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post #141 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-10-2011, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

September 12th, 1988

-- "JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO WATCH WRESTLING ON PAY-PER-VIEW ... MORE BRUTAL THAN THE BUNKHOUSE ... I'm not sure what can be said about Summer Slam '88 other than it was everything the lineup promised it would be, and less." Dave called this the most forgettable PPV so far. The biggest complaint Dave has heard is that they spent way too much time, as in about 30 minutes of air time, hyping the Sugar Ray Leonard fight. "You can't mix wrestling announcers with boxers, it comes off like a clown show -- at least WWF wrestling announcers. You can't put boxing interviews on a wrestling show -- wrestlers are professional interviewers (at least they are supposed to be tho a few in Titan certainly aren't) and they make the boxers, who are professional fighters, come off as stiff and stupid." Dave also says the announcing was worse than any major wrestling show he can ever recall seeing. Many were also upset at the sexist nature of the main event finish with Liz stripping down to a bikini, since young girls tend to look at her as a role model. Dave also says, surprisingly, the production values weren't great and even looked sort of bush league, especially during replays, which looked like 5th generation VCR tapes. On the show:

* British Bulldogs vs Demolition: Perfectly fine opener. **1/2

* Bad News Brown vs Ken Patera: Both tried, but could not get any heat, and they eventually gave up and started missing moves. Patera is too old for the WWF. *1/4

* Rick Rude vs Junkyard Dog: Terrible, and Rude deserves none of the blame. Dave says the Jake Roberts run-in was done really well. DUD

* Powers of Pain vs Bolsheviks: No heat, lots of clumsy offense, and the Powers of Pain are no longer really that over. Dave says Barbarian is talented, but not so much that he can save a bad match. Dave says the POP really need to wrestle smaller, more athletic teams to get over their size and make them look good. 1/2*

* Brother Love with Hacksaw Duggan: Duggan of course had only been away from MSG for about four weeks. Dave says Bruce Prichard is great at Brother Love, but that the gimmick has already run its course and is a channel changer. Dave says it was obvious Vince planned this segment for someone different, because it really seemed thrown together at the last minute.

* Ultimate Warrior vs Honky Tonk Man: From a booking standpoint, Dave calls this the best thing on the show. Dave thought Warrior was going to blow up so bad that he'd give birth, which he goes into a spiel about how he wonders if it would be possible since artificial male hormones make the body produce female hormones. (My note: Woooowww ...) But still, this worked perfectly, keeping Warrior in a short match that they knew would pop the crowd. Warrior did an interview later in the show thanking his little Warriors, which Dave was annoyed by, because he feels like Warrior is copying too much from Hulk Hogan.

* Dino Bravo vs Don Muraco: Pathetic match with no heat. DUD

* Demolition vs Hart Foundation: These guys worked for 90 minutes before the show on getting the sequence of events in the last 1:20 of this match down perfectly, which Dave says paid off because it was a great sequence, and all the confusion was well-timed and well-executed with nothing being lost. But everything else about the match was terribly boring. *1/2

* Big Boss Man vs Koko B. Ware: Far and away the best "squash" of the night, although Koko was really upset at some of the miscues and was punching walls in the locker room after the match.

* Jake Roberts vs Hercules: Well executed, but very slow and dull. Dave doesn't understand how Jake Roberts gets over.

* Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs Andre the Giant & Ted DiBiase: Too many restholds and tons of stalling, although Savage and DiBiase had about 90 seconds of great action. "It appears our heroes will be counted out of the ring. Not so fast. Here comes Liz to the apron, and she takes off her dress, reealing a bikini bottom. Poor Jesse is so distracted he stops the count, forgetting to count Hulk & Savage out. Andre & Ted are so distracted they turn their back, forgetting they are in the main event of a national PPV show. I'm so distracted I call up the pizza man and tell him to rush over because the show is just about over and I'm hungry." DiBiase carried the whole match, but Savage was okay. Hogan wasn't much, and Andre -- the less said, the better. They just barely teased Hogan/Savage dissension in the post-match. Dave says DiBiase was squashed pretty bad here, and it was obvious his time in the sun is about to end. **3/4

-- Before the show, the WWF was projecting a 6.0 buyrate. Dave thinks the WWF has their work cut out in promoting Survivor Series because their last two PPVs have been so bad, and the Survivor Series is a novelty gimmick that may only work once.

-- For the week of 8/7, the WWF had a 9.4 rating in 258 markets cleared.

-- 8/24 in St. Joseph, MO drew 1,200 fans headlined by Beefcake vs Hercules. 8/29 in Manchester, NH drew 900 fans headlined by Duggan vs DiBiase.

-- The rumor mill has been out of control all week, with rumors ranging from half the roster quitting to join the WWF to the NWA folding. Dave says both should have been easy for wrestlers to confirm with a simple phone call, but the rumors flew all week. The sale is not complete, nor have negotiations fallen apart. TBS is frustrated, because they really want to run a wrestling company, and they wanted to have this done before starting TNT. There have been "what ifs" thrown around about the deal falling apart, but TBS is determined to get into wrestling, with or without Crockett, and if they just started up a company with JCP remaining in existence, JCP would lose TBS and basically be useless. Ole Anderson has been in touch with TBS telling them to just start a company, saying all the talent can be had and that way, they don't have to pay the Crockett family millions of dollars. Dave says the disadvantage to this would be that they'd have to build up their own syndicated network, and their own fanbase, and the Crockett fan base, in spite of everything, is loyal, even if it's smaller than it used to be. Dave says doing so would also result in a Black Saturday-like backlash from the NWA fans who want to see NWA stars on TBS. Those who have a shot at running the wrestling side of the company include Jim Crockett, Jim Barnett, and Ole Anderson, although the company will in the end be run by Jack Petrik of TBS. The decision is ultimately in his hands and no one has a lock on it. He will also determine the style of wrestling, who the booker is, and who does and doesn't get pushed. Any reports of Dusty being fired as booker are premature. TBS has talked about working with the AWA, WCCW and other groups to make a 1960s-style NWA, but Dave advises against this. "For a major league wrestling promotion to succeed in the long run, it has to be able to produce profitable PPV events and be able to market its wrestlers nationally. To do that, you need to promote nationally, need television in the major markets and need to be more 'over' in the key markets, New York and Los Angeles -- which is the key weakness of Crockett's promotion right now. As several recent events have shown me first hand of late, exposure in either the New York or Los Angeles media is tons more beneficial for a national organization than all the Rome, GA's and Columbus, Ohio's combined." Later in the issue, Dave updates that they are back to square one on a deal. Jim Crockett wants to accept, but David and Frances are against it because they will be pushed out while Jim will still have a role.

-- For the week of 8/7, the NWA had a 6.1 rating in 163 markets.

-- The plan is for the 12/26 PPV to be something other than Starrcade and for the NWA to instead run "Starrcade week" in November on closed circuit with no closed circuit or PPV available, but major house shows in five key cities. They also have a Clash for 12/7.

-- The recent angle with Kevin Sullivan breaking a cinderblock on Jimmy Garvin's leg came off well. Garvin needs surgery.

-- 8/27 in Charlotte drew 16,000 headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/4 in Detroit drew 7,500 headlined by Flair vs Luger. Nikita Koloff, Ricky Morton, Al Perez, Tim Horner, and Ron Garvin all no-showed the Detroit show, but they have quit. The Sheik also no-showed, claiming he was promised $10,000 for his last show, which Dave says sounds suspicious.

-- Ric Flair will be working his first non-NWA date in a long time on 9/20 for Don Owen in Portland.

-- Jack Victory is headed in and will probably debut at the Clash.

-- Flair/Windham vs Luger/Sting drew a near sellout, this time in Columbus, GA.

-- Dave raves about the Irv Muchnick piece in Penthouse, calling it the most well-researched piece on wrestling in the national media yet. Dave says the original before editing was even better. The Von Erichs should be breathing easy because what was taken out was more damaging than what was left in. The main focus of the story was that David Von Erich died from a drug overdose, not food poisoning, a heart attack, or anything else.

-- The city is threatening to shut down the Sportatorium unless the building is repaired.

-- Kevin Von Erich is President of WCCW, but Skandor Akbar and Frank Dusek are running things. Ken Mantell has fallen off the face of the planet. Speaking of Kevin, he was recently hospitalized for concussions and headaches.

-- Cards had to be cancelled in Pensacola, Chicago, and Hammond, IN, due to low advances.

-- Austin Idol no-showed the main event teaming with Rich against Lawler & Kerry, so Buddy Landell took his place. Idol told them on Thursday he wouldn't be there, but they still pushed him heavily on the Saturday TV. Landell was flown in to replace him from Puerto Rico.

-- Tommy Rich is being replaced by Austin Idol in the Road To Birmingham tournament. Rich no-showed 9/3 in Chattanooga, and Eddie Gilbert blasted him on the air for it, calling him an alcoholic, just like his grandmother. This brought out Johnny Rich, who said he could insult Tommy, but not Grandma Rich.

-- Bam Bam Bigelow also missed a recent date because New Japan wanted him in early to promote the Vader match.

-- Ron Garvin worked one show and was wildly cheered, with fans talking about how much they liked what he did to Dusty Rhodes. It was probably just for one show, but Tim Horner will likely be a regular.

-- Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong left over a money dispute. They were offered a good deal from Inoki to work New Japan, and are content to just work Japan for a while.

-- 9/4 TV in Montgomery was a near sellout.

-- Doug Furnas is headed to Japan, where Dave said he will either do great because of his athletic ability, or terrible because he has no grasp of ring psychology.

-- Tommy Rich finally turned heel in Georgia after being a babyface for a decade.

-- NJ has brought Hisashi Shinma back into the fold. He is well regarded for his creativity and was the brains behind New Japan's success earlier in the decade. Dave goes through the history of Shinma running NJ briefly, crediting him for Tiger Mask and the group's massive success in 1982/1983. But Antonio Inoki was losing money in a Brazilian company and the wrestlers were being forced to finance his losses against their will, which led to a revolt with Shinma being forced out of the company.

-- The Brody memorial drew 14,200 fans. In terms of dollars, it was the biggest gate in All Japan history, and the highest paid attendance since 1978. This was the sixth largest live gate in pro wrestling history due to high-priced tickets.

-- Chigusa Nagayo still wants to work the U.S. in fall, and is only asking for a $75 guarantee to appear on shows, and even then, she is having difficulty finding work.

-- Baseball Magazine did their half-year awards for 1988.

Wrestler of the Year: (1) Fujinami (2) Maeda (3) Tenryu
Best foreign wrestler: (1) Brody (2) Hansen/Norman Smiley (tie) (3) Owen Hart
Male match of the half year: (1) Choshu vs Fujinami 6/24/88 (2) Maeda vs Yamazaki 5/12/88 (3) Brody vs Jumbo 3/27/88
Best tag match: (1) Tsuruta/Yatsu vs Tenryu/Hara 6/4/88 (2) Hansen/Gordy vs Tenryu/Hara 3/5/88 (3) Choshu/Saito vs Fujinami/Kimura 6/10/88 (4) Footloose vs Inoue/Ishikawa 3/9/88 (5) Road Warriors vs Jumbo/Yatsu 6/10/88
Best women's match: (1) Nagayo vs Omori 1/15/88 (2) Masami vs Sawai 5/29/88
Best women's tag: (1) Crush Girls vs Dump/Omori 2/25/88 (2) Crush Girls vs Jumping Bomb Angels 5/15/88 (3) Jumping Bomb Angels vs Glamour Girls 6/8/88 (4) Jumping Bomb Angels vs Fire Jets 4/2/88 (5) Ogura/Nagahori vs Uno/Hotta 1/28/88

-- Dustin Runnels will be making his wrestling debut for Florida Championship Wrestling. He was trained by Skandor Akbar, who is really high on his potential. Dave gives Dusty credit for not bringing him and immediately pushing him like has happened with so many other promoter's sons.

-- They are doing an angle on Global Wrestling in Georgia where Reverend Johnson purchased the group and said only black wrestlers can wrestle there, and it will now be called the BWA (Black Wrestling Alliance).

-- Joe Malenko was offered a UWF match, but Baba offered him and brother Dean more money to turn it down. Dave says Joe Malenko is tailor made to the UWF, but Baba will be around forever.

-- Butch Reed is competing on the rodeo circuit as a bulldogger since leaving the WWF.
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post #142 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-10-2011, 01:33 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Where do you guys keep finding this stuff. Excellent read, I remember seeing this thread a year ago it was awesome.

Keep up the good work fellas.

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post #143 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-16-2011, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
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Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

September 19th, 1988

-- TV Guide is reporting that Summerslam did one million buys! Electronic Media magazine has it at 900,000 buys. TV Guide says it was the most ordered event in the history of PPV. The WWF themselves is claiming 880,000 buys. However, judging from cable company reports, the buyrate was really low and disappointing, and Dave is predicting the real number is closer to a 4.0 to 4.5 buyrate, which is still profitable. Dave says usually, the reported WWF information that can't be independently verified is about double what it really was.

-- "I've got another bombshell. If you thought the first item this week was a biggie, well Titan has struck again. They've raided another group for someone that you just wouldn't believe. Yes, Titan has signed -- sit down -- are you in your chair, yet? Rod Tronguard. Yes, Rod was lured away from the AWA where he had been a legendary announcer and is now working Titan cablecasts along with Lord Al Hayes & Superstar Billy Graham, the wrestling announcing dream team. Tronguard wasn't the first choice for the job from what I'm told, but I'm simply amazed by this one."

-- Hogan vs Bossman sold 7,000 tickets in the first five days for their Edmonton match, which is Hogan's first time in the city. They are expected to draw around 20,000 fans.

-- The jury is out on Hogan right now. He worked the entire weekend and only drew 3,600 in Springfield, MA against Ted DiBiase and 8,000 in Boston for the same match, and less than half a house on Sunday night at the Meadowlands against Badnews Brown. They are having Hogan wear a helmet with a fist on it so they can sell helmet replicas at Christmas time, so the helmet is playing a part in every finish because they feel like they need to get it over by Christmas shopping season.

-- The WWF can't seem to figure out Owen Hart's name, as he's being billed as Blue Angel, Blue Lazor, and Blue Blazer all at the same time.

-- Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson officially quit the NWA, as they had been threatening to do for 5-6 weeks. They dropped the NWA tag titles to the Midnight Express in an impromptu title switch. There were no TV cameras present, and no Apter mag photographers. Dave is told they will debut for the WWF on 10/4 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they missed the TV taping the next night in Fayetteville, and a night shot in Greensboro. These rumors had been going strong for a while. Earlier this year, Arn Anderson was making an appearance at what Dave thinks was NATPE and Vince McMahon was there, and the two disappeared together for lunch for several hours. The two had a great conversation, and the WWF has been interested in Arn ever since. Tully Blanchard was interested, but there was always question of whether or not they would take him, since he doesn't fit their style. They gave word through another wrestler recently that unless Dusty was replaced as booker, they were through. Dave says there are probably several reasons why they left top spots in the NWA for a midcard position in the WWF, part of it being that they had been waiting for the balloon payment on their contracts since May. No word on whether any other wrestlers will follow their lead. Dave says this is a big loss for the NWA, not only because they were headliners, but because it also kills the Four Horsemen without getting mileage out of a breakup feud, and turning Ric Flair babyface to feud with the Horsemen is the biggest money feud they have. Ric Flair probably was going to go babyface by spring no matter who was running the company, but they may not be able to do this now because they have a heel shortage. Dave thinks if the sale doesn't go through soon, Tully and Arn will not be the last ones to jump.

-- The sale to Turner is just a few steps from completion. Jim Crockett has agreed to a deal, but David and Frances have not yet agreed to terms. The Turners still want them to clear their debt before the sale. TBS will be purchasing the assets of the company, including contracts, rings, production equipment, and arena contracts. The sale is expected to be finalized within two weeks. Dave says next week he will break his vow of silence on how to save the NWA.

-- The Clash did a 5.4 rating and an 8.9 share, which is about 2.5 million homes. The lead-in, Sanford and Son, did a 2.0 rating. The show opened with a 3.5 for Brad Armstrong vs Mike Rotunda and the audience increased throughout, peaking with a 6.5 for Windham vs Sting, which was about 3,068,000 homes or 6.5 million viewers. It didn't trail the first Clash by much, which is impressed since the show wasn't promoted nearly as well and the line-up was nowhere near as good.

-- Dave says for the most part he enjoyed the Clash, but parts were "so bad it was inexcusable". The biggest strength when comparing the NWA to the WWF was the overall workrate. The camera work was great, better than Summerslam even. John Ayers, however, was worse than anything on either show. The NWA show had good workrate and bad finishes in three of five matches. Dave says there was more heat for the Clash opener than the Summerslam main event.

-- Inexcusable: John Ayres. The finish of Dusty's match. Dusty's match. No follow-up after the hot opening.

-- Dave also says they should have interviewed Sting and had him win the title since he's gotten so over without any help from the promotion.

-- Flair could have been used better. He might as well have not even been there until the last 30 seconds of the show when he did a great interview.

-- The card:

* Brad Armstrong vs Mike Rotunda: Better heat and story than anything on the show, but he wishes they had done more action in the last few minutes. **3/4

* Steve Williams & Nikita Koloff vs The Sheepherders: Decent pacing early and good pacing later. Doc did an amazing flying body press off the top rope. Good match. ***1/4

* Dusty Rhodes vs Kevin Sullivan: Dave had a problem with the heels not being DQ'd after interfering in plain sight of the referee. *1/2, with the match deserving a better rating, but having such a bad finishing sequence.

* Ricky Morton vs Ivan Koloff: Dave can't figure out how Morton can be used effectively anymore. **, mainly for Ivan's post-match babyface turn

* Barry Windham vs Sting: Very good match with a flat finish. Windham looked great carrying Sting, but Sting needs to expand his offense a little more for these long matches. Barry juiced and took great bumps.

-- Crockett lost TV in San Diego (which also aired in San Francisco/Oakland) and Pittsburgh. He is in danger of losing more TV because he is trying to pay off his debt at 40 cents on the dollar.

-- 9/3 in Baltimore drew a $125,000 gate headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/10 in Philly drew 6,532 fans and $73,972 headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/9 in Houston drew a disappointing 3,000 headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/11 in Greensboro drew 2,500, a major disappointment for the first Flair/Luger match. 9/2 in Norfolk drew a $40,000 gate headlined by Flair vs Luger.

-- Lawler and Kerry are teaming in Memphis, but feuding in WCCW. They were scheduled for a unification match on 9/9 in Dallas, but Lawler had a legit broken hand, so he came down to do an angle instead. He and Kerry ended up in a shoving match and out of nowhere, Lawler sucker punched him with the cast hand and Kerry juiced.

-- Kevin is still in the hospital. His condition is serious -- not life-threatening, but his concussions are bad.

-- They are doing an angle where Buddy Roberts is running for President with his runningmate as Iceman Parsons.

-- Jerry Lawler is in control (My note: I'm not sure if he means booking) which Dave thinks will make for nine weeks of hot shows on ESPN.

-- Sgt. Slaughter is working a few shows. His inactivity has been because his asking price is so steep, and he recently raised it from $2500 to $3200. Dave says that's interesting because he can't see Verne or Jerry Jarrett paying him anywhere near that.

-- Greg Gagne, Manny Fernandez, Wahoo McDaniel, and Billy Travis are scheduled to work the ESPN tapings.

-- Eddie Gilbert was hospitalized with a rupture disc and severe nerve damage in his shoulder and neck area, plus bone spurs and bone chips in his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae in his neck which is fusing together. Doctors recommended surgery that would end his wrestling career, so he is undergoing physical therapy and will be out for about two months. Gilbert had a full recovery from his auto accident in 1983 working for the WWF, but he pinched a nerve when Willie B. Hurt slammed his head into a door. There will be a major angle stemming from this, and Gilbert will still be booking while out of action. Dave thinks it's going to be tough keeping business strong, as great as Paul E. is, because there is no top heel now.

-- Terry Gordy, Bob Orton, and Bam Bam Bigelow will all work here from time to time between tours.

-- Mel Saracema purchased the assets of Billy Jack Haynes' OWWF and will be running a group called Pacific Coast Wrestling Association starting on 10/1.

-- Dennis Condrey is in working full time as a heel.

-- Ric Flair will face Top Gun on 9/20 in Portland. Owen also wants the Road Warriors to come in for a show this fall.

-- Don Owen petitioned the state to remove the law requiring metal barriers separating the crowd from the ring area and pads around the ring, saying he couldn't afford to haul everything because it would require him to get an extra truck. Sierra was there without his mask and said the mats are less safe, and he has twisted his ankle on them. The end result is that Owen has two months to comply.

-- Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu regained the PWF tag titles from Tenryu & Hara on 8/30 in Osaka before 3,900 fans.

-- 9/4 in Kanazu drew 2,450 with Tenryu/Hara/Kawada vs Kabuki/Ishikawa/Fuchi on top.

-- Barbara Goodish presented Stan Hansen with Bruiser Brody's chain at the memorial show.

-- Antonio Inoki has still not returned since the 60-minute draw.

-- This series is being used as a test for Fujinami, to see how well he can draw without Inoki around.

-- 9/5 in Osaka drew 5,600 fans, which is way better than All Japan's number the week before, but still only so-so in a 7,000 seat house. The show was headlined by Choshu/Saito vs Fujinami/Koshinaka.

-- Leroy McGuirk passed away 9/9 at his home in Claremore, OK at the age of 78. He was the longest reigning world champion in the history of wrestling, holding the junior title from 1939 to 1950 when he retired. Dave says his wrestling biography is long and stories, so he'll just cover the highlights. He lost the sight in one of his eyes while in his early days in school, but still became one of the best wrestlers of his era, winning both the Oklahoma state and national high school championship at 145 pounds in 1928 before heading to Oklahoma A & M, which is now Oklahoma State University. He graduated with a degree in journalism, while also winning the NCAA championship in 1931 at 160 pounds and in 1932 at 175 pounds, as a senior. He was a runner up for the 1932 Olympics, losing in the final round. He turned pro in Tulsa after missing out on the Olympics and turned pro in 1934. His career ended after a car accident in Little Rock, as a passenger, when the crash threw him forward and cracked his glasses into his good eye, which made him blind. He later became the head of the NWA booking office in the Ozarks area, which later turned into Mid South for Bill Watts. He was voted into the Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977. His daughter Mike is the ring announcer for WWF Challenge, and he started the careers of Bruiser Brody, Bill Watts, and Danny Hodge. Bill Watts learned how to promote from McGuirk, who believed strongly in emphasizing matches that told a story. Believe it or not, even though he couldn't see, he still did commentary by listening to the crowd and his play-by-play announcer. In 1982, he sold what was left of his territory to Watts.

-- Leroy Rochester, billed as Bad Bad Leroy Brown, also passed away on 9/6 in a hospital in Savannah, GA at the age of 38. He also used the Elijah Akeem name and wrestled as half of the Zambouie Express with Kareem Muhammad. He was a main eventer almost from the start of his career in 1975. He was the first wrestler to use entrance music, even pre-dating the Freebirds. He wrestled everywhere except the WWF and AWA, as the AWA has a "no pushing blacks" policy. He had faded until 1985, when he was brought back by Watts and held the UWF tag titles with Bill Irwin. He was fired in early 1987 and worked small Georgia indies sporadically.

-- Hurricane Castillo Sr., the babyface manager for Carlos Colon, was shot in San Juan the morning of 9/4 after an argument in front of a bar. He may be paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.
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post #144 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-22-2011, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
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Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

September 26th, 1988

-- Long Island is dropping the MSG network, as they are starting their own sports channel and wanted to make MSG a premium station, while MSG was demanding to be on basic cable. They couldn't reach an agreement, so the MSG network is gone. Most think this will increase attendance, because there is no option for fans to stay home and watch shows on TV anymore.

-- Syndication ratings on 8/14 indicated a 8.5 national rating, the lowest level Dave has seen, but jumped back up to a strong 11.0 the week of 8/21.

-- Terry Taylor is now managed by Bobby Heenan with a nickname of "The Little Red Rooster". He will be doing comedy and filling Hercules' old spot as Heenan's jobber. "With Taylor as a rooster and Owen Hart dressed up like a chicken, what is next? I'm expecting Arn Anderson to show up dressed like a hen. And we can call this the World Poultry Federation."

-- Hercules is now a babyface and will turn with Ted DiBiase, which Dave says alone will probably make Hercules a candidate for Most Improved Wrestler. The angle is that DiBiase is going to buy a slave. Heenan sells him, but Hercules rebels and gets jumped. Later on the taping, Randy Savage sided with Hercules. They are moving away from the Savage/DiBiase feud, as Savage will start working Andre and Bad News Brown on house shows.

-- Jake Roberts missed several dates due to the death of his stepfather but is now back in action.

-- 9/9 in Cincinnati drew 6,000 fans headlined by Savage vs Andre.

-- Hogan vs Andre headlines at The Omni on 10/23.

-- They are coming out with a new quarterly magazine spotlighting one wrestler. The first will be Randy Savage.

-- Curt Hennig and Owen Hart are both due for big pushes. In a Toronto newspaper, there was a huge picture of Blue Blazer, with Owen Hart in the caption underneath, which Dave says makes this wrestling's worst kept secret. "I don't expect he'll be getting a super-push, but the guy with chicken feathers against the rooster does sound like a natural match-up, and the potential is there for awesome matches." Hennig will be billed as Mr. Perfect and will have several weeks of video clips, getting a similar push to Ted DiBiase, before he ever wrestles on TV.

-- No word on Arn and Tully and how they'll be used, but everyone thinks Arn has great potential as a singles star. Dave thinks they'll probably be a team, that even at half speed will have good matches with the Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs.

-- 9/15 in Norwalk, CT drew 783 headlined by Rockers vs Conquistadores. Last week, the WWF had a spot show in Maryland that drew 64 fans, 50 of which were comped tickets.

-- 9/10 in Boston drew 8,500 headlined by Hogan vs DiBiase in a great match. 9/9 in Springfield, MA drew 3,600 headlined by a Hogan/DiBiase **** match.

-- Dave is going to do something he vowed to never do, attend a show on 9/19 at Cow Palace headlined by Savage vs Andre. "The details may be GORY, however."

-- Papers haven't been signed, but the sale is pretty much a done deal. What is holding it up at this point is Crockett trying to reach a deal with Bill Watts for the $3 million he still owes him from the UWF buyout. He wants to settle for $1.5 million. The agreement will be signed as soon as the lawyers translate their agreements into a contract and Crockett settles his debt with Watts, expected for around the end of the month.

-- Crockett has also been having serious talks with Fritz Von Erich, but no one knows what about. If they reach a working agreement, Superclash III is in jeopardy because Kerry Von Erich is headlining.

-- "A lot has been written and even more has been talked about regarding the financial state of the NWA. The key point that has to be made is this, if the NWA, under the Turner regime, continues to do business in the manner which it did over the past year or two, then this is a case of good money being sent after bad money. While it is a valid argument that some of JCP's problems stemmed from its purchase of the UWF and trying to hold together a syndicated network which hasn't yet proven to be profitable, to blame all the problems on the UWF purchase, would be to ignore facts such as declining house show revenue for most of the past year and more importantly, declining TV ratings. While the July Bashes and the first Flair-Luger matches popped good houses in many cities, the TV ratings during the corresponding period didn't pop along with it, so the house show gains were a short-term false high. The problems with the booking have been stated, and overstated, and they are still there. The problems with the television format have been addressed already. Probably the No. 1 black mark against Jim Crockett as head of this organization is very simply, his inability to react when all signs called for needed changes, or his obliviousness to those obvious signs. Crockett has a five-year deal with the Turner organization, but he'll be behind Petrick in the chain of command and it's too early to tell how much actual influence he'll wield, but early signs indicate he'll be a key figure in decision making. I have serious fears that company will simply follow the same path, and the end result of that path is the same financial picture which resulted in getting millions of dollars into debt over the past year. Nobody can state, for certain, that a change to any new philosophy will be a winner. The only thing we can state is that the same philosophy has already proven to be a loser. I know that a lot of readers, and I include myself in this category, enjoy the NWA, at least on its good days. But I've enjoyed lots of things that were not financially viable, and no longer exist, so those of you who disagree that changes should be made aren't looking at the big picture here. If the company isn't financially viable, it will cease to exist, and if it wasn't for Turner seeing financial advantages as far as TV ad revenue and PPV potential, the promotion would probably cease to exist by the end of this year.

Having said all that, I'm convinced there is enormous potential in this new company if things are run correctly. Run correctly means pay attention to the fans, which if nothing else, was the old company's weakness. We had babyfaces that the fans didn't like; heels that the fans cheered; declining TV ratings with no change in format; and constant screw job endings which led to declining house show gates, yet to this day, these same endings persist on virtually every major house show. We had all champions being heels, yet never winning any matches. We had babyfaces who never lost, but they never really won, either. We had the same old tired cast constantly rehashed.

To Rhodes' credit as booker, I truly believe he did a great job of rehashing the same old tired cast, but the situation called for new mainline stars. But for whatever reason, it was a situation he refused to address. The UWF sale could, and should, have created the most profitable year in JCP's history and made the fall of 1987 the quarter in which JCP 'took off.' Instead, virtually all the company's problems can be traced to that quarter. The key advice for the new company is to admit that mistakes were made, and not to repeat them.

Every politician will tell you that he's for better education and reduced crime. We will all agree that the TV syndication network has to be improved, particularly in the key markets like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, which are necessary for national media exposure. Ironically, these are the markets that the JCP product is 'over' the least in, as the recent PPV card plainly showed.

I'm calling for an overhaul, in many ways, with how wrestling has been run. This business has been run a certain way for reasons mainly having to do with that's how it was run before. One long-time wrestler turned promoter who is a friend of mine that was cursing how seedy a business this is behind-the-scenes stated why wrestling is in the shape it's in best. Most of the people who head wrestling companies, at least until the McMahon regime, were people who worked in the business. They did things the way they were taught, not because they were the best ways, but because that's how it was done. Let's say a wrestler becomes a booker or promoter. When he was a worker, he was screwed around, stiffed on payoffs, lied to, had the carrot dangled in front of him, etc. So when he becomes the booker or promoter, this is the business that was taught to him, and becomes the one doing the dangling, lying, etc. because that's how the business operates. I hope the TV business doesn't operate in the same way, because wrestling has the potential to be as much fun a business on the inside as it appears to be to the fans who enjoy the product so much.

I've got suggestions on a number of topics that I'll get into here:

Employee relations: Pro wrestling is physically demanding entertainment. Because of this, it is simply unfair that wrestlers don't get company-provided medical insurance. The business also requires travel, and since it is the company, and not the individual, that is in control of the schedule, certain road expenses should be provided. For contracted employees, they should receive transportation costs to get to the site of their work. They should also get hotel expenses, as they are not independent contractors who make their own schedules. It should be a decent hotel, which the company should be able to get a nice group rate in. If a star, like a Ric Flair, wants to stay at the Hemsley Palace, he also should be allowed to, provided he makes up the difference in room rates (for the individual superstar, and there are just a few of these, they may have the leverage to negotiate certain perks just as in other forms of entertainment, but I'd use this as a general standard). Cab far or rent-a-cars to the arena should also be paid for by the promotion. Wrestlers should also be paid a weekly salary, or a per-match salary, irregardless of the gates during the week. Balloon payment contracts are a farce, as are deferred payment contracts. While retirement benefits sound nice on the surface, it isn't a viable plan. By its nature, wrestling has little job security and that really can't change, second, who is to say that a promotion around today will be around when it comes time to pay these retirement benefits. Contracts which don't guarantee a certain income leads to possible exploitation of the wrestler. Now one thing has to be stated, the amount of money paid out, whether it be in straight payoffs, or salary plus road expenses plus insurance premiums, still has to enable the company to function profitably. The company has to decide a so-called fair price to pay the employee and the employee has to use whatever leverage he can, which in most cases isn't much, to try and make the price 'fairer'. What should happen is that during one of those hot weeks when the gates are booming, the wrestlers under this plan simply won't make the kind of money as they had in the past. But during the bad weeks, they'll at least know how much the check will be and if they have any concept of how to manage their money, won't fall behind on house or car payments due to injuries or bad houses (which are basically out of their control), just as is the case with virtually every other business. Wrestlers also, if they manage their money correctly, won't lose money going on the road. It is really a sad story to hear about wrestlers, and many big-name stars, even with Titan, can fall into this category, that go on the road for a few weeks at a time away from their family, and the check that comes back is less than they had to spend just to eat and make the shots each night.

Television: A wrestling television show shouldn't be a self-contained episode, but rather a piece in a soap-opera like puzzle. There should be a reason to make you watch each week and when the show ends, it should end with a teaser that makes you anticipate the next episode. The current NWA format shows virtually no imagination or planning for the future. There is no tease for the next week, or on TBS, even a tease for the Sunday show. You can't give away your house show main events because you can give away less and still draw good TV ratings than you can give away at house shows and draw good gates. But when you give away nothing on television and ratings go down, the people who aren't watching are very unlikely to become potential customers. Format squashes have to be done to get over things like winning holds, but the squashes can be lengthened so they appear to be 'contests' rather than squashes and so the winner appears to have actually worked for victory. When the jobber shows no offense, it not only makes the calibre of your product look weak, but negates much of the effect of the victory to the star. Anybody can beat up someone who doesn't fight back and beating somebody that bad in 30 seconds over-and-over is bad television and in the long-run can't help get the winner over much, either. Decent matches, where the result is in question, should occur at least once per hour. There should be occasional surprises to make the fan think he can't always predict everything. Angles should be spread around to all programs. Right now, we can reasonably be assured that on the TBS morning show and Sunday show that we will never see an angle shot, or even continued or climaxed. The two-hour Saturday show needs personality features, wrestling videos and other innovative things besides endless squash-interview routine which gets old after 40 minutes. The syndicated shows should have story-lines and feuds among middle-of-the-card guys which carry-over week after week. NWA Main Event can be used to showcase match-ups which could provide good action, but wouldn't be the type that draw at the arenas. Occasional face vs. face matches or heel vs. heel matches with imaginative finishes mixed in with building up title contenders can be the format. If someone has a world title match that month, they should be on NWA Main Event and gain clean wins, using his big move, on middle-names that mean something. Show the fans on television that the guy is on a roll and have him beat people that mean something. If ratings are up, pat yourself on the back. If ratings are down, it's time to run a hot angle to get interest back. Since the current all-squash plus interview format started, ratings on both TBS and the syndicated package have consistently declined. Instead of paying attention to the warning signals, the formats have remained the same and needless damage to the group's popularity has resulted.

Merchandising: I don't know who thought up the Four Horsemen vitamin idea, but there should be enough checks and balances to stop obvious bombs from making their way to the public. Titan aims its wrestling at children, and merchandises for children. It's harder to merchandise for adults, and the NWA's prime audience is the male 18-30 demographic group. How about a Lex Luger and Sting home workout video? A video tracing Ric Flair's career over the past 10 years? A two-hour video of legendary NWA matches? Posters, T-shirts and photos should be more readily available to those who don't attend house shows, and the wrestlers should virtually always be wearing or carrying their gimmick merchandise when they do an interview to get the gimmick over. A professional magazine, written intelligently, should be a money-maker once it gets established. Pulling the plug after an issue or two shows no commitment and hurts the company in the long run.

Booking: Anyone can sit back and write a dozen new scenarios, some of which would work and some of which wouldn't work and until they are tried, nobody knows for sure. Titan has bombs, too. Nobody comes close to 100% on angles. The head booker probably shouldn't wrestle because we've seen the danger that causes. They should, however, be very receptive to all ideas from the wrestlers and wrestlers should be encouraged to help put together their own programs, provided these programs are going in the same general direction as the booker has planned. Don't fight the fans. If the fans like someone, even though you encourage the fans not to, than take advantage of the charisma of the wrestler. If a wrestler is getting over without a push (case in point, Sting), don't hold them back simply because another guy who isn't getting over as well was in your original plans. Recognize when an act is stale and do something about it. Everyone knows the Road Warriors are stale and it isn't entirely Rhodes' fault, but it is his fault to allow them to get as stale as they have gotten. The loss of Blanchard & Anderson should be used to your advantage. After the shows already booked through the early part of October are done, put Midnight Express vs. Flair & Windham and have them vow to eliminate the entire horseman clan. Have the Warriors attack Sting, who is the only wrestler popular enough to make a Road Warrior turn effective, and a Warriors vs. Sting & Luger feud for the short term could cause a spark. Any turn of Flair should be postponed for a while. There have been too many turns already, however the Roadie turn seems to be a necessity so they quit floundering in prelims plus killer heels are desperately needed. Create a legitimate junior heavyweight division. The idea that jr. heavies don't draw money has been reinforced by pushing glorified jobbers like Nelson Royal and Denny Brown as World champions of that division for years. To get the division 'over', you will need an outstanding and charismatic wrestler to be the focal point, and a charismatic opponent to help him get over. Don't allow the top jr. heavies to be jobbers for the heavies, in fact, they should hold their own and when they have to lose, do it in such a way where they've got the guy on the road and on the verge of losing type of a story. While a World champion vs. junior champion match (which the heavyweight champ would win after a bitter struggle) might not sellout a house show, or be appropriate for a PPV megacard, it would make one great prime-time special main event which can go 25-30 minutes and get both wrestlers over. Scout the talent in the smaller groups and make changes when necessary. Sometime soon, change the NWA champion, and my suggestion is to give it to Sting and let him run with it and find a killer heel (Vader? Bigelow? Hansen?) for a short run while at the same time grooming Flair/Windham for subsequent bouts. Do you realize for all real purposes, Flair will have been champion for seven years by the time you read this? Yes, he is the greatest of this era, and maybe any era, but that is too long. Give Sting the opportunity to see just how far he can go with the right push. And don't forget, Flair has always been tremendous in the role of the totally obsessed challenger. The only reason it didn't draw last year is because they made a horrendous pick as champion. Don't repeat finishes in the same arena. If I had my way, there wouldn't be a referee bump for another six months. It's been done so often it's become a cliche. And don't think all those screw job endings in the Carolinas haven't had an effect on the gate. They won't affect the cities you run less frequently because the endings aren't repeated enough for fans to get wise and turned off by them, but I look at those ref bump/false finish endings at just about every Greensboro card and see how drastically the gates have declined and can't help but feel there is a correlation. Encourage fans to think. If they spend any kind of time thinking about the product, it becomes easy to hook them and they become the most consistent and loyal customers."

-- Talk of Chigusa Nagayo coming in to work spots shows against Misty Blue.

-- Ricky Morton is gone again, headed to Japan.

-- Steve Beverly reports that the Clash did about $500,000 in ad revenue and $400,000 should have been TBS profit. Crockett is receiving very little, if any, rights fees.

-- 9/16 in Richmond drew 6,500 headlined by Flair vs Luger.

-- The Midnights/Horsemen title change when Arn and Tully were leaving was supposed to be 2/3 falls, but was switched to one fall because one of the participants was in no condition to perform. Still, the match was ****.

-- NWA's national syndication rating is a 6.4 for 8/14, and a 5.8 for 8/21.

-- Karl Kunnert plead guilty of defrauding the U.S. Marine Corps, promising to promote a show featuring Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Nikita Koloff (and Jimmy Valiant??) without ever contacting Crockett. He will be sentenced in federal court later in the year.

-- A PPV is being prepared for 12/13 at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago. The official announcement should take place this weekend or next. The show will include wrestlers from the AWA, CWA, World Class, Southern, and David McLane's POWW. The main event will be Kerry Von Erich vs Jerry Lawler "for the 1428th time in a unification match." Verne Gagne will be the lead promoter.

-- "The odds are greatly against this one being a success, for a number of reasons. First off, none of these smaller groups have any wrestlers who are 'over' to the national audience. There are a few with the potential to be 'over', but not the exposure. And even though the combined wrestling networks of all these groups may be nearly as large as the JCP network, these groups are also all perceived by the general fan as 'minor league' and in general are on weak UHF stations in most markets except the home area for CWA and World Class. The date itself is a problem. If a Tuesday night isn't a tough enough problem, the date is sandwiched between Vince McMahon's PPV show on Thanksgiving and Crockett's PPV show on 12/26. I question how many cable systems will even be willing to clear a third wrestling show within a five week period."

-- The theory is that because every group will be promoting the show heavily, the viewer will be hit with hype in so many directions that they will view the show as a major event. But Dave points out that even with help from a larger syndicated network than all of these combined, plus TBS promotion, the Great American Bash was only marginally profitable. Dave says the market is on the verge of saturation, if the recent buyrates for both NWA and WWF shows are any indication. The novelty is gone.

-- The first combined taping for ESPN was on 9/17 in Nashville before 6,000 fans and will air on 10/1, 10/8, and 10/15. There were no cross-promotion matches except Lawler vs Kerry, and they seem to have learned their lesson from 1984 when local headliners were used as jobbers for national talent and it killed the local guys. Highlights included a ***1/2 match with Michael Hayes & Steve Cox vs Samoan Swat Team and Lawler vs Kerry in a **** match, and Jarrett/Dundee/Valiant vs Fuller/Golden/Rich in a ***1/2 match.

-- Jimmy Jack Funk & John Tatum lost the Texas tag titles in a unification match against the Samoan Swat Team on 9/12 in Fort Worth. The Samoans then dropped the belts on 9/16 in Dallas to Michael Hayes and Steve Cox, in a match where Hayes said he would refund everyone's money if they lost. Buddy Roberts said in the buildup that Hayes' ex-wife took all his money and he didn't have money to refund anyone.

-- Phil Hickerson is out of action with a dislocated hip.

-- Tommy Rich's heel turn has picked up business a little. 9/18 in Marietta drew 550. Jerry Lawler, Eric Embry, and Kerry Von Erich are also coming in. "Can you believe it? It really does appear these smaller groups are starting to work together."

-- Dustin Rhodes made his wrestling debut on 9/13 in Tampa, pinning Bob Cook.

-- Steve DiSalvo vs Makhan Singh is headlining most shows. DiSalvo turned babyface after Ed Whalen kept pushing for it. This is the end of Singh on color commentary, which Dave says is sad because he was tremendous. "I've finally figured out in a nutshell why Whelan is so hard to digest. While there are several announcers, Gordon Solie and Lance Russell come to mind, who within their area, are far more well-known than the wrestlers they are announcing, both Solie and Russell at least put over the wrestlers as the stars of the program. Whelan puts himself over as the star of the show and the wrestling and the wrestlers as needless background. Whelan is better known in the area than any of the wrestlers, but he should put the wrestlers over as the stars, which he doesn't do."

-- Sky Low Low came out of retirement for a few weeks when Coconut Willie sprained his ankle and Stu Hart needed a replacement.

-- "Newcomer [Lance] Idol is one of the better workers on the circuit, patterning himself after Ray Stevens. They've gotten carried away with his build-up, as on interviews, Idol claims wins over Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase and Brutus Beefcake (remember those tests in school? Pick which name doesn't belong in that list). His work is good but he tends to overact and exaggerate movements, as his interview claiming wins over those guys would indicate."

-- "The most impressive guy left here is Benoit, who is a Brad Armstrong-calibre worker but using more of an old Dynamite Kid style."

-- 9/9 in Chiba before 2,750 fans ended the latest series, headlined by Jumbo Tsuruta vs Abdullah the Butcher.

-- The Road Warriors may be working some dates soon, and Sting is being announced as making his debut from 10/15 to 10/28, but there is considerable question over whether that's going to happen. "Sting is one of the few foreign wrestlers who has received good press before his debut from all three weeklies (who often bad-mouth wrestlers the other magazine praises) and Baba is looking at making him a Hansen-calibre superstar but no doubt he's under considerable pressure from the Crocketts not to leave at such a critical point, yet if he doesn't leave, Baba may consider him to be like Steve Williams, who Inoki wanted to push to the top but canceled so many tours due to U.S. pressure that it was felt he wasn't reliable enough to be pushed all the way to the top and he lost his spot to Big Van Vader."

-- Baba is also negotiating with Nord the Barbarian. Dave says Nord could get over huge right now as Brody's protege and it would take a year before anyone realized he couldn't wrestle.

-- Hisashi Shinma recently told the crowd that Antonio Inoki was retiring from wrestling in Japan. Inoki said he was planning a U.S. tour where he would wrestle stars like Hulk Hogan. The real story is that Inoki is vying to get his spot back. He and Shinma are sitting back hoping Choshu and Fujinami fail miserably so that New Japan comes groveling back to Inoki to take the top spot. Ratings are still below what they should be, and they are aware of this, trying to build a strong syndicated network with local TV stations.

-- Maeda will be missing the 9/24 show, which will be a big test for this group. The main event will be Takada vs Yamazaki. If it draws, the style is what is selling tickets. If it doesn't, it's Maeda that is selling tickets.

-- Joe Pedicino's wrestling package is doing well in Georgia, beating out TBS each week. He has aired some tapes of FLAIR in Houston, the women's group, which apparently splices in WCCW and AWA crowd shots after big spots.

-- New York Daily News is considering a wrestling column. Dave is told Vince will hate it.
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post #145 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-22-2011, 12:50 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by hitmanthegreat View Post
Anyone who thinks Bret screwed Bret needs to read these.
Man... Shawn Michaels has been my favorite wrestler since 1994... I've always known how big of a dick was, but reading all of these detailed reports really makes me want to hate the guy.

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post #146 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-22-2011, 01:39 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

This thread is the best thread here. Old school wrestling always makes me tingle in my happy places. Piper fucking rules.

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post #147 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 03:28 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Absolutely love this thread! It would be great to read more Observers from the 90's!
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post #148 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 04:57 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by Dinky420 View Post
Absolutely love this thread! It would be great to read more Observers from the 90's!
Exactly what I was thinking. I just finished reading Bret's biography and found the early 90s section the most interesting (I guess because that's when I first watched wrestling), so I'd love to see some of the comments from the time. Great thread!

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post #149 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 07:04 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Curt Hennig and Owen Hart are both due for big pushes.
if only...

People who moan about ratings been killed/boosted by one person, consider this:

Imagine over the course of a year, you saw smoke coming out the windows of 5 houses. On each occasion, a fire truck arrived a few minutes later, at which point, 4 out of 5 times, fire was engulfing the house. No-one in their right mind seeing this correlation would think that firemen caused smoking houses to set alight.

Correlation ≠ causation
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post #150 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

October 3rd, 1988

-- For the week ending 8/28, WWF's syndicated network drew a 9.6 rating in 258 markets covering 97% of the country.

-- Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson debut at the next TV tapings as The Brainbusters and will be managed by Bobby Heenan. They will face the Rockers and British Bulldogs in their arena debuts toward the end of October. They are mostly working arenas where the NWA is strongest. They are expected to get a big push, only because the WWF wants Ric Flair, and burying them would make it harder to get Flair.

-- One Man Gang is now known as "Akeem" and will be a white wrestler pretending to be black. Dave says this is not the first time this has been done, as Kevin Sullivan pretended to be Kareem Muhammad's cousin last year in Florida.

-- Harley Race is booked against DJ Peterson on some spot shows in California.

-- 9/24 at the Spectrum drew 3,952, their lowest crowd of all time, headlined by a Savage/DiBiase cage match. 9/23 in Cape Girardeau, MO drew 1,200 fans headlined by Duggan vs DiBiase. 9/12 in Peoria, IL drew 2,411 headlined by Duggan (subbing for Jake) vs Rude. 9/19 at the Cow Palace drew 6,000 headlined by Savage vs Andre. 9/17 in Los Angeles drew 12,500 headlined by Savage vs Andre. 9/18 in San Diego drew 5,000 headlined by Savage vs Andre. 9/2 in Canton, OH drew 500 headlined by Rockers vs Conquistadores. 9/3 in Kitanning, PA drew 369 fans and a $2,1000 gate headlined by Rockers vs Conquistadores. 9/18 in White Plains, NY drew 500 fans headlined by Rockers vs Conquistadores. 9/17 at the Capital Centre drew 7,500 fans headlined by Hogan vs DiBiase. 9/19 in Entfield, CT drew 350 fans headlined by Rockers vs Conquistadores. 9/19 in New Haven, CT drew 6,200 fans headlined by Hogan vs Big Boss Man.

-- "Hennig's Mr. Perfect character will be introduced on TV with clips of him being perfect at all sports (ie bowling and doing all strikes, horseshoes with all ringers, baseball with all home runs)."

-- Roddy Piper's movie "They Live" was originally planned to debut on 10/29, but has been pushed back to 11/4 to avoid competing with any new Halloween-themed movies.

-- Ted DiBiase was on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which Dave was told was hilarious. (My note: It was!) DiBiase gave his dog champagne and caviar and wouldn't let Robin Leach have any.

-- Negotiations between Jim Crockett and Fritz Von Erich broke off. Crockett wanted a deal where he would take over the WCCW TV network, take over the promotion, and keep the Von Erichs and a couple of others. Fritz was looking for a simple talent exchange, likely so he could do more Flair vs Kerry Von Erich matches in Dallas.

-- Crockett is still attempting to settle his outstanding debts before selling. "He's trying to settle at 40 cents on the dollar according to two different creditors. His largest creditor is Bill Watts, from the purchase of the old Universal Wrestling Federation last spring. Apparently Crockett's offer to settle the outstanding debt (rumored to be in the $3 million range) for less than $1 million didn't go over so well with Watts, who is not only trying to up the price, but also drop the 'no-compete' clause in his sale contract." TBS sources tell Dave they expect the sale to be finalized by the end of the week, but Dave doesn't think they can clear the debt in time.

-- Expect minor changes in TV format and some major roster additions by the end of the year, with major, fullscale changes coming in early 1989.

-- Bam Bam Bigelow will debut on the 9/27 TV tapings as a babyface and be managed by Oliver Humperdink. While it didn't work in Titan and Dave says it does seem like a more natural heel act, Bigelow is coming in as a babyface because the Road Warriors are about to turn heel. Dave doesn't understand why they're bringing him in now instead of waiting, since he'll have a Japan tour a week later and will be gone for a month. The idea is that Humperdink can do promos while he's gone to keep his momentum going.

-- 9/18 in Roanoke drew 3,200 headlined by Flair vs Luger with another two-referee finish with a Tommy Young/Teddy Long argument, which fans have stopped popping for because they've figured out what is about to happen. 9/3 in Baltimore drew 11,000 and a $125,000 gate headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/25 at the Omni drew 6,700 fans headlined by Flair vs Luger.

-- There will be a U.S. tag team title tournament held on TV. This will be a weekly thing for November sweeps.

-- Clash II was the highest rated show on cable during its week.

-- Brad Armstrong has missed several shows, although it has yet to be confirmed that he's headed to Continental.

-- For the week ending 8/28, the NWA's network drew a 6.1 in 159 markets covering 91% of the country.

-- Jobber Agent Steele is Brad Anderson, son of Gene Anderson.

-- The show will be headlined by a "must be a winner" title unification match between Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich. There will also be a "Beverly Hills Lingerie match" between POWW girls, where the object is to tear off clothing. " ... that's fine for the Playboy channel but I'm not sure it's appropriate for the general audience, then again, I suppose there isn't much general audience interest in this show either ..." Other matches include Sgt. Slaughter vs Col. DeBeers, Ron Garvin vs Greg Gagne, and Wahoo McDaniel vs Manny Fernandez in a strap match.

-- The hope is that the show can be cleared in three million homes, which Dave says will have hurdles because the NWA has a show on 12/26 and the WWF has one on Thanksgiving.

-- Dave expects Continental to try to join the show since Eddie Gilbert is no longer booking, as David Woods and Gilbert disagreed on whether or not to participate in this show.

-- The plan is for this group to run a second show in February between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Dave sees oversaturation coming between the WWF PPVs, NWA's hopes to expand PPVs in 1989, and this group running more PPVs, which could result in "as many as 10 or 11 PPV shows next year." (My note: Can you imagine? ...)

-- "We had one of those 'only in Texas' title changes this past Friday night at the Dallas Sportatorium. The Jerry Lawler-Kerry Von Erich title match ended with a double disqualification, and they emphasized before the match that it was to be held under World Class rules and it was announced in Dallas that because a title can change via DQ in World Class, that both wrestlers' lost their titles and both belts would be vacant pending a Texas Death Match (Falls don't count, No DQ, no time limit, no stopping for blood, match continues until one man can't answer the bell, you can use anything you want to bring into the ring except a gun or knife) at the Cotton Bowl on 10/15. However, the next morning at the TV studio in Memphis, Lawler appeared with the AWA title safely around his waist and promoting a title defense against Ron Garvin on 9/30." The show drew 3,500 fans on 9/24 at the Sportatorium, with Lawler apparently carrying Kerry to a ***+ match and working as a total heel.

-- John Tatum is gone.

-- Kevin Von Erich is tentatively scheduled to return for the Cotton Bowl show, but it isn't definite. He is having lots of problems from his concussions and the resulting headaches. A doctor told Kevin he should stop wrestling. His brain is jarred, and he is susceptible to more concussions. They are saying Kamala gave Kevin the concussion in a match in Cleveland, which is useless since Kamala is gone. "From all reports, if Kevin suffered a concussion in Cleveland, it wasn't in the ring."

-- Kerry Von Erich is officially in charge of the company, but Frank Dusek and Skandor Akbar handle the office work and Percy Pringle does publicity.

-- There is a Miss World Class beauty pageant coming up. (My note: Texas pageant hair in the 1980s in pro wrestling should be a sight to behold. Please tell me there is footage.)

-- The plan is to start giving away Ft. Worth tickets, since the shows are sponsored anyway, to build up excitement for television. The matches have been good, but they are only drawing 200 fans in an 8,000 seat arena, so they seem dead from lack of heat. They are also going to give out freebies to kids and non-profit groups so there is crowd enthusiasm that carries over to TV. (My note: This is an unusually progressive response to low ticket sales for pro wrestling, especially Fritz.)

-- Michael Hayes is in Nigeria.

-- They lost TV in San Antonio, which has been their most consistent drawing city.

-- The combined tapings in Louisville and Memphis drew disappointing numbers: between 2,000 and 3,500 for Louisville, and only about 5,000 in Memphis, despite all the big names on the card.

-- Dave is comparing the Frank Dusek/Eddie Marlin shoving match and Hayes/Cox vs Jarrett/Dundee confrontation to New Japan vs IWE, which drew huge in 1981-1982 with Inoki vs Rusher Kimura.

-- Hector Guerrero is now working as a full-time gymnastic instructor for kids in Maryville, Tennessee.

-- Cactus Jack is now carrying a whip. They did an angle where Brown said that since Fuller still owned his contract he didn't have any money. He brought out his aunt who said she has been having to support him and started crying, which was great. Sylvia then came out - also crying - and said they've give him back the contract until the Stud Stable jumped Brown and choked him with the whip. The other heels held the dressing room door shut so nobody could make the save for a few minutes.

-- "Todd Morton, the Ricky Morton look-alike and wrestle-alike debuted this past Saturday and he looks like a top candidate for rookie of the year."

-- There has been a "bitter falling out" in Continental, which has led to the departure of booker Eddie Gilbert, along with several other wrestlers. There were business disagreements that escalated out of control, and there was a "full-scale explosion" on Thursday. Dave expects this to put Continental back in the category of minor independent promotion. There were differences between Gilbert and David Woods. Woods felt Continental couldn't afford to expand to new areas and bring in name talent, which Gilbert was trying to do. They also felt they weren't ready for the Road to Birmingham on 10/3. The promotion started second guessing booking decisions and felt that Eddie Gilbert and Paul E. Dangerously focused too much on themselves. In addition, localized promos were getting mixed up or failed to arrive at the city in time for airing because they weren't being mailed for overnight delivery. They were just being sent first class mail. (My note: Where is Bix to advocate for click and ship when we need him? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) ) The final straw was when paychecks were given on Tuesday when paychecks were issued. Gilbert has been in charge of payroll, and Woods scaled back the payoffs Gilbert has issued, especially of those who are Gilbert's closest friends. Woods was also against Gilbert returning as a babyface, and was questioning the severity of his injuries. "Really, just about everything that there could be a dispute about, there was. There had been disenchantment because the crowds had been down the past two weeks, although that isn't unusual for this time of the year. Even Gilbert's detractors within the promotion admitted he was both a creative wrestler and great booker, but were leery of his attempts to expand too fast and certain personality conflicts had gotten out of control."

-- Because of this, the status of Road to Birmingham is up on the air. Gilbert, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bob Orton, and Chris Adams are definitely not coming in now (in Bigelow's case because he signed with the NWA, not because he's in the middle of this). Terry Gordy may still be on, but Continental may not be willing to fly in outside talent anymore. Nightmare Freddy, D.I. Bob Carter, The Samoans and Shane Douglas are all gone. Austin Idol and a few others are question marks.

-- The new booker will be Bob Armstrong, with the full crew cut to 14 wrestlers: Armstrong, Tracey Smothers, Steve Armstrong, Scott Armstrong, Willie B. Hurt, Lord Humongous, Danny Davis, Jerry Stubbs, Ken Wayne, Mongolian Stomper, Tony Anthony, Alan Martin, and two more heels. Dave expects Humongous to get a major push, as Gilbert not featuring him as the #1 wrestler in the promotion was another source of dispute.

-- Missy Hyatt will not be working TV anymore, and neither will Joe Pedicino. Brad Armstrong will probably come back in, and Dave expects Continental to be dropped by FNN as a result of all of this.

-- 9/23 in Knoxville drew 2,500 and a $20,000 gate.

-- Tom Pritchard was going to win the tournament, but probably won't now.

-- Eddie Gilbert had been wrestling in the earlier part of the week, and is currently working weekend shows in Puerto Rico.

-- 9/10 in Edmonton drew 700 fans. 9/17 drew 800 fans.

-- Dave is told the Chris Benoit & Lance Idol vs Cuban Commandos (Cuban Assassin & Jerry Morrow) matches are regularly around ****, including one that recently aired in full on television.

-- Makhan Singh was suspended for his attack on Ed Whalen so he would be free to tour South Africa. The Great Gama is also there, and Wellington starts for Inoki on 10/7.

-- Biff Wellington has a hair match against Johnny Smith before leaving for New Japan, much like Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid used to lose hair matches so they could work New Japan tours bald.

-- Buddy Lane and Rip Rogers are coming in mid October.

-- Ric Flair only drew an average crowd on 9/20 in Portland, where he wrestled Top Gun (Dave Sierra) and was DQ'd for throwing him over the top rope.

-- "Lou Thesz was on Goerge Michael's local TV sportscast in Washington D.C. this past week and the two discussed whether or not Lou, who is now 72, could beat Hulk Hogan today. Michael gave you the impression he felt Thesz could have a few years ago but at 72 was pushing it, but Thesz came off confidently saying he'd win with little trouble since Hogan doesn't know how to wrestle. Just a few years back (1985) when Brody and Inoki were feuding in Japan, they had a photo shoot of Thesz training Brody for the match with Inoki teaching him wrestling holds. Anyway, at that point, Thesz was so quick with his moves that Brody probably couldn't have beaten him in an actual wrestling match so as silly as this sounds on the surface, ya never know. Thesz did compliment Randy Savage, calling him a great athlete and a good wrestler. About a week earlier, there was an article on Sam Muchnick's 83rd birthday in one of the St. Louis papers and Muchnick also said that he felt that today, Thesz could beat Hogan. The article only had one graph about wrestling, basically talking about the decline of the NWA and saying some negative things about what pro wrestling has turned into."

-- Sting backed off of doing an All Japan tour after NWA pressure to cancel, because they told him they can't afford to lose him in October. His debut has been postponed to January.

-- "I had a chance to see the Tenryu-Hara vs. Tsuruta-Yatsu tag matches from 8/29 in Tokyo and 8/30 in Osaka. Both matches went about 30 minutes and were in the four-star range. The first bout started slow but had all the excellent near falls in the final few minutes, but also some missed moves, but the heat was tremendous. Finish saw Tenryu reverse a small package and pin Jumbo. The second night they actually had a superior match pacing-wise and really if it wasn't for the weak finish would have been 4 1/2 stars. Finish saw Jumbo give Tenryu three back suplexes and every time Hara would break up the fall. Then he did it again and this time just simply got the pin and Tenryu was laid out. The crowd was surprised because it was an out of the ordinary ending and the fall came with no heat build-up but it was still a great match."

-- Dan Spivey and Johnny Ace will team up in mid-November for the tag tournament.

-- 9/12 in Fukuoka drew a near sellout 4,880 fans headlined by a 10-man elimination match of Choshu/H. Saito/Super Strong Machine/Kobayashi/M. Saito vs Fujinami/Kimura/Fujiwara/Koshinaka/Yamada.

-- 9/17 in Nagato drew a sellout 1,570 fans headlined by Choshu/Strong Machine/Kobayashi vs Fujinami/Koshinaka/Takano.

-- 9/15 in Kokuto drew a sellout 1,720 fans headlined by Fujinami/Kimura/Takano vs Starr/Hall/Vader and Choshu/Saito vs Kokina/Bigelow.

"If two 'real' wrestlers are ready to leave the top of the promotion and their best feud, both in the ring and in gate potential, that they've ever had as a team, in exchange for a pass into the land of corporate wrestling decisions, that says more about the state of Jim Crockett Promotions than any wild rumors. The fact that JCP survived and thrived while every other major promotion crumbled in the face of Vince McMahon was something I took personal pride in. JCP is the home team that I grew up with. I've had a lot of fun both watching them on the tube and at the live shows. I don't care how much money and marketing expertise the WWF has, their product is heavy-handed, too predictable, condescending to their audience and boring. If the Crockett family acts now and takes the TBS offer, a tradition of 50 years standing may not go down needlessly. If not, I'd like to thank the family for all the years of fun and for bringing me what was the greatest show on Earth. The family ultimately has the right to destroy their business for no reason besides the preservation of Dusty Rhodes, just as they have the right to sell it for several million dollars and watch it survive into the next century. Just as I know Arn & Tully will be misused in the WWF, I have to admit that they made the right career choice. My fervent wish is they make a boatload of money in New York. It is nothing less than what they deserve. When Ric Flair goes, so do I as a wrestling fan." - Bruce Mitchell

"You've now reached the point where you have almost no analytical credibility with me when it comes to the WWF. I'm not saying you have a personal hard-on and it effects your judgment, only that you can no longer evaluate all wrestling by the same criteria. Has it occurred to you that the direction the WWF is going is imply not to your taste? I spoke to an awful lot of people after Summerslam. I mean real people, not guys who stay up to 3 a.m. to call you on some sportstalk radio show or Observer readers, just mainstream people who enjoy wrestling. While nobody was confusing Summerslam with Wrestlemania III, they were also sophisticated enough to realize that this was the summer show and was deliberately low-key so as not to destroy the specialness of Wrestlemania but that it was tons better than any other MSG show this year. If you want to throw in the 25-30 folks on the computer wrestling board I frequent who are very hardcore fans, several of whom subscribe to the Observer, the general impression was pretty much favorable. Nobody was going crazy as they did for the first Clash or Wrestlemania IV (Yes, your fabled failure drew mostly excellent notices online) but people were happy, especially with the Hart Foundation-Demolition match. How can you give that 1 1/2 stars when in the same issue you rate a Phil Hickerson vs. Jeff Jarrett match with 3 1/2 stars? All I'm saying is that you don't like the current WWF style of matches and too many of your readers simply like what you like and don't like what you don't like. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd think about it. I'd also look more at what a promotion is attempting to do and how well they succeed. It was my impression that Summerslam was supposed to be, basically, the year's best MSG show, and it was. I doubt many viewers were all that turned off and suspect most enjoyed it well enough that they'll buy the next WWF PPV show. When Wrestlemania V rolls around, it will still seem like a more important event and it will cost more and people will pay it unless the promotion turns them off. That is more important than how well they draw in Philadelphia the next month. Your comment that, ipso fact, the ridiculous Flair-Luger blood angle on the PPV Bash was a success because live gates were up immediately was the most naive thing I've ever read by you. Don't you think infuriating the PPV audience was more significant than live audience, a totally different and relatively microscopic portion of the potentially vast PPV audience. The NWA's biggest problem is they never take the long view. Like children, they live in the eternal here and now. People are turned out of the blue (Windham, Luger, Murdoch, Garvin) with no build up because they need heat at some shows. They good good notices on Clash and think they've won the wrestling war. They draw a few good live gates and suddenly Dusty and Jimbo are convinced they've been right all along and should continue to run the organization even after Turner spends good money on it. You can't criticize a cowboy movie because it doesn't have ray guns. The WWF style tends toward fewer holds with much more set-up for each. Criticizing it for not equalling the workrate of some other promotion is besides the point. Workrate is all well and good, but smart fans put too much emphasis on it. Five moves aren't necessarily better than one well-executed and well set-up move." -- Bill Kunkel, Woodhaven, NY
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