Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
April 25th, 1988
-- The WWF will be returning from the Wrestlemania break, doing several TV tapings just prior to the weekend.
-- Major housecleaning is expected in May and June. Hillbilly Jim was expected to be among them, but likely won't be, since he's working some openers against Jim Neidhart.
-- Expect Brutus Beefcake to be IC champ soon. The WWF has already sent out publicity with Honky as a challenger. Dave says it could be a misprint, but he doubts it. Dave suspects a title change on the 4/30 SNME.
-- "The WWF magazine is scheduling a piece where they reveal Earl Hebner as Dave's twin brother which is a surprise because it seemed like they had pretended the angle never took place. Next month's issue is also scheduled to give the results of the August pay-per-view. Just kidding there."
-- There is talk of another huge outdoor show in Toronto over summer. Last time they promoted there, they drew 69,300 fans for Hogan vs Orndorff. Dave thinks they could pop another big house for Hogan vs Andre, because Ontario is pretty much the only place where Wrestlemania drew big crowds everywhere for closed circuit.
-- Bam Bam Bigelow should be back for the TV tapings.
-- The WWF has sent letters of warning to everyone that incidents like the David Sammartino one won't be tolerated and will result in immediate dismissal. David Sammartino was set to face the Iron Sheik in several independent shows in New York, but the commission suspended him. Linda McMahon even wrote him a very nasty personal letter. "It's an admirable policy not to tolerate wrestler attacking fans, but where were they all these years when similar incidents went on? Randy Savage went into the stands in Fresno and according to newspaper reports, the guy he tried to hit ducked and he KO'd a 14-year old girl, and there is talk of a suit being filed here in San Francisco when a Titan wrestler knocked down a security guard (the Savage incident was several years ago I don't mean to give you the idea it was something recent, although the incident in SF was in February) so even though they are giving the impression of cracking down, this policy smells of every bit as much a double-standard as Titan's drug policy (which the wrestlers joke, you get a suspension if they find any cocaine in your system, and you get a suspension if they don't find any steroids in your system) which seems more of a public relations move than a move based on addressing any real problems."
-- The Crockett Cup is set for Friday, 4/22, at the 5,000 seat Greenville Memorial Auditorium, and for Saturday, 4/23, at the 15,600-seat Greensboro Coliseum. Dave says this is the least hyped and least talked about tournament they've done so far. The first two rounds will take place in Greenville (about 14 matches). There will also be a Jimmy Garvin vs Kevin Sullivan Blindfold match. The second night will have the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, along with a "Midlife Rider" vs JJ Dillon Bullrope match and Ric Flair vs Nikita "The Incredible Shrinking Man" Koloff for the NWA title. Dave still doesn't know every team in the tournament. Dave says Luger and Windham and the Road Warriors are probably the co-favorites, with the Fantastics as longshots, and everyone else with zero chance.
-- The NWA is in danger of losing the Nassau Coliseum. Nassau wants to go back to the WWF, which pulled out when they started booking Crockett shows. The proposed 6/24 show is in jeopardy. If they are kicked out, they plan on running the Westchester County Center. It will be more accessible to New York fans than Nassau Coliseum, but won't draw well because it is considered a minor league arena.
-- The annual Boston Gardens show on 4/15 drew just 5,000 fans and a $62,000 gate, headlined by an 8-man cage match of Lex Luger, Sting, Barry Windham & Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard & Ivan Koloff in what John McAdam called a *** match. The Midnight Express went to a 30-minute draw on the undercard in a **** match as well. When the card ended, the scoreboard said, "We hope you enjoyed tonight's WWF event!"
-- The top match on NWA Main Event was Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs Barry Windham & Steve Williams in what was called a *** match. Barry carried things for his side, as Doc just isn't impressing right now.
-- Early favorites to win the vacated US title on 5/13 in Houston are Al Perez or Tully Blanchard. Dave says they seem to be ready to push Perez, but that Tully always ends up with a belt.
-- "In case any of you missed any of the Crockett shows this past weekend, you missed absolutely nothing. The TV is back to its Fall '87 depths with nothing but commentary and interviews talking about nothing but the Midlife Rider and his alter ego, Dusty Rhodes. Considering it is a week before one of the promotions biggest events of the year (Crockett Cup), you would think that would be the priority, but it was barely acknowledged, with no first round pairings (of course, I'm sure if they listed the first round it would scare people away from Greenville), no listing of teams, basically a throwaway announcement of the Flair vs Nikita NWA title match (which is a throwaway event since nobody in the world believes Nikita has a chance) and one of the most pathetic looking skits I've ever seen involving JJ and Jim Crockett. I'll give JJ credit for saving it about as good as possible but a tree shows more personality than Jim Crockett."
-- Dave says considering they're putting all of their effort solely behind the Midnight Rider, they better hope Dusty can draw with it, but that four months of it seems really trying. "It appears whatever momentum may have been gained from 3/27 is just about completely down the tubes. I truly believe part of the success of the show was due to Dusty playing a minor role in comparison with the younger babyfaces (Sting, Windham, Luger, and the Fantastics). I'm not trying to say Dusty should retire like a lot of people have been saying, but he shouldn't be the top star. His role should be similar to the way they used Jimmy Valiant for so many years. Valiant had a following and probably sold tickets, and he was used low or middle of cards in short, bloody matches against guys managed by Paul Jones but never was put in with the top calibre heels (well, he had a short feud with Tully but that was probably punishment for Tully not having mentioned Dusty's name enough on interviews).
-- Last week's show in Philadelphia drew 6,512 paid and $96,412. Considering Baltimore did more than $100,000 the same night, it's pretty impressive.
-- The David and Mike Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions takes place on 5/8 at Texas Stadium. There's a Texas Roundup match (a different name for the Royal Rumble), Kerry Von Erich vs Iceman Parsons for the title, Bill Irwin vs Angel of Death, and "a gimmick match which has never been held before which I'm not exactly clear on".
-- The gimmick match will be billed as something like a "Triple Tower of Doom", which will be three rings, put on top of one another with a cage around the top two rings, and a fireman's pole which allows wrestlers to slide down into the other rings if they want to. Dusty Rhodes is furious, because he wanted to use this same idea for the Bash, but Michael Hayes beat him to the punch.
-- 4/16 TV taping in Las Vegas drew 2,000 fans, and they did nothing to capitalize on the hot Midnight Rockers vs Bad Company feud. Diamond Dallas Page (still called "Dallas Diamond Page") debuted on the TV taping managing Diamond and Tanaka, and did all right, but he's 6'4" and thus towers over nearly everyone in the promotion, but especially Tanaka, who he manages. Page is the first ever manager to have a valet at ringside with him. The Rock & Roll Express debuted on the taping and got a tremendous reaction, facing the Nasty Boys in a surprisingly good match where Jerry Sags accidentally hit his nose and mouth on a chair and bled pretty badly, causing him to miss his other scheduled matches at that taping.
-- The Rock & Roll Express did interviews talking about facing Japanese tag teams, and Riki Choshu and Masa Saito are scheduled to appear on the 5/14 taping, but Dave doesn't think they'll have a match. Dave later says for sure it won't happen because of the conflicting All Japan series at that time, which the Rock & Rolls will be part of.
-- Rod Trongard actually said on TV the previous weekend that Wahoo McDaniel could run the 100 in less than ten seconds. "Rod is absolutely the worst announcer in the business, including Marc Lowrance."
-- Magnificent Mimi has been introduced as a new rival for Madusa Miceli. Dave is told Mimi is "of GLOW calibre, but then again, Madusa isn't all that much better."
-- Jerry Lawler is scheduled to come in and face Hennig at the 5/14 taping.
-- Mando Guerrero had three squashes on the taping, where it appears he may be pushed hard, and his new lucha offense was said to have gotten over strong. "By the way, I'm told Chavo Guerrero is teaming with his younger brother Eddy Guerrero (who is said to be really hot) in Mexico right now."
-- Rocky Mountain Thunder was pushed pretty hard again. He nearly killed a jobber at the last taping. He was trained by Toru Tanaka in Los Angeles. Greg Boyd was supposed to get the gimmick, but didn't show up, and the graphics had already been printed up, so they decided to let this guy use the gimmick at the last taping. He also wrestled as The Armored Saint for California independents.
-- Robert Gibson is said to have gained a lot of weight since leaving the NWA.
-- The AWA is using the Rock & Rolls to run shows in the Carolinas, where they will wrestle Diamond and Tanaka.
-- The CWA is gearing toward the big show on 5/9 at the Mid South Coliseum, headlined by Jerry Lawler challenging Curt Hennig for the AWA World title. "It's pretty rare for Memphis to start pushing a card several weeks in advance, especially since they are continuing to run live shows each Monday." A few stipulations have been added to build up the title match. If Lawler doesn't win the title, he's going to retire from wrestling. They also have a 900 number where fans can vote for the referee between Jackie Fargo and Larry Hennig. It's also Jerry Lawler Night at the Coliseum, and prices have been raised to $25.00 for ringside tickets. Ringside ticket holders get to attend a post-match party for Jerry Lawler. They are trying to top the current record for a Mid South Coliseum gate (Flair vs Lawler holds it, doing a $80,000 house in 1985).
-- 4/11 in Memphis drew 3,500 fans headlined by Jerry Lawler vs Dory Funk Jr in what was called a pretty good match. 4/16 in Jonesboro, AR drew 350 fans headlined by Jeff Jarrett & Billy Travis vs Max Pain & Gary Young in a **** Texas Death match.
-- Ron Fuller and Gordon Solie were backstage at TV tapings on 04/18. Solie has been flown in weekly to do voiceovers of Memphis matches for the new TV show that will have matches from promoters Mike Graham, Steve Keirn, and Jerry Jarrett.
-- The Jerry Lawler Show will either be syndicated nationally or picked up by a cable station, but they are working on getting exposure for the show.
-- Robert Fuller is headed in for at least one show in the upcoming weeks.
-- Jeff Jarrett is now the Arkansas state champion (My note: The what?), having won a tournament final on 03/19 in Jonesboro, AR after defeating Gary Young
-- On the 4/16 TV show, Ken Wayne and Jeff Jarrett were talking about their junior title match on Monday. Both are babyfaces. They argued a little bit and Wayne gave Jarrett a glass of water and made a sarcastic comment about him not being able to talk and Jarrett threw the water in his face and slapped him. Later in the show, they were teaming in a six-man with Billy Travis and they won the match, but had words after Jarrett "accidentally" dropkicked Wayne during the match. "Jarrett has a real problem here in his role as the hearthrob babyface for the little girls. He's got lots of heat with fans and it really isn't his fault, it's just that he's less than 200 pounds, it's well known his father and grandfather run the promotion, and the marketing of the Jarrett poster made the guy fans hate him similar to Crockett's attempt at marketing Ricky Morton as a rock star led to the guy fans booing Morton almost universally and ruined the Rock & Roll Express' drawing power in the long run (although inevitably the results would have been the same anyway). Most of the wrestling fans are male, and even though they are easily manipulated, male fans, especially in their early 20s and teenagers, which make up the bulk of the wrestling audience nowadays, don't want to cheer for a 'skinny' guy, especially a 'skinny' guy marketed as a sex symbol to girls."
-- Correction: Chris Adams didn't get a broken cheekbone. He returned to wrestling a few days after his injury and is wrestling wearing a baseball catcher's mask. He was injured when Mike George caught him with a dropkick in the face that broke his nose on 4/7 in Kansas City. They are saying Terry Taylor paid "another wrestler in another territory" to injure Adams.
-- On 4/8 in Dallas, Angel of Death & Iceman King Parsons tried to cut Michael Hayes' hair. Then on 4/10 in Fort Worth, they tried to use the famous Freebird hair removal cream on Hayes. "Hayes was furious because as the story goes, only three people, Hayes, Roberts, and Gordy, are supposed to know the secret formula of the Freebird cream and Hayes is made they gave the formula to an outsider to use on him."
-- Terry Taylor missed some shows because he had his bad knee scoped.
-- 4/15 in Dallas drew 700 fans for Kevin & Kerry Von Erich vs Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts. 4/10 in Fort Worth drew about 550 fans.
-- Fabulous Lance is being billed everywhere, but has yet to arrive. It is believed he is still in South Africa, wrestling using the name Lance Von Erich.
-- Correction: It was Black Bart and Buddy Roberts putting flashlights in fans' eyes during the blackout in the Kerry/Iceman title change. "I'm sorry, but even though it was a creative ending, the idea of Iceman as a world champion is stupid. A title means something only if the fans believe it has value, which is why most titles in wrestling today are worthless. A world title only means something if a World class wrestler has it, and this title has already meant nothing for most of its existence, but for a title to be won in that manner and held by a prelim wrestler, even though it may put heat on certain things because fans are pissed about the change, simply doesn't help sell tickets. In a group like this, selling tickets and building up the calibre of wrestling should be the goal, not a bunch of hot-shotting creative gimmicks to take the place of mediocre wrestling. It just isn't working."
-- Ron Fuller is running the promotion. The top star is Buddy Landell, who Dave calls one of the best heels in the entire business. "Landel's talents are no secret but I'm still amazed at just how good a worker and how well he displays arrogance on interviews. He makes Doug Furnas look so good that I can see why people think Furnas has potential, although the more I see of Furnas, the less I'm impressed. He's a great athlete, but just doesn't seem to have the workings or interviews down at all. Landell is using a loaded forearm brace as his finishing move. He gets a lot of cheers, even though he's a heel."
-- Cousin Junior is a babyface who wants to dance with kids at ringside. On the TV show, no kids wanted to dance with him, and he struggled to even get fans to shake his hand. "Pretty embarrassing."
-- "Jobber Ron Sexton is a real talent and he even made a match with Junior look decent."
-- Ron Wright is managing the Mongolian Stomper and Moondog Spot. "He's an old wrestler who has a unique gimmick of claiming he's got a heart problem like Fred Sanford and complains when people boo him that he may only have a few days left and when he's accused of interfering brings up his bad heart as a excuse all the time. Aside from the gimmick, he's weak on interviews, but seems to get great heat." (My note: PLEASE, someone, rip off this gimmick.)
-- Terry Gordy is in and doesn't seem to know if he's a face or heel, but since heel Hector Guerrero is challenging him, he's likely a babyface.
-- Crowds continue to be at near capacity, although Dave suspects they will lose interest when Owen Hart tours Japan in mid-May, after which he'll go to the WWF in June. The speculation is that he'll team with Bret and they'll be the WWF's hottest babyface tag team.
-- 4/8 in Calgary drew a near sellout 1,600. 4/2 in Edmonton drew 1,100 and a $9,800 house.
-- TSN is now running shows only three weeks behind. When they first started, they were 11 weeks behind, but they have slowly caught up.
-- Steve DiSalvo will be returning from South Africa on the 4/15 show and will resume his feud with Jason The Terrible, who is leaving for Japan in May. Great Gama has also left for South Africa.
-- Stampede is headlining with 8 and 10-man elimination style cage matches pretty much everywhere and the matches are typically going close to an hour.
-- "Yoshiaki Yatsu, broken leg and all, wrestled Bruiser Brody in the main event on 4/4 in Nagoya in the match to determine who goes into the unification match with Genichiro Tenryu on 4/15 in Osaka." Yatsu took a heavy injection of painkillers which were supposed to last an hour at 7:30 that night. However, the undercard ended up going longer than expected, and the match didn't start until 8:54, when the painkillers were wearing off. Still, he went 15:04 against Brody before losing via countout, before 7,200 fans. Yatsu is now sidelined again.
-- 4/5 in Ihara drew 1,900 fans.
-- In May, All Japan will unify the PWF World tag team titles, the International tag team title, and the Asian tag team title in a tournament. In for the tournament will be the Rock & Roll Express, Jumbo & Yatsu, and Abdullah the Butcher & Tiger Jeet Singh.
-- There was a special Fan Appreciation card on 4/10 in Osaka before 2,452 fans with a bunch of gimmick matches.
-- The new series started on 4/11 in Tokyo before 1,950 fans at Korauken Hall. It was also the first TV taping for the new non-prime time television show which now airs on Saturday afternoons.
-- The formation of the UWF was announced at a press conference on 4/8 in Tokyo. The president of the promotion is Shiji Jin. Maeda said they have learned from past mistakes and claims that they will only be able to hold one show per month because of the physical style. The first card will be 5/12 at Korauken Hall, with all tickets for $40.00, probably headlined by Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada. There will be no foreign wrestlers on the first show, but there will be on the second show on 6/11 in Sapporo, booked by Karl Gotch and Masami Soronaka from Florida.
-- The Jumping Bomb Angels are scheduled to return to the WWF in May. Until then, they'll feud with the Glamour Girls in AJW.
-- Dave says FNN received many letters asking them to air New Japan, and hope to begin negotiations with New Japan shortly. Dave says a lot of specifics have to be worked out, such as commentary and cost, but there's a decent chance of it happening.
-- Recent WON reader polls showed the following: readers were against the state athletic commission being involved in pro wrestling 55% to 45%. The overwhelming majority felt blood should be used on occasion at 67%. A smaller portion, 20%, felt blood should be used very frequently, even several times per show. The New Japan style was voted the readers favorite style, getting 53% of the vote. The only other style to get more than 15% was Mid South style, which got 16%. Current NWA, CWA, and Stampede all received 7 to 10%. Many people who said New Japan said it was specifically because of their junior heavyweights.