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post #261 of 275 (permalink) Old 04-04-2014, 01:53 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

So the next edition will be about HBK losing his smile?

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post #262 of 275 (permalink) Old 04-04-2014, 04:18 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Dave Meltzer Reviews NWO Sould Out 1997

You may call it the night that the NWO gimmick was fully exposed. Maybe it'll even go down as a turning point in an ever changing wrestling war at the very worst. At best, it was one real bad night, lucky if only for the fact that one bad show doesn't change the face of wrestling and that the majority of the television viewing wrestling fans don't order PPV and thus didn't see it. Problem is, most of the television viewing wrestling fans who actually spend money on pro wrestling, thus basically keep the wrestling economy going, do order PPV events.

NWO Souled Out, what came off to outsiders as the brainchild of someone intoxicated by his own success to the point of all perspective being lost, was the single worst PPV show in the history of pro wrestling. There have been shows where the quality of the matches were worse, although this would be a bad show by that criterion. There have been shows with less heat and worse atmosphere, although this would be a bad show by those criteria as well. But there has never been a show with such poor announcing and outside wrestling skits, and combined with the bad wrestling, lack of heat and bad atmosphere made it the night the Baltimore Bash and the Philadelphia Halloween Havoc were no longer thought of as the bottom of the PPV barrel. It was like WCW copied the worst aspects of the first two weeks of Shotgun Saturday Night, and then tried to go even farther to the point it looked like a bar show put on by a person whose brain was so fried by acid that only they knew what world they were in and it had only a semblance of resemblance to the pro wrestling show they were attempting to put together. It was even more amazing coming from a company that was on its biggest roll in its history and is loaded when it comes to talent depth, neither of which were apparent.

The only signs of the success of WCW were the sellout at the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, IA of 5,120 paying $68,209 who largely felt as ripped off as those at home did that spent $27.95 on this mess. And it will likely turn out to be a fairly significant buy rate for the show since NWO was the in thing in wrestling. This show, based on crowd reactions, in that an NWO show in a sea of NWO t-shirts saw the NWO wrestlers get booed, or in many cases, ignored in nearly every match sans Scott Hall & Kevin Nash's tag team match. While the name NWO is over, the NWO name can't get anyone over. The NWO's popularity is Hall & Nash. Hogan, trying to play heel and rogue babyface at the same time, is still both a big drawing card based on his past and an obnoxious bore based on his present. The rest of the guys are guys who weren't over, dressed up with the same cool t-shirts as those in the crowd, but still couldn't get over. While Hall & Nash can get away with the teenage lingo or just about anything else in their late 30s because when you're over you can almost do no wrong, both Eric Bischoff and especially Ted DiBiase come off as pitiful trying to act like teenagers in the parking lot during class breaks while in their 40s. Sweet? Not!

The less said about the NWO Beauty Pageant and the members of the washed-up band Jackal the better. If the Oak Ridge Boys, who are a real big name band, in Nashville, their home town, didn't sell ticket one or PPV one and ended up as the bathroom break for the live wrestling fans, the idea of trying it again with a worse band just shows that those who don't know anything about the past are doomed to repeat its stupidity. If that wasn't bad enough, the booking was horrible as well. The Nick Patrick gag went from being a heat seeking missile to a tired worn out screw-job by the climax of one of the worst world title PPV matches in history. A Mexican death match without any Mexicans and without an explanation as to why? A wrestler running another over in a motorcycle and the announcers selling it as a comedy spot rather than a heat spot? And that same wrestler after having been run down, appeared two nights later on a live television show not selling an injury nor did the announcers even acknowledge the incident. A PPV show without even one interview with a wrestler, despite having some of the best interviews in wrestling sitting about fourth rows deep in the audience? Suffice to say that if someone wanted to put on the worst show possible on purpose, they could have put on worse matches, but they'd be hard pressed to have a worse show.

1. Masahiro Chono pinned Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) in 11:08 after a Yakuza kick. Bischoff made a remark that they didn't have to give tickets away at a 7-11 to get people to come to this PPV. That was in reference to the WWF which only could get 48,000 paid for its show last week. The match started slow. Jericho did a great plancha and then his knee hit the post and began selling the knee. Fans began chanting "USA" even though the only American in the ring was Nick Patrick. Chono brought a table from under the ring and set it up. Jericho mounted a comeback doing both a dropkick off the top rope and his Lionsault (quebrada), but still selling the knee. As Jericho went to the top, Chono kicked him off the top and he fell backwards through the table. As he got back in, Chono hit the Yakuza kick for the pin. **

The beauty contest started with Eric Bischoff's teenage protege, Jeff Katz, making his television debut in a basically impossible situation. The idea was to spoof beauty contests, but it was so lame the crowd began chanting for Debra McMichael.

2. Big Bubba Ray Traylor beat Hugh Big Dick Dudley Morrus (William DeMott)--hey, isn't McDevitt representing this guy in a Mexican death match. Morrus subbed for Konnan who was saved the embarrassment by being told not to come due to a scheduling conflict in Mexico. Rules were the match continued until one man couldn't answer the bell. Morrus was wearing a total Dudleys blue jeans and tie-died t-shirt gimmick, a gimmick he didn't wear on Nitro two nights later. You'd think they'd limit copying other offices to their good gimmicks. They traded using chains on each other, which the announcers tried to sell as comedy spots. Morrus finally delivered a hot moonsault, but Patrick wouldn't count to ten. They ended up on the floor and Morrus tried a twisting crossbody off steps and crashed onto the floor when Bubba moved. Bubba then ran him down with a motorcycle and Morrus was counted out of the ring in 9:03. 1/2*

3. Jeff Jarrett beat Michael Wallstreet (Lawrence Rotunda) in 9:22. Jarrett was introduced as "Double J." As if legal affairs aren't busy enough with depositions about ridiculous mistakes. The story of this match was that Debra McMichael looked worried as Jarrett would sell. Match was boring as neither guy is over, even though Jarrett has been really good in the ring during his WCW stint. The way the company has portrayed him in the booking makes him out to be the ultimate geek. Wallstreet had Jarrett in an abdominal stretch when Debra made Steve hit him with the briefcase, and McMichael intimidated Patrick into making the three count. DUD

4. Marcus "Buff" Bagwell pinned Scotty Riggs (Scott Antol) in 13:51. Riggs is so not over that he's under. Bagwell is a very good worker in his new role, but Riggs is a zero by himself. Finish saw the debut of the Buff blockbuster, which is basically coming off the top rope into a neckbreaker drop which was a really cool finisher. *1/4

The beauty contest travesty continued. The latest was Katz mentioning that Vince (the NWO Vince of course) wears a cheap hair piece and powder blue suits. If Jesse Ventura or Bobby Heenan would have said it on a good show it would be funny, but at this point in the show every joke fell flat.

5. Scott Norton beat Diamond Dallas Page via count out in 9:39. Page was taking puffs from a cigar early in the match. Sting showed up in the balcony but that was the extent of his involvement in the show. Right in the middle of the match, Bagwell, Bubba, Vince and Wallstreet came out and gave Page an NWO t-shirt. He ripped up the shirt, gave Norton a Diamond cutter, punched all the other guys and ran into the crowd. Patrick then announced Norton the winner via count out. 1/2*

6. The Steiners (Robert & Scott Rechsteiner) beat Scott Hall & Kevin Nash to supposedly win the WCW tag titles in 14:43. Better than you'd think. Steiners offense with the suplexes was real good. Most of the match saw them get heat on Rick, building to Scott's hot tag. It was your basic tag team match. Crowd booed Steiners heavily early on but seemed to cheer them more as the match went on. Finish saw Hall give Scott the Outsider edge after a ref bump. Rick then bulldogged Hall off the top rope and Scott covered him. Randy Anderson, who was in the fourth row, ran to the ring and hopped the rail while Rick knocked down Patrick once again and counted the fall and gave the Steiners the belts. **1/4

7. Eddie Guerrero beat Syxx (Sean Waltman) in a ladder match to gain possession of the U.S. title belt in 13:48. This was an excellent match, although one wouldn't have known it since the announcers absolutely killed the match. Bischoff spent more time trying to get over that he knows karate and Scott Hall invented ladder matches than build drama into a damn good match. Actually most people didn't even recognize this as anything more than an average match when it was a great effort by both. Guerrero did a great plancha off the top rope to the floor. Syxx suplexed Guerrero over the top rope to the floor and followed with a tope con hilo. Then they started doing ladder spots. Granted, this didn't hold a candle to the Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels PPV matches, but it was at least the same calibre as their house show ladder matches. Highlight was both men on the next to the last step up the ladder and Syxx did basically a standing Rider kick and both took big bumps to the mat. Finish saw both at the top of the ladder and each came down holding the belt. Guerrero managed to hit Syxx with the belt and he took the bump to the floor while Guerrero climbed down with the belt. ****

Miss NWO finally ended with the sight of Bischoff french kissing an overweight mid-50s women to no cheers, even fewer laughs and a lot of gagging around the country. By this time the show was about as much fun to watch as three hours of somebody masturbating. In fact, I'm not sure that isn't what we were watching.

8. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) and The Giant (Paul Wight) went to a no decision in 11:00. Hogan was accompanied to the ring by Nate Newton, Ray Donaldson and George Teague of the Dallas Cowboys who seemed not to have a clue what was going on. Hogan tried a few wrestling spots but they were done in slow-mo, about the speed if you throw punches while under water. Giant missed an elbow off the top rope which was impressive for a guy of his size. Bischoff kept saying how Giant outweighed Hogan by 80 to 90 pounds, which may be a legit figure, but the gimmick is Giant weighs more than 450 and God Knows Hogan couldn't be more than 260. Hogan for the first time since 1990 actually hit on his foot to the face spot. Finish saw Hogan do the legdrop, but Giant got back up and choke slammed him. Patrick counted to two and said Hogan kicked out even though he hadn't. He counted to two again with the same gimmick. He counted to two again, then injured his shoulder so he couldn't lift his arm for the third count. Giant choke slammed Patrick. At this point the jobber crew (Bagwell, Wallstreet, Bubba, Syxx, Norton and Vince) hit the ring and Giant was beating them all up (notice Hall, Nash and Chono had the sense not to involve themselves in this aspect of the angle). Bischoff ran to the ring and gave Hogan a guitar and he destroyed it over Giant's back. Giant survived a fall off Cobo Arena but couldn't stand up to a gimmicked guitar to the back. Hall & Nash then showed up and Hall pulled down Giant's pants showing everyone his enlarged butt and they spray painted NWO 4 life on his back. Well, it makes next year's awards easy enough. -*1/2

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post #263 of 275 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 05:28 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Story Of How Monday Night Raw Became A 2 Hour Show

As of press time on 2/4, there was still no deal between the WWF and USA network regarding doing a weekly two-hour generally live Monday Night Raw show head-to-head with Nitro.

There has been much talk between the sides, and Raw was expanded to two hours on 2/3 and it is believed that will continue on 2/17 and 2/24 although even that hasn't been confirmed. It appears both WWF and USA network both want the two-hour live format, but the hold up appears to be what percentage each side is going to pay of the estimated $100,000 per week plus it would cost to do a weekly live shoot.

The WWF has been working toward the probability of a two-hour live show most weeks, and at one point last week USA network even told advertisers of the format change as a long-term deal, but has since shied away in being committed past the end of February. The first two-hour show, taped three nights earlier at Sky Dome in Toronto, was basically a last week deal as WWF didn't get the official word from USA as to whether the show would be one hour or two hours until the evening of 1/29, although there had been talks and it was well known by the previous weekend it was a strong possibility.

The impetus for the change is coming more from USA than WWF, because it's highly touted new series "Le Femme Nikita" is struggling in the ratings against TNT's "Robin Hood." The reason the changes are being rushed is because February are sweeps month where the basic advertising rates are determined based on overall prime time ratings so it's more important for all TV stations to hotshot this month, particularly USA and TNT because of their close battle to bragging rights of being the top rated prime time cable network. The belief at the USA network is that the one hour Raw is providing TNT was a tremendous lead-in for the second hour of Nitro, which did 4.4 ratings on both 1/20 and 1/27 while the USA 9 p.m. programming has gone down the tubes in competition. While Nitro beats Raw in the head-to-head hour every week, the margin of the victory is much closer than in the second hour with Nitro hour two against whatever USA puts in the 9 p.m. hour.

The original plan, due to February sweeps, is that USA wanted the WWF to air the entire Royal Rumble on the one-hour show on 2/3, which was pushed all week as "Royal Rumble Monday." The reason is that the highest rated pro wrestling show in the history of the USA network was the 1988 Royal Rumble, which did an 8.2 rating (broadcasted live one year before it became a PPV fixture), and that's the type of thing you copy during sweeps. However, after agreeing to air the Rumble, Request and Viewers Choice protested and apparently there is some kind of exclusivity protection in their PPV deals so instead what aired of the Rumble on the two-hour show ended up being three different 30 second clips rather than the entire 50 minute match. At the same time, USA now wanted a two-hour show so the decision was made to turn the 1/31 house show in Toronto, which had a huge advance, into a Raw television taping.

However, with all the pressure on both sides for the first two-hour head-to-head confrontation, both shows were major disappointments despite each drawing a large live crowd. From a ratings standpoint, the margin of WCW's victory, as expected, was cut noticeably from previous weeks as Nitro did a 3.04 rating and 4.6 share to Raw's 2.64 rating and 3.9 share which is the first sign of what the affects of a two hour show will be. Nitro rating has to be a disappointment since the teased but never outright announced that there would be a Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper title match later in the show. The first hour was very close, with WCW with a 2.76 to 2.64 edge, but WCW was still the show that picked up steam and easily won the second hour 3.31 to 2.63. WWF opened with a sizable lead with Austin vs. Vader at 2.67 against Dragon vs. Mendoza and Kidman vs. Glacier at 2.34. That was the only point WCW trailed. Ice Train-Parka against Vega-Funk was a 2.55 tie. Steiners-Heat vs. the beginning of the tag title bout saw a huge 3.17 to 2.46 gap and Enos-Malenko vs. tag title finish was 2.99 to 2.87 (although trailing at this point, the tag title match was the WWF show's peak rating). Page-Renegade against Crush-Goldust was 2.99 to 2.74 edge for WCW. Wright-Calo vs. the Michaels-Hart interview segment was 3.24 to 2.74 WCW edge. Konnan-Benoit vs. Mero-Helmsley was 3.37 to 2.43 WCW edge, and the Jarrett deal and mainly Hogan-Piper confrontation against the Undertaker match was 3.64 to 2.61 WCW edge.

WCW drew the first real sellout to pro wrestling at the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis since a March 1986 match with Jerry Lawler & Dutch Mantel vs. Bill Dundee & Buddy Landel (hey, you should have seen the television show building up that match). The actual attendance was nowhere near record breaking since production killed several thousand seats with the total crowd at 8,173 (6,946 paying $77,128) while the aforementioned sellout was closer to 11,000. On television they announced thousands were turned away but it was more like a few hundred. The gate was the fourth largest for pro wrestling ever in Memphis. The WWF drew 25,628 (an estimated 22,000 paying $324,326) to Sky Dome, which they billed several times as the largest crowd in the history of Monday night television. Vince McMahon called it a capacity crowd even though the place holds more than 65,000. McMahon and Jim Ross threw frequent barbs through the two-hour live voice-over of the taped matches, making numerous references to bait-and-switch tactics, presumably on Nitro, saying they deliver what they advertise and will deliver the complete matches they say they will and aren't teasing with a match that may or may not take place (in reference to WCW opening the Nitro show teasing that there would be a Hogan-Piper match which ended up simply being a confrontation angle and no match). Of course, with USA plugging airing of the Rumble heavily for one week and it being only 30 second clips, one has to say this wasn't the week for WWF to be name-calling about those tactics.

Both shows were disappointments. The Sky Dome was poorly lit, the crowd wasn't well miced and most of the matches were disappointments. It came off as a dead show, reminiscent of one of those bad WWF house shows that used to be featured on the old "Prime Time Wrestling" two hour show in the 80s, leaving many to question whether the WWF has the talent depth to put on a weekly quality two-hour show. They do on paper, but this show wasn't a good argument supporting that case. WCW had a hotter crowd on television, but killed the crowd on a show where seven of the nine matches were very bad, and the finishes up and down were even worse, particularly a double-run-in finish during a Steiners vs. Harlem Heat match that killed the crowd dead in its tracks for the next several matches. The only high point of the show was a closing Hulk Hogan-Roddy Piper angle where Piper brought his son out, said he wasn't accepting the match with Hogan, got insulted for a while, and came back brawling and accepting the 2/23 Cow Palace match.

The current working ideas for the WWF, all subject to change, is if the two-hour live format goes into effect on 2/17, the road schedule would change completely. Shows that already have advertising out and international tours will go on as scheduled. They are attempting to book Monday night dates where none exists in buildings near to where the Sunday live event matches are being held, so the idea that most of the tapings will be done at the Manhattan Center isn't the case. The scheduled Tuesday Superstars tapings in cities where advertising is already out, such as 2/18 in Birmingham, AL, should the changes be made, would turn into regular house shows, although eventually the shows where there is no advertising out that have been planned as Superstars tapings would likely end up being canceled. Over the long run, the plan would be for all house show tours to last from Friday until Monday, with the wrestlers then off until the next Friday, although it will take some time under any circumstances where this will be fully implemented. The Monday show would be a live two-hour Raw taping followed by a one-hour Superstars taping for the show that airs six days later so everything on Superstars would become more current, and a dark main event match or two to keep the crowd from leaving during the Superstars taping. Superstars would contain fewer matches than in the past, maybe around four, and they'd last longer. The two-hour Raw would contain longer matches than Nitro and the attempt would be made because of that to have a better match quality, exemplified by the 2/3 show which had six matches as opposed to WCW which has anywhere from eight to 11 matches. Numbers aside, neither side succeeded that night when it came to match quality.

No final decisions have been made provided the switch to two hours live goes through, but it is believed it was also affect the weekly Shotgun Saturday Night tapings, that are done generally in New York. There has already been a lot of complaints from the wrestlers that work the Shotgun tapings, because the top stars are under downside guarantees that basically mean their price per show averages out to $1,300 to $1,700 per night minimum (even though payoffs in some cities may not reach that level, it averages out to that level if not quite a bit higher). Between appearing on shows that look shabby and minor league, payoffs of only a few hundred dollars, most of which is eaten up in road expenses of having to say overnight in expensive New York City, poor locker room facilities and having to work past night screwing up the already screwed up sleep patterns, you can see the complaints. The fact the shows have generally been poor doesn't help matters. Shotgun was done to give WWF a live weekly television show, but if Raw goes like weekly, the idea that the production staff would have to put together a midnight show on Saturday, a live Superstars taping the next Sunday morning and then go on the road for a live shoot every Monday is a killer in many ways and ups to the potential for Monday night live screw-ups caused by fatigue. Because of that, there is talk of taping several Shotgun shows at a time. But none of this is confirmed because the USA deal hasn't been completed.

If the deal is completed, Raw will be taped live on 2/17 in Nashville, 2/24 at the Manhattan Center, the 3/3 show will be taped from Berlin, Germany on 2/26 presumably headlined by the European title tournament championship match, 3/10 will be live from Worcester, MA, 3/17 will be live from Syracuse, NY and 3/24 will be live from Rockford, IL.

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post #264 of 275 (permalink) Old 04-15-2014, 04:20 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by The Corre View Post
Not exactly 20 years ago, but some interesting comments nontheless. This was during the time WWE was under heavy fire due to the Benoit tradegy and their shady wellness policy:

[WON issue on the drug scandal]

There's like 22 pages covering the whole case and it's filled with interesting stuff so if anyone wants me to post some more quotes from Vince/Linda/Steph/Dixie Carter or the commitee, let me know.
Hey guys, I posted this ^ a couple months ago. I wanted to read the full piece again, but I can't for the life of me remember what issue that came from. I didn't post a date in my original post, it sounds like something that came after 2009 because they talk about Test in there (who passed away in May 2009 I think).
I looked through all my 2009 WON but I can't seem to find it.. Anyone know what the date was on this newsletter? Thanks in advance!

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post #265 of 275 (permalink) Old 04-23-2014, 12:51 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Febuary 24th 1997 Wrestling Observer: Shawn Looses His Smile

Perhaps the strangest week in World Wrestling Federation history ended up with three WWF title changes, the tease of the end of Shawn Michaels' career, a strange twist in the working relationship with ECW, the beginning of the live Raw, a television special, a PPV event, a surprise IC title switch, numerous long-term plans switched, steroids appeared back to being somewhat in vogue, and perhaps not even limited to the male performers, and the beginning of Wrestlemania hype all crammed into five days.

When the dust settled, Sid was back with the WWF title--a belt that Shawn Michaels never lost and that Bret Hart never beat anyone for in becoming a one-day wonder, and probably wondering himself if he made the worst career move of his career as second guessers and many in the industry were saying by the end of the week. Undertaker vs. Sid will headline Wrestlemania on 3/23 in Chicago, at least as of this week. Michaels' career was teased as being over due to a knee injury portrayed on television Thursday as being so bad even reconstructive surgery may not to able to repair the damage as a teary-eyed Michaels, whose problem was clearly in the interview not a knee injury, said farewell to the WWF in a classic interview repeated to death on television and PPV about 100 times in the ensuing weekend. It wound up only to have noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jim Andrews say Michaels' knee injury wouldn't even require surgery at all, and that after four to six weeks of rehab, he may be able to return. And at press time, it appears the plan is for Michaels to now be put back into the Wrestlemania mix, although not as a wrestler, perhaps doing announcing or as a special referee, wrestle a few major shows during the summer and return full-time in the fall. We're not sure whether plans had been changed at the last minute where Michaels was scheduled to drop the title to Sid on the 2/13 special, but we do know that Michaels' short-term departure threw a total monkey wrench in all the house show and Wrestlemania plans. To the WWF's credit, they didn't pressure Michaels into staying at a time when it appeared emotionally he needed the break, but it was surprising they didn't do an angle to build heat on an opponent for his eventual return.

Rocky Maivia, the former Duane Johnson, with less than one year in the pros, was surprisingly given the IC title on 2/13 from Hunter Hearst Helmsley. There had been some question that Maivia's push was going to wind up in a Van Hammer/Erik Watts like situation, that fans wouldn't buy being a green wrestler being shoved down their throats and push back. If there was any doubt, during the match even before the title had changed were chants of "Rocky sux."

The before-the-camera working relationship with ECW (which has been going on behind-the-scenes to some extent for months now), which had a test run before planned angles were abruptly dropped a few months back, will pick up with a new twist on 2/24 at the Manhattan Center for the second live two hour Raw show. However, this time it appears ECW won't be the heels or the invaders but that ECW will become, like AAA, a babyface promotion working with the WWF. The exposure in that position pretty well guarantees that whatever chance there was that ECW would totally flop on PPV is now exceedingly slim, because the exposure on a wrestling show with actual large mainstream viewership should at least arouse enough curiosity to do a break-even buy rate.

But the biggest story was not the three WWF title changes, the Michaels vacancy on Thursday, the Hart win under Battle Royal rules on Sunday and the Sid win over Hart due to Steve Austin's outside interference on Monday; but the entire strange circumstances involving Michaels, the wrestler who carried the WWF in the ring throughout 1996, and appeared to be breaking down emotionally from pressure at the same time he was wowing crowds in the ring.

On the Raw special, it was announced at the beginning of the show that Michaels would be vacating his title. In a memorable, but now totally over played and emotional interview, Michaels talked about a knee injury so bad it may be beyond surgical repair, how he wouldn't return to wrestling if he was anything less than 100%, and then broke down talking about this past year as being the top man in the business being the happiest year of his life because he got to do everything he dreamed of, and saying it would be okay if it never happened again because at least he got to do it for one year, thanked Vince McMahon for letting it happen, broke down even worse, said he needed to go home to find his smile because he lost it somewhere, and ended it by saying that he needed to go home now as he hugged McMahon in the ring. This sent shock waves throughout the industry because it was all totally unexpected--apparently the WWF higher-ups received word at about 6 p.m. the previous night from Michaels that he was taking time off when Michaels informed WWF officials that his doctor in San Antonio had told him his knee injury could be career ending. WWF sources claim that they chose this tact rather than do an angle on Michaels' knee with a wrestler like Sid or Steve Austin to give him a grudge match upon his return, because they were afraid of doing any further damage to the knee. Perhaps the real-life situation involving Brian Pillman, where both he and the WWF wanted to use him so much when he should have been re-habbing that his ankle healed improperly and he wound up having to have everything redone and start from scratch in an ordeal that will end up keeping him out of the ring for more than one year when all is said and done. Of course, at that same point in time, even with all the damage to Pillman's ankle, they still did the in-ring angle for the storyline explanation and the grudge match built up for the eventual return.

It was announced with the title vacant, that the Final Four match on the Sunday PPV, which was to determine who would get the title shot at Wrestlemania, would instead be for the title, and that the original title contender, Sid, would get the winner the next day. One day before the match, the rules of the Final Four were amended to being Battle Royal rules, which meant eliminations would be by throwing someone over the top rope as well as pins or submissions, although as it turned out all eliminations were over the top, which allowed them to placate more delicate egos and saved all three from doing jobs in a match set up originally to where at least three key performers were going to have to do jobs. Bret Hart captured the title for the fourth time, clotheslining Undertaker over the top when Undertaker was distracted by Austin. The next night it was announced the Hart-Sid winner would face Undertaker at Wrestlemania for the title in the main event. After two re-starts due to Austin jumping both men before the match started, in a gimmick designed to get off to a ratings jump on the most important Monday night ratings war to date (well, at least until next Monday), the match, which started at the beginning of the show wound up as the final match on the show with Sid winning when Austin hit Hart over the head with a chair as Hart had the sharpshooter on Sid.

It appears the top matches at Wrestlemania will be Sid vs. Undertaker, Bret Hart vs. Austin, Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Goldust and a Chicago Street fight with Ahmed Johnson vs. Faarooq. The original plan was for Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon with the tag team title switch that occurs on nearly every Wrestlemania, but that may have already changed. It may be that Hart & Smith, who are more valuable than ever because they need people who can carry time every week with the two-hour live show, will be getting some perks in exchange for dropping the straps. With Michaels out of commission, house shows over the weekend, originally scheduled as Bret Hart & Sid vs. Austin & Michaels main events, changed first to triangle matches with Michaels removed, and then changed again with an injury to Ahmed Johnson, to double mains with Sid vs. Faarooq and the same Final Four with Bret, Undertaker, Vader and Austin that would be on the PPV show on Sunday, giving the wrestlers two try-out matches to get out the kinks. Major house show main events when the group returns from the European tour which starts this week are going to be triangles with Bret Hart, Sid and Austin. With most of the big names gone to Europe, there will be a skeleton crew for the live show at the Manhattan Center, and they are going all out for shocks and surprises for that show.

Exactly what is the true story involving Michaels is anyone's guess. There is no doubt there was a knee injury. Anyone who does what Michaels does is going to wind up with knee damage. Obviously there are serious problems that were a lot more important to address than any knee problems. Just because someone appears on the surface to outsiders to lead a charmed life, in that they have money, looks, ability and can entertain outsiders and are admired and even worshipped by people who don't know them, doesn't mean that on the inside they are any less immune to the same problems that face each of us. A broken heart and broken dreams don't hurt any less if you have a million dollars in the bank or nothing in the bank, or if you having people clamoring for your autograph or blowing smoke up your ass. In fact, if anything, in Michaels position, he's a lot more susceptible because he was put under a microscope and put in a pressure cooker position. You have the illogic from a professional standpoint in his mind that he may be unable to come to grips with. He rose to the top in his profession by doing things a certain way. All the people riding the bandwagon with them on the road up there, many suddenly turn against him and point out his flaws for doing exactly the same thing he did to make it to the top, once he's under the microscope. Despite performing in good matches most nights and great matches on the big shows, and more importantly from the top man position, house show business with him as the key draw and headliner being the best in years--everything he dreamed about being important on paper was going exactly according to plan, suddenly everyone focused on TV ratings and suddenly he was a failure as champion. He was the standard bearer, the quarterback of sorts, on a team that people wrote was on a 33-game losing streak, going downhill fast, despite it really being the most successful it had been in years. And being a perfectionist to his craft in an imperfect world where others make mistakes often, his immaturity showed, particularly when his big buddies left him. If anything, it made the injuries, and the injuries on the inside that are a lot more painful than back and knee hurts, hurt that much worse. And his starting QB position was going to be being taken away either by the former starter who walked out making it somewhat public he was waiting for his rival to self destruct, and came back in with the biggest money offer in company history looking like the wisest clairvoyant in the 20th century; or by someone who couldn't lace his boots but whom fans chanted for while he did the most important and closest to real interview of his life, a cry for help that some people may have understood, but that the fans for the most part thought and the promotion treated as being just business as usual. And maybe his problems had little or nothing to do with the profession that he called his entire life. Maybe it was the fact at 31, he stepped back and realized outside the profession he didn't have a life, which is awfully scary. Maybe it was simply he needed time off to get his house in order, and maybe simply because he was setting up a new home in San Antonio and there's stress moving and all this was to get time away from work to move everything in. Or all of the above. Or none of the above. Maybe his best friends know and are disappointed he isn't getting the help they think he needs. Maybe they don't. The last word appeared to be Michaels returning in a non-wrestling role at Mania, probably to do an angle to lead to his in-ring return, and then he'd work some major shows over the summer before going full-time in the fall, ironically not all that different than the original plans Bret Hart made after he had to drop the title. Rumors will flourish, most of which won't be true and some of which will. The fact WWF after the fact played it up for all it was worth turned it into just another fake-shoot wrestling angle. Michaels has been in them before. The irony was just last year, the last time they played this game and teased Michaels never wrestling again, set him up for the biggest run of his career. Perhaps he forgot, or hoped people wouldn't remember that when he talked in the interview about a doctor telling him he may not be able to wrestle again for the first time in his life, that it may have been the first time a doctor actually said that to him, but it wasn't the first time that story had been told about him. It was the third time Michaels hadn't lost a WWF belt in the ring. In September of 1993, he walked out as IC champion, only to return a short time later. In October of 1995, after being mugged, he wasn't able to return in time for a PPV show and gave back the IC title.

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post #266 of 275 (permalink) Old 04-23-2014, 05:01 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Lovin' this thread, keep the posts coming.

Originally Posted by The Corre View Post
Hey guys, I posted this ^ a couple months ago. I wanted to read the full piece again, but I can't for the life of me remember what issue that came from. I didn't post a date in my original post, it sounds like something that came after 2009 because they talk about Test in there (who passed away in May 2009 I think).
I looked through all my 2009 WON but I can't seem to find it.. Anyone know what the date was on this newsletter? Thanks in advance!
I recently posted about some of the stuff that Meltzer wrote after the Benoit incident. I remember him being really on the money about the WWE's steroid problems and the complete joke that is the Wellness Policy testing.

I was looking for WO issues that I know contained some of these writings. The dates should be the July 2, July 5, or July 10, 2007 editions of the Wrestling Observer.

I posted some quotes that reference these articles here.

If any of you have those Meltzer articles from those dates, please post.

ETA: Fixed the link.


Last edited by LilOlMe; 04-25-2014 at 01:05 AM.
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post #267 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-02-2014, 01:02 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Lets breath some life into this thread. I always thought this was one of the more interesting topics around.

I posted a big coverage story (the one I requested above) on the steroid trials from 2007 at this link so definitely check that out.

As for something new, not sure if these have been posted before:

Hulk Hogan's heel turn:
Spoiler for 07/15/96:
After a 15-year babyface run that started by accident, Hulk Hogan turned heel amidst incredible heat in an angle that will be remembered for years as the climax of WCW's Bash at the Beach PPV show on 7/7 in Daytona Beach.

Hogan turned out to be the mysterious third man on the "Outsiders" team with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, but didn't appear until 16:00 into the main event, which had turned into a tag match with Nash & Hall vs. Sting & Randy Savage, after Lex Luger had been stretchered out in the early moments.

Hogan came out to a babyface pop after Nash had delivered a low blow on Savage. After Hogan teased going after Nash and Hall, and they bailed out of the ring, he then legdropped Savage twice, threw the referee out of the ring, legdropped Savage a third time and covered Savage while Hall counted the pin. The heat, with a literal flood of debris being thrown at the ring, was as intense as anything seen in U.S. rings at a major arena since Jake Roberts and Love Machine were headlining Los Angeles for AAA. After the match, Hogan gave one of his best interviews in years, basically talking about building a giant organization up North (the World Wrestling Federation) and making the owners of that company millions of dollars, then coming to work for Billionaire Ted, who offered him millions. Hogan portrayed it as if Hogan had proved he was bigger than pro wrestling, and that the WCW fans were Johnny-come-latelys who wouldn't even be attending matches for the group if Hogan hadn't have joined and basically called the fans garbage and told them to stick it because of the way they had reacted to him the past few months after he had done all kinds of charity work. The half-shoot, half-work interview was strong and focused enough that it incited enough heat that some fans in the building were ripping up and throwing down their Hogan merchandise and a few people were even crying. Still, according to live reports, approximately 25% of the fans were still cheering Hogan, Nash and Hall (the latter two of whom were reduced to background performers as Hogan held the spotlight at the finish). Nash and Hall had received a predominately babyface reaction when the match began.

What appears is that WCW will be built around a worked promotion vs. promotion feud for the foreseeable future, very similar to the angle that made New Japan millions in 1995-96. The outsider group will be called the New World Order of Wrestling, with Hogan, Hall and Nash. No doubt Jeff Jarrett and Ted DiBiase will join the group in the fall when their Titan contracts expire. The Nasty Boys teased on Nitro joining the group, and no doubt a few others from WCW will "jump" as well, along with WCW making significant plays for any mainline Titan talent whose contract comes due such as Davey Boy Smith.

The Hogan turn totally overshadowed the best match on a WCW PPV show in several years--the Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Psicosis opener which was described by one reader as "the first great match of the 21st century." The two combined pulling out their expected daredevil and intricate precision high spots with strong mat wrestling and more selling and psychology than they would do in Mexico, Japan or ECW. I'd rate this match behind only the Misterio Jr. vs. Juventud Guerrera match in Philadelphia as the best match in the U.S. of 1996.

In between the PPV opener and the angle was a basically average PPV show, highlighted more by the strongest performance in the career of Tony Schiavone as play-by-play announcer. Schiavone focused the entire show on the main angle and the identity of the third man, to the point that the show was largely well received despite the mediocre nature of much of the show, because the key angle paid off in a big way. The angle was in some ways reminiscent of an Ole Anderson turn in Atlanta on Dusty Rhodes in a cage match that is still considered one of the prototype heel turns that has been copied numerous times (most successfully before the 1985 Starrcade involving Rhodes and Ric Flair), both in terms of the shock value of the turn and the strong post-turn heel interview. Schiavone ended the PPV show with the line, "Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell!"

Hogan had agreed to do the heel turn about 11 days before the show, largely because there was no place left in WCW for him had he not chosen to do so. Hogan's contract with WCW was scheduled to expire after two more PPV shows, the "Hog Wild" show in Sturgis, SD next month and "Halloween Havoc" in Las Vegas where, by virtue of a sponsorship deal with Slim Jim's, they had long promised a Hogan vs. Randy Savage main event. Since WCW largely focuses its company around Monday night television ratings and PPV buy rates, Hogan's huge contract became expendable. Since Hogan doesn't work arena dates, his staying or going isn't a factor on them. In Hogan's usual great knack of timing, he left WCW to do a movie with Roddy Piper and Gary Busey just before the NBA playoffs changed the Monday Nitro time slot and wreaked havoc on the ratings, which appeared to be a great leverage move. However, in the expansion to two hours, the show's ratings have increased to their consistently highest level to date with Hogan not on any of the shows. This weakened his leverage position as compared with Bischoff's in negotiations to stay at his incredible money deal. While Hogan has continued to draw much stronger buy rates than WCW has averaged without him, although the gap between those sets of numbers has declined as time has gone on, the belief is the new program with Nash and Hall was hot enough and would draw basically as well with or without Hogan. Thus Hogan's huge cut of the PPV revenue would no longer be worth it. But in the end, Hogan proved to be the ultimate fox once again, in that this angle on the surface appears to be the hottest angle in the history of WCW, and Hogan, who a few weeks ago looked like the real outsider, maneuvered himself back into being the centerpiece.

Even though many would argue the Hogan turn was long overdue based on fan reaction to him particularly in the Carolinas and in the major cities where fans are more oriented toward cheering for their favorites (ie Ric Flair) than being the programmed response robots wrestling fans have long been taken for granted as being by those who run the business. However, it didn't come without major risks. Hogan's name was still a factor in buy rates, largely believed to be coming from young children who wouldn't be as apt to beg parents to buy the shows to see a heel Hogan. Whatever revenue WCW merchandise brings in was put at major risk as well, as Hogan was the top item seller and clearly those numbers should drop substantially. For older and long-time fans, seeing the biggest name in American wrestling do his first turn on a national scale is going to spark interest in a big way, particularly short term. WCW officials knew that the Hogan turn had to be done right or it wouldn't be worth the risks, and it could only be done once, and long-term plans had to be finalized. There was legit fear basically up until the last day that Hogan would change his mind at the last minute, as he's done in the past when it comes to major angles that would leave him laying or doing jobs that would elevate others to a parity position. A "Plan B" contingency idea was that Sting would do a heel turn and join the Outsiders, largely due to the belief that too many people had speculated about Luger turning (which was the original plan) or Savage turning but nobody had speculated on Sting turning and the company wanted a shocking finish to the show. Hogan's agreement, after a meeting on or around 6/26 between Bischoff and Hogan in Los Angeles, where Hogan is doing a movie called "The Overlords," was still being worked on as late as the afternoon of the show. It was at about that time when Bischoff reportedly told Hall and Nash not to worry about the third man, as the three had up to that point had many discussions and brought up several names. Because Bischoff didn't arrive at the building until moments before the start of the live Main Event show because of last minute working out of details with Hogan, WCW created yet another last minute angle claiming Bischoff wasn't even there (he was) and that he might have been kidnapped, an angle that had no conclusion on the PPV show because it wasn't planned in advance. The angle was pretty much blown off on television the next day when Bischoff said he was simply at some high level meetings at the last minute.

WCW had attempted to keep the identity of the third man a secret, and largely succeeded, to the point where speculation had taken up a life of its own, with every WWF wrestler missing a show and his family members, whether under contract or not, becoming fodder for the rumor mill. Within the company, only a few knew it was Hogan although by the middle of the past week many who didn't know for sure were strongly expecting Hogan was the one and there were those who did know. Hall was telling people that he didn't know until two hours before match time although that's somewhat hard to believe.

In the commentary on the PPV show, Hall and Nash were most of the time clumsily referred to as simply "The Outsiders." There were references to them as Hall and Nash with no first names, a few times but not many times during the match, which made the announcing awkward in the main event.

After working for smaller promotions through 1979, Terry Bollea made his first national mark and was given the name Hulk Hogan by Vince McMahon Sr. when coming to the World Wrestling Federation as a heel managed by Fred Blassie. He mainly feuded with Andre the Giant and Tony Atlas in a run that lasted through 1981, which was more noteworthy in that during the same time period, he toured and made a huge hit with New Japan Pro Wrestling as a regular tag team partner of Stan Hansen, who at the time was the most popular foreigner in Japan. With less in the way of babyface/heel delineation in Japan, Hogan was heavily cheered, although still worked what would be called a heel style. After leaving the WWF for the AWA, Verne Gagne had him programmed as the same arrogant heel that he played in WWF, with Johnny Valiant as his manager and mouthpiece, since Gagne had believed Hogan looked impressive standing there but couldn't talk. It was on August 9, 1981, that "Hulkamania" was born in the St. Paul Civic Center when he debuted wrestling three jobbers in a handicap match, and to the shock of Gagne, received thunderous cheers. Taking note of fan reaction, it wasn't long before Valiant was quickly ditched and Hogan, who got a big career break the next year with a role in the movie "Rocky III" was the top babyface in the company and the top box office drawing card in the country. He led the AWA to record business in 1982 and 1983 while continuing to tour for New Japan, and after the Hansen jump to All Japan in late 1981, became, along with Andre, New Japan's top foreign star. He jumped to McMahon Jr.'s WWF and the rest, both good, bad and ugly, was the focal point of much of pro wrestling both in and out of the ring since that point. In those days, many credited the Rocky movie with Hogan's success in wrestling, but that would be wrong since Hogan was already proving to be a huge draw in the AWA before the movie was ever released.

Bash at the Beach drew a sellout of 8,300 fans to the Daytona Beach Ocean Center, which sold out two-and-a-half hours early and turned 2,000 away. The paid attendance was approximately 6,400 paying $72,000.

Ron Simmons wins the WCW title:
Spoiler for 10/08/92:
Ron Simmons captured the WCW world heavyweight title on 8/2 in Baltimore by pinning Big Van Vader in 9:46 at the World Wide Wrestling television taping with a powerslam. The match was said to have been very good. It, along with the angle that debuted Jake Roberts, will air in a 6:00 highlight block on TBS this coming weekend. The entire match was taped for television and will at some point air in its entirely, although I'm not certain when and what show that will be on.
Vader had been advertised to defend the title against Sting on Sunday's night's card. However earlier in the taping, an angle was set up where Roberts came out of the audience and gave Sting two DDT's on a chair and Sting did a stretcher job and was unable to wrestle in the main event. Bill Watts and Grizzly Smith came out with the "top seven contenders" (unfortunately, this crew didn't include U.S. champ Rick Rude or TV champ Steve Austin and instead had Dan Spivey, Van Hammer, Simmons, Barbarian, Cactus Jack, Dustin Rhodes and one another) and announced they had their names in a bowl and Smith was to pick out the contender. Rude came down and demanded his name to put in as well, but of course they
picked out Simmons name to get the title shot. From all reports, this was a really hot crowd and taping from start-to-finish. Virtually everyone who contacted us had nothing but good thing to say about the card overall, particularly the crowd heat and execution of the Roberts angle and the title change match. The show should also look good on television since there were nearly 8,000 fans in the building with big crowd reactions for the two major angles. They had a promotion where they let two kids in free with each paying adult, so the actual paid was under 4,000 and the house was close to $35,000. The best thing about Simmons winning the title is that hopefully never again, never again, never again, do we have to hear this promotion do outdated race-baiting hype every time an African-American gets a title shot.
They did interviews in the building until about 1 a.m. after the show for airing as early as this weekend, and there were implicit instructions made not to bring up the subject of race relating to Simmons winning the title. All advertised Vader vs. Sting title matches starting back on the road on 8/5 in Raleigh, NC will be changed to Simmons defending against Vader and Sting vs. Super Invader (Simmons vs. Super Invader being what has been advertised). Roberts starts at the house shows on 8/9 in Chicago against Marcus Bagwell and his first match with Sting will be 8/15 in Jacksonville. Apparently, in order to get his release from the WWF that would allow him to work for WCW, Roberts gave up his rights to all future merchandising income (since stuff with his likeness will continue to be sold for a long time). WCW held a legit press conference in CNN Center on Tuesday afternoon introducing Simmons as the new champion.
Sting's "injury" was set up during a U.S. title match with Rick Rude defending against Nikita Koloff, in what was also said to have been a very good match. Koloff hit Rude with the sickle, but there was a ref bump.
At that point, Cactus Jack hit the ring with a chair. Before he could use the chair, Sting was in to make the save. Roberts came out of the audience and attacked Sting and gave him two DDT's on the chair. Several babyfaces came out and Roberts pulled out a gigantic snake and the faces scattered acting afraid of the snake so they are going to use that gimmick and put Roberts over huge. While this isn't definite, don't expect Roberts to use the snake as a prop in the future. Roberts, who will be the kayfabe Bad Bob listed on the booking sheets, will work singles with Sting and some tag team main events teaming with Vader against Sting and Simmons.
These angles were kept pretty much of a secret. While there were a few wrestlers that knew ahead of
time that Simmons was winning the title (and many wrestlers who knew the title was changing in Baltimore but some seemed to believe it was Sting that was going to get the belt and everyone knew something big was going to happen although exactly what was a well-kept secret) in Baltimore, supposedly neither Vader nor Simmons knew for sure about the title change until they got to the building that night. Most of the wrestlers were shocked backstage when Roberts showed up doing the angle even though it was generally assumed Roberts was the Bad Bob on the August booking sheets and there were some expectations that he would debut at Center Stage the previous Monday. Roberts wasn't backstage before the show began and almost nobody even knew he was in the building or in town until he did the angle.

I'll be posting some more here soon.

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post #268 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-09-2014, 05:30 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

3/31/1997 - WrestleMania 13 review excerpt:

5. Bret Hart won the submission match over Steve Austin (Steve Williams) in 22:05. Austin came out first to a huge face pop. Surprisingly, since the TV the past two weeks has been specifically designed to turn Hart heel, when Hart came out, he got almost all cheers. An incredible brawl from bell-to-bell with psychology and timing the likes of which you'll only see when the best go against each other. Hart posted Austin, but Austin came back and crotched Hart on the guard rail and clotheslined him over. The two brawled into the stands and Hart backdropped Austin down the steps. Hart came off the guard rail with a crossbody. Austin whipped Hart into the ring steps. Austin came off the apron with a clothesline and appeared to hurt his injured knee. At this point Austin picked up the steps to throw them on Hart but he lost balance and dropped the steps behind him. Hart instinctively began pounding on Austin rather than the hesitation you'd expect when a spot is blown. The crowd seemed almost totally behind Hart at this point even though the announcers were telling the story of a changed Hart against an almost heroic Austin. Hart worked over Austin's knee until Austin his the stone cold stunner. Hart came back and wrapped Austin's knee around the post and gave him a figure four around the post which Austin refused to submit to. Bret got "frustrated" at Austin not submitting and used the ring bell on him. He teased the Pillman spot by putting Austin's ankle in the chair, but Austin escaped. Austin hit Hart with a hair chair shot to the head and another to the back. Austin used Hart's Russian leg sweep and used an Octagon special but Hart escaped. Austin then used a boston crab but Hart made it to the ropes. Austin set up a sharpshooter but Hart poked his eyes. Even at this stage Hart was getting the larger percentage of cheers while the story being told by the announcers was of Hart as the heel, but not so overtly so as to lose credibility. Austin took a bump into the guard rail knocking down two officials in the process and juiced at this point. Hart then posted him and Austin bled heavily. After a few chair shots to the knee, Hart went for the sharpshooter but Austin escaped with an eye rake and followed with a low blow and a superplex. Austin began choking Hart with an extension chord but Hart got the ring bell and clocked Austin with it. Hart finally got the sharpshooter on and held it for a long time. At one time it appeared Austin broke it, but Hart maneuvered back into the position and eventually Austin "passed out" from the pain and Ken Shamrock called the match. Hart still got a large babyface pop for winning, but the crowd began to turn on him as he attacked Austin's knee after the match. Finally Shamrock got behind Hart and suplexed him to break up the post-match attack. Shamrock and Hart squared off and then Hart backed off and left the ring--this was the coup de grace in the heel turn and the crowd booed him heavily. Austin eventually revived, selling the knee big-time, but still gave another ref a stone cold stunner and left the ring limping with the crowd chanting his name. This is one we'll remember for a long time. *****
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post #269 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-11-2014, 10:50 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

It might sound crazy to you but I think he his in ring work is a little overrated, and his charisma a little underrated.

Overral he is not overrated or underrated.

But I think many of the people who like(d) ric flair were drawn to him because of his great charisma, not because of his pure work
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post #270 of 275 (permalink) Old 08-30-2014, 02:53 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by RyanPelley View Post
Very interesting to see that Hogan was not drawing very well in 1988. What the hell changed?
Savage's heel turn.
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