Wrestling Observer Articles - Page 2 - Wrestling Forum : WWE, TNA, Indy Wrestling, Lucha Underground, Women of Wrestling Forums

LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
post #11 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 02:47 PM
Playing Backstage Politics
JoseBxNYC's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Bronx, NY
Posts: 14,223
Points: 342
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Am I the only one who thinks this is a waste of space?
JoseBxNYC is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #12 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 02:48 PM
Wheelman for James Ellsworth
Enigma_V1's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Missouri
Posts: 602
Points: 0
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

^^^ Yes it is

"What I can do Hogan, is take a living, breathing icon & beat him & batter him & leave him a bloody shell of a man." -The Undertaker
Enigma_V1 is offline  
post #13 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 02:57 PM
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
kicky_crowbar's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Sunderland, England
Posts: 278
Points: 0
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

excellent read that mate, you have any more to put up
kicky_crowbar is offline  
post #14 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-15-2008, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 444
Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Feb 1st, 1988

-- The Royal Rumble: Dave says it wasn't really better or worse than the Bunkhouse Stampede. Dave says the production values for the show were a step down from normal simply because they couldn't post-produce and add in crowd noise and reactions. He says there were too many replays on the show and it looked like it may have dragged a lot for anyone who attended live, although he admits he has yet to speak to anyone who was there live for the Hamilton show. The show happened before a sellout crowd of 18,000.

Ricky Steamboat downed Rick Rude via DQ in 17:00: Dave feels this should have been better if the plan was to set up a feud. Rude showed very little. Lack of heat for the first 15:00, considering both guys are headliners. Lots of resting and stalling, although the nearfalls toward the end got good heat. Rude pulled the ref in front of him when Steamboat tried to do the flying bodypress. Rude then put Steamboat in the backbreaker and the ref called for the bell. Rude thought he won, but had been DQ'd. **

The Jumping Bomb Angels captured the WWF women's tag team title from the Glamour Girls winning two of three falls: Judy Martin pinned Itsuki Yamazaki at the first fall in 7:00 with the Devil Masami suplex. Second fall saw Yamazaki pin Martin with a sunset flip in 3:00. Finish saw Noriyo Tateno pin Martin after both girls hit her simultaneously with dropkicks off the top ropes in 5:00. Good match, but not great at all. "Tateno doesn't even look like the same girl who came to the U.S. about 10 weeks ago. Actually both the Japanese girls were missing moves and appeared physically to look out of shape. All the Japanese girls (well, except for Dump Matsumoto of course) are noted for their incredible fitness level, but Tateno looks like she's been training with Buddy Rose as of late." ***

The Royal Rumble lasted 33:00 before Jim Duggan ducked a One Man Gang charge and Gang flew over the top leaving Hacksaw as the winner: Much better than anticipated and at least as good as the Bunkhouse Stampede. The camera work was great, and it was fun to watch. Dave says he loves watching guys run to the ring, because you can see who does real training, as opposed to weightlighting and needlepoint, by seeing how they run. He also felt you could tell by the order of entry how the promotion feels about the workrate of everyone involved. Bret Hart and Tito Santana were the best and opened the match, and Jake Roberts, Harley Race and Sam Houston were also in early, with "Anabolic Warrior", "Junkfood Dog", Ron Bass and Hillbilly Jim coming in late. "Gang, who most respect as a good worker for a slob, was in next to last." Junkfood was last, and got thrown out in 90 seconds. Dave wishes the faces and heels would have fought among themselves, but that can be excused for the WWF. "Dusty's thing was supposed to be $500,000 winner-take-all and Dusty and Animal on interviews talked about 'no friends' and the like yet they were constantly helping each other out. I know, who cares." ***1/2

The Islanders downed "the Barbie Dolls" in two straight falls: Both falls went around 7:00. "I actually saw a submission hold that worked on 'pushed' guys in the U.S. when Haku made Roma submit to a half Boston crab. I got so confused I went out for Oriental food afterwards. The Islanders are a good team because they carried this match from start-to-finish and it was basically good action." **1/2

The show also had the Hogan/Andre contract signing, which was well done, and Andre's back is said to be feeling better these days. "Every time I watch Hogan I marvel at the fact that people really eat him up." Dave thinks Vince could get Lee Harvey Oswald over as a babyface, although he couldn't do it for Mr. T or the Honky Tonk Man. He loves the Honky Tonk Man and Peggy Sue. Dino Bravo also attempted to set a world bench press record. The whole idea was that Bravo's bogus 715 pounds is tons more than Crockett's monsters will be doing on 01/30 if they plan on using legit weights, which was the plan at one time. Now, they almost have to gimmick it, because Warlord is the only guy who might have a shot at doing 600 lbs legit.

-- According to the newspapers, Wrestlemania IV will be in Atlantic City, NJ, from the 16,000-seat Convention Center. Dave says he was surprised by this because he had heard that Vince was close to finishing a deal for Mania in Las Vegas for either the UNLV gym or Caesar's Palace. The plan is for the show to not be pushed all the heavily as a closed-circuit event, and more as a PPV event, but because so many people still aren't able to get PPV, he thinks the closed-circuit turnout will still be strong. Tickets will go on sale on 01/30. The best 2,000 seats will be freebies given to casino high-rollers.

-- The Get Well Matilda write-in is the WWF's way of building up a mailing list for its merchandise catalog

-- Dave gives Vince HUGE credit for this: Survivor Series had no chance of selling out, but Vince wanted the PPV audience to see a full house. So he gave thousands of tickets to Kiwanis clubs and Lions clubs to give to kids, and got lots of goodwill in the town fo rthe gesture.

-- "Coliseum Video is coming out with a Best of George Steel tape and also WWF's Most Embarrassing Moments. Are you sure that isn't the same tape?"

-- Dave says everyone is asking him to predict the finish of Hogan/Andre so here's his guess, because he doesn't know the finish: "DiBiase will interfere and Andre will pin Hogan on 2/5; however, Jack Tunney will prove he can't be bought and hold the title up so Ted doesn't get the title, and order a rematch in a cage at WM4 so Ted can't interfere (and also so Andre can lose without doing a job). Hulk will win on a fluke, and they'll run Hulk vs Andre over the summer in your local cities after the Hulk gets back from playing Hulk Hogan in the movies."

-- They are back to trying to run a schedule of C team shows

-- 1/17 at the Meadowlands drew 7,500 headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man; 1/18 in Hartford drew 7,500 headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man in a cage; 1/23 at the Capital Centre drew 8,000 headlined by a Bunkhouse Stampede won by Don Muraco

-- There was this quote about Hogan in Detroit News: "He's nicer than Kirk Gibson, but not by much." Gibson has the rep of being a total asshole dealing with fans, especially kids.

-- Billy Jack Haynes has missed several matches due to health problems. He has an irregular heartbeat which is under control with medication, but he hasn't been consistently taking his medication.

-- Dave expects a big week of TV with sweeps coming up

-- The Bunkhouse Stampede: Dave says the card was about what you would have expected, and he says he's gotten a lot of negative feedback from people who were in attendance. He says as a pay-per-view production it was better than Starrcade, although the opening match was completely inexcusable and they should have explained all the wrestlers not appearing. Dave says they hyped Sting vs Mike Rotunda on TBS up to a half hour before the show started, and then just didn't do the match. Also, the show was advertised to start at 7:00, the tickets stated the show started at 8:00, and the show actually started at 6:35, so if you arrived at 8:00, you missed most of the show, and it was over by 9:00. Fans were chanting "Refund, refund" during the live show, and the crowd booed when Dusty Rhodes won the Bunkhouse Stampede. He still thinks the show could have worked with the right undercard, or at least some other changes to the show. There were also quite a few complaints about the camera work, specifically that they missed too much action. It's estimated that less than 7,000 fans were there.

Dark match was Sting & Jimmy Garvin vs The Sheepherders, which was called "decent".

Nikita Koloff went to a 20:00 draw with Bobby Eaton to retain the NWA TV title: "To say Nikita did nothing would be giving him more of a compliment than he deserves." Eaton took a few great bumps, but mostly held onto the hammerlock until the last 30 seconds or so when they had a slugfest. Stan Lane showed up after the match and they doubleteamed Nikita for a few seconds. Calls the match a candidate for worst match of the year, at -**.

Larry Zbyszko pinned Barry Windham in 19:16 to win the Western States title: The match was built around Zbyszko working on Barry's "injured knee" from the TBS match with Tully Blanchard that aired over the weekend, and the last 10 minutes were excellent. Dave says Windham is fantastic at selling with his glassy-eyed routine. It was a good finish. ***1/2

Road Warrior Hawk beat Ric Flair via DQ in 21:39 with Flair retaining the NWA World title: Hawk did little early since this was going to be the longest singles match of his career. The heat really built when Flair was on the attack and Hawk sold his knee injury very well. Dave says while Flair's routine was predictable in some ways, there were some differences compared to his usual matches against muscle guys. He'd call it an excellent match outside the finish. There was a ref bump and then Flair was posted and juiced, and Hawk gave him a great superplex. The ref was knocked out for nearly 3 minutes and as Hawk had Flair pinned, JJ Dillon hit him with a chair and he didn't sell. Then Flair hit Hawk with the chair and Hawk kicked out before two, which Dave says was a mess up on Hawk's timing. Hawk then no-selled a Flair suplex, and Flair hit Hawk with a chair again, which the ref saw this time. ***3/4, which Dave would have given **** or more without the weak climax.

Dusty Rhodes won the Bunkhouse Stampede finals in 26:21: Lots of blood, and it was as good as it could be. Brutal and bloody, and delivered on what was promised. Ivan Koloff was excellent and was the first guy out at 16:42, Animal and Warlord went together at 18:00, Arn/Tully/Luger went at 22:36, which left Dusty with the Barbarian. Dave says he's not a Luger fan, but Luger should have won this, and the fans started losing interest once he was eliminated. ***

-- Dave says he's tired of repeating the same points over and over about the NWA's problems, although he admits that to their credit, they are fairly responsive to fans and he expects a major improvement in television in February with sweeps coming up. Dave also thinks the announcing is much better, and that at Starrcade, Jim Ross overstated every match too much, trying to get all of them over as a classic, and he didn't do that so much here.

-- The plan is to start showing the finishes of matches the following week if they go off the air before the match ends.

-- All the no-shows aren't exclusive to the Bunkhouse Stampede. They had a horrible card in Los Angeles on 01/21 with eight wrestlers not showing up. Most of the no-shows were due to wrestlers being pulled because of the costs of flights. Dave says all the no-shows can't always be blamed on the promotion, but fans do deserve explanation when someone isn't there who is advertised to be there.

-- The lack of correlation with start times on shows is also not exclusive to Bunkhouse Stampede. There was a show in St. Louis on 01/17 that started more than an hour late because the wrestlers were late coming from Charleston, WV.

-- Dave says it wasn't a good week for them, because they hurt themselves in both New York and Los Angeles. He does think changes are coming, but they may be coming too slowly.

-- TV ratings are up and the shows have gotten better.

-- A key difference between the NWA and the WWF is that for WWF shows, fans come to see the stars, and for NWA shows, fans come to see the action. Dave says the NWA has great wrestlers, but the schedule is killing them, and doing cross-country double shots on weekends and making for bad cards. He says they need new talent in the worst way. In recent weeks, they lost Terry Taylor simply because they had a vendetta against him for leaving in 1985 and decided to take it out on him now. They lost Bubba Rogers, who had a great gimmick and had become good in the ring. The Rock & Roll Express quit because they were unhappy about their push, although Dave thinks they've been on borrowed time for the last 9 months or so. The odds of Steve Williams returning are "less than 50/50 for reasons that anyone who has followed the plight of the UWF can understand." Sean Royal has also quit, and Chris Champion, Brad Armstrong and Eddie Gilbert have disappeared. There are other wrestlers who also want to get out.

-- Dave really thinks Ric Flair should be turned babyface, because he's the top heel and is more popular than anyone in the promotion despite being a great heel. But he says it can't be done right now because of the Luger turn and that they don't have another heel anywhere near capable of carrying the top spot. He also thinks Dusty Rhodes should turn heel and feud with the Road Warriors, but knows that will never happen. The treatment of Flair is an old issue, but he doesn't know when they'll realize the reason they can't draw with Flair as heel champ anymore is because they've killed his credibility.

-- Dave says he can't call himself a WWF fan, he does watch their TV show and has worlds of respect for what they've done in improving the business. He thinks they're only going to get better over the next two years, and deserve to be congratulated for being such a success. But he still insists the NWA's problems have nothing to do with the WWF's success, at least for the most part. He says yes, the WWF doesn't help by counterprogramming their PPVs and locking them out of major arenas around the country, and they do put paranoia about losing wrestlers in the NWA, which does lead to Dusty pushing himself more because he knows Vince won't steal him.

-- Regarding Dusty, Dave says he knows that it's hard to step down from the spotlight, because Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantel, Muhammad Ali, Johnny Unitas and Antonio Inoki also couldn't do it. Dave says what happened to Larry Holmes on Friday night is an example of something that any sports or pop culture figure has to face at some point. He says because wrestling is a work, Father Time isn't brutal in the same ways, but in some ways it can be even more cruel because fans turnover so much faster than in sports, and "yesterday's legend, especially a regional one --- well, I'm going to stop here because I'm writing once again what I didn't want to get into this week."

-- The Crockett Cup will take place in April. The site will be announced in a few weeks. Dave says while it sounds markish to suggest it, Crockett really needs to establish a working relationship with a few other territories for this tournament, because their talent roster is so thin, especially now compared to the same time frame the year before.

-- Correction to previous story -- Starrcade did a 3.3 buyrate (20,000 of 600,000 potential homes), not a 6.6 buyrate. It was reported that the Bunkhouse Stampede cleared 6 million shows, but Dave doesn't buy that. He doesn't think the show did anywhere near a 3.0 buyrate, although the last minute hype was pretty good.

-- 1/17 in St. Louis drew 5,900 and a $50,000 gate headlined by Ric Flair vs Michael Hayes in a cage match; 1/14 in Norfolk, VA drew 4,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes in a cage match; 1/20 in Honolulu, HI drew a near sellout 7,200 headlined by Ric Flair vs Nikita Koloff; 1/21 in Los Angeles drew 3,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Michael Hayes; 1/23 in Cincinnati, OH drew 3,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting

-- Michael Hayes has quit and is expected to return to World Class

-- "There are personal reasons why Nikita's matches have been so bad as of late as his head isn't into them. He may be taking a sabbatical shortly. Please don't jump to the conclusion this is drug related, in fact it's nothing he has any control over"

-- If Steve Williams doesn't return, the UWF title will be forgotten and no unification match will take place

-- Dave says he saw the the Windham/Blanchard match mentioned last week and really liked it, but it was obvious based on crowd reaction that fans didn't. He wants to talk more next week about the value of doing 30-minute matches that "tell a story" for today's audience.

-- 2/6 in Charlotte headlined by Luger & Windham vs Flair & Arn is being advertised as the first time Flair and Luger have ever opposed each other anyway. Dave says he's not surprised they forgot Luger's Florida days, but just four days earlier, on 2/2 in Miami, they have Flair & Blanchard vs Dusty & Luger as the main event.

-- Rick Steiner will be back shortly as part of Kevin Sullivan's Varsity Club

-- The NWA will return to Houston in March

-- Road Warrior Hawk's interviews have been killer lately. He had a neo-Nazi line in a recent promo, but was just quoting The Breakfast Club. He also had this zinger: "The difference between me and you, Ric Flair, is that if we had a bet for $1,000 and I lost, I wouldn't pay it."

-- To clarify what was reported the week before, The Gilberts coming in are Doug and Tommy, and Eddie is still with JCP.

-- The 1/18 Hennig vs Lawler match saw Larry Hennig come to the ring with Curt. Before the match, Curt said that if he beat Lawler (Lawler's $10,000 ring was at stake against the AWA title), he would give his dad the ring as a present. The finish saw Larry give Lawler the axe before Curt pinned him. However, when Larry was given the ring, Lawler stole it back from him.

-- 1/27 will have Lawler & Dundee vs The Rockers, who are calling Lawler and Dundee "The Over The Hill Gang" on TV.

-- 1/23 in Jonesboro, AR, was said to have a great main event, Lawler vs Terry Taylor at ***1/2 with tons of strong nearfalls.

-- Prelim wrestler Jerry Bryant was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at 37 years old.

-- The latest taping on 01/24 drew 630 fans for Bruiser Brody.

-- Austin Idol tried to hold them up for more money recently, which is why he's suspended in the storyline.

-- The lighting at the first taping was pretty bad, and the sound at the second taping was pretty bad, but Dave is told they've worked these problems out now and fans are really enjoying the shows.

-- When Condrey and Rose were AWA tag champs, they were scheduled to do a show, but Condrey didn't appear. Comrade Busich subbed for him, so Paul E. Dangerously grabbed the mic and said "Ladies and Gentelemen, Ravishing Randy and Comrade Busich, the substitute Original Midnight Express."

-- This group deserves high marks for taking a terrible live show on 1/22 in Davie, FL, and sweetening it so much with strong post-production that it aired as a polished and flashy TV a few days later. It was a crowd of 550, half of which were kids who were admitted for free, so they drew a $2,000 gate. It started 30 minutes late, there were long delays between matches, and the ring mic didn't work, so the fans didn't know the wrestlers' names.

-- Dave says the group doesn't have much talent, but they are great at putting together a TV show, equal to WCCW and superior to the NWA and AWA.

-- Ranger Ross showed up on 1/11 billed as the Alabama champion. He beat Moondog Spot in a fictitious match. He already appears to be gone, though.

-- On TV, they had a bench press contest between Lord Humongous and Doug Furnas. They used gimmicked weights, and Humongous did 645 lbs. Furnas then did the same amount twice before Humongous pushed the bar down on his chest and injured his ribs. Their matches are pathetic.

-- 1/18 in Birmingham drew 500.

-- They are bringing in a wrestling bear for the 1/25 card, which Dave thinks is desperation.

-- Charlie Platt is co-announcing with Gordon Solie, which is an addition for the better

-- Dave needs a new tape supplier for Continental

-- Paul E. Dangerously may be coming back as the manager of Curt Hennig

-- The Hood is Jeff Gaylord

-- The Fantastics vs John Tatum & Jack Victory matches have been really good. Overall, TV has been strong lately, although still not as good as Stampede or the WWF.

-- Shows continue to draw near sellouts. 1/9 in Edmonton drew 1,200 in a 1,300-seat building. Standout matches from the show were a Garfield Portz vs Brian Pillman bloodbath at ***3/4; Chris Benoit vs Great Gama at **** and Jason the Terrible vs Makhan Singh at ***. 1/15 in Calgary drew 1,500. 1/23 in Edmonton drew 1,250. Ratings by Trent Walters.

-- Bad News Allen was out of action this week because he was on tour with Antonio Inoki in Italy for some cards run by Dominic Denucci. He's scheduled for WWF TV tapings in the coming week, but is scheduled to be back in Stampede for 1/29 and 1/30 cards. He will continue working weekends until he goes full time with the WWF.

-- Dave says "Rip Rogers' queer act has been done too many times in this territory to make it and his work is below par"

-- Jason is now an honorary member of Bad Company (Brian Pillman & Bruce Hart), which Dave thinks is hilarious because he's wearing two masks, the white outpatient uniform, a bandana around his head, and a black laeather jacket.

-- Bad News and Jason were both fined for brawling outside the ring and injuring fans.

-- Leo Burke will be in during early February, and Owen Hart returns in the middle of the month

-- Keichi Yamada is scheduled to be back in March or April

-- Mike George won the WWA World Title tournament before a crowd of 800 fans in Kansas City on 01/23. The tag titles are still held up. 1/15 in St. Joseph drew 608 fans.

-- Keiji Muto is headed in.

-- Konga the Barbarian will be on the next tour, which could be weird if Crockett shoots a big angle at the weight lifting challenge on 01/30 and Barbarian has to leave 3 weeks later.

-- Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura won the IWGP tag titles from Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Kazuo Yamazaki on 01/18 in Tokuyama. Originally, they were going to defend against Choshu & Super Strong Machine, but Choshu injured his knee earlier in the week and had to miss the match. Choshu has really bad luck, because he was probably supposed to win.

-- 1/11 TV was headlined by Inoki & Takada vs Williams & Hart, which was excellent. Choshu vs Sawyer was also good, but Choshu seemed uninterested.

-- Wrestling has been awesome lately, but crowds have been lower than ever: 2,100 on 1/5, 1,620 on 1/6, 1,430 on 1/7, 1,760 on 1/9, 1,430 on 1/10, which shows how much the 12/27 show killed business. The 12/27 TV show drew a great 11.0 rating, but the following week, they were in the 8.0 range again.

-- Dave still can't believe they've phased Choshu down so much. He lost steam from the Maeda incident and the whole 12/27 fiasco, which hurt everyone.

-- Vader has been given the biggest TV push of any foreigner in recent memory, including Hansen and Brody, but still gets no heat.

-- The Owen Hart/Hiroshi Hase match on 01/04 was ***1/2, but still disappointing. Several of Hase's amateur wrestling friends were there and Owen also has a great amateur background, so they wrestled on the mat freestyle for six or seven minutes. Even though it turned into a good match, and Hase's Northern Lights suplex is the best move in wrestling, Owen showed his lack of experience after not recovering from missed moves. Meltzer predicts Hase will win Best Technical Wrestler next year once more people see him.

-- Steve Williams was scheduled to leave on 01/20 so he could work the Bunkhouse Stampede, but he sent word that he wasn't coming back and plans to work exclusively in Japan. He was unhappy about his contract with Crockett, and he realizes he can make a good income only working 16 weeks a year in Japan. Still, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see him go to the WWF, since he's close to Duggan and DiBiase.

-- Good news for Inoki. They're moving TV to Fuji TV on Saturday afternoons, which isn't a great timeslot, but is much better than the one they would have had otherwise.

-- Rumors abound that Inoki will face Koji Kitao at the Tokyo Dome in a mixed match in April. If it takes place, it would draw a huge crowd. Kitao denies the story, but Dave is told the match would easily draw a $1 million gate if it happened.

-- The next series will be from 02/20 to 03/11 and will include Stan Hansen, Terry Gordy, Joel Deaton, Joe & Dean Malenko and Rocky Iaukea Jr.

-- There will be a big "Martial Arts Olympic" show on 4/2 at the Sumo Hall in memory of Ikki Kajiwara, the creator of the Tiger Mask comic strip and cartoon. The show will have wrestling from both AJPW and JWP, boxing and shoot boxing.

-- Nippon announced that when baseball season starts, they're moving All Japan TV to 10:30-11:30pm on Sundays. Baba always loses his Saturday night primetime slot when baseball begins, but is usually moved to Saturday afternoons.

-- Baba recently turned 50 and stated he has no plans to retire.

-- Buddy Landell is looking good on tour, but not getting pushed. He even went to a draw with rookie Akira Taue. Dave is unsure about Taue's future although Baba is high on him.

-- Dave finally saw the Hennig/Tiger Mask match. It wasn't horrible, but there was no heat and little action, and the AWA title is pretty much dead as a touring title now.

-- Yukari Omori's retirement ceremony will happen on 02/15. She had already announced that if she couldn't beat Chigusa Nagayo on 01/15 that she would retire.

-- Due to all the retirements, Pairatu Kuma and Drill Driver will be the new masked top heel team, while Bull Nakano will replace Dump Matsumoto as the top heel. Yumiko Hotta and Mitsuko Nishiwaki will be pushed as a new tag team.

-- Thanks to Justice B. Hill of Detroit News for writing nice things about the Observer in the 1/17 issue

-- A reader told Dave he was being offensive by using the term "abortion" to describe a bad match. Dave said this is an industry term, but there are other industry terms that are offensive to minorities that he doesn't use, so he'll stop using it going forward.
tlk23 is offline  
post #15 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-15-2008, 04:51 PM
Wheelman for James Ellsworth
Vilak's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: nimes
Posts: 865
Points: 0
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Great topic! Thank you.
More please, it's so interesting!
Vilak is offline  
post #16 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-29-2008, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 444
Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Feb 8th, 1988

-- "The biggest news story in this business in probably the last few decades is the pro wrestling war and Vince McMahon's rise to prominence. The wrestling war, which began in November 1983 when Titan Sports signed Hulk Hogan and Gene Okerlund away from the AWA, is for all real purposes, over. No, the business competition is still there between Titan and the other promotions, particularly JCP. And the two groups will continue to attempt to play little mind games with each other. But whether or not JCP can make a small recovery, or even a full recovery from its recent troubles, and even pop big houses again, the gap between Titan and Crockett is only going to expand."

-- Dave says it's a busy news week, but he feels the biggest news story of the week hasn't gotten much attention. The WWF announced plans for several pay-per-views: Wrestlemania IV on March 27, an unnamed PPV on August 29, "Survivor Series II" on November 24 and "Royal Rumble II" on January 15, 1989. "On the surface it sounds harmless enough, but its effect on JCP is enormous." Crockett planned originally to do the Crockett Cup on PPV in early April, one of the Great American Bash shows in July, and was going to have Starrcade on November 24. But the WWF has a 60 days before and 21 days after clause in their PPV contracts. Survivor Series was a big success and Wrestlemania IV is expected to break Wrestlemania III's record and be the biggest grossing event in the history of PPV, and the WWF's monopoly prevents Crockett from effectively breaking into the market.

-- "The long-term impact of PPV is such that eventually, like boxing, it will turn the live gate into an insignificant part of the overall business." (My note: Wow! He called that one.) He says it's not an unreasonable prediction to say that Wrestlemania IV will be a bigger money than any other promotion will likely make in the entire 1988 calendar year. He doesn't expect the NWA to die as a result, but says the competition aspect means nothing now.

-- Crockett plans on countering this by moving several of its big shows to prime time specials on TBS, and has plans of having four prime-time specials this year. And unlike the previous year's Superbouts on the Superstation, which was a huge flop, these will be major cards either shown live or only slightly delayed.


-- The Royal Rumble drew an 8.2 rating and a 12 share, airing in 3.2 million homes. About twice as many people watched the show as would watch TBS when Georgia Championship Wrestling was hot a few years prior. The Rumble was the highest-rated show in the history of the USA Network, and the repeat drew a strong 4.8 rating in the Prime Time Wrestling spot on Monday nights when they normally average a 2.9 in that time slot. The repeat showing was probably the #2-rated show on cable television during last week.

-- Wrestlemania IV has already sold out Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. 14,000 seats went on sale at prices of $150, $100, $50 and $25 and all but a few thousand were gone by the end of the first day. Because of the ticket prices, this show may actually pull a higher gate than Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome, which had a $1.6 million gate with lower ticket prices. When you add in the fees Vince is likely charging the casino to do the show, it could exceed $1 million easily. Trump Plaza is promoting it hard and using it as a way to bring families into casinos. (My note: Ha!) A concert from Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine will be taking place adjacent to the convention center ballroom, and the WWF estimate is that the show will be available in 9 million homes. "If it gets over as good as last year's, and there is no reason to believe it won't do as good or better, then you are talking about $15 million plus on PPV alone, not to mention $1 million live and probably $4-5 million on closed-circuit locations."

-- The Saturday World Championship Wrestling ratings were way down in the fourth quarter of 1987. It had been the second highest rated program on cable TV and fell to No. 8 with an average 2.9 rating. WWF All American Wrestling was actually doing better ratings at this point, averaging a 3.1 and coming in at 7th place. Prime Time Wrestling fell from No. 3 to No. 10 with a 2.9 average, and the Sunday show on TBS fell from No. 10 to No. 20 with a 2.4 rating. The AWA show on ESPN has fallen completely out of the top 20. Some of the decline is attributed to "people-meters", which is a new method of measuring ratings. Shows that appeal to women tend to do better than normal, so it was expected the switch would cause a delcline. Most wrestling shows dropped 10% in the fourth quarter, but it may not mean anything significant. The Saturday TBS show started picking up toward the end of the year, and they're continuing in that direction lately by doing more arena tapings.

-- Jake Roberts is on the cover of this month's Ellery Queen mystery magazine, and Muscular Development magazine has a story on Jesse Ventura, which Dave says is excellent but is more about his life and training philosophies.

-- The British Bulldogs had no-showed a few times. Dynamite Kid has been missing several dates over the past week. "One of them" collapsed at the airport and the other went to the hospital with him, but no word on if it's anything major or not.

-- Billy Jack Haynes, who has missed pretty much all of his bookings lately, is in bad health, to a point where most think his wrestling career is about to end.

-- Bam Bam Bigelow has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery and there is no word on when he'll be back. Dave says wrestlers have been telling him for a long time that Bigelow working like he does at his size was eventually going to catch up to him.

-- There were so many no-shows on a recent Cow Palace show, which drew 8,000 and a $93,000 gate, that the athletic commission ordered the WWF to offer refunds to anyone who wanted them by the end of the second match. This was just a few days after the California state assembly voted 60-7 to reclassify pro wrestling as entertainment instead of sport, but the bill had not yet passed the state Senate. Wrestlers will no longer need a license to work in California, which was a joke anyway, as Dave got a listing of everyone not long ago who was licensed in California, and Hulk Hogan and Ricky Steamboat were nowhere to be found.

-- Something happened recently at a house show where a wrestler (Dave didn't say who) who wasn't supposed to be able to speak English was stalling outside the ring for most of a match. A fan shouted, "Get in the ring you lazy bum" and the wrestler responded, "What do you think this is, the NWA?"

-- The Royal Rumble show in Hamilton actually drew 16,200 fans, but around 10,000 of the tickets were tie-ins giving a free ticket to a hockey game. Live reports haven't been good regarding the show.

-- 01/25 at MSG drew a 19,750 sellout and a $236,000 house headlined by Hulk Hogan & Bam Bam Bigelow vs Ted DiBiase & Virgil. The 02/22 card is expected to be headlined by DiBiase vs Bigelow. 01/30 in Baltimore drew 5,500 headlined by Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine vs Randy Savage & Brutus Beefcake. 01/15 in Los Angeles drew 10,000+ headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man in a cage match. 01/21 in Winnipeg drew 2,500 headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man. 01/22 in Rochester, NY, drew 3,500 headlined by a Bunkhouse Battle Royal won by Don Muraco. 01/19 in Calgary drew a sellout 8,500 headlined by Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man.

-- The 01/26 Hershey, PA TV taping drew a sellout 9,000. Standout matches were a really good Rude/Steamboat match taped for Superstars, and the main event, which was Hogan & Bigelow vs DiBiase & Andre. Because this will air after the NBC special, the commentary was not done live for this taping, and will instead be done in studio later in the week.

-- The WWF will decide on exactly which finish they're going with in Hogan/Andre as soon as they know the shooting schedule of No Holds Barred. If he's available on weekends, he will be champion over summer. If he won't be available at all for several months, expect DiBiase to get the title.


-- Figures aren't in yet for the Bunkhouse Stampede, but even if it was profitable, the reaction was so overwhelmingly negative that no good could have come from it. Preliminary figures have a buyrate of 4.0, which if true, proves that JCP could be profitable on pay-per-view. Dave considers this somewhat encouraging, just because the line-up was weak and it wasn't really a hot show. Dave says the announcers deserve tons of credit for doing such a great job with the last-minute hard sell, as PPV and closed circuit is typically 90% of last minute sales.

-- The Rock & Roll Express were fired. In Cincinnati, they were asked to do a clean job in a 12-minute match against Ivan Koloff & Warlord. They were pissed about it, because they had been a big attraction for the NWA for years, and Ivan had become a prelim guy. Instead, they ended up doing the job in seconds when Morton basically just laid down. Dusty wasn't at the show, but got word after the Rock & Rolls had flown to New York for the Bunkhouse Stampede, and then fired them. There are rumors of them going to the WWF, but most people think Vince will never give them a chance because of their size. They were also asked to do an angle where the Sheepherders would shave Ricky Morton's head bald and refused. A Charlotte newspaper reported that the Rock & Roll Express had left, and the NWA received quite a few calls about it. It appears they'll be working for Jerry Blackwell's group in Georgia now, at least until they can land somewhere full time, which Dave doesn't think will be easy. "I supposed Vince could always bring in Ricky Morton to do lead vocals on Wrestling Album III for his classic 'Boogie Woogie Dance Hall'".

-- Michael Hayes was fired "due to an incident in the middle of last week." Ron Garvin will take his place in tag matches against Jimmy Garvin, and Sting will get a bigger push and take his place in title matches on house shows against Ric Flair. It's expected that Hayes will end up back in WCCW, although he wants to go to the WWF.

-- Steve Williams ended up spending an extra week in Japan and missed the Bunkhouse Stampede. He had a dispute with Crockett over whether income from Japanese tours is part of his NWA annual salary. Dave says as best as he can tell, Doc has disconnected his phone line and they are not talking, although they hope he'll come back. They are no longer mentioning his name on TV, so they're not counting on it.

-- The general feeling is that all the firings are because Crockett is having money problems, not because wrestlers are having disciplinary problems. With Hayes, Dave is now hearing that he and Crockett agreed to come to terms on his contract a long time ago (two years at $150,000 per year) but Crockett never actually signed it. Hayes pressured him to sign it, because he wasn't making money, and he ended up getting fired for missing Cincinnati on 01/23. Had Hayes signed the contract, Crockett would have been required to promote his album on TV in exchange for a cut of the sales.

-- They are showing life at the gate. The bench press contest in Greensboro on 01/30 drew 10,000+, and they did actually use legit weights, with all four doing 460 lbs with no problem. Paul Ellering then grabbed the house mic and said to cut the garbage and increase to 600 lbs. Animal was to go first, and they threw chalk in his eyes and did a really hardcore attack angle. He juiced and was carried out on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital.

-- Barry Windham and Lex Luger are being pushed as a tag team and Flair is going to continue feuding with Sting.

-- The actual gate for the Bunkhouse Stampede was $60,000 which means paid attendance was around 5,000, which is pretty bad for that market, especially since their first show there did a $150,000 gate.

-- Clarification from last week: "The line Road Warrior Hawk has been spouting off isn't Neo Nazi Zoom Dweebies, but 'Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebies."

-- "Eddie Gilbert is still working here, but it appears they are trying to keep that a secret."

-- JCP has started doing local promos to hype house shows again, which Dave thinks is a step in the right direction.

-- The Mighty Wilbur will be back in March (My note: !)

-- Everyone who lives in Dallas has been asked to move to Charlotte, but Dusty Rhodes, JJ Dillon and Jim Crockett are still expected to be moving during summer. They are expected to keep two offices open -- one in Charlotte where talent mostly lives, and one in Dallas for TV production.

-- Tiger Conway Jr & Shaska Whatley will team in the Crockett Cup.

-- Mike Rotunda won the TV title on 01/26 in Raleigh, from Nikita Koloff. Dave says the Varsity Club angle has been fun, but he doesn't think Rotunda will get over with the title. He gave Rick Steiner the Florida title, which Dave found interesting, since Dusty had just done a promo on TV about how this is the NWA and you don't buy belts in the NWA.

-- 01/29 in Pittsburgh drew 6,500 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting. 01/23 in Philadelphia drew 7,214 paid and a $103,416 gate. 01/14 in Fisherville, VA drew 1,200 and a $10,000 gate. 01/28 in Harrisburg, PA drew a sellout of 1,000 and a $10,000 gate headlined by Barry Windham & Ron Garvin vs The Sheepherders. The Rock & Roll Express no-showed. There were signs on the door announcing they wouldn't be there, and when the ring announcer said it, the crowd cheered.

-- The past week's World Wide Wrestling aired two sets of commentary at the same time overlapping each other, so the show was all jibberish.

-- They are setting up Dusty Rhodes vs Larry Zbyskzo US title matches. Baby Doll is blackmailing Dusty with secret photos to get a title match on her terms.

-- Misty Blue is in to be part of some house show matches in 8-man tags featuring Jim Cornette.

-- Dick Murdoch is leaving for Japan again, which saddens Dave because he was one of the few non-stale, entertaining guys they had anymore.

-- They did an angle recently where it was Ric Flair Night in Raleigh, NC. Sting beat up JJ Dillon after a Horsemen celebration over Ric Flair winning Wrestler of the Year. On the same show, Barry Windham subbed for Hayes and lost to Flair, and Lex Luger & Ricky Santana beat Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard.


-- Kelly Kiniski has been fired, and they have pretty much no heels left.

-- Tom Zenk is signed to face Billy Robinson on the 02/04 show at the Minneapolis Auditorium, the last show at the arena before it is torn down, and Dave is surprised by that match, because independent promotions won't use Robinson because of his rep of shooting, and that he could easily show Zenk up/

-- Baron Von Raschke and the Nasty Boys are now full-time. Steve DiSalvo is splitting time between the AWA and Calgary.

-- Adrian Adonis suffered a broken ankle during the Minot, ND, TV tapings. There was a hole in the ring and Adonis stepped into it during an Irish whip spot. This also caused him to miss his scheduled New Japan tour, and he's not expected back for at least two months.

-- Kevin Kelly and Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey got into a fight while taping a promo that started as a work before tempers started flaring and they were really fighting. Kaissey was beaten to a pulp.

-- An AWA album will be coming out soon, featuring Greg Gagne, Baron Von Raschke, Wahoo McDaniel, Jerry Blackwell, Tommy Rich, Dick Slater, Jerry Lawler, Jeff Jarrett, the Midnight Rockers and Tom Zenk. The album is being recorded in Atlanta. Blackwell, Rich and Slater were there because the Gagnes helped them get an insurance break for their new promotion. Lawler and Jarrett were there because there is planned to be more talent swapping between both territories in the future. In fact, Curt Hennig is scheduled to work a heavy schedule for CWA because the AWA is no longer running a full schedule.


-- 01/22 in Calgary drew 1,300, which is slightly below their average as of late, but still really strong considering the WWF's recent sellout in Calgary just three days before this show. The main event was Makhan Singh & Rip Rogers vs Jason the Moffat & Chris Benoit. The finish was Rogers putting Benoit in a Boston crab-like hold and the ref calling for the bell right away. (My note: Whaa?)

-- The pregnant woman Bad News Allen hit while brawling in the crowd recently suffered a concussion. He was fined $200.

-- Terry Taylor is already gone, and headed to World Class.

-- Billy Travis is out with an injury from Darryl Peterson landing on him wrong.

-- They are billing Peterson as a Larry Sharpe protege that has come to get revenge on Lawler for how Lawler made Bigelow turn on Sharpe. They did an angle on TV where Peterson tossed Lawler over the table, which looked so bad that the studio audience booed it.

-- The mink coat tournament drew 8,000 fans on 01/23. (My note: 8,000 fans for Continental??) The tournament final saw Bob Armstrong beat Tony Anthony to win the coat. Dave is amazed by the crowd size. It's the biggest crowd any non-NWA/WWF promotion has drawn in about 8 months in North America, and it happened on a card without Doug Furnas, who Dave credited for the recent big crowds in Knoxville. Knoxville is a huge town for them right now, but the Alabama towns just aren't drawing. Birmingham crowds are usually around 350, and Montgomery crowds are around 150.

-- Hector Guerrero, the Rock & Roll RPM's, the Mongolian Stomper, Ron Wright and Buddy Landell are coming in.

-- Ron Fuller will take over Knoxville effective 02/14 and it will be called USA Championship Wrestling. They are promoting Terry Gordy on the show.

-- Dave still needs a tape supplier.

-- WCCW recently drew only 80 people to a house show in Houston headlined by Kevin & Kerry Von Erich, The Fantastics & Chris Adams vs Buddy Roberts, Angel of Death, The Real Thing, John Tatum & Jack Victory in a Thunderdome match. 80 people!

-- Crowds in Dallas have picked up to 2,500 for the Thunderdome matches, but remain at 300 in Fort Worth.

-- Terry Gordy is getting his knee scoped in the coming week.


-- Antonio Inoki has announced a late July show called "Martial Arts Olympic" at the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome. Dave is unsure of the prices, but they have charged as much as $220 US ringside for big shows in the previous two years and sold out those shows in major indoor arenas. Inoki's matches with Leon Spinks and Masa Saito both drew gates of over $700,000, and if Inoki vs Futuhaguro (Koji Kitao) happens, it is expected to double that. The 01/29 Tokyo Sports listed Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Chris Dolman and Don Nakaya Neilsen as possible opponents. Dave thinks Futuhaguro is probably the best bet, because they have no chance with Michael Spinks or Holmes, and Inoki has already beaten Andre, Hogan and Leon Spinks. There's also that getting Hogan to job to Inoki at this stage would be impossible.

-- Inoki recently toured Italy, and headlined a show on 01/24 at the Palasport in Rome that drew 8,000 fans in a 15,000-seat basketball arena paying $16 and $30. Inoki was the big draw and got a huge reaction beating Bad News Allen in the main event. On the undercard, Shane Douglas won a 6-man battle royal and had a singles match he won against Mike Kalhua. Inoki received a $10,000 guarantee for working two dates in Italy. These were the first Western-style matches in Italy since October, when the WWF drew a crowd of 9,000 in Milan.

-- 01/22 drew 2,160. 01/27 drew 3,570 headlined by Antonio Inoki, Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka vs Buzz Sawyer, Bob Orton & Tony St. Clair.

-- The 01/11 TV show drew a 7.1 rating headlined by Antonio Inoki & Nobuhiko Takada vs Owen Hart & Steve Williams. The 01/18 TV show drew an 8.2 rating headlined by Antonio Inoki & Nobuhiko Takada vs Masa Saito & Big Van Vader. The 01/25 TV show drew a 7.2 rating with a Riki Choshu, Masa Saito & Hiroshi Hase vs Steve Williams, Buzz Sawyer & Owen Hart main event.

-- Owen Hart vs Nobuhiko Takada was a supposed strong standout on the 01/13 Takamatsu card. Owen is doing lots of jobs, but he's showing really well in popularity polls in the Japanese magazines.

-- Finals to the juniors tournament are 02/07 in Sapporo. Masakatsu Funaki is currently in 1st place with 36 points. (My note: I tried to type this all out but Dave confused the hell out of me.)

-- Genichiro Tenryu took a clean sweep of the major awards in Japan. He was named MVP of Japanese wrestling by Tokyo Sports, and received similar awards from Gong Magazine and Weekly Pro Wrestling. He nudged out Riki Choshu in Gong's popularity poll, and Choshu had been on top for several years.

-- 01/27 drew 3,100 headlined by Jumbo Tsuruta, Kabuki & Masa Fuchi vs Genichiro Tenryu, Ashura Hara & Samson Fuyuki. Buddy Landell was not on the show, but Dave is unsure the reason.

-- They are hyping a huge show for 03/09 in an 8,000-seat arena in Yokohama to be headlined by Genichiro Tenryu vs Stan Hansen in a double title match with Tenryu putting up the United National title against Hansen's PWF belt, which Dave says will no doubt end in a countout. The show will also have Jumbo Tsuruta vs Tiger Mask.

-- Baba is in the US negotiating with the Funks and David Manning about getting AJPW to air in the United States. Baba wants to send Gordy, Hansen, Brody, Abdullah, Snuka and some of his other top stars to help weaker territories fight Vince and Crockett.

-- Toshiaki Kawada and Ricky Fuyuki are being billed as "The Foot Loose" and are a hot preliminary-level tag team.

-- 02/25 in Kawasaki is being hyped pretty huge and will be headlined by Dump Matsumoto & Yukari Omori (who will be retiring that night) against the Crush GIrls.

-- TV ratings leveled off to a 6.2 on 01/10 and a 9.2 on 01/24.

-- AJW held their rookie auditions on 01/17 in Tokyo. 1,500 girls showed up and seven were picked, based on how well they did at weightlifting, dexterity drills, speed and calistenics. "I think this is one of two reasons it's ridiculous to even compare the Japanese women with any U.S. promotion. First off, only the top 1/2 of a percent in terms of athletic ability even get chosen to be trained in the first place, and then they train them like spartans from the age of 15-17 and by the time they are around 22, if they've even survived, they are better workers than virtually all the men. Then they are done away with at the age of 26, so nobody stars on past their time."

-- Keiji Muto is currently working as a manager for Mr. Pogo & Kendo Nagasaki (My note: Whaaa?)


-- Jeff Goldberg in Hatboro, PA, insists that Mike Lanzalotti's letter saying he messed up the finish to a recent Flair match in Philly was out of place, as Flair congratulated him afterwards on a job well done. He says most of the time, wrestlers screw up finishes, not the referee.

-- Chris Ranucci in Brooklyn, NY, hated the Bunkhouse Stampede. Crockett created ill will by not allowing any press who wanted in except Bill Apter and George Napolitano. He says Crockett is dumb and doesn't realize the mark mags are on his side and want to help him beat Vince McMahon, and he's alienating crowds everywhere.

-- Greg Roman in Ventor, NJ, was upset that Crockett announced that his cable company would be airing the Bunkhouse Stampede, despite them not even being open that day and having no intentions of doing so.

-- Bob Saydlowski Jr in Pittsfield, MA, thinks Antonio Inoki is as bad as Dusty Rhodes, and is also upset that Vince was not using real 2:00 time intervals for the Royal Rumble, calling it "cheating".

-- Harry White in St. Louis says Crockett has been advertising $3.00 tickets, but then when you show up, all the $3 tickets are sold out and they try to get you to buy $9 tickets. Most people turn around and go home.

-- Jeff Bowdren in Planation, FL, says Bret Hart deserves a bigger push, upset that he did jobs for Paul "I Wrestle Like I'm In A Coma" Roma and Jim "Wipe That Smile Off My Face If You Don't Like It" Powers. Even the marks can see that he has lots of ability.

-- Pat Crocker in Edwards Air Force Base, CA wants to share his dream card: El Hijo del Santo vs Negro Casas, the Crush Girls & Jumping Bomb Angels vs Dump Matsumoto, Condor Saito, Drill Nakamae & Sherri Martel, Owen Hart vs Kuniaki Kobayashi, Bad Company vs Lightning Express, Riki Choshu vs Tatsumi Fujinami, Midnight Express vs Rock & Roll Express, Bruiser Brody vs Terry Gordy, Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Steve Williams vs Dick Murdoch but only in Japan and Ric Flair vs Ted DiBiase.

-- Steve Hesske in Bowling Green, OH doesn't see what all the fuss is about regarding Japanese wrestling and thinks the wrestling is better in the US. He also thinks Vince McMahon's "Stand Back" performance at the Slammys was amazing and more people should be talking about it. (My note: Does this guy post at DVDVR now?)

-- Carl France in Englewood, Ontario, thinks Matilda's disappearance is to cover for her tour of Japan.

-- Diane Devine in Springfield, MO, thinks Ric Flair's interviews have become too raunchy and offensive, and that he talks about sex too much.

-- R.E. Valuck in Binghampton, NY, thinks Memphis wrestling is the best wrestling in the world, have Jerry Lawler, and have the best announcer in wrestling.

Feb 15th, 1988

-- Dave just raves and raves about the finish to the Hogan/Andre match on NBC, saying that he hopes whoever came up with that finish got a nice bonus in their paycheck. He's so impressed because he says it's like they thought of everything -- they found a way to get the belt off of Hogan to do a job, Andre wasn't hurt, Wrestlemania was set up, and the nature of the angle was so shocking that it didn't set off a fan riot, which was at one point a concern about taking the belt off of Hogan.

-- In the Bay area, radio stations were reporting the title change up to a week before it even happened. The San Jose Mercury ran a story about it the day before. This was out because the WWF had already sent advertising agencies information on Wrestlemania IV, with the slogan "Hogan tries to regain his title." Dave is shocked, but no one in the WWF was even concerned about it, because all the publicity in giving away the finish, and people anticipating a title change, only helped the ratings and buzz for the show. He says that's a clear difference between the WWF and NWA, as Dusty would have gone crazy about a finish leaking like that.

-- Trivia: Jerry Monti, the most famous jobber in the San Francisco territory, made the opening credits as the victim of the Honky Tonk Man's Shake Rattle & Roll neckbreaker.

-- Dave says production wise, the show wasn't as good as most WWF shows just because they were doing it live. Randy Savage's pre-match interview was a mess, because the mic wasn't on, and HTM's music was being played too loud.

-- The show started with Randy Savage vs Honky Tonk Man, and Dave says HTM and Peggy Sue (Sherri Martel) deserve credit for always putting on such a huge show in the pre-match, but that HTM turns it off when the bell rings. He says Savage carried him and it was bad, but watchable. He says Savage was limited by the framework of the match because there were several spots where he had to be laid out selling for long periods of time so HTM could attempt to serenade Elizabeth. The cameras missed a key interference spot from Jimmy Hart. The finish was Savage running HTM's shoulder into the ringpost before winning by countout. Post-match, Savage was hit with the megaphone. Honky was about to hit Savage with the guitar and Liz jumped in the way to save the day. He was about to hit her, but Savage saved the day and the post-match saw him open the ropes for Liz and carry her on his shoulder. Dave says ** for the whole thing. He thinks it was only a *1/4 match, but the post-match boosted it.

-- Regarding Hogan/Andre, Dave says Andre looks to have lost a lot of weight since Thanksgiving. He also says he's a great heel with great facial expressions, but has no business wrestling in his current physical condition. He took no bumps, because he would have had to get up again. Hogan did the Ric Flair bump of getting slammed off the top turnbuckle, which shocked Dave, because it's a pretty big bump anyway, but especially for Hogan. At one point, Andre tried to kick Hogan, but his other foot couldn't support him, and he fell. All he could really do from there was choke. Dave says he was admittedly surprised at the crowd doing more mugging than watching the match also. Hogan did his comeback and the legdrop, but Virgil distracted the ref, so there was no count. Andre then got up and did a botched suplex, the ref counted to three even with Hogan kicking out, and at 9:05, Andre was the new champion. Andre was just about to give "The World Tag Team Championship" (he screwed up the name of the belt twice) to DiBiase, but then referee Dave Hebner shows up. Dave had just left the NWA a few days earlier. Vince and Jesse were stunned and wondering how there could be two Dave Hebners, and the crowd was completely shocked. The heel Dave Hebner then beat up the real Dave Hebner and threw him out of the ring. He then turned around and realized Hogan was waiting for him, and Hogan picked up up and threw him outside the ring. DiBiase and Virgil were supposed to catch him, but Hogan was wrapped up in the moment and threw the heel Dave Hebner (Earl) too far, way past DiBiase and Virgil. Hogan did a post-match interview saying that DiBiase paid someone to have plastic surgery to look exactly like Dave Hebner to steal the title.

-- The show drew a 16.1 rating and a 26 share, which makes it the most widely watched wrestling match in the history of the United States. Dave says he'll go into more details about the rating next week, but it was an improvement over the bomb "Rags To Riches" that is normally in that time slot. The network was hopeful for top 5 or top 10 for the week, but no such luck. "They aren't going to get a weekly series although I'm sure they'll get another prime time special. I expected much better numbers as well, but I guess there aren't as many potential wrestling fans in the U.S. as I thought there were."

-- The syndicated TV aired the next day, and they covered for the taping difference by saying WWF President Jack Tunney had forbidden any discussion from the announcers of what happened the night before, which Dave thought was clever. Jesse Ventura would try to talk about it and they would bleep out everything he said. Jesse then did a spoof on the Dan Rather CBS walkout, started yelling about censorship, and left.

-- Dave can't believe how well everything worked, and now thinks calling Wrestlemania IV a $25 million show may be conservative.

-- The next day, the WWF ran two house shows -- one in Boston and one in Philadelphia.

-- The rumor is that it will be announced in syndication that the title is being held up. Dave goes crazy with speculation about possible scenarios that is too confusing to type.

-- Dynamite Kid collapsed in the San Francisco airport last Saturday. At least one radio station reported that he had a heart attack, which is what Dave was told initially as well. In reality, it was a stress-related seizure. He was hospitalized, but as of press time had already returned to the ring.

-- Bam Bam Bigelow had also already returned to the ring.

-- Trivia: About 14 months prior in Denver, rookie Owen James teamed with SD Jones, but lost to the Hart Foundation. "Owen James is of course Owen Hart, who wrestled against his brother that night. Even then he outshined everyone with Titan, which is probably why he hasn't been back."

-- Says the 01/25 MSG main event of Hogan & Bigelow vs DiBiase & Virgil was very good, and that DiBiase is the perfect opponent for Hogan in terms of working, and knows how to get the most out of him. Dave would give it ***1/4.

-- Dave was wrong about WM IV tickets in Atlantic City. As of 2/8, there were only 5,000 tickets sold and about 4,000 remaining. They are giving away 8,800 tickets, not 2,000, and the place will seat 17,800 when full. Dave expects a sellout within a week.

-- The WWF is now claiming that Wrestlemania III grossed $20.4 million, not $17.1 million as Dave had written in the yearbook. Dave thinks this year, worst case, they'd gross $23.5 million, but most likely $25 million.

-- 2/6 in Boston drew 15,534 sellout and $190,000 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs Andre & DiBiase. 2/6 in Philadelphia drew 13,112 and $163,608 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs Andre & DiBiase.


-- Correction to previous Bunkhouse Stampede figures: the show drew an $80,000 gate and 6,200 paid.

-- Ted Turner is now trying to help the NWA fix their PPV woes caused by the WWF blocking almost all of their planned shows for the year. "As we've noted, the future of this business on a major league level is definitely not in house shows, but in PPV and outside merchandising and with McMahon blocking Crockett from PPV, then no matter what else may happen or how much Crockett can turn things around, he won't be able to compete on a major league basis." Turner wants to help get the Great American Bash on PPV, but plans for the Crockett Cup and Starrcade have been canned. After the Bash, they don't have another PPV scheduled until January of '89 with the Bunkhouse final. "I guess the big difference between these guys and McMahon is that at least McMahon learns from his mistakes."

-- As of the previous week, JCP is averaging a 6.5 national rating in syndication and is the #12 spot, while Titan is at #3 with an average 10.6 national rating in syndication.

-- The Sporting News ran a clip a few weeks back about Lyle Alzado's "Learning The Ropes" sitcom where he plays a single dad who supplements his job as a school teacher by being a masked wrestler called The Maniac. Steve Williams doubled for Alzado in the early pilots filmed just before Christmas. When Williams was wrestling Flair, he injured his knee landing wrong on a leap frog from the top rope. He came back obviously injured for a match with Tully Blanchard. Tully was supposed to hit him on the back with a chair, but instead hit him in the head and he started juicing. He then had to patch his head up for a match with Arn Anderson, but his knee blew out. Arn also doubled for Alzado, teaming with Lex Luger against the Road Warriors. Anderson fell from the ring and jammed his shoulder on a TV camera.

-- "Am I imagining things or has Sting totally surpassed Lex Luger and Barry Windham as the top young babyface? I was afraid Luger would lose his 'steam' like Nikita Koloff did, but believe me, in my wildest dreams I didn't think he'd lose it by early February. I figured at worse he'd be a hot headliner at least through the early summer before slipping into Nikita-level nothing stratosphere. Luger is already one of the boys and stuck in a tag team feud with Windham against Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson ... Even though Sting certainly needs work on interviews, he's got an amazing rapport with the audience and can do some amazing things in the ring and I truly believe he's the kind of a guy who in about a year someone could actually build a promotion around. His work is good already and great in spots and his charisma beats both Luger and Barry Windham by a substantial margin."

-- Ole Anderson is back on a semi-regular basis to replace the departing Nikita Koloff, who will be gone for 6-8 weeks.

-- Buddy Landell tried to get work, but they wouldn't give him the time of day. He didn't even last for his Japanese tour, disappearing after two weeks. He is scheduled to start back with Continental in early march.

-- The Rock & Roll Express are telling everyone they're starting with the WWF in June, which Dave is skeptical about and are just working independents until then. JCP is still getting lots of calls about them leaving, with the official line being, "They aren't gone, they're just renegotiating."

-- Michael Hayes still really wants to go to the WWF, but is headed to WCCW.

-- Steve Williams is just going to work Japan, although Dave recommends he try to get a part-time gig with WCCW just to stay in shape.

-- Dave thinks in spite of the cloud of impeding doom surrounding the NWA lately, they seem to be getting on the right track with booking. He loved the Road Warriors angle and thinks it will draw (not sellouts, but good, respectable houses). Dave now thinks the weights were gimmicked, though. The plan is for the Road Warriors to have ladder matches with the Powers of Pain on house shows with $50,000 at the top of the ladder.

-- Eddie Gilbert was offered a spot in the Varsity Club and turned it down

-- Dave now wants to talk about the Barry Windham/Tully Blanchard match: "Now I liked the match. I can get into the concept of working on a body part with the guy selling the injury, etc. Both guys know how to work that style, the smashing of the chair on Windham's knee looked legit and Windham did his usual great job of selling the wounded limb. Lots of readers enjoyed the match as well. Now I'm not going to comment on the ending because that's not the issue here. The issue is, Tully had Barry in the figure four at the 22:00 mark, after working on the leg for 12 minutes, and the crowd was chanting 'boring' and there was no heat. Technically, from the wrestling I grew up with, it was a good match, but the fans weren't buying it. I hope everyone takes notice of this because if it continues to happen, long matches may become as prevalent as Dusty's muscular definition. I can recall in Houston this past year I saw a Flair vs. Windham match, which wound up going about 30 minutes and was every bit of a four-star match. They did their usual slow start for 7 minutes before turning up the heat, but in those 7 minutes, several hundred fans went home. So what in my eyes (and in the eyes of the ringsiders who were 'into' the match totally) was a great match obviously was not a great match in the eyes of the bleacher folks who were leaving during the main event. The idea that these slow-builders may not appeal to today's fans is a concept I'd rather not address, but I've seen too many examples of fans being unable to retain interest in long matches. The point being, with the idea of slow-building and telling a story with the matches may not be viable concepts to today's fans. I'd like to hear others opinions on this."


-- The final card at the Minneapolis Auditorium happened on 02/04 before a low turnout of 1,700 fans. They were hyping it as Nostalgia Night, and the WWF countered by running "Mad Dog Vachon Night" in the same market the following week, and even ended up bringing in old AWA stars for their show like The Crusher, Nick Bockwinkel and Blackjack Lanza. Verne had Red Bastien, Killer Kowalski, Carl Eller (never wrestled, but was a member of the Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters front four in the early 70s), Butch Levy, Leo Nomellini, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Dick the Bruiser (who wrestled), Billy Robinson and perennial jobber Kenny "Sodbuster" Jay, who actually got the biggest pop. Verne Gagne and Stanley Blackburn were in attendance as well. Dave says Zenk/Robinson stood out in the wrong way, because Zenk is the only potential contender they have for Hennig, and a 50-year old guy took him to a 20-minute draw. He also controlled the entire match, which was in slow motion and Zenk had no opportunity to do anything to get himself over. The AWA now doesn't have a venue lined out for the Twin Cities.

-- Adrian Adonis is out until March at the earliest. The match where he broke his ankle was a match against Ricky Rice that did air on TV.

-- Kelly Kiniski quit. He was unhappy with his $170 weekly check and went back to Canada.

-- Nord the Barbarian quit. He's hugely over in the AWA because of his car commercials, but Verne never wanted to push him because he didn't think he could last.

-- Still no word on the future of Paul E. Dangerously.


-- Scott Hall is gone, and no one knows where he is. (My note: I'm sure something similar has been written at least once every year since in the WON.)

-- Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond are scheduled to come in as a babyface tag team for a few weeks.

-- Bill Dundee finally turned heel. There was a battle royal with the winner getting a shot at the CWA title on the 2/6 TV show. It came down to Jeff Jarrett and Bill Dundee. Dundee tossed Jarrett over the top rope, but Jarrett held on and flipped himself back in the ring. Dundee was strutting, and Jarrett hit him from behind with two dropkicks that sent him over the top rope. Later in the show, Lawler defended against Jarrett, and after a ref bump, Dundee came in and hit Jarrett and Lawler very hard with a chair.

-- Brother Earnest Angel is in managing a team called the Choir Boys and is doing a televangelist gimmick. They are getting nasty phone calls from religious groups. The angle is intended to spoof Jim & Tammy Faye Baker, which Angel saying he's on a mission to create "Wrestling Village USA". Angel "saved the soul" of Darryl Peterson (Max Payne) on TV.

-- Ken Mantell really wants to put together a Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich match for May.

-- 01/29 in Columbus, MS, drew 1,708. Crowds in Montgomery, AL have been less than 150 per week.


-- The promotion is getting hot in Atlanta, drawing a turnaway crowd of 620 fans in Marietta, mainly due to Ricky Morton.

-- Abdullah the Butcher, Robert Gibson, Bruiser Brody and Dick Slater are scheduled for the 02/21 taping, with a likely Brody vs Slater main event

-- Dave says he saw the January TV and it's a pretty lively and fun to watch indy show, and has better caliber wrestling than most indies

-- There is talk of Dennis Condrey coming in

-- There's a major war going on with other Georgia independents. On a recent Deep South Wrestling show, they made fun of Joe Pedicino and Bonnie Blackstone. They did a skit with a guy in an easy chair pretending to be Pedicino, but getting stuck in his chair and needing help to get out. Blackstone was parodied as a total bimbo. Southern countered by showing a clip of The Invader vs The Assassin, with Pedicino saying, "This is the Puerto Rican Assassin because there is nobody named The Assassin in the United States that can wrestle," a dig at Jody Hamilton, the group's headliner.

-- On a show they did in Atlanta, Michael Hayes said, regarding the NWA, "It may be the major league, but their checks are minor league."


-- Garfield Portz suffered a stroke late last week at the age of 30 years old, collapsing while pumping gas. The original prognosis wasn't good, but he began to take a turn for the better. At first, there was fear that he would be paralyzed for life. It's too early to tell.

-- 01/29 in Calgary drew 1,300. The 02/05 show drew a near sellout, but there were lots of fans who arrived late because of the NBC special the WWF was airing. That show was the last for Bad News. He didn't do any jobs on the way out because Vince wouldn't let him.

-- Dave thinks Rip Rogers has turned out to be great and has surprised everyone by that because no one expected it.

-- Stampede really wants to do a Ric Flair vs Owen Hart NWA World title match in Spring, but JCP doesn't seem into it.


-- TV tapings on 02/01 in Saitama drew 3,150 headlined by Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs Buzz Sawyer & Owen Hart.

-- Bob Orton is having a great tour, and had a standout match against Riki Choshu.

-- The juniors series ended on 02/07 in Sapporo with a Hase vs Koshinaka match. Hiroshi Hase is getting the big push, but the most over wrestlers are still Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki.

-- Owen Hart returns in May, which should kill any rumors of him being WWF-bound.

-- "New Japan wrestler Naoki Sano, a prelim guy who is working in Mexico under the name Masked Bushido, which in Spanish means Samurai Spirit, won the UWA International Lightweight title from Astro De Oro while at the same time without his mask, Sano, Hirokazu Hata & Asai hold the Mexican 6-man tag title.

-- Antonio Inoki proved to be very over in Italy. His shows drew 12,125 on 1/23 in Milan and 13,854 on 1/24 in Rome.

-- Sambo champion Chris Dolman may have a match with Inoki over summer.

-- No wrestling until late February

-- Dave thinks he reported the Asian tag titles change last week incorrectly, and will get it cleared up.

-- WWC in San Juan had a big show at a baseball stadium headlined by Carlos Colon vs Iron Sheik that drew 25,000 fans


-- "A brief rundown on the scene here. There are literally dozens of promotions in the country and wrestling draws huge crowds, although the gates aren't high by U.S. standards because of the weak peso so there are very few Americans working here and I don't believe there are any working here on a regular basis. Tickets generally range from $1.50 to $3 in U.S. money and even the main eventers earn something like $25 to $30 on cards which draw several thousand fans."

-- MS-1 & Masakurae were recently named Mexico's Tag Team of the Year

-- "Top drawing cards in Mexico include Perro Aguayo, Super Halcon, Super Muneco, the Japanese trio and of course veterans like Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras and El Canek."

-- "Negro Casas, who some think is the best worker in the world, has resurfaced working out of Tijuana."

-- One of the top heels is a Honky Tonk Man ripoff named Beautiful Elvis

-- In the Mexico City metro arena alone, there are five cards every Wednesday, seven cards every Friday, and ten shows every Sunday, and still, shows in Mexico City draw in excess of 15,000 fans. Tijuana has two shows per week drawing 5,000-6,000 per show.


-- An indy billed as Georgia Championship Wrestling has a 2/11 show booked in Albany headlined by Dale Veasy vs Scott Armstrong. Also on the card is Brickhouse Brown vs Hector Guerrero, Jerry Oates vs Ken Timbs and The MOD Squad vs The Children of Doom and Tom Prichard vs Ken Dillinger. They are using WWF graphics in their TV ad which is airing on several local stations. Crockett has a show in Albany on 2/9.

-- Chavo Guerrero is now working in catering and is said to be retired.

-- World Organization Wrestling ran a show on 01/22 in Philadelphia, MS drawing 150, headlined by Jerry Stubbs vs Bob Holly. Elsewhere on the card was Bob Sweetan vs Paul Diamond, and also a really strong 15:00 Pat Tanaka vs Davey Haskins match, where Pat Tanaka took such a strong bump off of a backdrop that he broke the ring.

-- Former pro wrestler Robert Michael Doggendorf (Mike Doggendorf in Angelo Poffo's ICW) was arrested for beating his wife although the charges were lowered from a felony to misdemeanor. He works as a director of custody at the Fayette County Jail in Lexington, KY.

-- Roddy Piper is doing great in Hollywood. He should never have to wrestle again unless he wants to, and he's in really high demand.


1. Owen Hart
2. Nobuhiko Takada
3. Ric Flair
4. Ted DiBiase
5. Masa Saito
6. Tatsumi Fujinami
7. Dick Murdoch
8. Barry Windham
9. Bruiser Brody
10. Curt Hennig
11. Bret Hart
12. Keichi Yamada
13. Terry Gordy
14. Rick Martel
15. Tiger Mask
16. Tully Blanchard
17. Bobby Eaton
18. Hiroshi Hase
19. Buzz Sawyer
20. Terry Taylor
21. Randy Savage
22. Brad Armstrong
23. Genichiro Tenryu
24. Shiro Koshinaka
25. Kazuo Yamazaki
26. Riki Choshu
27. Eddie Gilbert
28. Yoshiaki Yatsu
29. Ricky Steamboat
30. Yoshiaki Fujiwara

1. Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane
2. Rick Martel & Tito Santana
3. Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson
4. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura
5. Riki Choshu & Masa Saito
6. The Islanders
7. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy
8. Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki
9. Road Warriors
10. Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara
11. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu
12. Tiger Mask & Shinichi Nakano
13. The Fantastics
14. Brad Armstrong & Tim Horner
15. Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman
16. Rock & Roll Express
17. Midnight Rockers
18. Super Strong Machine & Hiro Saito
19. Hart Foundation
20. Toshiaki Kawada & Samson Fuyuki

1. Chigusa Nagayo
2. Lioness Asuka
3. Bull Nakano
4. Yukari Omori
5. Condor Saito
6. Yumiko Hotta
7. Itsuki Yamazaki
8. Kazue Nagahori
9. Noriyo Tateno
10. Leilani Kai
11. Mitsuko Nishiwaki
12. Dump Matsumoto
13. Rumi Kazama
14. Estelle Molina
15. Mika Komatsu
16. Lola Gonzales
17. Yumi Oguar
18. Drill Nakamae
19. Sherri Martel
20. Debbie Combs
tlk23 is offline  
post #17 of 275 (permalink) Old 06-29-2008, 03:29 PM
Wheelman for James Ellsworth
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: THE Brew City
Posts: 656
Points: 0
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Interesting stuff.
RemoteControlled is offline  
post #18 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 444
Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Feb 22nd, 1988

-- "As most of you already know, the biggest story of the week concerns the WWF holding a tournament for the vacated WWF title as the headline attraction at Wrestlemania IV on 3/27 eminating (sic) from Atlantic City. The announcement was made on the syndicated package over this past weekend, and from what I'm told, the entire card will be released publicly by next week. Besides the 14-man tournament, the early scuttlebutt I hear is that there will be four other matches. One will be a Bunkhouse Battle Royal, which will allow another two dozen or so wrestlers to share in the big payday, while I expect two tag team matches (British Bulldogs vs. Islanders and Strike Force vs. Demolition) and an Intercontinental title defense by Honkeytonk Man (with Brutus Beefcake seeming to be the leading contender--they'll need to shoot an angle this week to get that one 'over'.)"

-- The first round has been announced as Roberts vs Rude, Muraco vs Bravo, Steamboat vs Valentine, Reed vs Savage, Bigelow vs Gang and DiBiase vs Duggan, with Hogan vs Andre getting an automatic bye to the second round. "The brackets pretty well should tell the obvious story. There are only two possible winners, Hulk Hogan or Ted DiBiase. The bottom line is that down the road, Hulk Hogan is going to be champion once again." Dave says if Hogan's upcoming movie filming, which begins in April, won't allow him time to wrestle over summer, or if he wants to take off since his first child is due in April, then it makes no sense if he's not going to be around to defend the belt. Also, if Hogan isn't going to win the tournament, the winner has to be a heel so that person can drop the belt back to Hogan. Dave says it's obvious based on bracketing that DiBiase will make it to the finals, either to lose to Hogan or beat Muraco. Dave then goes into really, really detailed predictions on the show. The most interesting prediction is that he thinks Savage and Steamboat will be rematched and go to a draw to create a bye for DiBiase into the finals.

-- The NBC special earned a 15.1 rating and a 25 share, and was the 31st highest rated show of the week, which is an average number, but is probably a disappointment to both the WWF and NBC, because they thought it would crack the top 10. It did still win its time slot and the rating was better than the 11.6 average they have been getting from Rags To Riches.

-- Dick Ebersol was quoted in the LA Times and USA Today, saying that they weren't interested in doing weekly shows because it would hurt live gates. The truth is, however, that they won't get the chance to turn down a slot, because the feeling now is that the WWF couldn't post competitive numbers in prime time. Dave says he was surprised at the rating. He was interested in it because it would show how "over" (My note: Why does he always put "over" in quotes?) wrestling is to the general public. He says this proved that the match with the most hype and mainstream appeal can only get mediocre mainstream attention. It also showed that wrestling fans are extremely loyal and will watch no matter how inconvenient. This match on SNME Dave thinks would have gotten a 12 rating, so they picked up very few extra viewers. Dave says the WWF can still make money off of their core audience, but it does put the value of Hulk Hogan in perspective. "To a cult audience, which numbers in the millions, he is over bigger than any wrestling star has ever been in the country. But he is not a 'mainstream' star capable of making it in prime time on the networks on anything more than a one or two shot a year basis. He's not nearly as over as Antonio Inoki was in his heyday, let alone a Larry Holmes (whose title defenses always cracked the top 10 against bums like Tex Cobb when put on free TV). "Time Magazine isn't going to be banging on Titan's door this month proclaiming another wrestling resurgence. The networks aren't going to stumble onto Jim Crockett's group because nobody is looking at wrestling as a hot item, both of which could have happened had the show cracked the top five." Dave also says that even though Vince McMahon is the most successful money-making wrestling promoter in history, there isn't as much mainstream interest as there was in New Japan's 1982-1985 heyday. (My note: We get it already.) "And Hogan's TV ratings power, while again more than any wrestler of the modern era, probably isn't as strong as Chigusa Nagayo's right now. One may view the comparisons with Japan as ridiculous because of the differences in culture, but the truth is, if anything, the U.S. is the country more TV oriented. My main point out of all this is a conversation I had with a Titan employee a few months back when we got to the subject of the style of wrestling (fast food vs. hardcore) and if it was the style of wrestling which made Titan No. 1, if it was the fact it was the best run promotion that made it No. 1, or if it was the fact that they spent the most money that made them No. 1. The conclusion we came to is that it was something we couldn't answer. No promotion offering traditional wrestling has ever had the front office professionals in the hundreds behind the company, a $250,000 budget for TV taping to make them look so major league in comparison with opposition, etc. Unless opposition was equal to Titan in every way except that they had a different wrestling product (more action-oriented) and Titan was still No. 1, then we'd really know the answer."

-- The WWF is running a TV taping in Winston-Salem, NC on 3/9, which Dave thinks is peculiar since it's about 20 miles outside of Greensboro. "As you can see, Titan smells blood and is going right for the jugular."

-- The next SNME is scheduled for 3/12, and will be taped on 3/7 from Nashville.

-- "Probably the most bizarre story revolves around last Friday's NBC special. Apparently an Intercontinental title change was in the script and the match was supposed to be shorter as well, however Honkeytonk Man vetoed the script and there was lots of backstage commotion about it, but the bottom line was, he held out and refused to do the job and he's still champion today. If you wonder why they just didn't have Randy beat him anyway which is something that gets threatened from time-to-time especially in the old days of wrestling, is simply because Honkey must have realized that there was no chance whatsoever McMahon would take any chances on a bad situation occurring on live television and the last thing he ever wants is real violence. That probably explains why Honkeytonk Man, as IC champ, isn't in the tournament."

-- Billy Jack Haynes asked Vince McMahon for help to start a new promotion in Oregon and run opposition to Don Owen, but Vince turned him down. The public story is that Haynes quit because of health reasons, but it appears the real story is that he wanted a bigger push and thought Brady Boone should also get a bigger push.

-- Jesse Ventura will be doing heel commentary for some New York Yankees games for local pay-TV consumption.

-- Bam Bam Bigelow didn't have arthroscopic surgery. He's postponing until after Wrestlemania, when the WWF will take a one-month break. Speaking of Bigelow, a drug possession charge in Freehold, NJ, was dismissed when the evidence was ruled inadmissible because it was illegally obtained. The officers found a small bag of marijuana under the seat of his car and he was charged with a misdemeanor, but it was ruled the officers did not have probable cause to conduct the search. Bigelow waved to the officer, and the overzealous officer responded by pulling him over for no reason. Even though a misdemeanor, if convicted, this would have been bad for him, because he is on three years probation from a 1986 conviction after pleading guilty to threatening to kill a prostitute. Had he been convicted, he would have served a five-year prison sentence.

-- 02/04 in Muskegon, WI, drew 2,500 headlined by Islanders vs British Bulldogs. 02/07 in Toronto in front of a "small crowd" was headlined by Ricky Steamboat, Hacksaw Duggan & Randy Savage vs Hart Foundation & Honky Tonk Man. 02/08 in Los Angeles drew 3,000 headlined by Ted DiBiase vs Bam Bam Bigelow in a match reported as **** by reader Pat Hoed. 02/13 in Bloomington, MN, drew 7,000 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs DiBiase & Andre with Mad Dog Vachon in the babyface corner. 02/14 at the Silverdome drew 12,000 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs DiBiase & Andre.

-- Someone in the WWF told Dave the JYD/Reed match taped for Wrestling Challenge was a worst match of the year candidate.

-- Gene Okerlund's son Todd is on the U.S. Ice Hockey Team in the Olympics.

-- Ted DiBiase interview printed in the Chicago Sun Times on 1/15: "Because I am so versatile, the UWF used me as a utility man. I didn't get the push I deserved or the respect I deserved. I had to show a big Oklahoma football player like Steve Williams the ropes as his tag team partner, show him how to work in the ring and how to do an interview, and then the UWF tried to promote Williams over me." He also said Giant Baba's handshake is better than a signed contract from any other promoter in the wrestling business. He also said, "After the NWA bought out the UWF, I didn't want to work for Jim Crockett. He has his favorites and they get paid well and they get taken care of. But if you're not in the clique, you starve." He was very complimentary of Vince McMahon, saying "he has taken wrestling out of the closet and put it right into the entertainment mainstream."

-- On the live satellite feed of the Royal Rumble, you could hear Vince McMahon yelling "Stop looking like a fucking stone and show some interest in the matches" at Howard Finkel. Vince also didn't know the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels. He asked for someone to tell him the names, and then said, "Wow, I butchered the shit out of those names."


-- Paul Boesch is on the NWA Board of Directors. He is the only non-promoter ever on the board. It's more of a figurehead position, and they will use him for his name value in Houston. Boesch has no financial interest in the Houston shows, although he will be helping out.

-- The original plan for the Crockett Cup was to use two sites -- Greenville, SC on 4/9 and finals on 4/10 in Greensboro -- but TV ads seem to contradict this. Dave says they really need to work with New Japan, Stampede and World Class, but there are too many egos stopping that from happening.

-- Dennis Condrey wants to come in as a babyface and feud with Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane.

-- "Did you catch the balding blonde haired jobber named Randy Hogan who got destroyed on TBS this weekend? Kind of childish."

-- Shane Douglas has returned. He is using the sleeperhold as a finisher and getting a mild push. Tony Schiavone calls him the 1986 Rookie of the Year, while Jim Ross calls him the 1987 Rookie of the Year.

-- Road Warrior Animal's eye injury is legit and he'll be out for a few weeks. He broke his orbital bone and was nearly blinded in one eye. He was being billed as returning, which is why Dave thought it was a work, but it appears to be legit. Dave says the crowds haven't really been that much different, so the angle doesn't appear to have been effective. The injury actually happened on 1/29, the day before the angle,

-- "I can't emphasize enough just how quickly Lex Luger fizzled out as a babyface. Sometimes you look at something and make a snap judgment just by the looks of things without examining in detail. Luger is that way. You look at him and everyone tells everyone else just how over he is and how he's the future of wrestling and all that. The bottom line is, as good as his physique is, good physiques are a dime a dozen these days as is blond hair. His looks are nothing special. Still, he could be a big star and will be a star of some magnitude however his rapport with the audience just isn't there. It wasn't there in Florida (remember, Florida literally died with Luger as top babyface in 1986) and it still isn't there. Even though Sting needs lots of work on interviews and he may not be as muscularly defined as Luger, Sting has the rapport and has totally passed Luger by. It becomes more obvious each show as the audience reacts to everything Sting does, while seemingly acts ho-hummy when Luger and Windham talk. Sting has more of the cool GQ look of today but I've got the feeling in their infinite wisdom, the NWA will keep all three at the same level (thus inevitably ensuring none get over to the point they'll make a difference). I don't totally blame Luger for the crowd reaction because they wasted no time making him one of the boys when they should have at least given him a few months as king of all the babyfaces before ruining the impact of his turn by making him a tag team wrestler."

-- 2/2 in Miami only drew 1,900 fans headlined by Luger & Dusty vs Flair & Tully. 2/9 in Albany, GA drew 400 fans headlined by Sting & Barry Windham vs Midnight Express. "TV, newspaper and radio ads up until the day of the show continued to bill Rock & Roll and Michael Hayes for this card, but what the heck, Titan is still billing Billy Jack Haynes for future dates as well as he's been gone for basically just as long." 2/11 in Baltimore drew a $103,000 gate headlined by Flair & Tully vs Luger & Ron Garvin. 2/13 in Philadelphia drew 6,000 for a TV taping. 2/14 in Chicago drew 5,000 fans headlined by Flair vs Sting. Dave says they really killed Chicago with that Starrcade finish with the Road Warriors and have not been able to rebound. 2/11 in Raleigh, NC, drew 1,200 fans headlined by Flair & Tully vs Luger & Windham. 2/14 evening in Atlanta drew 13,000 fans headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting, and Luger & Ole vs Arn & Tully in a cage.


-- ESPN signed a new two-year contract with the AWA and the contract calls for exclusivity, so World Class will no longer be on ESPN.

-- "The big news as far as the AWA goes is that they are 'restructing the company.' I'm not sure what that exactly means, other than after the card this coming Sunday in Las Vegas, the AWA will be closing down for about a month and will re-open in late March with a new outlook on life. I believe Verne Gagne will be doing the booking once again as it seems he's tired of people making decisions that are costing him money and he'd instead like to make those same decisions." Only Curt Hennig will be paid during this time off, so he's expected to be sent to other territories and the Midnight Rockers will probably work full time in Memphis. As for the rest of the crew, Dave suspects they will either have to go elsewhere where they can make money, or take day jobs to make ends meet.

-- Stanley Blackburn is getting all the heat for the 2/4 cage match with Curt Hennig vs Greg Gagne. Greg won the match and was presented with the title, but Blackburn wouldn't allow it because the match was in a cage, and the title can't be defended in a cage.

-- They will be using Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota as the new home base. Dave worries that their alcohol ban will hurt attendance.

-- Paul E. Dangerously is set to return on 2/22 in Las Vegas to manage Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond, who will feud with Michaels and Jannetty.


-- 2/12 in Dallas drew 3,800 fans headlined by Al Perez vs Terry Taylor. On the show, there was also a Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts vs Kevin & Kerry Von Erich match. There was a lot of interference. Chris Adams and Terry Taylor ended up brawling at ringside, and Taylor was doing lots of floor piledrivers to do a major injury angle, and Adams ended up getting his hand broken and may have to have a pin inserted.

-- Michael Hayes is back as a babyface. They're building up a 3/5 concert at the Sportatorium which will probably lead to a big angle.

-- Ken Mantell wants to re-open Wild West. He wants to feud two promotions but Dave doesn't see the logic in it, because there are already too many wrestling promotions.

-- The last Houston show only drew 42 fans, not 80 fans as previously reported.

-- Steve Williams told the Japanese press he's coming in.


-- FNN announced on Tuesday that they will be airing CWA wrestling on a weekly basis starting in April. Dave thinks the time slot is 9PM Eastern and 6PM Pacific, but isn't completely sure.

-- Bill Dundee is leaving for the new Knoxville promotion, "... and Manny Fernandez has disappeared into the same thin air which engulfed Scott Hall, Tijo Khan and several others."

-- Maxx Payne won the CWA title from Jerry Lawler in Memphis on 2/8 before less than 1,500 fans. That was also Dundee's first match as a heel, against Jeff Jarrett, which shows how little impact the heel turn had. 2/15 is expected to draw better with Dundee vs Jarrett once again, Midnight Rockers vs Rock & Roll Express and Lawler vs Tommy Rich in a grudge match.

-- Tommy Rich did a total babyface interview on TV to build to his match with Lawler, saying he was wrong for teaming with Austin Idol and Paul E. Dangerously, but that he still hated Lawler. The two have major heat which is what caused Rich to leave when he was red hot the previous year. They expect half the crowd to support Rich, based on Rich trying to appeal to fans who hate Jerry Lawler to come out and support him in his promo. "I'm told that even though Memphis simply can't draw a lick without Lawler, that there are a large group of fans who don't like Lawler since he's always on top week after week and familiarity at that level often breeds contempt."

-- Brother Earnest Angel has completely changed his gimmick because of the bad feedback and phone calls to the studio. He now manages Gary Young and Maxx Payne. He had toned his act completely down and sort of apologized for his previous behavior on TV.

-- Coming in are the Rock & Roll Express, Tommy Rich, Samoans Samu & Kokina (Yokozuna)

-- This was the last week of the territory as one circuit. The 2/12 show in Knoxville drew 7,000 headlined by Doug Furnas vs Lord Humongous in a stretcher match.

-- Knoxville is expected to get Johnny Rich, Davey Rich, Bill Dundee, Hector Guerrero, Ron Fuller, Austin Idol, Doug Furnas, the Rock & Roll RPMs, Lord Humongous, Buddy Landell, the Stomper, the Armstrongs and Tracy Smothers. Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden, Dutch Mantell, Tom Pritchard, Jonathan Boyd, Wendell Cooley, Tony Anthony, Frankie Lancaster and Danny Davis will stay with Continental.

-- A Frank Bonema Memorial Show is planned for 2/16 in Portland, to be headlined by babyface Curt Hennig defending the AWA title against The Grappler.

-- The Moondogs never showed up. It was announced on TV that they had been suspended by the NWA.

-- Chris Colt was fired and is headed to England.

-- 01/31 in Tumwater, MA only drew 40 fans.

-- The title was held up after a match between DJ Peterson (being billed as Dave Peterson) and the Cuban Assassin. Dave is unsure when the rematch will take place. The tag titles are also held up for a tournament on 2/26 in St. Joseph.

-- Kansas City will begin running weekly cards again starting on 3/31.

-- 02/05 in St. Joseph drew 442 fans. 02/14 in Kansas City drew less than 150 fans.

-- Local wrestler Steve Estes, 37, pleaded guilty to holding up a Mexican restaurant in October. He was charged with a Class A felony, but it was reduced in exchange for his plea. He could be in prison for between 5-15 years.

-- The 2/5 card in Calgary features what Dave was told was the best Stampede match in ages, as Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman defended the International tag titles against Great Gama & Jerry Morrow.

-- Les Thornton will be running opposition in Calgary starting in Spring.

-- Takashi Ishikawa & Mighty Inoue regained the Asian tag belts from Kawada & Fuyuki on 1/29 in Tokyo before 1,860 fans at Korauken Hall.


-- 1/30 in Ishinomaki drew 1,890 fans. 2/1 in Soka drew 3,150 fans headlined by Inoki & Sakaguchi vs Saito & Vader. 2/4 in Osaka drew a sellout 6,820 fans headlined by Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki. Inoki won clean, and Dave thinks Choshu is going to be hurt by that one. 2/5 in Tokyo drew a sellout 2,000 fans. 2/7 in Sapporo drew a sellout 6,120 fans headlined by Vader vs Inoki. On this show, Shiro Koshinaka also won the juniors tournament.

-- "Choshu has been wrestling pretty bad of late, like he just doesn't want to be in the ring anymore."

-- "[Buzz] Sawyer stole the spotlight from [Owen] Hart in some tag matches. He would start barking and howling and playing to the crowd while Hart was doing his fancy moves, which detracted from Hart's moves and took the crowd's attention away from Hart."

-- They will be touring Brazil in late March and are also sending wrestlers to help fill out Crockett's March show in Honolulu.

-- Most of the shows when Inoki was gone sold out, which means Vader's huge push is catching on.

-- Steve Williams did an interview that he was tired of touring all over the U.S. and wants to spend more time at home with his wife. He also said the NWA broke promises they made to him when they did the takeover. He says he was promised a big unification match with Ric Flair that never happened, and they also stopped billing him as the UWF champion. "I don't go back to NWA Crockett promotions anymore. I'd like to wrestle for promotions which set a high value on ability. New Japan is good because they use Vader, Buzz Sawyer, Bob Orton and Owen Hart who can do hard wrestling."

-- There is a Japanese movie coming out called "The Crazy Family" where the daughter is 13 years old and spends all of her time singing and lifting weights because she wants to be like Chigusa Nagayo.

-- Crowds have been good lately. Because of high ticket prices, they're doing gates of over $100,000 on a regular basis.

-- The 01/30 show at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan drew a 32,000-fan sellout, headlined by Carlos Colon vs Iron Sheik with heel manager Chicky Starr suspended in a cage above the ring. It was Sheik's last match before going back to the WWF. The buildup had Sheik burying Colon with the Iranian flag to set up the card.

-- Dan Kroffat is in and Dave says he looks ridiculous with dyed blond hair.


-- Tempo Cable Network made a tentative deal with Angelo Savoldi's ICW.

-- Mad Dog Vachon is suing the Iowa City Hospital for several million dollars. They cared for him after a hit and run accident, but Vachon is claiming his leg would not need to be amputated had they properly treated him.

-- Florida has dropped legislation to introduce an athletic commission after pleading from Duke Keomuka and Jerry Brisco.

-- Mando Guerrero is training women in Southern California for a new startup group called the American Women's Wrestling Federation (AWWF).

-- Bruiser Brody is promoting his own show on 3/4 in St. Louis. Sam Muchnick is lending his name to it because he felt "used" by Crockett when they showed him on WTBS recently, and implied a connection that doesn't exist at all.

-- Tony Atlas placed third in the American Powerlifting Federation's World Bench Press championships with a 550 lb lift at 275 lbs.

-- Wrestlers who have done the most foreign tours:

Abdullah the Butcher 43
Stan Hansen 43
Tiger Jeet Singh 43
Dick Murdoch 40
Dory Funk Jr. 34
Terry Funk 33
Harley Race 31
Bad News Allen 28
Bruiser Brody 27
Andre the Giant 27
Billy Robinson 25
The Destroyer 22
Mil Mascaras 20
Hulk Hogan 20
Masked Superstar 20
Bobo Brazil 15
Lou Thesz 15
Ted DiBiase 14
Nick Bockwinkel 14
King Curtis Iaukea 14
Jimmy Snuka 13
Terry Gordy 12
Dynamite Kid 12
Ric Flair 12
Dusty Rhodes 12
The Sheik 12
Pete Roberts 11
Dick Slater 11
Marc Rocco 11
Killer Karl Kox 11
Killer Tim Brooks 10
Adrian Adonis 10
Dos Caras 10
El Canek 10
Tony St. Clair 10

Feb 29th, 1988

-- The Wrestlemania IV card has been finalized. In addition to the tournament, Honky Tonk Man will defend the IC title against Brutus Beefcake, and Dave expects a title change in this match, if not before then. "Even though the word I heard is that Honky isn't in line for punishment, I find it hard to believe that an example won't be made of him quickly for his refusal to drop the strap to Randy Savage on the NBC broadcast." Also, the British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware vs The Islanders & Bobby Heenan, Demolition vs Strike Force, where Dave also expects a title change, "plus a battle royal involving all those folks like Bret Hart, Sam Houston, Harley Race and the like who simply aren't talented enough to earn a spotlight match on the card." Celebrities will include Vanna White as a guest timekeeper, and Bob Eucker as a ring announcer again. Dave says Robin Leach being hyped as presenting the winner with the championship belt seems to be a strong indication that they want people think DiBiase is winning.

-- Wrestlemania will have 18 matches, although with double eliminations, Dave thinks it will be around 16. Getting that many matches in a 2 1/2 show, complete with long-winded entrances and intermissions to sell merchandise means most matches will be around five minutes and several will be shorter than that. Dave also thinks this is a weak card for a Wrestlemania. "While I initially thought the tournament was a stroke of brilliance, after seeing how it is laid out and who was picked to be in it, I'm less excited about its market value." Dave talks about how Hulk Hogan's name value is being downplayed by making him "one of the boys" instead of putting him in a position where his match stands out from the pack. Dave talks about how Wrestlemania I and III were both major successes and had a strong main event to hype, while Wrestlemania II didn't and wasn't a successful show. He thinks it could affect impulse buys for the show. "If Hulk Hogan is taking the summer off, and the word within wrestling does indicate that, then I at least understand the tournament psychology in making Hulk one of the boys."

-- The whole idea behind the tournament is to switch the focal point of the WWF from Hulk Hogan to the belt, and they are trying to make the title the lead drawing card. "If that's the idea, forget it. It won't work. There is no belt in wrestling that can draw on its own in this day and age. Hogan is a draw. Ric Flair is a draw, although obviously not to the same degree. Curt Hennig isn't a draw, nor is Al Perez, with or without a belt around their waist." Dave notes that if you look at NWA attendance on shows where Flair is defending the title versus shows where he is in a tag match, you won't really notice a difference, although the crowds are down on shows where Flair isn't on the lineup. Dave says Hogan has traditionally shown the same patterns at the box office. "And both Ted DiBiase and Ron Garvin, in their brief reigns as champion proved to have no drawing power whatsoever."

-- "Now after writing all this, let me state unequivocably that there is no way WM4 won't be a success. There are too many factors in its favor, the main one being the excellence of last year's show as an overall production (forget about the quality of the main event, most fans came to see Andre's 'first loss' and a bodyslam, and they got what they paid for ... What will save WM4 here is, as I said, was the excellence of last year's show and the concept implanted in most fans' eyes that it's the one show during the year that they can't afford to miss, almost like wrestling's Super Bowl."

-- The WWF will probably clear 9 to 10 million homes, and with any luck, get the same 10% buyrate it achieved last year at $20, which adds up to $18 million. Of that, Titan will gross $9 million or so.

-- The 3/12 SNME will be taped on 3/7 in Nashville. Lineup will have Hogan vs Race, DiBiase vs Savage, Andre vs Bigelow, Jake vs HTM, Beefcake vs Valentine and Bulldogs vs Demolition.

-- By the time you read this, all Wrestlemania IV tickets should be gone. (My note: I would hope so.) Trump Plaza will seat 18,165 for Wrestlemania IV. Somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 tickets were being held back. As of Friday, 2/19, there were still around 1,500 tickets left and paid attendance will be in the 15,000 range, which means around 3,000 giveaways.

-- The Cuban Assassin showed up for the Wichita, KS, TV tapings. Bad News Brown saw him and started chasing him around with a chair. Something apparently happened a few months prior in Calgary where both wrestlers (and their wives) had some type of fight.

-- A security guard is suing over George Steele pushing him down at the last San Francisco show.

-- 2/18 at the Meadowlands drew 16,000 fans headlined by Hulk Hogan challenging the Honky Tonk Man for the IC title. (My note: WEIRD.) 02/21 in Tacoma, WA, drew a $104,000 house without Hogan. 2/15 in Centralia, IL, drew 1,200 fans headlined by a battle royal. 2/20 in Pittsburgy, PA drew 8,000 fans headlined by a Bunkhouse Stampede, which they're now calling a Free-For-All Brawl. 02/15 in Omaha drew 4,158 fans headlined by Junkyard Dog vs Ron Bass. 2/9 in New Haven, CT, drew 4,300 fans headlined by Randy Savage & Strike Force vs Honky Tonk Man & Hart Foundation in a cage match. 2/13 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, drew 5,000 fans headlined by DiBiase vs Bigelow. 2/13 in Springfield, MA drew 4,500 fans headlined by another Harts & HTM vs Savage & Strike Force cage match.

-- The WWF is looking for a new play-by-play announcer and also a new announcer to conduct promotional interviews.

-- The NWA announced earlier in the week that it would be running a show head-to-head with Wrestlemania IV. JCP will be running a 2 1/2 hour special on TBS on 03/27, the same time block Titan has reserved on PPV for Wrestlemania. "This time, Titan will get a taste of its own medicine, as Crockett will be cutting the card on national television, in the form of WTBS, for free." Dave says the card will take place in Greensboro, NC, and will be called Clash of the Champions or something similar, with seven main event caliber matches. He's been told the matches are Ric Flair vs Sting for the NWA World title, Dusty Rhodes & Road Warriors vs Ivan Koloff & Powers of Pain in a barbed wire match, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs Lex Luger & Barry Windham for the tag titles, the Midnight Express vs the soon-to-be-arriving Fantastics for the US tag titles, Mike Rotunda vs Jimmy Garvin for the NWA TV title under amateur rules and Larry Zbyszko vs Shane Douglas. "And in a surprise of sorts, Kevin & Kerry Von Erich are tentatively slated to work both this card and, apparently, the Crockett Cup, which means the lines of communicate are open between Crockett and Ken Mantell."

-- "I don't believe JCP, even in its most overenthusiastic moments, believes it has a chance at 'ruining' WM4, because it doesn't." However, JCP will cost the WWF tons of money on 03/27, in the same way the WWF cost them millions of dollars on Thanksgiving and a lot of money again on 01/24 also. "If we use TV ratings as a barometer, plus the fact the two groups do draw from a somewhat different audience, we can safely say that 50% of Titan's audience wouldn't care if Flair was defending against Mike Tyson, because they have little or no interest in the NWA. Of the remaining half, let's say all things being equal, most would still choose WWF over NWA. But throw in a $20 price tag for the WWF and a free show for NWA, and lots of people will change their minds."

-- With the Clash, Dave thinks the biggest impact will be the parts of the country that aren't wired for PPV. Dave predicts JCP will knock off at least 10% of Titan's closed-circuit business, which won't be enough to destroy the show, but could cost the company in the seven figures. "I may even be underestimating everything, because JCP even has an advantage over the next month as they can build grudges toward specific matches, while Titan has an undercard with minimal appeal and a tournament which is non-specific and has devalued the presence of wrestling's only guaranteed draw, Hogan." Dave also says JCP has to live down the bad reactions they've gotten from their last two big shows.

-- Regarding Road Warrior Animal, to set the story straight, he was legitimately injured on 01/29 in Pittsburgh, the day before the bench press challenge. Warlord, not Barbarian, gave Animal a Samoan drop and either executed it incorrectly, or Animal took the bump incorrectly, but it smashed the bone above Animal's eye. His injury is the same as Riki Choshu's when Akira Maeda kicked him in the face. At the time, he didn't know the extent of the injury and went to Greensboro for the angle the next day. They were originally going to use heavier weights before shooting the angle, but they were afraid of having Animal do more than 500 lbs. He typically can do 580, Barbarian can normally do 570, and Warlord can do 600+, but Hawk isn't at the level they are. The weights were legit, but the amounts Paul Jones was saying over the mic were often wrong. The original plan was for all three except Hawk to go around 550, and then have Jones call for 600 before Hawk did his lift and then the injury would happen. Animal went to the hospital with a detached retina, broken bone, and his eye knocked 1/2 inch into his forehead. He had eye surgery, and there were brief fears that he was going to lose his eyes, but that was quelled. JCP is advertising Animal returning in Greensboro over the coming week, but Dave isn't sure if that's true, because they were hyping him for Philadelphia when they knew he couldn't be there.

-- The Crockett Cup is set for 4/22 and 4/23. The first day will be in Greenville, SC, and the second day in Greensboro, NC. Dave expects the seedings to be announced on the TBS special on 03/27. Dave says for readers who want to attend, the best bet is to stay in Charlotte, which is roughly halfway between both sites and is 100-110 miles from each site.

-- The NWA may get shows into the Cow Palace in San Francisco in the future. They have a show at the Civic Auditorium on 3/16 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting.

-- "The 1/24 Bunkhouse Stampede finals drew a 3.5 percent buy rate in nearly six million homes, which I guess means 200,000 homes signed up for the thing at $15 a crack or $3 million gross revenue, the assumption of which is that JCP gets half of that. I was told anything better than a three percent buy rate would be profitable, so to say the event was a financial bomb would be inaccurate. But it sure could have been a whole lot better."

-- TBS has extended its contract with JCP through 1994. The TV format has changed again. The Saturday morning show will now become NWA Pro Wrestling on a one-week delay. The Saturday afternoon show will almost always be done in studio. They will start doing a Sunday afternoon show in April that will always be from arenas and show main event caliber matches. They'll air only 3-4 matches in an hour, and give them plenty of time to develop. The Sunday show is being groomed specifically for TV ratings, while the Saturday show will be to build house shows. The syndicated ratings will now include the TBS package so The Wrestling Network will move up to the 8.5 level -- just 1.5 points behind Titan and they can make substantial income through TV ad sales.

-- The 3/27 TBS show will have Flair vs Sting with JJ Dillon above the ring in a cage. Three judges will be at ringside in case the match goes 60 minutes.

-- TBS has agreed to do four specials like the 3/27 one each year. TBS and JCP have signed a five-year deal to co-promote the PPV cards together. JCP is hoping to do one more PPV event in 1988. They were going to do three more, but Titan killed that idea.

-- Shane Douglas is coming in and will get a nice push as the protege of Magnum TA, and will use the belly-to-belly suplex as his finisher.

-- Magnum TA has been told by his doctor he can start jogging this summer. They are going to start using him more and more in the corner to counter JJ Dillon.

-- Crockett is behind the show "Learning The Ropes". The show is a comedy about a school teacher, played by Lyle Alzado, who doubles as a masked wrestler at night. The show features clips of NWA wrestlers in character with speaking roles. Dave says if it hits, it could be the break he has needed to get his wrestlers over as celebrities.

-- The Fantastics will start full-time with a big push and feud with the Midnight Express. Dave says they have a tough road ahead, because many fans will see them as replacements for or copycats of the Rock & Roll Express.

-- Reports of JCP's demise are exaggerated, as they did $350,000 in business over just one weekend. The Omni on 2/14 drew 13,000 headlined by Flair vs Sting, and Arn/Tully vs Luger/Ole in a cage, with Luger doing a stretcher job. (My note: Why in the world would they do this?)

-- Nikita Koloff is out for a while. Dick Murdoch is headed to Japan. The Barbarian canceled his tour of Japan so he can stick around and finish the feud with the Road Warriors.

-- 02/17 in Los Angeles drew 1,800 headlined by Ric Flair & Tully Blanchard vs Lex Luger & Barry Windham in a **** match, according to reader Pat Crocker. 02/19 in Richmond, VA drew 9,500 fans and a gate of $75,000 for a TV taping that will air the week of 3/5. They taped a TV cage match of Flair & Blanchard vs Luger & Ole Anderson, with Arn & JJ running in and attacking Luger and Ole until Dusty Rhodes made the save and singlehandedly cleaned house.

-- 02/28 at the Omni has Dusty, Luger & Ole vs Flair, Arn & Tully in a cage match, and it's being billed as the first time Dusty and Ole have ever teamed. Dave says this is ridiculous and almost an insult to the local fans, because the angle a few years previous where Dusty & Ole teamed and Ole turned is one of the most famous angles of all time.

-- 02/21 at Nassau drew 1,500 paid and 2,500 fans headlined by Dusty & Luger vs Flair & Tully. 2/16 in Albuquerque, NM, drew 3,006 fans headlined by Dusty, Luger & Windham vs Flair, Arn & Tully.

-- "The Varsity Club is one of the best ideas I've seen in a long time. I'm amazed just how effective Rotunda has become. It's mind-blowing how a creative gimmick can turn around a guy whose career seemed going nowhere."

-- "Even though just about everyone I talk with agrees that Sting has surpassed Luger (as far as potential to be this group's top young babyface), my guess is he won't be given the chances Luger will be getting. Simply put, it's like the difference between a first round draft choice and a seventh round draft choice. Even if the 7th round guy does better, you don't want to let the world know you made a mistake so you keep giving the 1st round guy chances for a long time. Simply put, there is too much money invested in Luger (reportedly his contract is only seven times more lucrative than Sting's) to not try to build him into the key guy and not make him an eventual champion. Sting's contract runs out in May and those negotiations could be quite interesting."

-- The Rock & Roll Express is scheduled to debut as babyfaces at the 02/20 tapings. Dave doesn't think this makes sense, since they were always booed on Crockett shows in the Twin Cities, and they have a natural feud with Michaels and Jannetty. Later in the issue, Dave says Morton and Gibson didn't even show up, but Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond did, and they won the tag titles.

-- Tom Zenk quit the same day he was to do an angle with Curt Hennig at a TV taping, because he wanted a guarantee. He also didn't understand the logic of doing a time limit draw with Billy Robinson before feuding with Hennig.

-- The Nasty Boys have been let go.

-- In addition to Curt Hennig, Kevin Kelly and Madusa Miceli are also on guarantees. Hennig's is $1,500 per week and Kelly and Miceli's is less than $300 per week.

-- The AWA will restart on 3/19 in Las Vegas.

-- "I believe the word in Minneapolis is that due to all the confusion from the 2/4 Hennig vs Greg Gagne match that they are saying the title is held up. So they've got the tag title held up in three cities but nowhere else, and the singles title held up in two cities with two different challengers."

-- Wally Karbo and Verne Gagne have settled their lawsuit out of court, with Verne agreeing to pay Karbo whatever he owes him. Karbo is settling for 10 cents on the dollar.

-- They shot an angle at the Las Vegas tapings with Baron Von Raschke and Sheik Adnan El-Kaissey. "Boy, they'll pack them in for those grudge matches."

-- "I'm told the recent AWA cards have drawn between 42 and 300 fans."

-- "On the Minneapolis TV show which aired on 2/21, Verne said that all the promoters in the Midwest want to recognize Greg as the champion. He later said if Stanley Blackburn doesn't like it, then maybe the AWA will have to find a new president. I wonder what Stanley Blackburn feels about being put in the position of being the top heel in the AWA. Maybe he can team with Sheik and feud with Verne and the Baron. Verne even compared the current situation to the forming of the AWA back in 1957 when Edouardo Carpentier beat Lou Thesz (one of the falls was via DQ) and the NWA wouldn't recognize the title change but the promoters in the Midwest took it upon themselves to recognize Carpentier and those promoters wound up as the AWA a few years later with Verne as champion after Verne beat Carpentier (at least when they bring up old stories, they are true stories.)"

-- There is pressure on Curt Hennig, and they appear to be covering their backsides if something happens with him. He took a hard bump on his neck and shoulder and was supposed to be in traction, but worked in Portland and Las Vegas through heavy pain. He did miss two spot shows, which the office was furious about. Dave suspects they are looking for an excuse to cut out his big guarantee. "Hey, if Curt's available, I just hope some guys looking for a Fourth Horseman wake up."

-- The Von Erichs story in Penthouse magazine won't appear as soon as expected. It will likely appear in August, "which given their past history, means one real tragedy, two fake tragedies, and one fake relative will all be introduced before the story sees the light of print."

-- "Is the world ready for this? A Von Erich comic book? Creative Ink of Tyler, Texas is scheduled to come out in March with 'The Saga of the Von Erich Warriors'. The storyline (why am I wasting space on this?) is that Kevin, Kerry and Fritz are taken from Earth to a planet called Namoria to save the planet from the attackers from an evil planet called Nefarian."

-- If the Mantell/Crockett deal actually happens, look for a Flair/Kerry match at Texas Stadium in May. The business has picked up some lately, but Dave says people suggesting it has a chance of replacing Crockett as the #2 promotion are being ridiculous.

-- Terry Gordy earned a title shot against Al Perez by beating Kerry Von Erich on 2/15 in Ft. Worth, but the match won't happen for several weeks since Gordy is about to tour Japan.

-- Michael Hayes is pretty much the assistant booker to Ken Mantell, although Bill Irwin and Eric Embry are also helping with booking at times.

-- No word yet on Steve Williams coming in, although he's expected to work spot dates between tours of Japan.

-- The split into two promotions took place over the past week. The new group will be USA Pro Wrestling and will be based in Knoxville and run Eastern Tennessee towns like Chattanooga. It will be run by Ron Fuller. They'll have the Mongolian Stomper, Ron Wright, Buddy Landell, the Rock & Roll RPMs, Hector Guerrero, Bob Armstrong, Doug Furnas, Scott Armstrong, Moondog Spot, Austin Idol, Johnny Rich and Davey Rich. Continental will continue operating in Alabama and will also start doing shows in Northwest Florida again. They will have Dutch Mantell, Wendell Cooley (who is out with a broken kneecap), Doug Furnas (who is also out from a concussion from a missed Space Flying Tiger Drop where Humongous didn't catch him properly and he suffered a 28-stitch wound across his face), Lord Humongous, Detroit Demolition, Downtown Bruno, Tom Pritchard, Tony Anthony, Dirty White Girl, Danny Davis, Frankie Lancaster, The Southern Boys, Scott Hall, Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden.

-- Larry Hamilton is back in action. He had been out a few months after breaking his leg in a car accident, which they attributed to Scott Armstrong's figure four leglock on TV.

-- Detroit Demolition has joined Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden and Dutch Mantell in the Stud Stable, which Dave calls a poor man's Four Horsemen.

-- 2/15 in Birmingham drew 500 fans. Crowds in Montgomery seem to be on the upswing again, as they've been averaging 200 fans per show and recently drew 1,800.

-- CWA will start on FNN/Score on Saturday, April 2.

-- The AWA tag titles are held up in Memphis only between the Rock & Roll Express and Midnight Rockers. On 2/15, which drew an $11,000 house, their match ended with a ref bump, a second ref coming in, and the two referees counted simultaneous pins on each side. They did the same finish on 2/16 in Louisville (which drew 3,000 fans - triple the norm!).

-- Missy Hyatt showed up on the 2/20 TV with Doug Gilbert. She kept avoiding the subject of Eddie Gilbert, who had not yet made an appearance, but Dave thinks will be in the territory very soon. Gilbert was fired by JCP for missing two TV tapings where he was not told he needed to be there in the first place. "Actually, it was a minor miracle he lasted as long as he did in the NWA, since somehow he made himself as the UWF booker to be the focal point of the behind-the-scenes UWF vs. NWA feud, yet Gilbert actually has outlasted every ex-UWF wrestler in staying with JCP except for Sting, Rick Steiner, and Black Bart."

-- Manny Fernandez is coming back, but will be turning heel, and then leaving for Japan in about a month.

-- Bill Dundee has decided to stay instead of working for USA Pro.

-- On 2/8 in Memphis, Max Pain defeated Jerry Lawler to win the CWA title.

-- "Also new to the area is prelim heel Scotty the Body, a name I've heard before from some independent but I can't recall where. He's getting no push whatsoever and from what I hear, doesn't deserve one."

-- The 2/15 Lawler/Rich match lasted 17:38 with both guys bleeding and the crowd split 50/50, although Rich worked really hard at turning the crowd against him. He was DQ'd for using a piledriver, and after the match they brawled in the crowd throwing chairs everywhere.

-- The Rock & Roll Express is in for at least a while.

-- The territory has some real problems when the top two babyfaces (Lawler and Jarrett) are only getting cheered by half the fans."

-- The Brother Ernest Angel gimmick was intended to be a parody of Jerry Falwell. He is now managing Max Pain & Gary Young, and the Samoans.

-- Billy Jack Haynes was granted a promoter's license last Tuesday. According to the 2/17 Oregonian, he has started a company called Oregon Wrestling Federation and plans to hold cards six nights per week in Oregon, and will also be the top babyface. He will be running opposition to Don Owen, and also Vince McMahon, who does a show at the Portland Coliseum every two months or so. A guy named Marc Caplan is working with Haynes on marketing and promotion. He plans to run with 14 to 16 wrestlers, but there are no official names released regarding who's coming in. He will supposedly get TV on the ABC affiliate in Portland. He will open the promotion with a big card at the Portland Memorial Coliseum in May or June. His promotion will concentrate on big guys instead of smaller workers, and Tom Zenk has been contacted about coming in, but Don Owen is trying to get him to come in as well. Dave says it's interesting that Haynes plans to wrestle when the whole reason the WWF claims they released him was because of his poor health. Haynes tried to get Vince McMahon's help in setting up, but was turned down.

-- Rip Oliver and Brian Adams had a loser leaves town match on 2/20 in Portland. Oliver won, as Adams is headed to Japan to work for Inoki as the Midnight Soldier.

-- Because of the Olympics, Stampede had to move to a new building which only seats 950 fans, and with so much competition in town, they'll have a tough time drawing the next few weeks, and maybe even longer, as the Olympics take a lot of money out of the local economy.

-- 2/12 did a near capacity house.

-- Rip Rogers is now being called Butch Cassidy, and Kerry Brown wants to be called The Sundance Kid.

-- There have been preliminary talks about airing NJPW on FNN/Score on Sunday nights, but the odds against it are strong.

-- Tatsumi Fujinami boycotted a show where he was supposed to team with Inoki, but it has been worked out and they are teaming again.

-- Very little of the excellent junior heavyweight matches of late are making TV because TV Asahi thinks they hurt ratings.

-- New Japan's next series is 2/29 to 3/19 with Dick Murdoch, The Samurai Warrior, Hiro Matsuda, Jerry Gray, Kareem Muhammad, Vinnie Valentino, and Brian Adams, who will be the Midnight Soldier, although magazines were hinting it would be Scott Hall. Larry Sharpe was contacted to manage Soldier, but the deal fell through.

-- Inoki will have a match against Chris Dolman on 5/7 in Tokyo.

-- Riki Choshu's popularity has really fizzled as of late.

-- Tony St. Clair came in dressed as a pirate and threw powder in Inoki's face on 2/7 after a match with Vader. However, on 2/29 a different person will be in the same gimmick, and no one knows who yet.

-- Vader is getting over like crazy because he is getting pushed so hard.

-- The Inoki/Choshu match in Osaka not only did a $250,000 sellout, but turned many fans away.

-- New Japan is still banned for good from using the Sumo Hall.

-- There were problems between Abdullah the Butcher and TNT on the last tour. TNT didn't want to team with Abdullah, because he was held back to make Abdullah the star of the team. It looks like things were resolved.

-- Killer Khan, Tiger Toguchi and Shunji Takano will be joining Genichiro Tenryu's "Revolution" group. "I wish Baba would concentrate on younger guys, because in this day and age, Khan & Toguchi won't help him out much although Takano has excellent potential as a third member of the Tenryu & Hara team."

-- John Tenta is being talked about as the most improved wrestler of 1988, and is said to throw the best dropkick in wrestling.

-- The current series is from 02/20 to 03/11 with Stan Hansen, Joel Deaton, Terry Gordy, Rocky Iaukea, Jerry Oates and Joe & Dean Malenko.

-- A fund has been set up to pay for legal fees of Al Blake (Vladimir Pietrov), who was convicted on cocaine trafficking. For more information, write to Allen Blake Fund; Box 611; Anoka, MN 55303. "If anyone has any Vladimir Pietrov memorabilia you can also write the same address." (My note: Unbelievable.)

-- The Simmons Research Bureau came out with annual statistics on the size and demographics of TV audiences for several niches, including wrestling. They may not be completely accurate, but Madison Avenue sees them as accurate, so they're important because ad buying is based on them. Wrestling has apparently had a 5% increase in viewers overall in the past year, with 30.3 million adults watching. It ranked behind pro football, baseball, college football, pro basketball, college basketball, and boxing. "The reason I don't personally take any stock into the report is that the sport showing the largest increase in viewers over the past year was Roller Derby, which the survey said increased a whooping 29.8%. This is ridiculous, because two years back both Derby promotions had national coverage from ESPN and drew good ratings, along with a very small syndication package. Last year, both Derbies weren't on ESPN and neither group even made new tapes for syndication. One group isn't even running at present and the other group, while running live dates still, hasn't made a new TV taping in more than a year. Yet they report a 29% increase in viewers when precious little televised Derby even exists.

-- "The bad news for wrestling is that the demographics of the wrestling viewership are considered not a good profile for advertisers. The sheer raw numbers of viewers can make wrestling a good buy and will help overcome some misgivings some advertisers may have about the make-up of the wrestling audience. The survey stated, in proportion to the general public, wrestling is strongest among blacks, 18-24 year old men, men in general (the wrestling audience is 61% male, 39% female), low income families, people without a high school degree and adults who are single."

-- On a local promo for Southern Championship Wrestling, Paul E. Dangerously was doing an interview with Randy Rose. Paul E. said he didn't care how much money it cost him, he was going to do away with Tommy Rich. Randy Rose then pulled out his wallet and threw a bunch of $1 bills in the air. Paul E. said, "Randy, I see you've cashed Verne's check."

-- Savannah Jack has a virus that he has caught that is apparently so serious he will need a heart transplant.

-- POWW is scheduled to run 20 dates in March. They have a few workers, but mostly wannabe models and actresses. The pay is good, but most of them don't even know what basic terms like "spot" mean.

-- Nick Gulas is running weekly cards in Nashville opposite Jerry Jarrett. He is using Tojo Yammamoto as his main draw.

-- Vic Steamboat, Steve Keirn, and Ted Arcidi are working for Angelo Savoldi's ICW. Arcidi will feud with Tony Atlas.

-- Robert Gibson hasn't come to terms on money yet, but Southern Championship Wrestling is already advertising him to appear.

-- Paul E. Dangerously and Bruiser Brody apparently had some type of altercation as the World of Wheels show in Atlanta. No one was hurt.

-- Dave answering a reader question about Boris Malenko: "I wasn't following wrestling that closely in Malenko's days, but do know Malenko did work briefly in Texas in 1972. I'm not sure the why's of everything, but blacklisting was very prevalent in those days and Malenko was apparently blacklisted from the mainstream, but I can only speculate on the reasons."

-- Dave answering a reader question about wrestlers being rude to fans or not always signing autographs: "As far as I'm concerned, Hogan has a perfect right to sign or not sign autographs as does everyone else in sports or entertainment. I've been in public places with wrestlers many times and the vast majority are very friendly about signing if approached in a friendly way. Some are mean and curt with fans even when approached in a friendly way. Some wrestlers aren't 'public' people and don't enjoy being in the spotlight when the show is over, even though many actually live for the attention. The wrestling lifestyle (travel to the point of exhaustion, oftentimes being screwed around by promoters and constant minor and major joint pains from the physical pounding along with pressure to perform and maintain an unhealthy physique -- in other words use steroids) can easily lead to irritability and moodiness."

-- Dave answering a reader question about David McLane and his coverage of GLOW vs his coverage of POWW: "Dave McLane started GLOW in time for the 1985-1986 TV season and filmed 26 episodes, then filmed a similar number for 86-87. During that time he had a falling out with the GLOW money people when it came time for actually putting on live shows. He broke away, formed POWW, and took most of the girls with him. GLOW continued showing tapes more than a year old this season with the same girls on POWW with new names and more current tapes."
tlk23 is offline  
post #19 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 12:32 PM
Learning to break kayfabe
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Where I live
Posts: 245
Points: 0
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

This was really interesting to read, thanks for sharing

Violence Innovator is offline  
post #20 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 12:42 PM
Purebred Powerhouse
Something Savage's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,754
Points: 0
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Anything from the territorial days of kayfabe makes for good readin'... Thanks.

Something Savage is offline  

User Tag List

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome