Wrestling Observer Flashback–03.24.86

Skipping ahead again, unfortunately.  Once we get to 1987 it’s a weekly and well-organized trip, thankfully.

– The lead news this week is Dave’s breakdown of the upcoming supercards for the Big Two:  Crockett Cup ‘86 and Wrestlemania 2.  The Cup will come from the Superdome, split over two nights, with a singles main event each night to be announced later.  Dave is super pumped for this one, because it’s a crazy collection of talent just based on the top 10 seeds alone.  Dave thinks that since the Warriors are seeded #1, it’s pretty much guaranteed that they won’t win it.  Dave guesses that it’ll be the Rock N Roll who win, because they’re seeded pretty low.  Also, the main event for night #2 is going to be Flair v. Dusty for the title, and Dave is like “Ugh, whatever” to that one.

– Dave runs down the card for WM2, and apparently they were trying to get the Crush Gals on the show but the deal fell through.  He’s not sure why.  Dave assumes Andre is winning the battle royale with the football players, and he has it on good authority that William Perry is making $150,000 to take part in that particular freakshow.  Dave notes that Bret Hart is specifically in the match to take bumps and provide all the action, and I’d say that’s not inaccurate. 

– Dave runs down the celebs and wonders who the hell “Elvira” is, anyway?

– Interestingly, Jesse Ventura v. Bruno Sammartino was supposed to happen on this show, but Jesse’s health is rapidly deteriorating at this point and he can’t get medical or insurance clearance to wrestle again, so he’s essentially retired now.

– Hulkamania and Wrestlemania are doing very well on the VHS sales charts, but in fact not as well as the WWF was touting in trade magazines.  The Hulk video sold about 13,000 units and Wrestlemania sold 20,000, but neither one is particularly hot in the rental market, where all the money is made. 

– Next month also sees the supercard to end all supercards, AWA WrestleRock ‘86!  Verne is apparently close to getting Prince to appear, which is the ONLY way this trainwreck is going to be a success with a main event of Bruiser Brody & Nord the Barbarian v. Greg Gagne & Jerry Blackwell headlining.  The Road Warriors were apparently promised a spot on the show against Brody, but Bruiser vetoed it, and the Roadies opted not to take part. 

– Retired wrestler Satoru Sayama, with the demise of the UWF, is going to try his hand at a sambo tournament in Tokyo against the Russians.  Dave is pretty sure he’s gonna get straight up murdered.

– Dave updates some recent deaths, as Gino Hernandez is now listed as dying from cocaine overdose, and David Von Erich is still officially enteritis, but Dave doesn’t buy that story for many reasons.  Rick McGraw’s supposed natural causes was actually a drug-related suicide.

– Onto World Class, where Ken Mantell has left as booker and moved to Mid-South (more on them later).  Gary Hart’s version of it in his book:  Mantell sucked World Class dry like a parasite and then took the money he stole from Fritz and conned his way into Bill Watts’ promotion.  

– Since we missed the whole deal, I’ll let you know here that sometime in early March, Fritz seceded from the NWA and made Rick Rude the first World Class World champion, although local fans aren’t buying it.  Part of the deal is that the title can change hands on a DQ like in Japan, which is a popular idea. 

– Over to Mid-South, which is now the UNIVERSAL WRESTLING FEDERATION.  They were trying to move into national syndication and the Mid-South name just sounds so darn regional that they needed to change it.  Sound reasoning.

– Dick Slater won the Mid-South TV title from Jake Roberts (who was on his way to the WWF) and since he was already North American champion, decided to throw the TV title medal into the river to get rid of it.  That angle was actually ripped off multiple times by WWE, most notably by Steve Austin and the Rock.

– The Blade Runners have made their debut, managed by Eddie Gilbert, and they still suck!

– To the WWF, where everyone is talking about getting the big WM payday and then leaving, but Dave is pretty sure that’s just talk.

– Vince REALLY wants Ted Dibiase to come in as a heel.  They’re offering him somewhere around $6000 per week.  I’ve heard that everyone has a price, but that move would likely cripple the new UWF right out of the gates so Dave doesn’t think Ted will take it yet.

– Dave has a theory about Hulk Hogan:  Maybe he should stop coming to cities like San Fran every month and limit himself to 3-4 times a year, because then it wouldn’t be diminishing returns and would keep him as a special attraction.  That’s crazy talk, Meltzer!

– So apparently things are not easy going with Mr. T this time around, as he’s refusing to do any PR work for WM2 and has been generally uncooperative with everything asked of him.  Dave’s take:  “Only in America could an illiterate idiot be made into a superhero.”  Or maybe even a President! 

– Dave is amused at the gall of Titan, promoting matches where Tito Santana continues to defend against Randy Savage on house shows despite dropping the belt to him on 2/8.  Dave relates another newsletter writer calling up the WWF PR department to ask about it, and I can only picture the conversation like this…



– Maybe it was wizards, who knows.

– The Rougeau Brothers have agreed to come into the WWF now, what with Montreal basically shutting down and all.  Moondog Rex is also coming in, since the WWF is pretty much the best place to lose if you don’t mind the travel.  Dave notes that Ray is a whole lot of nothing in the ring but Jacques is pretty good.  Doesn’t mean they’ll be any good in the WWF, though.

– Jake Roberts is already boring Dave and his minions. 

– Dave is kind of shocked that they’re bringing in Dump Matsumoto and then just jobbing the shit out of her, because she’s someone that could actually be marketed and draw for the women.  Don’t get him wrong, though, she’s still terrible in the ring. 

– Over to Crockett, where Wahoo is coming in to feud with Jimmy Garvin “for no apparent reason”.  That’s pretty accurate.

– Dave FINALLY saw Starrcade, but he still denies us a star rating on Magnum-Tully, instead ranting about how most of the matches were cut down to 90 seconds to fit on a 2 hour tape.  Well blame Crockett for booking a four hour show, then!

– So as noted earlier, the WWF and Montreal relationship has come to a bitter end.  I was hoping there would be a screwjob involved for the ultimate punchline, but no.  At any rate, the relationship fell apart because the world just wasn’t ready for Dino Bravo v. Hulk Hogan, and specifically WWF didn’t want their top babyface getting booed.  Yeah, when would THAT ever happen?  Bravo has restarted International Wrestling for the moment, partnering with the AWA for talent instead.  He probably should have just stuck with Vince.  Around this time they were actually showing some of those shows on Canadian TV in Vancouver, and when Dave says earlier in this issue that the workrate was worse than even WWF, he’s not exaggerating.  When Samu is your hardest worker, you’re a shitty promotion. 

– Sadly, we missed the issue where Jeff Jarrett made his Observer debut in one of the all time great angles, getting mauled by Bill & Budro as his introduction to wrestling. 

– Dave still doesn’t know who Abdul Gadafy is, so I do his research for him and it turns out that it was VERY old-school wrestler Danny Miller, who started in 1957. 

– Funny Central States story, as Art Crews was TV champion and got an offer for a tryout from the WWF, so he decided to burn his bridges and threw the belt through the office window to return it.  So he went to the WWF for his shot, had the best match on the show, and was immediately fired for showing up the main eventers.  And now he’s back in Central States, probably having entered through the “supplicant” door.

– Keiji Mutoh is into Florida as The White Ninja.

– Barry Windham has made it known that he can be booked for $1500 a week, but Dave doesn’t think anyone’s gonna take him up on it because Blackjack burned so many people on the way out.  Verne is desperately in need of a top babyface, however. 

– To the AWA, where new gimmicks are Ed Wiskoski from Portland in as “Col. DeBeers” and Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty as “The Midnight Rockers”. 

– David Sammartino is already done with the AWA, mad that he’s being asked to do jobs to Stan Hansen.  I don’t even know where to start with that one.  Hansen has been wrestling this Leon White guy instead. 

– And finally, Dave notes that for those in the Bay Area who are wrestling-starved, the AWA returns soon with a Brody-Blackwell main event.  This will still leave you wrestling-starved, but at least it won’t be from the WWF this time.