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post #151 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-05-2011, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

October 12th, 1988

-- NBC will televise three prime time wrestling specials during the season instead of just one, as had been previously reported. NBC has also agreed to broadcast the Slammys in prime time. Forbes had a story on this over the past week which seemed to be a mix of fact and fiction (I'll say), as they also reported $80 million in ticket sales in the past 12 months when $40-$50 million is closer to reality. The WWF's cash flow is about $19 million, and the company would be worth about $100 million on the open market. Ad rates are about half of what a normal sitcom or game show with those ratings would sell for, which shows that advertisers just don't consider wrestling a good television buy, even though McMahon has changed the audience. Some sponsors will always be interested because of the sheer number of viewers, but they will spend more money per viewer on almost anything else.

-- The British Bulldogs are headlining the upcoming European tour. Randy Savage will work a few dates as well.

-- Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard start at the TV tapings in Toledo.

-- The Survivor Series PPV will only have four matches.

-- 9/29 at MSG drew 13,500 headlined by Honky Tonk Man vs Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage vs Andre the Giant. 9/30 in Denver drew 6,500 and $75,000 headlined by the same matches. 9/29 in Miami drew 7,500 headlined by Hogan vs Boss Man. 9/18 in Toronto drew 8,000 headlined by Roberts vs Rude.

-- Summerslam drew a $355,345 gate at MSG and an additional $63,376 at the Felt Forum. The combined gate is the third largest ever in the New York area. The record remains $541,730 for Bruno vs Zbyszko at Shea Stadium. Second place is Wrestlemania I at $502,000, which just barely nudges Flair vs Kerry Von Erich at Texas Stadium for the overall #5 spot of top live gates in US wrestling history. Wrestlemania III still has the record, drawing a $1,599,000 gate at the Silverdome.

-- "There was some legit backstage heat between the Bulldogs and Rougeaus stemming from an incident where Jacques Rougeau shaved the head of one of the Bulldogs' friends (a ring attendant in one of the cities who suffers from downs syndrome), which, ironically, is one of the Bulldogs' favorite hobbies (ask Outhouse Jack and Joey Marella) and it evolved into a fistfight with Dynamite either cleaning Raymond's clock, or both at once, depending on the version of the story you believe."

-- The C & D show crew will be cut back because the shows aren't drawing, and the A & B gates are down right now also. "Titan doesn't have any match which can pop a crowd at present (they are still in far better shape than the NWA which doesn't have any match which can pop a big crowd either since Flair-Luger is starting to fizzle down). Really, they desperately need to get a heel on fire and it looks like Curt Hennig will be the beneficiary, but I don't think they are even thinking about Hennig vs. Hogan, and it'll be six months before Hennig meets Savage so I think we're in for a slow period. Hogan has not drawn anything near what was expected of him since his return (part of it can be blamed on his opponents -- DiBiase was destroyed at Summer Scam far more than they realized; Brown and Haku are not main eventers and Bubba Bossman is too much like One Man Gang plus no angle has been done to get heat on their series; however in years past, Hogan always drew with foes good or bad."

-- Live gates are a bigger portion of income than Dave had been led to believe. Wrestlers had always told Dave the live gates were gravy, and merchandising was where the money was, but according to the Forbes article, the WWF only receives about 3% of the $150 million annual gross in WWF-licensed products, or about $4.5 million annually. "Figure $40 million in live gates, $12 million more in souvenir sales at live gates, $7 million as their cut of two major PPV shows, plus live gates of those shows, $5.5 million on PPV for Wrestlemania (Titan's cut of an estimated $13 million), $1.5 million on the live house, $3 million on closed circuit and $1.5 million on videos/souvenirs of WM plus all sorts of other sources like TV ad revenue, magazine, etc. It's still a very healthy business, since it has about 166 front office employees and maybe 80 wrestlers (front office employees average $27,000 per annum.)"

-- Hogan's debut in Tallahassee against Ted DiBiase only drew 3,200 fans, but they were expecting to draw 12,000 fans.

-- Rumors of Lex Luger and Ric Flair both leaving are false. Luger was still in the NWA as recently as the last house show and he has made threats and wants some type of show of good faith from the new organization, but he's still around. The rumors that Flair is already on WWF booking sheets are also false.

-- The NWA was NOT sold to TBS the previous Friday, which is what everyone said would be THE date. Dave heard the deal was that Turner would only purchase 65% of the company, with an option to buy the remaining 35%, but has yet to confirm this. The wrestlers did all receive documents to sign at the last TV taping to transfer responsibility for their contracts from JCP to TBS. TBS has stated no contracts will be renegotiated until May 1, and after the purchase, only very small changes will be made through the end of the year. However, they will be making drastic changes in the first four months of 1989.

-- Turner wants to sign key WWF wrestlers before the end of the year. They are looking at Bam Bam Bigelow, Ricky Steamboat, One Man Gang and Greg Valentine. Bigelow and Steamboat have already left, and Dave thinks OMG and Valentine would be of little value. Dave is told Bigelow's TV taping debut "was something between a bomb and a major disappointment." There is significant interest in Ricky Steamboat, and they really want Flair vs Steamboat to headline Starrcade. This is far from being finalized, as Steamboat doesn't really have much desire to return to wrestling. OMG is out since he's about to get a big push as Akeem, and Dave thinks it would be a major mistake to offer Valentine a key spot. "My own feeling is there are several guys out there who can be signed for a lot less money that would be more effective in the spot, and if they wanted to get someone from Titan, they should at least try and get someone like Bret Hart or Jake Roberts who has some charisma and isn't burned out like Valentine is and could be effective as a drawing card." They are also trying to get Eddie Gilbert back in, but Dave isn't sure if they're interested in Paul E. Dangerously, although he says it would be a mistake not to be interested.

-- Dave saw the NWA show in Chicago on 10/2. The crowd was between 5,000 and 5,500 fans and about a $65,000 gate. Rundown:

Ron Simmons vs Rip Morgan: Better than you'd expect. *1/2
Mike Rotunda vs Italian Stallion **1/4
Midnight Express vs Dick Murdoch & Dusty Rhodes in a 30-minute draw: Best match on the card, and Dave has no idea how they pulled it off. Eaton took some insane Terry Funk-style bumps. "Dusty hit a gusher on this one, to the point of it being genuinely disgusting (the cut, not Dusty in general). They kept pounding on the cut which made things even worse. It was an all action brawl from this point on and both very good and very heated with Murdoch not going (sic) any clowning." ***1/2
Fantastics vs Sheepherders: Their typical good brawl. ***1/4
Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs Russian Assassins: **1/4
Sting vs Barry Windham: Great heat during entrances, okay during the match. Good match, but too many low blows. ***1/4
Ric Flair vs Lex Luger: They are back to doing Dusty finishes in all their main events, which is killing the momentum this feud had going at the gate. ***1/4

-- Rumors that Jerry Jarrett has bought 30 percent of WCCW are wrong. He has been in and out of Dallas and has been negotiating. Ken Mantell currently owns 30 percent and would probably be willing to sell his share. Dave thinks Jerry Jarrett is too smart to buy into the group unless he has 51 percent and full decision-making power, and most feel he is trying to do just that now.

-- WCCW is being replaced by the AWA on ESPN.

-- They have gotten out of the problems they were facing from the city of Dallas over the condition of the Sportatorium. The city will overlook the fire hazard problems as long as World Class agrees not to prepare any food on the premises. They can only sell pre-packaged food. Previously, Dallas gave WCCW until the end of the month to spend $40,000 fixing the building or they would quarantine it.

-- Dave attended the Road to Birmingham show. His thoughts on the show? Since you asked:

Opening battle royal: *1/4
Bob Armstrong vs Tony Anthony: A 41 second match which Dave says had a really hot pace. 1/4*
Tom Pritchard vs Kokina: DUD
Dutch Mantell vs Mr. Wrestling II: 10-minute draw which lasted 8:22. II got no reaction. Dutch was the heel, but got mostly cheers. "II had one fan, noticeable because it really was only one." *
Terry Gordy vs Austin Idol: Best match of the tournament. **1/2
Jerry Stubbs vs Tim Horner: DUD
Tony Anthony vs Dutch Mantell; **1/4
Austin Idol vs Terry Gordy: -1/2*
Tom Pritchard vs Jerry Stubbs: **
Ken Wayne vs Danny Davis Hair vs Hair: **3/4

-- Brad Armstrong is starting for CWF soon. Bob Armstrong is now booking.

-- FNN is still airing the show.

-- 9/18 in Mitsugi drew a sellout 1,340 fans. 9/19 in Toyooka drew a sellout 2,300 fans. 9/20 in Oyabe drew a sellout 2,880 mainly to see Hiroshi Hase return from his knee injury in his hometown. 9/21 in Inuyama drew a sellout 1,760 fans.

-- "I got to see the 5 vs. 5 match from 9/12 in Fukuoka and it was a solid four-stars but no match of the year. Yamada and fantastic, but he was the second guy out. Also got to see the Chigusa vs. Asuka match which was four stars plus, but I don't think they'll be having the kind of matches they used to because with the UWF popularity in Japan, submission holds are more in vogue than spectacular flying stuff. This was worked great with the most legitimate looking worked shoulder separation act I've ever seen. They did set a new world record for most streamers ever thrown before a match."

-- The latest show on 9/24 in Fukuoka drew a sellout 4,000 fans headlined by Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki.

-- "By the way, the latest issue of UWF magazine had a list of the 'toughest shooters' in the U.S. and listed the British Bulldogs, Steve Williams, Brad Rheingans, Bob Backlund, Rick Steiner, Buzz Sawyer, Mike Rotunda, Badnews Brown, Iron Sheik, David Schultz, and the Malenko brothers in no particular order for those of you who have fascination with that aspect of wrestling."

-- "I realize that many long-time fans like the look of a TV studio show. It evokes memories of the good old days when all the shows were shot in studios. But nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Today, all wrestling shows must be compared with Titan's TV product and the comparison, when limited to production values, is very much unfavorable. Despite the fact the in-ring product of the NWA is far superior, the casual fan usually can't identify these differences. What they do see on Titan are 10000 fans in a brightly lit arena having the time of their lives. it is loud, though sometimes canned, the fans response to the faces and heels are all properly orchestrated to avoid embarrassment to the promotion and has a major league look." -- Chris Zavisa on the letters page

-- "I'm sitting here watching NWA Worldwide Wrestling and they've played that 'Catch the Pinfalls' video four times. Wouldn't 'Catch the screwjobs' be more appropriate?" -- John McAdam on the letters page.
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post #152 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 444
Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

October 24th, 1988

-- Dave doesn't expect much business from the Survivor Series PPV, since they're repeating the same team format from the year before and also says it looks like 1989 will be oversaturation for PPV since the WWF is adding an event, Turner plans to do four shows, and the AWA/WCCW/CWA group plans to do a follow-up in February.

-- "They Live" with Roddy Piper is about to open, and Dave says success here pretty much guarantees that Piper's wrestling career is over. To compare budgets, this has a $3 million, but "No Holds Barred" has a $19 million budget.

-- 10/16 in Providence drew a disappointing 6,700 fans for the "Lord of the Rings" tournament.

-- The Bulldogs and Rougeaus had ANOTHER fight, as Raymond sucker punched Dynamite Kid with a roll of coins. Dave expects Vince to intervene soon and for some guys to be history.

-- 10/5 TV taping in Toledo drew 9,500 fans. Brother Love (who Vince loves and thinks has gotten over well) interviewed Hogan and Slick sprayed something in his eyes. Then Boss Man attacked him and handcuffed him to the guard rail and Hogan did a stretcher job. 10/15 in Tacoma drew 10,300 fans and a $119,000 gate. 10/10 in Edmonton drew 15,000 fans.

-- The WWF is reaching out to athletic commissions to see if they can use blood capsules in towns where blading is banned. They feel like the reason business is down is that their heels have no heat, so they want to build up their heels, and feel like they need to do some angles with juice to get things going.

-- Hulk Hogan is coming out with a book on how to get big without using steroids. "I'm sure some of you will find that humorous."

-- Two stories going around about the NWA sale: The first is that it's done and that Turner will take over on November 1. The other is that the signing will take place this week. Terms are agreed to, but the hold up remains that JCP's creditors are unhappy about accepting 40 cents on the dollar, and Turner still wants all of the debt cleared first.

-- The Road Warriors turned heel on 10/7 in Richmond, VA. Even though it's in the can, the philosophy is to heavily tease it before it airs on TV so they can build suspense and hopefully increase TV ratings. The Road Warriors are also still on booking sheets as babyfaces through the end of the month, so they don't want the turn to air until they have fulfilled their babyface dates. The story was that the Road Warriors were facing the Varsity Club and were on the defense the whole time, then Sting tagged in and cleaned house pretty much by himself. The Roadies responded by beating him up, and Sting took a bump (a pretty awesome one, I should add) from the Doomsday Device and did a stretcher job. Luger came in neutrally to check on him, and the Road Warriors beat him up too. This was teased on TBS by just saying there was an "event" and they are "trying" to speak with the Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes about it. Road Warriors vs Dusty Rhodes & Bam Bam Bigelow was at this point scheduled for Starrcade. Dave says the turn didn't get the heat you'd think, but probably because the crowd was really small, and there wasn't much build or story involved in the turn. Dave says if Road Warriors vs Sting & Luger doesn't draw, they are pretty much done because what else can you do with them after that?

-- The syndicated NWA ratings actually beat WWF's syndicated ratings recently, drawing a 7.8 rating on 150 stations, compared to the WWF drawing a 7.5 rating on 249 stations. Each ratings point represents about 890,000 homes. The reason for the increase was Clash III was figured into the rating. The WWF has had a drop in viewership lately, and seems to recognize it as a problem.

-- They were hinting at a big star coming in on TV, which was Steamboat, but they have stopped hinting. They still want Flair vs Steamboat for Starrcade, but the deal is said to have fallen apart. Steamboat was offered a lot of money to just do one show, then discuss doing more after that.

-- Eddie Gilbert is back in as a prelim babyface and will team with Jimmy Garvin when he returns.

-- Abdullah the Butcher is expected in to feud with Bam Bam Bigelow.

-- Greg Valentine's name is being thrown around as a potential new Horsemen, but Dave thinks Valentine is just trying to leverage a deal with Titan. Dave still says he thinks it would be a big mistake to give him that spot.

-- Paul E. Dangerously, Dennis Condrey, and Randy Rose are expected to debut in about two weeks. Dave thinks Condrey isn't the type that gets over now, and Randy Rose will be in over his head in the major leagues, but the feud will work because of Jim Cornette and Paul E. Dangerously.

-- John Studd, Bob Orton, and Tommy Rich are all rumored to be heading in after the buyout.

-- "I'm all for changing the TV shows from self-contained episodes to a soap opera type format but this bit where on the a.m. show they promised showing the tape of the Warrior angle, then hinting through two hours on the p.m. show about it and then said they won't be showing it at all until next week is not a positive step. That only serves to turn off the audience, just as leaving the matches in progress at the end of the show does. If TV ratings were going up, I'd stay quiet about these things figuring those in charge no what they are doing, but ratings have consistently gone down on every Crockett TV show over the last year-and-a-half ever since the 30 second squash/90 second interview format started."

-- 10/4 in Macon, GA drew 2,900 fans for a TV taping. 10/9 in Greensboro drew 4,000 fans and a $35,000 gate. 10/15 in Philadelphia drew 4,418 fans and a $61,087 gate. 10/16 in Baltimore drew 6,000 fans and a $64,000 gate. 9/30 in Winnipeg drew 4,000 fans. 10/1 in Brandon, Manitoba drew 1,000 fans.

-- Rick Steiner has been filling in for Lex Luger on house shows. Luger has NOT jumped to the WWF, but he has conjunctivitis, so they want him to sit out until it heals, so Flair and Tommy Young don't catch it.

-- Dave says Rick Steiner is the hottest guy in the company and it's time to do the turn, and he hopes they put him in main event feuds after doing the turn, but it doesn't appear they will.

-- Chris Benoit & Lance Idol won the tag titles, but they are already teasing a breakup angle.

-- Gary Albright is in and is athletic and agile, but very green. Dave says he reminds him a lot of Steve Williams at the same stage.

-- Johnny Smith and Biff Wellington had a ****+ match on TV recently. Dave says Wellington reminds him of Bret Hart in terms of wrestling ability, but he doesn't have Bret's charisma.

-- Masa Chono is in under a mask as a heel.

-- Crowds have gone way down.

-- Jerry Jarrett has purchased 30% of World Class and Eric Embry will be running the office. Dave suspects that just like with Ken Mantell, this will end with the Von Erichs back in power. There is some doubt that this story is true, as Jerry Jarrett is known for presenting himself as being broke to the wrestlers and talking about how business is down. Dave says in theory, Jarrett could turn around the company if given the book, because his track record is really positive.

-- Interesting show on 10/17 at Mid South Coliseum, headlined by Lawler defending against Tatsumi Fujinami. Chigusa Nagayo will also be facing Candi Devine on the undercard. The crowd is expected to be small, but this is a huge deal in Japan, as Fujinami and Nagayo, the top two stars in Japan, will be working the same show. They tried to get Fujinami over on TV by showing a clip of him pinning Jimmy Snuka and Lance Russell saying he is considered bar none the best wrestler in Japan. Lawler also did an interview saying he had never seen Fujinami and didn't know his style, and wasn't sure he'd be able to hold on to the title, because he wouldn't have time to prepare.

-- Downtown Bruno did an adoption angle with Phil Hickerson and is now calling him "Daddy Phil" on TV, while Phil refers to Bruno as his son.

-- Sid Vicious is in and has joined the Stud Stable. They are building toward a split from the group and babyface turn.

-- Tatsumi Fujinami won the PNW title from The Grappler on 10/15. Dave is surprised that they billed him as the world champion since Flair was just in billed as the world champion a few weeks prior. The angle was that Grappler said he would relinquish his title if he couldn't beat Fujinami, and they ended up wrestling to a 30-minute draw. The match was said to be really good, and by the end of it, Fujinami was as over as anyone in the territory by the end of it due to his selling and facial expressions. There were no highspots, it was entirely mat exchanges, but the crowd got really into it. The show drew about 800 fans, compared to about 1,100 for Flair, and neither match was taped for television.

-- Moondog Moretti will be booking a rival group called Pacific Coast Wrestling Association starting 10/22, using Canadian wrestlers like Timothy Flowers, and local wrestlers like Rip Oliver and Mike Miller. They are adamant about not using Billy Jack Haynes.

-- Art Barr is out of action following knee surgery.

-- There were problems with the Flair show in Portland, as the athletic commission wanted him to do a physical before letting him wrestle. Flair tried to get out of it by producing a report from a physician, but it didn't have a drug test included, which is an Oregon requirement. So they had to take him to a local hospital to do a drug test. He passed the drug test, but it caused a show delay, and Flair was in a terrible mood until the match started, then he was fine.

-- The arraignment for Jose Gonzales was postponed because key witness Tony Atlas failed to show up at the hearing. Legally, Atlas is required to attend the hearing on 11/2 and can be extradited to Puerto Rico if needed since this is a murder case. Atlas has told other wrestlers he has received death threats if he testifies against Gonzales, but he is the key witness, as he witnessed the stabbing.

-- Dave thinks the lineup for this year's Real World Tag League is the weakest in the entire history of the tournament.

-- Doug Furnas is getting over well with his high flying moves.

-- Jumbo Tsuruta will wrestle Stan Hansen this week, with the winner facing Tenryu on 10/28 in Yokohama.

-- The Rock & Roll Express were just added to the latest tour.

-- Two weeks of TV were pre-empted because Emperor Hirohito was in critical condition and they were doing round-the-clock reports.

-- Instead of the traditional tag tournament, New Japan, citing their success with 5 x 5 matches at the gate in the last year, wants to do a six-man elimination tournament.

-- Antonio Inoki is going to return in the next series. Fujinami, due to his U.S. and Germany tours, will miss the entire tour. The opening night drew 8,600 fans in Taiwan, in a 13,000-seat, where Dave is told they would have drawn more, but the tickets were expensive. Inoki is deeply in debt, as he lost $10 million in experimental Brazilian cattle feeding. (I can't make that up.) This money loss is what caused him to underpay talent in 1982-1983 during the boom, and one of the things that led to Choshu jumping to All Japan. He made a business trip to Australia on 8/15, and when he returned to Japan, they asked him to return for the next series. However, on 8/22, he started talking to Shinma and decided to play hardball. On 8/26, he had a meeting with Choshu, Sakaguchi, Fujinami, and Saito, and said he would only come back if he was reinstated as the top star of the company. He also refused to do commentary on the same show. He then left for the U.S. to meet with Vince McMahon and Jack Petrick, but nothing came of the meeting, although Inoki and Hiroshi Hase attended a show at the Meadowlands. There are three factions in New Japan at war right now: Inoki supporters, Fujinami supporters, and Choshu supporters, although Choshu is not as adamant about being the top star and is considered the "swing vote". Anyway, by 9/19, Inoki was in charge again, and told the locker room, "I am the President of New Japan. If someone disobeys my orders, the wrestler will be fired." Fujinami got pissed and left, which is why he is touring the U.S. and Germany. He may not come back, even though he holds the IWGP title, which would be a huge loss, as he is second in popularity only to Maeda in the country.
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post #153 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 444
Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

November 7th, 1988

-- The WWF is facing a lot of push back from other boxing promoters over the Sugar Ray Leonard fight. They are trying to price the show at $29.95, which is predicted would be a less than 2 percent buyrate, which would mean they would lose about $6.5 million on the show. Dave thinks a lot of it is other boxing promoters trying to undercut Vince, as they don't want him on their turf. Still, Dave thinks in the end, this will be a money loser.

-- The WWF is insisting the cable companies keep the buyrates for the boxing PPV and Survivor Series confidential. They like to exaggerate their numbers, which is the reason they are doing this. This has nothing to do with wrestling, though, but rather that since the mainstream media actually covers boxing, if Titan tries to exaggerate their numbers, they will be called on it. Bob Arum, a rival promoter, is actively looking for dirt on the WWF to dig up. Dave says unlike Jim Crockett, who was clueless at media, the WWF is now competing with people who know what they're doing.

-- Junkyard Dog and Don Muraco have either been fired (based on what wrestlers were told) or temporarily suspended (based on what the front office was told). Either way, pretty much the same thing, as most fired wrestlers are back in a few weeks anyway. Muraco is trying to get into Crockett and has started taking bookings in Northeast independents. JYD wants to work for Baba.

-- The British Bulldogs gave their notice and are preparing to leave the promotion. They have started talking with Baba, and because Dynamite Kid is so revered in Japan, Baba will probably take them back with open arms. Dave says this is not the same Bulldogs who last worked Japan, as Dynamite has back injuries that are pretty bad, but their return will be hyped heavily, and it may take people a while to notice how they've fallen since they were so over last time they were there.

-- Prime Time Wrestling remains the third highest rated show on cable, averaging a 3.1 in 1.4 million homes last quarter.

-- Because Halloween IV is still doing such big business at the box office, they decided to move They Live back yet another week. Horror movies typically do big business for two weeks, so they want as little competing against it as possible.

-- SNME aired over the weekend, taped 10/25 from Baltimore. Dave says it was slightly better than the last show due to Andre's acting ability, and the Andre/Jake angle came across really well because Andre's facial expressions are so good, which is a challenge considering the premise (he's scared of snakes) was kinda hokey. Dave says this in some ways ends Andre's run as a main event heel because the snake thing kills some of his aura. "Maybe Vince feels, since the last two Hogan-Andre matches didn't draw at all, that it's a dead issue, but I thought there was a major national run left and the two bad houses were because they held it in Atlanta and Greensboro, which WWF style wrestling has never gotten over in." No complaints about any of the matches, except Patera vs Bravo. "The WWF heat machine needs work because their synthetic 'boos' sound totally unrealistic." He also said it was too obvious the guys were doing promos off of cue cards. The rundown:

* Rick Rude vs Jake Roberts: Better than average brawling. Andre ran in to help Rude and Jake picked up the snake, which scared Andre to death. He had what looked like a heart attack, but was later explained as fainting. **1/2 for the wrestling and 1/2* for the angle makes a *** match.

* Demolition vs Hart Foundation: Short match, but thanks to Bret Hart, the action was very good. **3/4

* Hulk Hogan vs King Haku: The most significant development was Elizabeth managing Hogan and Jesse Ventura getting in the key line, "What does Savage think of all of this?" The whole match was set up as pretty much an excuse to do a Hogan/Liz post-match celebration. Hogan has stopped wearing the helmet, so they've dropped that idea. *1/2

* Dino Bravo vs Ken Patera: "There is no logical explanation for Bravo to be pushed. I'd say I have no idea why, but I do have an idea, though I wished I didn't." 1/2*

* Big Boss Man vs Jim Powers: This was mainly to get Boss Man on TV before the next house show run with Hogan.

-- 10/24 at MSG drew 12,500 fans headlined by Randy Savage vs Andre the Giant. They taped Superstars and SNME on 10/25 in Baltimore before a "heavily papered near-sellout" crowd. (My note: ?????) The main angle was a Brother Love segment with Bad News Brown and Jack Tunney. Brown demanded a title shot against Randy Savage. He accused Tunney of protecting Savage and asked if Elizabeth was "doing favors". Tunney got mad, and Brown attacked him, choked him and left him out while Brother Love screamed in his face and asked him if it was true. 10/28 in Greensboro drew 2,000 headlined by Hogan/Hercules vs DiBiase/Virgil. 10/29 in Las Vegas drew a heavily papered 3,000, with WWF people going through casinos and handing out free tickets to make the 16,000 seat Thomas & Mack Center look decent. They also did tons of radio giveaways. The show was headlined by Warrior vs Honky Tonk Man. 10/24 in Hershey, PA drew 2,100 headlined by Hogan vs Haku.

-- The Mr. Perfect gimmick is bombing at house shows, and he's getting no heat except at arenas where he was already over from his AWA days.

-- Haku is in legal trouble in Baltimore. He is being sued $1.1 million for apparently biting off a guy's nose during a fight. "Why would anyone mess with Haku in the first place?"

-- The WWF is seeing their biggest business low of the new era. Savage vs Bad News Brown is setting record low gates in most cities, and even Savage vs DiBiase in a cage recently set a low in Philly. Low attendance and dropping TV ratings mean they are losing a chunk of their audience.

-- "The deal is done. The ink has dried. The biggest soap opera of the year story in wrestling is over. And now the real soap opera story has just begun. The National Wrestling Alliance is now owned by Ted Turner, effective on the Tuesday before you read this. And we are starting a new era in the story of professional wrestling, post-1984.

"The future is completely uncertain right now. There are so many things that could happen over the next few months and so many variables that one can't even begin to guess how it will all play out. TBS is taking over the NWA at a low point. TV ratings are bad. House shows are not doing well. There is still a core audience and a few issues that fans care about. There is enough wrestling talent to be the core of a good promotion, although changes will certainly be made. There will be front office shake-ups, but nobody is completely sure how they'll shake-up."

-- Jack Petrik starts on 12/1. He is going to hire someone to run the wrestling side of the business, and Dave is told this is not someone who is a veteran of pro wrestling. "From that point on, it's a whole new ball game."

-- In the end, TBS purchased the company in spite of the debts. Bill Watts, the largest creditor, has not agreed to settle, and at least two lawsuits have been filed regarding those debts.

-- World Championship Wrestling fell to a 2.5 average rating in the last quarter, down from 2.7 in the previous quarter. At its peak in the early 80s, that timeslot was pulling a 6.6 rating. NWA Main Event is in 17th place with a 2.04 average in 1.093 million homes), pretty much identical to the second quarter. It's a surprise that the ratings have stayed strong, because they've switched to showing matches three or four months old and just dubbing new commentary over them. In some cases, the matches have even aired on the show before. Rebuilding TV ratings is the top priority for the new regime, and Dave says there's no reason the Saturday show shouldn't consistently be the highest rated show on cable. Because they use that show to start so many key angles, they can't rebuild business until more people are watching that show. Clash III was the fifth highest rated cable show of the quarter, coming in behind four NFL games that aired on ESPN.

-- Lyle Alzado was on syndicated TV and said every athlete either already is or should be using steroids because of the wonderful benefits and performance enhancement. He said he has used them for 10 years with no side effects. Dave admits steroids aren't going away anytime soon, and he also says people have the right to decide what they want to put in their bodies. Where his problem is, is that WWF has created an environment where physique is so important that wrestlers are pretty much forced to use them to stay employed, and fans have pretty much stopped responding to people without great physiques.

-- Jim Crockett is in charge the first month and is attempting to run as cost-efficient a month as possible in an effort to keep his job.

-- There were huge problems between Ric Flair, Jim Crockett and Dusty Rhodes over the past week, which resulted in Flair no-showing a few towns. While the issues haven't been resolved, tensions have at least cooled off. Flair said he was tired of the way he was being used and wanted real finishes and real opponents. He came back, and they changed Flair/Luger singles matches to Flair/Al Perez vs Luger/Nikita on top because Flair refused to keep doing the same finish with Luger he had been doing. By 10/29 in New Orleans, they were back to doing the same finish. Fans in all three cities where the main event was changed was furious because there was no advance notice about it. Flair also refused to work with Bam Bam Bigelow on top on house shows, so those matches had to be changed to Flair/Windham vs Dusty/Bigelow. Flair didn't want to work with Bigelow because he felt both he and the title would be damaged by working with a WWF midcarder on top who hadn't even earned a title shot in the booking. He also had concern about Bigelow leaving mid-program, and pointed out that he wasn't really over with the NWA audience at all.

-- 10/27 in Jackson, MS, drew 1,200 fans headlined by Luger/Nikita vs Flair/Perez. 10/25 in Jackson, TN, drew 3,000 fans. 10/29 in New Orleans drew 3,700 fans headlined by Flair vs Luger and the Midnights/Road Warriors title change. The New Orleans crowd was hardly impressive, but it was the largest crowd in the city since Watts.

-- Sting and Luger, Dave thinks, did a bad job getting over the Road Warriors feud on TBS. Their promo was too much about them betraying fans and not them personally, and they needed to make the point that they were the one team who could beat the Warriors, which they didn't do.

-- Jerry Jarrett and the Von Erichs were negotiating over ownership of World Class this past week. A deal was struck to give Jerry Jarrett majority interest, with Kevin and Kerry Von Erich remaining minority stockholders. WCCW is operating in deep debt, and all three of them had to put up money to keep it going, which they all agreed to do. There was a stumbling block with the Von Erichs wanting to change certain aspects of the deal at the last minute, specifically wanting majority interest back after (x) amount of time. Jarrett balked, because he thought it would create another Ken Mantell situation where he turned around the company then got forced out. If negotiations aren't finalized by this Friday, everyone has agreed to just take the deal completely off the table.

-- WCCW's key time slot on Ch. 11 in Dallas is also in jeopardy due to debt. This is their most valuable time slot. Ch. 11 is looking to move to the NWA, and has even started negotiating with them to make a switch in the near future. Dave says if that happens, it will be the final nail in World Class's coffin.

-- The Stud Stable broke up this week on TV. On 10/23, Cactus Jack & Gary Young won the Southern tag team titles and as part of the stipulations, they get a WCCW World tag title shot against the Samoan Swat Team. On TV on 10/29, Fuller and Golden asked Jack and Young to give them the title shot, and one thing led to another. Foley and Young got attacked, with Foley doing a major blade job. Fuller and Golden then stole the belts and later in the show, Cactus and Young came out for revenge all bandaged up, and the reaction was great. In the brawl, they got one of the two belts back.

-- Sid Vicious was back as himself full time this week since Lord Humongous lost some loser leaves town matches.

-- Dumbest line of the week was Kent Richie from Covington Pike Toyota, the guy who comes out and awards the wrestler of the week award. After the second brawl, he said, "People always want to know whether or not wrestling is fake and this proves it isn't fake."

-- They were very low key on TV about Lawler winning the World Class title. "It's hard to figure out why they would have such a 'heel' ending involving the area's top two babyfaces." (My note: Uhhh, Dave, you said last week you suggested the finish, not realizing they already thought of it themselves.) Lawler and Kerry wrestle again in Dallas on 11/4, and only for the WCCW title. "Do I dare make a prediction? Seriously, they spent all these months building up they were going to unify the titles and turn it into one universally respected legitimate champion, so why are there still two titles? And why would Lawler only defend the World Class belt and not the 'unified' belt. Well, you know the answer, so they can have the unification match in Chicago on the 12/13 PPV show. But by doing this, they will have killed the unification gimmick in Tennessee and Dallas/Fort Worth, which were the two key markets they were expecting to do some business in for the PPV show."

-- 10/20 in Komagame drew 1,690 fans.

-- Biff Wellington is being compared to Dynamite Kid. He even started cutting his hair like him and wearing the same type of ring gear.

-- Scott Hall was on the cover of a popular Japanese comic.

-- Steve Williams has been wrestling with his new Varsity Club outfit -- a wrestling singlet that says Oklahoma on it -- during this tour.

-- No word on when Tatsumi Fujinami is returning.

-- Keichi Yamada is leaving for Europe to form a tag team with Masaharu Funaki.

-- The teams have yet to be finalized for the upcoming tournament, but it is known Jimmy Snuka and Tiger Mask will team, and Tenryu & Hara will team.

-- Baba is debating whether or not to give up on Hiroshi Wajima as a failed experiment.

-- 10/20 in Suwa drew 1,650 fans. 10/19 in Figu drew 2,900 fans.

-- Baba is bringing back Doug Furnas & Dan Kroffat for the January series, and has plans on building them as a long-term team.

-- Pete Roberts is in talks with Baba about opening a promotion in England since the established promoters are on the verge of quitting.

-- Talk of how Chigusa Nagayo's US tour is being covered on television. She had a match against Martha Villalobos in Mexico City and Dave was told she did a dive and hit Villalobos when she was three quarters of the way across the ring. "I'm sure that was exaggerated but it probably was a hot move nonetheless. I don't think it is aerodynamically possible for a woman to fly that far, except for Jackie Joyner-Kersee but then we are dealing with a whole different subject."

-- 11/10 will have Maeda vs Takada. 12/22 in Osaka should easily sell out, since the main event is Nobuhiko Takada vs Bob Backlund. Their biggest test will be on 1/10, when they try to sellout the 16,500-seat Budokan Hall, which is almost impossible to sell out.

-- Tony Atlas found a way to disappear again and will not be at the hearing on Monday for Jose Gonzales' trial.

-- Shane Douglas has officially retired from pro wrestling and is working as a school teacher in central Pennsylvania.

-- Terry Gordy has moved from Texas to Alabama and will mainly work independents in the Southeast between Japanese tours. He is done with World Class.

-- This is Dave's response to a fan letter criticizing fans who cheer heels, boo babyfaces, shout out real names, etc:

"There are a lot of points I've got to address here, but the main one is crowd behavior. I don't think anyone has a right to tell fans how to behave and how not to behave at the matches provided they don't do anything in worse taste than the wrestlers are doing in the ring; don't try to physically abuse the wrestlers and don't behave in a manner which is offensive to the rest of the fans trying to have a good time. I used to get mad at fans who yelled out real names and yelled smart phrases at wrestlers because I thought it was obnoxious, but then I realized that the fans who yell these things are sitting generally in the first few rows, which means they paid the top dollar to attend and bought their tickets first. They are the most loyal fans wrestling has. When the casual fans stop coming to the matches, they will still be there to support the business. They also usually make posters and wear T-shirts of the wrestlers. I have sat in the first row in wrestling arenas throughout this country this year and seen fans in different cities. One thing I learned is that you can't yell smartass phrases during a good match. First, the heat is so loud they can't hear you. Second, if the match is good you concentrate on the match and you won't have time to tell smartass phrases. I sat with the same group of people in Las Vegas in the front row of two cards, one of which was very bad card and the other of which was very good. There were no smartass phrases in the latter, yet nothing but smartass phrases yelled from the crowd in the former. To be honest, if it wasn't for the fans in the first two rows at the Vegas AWA taping, I would have had a hard time being entertained because the matches were so bad. I think you should cheer the heels, cheer the faces, keep quiet or do whatever you want so long as you don't interfere with others' enjoyment of the actual show. Yelling smart phrases does not 'smarten up marks' as people say. If people are so-called wrestling 'marks' (and I hate that term because some people use it for everyone that doesn't agree with them and others use it, both in and out of the business to show some kind of a superiority to those who also support the business), it is not because they don't know the business is worked, it is because they choose to be marks. In this day and age of Vince McMahon, the idea the business is worked, that characters aren't real and winners and losers are pre-determined is something that deep down, almost everyone knows and those that don't, deep in their hearts also know but like to pretend differently because psychologically they are incapable of enjoying wrestling any other way. As I've said before, whenever a fight breaks out in the crowd, what happens? The fans all watch the fight and the wrestlers, no matter how 'heated' their brawling in the ring is, lose the attention of the fans. That's because when confronted with what they know is reality, people would rather watch real fights than fake fights. Vince McMahon has already 'smartened' up the public to a degree, and the little intricacies between being 100 percent smart (which nobody is, not even Vince McMahon, because if anyone was 100 percent smart to this business, they would never make mistakes), or whatever percentage you are comes from how closely you study things and how much you pick up and how much experience you have within the business, and sometimes that even works against you because when you get set in your ways, the business will pass you by. I love listening to talks about ring psychology because it is a fascinating subject, and no two wrestlers think alike about, nor do any two promoters, which is why every promotion has its own distinct style of wrestling. There is no right or wrong or smart or dumb. Getting reaction is part of it, but not everything. Anyone can beg an audience to cheer for him and get reaction, and that has nothing to do with a match. How much reaction one gets in general, is determined primarily by how much TV exposure the person has and how well the promotion gets his personality and his issue over. A distant second is by how well the person actually works a crowd, although the difference between first and second depends upon the city. I've seen wrestlers do identical matches on successive nights in different towns. In one city the match gets a great reaction and in the second it gets no reaction and the crowd behaves differently. Does that mean the wrestlers suddenly weren't 'smart' the second night or didn't know any psychology. No, it is simply the way the crowd reacted to the television personalities these actors portrayed. I saw Honky Tonk Man work with Randy Savage here before he shoved Elizabeth and Honky got great heat until the bell sounded, then pretty much zippo the whole match and they got a nice pop for post-match antics, but the match got no heat. I saw them two months later do the exact same match after Honky shoved Liz, and they got good heat the whole way. Did Honky and Randy suddenly learn ring psychology in those two months? No, they did an angle which got the audience incensed enough that they overlooked that very little was happening in the match. I saw Honky and Jim Duggan out here work as hard as they could to get no reaction at a card in Oakland simply because even though both were over, nobody cared about them wrestling each other and the match wasn't good enough to get them to care. If Duggan had been in with Andre and Honky with Savage, with the same sequence of moves, both matches would have had heat because of the issue involved with the two. It has nothing to do with the ring psychology of any of the four involved. The great ring psychologists are the guys who have no issue, and maybe not even a clearly-defined character or lots of TV time, that can still get themselves over in a match. That's exceedingly difficult today. They are not guys who cup their ears and get a Pavlov's dog reaction from the audience, and yes, they aren't guys who do 1,000 moves in a row that mean nothing if they don't build into a match. Every reader of the Observer and every wrestling fan has different degrees of wrestling intelligence, just as every wrestler and promoter has differing styles and degrees of wrestling intelligence. But nobody is 100 percent smart, and those that think they are, are the dumbest of them all. And I've never spoken to any two wrestlers who had the exact identical ideas of how to work a match or a crowd. One last thing about Owen Hart. No one has ever said Owen Hart had the best ring psychology around. It's been written here before that once he gets his ring psychology down he'll be unequivocably No. 1, because he can do so much more than anyone else and has the willingness to vary his routine every night. This won't happen with Titan because they can't allow a wrestler in prelims to overshadow the main eventers, even though because of the hype and issues given on TV to those main eventers, that task is very difficult. But to be a success in any entertainment field, you have to break the mold. At 5-foot-9 and with two years experience, Hart has accomplished an incredible amount in this business. With only a moderate push he is the second most popular foreign wrestler in Japan. He is with Titan and has a decent shot at getting a good break depends upon what the Gods decide, despite the fact his strong point is athletics, not personality. If he were to wrestle like you suggested, without doing flashy moves, and learned nothing but psychology, at his size he would be exactly where Gary Royal is in the NWA. A great ring psychologist. And at 5-foot-9, that means nothing. One last word on fans. I am a lot more offended and embarrassed at wrestling when I bring friends at the antics of fans who do nothing but cuss and flip the bird than I am at people who are having a good time and good-naturedly enjoying the show, whether they cheer faces or heels."
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post #154 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 03:27 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by tlk23 View Post
-- Dave says Rick Steiner is the hottest guy in the company
As a wrestling fan, I am ultimately embarrassed by this.

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post #155 of 275 (permalink) Old 09-07-2011, 12:10 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Keep 'em coming!
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post #156 of 275 (permalink) Old 09-24-2011, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

November 14th, 1988

-- "They Live" opened to mixed reviews. Piper is also getting mixed reviews. Still, the movie is expected to make money, and the box office will determine Piper's future in Hollywood. The reason the NWA is promoting this movie is because the WWF turned down a promotional tie-in, so the movie producers went to the NWA and asked if they would be interested, and they were. "Buy and Cell", another Piper movie, was picked up by Trans World Entertainment and will go directly to VHS later this month. Dave saw "They Live" with a few friends and everyone enjoyed the movie. Dave says Piper isn't the best actor he's ever seen, but he was just fine in a leading role, and any stinging criticism of him isn't deserved. The fight scene was fantastic, and the theater crowd popped for Piper's suplex, even though the audience was neither a wrestling crowd nor a Piper crowd.

-- Jesse Ventura was on FNN talking about steroids. He was honest for the most part, though he did protect the business when you would expect him to do so. The major standout comments were that Verne Gagne was a terrible promoter, Hulk Hogan was the greatest wrestler he ever faced, all wrestling interviews are ad-libbed (which they are not), the wrestling business is more honest than the music business (Dave is told that's most definitely true), and 70 percent of current pro wrestlers are college graduates, which is pushing it a bit. His greatest thrill was working in front of a sold out crowd in St. Paul hearing "Jesse sucks" chant, and also selling out MSG, which Dave points out never happened, because the Backlund match didn't sell out, and the Hogan match didn't either, even though Jesse got blood clots a few days before the match and it had to be cancelled. Jesse said he is sure that there are wrestlers in the WWF who use steroids, but probably no more than in football, and that they are abused everywhere. When asked if the WWF tests wrestlers for steroids, he said he had no idea. Dave says Ventura does a great job due to his experience as a color commentator, but he has a problem with his steroid stance because he tells kids it's just as dangerous as cocaine, but on TV, he glorifies steroid physiques. "I know why he does it and why he has to do it. I know that he makes great money as a WWF TV announcer and it was his money as a WWF TV announcer and it was his springboard to the movies and it is his niche as a celebrity. At the same time, I think the FDA should pick a better spokesperson because any thinking teenager who hears Ventura talk about how evil steroids are at a high school or on a public service announcement or on a talk show can see the hypocrisy in him glorifying physiques of wrestlers (or for that matter Arnold Schwarzeneger) that are a result of their abuse."

-- About a dozen wrestlers have been fired, but Dave isn't sure of all the names. He knows B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, and Ken Patera were among them. Patera was offered a job in P.R., but has yet to accept.

-- Ron Garvin is headed in around Christmas. "I understand they are going to use his old NWA cross-dresser gimmick (remember Miss Atlanta Lively) and he'll work as Rockin Robin and challenge Sherri Martel for the women's title. I'm only kidding."

-- 11/4 in Denver drew 3,000 headlined by Andre/Rude vs Santana/Roberts.

-- The Bulldogs are expected to finish up at the end of November, but everyone thinks they will decide at the last minute to stay.

-- TBS held a press conference to announce that they had purchased the NWA. Nothing new came out it. Jack Petrik was officially announced as the President of the new Universal Wrestling Corporation with Jim Crockett as Vice President. The company will be based in Atlanta and most of the wrestlers and front office personnel will live there also. The Dallas office will remain open and Jim Crockett, Dusty Rhodes, and JJ Dillon will be based out of Dallas. The Charlotte office is being closed down completely. Dusty Rhodes' future is pretty solid through the end of the year, but after that, no one knows. Dave is told changes will be made on TV on a weekly basis, starting very small.

-- Last week's TBS show had two really well done things: the Midnight Express vs Road Warriors title change from New Orleans, which was extremely well laid out because it turned both teams which is difficult to do. The best part is that most fans bought tickets probably hoping to see the Road Warriors capture the gold, and because of the work of all four guys, and Jim Cornette and Paul Ellering, they were booing their win heavily and pelting them with garbage. Later in the show, Stan Lane was wrestling Menace #2 and Jim Cornette was doing commentary. A phone call came in and Cornette said a few cryptic things and hung up the phone. Then, Paul E. Dangerously and the Original MX crashed the studio and attacked Eaton, Lane and Cornette, with Cornette juicing heavily and being slapped around by Dangerously. "This was the hot angle needed to get the feud going and I've got little doubt this will be a hot feud. The wrestlers are all above-average and the interviews will be matching the best mouths in the business. I almost hate to praise everyone, but Jim Ross did a great job of commentating and getting the Warriors over as heels in the New Orleans match and both Ross and Schiavone made the second angle go when they said that Dangerously and his team don't belong here and don't even work for the NWA."

-- "Of course with all steps forward they make there are always the steps backward. The Sunday Main Event show picked out two matches which had no business airing at the time. The first had an old Sting vs Mike Rotunda match ending with Rick Steiner doing a very heelish run-in which shouldn't be aired since Steiner has already turned in some cities and is about to turn on a national basis in two weeks or so. The second was a Midnight Express vs Road Warrior Animal & Paul Ellering match with the Warrior team as the faces, which has no business airing when they are trying to get both teams over in their new roles."

-- Eddie Gilbert tore the ligaments in his left arm but is still working.

-- The new TBS format has matches going slightly longer, with a Ron Simmons vs Rip Morgan match getting 15 minutes.

-- "Another gaffe was when Mike Rotunda killed Rick Steiner's pet fly Spike on the morning show, but Spike was alive doing stupid animal tricks on the afternoon show (in reality, the afternoon show is taped before the morning show but they air in a different order)."

-- The next TBS show has Ric Flair vs George South and Barry Windham vs Curtis Thompson both going really long.

-- Ric Flair is strongly hinting on interviews that the Road Warriors are joining the Four Horsemen.

-- Dave is amazed by how great a job the Road Warriors are doing as heels, as they are still getting some cheers in some places, but are getting heavily booed in most places. Dusty did a great promo for their feud, but Dave suspects his line about not having a steroid in his body probably caused some heat internally. Also, watch the next TBS show for Jim Cornette apparently doing a classic interview. (My note: Yes, this is the one where he brings his blood-stained white jacket out and it's awesome.)

-- Starrcade has been cut from 3 1/2 hours to 3 hours. "They are going to have to start announcing matches very quickly or they won't have enough promotion time."

-- Rick Steiner isn't turning next weekend, but it has to come soon, since he's booked against the Varsity Club all of Thanksgiving weekend. "Steiner & Sullivan are doing an Abbott & Costello act that is the highlight of most TV shows."

-- Luger continues giving weak interviews in the Road Warriors feud.

-- Ric Flair has tons of power right now, and most feel if he and Dusty have another confrontation that Dusty will be the one on the outs. Jim Crockett always sided with Dusty, which is the main reason guys like Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and others are no longer in the company.

-- Variety Magazine gave "Learning the Ropes" a terrible review and most other reviews have also been negative.

-- Kerry Von Erich called Jerry Jarrett and agreed to terms, so Jerry Jarrett now owns 60% of World Class, with Kerry owning 20%, and Kevin owning 20%. Jarrett managed to save the Ch. 11 time slot, which almost went to the NWA. To show how good Jerry Jarrett was at negotiating here, he even had a clause put in the contract that the booker can fire Kevin or Kerry if they have subpar performances or miss dates (even though they would still keep their share of the company). Compare this to Ken Mantell, who had to give us everything to get 30% of WCCW when he came in. Obviously, Jarrett has no desire to get rid of Kerry, the most marketable star he has in either of his territories.

-- First, he wants to change how TV is handled. In recent months, the two-hour KTVT show was taped the previous Monday in Fort Worth. However, since they are no longer running weekly in Fort Worth, they have been alternating between all-highlight shows and showing the Friday night Dallas cards that were taped 8 days prior. The syndicated show was taped bi-weekly at the Sportatorium. Fort Worth crowds had gotten embarassingly low, as in 150 per show, and because the atmosphere was so terrible on TV, they started running Ft. Worth every three weeks. About six weeks ago, they got a sponsor and announced that weekly shows were back, and they planned to give away thousands of tickets every week, since the sponsor would take care of the expense, and they would have the heat and atmosphere for TV. But that fell through.

-- Under Jarrett, the Ch. 11 show will be taped on Saturday morning and air Saturday evening. Admission will be free and the show will be taped at the Sportatorium. They will continue running Friday night shows at the Sportatorium and charge admission. "This is a real dangerous catch-22 proposition. Obviously the Saturday cards are going to be like regular TV tapings hyping only the Friday matches. To do it any other way would destroy paid attendance for the Friday night cards. However a two-hour format of nothing but squashes would have a negative effect on the TV ratings and frankly, after the novelty wore off, it would be difficult to get fans to show up, even for free, on Saturday mornings for a television taping on a weekly basis.

-- Jarrett plans to run a promotion vs promotion feud as his main attraction in both Dallas and Memphis. The first show that aired saw about half the show dedicated to airing Memphis matches, with Mark Lowrance trying to get Eddie Marlin, Lance Russell, and all the Memphis babyfaces over as a heels to a Dallas audience.

-- Before a recent Lawler match, Kerry grabbed the mic and said he was going to kick Jerry Lawler's ass, then said he was filing for divorce so he's now single, and he'll be in the back collecting phone numbers after the match. "For a guy who has packaged himself as an All-American boy-next-door type that wasn't too smart and those in the new promotion weren't exactly thrilled by it."

-- Kamala is returning from a tour of West Germany where he was billed as Kamala, but wore an amateur wrestling singlet, no paint, and wrestled a scientific style.

-- The Johnny Smith vs Biff Wellington matches are ranging from very good to great. The two work high spots as well as any two wrestlers in North America. Smith stalls a lot between moves, but the matches are around 20 minutes.

-- Black Bart is headed in as a heel and Doug Furnas has returned from Japan. They are trying to bring in Ron Bass as a heel, and they want Terry Gordy as their lead heel after the tag tournament in Japan ends.

-- On TV this weekend, they started heating up a Tom Pritchard/Grappler #2 program, but Grappler quit after being promised a $40 payoff for a shot and only getting $35.

-- Business is slightly up.

-- Tim Horner is headed to the WWF.

-- Lord Humongous was unmasked as Scott Hall with lighter hair.

-- Scotty the Body is said to be the best new guy in the territory, playing a Eddie Haskell-type heel.

-- Jose Gonzales is back to work as a booker giving finishes in the dressing room, but has not been announced as returning to TV yet.

-- Dave saw about six weeks of TV and said the only good match was Bobby Jaggers & Dan Kroffat vs Perez & Castillo in a hair match, probably ***1/2-****.

-- Sid Vicious is coming in with a major push and will be called The Vicious Warrior.

-- Billy Travis is out due to an arrest involving an underage girl.

-- Gordon Solie is working with Ed Whalen on TSN on a show called Pro Wrestling Plus. It's similar to Pro Wrestling This Week, but the clips are about a year old.
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post #157 of 275 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

November 21st, 1988

-- "We're just a few weeks away from starting 1989 and what looks to be a new stage in the development of the pro wrestling business. It looks as though, at least for the next year, the business will become on the semi-major level, three promotions in the United States, all at very different levels. The king, of course, is Titan Sports, and barring something totally unforeseen, that isn't going to change in the next year, and if it ever changes in the next few years it will be the result of Titan's forays outside the wrestling business going sour unless the Turner organization has surprises that nobody can foresee. At the second level is Ted Turner's UWC, which faces 1989 in a struggle to see if they can turn the company into a financially and emotionally stable unit before there is any talk of competition for the top spot. The dark horse in this game is Jerry Jarrett, who is simply out of his league financially in comparison to Vince McMahon and Turner, but enters the year in a much-weaker version of the third place position Bill Watts held in 1987. WIth the World Class acquisition and the likelihood that the CWA and World Class will eventually become one unit, Jarrett has a decent start to a syndication network, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if 1989 is the year Jarrett gets the ESPN slot which would give him the other major cable outlet. Can a low-budget, mainly territorial third group survive and be profitable in this day and age?

"About seven years ago was the first time I was told by a notable wrestling star to watch Japan closely, because you'll see all the U.S. trends five to ten years before anyone else does. Many years back we realized this was going to come down to two, possibly, three, but more likely two, major players in the game out here, and they would be television people running the show, just as in Japan where the promotions are really controlled and funded by the television networks. Vince McMahon was the first person who took wrestling from an arena show to really a television show, and the NWA, being owned by a broadcasting conglomerate, will almost certainly change its focus to putting together good television. I think the real key for a third group to be successful, besides needing the foundation of good television, good syndicated exposure and a cable outlet (and in this regard, ESPN is far worse than USA or TBS because it changes the wrestling time slot so frequently wrestling isn't able to build-up or really maintain a loyal audience) is to somehow get one or two stars over as national stars and celebrities. To an extend TBS has to do this as well, but they have several wrestlers with national names while Jarrett has nobody with anything close to a national name. Of course Jarrett isn't meaning to challenge either McMahon or TBS, but to carve a profitable regional niche. Whether he'll avoid the pitfalls which ended similar attempts by Bill Watts, Verne Gagne and Fritz Von Erich (in the latter case before ever really getting out of his home state) will determine whether this will be a two promotion or a three promotion country in the next decade."

-- "They Live" was the top grossing movie during its first week of release, with receipts topping $3 million. The opening turnout was described as "good to decent". Movies in this genre are expected to fall about 70% in the second week. If more than that, the movie has no legs, although at this point, the movie is at the very least expected to be a mild financial success. Many feel the reason Piper is getting such unfavorable reviews (though there have been exceptions) is the resentment of his outsider status in Hollywood. "The two lines I've seen over and over again in the reviews are the cute comments that Piper's movie character, named Nada, is apropos (Nada is Spanish for nothing, and as the joke goes, that is the extent of Piper's talents)." The other line against him has been that he proves that wrestlers aren't really actors. Still, Dave doesn't see him back in the ring anytime soon. He was on Larry King Live on CNN in the previous week and had a fictitious bio in USA Today. "Piper is now claiming to be 32 years old, which is quite impressive. I met Piper when I was 20, and he was 30 then according to his athletic commission records, and I just turned 28. He also claimed he had to lose 65 pounds to be an actor (from 260 to 195) but somehow I don't recall him ever being anywhere near 260 pounds."

-- The released numbers for the boxing PPV are a 7.2 national buyrate and 780,000 buys, "which of course is totally phenomenal, greatly profitable and probably equally unrealistic." Because Titan forced confidentiality with the cable companies, there is no way to independently verify these numbers. Later in the week, they announced that the show did a $19.5 millino gross on PPV, breaking the record of $18 million set by Wrestlemania IV. "I do know they had virtually no advanced orders going into the last day (as we've learned, PPV is mainly a last minute thing) and the last day price ranged mainly from $34 to $46 for the show, that comes out to 600,000 orders, so their own figures don't make sense unless you use McMath, which few have mastered." The show needed to gross about $20 million to be profitable, so if the $19.5 million is accurate, they probably broke even. Titan is thrilled because they were privately expecting a disaster, and they are now claiming they are in the boxing business for good. Three cable companies told Dave the show did far worse than the Bash, while one other one said it did very well.

-- The WWF ran Prime Time in Paris on election night. The show was taped on 10/6 or 10/7 at Bersey Stadium, an outdoor soccer field. The show drew a 3.6 national rating and was viewed in 1,664,000 homes, about a ratings point higher than Prime Time Wrestling normally averages. The competition was heavy that night, because of the idea that all the major networks were basically running the exact same programming, so cable networks were stacking up big movies thinking they could score a big rating. The rating was less than half of the Royal Rumble special in January and lower than every Clash. The matches themselves were background for Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan to do schtick. The production was bad because of problems converting from PAL to NTSC. They pretended Gorilla and Bobby were in France and ran gags all night based on it, but it was obviously canned. Dave wonders if most viewers can tell when the announcing is canned, because to him it's obvious. Dave felt the announcers went from amusing to insulting the intelligence of the audience, which is commonplace for WWF announcers. "It's always interesting to watch a foreign crowd with little knowledge of pro wrestling react." They reacted more to match quality than personalities, opposite of the U.S. During the bad matches, the crowd went silent. Aside from Randy Savage, Barry Horowitz got more heat than anyone on the card because he was the best worker on the show. The rundown:

* Greg Valentine vs Don Muraco: Dreadful. "If Valentine is leaving for the NWA, I hope they realize his days as a wrestling star are over." -*

* Andre the Giant vs Junkyard Dog: There was almost no reaction, which surprised Dave since Andre is from France. Worse than the first match even. Worst match of the year factoring out Tom Magee and Ultimate Warrior matches.

* Rockin' Robin vs Sensational Sherri: Robin is still green but worked hard and Sherri carried this well and it was the best match on the show. Decent-to-good heat. Robin threw some hard chops. Good nearfalls and a nice pop for the title change. **1/2

* Lanny Poffo vs Barry Horowitz: Lanny Poffo tried a crazy dive that didn't exactly work. Average work until the bad looking finish. **1/4

* Demolition vs British Bulldogs: Dull match. 1/2*

* Randy Savage vs Akeem: Savage and Liz got a big reaction for their entrance. The two worked as well as could be expected, and the show ending image was impressive. **1/4

-- The British Bulldogs are definitely gone after Survivor Series. Dave has heard conflicting reports, one being that Dynamite Kid is going to book Stampede. Either way, both the Bulldogs and JYD will be working full-time in Stampede when they aren't working for Baba. "A new tag team will replace them called The Bushwhackers, but I've got no idea who they are other than they will be babyfaces, but perhaps Ron Garvin will be part of the new team."

-- The WWF has a women's perfume coming out next year.

-- 11/12 in Philly drew 12,062 fans and a $152,158 gate headlined by Hogan vs Boss Man, which Dave calls the hottest box office feud in wrestling at the moment. 11/13 in Binghamton, NY drew 1,700 fans headlined by Warrior vs HTM. 11/5 in New Haven, CT, drew 7,100 fans headline by Randy Savage vs Haku. 11/6 in Springfield drew 3,100 fans headlined by DiBiase vs Hercules. 11/5 in Boston drew 6,500 fans headlined by Savage vs Brown.

-- John Studd will probably be back in around the beginning of the year.

-- Dave mentioned in passing that when Adrian Adonis died, a newspaper in Toronto interviews a WWF spokesperson, who only said that they told him a few months earlier he could no longer portray himself as a gay rights activist because the WWF was presenting family-friendly programming.

-- Rick Steiner finally turned on 11/9 in Greenwood, SC, but Dave doesn't know details yet.

-- "Jim Cornette's interview on TBS this past Saturday was one of the best interviews I've ever seen."

-- "I can't reveal much right now about some of the new things that will happen, but on the surface it appears things are going to get worse before they get better. The new regime will start in January and the present plan is to have Dusty Rhodes as a key part of it, although in theory his power will be reduced come the new year but he'll still be a powerful force and Ric Flair's title reign is in some jeopardy at Starrcade."

-- Jim Crockett and Bill Watts are rumored to have reached a settlement, but that is not confirmed.

-- "Morale here is horrible since there seems to be no direction the angles are headed. For example, Cornette and the Midnight Express are hot babyfaces on television, but they are still working as heels in the arenas until the last week of the month."

-- Managers won't be traveling to towns as much. Some will all the time, and some part of the time. The idea is to have the good ones sometimes, and the bad ones all the time, "which if it sounds like backwards logic, it is more like a positioning game before the ax falls."

-- 10/30 in Alexandria, LA drew 2,793, the largest crowd there in three years, headlined by Flair/Perez vs Nikita/Luger, but Flair vs Luger was the advertised main event.

-- "Steve Williams did one of the most incredible interviews (as in not one sentence made any sense) from Japan which aired on NWA Pro last week. Actually it was quite entertaining."

-- "All I've heard about the houses for Sting & Luger vs. Warriors is they were in Pittsburgh on Friday night and drew $38,000, which is fairly bad but they drew well in Johnstown, PA ($17,000) the night before and had a 'big house' in Columbus, Ohio the night after."

-- Syndicated TV has been taped through the end of the month. No matches have been set for Starrcade except Midnights vs Midnights, but Dave is assuming Flair vs Luger on top.

-- Ricky Steamboat did an interview in a Tokyo newspaper saying he would wrestle for Turner, as long as TBS realized wrestling would be his #4 priority, with his first being his family, his second himself, his third his gym business in Charlotte.

-- A Pittsburgh newspaper ran a feature on Ric Flair over the weekend and called him the greatest wrestler of all time.

-- 11/12 at the Showboat drew 1,500 fans to see the Vegas debut of Kerry Von Erich. "Then a totally bizarre set of circumstances and an angle I've never heard of before took place as Kerry wrestled Col. DeBeers in a non-title match. Kerry was out of it but got a huge reaction, and they went to a double count out in 10:09. The finish saw both fight outside the ring and DeBeers held onto Kerry's bad leg so he couldn't beat the count, and just after the count Kerry dives in and DeBeers is supposed to let go so he gets in at 21. Well, DeBeers forgets to let go and Kerry goes in, sans his wrestling boot on the bad leg. Kerry totally freaked out because the ringside fans could plainly see that his foot was amputated (this has been a well-guarded secret and most of the wrestlers don't even known this, in fact I only know of three people who knew it, as Kerry always roomed by himself on the road and always took a shower with his wrestling boots on). The place was in stunned silence for a while. Kerry then put his foot under the ring so nobody could see while he put the boot back on and laced it up. Then he challenged DeBeers to a match but DeBeers said he wasn't a stupid American who would work for free and he said the audience would have to pay to see them wrestle again and he'd match whatever the audience paid. Anyway, they waited about 10 minutes collecting money from the crowd and got $130 (or about 9 cents per fan) and Rob Russen at ringside added another $20 and DeBeers went to the dressing room to match it. Then they restarted the match and the heat was incredible as Debeers jumped Kerry with two bulldog headlocks, went to the table to get the money, and as he reached through the table, Kerry got him from behind and cradled him in 36 seconds. Kerry then said he'd give the money to charity.

-- The WWF sent a nasty legal letter to the AWA threatening to sue if the kept billing Don Giovanni as Chief Jay Strongbow Jr. since they have the name registered, so he is now being called Superchief Jay Strongbow.

-- Madusa is quitting. She wanted an increased guarantee (she was currently getting $250 per week) in exchange for giving the AWA 40% of her merchandising rights, as she is trying to market a poster, a record, and a cologne. She was met with resistance.

-- Dave starts by announcing that moving forward, he will be combining these two promotions for news.

-- The WCCW office at the Sportatorium is closed and all business will now take place from Jerry Jarrett's office in Hendersonville, TN. Eric Embry will remain booker but will work from his home. The office was closed to cut costs, but Dave says it probably isn't a major expense, aside from the rent, electricity, phone bill (which he is told is high every month), and a secretary.

-- The new format started Friday night at the Sportatorium and drew 1,200 fans. The free taping the next morning drew 3,500 fans. The show aired later that evening and included Memphis clips. Frank Dusek was the announcer, and Dave isn't sure if that means he's taking over from Marc Lowrance, or if Lowrance is just going to be handling syndicated tapings now (He was there Friday night to do those.)

-- For local tapings on Saturday morning, jobbers get paid $15.00 for losing, and the winning guy gets no pay. The theory is that winning on TV increases your drawing power on the road. The wrestlers on the circuit will work on a $30 nightly guarantee.

-- 11/7 in Memphis drew 1,500 fans headlined by Lawler & Jarrett vs Hayes & Kerry ending in a DDQ when Fuller and the Stud Stable interfered.

-- The 11/14 Mid South Coliseum show will have:
* Brickhouse Brown vs Mike Davis
* Scott Steiner vs Tommy Lane
* Brian Adams ("who worked the Northwest for Don Owen and Billy Jack Haynes, about 6-6 and 300 trained in Japan by Inoki's group doing a martial arts gimmick") vs The Executioner
* Mike Miller vs Todd Morton
* Phil Hickerson vs "rookie Brian Lee". To build this up, Hickerson brought out a rookie protege named Craig Brown and named him Phil Hickerson Jr. But he lost to Lee. Lee then beat Hickerson Sr. as well to set up the match. Dave expects Hickerson to drop the CWA title since he is working the tag tournament for Baba.
* Bill Dundee vs Sid Vicious "which is the size mismatch of the year)
* Downtown Bruno vs Sylvia where if Bruno loses, he has to wear a diaper and if Sylvia loses, she has to wear lingerie from Frederick's of Hollywood
* Robert Fuller & Jimmy Golden vs Gary Young & Cactus Jack where Bruno and Sylvia will be in cages on opposite sides of the ring and whichever one loses will be in the attire from the previous match. A football with a key will be in the middle of the ring and whoever gets the football with the key can unlock their manager, who will have a kendo stick, and make the match 3-on-2 with a kendo stick. To build up the gimmick, the Stud Stable was dressed in football gear on TV while Sylvia was dressed as a cheerleader (My note: HOLY OVERBOOKING)
* Eric Embry vs Jeff Jarrett
* Jerry Lawler vs Botswana Beast, with Lawler saying on TV that Fritz Von Erich put a bounty on his head to try to keep him from getting to Superclash, with Botswana Beast looking to collect. There will be no more Lawler/Kerry matches before the show, so if one of them can't make it due to injury, the other gets both belts.

-- On Memphis TV, the new Stud Stable of Fuller, Golden, Miller, Hickerson, and Sid Vicious asked Bill Dundee to join. He turned them down, so they attacked him. Dundee's son Jamie tried to help and Sid put him in a cobra. Jamie is 17 years old.

-- Rookie Terry Garvin and Mark Goleen are wrestling in prelims as Beauty & The Beast. Dave is told this could be a good gimmick but the wrong people are in the role.

-- 11/5 in Jonesboro, AR drew 500 fans with Jeff Jarrett vs Buddy Landell in a *** match built around lots of limb selling and Dundee & Morton vs RPMs in a ***1/2 match with a terrific post-match brawl.

-- 11/11 in Dallas drew 1,200 fans for what was billed as a Texas vs Tennessee shootout, but both Jerry Lawler and Jimmy Valiant were purposely held off the show so they could do an angle to get Jeff Jarrett over as a babyface in WCCW. Jarrett teamed with Eddie Marlin and the Samoan Swat Team against Kerry/Embry/Dusek/Steve Cox. Jarrett and the Samoans kept getting in each others' way and finally Jarrett decked one of them and things got out of hand. Dusek KO'd Marlin with a chair which left Jarrett alone with Samoans until Kevin Von Erich ran in and saved him. During the brawl, Jarrett also ending up saving Kevin, and it ended up with the Von Erichs, Embry, Dusek, Cox, and Jarrett in the ring together shaking hands. Also on the show, Eric Embry went to a DDQ with Kendall Windham to keep the Texas title. After the match, Akbar asked Embry to rejoin him and offered him a wad of money, but Embry sucker punched him and ran off with the money.

-- They have paired Iceman Parsons with a valet who worked there recently as The Blue Angel, and the theory is that putting a white woman with Iceman will make him the hottest heel in the United States. "He'd have a better chance being elected vice president with Buddy Roberts heading the ticket."

-- "Shootout at the OK Corral" on 10/28 in Yokohama drew 5,400 fans, about 650 less than the Inoki vs Fujinami match in August. The main event was Jumbo vs Tenryu and was said to be "sensational", even better than Inoki vs Fujinami.

-- The tag tournament starts 11/19 and ends on 12/16 at Budokan Hall in Tokyo. They are also running three cards from 12/13 to 12/15 with the Funks.

-- "The finals on 12/16 will come down to Tenryu & Hara vs. Gordy & Hansen (who had that tremendous match on the final night last year) and Butcher & Singh vs. Tsuruta & Yatsu."

-- All Japan will tour the U.S. in February with shows in Kansas City, Dallas, Portland, and Memphis. They will tape TV from those cities.

-- All Japan really wants Ric Flair and Barry Windham to work some shows next year. Jack Petrick of TBS met with Baba last month and they talked about bringing in Tenryu for major cards, but Dave doesn't think Tenryu would get over to U.S. fans. "Of the All Japan guys, the best chance for someone to get over is Tiger Mask, but only if lots of tapes of his flying stuff airs because the fans won't react to anyone 'cold' anymore."

-- "Now it's time for international news. First, move over Nikolai, Ivan & Nikita, Bore-us, David and the rest. The real Russians are coming. The Soviet Union is actually going to export wrestlers to join pro wrestling, specifically, they will exchange a bushel full of yen to the government of the Soviet Union, to help the country's ailing trade deficit with Japan, and in exchange the government is apparently going to allow some of its Olympic heroes to be used by Antonio Inoki in a last-ditch effort to convince the general public of Japan that he, and not Akira Maeda, is the one who is legitimate." Masa Saito visited first, then Inoki traveled between tours. The USSR Sports committee reached a deal with New Japan to trade wrestling talent for foreign currency. The written agreement is expected to be signed in December, and all the key heavyweights and several world champions from the Soviet Union will be taught pro wrestling. Two Japanese networks led off their newscasts with this and they are saying that CNN "(because of Ted Turner's connections with the Soviet Union)" (My note: ????) will do a feature on this. In addition, the Soviet Union will allow its amateur boxers to turn pro in the hopes that they can do boxing PPVs in the US with Mike Tyson. If all goes as planned, next year, there will be a card with all New Japan vs USSR matches. Inoki will win big to revive his legend. "If you think about this, this story is so totally amazing that a government will sell out its athletes as a national resource in this manner."

-- A 6-man elimination tournament begins on 11/11 at Korauken Hall. The teams are:

* Antonio Inoki & Riki Choshu & Kantaro Hoshino
* Tatsumi Fujinami & Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Chono
* Kengo Kimura & Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Osamu Kido
* Seiki Sakaguchi & Masa Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto
* Shiro Koshinana & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Hiro Saito
* Super Strong Machine & The Tiger & The Jaguar (Shinji Sasazaki/Viet Cong Express #2 in Stampede)
* Dick Murdoch & Bob Orton & Scott Hall
* Buzz Sawyer & Manny Fernandez & Lance Idol
* Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong & George Takano

Originally, Inoki was going to team with Chono & Hashimoto, who are being pushed big as newcomers and Fujinami with Kimura & Kido and Choshu, Fujiwara & Hoshino would be a team. But Fujinami refused to participate with those pairings and got the pairings as he wanted them.

The night the tour opened, Hashimoto threw a shoot kick to Takano's chest, the fans realized what was going on, and the two almost got into it. Hashimoto is hot right now because of his attitude where he doesn't respect his superiors.

-- Len Denton is headed in. Kerry & Kevin Von Erich will be there from 11/30 to 12/9. Shinji Sasazaki and Shinya Hashimoto will start in Memphis after the tournament.

-- New Japan wants to buy a territory in the U.S. to use as a farm system.

-- Keichi Yamada will start teaming with Masaharu Funaki on 12/17 in England. Funaki is being groomed to be a superstar. Fujinami met up with Funaki in West Germany to try to get him to change his style, getting away from doing so many Koppo moves and to do more wrestling moves. He feels like if Funaki relies on koppo too much that it will hurt wrestling. Fujinami also wants Funaki on his side in upcoming power struggles.

-- "In a major in-ring surprise, Akira Maeda did a clean job in the middle on the UWF's 11/10 card in Tsuyuhashi. The result of the match is story enough, but contrast this with others in a similar position in other promotions. Maeda basically controls and books the UWF, is their leading star and is the hottest wrestler from a box office standpoint in the world right now. The story of the match itself, against Nobuhiko Takada, was that Maeda knocked down Takada four times with kicks (five knockdowns constitutes the ending of a UWF match as do pinfalls and submissions and knockouts) however Takada came back to win the match via knockout with his back against the wall, so to speak. Whether this turns out to be a smart business move or not can't be evaluated right now, it depends on if Maeda lost anything but losing and if whatever losses are offset by what Takada gained by winning and the promotion gained from the upset."

-- As a result of the Takada victory, he will now face Bob Backlund on 12/22 in Osaka and Maeda will wrestle Norman Smiley.

-- "The way I've got them figured, this in theory gives the UWF hot matches through the spring which should continue their 100% sellout business since their inception. In January they will headline with Maeda vs. Chris Dolman, the world champion in sambo wrestling (the soviet form of legitimate wrestling with matches ending only via submission) and plan to closed-circuit that card in other major cities. Then in February, assuming Backlund beats Takada (which will get Backlund over HUGE in Japan), you've got a natural Maeda vs. Backlund match which will mean more then than it would have in December. Then, figuring Maeda will win that one, you still have the Maeda vs. Takada rematch from the March card, and then many assume that when Yoshiaki Fujiwara's contract with New Japan expires in April, he'll join the UWF and that gives potential main events with Fujiwara against both Maeda and Takada, which, with alternating wins and a few foreigners brought in to mix in with the main events, gives them a booking schedule that gets them through 1989. The question is whether the UWF's success is based on the popularity and drawing power of Maeda, or the popularity and drawing power of 'real wrestling.' If it is Maeda, and Maeda alone, responsible, then removing his aura of invincibility could hurt the promotion. If the real draw is the style, then they've helped themselves significantly. Either way, what other wrestler in the same position with the same power would do a clean job and hurt themselves personally for what in theory is the best thing for the company? The Tsuyuhashi card drew 4,000 fans and $134,000 and sold out five weeks early in just 45 minutes on the first day tickets went on sale."

-- Lia Maivia, Lars Anderson and Ati So'O have been arrested for extortion. According to an FBI affidavit, they threatened John Wakayama who was running a big tour of the islands from 11/13 to 11/15, including a big show at the NBC Arena headlined by the Funks vs Hansen & Gordy. On 10/24, they told Wakayama he would have to pay $5,000 and include two wrestlers of their choosing on his show or they would physically harm both him and his children. They were being filmed at the time. They were held without bail after their arrest and were scheduled to have a hearing to decide a bail price. The maximum is 20 years imprisonment.

-- Jose Gonzales was indicted on 11/2. The charges were dropped to manslaughter. None of the witnesses were present at the hearing, but the two doctors who operated on Brody and talked with Brody as he described what happened to him was considered enough evidence for an indictment. July 3, 1989 is the trial date. Gonzales is claiming self defense, and his attorney is pushing for the trial to take place as soon as possible. Dave doesn't understand why the murder weapon disappeared if it was self defense, and if it was self defense, why are so many wrestlers not only afraid to testify, but also afraid to set foot in Puerto Rico? Tony Atlas saw everything and has claimed he has received death threats if he testifies. Chris and Mark Youngblood left the island and know exactly what happened, and while they haven't been threatened, they are afraid to go back. Dave wants to know what the real motive was if it wasn't self defense, and why witnesses told police at the time that it was cold blooded and pre-meditated. "I've been very careful not to criticize Carlos Colon, or the promotion, in these pages for anything more than bad judgment. I originally felt they had taken a ton of heat for something they seemed embarrassed over and really had no control over. And even though Brody was a generally mild-mannered individual, he did have a rep for legitimate violence when provoked." The promotion is backing Gonzales, and is now giving him face time on television and having him carry finishes in the dressing room. If it was self-defense, Dave says to a point, Colon should be commended for backing his friend. But it doesn't make sense why everyone is afraid to testify if that's true. And if justice isn't being served, why is the promotion backing Gonzales so strongly? "Why did the promotion tell the wrestlers in the middle of the week following the death that Gonzales would never be involved again in the business to avoid a potential walk-out, and how Gonzales is back in and seemingly ready to resume his career if he can get the charges cleared next year? A lot of questions, but there are so few answers."

-- AJW ran shows in Honolulu in late September and drew near sellouts of 6,800 at the NBC Arena both nights, more than either Flair or Hogan have ever drawn in Hawaii. JWP is looking to expand and add men's matches to their shows. Hisashi Shinma, who everyone thought was back in New Japan, appeared on the 10/28 show at Korauen Hall and said he wanted to form a men's group to do joint cards with JWP. Later that night, Atsushi Onita came out of the audience to attack referee El Gran Hamada and bloody him up. "Onita was a former jr. heavyweight champion for Baba in the early 80s and a protege of Terry Funk and a real good worker who retired in 1984 due to knee problems. It was very surprising for him to do this because I was told the Babas considered Onita like a son to them." Ryuma Go and Nuboyashi Sugawara are also expected to join the group, since they have nowhere else to work.
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post #158 of 275 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 07:32 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

OP has now discovered the overrated view of the not-so-great Dave Meltzer and his mark magazine. Sucked 20 years ago, still sucks now.
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post #159 of 275 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 08:11 PM
Wheelman for James Ellsworth
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by tlk23 View Post
Jan 18th, 1988 MY BIRTHDAY
-- Shawn Michaels is apparently an awesome heel, but the problem is that it is not an act.
this made me laugh....i guess he was always a dick lol
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post #160 of 275 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 10:32 PM
Wheelman for James Ellsworth
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by sm0ked0gg View Post
this made me laugh....i guess he was always a dick lol
easily the best of what I've read so far.
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