Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
June 27th, 1988
-- The Powers of Pain have jumped from the NWA to the WWF. They had been negotiating on and off for two months with the WWF, and they officially quit the NWA last Sunday, and debuted with the WWF the following Saturday. Dave is surprised, but they will be pushed as babyfaces in the WWF and are expected to be pushed hard and feuding with Demolition by the end of July. They will be expected to do their own interviews, as they will not have a manager. Both guys apparently wanted out before the scaffold matches were scheduled to take place with the Road Warriors, because of the fear of guys their size taking such a huge bump and causing major knee damage. The NWA did acknowledge their leaving, with Paul Jones and the Road Warriors burying them on TV. Dave thinks this helps the WWF, because they can probably do something with the two, considering that they're bizarre and powerful looking. Dave says they aren't particularly good in the ring. Barbarian has lots of great moves but can't put together a match, and Warlord has improved but is still pretty bad. Dave also doesn't think it will hurt the NWA much because they weren't major attractions, and their feud with the Road Warriors never really drew. Dave says the bigger story is that the jump has taken away any impact a future jump from the Road Warriors will have, because they will now be seen as the imitators, even though they're not. The POP left the NWA without truly giving notice. Warlord no-showed the 6/12 TV taping in Albany, GA. Barbarian was there and had words with Dusty and ended up quitting. Crockett failed to trademark the name, so the WWF can still use it. "That's kind of a surprise in this day and age, but then again, trademarking names is basically to protect the company in marketing ventures so an outside company doesn't market things of the sort and the two really had no value in the merchandising department."
-- No Holds Barred just started filming in Atlanta and will be shot over the next two months. Shane Productions is doing the movie (it's their first full length feature film) and Joan Severence will be the female lead. Vince McMahon will receive an executive producer credit. Dave suspects it's more intended for a video market than a big screen market.
-- The hype is in overdrive for the Great American Bash pay-per-view on July 10 in Baltimore, which is pretty much guaranteed to be a financial success. They have done a great job, Dave says, of creating necessary interest in the main event, with most fans expecting a title change. There are 9.4 million homes cleared for pay-per-view, and this should be a multi-million dollar show. Dave points out that both Starrcade and the Bunkhouse Stampede drew between a 3.0 and 3.5 percent buyrate, and this show will actually run unopposed. Dave thinks it will easily get a 4.0 buyrate, which translates to about 376,000 buys at $16.00 a pop, or a $6 million gross. Dave says Crockett may only net around a quarter of that, but it will still pay a lot of bills. Early reports are that the Bash tour is also going to draw well, but Dave is worried that Crockett will interpret that as a sign they are moving in the right direction, when all it shows is that the Bash concept is over. "I am convinced that it's not too late for JCP if the company realizes certain changes that have to be made and certain promotional concepts that have to be changed. There are too many fans with divergent tastes for one company to fulfill them all, and if Titan is to increase its domination of the business in this country, it's simply because the opposition isn't considered viable by those with divergent tastes."
-- There are still rumors that Ted turner has bought the AWA, but best as Dave can tell, it hasn't happened yet, and he doesn't anticipate it in the near future. The two sides are millions of dollars apart in the attempting buying and selling price, as Crockett wants an eight-figure deal to give up the company, and TBS doesn't want to pay anywhere near that high. Dave mentions there is a lot going on within the Turner organization, such as quiet negotiations with Capital Cities to purchase CNN, which make take place in the fall around the same time TNT is set to debut. The rumor is that the NWA purchase would be part of a long-term plan for TNT, and that Main Event would move over as soon as the network debuts, while World Championship Wrestling would move to TNT also, but not until the new network clears 30 million homes. Dave acknowledges all this but says talks are definitely not dead either.
-- NFL star Brad Muster was given a Ric Flair t-shirt that said "Not just a man, an attitude" which Dave says was given to him by a friend -- not Dave -- but an equally demented friend. Muster plans to wear the shirt under his jersey for all of his games.
-- 6/12 in Las Vegas drew 750 fans and Dave is told this was an even worse card than the one he attended. Most of the advertised matches didn't take place. Ricky Morton has decided to go on vacation until they start with Crockett on 6/26, so he no-showed, but Robert Gibson is still making the dates with Greg Gagne taking his place.
-- They want Jimmy Snuka to start on 7/16.
-- 6/13 in Memphis drew 4,500 fans and was headlined by Lawler vs Curt Hennig in a **** match. Much of it had to be edited because of bad lighting when aired on FNN, so it didn't come across nearly as well on TV as it did live.
-- They're looking to a Jerry Lawler & Austin Idol vs Eddie Gilbert & Curt Hennig feud to spice things up over summer, and Dave thinks between them and Paul E. Dangerously, the interviews will be great, even if they're not the best matches of the summer.
-- Steve Armstrong returned and is teaming with Tracy Smothers again, but the two are scheduled to leave for Japan in three weeks.
-- Jack Curtis is out as General Manager and Ron West from USA wrestling is coming in to take over the position at the end of the month.
-- The title tournament is scheduled for Birmingham in August. They are going to do a tie-in with a local hotel and are promoting cocktail parties with the wrestlers for fans in the first few rows.
-- Shane Douglas left for a few weeks to finish some college commitments, but should be back soon.
-- Brother Ernest Angel is in managing Sika & Kokina, but Kokina is scheduled for a Japanese tour, so Sika will work single.
-- There is a big show on 7/2 in Dothan, AL, with Jerry Lawler defending the AWA title against Austin Idol.
-- Houses are up for the Idol vs Gilbert feud, with cities that averaged $2,000 houses increasing to $7,000 houses, which Dave admits still isn't spectacular, but is a great improvement.
-- They are continuing the Ken Wayne vs Danny Davis feud, with Danny Davis as the babyface.
-- Dick Slater is going to come in for a few dates to team with Eddie Gilbert against Austin Idol & Mr. Olympia. Gilbert had a match against Olympia for $25,000, but Gilbert showed up on crutches and said he would have to postpone the match. When Olympia turned his back, Gilbert dropped the crutches and he and Dangerously beat up on Olympia and broke his arm, similar to the 1987 angle with Steve Williams and Dick Murdoch in the UWF. They have a mask vs the $25,000 match coming up with Olympia in an arm brace.
-- Willie B. Hurt is feuding with D.I. Bob Carter and Detroit Demolition is feuding with Lord Humongous.
-- Dave is told the TV that aired over the previous weekend had decent lighting, as it had been horrendous for weeks prior. Dave says they need a hot announcer because Charlie Platt has been doing the shows with Missy Hyatt and just isn't enthusiastic enough.
-- 6/10 in Calgary drew 550 fans.
-- Les Thornton's opposition promotion began on 6/11 in Calgary before 200 fans. Promotion for the card was small and fans didn't know the faces from the heels.
-- There was an out of the ring brawl between Brian Pillman and Brick Bronsky. "Apparently the real story behind the out of the ring brawl between Bronsky and Brian Pillman is difference than the recent letter in the Observer indicated. It wasn't that Pillman and Bruce Hart were ribbing Bronsky which led to the brawl, but instead several events which I'm not particularly clear about which saw the British Bulldogs apparently fire up Bronsky against Bruce Hart because Bronsky wasn't getting a big push (which he didn't deserve in the first place) and he punched Pillman in the mouth because he'd probably lose his job punching Bruce Hart. Anyway that led to the brawl, because Pillman came back and punched Bronsky several times."
-- The Road Warriors dropped the International tag titles to Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu on 6/10. They did a DQ job to do the title switch, which goes against typical Baba booking. They will return in September for a rematch.
-- The Budokan Hall show drew 11,800 fans, a sellout, although in reality the building was about 80% filled, impressive with such a weak line-up. 6/9 in Kiryu drew a sellout 3,100 fans.
-- The next tour will be from 7/2 to 7/31 and will feature Stan Hansen, Terry Gordy, Dick Beyer, Sheik Ali, Leo Burke, David Sammartino, and Mitch Snow.
-- The IWGP tag titles changed hands on 6/10 in Hiroshima before 5,180 fans when Riki Choshu & Masa Saito beat Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura. Also on the card was Owen vs Yamada in what Dave is told was an outstanding match. There was a lot of interest around that match because Yamada was challenging for the title in his home city.
-- 6/9 in Kitakyushu drew 2,030 fans.
-- Antonio Inoki is training in Los Angeles for an August comeback. Since he was out healing a broken foot anyway, he had surgery on his eye, elbow, and knee. Dave is told he is training very hard for his return, and takes it as a positive for his ego that crowds haven't been that impressive in his absence. Inoki wants his return match to be against Hulk Hogan or Bob Backlund. Dave is told Backlund isn't interested in either this offer or the UWF offer to face Maeda and doesn't want anything to do with pro wrestling. Dave says the chances of getting Hogan are as good as those of getting Backlund.
-- The second show drew 5,200 fans in Sapporo for a three-match crowd. The crowd was almost exclusively males of high school or college age. The opener was Tetsuo Nakano vs Shigeo Miyato in a 30 minute draw, followed by Kazuo Yamazaki vs Norman Smiley, and finally Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada. This was said to be better than the Yamazaki match, as Maeda was in better shape and didn't blow up, but the impact wasn't as strong as the first match.
-- The next show is on 8/13 at the 11,000 capacity Ariake Coliseum.
-- The Jumping Bomb Angels lost the WWF tag team titles on 6/8 in Omiya to Leilani Kai & Judy Martin. There is confusion about the result, because typically American title matches are wrestled under American rules, which means a countout should not have caused a title change.
-- Chigusa Nagayo is defending her title on 7/2 in Osaka. Her challenger will be either Yumiko Hotta, Nishiwaki, Lioness Asuka, or Bull Nakano.
-- JWP is running a big card on 7/14 at Korauken Hall with Devil Masami vs Shinobu Kandori as the main event, with Kandori announcing that she is coming out of retirement for the match.
-- Joe Pedicino and WATL-TV in Atlanta ran their annual Wrestlethon to raise money for bullet proof vests for Atlanta police officers over the weekend. They raised in excess of $6,000. There was a brief plug on Fox's "Late Show", with host Ross Schaffer, Pedicino, Boni Blackstone, Paul E. Dangerously, and Eddie Gilbert "... all trying to get over at the same time with not enough time to get over and you heard too many voices all trying to outshout each other." As part of the show, there was a live wrestling card from the TV studio, mainly with wrestlers from Jerry Blackwell's Southern Championship Wrestling. Dave has heard they may do specials like this in the future with live studio matches. Early in the show, Paul E. Dangerously came out and wanted to get Tommy Rich and Eddie Gilbert to team again, but Rich refused, which set up an impromptu main event for later in the show. They hyped the match huge throughout the show, and then with two minutes left, the match went in the ring as credits were rolling. This was intended to be a JCP spoof. Rick Stuart came running out during credits and ordered the show stay on the air until the end of the match, which was 13 1/2 minutes, and Dave is told was fantastic. The finish was a ref bump. Rich then threw Gilbert over the top, and Dangerously hit Rich with the telephone. A ref came in, and Dick Slater did a run-in, first going after Rich, but then attacking Gilbert. Manny Fernandez then did a run-in and they beat on Gilbert and did a double piledriver on him. The fans were convinced Gilbert had turned, and Paul E. was begging for someone to save him at ringside. But Rich refused to help him. Finally, all the babyfaces rush in to clear the ring. This is to set up a six-man tag on the next show with Gilbert, Rich & Bruiser Brody against Slater, Manny Fernandez, and a mystery partner.
-- Madusa Miceli did a Playboy photo shoot, and they are wanting others in wrestling as well.
-- Larry Finnegan, a former WWF jobber, is being charged with murder for stabbing and strangling a 20-year old woman after she bit him while they were having sex in his moving van.
-- The promoter's meeting in Dallas was largely considered a waste of time. They agreed not to invade each other's turf and to try to work together, but didn't agree on anything concrete.