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post #31 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 03:55 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Great read!

Interesting to see Meltzer's rankings from the previous page. Where do you get these from?
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post #32 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 04:01 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thanks for posting.

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post #33 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by D.M.N. View Post
Great read!

Interesting to see Meltzer's rankings from the previous page. Where do you get these from?
I found a guy on another board that is posting these.
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post #34 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-17-2008, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

March 28th, 1988

Early on, Dave starts with the cryptic: "Is no news good news? Not for those of us writing the news it isn't. Actually, there are negotiations going on to what could be the biggest story of the year, but since as best as I can tell, nothing has come from those talks yet. Anyway, there will be no shortage of news come next week, that much is for sure."

Dave also asks that everyone send him a postcard or short letter which shows each reader preferred between the Clash and WM IV, and what the best match was on either show.

-- In weekly syndication ratings ending 2/21, the WWF package ranked 6th place with a 9.9 rating in 245 markets. Jim Crockett's Wrestling Network fell to 8th place with a 7.9 rating in 177 markets. GLOW, POWW, AWA, and Pro Wrestling This Week are all under the All Star Wrestling Network banner now, meaning they should crack the top 15 soon. The WWF's syndicated advertising was almost all renewed at prices ranging between $30,000 and $35,000 for a 30-second slot. Crockett is hoping to make $10 million off of advertisements this year. No ratings are available for the 3/12 SNME yet. Dave says it will be interesting when they come in, because they will show how the general public reacted to the Hogan/Andre prime time special. Later in the issue, Dave reports they drew a 10 rating and a 30 share, which is good, but down from the last few specials.

-- Dave says it appears interest in Wrestlemania IV is way down from previous years. Dave says it's a drop from the first year, when all the major newspapers and magazines were reporting on Wrestlemania. The second one, which wasn't a huge success, still got a lot of publicity because of the press. Dave says there wasn't the same amount of national press for Wrestlemania III, but there was an overwhelming amount of local publicity in Michigan and Ontario. Dave says before the first Wrestlemania, he couldn't take a bus or go out somewhere without someone talking about it. (My note: Seriously?) Dave thinks the show will be a success, but where he was previously calling it a $25 million show, he thinks now it's more likely to be maybe a $19 million show. Dave says interest is always down going into summer, but he really thinks this is going to be a very lifeless summer for the WWF.

-- "You want to know one of the most significant differences between the NWA and the WWF? Remember last week I reported about the angle with Andre the Giant and Jim Duggan from Winston-Salem where Andre choked Duggan who started bleeding heavily from the mouth (scheduled to air on 4/2). What apparently happened is Andre accidentally hit Duggan in the lip and the lip cut on a tooth and lots of blood resulted from it. There was lots of talk that they will actually re-shoot the angle this weekend, because McMahon didn't want that much blood on television. In the NWA, had a similar accident occurred, they would be doing cartwheels (well, that's an exaggeration but they would think it added to the angle and certainly wouldn't dream of re-shooting it). I'm not sure what decision was reached about re-shooting however but we should know next week." Later in the issue, Dave says it wasn't re-shot after all.

-- The Killer Bees have been asked to turn heel. There was an angle at the 3/12 Philadelphia card where the Bees were lumberjacks, although some swear it wasn't the real Bees, and they attacked Hulk Hogan during his match with Ted DiBiase. Hogan beat them up.

-- 3/10 in Colorado Springs, CO drew 2,000 headlined by Demolition vs Rougeaus. 3/12 at the Capital Centre drew 8,500 headlined by Hulk Hogan vs Virgil. 3/15 in Lubbock drew 800 headlined by Duggan winning a Bunkhouse battle royal. 3/13 in Hamilton, Ontario drew 15,000 headlined by Hogan & Bigelow vs DiBiase & Virgil. 3/13 in Albuquerque, NM, drew 2,151 headlined by Duggan winning a Bunkhouse battle royal. 3/18 in Houston drew 7,500 headlined by Hogan & Duggan vs DiBiase & Andre. 3/6 in Hartford, CT drew 3,900 headlined by Rick Rude winning a Royal Rumble.

-- Dave on the Royal Rumble: "This concept isn't drawing on the road shows. It only worked as a one-time gimmick."

-- Demolition has been doing pinfall jobs almost everywhere on house shows, which Dave thinks guarantees a tag title change at Wrestlemania, since the WWF booking philosophy has always been to beat the future champions every night until they win the title.

-- Dan Spivey has left and will be starting in Puerto Rico shortly.

-- "Expect a Bravo vs. Patera feud over weightlifting which is something I know you are all holding your breath in anticipation of."

-- "DING DING DING. Don't read anymore on this page if you want to be surprised at Wrestlemania." He then talks about DiBiase working two matches at the post-WM TV taping without the belt, while Savage didn't appear at all on either taping, which makes Savage winning a lock. The Savage/Liz WWF magazine thing mentioned last week was picked up by the Associated Press. Dave has been told the magazine cover was printed by mistake and Titan is furious about the results being public knowledge. Also, on the same TV taping, Beefcake was there without a belt, HTM was there with his belt, and Jimmy Hart had a bonnet to hide his hair, which means Jimmy Hart is losing his hair, but HTM is not losing his title. Both TV tapings drew $85,000 houses, which Dave says are incredible gates for cities of those sizes (Cape Girardeau, MO, and Springfield, IL)

-- Andre will be managed by Bobby Heenan again after Wrestlemania.

-- They are trying to push DiBiase as a more serious wrestler, and less as Andre's manager and a guy who buys all of his victories, as they think the reason he isn't drawing is because of how they are portraying him.

-- "Jos LeDuc is headed in managed by Frenchy Martin. He'll go nowhere. How can he get over without juice?"

-- Post WM feuds will be Junkyard Dog vs Ron Bass, Ken Patera vs Dino Bravo, and Rick Rude vs Jake Roberts.

-- "The Rude-Roberts thing is kind of cute. Rude's gimmick will be before every match he kisses a woman in the audience (a plant of course). Well on a TV show, he'll kiss Jake's wife (isn't it funny, for years promotions tried like crazy to cover up that any wrestlers were married because they were afraid they'd lose women groupies over it) which sets up the feud."

-- The WWF will do a four-day tour of Italy during the post-WM break.

-- Several closed-circuit sites for Wrestlemania have been cancelled due to poor advances. Dave says the thing he's heard when he's asked people what the show is missing this year is that no one likes the tournament idea.

-- Bruno Sammartino apparently did a very candid interview about the WWF on the radio recently, and Dave is requesting to hear it if anyone has it.

-- Learning The Ropes did well at the NATPE convention. Syndicators have already ordered 52 episodes (two seasons). The show starts in September, and Crockett is hoping to sell it as part of his syndication package. At this point, half of the country has already been cleared for the show.

-- "With one week to go, do you realize the NWA has only announced the top four matches for its TBS special?"

-- 3/16 in San Francisco drew 4,500 and a $52,000 gate (considered great business) headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting. 3/15 in Reno only drew a $15,000 house, so there is not going to be a return to that market. 3/17 in Los Angeles drew 3,700 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting. 3/18 in Cincinnati drew 3,500 fans for a TV taping. On the 4/2 Pro episode, there will be a strong Luger/Windham vs Arn/Tully match ending with Magnum hitting Tully with a baseball bat for an apparent title change, but a second ref will reverse the decision. 3/20 in Peoria drew 1,500 headlined by Flair vs Sting. 3/12 in Norfolk drew $65,000 headlined by Sting vs Flair.

-- The NWA has a lot of high-level stuff planned for the weekend shows not including the Clash. The Fantastics and Midnight Express went 37 minutes and will be an entire episode of NWA Pro. Dave says the Fantastics are working really, really hard to get over, and thinks the series with the Midnights may turn out to be the best feud in North America.

-- Wrestlers are excited about the new NWA Main Event show because they get paid bonuses for appearing. Main event participants split a $7,500 bonus, and semi-main splits $2,500. Each show will have three matches, few interviews, and the matches will run long. It will replace the CWF and Power Pro in syndication, both of which are being dropped in April. Dave thinks the bonuses are to stop heels from complaining about doing jobs on television. Dave expects good action and lots of DQ finishes.

-- The NWA is planning a big Ric Flair vs Lex Luger match for the Great American Bash PPV in July, but the WWF has their 60 days before and 60 days after clause, which Ted Turner is trying to help them get around. Dave expects the WWF to run a free show on USA at the same time.

-- Jim Crockett had the New Haven Coliseum booked, but the WWF blocked it. The Cow Palace also wanted badly to run an NWA show, but the WWF threatened to pull out and they backed down.

-- Expect Four Horsemen vitamins soon.

-- "Al Perez and Gary Hart are in to feud with Dusty which doesn't have a prayer. Perez isn't good enough to carry Dusty -- few are. Besides Perez should be a babyface since he's got almost as much color as Casper the Friendly Ghost. Dusty was disappointed in the Zbyszko thing not getting over (hey, he destroyed it by killing the dirty picture angle) but even though Perez looks better than Larry Z, Larry Z can do an interview and has ring psychology. I don't think Gary Hart is strong enough to get Perez over nationally."

-- Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond won the AWA tag titles on 3/19 in Las Vegas, beating the Midnight Rockers before 1,500 fans.

-- "The AWA is so disorganized and messed up right now you wouldn't believe it. I could write a page on the foul-ups during the last week alone."

-- Mike Graham, Steve Keirn, Sheik Kaissey, Adrian Adonis (he's done and wants badly to go back to the WWF), Robert Gibson (Gibson wants a guarantee, Morton is much easier to deal with), and Greg Boyd all no-showed the last TV taping.

-- It's in the middle of a meaningless sentence, but " ... the new manager they were supposed to bring in from Florida called Dallas Diamond Page"

-- Curt Hennig is now managed by Madusa Miceli, since both are World champions. Kevin Kelly has left for Billy Jack Haynes' promotion in Oregon.

-- Verne actually featured a GLOW tag match on one of his shows. Dave says he "lowered himself to feature a GLOW tag match on one of his shows", actually.

-- "Madusa had cosmetic surgery a few days earlier, the results of which will be quite obvious." (Oh my ...)

-- They are trying to say Hennig injured Tom Zenk and ran him out of the AWA, even saying "As you all saw ..." when it never aired or even happened. "The AWA has this thing about burying guys who leave of course, but to have the audacity to say, 'as you all saw' for an event that nobody saw because it never took place is something I'm not even sure World Class has ever done."

-- Ricky Morton pinned Dennis Stamp (who was apparently booked) on the last TV taping, which got over well.

-- Hennig was fined by the AWA for missing a few spot shows, even though he was seriously injured.

-- Star Wars on 3/20 in Fort Worth drew only 2,500 fans. It started 15 minutes late and didn't end until 11:00 because of long delays between matches. The show was headlined by Kerry Von Erich vs Terry Gordy.

-- Dave says the concert angle came across great, although it was stupid for the band to continue playing like nothing was wrong while Buddy Roberts and Iceman Parsons were beating up Hayes. "If you were a musician and a bunch of 250 pound wrestlers were brawling not two feet away from you, you wouldn't nonchalantly continue to play, you'd head for the hills." Dave says Buddy did probably his best interview ever two days later in Dallas, blaming the Von Erichs for what happened. The storyline is that buddy got drunk and ruined the concert and Hayes won't speak to him because of it. On 3/20, Gordy came out and asked what happened because he had heard two different sides of the story. Buddy and Iceman insisted Buddy hadn't had anything to drink.

-- Dave says they are doing so much right in terms of developing angles and putting together great TV, but the business is horrible because they are running only 3-4 shows per week and the gates aren't anything special. They skipped Fort Worth shows on 3/7 and 3/14 with the idea of creating a bigger gate on 3/20 and it didn't work, despite all the great hype.

-- No one would be surprised by Skandor Akbar coming in. The only manager is Vince Apollo, and Akbar is 8th on the totem pole for Crockett and doesn't even have anyone to manage.

-- Fabulous Lance hasn't showed up for WCCW because his agent told him it would hurt his marketability for TV commercials.

-- "Actually, this should be called the GWA (Gilbert Wrestling Association) because about the only interesting stuff revolves around the Gilberts. I've finally had a chance to watch the past few weeks TV here and Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt have at least breathed some life into the group, although there is simply no support underneath. Actually the second hottest feud on the circuit involves Eddie Marlin vs. Tommy Gilbert."

-- On the 3/19 TV, Eddie Gilbert threw fire and burned Randy Hales. The incident started with Dave Brown on vacation (probably because he didn't want to do the angle since Missy has been talking every week about taking over Brown's job as color commentator) and Hales taking his place. Missy wanted to do color. Hales said he was tired of the Gilberts trying to take over everything and they started arguing while Eddie was wrestling a match. Eddie lost the match via countout because he was arguing with Hales, then he threw the fireball.

-- Lawler's return on 3/14 to face Eddie Gilbert drew 7,000 fans. Lawler lost by DQ. Missy Hyatt slapped Lawler before the match. By comparison, 3/7 drew 3,400 headlined by the Midnight Rockers against Jeff Jarrett & Billy Travis.

-- Ricky Morton was announced as coming back, but they haven't mentioned his name again.

-- There is talk that Jerry Jarrett wants to open a new promotion with Mike Graham in Florida, and that Gordon Solie has been contacted about doing television.

-- Billy Jack Haynes is getting ready to run opposition to Down Owen in Portland. Rip Oliver and Mike Miller have both quick working for Owen and are expected to start working for Haynes in a few weeks. Kevin Kelly, the Memphis Big Bubba (Fred Ottman/Shockmaster/Tugboat/Typhoon for those who don't know), JT Southern, a heel Chavo Guerrero (who is expected to feud with Brady Boone), and also Curt Hennig and Tom Zenk have been given offers. Hennig likely will not come in, as he is content in the AWA ("well, as content as anyone can be working for Verne Gagne"), and Don Owen has already billed Zenk as appearing in his promotion. There's also talk of Brad Rheingans possibly working for Haynes, and Joey Jackson has been discussed as well since he just quit working for Owen, although it's suspected that's because he's going to the WWF as a jobber. Matt Borne is taking Miller's place working for Owen. Al Madrial and Abbuda Dein are headed in, and Brian Adams should be back from Japan soon. The promotion is going to be called the OWWF (Oregon-Washington Wrestling Federation), and they have a wrestling school set up as well.

-- Curt Hennig was in Portland on 3/5 and unable to wrestle due to back and neck injuries. The AWA title was announced as being held up in Portland with a Hennig (who's a babyface in Portland) match against The Grappler, "... but instead The Assassin represented Hennig and beat Grappler which made hennig the 'new' AWA champion and if you understand that, you're ahead of me."

-- 3/11 in Calgary drew 1,100.

-- On TV, they asked Wayne Hart if he was going to be a ref or a wrestler and Hart said after undergoing more conditioning he was going to wrestle. During the same interview, Brian Pillman mentioned "two clowns on another promotion calling themselves Bad Company", a shot at Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond.

-- Bruce Hart is out of action with a broken cheekbone, and just had eye surgery as well. "It seems fate doesn't want him to wrestle since he was out for months after knee surgery, and since that time has suffered a separated shoulder and an eye injury."

-- Cuban Assassin (Angel Acevedo) is returning from Kansas City.

-- They ran an angle recently where Steve DiSalvo attacked Jason The Terrible and got suspended, as DiSalvo is scheduled to tour Japan.

-- Makhan Singh received an offer to wrestle for Billy Jack Haynes in Oregon. No word on whether or not he'll accept.

-- 3/9 in Yokohama drew 4,350. 3/10 in Kimizu drew 1,850 headlined by Jumbo & Yatsu vs Hansen & Gordy.

-- They are building up a big show on 3/27 at Budokan Hall to be headlined by Hansen vs Tenryu, and Jumbo vs Brody, where Dave expects a surprise ending.

-- On the next series are Austin Idol, Tommy Rich, Bubba Rogers (who is about to start with the WWF), Tom Magee, and George Skaaland

-- There is talk of having a Jumbo/Tenryu match at some undetermined point in the future with the idea of unifying all the singles titles.

-- On 3/5 in Akita, they did an angle where Tenryu and Hara gave Stan Hansen a double enzuigiri. Tenryu then grabbed his ankle like he kicked too hard. Hansen collapsed, "knocked out". Hara tried to lift him for another spot but Hansen laid there limp. Gordy came in to brawl with Tenryu & Hara to distract from the Hansen thing. Maybe 45 seconds later, Hansen comes to, goes berzerk, dives through the ropes onto Tenryu and starts going wild with chairs and we ended up with a double countout. Hansen then started roughing up people at ringside and grabbed the mic and said, "Nobody potatoes me!" Dave says even he was fooled by that one because it looked so legit and they were working the match like it was a "mistake". It was designed as a take-off on what happened with Maeda and Choshu a few months earlier, and was also designed to fool smart fans into thinking there could be legitimate violence in Hansen/Tenryu on 3/9. (My note: Someone make the Vince Russo joke.)

-- There's a new team called the Pirates. They beat up Inoki in an angle recently. Dick Murdoch tried to make the save, and was bloodied up and carried out unconscious. Nobuhiko Takada & Kazuo Yamazaki vs Hiroshi Hase & Kuniaki Kobayashi on the same show was said to be a great match.

-- The 5/7 card has been changed from Inoki vs Chris Dolman to Inoki vs Big Van Vader.

-- Dump Matsumoto's final televised match, which aired on 3/6 in Japan, drew an amazing 13.2 national rating, which will probably be the most watched wrestling match anywhere in the world in 1988 after the Hogan/Andre match. What makes the rating even more impressive is that it aired on a Sunday afternoon and wasn't in prime time. The match was Dump teaming with Yukari Omori against the Crush Girls, and was a quadruple juice and ruled a no-contest. After the match, Chigusa Nagayo grabbed the mic and called for an impromptu exhibition match with Dump as her partner against Lioness Asuka and Omori. They wrestled for five minutes, there was a double pin, and then they ran out of time.

-- The angle on Pro Wrestling This Week is that Paul E. Dangerously has purchased controlling interest in the show and completed a hostile takeover. An angle will happen on the 4/2 show where Dangerously firers Gordon Solie, Joe Pedicino, and Bonnie Blackstone. "Watching Solie get fired on the air could make the show a collectors' item."

-- Mike George regained the Central States title by beating Masa Chono on the 3/17 card in Kansas City. 3/11 in St. Joseph drew 548, and was apparently headlined by a great Masa Chono vs DJ Peterson match. They are building a babyface feud between George and Peterson, with the idea that Peterson will end up as world champion when it's said and done.

-- Blackjack Mulligan won a legal case where he was sued for punching a business partner during a 1986 argument. The jury believed the self-defense side of the story Mulligan presented, and apparently, Mulligan's lawyer was so good that they even got his accuser quoted saying he felt sorry for Mulligan. Mulligan was recently driven from wrestling due to a heart attack, and is on the verge of losing his home due to financial problems.

-- "Carolina Championship Wrestling ran three shows from 3/3 to 3/5 (one was 15 miles from Charlotte) drawing between 300 and 600 fans headlined by Tony Atlas. Atlas appeared on Charlotte radio station WCKZ on 3/4 to hype the 3/5 show in Gastonia and he asked to hear from callers who hate Dusty Rhodes. The lines were tied up for 25 minutes." Also on the interview, Atlas said Titan used fake weights during Dino Bravo's angle, while Crockett used real weights, but lied about the amount.
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post #35 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-17-2008, 11:22 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Thanks for posting this, I really enjoy reading it.

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post #36 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-17-2008, 12:45 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Damn, look at those ratings!
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post #37 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-20-2008, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

April 4th, 1988

-- "'This is horrible, Gorilla.' It sure was. I saw it and I still don't believe it. Was it a dream? Was it a nightmare? All I know is in every sense of the word, it was a bomb." -- Dave on Wrestlemania IV

-- Dave doesn't understand why the show was such a failure, as Wrestlemania III was probably the greatest overall wrestling production of all time. He says from a wrestling point of view, it couldn't compare to Starrcade '85 or Starrcade '86, but it was still an entertaining show, despite a terrible main event. He says the main event still did its job of satisfying fans who paid to see a slam and a pin and got both. "At this time last year Vince McMahon was the omnipotent king of the business. He's still the king, but Sunday he proved he was no longer omnipotent."

-- Dave says after bushwhacking Jim Crockett on Thanksgiving and putting on a better show to boot, then running a free show that was better than Crockett's PPV on January 24, the idea going into 3/27 was that Crockett was suicidal trying to compete with Wrestlemania, as it's the one show where the wrestlers usually go all out, it's a multi-million dollar production, and the hype contained two NBC network specials. The thought was that even if the Clash was a better wrestling show, the WWF would still "win" because of the superior production, glitz, celebrities, and atmosphere.

-- "Jim Crockett kicked Vince McMahon's ass Sunday afternoon, and on the single least likely day of the year for that to happen." Dave doesn't have anything yet in terms of economic figures, and some will simply argue that because WM was a bigger money show, that's the bottom line. But Dave says if that's your logic, Crockett made more money off the Bunkhouse Stampede than Vince did the Royal Rumble, and we all saw what happened there.

-- "I can't believe anyone who watched both shows, and fewer did than I had imagined, could do anything but laugh at the comparison." Preliminary figures state WM was down about 40 to 45 percent in terms of interest from WM III. The PPV buyrate appears to be around six percent, about half of what the WWF had predicted, and well below the 10.3 buyrate of the previous year. WM IV, however, still grossed $10.8 million, but they probably will only bank $3.5 million at most. Preliminary reports indicate a closed circuit audience of around 175,000 (compared to 375,000 last year) which accounts for an estimated $2.3 million more. The live gate was around $1 million, and Donald Trump did pay the WWF to run the show at Trump Plaza what's said to be a nice chunk of change, but the amount is being kept secret. The overall estimate, including Canadian markets, is that the show grossed just under $14 million, but because of PPV splits, the net will probably be around $6.5 million total. Just two weeks before, the WWF predicted an $18 million take. Dave says it's impossible to speculate how much of it had to do with overall interest in the show being down, and how much of it had to do with people deciding to watch the NWA's free show instead. Dave admits that Crockett hurt Wrestlemania far more than anyone anticipated, even more than McMahon hurt Crockett in January, although admittedly not as much as McMahon hurt Crockett at Starrcade.

-- Dave reiterates that the shows were like night and day. He says TBS deserves credit for the nice opening, and feels the show was a ***1/2 production overall. He says there were a few flaws with the Clash, namely that there were too many commercials early on, and that for the first 90 minutes of the show, only 30 minutes were in the ring, but that was to make up for them going 45 minutes with Flair/Sting without commercial breaks, which Dave says was a move he appreciated in hindsight. Dave says the announcing was great, superlative even, during the main event. All the matches were good except the barbed wire match, the crowds was hot, and two of the matches were excellent. Dave is convinced they should no longer allow Steve Williams to talk in public. He suggests giving him a manager and turning him into a monster. Dave likes Nikita Koloff's new look and says he did a good interview. The skit with Jim Cornette and Eddie Haskell was "priceless", which surprised Dave, because those celebrity spots are usually awful. Meltzer pointed out how silly the Bob Eucker/Gene Okerlund spots looked in comparison. "But the real story was the flow of the show and the production and getting the angles in tune with the audience, all of which were very weak on their two previous specials and made McMahon look major league." Dave says the thing at the end with the judges was horrible, and that you could call the draw with Flair and Sting from a mile away, but that no one was complaining when it was over.

-- "Wrestlemania on the other hand made Starrcade '87 look like Starrcade '85. Really, that's too nice. I don't want to fault individuals, but the general appraisal was that everyone on the JCP side gave not only a little extra, but a lot extra, while the Titan side figured that since it was Wrestlemania, everything would fit neatly into place since Vince is a genius and everyone else can coast along."

-- Dave says the announcing for WM IV wasn't bad, but it was the weakest of their PPV efforts thus far. "Particularly Jesse Ventura didn't seem prepared as he had no good lines and just coasted through. Gorilla Monsoon was so monotone and predictable that you could have replayed any Wrestling Challenge show's commentary on this and it would have sounded the same." Bob Eucker, who did a good job at WM III, didn't do so well this time. Dave's biggest problems with the show were as follows:

-- "Hulk Hogan -- The guy is so 'over' that he overshadows the entire promotion. The lack of success of this show was at least in part because Hogan wasn't the featured attraction, but was made 'one of the boys'. One cable TV operator I spoke with today termed the lack of success on PPV due to 'that idiot McMahon devaluing his only attraction.'" Dave says maybe it's time they tried Randy Savage night and putting Savage over, but instead they put Hogan and Elizabeth over, just as they've done on the NBC specials. "It's like Randy can't even order a taxi cab unless Liz tells Hulk to flag down the cab."

-- The location. Dave admits hindsight is 20/20 here, as no one would have dreamed that a Wrestlemania crowd would be dead for 3 1/2 hours. "The Trump Plaza should have been called the Trump Mauseleum. It wasn't a wrestling crowd and they reacted to almost nothing, which made those matches where the guys were really putting out still come off as flat and tedious. Vince made a major tactical error taking wrestling away from the wrestling fans with high prices. Sure, he got a huge live gate, but he could have gotten a good live gate anywhere and could have priced it so wrestling fans, and not Casino Hi-Rollers who thought they were watching burlesque, filled the stands. McMahon deserves credit for trying to make wrestling an upper-class entertainment, but on this night the Hi-Rollers ruined his show."

-- Steroids. "I joke about steroids all the time. I give guys funny nicknames and I suppose I'm the most hated person in the world among heavy steroid users in the wrestling business. However, I'm not trying to be funny here. It was totally embarrassing watching guys really try to work hard, which they aren't used to, and have every match but a few totally die within two minutes because one, and often both guys, couldn't keep up a decent pace for a five minute match. I don't even want to talk about health risks here, because nobody listens. I don't even want to blame the guys here, because the reality of what the promoter is trying to sell forces 82 percent of the Titan workers to become human guinea pigs. However, the tournament was embarrassing. I was embarrassed as someone who appreciates the talents and sacrifices wrestlers make to see this stuff. It wasn't ha-ha, let's watch Lex blow up like lots of fans do, this was a sad situation. Shoot, Luger kept up a pace in his match that put most of Titan's guys to shame."

-- The tournament idea. It was a flop and the key issue to the show not selling. There was no specific issue. "Like we've said, no belt in wrestling means much of anything anymore. It's the personalities themselves that are the drawing card nowadays. Wrestlemania proves that point. Nobody cared about the tournament matches unless they involved Hogan, or to a lesser degree Savage and DiBiase. The rest were like a waste of time."

-- Too many people knew the outcome. On ABC news the morning after the show, it said, "Randy Savage was the winner at Wrestlemania, but of course everyone knew it since the WWF magazine had printed the result three weeks ago. The WWF claims the magazine report was simply a typographical error." Dave says he was at the beach Saturday, and he talked to a few fans who aren't newsletter readers at all, but simply casual fans who he doesn't even "talk smart" to ("I don't insult their intelligence either"), and they all knew Savage was winning. "It was pathetic. I'm sorry to go on a tirade at this point, but I'm sick to death of narrow-minded folks blaming me because their promotions aren't interesting enough to draw fans at live gates. If everyone who read this newsletter quit watching matches tomorrow, pro wrestling interest would drop 0.002 percent. In reality, the fans who read newsletters support this business probably in 20 or 30 times greater the proportion than the so-called 'marks' and if this business was to die (which it won't, and I'm not predicting anything of the sort), they'd be the last ones killed off. Again, I'm sorry for the tirade but it's been building up lately. However, for Titan to give away the endings for two major shows in a row, and basically turn the business into a joke, and then not change the ending can't be beneficial in the long run."

-- Dave doesn't have a rating yet for the Clash, but if it did a 5.0, it reached two million homes. Wrestlemania reached 540,000 homes and got 195,000 more viewers through closed circuit and PPV in the US last year. This year, it only ran in 95 closed circuit sites in the US and 39 of them were less than 2,000-seat capacity buildings.

-- 20-Man Battle Royal. Says it started out hot, but the crowd only reacted to a few introductions. After 40 seconds, with a crowd in silence, it went into slow motion and became a dud. 1/2*, only for the angle with Bret Hart turning at the end, but the match was a DUD.

-- Ted DiBiase vs Hacksaw Duggan. Says it was slow paced. DiBiase did some good work to make it watchable, but that was about it. "Shockingly little heat for all of this", considering Andre was at ringside and played a part in the finish. *1/4

-- Don Muraco vs Dino Bravo. Muraco was drenched in sweat 2:30 into the match. Soon, but guys were puffing hard. 1/2*

-- Ricky Steamboat vs Greg Valentine. Started off good, but Valentine blew up four minutes in. Both guys worked hard, but Valentine's timing was off. "Steamboat brought his son Ricky Jr. to the ring before the match. I thought it was a tremendous sight with all the pressures and commotion around that Steamboat was oblivious to everything but his son. I guess they didn't want a babyface match later, but Steamboat deserves a lot better than this." **1/4

-- Randy Savage vs Butch Reed. Crowd popped for the finish but was dead throughout. Super-slow, with Reed in control most of the way. *

-- One Man Gang vs Bam Bam Bigelow. Give Bigelow credit for wrestling on such a bad knee. Still, it destroyed his agility, which is his gimmick. "In reality, this was a negative 1 1/2 star match, but I'll give it a dud considering Bigelow's condition."

-- Rick Rude vs Jake Roberts. "Rude's tights with lips on the back were an eye-catcher. Awful." Lots of rest holds, and very similar to the Nikita Koloff/Bobby Eaton match at the Bunkhouse Stampede, but maybe worse, because Eaton did a few great moves in that one. Crowd chanted boring. Dave calls it a worst match of the year candidate. -**

-- Hercules vs Ultimate Warrior. Warrior ran to the ring and blew up before the match started. The pre-match staredown got zero reaction. No reaction to the full nelson as a finishing move for Hercules. Dave says this was actually worse than Rude/Roberts, but he'll rank it higher because at least it was quick. -* 1/2

-- Andre the Giant vs Hulk Hogan. The only match on the show that seemed to have genuine interest. "After the match Hulk chased DiBiase, who threw Virgil to him (apparently a future babyface turn by Virgil -- Will we find out his father is a plumber?)". Match was terrible, but watchable. Posing wasn't watchable, but it's what the fans came to see. They didn't announce Hogan being eliminated from the tournament until after the posing. *1/4 for the match, but DUD if the posing is included. (My note: Weird ...)

-- Ted DiBiase vs Don Muraco. No heat because the crowd was drained after Hogan, but they worked hard and it was a decent, all action match. *1/2

-- Randy Savage vs Greg Valentine. Good match, with good pacing and action. **1/4

-- Brutus Beefcake vs Honky Tonk Man. Dave was most surprised by the lack of heat here, because both guys are usually very over, but the crowd was dead during Honky's pre-match routine. Dave says Peggy Sue made more noise at ringside than the other 18,165 folks watching. Dave says Beefcake looks amazingly like Davey Boy Smith with his new haircut. "You can tell the two apart by watching them wrestle of course." DUD

-- Islanders & Bobby Heenan vs Koko Ware & British Bulldogs. Started off decent, but got boring fast. *1/4

-- Randy Savage vs One Man Gang. Watchable, but terrible finish. 1/2*

-- Demolition vs Strike Force. Good match, but of those in the crowd who responded, they all cheered the heels. Dave says this would have been a strong match had the crowd gotten more into it. **1/2

-- Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase. They tried, but the crowd was more focused on the dressing room and the possibility of Hogan coming back out. Not as good as the super SNME match a few weeks prior. Randy told Liz to get Hogan and the crowd again turned away from the match. The post-match was all focused on Hogan and Liz. **1/4

-- Only 6,000 fans were in attendance, but they were rabid.

-- Jimmy Garvin vs Mike Rotunda. **1/4

-- Midnight Express vs Fantastics. Classic Memphis brawl. So much action that the cameramen could barely keep up, and they used tables, chairs and tennis racquets, and brawled a lot outside the ring. Eaton did a bulldog on the table on Rogers, which was laying on the floor. Rogers got an abrasion above his eye and actually had to be hospitalized. Fulton also got a swollen lip. ****1/4 (****1/2 for the match, minus 1/2* for the overused Dusty finish, plus 1/4* for the post-match) (My note: Complicated stuff ...)

-- Dusty Rhodes & Road Warriors vs Powers of Pain & Ivan Koloff. "Dusty, with face paint wearing a black T-shirt looks like a dead ringer for Dump Matsumoto, except Dump is better looking." *

-- Lex Luger & Barry Windham vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard. Dave says Tully actually didn't get much of a reaction, considering he decked Magnum on TBS the day before, and it seems the real heat from the angle is on JJ Dillon. Luger's red tights made him look "radioactive" on some screens apparently. ***1/2

-- Ric Flair vs Sting. Started slow, but the heat never died and it was never dull. Dave says no wrestler in the business could have put on the performance Flair did here. "He was so good I almost thought Sting was going to stand there in awe of him." Dave did say Sting held up his end, although it was obvious Flair was carrying the match. Jim Ross did an excellent job the whole show, but especially in the first 25 minutes of selling the importance and intensity of the holds. Lyle Alzado no-showed as a judge. ****3/4

Additional note: "After the first match there was an ad on TBS for the WWF 900 number for Wrestlemania which was hilarious that Titan could get an ad on during Crockett's opposition special. They also aired the first commercial for the new Four Horsemen vitamins. The commercial is hilarious, but unintentionally so, it's like a SCTV or Saturday Night Live spoof of the WWF but unfortunately they were serious. I don't think they are going to sell many vitamins, either."

-- Lanny Poffo has a new book coming out in late April called "Wrestling With Rhyme", a poetry book.

-- Correction to previous story: The WWF isn't trying to ban Bruno Sammartino from using his name in outside activities. They are trying to keep him from using the nickname "Living Legend".

-- 3/20 in Lafayette, LA drew 700 fans headlined by Demolition vs Rougeaus.

-- David Peschel of Washington, DC is suing Randy Savage for over $1 million from a 1986 incident where he claims Savage punched and bodyslammed him. He claims he got out of his car at a light to ask for an autograph, and that Savage, Liz, and a 6-foot bodyguard all got out of the car.

-- Angelo Poffo had a $1 wager on Ted DiBiase winning the title at Wrestlemania.

-- On the Bruno radio interview mentioned last week, he said the WWF is 100% show and all fake, that blading never happened in his day but probably does now, that he wouldn't touch any other promotion with a 50-foot pole, that George Steele has been a teacher for years and is nothing like they portray him, that Bobby Heenan is a dud and a disgrace, and that managers are only hired to portray themselves as managers. He said in the NWA, he likes Ric Flair, but there is still a lot of bizarre nonsense. Regarding David, he said he'll wrestle in Japan where they still appreciate good wrestling. Regarding Rick McGraw, he said he died from drug use, which is very widespread in pro wrestling. He concluded by saying he thought wrestling was real in his day.

-- A Newsday article (Long Island newspaper) quoted one of the WWF producers saying the NWA is "just a bunch of Neanderthals rolling around on the mats and slicing their heads with razors." David Crockett was also quoted, saying they have grown 1500% since going national. (My note: Um ...)

-- Crockett has been in heavy negotiations with Ken Mantell of World Class, which was the big story Dave was referring to in the last issue. Dave has heard several reports, but he knows Crockett was going in with the idea of taking over the local TV the way he did in Florida and Central States, as it would give him Ch. 11 in Dallas, which is a coveted spot. In order for this to happen, Fritz Von Erich will have to be okay with it, and Kevin and Kerry will be guaranteed jobs and strong pushes in the NWA. However, they don't want to travel, so they would only work limited shows in Texas, and maybe a few in St. Louis. Unfortunately for World Class, Mantell and Michael Hayes are doing some amazing booking, but it just isn't working, and the economic factor in Texas may make a turnaround something out of their hands. Dave doesn't expect a deal until May, mainly to give Mantell and Hayes an uninterrupted opportunity to build a Texas Stadium show on their own.

-- On the 3/26 TBS show, they showed clips of 3/18 in Cincinnati where Magnum hit Tully with his baseball bat and caused a DQ in a tag title match. Magnum was then doing an interview when Blanchard and JJ Dillon came out. Barry Windham came out and Tully popped him, and then he popped Magnum. JJ stood behind Magnum and helped him bump so he wouldn't get hurt. Dusty comes out with a baseball bat and goes crazy on Tully. David Crockett and Rob Garner went after Dusty and he shrugged them off. Jim Crockett came out and climbed on Dusty's back. Dusty didn't realize who it was and reared backwards to hit Crockett with the bat and ended up KOing Crockett. Finally, all the babyfaces come out and pull Dusty away from Tully. Later in the show, Jim Cornette did an awesome insincere promo in tears talking about "my good friend Jim Crockett." Magnum bladed himself, but that didn't air on TV. Dave says when he first heard about this, he thought it was great because Magnum really wants to be involved in the worst way and this gives him purpose. But, he says, the idea of beating up a cripple and the way the angle was worked was truly pathetic. It should still draw, and will allow Dusty, managed by Magnum, to push himself again as top star and feud with Tully again. Dave doesn't know how possible it is to revive that feud, considering the tepid response Tully Blanchard got at the Clash. The plan is that Dusty will be suspended for 120 days on television to take them all the way to the Bash, with possible Flair vs Midnight Rider matches at the Bash. Dusty will reappear masked as the Midnight Rider. He'll be stripped of the US title, and there will be a one-night tournament to crown a new champ on 5/13 in Houston. Dusty and Nikita will lose their spot in the Crockett Cup.

-- 3/26 in Richmond, VA drew 10,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting. 3/19 in Chicago drew 7,000 headlined by Ric Flair vs Sting.

-- Rip Morgan is headed in.

-- TBS wants to do another Clash of the Champions in early summer.

-- Dave has Atlanta numbers for the Clash: In the local market, the show drew an 11.7 rating and Flair vs Sting drew a 14.5 rating.

-- The NWA is losing syndication on KCOP in Los Angeles, due to low ratings compared to the WWF.

-- JCP expects a $300,000+ gate on the second night of the Crockett Cup.

-- Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond won the tag titles because Michaels and Jannetty wanted a $500 weekly guarantee to stay, although they haven't left yet.

-- Iceman Parsons won the WCCW title on 3/25 in Dallas. Black Bart, Buddy Roberts, and Hayes were at ringside. Terry Gordy was on his way down the aisle, and the lights turned out. Then, Black Bart and Buddy Roberts pulled out flash lights and started shining them in fans eyes so they couldn't see anything. 45 seconds later, the lights came back on. Hayes was juicing like crazy and on the floor, but no one knows who hit who. Kerry Von Erich was unconscious in the ring. Iceman pinned him, and Kerry did the first stretcher job of his career. Dave thinks Hayes is the best option to take the title next.

-- 3/25 in Dallas drew 1,700 headlined by Kerry vs Parsons.

-- Fabulous Lance still hasn't returned because he doesn't want to be a heel. The promotion wants him to feud with Kevin and Kerry.

-- They will begin running Fort Worth every 3-4 weeks instead of weekly, as has been the case for decades.

-- Production costs are being cut by having most of the material on the local show match what airs on the syndicated show.

-- WCCW ran three shows in Mississippi. The biggest gate was $783, "... which shows how bad business is even with the creative booking."

-- 3/21 in Memphis drew 6,000 fans and a $22,000 house headlined by Eddie Gilbert vs Jerry Lawler in a supposed **** match. Dave is told their match the week before was ****1/2.

-- On the 3/26 TV, Gilbert threatened to throw a fireball at Lance Russell and Lawler showed up and they brawled all through the studio and into the parking lot. They ended up fighting on the hood of a car windshield and shattered it.

-- Tom Brandi and Scott Steiner are new to Memphis, and Mike Graham and Steve Keirn are in as Florida tag team champions.

-- Brickhouse Brown is now managed by Ernest Angel and is getting a slight push.

-- Eddie Gilbert is leaving Memphis to start booking for Continental on 4/10. Continental has hit rock bottom, and the idea is to turn around Alabama the same way they turned around Tennessee.

-- Davey Boy Smith was supposed to work in the area after Wrestlemania, but Vince shot it down. Political pressure also ended the idea of having Stampede tag teams enter the Crockett Cup. Dave thinks it was no coincidence that Owen did a job for Hercules in the WWF just outside of Greensboro. (My note: I don't quite get his point ...)

-- The first show was on 3/19 in Knoxville and drew a $10,000 gate.

-- Terry Gordy was a no-show.

-- The Oregon State Athletic Commission had a hearing regarding pro wrestling. Don Owen, Barry Owen, Billy Jack Haynes, Matt Borne, Tony Borne, Art Crews, Mike Miller, Moondog Moretti, Rip Oliver, Coco Samoa, Sandy Barr, and Mark Kaplan were all in attendance. Most wrestlers took a negative stance toward Owen, with only Crews and Borne taking up for him. Crews testified that Owen was one of the few promoters to ever help him with medical expenses. Borne said he is against mats at ringside, saying they're more for looks than effectiveness, however the other wrestlers took exception to this type of questioning. Borne said the drug testing was a good idea, but they were taking it too far. They plan on testing for cocaine, marijuana, and pain pills. Borne asked if wrestlers would be fined or matches stopped if accidents happened resulting in a wrestler bleeding hardaway. He was told no, but there would be match stoppings or fines due to razor cuts. (My note: That's a really ass-backwards double standard.) They all viewed a Borne/Grappler match on 3/12 in Portland where they brawled around the ring and used chairs. They were told actions like those will be looked at in the future and fines could be given. Borne said they were just giving fans what they wanted. Dave says it's contradictory for them to allow hardaway blood, but ban blading, which is so much safer. Dave has mixed feelings on blood. "To the outsider, the practice of blading is barbaric, but in reality compared to steroid usage, other drug usage, and just plain nasty bumps and the natural dangers of the business, it is a very minor safety issue in comparison. At the same time I am not convinced that excessive blood draws fans. I think excessive blood turns away an important percentage of the audience (the casual crowd, which swells the most when a promotion is hot). I think blood in rare cases can't hurt the gate, however."

-- Dave then goes into talk about how wrestlers should be worried about AIDS and thinks bloodbaths shouldn't be performed without AIDS testing, but that scabies is a bigger risk. Several Portland wrestlers have scabies, and it has even spread to their families, in Mike Miller's case, his wife and two children. His wife was breastfeeding, and their newborn got it.

-- The commission passed a law that wrestlers with communicable diseases are not allowed to wrestle and must notify the promoter.

-- Buddy Rose is returning to help Don Owen out in the promotional war with Billy Jack Haynes.

-- On 3/27 at Budokan Hall, Brody beat Jumbo to regain the International title in front of 11,500 fans.

-- The Rock & Roll Express are booked for their first ever Japanese tour in May.

-- Roddy Piper will be starting production soon on a new movie directed by John Carpenter called "They Live". The movie will co-star Meg Foster.

-- A movie depicting the life of former pro wrestler and Olympic wrestler Chris Taylor called "Lean On Me" will begin production in May.

-- The Pro Wrestling This Week angle with Paul E. Dangerously firing Gordon Solie aired. "Just tremendous stuff and Dangerously has established himself as one of the two top managers in the business through it." The PWTW show this week will be the final show in the current format. The new format starting 4/9 will be a 30-minute format with Joe Pedicino hosting and Patrick Schaeffer as a heel commentator.

-- FNN is open to the idea of airing a Japanese show. Dave encourages a letter-writing campaign, and promises addresses next week.

-- The Kentucky Athletic Commission has put in rules that all wrestling matches should have guard rails that are at least four feet high and five feet from the ring. They have also ruled that throwing an opponent off the top rope is illegal and cause for fine and suspension. It's state law, and must be enforced at all times.

-- Dave's early awards picks:

Wrestler of the Year -- Chigusa Nagayo or Ted DiBiase
Best Babyface -- Hulk Hogan, then Chigusa Nagayo, then Randy Savage
Best Heel -- Eddie Gilbert, then Dump Matsumoto, then Ted DiBiase
Best Tag Team -- Midnight Express
Best Manager -- Jim Cornette, although Paul E. Dangerously is getting closer
Match of the Year -- Dave picks the 12-woman tag from 12/5 in Tokyo in AJW as the best match he saw or will see, but outside of that, he'd go with Flair vs Sting from the Clash
Rookie of the Year -- The only rookie Dave has seen is Akira Taue, who has shown him nothing
Most Charismatic -- Hulk Hogan
Best High Flyer -- Owen Hart
Most Outstanding -- Nobuhiko Takada
Best Brawler -- Bruiser Brody, then Terry Gordy
Best Technical Wrestler -- Hiroshi Hase
Feud of the Year -- Jerry Lawler vs Eddie Gilbert (which will be too short) followed by Hogan vs DiBiase
Best on Interviews -- Jim Cornette
Most Overrated -- Dusty Rhodes
Most Underrated -- Sam Houston
Best Promotion -- All Japan Women
Best TV show -- New Japan
Best Announcer -- Jim Ross
Worst TV Announcer -- Mark Lowrance or Rod Trongard
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post #38 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
Asking JAMES ELLSWORTH for Wrestling Advice
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 444
Points: 9
Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

April 11th, 1988

-- "'What goes around comes around' -- I'm not sure what wise man first coined this phrase, but he's a whole lot wiser this week."

-- Dave felt March 27 would go down as the most important day of the year for pro wrestling. Both the WWF and the NWA presented big shows with tons of hype, intrigue, sabotage, media manipulation, and careful planning. The lesson learned was that if wrestlign doesn't fit into the equation, all the careful planning in the world doesn't really matter.

-- In the largest response the WON has ever received for a poll, 94.7% (507 readers) preferred the Clash of the Champions to Wrestlemania. 3.8% (20 readers) preferred Wrestlemania IV to Clash of the Champions. 1.5% (8 readers) enjoyed the show about the same. Of the 532 responses, only two people voted a match from Wrestlemania as the best overall match. Ric Flair vs Sting barely edged out Midnight Express vs Fantastics, which barely edged out Lex Luger & Barry Windham vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard.

-- The second hottest guy in wrestling coming out of the Clash is Sting, without a doubt. Dave thinks Sting has surpassed the Road Warriors and Randy Savage as the hottest act in wrestling besides Hulk Hogan. "Up until just a few months ago, he never had any kind of a national push. He's probably never scored a clean pinfall on any major star. He's never even won a singles title. While he's very good in the ring considering his experience, he's far from the most polished performer in the NWA. And his interviews leave much to be desired. Call it charisma, rapport with the fans or what have you."

-- The Flair/Sting match was the most widely-viewed match in the history of the modern NWA, and probably the most widely-viewed match in the history of cable television. It was the first time Sting had ever worked anywhere near 45 minutes. Dave says Ric Flair deserves a lot of credit for Sting's sudden surge in popularity, but if there was nothing in Sting himself, it wouldn't have worked. Dave calls it a strange case, because there's not really anywhere he can go right away. He's already worked with Flair for four straight months, and despite losing almost all the matches in their feud, has gotten hotter by the month. Dave says with Nikita getting the title shot at the Crockett Cup and Dusty Rhodes repositioning himself to be the top babyface as the Midnight Rider, it looks like they will fail to take advantage of something they really lukced into. "But Sting got over big with less of a push than any major star in the business, so he'll probably retain much of his popularity as just one of five contenders to the No. 2 babyface position."

-- It is estimated that Wrestlemania IV got 585,000 buys paying $19.95 each, which comes out to around a 6% buyrate. He then repeats a lot of the information he gave in the last issue about the money made off the show. "However, the real success or failure of a major show of this type is not whether it makes money on the night. Titan takes four weeks off after Wrestlemania, one week off before. Houses were way down the past five weeks, even in the cities Hogan appeared. Houses will no doubt be way down all summer as well, stemming from this show, and leading to the late August PPV show. For Wrestlemania IV to be a financially successful show, it has to be profitable enough to offset all these other losses of income, not just make money on the night. Last year's show certainly was. The year before it certainly wasn't. We'll have a better idea what picture this year's fits into in August."

-- Clash drew a 5.8 rating and 12.6 share, which means the average quarter hour had 2,561,000 viewers. It's a lower overall rating than the Royal Rumble, however the Rumble was in prime time and this was in the afternoon. The audience increased in every successive quarter hour, which is unusual for any 2 1/2 hour show, especially a wrestling show. Flair vs Sting had a 7.1 rating and 15 share, with 3,138,000 viewers. The last 15 minutes had 3,447,000 homes watching. Dave estimates that when you look at total number of viewers (not just households), the Clash was probably viewed by 6 million people, and Flair/Sting by around 7 million people.

-- Most unjust criticism of Wrestlemania IV? Dave says it's that the card was too long. It wasn't too long for 16-18 matches. The problem was that the atmosphere wasn't strong enough to sustain such a long card. The show went 3 hours, 40 minutes, with a 12 minute intermission. Dave says he's been to Starrcades that have run 4 1/2 hours and no one has complained or gone home early. Most WM matches were six minutes or less. Most unjust criticism of the Clash? That there were too many commercials. "Hey, you got to see one of the best cards of the year for free. Somebody has to foot the bill and it was the advertisers. The commercial breaks were longer than usual and there were a lot more commercials than normal in the first 90 minutes, but they didn't interrupt one match with a commercial, and one of the matches went 45 minutes uninterrupted. It's a whole lot better than having to deal with a great match being interrupted six or seven times by commercial breaks."

-- Most just criticism of Wrestlemania IV? That the endless Bob Eucker looking for Vanna White skit was bad, and that the live crowd was low-energy. "The mistake is you can't paper the house with non-wrestling fans. They don't know the characters. They don't know the plots. Even Titan wrestling isn't so simplistic that someone off the strip with no knowledge of the product can pick up all that is needed to be understood to have an emotional reaction at the right time." Most just criticism of the Clash? The judging of the main event, which was totally botched. It was never explained if the title could change hands on judge's decision, and having Patti Mullen in Flair's arms on TV the day before the show was an insult to the audience. Also, after being promised there would be a winner, fans were given a draw. Also, ring announcer Tom Miller screwed up by calling Ken Osmond and Jason Hervey judges. They weren't, they were just at ringside. Dave says if Flair/Sting hadn't been such a great match, the judging crap may have ruined the whole show.

-- Luckiest promoter? A tie. Crockett put on a great show, but McMahon was also lucky, because if more people had viewed such an awful show, they would be in far worse shape going into summer.

-- Best wrestler of the day? Ric Flair, the day, the month, the year, the decade, and the era. "The only question left to answer is if Flair is the greatest wrestler of all time."

-- Best swerve? Having Strike Force defend the tag titles at a post-WM TV taping. Here's how they did it. Martel and Santana came out with the belts. Slick came out and started calling them names, and they chased him back to the dressing room. Then, they came back out without the belts. The cameras didn't start filming until they came out a second time.

-- Most unexplained phenomenon? Strike Force being booed, not only at the live show, but also in all the closed circuit locations. Dave still can't figure out why fans don't like Strike Force.

-- Best case of assuming fans have memory loss? It's a tie between Earl Hebner refereeing several matches after the angle in February with DiBiase and Steve Williams coming out and not being acknowledged as UWF champ, even pretending the promotion never existed. Also, he turned heel before he quit earlier this year to feud with Barry Windham. The two are scheduled to team on the 4/17 episode of Main Event, and Dave predicts no mention will be made of their history. "Next thing you know we will see Bobby Ewing in the shower, World Class will be taken over and all the angles will pick up where they left off in May with Sting as a heel teaming with Rick Steiner, The Freebirds together, Luger as a Horseman, and Dusty will be telling us the entire last season was a dream."

-- Public relations award? The WWF, no question. Clash I was the most watched Sunday afternoon TV show in the history of cable television, and they were totally ignored, while the WWF had tons of post-Wrestlemania coverage, even if much of it was making fun of them for the Savage title win leaking in advance. The ultimate embarrassment was the Ted Turner-owned CNN giving five minutes of coverage to Wrestlemania while ignoring the Clash. The WWF lied and said they had 10 million viewers, and USA Today exaggerated it, saying Wrestlemania IV had 50 million viewers. Regarding the Clash, the only public numbers given were David Crockett actually telling the truth and saying the show had 2 1/2 million viewers, although Flair later said 5 million. "The message is simple. Unless JCP wishes to remain ignored by the media, they have to lie, and lie big, just like Titan does. And I don't blame Titan one bit -- until the media calls them out on their lie, they might as well continue to spout it."

-- Do numbers lie, or do liars release numbers? USA Today also said the show was viewed in 36 countries. "Well, 36 of those countries are the same fictitious countries that the Sheepherders have held the tag team titles in, because the only pay-per-view was the U.S., closed circuit was U.S. and Canada, and nobody watched the show live on free television in other countries ..." Dave expects it will air in the Middle East eventually. He said his brother toured there last year, and the WWF is big there. JCP is also known, but not as big, but both groups are 11 months behind on tapes. Dave says for WM to have had 50 million viewers, they would have had to had 90 guests per household.

-- Most quickly forgotten major attraction? The Rock & Roll Express.

-- Best wrestling spot? Flair flipping over the turnbuckle, going to the other corner, nailing a flying bodypress, and having Sting reverse it for a 2 3/4 count at the 43 minute mark.

-- Best smart-ass remark? Hogan was asked by a reporter after the show if not winning the title meant he was headed to the movies. His response? "Yeah, I'm going to see Fatal Attraction."

-- Best job of stealing money? George Steele. The guy never even entered the battle royal and probably still got a nice payoff.

-- Satellite owners got Wrestlemania IV descrambled, after it was originally said the show wouldn't be available on satellites for months.

-- "NEW MARKETING SCHEME: Not to be outdone by Crockett's Four Horsemen vitamins (what a joke), Vince is coming out with his own new item. For $39.95 you can get something that can calm down hyperactive children and put them to sleep, and help your own insomnia late at night. You got it, it's Wrestlemania IV: The Videotape."

-- Dave says it's funny, because Crockett would have loved to do a $16 million show considered an artistic failure, and Vince would have hated having done a show that didn't make huge money but was considered an artistic success.

-- Dave gives himself the award for worst job of analysis, for listing all the reasons the Clash wouldn't hurt Wrestlemania and saying WM would be a $25 million show.

-- There were lots of good tag teams, but the Tag Team of the Day was The Fantastics.

-- Saddest sight was Duggan not being able to have a decent match with DiBiase.

-- Top attractions devalued on Sunday were Ricky Steamboat, Bam Bam Bigelow, Road Warriors and Randy Savage. In Savage's case, Dave says it's the first time in history a wrestler has lost steam winning the world title.

-- "Is the fad over? Well, wrestling has gone down from its peak, and the nation is somewhat overexposed. The smaller promotions aren't making it. The bigger ones are drawing smaller and smaller crowds. But don't write off Titan Sports because of one bad show. I consider Wrestlemania IV like somebody stubbing their toe. It's going to hurt like hell for a week or two. But after that, everything is pretty well the same."

-- Dave says the NWA has proven that when they present something right, and have good cards, they can provide a show that the WWF's glitz can't match, and that JCP can be enormously successful whether the WWF is doing well or not. The enthusiasm of the Atlanta studio and Spartanburg TV tapings showed the Clash has breathed new life not only into the wrestlers, but also the fans. "But this Saturday night I notice that both Ric Flair and Sting are headlining matches in both Baltimore and Philadelphia at the same time. In order words, they'll work a rush match in one spot, hurry to the other, exhausted and try and do it again. This almost always results in two bad shows. As long as the NWA continues to put themselves in a position where their live shows are below par, they will never reach their potential. As shown by the TV ratings on Sunday, their potential is awesome. They are behind Titan when it comes to fans, but they aren't as far as behind as they should be, given all of Titan's advantages in organization. They are very much competition to Titan, maybe moreso now than in a long time, and ironically they were no competition whatsoever until McMahon started a fight on Thanksgiving and continued on January 24th that ended up costing him more than he cost the opposition. They put Crockett in the position of retaliating, and in that position which Crockett never would have dared try on his own if McMahon hadn't started the sabotage, he ruined McMahon's biggest show of the year. Still, the same problems they've had for the last year are still there. We are back to the Dusty Rhodes show, every babyface spends half his interview talking about Dusty and every heel spends his entire interview talking about Dusty. This is what got them into trouble last year, and just when they taste success (much of which was luck because it was nothing JCP did that got Sting over, and now that he is, they are going back to Dusty on top again) they go back to doing business the only way they know how."

-- "Remember, all that matters to Titan is imagery. They don't need substance, and if you think I'm exaggerating, look at Hulk Hogan. If Vince can convince most of his fans that Wrestlemania was a success, then ultimately it won't be a failure." They have problems in the next few months because Hogan is the only guy who is really over, and they spent a lot of time building up feuds like Bobby Heenan vs Matilda that flopped. Roberts vs Rude will be good third from the top. Savage vs DiBiase won't mean anything. It could have after SNME, but not now.

-- The moral of the story is that when Vince blocked Starrcade with Survivor Series, it was a good business move. When he ran the free Royal Rumble opposite the Bunkhouse Stampede, it was nothing more than sabotage. When Crockett ran the Clash against Wrestlemania, it was retaliation.

-- Regarding the Wrestlemania IV ads airing during the Clash, the WWF snuck them in by purchasing five ads under bogus company names. Four of the five ads were caught, but one slipped through.

-- Not much going on since they're not running shows right now.

-- NWA Main Event debuted and it was a hot show. It was taped on 3/31 in Spartanburg, SC and the crowd was very enthusiastic. Dusty vs Ivan Koloff was better than Dave would have expected, and Dusty even won with a flying bodypress. Dave says Ivan Koloff is great for a guy half his age. The hottest match that aired was the main event of Flair, Arn and Tully vs Sting, Luger, and Windham. Dave calls the match ****, and says it's the first time he's seen a US promotion try to duplicate the Japanese TV format, and he thinks it worked well. Next week has Tully Blanchard vs Barry Windham, Steve Williams vs Arn Anderson, and Powers of Pain vs Tim Horner & Italian Stallion. On 4/17, Windham and Williams will team up against Anderson and Blanchard.

-- The Dusty Rhodes suspension has been postponed. It won't be announced until 4/16 so Dusty can wrestle on the 4/15 Boston Gardens show.

-- Dave criticizes Nikita getting the title shot at Crockett Cup, saying a Sting rematch, Luger challenging, or Doc challenging would all do better business, or Windham would at least guarantee a super match.

-- 3/20 in Charleston, WV drew 3,000 headlined by Dusty Rhodes vs Bobby Eaton.

-- Charlotte Memorial Hospital has sued Magnum TA for $56,692 in back medical care. His expenses have exceeded $100,000, far beyond his $25,000 health insurance policy. A Toronto spinal cord expert has offered to do a 9 to 11 hour operation which he claims will give him full usage of his legs and may even give him a remote chance of wrestling again.

-- Brad Armstrong is out with knee surgery.

-- Verne Gagne has started airing old matches of Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Jim Brunzell, and Tito Santana in an attempt to build ratings. He has given up on pushing house shows, and just wants to do small guaranteed shows in the area, to keep the AWA alive so they can keep sending tapes to ESPN.

-- They are having major financial problems and have cut back on TV tapings.

-- 3/20 Star Wars in Fort Worth drew 2,300 paid and $18,000.

-- The 5/8 Parade of Champions may get moved to the Cotton Bowl.

-- Michael Hayes has been doing some great interviews.

-- The Penthouse article on the Von Erichs scheduled for July has been dropped, with no date rescheduled as of yet.

-- Skandor Akbar has been dropped by Crockett and Dave expects him here soon.

-- Fabulous Lance hasn't shown up yet because he's touring South Africa as a hot babyface, still using Lance Von Erich as his name. There is legit bad blood between him and the Von Erichs because of the embarrassment he caused by leaving. Dave can only imagine how bad a match like Kevin vs Lance would be with both guys working together, much less if they are non-cooperative.

-- WCCW wants to make Houston their second home.

-- 3/18 in Calgary was headlined by Chris Benoit beating the Great Gama to win the Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title in a ***1/4 match.

-- 3/25 in Calgary drew 1,000. Standout match was Brian Pillman vs Rip Rogers in a ***1/2 match

-- Jonathan Holiday is doing a Ric Flair gimmick, calling himself a playboy and a 60-minute man, and apparently isn't doing the gimmick very well.

-- When Brody beat Jumbo on 3/27 and won the International title, he started hugging fans in the audience, so he's hugely over as a babyface. "The guy doesn't miss a trick."

-- Baba will be running a 4/2 show at Budokan Hall, with shoot-boxing (which Dave describes as wrestling submission moves and boxing with gloves on), kick-boxing, JWP, boxing, and karate matches.

-- When Joe and Dean Malenko were last in All Japan, they met Mike Tyson. Tyson thought they were the British Bulldogs and got excited. They went along with it until he asked them if he could pet Matilda.

-- Everyone still thinks the Hansen/Tenryu thing was a shoot, and Hansen's popularity is way up.

-- 3/11 in Nagoya drew 9,150 fans and a $350,000 house.

-- Ron Simmons may be coming in in May.

-- Chigusa Nagayo and AJW toured Thailand and were all the rage, drawing crowds between 8,000 and 11,000 every night and getting lots of newspaper headlines.

-- FNN on 4/2 aired a Lawler/Eddie Gilbert match in full from 3/28 at Mid South Coliseum. Next week, they will air a Lawler/Hennig stretcher match.

-- 3/28 in Memphis drew 5,500. 4/4 ticket prices have been lowered to $1.00, so they should have a big crowd for the Lawler/Hennig stretcher match.

-- Eddie Gilbert has put a $25,000 bounty on anyone who can break Jerry Lawler's leg. He's out of the territory, but will keep the angle going by sending in promos.

-- The plan is for Memphis, Continental, and Florida to all work together.

-- Steve Keirn will be back before the end of the month.

-- Jim Shyman has a 976 wrestling number in L.A. which was recently ranked **** in an LA publication and called the best 976 number.

-- Mike Lano thinks the Clash was the way better show, but Jeff Lynch preferred Wrestlemania, saying it's hard to compare a 16-match PPV extravaganza to a five-match television special.
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post #39 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 07:46 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Nice Read, Thanks.

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post #40 of 275 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 09:24 PM
Went to Wrestlemania!!!!!
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Interesting stuff, thanks guys. I've always wanted to find some old archives of past headlines.

Expect Four Horsemen vitamins soon
Hahaha that made me LOL
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