Happy Memorial Day! Or thoughtful and respectful Memorial Day, however you’re supposed to feel about it, I guess.
See, this guy gets it.
– So the lead news is that Billy Jack Haynes burns Don Owen…again…but this time in STYLE. Haynes jumped to the WWF at this point, but on the way out of Portland he was set to do a match with Ric Flair where a local player of the basketballs named Mychel Thompson would be involved. So Haynes gets into the poor guy’s ear and convinces him to join him in holding up Owen for another $5000 or they’ll both walk. Owen told them both to fuck off, so Haynes stepped up his scorched earth plan and took the player on radio shows all over the city, calling Owen a crook who ripped off the talent, and that neither he nor Thompson would be at the show. Needless to say, the show died, and Dave cautions promoters against continuing to use celebrities and allowing them to get “smartened up”, because they might realize just how much leverage they actually have.
– Dave does wish Haynes well in the WWF after walking out on every other promotion in the country, and notes that he’ll do well because he’s big and muscular and will likely end up even bigger and more muscular from Titan.
– Dave once again welcomes new readers to the Observer, and notes that he’s doing a subscription drive at the moment, so I guess the new weekly format has cured his problems with continuing on for good.
– The UWF held the tournament to crown the first UWF champion on 5/30, won by Terry Gordy. Sounds like a hell of a tournament, actually. There was a great angle in the semifinals, with Dibiase getting beaten by Gordy to end the second round, leaving him lying in the ring with a bad neck after a Freebird attack. So Jim Duggan and Kamala come out for their semi-final match, at which point Skandor Akbar offers Dibiase $25,000 to help Kamala win. Dibiase asks for $50,000 instead (because everyone’s got a price!) and after Akbar agrees and pays him, he screws Kamala over by hitting him with the loaded glove. The finals saw Duggan v. Gordy, with One Man Gang making his debut and cracking Duggan in the head with a chair that gave him 27 stitches and a legit concussion. So they actually had to delay the show for 20 minutes while they worked on Duggan, at which point he finally came back out, made his comeback, but got busted open and piledriven by Gordy again for the loss.
– Jim Crockett is promoting the Great American Bash tour this year as Flair v. 14 different opponents, although Dave is skeptical. He also thinks they’re shooting too high with the stadium shows, because the weather is too hot for outdoor shows in July and fans are too far away from the action the way they’re set up. Also, Dusty Rhodes is running through so many big angles on TV that he’s bound to run out soon. OR, he could just keep running the same damn angle over and over until he kills the territory.
– Fritz Von Erich, meanwhile, is going to be running New Orleans now, and Dave thinks it’s going to be a bloodbath. In more ways than one, because first of all he’s starting to get complacent and moving away from the hot teeny-bopper crowds who made him millions in 83, and now is using “blood-and-guts” old-timers like Abdullah and Blackjack Mulligan on top again. I think, if I remember Gary Hart’s book correctly, this was the point when Bruiser Brody was booking the territory and he had no idea of how to actually do it. As we know, the trip downhill for World Class was fast and HARD.
– Next up, Dave has heard from several sources that Roddy Piper has quit the WWF, but he doesn’t buy it. There’s also the neverending rumor of the Road Warriors going to the WWF, but neither one makes any sense no matter how much Piper talks about how he wants to retire. Piper just makes too damn much money with Titan to quit.
– Speaking of the Roadies, they teamed up with Dusty to win the six-man titles from the Russians in Baltimore on 5/17. On the same show, The Rock N Roll Express beat the Midnights in a match that Dave calls “the closest thing to choreographed poetry-in-motion” that he’s ever seen. The show had blood up and down the card, so apparently the Crockett philosophy is to compete with Vince by ruining the foreheads of his talent.
– The long-awaited Nikita v. Magnum US title match takes place on TBS 6/7 and Dave wonders why Dusty is wasting this stuff on free TV. As it turns out, he didn’t.
– The angle where Ric Flair injured Ricky Morton’s cheek didn’t draw big enough, so that’s why they moved onto the Horsemen breaking Ricky’s nose instead. Still didn’t work.
– Newcomer Todd Champion is getting a little push, said to be at the same level as the American Starship when they started. Sure couldn’t be any worse, Dave notes.
– Crockett won’t be promoting in the Meadowlands again until he can get a local TV deal in New York. Well, he’s gonna be waiting a while for that.
– The Crockett Cup ‘87 will take place in Baltimore, split up over two nights this time to avoid a 7 hour block of wrestling. Dave notes, however, that much of the intrigue from this year’s show came from the involvement of the UWF guys, and who knows what the relationship will be like next year at this time?
– To the WWF, where Mean Gene will be taking over hosting duties on TNT immediately, freeing up Vince McMahon to do more important things. The show was bombing anyway, although the rumor is that Vince was holding USA hostage and forcing them to air the show because they need him a lot more than he needs them. Well THAT relationship sure changed a lot in later years.
– WWF-provided newspaper reports for the most recent MSG show listed it as a sellout of 26,000, which is amazing since MSG only holds 20,000. Actually attendance was nowhere near a sellout, somewhere around 15,000. Main event was Savage defending against Tito with Bruno as the ref, which set up the rematch for the next month with Bruno & Tito v. Savage & Adonis. That was a HELL of a match, too.
– The houses continue to drop, with Hartford hitting 1500 people for the last show there. That’s not even enough to pay the rent on the building, Dave notes.
– Late notes from Crockett: Bubba Rogers, the guy who is now Jim Cornette’s bodyguard, is former TV jobber Ray Traylor, and NOT the Big Bubba from San Antonio. That would be the future Sheik Tugboat, for those keeping track.
– In Memphis, Jerry Lawler got the book back from Bill Dundee and suddenly the show isn’t revolving around Bill Dundee any longer. Yeah, but the Bill & Budro Show was GREAT, you have to give him that.
– The White Ninja (Muta) won the Florida title from Kendall Windham at some point in May. Dave calls the Ninja the best worker in Florida by far, but even he can’t carry Kendall to anything watchable. Ouch.
– Lex Luger is just all over Florida and Dave notes that he has his own personal fanclub in the Apter mags as well, since they put him on all the covers and they’re already hyping him up as a legend in the making. Yeah, well, Luger sold a shitload of magazines whenever they put him on the cover, which even Dave admitted years later. Luger is basically working as both a babyface and heel as Florida just can’t push him hard and fast enough to meet demand for him. He’s not a bad guy or a good guy, he’s the guy, I guess you could say. Well, except he was actually over and drew money in Florida.
– The UWF did a tremendous angle to bring Bill Watts out of retirement again, with Eddie Gilbert claiming he no longer manages Russians and introducing his new team of the Blade Runners. At that point, the Koloffs and Korchenko ran out and brutalized Bill while Gilbert’s team barricaded the babyface dressing room. When Watts put over a heel, he put them OVER.
– Watts has in fact won the bidding war for Jeff Gaylord and will be using him as a prelim guy now.
– In Central States, Kevin Kelly was booked for a match with Jerry Lawler on 5/29 as a special deal, and Kelly went around for days beforehand telling anyone who would listen how he was gonna rough up Lawler because of how badly he was treated in Memphis. Kelly apparently worked there for 10 days and then got fired for being a pain in the ass. And of course, nothing happened in the match.
– Buddy Rose & Doug Somers won the AWA tag titles from Hall & Hennig on 5/17, and Dave is still like “Really? Rose & Somers? REALLY?” Well, they got a lot better.
– The newest Fritz Von Erich classy move: Promoting Abdullah as being banned from wrestling in the US for the past 3 years because he killed a guy in the ring in Pittsburgh. And we haven’t even made it to the Fritz heart attack era yet!
– Over to Japan, where the only thing of note (to me) is that Inoki is involved in scandal whereby he got a haircut from women of ill repute. Even Dave is like “Yeah, I don’t get it either.”
– And finally, Stampede ran the Winnipeg arena on 5/14, and only managed to draw 300 people to the 15000 seat building. They blamed the hockey playoffs, but Dave is skeptical that they’d do any better otherwise.
Next time: The return of THIS WEEK IN KERRY VON ERICH STUPIDITY!