mantell was on top.
-- "I'm told Fuller & Golden don't look too good and people don't seem that excited of this turn in Memphis wrestling."
-- Doug and Tommy Gilbert are gone. Mark Starr has returned to Florida.
-- 5/21 in Nashville drew 1,200 fans headlined by Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee in a really good match with tons of heat.
-- Eric Embry is the new booker with Skandor Akbar as his assistant. Michael Hayes is out, not because anyone has removed him from the role, but because of personal frustration that nothing they have tried in an attempt to turn business around seems to be working.
-- Chris Adams is gone. He's running his own live card in June, which will include Bruiser Brody, Jeep Swenson, Brian Adias, Adrian Street, and Steve Cox. With Adams gone, Terry Taylor will be feuding with Kevin Von Erich. "Kevin is basically Taylor's Nikita Koloff in that we'll find out just how good Taylor is or isn't."
-- They are running head-to-head with a Great American Bash show from Crockett on 7/4 in Dallas about a half a mile away.
-- Kamala will be in on a regular basis by mid-June.
-- Downtown Bruno is out and most expect him to show up in Memphis with Robert Fuller.
-- There are negotiations to bring in Tommy Rich, Bob Orton, Dick Slater, and maybe Dennis Condrey.
-- Sgt. Bob Carter is doing Sgt. Slaughter's heel gimmick. Dave says he is great at the gimmick, but nowhere nearly as good in the ring as Slaughter is as a heel.
-- Lord Humongous is a full-fledged babyface teaming with Shane Douglas.
-- "Just saw the last four weeks of television here. The TV is much-improved at least as far as entertainment from when Robert Fuller was booking and more interesting and more unpredictable to watch. The eventual Ken Wayne to heel and feud with Danny Davis angle is doing well. At the same time, the lighting on at least one of the shows and overall production was very bad and there isn't enough wrestling on the shows, virtually all angles and film clips. I assume that is to develop all the new characters and new angles and that when everything gets settled in a month or two the format will change once again."
-- Austin Idol appeared at the 5/15 TV taping in Knoxville, and Tommy Rich's name was mentioned as coming in to team with Johnny and Davey Rich against the Rock & Roll RPMs and Bill Dundee.
-- Scott Armstrong came out on crutches (legit ankle injury) and slapped Nelson Royal in the face while Royal did an interview. It was the first interview I've ever seen Royal do where he didn't offer me a cup of coffee. Actually Nelson was trying to be Ric Flair as he started on a 'I'm the best thing going today' routine and they are billing him as the man who has held the World jr. heavyweight title longer than any man alive. I guess nobody told Nelson that Danny Hodge is still alive."
-- Lots of former TBS jobbers are finding jobber work here.
SOUTHERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
-- 5/29 TV taping at Miss Kitty's in Marietta drew 240 fans. Chris Adams made his debut and was over huge. In the first hour, Tommy Rich & Ted Oates went to a no contest against Joel Deaton & Jimmy Bryant when Dick Slater interfered and started beating up both the heels and babyfaces, including taking away Hoss Deaton's crutches. Buck Robley was very upset that he was also beating up the heels. Also on the show, Ranger Ross went over J.D. Wolfe, who is trying to be the next Randy Mulkey by taking crazy bumps. Mr. Wrestling II, Manny Fernandez, and Randy Rose & Doug Somers were also there. In the second hour, Steve Prichard beat Gerald Finley, and Joel Deaton & Dick Slater beat Ray Lloyd & Jim Boss. Tommy Rich & Ted Oates beat Joey Maggs & Doug Somers, Manny Fernandez beat Terry Adonis in what Dave called a great squash match, and Bruiser Brody went over Greg Brown. The Rock & Roll Express no-showed, along with Kamala and Abdullah the Butcher. They are building toward a Chris Adams vs Manny Fernandez feud, which Dave says will be great if they ever have a match. Adams made the save for Terry Adonis in their squash. Manny comes to the ring with Mexican food and after beating his opponent, stuffs a burrito down his throat. (My note: That's actually pretty kind ...)
-- A TV taping on 5/28 in Pompano Beach saw Boris Malenko return to active wrestling. Dave is told he looked really good and got over doing 60s style wrestling. Boris is in his mid 50s, but has kept himself in top shape.
-- A 5/22 TV taping in Dixon, IL drew 250 fans headlined by Steve Regal vs Col. DeBeers. Paul E. Dangerously, who has a leg injury, and Eddie Gilbert no showed the card. They have an upcoming show in Rockford, IL, with Buddy Rose & Doug Somers vs Windy City Dream Team, Regal vs DeBeers, and the Terminators vs the Midnight Rockers.
-- On the 5/20 card, Makhan Singh joined Ed Whalen as a heel announcer. Stu Hart came out and said they were going to return "to family entertainment as it used to be", which means heavy blood and brawling in the crowds is going to be cut out. Stampede is blaming their low numbers recently on too much blood, NHL finals on TV, the weather, and Owen Hart and Jason being gone.
-- Keith Hart will be replacing Bruce Hart as booker.
-- Brian Pillman is with a torn tricep and won't be back for eight to twelve weeks, so the International tag titles are being vacated.
-- They are doing an angle that Makhan Singh bought into Stampede Wrestling and is firing Ed Whalen and Jim Davies to become the announcer himself, but Whalen is still there every week.
-- 5/28 in Edmonton drew 700 fans and was headlined by Benoit vs Johnny Smith in a ****1/4 match.
-- Makhan Singh is considering going to Memphis.
-- Mika Komatsu and Yumi Ogura are headed in.
-- Roddy Piper's "Buy and Cell" received a horrible review in Variety magazine. Piper was never mentioned in the review.
-- Vladimir Pietrov will be out of prison in seven more months and is hoping to get a job with JCP at that time.
-- Darryl Sammartino, Bruno's son, placed eighth in the javelin in the NCAA Division III nationals representing Slippery Rock University. He was the highest placing Freshman at the event.
-- Tiger Chung Lee has a bit part in "Red Heat" where he will be beaten up by Arnold Schwarzeneger.
-- "A new women's group is working on getting started in Houston called Fabulous Ladies Appearing In Ring or FLAIR for short. Honest, I'm not making this up."
-- Bobby Jaggers is doing English commentary for WWC.
-- Dave expects fireworks in the AWA, as on a 6/28 independent card in Petersburg, VA which drew 150 fans, Wahoo, the promoter of the show, used several AWA guys without going through proper channels.
-- Big Van Vader, Buzz Sawyer, Los Brazos and the Southern Boys will be part of the next New Japan tour.
-- The current series began on 5/20 in front of a sellout 2,050 fans at Korauken Hall. The main event was Fujinami beating Hiroshi Hase in 6:02 with a sleeper. 5/21 in Chichibu drew another sellout 1,390 fans.
-- Adrian Adonis has dropped 60 pounds and his gay act.
-- 5/19 in Ueda drew 2,100 fans for a TV taping with Tenryu & Hara beating Wajima & Yatsu in 19:13. 5/20 in Iida drew 16,50 fans. 5/21 in Kasamatsu drew 2,300 fans. 5/22 in Osaka drew 2,100 fans.
-- Due to the Rock & Roll Express's first tour, TV ratings have been in the 7's, which is very strong.
-- Futuhaguro, who Dave finally calls Koji Kitao, has chances of less than 50-50 of getting into wrestling, because he has other, better ways to make money. The magazines in Japan spent a lot of space on photos of him working out at Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory.
-- The actual gate of the UWF show on 5/12 was $79,840 on 1,820 tickets at $40 each, and 440 standing room only tickets priced at $16. The 6/11 card in Sapporo is all seats for $28.00, so the advance is around $150,000.
-- "I got to see the Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki match from the first show. The style wouldn't appeal to U.S. fans because it was a lot of mat wrok and at times there was no noise at all in the building however I'm certain the intensity (or quite heat -- which is not a contradiction in terms in fact it's what the old-timers strived for--a match so intense and realistic that the audience was so taken in by it that they didn't make noise) was there. Maeda looked really bad as it appeared Yamazaki was trying very hard not to win. Yamazaki did a good job of keeping it intense however Maeda was too heavy and his kicks were too slow and he was simply out of shape from his six month layoff from the ring. A few more performances like that and Maeda's status as the hottest wrestler in Japan will be threatened. The last seven or eight minutes saw Yamazaki have to do everything because Maeda was having trouble just keeping up a fighting stance."