Wrestling Observer Flashback–04.16.90

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After the buildup to Wrestlemania last week, Dave unleashes the STORY OF THE CENTURY and blows the lid off all kinds of shit.

It’s pretty crazy.

Yes, the rumors are true.  Ric Flair has a TWIN BROTHER.

– Yes, it turns out that for the past twenty years, two different people have been playing Ric Flair in alternating roles.  This amazing piece of news was broken when two different Toronto newspapers reported that “Flair” was at Wrestlemania as a guest of Vince McMahon and he’ll be signing a contract with the WWF.  However, and this is the really shocking part, Ric Flair was in Asheville NC AT THE EXACT SAME TIME.  While most would simply laugh at the ineptitude of the wrestling coverage in those newspapers, Dave is the kind of guy to dig deeper, peel back the layers of the onion, and find out the real truth.

– So (and you might want to sit down for this one), turns out that there’s two different people playing the part:  Richard Fliehr, and his long-lost identical twin Ian Rhode. The twin boys were the result of a bizarre genetic experiment between Dr. Richard Fliehr and pro wrestler Herman Rhode, which produced the twin boys.  The secret was so deeply buried and covered up that until now, only a few people in the whole world knew about it.

– Immediately it becomes clear why “Flair” was able to seemingly party all night and then work hour-long classics every day, as one twin would do shots in the bar and the other would do ***** matches with Ricky Steamboat.  This act went all the way back to training camp with Verne Gagne in the 70s.  However, the ruse began to crumble like a dry muffin when Vince McMahon somehow found out about the deception, and got Sean Mooney to play his own twin brother “Ian Mooney” as an inside joke.  This proved to be a lot of stress for the twins, which most (who weren’t privy to the real shocking truth) attributed to Flair simply being stressed out over the booking position.  In fact, while Ric Flair was signed to a long-term contract with the NWA, Ian Rhode wanted to move to the WWF because he hadn’t ever signed a contract, technically speaking.  Ian wanted to headline Wrestlemania VII against Hulk Hogan, but Flair tried to talk him into staying and a huge fight erupted, leading to Ian showing up at Wrestlemania to talk with Vince.

– Dave interviewed Herman Rhode (now working as a bouncer at a sandwich shop in Florida) and he convincingly pretended to have no idea what Dave was talking about.  So Dave dug even deeper, peeled off even more layers of the onion, and spoke with a high school classmate of Ric’s, who heard Ric talking about his “Uncle Herman”.  Turns out that Uncle Herman had a son named Tully, and since there’s only one person in the entire United States named “Tully”, that only led Dave to that one person: Tully Blanchard.

– Unsurprisingly, Tully also pleaded ignorance and pointed out that he never even met Flair until well into the 70s.  Likely story.

– The person most upset by this ruse is Verne Gagne, who is now demanding a second initiation fee from the twins for his training.

– This whole thing comes as a shock to Dave’s resident psych expert, Dr. Jeffrey Mullins of San Jose, who just assumed that Flair had a split personality all this time.  But the twin thing makes much more sense.

 

– Hmm, tough crowd.  OK, try this one:

– A WWF veteran is celebrating his 15th anniversary with his wife, and during the celebration she takes him up to the attic where there’s a safe containing $11,000 and two eggs.  She tells him that the eggs represent every time she’s cheated on him while he was on the road.  The wrestler was stunned, but then realized that he’s been on the road every night for 15 years, so his wife only cheating twice is actually understandable.  He was actually very lucky!

“By the way,” he asked, “Where did the $11,000 come from?”

“Oh, every time I got a dozen eggs I sold them for $10.”

– OK, Dave admits that he’s a bit light on real news this week.  He does, however, close out his set by noting that if doing one job makes you immortal, then Jerry Monti should live forever as well.

 

stand up

 

– Let’s just call it a night, Dave.

– So Robocop debuts on TV this week for the NWA.  (Ha ha Dave, good one!  Oh wait, now he’s being serious.)  He’ll apparently have to stand on a box behind Sting so as not to look small, and it’s got something to do with the upcoming Robocop 2 that comes out this summer.  (Hot take:  Robocop 2 was pretty underrated.  I kind of liked it, even if the original Frank Miller version would have been batshit crazy awesome before it got killed.) 

– In news even more wacky and unbelievable news than the first three items of this issue, Wrestlemania VII has already sold $300,000 worth of tickets a year in advance.  Although Dave was mostly joking about Flair’s twin brother, there are real rumors of Hogan v. Flair as the headlining match of WM7, which Dave can’t quite figure out.  First, Warrior is the champion, not Hogan, and Flair is under contract until 1992.  Forget the idea of an interpromotional match, as Vince will be broke and in the gutter before he ever acknowledges the existence of a rival promotion, let alone give them TV time and co-promote with them. So this means that in order for that to happen, Jim Herd would have to release Ric Flair from his contract sometime in 1991.  And that’s just STUPID to even think about!  Why would he do something that STUPID?

– So with Flair going to the WWF in 1991 not even something that Dave would entertain as ever happening (I mean, can you even imagine?) that means that you’re pretty much left with Hogan v. Warrior II as the only possible main event. However, Wrestlemania VI was actually a huge financial disappointment.  He would hesitate to call it a flop, although closed circuit categorically flopped and the Skydome didn’t sell out, because anytime you can get 67,000 people into a building that’s pretty damn good.  However, they had to cancel all of the closed circuit locations in Ontario and take the hit for renting the Copps Coliseum for the night.  (Continuing on with my own ongoing saga of closed circuit WM showings, although WM7 skipped western Canada, WM8 was shown in one restaurant in a city just outside of Edmonton called St. Albert, with a crowd of maybe 50-100 people and one very small screen.  And then we got PPV a couple of months later anyway.) 

– However, the REAL big flop was PPV.  Titan had been claiming that they were expecting 10% in the trade papers (which many internally called a ridiculous notion) but a more realistic number was around 7% given how hot the program was five weeks out.  But the last few weeks pretty much killed off the heat, leaving the final buyrate at 4%, and if you figure each 1% as $4 million, you can see why that’s such a huge drop.  Overall the show made a million less than last year, even though they’re cleared for more homes this year and they don’t have a Clash of Champions all up in their shit this time.  The death of closed circuit this year is a minor factor because closed circuit is a dead industry anyway and PPV is the future, man.

– So why such a drop in buyrate?  First and foremost…

– $30 for a PPV was just too much, apparently.  Plus the Main Event special just didn’t move tickets, as the lack of a big angle on that show killed any momentum that ticket sales had built.  Or maybe Hogan v. Warrior was only an intriguing matchup to a limited subset of fans (“nerds”) who ran out bought tickets early, but to the general public they need defined good v. evil matchups to sell.  Look at how badly Starrcade ‘89 bombed despite all those intriguing face v. face matchups we had never seen before.

– Like with the Hogan-Savage match on NBC, yeah, people were talking about Buster Douglas knocking out Randy Savage, but how was that supposed to translate into business for Hogan-Warrior?  Answer:  It didn’t.  Just because people are talking doesn’t mean they’re buying tickets.  Hold on, I’m getting another call on the meme hotline….

– This guy gets it.  No, wait, he never did, that was the problem.

– Speaking of shows that no one bought, Larry Zbyszko regained the AWA title from Saito on 4/8 at “SuperClash IV” with a paid crowd of under 1000 people in St. Paul.  There was no TV cameras present and they did the double pinfall gimmick, with Larry being awarded the title off it.

– As a note, Ric Flair will indeed work the 5/5 AWA show against Brian Pillman, as payment for Verne lending out the Destruction Crew.  (How do we know it’s not Flair’s twin brother?) 

–  Hot news:  The driver of the Cadillac at WM was none other than Florida manager Diamond Dallas Page.  Turns out that Tugboat tipped off Vince to the fact that Page owned his own pink Cadillac and would let them use it for the show.

– Dave thinks that the people in the first few rows at Wrestlemania were a bunch of wanks who were just really into themselves and trying to get on TV.  (Wonder how he feels about the NXT crowd these days?) 

– Dave also thinks that although the Hogan-Warrior match wasn’t objectively great, he thinks people will still be talking about it 10 years later, so it’s a classic.  (Much longer than 10 years later.) 

– To answer the burning questions of Hogan’s status, he’s not retiring, and in fact he’ll continue to be the focus of TV even while Warrior is the champion.  This is just smart business, because Hogan doesn’t need the title to draw.  (Yeah, but you know what Warrior needs in order to draw?  STRONG OPPONENTS.  And he didn’t get any.) 

– In a story that only seems to happen to WCW, they had partnered with ‘Roos clothing to put a line of WCW-branded shoes and such, but now it turns out that the company was actually on the verge of bankruptcy when they signed the deal and it was mostly a last-ditch attempt to salvage the entire business when they made the partnership. The other problem is that the company has no real distribution to speak of, so even if the WCW commercials lit the shoe company on fire as far as public interest, they had no way to get those shoes out to the public.  (Oddly, although the KangaRoos fad died pretty quickly after this point, the company was able to revive itself in the late 90s as a part of a nostalgia fad and is still around to this day in that new form!  Unlike poor WCW itself.) 

– Atsushi Onita, always a perfectionist, managed to bleed from the forehead, shoulder, chest, ribs and stomach for one match on 4/1, thus breaking his own personal record.

– The USWA has basically split back into a Dallas territory and a Memphis territory at this point, with very little crossover between the Von Erich crew and the Lawler/Jarrett crew any longer.

– Terry Taylor asked for and was given his release by the WWF, under one condition that I’m sure you can guess on your own.  After August, however, he’s free and clear.

– They’re doing some kind of tournament for the IC title now that Warrior has vacated it, but Dave has no idea when or how.

– More on the Flair story:  He agreed to drop the title to Luger in Chicago without notice, but in exchange he wanted a release from his contract so he could talk to the WWF.  Jim Herd was like “LOL, WUT?” and nixed the title change so that Flair wouldn’t have any ammunition to challenge the contract, but the title change is still scheduled to be on sometime between now and the PPV, or at the PPV itself, once they give the proper notice.  Or maybe not, Dave’s honestly not sure at this point.  The “official” reason for the proposed title change in Chicago, according to those within the company, was that they wanted to steal the WWF’s thunder for Wrestlemania.  (Fear not, the WWF did a great job of that all by themselves.) 

– Although Dan Spivey was supposed to be using the heart punch as a finish, since he’s fired they gave it to Mean Mark.

– And finally, for those that think Dave’s humor was lame, I give you Jim Herd:  Giant Haystacks was hired on a short-term contract, but never used for various reasons.  However, he was already set up with a masked man gimmick, where he’d be billed as “The Titan”.  And then Lex Luger could go around the horn, squashing “The Titan” every night.