Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Wrestling Observer Recap -- December 3rd, 1984
*Head shot of Riki Choshu.
Pulling No Punches
*Dave stresses that the promotions struggling to survive the McMahon invasion need to look in the mirror and blame themselves for a good portion of their problems. Dave says he’s as frustrated as anyone with the current state of wrestling and McMahon and that if it wasn’t for the Observer and his ability to get tapes from Japan, Mid-south and Memphis, he would’ve spent the winter watching the NBA instead.
*He says if McMahon didn’t start the invasion, someone else would’ve. Satellite technology makes it impossible to continue the old way of home-town promotions. Originally, Dave thought this would be a good thing, but he says he’s wrong now.
*Dave thought having most of the talent in one promotion would result in tremendous cards, good match-ups, and quality entertainment. He says that has been anything but the case w/ WWF so far. He also blames other promotions for building up untalented new workers over established veterans with more talent and experience. He concedes talent has never been the most important thing in wrestling, but it used to at least mean something.
*He also says the WWF’s primary lure for wrestlers is money and that other promotions are going to have to dig deeper to pay their stars more to prevent further defections. The only other alternative is finding better workers, booking better TV shows, and coming up with better angles. He’s not seeing that happening so far.
*Dave has completely given up on watching the WWF unless he’s eating dinner in front of the TV.
*Dave says he’s burned out on pro wrestling. Because he’s committed to printing one more issue and a massive yearbook, he will do that. After that, he’ll keep doing the Observer, but only report on regions he’s interested in. He’ll also stay on top of defections and attendance figures in war torn areas. (Dave talked about quitting a couple of issues ago as well.)
*Another call for awards ballots.
Behind the Scenes in Japanese Wrestling
*UWF President Nobuo Urata was arrested, along w/ gangster Hiroshi Takizawa, for threatening Tiger Mask’s former manager Shoji Sogawa. The threat on Sogawa’s life was made in August before Mask signed with the UWF. UWF wanted complete control over Mask’s affairs. Mask had been running Tiger’s Gym w/ Sogawa’s financial backing. Earlier, Mask insisted him and Sogawa parted as friends at a press conference announcing his signing w/ UWF.
*The arrest was made during the middle of a UWF series. The wrestlers tried to remain calm and Yoshiaki Fujiwara was named acting president. Reportedly, the UWF had a TV contract lined up, but this scandal will probably kill that. The UWF may be in jeopardy because arenas won’t want to book an organization tied with organized crime and TV won’t touch it.
*Mask sued Sogawa, claiming he took too large a cut from some UWF shows. Many doubt Mask will win his suit. Mask claims he wanted to quit his gym gig and join UWF but said Sogawa threatened to kill him if he did. Sogawa himself was once a member of the same group of gangsters he’s fighting with now, causing trouble for Inoki and New Japan when Mask was there.
*UWF will likely have to ask New Japan or All Japan for help. New Japan is the leading candidate, but several UWF workers are scared to work for Inoki again.
*New Japan is hanging on despite several defections. Inoki had many of his wrestlers stay on Saipan Island after a series to prevent them from being lured away to Baba or someone else.
*Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith back in Japan w/ Baba. They were unhappy in the WWF and Baba promised to also get them booked on the NWA circuit. They said New Japan didn’t have any opponents for them so they went w/ Baba.
*On 10/22, Baba had a show scheduled in Nagasaki. When they got into town, they discovered no tix were sold and the local promotion group had disappeared. They put on the show anyway with last minute tix going for $6-$12. 200 attended.
*More WWF bashing and some bashing of World Class. One letter writer thinks Dave is too hard on Crockett. Another writer has no problems with racial slurs in wrestling because, well, it’s wrestling.
*There was a newspaper story reprinted that highlights Buddy Rose’s arrest for failing to pay taxes. He failed to report gross incomes of $28,591, $36,113, and $47,187 from 1978-80. (Whoops. Rose would’ve qualified to serve in President Obama’s cabinet).
*Gone are Brian Blair, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy, and Kimala. They all left and weren’t fired. Tony Atlas is back. He left all pissed off a few months ago for the AWA. The AWA failed to come through on several promises so Atlas made up with McMahon.
*Dave said he’s heard the 11/10 Spectrum card was actually good so he might break his own rules about watching WWF and check it out.
*McMahon debuts on 11/29 in Oklahoma City w/ JYD/Orndorff. Watts is running a free show that same night featuring Kerry Von Erich. McMahon may invade New Orleans by late December.
*The Crocketts booked three shows in gyms in the Bronx, Queens and Long Island for NWA shows. A mysterious party claiming he was working for David Crockett called each venue, cancelled the dates, and arranged new ones. All the new dates coincided w/ WWF shows and Crockett wasn’t able to get the original dates back.
*Snuka is back. Buddy Rose and Billy Jack are in. Bret Hart and Bad News Allan will appear too.
Pro Wrestling USA
*Dave says this venture is getting worse. He says that as bad of moves that Vince makes, you can always count on his competitors to make even worse moves. The TV show continues to get worse with no build-ups, no angles, and endless Dusty Rhodes promos.
*Butch Reed won’t do any more tapings because Watts wants nothing to do with this disaster. First live show might be in four months in the Meadowlands.
*This was mostly results. All the news was in the Japan update. Dave does say the new version of Tiger Mask is amazing.
*Rumors that Inoki will once again lose control of this group by early ’85. If Fujinami leaves, expect New Japan to close its doors.
*Bob Orton was recently in, but looked terrible. Brian Blair looked great and Brett Hart looked good.
*Dave says there is a lot more talent sharing going on between Savadore Lutteroth and Francisco Flores.
*Dave says he’s not a big fan of Mexican wrestling, but says they have tremendous wrestlers who do some of the most dangerous and impressive moves in the world.
*Kimala was in and it turns out he speaks perfect Spanish (this I would LOVE to see. Don’t ask me why, but I’ve always loved Kamala. I can’t look away).
*Eric Embry and Dan Greer won the tag belts in a pole match from Brett Sawyer and Chicky Starr. Whoever set up the pole did not do a good job because Starr climbed the pole at the beginning of the match and the pole broke in half, sending Starr crashing to the floor on his back. Dave called it the worst bump he’s ever seen. Starr tried to wrestle the rest of the match but was useless (If Starr got seriously hurt, I wonder if he would’ve had any success suing the promotion for damages? Doubtful.).
*Sawyer has left the area after buying 49 percent of a promotion in the Dakotas.
*A recent show drew 76 people (ouch).
*10/27 at the Cotton Bowl drew 12,000. The Cotton Bowl holds 70,000, but this was still a turn away crowd because of a mix up with the ticketing company. The good crowd surprised Dave given the recent downturn in the region.
*On the show, Chris Adams beat up Kevin Von Erich with a chair and they really played up the injury by calling for an ambulance and delaying the show 40 minutes. Dave didn’t know what to think of this angle, however it was done so well that several people in the audience were crying.
*Weekly crowds are still low. No word if Hayes will follow Gordy back to World Class. Dave says Hayes may have to sit home for a while because he’s burned a lot of bridges. Gordy isn’t viewed as negatively as Hayes. People think Gordy was just following whatever his friend Hayes asked him to do.
*Butch Reed turning baby face.
*Dave talks about an upcoming scaffold match with the Midnight and R&R Express. He says these types of matches are too dangerous to be any good.
*Crowds are down in Oklahoma City and McMahon will be debuting soon. Watts is running a free show to counter McMahon’s efforts and is running a show in the same arena a week later. Dave thinks this will be three red ink shows in a row for Watts and his pockets aren’t deep enough to fight McMahon this way. He also cites how Watts has been ripping the WWF more and more on TV and thinks Watts may be “obsessive” with McMahon.
*Dave says Verne “McGagne” is now his No. 1 person to blast this month, taking over from McMahon. Apparently, Gagne billed a tag team battle royal in Salt Lake and the three top guys no-showed – Brody and the Road Warriors. Verne pulled them weeks before to help on a show in St. Louis and never bothered to tell the fans. Not sure what happened with Brody. Show drew 9,203.
*Dave says there’s nothing worse than promoting main eventers when you know they won’t attend. He says Vince may have started the trend, but anyone who follows is just as guilty. He has yet to hear of a card where McMahon had his three top-billed stars no show.
*11/11 San Fran drew 6,800 for a tag team battle royal. The last San Fran show drew 600. Dave says nobody knows how to put together a battle royal like Roy Shires did.
*Says Jim Garvin is one of the most overrated wrestlers in the business.
*11/3 in Chicago drew a sellout 18,301. The Fabs and Roadies are working together, but neither team wants to sell for the other. Champ Rick Martell is finally involved in a conflict. He’ll feud w/ Jim Garvin.
*To fight the WWF invasion, the promotion on TV is saying they would rather have Ron Garvin than Andre the Giant because Garvin has pinned Andre.
*This group is very thin and people keep leaving.
*11/16 drew a disappointing 5,400 for Flair/Brody. The problem may be that the AWA show, which is shown in St. Louis, has Brody as a heel and St. Louis portrays him as a face.
*Atlanta and Memphis promotions will be covered together because Jarrett appears to be running both. Dave is afraid Ole may contaminate the Memphis product.
*Solie has joined Russell on broadcasts. Of course Dave hates that, but he says Jimmy Hart is so good he cancels out Solie. Dave thinks the Memphis show will become the local show in all of the cities in the old Atlanta circuit.
*The Atlanta show will be special to WTBS and Dave thinks the station should give it a good time slot. McMahon is drawing a 4.3 rating on Saturday and 4.5 on Sunday. This compares with 4.6 and 3.3 pre-McMahon when Ole “did nothing” with his time slot.
*At its peak, the show drew close to a 7 every week. Currently, McMahon has four of the top 10 cable shows in the country. Masterpiece Theater is No. 1, drawing a 5.2. NBA basketball games typically get below a 1.5.
*Flair/Garvin set to headline 12/4 in Baltimore. Dave hates Garvin and thinks WWF will blow them out of the water with its stable of charismatic stars while Ole trots out Ron Garvin.
*Dave saw some recent Florida tapes and actually liked it. He couldn’t believe it. Says a Flair/Youngblood bout was good thanks mainly to Flair.
*Dave wants someone who tapes Starrcade ’84 to contact him about a trade. He says he’s a “glutton” for punishment. He says local advertising has been hot and nobody notices how bad the card is. Between the actual arena and closed-circuit sites, it may actually approach last year’s crowd. Closed circuit tix are $20 a pop.
*Dave warns that crowds will be way down after Starrcade.
*Mid-South crowds are down despite the return of R&R Express. R&R’s hearing a lot of boos. Dave also thinks an upcoming Superdome show will not draw that well because there’s been too much televised blood recently.
*11/1 AWA show had five no-shows.
*Kerry Von Erich had a final screen test for his possible role as Stallone’s Russian opponent in Rocky IV. If Kerry gets the part he will have to 1) cut his hair; 2) learn to box; 3) learn Russian. Dave says he can handle 1 and 2, but might struggle w/ 3 because Kerry took 24 years to learn the English language.
*Patera/Saito pleaded innocent to inciting a police brawl several months ago. AWA has given up Indianapolis TV slot and WWF has moved in.
*According to a source, World Class has no plans to promote in the Twin Cities or Chicago. Dave thinks the AWA has no plans to promote in Texas either and that both sides are bluffing.
*Billy Jack already gone from WWF. Dave hopes the NWA didn’t promise him too much because “there’s already one Rick Martel.” Apparently, Jack left because the WWF didn’t come through on a promised Canadian announcing gig for his friend Stan Stasiak.
*Dave heard that Starrcade was a disappointment in every way besides financially. Said Flair wrestled heel against Rhodes but got cheered anyway.
*Kimala didn’t show at the most recent WWF Spectrum show and refunds were offered. (Refunds for Kimala?! I thought I was the only one who enjoyed Kimala. Seriously, can you imagine anyone saying, “Gee, I see Kimala is wrestling in town next week. Let’s buy tix and go!”)
*Wrestlers Eddie Mansfield and Jim Wilson have testified before the Georgia State Legislature to try and get the state to enact a wrestling commission. The wrestlers compared life on the wresting circuit to the life of plantation workers. They claimed wrestling is a “totally controlled monopoly.” Mansfield said he was paid $40 for his last match in ’83 and had to cover all expenses.
*Dave doubts whether it could be legally proven that wrestling is a monopoly, but says the wrestlers all raise very valid points. Thunderbolt Patterson has been involved in these issues as well. Dave also says he has little doubt that blackballing in wrestling exists, but some wrestlers get blackballed for the right reasons such as no showing, causing problems and being bad workers.
*Rose and Borne were asked to leave by Owens in Portland. Owens got wind of the pair’s plan to build themselves up and then jump to the WWF.
*Muraco back in WWF.
*Dave thinks WWF may have won last head-to-head battle w/ NWA in Miami. NWA now running monthly in Miami. They used to be weekly.
*New book out about Lawler in Memphis.
*Rumors that Race approached Verne about having Verne buy out Race-O’Connor-Geigel in St. Louis. Verne-Bockwinkle-Lanza are thinking about it.
*WWF drew 3,000 in Twin Cities on 11/25 w/ a Turkey Battle Royal. Dave says w/out Hogan the WWF can’t draw in the Twin Cities.
*AWA drew 16,000 at their most recent Twin Cities show as LOD beat Blackwell-Bundy.