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20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
I found this guy on another thread that is going through old WO from 20 years ago. I thought that I would post them here and it might make for some good discussion and bring back memories. Future dates are coming up.
JAN 4th, 1988
WWF[spoiler]-- Meltzer reported that NBC would be broadcasting a prime-time wrestling special at some point in 1988. It's speculated that the show will be used to set up the big angle for Wrestlemania IV. Meltzer has been told, though unconfirmed, that the show will air on 02/05 and that the main event would be Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant. Meltzer stated this would be the most watched wrestling match of all time if Titan is as successful with the prime-time show as they had been on Saturday nights, and that it could mean enormous things for the WWF in the long-term.
-- Meltzer stated McMahon intends to counter the NWA's Bunkhouse Stampede PPV by airing a new show called the Royal Rumble on USA for free.
-- Meltzer notes that the same battle royal concept was tried once in St. Louis and was a horrible match and didn't draw at all.
-- The Slammy Awards special drew a 6.2 rating and 15 share nationally. In most markets, the show finished second in its time slot (behind SNL) and doubled the rating of usual programming in most markets where it aired. Meltzer had not yet seen the show, but had heard both that it was great and funny, and also that it was tasteless.
-- 12/26 at MSG was headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man in a cage, 01/25 at MSG was scheduled to be Hogan & Bam Bam Bigelow vs Ted DiBiase & Virgil headlining
-- Jumping Bomb Angels were scheduled to appear on the undercard of a 1/17 show in Oakland, CA
-- Killer Khan did retire, but he was asked to retire
-- Nick Bockwinkel was brought in as a special referee for WWF shows on 12/26 in Chicago and 12/27 in St. Paul, MN
-- 12/27 at the Capital Centre drew 13,000 headlined by Hogan and Bigelow vs Andre and King Kong Bundy
-- Actual crowd for the SNME taping on 12/07 at the Capital Centre was 13,000, not 11,000 as was previously reported. Said it will be interesting to see the card air, because they taped two Rick Rude vs Junkyard Dog matches, with each of them winning once. JYD's push was being phased out while Rude was being groomed as a headliner, and Meltzer thinks the other match was taped to show Rude they could kill his push and air the other match if they really wanted. Apparently, Rude had been complaining about a few things.[/spoiler]
NWA[spoiler]-- Figures came in late, but the total revenue of Starrcade '87, combining the live gate, closed circuit and PPV, was $1.3 million. Roughly $820,000 came from 40 closed circuit theatres, $180,000 came from the sellout at the UIC Pavillion, and another $300,000 came from the estimated 20,000 PPV buys, which at the time was around a 7.0 buyrate. Crockett didn't lose money on the show, but the profit was way down from the previous two years. Meltzer said financially, Starrcade was not a flop by any means.
-- The head-to-head battle was scheduled to continue, as Crockett would be presenting the Bunkhouse Stampede finals on pay-per-view on January 24, the first ever legitimate attempt at PPV by the NWA, since Starrcade '87 was largely sabotaged by the WWF. Meltzer states Vince will be doing everything he can to kill the show at the gate, and has doubts about the potential of a bunkhouse battle royal to do big business. Meltzer thinks the only chance of making the show a success is to load the undercard with hot angles. Meltzer strongly feels that because most people who can buy PPV also have VCRs, the WWF's attempts to sabotage the show will not make or break it, but instead, the key will be how well the show is promoted by Crockett and how strong the overall card is. Meltzer could confirm Ric Flair vs Road Warrior Hawk and Barry Windham vs Larry Zbyszko for the card. Meltzer really hopes they come up with a fresh finish for Flair/Hawk instead of ref bump, blood, count by another ref, reversal of decision, etc.
-- The NWA ran an angle in Atlanta's Omni on 12/25 where after Lex Luger won a Bunkhouse Stampede, Luger was tripleteamed by Arn, Tully and JJ Dillon until Ole Anderson returned and cleared the ring to set up Ole/Luger vs Arn/Tully on 1/1. The whole angle was aired on TBS, but the production quality was awful. The show was also headlined by a 30-minute draw between Ric Flair and Barry Windham, and drew a $40,000 gate and crowd of 8,000
-- Barry Windham returned to the ring on 12/25 after being sidelined with a broken collarbone. Rick Steiner was expected to return from his shoulder injury very soon. Mighty Wilbur broke his leg at the Omni on 12/25 taking a bad bump over the top rope. Ricky Morton suffered a knee injury in a Bunkhouse Stampede in Charlotte, and Robert Gibson was still sidelined with a back injury.
-- Steve Williams messed up his knee while filming stunts in Canada for an unnamed Lyle Alzado TV pilot. He was expected to return soon, but had January commitments in both the NWA and Japan, with both groups expecting him to fulfill his dates.
-- Suspected that Nikita Koloff is about to turn due to hints being dropped in interviews from Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes.
-- 12/25 in Charlotte drew a $37,000 gate (headlined by Flair vs Hayes and a Bunkhouse Stampede), 12/25 in Atlanta drew a $40,000 gate (headlined by a Bunkhouse Stampede), 12/26 in Richmond, VA drew a crowd of 7,000 for a TV taping, 12/26 in Philadelphia drew a crowd of 6,000 and a $75,000 gate (headlined by Flair vs Sting), 12/26 in Detroit drew a crowd of 1,500. The Detroit card was said to be a mess because the Richmond TV taping ran over and the wrestlers were exhausted. Local TV aired no promos to hype the card until the day after it actually occurred.
-- New Breed, Lightning Express, Terry Taylor, Black Bart and Skandor Akbar were employed by the company, but not being used.
-- Crockett was to begin airing shows on WPIX in New York after some changes were made to his contract with TBS that had previously prevented it. The plan was to start airing more matches from arenas and less from the studio. The tentative plan was 75% arena footage and one studio show per month.
-- Both the WWF and Japan were showing interest in Big Bubba Rogers.
-- Corrected a previous story reported that the Florida offices were closed. Said it is true for the most part, but some shows were being run from Crockett's office. As part of Eddie Graham's estate, the building where the old CWF offices were in Tampa were still owned by Mike Graham. The building where TV was taped now had Alessi Brothers boxing on the first floor, but still had a functioning wrestling studio on the second floor.[/spoiler]
AWA[spoiler]-- 12/25 in Minneapolis drew 1,800 for the return of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, facing the Original Midnight Express in a 30-minute draw, and also Curt Hennig defending the AWA title against Greg Gagne with Verne Gagne strapped to Larry Hennig at ringside. Regarding the show, there was to be no Hennigs vs Gagnes tag match between the four on the horizon because no one wanted Larry Hennig wrestling at that point, including Larry himself, although Verne really wanted him to do a comeback. Alan West subbed for DJ Peterson who had left the territory after Thanksgiving. Peterson gave notice in November that he would be leaving at the end of the month. On the Thanksgiving card, a match was scheduled where Peterson would wrestle Kevin Kelly and if Peterson lost, he'd leave town and if Kelly lost, then Peterson would get Madusa Miceli for 30 days. Oddly, they had Peterson win anyway, and then never did the follow up angle.
-- The original plans were for the Rockers to only come in for five or six dates and then return to Memphis as heels, but it appears they will be full-time in the AWA in 1988.
-- AWA had plans to run its last card at the Minneapolis Auditorium, which was being torn down. However, the WWF was planning on moving their shows from St. Paul to Bloomington, which would open up St. Paul again for Verne and keep him having a presence in the Twin Cities.
-- Billy Jack Strong, aka Steve DiSalvo, was only there short-term and would be returning to Calgary.
-- Curt Hennig would be gone most of January for an All Japan tour, and Adrian Adonis would be touring New Japan sometime early in the year as well.
-- The AWA would no longer be providing tapes for Pro Wrestling This Week. Meltzer thinks this was a mistake, because so much of Paul E. Dangerously becoming a name manager could be attributed to his Danger Zone segments on PWTW.[/spoiler]
WCCW[spoiler]-- WCCW ran a big angle on 12/25/87 at Reunion Arena, before a crowd of 5,100 fans, where Al Perez was scheduled to defend the title against Kerry Von Erich with Fritz handcuffed to Gary Hart. Before the match, a swarm of heels attacked Fritz before Kevin and Kerry made the save. On the way to the back, Fritz collapsed, and Kevin freaked out, screaming for them someone to call an ambulance. The supposed heart attack was hyped on TV the next day as yet another family tragedy, and they stated Fritz was in critical condition at Baylor hospital. Meltzer thinks booker Ken Mantell was trying to recapture the magic of the Flair/Kerry match on Christmas night of '82 that turned business around for the territory. He said he was unsure if it was a great angle or the most tasteless angle of the year. Meltzer does think with Mantel booking, things will pick up, because they really can't get worse, and the company plans on bringing in some good talent. "However, this group remains without peer in its ability and callousness at exploiting past tragedy to get an angle over," Meltzer said. The show was sent to San Antonio via PPV, but no one was told about it, and they didn't reserve enough satellite time, so they had to sign off the air at 1:00 AM with three of the top matches having not yet taken place -- right after the Fritz angle. The final three matches of the show (Kevin Von Erich, Chris Adams & Steve Simpson vs Terry Gordy, Buddy Roberts & Iceman Parsons; Al Perez vs Kerry Von Erich; Eric Embry vs Shaun Simpson) were all held in cages. For some reason, Iron Sheik vs Matt Borne was announced as a cage match, but did not take place in a cage.
-- The Thing, a Boris Malenko trainee from Florida, left after losing to Kerry Von Erich in 57 seconds on Thanksgiving. On TV, they said The Thing was an imposter. Gary Hart brought Rip Morgan in, who was now being called The Real Thing.
-- Because of all the incoming talent, Vic Steamboat, Tony Falk, Frankie Lancaster, Al Madrial, Ted Arcidi and The Spoiler were all let go. Tony Atlas was probably on the way out as well, but first, he and Skip Young would need to drop the Texas tag titles to John Tatum and Jack Victory
-- 12/26 in San Antonio drew a crowd of 3,500 headlined by Kevin & Kerry Von Erich vs Frankie Lancaster & Brian Adias.
-- WCCW was giving the illusion of Wild West being a different group despite having the same booker, the same talent and running combined TV tapings. Meltzer said they were having problems with long delays on TV tapings, and that the shows in some cases weren't ending until 1:00 AM. Meltzer compared it to the UWF and NWA in some ways, although because Wild West was Ken Mantel's group, they weren't killing off the Wild West guys. Mantel had some backers who helped him get Wild West started who were unhappy about him taking over WCCW.
-- The 1/2 Dallas card would have all tickets priced at $5.00 and all drinks priced at 50 cents.
-- Jason Sterling was headed in.
-- When Kerry and Kevin Von Erich returned from their tour of Japan, they said they won the Asian tag titles, which they didn't. They also said they won the tournament they were part of, which they didn't.[/spoiler]
MEMPHIS[spoiler]-- Questions abounded over who would turn heel on 12/28. They were running a Lord of the Rings tournament, and the semifinalists were Bill Dundee, Jeff Jarrett, Jerry Lawler and Scott Hall, all of whom were babyfaces at the time. Meltzer said he couldn't see them doing three straight babyface matches (two semifinal matches, immediately followed by final match on the same card). Meltzer felt there were good reasons not to turn each of them -- Hall because he just arrived and it wouldn't mean anything, Dundee because he had turned so many times that everyone would expect it, Jarrett because he was too young and small and didn't have the right look for a heel, and Lawler because it would affect his non-wrestling gigs, such as charity work, his television show and his softball team. Meltzer felt Lawler turning heel would draw huge, but it was unlikely.
-- Meltzer stated new manager Mark Goleen talks like a theater manager and that most people don't think he comes across well.
-- The Monday night matches are now broadcast live on a Hernando, MS radio station, only 14 miles outside of Memphis, with Lance Russell doing play-by-play.
-- Manny Fernandez screwed up a promo on live television on 12/14 by swearing repeatedly on the air.
-- Lawler and Russell were working on a deal with a Memphis radio station to do a nightly sports show which would cover all sports and also wrestling shows and wrestling news.
-- 12/14 was headlined by Lawler beating Curt Hennig in a non-title match and Manny Fernandez winning a battle royal, 12/21 was headlined by Lawler beating Jimmy Jack Funk.
-- Jerry Lawler was made a colonel in Tennessee.[/spoiler]
OREGON[spoiler]-- Super Ninja (Shunji Takano) left the area after Thanksgiving. No word on where he would be popping up.
-- Matt Borne came in for a week's vacation, but had already returned to WCCW.
-- Chris Colt had been cutting people's hair. He got Art Barr, Sandy Barr and Mike Miller. Colt was calling himself "The Barber" and also had hair removal cream.
-- 12/12 and 12/19 they were in Portland, 12/25 they were in Eugene for their Christmas show, headlined by Rip Oliver vs The Assassin in a mask vs hair cage match.[/spoiler]
CONTINENTAL[spoiler]-- The Fullers sold the Alabama portion of the territory to a guy named David Woods, who previously had no connection with wrestling to the best of Meltzer's knowledge. Ron Fuller intended to restart his own promotion based in Knoxville, TN, Continental's most successful city. Alabama would run using Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden, Tom Pritchard, Jonathan Boyd, Dutch Mantel, Wendell Cooley and Tony Anthony as top stars. Fuller's new territory in Knoxville would be called Southeastern Championship Wrestling, with Ron West as the general manager and the top stars being Ron Fuller, the Armstrong family, the Mod Squad, Doug Furnas and Buddy Landell. The split would be effective some time in mid-February.
-- Lord Humongous (Sid) won the Southeastern title on 12/25 in Knoxville, beating Danny Davis.
-- 12/28 in Birmingham, AL, had a one-night tournament for a mink coat featuring Danny Davis, Lord Humongous, Jonathan Boyd, Bob Armstrong, the Memphis Big Bubba, Robert Fuller, Steve Armstrong, Jimmy Golden, Tracy Smothers, The Assassin, Dutch Mantel, Wendell Cooley, Larry Hamilton, Bucky Siegler, Tom Pritchard, Tony Anthony, Doug Furnas and Carl Styles.
-- TV tapings in Knoxville tended to play before big crowds and have tons of heat. But for some reason, they were taping most of the shows in Birmingham, AL, an area with far less turnout and less crowd enthusiasm.[/spoiler]
STAMPEDE[spoiler]-- Keichi Yamada was expected to come in in Spring.
-- Phil LaFleur would be leaving the territory shortly.
-- Mike Kirchner (Col. Kirchner) was fired after a dressing room incident. Zodiac (Barry Orton) also had to leave to tend to legal problems in a manslaughter charge where a female passenger was killed earlier in the year. Meltzer stated the Zodiac gimmick was maybe the most shocking and innovative gimmick of the year, and Orton did some great interviews.
-- With Owen Hart leaving for NJPW, the top feuds would be Jason the Terrible vs Makhan Singh and Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman vs Garfield Portz (Scott McGhee) Great Gama
-- Portz was doing "a lawyer heel gimmick with a pompous English aristocratic veneer".[/spoiler]
NEW JAPAN[spoiler]-- The plan was to do more Memphis style booking in 1988, feeling their hardcore fans would hate it, but that they needed it to boost TV ratings. They ran an angle during their annual tag tournament where Kotetsu Yamamoto, a retired wrestler from the 60s and 70s who was now a color commentator, nearly got in a fight with manager Ichimasa Wakamatsu. They also created a story where Tatsumi Fujinami was attacked by a wrestler named The Pirate in a hotel parking lot while on vacation in Hawaii. The Pirate was a wrestler whose gimmick they had just changed to that of a Polynesian giant. Photos of the attack appeared in Tokyo Sports, a daily newspaper. The newspaper claimed they got the photos from a friend of Fujinami's who happened to be there and had a camera, and fans were not believing the story. Then, supposedly, The Pirate called Tokyo Sports and stated that his group will join forces with late night comedian Mr. Takeshi to destroy Fujinami and Antonio Inoki. The plan was to build most of 1988 around this angle, with most of the NJ regulars feuding with Takeshi Pro-Wrestling Group (TPG), which leaves Meltzer speculating where that leaves Riki Choshu.
-- Word was that Akira Maeda may be sent to the US to wrestle for several months as a punishment for shooting on Choshu. Hiro Matsuda was now the booker for foreign talent for NJ, and there was speculation Maeda would be working for Crockett.
-- NJPW would be coming out with a theme music album on January 21 for 2800 yen ($22.00).
-- Both Bob Orton and Adrian Adonis were expected to return to New Japan in 1988.
-- Keichi Yamada would likely return to Stampede in Spring.[/spoiler]
ALL JAPAN[spoiler]-- Abdullah the Butcher, Buddy Landell, Fabulous Lance, Curt Hennig, TNT and the Black Assassin were scheduled to be part of the New Years Giant Series.
-- Tokyo Sports did its 1987 pro wrestling awards. MOTY was Jumbo Tsuruta vs Genichiro Tenryu from 8/31/87 which perplexed Meltzer because he thought their 10/06/87 match was much better. Genichiro Tenryu was named Wrestler of the Year, Tenryu & Ashura Hara were Tag Team of the Year and John Tenta was Rookie of the Year. The only NJPW awards given were Yoshiaki Fujiwara winning the Fighting Spirit award, Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura winning the Outstanding Performance award, and a special award was given to Inoki and Masa Saito for their 10/04/87 match on Ganryujima.[/spoiler]
OTHER[spoiler]-- JJ Bins, head of the Eastern Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, resigned on 12/21 after a bill passed the state House by a 155-7 margin to abolish the commission. While the bill still had not passed the State senate, Bins saw the writing on the wall and got out. Bins had a strong rep within wrestling for being anti-blood, and there was no juice on Crockett shows in Philly in 1987. Meltzer didn't understand how he could be so strict about blading, but had no problems sanctioning scaffold matches, which were far more dangerous.
-- Buzz Sawyer was opening a wrestling school where he would train his guys in Japanese style wrestling instead of American style wrestling. There was a feature on this in the 12/14 Sacramento Bee. Another article ran on the school in the 12/28 San Francisco Chronicle. In this one, Sawyer said he was going to start up his own territory in California and the Rena/Tahoe area of Nevada. He said they would emphasize the Japanese style of wrestling, which focused on athletics instead of showmanship and gimmicks. "I don't know if California, much less the world, is ready for a wrestling promotion run by Buzz Sawyer," Meltzer said.
-- Meltzer mentioned that after seeing matches live in Japan, one way he feels US wrestling does a far better job than wrestling in Japan is in micing the crowd. He explains that as a rule, Japanese crowds are softer than they would be in the US, especially in preliminary matches, and that they react with oohs and ahhs for stiff moves. However, he said for good matches, the heat rivals any US match, and when Brody and Abdullah had their match, the crowd popped as huge as any US crowd would who was looking forward to something. Meltzer mentioned how the WWF has pre-taped cheering and booing, which they sync in time with matches, and he also feels that Crockett does a great job showing people going crazy for someone like a Dusty Rhodes or Ricky Morton in a small gym. Meltzer said Japanese crowds do not react in that way, but do chant the names of wrestlers they like with more enthusiasm than a US crowd ever would. Meltzer also mentioned that editing in Japanese matches is far superior from a production standpoint, because you would never know a match aired clipped. He says he's never seen a Japanese promotion re-edit and splice matches, and that only the WWF does that in the US. He said for big shows like Saturday Night's Main Event, the WWF would have six different feeds running into their production truck, and they edit them all together to make the air tape. They can make matches much longer, much shorter, and even change the sequence of events, although he knew of no cases of them doing that.
-- Crowds were chanting "Just Say No" at the Iron Sheik at New York independent shows.
-- DJ Peterson was working as a car salesman by day and moonlight as a Central States wrestler after leaving the AWA.
-- The Top 10 events of 1987, according to Japan's Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine: (1) Inoki vs Saito in the jungle match (2) Maeda's "shoot kick" on Choshu (3) The beginning of the New vs Now feud in New Japan (4) Tenryu turning heel and teaming with Hara (5) Choshu's return to television after joining New Japan (6) Death of Kazaharu Sonada in an airplane crash (7) Retirement of Animal Hamaguchi (8) New Japan's new "comedy" TV program (9) Inoki vs Saito on 03/26 drawing a $700,000 gate in Tokyo (10) Returns of Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher
-- Chigusa Nagayo was named MVP of women's wrestling in Japan at a 12/14 awards ceremony. Yukari Omori vs Lioness Asuka from 04/15/87 was named Match of the Year. Jumping Bomb Angels were named Tag Team of the Year. Condor Saito was named Most Improved, and Devil Masami and Yumiko Hotta also received awards.[/spoiler]
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Jan 11th, 1988
-- SNME aired 1/2 on NBC and was taped 12/7 in Landover, MD. Dave felt Vince and Jesse did a much better job this time around than they did last time by ridiculously overacting. They've started putting Hogan's matches toward the end to build ratings for the whole show, where the previous mindset was that they put him early to ensure everyone would see him before going to sleep. Says the best match on the card was Strike Force vs The Bolsheviks, which was **1/2 and isn't saying much, and all the other matches were horrible, although the Andre run-in was really well done. Says he is starting to warm up to Andre as a heel, but it's going to end when he realizes he has to see him in a match.
-- Jumping Bomb Angels vs Glamour Girls can be added to the lineup for the Royal Rumble on USA.
-- Titan has began running Bunkhouse Stampedes on house shows
-- 12/26 in Chicago drew 12,000 and a $143,000 gate headlined by Hulk Hogan vs One Man Gang with Nick Bockwinkel as referee; 12/28 in Pittsburgh drew 5,000 headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man; 12/30 in Providence drew 2,500 headlined by Rick Rude vs Paul Orndorff in a cage match; 12/26 in New Haven, CT drew 6,000 fans headlined by Rick Rude vs Randy Savage in a 20-minute draw; 12/27 at the Capital Centre drew 13,000 for Hogan & Bigelow vs Andre & Bundy; 12/29 in Hershey, PA drew 6,500 headlined by Savage vs Honky Tonk Man
-- 12/26 at MSG sold out headlined by Savage vs Honky Tonk Man
-- Meltzer says Steamboat is working in slow motion on house shows and tries so hard to be graceful that he looks more like Nuryev than a wrestler
-- John Studd is scheduled to return at the Huntsville, AL TV tapings
-- King Kong Bundy is leaving on sabattical while Orndorff has given notice. Orndorff plans to open a chain on bowling allies in the South. Ironically, his right arm is so weak that he can't even lift a bowling ball.
-- Hogan will be gone from Wrestlemania IV until sometime in June to film his movie. "Since he's blading regularly, I guess he wants his forehead to look good for the part," joked Meltzer. Dave says that's not nearly as significant as you'd think since they'll be taking several weeks in April off after Wrestlemania anyway
-- The NBC special on 2/5 is a definite
-- Hogan's wife Linda is expecting their first child in April
-- Wrestlers are now being fined if they whip their opponents into the guard rail (throat drops and running heads into it is fine, but no whips), and fines are also being issued for violating the dress code and missing shows
-- Doug Somers is coming in as a jobber in March
-- Meltzer says they really need to heat up Bunkhouse Stampede within the next two weeks, and also make it more apparent to viewers that the show is available on PPV. Meltzer also can't believe they have yet to announce a complete card.
-- Meltzer does commend them for moving a lot of the TBS television into the arenas, and feels it has made for better production values and made the shows feel more lively. He strongly criticizes them for starting matches without showing the finishes on television, stating he doesn't think they understand how much that angers fans and how minor league it seems. He said he personally doesn't mind if you get a good 8-10 minutes of action before the show goes off the air, but most fans really hate it.
-- The Lex Luger babyface turn is getting over really well on house shows, drawing big in Atlanta and Greensboro. He worries that Luger has already become "one of the guys", doing saves for guys like Ron Garvin and getting saved back, and that if they keep doing that, he'll turn into a new Nikita Koloff, in that he'll be hugely over for a very short period of time and then no one will care. "Whoever has been working with him the past year certainly has earned their teaching credential."
-- In general, Dave is hearing lots of complaints about live shows. He says they need to find and push some new faces at the top of the cards in a major way. He says they need one or two guys to stand out of the pack. JCP, however, prides themselves on not putting all their eggs in one basket, and criticizes the WWF internally all the time for overly relying on Hogan. However, Meltzer feels that while the Horsemen were over great as a unit, he feels like over time, instead of the group rising to Flair's level, he sunk to theirs, and just became another face in the pack.
-- The return of Ole Anderson to the Omni on 1/1 drew 12,700 fans. The whole card was taped, and Meltzer expects it to air on TBS. Results: Sting, Jimmy Garvin & Ricky Santana beat Terry Taylor, Mike Rotunda & Kevin Sullivan in 10:14; Ron Garvin pinned Eddie Gilbert in 12:14; Sheepherders beat Robert Gibson & Ricky Santana in 10:15 (Gibson looked really bad, having just returned from injury, and botched a dropkick bad and the fans turned on him); Barry Windham drew Larry Zbyszko in 20:00; Road Warrior Animal beat Warlord in 8:00 by DQ when Barbarian interfered, but Sting made the save (match was scheduled to be a tag match, but Hawk no-showed; Animal tripped during his entrance for the third time in the past month); Luger & Ole beat Arn & Tully in 19:00; Flair pinned Hayes in 15:46 (Flair was cheered as much as Hayes and neither guy got booed); Dusty won a Bunkhouse Stampede.
-- They screwed up announcing Dusty won the 1/1 Bunkhouse by announcing it on their 12/31 TV
-- The Road Warriors vs Powers of Pain bench press contest is set for 1/30 in Greensboro
-- 12/28 in St. Louis drew 4,000 and $40,000 headlined by Flair vs Sting and a Bunkhouse Stampede won by Steve Williams. Meltzer said Dick Murdoch did the best squash match and interview he had seen in ages on that show, and said "Working for your family is like working for an unemployment agency" to David Crockett, which Dave thought was a great line. He also said even Luger did a great interview.
-- Says he's getting lots of complaints about the cameramen doing too many shots of women in the audience. "Showing the girls is okay but after 40 or 50 shots, and in the middle of high spots during the match, it serves no purpose. It's one thing if it's the valets, but not the girls in the audience."
-- Rick Steiner suffered a major bicep tear when he was horsing around in the locker room with Steve Williams and Road Warrior Hawk
-- Ricky Morton is still out with his knee injury, and also has a broken nose
-- The New Breed is supposed to be heel now and feud with Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner. At least that was the plan until Sean Royal never came back from Christmas vacation.
-- Thunderfoot #1 (Joel Deaton) got notice that he was being let go after Denny Brown never came back after Christmas also
-- 12/30 in Chicago drew 3,500 headlined by Flair vs Sting; 1/2 in Greensboro drew 12,457 headlined by Ric Flair vs Michael Hayes; 1/3 in Baltimore drew 7,000 and a $72,000 gate headlined by Flair vs Hayes and Luger vs Arn Anderson
-- Kevin Sullivan's stable will include Rick Steiner, Mike Rotunda and possibly Steve Williams, and be called The Varsity Club
-- Al Blake (Vladimir Pietrov) was sentenced to six years in prison on cocaine trafficking conviction. He will be eligible for parole in 2 years, although at that time, he will not be able to leave Minnesota so he could only wrestle for the AWA or Larry Sharkey's Pro Wrestling America
-- Rumors that Paul Boesch would be coming out of retirement to promote Houston shows for the NWA are incorrect.
-- Japanese newspapers were reporting Killer Khan had signed with the NWA but Meltzer knew nothing about it
-- Jobber Chance McQuaid blew out his knee in his match with Mike Rotunda that aired the previous Sunday
-- "I know you've been waiting all week for the good news. Fritz is alive. Yes, folks, it was touch-and-go for 48 hours, but the head of pro wrestling's immoral majority survived a heart attack, stroke, emphyzema and whatever other maladies sick minds could come up with," said Dave Meltzer. It was announced on the weekend Ft. Worth TV that Fritz didn't suffer a heart attack as was originally feared, although there was "partial paralysis". One of the local TV stations covered the angle as news. The phrase heart attack was never actually used by Marc Lowrance. Lowrance went on the air with two interruptions of the previously taped show, and stated that Fritz was in critical condition and they were worried he wouldn't make it through the night. "It's a pretty hardcore angle to be sure, but one made a lot worse since they were playing off the sympathy from the deaths of David and Mike, although no lack of taste or decency from this promotion will ever surprise me." Kerry was doing interviews claiming that Gordy tried to kill his father while Lowrance was saying that it appeared Fritz would not live out Christmas. They're doing lots of Freebirds (Gordy/Roberts/Parsons)/Von Erichs brawls on house shows, and one thing the angle has done is get Gordy over as a heel who gets booed. Meltzer says this is an accomplishment because Gordy was always cheered more than booed when working Texas shows for the UWF.
-- Everyone in wrestling is saying Ken Mantell is in charge of World Class. Dave has heard he owns a controlling interest, but two of his sources insist he only owns 30% and that the Von Erichs still control majority interest. Meltzer said regardless, Fritz is definitely not out of the business, and will not allow the angle to be his last appearance. He is expected to make a comeback at some point in '88, but probably not as a wrestler. "In the theory of promoting wrestling, running such a hardcore angle on someone makes them the lead babyface, so why would Ken Mantell, now in charge and attempting to turn the fortunes of the office around, make his lead babyface a 58-year old man?" Meltzer thinks that they should phase Kevin down, if not completely out, and that Kerry is marketable, but it's hard to bank the future of the territory on someone working on one leg.
-- The show on Christmas at Reunion went past 1AM. After the angle, Kevin, Kerry and Fritz went to Baylor Hospital, did a worked press conference and then went back to Dallas to wrestle Al Perez, a match which he lost because his head wasn't into it according tot he storyline. The original plan was for Chris Adams to replace Kerry, but that was changed at the last minute. It's not known if that was a Fritz or Mantell decision.
-- Dave feels aside from the big angle, Mantell has done a great job as booker since taking over and things have been much better.
-- John Tatum and Jack Victory won the Texas tag titles on 12/28 in Fort Worth. Tony Atlas and Skip Young were the champions, but Atlas had already left the territory. In the match, Young wrestled both heels for a while before Solomon Grundy came into help, but they wound up losing anyway.
-- 12/28 show drew at least 1,000 with new ticket prices
-- Eric Embry has bleached his hair blonde
-- Shaun Simpson and Marc Lowrance made a car commercial. Lowrance does fall-by-fall as Simpson wrestles against "price reductions". They do the invisible man gimmick in the commercial, with Simpson taking bumps and finally getting pinned by lower prices
-- Al Perez defends the World Class title (which Meltzer calls the Worth-lass title) on 1/8 in Dallas against Terry Gordy. Perez is being portrayed as the babyface.
-- Wild West is history. The last three weeks of TV have been repeats and they have no arenas booked going forward.
-- Kerry's ankle is giving him tons of trouble. Meltzer says he was walking really well before he went back to working a full schedule.
-- John Tatum is ripping off Michael Hayes mannerisms in his interviews
-- Eric Embry and Shaun Simpson had a scaffold match on 12/27 in Belton. Simpson was so scared he couldn't even stand up. Embry carried the whole match and took the bump.
-- After all the speculation, no one turned heel on 12/28. Lawler won the tournament and the show drew 5,200 fans. Lawler beat Scott Hall via DQ. Hall used a piledriver not knowing it was illegal in Memphis and they had to explain it on television. Bill Dundee beat Jeff Jarrett by countout when Hector Guerrero held Jarrett's leg from under the ring and wouldn't let him back in, but Dundee didn't see or know this was happening. Finally, Lawler and Dundee had a match, which Lawler won by pinning Dundee after a double TKO.
-- Renegade Tobacco Company is now sponsoring the promotion. They have banners on the ring and are mentioned frequently on the show, and a Renegade Tobacco Company tournament will conclude in June. Supposedly, the tournament will award $250,000 to the winner, so people like Jimmy Valiant and Koko Ware will be returning. Valiant's contract with Crockett had just expired, and Meltzer says it makes sense for him to return to Memphis since he was a big draw at one time there. Ware he said makes no sense, although he did do a clean job to Greg Valentine on television. Still, Meltzer can't see the WWF dumping Ware with the Piledriver album out.
-- 1/4 in Memphis has Lawler vs Dundee with Lawler putting up the diamond ring and Dundee putting up $5,000. You would think Dundee would be turning in the match, but probably not since it's too expected. Michaels and Jannetty will also return to defend the Southern tag titles against Scott Hall and Ken Wayne, and Jeff Jarrett will face Hector Guerrero in a lumberjack match
-- Bobby Jaggers left Memphis after dropping Loser Leaves Town matches to Hall and Billy Joe Travis
-- Manny Fernandez may have his push lessened after getting in scuffles with fans on two occasions
-- Meltzer said the TV interviews with Lawler, Dundee, Jarrett and Hall were really good, but the size difference between Hall and the others looked ridiculous
-- Things are hot here. 12/18 in Calgary drew 1,600 fans. Matches were Hashif Khan (Shinya Hashimoto) vs Jonathan Holiday; Brick Bronsky vs Goldie Rogers; Great Gama & Garfield Portz vs Mr. Hito & Beef Wellington; Rhonda Singh vs Delta Dawn; Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman vs Jerry Morrow & Kerry Brown; Steve DiSalvo vs Phil LaFleur; Owen Hart & Jason the Terrible vs Bad News Allen & Makhan Singh. In the main event, Jason did a dive into the crowd and knocked several fans out of their chairs, with one having to be taken to the hospital via ambulance. Allen elbowed a pregnant woman while brawling in the crowd as well.
-- 12/19 in Edmonton drew 1,200 headlined by Allen & Singh vs Owen & Jason
-- Johnny Smith is gone
-- Suni War Cloud and Rip Rogers are headed in
-- Mrs. Maivia ran a card on 12/16 in Honolulu headlined by Chris Adams vs Buddy Roberts that drew 400. Kevin Von Erich and Jimmy Snuka both no-showed, but Rocky Johnson did appear.
-- Len Denton is impressing and the crowds are good.
-- There is a new commission trying to run wrestling using boxing guidelines. They want to replace the wrestling referees with boxing referees, want everyone at ringside licensed, four ropes instead of three, no more blading, and testing for marijuana and cocaine. One wrestler already tested positive for marijuana. Don Owen is furious, mainly because they won't be so strict on the WWF. The commission sent out a letter saying all cuts will be inspected and if they're a result of blading, the wrestler will be suspended
-- Rip Oliver is leaving, scheduled to start back with the WWF on 1/4. Oliver was let go after Thanksgiving, but now they have an open spot for him. Oliver headlined the 12/25 show, which was a sellout of 700 and a $4,000 house, which is double the normal attendance
-- 12/26 in Portland drew a sellout with hundreds turned away; 12/28 in Hoquiam, WA drew 400 fans
-- 12/25 in St. Joseph drew 520 fans, headlined by Dave Peterson vs Bulldog Bob Brown. Abdullah the Butcher no-showed, and his announced replacement Jerry Blackwell also no-showed. Mike Stone, one half of the tag champs, wasn't there due to bad weather, and Colt Steele also wasn't there.
-- The mink coat tournament drew 1,800 fans to Birmingham on 12/28, which is about quadruple what they've been averaging. Still, only half of the advertised matches actually took place.
-- The Memphis Big Bubba never showed up here. Scott Armstrong has left the area and Larry Hamilton has not returned since breaking his ankle in a car accident
-- 12/25 in Knoxville drew a near sellout
-- Inoki did a clean pinfall job for a newcomer named "Big Ben Bader" (my note: ha!) on 12/27 at the Tokyo Dome in 2:49. New Japan felt they needed Inoki feuding with a big American start to get TV ratings up. Also, this was going to be famous comedian Takeshi Kitano's first appearance and they wanted to put some heat on him in his quest to finish Inoki off. So, the mindset was that Inoki doing a job would get Kitano over and create a new Hansen/Brody level gaijin. It was the first job Inoki had done in more than two years, and before that, over 10 years.) The card was supposed to be Inoki vs Riki Choshu in the main event, which is what drew the crowd and the high ratings. There was also a tag match advertised as "Big Ben Bader" (my note: ha again!) and Masa Saito against Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura. Before the tag was about to start, Kitano's friends grabbed the mic and challenged Inoki to a match. The fans could see where this was going and hated it, and started throwing eggs, programs, orange juice containers and beer cans at the ring. Then, Choshu came out and Saito tried to stop Choshu from starting his match with Inoki. Inoki grabbed the mic and said he would wrestle both Choshu and Bader. Fujinami and Kimura then came out for their tag match and Saito came out. Choshu didn't want to come out, but finally did. Fans were screaming "Stop! Stop this match!" when Choshu started to wrestle Kengo Kimura. He won clean with the lariat, but the fans hated it so much it didn't have a chance. Finally, Inoki/Choshu happened but only went 6:06, although it was a hot match where Choshu bled after hitting the ringpost, and Inoki kept punching his head before applying the octopus, which caused Hiroshi Hase to run in and save Choshu and give Inoki the win by DQ. The fans started rioting again and caused so much damage in the hall that a few days later, the Tokyo Sumo Association banned pro wrestling from the Sumo Hall. Baba had already been banned from the building because he signed sumo wrestlers Hiroshi Wajima and John Tenta. Inoki is now without a building in Tokyo except for Korauken Hall, which only seats 2,000. Meltzer said this is devastating for them, because they sold out all but one time in 1987.
-- Kitano was like the Johnny Carson of Japan. Something happened at some point in one of the scandal mags and Kitano and his buddies beat up the reporter, so he was suspended from television
-- The news got worse for them a few days later when TV-Asahi moved them from prime time on Monday nights to Mondays at midnight. Not only will that cut down their audience, but in Japan, the networks pay the promotions money to be able to broadcast their shows. Because they're in a weaker time slot, TV-Asahi will be paying New Japan much less money. This should be effective in April.
-- Inoki didn't offer 1988 contracts to Akira Maeda, Kazuo Yamazaki or Osamu Kido, and they have all been cut loose. Dave says Maeda was hugely popular, but really screwed himself by shootkicking Choshu. Yamazaki holds one half of the tag titles (with Fujiwara), and Kido is a veteran without a lot of charisma.
-- Meltzer says Inoki faces crises like these annually and always comes back, but this time, it may be the real thing, because he is banking everything on Inoki vs Takeshi Kitano while phasing down Choshu. Choshu was being hurt because Inoki was the moral victor in their match, and also because he would never get the chance to do a revenge match with Maeda.
-- Adrian Adonis and Bob Orton will return as a tag team from 1/25 to 2/5
-- Seji Sakaguchi really wants Sting and Bubba Rogers to come in for shows, moreso than Arn, Tully, Dusty or even Flair
-- Owen Hart will feud with Hiroshi Hase over the junior heavyweight title
-- Curt Hennig had bad matches and didn't get over on the recent tour, which really surprised him. Hennig will only be staying a week or two before returning to the AWA.
-- Timothy Flowers is putting together a few independent cards in Northwest Washington featuring Buddy Rose and Col. DeBeers
-- The bill to abolish the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission has been put on hold for six months, but with JJ Bins out of office, it appears wrestling promotions can begin using the blade again
-- Global Wrestling out of Florida is scheduled to start tapings in Miami next weekend
-- Jerry Blackwell's Southern Championship Wrestling is scheduled to tape on 1/13 at Miss Kitty's in Marietta. The second taping will be on 1/24 and will feature the Von Erichs and Terry Funk
-- Savoldi's ICW has announced they are bringing in Blackjack Mulligan, Bruiser Brody, Rocky Johnson, SD Jones, Tiger Chung Lee, the Iron Sheik, Tony Atlas, the Moondogs, Bob Backlund and Adrian Street. They held a card on 12/29 at Miami Marine Stadium with $25 tickets, and featuring a live concert from Bill Haley & The Comets (of "Rock Around The Clock" fame)
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Twenty years ago, wow, that sure does take me back and bring back some memories.
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Why have you posted spoiler tags around them if they're from 20 years ago?
I wouldnt have even been alive for them anyway :p
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
I was hoping that by putting the text in spoilers that it wouldn't take up as much space. But that didn't work
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Thanks for this.
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
LOL that's fun to read. Meltzer sounded exactly the same 20 years ago. :p Thanks for posting!
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Wow, that was a very interesting read, I hadn't even been born yet at that point, thanks for posting.
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Jan 18th, 1988 MY BIRTHDAY
-- It's official. The WWF's first primetime special will be on 2/5/1988 from 8pm to 9pm and Dave is told it will be shot live, from the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Top matches announced are Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant, Honky Tonk Man vs Randy Savage, and Hart Foundation vs Strike Force. Dave says it's almost scary what the TV ratings will be, as they've got a main event that will do more to interest the general public than any other potential main event. Dave says without a doubt, this will be the most watched wrestling show in the history of the United States, and he gives the WWF tons of credit for doing a live show with a weak Andre in the ring. Since the show will only be one hour, at this point, those three matches are the only ones schedule to air. The plan is to set up the big angles for Wrestlemania, which means Hogan probably won't pin Andre. But Dave says the challenge is still to do a good and memorable finish, but that also the ending has to be a major fluke, as Hogan matches usually have less interest the second time around. Meltzer says Hogan vs Ted DiBiase at WM is certainly a possibility, but he thinks holding up the title is a stronger possibility, because they have to end the show with Hogan posing, and Hogan can't pose if he loses the belt. Meltzer also says Andre beating Hogan won't mean much, and that regardless of the finish, Andre will look strong, Hogan will find Andre's weakness, and then they'll go right to the finish. This will be the first time Andre has been in the ring since Wrestlemania III for longer than 70 seconds.
-- Additional matches announced for the Royal Rumble special on USA are Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Rude, Don Muraco vs Butch Reed and Dino Bravo attempting to bench press 700 pounds ("and I'm next in line for pope," Meltzer jokes.) Meltzer doesn't understand why the WWF is even doing this show, considering that they go out of their way to always say they aren't in competition with any other wrestling promotions, and says the date being the same as their PPV and the bench press attempt from Bravo right before the bench press challenge with the Road Warriors in the NWA isn't just coincidence, and Animal and Hawk can't bench anywhere near 700 lbs. There's also Titan running Bunkhouse Stampedes.
-- The WWF has signed Big Bubba Rogers, feeling that Hogan needs fresh challengers. The rumor is that Bubba will not be able to take the name and gimmick with him, but he doesn't believe the NWA ever trademarked it. He is scheduled to start on 1/26 in Hershey, PA, but for legal reasons, it may be pushed back.
-- The lawsuit regarding Ricky Steamboat "attacking" a fan during the throat injury angle with Randy Savage has been settled. In legal papers, Patricia Thurston of the Broome Volunteer Emergency Squad stated that she was seriously hurt when Steamboat "violently struck" her. The squad was standing by on authorization from the WWF and was only to be called if someone was seriously hurt. Apparently, David Furgoli, an employee of the WWF, informed the squad that Steamboat was "seriously injured" after they shot the angle and the incident happened when they went to help Steamboat. The lawsuit stated that Steamboat struck her so hard that she had injuries to her chest, ribs, sternum and back. The WWF was also sued because Bruno Sammartino said "Incompetency on the part of those paramedics, there, don't you agree," on commentary during the angle. The squad's position was that the wrestling world was broadcasting to their audience that they were unfit to do their jobs. They also claimed that the WWF violated New York state Civil Rights Law by televising Thurston. They demanded $400,000 in damages, plus $750,000 more in punitive damages. The claim was settled out of court, and neither side will reveal the amount of the settlement. Dave says when he looked back at the tape, he didn't see anything, and was told it was actually Jesse Ventura who made the comment about the paramedics, not Bruno.
-- Tom Zenk's legal problems with the WWF were also settled out of court, as the WWF sued Zenk for $70,000 for breach of contract. He'll have to give Titan a percentage of his earnings in 1988, but it will be a much smaller percentage than the WWF originally wanted. The whole deal was that the WWF wanted to make an example out of him.
-- The 1/5 TV tapings in Huntsville, AL, drew 8,500 fans, a near sellout. Angles of note were The Islanders and Bobby Heenan coming out with a leash with no dog attached, petting an invisible dog, and Ted DiBiase buying the contract of Andre the Giant from Bobby Heenan.
-- Hogan and Savage apparently work far better together than Hogan and Piper did, because Savage and Elizabeth have no problems whatsoever staying in the background and letting Hogan take center stage. Hogan and Piper had a tougher time working together because both wanted to be center of attention.
-- Paul Orndorff left and had lots of no-shows, leaving Rick Rude to carry the Ultimate Warrior on a few dozen house shows.
-- King Kong Bundy is gone. He's doing PR work for Head Start Computers, and they want him full time for personal appearances.
-- The Iron Sheik is apparently telling everyone he's returning to the WWF when he's not.
-- 1/9 in Philly drew 10,083 and a $127,620 gate headlined by Savage vs Honky Tonk Man, 12/27 in Toronto drew 17,500 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs Bundy & DiBiase; 1/3 in Springfield, MA drew 1,900 headlined by DiBiase vs Bigelow; 12/28 in Richfield, OH drew 8,000 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs Andre & Bundy, 12/29 in Hamilton, Ontario drew 18,000 headlined by Hogan vs Butch Reed, 12/27 in London, Ontario drew 5,000 headlined by Duggan vs Harley Race.
-- "The line-up for Crockett's Nassau Coliseum card which will be broadcast nationally on pay-per-view head-to-head is one of wrestling's best-kept secrets of the year." In addition to the Bunkhouse final and Flair vs Hawk, they have Windham vs Zbyszko, Rock & Roll Express vs Sheepherders, Jimmy Garvin vs Stan Lane, Nikita Koloff vs Bobby Eaton and Sting vs Mike Rotunda. "Maybe that's why they're trying to keep it a secret," Dave says. "Seriously, putting a half-ass undercard together for the first PPV attempt makes no sense." Meltzer suspects they will have trouble even selling tickets to the live show, and there's still no word on how many potential homes they've cleared. He's heard 6 million, but just based on phone calls from readers, he doesn't think it's anywhere nearly as widely available as Survivor Series was. They've also only reserved 1 hour, 50 minutes of time for the show, and Dave says it's silly that Titan has the better line-up on paper for their card, and it's also free.
-- Dave can't believe Crockett and Dusty let Bubba Rogers get away. Bubba was under contract to JCP, but his contract was different in that it didn't guarantee a set salary, and the WWF wasn't afraid to go after him anyway because they would have no problems nullifying it if there was a legal battle. It was apparently just an oversight. Dave says if Bubba's contract would have been just like everyone else's and he was still able to leave, it would have set off a multitude of problems.
-- Dusty did a promo on the Saturday TBS show with Bill Apter where he went crazy and started making vague bashes toward the WWF for stealing Bubba and copying the Bunkhouse Stampede. He was said to be very upset.
-- They did an angle on TV hinting at Barry Windham being the fourth Horseman. Dave has no idea how that will turn out, although since a Windham vs Steve Williams feud is being teased, and Williams is rumored to be turning heel and joining the Varsity Club, it wouldn't make sense to turn them both.
-- Jim Cornette is managing Dick Murdoch. Dave says Murdoch has been great on interviews and squashes. Cornette had an early candidate for line of the year when he told David Crockett he was the reason nepotism should be a capital offense. Dave has decided David Crockett should always be on TBS, because he is the source of so many laughs. He said to just keep him far away from play-by-play, which would cease to be funny in a hurry.
-- More to the story about Joel Deaton. After he was given his notice by Crockett on 12/25 in Greenville, while driving home to Charlotte, he ran a red light and hit a card broadside, and the 23-year old woman who was driving the car died. He was arrested on 1/3 and charged with vehicular manslaughter, two counts of passing bad checks and possession of drug paraphenalia. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
-- Killer Khan is working the NWA card on 1/20 in Honolulu, but Dave is unsure if it's a one-time thing or if he has signed long term. The only hint on TV of someone new coming in has been Eddie Gilbert saying he has a big surprise, which Dave thinks will end up just being Missy Hyatt being his valet again.
-- The NWA has a 2/2 show in Miami at the Knight Center, which is the nicest arena in the city. The WWF had an exclusive on the building for years. They're running a full show, which Dave thinks will do really well. The WWF lost their exclusive because they weren't drawing well there anymore. Another newer and larger arena will be opening in Miami soon.
-- They are holding a full card on 1/24 in Orlando, which is why so many wrestlers won't be at the PPV
-- There are rumors that Mark Starr will be coming in to team with Chris Champion. The two are brothers. Champion still has a job, but is being kept off the cards until they figure out what to do with him since Sean Royal is gone. The New Breed gimmick is history. The plan was originally for them to turn heel and feud with Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner.
-- 12/29 in Albuquerque drew 3,984 headlined by Dusty Rhodes vs Dick Murdoch and a Bunkhouse Stampede won by Lex Luger; 12/27 in Norfolk was headlined by Flair vs Hayes. Correction to previous gate report, as the 12/26 show in Philly actually had a $93,064 house instead of a $75,000 one.
-- Sting and Barry Windham are starting to be pushed as a tag team.
-- There is an article about the Von Erichs that will be in an upcoming Penthouse Magazine that Dave thinks will send shockwaves through the wrestling community, and he suspects Fritz will sue, although he doesn't think Fritz has any credibility.
-- Marc Lowrance on TV: "Things aren't going well with Fritz and he may have to be readmitted to the hospital. He's not out of the woods yet." Dave says the unwritten moral code in wrestling is that you can't maim, but not kill, and they are trying to move to the right side of the line by telling fans Fritz isn't going to die, while also continually worsening his condition.
-- Now Dave is hearing Ken Mantell owns 50% of the company, Kevin owns 25% and Kerry owns 25%. Fritz still has a lot of power also.
-- The 1/2 show at the Sportatorium, with all seats $5.00 and beer just 50 cents not only sold out at 4,000, but turned another 1,000 away, which shocked everyone. But on 1/4 in Fort Worth, they were back down to 350 fans. 1/8 in Dallas was supposed to be headlined by Terry Gordy vs Al Perez, but had to be cancelled due to bad weather.
-- For the second week in a row, nobody turned heel in the Lawler/Dundee feud, although Dave thinks Dundee will turn soon. The story will go that regarding their match on 1/4, where Lawler put his ring up against Dundee's $5,000, Lawler would lose and then Dundee would put a stop payment on the check. They would then be rematched again, this time with Dundee putting up the money in cash, and Lawler again putting up the ring. The matches have been total brawls, but neither has turned officially and on TV interviews, both are subtle heels but are both cheered, although Lawler gets cheered more. The 1/4 show drew 3,500 fans.
-- The biggest surprise as of late is the announcement on TV of Terry Taylor returning as a heel and feuding with Billy Joe Travis. Meltzer says that was a surprise to him, and would also be to Crockett if it's true, since they just put him over on TV the previous Sunday. Dave says they could do great things with a heel Taylor if it is true. Taylor/Travis is a first-round match in the $250,000, 6-month tournament. Meltzer updated this later in the issue, stating it won't be challenged by Crockett, since it was pretty well-understood Taylor didn't fit into their plans, and "let's just say they probably weren't all that heartbroken he quit before the contract came due". Taylor was also introduced on Memphis TV as the UWF TV Champion.
-- Manny Fernandez turned babyface on the 1/9 TV. He did a huge patriotic interview about serving in Vietnam, despite that he would have still been in high school at the time the war ended.
-- Shawn Michaels is apparently an awesome heel, but the problem is that it is not an act.
-- Several of Dundee's trainees have debuted on TV, the best of which has been Todd Morton, who is even smaller than Dundee and resembles Ricky Morton. Dave says they will be billed as cousins, and they might even be cousins.
-- Scott Hall is getting over well. His wrestling has improved, but he's still not really where he should be. The problem is that he's too big to work this territory.
-- They still drew 1,400 on the 1/1 show, even with Owen Hart, Bruce Hart and Brian Pillman all missing the show.
-- Bad News Allen is leaving for the WWF, and will work as Bad News Brown.
-- Bruce Hart is out of action with a legit broken shoulder, Pillman is on holiday vacation and Owen is in Japan until the second week of February. Instead of doing the typical injury angle with Owen, they are just announcing his tour of Japan and playing it up as a big deal. When Pillman & Bruce Hart return, they will feud with Great Gama & Garfield Portz.
-- The WWF returns to Calgary on 1/19 in what should be a great card, headlined by British Bulldogs vs Islanders.
-- Kerry Brown no-showed the 1/1 card and is probably done.
-- Johnny Smith returned to England for Christmas, but should be back soon.
-- 12/26 in Edmonton drew 1,150, 1/2 in Edmonton drew 1,225 in a building that holds 1,300 completely packed
-- First round pairings for the WWA World title tournament have been announced. The tournament will be on 1/23 in Kansas City. First round is Mike George vs Sweet Daddy Siki, Tommy Rich vs Masa Chono, Bob Brown vs Dave Peterson, Jerry Blackwell vs Dick Slater, Steve Ray vs David Schultz and Sgt Slaughter vs Cuban Assassin. Talk of all the independents working together for just this tournament ended up being just talk. The entire tournament is mostly made up of local guys, when the original plan was to bring in guys from Europe, Oregon and Continental for the show.
-- Crockett cancelled the January show scheduled in Kansas City
-- The Global Wrestling Alliance, a group that sold over-the-counter stock, had syndication start over the weekend. The show that aired was taped in Hollywood, FL, more than six months ago. Cyclone Negro, billed as their world champion, is no longer with them, nor is Bugsy McGraw. The best guys on the taping were said to be Joe & Dean Malenko, and Raul Mata. Dave says Mata was a big deal in California about 15 years prior. Dave is told production values are better than any independent in the country, and basically on par with WCCW, but the match quality is pretty bad. Bob Roop is the booker and Dr. Red Roberts is the general manager of the group. The two do Siskel & Ebert-style debates, with Roop acting as the babyface, discussing the storylines on each show. Roop is now over 300 lbs and doesn't wrestle anymore. They have a show scheduled on 1/22 just outside of Ft. Lauderdale with Iron Sheik vs Colonel Kirchner, Ox Baker vs Cousin Junior, Joe & Dean Malenko vs Rusty Brooks & Jumbo Barretta, and Ivan Putski and Adrian Street are scheduled to appear. Soulman Alex G, Bobby Wales & Black Magic are also getting pushes.
-- The 1/4 Birmingham card drew 750, headlined by Dutch Mantell vs Wendell Cooley, in a match where if Cooley lost, he would have to leave town, and if Mantell lost, Cooley would get his contract back. The storyline was that from a previous match, Mantell won Cooley's contract and all of his wrestling money went to Dutch, so he had no money for Christmas. They did an angle where they showed his daughters on TV with no presents to open, sitting beside an empty Christmas tree.
-- 12/26 Portland show drew a sellout, in excess of 3,000
-- The Moondogs will be in on 1/16
-- Tom Zenk agreed to start working for the AWA. Zenk signed on the advice of Giant Baba, who wants to push him, but feels he has to make a name for himself in the US first.
-- Terry Gordy, Stan Hansen and the Malenkos will headline the next tour in February.
-- More talk of Hennig as a disappointment in All Japan. Weekly Pro Wrestling wrote that Hennig's match on 1/2 against Tiger Mask on opening night of the tour was the worst AWA title match ever in Japan. The next night, Hennig had to settle for a double countout with John Tenta, a mid-level guy, and on 1/4, he pinned Toshiaki Kawada. In his debut as champion, Hennig lost to Tiger Mask via countout. Dave is confused by all of this, and doesn't understand why Hennig wasn't pushed since he's the only "world champion" touring Japan at this point. Flair won't be returning because Crockett wants to work with New Japan, and even then, Flair probably won't be wrestling in Japan anymore. Hogan hasn't been to Japan since early '85, and Steve Williams' UWF title isn't recognized when he tours. Dave says he can't comment on the Hennig/TM match because he hasn't seen it, but those comments are pretty strong and will make it hard for Hennig to get over as a star in Japan now.
-- More on the riot: It took an hour for police to stop it, and not only did the tear the building up, but almost sat it on fire. Dave says there was a similar riot when Hogan and Inoki had a fluke ending back in '84 at the old Sumo Hall, and also on March 26, 1987, at Castle Hall in Osaka, when Inoki vs Saito ended with a fluke.
-- NJ has set up a "Best of 1988 Junior Heavyweight Tournament". It's round-robin, and the lineup is great with Norio Honaga, Keichi Yamada, Masakatsu Funaki, Tony St. Clair, Nobuhiko Takada, Shiro Koshinaka, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Kazuo Yamazaki, Hiroshi Hase, Hiro Saito and Owen Hart.
-- Steve Williams was planned to arrive on 1/9 and leave on 1/20 so he would be back in the US in time for the Bunkhouse Stampede.
-- AJW is now the most popular wrestling group in Japan, as the last two shows received 11.3 ratings on Saturday afternoons. All Japan's ratings are usually around the same level on Saturday nights in primetime, but in the afternoons, it's usually only between 6 and 7. New Japan's ratings have been around 8.0 or so. The feeling is that the most recent show probably did even better since it was Devil Masami's retirement show.
-- The grand jury in Tennessee found there wasn't enough evidence for an indictment in the rape accusations against Rocky Johnson. The girl who charged Johnson changed her story multiple times, and the grand jury felt it didn't hold up and cleared him on Monday.
-- Correction to previous story: the new head of the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission is Frances Walker, a former deputy of JJ Bins, not James Walker.
-- There was a backstage fight on 12/29 in Miami at an independent show, between Blackjack Mulligan and Bob Roop. Mulligan is said to have beaten up Roop so badly that he needed medical help. There were problems dating back to when Roop booked Florida.
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Jan 25th, 1988
-- Opening line in this WON read "February 5, 1988 -- Is it the end of the beginning or is it the beginning of the end? This prime time network stuff is tricky business." Dave said that the suggestion that the show will not be a success is ridiculous. Dave said Titan's syndicated package is in overdrive, and we can expect to see Hogan and Andre all over the talk show circuit over the next few weeks. Dave says Hogan/Andre may end up as the most watched wrestling match in the history of not just the US, but also the world when it's all said and done, and will crack the top 25 in the overall weekly ratings, and maybe even the top 15. But where it's tricky is that if it's a success, it will be done again, and that this likely will not be the last prime time special. The advantage is also that wrestling is cheap programming for the networks. "If it can deliver competitive numbers in prime time for this 'pilot,' which I'm certain it can do, what will come next? A weekly prime time television spot on the network? Don't scoff." Dave says think of how unlikely it was just four years ago at this point that wrestling would ever be on network television at all. Dave said every big thing the WWF has done in the previous year -- TV ratings for Saturday Night's Main Event, Wrestlemania III, Survivor Series, the Slammys -- has been a tremendous success from a business standpoint, and that a track record like that does appeal to networks, and not just NBC. Dave says the chance of a competitor like Crockett getting a similar shot is unlikely, but he suspects if the WWF continues to grow that someone will initiate some talks. "But Crockett's group, at least in its present form, can't get on the air. I don't believe the two sides could ever agree on the format of the show, Crockett ultimately wouldn't agree to give up enough creative control to make it work, and lastly, no network would ever put on a show when the showcased star would be you-know-who. Not on a network, folks." Dave says he could see in fall of 1989, a desperate network offering a weekly prime time series to the WWF. Dave doesn't think the WWF can put on interesting enough shows on a weekly basis and keep strong numbers for the long haul, and questions if Vince will be smart enough to NOT pursue a weekly series if he gets the opportunity. Meltzer says they benefit from only airing once every two months on NBC, and if problems surfaced in terms of falling ratings, wrestling would be dropped pretty quickly. Dave does admit, however, that within just one season, there is potential to make so much money "that would make today's standards look infantile." But he also wonders if Vince could pass that up, or if he even should pass that up. "Why worry about the future anyway, wrestling could collapse with a huge scandal on a moments notice (highly unlikely, but possible at any time)? Just some questions to ponder when you watch the show on 2/5.
-- The pressure is on Hogan and Andre. They can't have a good match because of Andre's condition, so they need a good finish. Dave again states Hogan can't win cleanly because it would kill Wrestlemania, and it would take at least another year to build someone up as strong as they've built up Andre. Andre going into WM as champion has been talked about, but concern is there about it hurting Hogan, since the public is fickle, and why take the belt off Hogan at all if the public is into it?
-- The Iron Sheik is returning after all.
-- It's unknown where Wrestlemania will be, but definitely not at the Superdome, as the arena is already booked for 03/27, as is the Silverdome. Dave is told they will be in a 20,000-seat arena, although the people who know won't tell him where it's going to be.
-- Joel Watts quit his job working in TV production for the WWF (My note: WHAT?) and is looking to get out of wrestling
-- There is a Saturday Night's Main Event scheduled for early March
-- 1/16 in Chicago drew 10,700 headlined by Hogan vs DiBiase; 1/14 in Waterloo, IA drew 2,500 and a $27,000 house headlined by One Man Gang vs Bigelow; 1/16 in Sacramento drew 10,000 headlined by Savage vs Honky Tonk Man; 1/9 in Boston drew 13,903 headlined by Hart Foundation vs Strike Force
-- Circulation of WWF Magazine has increased from 135,000 to 213,000 in the past year
-- Hercules and the Ultimate Warrior ("Anabolic Warrior") are scheduled to feud. "The could have fun with stipulations here," Dave added.
-- Dave pretty simply says that the Bunkhouse Stampede PPV is going to fail. He says doing a strong pay-per-view should have been their first priority, but the hype and the card itself are pretty subpar. Dave says they had to show they could be successful, because it's inevitable that the cable companies will compare them to the WWF. Dave says this failure will make it harder for him to get the Crockett Cup on PPV in April, especially if Vince puts the pressure on and is coming off of a strong Wrestlemania IV. He says the low number of clearances they've made is more of a statement about the marketplace than it is Crockett. "Nobody seems to care about the Stampede, and the hottest match in the promotion right now would be Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger, and that's what you go with on your big PPV show, whatever is the hottest at the time. I know they want to save Flair vs. Luger for later, but the long-run potential of PPV is more than important enough to sacrifice a little in short-run house income."
-- Dave is surprised Dick Murdoch is now the highlight of the promotion. Not only did he have a great match with Nikita Koloff (not good or decent, but great), but is doing hilarious interviews. Dave jokes that someone told Murdoch before the match that he was actually wrestling in Tokyo and that Inoki shaved his head, so Murdoch did his usual New Japan carry job and it looked great. Dave says he doesn't expect their barbed wire match on 2/6 in Charlotte to be that good.
-- Dusty, JJ Dillon and Crockett are all moving to Dallas, and their wives are houseshopping.
-- 1/15 in Richmond drew 6,500 for a TV taping to air on 1/23. Dave was told a really disappointing Windham vs Tully Blanchard maatch was taped, and that fans lost their interest, because it was slow paced and too long at 27 minutes, and Barry spent the whole match selling a leg injury. For the finish, Tommy counted 1-2 and then stopped, before looking at the replay and calling for the match to be restarted. Flair and Arn did a run-in and Luger made the save. They attack Luger 3-on-1 and try to get Windham to help them, and fans are jumping into the ring and trying to attack the Horsemen, but are being dragged out. Luger and Windham shook hands at the end, so Dave says this should end talk of Windham as a Horseman. Dave thinks they are going to use this angle to kill time to figure out who the fourth Horseman should be because they have no candidates. Meltzer thinks it should be Steve Williams, but he's being downplayed, and his next choice would be Ron Garvin.
-- Flair and Dusty were in Chicago on 1/12 for the Bulls/Celtics game. Both did halftime interviews on TBS talking about how much they hated each other, but were sitting next to each other in the stands with Jim Crockett. Dave says he admires their efforts to try to get their stars over, but Tuesday night basketball isn't Letterman or the Grammys. He said, still, it was a move in the right direction, but next time, don't sit next to each other.
-- 1/16 in Philadelphia drew 7,500. It was a bad show, and Dave thinks all the wrestlers are starting to look run down all the time because of the hard travel schedule.
-- Starting this coming weekend, the TBS Saturday morning show is supposed to start airing arena main events
-- 1/1 in Columbus, OH drew 2,300
-- Mike Rotunda is now wearing a singlet that says Syracuse on it and playing a geeky and preppy jock, which Dave thinks has been entertaining
-- Nassau had 7,000 tickets to the Bunkhouse Stampede sold 10 days before the show - not a sellout, but respectable
-- The Midnight Rockers are now the tag champions. The storyline, which they were forced to do after the fact, was that the 12/27 match against Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose ended with a double pin, but when Stanley Blackburn reviewed the tape, he overruled the referee and made the Rockers the champions. The actual story is that the Original Midnight Express have quit the AWA. Announcer Larry Nelson said on TV, "We have heard a rumor they got hurt." Rose wasn't making any money and wanted a guarantee to make it worth his time to commute from Georgia. Condrey had a guarantee, but it was cut by Verne Gagne, so Condrey quit on the spot. There was talk of them coming back and jobbing the belts in the ring, but Verne simply decided he wanted nothing to do with them anymore. Dave says he has heard varying stories on Paul E. Dangerously -- both that he's still with them and that he's not with them -- but that Paul E. was not at the last TV taping. The Rockers are still wrestling instead of Memphis and not in the AWA, but everyone expects that to change soon.
-- Tom Zenk is in and will probably get a good push, but Dave worries that Verne will bank on him too much. Zenk coming in is why Verne has been hesitant to really push Nord the Barbarian all that hard, although he's probably the most over wrestler in the Twin Cities at this point, aside from Hogan. They are afraid to push him too much because they don't think he will stick around.
-- The Freebirds (Gordy, Roberts & Parsons) won the 6-man titles from Kevin Von Erich, Steve Simpson and Chris Adams on 1/4 in Fort Worth. Prior to the match, the Birds attacked Kevin his dressing room, so Matt Borne subbed. Kevin did interfered, which caused a DQ, and in WCCW, a title can change hands on a DQ.
-- "It was funny on TV during the match where Kevin & Adams & Simpson won the titles on 12/25 when Mark Lowrance said how this match was the final of a tournament that had been taking place all over the country for the past several months. Now I realize that deceit is oftentimes so ingrained into the fabric of wrestling promotions, and certainly moreso this one than most others, but will somebody explain to me what purpose it serves to lie when even the stupidest fans know you are lying? I mean, everyone knew that Simpson had been out of action for months with surgery to repair the torn retina in his eye. It had been mentioned regularly on TV, so how could he have been competing in a tournament? Moreso, Roberts & Iceman were working for Wild West these past months while Gordy had first been in the NWA, then Japan, and none of the three had worked in the same promotion for five months or so and none had been in World Class until the Mantell takeover."
-- They are now plugging Mantell's wrestling school as the World Class Academy of Wrestling. It was formerly called the UWF Training Center. Right now, they are pushing Jason Sterling as a recent grad although he has been wrestling for about a year.
-- Dave thinks Eric Embry does one of the best piledrivers in wrestling
-- They are phasing out Steve & Shaun Simpson in favor of The Fantastics
-- Angel of Death is around on interviews, but not wrestling, still recovering from a knee injury
-- Dave says while most of what Ken Mantell is doing is a repeat of 1983-1984 WCCW or 1986-1987 UWF, he did come up with a new good gimmick called Thunderdome, which will happen on 1/22 in Dallas. It's a 10-man tornado match with Kevin Von Erich, Kerry Von Erich, The Fantastics & Chris Adams vs The Freebirds, John Tatum & Jack Victory. There are five handcuffs in each corner. The match is in a cage and is under elimination rules. When a man gets pinned, he gets handcuffed to the ring ropes. When all members of one team are beaten and handcuffed, the other team gets the key to the cuffs and can remove the cuffs on all the members of its team that lost falls earlier. Then the ref leaves the ring and the winners have five minutes with the losers. Dave says it's a great idea that he thinks will draw a sellout.
-- Fritz update: he's taken a turn for the better and will start doing interviews on TV over the next week
-- Ownership percentages! (My note: Come ON, Dave, stop reporting on this) Mantell owns 30% of the company, but the company has restructured. In the new contract, he is the Managing General Partner which means he calls all the shots. "All I know is Fritz has called at least one shot," Meltzer adds.
-- Steve Corey helped WCCW revive spot show business for WCCW. The national touring idea, which Dave says was ridiculous, has been scrapped, but Corey wants to do a show in combination with a Martina Navratilova vs Chris Evert-Lloyd tennis exhibition. "Can you think of a dumber idea than trying to combine a women's tennis exhibition with pro wrestling matches on a single promotion?" The tennis players balked at the idea, and the show, scheduled for 1/9 at the Superdome, was cancelled.
-- Another week and STILL no heel turn by Lawler or Dundee (My note: This is starting to become a running gag.) Their 1/1 match, which drew less than 3,000, ended with a ref bump. Dundee had Lawler pinned after the ref bump for several seconds when a debuting Terry Taylor did a run-in and gave Dundee a DDT. He also started beating up Lawler. When the ref recovered, neither guy could answer the bell so the match was a no contest.
-- Gary Young and Rick Nelson are new in the area. Nelson was one of Crockett's TV jobbers until the past week. "The Gilberts" are also being announced as coming in, but Dave doesn't know if that's Doug and Tommy, Doug and Eddie, or Eddie and Tommy, but should know soon. He says it may also be Eddie and Missy Hyatt.
-- Dave says Memphis has a ton of talent right now, but the chemistry isn't there
-- Hector Guerrero has left
-- The Nasty Boys are still working spot shows, but not major cards, and are rumored to be AWA-bound
-- Taylor is doing a great job as a heel, which doesn't surprise Dave at all
-- "Tijo Khan now has a green tongue like George Steele. Fortunately he doesn't wrestle like Steele."
-- Mark Guleen, manager of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, has already been let go, because he was pretty bad. The only manager in the territory is Nate The Rat, who is all comedy and manages jobbers.
-- They announced the Rockers as AWA tag champs on TV, so apparently the Southern tag titles will be put up in a tournament shortly
-- Rumors are that Lawler is going to win the AWA title from Curt Hennig and drop it back at the AWA TV taping in Vegas in February. Later in the issue, Dave updated this, stating that it just isn't going to happen.
-- The 1/8 card in Calgary drew 1,300, another good crowd for this group
-- Because the Olympics are coming to Calgary in February, Stampede will move from the 2000-seat Pavillion. They will run shows on 2/12, 2/19 and 2/26 in a 1000-seat building
-- Phil LaFleur has left the territory, with the storyline reason being that Garfield Portz injured him with a piledriver on the arena floor
-- Moondog Spot returned and won the Alabama title from Tom Pritchard on 1/3 in Montgomery, AL. This was a surprise because the Moondogs were set to start in Oregon this week.
-- The 1/17 show in Renton, WA drew 500
-- Fabulous Lance no-showed the recent tour.
-- The UWF itself folded and will be closing its office. In December of '85 and '86, Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki, Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Osamu Kido negotiated as a group and had their own business office. With Maeda out, they were just absorbed into New Japan. Yamazaki will end up being kept after all, and Maeda may return as well, although Dave has heard varying stories there. The UWF guys are no longer allowed to wrestle a different style or sell their own merchandise at the matches.
-- Dave can't believe Takada is going to do a job for LEON WHITE (My note: HA!)
-- Dave says it's pretty unsatisfactory for Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami to feud but never meet in a singles match, but reunite without the feud ever getting resolved. He says whatever success NJPW has is not because of its booking, but in spite of it.
-- AJW is about to face some major challenges, as both Dump Matsumoto and Yukari Omori are set to retire in spring. The rule of thumb is that the Japanese girls have to retire when they reach 26, and Omori just passed the limit. Dump is 27, but had the rule waived because she was such a strong draw and no one was there to take her place as the top heel. They have been working on phasing her out in favor of Bull Nakano and Condor Saito and will phase her out completely within the next two months. Dump wants to continue wrestling and tour North America. Dave says that used correctly, Dump would not only make women's wrestling in the US, but also be one of the five most over personalities in the country, especially if she was let loose and given a huge push. Because of her gimmick, Dave actually thinks her chances of getting over strong in the US are even stronger than they were in Japan, and that among Americans in Japan, Dump seems to be the star that resonates the most. "Literally, she would have the impact of a Road Warrior, or at least a female version." Dave says with the Jumping Bomb Angels being so successful in the WWF, that could open up a spot for her, but it would phase out all the American women except Leilani Kai, because the Japanese women are so much better in the ring. Dave points out that of the 8 top draws in AJW, five (Devil Masami, Omori, Dump and the Jumping Bomb Angels) are no longer working there, and that Chigusa Nagayo can't carry the box office alone, no matter how over she is. Dave says the pressure on Chigusa, Bull Nakano and Lioness Asuka is really strong, and they know they need to create new main eventers. On the 1/15 card in Tokyo, Chigusa defended the WWWA title against Omori. The match went 31 minutes to a double countout, and Omori announced after the match that she would be retiring. Dump's retirement announcement has not been made, but will be in a few weeks.
-- WWC now has television airing in New York on Ch. 41 out of Paterson, NJ. TNT was the standout star of the show, getting a huge pop and looking great in the ring. Dave says he understands why everyone raves about him, but he's still not totally convinced he's great, although he admits he's the best native wrestler in the territory. They also showed a clip of a Samoan Swat Team vs Invaders match, with Samu looking awesome, which shouldn't surprise anyone
-- Some good news is that the NWA's TV ratings slide seems to be over and they are rebounding. For the week of 12/20, The Wrestling Network was in the top 15 of syndicated programming with a 5.6 national rating. The rating peaked at 7.9 only five months prior, but dropped to the low 4's in the build to Starrcade. The All-Star Wrestling Network (AWA, Pro Wrestling This Week, CWA and POWW), has 119 stations compared to The Wrestling Network's 184 stations, but has a 6.3 national rating, which put them at number 12 on the list. Dave says the fact that the ASW network has more viewers with so many fewer stations points out that improvements need to be made to Crockett's syndication, although they appear to be moving in the right direction. The WWF was number 4 on the same list with a 9.9 rating on 222 stations.
-- Dave will be on KCBS radio (740 AM) with Ted Robinson on "Sportsbeat" on Tuesday, February 9. The WON Yearbook is also completed. "Its actual title is 'The Best of the Wrestling Observer, Volume I: 1983-1987', which is kind of a misnomer since the 'best of' pages really only contain material from 1983-85, although there is a long feature on the wrestling scene year-by-year throughout the past five years." (My note: I had no idea this existed.)
-- Jerry Blackwell's Southern Championship Wrestling TV taping on 1/13 drew 400 in Marietta. Dick Slater said on an interview that when he was through in the territory, he would be more hated than Bill Watts. Brody accidentally called heel Grizzly Boone Grizzly Smith in a promo as well. Bill Dromo, the figurehead president, suspended Austin Idol, who actually no-showed, for his attack on Tommy Rich at the previous taping. Bill Mulkey worked the card and got squashed by Nick Busick. Randy Mulkey wasn't there, but the Mulkeys are expected to work full-time here once they're up and running. Randy "Don't Call Me Pee Wee" Anderson is also working here. Dave is told the production values increased greatly since the first taping, and that clips aired on Pro Wrestling This Week. In the Idol/Rich angle, Rich cut an artery in his head and bled all over the ring, to a point where they could barely air it. There is talk of Stan Hansen and Jerry Lawler coming in soon. The next taping is 1/24. They'll have TV in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Tallahassee, Greensboro and parts of Georgia.
-- Global now has Gordon Solie doing the TV and is billing itself as Florida's only wrestling promotion. The Malenkos are the best workers, and Solie talks about them as heels and discusses how much fans are booing them, but they're actually getting major cheers and are the most popular stars in the territory. Adrian Street and Cousin Junior are coming in.
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