06-07-2012, 04:59 PM
Taking orders from THE MACHINE
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: New York City
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Got around 4 years worth of these a couple of months back during a project I was doing (but can't complete now). Anyways, here's a random one that people might find interesting:
January 20, 1992
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
1. JUMBO TSURUTA (282) 1,908
2. Ric Flair (168) 1,289
3. Jushin Liger (119) 1,090
4. Keiji Muto (43) 507
5. Bull Nakano (24) 355
Honorable Mention: Mitsuharu Misawa 271, Atsushi Onita 240, Hulk Hogan 219, Cactus Jack 211, Lex Luger 178, Bret Hart 147, Hiroshi Hase 128, Kenta Kobashi 83
1980 - Harley Race
1981 - Ric Flair
1982 - Ric Flair
1983 - Ric Flair
1984 - Ric Flair
1985 - Ric Flair
1986 - Ric Flair
1987 - Riki Choshu
1988 - Akira Maeda
1989 - Ric Flair
1990 - Ric Flair
BOB CLOSSON: Jumbo Tsuruta epitomized what a Wrestler of the Year should be. Most of his matches were in the four-star range and it's a delight to see him in the ring against Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada.
DAN CERQUITELLA: Ric Flair. Be defecting to the WWF he did more to change the complexion of U.S. wrestling than anyone else even came close to doing.
JEFF COHEN: Never has one man so affected the fortunes of both major U.S. organizations in one year as Ric Flair did in 1991.
ANDY STOWELL: The reason I'm picking Jumbo Tsuruta is because if he ever jumped to New Japan, they'd have to book the Tokyo Dome three nights in a row so everyone could see his dream matches against the top New Japan stars.
STEVE YOHE: Jumbo Tsuruta is the master of the four-star match and the foundation of All Japan. He deserves it less this year than he did last year but this year there is nobody else to vote for.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: It seems that wherever Cactus Jack went in 1991, he would steal the show. He became central to whatever limited success the UWF, GWF, TWA and WCW had during the year. Few, if anyone, worked harder in the ring. On many occasions he made worthless opponents look decent. He breathed life into WCW when it was on the verge of cardiac arrest. He did the most with the least resources and organizational support.
TOM WISCHMANN: Jumbo Tsuruta stayed with All Japan and was the key to the promotion in 1990, and this year he continued his importance with consistently good and important matches. Besides, with the exception of Atsushi Onita, there wasn't another candidate for the award this year.
CHRIS ZAVISA: Jumbo Tsuruta should have won this last year, but he deserves it again this year. He looks better than he did ten years ago and how many 40-year-old wrestlers can say that.
GABRIEL DAIGLE: Jushin Liger personifies the word influential. His constant innovations in the ring serve as a standard and model for countless wrestlers around the world. Even in a year when he was misused, he still led the pack.
MICHAEL MCGOWEN: Jumbo Tsuruta is the biggest star in the best promotion. He has had good-to-great matches nightly with a wide variety of opponents and can make a wrestler into a superstar like he did with Mitsuharu Misawa.
FRANK STROM: I find there is no wrestler other than Ric Flair who fits this category's description--importance to the business and in-ring performance. There are other wrestlers who are outstanding performers but if they retired tomorrow, it would have no impact on the business.
JON KARESH: I don't think there is anyone in the business who has the overall drawing power, charisma, skill, workrate and promotional backing that Jumbo Tsuruta has. He's the foundation on which All Japan's current renaissance is based.
EVAN SCHLESINGER: How many wrestlers has fans cheering wildly for them and were the most over wrestlers on a pay-per-view card when they weren't even with the promotion anymore? Ric Flair proved just how valuable he was and how much fans cared for him after he left WCW.
MARK MADDEN: Nobody had more impact on the business than Ric Flair. His long-awaited move to the WWF would be enough to pick him, but add in that he rejuvenated the WWF house show business, he got people talking about wrestling instead of steroids and that he dragged Hulk Hogan's steroid-soaked carcass to watchable matches and you've got an easy pick for Wrestler of the Year.
STEVE GERBER: Now that I get a steady supply of Japanese tapes, nobody comes close to Jumbo Tsuruta. His matches are great both in singles and tag teams, he knows how to work the crowd and he gives it everything he's got every night. For sheer intensity, stiff workrate and endurance, look no farther.
TERESA DEMARIE: When it comes to impact, both in and out of the business, although it was largely negative this year, nobody came close to Hulk Hogan. From his numerous public declarations of innocence in regards to using steroids, interviews in which he revealed to the general public that pro wrestling was a work, and in starring in a film which did poorly while being dressed up like he was a roll of aluminum foil, few have done so much to anger so many, from wrestling fans, to pro wrestlers to movie critics, and all in the same year.
MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER
1. JUSHIN LIGER (215) 1,516
2. Hiroshi Hase (104) 851
3. Kenta Kobashi (71) 594
4. Ric Flair (55) 507
5. Keiji Muto (47) 504
Honorable Mention: Akira Hokuto 351, Jumbo Tsuruta 349, Bobby Eaton 292, Cactus Jack 177, Bret Hart 166, Bull Nakano 165, Toshiaki Kawada 157, Mr. Perfect 142, Mitsuharu Misawa 135, Negro Casas 120, Pegasus Kid 111, Arn Anderson 105, Yoshihiro Asai 101
1986 - Ric Flair
1987 - Ric Flair
1988 - Tatsumi Fujinami
1989 - Ric Flair
1990 - Jushin Liger]
STEVE GERBER: Yoshihiro Asai gives it his all every night, even when badly injured. I had the opportunity to drive him to Tijuana for a match two days before Wrestlemania, shortly after he blew out his ankle and knee in Japan. Even though he could barely walk to and from the car, he not only participated in a 20 minute tag team match but did all of his patented high spots. The man has guts, talent and a true commitment to the sport.
STEVE SIMS: Hiroshi Hase is the rare wrestler who can do it all, and even has a command of the most subtle of moves.
EVAN SCHLESINGER: Jushin Liger's advantage over Hiroshi Hase is that he works Lucha Libre style while Hase can't. Liger is the most complete wrestler in the business.
JON KARESH: Jushin Liger was hurt by a lack of new opponents this year, but he's still the most outstanding wrestler in the ring.
FRANK STROM: Without question, Bull Nakano is the best worker today. She combines a fierce persona with furious ring performance.
GABRIEL DAIGLE: Without question, Hiroshi Hase. You can see a pride in and confidence when Hase is in the ring that is rare among today's wrestlers. He can face Scott Norton, Kokina or Tiger Jeet Singh and still make the match to near four stars.
CHRIS ZAVISA: Kenta Kobashi is so near perfection as a worker that it's almost scary considering his youth and inexperience. Kobashi could well set a new standard for work into the 21st century. I believe there is nothing he won't be able to accomplish if he avoids injury. He is totally consumed by wrestling and that attitude, combined with his athletic ability, has paid off.
TOM WISCHMANN: Jushin Liger had an off year and Hiroshi Hase had a great one. He's as solid a wrestler as you'll find when it comes to producing great matches.
1. HULK HOGAN (375) 2,050
2. Sting (20) 717
3. Atsushi Onita (96) 700
4. Randy Savage (34) 349
5. Mitsuharu Misawa (9) 315
Honorable Mention: Sid Justice 154, Ultimate Warrior 215, Keiji Muto 171, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 108, Akira Maeda 99, Scott Steiner 96, Jumbo Tsuruta 90, Roddy Piper 87
1980 - Dusty Rhodes
1981 - Tommy Rich
1982 - Hulk Hogan
1983 - Hulk Hogan
1984 - Hulk Hogan
1985 - Hulk Hogan
1986 - Hulk Hogan
1987 - Hulk Hogan
1988 - Hulk Hogan
1989 - Hulk Hogan
1990 - Hulk Hogan
ANDY STOWELL: When you talk about babyfaces, you have to look at the WWF since the push the idea farther than anyone else. Savage gets the nod since he received the biggest pop at Wrestlemania and has been the focus of the WWF ever since. The reinstatement angle was done to perfection, where Savage was abused and beaten up to the point where nobody felt ripped off by bringing him back.
JOE ECKL: With all he went through in 1991, Hulk Hogan doesn't even seem to be putting much into his act, but he still wins.
JEFF COHEN: The firing of Ultimate Warrior and injury to Sid Justice created a babyface void in the WWF and once again, Hulk Hogan came to the rescue.
MITCH NAKAGAWA: There are only two choices, Hulk Hogan and Jumbo Tsuruta. They both drew huge crowds and fans love them both. I go with Tsuruta because he can work a match like a total heel and just raise his fist and the fans cheer him like crazy.
JOHN MUSE: Atsushi Onita's ring entrances and ring exits get him my first place vote. I can't help but watch in amazement as a bloody Onita goes from anger to tears in his post match celebrations and the fans go crazy for it.
MYSTERY NO. 1: Since 1982, Hulk Hogan has been over to the public like some kind of rock star and there's yet to have been anyone else reach his pedestal.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: There are just too many negatives this year to vote for the Immoral one. Too many people are reading through him and have been verbalizing it, even at the WWF house shows, particularly against Ric flair. Randy Savage's face turn was one of the most well executed of all-time. His act neither disgraces nor discredits pro wrestling to casual fans or to non-fans, and can be appreciated by everyone. In addition, what little he did do in the ring was certainly better than the Hulkster.
MYSTERY NO. 2: Anyone who can be the focal point of the most tasteless angle in the history of pro wrestling and later get himself removed from a potentially devastating appearance at Zahorian's trial and still smell like a rose at year's end must be a great babyface.
1. THE UNDERTAKER (209) 1,509,
2. Ric Flair (127) 1,097
3. Jake Roberts (68) 748
4. Aja Kong (49) 379
5. Cactus Jack (18) 294
Honorable Mention: Lex Luger 244, Sgt. Slaughter 195, Bull Nakano 171, Jumbo Tsuruta 120, Arn Anderson 101, Ted DiBiase 87, Eddie Gilbert 80
1980 - Larry Zbyszko
1981 - Don Muraco
1982 - Buzz Sawyer
1983 - Michael Hayes
1984 - Roddy Piper
1985 - Roddy Piper
1986 - Michael Hayes
1987 - Ted DiBiase
1988 - Ted DiBiase
1989 - Terry Funk
1990 - Ric Flair
CHRIS ZAVISA: Bull Nakano plays her Godzilla role incredibly well. I love the ice-blue cracks painted on her face that her hairdo that defies the laws of gravity. She combines imposing presence with superior workrate and gets great matches even with slugs.
GABRIEL DAIGLE: Even in only a few months, Jake Roberts has shown why he was a total waste as a babyface. He's a throwback to heels like John Tolos, Freddie Blassie and Terry Funk because he's believable.
MICHAEL MCGOWEN: No other heel has fans in awe like The Undertaker. You can see it in the faces of the fans as he slowly walks to the ring. FRANK STROM: Ric Flair's arrival in the WWF seems to have pumped new life into him. Perhaps he feels he has something to prove or perhaps he feels he has to work harder than usual to establish himself with a new audience. Whatever it is, it worked.
STEVE SIMS: It's amazing Aja Kong gets over like she does because she's so much a carbon copy of Dump Matsumoto. But she's still perceived as not a Dump Matsumoto ripoff.
STEVE GERBER: Who would have thought that rope-walking Mark Calloway would evolve into a creature on a par with Freddy Kruger or Jason? He plays his part extremely well and seems to enjoy it. Why else would he get a Grim Reaper tatoo the length of his entire forearm.
World Championship Wrestling Executive Vice President Jim Herd resigned Wednesday from the TBS organization after losing what appears to have been a him-or-me goes struggle with booker Dusty Rhodes. While it has been reported as a resignation, and technically it was, WCW overseer Jack Petrik apparently asked Herd to take a non-wrestling position in TBS syndication on Wednesday, Herd turned down the switch, offered his resignation, and by week's end had moved from Atlanta (where he had been residing during the week) to his full-time home in St. Louis.
Herd took over as the man in charge of WCW three years ago. The three years could be best described as unsuccessful in most aspects of improving both the visibility and popularity of the nation's No. 2 wrestling promotion. Herd will be replaced as Executive Vice President by Kip Frey, 38, a TBS attorney with even less wrestling background than Herd entered the job with. However, there is some optimism in the WCW camp with the belief that Frey is going to leave the actual wrestling end of the promotion in the hands of Rhodes and Jim Crockett and just concentrate on legal and financial aspects of the company.
Frey is a graduate of Duke law school, who had worked in private practice in both California and North Carolina before taking a job as a TBS attorney in April of 1991. He worked with WCW in a number of legal situations, the most high-profile being the attempt to regain control power of the National Wrestling Alliance, and thus regain the old NWA championship belt from Ric Flair after he had joined the WWF.
It was heavily speculated at the end of the week, including by Herd himself, that the final straw that broke the camel's back was when WCW lost Ric Flair. Original reports from the company were that Herd resigned because he was frustrated with his inability to get the company competitive with Titan Sports.
While there has already been criticism of appointing another chief officer who has no pro wrestling background, some feel Frey will handle the position better than Herd, who became well-known within the office for his sometimes volatile personality.
"I'm hoping Kip knows enough to know he doesn't know anything," said one person associated closely with key WCW personalities. "For three years, we've been watching this thing fall apart."
Another WCW office employee said of Frey: "He's a very intelligent person and not intimidating like Herd can sometimes be. The higher-ups were frustrated that the company couldn't turn a profit."
Apparently TBS ordered a report on the wrestling company after three years of heavy losses (thought to have been in the $19 million range). After top-to-bottom interviews with the company management, the report came out that Herd was a minus and was cited as not getting along with people.
After the resignation, Herd reportedly went to a steering committee meeting and heavily blasted Rhodes, Jim Ross and Magnum T.A., although according to several reports, he praised Jim Crockett and said he felt sorry for him having to deal with the other three.
According to those close with Herd, he said he felt that he felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off his shoulders and that his job as WCW head was the hardest job he'd ever had, not in terms of workload, but in terms of pressure. Herd came down on Ross, Rhodes and T.A. and blamed the Flair situation for ultimately doing him in. Herd apparently said that he felt Flair was the greatest wrestler that there has ever been, but his demands were too high, but that losing him was the biggest mistake he made and the company went downhill from there.
While there has been much talk within the company of regaining Flair over the past week, our reports indicate Flair has an iron-clad two-year contract with Titan Sports through September, 1993.
Frey has scheduled a press conference to introduce himself to the wrestling media for 1/22 in Kansas City, the morning of a television taping day after the Clash from nearby Topeka. He's taking over an organization that has a degree of momentum built up from a television and arena product that has made significant improvements since the steering committee was formed and Jim Crockett has assumed a more influential role. Crockett was responsible for bringing back Rick Steamboat, Rick Rude and Paul E. Dangerously to the organization, all of whom have been key figures in the revitalization. However, the minor upswing has come nowhere near making up for all the popularity lost since Jim Crockett Promotions hit its national peak in 1986, nor even since TBS purchased the company from a financially drained Crockett in late 1988.
Frey held an organizational meeting on Monday, which was his first day at the helm of the company. During the meeting Frey placed David Crockett in charge of all television production of both syndicated, cable, clash and PPV shows, Rob Garner was placed in charge of syndication, Dusty Rhodes remains the booker, while Jim Crockett will handle scheduling and booking arena dates and day-to-day wrestling operations. Sharon Sidello of Turner Home Entertainment will be put in charge of marketing WCW.
The situation regarding accusations made by former WWF wrestlers David Shults and Superstar Billy Graham in the steroid issue as it relates to the WWF and Hulk Hogan heated up to a blistering level this past week. This was due mainly to probably the strongest column ever written on the subject in a mainstream publication by Phil Mushnick in the New York Post this past Thursday. The 61-inch story, starting on the back page of the tabloid with a banner headline, "Rasslin' and Steroids" came on the heels of Graham and Shults' appearance on the 1/3 Inside Edition syndication television show and the 1/5 Pro Wrestling Spotlight radio show.
Before starting his column, Mushnick printed three quotes. "The World Wrestling Federation is wholesome, family entertainment" -- WWF President Vince McMahon Jr. "Hulk Hogan always tells kids to say their prayers and take their vitamins. The local joke was, what kind of vitamins--orals or injectables?--former WWF champ Superstar Billy Graham. "Steroids (within the WWF) are the tip of the iceberg. There's cocaine, marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine...It's a walking drugstore"--former WWF star David "Dr. D" Shults.
Mushnick opened by making an analogy of the current situation in pro wrestling with the NFL. "Imagine if Phil Simms and Ken O'Brien over the weekend appeared on TV and radio shows to say they have first-hand knowledge that the NFL's MVP is a long-time drug abuser, that the NFL's lousy with drug abusers and that Commissioner (Paul) Tagliabue not only knows about it, he encourages it as part of the NFL's marketing plan. That would be the lead story in every media outlet in the land." Mushnick, a Post sports columnist and frequent media critic, took the national media to task in ignoring the story and also took the national media to task in not putting any pressure on the television stations that carry WWF programs, toy manufacturers that market WWF merchandise and the Hulk Hogan vitamin company. Mushnick then brought out some of the claims made by Graham and Shults on the Arezzi program, many of which were printed here last week.
Perhaps the most publicized and controversial statements have little to do with the issue of anabolic steroid use in pro wrestling. Graham brought up an alleged phone conversation he had with Theodore Smith III (the prosecuting attorney in the Zahorian case) and FBI agents from this past August in which Smith wanted him to be like Bill Dunn (the powerlifter used as a government informant in the Zahorian case). In this case, they wanted Graham to have his phone wiretapped and make contact with McMahon and put a live wire on him and send him into McMahon's office in hopes of getting information for an ongoing investigation of McMahon.
"The FBI told me the reason they're concerned and interested in McMahon is they felt the man might be connected to the Mafia. So I'm just going on the record now, if anything happens to me or any member of my family, I want the FBI to start their investigations with Vince McMahon and the WWF."
Shults then claimed to have received six threatening phone calls after the Inside Edition piece ran but said, "If they want to harm me, they know where I live, where I walk the street. And if they don't know, they can get in touch with me and I'll meet' em, not like the (WWF TV) gun show Vince McMahon put me on to make me look stupid. I'm an expert shot. I carry a MAC fully automatic. I carry about 150 rounds on me at all times."
Mushnick went on to talk about the angle where Jake Roberts' cobra bit Randy Savage in reference to McMahon's wholesome family entertainment claim, Shults' claim to have injected Hulk Hogan with steroids on hundreds of occasions and that Hogan "gave steroids to me and sold steroids to me and other wrestlers;" talked about Hogan's statement on Arsenio Hall; Graham's alleged injections of Hogan; federal express shipments from Zahorian to both Hogan and McMahon; Shults' claim that McMahon told him to see the doctor to get his arms bigger before he was to start a program with the much-larger Hogan; and brought up a segment on the WWF's syndicated program the previous weekend in which they were pushing the new WBF Magazine with the cover story about "Why big guys get all the girls" to an audience largely made up of children and teenagers, and citing that of the estimated one million steroid users in this country, nearly half are high school age or younger.
The Mushnick story was a major topic of news on talk shows in New York City over the next few days and the major topic of news within pro wrestling.
Let me first off say that I strongly don't believe Vince McMahon is connected with the mafia. WWF spokesman Steve Planamenta tried to concentrate on that claim to try and shun at the credibility of the remainder of the story. Planamenta avoided addressing the steroid aspect of the story in discussions since the Mushnick story ran and the airing of the Pro Wrestling Spotlight radio show the previous Sunday. WWF officials have also contacted Mike Tenay of Las Vegas who does the Pro Wrestling Insiders radio show for copies of programs the past two weeks that have featured both Graham and Shults as guests.
Obviously if the FBI was investigating Vince McMahon, they wouldn't confirm it publicly, so there is no real way to check out that story. Graham is very insistent that the conversation took place exactly as he described it and has said he's willing to take a lie detector test (of course, the accuracy of lie detector tests probably isn't any better than steroid tests) in regards to the conversation taking place and the details of the conversation. Graham's wife, Valerie Coleman, confirmed the conversation taking place and details as she listened to parts of it.
I also have yet to come up with anyone to confirm Shults' allegations of Hogan being a steroid supplier, although Shults claims to have notarized documentation from five wrestlers who will back up his word on this. I haven't seen this, but I do have documentation to back up Shults' claim about the doctor who was Hogan's good friend prescribing him with anavar and decadurabolin in 1984 (when, it should be pointed out, steroids were legal under doctor's prescription although the American Medical Association considered it unethical to prescribe them for athletic performance enhancement). As of this writing, nobody, and that includes conversations with Titan Sports, has denied anything Graham or Shults has said in regards to drug usage. In fact, with the exception of Titan laughing about the FBI conversation Graham talked about and his concerns for his safety, nobody has denied anything Graham has said publicly in the past few weeks.
"The Post is the Post. They're akin to Inside Edition," said WWF spokesman Steve Planamenta on Monday.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to Vince (on this subject)," said Planamenta--four days after the Mushnick story and eight days after the Pro Wrestling Spotlight radio show. "I finally listened to (Pro Wrestling Spotlight host John) Arezzi's show a couple of days ago. I found myself laughing at parts, surprised at parts, appalled at parts. I thought the funniest part was Graham fearing for his life. To make matters more comical, Arezzi said the same thing, that he feared for his life. Neither of them is that important to us."
Of course, the real issue here is a steroid problem in wrestling. The scapegoat of this fallout is Hogan, largely due to his own statements on the subject after the Zahorian trial.
There is a legitimate story worth addressing here, and that is Hogan's stance on his use of steroids as compared with the statements of Graham, Shults, Zahorian, and many other wrestlers who don't want to go public that have talked with me about the subject over the years; Hogan's claim of why he his name was linked to Zahorian in the first place, his claim of being 200 pounds at the age of 10, 300 pounds in high school (when Graham and Terry Bollea first became friends in 1977--when Bollea was 24, he estimated Bollea at 220-230 pounds) and other claims made that seem not to hold water.
"At some point Hulk is going to speak to the issue," said Planamenta. "I find it ironic that Graham waited six months (after the Arsenio piece aired) to come out (editors note: Graham was, and still is, under advice from his lawyers not to talk about this subject because of pending legal action, but in November Graham decided to defy his lawyers' advice)."
Planamenta wondered if Graham would have said anything had he and Titan Sports reached an out-of-court settlement and noted Shults has made public his plans to write a book on the subject.
Of course, anyone can try and talk about motives people would have for saying something, but that still doesn't address the real issue.
"I'm not Hulk," said Planamenta. "I can't speak for him. I didn't tell him what to say. I don't know that anyone here told him what to say no matter what Billy Graham claims (Graham said he believes that what Hogan has said on this issue was on the direction of his employers, which given his "party-line" stance through and through, seems a believable statement)."
Shults has made it clear that he's not on an anti-steroid campaign like Billy Graham. "I don't know if steroids are that bad," Shults said. "I'd have never made it in wrestling without steroids. Hulk Hogan would have never even gotten into the business without them. Maybe if I did what Vince wanted me to do, I'd be in the same shape as Billy Graham today. I started doing steroids in 1978 when I met Terry Bollea and he taught me how to use them and continued to use them throughout my career. I've never had any bad effects from them, but I never abused them like Billy and Hulk Hogan.
"I'm not so stupid that I would say anything that I can't prove," Shults said, in reference to his statements regarding both Hogan and McMahon. "I've been working on this since I've been fired (from the WWF in 1985). He (Hogan) can't come forward and deny any of this because he knows I can prove everything I say because he knows I throw nothing away."
So what does this all mean? It's way too early to have an idea. There are people speculating that this will be the end of Hulk Hogan and Titan Sports. I find that speculation incredibly premature. There are people talking about Hogan retiring from wrestling after Wrestlemania (the last word I'd received was that well before any of this happened Hogan was planning on taking off from Wrestlemania through Summer Slam anyway so if he disappears at that time, that was agreed upon well before any of this broke). Thus far, neither Hogan nor Titan have felt any financial effects that I know of from any of these statements. It hasn't affected house show attendance, television ratings, it won't effect Sunday's PPV buy rate nor has it affected merchandising sales. The only effect it has had thus far on Titan Sports most likely is on a few people's blood pressure.
Will it stay that way? It's also premature to make a conclusion on that. If Shults can prove some of the claims he's made to me in a public forum, I'd anticipate it could have a huge effect. But even then, not necessarily because the mainstream media would have to strongly go into this issue. Thus far, that doesn't appear to be happening because most mainstream media outlets consider pro wrestling to be beneath their dignity. A story, which would be a headline story in every sports section if it involved any so-called major sport (including some with a lot less popularity than pro wrestling and with less famous personalities than Hulk Hogan), may largely go unnoticed. Maybe. But that maybe isn't a certainty. There is a hook in Hogan. Economically, the fact that it really is just maybe, has to have Titan Sports far more worried than they have let on thus far.
But hurting the Titan empire misses the entire point of the story as well. What is in the past is done. Maybe it hasn't been admitted to and honestly discussed, but it's done. Shults is mainly talking about things from several years ago. So is Graham. The question is, how much of it still exists today and what can be done about it to change things?
Probably, in regards to steroids or other physique-enhancing drugs, the same amount. Those who are in the WWF dressing rooms every night say that with a handful of exceptions, nearly everyone is still using some kind of artificial physique-enhancing aid, in the majority of cases, some forms of steroids.
Planamenta wouldn't confirm reports that the WWF held its second steroid test this past Tuesday in Daytona Beach at the television tapings (which certainly is becoming more of an irony that these tests and statements continue to come right at the same time mainstream media is ready with new stories on the subject), although he did confirm the steroid doctors were there. That test would be eight weeks after the first test. All along, WWF officials claimed there test would be superior to that of the National Football League because they would test more often, but the NFL random tests players every Sunday. McMahon has said, since the first test in mid-November, that action would be taken on those failing the second test. It should be pointed out in this case that failing doesn't necessarily mean have a urine test show up negative for steroids if, in fact, the second test took place on Tuesday. Failing means that the level of steroids in the urine of those who tested positive the first time needs to drop. This seems to me to mean the guys simply have to take less steroids, which in the case of someone with heavy levels the first time, could still be a significant amount. At least that's how one major wrestler saw it. If the test took place Tuesday, McMahon has the results today. There has been no word on any six-week suspensions being levied (penalty for first-time offense). Nobody looked any different at television this time from what I was told. We'll see all the wrestlers live on Sunday in the Royal Rumble and see if they appear to be off steroids or other physique-enhancing drugs. Of course, the test is very much fallible (although McMahon vehemently denied that to me, which contradicted the statement made to me by program overseer Dr. Anthony Daly of Los Angeles and every doctor I've spoken with on the subject for the past six months). In fact, Growth Hormone and Clenbuterol (the latter, which according to drug expert Dan Duchaine has become a new favorite among Olympic athletes and elite women bodybuilders) aren't even being tested for, the former because there is no test, the latter because it just isn't being tested for (to be fair, neither the Olympics nor the NFL test for Clenbuterol either). This only points out that steroid testing alone without a change in promotional strategy and who is being pushed only makes this program affirmative action for those who have learned how to beat a test or have access to newer undetectable (and generally more expensive, so it favors higher paid wrestlers who can more readily afford a $2,000 to $3,000 per month drug bill) drugs. That is, if we go under the assumption that the testing and results are all on the up-and-up to begin with, and at this point when it comes to credibility of the WWF, it's hard to assume anything.
In reality, right now, McMahon is in the worst position of anyone. Whether his giving such an added push to muscular wrestlers exacerbated the problem (which was there to begin with and dated back to the 1960s) in the mid-1980s or not, today there is pressure on him to clean up the mess. On one side, you have the media that really is putting the pressure on and much to many people's surprise and chagrin, in many cases are taking McMahon at his word from July to be held accountable on this subject. On the other side, you have the wrestlers. As last week's interview here with Billy Graham noted, even though there were wrestlers warned after the first test that they needed to get their levels down (which surprised the ones who believed that nothing would ever be done on the subject), many either don't believe there will be suspensions or simply are going to take steroids and/or similar drugs because they don't want to lose the size and muscularity. As one told me, some are willing to be suspended and consider it a six-week vacation because nobody is going to tell them to get off steroids and lessen the impressiveness of their physique. Others feel that if McMahon is serious, they can go to WCW, just as Graham said, and look the way they want to. My belief is that going to WCW won't be an option because I believe, and time will bear this out one way or another, that WCW won't hire anyone McMahon fires for failing a steroid test because in doing so they'll be setting themselves up. Then we have to take this one step farther. If that's the case and McMahon wants to get rid of someone (keep in mind the WWF doesn't get rid of that many people) or a Rick Steamboat situation develops, will he then pull out a failed test with the guy ala Tully Blanchard and WCW will then never touch the guy? McMahon said that if he has to fire 40 wrestlers, he'll do so. There is no question McMahon has the guts to fire any single individual who defies him, probably more than any other head of a wrestling organization in the world. The situation with The Ultimate Warrior showed that.
But, from a business standpoint, can he really fire 40 guys and bring in a whole new crew like he said to me and reportedly said to the wrestlers at the New Haven taping in November? I suppose he can, but can you imagine not only the guts it would take to do so, but the turmoil it would create to have to build everything from scratch with so many new characters and so many popular characters disappearing at once? Doing so would also confirm everything everyone has written all along about this subject. Face it. This probably isn't going to happen. And that's what a lot of the wrestlers are counting on. Will he suspend the top guys (particularly on the babyface side) in the middle of a program at the time when his depth at the top isn't what it has been in the past and when their names, because of all the publicity surrounding this subject, will make more mainstream news than any of the cocaine suspensions of the past did? Over the short run, it's still easier to play the p.r. game of using the buzz word drug testing when the subject comes up. But no major media outlet, since the November Entertainment Tonight piece which was really the catalyst in Billy Graham defying his lawyers, that has covered this story has bought drug testing as an answer for things being taken care of.
So the choice right now is either take some media lumps for doing nothing, throw out a few minor scapegoats who don't know how to beat the test (and one would think with ones job on the line, people should learn) to attempt to quell the media from continuing on the story, or cause total and complete chaos by revamping the entire roster, cutting back on the obvious steroid guys, and at that point being praised by the media while confusing fans. From a business standpoint, the most honest approach to the problem is the least likely and least viable. Taking media lumps seems on the surface to be the easiest, but right now the potential is getting to be extremely dangerous. While this is still unlikely right now, we are coming close to the point where it's a possibility that a few more Phil Mushnick's, particularly if some are at the network news level, will put pressure on television stations, toy companies, etc. in regards to Titan Sports. By the time that happens, the damage will have already been done. This shouldn't be a game of throwing out a few names to pacify the media before the 20/20 segment runs in late February, either, although many believe that is the next step. Clearly, right now, it has become put-up or shut-up time for this entire issue as it relates to Titan Sports and there are no easy answers.
In a related note, the 16,000-member American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has asked that all sports governing bodies implement aggressive anabolic steroid testing. The academy is pressing for heavy penalties for all athletes using steroids as well as for individuals and institutions who facilitate their use.
The biggest news of the week in Japan is that after Sunday afternoon's show at Korakuen Hall, the JWP promotion announced it was folding. The death of the group, the least popular of all the promotions running full-time schedules in Japan, wasn't unexpected and had been rumored since late last year. It is expected that with the ending of the JWP group that two of its wrestlers, Rumi Kazama and Shinobu Kandori, were going to approach Hachiro Tanaka (who already owns SWS and PWF and apparently is going sponsor Antonio Inoki in some ways) about financing a new women's promotion which would employ most of the old JWP women. No word if All Japan Women will hire any of the JWP wrestlers who are now out of wrestling work.
There will be a major acquisition by WCW making a "surprise" debut at the 1/21 Clash of the Champions. There are some changes in the originally listed undercard as well. The Patriots have been pulled from the card so the six-man tag team match will be Young Pistols & Terry Taylor vs. Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk & Marcus Alexander Bagwell (which, if given the chance, could actually steal the show), Vinnie Vegas (Kevin Nash with a new gimmick) vs. Thomas Rich and Freebirds vs. Big Josh & Brad Armstrong.
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1/10 at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City saw Guerrero Negro & Archangel de la Muerte & Guerrero de la Muerte win 2/3 falls from Aguila Solitaria & Ciclon Ramirez & Pantera II in 21:41 when the referee stopped the match after Ramirez accidentally did a dive out of the ring onto Solitaria. ***1/2, Mogur & Cachorro Mendoza & Ringo Mendoza beat Sultan Gargola & Hombre Bala & Kung Fu in 2/3 falls in 11:05 1/2*, Blue Panther & Fuerza Guerrera & Emilio Charles Jr. beat Misterioso & Blue Demon Jr. & Volador in two straight falls in 10:40 ** and Los Brazos beat The Untouchables (Jaque Mate & Masakre & Pierroth Jr.) in 9:40 *1/2.
They seem to be building toward a Brazo de Oro vs. Pierroth Jr. hair vs. mask match.
Former wrestler El Suriano was reprimanded by the commission in Mexico City for running an outlaw show in Netzahualcoyotl. The show was run outdoors at night with no lights. The headliner on this show of legit lights out matches was Canadian Vampire Casanova & Ringo Mendoza & Super Astro vs. Fuerza Guerrera & Pirata Morgan & Chacho Herodes.
The UWA will hold its 17th anniversary celebration with major shows on 1/26 and 2/2 at El Toreo in Naucalpan.
The third annual El Toreo Cup takes place in early May. It's blind draw tag team matches similar to what Starrcade was except it's a tournament that keeps going in tag matches until one team is left.
Tinieblas Jr. is challenging Canek for the UWA heavyweight title.
Negro Casas defeated Ninja Sasuke (Masa Michinoku) to keep the UWA middleweight title on 1/7 in Queretaro in two straight falls. Casas sold little for Sasuke so it wasn't that good of a match.
No major shows during the week with 1/10 in Netzahualcoyotl headlined by Canek & Rambo & Fishman vs. Dos Caras & Villano III & Gran Hamada.
El Texano & Silver King headline 1/11 in Cuernavaca against Dr. Wagner Jr. & Rambo, which is an interesting match since Silver King and Wagner Jr. are brothers, which is not much of a secret.
The 1/12 show at El Toreo was headlined by El Signo defending the UWA lightheavyweight title against El Texano. The two were tag team partners for many years on the original Death Missionaries trio with Negro Navarro (Texano turned face a few years back and was replaced on the team by Black Power).
Pegasus Kid (Chris Benoit), Canadian Tiger (Mike Lozansky) and Buffalo Allen (Badnews Allen) are all working here.
TV ratings the past few weeks have gone through the roof. The 12/21 TV show, which was a one hour tribute to Dynamite Kid including showing the final match of his career (taped 12/6 at Budokan Hall in Tokyo teaming with Johnny Smith against Johnny Ace and Sonny Beach) drew an 8.2 rating, which is the all-time record for that time slot (12:30 a.m. to 1:20 a.m. Sundays). All Japan then had a 90 minute special on 1/4 for the 20th anniversary of the formation of the promotion which aired classic footage from the 1972-91 which drew an 8.5 rating. What makes that rating impressive is the television show went head-to-head with the Saturday afternoon card at the Tokyo Dome which had 60,000 wrestling fans not watching television. Then the regular Sunday night show on 1/5 headlined by Jumbo Tsuruta & Masa Fuchi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi drew a 7.7 rating.
The biggest card of this current tour on 1/21 in Osaka was announced with a team vs. team challenge of four singles matches with Tsuruta vs. Toshiaki Kawada, Misawa vs. Fuchi, Akira Taue vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi and Kobashi vs. Yoshinari Ogawa. On paper, this looks like the teams with tie at 2-2, since Kobashi will surely beat Ogawa, Taue will beat Kikuchi, Misawa will beat Fuchi and Tsuruta should beat Kawada, although maybe they'll throw in the big upset everyone has waited for years to happen since it's a non-title match.
1/11 in Miyazaki drew 4,900 as Tsuruta & Taue & Fuchi beat Stan Hansen & Johnny Ace & Joel Deaton, Misawa pinned Billy Black, Kawada pinned Ogawa, Kobashi & Kikuchi beat Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton, Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura beat Motoshi Okuma & Haruka Eigen, Mark & Chris Youngblood beat Richard Slinger & Mighty Inoue and Jackie Fulton & Scott Armstrong beat Isamu Teranishi & Satoru Asako.
1/10 in Yashiro drew a sellout 2,600 for this past weekend's television show as Misawa & Kawada & Kobashi beat Tsuruta & Fuchi & Ogawa when Kawada beat Ogawa with the sleeper in 26:02, Hansen pinned Taue with the lariat in 15:31, Youngbloods beat Slinger & Kikuchi, Baba & Kimura & Mighty Inoue beat Jackie Fulton & Black & Deaton, Rogers & Bobby Fulton beat Armstrong & Ace and Mitsuo Momota & Teranishi drew with Okuma & Eigen.
1/9 in Nagasaki drew 3,200 as Tsuruta & Taue beat Misawa & Kikuchi in 18:52 when Tsuruta pinned Kikuchi, Hansen & Ace beat Kawada & Kobashi, Rogers & Bobby Fulton beat Youngbloods, Black & Deaton beat Mighty Inoue & Ogawa, Jackie Fulton pinned Teranishi and Slinger beat Masao Inoue.
Youngbloods have been impressive enough on tour that it's expected they'll become regulars.
OTHER JAPAN NOTES
Big rumor going on that Antonio Inoki is negotiating with James "Buster" Douglas for a wrestler vs. boxer match for the Tokyo Dome as early as March.
Gong Magazine came out with its 1991 awards with Jumbo Tsuruta named MVP, Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase vs. Scott Norton & Rick Steiner as tag team match of the year, Hulk Hogan vs. Genichiro Tenryu as match of the year, Atsushi Onita as hardest worker, Hase as Most Improved and Masao Orihara as Rookie of the Year.
The readers of Weekly Pro Wrestling voted on the most important in-ring matches: 1) Dynamite Kid's retirement match; 2) Baba's return to the ring; 3) Chono beating Muto to win the G1 tournament in August; 4) Misawa making Tsuruta give up in the 9/4 tag team title match; 5) Debut of new UWF style groups; 6) Onita vs. Goto draws 33,221 in Kawasaki; 7) Flair vs. Fujinami at the Tokyo Dome with Fujinami winning NWA title; 8) Six-man tag match on 4/20 with Tsuruta-Taue-Fuchi vs. Misawa-Kawada-Kobashi goes 51:32; 9) Misawa & Kawada beating Gordy & Williams on 4/4 to win PWF tag title; 10) Gordy & Williams beating Misawa & Kawada on 12/6 to win Tag Team Tournament.
Universal announced a tour from 3/7 to 3/14 with a six-team trios tournament to headline the cards. Three teams have been announced: Punish & Crush (Akiyoshi & Takayama) & Gran Hamada; Kendo & Masa Michinoku & Monkey Magic Wakita; and Rudy Reyna & May Flowers & Pimpinela Escarlata.
The final JWP card drew 1,980 at Korakuen Hall on 1/12 as Shinobu Kandori made Pink Cadillac submit to the boston crab in 5:26 plus Dynamite Kansai & Eagle Sawai beat Harley Saito & Devil Masami.
All Japan women on 1/11 in Katsuta drew 1,700 as Yumiko Hotta beat Takako Inoue and Kyoko Inoue & Toshiyo Yamada & Manami Toyota beat Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto & Bat Yoshinaga.
FMW on 1/12 in Akaho drew 3,040 as Atsushi Onita & Sambo Asako beat Horace Boulder & Big Titan in a street fight, Tarzan Goto beat Jim Peterson, The Sheik beat Mr. Gannosuke, The Gladiator beat Ricky Fuji and Kevin Sullivan pinned The Shooter.
They drew a legit sellout of 4,225 in Matsudo to see the rematch between Onita vs. Sheik, which went 3:18 before Onita made Sheik submit with the boston crab. After the match Sullivan attacked Onita and held him and Sheik threw fire. Photos of Sheik throwing fire in Onita's eyes made the front page of Tokyo Sports the next day. Also Titan & Gladiator beat Fuji & Goto and Sullivan & Boulder beat Shooter & Gannosuke.
All Japan women on 1/10 in Tatsutabe saw Nakano & Hokuto win a non-title match from Kong & Kimura in a strange two straight fall finish. Kimura was pinned in the first fall and couldn't continue. So Kong took Kuaro Ito as her partner in the second fall and she was pinned by Hokuto in just 2:00. Also Yamada beat Yoshinaga and Toyota & Hotta & Suzuka Minami went to a 30:00 draw with Sake Hasegawa & Debbie Malenko & Kyoko Inoue.
UWFI drew a sellout 2,300 in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall on 1/9 as Gary Allbright & Jim Boss beat Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjyo in 15:57 when Allbright KO'd Anjyo with the german suplex. This was originally supposed to be a tag match with the first Allbright vs. Nobuhiko Takada match-up, however Takada was injured in training a few days before the match. Takada vs. Allbright is going to be pushed as a major match in 1992. In other bouts, Kiyoshi Tamura beat Yuki Miyato, Tatsuo Nakano beat J.T. Southern and Tom Burton beat Makato Kakihara.
FMW on 1/9 in Koga drew a sellout 2,355 as Onita & Shooter beat Boulder & Titan in a street fight, Goto beat Mark Starr, Sheik beat Asako in :55, Sullivan beat Fuji and Peterson & Gladiator beat Eiji Ezaki & Mr. Gannosuke, who are a prelim tag team called the Kyushu Express.
1/7 in Chosi saw Titan & Gladiator beat Onita & Fuji in a street fight, Sullivan beat Goto, Sheik beat Shooter, Boulder beat Gannosuke and Asako beat Starr.
Had a chance to see the live TV show from last Saturday from the Tokyo Dome. Of the bouts that aired, I'd give Shinya Hashimoto vs. Bill Kazmaier * (not as bad as it could have been, but by no means good), El Gigante vs. Big Van Vader 1/2* (it wasn't as terrible as I expected but the double count out ending everyone hated), Inoki vs. Hase *** (Inoki didn't look bad consider his age--almost 49--and his body looked in great condition. Hase is just a superior worker and completely carried the thing), Steiners vs. Sting & Muta ****1/4 (lots of great moves back-and-forth but I liked last year's Steiners vs. Hase & Sasaki match better because there was more wrestling involved, but this was a super match), Luger vs. Chono ** (okay. Chono really had to carry Luger who didn't look like anything special here. Bad finish as well but in some spots it was good) and Fujinami vs. Choshu went off the air just after the match started.
SWS on 1/8 in Osaka saw Yoshiaki Yatsu & King Haku beat Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara in 21:52 with Tenryu doing the job in the tag team tournament. In other tournament matches, Davey Boy Smith & Naoki Sano beat George & Shunji Takano and Shinichi Nakano & Tatsumi Kitahara beat Kendo Nagasaki & Kenichi Oya. Other results saw Ultimate Dragon (Yoshihiro Asai) pin Commando Ruso, Samson Fuyuki & Takashi Ishikawa beat Shawn Michaels & Great Kabuki when Fuyuki pinned Kabuki, The Berzerker pinned Fumihiro Niikura and Bestia Salvaje beat Hiroshi Hatanaka.
New Japan announced the second annual August Sumo Hall tournament (the first one last year had at least three singles matches that were better than any singles match in the U.S. last year) with three straight Sumo Hall dates on 8/10, 8/11 and 8/12. Those "expected" to be in the tournament are Chono, Muto, Tatsumi Fujinami, Tony Halme, El Gigante, Sting, Lex Luger, Vader and Choshu. Luger was negotiated with by New Japan individually and not through WCW since he's leaving the company.
1/6 in Memphis saw Jeff Gaylord beat Candyman, Koko Ware pinned Tony Falk and Tony Anthony pinned Sandman to put all three in a pinfall Battle Royal where the winner was to become the No. 1 contender for the USWA title. Ware won the Battle Royal by doing a semi-heel turn on Anthony. Also Brian Christopher beat Tony Williams in a boxing match, Bart Sawyer beat Doug Masters, Tom Prichard & Miss Texas beat Eric Embry & C.J. via DQ, Moondogs beat Jeff Jarrett & Robert Fuller to keep the USWA tag team titles and Kimala kept the USWA title beating Jerry Lawler via DQ when Lawler threw fire.
1/7 in Louisville saw Lawler beat Gaylord, Lawler beat Sandman, Gaylord beat Lawler, Gaylord beat Sandman via count out, Lawler pinned Gaylord to become the No. 1 contender for Kimala's title, Anthony pinned Falk, Christopher beat Candyman, Sawyer beat Masters in a strap match, Prichard & Texas beat Embry & C.J. via DQ and Moondogs beat Jarrett & Fuller.
The same crew drew a $1,500 house in Evansville the next night which is actually the best house there in several weeks. The USWA's lease with the building in Evansville runs out in about a month and there seems to be a good chance that they'll stop running the weekly shows there at that point.
On television Saturday, Christopher beat Sawyer when Embry interfered by tripping up Bart-man and Embry said he's taking Christopher under his wing. A new angle started in a tag match with Jarrett & Fuller vs. Masters & Falk. Falk brought out his new fiancee Miss Jennifer but Miss Jennifer kept making eyes at Jarrett during the match and Falk kept getting upset.
1/13 card had Falk vs. Candyman, Christopher vs. Freezer Thompson, Ware vs. Anthony with the winner to get a title shot at Kimala on 1/20, Miss Texas vs. C.J., Embry vs. Prichard, Masters vs. Sawyer in a lumberjack strap match and Moondogs vs. Fuller & Jarrett.
They announced Lawler was missing the show because he and Jimmy Valiant were said to be competing in the annual Japanese tag team tournament.
1/10 at the Dallas Sportatorium drew 1,070 (third straight crowd above 1,000). Terry Garvin pinned Barry Horowitz in the opener. Before the match Eddie Gilbert announced he was starting the new First Family and talked about the history of the First Family with Sting, Rick Steiner and Terry Taylor and said Horowitz would be the first member of the new group. Gilbert then gave Horowitz a belt called "The Winner's belt" since Horowitz is doing a gimmick where he just about always loses. Sweet Daddy Falcone pinned Mike Stetson, Brute Force from Georgia beat Rick Garren & Larry Green, Tug & Chaz Taylor beat Tony George & Mike Stetson, Tug & Chaz Taylor & Jerry Lynn beat Mike & Tom Davis & Billy Joe Travis. Travis actually pinned Chaz but the ref was groggy and the ref when he got up saw Chaz on top and raised his hand. Scott Putski pinned Falcone, Gary Young beat Dark Patriot (Doug Gilbert) via DQ after throwing powder in the face and gave Young two piledrivers on the interview stage, Eddie Gilbert double count out Garvin, Black Bart & Bill Irwin beat Brute Force via DQ, Gilbert & Horowitz beat Garren & Green, Davis Brothers drew with Ivan Putski & Gary Young, Chaz pinned Travis. Main event was a heavy stipulation match with John Tatum & Rod Price vs. Black Bart & Bill Irwin. If Tatum & Price lost, they had to split up. Also no managers allowed at ringside. Bart turned heel on Irwin and hit him with his horseshoe after Scandor Akbar gave Bart a wad of money.
1/17 at the Sportatorium has Bart vs. Irwin, Bull Pain with Samantha vs. Sam Houston with Baby Doll which goes on until one of the women waves the flag, Gilbert vs. Garvin for the TV title with two referees, Tatum & Price defend GWF tag titles against Chaz & Tug Taylor, Gary Young vs. Dark Patriot, Jerry Lynn vs. Steve Dane for the GWF lightheavyweight title and Putski vs. Horowitz.
Former World Class wrestling ring announcer and TV personality Ralph Pulley passed away this past week. Pulley, a gospel singer, was in his early 30s. I don't mean to make light of this, but one of his Pall Bearers at the funeral was Paul Bearer (Percy Pringle), who was one of his best friends.
GWF is attempting to build a wrestling museum at the Sportatorium. Any wrestler or manager who would like to donate or loan robes, boots, photos of any gear for display can contact Ron Ames at 214-869-7640 for more information.
The 1/11 show in Portland saw the crowd drop to approximately 200 (falling from about 400 the week before) in the second weekend since the group lost television. Apparently without television, things don't look particularly good although they are still running a full schedule of spot shows and have some public access cable television in some cities which they tape on Sunday nights in Vancouver, WA at Uncle Milt's Pizza. The group apparently has a meeting this week with Ch. 49 in Portland to get back on locally. Complete results saw C.W. Bergstrom pin Al Madril. After the match Madril, the heel, complained Bergstrom used trunks and to ask the crowd, and half the crowd told the ref Bergstrom used the trunks. Also Don Harris beat Mike Winner, Ron Harris beat Demolition Crush in a non-title match when Don interfered and pulled Crush's leg and Ron fell on top for the pin and the main event saw Buddy Rose & Col. DeBeers & Mike Miller vs. Brickhouse Brown & Steve Doll & The Grappler end with no decision in a hot match. DeBeers was doing a heavy racial gimmick with Brown which got a lot of heat. He wouldn't even work with any of the babyfaces unless they washed their hands after shaking Brown's hands and never would get in the ring with Brown. Brown slammed Rose (at nearly 400) three times in succession. Everybody did their best stuff. It ended up with John Rambo turning heel by hitting Doll with Mike Miller's 2x4. Rambo, who wears battle fatigues, is now part of DeBeers' army.
Next week it's Crush vs. Ron Harris for the Northwest title in a two of three fall match, DeBeers & Rambo vs. Doll & Grappler and Miller vs. Brown.
Don Owen has the Portland Sports Arena (which he owns) up for sale with an asking price of $385,000. Former wrestler Tony Borne is the listing agent.
The Oregonian ran a huge story last week on Portland Wrestling continuing without television as the lead story in the sports section.
HERE AND THERE
Ben Masters is doing a show on 2/7 in Cordele, GA with a two-ring Battle Royal, Buddy Landel vs. Ron Garvin, Mr. Atlanta (Tony Zane) vs. Ranger Ross, The Blazers (R.D. Swain & Sugar Ray Lloyd) vs. Dennis Gale & Steve Lawler and Mike Golden vs. Terry Leland.
Latest word on the 20/20 segment is that it will run in late February or early March with Tom Jerrel handling the assignment. The show will focus on Steve Michalik, a New York bodybuilder and on Graham and focus on steroid use in pro bodybuilding and pro wrestling.
Bill Dundee is running shows now is Owensboro, KY.
Howard Brody's Major League Wrestling has a shoe on 3/1 in Port St. Lucie, FL with Leilani Kai & Judy Martin vs. Wendi Richter & Bambi, Rockin Robin vs. Peggy Lee Leather, Candi Divine vs. Malia Hosaka, Penelope Paradise vs. Alison Royal plus Pink Cadillac.
LPWA had a taping scheduled for 1/27 in Raleigh, NC but that also has been canceled. Apparently what has happened with LPWA is the syndication company has won a judgement against Tor Berg which has caused them to freeze all the assets in the company and Berg's investors have pulled out on him.
Indie show 1/11 in Victorville, CA drew 500 with Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine, Koko Ware and The Barbarian.
Apparently Joel Goodhart's connection with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which is through Tokyo Joe (Joe Daigo) seems to have fallen through and the Chris Benoit vs. Shiro Koshinaka match on 1/25 was in jeopardy at last word.
Dennis Coraluzzo and Larry Sharpe had a show on 1/10 in Drexel Hill, PA before 700 fans as Bob Backlund beat Jerry Lawler (decent), Dick Murdoch DDQ Kimala, Lords of Darkness beat Chris Evans & Ray Odyssey to win the WWA tag team titles, Spider beat Golden Phoenix with Tom Robinson as ref (Robinson, who was ill, had a benefit card in the same gym in late 1990). Victor Rivera Jr., son of guess who, made his debut on the show.
Eddy Mansfield's IWA starts on Channel America in February, which means it'll air on 106 stations around the country.
1/9 in Tampa saw Tex Sallinger beat Kenny Kendall, Jim Steele beat Tommy Starr, Lou Perez beat Jumbo Baretta, Jimmy Backlund beat Allan Iron Eagle and Kendall Windham beat Pat Tanaka.
Blackjack Mulligan and Kendall Windham have been working for Mansfield of late.
1/6 in San Juan saw Carlitos Colon pin Warlord to keep the Universal title, Miguelito Perez pinned Greg Valentine to win the Caribbean title, Heartbreakers (Frankie Lancaster & Wendell Cooley) won the WWC tag team titles from Rex King & Ricky Santana, Fidel Sierra beat El Bronco, Dick Slater pinned Dutch Mantell (I'm surprised to hear of Mantell working in Puerto Rico), Road Block pinned Randy Rhodes, Dick Murdoch beat Invader #1 to win the WWC television title and Mascarita Sagrada beat Espectrito in a midget match.
Lucha Libre on 1/12 in Los Angeles at the All-Nations Center drew 300 as Super Boy & Crazy Boy beat Fonseca Jr. & Piloto Suicida in what was said to have been a four-star match. Crazy Boy vs. Suicida in the same building, probably around 1/26 have a mask vs. mask match which they tell me will probably be excellent. Crazy Boy is headed to Mexico after the match. Viva La Lucha staff member Greg Regalado made his debut against Vandal Drummond (editor Kurt Brown). Regalado did all sorts of dives and got over well with the fans.
Motor City Wrestling taped TV on 1/8 with Midwest champ Man Mountain Lancaster beating White Lightning in 34:43 in the main event.
Bull Pain wasn't one of the Texas Hangmen that toured Japan with WING. Pain (Rick Gantner) was one of the original Hangmen, but the other one trained a newcomer.
The Norwich Bulletin had a story on former WWF champ Bob Backlund's role as coach of the Bacon Academy wrestling team. Backlund said he wants people to know he never sold out to the alleged excessive steroid use in the WWF. Backlund said he felt he was snubbed by the WWF wrestlers at the end because he didn't adopt their steroid and drug-using habits nor would be change his image. Backlund said whenever he comes to school there is one thing that makes him uneasy, a photo on the school wall which is a Hulk Hogan endorsement. "Every time I walk by that picture I get sick," Backlund said. "So many athletes get their achievements from drugs and you're trying to work so hard to keep up. You can't compete with them because they're doing some rotten chemical.".
South Atlantic Pro Wrestling tournament for the vacant SAPW title on 1/11 in Roseboro, NC drew 529. Biggest names were The Patriot (Del Wilkes), who did a job in the second round to Helmut Hesler (who ended up winning the thing) and Wahoo McDaniel (who lost in the finals when Vladimir Koloff handed Hesler a foreign object).
The Nasty Boys are now expected to be out of action for a few weeks after that incident in Peoria, IL. Newspaper reports said that the wrestlers (The Nasty Boys and IRS) told police they were driving to their hotel when the suspects in a Chevy Chevette cut them off. they said the suspects threw something that struck their car while it was stopped at a light. Nobbs got out of the car to check for damage at the light and was attacked by the three men, all of whom have since been arrested. When Saggs jumped out to help, he was hit in the head with jumper cables and suffered a concussion. The wrestlers said they were able to get a knife from one of the suspects and were going to hold him until the police came, but released him when they realized Nobbs was losing a lot of blood (from being stabbed four times) and needed immediate medical attention. The three men had a different story. They said Nobbs was stabbed in self defense. They told police the wrestlers were making obscene gestures and pointing at them. They said Nobbs got out of the car at the light, opened the car door and punched one of the guys ten times. The guy then grabbed a knife from the dashboard and stabbed Nobbs four times. The men gave no account of hitting Saggs with the jumper cables, although Saggs was hospitalized with a two-inch cut in his head. The three victims, picked up an hour after the incident, were uninjured, which kind of makes one skeptical of the story that they were acting in self defense.
Biggest news out of television is that Bret Hart came out in television tapings that will air after the Royal Rumble without the Intercontinental title which tells you something. Legion of Doom still had the tag team titles.
Newcomers as far as television are Tatanka (Chris Chavis) as a babyface who will start on television with the new name in two weeks and Papa Shanga (Charles Wright aka Soul Taker) doing a voodoo gimmick who starts on 2/8 on television. Told the best match on both nights at the taping was a dark try-out match with The Latin Fury (who wrestles in Mexico as Conan).
1/7 in Daytona Beach for Superstars drew 12,000 (heavily comped). Jake Roberts got a huge babyface pop. Sensational Sherri did an interview saying she was in love with Shawn Michaels so expect them to become a duo. Sid Justice was back after his bicep tendon tear and looked huge and cut. Warlord beat Chris Walker for Prime Time, Bret Hart pinned Mountie **1/2, Latin Fury beat Masked Heartbreaker (who may have been Art Barr) ***, Pat Tanaka did a squash job, Sid pinned Skinner in 1:44 DUD, Virgil & Tito Santana beat Ted DiBiase & Repo Man *, Randy Savage pinned Jake Roberts ** with Sid and Undertaker in the respective corners and Hulk Hogan beat Ric Flair via count out ** (Hogan didn't sell anything).
1/8 in Fort Myers had nothing out of the ordinary with the best match being Latin Fury beating The Juicer, who definitely was Art Barr.
1/6 in Miami drew 6,000 as Marty Janetty pinned Brooklyn Brawler, Kerry Von Erich pinned Hercules, New Foundation beat Beverly Brothers, IRS pinned Big Bossman, Hart beat Mountie, Roddy Piper pinned Skinner and Hogan beat Flair via count out.
Ratings for Prime Time Wrestling on Monday night have taken their expected minor upward turn without competition from the NFL. On 12/30 the show did a 3.0 and on 1/6 a 2.8. All-American in the same two weekends against NFL playoffs got destroyed doing a 2.1 and a 1.9, the latter among the lowest ratings in the history of the show.
1/11 in Philadelphia drew 12,842 and $169,741 as Walker pinned Brawler, Hercules pinned Jim Powers, Repo Man pinned Virgil, Sgt. Slaughter beat Col. Mustafa (Horrible--scheduled as Nasty Boys vs. Slaughter & Duggan), DiBiase drew Santana (bad match), Legion of Doom beat Natural Disasters, Hart beat Mountie and Hogan beat Flair via count out in 8:30 (pretty good).
Fox special on 2/8 airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time. I expect the show won't be live since WWF has house shows in California that weekend with Flair on top and obviously he's on the special, so the show will probably be taped at the TV tapings in Texas at the end of this month.
Everyone is raving about the Rockers angle that aired over the weekend on Challenge.
Expect Big Sid to turn heel this year, probably not far into the year either.
1/12 in Oshawa, ONT saw Walker pin Brawler, Slaughter beat Mustafa, Santana beat DiBiase via DQ, Piper beat Flair via count out, Valentine pinned Hercules, Repo Man pinned Virgil, Hart beat Mountie and LOD beat Disasters.
1/12 in Hamilton, ONT saw Walker beat Brawler, Valentine beat Hercules, Slaughter beat Mustafa, DiBiase drew Santana, Hart & LOD beat Mountie & Disasters, Repo Man pinned Virgil and Hogan beat Flair via count out.
1/5 in Moline, IL drew 3,000 as Hercules pinned Jim Brunzell *, Slaughter beat Mustafa & Adnan DUD, Undertaker pinned Jim Duggan 1/2*, Savage pinned Roberts **, Repo Man pinned Virgil *, Bossman pinned IRS **1/2 and Nasty Boys beat Bushwhackers *.
1/4 in Long Beach drew 2,000 as Skinner pinned Walker 1/2*, Santana beat DiBiase via DQ *1/2, Chavis pinned Kato **, Hart beat Mountie **, New Foundation beat Beverly Brothers via count out *** (all for Owen Hart), Warlord pinned Valentine DUD and Savage & Duggan beat Undertaker & Roberts -**.
1/5 in San Diego drew 5,000 as Skinner pinned Walker 1/2*, New Foundation beat Beverly Brothers via count out ***, Warlord pinned Valentine *, Santana beat DiBiase via DQ **1/4, Savage pinned Roberts DUD, Undertaker pinned Duggan DUD, Chavis pinned Kato ** and Hart beat Mountie **1/4.
12/28 in Minneapolis drew 9,000 as Hogan beat Flair via count out ***1/2, Santana pinned Skinner *, DiBiase pinned Brunzell *1/2, Hercules pinned Valentine DUD, IRS pinned Bossman **1/2, Hart beat Mountie **1/2, British Bulldog beat Berzerker 1/2* and Piper & Bushwhackers vs. Beverly Brothers & Genius saw our correspondent walk out (along with a great percentage of the audience) during the match.
Apparently Jushin Liger will definitely be at the 2/29 PPV and probably against Brian Pillman. Liger is expected to make frequent appearances in WCW this year.
The reason there is all the NWA talk is they are talking about doing the NWA vs. WCW unification world title match again, this time without Jerry Lawler. They haven't decided who the new NWA champion will be but the name Keiji Muto just seems to have magically appeared on this page in this sentence.
1/9 in Augusta, GA drew 1,800 as Terry Taylor pinned Richard Morton, Big Josh pinned Thomas Rich, P.N. News & Johnny B. Badd beat Diamond Dallas Page & Buddy Lee Parker, Big Van Vader double count out with El Gigante (horrible), Ron Simmons pinned Larry Zbyszko, Dustin Rhodes & Ricky Steamboat beat Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton and Rick rude beat Sting via DQ when Sting hit Rude with Paul E. Dangerously's phone.
TV ratings for the past two weeks saw on 12/28, WCW drew a 2.3 (well below what it had been doing probably due to NFL playoffs) and the following week it fell to a 2.1. Main Event did 1.8 (one of its all-time lows) and 2.5 respectively, while Power Hour did 1.9 and 1.8. . . Latest estimate is that Starrcade did about a 1.1 percent buy rate, which would translate into approximately a $3.4 million total gross (of which the WCW/TBS share should be about $1.4 million).
1/10 in Columbia, SC drew 2,250 as Taylor beat Morton, Josh beat Parker, Badd beat Page, Vader double count out with Gigante, Rhodes & Steamboat beat Anderson & Eaton and Rude beat Sting via DQ. This was said to have been a great house show.
Don't have results for 1/11 in Hammond, IN but it drew a $15,000 house.
Steve Austin blew out his knee and is out of action, no word on for how long although he's not expected to miss the Clash. Scott Steiner also missed the weekend with a serious case of the flu, P.N. News missed some shows because of a bad hip and Paul E. Dangerously didn't miss shows but was suffering from pneumonia at the last tapings.
Saturday's television show was hot from start-to-finish.
Van Hammer will be sent back to school, so to speak, after the Clash and brought back when he learns to wrestle. You fill in the punch line. But seriously, it seems to show the company is interested in providing a good product. Either that or they have come to grips with the fact that Hammer and Oz were major flops. Well, it's not like nobody told them ahead of time.
Scott Norton is coming in, but I don't know exactly when.
Jason Hervey was the star on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous that aired this past weekend in syndication. Missy Hyatt was on the show and called "a sports commentator out of Atlanta" with no reference to wrestling except that they met at a wrestling match. Since Robin Leach has done worked segments with Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage, I guess that means he can't mention WCW. A clip of Ron Simmons aired with the piece.
Madusa signed a contract last Friday.
Barry Windham will be a heel by the spring to fill the void at the top left by Lex Luger leaving. It's way too soon to make that move and it may, actually probably will, wind up the same way Luger did, as being a dead fish. Luger is leaving and it's no big deal because after all those years as being a major over heel and face, he was turned one time too many and fans simply didn't care about him and his title reign was a waste, which has nothing to do with the ghost of Ric Flair.
Dusty Rhodes will be back on television and involved in angles and bullroped to Paul E. Dangerously at the house shows during the tag team title matches.
1/12 in Chicago drew 2,000 as Josh pinned Parker *, Badd pinned Page *1/2, Taylor pinned Morton **, Steiners beat Abdullah & Zbyszko **, Vader double count out Gigante DUD, Rhodes & Steamboat beat Anderson & Eaton *** and Rude beat Sting via DQ with the Dusty finish ***.
THE READERS PAGES
John Williams of 149 S. Los Robles, Pasadena, CA 91101 is looking for a tape of the 1/3 Inside Edition episode with Billy Graham and the 1/4 Wrestling Insiders radio show out of Las Vegas where Billy Graham was a guest.
Andrew Goldberger of 105 Sara Circle, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776 is putting out a newsletter called From the Ring and he'll send the first issue free to anyone who requests a copy.
Pete Kopowski of 54-70 83rd St., Elmhust, NY 11373 is looking for the home video on Brutus Beefcake and t-shirts of either Brutus Beefcake or the Honkytonk Man.
Michael McGowen of 608 E. Arch, Jerseyville, IL 62052 is looking to correspond with readers in the St. Louis area.
Craig Napper of 789 Sackville Rd., Ebenezer 2756, New South Wales, Australia is looking for matches of The Ultimate Dragon from EMLL, Legion of Doom vs. Nasty Boys from the Arsenio Hall show and the WWF television special taped in Barcelona.
Michael Matteson of 1305 N. Spring St. Lot 1, Galdwin, MI 48624 is selling his entire wrestling collection. For more info, send $1.
Adolfo Boutin of 103 E. 97th St., New York, NY 10029 is looking for a Japanese taped version of last year's Starrcade at the Tokyo Dome.
Otto Scerbo of 17 College Dr. #F-2h, Jersey City, NJ 07305 is looking for tapes of Bob Backlund.
Kevin McIntyre of 8300 Shields Dr. #202, Saginaw, MI 48609 is looking for tapes of Ricky Steamboat, Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman matches, Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan matches and Madison Square Garden matches from the 1980s.
Fred Maniscalco of 107 Cedar Ave., Newark, DE 19711 is looking for the WCW Main Event show from 1/5.
Beau Hajavitch of 1-431 Stradbrook Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3L 0J7 Canada is looking for audio tapes of Jim Ross' radio show on WSB and the 12/26 Sports Byline USA show in which I was a guest and a tape on video of Dick Clark's New Year's Eve show.
Michael Brown of 8610 Sanderling Dr., Manassas, VA 22110 is looking to trade his tape of Starrcade '91 for tapes of old Saturday Night's Main Events.
Rick Harding of 2247 Redbud St., Culpeper, VA 22701 is looking for buy Japanese wrestling magazines with photos of the Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman match from Baltimore on 12/28.
Jeff OsBorne of 3420 New Harmony Rd., Evansville, IN 47720 has a 90-minute Cassette Wrestling News annual for $5.
Roy Gibb of 2219 Chatterton Ave., Bronx, NY 10473 is looking for a tape of Starrcade '91.
Independent Championship Wrestling in the Michigan-Ohio area is starting a mailing list for fans in Michigan and Ohio so if you live in those states and want first word on independent shows in the area, send your name and address to ICW, 1227 Leland, Lima, OH.
Robert Whitley of 25415 Feijoa Ave., Lomita, CA 90717 has current All Japan and New Japan tapes and gets new tapes weekly.
Stuart Dinkes of 13913 Dressler Ave. Garfield Heights, OH 44125 has old tapes of 1970s WWF, Big Time Wrestling, IWA and ICW.
Ahbdul Maldonado of 255 3rd Ave. 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10010 is looking for a tape of the 12/27 Meadowlands card and any 1988 Ric Flair vs. Road Warrior Hawk matches.
I thought the Inside Edition piece was alright, but too short to really send a huge message about steroids and the results of them. But it was a start. The piece was only eight minutes and there were only a few comments from Billy Graham. I don't think this show will make the wrestling industry even think twice. The casual public saw Hulk Hogan on Arsenio Hall and a hero like Hulk would never lie. So what these shows need to do is devote an entire show to the steroid issue. Get several wrestlers to talk about steroids and how they used them in the past, presuming they'll be honest about them. If Billy Graham, Bruno Sammartino and David Shults are willing to go on camera and admit or discuss the issue, there probably are several more who are willing to do so if they're contacted. But trying to sum up an important topic like steroids in pro wrestling in eight minutes just doesn't cut it. If 20/20 or 60 Minutes does a feature on this topic, not only would more people see it but the issues would be covered on a show with more credibility than a TV tabloid program.
Not that I expected much, but I doubt Inside Edition's piece will do anything to arouse public consciousness about steroid use in pro wrestling. The story was on discrediting Hulk Hogan and didn't provide any information about pro wrestling and steroid use in pro wrestling. The issue was treated as an excuse to dig up dirt on a celebrity by a show more concerned with sensationalism than being taken seriously, which does make it tailor-made for WWF wrestling fans in particular. What little was said about the effects of steroids or the WWF's testing policy was all to brief and forgettable. Your reporting all throughout this issue has been absolutely excellent and I have a lot more hope for the 20/20 piece than I ever had for this one. But I have the sinking feeling that the only way this issue will be covered with the seriousness it deserves is if a famous WWF wrestler drops dead in the ring. I'm certainly hoping it won't come to that.
Phil Mushnick's article in the New York Post didn't say anything that we already don't know. All he is really doing is beating a dead horse. At this point, I don't think any of this will upset Vince McMahon. He may have gotten upset about Inside Edition.
Union, New Jersey
Seeing Jushin Liger performing in U.S. rings brings an interesting question to mind. Do you think Vince McMahon may try and scoop WCW once again and bring in Yoshihiro Asai, Naoki Sano or Masao Orihara to the United States. After seeing the SWS/WWF card at the Tokyo Egg Dome on tape, if it wasn't for the Ultimate Dragon vs. Jerry Estrada match, the card would have been a major thumbs down. I gave the match four stars just for some of the those suicidal spots they pulled off. A match of that calibre could save any WWF house show. McMahon has proven that he isn't stupid, so he must be stubborn as hell, seems to not want his audience exposed to that kind of action.
I'm glad to see Liger in WCW, but the only wrestler they can really match him with to take advantage of his skills is Brian Pillman. I wish WCW would wake up and lure all the big name lighter guys like Liger, Asai, Sano, Lightning Kid, Pegasus Kid and Orihara and push the junior heavyweight title as the second most important championship in the promotion. Imagine three hot junior heavyweight matches on every house show and pay-per-view card. If the division got over big time, then the new guys in the business will spend more time working on their wrestling instead of their muscles. I know it isn't going to happen, but look at the crowds in Mexico and Japan right now as compared to the United States and look at how many unnaturally muscular wrestlers are working for those promotions.
TAPING PPV SHOWS
I'm writing to let you and Observer readers know of a very troubling situation that has come to my attention. As of January 1992, Request TV has chosen to scramble its PPV telecasts. That means people who order the events will be able to watch them but not videotape them. I found this information out through my local cable company's cable book. When I contacted the company (Jones Intercable), they told me this scrambling will include all events (wrestling, boxing, movies and concerts). Their reasoning is it will enable them to get movies sooner from the studios (as it stands now, PPV must wait 30 to 60 days for a film after it hits the stores on videotape).
To me, this is a feeble excuse. If I can't tape an event, I'm not going to order it. I'm asking you to help get Observer readers to boycott Request PPV shows and write their local cable companies. I don't think these cable companies can afford to lose $200 per year per customer who orders all the wrestling PPV events, do you? Could you also provide me with addresses for Titan Sports and World Championship Wrestling so I can write them also.
I think this is the most important issue we've ever come up against. If we speak with our wallets as well as our pens, then these companies must listen.
Williamstown, New Jersey
DM: Titan Sports address is P.O. Box 1538, Stamford, CT. WCW is P.O. Box 15366, Atlanta, GA 30348. I'm not exactly thrilled by this change, but at the same time, in theory, when you pay for a PPV event it is simply to view the event, not to tape the event. Legally, the companies have the right to do this since they are selling videos of these events. They do have the legal right to protect that videotape market, even if we've all grown accustomed to simply taping the events when ordering them on PPV.
06-07-2012, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Northeastern Ohio
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Wow interesting stuff.
06-08-2012, 10:56 AM
Proud supporter of Pornstache da gawd.
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Rochester, NY
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Dave Meltzer vs Vince McMahon & the WWF
February 4, 1991
The thoughts in this issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter are dedicated to the following:
Frank Goodish, who if he were alive today, would have a big smile on his face in about 15 minutes.
Wade Keller, for making me realize the true value of what I do and to realize that when all hard decisions are made, what the real factors are involved in making those decisions.
My girlfriend, Erin Andrews, for forcing me to stand up for myself.
Two other people in the pro wrestling business, who know who they are and know their contributions.
And to the one person that taught me the most important lesson I learned this week. When all is said and done, the most important things in life really are:
● What you think of yourself every night as you lie down to sleep
● What you see in the mirror every morning when you wake up, and
● What your friends and loved ones, in their heart, think of you.
Let me start by giving everyone a background of this time frame. The World Wrestling Federation was riding high, having just promoted what in many ways is still the most successful wrestling show ever--Wrestlemania III. A few weeks afterward, Jim Duggan and the Iron Sheik, who were feuding at the time, were arrested together by highway patrolmen in New Jersey. A small amount of cocaine was found on Sheik. Some marijuana was found on Duggan. But the kind of humorous situation where two wrestlers, who allegedly hated each others' guts, were not only driving together, but the implication was, doing drugs together as well, made newspapers all over the country. It made page two of one of the major New York dailies, and was covered on the local television newscasts throughout the area. Duggan and Sheik were promptly fired by the WWF. I felt at the time, and expressed those thoughts in this publication, that Duggan should not have been fired. Marijuana was a minor offense, and during this same time frame, another WWF wrestler, Bam Bam Bigelow, was arrested on a similar charge. The only difference is Bigelow's case got very little press, because there wasn't the humor involved of the two guys feuding being in the same car together. Bigelow wasn't fired, or even suspended for the incident, just as Bobby Heenan wasn't this year for a similar arrest, which did make national publicity. So, ultimately, what Duggan was fired over, was being in a car with the Iron Sheik, or more precisely, having that fact make some newscasts. That was basically confirmed several months later in a conversation with Pat Patterson. At the time, I thought it was a poor reason to fire a guy. It should be pointed out that Duggan was brought back about six months later and has been a fixture ever since. But the time frame of the incident I'm about to describe was during the interim period, when Duggan was out of work. Titan Sports may claim that Duggan was actually suspended, and while I don't know this, there is a possibility that Duggan and/or Sheik were still being sent a check during their absence, however the Titan brass told all the boys, as was confirmed to me by many, that Duggan and Sheik were "fired."
Because of the publicity surrounding the Duggan-Sheik incident, the WWF began testing its wrestlers sporadically for cocaine. One wrestler who failed tests, on more than one occasion, was Jake Roberts. Roberts was even a bigger star then than now. And the WWF suspended him for 30 days, as they did about a half-dozen other wrestlers. I already knew this when I called Terry Garvin of the World Wrestling Federation, who at the time I spoke with almost on a daily basis, as designated by Vince McMahon himself. Garvin, at first, denied it, but called me back a few minutes later and confirmed it. At that point it really didn't matter, because I had already received confirmation of it many other places. In fact, Roberts and the rest were already missing shows. The story was already in the typed edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, that was being printed but wouldn't be mailed until the next day. After he confirmed the story, Garvin asked if I could keep it out of the Observer. I later spoke with someone else in the company about the situation, and the company asked for a favor. Basically, I was told, was that if the Roberts story makes the Observer, with all the media types who read the Observer, eventually it might make the general news media. Coming so close to the situation with Duggan and Sheik, it could cause a major scandal in which people would examine if there was a cocaine problem within pro wrestling. Since several other wrestlers were suspended as well, any serious examination would come out with an obvious negative result. And since the company had just started testing for cocaine, they were making an attempt to get an admitted problem under control. But most of all, I was told that if the mainstream media picked up that Roberts was suspended for failing a drug test, that the company would have no choice but to fire Roberts. Remember, the person who told this to me often discussed items in the Observer with me, and surely must have known my feelings about the Duggan situation. It was my weakness. Anyway, I felt that if the company informed fans at its upcoming venues that Roberts, who was a headliner, wasn't going to be there, then they were playing fair with their audience. And they were. So I went and re-wrote the front page of the Observer, mentioned on the inside that Roberts and the rest were pulled from upcoming dates without giving a reason. On the front page I changed the story that several WWF wrestlers were suspended for cocaine use to a story listing that wrestlers were suspended for failing drug tests, but eliminating the names of those suspended. It wouldn't have been hard for any reader to make the connection, but it wasn't clear enough for a mainstream reporter to pick up on the subject, since the story never broke. I was told they would pay for any additional printing costs. In my mind, I believed I was doing the right thing, because I didn't want to be the reason Jake Roberts, like Jim Duggan before him, would lose his job. I told them I didn't want any money, and I'd take care of the costs because it was simply the right thing to do in that situation.
When Bruiser Brody found out, he was none too happy with my behavior. He said that my only job in this business is to tell the truth. He said that I didn't work for the World Wrestling Federation. What the general media would eventually do and what the WWF would do in case a scandal did break should not have been a factor in my decision. At the time, I thought that it was a pretty heartless attitude.
An incident such as the one described above couldn't happen today. First off, there are too many newsletters. Sometimes that's bad, because some are irresponsible. But there are enough good ones that it's very difficult to "cover up" a major story today.
Was I right in 1987? It's not cut and dried. At the time I did what I thought was the right thing. But today, I realize that Bruiser Brody was correct. Whatever responsibility I have, and others in a similar position have, is only to report what happens. The obligation is to the readers, not to wrestling promoters. If a major football star gets suspended for using cocaine or steroids, or any other reason, a newspaper details the story. Whether I may personally not wish to harm the career of Teddy Long, he failed a drug test this past week and is suspended for 30 days. The bigger the star, the bigger the story. Any sort of an argument that reporting the story isn't in the best interest of the football business is not a valid argument. Any argument that a guy may lose, say commercial endorsements in the future, or that if he's got free agency upcoming, his value in the market will go down and it will cost him significant amounts of money, as a reason to not report the story is not a valid argument, either.
In 1991, Bobby Heenan passed out on an airplane. When airport police were instructed by doctors to check his baggage to try and find out why he was unconscious, they found 48 grams of marijuana. A Titan employee asked that I keep the story out of The National. It was a guy that I owed a favor to. Let me point out that this was friend-to-friend, not Titan Sports to Dave Meltzer, a major distinction. Titan Sports officially never asked. I am virtually certain Vince McMahon never knew of the request. I really didn't want to print it, I guess because deep down it seemed like the nice thing to do. But being a nice guy is something I've learned is an emotion for the hours in a day when I'm not either writing The National, or printing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. During those hours, the only emotion should be to be honest. There was no question Heenan's arrest had to be reported in The National. And to the credit of Titan Sports, a few days later, when speaking with J.J. Dillon, he didn't complain about the report.
This is a very different issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. I'd like to apologize in advance because there will be no wrestling news this week. Everything will be back to normal next week in the Observer.
But mostly, I'd like to share with you about some things that have taken place in the past week.
From the World Wrestling Federation to Frank Deford, carbon copy to Mr. Dave Meltzer:
Today's "Grunt and Grin" article contained many statements that Mr. Meltzer reasonably should have known were false.
The most glaring and malicious inaccuracy concerns the USO Tour referred to in your last paragraph. the WWF did not seek to send Hulk Hogan to Saudi Arabia. The USO initiated the idea and requested Hulk Hogan to be among the group of celebrities selected to visit our troops. The USO never turned down anything, they wanted Hulk in Saudi Arabia; the Defense Department nixed the trip.
Furthermore, Hulk Hogan's current tour is not "to strengthen his image." It too, comes at the request of the USO. The original trip was entirely planned by the USO who along with AIG, Anheuser-Bush (sic), Coca-Cola Company and AT&T are the sponsors of the current tour.
Had Mr. Meltzer even read the press release prepared by the USO, he would have known that his statements were completely erroneous.
Mr. Meltzer is equally inaccurate in his portrayal of the discussions within the WWF offices. Not only was the content of those meetings inaccurately reported, but the feelings and actions of the participants were inaccurate as well.
Mr. Meltzer's reporting of the re-hiring of Sergeant Slaughter and the development of Slaughter's current position within the WWF are also totally inaccurate. Not only that, but the Ultimate Warrior versus Sergeant Slaughter match was set before the United Nation's resolution setting the January 15 deadline was passed.
Sadly, we are not surprised by Mr. Meltzer's inaccurate, innuendo-filled report. We are shocked that you and your editors have permitted such wanton and reckless reporting with such obvious bias, distortion, falsity and malice.
Frank, we've warned you repeatedly that this would happen. We even supplied Mr. Meltzer with a knowledgeable contact in our office, J.J. Dillon, to verify his facts and information. He did not even make a reasonable effort to check the facts. The WWF insists that you print a complete retraction and apology of equal length and prominence as next week's column. We, of course, reserve all our rights to seek any remedy at law or otherwise.
Richard K. Glover
Senior Vice President
Business Affairs and Development
There is a term that I live by, as every person within the wrestling business that has had any contact with me knows. It's called never violating a source. Anyone who reads the Observer knows that virtually never will anyone be quoted. When the Observer started, pro wrestling was a completely closed business and naming someone as a source for even the most insignificant story would risk a person's job, and even health in some cases. Things have changed to an extent, but it is understood by every member of the wrestling business that speaks with me that they will never be attributed. While that, in a sense, in theory would allow them to lie or distort stories, on most major story nowadays, I generally get both sides and every middle. Whatever names have been labeled to me by anyone, nobody has ever accused me of breaching a source.
Confidence works both ways, however. I speak, probably spoke is a better word, with J.J. Dillon on a regular basis since shortly after the last Wrestlemania. Of course that name was in the strictest of confidence. My girlfriend didn't even know. There were times that I had problems with WWF policy, such as continuing to advertise talent for matches that had left the promotion weeks earlier as in the case of Rick Rude. But I'd never violate a trust because I was didn't like something Titan Sports had done. The same goes with WCW, or any other promotion. I've been unhappy with things WCW has done at times, but I would never take it out on the company by violating a trust. Titan Sports violated a trust, in going public with J.J. Dillon's name, because somebody didn't like a column I wrote. Even if you disagree with the points made in last week's National column, as a columnist, good opinion pieces are not only allowable, but, in point of fact, encouraged.
While there are many times I haven't agreed with WWF policy, that never gave me an excuse to violate a journalistic trust. Because they didn't like a column I wrote, it gave them no excuse either. But let's not get sidetracked from the letter.
First off, as stated in the letter, the USO didn't turn down Hulk Hogan's tour as stated in the Observer and The National. It was the defense department. The correction is being made here, as it will be in my next column in The National.
If Hulk's tour wasn't being used to strengthen his image, how come, three days before the letter was written, Gorilla Monsoon on the Royal Rumble broadcast was trumpeting how Hulk wanted to go to Saudi Arabia and visit the troops? How come the same Gorilla Monsoon mentioned that starting Monday Hulk would start visiting military bases to be with families of those overseas. And if this was just a miscue that wasn't supposed to have been said, how come two days after this letter was sent, when the WWF tried to defend itself from the comments made in The National in a story in USA Today where they publicly announced Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter as the main event at Wrestlemania, the story once again pushed Hulk Hogan as a patriot and brought up the military bases he was visiting all week long to meet family members of those overseas? How come, many weeks back, after the U.N. Resolution was passed listing the Jan. 15 date for Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, I was told by someone within the World Wrestling Federation that this would be the biggest Wrestlemania ever because Slaughter was going to win the title, he was going to burn the flag, and Hogan would then go to Saudi Arabia and visit the troops?
At the time, there certainly was nothing wrong with Slaughter winning the title. You may disagree, but I don't think there is anything wrong with it today. Burning the flag is a very emotionally powerful way to get tremendous heat with a lot of people. I thought it wouldn't be in Titan Sports' best interest in the long run, and this was before shooting broke out. It was a feeling that I had discussed with many people in the company before the war started. But personally, I had no problem with it. I was worried it might backfire on them with the mainstream media, but I would not have made a case about the issue in the Observer unless and until that happened. I only had a small problem with Hogan going to Saudi Arabia. Yes, it's exploiting those overseas, and it is in this context because I was originally told of Hogan's trip as one of the major Wrestlemania angles. But there was no shooting going on. The DiBiase/Virgil angle was in worse taste. I want everyone to realize that all these things were planned well before shooting broke out. Vince McMahon didn't count on a war. Just tension. However in the last two weeks before the Jan. 15 deadline, war became an extremely likely possibility. Watch the tapes of the shows on television. If anything, things were made even stronger. Some things were toned down on Jan. 19 to where, in house, the WWF employees can say and at least try to believe that they toned things down. But the essence of the message sent to the marks wasn't . They did use the emotion and backdrop from the war, not only on Jan. 19, but repeated once again on syndication television on Jan. 26. They used people's very sincere emotions coming to the building as a way to set the stage for the heat they were building on Sgt. Slaughter and Hulk Hogan.
Had Mr. Meltzer read the press release by the USO? How could I have read the press release when Titan Sports has NEVER sent me a press release on anything. That's something Mr. Glover should have checked on before making his charge. As far as discussions within the WWF offices, on the days from when the war began until the Royal Rumble, I was speaking to different WWF employees several times per day. The constant theme was that most everyone was against still hammering down the Iraqi angle once the war began because of the poor taste. However Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson were behind it and refused to budge. I'm not saying they were the only two with that feeling. I heard details of very strong discussions trying to convince McMahon to change his mind. As for feelings being portrayed inaccurately, on Friday, I had discussions with two different WWF employees who were considering quitting the company because they were against the idea. One was a short discussion, another a very long one of someone wanting advice on the subject. Yet another source said that others had similar feelings. As it turns out, in the heat of tension, people reflect and consider quitting things. But when the tension dies down, it's easy to fall back into the normal pattern. Even though I was told, up to just about the last minute, that the title change was a go, I really believed McMahon wouldn't do it once he thought about it. But it's his right and changing the title wasn't a big deal to me. The outright exploitation of the war that went with it was more of a problem. The using people in this world in their time of need and exploiting them to create a stronger hero is the thing that personally made me outraged. But that was all covered last week.
Regarding the re-hiring of Sgt. Slaughter, many weeks before it was ever printed in the Wrestling Observer, I was told that Slaughter would be coming back, as a heel, and starting as Brother Love's guest at Summer Slam by an employee of Titan Sports. He asked me not to write anything about it at least until I heard it elsewhere. A short time later I was told the deal was off, because Slaughter wanted to be a face and Vince and Pat only wanted him as a heel. About a week or two later, I was told Slaughter agreed. If any of this information is incorrect, it would mean that it was a falsehood spread within the company. Since the basics of what was written above was already reported in the Observer, and as Titan Sports revealed, a Mr. J.J. Dillon was there to make sure in case of error, I corrected items in either the Observer or The National. He never brought it up, and on a regular basis myself and J.J. Dillon would go over mistakes.
Yes, Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter was originally booked before the U.N. deadline resolution passed. I never said it wasn't. My remark, that Glover misinterpreted and then claimed was false, was that the proximity of Jan. 15 to Jan. 19 was more a coincidence in regards to the hyping of the match then the original booking of the match. Please check tapes of interviews with Sgt. Slaughter and the Ultimate Warrior, particularly the last two weekends and tell me the deadline wasn't part of the hype for the match.
Now let's get to my credibility problem. I did not even make a reasonable effort to check the facts.
This was my "not even a reasonable effort." The Royal Rumble was Saturday night. By the way, and even though I made this clear last week, let me say again that I felt it was from start-to-finish the best WWF pay-per-view show ever. Sunday morning, I spoke with two different WWF employees about the show. Sunday afternoon, I wrote a rough draft of Tuesday's column. I contacted one WWF employee who is a good friend of mine, and read him, word-for-word, the column. His remark was, "it's 100 percent correct but Vince is going to hate you this time." I then contacted another employee, and while not reading it word-for-word, basically went over it again. His remark was, "I know you are sincere in your feelings so I'm not even going to ask you not to send it." I then sent the column, but it was still subject to last minute corrections if need be. I specifically wanted to talk with Vince McMahon before the column actually ran. On Sunday night, I called what I was given as a home phone number for Vince McMahon. Nobody answered. No answering machine. I then phoned Howard Finkel's home phone number and got his answering machine. Since I have never once phoned Finkel up at home (or at the office for that matter), he should have realized this was for no trivial matter. I told him it was very important that he called back. I wanted to discuss the column with McMahon as soon as possible. He never called back. As soon as I woke up Monday morning, I phoned J.J. Dillon's office number. Since it was Martin Luther King's birthday, he wasn't in. I don't know his home phone number. I told the secretary that it was urgent that he get back to me as soon as possible. At about 1 p.m., I called again to reiterate the message with the answering secretary. As I write this, Dillon has yet to return my phone call. If Mr. Glover, who wrote this letter, had researched what he had written as much as this reckless reporter, he certainly should have known my efforts to reach Mr. Dillon. If he had discussed this situation with Vince McMahon, as I'm sure he did, he should have known of my attempts to reach Howard Finkel as well. If Vince McMahon had good open communication with his employees, he also would have known about the other two conversations I did have with WWF employees to verify its accuracy. The phone bills, when they arrive, are available upon request (don't worry, every phone call will be white-outed except those specifically specified here with the names of the individuals).
Sadly, I am not surprised by this inaccurate, innuendo-filled letter. I am shocked that Titan Sports permits its Senior Vice Presidents to get away with such wanton and reckless letter writing of such a malicious nature. I'm writing this letter to express my extreme concern regarding Mr. Meltzer's "Grunt and Grin" column from Tuesday, January 22, 1991.
TitanSports has tolerated Mr. Meltzer's inaccurate, bias (sic) writing since the launching of your paper. However, yesterday's column has included the libeling of our outside business associates. I find this display of irresponsible journalism to be inexcusable.
Please be aware that I do not speak on behalf of TitanSports. But as far as the WORLD BODYBUILDING FEDERATION (WBF) is concerned, I must again say that I am deeply concerned. If this is the type of coverage the WBF can also expect, I must withdraw from participating in your article.
As a former purchaser of your paper, I am sorry to see a publication with such potential, allow this type of reporting.
Jonathan W. Flora
Manager of Corporate Marketing
World Bodybuilding Federation
Dear Mr. Flora:
Let me clear up what constitutes libel. 1) Reckless disregard for the truth. In other words, one knows the truth, then with that knowledge, lies in print. If I did that even once, I would be committing professional suicide. 2) Statements provably false. Mr. Flora, call J.J. Dillon. Ask him if, whenever he corrected me on a mistake, in the next Observer or The National, whatever the case may be, it wasn't clarified. 3) Malice. That column was not written to "hurt" Titan Sports. If I wanted to hurt Titan Sports, I would do a column interviewing an acquaintance of mine who sells steroids and get specific volumes of purchase for some of his clients. That story has been one phone call away for three years. But I would never do it because it would mainly hurt the victims, rather than the perpetrators. Tuesday's column was written because on that specific day there was absolutely nothing I could do better, in the long run, to benefit the professional wrestling industry. I admit, I didn't know it at the time I wrote it, but I do today. I would, however, be interested to have an impartial third-party with knowledge of both the pro wrestling and bodybuilding world to compare the quality of responsible journalism between my column in The National or the contents of the weekly Wrestling Observer Newsletter and the magazine "Bodybuilding Lifestyles." Even so, I truly hope for bodybuilding fans, like myself, that the WBF receives the same coverage in the National as the WWF. Honest reporting by one of the most qualified people capable of doing the job (but unwilling to do a job).
I just want to write and let you know that I thought your National column on the WWF was the best wrestling column I've seen. I'm just glad that nobody at The National is censoring your column. The WWF has it coming.
With all the heat stemming from Titan Sports this morning, immediately I thought it would be a politically wise move to not mail out last week's Observer. After all, the lead story was a humorous piece with some jokes in reference to Vince McMahon. There was a very stinging editorial that was very anti-Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan personally. There was even a reference to McMahon in the Dusty Rhodes first week as booker parody (the piece was written before the Royal Rumble, I might add). But I was proud of the issue. The last time I did a comedy piece, it was on Ric Flair, the same Ric Flair that Jesse Ventura referred to as "your hero Ric Flair." That Observer had digs at nearly everyone in WCW, even at newsletter writers, myself, The National and Brad Muster. Politically, the timing of this issue could have been trouble. But it was my favorite issue of the year.
I went to the WCW show at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium tonight. Wrestling can be a good release from a tension-filled day. The last two matches (Ric Flair vs. Sting and Barry Windham & Arn Anderson vs. Doom) were pretty good, although the latter only lasted 4:43. The Flair-Sting match was a lot better than their title change match in the Meadowlands, or even the title change in Baltimore, but not as good as their August match in the Meadowlands. It was also advertised on television and in the program as a tag team title street fight match. Everyone wore their wrestling trunks and it was a non-title match, won by the Horsemen. Unlike in New York, this time it was made specifically clear by the ring announcer that it was a non-title match. The crowd didn't seem as upset about it as in New York. But a lot of people were upset with the show, and with good reason. WCW charged $25, $17 and $10 for tickets and had eight no-shows. As originally reported here, and then denied to me by several in WCW (in this case more due to a lack of communication as anything else), then corrected here last week, but ultimately the original story was true, to save on transportation costs, they decided to leave the undercard guys at home and replace them with locals. Instead of Tom Zenk vs. Bobby Eaton, Terry Taylor vs. Michael Wall Street, Brad Armstrong vs. Moondog and Tim Horner vs. Bill Irwin, we got Jim Gorman vs. Matt Moon, Big Mike Huff vs. Earthquake Ferris, Bill "Superfoot" Monroe vs. Johnny Sawyer and Paul Brown vs. "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer (who got the best crowd pop of the entire card).
The replacement matches were all pretty bad, although Buzz Sawyer did a few outstanding things and Johnny Sawyer (a Buzz trainee, big guy, 280-ish who showed legit potential) and Superfoot was unintentionally hilarious because of Superfoot doing a martial arts gimmick and throwing such slow and weak kicks. He even once fell down trying to throw a kick. Steiners beat Freebirds in a match with good comedy and only a little wrestling. Luger beat Vicious via count out in a negative-one-star match. Nothing happened for 12 minutes. Flair pinned Sting in 22:38 with his feet on the ropes. Crowd was roughly 2,200 and the gate was about $38,000. The same crew was in Los Angeles at the Forum the night before and drew about 2,800 paid and $43,000. No return date was announced for either city. My gut feeling is, because of the eight no-shows, the crowds and gates will be a lot smaller next time.
To Titan Sports:
I reached Dave Meltzer after we spoke yesterday. He stands by every word of his story except the last paragraph, relating to the USO. As I assured you before I spoke with Dave, it is our policy to correct errors, and Dave will print a full correction in his next column.
While Dave much regrets the error, it is worth noting a couple of points. First of all, he never got any USO press release. Second, much of Dave's misinterpretation was caused by remarks made by Gorilla Monsoon on the air the other day. Dave took references to "they" won't let Hulk go to mean the USO, while, in fact, it was the Defense Department. As incorrect as this one item was, this hardly seems like an error of massive proportions. The WWF wanted Hogan to go to Saudi Arabia, and an agency of the government wouldn't allow it. The substance of Meltzer's reporting is correct.
Nevertheless, as you have suggested, he dutifully called Mr. Dillon twice on Monday to check these facts. Mr. Dillon has yet to return these calls.
The rest of the column concerns:
1) The circumstances regarding Sgt. Slaughter's return to the WWF
2) A report that there was a disagreement within the WWF about the portrayal of the Slaughter character vis a vis Iraq
3) Meltzer's own opinion of the matter
The last point needs no discussion here. Dave took a valid stand, one held by many, if not most principals at the WWF. The first two points were reported to him by several sources within the WWF itself. He also advises me that what he wrote was hardly a scoop within the wrestling community, that it has been a widely and passionately discussed item for some time now.
Ironically, it might interest you to know that Dave even pulled his punches. He had more detailed information about the arguments within the WWF, but demurely referred only to "underlings" trying to convince McMahon to change his mind.
Was the story favorable to the WWF? No. Does it represent a responsible alternative view? Absolutely. Does it represent a majority view, held within and without the WWF? Almost surely. Is the substance of the story accurate? Yes. Will the one error be corrected? Promptly, by Dave himself.
But, if you will forgive me, once again the larger issue here is that the WWF seems to think that it deserves a different standard of journalistic treatment than do other sports/entertainment entities. This is insane. THE NATIONAL, and Dave Meltzer in particular, are wrestling fans. So are many of our readers. We like you--lots--but you deserve to be treated just as other sports, as other entertainment productions. Newspapers cover teams, TV shows and theatrical productions, and wrestling should be handled no differently.
We would love to print Hulk Hogan's own views on the subject. We would love to hear Sgt. Slaughter's discussion of his return to the WWF. Does Mr. McMahon really believe, that contrary to Dave's article, the WWF was against the "turncoat" scheme? Fine, we'd love to hear that. But, of course, almost alone in the public world, WWF public personalities are unavailable to the press. This is our fault?
I have an idea that this story is not going to go away. Indeed, it is my intention to ask Dave to write a reaction story from other parts of the wrestling world for his next column. We'd love to have the principals at the WWF respond on the record.
The long-standing offer to do a major piece on Vince McMahon and the WWF in advance of Wrestlemania also remains on the table.
With all good wishes,
One thing is kind of sad. I really like J.J. Dillon. The first time he contacted me, it was simply to correct me on an item that was in The National. It was not that major of a thing, and there really was no way to correct it in The National, so I corrected it in the next Wrestling Observer. Anyway, he was specific with me from the beginning. This is not J.J. Dillon of the World Wrestling Federation to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer. This was J.J. to Dave. He wasn't a spokesman for the company. He couldn't be quoted (like I ever would quote anyone in the Observer to begin with). He was very helpful and the relationship was the best for both sides. I had a place to check information. He could correct false information. But this was all to be in the strictest of confidence.
There was one problem. One charge, and a valid one, was the WWF claim that I often printed things without checking them with Dillon. True. It was mainly results of matches or opinion matter. I tried to check all personnel moves with him. I always asked him for updates on various injured wrestlers, how serious the condition is and how long they would be out. In the entire time I dealt with Dillon, he was never dishonest with me, at least as far as I could tell. Well, at least when it came to wrestling matters. Once, and this was in the Observer, I listed the reason for Rick Rude leaving as being because he was unhappy with a Summer-Slam payoff. I'd heard it from many people in wrestling, but again, part of the problem both with my own work and also with some within's wrestling's honest negative reaction to the work stems from the beast itself. Covering wrestling is like covering nothing else, because there really is so much false information passed around. The Rude story was completely false, by the way, but worse, from my own perspective, is that I should have known. As it was pointed out, PPV payoffs don't come for three months after the event. I was aware of that, but forgot it. If you check back to my correction, I took double blame for that one.
My dealings were all cordial with Dillon, with maybe one exception that comes to mind. This was several weeks after Rick Rude had quit the WWF. They were not only continuing to advertise him on television weeks after he was gone, but they were even still announcing his name for semi-main event matches at arenas for upcoming shows many weeks after he was no longer with the company. That was dishonest advertising and it went on for weeks, so I mentioned it in The National. He was mad and started with the notion that I was picking on the WWF and that he knew I was biased toward the NWA. I told him that if The National was around last December, I would have crucified the NWA for its dishonesty in continuing to advertise Sid Vicious for Starrcade when they knew he wouldn't be there for nearly one month prior to the event. And I did crucify them in the Observer for that. A few weeks back, I believe it was just prior to the WCW Meadowlands show, we talked for more than an hour. We talked about a lot of subjects, including a lengthy discussion on the role of newsletters. He tried to convince me to hold off on printing title changes in The National until the Tuesday before the event aired on television. They were kind of embarrassed because when Kerry Von Erich lost the title to Curt Hennig, it was in The National (and in every other daily newspaper wrestling column as well). The WWF, however, was continuing to have Von Erich defending the title. Well, about two weeks after the title change, and a few days after the mention in the National column about the title change, the WWF had shows at Madison Square Garden and the Rosemont Horizon--in two of the National's largest circulation cities. The National offices got several calls, and I got many calls as well, asking if Hennig had won the title, why did Von Erich wear the belt, and if Von Erich wore the belt and won, then why didn't I print the following Tuesday that the title had changed back. There was enough of a response that I had to talk about the title change philosophy. Dillon said that I was making a joke out of the titles, and ultimately hurting wrestling by printing about title changes before they aired on television. I said I was simply reporting, and they were the ones who had to take responsibility for not exposing their own product. Remember, the Madison Square Garden card, with Von Erich as champ, was on cable and satellite and available around the country either live or on a very slight taped delay. It was also available in Rochester, N.Y. with a dish, and thus would expose the business to anyone in Rochester who had seen live or read in the paper about the title change. This was a cordial discussion I might add. Ultimately, I told him the problem the WWF had to realize is that it wasn't dealing with one person. It's not me. Every wrestling radio show in the country reported on the title change. Every newsletter, and every wrestling column in a daily paper. The WWF policy is to make it appear that the television show is happening live, but for trying to perpetuate that when it isn't the case, it is the promotion, by its own choice, that has opened itself up to the embarrassment. That's why I tried to warn WCW, which is adopting the same policy because of what Dusty Rhodes learned with the WWF, that it is making a mistake. With WCW the mistake is larger, because it is mainly a more well-informed and harder core crowd. It's already been reported in many daily newspaper wrestling columns and all the newsletters that Arn Anderson beat Tom Zenk for the TV title. On Wednesday night, at the Clash, in front of an audience of millions, if Zenk shows up with the belt, column readers of mine and all the others will write and ask what gives. The only answer is--WCW doesn't recognize title changes that occur on television tapings until the match airs on television. If that exposes the business, you can't blame the reporter, because WCW, like the WWF, is in control of this situation. We can only report. And I told Dillon, and I meant it completely, that it genuinely pained me to have to write about the Von Erich-Hennig situation in November, just as it will pain me next week to have to write about the Zenk-Anderson situation if Zenk is announced as champ on Wednesday's Clash.
Anyway, Dillon understood, or at least he said he did, that I really loved the wrestling business and didn't want to embarrass the WWF with Hennig-Von Erich situation. But I could only report on the news, which in this case, they were in complete control of.
But when the you-know-what hit the fan this week, the WWF violated our trust, a two-way trust at that. But in reality, there was no trust to begin with, because he misrepresented himself from the start. It was not J.J. Dillon, representing Titan Sports, it was just J.J. Dillon. But as Glover's letter said, "we even supplied Mr. Meltzer with a knowledgeable contact in our office, J.J. Dillon." Either Dillon lied about my attempts to contact him on Monday, the earliest possible time I could, which admittedly, was after the article was sent but well before time I could submit last-minute edits on it. Or Dillon told the truth and Mr. Glover, or an intermediary between the two, trumped up the charge. Later I was to learn that the WWF had been constantly trying to get my column out of The National from the very beginning of the paper. Ironically, this was at the same time J.J. Dillon was being my friend.
To Vince McMahon:
This letter is being written for a dual purpose. The first is regarding the January 28 issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which you may or may not have had the opportunity to read. I made some very strong comments concerning the current situation within the World Wrestling Federation, in particular what I see as a hypocritical action concerning the character of Hulk Hogan's current USO tour and his being part of a wrestling angle that uses war hysteria as its backdrop. The comments were directed at both yourself and at Mr. Terry Bollea. I want both yourself and Mr. Bollea to know that I am inviting either of you to have an open forum if you wish to make any comments concerning the matter. You are more than welcome to have as much space you would feel is appropriate in an upcoming issue if you wish to comment on the matter.
The second concerns the column in the January 22 edition of The National. As you no doubt know by now, I was instructed by Mr. Frank Deford to do a follow-up article, tentatively slated for January 29. Obviously I would like comments for either yourself or a company representative as part of the story. Because of the nature of deadlines, it would be most helpful for this discussion to take place today, but please feel free for yourself or a representative of yourself to contact me at any time. I will make an attempt to contact Mr. Dillon concerning this matter later this afternoon.
There are many other items that I would like to discuss with you concerning future coverage of the World Wrestling Federation. I would certainly hope we can both set aside time in the near future to discuss these matters.
One of the single biggest complaints, at least based on what got back to me, within the WWF offices on myself was basically that I had no right to write about the World Wrestling Federation. As silly as this sounds, that was actually among the most vociferous arguments. The other complaint from within the promotion is how could I write about wrestling when I've never worked in wrestling. That complaint really doesn't even dignify a response, but it does dignify a story.
Until this week, I doubt there were six people in the world who knew this. Pat Patterson does. Vince McMahon does. Terry Garvin does. I do. So does the IRS. I used to work in pro wrestling. For the World Wrestling Federation, as a matter of fact. It was many years ago. It was strictly in confidence, though, just like the strict confidence between myself and J.J. Dillon. In no way did it involve or in any way affect the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. In no way did it involve anything underhanded. I was simply to keep the office abreast of all happenings in Japan, such as dates of tours, who is booked on the tours, how various wrestlers on those look and what was going on in general. This was a deal between myself as Lou Dondero. He insisted the whole deal would be off the record. Dondero told me, and whether it's true or not, I sure don't know, that he, who wasn't working for Titan Sports (although he had in the past, and in fact, he Pat Patterson and Terry Garvin go back to the 1960s with Roy Shire), came up with the idea, and took it to Vince McMahon, to get Dave Meltzer to work for the World Wrestling Federation. He told me Vince hired him for that specific job. I had received, before that time, two other offers to work within wrestling but couldn't accept either because both would have involved actually promoting, or helping promote shows, and under those circumstances I would be damaging the credibility of this newsletter. Dondero didn't know the specifics of those two offers, but did know about them. It was very clear nothing would be done that in any way affected the newsletter. Whatever speculation you might have, or that I might have had, that there is more to this than that, was never even hinted to me. Dondero did say that eventually, they wanted me to do their "WWF Magazine." He seemed genuinely surprised when I was disinterested, since the circulation of "WWF Magazine" was much larger than the Wrestling Observer, particularly at that time. At that point I realized that whomever, and he represented himself that all this was coming straight from McMahon, didn't understand me at all. It was similar to last year, when one of the tabloid mags wrote a wrestling column, I think it was called Bernie Basher, and several people in the WWF office, a few who I thought would have known me personally well enough to know better, had me near the top of the listed of "suspects." After all these years, I would write tabloid magazine garbage? Anyway, several months after the meeting with Dondero, I guess whomever was in charge of the WWF Magazine must have left or been let go. I was contacted by someone else in the WWF. Technically speaking, I was asked if I was offered the spot, would I be interested in the spot. There was no actual offer. Technically more of an offer to see if they should consider making an offer. I think summer was coming up and my primary thought to myself was how much money it would take to keep me away from Santa Cruz. So I never answered the question, just changed the subject and brought up other names to that individual who might be interested.
The relationship didn't last long. There was no bitterness or real parting of the ways. Everyone that I dealt with at the time was always friendly with me. And I was always enthusiastic when dealing with them. I wouldn't do such a thing now. If I thought it was wrong then, I wouldn't have done it, but I have to admit to some misgivings.
This sounds corny. Just on the premise that some of you may think I have done something wrong, I'd like to alleviate your conscience. I really don't need the money. I've rationalized this in a way that people that I care about have accepted. I'd like to propose a trade to Vince McMahon. I helped your company with Japan information several years ago. In exchange, in 1991, you provide me with an on-the-record interview, not for The National, but for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. I'll send a check back for the total amount I received while working for Titan Sports. There are two stipulations. One is, the readers of the Observer have to verify, with a ballot after the interview is printed, by a 50 percent or better margin, that they believe the answers are completely honest. If the readers fail to vote 50 percent or better, but I believe the interview is honest, I'll also send the check back. Based on actions this past week, it seems you may need the money worse than I do. But I think we would all feel better in the morning if you did the interview, I wrote the check, and you forwarded it to the charity of your choice. The second is, it has to be by May 1.
Thursday night, I started calling various people within the pro wrestling community for comments. Many were far more vehement than I was concerning the war exploitation in the Royal Rumble and leading to Wrestlemania. While I haven't spoken with one person from within pro wrestling, and this includes several World Wrestling Federation employees who didn't think the scenario was in poor taste, some felt that it was within the bounds of allowable poor taste in pro wrestling. But there was a lot of discussion. Anyway, I had my theme for the story, and that is, just what constitutes allowable poor taste in regards to wrestling and using the current situation as a backdrop for that discussion. Many angles would be brought up, and to bend over backwards to be fair, every other angle in the story was going to involve a promotion other than the World Wrestling Federation. While the subject has been discussed in these pages many times, there has never been a discussion of it within the mainstream media. We'll use this current angle as just an example. But maybe we should examine racial and xenophobic angles as well. Just because something has been done in the past, even many times, doesn't make it right. Just because something has never been done in wrestling doesn't make it wrong. I guess, ultimately in most cases, the public should decide. That's the true litmus test of an angle. But are there exceptions? But even if it makes money, is the exploitation of a death going too far? Is the exploitation of racism or xenophobia going too far? Just because it has been done in the past doesn't make it right. As Bruce Mitchell has said and written, maybe it's time the entire pro wrestling business grows up.
I spoke with one representative of the WWF on Tuesday and with Jim Herd on Thursday and brought up this scenario to both. What if we were to link Missy Hyatt with a top baby face, let's say Lex Luger for example. Spend time building the angle and the alliance of a beauty and beast. Anyway, let's say, to build up a pay-per-view match with a hotshot angle since Ric Flair vs. Luger has been done so many times, you have Ric Flair forcibly rape Missy Hyatt. No, obviously you don't really do it. You just say that it happened. It happens on soap operas all the time. And if someone complains that you've gone too far, you can say, "Well, it could have been worse. We could have shown the attack on television." My gut feeling is Luger out to get revenge for that circumstance would be about as heated an issue as possible. It's never been done, though. As Wade Keller wrote in the Torch, while wrestling isn't real, it doesn't portray itself as fake enough be able to pull an angle like that off.
A funny thing happened on Friday. I spoke with Frank Deford about the quotes I had received. He was impressed enough to suggest we change it from the regular wrestling column to a major story in the paper for next week.
A few hours later, I was pulled from the story. The first reaction. Total relief. Then reality set in. My girlfriend called me a spineless wimp for accepting it calmly. Mark Madden of the Pittsburgh paper, who is ironically doing a major story on the same subject, was outraged, telling me there was no legitimate rationale for the decision. Here's the situation. To do the story right, I would need to talk with Vince McMahon and get his side of it. There was absolutely no way Vince McMahon will talk with Dave Meltzer. He would, however, talk to The National. I had several hours worth of mail to go through. Tons of letters from readers.
Afterwards, I went to the post office and while in line, I don't know why, but I thought of Bruiser Brody. I got home and wrote this letter.
I've been thinking about what we talked about earlier today, and after a lot of very careful thought, feel there are several things we need to talk about.
Initially, I didn't mind being taken off the story. Actually, I was somewhat relieved. But I think you have to understand some things about my own background and position within the pro wrestling world.
I started doing the Wrestling Observer in 1983 when there was no such thing as legitimate wrestling journalism. At the time, it wasn't either. Since that time, my example has created a major underground industry. I don't know how many wrestling newsletters there are now, but there are dozens and dozens. Some aren't very good. A few are excellent. The National column is very much incidental to me. It is something not done for money, but for a purpose. The main reasons I agreed to do the column were twofold. First, it was a challenge. Second, and most important was to prove something. For years I had been told that pro wrestling fans can't read. The media has always insulted them. To a degree, the stereotype has fit. But as with all stereotypes, it was generally an unfair portrayal. In 1985, I wrote a book on pro wrestling. Several publishers loved it, but said that since wrestling fans can't read, it would never sell. My success of doing a mainly word-of-mouth publication that is graphically hideous, has typos, no art at all, microscopic print and writing that is good only sporadically speaks for itself. The reason is because there is a large segment of wrestling fans who want to read about wrestling in the same way baseball fans, football fans, soap opera fans and movie fans want to read about their stars. As both the Observer and the column in The National evolved, both have become more and more serious journalism. What has happened this past week should be more than enough proof of that.
At the very beginning, I was completely intimidated being on The National staff. I've written for several newspapers before, including The Oakland Tribune all through college with a staff that includes several people who are now with Sports Illustrated. but this was different. This wasn't one or two hot-shot writers, this was an entire newspaper of hot-shot writers like Scott Ostler and yourself. It was very important to me, that as the "wrestling" writer, because of the very perception of wrestling itself, that my work be at least of the calibre that it belonged in the same newspaper as yourself and Scott Ostler and the like.
My impression after one year has been that I absolutely belong. I've always recognized the problem with space limitations because wrestling has to be kept in its proper perspective in the real sports world. This year, a local newspaper gave me an award from its editorial staff as the best sportswriter in the area for my work in the Wrestling Observer.
I recognize my own limitations, but within my business, there is nobody that does or can do a better job. Some can write better. But none have the business background, the contacts or the understanding of the wrestling business and mentality.
Anyway, what this long-winded thing is leading up to is this. There is nobody who can do the story we are talking about, as in more qualified, understanding the entire situation and with more contacts throughout this business than myself. Personally, I would be perfectly happy having John McGrath do the story. I would rather go to the beach tomorrow. But professionally, I have a problem. I've spent eight years becoming the very best in my field. This is a unique story and it's on my turf. It would be a better story and more complete with comments from Vince McMahon. That is something I can't deliver. However, and I feel very strongly about this, Vince McMahon should not dictate to Frank Deford who covers Vince McMahon. In fact, what he wants, especially considering what has taken place over the past week, should be the least of your concerns. Whatever reason he has for not wanting to deal with me are his. Basically, I've decided to do the story. If you understand my situation, you would understand that I have no choice. Luckily, I have a venue. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter. I can do it in The National if you wish. Since that was the original idea, I would much prefer to do it for The National. And I would greatly like to discuss this matter with you as soon as possible.
I'd also like to have the name of the wrestling column changed from Grunt'n'Grin. It is demeaning to the many people who buy the paper each Tuesday specifically for that column. While pro wrestling is often humorous and tongue-in-cheek, the column has mainly been very serious. I think simply "Pro Wrestling" would be best for all concerned. It's not really that big of a deal, but I think that it's only fair.
I very much appreciated your letter. It was very thoughtful and even moving.
Some responses and one clarification, and then we'll talk on the phone:
First, I'm delighted to learn how successful you have been. That is really a wonderful success story.
Next, no, you don't have to be intimidated in National company. You're a fine writer and an outstanding reporter. Whatever you're doing, don't change. You belong in the paper.
I think you're being too sensitive on the title. Wrestling is fun and the play off Grunt and Groan seems apt, but if you don't like it, let's get a new one. Pro Wrestling, though, is too drab. How about No Holds Barred? Think about it while you loll on the beach.
Finally, and the one note that left me uneasy. Vince McMahon is not dictating anything to us. Just as he can't stop you from writing about him, I can't stop him from not talking to you. If he won't talk to you because you are allegedly anti-McMahon, let's see if he'll talk to a totally impartial journalist who has never even heard of Vince McMahon. This is not an insider story. Getting the fresh look is common with us and others. It is the way to go here. We are not shunting you aside or denying you. You work on the story will be credited. I think this story can possibly be a big one, with national implications and there will be more to it after this.
I would like to see you write your column next Tuesday on the wrestling press. The newsletters. How the various organizations deal with these periodicals. Why the organizations don't want them around. I could make a good quote here. It's a good column idea.
And keep one last thing in mind. Only one person on The National wanted a wrestling column. Luckily for you, that was me. But I never have to defend Dave Meltzer anymore. Your work and the popularity of your column have surprised a lot of people who dealt in stereotypes.
Saturday afternoon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, General Adnon came to the building. He was told not to come out of the dressing room. He wasn't going to be part of the show tonight. The same thing happened that night in Des Moines.
I guess I should have some wrestling news in here.
Okay, here goes. Michael Wall Street walked out last Monday on WCW before a TV taping at Center Stage. Basically, he didn't like the terms of his new contract. I heard the problem was more the length of the contract (it was a short-term thing, like six months) rather than the dollar amount. Those in the company believe there is still a chance he'll reconsider. Alexandra York will be kept around. Probably at the Clash on Wednesday, they'll do an angle that will lead to eventually transferring her to Terry Taylor. Seems, despite popular belief, Dusty Rhodes isn't going to bury Taylor.
Jumbo Tsuruta won the Triple Crown title from Stan Hansen on Jan. 19 in Matsumoto.
Famous wrestling promoter Nick Gulas passed away Monday at the age of 76 at a Nashville, TN hospital. No cause of death was given. Gulas promoted wrestling from 1947 through 1980, before selling his territory, basically after losing a promotional war with Jerry Jarrett.
FMW's tag team tournament final on 1/15 in Sendai drew a sellout crowd of 4,351 with The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) & Mr. Pogo winning the tournament beating Atsushi Onita & Sambo Asako.
Bill Dundee won the Texas title in the 1/25 tournament in Dallas beating Gary Young in the finals before 406 fans.
Max Andrews Syndication was unable to confirm any plans to syndicate Joe Pedicino's GWF in the future.
Indeed, Jerry Jarrett was using Andrews' name in kind of a baby face administrator spot at the Friday night card at the Sportatorium.
The World Bodybuilding Federation has a press conference 1/30 at the Plaza Hotel in New York to announce the signing of the various bodybuilders they have under contract and probably to announce its first bodybuilding show. According to one participant, the show will be in June. Names that are expected to be at the press conference are Samir Bannout (a former Mr. Olympia for Joe Weider), Aaron Baker, David Dearth, Barry DeMey, Mike Christian (who placed fourth at the past Olympia), Mike Quinn, Vince Commerford, Gary Styrdom, Jim Quinn, Danny Padilla and Tony Pearson. Sources within the bodybuilding world are saying that the WBF is claiming to have Shawn Ray (third at the Olympia) and Richard Gaspari (fifth), but others are saying Weider still has them so we'll know on Tuesday. The big rumor in bodybuilding is that Lee Haney (Mr. O the past seven years) will make a surprise appearance and announcement he's with the WBF. If Haney and Ray are with the WBF, combined with the other names that are basically confirmed, then McMahon has basically stripped Weider of almost every key player. The March 1991 issue of "Iron Man" has a story that on Nov. 28, Ben Weider (Joe's brother) talked with Ted Turner and the two came to a verbal agreement that Weider is going to take over publishing Turner's Wrestling Wrap-up magazine and turn it into a first-rate and more impressive newsstand magazine than the current WWF magazine. If the WWF uses bodybuilders as part of its wrestling shows (to guest pose, not wrestle or be in angles), Turner will have access to Weider's bodybuilders to guest pose at wrestling shows (even if he has access to them, why would he want to use them? There's no purpose to be gained except copying McMahon). In addition, Weider, who has many European contacts and has promoted many huge bodybuilding shows in Europe, may help get the ball rolling for WCW wrestlers to tour Europe.
This is not a complete rundown of the 3/21 Tokyo Dome card, but here are all the matches that involve WCW talent as made official last week: Ric Flair vs. Tatsumi Fujinami for the WCW title, Sting vs. Keiji Muto, Lex Luger vs. Riki Choshu, Doom vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Big Van Vader, Barry Windham & Arn Anderson vs. Masa Saito & Masa Chono, Steiners vs. Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki, Tom Zenk & Brian Pillman & Tim Horner vs. Takayuki Iizuka & Shiro Koshinaka & Osamu Matsuda and El Gigante vs. Black Cat.
The Blue Blazer (Owen Hart) returns to the UWA in Mexico on 2/17 to resume his feud with Villano III over the WWF light-heavyweight title.
Kokina & Samu & Fatu won the big main event on 1/20 at El Toreo in Naucalpan beating Dos Caras & Canek & Mil Mascaras when Kokina pinned Caras in the third fall. Because of that, the 1/21 Canek vs. Dos Caras match in Puebla for the UWA title was changed to a six-man with The Hawaiian Beasts (as Kokina-Samu-Fatu are referred to in Mexico) vs. Caras & Villano III & Canek. They had a rematch of the 1/20 main event on 1/27 at El Toreo in the UWA's 16th anniversary card.
WCW was considering adding a Mexican match to the 2/24 Wrestle War card.
Fritz Von Erich agreed to work a WWF show on 2/11, being in Kerry's corner to offset interference of Adnon at Reunion Arena in a flag vs. flag match. I believe these matches end with Slaughter walking out via COR and the American flag being waved.
Lots of problems regarding Herb Abrams UWF group. Many of Abrams' checks for the New York City tour bounced. Abrams has made good in cash, as of Sunday, for most, but not all of the money stemming from the bad checks. The check for Bill Anderson had a stop payment on it rather than an insufficient funds, with Abrams claiming he did so because Anderson and Louie Spicoli visited the Titan Sports offices during their week in New York. The latter item was confirmed from the other side. Apparently Anderson and Spicoli's contention was they did visit the Titan office, but it was during their free time during the week. Anderson has always worked as a ring announcer for the WWF cards in Southern California even when helping book the shows and working under a mask for Abrams. Anyway, depending upon which side you choose to believe, both wrestlers have either quit or been fired by the UWF. Those close to Anderson and Spicoli said Abrams is all tied up in legal problems with Vince McMahon as well and spending much of his money fighting legal fights which may be why money is so tight right now. Plus, there still is no real source of income coming in. The check to the Royce Hotel also bounced, so the 2/8 show there is off, although Abrams was going to cancel anyway. John Arezzi, who helped promote the shows on the last tour, was offered the chance to stay on, but only on a commission rather than salary deal and declined, so he won't be promoting the shows. The Penta Hotel show for TV tapings was moved to 2/15. All appearances of Rick Rude, Honkeytonk Man and Greg Valentine were edited out of the Sports Channel TV show that aired this weekend. Any mentions in commentary of any of the three names were also erased from the show. In addition, all mentions of the term "sports entertainment" on TV was erased out (and Abrams loved to use that term) because McMahon claims he has that term trademarked as well.
Apparently there are major problems within the UWF in Japan as well. Apparently Akira Maeda failed to get sponsorship to start a new group. Shinji Jin worked a deal with SWS to get both himself and Yoshiaki Fujiwara in, and most expect Masaharu Funaki to join up as well. Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki and Yoji Anjyo are wanting to form a new group, but apparently without Maeda. So Chris Dolman, who agreed to a big money deal with New Japan, then didn't sign, but went with Maeda instead, seems to have been totally out of the Japan wrestling scene.
It's been speculated that Mike Rotunda will become a New Japan regular and form a tag team with Brad Rheingans.
Chris Chavis is apparently going to come in to the WWF under the name "War Eagle." .
Dusty Rhodes is not going to host World Wide Wrestling after all. Gordon Solie will be brought in to do color for Tony Schiavone.
Billy Jack Haynes has been negotiating with WCW.
Jesse Ventura is negotiating to work for Joe Pedicino's GWF as a television announcer.
Eddie Gilbert won't be working for Pedicino after all.
Pedicino's group is now said to be getting off the ground in April. Most of his original core of talent, however, won't be sitting tight and aside from Bill Eadie and Jim Cornette, it doesn't appear that any of the originally mentioned major names are a lock right now.
Royal Rumble appears to have done better than a three percent buy rate, which is by far the highest of any previous RR show. That would mean a PPV gross of approximately $8.9 million
FROM THE MIAMI HERALD
By Alex Marvez
With its perpetuation of racial and gender stereotypes, the World Wrestling Federation has never been known for its high moral standards.
But WWF owner Vince McMahon has hit a low by attempting to correlate the group's happenings in the ring with the Persian Gulf War.
The WWF is planning to make Hulk Hogan vs. Sergeant Slaughter the main event of Wrestlemania VII, the WWF's annual mega-card, March 24. The main issue won't be the WWF title, which Slaughter took from The Ultimate Warrior Jan. 19 at the Royal Rumble.
McMahon is centering the issue around "patriotism." Slaughter has hired an Iraqi manager (Sheik Adnon), received a pair of boots he claims are from Saddam Hussein and has denounced the United States.
Hogan will visit families of soldiers in the Middle East at the request of the USO. He probably will have an altercation with Slaughter Friday on a WWF telecast on NBC. While Hogan's motives might be good, they are being exploited by the WWF. McMahon wants to present war as a laughing matter.
Worse, wrestling fans might forget the tasteless promotion of this feud because they desperately want to see Hogan begin his third WWF title reign. Maybe McMahon will reconsider his angle and present a Wrestlemania match with more class.
Make your thoughts on the issue known by writing to McMahon at the WWF headquarters, P.O. Box 3857, Stamford, Conn., 06095 or call 203-352-8600.
Actually, my own opinion is McMahon doesn't want to present the war as a laughing matter. Just as a matter to use to build heat for his top heel.
There is a message and a lesson to all of this. The lesson is very valuable, which is why I'm writing this for people like Wade Keller, Paul MacArthur and others who will all be in this position some day. What really happened this week was this.
The World Wrestling Federation attempted to exploit the Persian Gulf war to create an emotionally charged backdrop for the main angle at Wrestlemania. Whether that is right or wrong is up to all of you to decide for yourself. But it is a subject worth discussing. It will be the major focus for all wrestling newsletters for several more weeks. I wrote about it because it was major news.
The war itself, having nothing to do with professional wrestling, is a strong emotional issue right now. Ultimately, if the World Wrestling Federation was taken to task for and accused of exploiting the war, the WWF would have no defense for except that they have no limits to what they will do to make money. However, that defense, valid as it really may be and as honest as it may be, can't be used publicly in the real world during an emotionally high-charged time. The real world I'm speaking of are people like television station managers, advertisers and building managers, all of whom are in a panic about tension because of the war already, having nothing to do with pro wrestling. This latter reason was the very danger expressed to me by WWF employees between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19 about why, for as much business as human reasons, for Vince McMahon to change the story-line. The odds of a major media backlash were small. But they weren't that small and the results of that backlash would give the WWF, and even more unfortunately, professional wrestling in general because so many equate the WWF with pro wrestling, a terrible black eye. The WWF is already a very successful company. They shouldn't have needed the money that bad to risk the very reputation of the promotion for a short-term angle, when another angle could be nearly as successful and have no risks attached.
My column in The National, which should have forced the WWF to examine the situation, was designed more as a warning signal. My real thoughts were saved for last week's Observer.
Since the World Wrestling Federation had no defense it could use, it tried to take the focus off the real issue, and put all the focus on a side issue. Dave Meltzer is a biased reporter. A reckless reporter. An outright libelous reporter.
The extreme panic-like reaction by Titan Sports to the column caused Frank Deford to realize there was a much bigger and more significant story here. That's why, for the first time since I've written for The National, Deford gave me the topic for a story.
What happened next I can only conjecture. I do know the reaction from those with Titan Sports to Deford was strong. But they managed to succeed in changing the main focus of the issue. They attempted to portray this as Dave Meltzer vs. Vince McMahon. Obviously, if that's the case, Dave Meltzer can't do the story. It also hides the real issue. The real issue is that Titan Sports' entire promotional theme for this year's Wrestlemania is based on exploiting the Persian Gulf war. The original idea was just to exploit the Persian Gulf tension. After the plan was in effect, a war broke out. A last minute change would have been difficult, because of all the long range plans going into Wrestlemania. But the change was possible. WCW was forced to change its main event for a pay-per-view show in February three weeks before the show, and did it successfully enough that it was one of its most successful (in terms of buy rate) PPV shows ever. Wrestlemania was 11 weeks away when shooting broke out. It was months away when the U.N. deadline was passed. If Vince McMahon wants to use real world events and correlate them into his wrestling angles, and after all, reality often does make the best angles, then he has to realize he has absolutely no control of real world events. Sometimes things will happen in the real world, the one he doesn't control, that affects his wrestling world, which he does. But after watching the Royal Rumble, here is a question. Did McMahon pretend those events weren't taking place, which would be saying that the WWF lives in its own world, a surrealistic cartoon world? Or did McMahon admit the events were taking place, and then used them to build heat for his two main characters.
A change wasn't made between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19 because either the war situation was too good not to exploit, and from an emotional standpoint which would turn into a financial one, it was the best possible backdrop, or simply it was stubbornness. There are few people in this world, outside of the wrestling business, who understood the situation better. The WWF absolutely has the right to do it. I, and others, absolutely have the right to report on it. And just as the WWF will, undeniably, reap in a fortune at Wrestlemania by doing it, it also has to accept any critical judgement for its actions as entertainment producers. The company also has to accept any repercussions or judgement from the outside world stemming from its decisions. Dave Meltzer vs. Vince McMahon was a work. But it wasn't until Saturday night that I realized it. Exactly like Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter. Titan Sports tried to work an angle to camouflage what is a shoot--not a wrestling angle. On Friday, Titan Sports successfully pulled off the angle, short-term. Dave Meltzer isn't writing the story in The National. He's not even writing it for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. He's been sidetracked into writing this newsletter instead.
Ultimately, Frank Deford was right, however. Any criticism in a story written by myself would result in more of a response that would sidetrack the real issue. What of the possibility that I would go overboard to prove just how unbiased I was? I think I could do the best story possible. But with another author's name on the story, even the suggestion that it was being written by somebody anti-Vince McMahon can't be brought up.
Vince McMahon doesn't know Dave Meltzer. He, when reading this, will try to figure how much of this week's issue is a work and how much is a shoot. So will many others in the wrestling business. However, when Frank Goodish reads this, he knows. So does Wade Keller. So does my girlfriend. So do the two other people who know exactly who they are. And so does J.J. Dillon. Maybe not right at this moment, but he will tonight, when he lays down to sleep, and he will again, tomorrow morning, when he looks in the mirror.
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