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post #51 of 271 (permalink) Old 08-04-2008, 08:25 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thank you again for all those news from the past.
Go on plaese!
tnaks again.
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

May 9th, 1988

Note: There is a transcript of the Bruno radio interview mentioned a few weeks back in this issue, along with Dave's thoughts on it, which is a fun read and covers a variety of topics, but there's no way I'm going through all of that. I have my limits.

WWF


-- The WWF ran its last SNME of the season on 4/30, which was taped 4/22 in Springfield, MA. Savage is very much the star of the WWF right now, and Dave observed that the name Hulk Hogan was never even mentioned during the show. Dave also thinks it's amazing the difference in match quality on top between Hogan and Savage. Dave also noted that Duggan was really trying against Hercules, as was Hercules, but Duggan has fallen hard. Savage vs Gang was an okay match, but Savage was moving great and doing some awesome stuff in the ring. DiBiase sold big for all of Muraco's offense, but Muraco didn't do much. Bulldogs vs Demolition was terrible as they seemed to be on different pages. Rude vs Ware was the only match where both guys are about equally talented and it was pretty good, with neither guy really carrying the other.

-- The WWF is cost cutting by no longer having managers travel to house shows, only TV tapings. They may make an exception for Liz since she's such a key part of Savage's act. They have also cut back greatly on dates. A year ago, they were running 20-25 shows per week, now they are doing 10-12 shows per week. This is probably good in the short term, because Dave keeps hearing that the live shows are much better lately, although Dave credits the Savage/DiBiase feud and Bret/Bad News for most of that.

-- 4/24 at the Capital Centre drew 4,500 fans headlined by Savage vs DiBiase. 4/25 in MSG drew 17,000 headlined by Savage vs DiBiase.

-- Harley Race will be out of action for several months. He had 18 inches of his intestine removed after a ruptured intestine and at one point was on the critical list.

-- Bubba Rogers will debut with a prison guard gimmick and feud with Hulk Hogan this coming fall.

-- Owen Hart is still undecided about coming in.

-- Ricky Steamboat has quit, but Dave doesn't know more than that yet.



NWA


-- JCP has pretty much given up any claim to the New York market, as Nassau Coliseum officials have given in to the WWF's ultimatum. Crockett ran four shows there. The first show in late November was a major success, but that was expected. The second card was the Bunkhouse Stampede, which was a disaster, although the gate was still more than Titan was averaging, so they were okay. However, the ill will from the lack of organization behind the show resulted in a poor gate for the third show, which drew $48,000, about what the WWF would average on non-Hogan shows. The 6/24 date has been lost, and they have also lost their time slot on WPIX in New York, so they are now without local television in New York and Los Angeles, which they sorely need. Dave thinks the loss of television may have actually been a deliberate decision by Crockett, because they were paying upwards of $6,000 per week for their time, but that it's really going to hurt ad revenue and potential exposure.

-- The Fantastics captured the US tag team titles from the Midnight Express on 4/26 in Chattanooga in a match that went more than 40 minutes. (My note: It's one of the best matches of the year. Find it.) Jim Cornette was on TV saying he was planning a party because he expected his close personal friend Jim Crockett to return the belts to him. Dave expects Cornette to not get the belts back, and get a face full of cake.

-- Ric Flair missed several dates over the last weekend, and there are several stories floating around. In one, he had a severe fever, and the other, he had a staph infection. Refunds were offered in the cities he missed.

-- 4/29 in Miami drew 4,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting. 4/30 in Detroit drew 4,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting in a ***1/2 match where they totally broke formula and did all highspots.

-- The next Clash is expected to be on 6/15 from the Knight Center in Miami. The Great American Bash PPV is on 7/10 in Baltimore.

-- Dave says the NWA should be happy that WCCW is doing the Triple Tower of Doom first, so they can see any bugs in the gimmick. It was the idea of Kevin Sullivan, not Dusty Rhodes.

-- "I finally saw the Barry Windham turn and it was tremendous. Every, and in every, I mean 100% of the phone calls I received this week on the turn, agreed that it was a great turn. Some didn't like Dusty getting involved since it really was a Windham vs. Luger issue, but I didn't mind as much because Rhodes has been a significant part of Windham's career almost from its onset back around 1979 in Florida, so it made sense for him to get involved when Windham turned. I can see the point of those who thought he was stealing the spotlight once again."

-- The 1988 Bash tour will be from 6/26 to 8/7, and will include 40 or 41 shows all over the country. Many shows will have War Games. Only two of the shows will be outdoors -- one at Tampa Stadium, and the other will be at Charlotte baseball stadium on 7/2. They also have a show booked at Reunion Arena in Dallas on 7/3. The wrestlers will be working six weeks without a day off, so they'll be given a one week vacation after the tour. They have to do TV on those days as well, and there will be plenty of double shots due to TBS tapings. After that, the plan is to rotate all wrestlers on a three weeks on, one week off schedule.

-- The NWA took WCCW's TV in Jackson, MS "... and celebrated by sending a tape that aired this past weekend totally void of any commentary."

-- They are plugging the US title tournament in Houston on 5/13 pretty hard. Barry Windham or Lex Luger is considered the favorite. They are also saying the Midnight Rider will wrestle, and be accompanied to the ring by Dusty Rhodes. Dave suspects they'll put Adrian Adonis or Joe Pedicino in the outfit, or maybe stuff both members of the Rock & Roll Express in the outfit, since they want back in so badly.

-- "That NWA Main Event show (which is back on Sundays on WTBS) sure isn't turning out as many of us had hoped. This past Sunday's show still had poor lighting, and truthfully, lackluster matches. Originally the main event was announced as Barry Windham & Luger against Flair & Arn Anderson, but with the Windham turn, it was changed to Luger & Sting as announced on TV. With Flair being ill, it became Arn vs. Luger in a single, which was okay because of Arn, but Luger's weaknesses were all too evident once again." Dave says he ran to the ring and was breathing heavy five minutes in, but it got better at the end when Windham ran in for the DQ, but wasn't much better than most of the SNME matches which aired the night before. "This is what they wanted to be their showcase show, with showcase production and showcase matches and they are falling way short in both categories."

-- They are cutting back to one show per night, which means several wrestlers are likely to be cut.


WCCW



-- WCCW has finally announced a lineup for the Texas Stadium show on 5/8. Michael Hayes and Ken Mantell are really trying to downplay the fact that it's called the David and Mike Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions. They kept the name to appease Fritz, but realize it's in bad taste. The main event will be a pair of matches inside the Triple Tower of Doom. There will be three rings, built one on top fo the other, with a fireman's pole going through the center of the rings allowing wrestlers to climb up or down. Wrestlers can also switch levels by climbing up the cage itself. They will also hold an 18-man Texas Roundup (the WWF has now trademarked the term "Royal Rumble", so they can't use it) inside the three rings. The idea is that the winner is the first wrestler who gets to the top of the third ring, then from there climbs up the cage to the top and grabs the envelope which contains money and five prizes to fans whose names the wrestler will pick out, including a brand new motorcycle and a trip to Las Vegas. Also on the show is Michael Hayes vs Terry Gordy in a Badstreet match, Iceman Parsons vs Kerry Von Erich, Kevin Von Erich & Bruiser Brody vs Buddy Roberts and a partner, Chris Adams vs Terry Taylor in a No DQ match, the Simpsons against Tatum and Victory to unify the Wild West and Texas tag team titles, Bill Irwin vs Black Bart, Eric Embry vs Steve Casey, Mike George vs Jeff Raitz and Missing Link & Jason Sterling vs Angel of Death & Vince Apollo.

-- 4/24 in Fort Worth drew 500 fans.

-- Skandor Akbar made an offer to Terry Taylor to manage him.

-- Fans are heavily cheering Terry Gordy in interviews, even though they do boo him when he's against Hayes.

-- WCCW is negotiation to have its syndication package be part of the All Star Wrestling TV network ad package.



MEMPHIS



-- Curt Hennig vs Jerry Lawler will be the most talked about show of 5/7, with Lawler announcing that if he doesn't win the title, he will retire from wrestling. Eddie Gilbert, Bill Dundee, Pat Tanaka, and Paul Diamond will be brought in for the undercard. The match itself will not air on the FNN show, but will instead be released quickly as a videotape by Independent Media Marketing based in New Jersey.

-- They are announcing that Larry Hennig is ahead of Jackie Fargo in referee voting on the 900 line in an attempt to drive up calls.

-- Robert Fuller recently lost a match to Jerry Lawler where the stipulation was that Missy Hyatt would have to be Lawler's maid for a day if Fuller lost. They aired the segment on TV this weekend, which Dave says was better than the UWF version with Dark Journey, but nowhere near Jimmy Garvin and Sunshine as David Von Erich's valet for a day in WCCW in '83.

-- They are now calling Gary Young an adopted member of the Gilbert family. Tommy Gilbert called him his new adopted son, and in Young's first interview, he said, "I'll be watching Missy's behind all the time ... um, I mean her back." This reminds Dave of a joke on Blackwell's Southern Championship Wrestling. Paul E. Dangerously co-hosts the show with Rhubarb Jones. They have this ongoing joke where Paul E. always messes up his name and Rhubarb corrects him. Finally, Paul E. says, "How come whenever I call you Rubhard, you say it's Rhubarb, but when Missy Hyatt calls you Rhubarb, you tell her it's Rub Hard?"

-- Curt Hennig did a promo where he said he's the only world champion because Ric Flair and Randy Savage only wrestle in one promotion and he goes everywhere.



CONTINENTAL
-- FNN is negotiating with Continental and Dave thinks there's a strong possibility they'll be on FNN eventually.

-- "Speaking of Continental, the angle with Tom Prichard and Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony was one of the best I've seen ina long time. Part of the reason is that Gordon Solie gave his best performance in several years."

OREGON
-- On 5/7, Don Owen and Billy Jack Haynes will be running competing shows. Haynes' roster includes himself, Ray Candy, Big Bubba/Fred Ottman from Memphis, Rip Oliver, Mike Miller, Tom Magee, Tiger Chung Lee, Brian Adams, Cpl. Kirchner, Cocoa Samoa, Steven Gator Wolf, Joey Jackson, Kevin Kelly, JT Southern, Chavo Guerrero, and Dewey Forte. Haynes is planning on paying decent guarantees at $600-$800 a week, but his crew is unimpressive. Dave thinks it will be a bitter battle just because Oregon and Washington just don't have enough fans to support two local promotions running full time, much less occasional big shows from the WWF and the NWA, which has a stop in Seattle during the Great American Bash tour.

STAMPEDE
-- Crowds are falling, due to a combination of standard summer fall-off, and many local fans feel the shows are less family friendly because of all the blood.

-- Jonathan Holiday is now a heel referee.

-- Les Thornton is planning on running opposition in Alberta in May.

AJPW
-- The most recent series ended on 4/22 in Kanagawa before 3,100 fans at the Kawasaki City Gym, in which Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara retained the PWF tag titles by beating Bruiser Brody and Tommy Rich. Rich subbed for Jimmy Snuka who suffered three legit broken ribs the night before when John Tenta accidentally crushed him.

-- 4/21 in Tokyo drew 1,850.

-- The Road Warriors will appear on 6/9 and 6/10. The 6/10 show is in Budokan Hall.

NJPW
-- Antonio Inoki is out of action with a broken foot, which will hurt them at the box office, since they've already lost Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki to the UWF, and houses are down in general anyway. The 5/7 show will now be headlined by Choshu vs Vader, and Dave says it will be interested to see what type of drawing power Choshu has left.

OTHER


-- Joe Pedicino and WATL-TV in Atlanta are putting together a wrestling marathon for 6/17 and 6/18, which will be about 30 consecutive hours of wrestling, 6 1/2 of which will be live, in studio. It will start at 9PM on 6/17 and go non-stop until 3AM on 6/19. They will also show Henry Winkler's "The One and Only", in which Winkler plays a wrestler, a movie Dave calls his favorite wrestling movie. In addition, they'll play the movie "Mad Bull", and do a History of Pro Wrestling In Atlanta segment. It's being used to raise money for the Atlanta police force to purchase bullet proof vests, and wrestlers from several promotions are scheduled to appear. Dave has even been told two WWF wrestlers will be there.

-- Big John Studd has sent a country music demo to several record companies. "He's trying to b.s. about his fame as a pro wrestler which would sell all these records. One person in the industry told me he wrestles better than he sings. I'm not sure he realized what he was saying (actually, I'm sure he did). At any rate, don't buy it if there are any cats living near your neighborhood if it is ever released."

-- The Sheik is putting together a TV show which is on satellite for some called Big Time Wrestling, a combination of clips from Pro Wrestling This Week and old Sheik footage from the 70s.

-- In the letters page, a reader felt Dave wasn't being a good journalist because he mixed his fact and opinion together too much, and he needed to keep them separate. He also accused him of being biased against the WWF and toward the NWA, and said he thinks he sometimes pretends to have opinions that he can't possibly believe. Dave's response? Since you asked ...

"You are right about one thing. I was insulted by this letter. I wasn't insulted because you didn't agree with my opinions regarding the 3/27 shows, because anyone who agrees with all of my opinions is obviously letting me do their thinking for them. No two people are fans of this business for the exact same reasons and there has never been a major wrestling show that everyone disliked or everyone liked. Ironically, in the five-year history of this publication, Clash of the Champions came closest to being universally enjoyed. When I said Crockett kicked McMahon's ass I made it quite clear that it was in terms of presenting the better show and not making the most money. Every newsletter I've seen, more than 90 percent of the readers who responded to the poll, almost everyone that called in on the three phone-in talk shows I did the week after the show, and of more than 100 letters I had responding to my comments in the 4/4 issue, only 11 disagreed with that assessment. But even if the percentages were on the other side, this newsletter's popularity is in part because the readers know that whatever opinion I give is my honest opinion on a subject. Read back to the issue after Thanksgiving and you'll see how afraid I am to criticize the Crockett promotion, whether it be wrestlers, the booker, the front office organization or the announcers. Read my comments on Survivor Series. Where is the anti-McMahon bias you are talking about? Re-read the issue after Wrestlemania III--I said it was the greatest wrestling production of all-time. I was basically complimentary of the NBC special, which I received tons of flack over, which is fine. There is not one promoter in this business, not Fritz Von Erich, Ken Mantell, Jim Crockett, Dusty Rhodes, Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, Verne Gagne, or even Baba and Inoki that doesn't believe I'm biased against their promotion in comparison to the others. There are mistakes, probably in each and every issue. I don't feel good about that, but the nature of this business makes that impossible to avoid. My opinions are often wrong, but they're often right. But I've never, not once given a less than honest opinion of anything in this business to protect anyone. Only once have I withheld a portion of a news story that I felt was major enough to report (I reported the actual story, but left out names of wrestlers I have no connection with -- because the climate at that time would have necessitated being fired because the media at large certainly would have picked up on one of those stars being suspended for cocaine abuse that shortly after the Duggan-Sheik incident -- most readers know the wrestler I'm referring to, and the incident). Because they are in charge of the most visible promotions, Vince McMahon, Jim Crockett, and Dusty Rhodes become open to the most criticism, and I would bet of the three, I've been the most critical of Rhodes, not McMahon. Also, the majority of readers live in either the New York City area, or either the San Francisco or Chicago areas. I could be wrong, but I believe the majority to be WWF fans, but even if that's not the case, on both Thanksgiving and Jan. 24, while I didn't take a poll, the majority of readers felt the WWF show was better on those days. That wasn't the case on March 27th. I admit to being biased toward the Crockett style of working matches compared to the WWF style, although neither is my favorite nor is either of them my least favorite. I'm also biased in favor of the way Titan handles its publicity, its organization, the way it rotates its talent and the overall professional looking atmosphere of its TV product in comparison to Crockett."
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thanks for the great read.

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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thank you very much!
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

May 16th, 1988

WWF


-- Things are quiet from a news point of view, but crowds have been extremely impressive lately. Dave thinks because they're drawing so well right now, the schedule will have tons more dates added and managers will probably be back to work on house shows in no time.

-- The August PPV has been moved up to 8/28 and will take place at Madison Square Garden.

-- 4/29 in Utica, NY, drew 5,084 headlined by Andre vs Duggan. 4/30 at the Cow Palace drew 11,104 fans and $140,000, the second-largest gate in the history of the building headlined by Ted DiBiase vs Randy Savage. 5/7 in Boston drew 12,000 headlined by Honky Tonk Man vs Brutus Beefcake and Andre the Giant vs Hacksaw Duggan. On 5/1, Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase drew a $168,000 gate.

-- Randy Savage is now being billed as the "undisputed WWF champion". The word heavyweight will no longer be used when talking about the title.

-- The WWF is working on several non-wrestling syndicated specials like the Slammys.

-- "The other day a few of us were joking about what would be the worst possible match of this generation -- and the best thing we came up with was the Anabolic Warrior against Andre. Then I find out a few weeks back they actually had that match in Switzerland on a European tour. What did the Swiss ever do to Vince McMahon?"



NWA


-- "The Midlife Rider has ridden off for the final time, after just a two week stay in the NWA, thus ending one of the quickest about-face angles in pro wrestling history. Four or five weeks of television, a baseball bat angle and the punching of Magnum T.A. were all flushed down the commode last weekend when the decision was made to pull the plug on the gimmick because it wasn't working. The official announcement on WTBS this past weekend was the (sic) Paul Boesch went to the NWA board and somehow convinced them to reinstate Dusty. With all the panic decision-making going on in the NWA, with angles changing so fast one TV show contradicts the next, things must be worse off than they appeared to be a few weeks ago. Of course, it is May, and the key contracts are due their balloon payment and let's just say I expect more of the same over the next few weeks."

-- Dave says the angle not working was a mild surprise to him, but that more than that, giving up that angle in just two weeks had to be hard on Dusty's ego. They have already set up a Barry Windham/Dusty Rhodes feud at a TV taping, but Dave doesn't understand, because the natural feud in TV buildup is Windham vs Luger. "It's hard to predict what's going to happen next with the NWA when those in charge don't seem to have any idea from one TV show to the next."

-- The next Clash of the Champions, billed as "Miami Mayhem", will take place on 6/8 at the Knight Center in Miami. Dave thinks based on the mood of the promotion and the disarray they're in, this show won't be as hot as the first one was. There's a belief they gave away too much at the first show and that's why they're hurting now, "... a view I both agree and disagree with. They did give a lot, but also failed to take advantage of a lot that they could have done. For instance, the barbed wire match was the blow-off of a feud, only they didn't know it. The heels got beat, quick and swift, and there was no point to any rematches with the two teams, but instead the two teams are still being booked with each other and the feud continues. The Flair-Sting rematches everywhere at least needed no time limit and no DQ stips to be meaningful, as just seeing another match between the two of them meant nothing when you've already seen everything they can do with each other for 45 minutes -- now the only lure is a definitive finish of the feud, but the inability to mix in new talent at the top makes them avoid blow-offs. My own opinion is the company had tremendous momentum coming off the first Clash, and retained it until they spent two hours on the Midlife Rider on TBS week after week and pushed everyone else back." Dave says they are afraid to put on a hot show, which becomes even more apparent when looking at the lineup for the next Clash. Dave has no idea why they're doing a show without Ric Flair, Lex Luger, or the Road Warriors.

-- Ted Turner is working on a new station called TNT with lots of MGM movies and sporting events. Dave expects to see wrestling there eventually. (My note: He was right.) They are waiting on the network to clear 30 million homes. He is actually trying some type of package deal with the Great American Bash PPV as a lure to get cable companies to sign up for TNT. Turner and Crockett are under fire with cable companies right now for running the Clash. The feeling is that they ruined Wrestlemania and cost the cable companies big money.

-- The NWA realizes the Great American Bash pay-per-view is pretty much do or die, considering the state they're in.

-- On TV, there was zero reaction to Jim Ross announcing Dusty's reinstatement. One woman in the audience finally cheered and was eventually drowned out by boos.

-- The gate for night two of the Crockett Cup was $115,000 and 6,200 paid. The combined gate for both nights was about the same as souvenir sales for Wrestlemania at Trump Plaza.

-- 5/5 in Johnstown, PA drew 680 fans headlined by Sting vs Larry Zbyszko. The same night in Raleigh, they drew 1,900 for a TV taping even doing Flair/Tully/Windham vs Luger/Dusty/Nikita as a main event. Windham bloodied up Dusty with his new clawhold in that match to set up their feud. 5/6 in Pittsburgh drew 3,800 fans headlined by Flair vs Doc in a disappointing match. Fans turned on Doc and sided with Flair, despite Flair's best efforts. 5/7 in Baltimore drew 5,500 fans headlined by Flair vs Sting with Barry Windham running interference. 5/8 in Roanoke drew 3,000 fans headlined by Flair vs Sting in a *** cage match. 4/24 in Charleston, WV drew 2,500 fans headlined by Luger & Sting vs Arn & Tully in a cage match. 4/30 in Laurinburg, NC drew 620 fans.

-- When the new Coliseum opens in Charlotte in August or September, the WWF will get the first two shows, forcing JCP to run all of their shows at the Charlotte Park Center, which has a maximum 2,500 seat capacity. The WWF has been trying to get into Charlotte and hasn't been able to for the same reasons JCP can't get into Madison Square Garden. But the owner of the new Charlotte Coliseum does not have the same ties to Crockett as the previous owners, and they're willing to give the WWF a chance.

-- Cable TV ratings for the first quarter of 1988 have the Saturday night show at a 3.5 rating, making it the fourth highest rated show on cable. It's higher than both Prime Time Wrestling (#9) and All American Wrestling (#12). NWA Main Event was in the #18 spot.

-- "Did you all catch that party that the Midnight Express threw on WTBS? What an original idea. At least that's what I thought the first 100 times i've seen cakes on a wrestling TV show and every single time it went into either a heel's face or the TV announcer's face. Even though it was the most predictable thing I've ever seen, it was still entertaining, especially the banter between Lane and Cornette about where are the girls and carbonated beverages being fuel for athletes in training."

-- Rumors are starting to fly that Crockett is trying to make a deal with Ted Turner, but as best as Dave can tell, no actual deal has been reached.



WCCW


-- 5/1 in San Antonio drew 700 fans and $4,200.

-- The 5/8 Texas Stadium show drew 7,000 fans headlined by Kerry Von Erich regaining the title from Iceman Parsons. Other standouts were a Michael Hayes/Terry Gordy match where they repeated the finish from the old Alabama days where Gordy came to Hayes' rescue after the match, turning him babyface, and Terry Taylor vs Chris Adams in a match Dave gave ****

-- Ken Mantell has reached out to every single territory except the NWA and WWF, offering to do tie-in promotions and provide talent for their cards. Mantell is looking for ways to get dates for the wrestlers since they are not running a full schedule, but Dave says they only have one or two names that would matter anywhere else. Dave says Gordy, Hayes, Taylor, and Adams got involved with a local hero, that might work, but just taking Taylor vs Adams as a feud around the horn isn't going to do anything except offer a decent match. "Talent sharing can only help these other groups if the talent can shoot an angle on TV and work a series of shows, rather than just fly in for one date, unless it's something like Hayes in Atlanta or Gordy maybe on an independent card against a guy like Brody or Abdullah the Butcher."



MEMPHIS[spoiler]
-- The 5/2 card in Memphis drew a $15,000, more than double what they did the week before, headlined by Jerry Lawler vs Eddie Gilbert with Missy Hyatt's hair at stake. The finish saw Paul E. Dangerously show up and get decked by Lawler. Before that, Missy tried distracting Lawler but it didn't work. After all this, Kenny Dee, who was managing Lawler to keep Missy from interfering, ended up turning on Lawler by throwing powder in his eyes, leading to a Gilbert win. After the match, Dangerously hands Missy money, who uses it to pay Kenny Dee, who will be the new heel manager. There was said to be very little reaction to the World Class guys, and fans left after Lawler/Gilbert while Kerry/Iceman was still going on in the ring. Dave still doesn't understand the logic behind putting Iceman on and billing him as world champ the week before the Hennig match.

-- The 5/9 show will have tickets raised to $25, $10, $7, and $5 for the Hennig vs Lawler title match with Jackie Fargo as referee, Bill Dundee vs Eddie Gilbert, Jeff Jarrett vs Robert Fuller, Mike Graham & Steve Keirn vs Max Pain & Gary Young, the Cuban Choir Boys vs Ron & Don Harris, Bad Company vs Tom Brandi & Billy Travis, Doug & Tommy Gilbert vs Mark Starr & Scott Steiner, and Brickhouse Brown vs Kenny Wayne.

-- 5/9 has been declared Jerry Lawler Day in Memphis by mayor Dick Hackett.

-- "On TV if you recall they were telling fans to vote with a 900 number ($1 per phone call) on who will referee, either Fargo or Larry Hennig. All along Lawler kept saying on TV that Hennig was leading the voting and they kept saying how all the fans in Minnesota were voting for Hennig as referee and they needed the fans in Memphis to vote. When the show started at 11 a.m. (remember the show is still done live in Memphis) they went to the voting headquarters and said the voting would close at noon and that Hennig was still in the lead, but it was close, to get fans to keep calling the 900 number (so they could get money from the phone company, I guess to pay Curt enough to keep him happy). At 11:45 they did another segment with the same story. Then at noon Lawler shows up and tells the fans he has some bad news, acting real somber, and then said, 'Bad news for Curt Hennig that is,' and the place popped and they announced Fargo would referee. Anyway, this 900 number thing is a real novel way to make money."

-- Brother Ernest Angel is still around and the Harris Brothers said he was in the hospital with a dreaded disease.

-- Late news that Jerry Lawler won the AWA title before 9,500 fans on 5/9. The match was 21:12, described as "not great", and the crowd reaction was amazing.[spoiler]

OREGON
-- Roddy Piper showed up at Don Owen's card in Portland on 04/30 and helped nearly sellout the Sports Arena. His appearance was to help Owen in his local promotional war with Billy Jack Haynes, debuting on 5/7 in Oregon City. Haynes' TV starts on 5/14 and they plan to televise matches that are taped the previous Saturday. Haynes insists the week delay has nothing to do with Piper appearing for Owen, and says it's because of late arrival of his ring lights. Piper was announced in advance, but his role was made unclear. He showed up and did an interview but never made it to the ring. Mike Golden came up to him and told him to scram. Piper was very passive in a subtle booking attempt to put over Golden. Gordon brought out a contract for the 5/7 show. Piper refused to do a match, saying he's lost too much weight and is no longer a fighter. Golden responded by spitting on him, and continued taunting him until they got into it. When it was over, Piper wasn't seen the rest of the night. No official announcement of a Piper/Golden match has been made, but that seems to be what the fans are expecting.

CENTRAL STATES
-- 4/28 in Kansas City drew 375 fans, much more than average. 4/29 in St. Joseph drew 349, the lowest crowd ever in that city.

-- Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt cancelled their scheduled appearances on the KC show, and Todd Morton no-showed. "Rufus Jones missed both dates although I haven't heard that anybody missed him."

-- "The funniest thing I've seen in a while was the Kansas City program for the 4/28 show. It talked about The Freebirds coming and said they are managed by Michael Hayes and had quotes from manager Hayes. They also had a picture of Hayes in the program, which was taken from their original Georgia Days as heels (1980). Geigel does his own programs, and it's nice to see how up to date he is on the current wrestling scene, especially with the group he's supposed to be working so closely with."

WINDY CITY WRESTLING
-- "This group made a remarkable showing on 4/30 for the return of pro wrestling to the International Ampitheater in Chicago, drawing a $40,000 house, which is by far, the largest house I've heard of for an independent promotion." Paid attendance was 4,000+.

-- They are scheduled to have a 30 minute show on Channel 60 in Chicago before long.

-- The WWF took notice of the big gate and plans to run shows in the Ampitheater, feeling they can get a different crowd here than they do at the Horizon, and they can continue to run both shows.

STAMPEDE[spoiler]
-- Owen Hart's year-plus reign as North American champion ended on 5/6 when he dropped the title to Makhan Singh.

-- Owen's last match before New Japan's next tour is on 5/14, which may be his last match in Stampede. "There is no word new on that situation. Hart agreed to go to Titan as a masked wrestler (either a Tiger Mask gimmick or a Mighty Mouse gimmick) but is having second thoughts. Apparently there is a personal goal of having the greatest match of the year with Ric Flair, still, although politics still seem to make this impossible."

-- Jerry Lawler wants to come in and wrestle Owen Hart, but there is the political issue of Stu's connections to the WWF.

-- Both Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith are pushing really hard for Owen to come into the WWF.

-- Steve Blackman, a WWF jobber, is headed in to team with Brick Bronsky.

-- Chris Benoit will be gone for the July New Japan tour.

-- Suni War Cloud is out of action with an injury.

-- Jonathan Holiday's playboy gimmick has been completely dropped, and his push has been stopped. He used to work as a TBS jobber named Dexter Wescott.

-- Expect Makhan Singh vs Steve DiSalvo to be the feud on top while Owen Hart and Jason are in New Japan.[spoiler]

ALL JAPAN
-- Mitsuharu Misawa will be getting married in a major ceremony over summer.

NEW JAPAN
-- 4/27 in Osaka drew 5,000 fans headlined by Vader vs Fujinami. 4/26 in Shimonoseki drew 2,490. 4/23 in Okinawa drew 1,780. 4/24 in Kumamoto drew 1,660.

-- Since Inoki is out with a broken foot, Fujinami is making a play for the top spot, but Dave thinks that may just be angle. He isn't certain. Inoki is going to miss the IWGP tournament.

-- Manny Fernandez is looking good in New Japan.

JOSHI
-- 4/24 in Tokyo saw JWP draw 1,800 fans headlined by Harley Saito & Miss A vs Witch Warrior & Eagle Sawai.

-- "5/15 in Tokyo has a triple headliner show with the Crush Girls wrestling the Jumping Bomb Angels on top, then Mika Suzuki wrestles Kaoru Maeda for the jr. championship (this refers to an age group, not a weight) and Erika Shishido & Nobuko Kimura defend the Japanese tag team title against Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada, the latter of whom are the two leading grass of the class of '87 rookies from this promotion and are getting their first shot at stardom. Shishido, 17 years old, who began in late 1986 is half black and half Japanese and is highly thought of as a future major heel and tag team partner of Bull Nakano. In fact, she also appeared in the movie 'Tokyo Pop' in a brief scene."

OTHER


-- Former NFL star Steve Courson is set to make his pro wrestling debut on a Dominic Denucci-promoted indy show in Pennsylvania over the weekend. He has had almost no training and is being rushed into the ring with the hopes they can draw off of his football name. Courson was an admitted heavy steroid user in the NFL, and his career was cut short due to health problems. He was cut about two seasons ago (at the time of this writing) from the Tampa Bay Bucs. He's also coming out with an anti-steroids book.

-- In a strange occurrence, every single pro wrestling show in syndication has dropped out of the top 15. "The actual story here is that the idea of adding cumulative network rating, as McMahon's WWF network (a combination of five shows), Crockett's Wrestling Network (four shows) and the All-Star Wrestling Network (at least half a dozen shows) has apparently been done away with by those who figured out the ratings. As has been mentioned here many times, it was unfair in favor of the wrestling shows for the companies to add up ratings of three and four shows together, and claim to be one of the top three or four syndicated shows on television, and ahead of something like Oprah Winfrey for example, which runs one show and gets a nine rating as opposed to Titan, which runs five shows, which added up together, get maybe a 10 rating. In reality, even Titan's Superstars show, which is certainly the most watched wrestling show in syndicated, doesn't come close to the top 15 in syndicated programming by itself." Dave doesn't think the story is a big deal, but says it will be harder to track TV ratings from week to week. Dave's sources in the TV industry think this is a major blow to pro wrestling, and one that will hurt Crockett far more than Vince, as Vince sold almost all of his complete inventory of ads for 1988. Wrestling will no longer seem quite as hot to advertisers as it would have a few weeks back, when two of the top eight shows were wrestling. Replacing wrestling has been shows like Love Connection, Star Search, and Hollywood Squares. "Even though a wrestling network package can still offer the same number of viewers to an advertiser, the fact is, the advertisers look at those ratings to determine what is hot, and wrestling no longer appears. And those big trade ads that Titan and Crockett buy in the trade pubs can no longer, as part of the ads, list either one as one of the highest rated networks in syndication. Basically what has happened is that the statistical con loophole that wrestling companies have been using has now been closed. It's back to when the wrestling promotions are going to have to chase down advertisers, rather than vice versa, and the difference in who is doing the chasing makes all the difference in the world in business."

-- A new promotion with women's wrestling is supposed to begin taping at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Wendy Richter and Misty Blue are supposed to be there, Gordon Solie is planned to announce, and they supposedly have a lot of TV already lined up.

-- Continental is expected to be on FNN soon. The deal with New Japan has stalled because they couldn't come to a financial agreement. FNN also wants a national call-in pro wrestling talk show on their network. They are also being sued by the WWF for doing a "Hulkamania" package.

-- Larry Sharpe has sued Bam Bam Bigelow for breach of contract.

-- Steve DiSalvo was on a flight recently with a guy threatening to kill everyone on the plane. The flight attendant asked for his help, and he tackled the guy to the ground in a front facelock, and detained him until they reached their destination.

-- WCW announcer Scott Hudson actually wrote to Dave on the letters page to bash Dusty Rhodes.
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post #56 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-02-2008, 02:10 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thank you so much!
It's always a pleasure to hear from the past.
Thumb up!
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post #57 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-02-2008, 09:47 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thanks for this, It's always fun to read this.

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post #58 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-09-2008, 09:24 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

i love this thread, i want more 1988 news lol.
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

May 23rd, 1988

WWF


-- The WWF took out a full page ad in Electronic Media magazine, the trade publication for the TV industry, with the ad entitled "What A.C. Neilsen isn't tell you." The idea is that they're trying to stop some of the damage caused by Neilsen closing their loophole that skewed in wrestling's favor. The WWF has already sold most of its ads for the whole year, and they're really worried about what's going to happen now. The ad also said they were in the top five eery week since the syndication ratings debuted two weeks prior, which only Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune could claim. Dave says that's only a slight lie, because there was one week where they were #6.

-- "Hulk Hogan's wife Linda gave birth to a 10 pound, one ounce baby girl named Brooke on 5/5. It was the couple's first child."

-- Ricky Steamboat has retired, but Dave doubts it's permanent. He wants to spend more time with his son and look after his gym in Charlotte. "Just to let you know the type of people the Steamboats are, guess what I got in the mail last week. That's right, a couple of Steamboat gym T-shirts." (My note: THAT makes this whole WON recapping thing worth it.)

-- 5/8 in Binghamton, NY drew 3,500 fans headlined by Brutus Beefcake vs Honky Tonk Man. 5/12 in Erie, PA drew 1,000 fans headlined by Demolition vs Strike Force. 5/15 in Chicago drew 8,500 fans headlined by Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase.

-- It's pretty much a lock that Owen Hart is coming in in July and will be called The Cheetah Kid, although the name could change. At this point, Hart will only reconsider if Inoki makes him a huge offer to work New Japan full time, and that's not happening realistically.

-- Wrestlers are now working 10 days on, 3 days off.

-- Four of the top 10 sports videos are Wrestlemanias.

-- There was a front page sports story in a St. Louis newspaper about Randy Savage's minor league baseball career. Fred Blassie is also doing local radio work in St. Louis to hype upcoming WWF shows.



NWA


-- Barry Windham captured the U.S. title on 5/13 in Houston in a tournament before 4,800 fans, which drew a $54,000 gate. Larry Zbyszko was dropped from the tournament because the line-up was made before the Windham turn, and they had to avoid having a heel versus heel match in the tournament. The show was headlined by Flair vs Sting in a cage match which Dave says was subpar.

-- Paul Boesch's "Houston Wrestling" show will be restarting in June. It will include footage from NWA syndicated shows, local interviews for just Houston conducted by Boesch, and tapes of house show matches from Houston in the same format of the old UWF Houston show. Because of this, the NWA plans to start running Houston regularly. World Class actually has plans of running shows in Houston also.

-- "I'd almost be remiss in not commenting on the rumors swirling through the wrestling world that Ted Turner is going to buy the NWA. All I know is no deal has been completed but the rumors are flying everywhere about what may or may not happen. If such a deal is completed, Jim Crockett will still run the wrestling operation however the rest of the family wouldn't be as involved as it would be their stock that Turner would buy out. There's been a ton of speculation, particularly about Dusty Rhodes, should this happen, but it's all premature."

-- 5/11 in Miami drew 2,943 fans headlined by Ric Flair vs Steve Williams. 5/12 in Tallahassee drew 5,500 fans for a TBS taping which include Kevin Sullivan kidnapping Precious. 5/14 in Chicago drew 2,800 fans headlined by Flair vs Sting with three judges at ringside, which Dave thinks they botched so bad at the Clash that it probably hurt the gate.

-- The Rock & Roll Express want to return. There's a decent shot it will happen, but Dave thinks if they do come in, they should turn heel and feud with The Fantastics.



MEMPHIS


-- Jerry Lawler is the new AWA champ. Dave says the word he got from those who attended the show was that it was one of the best overall live shows of the year, that it couldn't compete with the workrate of the Clash but was a better overall show. Crowd was estimated at between 9,000 and 10,000, but the $45,500 announced gate indicates less people than that. The title win was a major news item in Memphis. It was carried on the front page of the sports section the following day, and it was a lead news item on every single local news program in the market. The mayor of Memphis was at the event, and there was tons of local coverage. Word Dave gets is that the match itself was good, but not great, and that the best match on the show was Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka over Billy Travis and Tom Brandi.

-- Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee headlines the 5/16 show as a babyface match. "They should call Dundee the human ping-pong ball as many times as he's bounced over the fence between heel and babyface here."

-- Phil Hickerson is expected to return to wrestling over summer and team with Don Bass.

-- Gary Young is asking girls to send in photos so he can pick a valet. To explain Missy Hyatt no longer being in his corner, he just said they had differences of opinion. Missy is not set for any future dates.

-- Brother Ernest Angel has been running into outside the ring problems and is no longer around. Brickhouse Brown is now the lead heel manager.

-- On TV, they announced the only way Hennig would get a rematch with Lawler is if he wins the CWA title. Hennig will be doing shows here managed by Brickhouse Brown.

-- The NWA has made a play for Nashville, and have a 6/23 show headlined by Barry Windham vs Lex Luger. They also took one of his key TV spots in Nashville.

-- Lawler got the title because Jarrett Promotions agreed to pay Curt Hennig's weekly guarantee of $1,500 as long as Lawler was champion. Verne Gagne is not responsible for Hennig's guarantee right now, and Hennig will be working more Memphis dates.


AWA


-- "I survived an AWA ESPN taping. Just barely. There is no question in my mind that the AWA is the worst promotion of any significant proportion after viewing 'The Night of Wrestling Hell', the 5/14 taping at the Showboat Training Center before 750 fans. A whole group of us decided to go at the last minute, I guess mainly to see Riki Choshu's first U.S. wrestling appearance in nearly six years. Actually Choshu's appearance was just an excuse to write off his honeymoon in Las Vegas, and he wrestled with about as much effort as you'd expect of someone on his honeymoon. And he was still better than just about everyone on the card." Dave goes on to say four of the five advertised matches didn't take place, and there were six no-shows. The absence of Michaels and Jannetty was key, because they're the only draws the AWA currently has in Las Vegas, but they quit once again unhappy about a contract offer made to them by Verne Gagne.

-- The Nasty Boys have been fired.

-- Dave complains about the AWA billing Choshu as "Shoshi", and calling Curt Hennig (Curt Henig). They also misspelled Marty Jannetty and Madusa Miceli. Dave expected Verne would misspell Choshu, but thought he was spell it as "Cho Shoe" ...

-- "The AWA jobber corps is pitiful for the most part, but it's always been that way, but now the winner corps is as bad as the jobber corps. Well, at least we got to see first-hand why the AWA is truly the major league of professional wrestling and why ESPN is the total sports network. This wasn't the worst card I've ever seen (though certainly the worst card I've ever travelled to see, but I was expecting that), but it was the worst collection of wrestlers I've ever seen gathered in one place (with notable exceptions like Curt Hennig, Bad Company, the Japanese, Jerry Lawler, the Guerreros, and Dennis Stamp)."

-- "I will say one thing positive about Miceli, she has a lot of charisma and gets a lot of reaction from almost everything she does, even though most of the time she doesn't have a clue as to what she is doing. At least she's got potential to be a great valet, but keep her out of the ring unless absolutely necessary." (My note: Interesting, since Madusa eventually earned sort of a rep. I'm interested in reading about her AJW tours.)

--"Andre and the Anabolic Warrior are like Flair and Owen Hart compared to -- Handsome Harry, a transient from Los Angeles and Iron Man Miller, a 280-pound musclehead (Mark Miller is his real name, he started out with Sting and Dingo a few years back and has progressed to the point he's almost as far behind Dingo as Dingo is behind Sting)."



WCCW


-- Reports on the 5/8 show at Texas Stadium weren't good. What was supposed to be the biggest show of the year drew a subpar gate, at $53,500 and 6,000 paid. They were hoping to build some momentum with a big crowd to see Terry Gordy turn babyface, and also put on a hot show that would sell well marketed as a VHS tape, but the show didn't achieve its goals. "If anything, it shows that World Class is in even more dire straits than previously indicated. In my mind, even more telling, is that the most recent Saturday Night's Main Event, which drew one of its lowest numbers of the season (but still a great rating for the time slot) actually beat out the World Class show head-to-head in the Dallas market gathering a 6.3 to World Class' 3.6 on 4/30. This marks the first time than (sic) an SNME has ever outrated the World Class show on Saturday Night (where World Class in its peak was drawing a 12 rating weekly), and it was more because of the fall of interest in World Class than due to any increase in interest in Titan's product."

-- Central States is expected to merge with World Class, but the official word is that it's just temporary. However, WCCW is supposed to be doing TV tapings out of Kansas City. Masa Chono turned babyface on their 5/5 card.

-- Masa Chono and the Samoan Swat Team are headed in soon.



OREGON
-- Billy Jack Haynes' outlaw promotion (Washington Wrestling Federation!) ran its debut card on 5/7 in front of 2,000 fans, a surprisingly high number, especially with no local TV to promote. Dave has heard the show was awful. The facility was very nice, and Dave is told it attracted a higher class audience than you usually get at a Don Owen show, similar to a WWF show. There were problems with long delays between matches -- only 44 minutes of wrestling in a three-hour show. There were no music entrances, which really bummed out the crowd. At one point, someone came into the ring to apologize that things weren't going smoothly and requested that fans be patient and give them time to improve. Chavo Guerrero was said to be the only first-rate wrestler on the show, and he was stuck doing a job for J.T. Southern, including one spot where he pretty much superplexed himself.

CONTINENTAL


-- Robert Fuller no-showed his loser leaves town series against Dutch Mantell, so he's out for now. Dutch is leaving for Puerto Rico soon, and Dave isn't sure if he'll be back.

-- Steve Armstrong is out recording an album. (???) In the meantime, Tracy Smothers is teaming with Shane Douglas.

-- Austin Idol is coming in as a babyface. Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey are also expected in.

-- Paul E. Dangerously is doing an angle offering $10,000 to anyone who can beat Eddie Gilbert.



STAMPEDE


-- 5/6 in Calgary drew 650 fans. 5/14 in Edmonton drew 800 fans.

-- They are setting up a Chris Benoit/Johnny Smith feud over the Commonwealth title.

-- The WWF is headed to Calgary on 7/1 with DiBiase vs Savage, Demolition vs Bulldogs, and Bret Hart vs Bad News Brown. Dave expects it will draw big.

-- Biff Wellington is out with an elbow injury.

-- People are really worried about the future of Stampede if Owen leaves, but Dave says they always do fine when he does New Japan tours. Dave says he was not an exceptoinal draw even though he was over huge with the live crowd, which Dave attributes to them taking him for granted.



NEW JAPAN


-- New Japan held their first card at the Ariake Coliseum, an outdoor tennis stadium, on 5/7. The main event was changed twice. It was originally Vader vs Inoki, but Inoki broke his foot and they changed to Vader vs Choshu. Fujinami made some demands, so the main event was changed to Fujinami vs Vader. More confusion was caused when a rainstorm hit Tokyo on 5/7 and the card was canceled and rescheduled for the following day, but they still drew a sellout 10,250 and Fujinami captured the title with a DQ win in 16:02. Other key matches were Hiroshi Hase beating Shiro Koshinaka to keep the IWGP junior title in 18:10, and Don Nakaya Neilsen scoring a KO win over Keichi Yamada in a mixed match, the first time a wrestler has lost one of these since Shinma started the gimmick 15 years prior. Dave has heard the mixed match was outstanding, and that Neilsen deserves tons of credit, because he had probably the best mixed match of all time against Akira Maeda in 1986. The rumor is that Neilsen will eventually become a pro wrestler, he has a great aptitude for wrestling. Dave thinks this is to build to another mixed match in August where he will do a job to someone like Inoki, Fujinami, Choshu or Kengo Kimura. The gate was $400,000, which put it second only to Wrestlemania IV for a live gate this year. The show wasn't taped for television.

-- A recent Tokyo newspaper showed Antonio Inoki as the 9th highest paid athlete in Japan.

-- Futuhaguro, the sumo wrestler, was recently spotted at Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory. He is leaning toward getting into wrestling, which people in Japan think would be the biggest thing since Rikidozan. The problem is that he has a big head and is a lazy trainer, which means his transition may not be smooth. Also, he wants huge money to start, more than Jumbo, Tenryu, or Choshu make, and the top stars have already said they would quit if he made more than them, and that's his asking price. Dave suggests bringing him in for 10 weeks a year and paying him $10,000 a week. He'd still get his asking price and the top stars in either company wouldn't feel insulted.

-- 5/3 in Tsuruga drew 2,020 fans. 5/5 in Ogaki drew 3,710 fans, a sellout. 5/6 in Hamakita drew 1,560 fans.


MEXICO


-- "I got a tape of some of the best matches from Mexico City over the past six months and try as I do, I just can't get into the wrestling there. Some of the guys are really talented fliers, particularly Atlantis who does things Owen Hart couldn't even dream of doing, but they work so different from U.S. and Japanese style that it makes almost off (sic) of them appear to be bad workers. Still, I saw a 6-man from mid-March with Pirata Morgan & El Verdugo & Hombre Bala (The Buccaneers) against Atlantis & La Azteca & Ringo Mendoza which was four stars plus in anyone's book. I'm told the best workers are Morgan and Negro Casas (who I still haven't seen). La Fiera, who I thought was fantastic when he wrestled in Japan in 1984, seems pretty crippled up. These guys take enormous physical risks in their flying style, but the crowds seem like thousands of cardboard cut-outs of fans because unless guys do move so out of this world they are suicidal, the crowd doesn't react to anything. You really can't tell faces from heels by the crowd, although you can by watching the way it's done. The youngest Guerrero brother, Eddie, is pretty impressive. He does the best arm drags I've ever seen and a great dropkick off the top rope. I guess the best way to describe the wrestling and the wrestlers is either it's really good, or it's awful with little in between."



OTHER
-- Interesting letter from Bruce Mitchell talking about the role of smart fans.

-- Dave is selling Missy Hyatt swimsuit posters for some reason.
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post #60 of 271 (permalink) Old 12-02-2008, 12:32 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Seeing the report of Brooke being born is crazy, lol.

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