Wrestling Observer Flashback–04.23.90

It’s the fallout from the WWF/All Japan Wrestling Summit supershow!  Hopefully no more extended Flair shaggy dog stories this time.

– Dave feels like the Summit is the biggest show of the year in terms of historical significance, but not money.  And hey, it’ll probably never happen again.  Mostly because all three promotions argued about EVERYTHING, including the positioning of the ring on the field.

– The paid gate was 41,000 paying $2.1 million, which ranks highly on the list of all-time shows, but still would be counted as “disappointing” because the yen dropped a lot and the show would have grossed nearly $2.5 million had the show taken place a year ago.

To the review!

1.  Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas & Joe Malenko beat The Foot Loose & Tatsumi Kitahara (Sumo Hara from Stampede) in 11:56 when Kroffat pinned Kitahara with a tiger bomb.  Dave’s minions gave it between *** and ****.

2.  Justin Liger pinned Akira Nogami with a moonsault press in 8:37.  This is also the first time when Dave is told by Japanese speakers that it should be “Liger” and not “Riger”.  Star ratings ranged from ***3/4 to ****1/2.  Apparently the New Japan guys got really snippy about Nippon TV banishing them from the TV version of the show, so they decided to go out and steal the show.  They should have talked to Tito Puente about revenge.

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3.  Jimmy Snuka & Tito Santana beat Masa Fuchi & Kenta Kobashi in 8:28 when Snuka pinned Fuchi with the splash.  Snuka looked terrible and dragged the match down a lot.  And then it turned into legit heat because Snuka felt like they were all showing him up.  Average rating was **.

4.  Tiger Mask drew with Bret Hart in 20:00.  This match ended up being a trainwreck of political nonsense, as they had to use a WWF ring announcer and All Japan referee, and then they didn’t count down the minutes leading up to the draw like they do in Japan, but rather just rang the bell at the time limit like they do in the WWF.  Opinions varied wildly between *1/2 and ***1/2.

5.  Great Kabuki pinned Greg Valentine with a small package to reverse the figure-four at 7:16. Match was OK, but the Japanese wanted to see the real Honky Tonk Man, and not the imitator.  Ratings were all *.

6.  Jake Roberts pinned Big Bossman with a DDT out of a suplex attempt in 10:25.  They worked a total heel v. face American style match for the sizeable American contingent in the crowd, and Jake did the bit where he draped the snake on Bossman’s prone body afterwards.   While the servicemen sitting at ringside loved it, the Japanese fans were disgusted by the cartoonish nature of the match and the post-match antics.  Average rating was **1/2

7.  Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto retained the IWGP tag team titles over Riki Choshu & Masa Chono in 13:00 when Saito pinned Chono with the side suplex.  Everyone worked hard to prove the New Japan is the best.  ****1/2 all around.

8. Jumbo Tsuruta & Haku beat Curt Hennig & Rick Martel in 10:53 when Jumbo pinned Martel with a back suplex.  Hennig took tons of unique bumps trying to get over, but he has a hard time getting over in Japan for some reason.  Average rating of **3/4

9.  Tenryu pinned Randy Savage in 10:49 in what most called the best match of the card.  Tenryu survived the big elbow, barely, and came back to win with the powerbomb.  Ratings ranged from ***1/2 to ****1/2.

10.  Ultimate Warrior pinned Ted Dibiase to retain the WWF title at 6:12 in the uniform choice for worst match of the card.  Fans thought Warrior was a fifth-rate imitation of the Road Warriors and basically turned on the match from the start, which will probably hurt Dibiase’s reputation with them in the long term.  (Well, he was a couple of years away from retirement anyway.)  Warrior won with the usual.  DUD

11.  Giant Baba & Andre the Giant beat Demolition when Baba pinned Smash with an elbow drop at 6:39.  Demos decided to oversell everything like crazy and it was basically a comedy match.  Andre looked really bad and couldn’t get up after an elbow drop.  DUD

12.  Hulk Hogan pinned Stan Hansen with a lariat at 12:30.  Hogan abandoned his usual WWF style and worked like a New Japan match, pretty much blowing away the fans.  People were also blown away by Hansen doing the job, because everyone figured he would never lay down.  They teased a double countout, which would have been the expected finish, before Hogan ducked the lariat and finished with one of his own instead.  ***1/2 across the board.

Although the show would be considered a success by most measures, there’s no chance of the groups working together again.  The WWF ruffled feathers because they didn’t allow any access to Japanese magazine reporters, since that’s how things are done in the US. They did a press conference afterwards and everyone was annoyed by the WWF guys, especially Bill Eadie, sticking to kayfabe and acting like he had never been to Japan before.

– Another fight was over the placement of the ring, as the WWF wanted it put on home plate so that the stadium would look full on TV even if it wasn’t.  Baba wanted it on second base so that fans in the building would have a good view.  The WWF won, and fans in large sections of the stadium couldn’t see.  Poor Akio Sato looked like a jerk from both sides because he was playing intermediary and got heat from both groups.

– The official explanation for the change in main event is that Terry Gordy “didn’t need to wrestle Hogan” since he wasn’t champion any longer.  No one bought that.  The original plan was Hogan v. Tenryu, but Vince wanted an American in the ring with Hogan in case something would happen.  Which it wouldn’t, but you know.  Vince actually told Baba in mid-March that Hogan would be losing the title, and that didn’t go over well either because titles still mean something in Japan.  And then Gordy decided he didn’t want to lose and hurt his standing in Japan, so that was called off as well.  Speculation is now running wild that Hansen will be coming back to the US as working for the WWF so that Hogan can return the favor to him.  Dave doesn’t believe it.

– Terry Funk and Chris Cruise were both fired by Jim Herd over an argument with Tony Schiavone about who would be announcing what.  Funk was basically told by a WCW secretary over the phone that his “Funk’s Grill” segment would no longer be aired, so he flew home and blew off attempts by management to get him to come back.  Cruise basically refused to do World Wide Wrestling with Tony because the two have some kind of personal beef, and he was fired over the incident.

– There will indeed be a new WCW show on WGN, despite the station’s denials for weeks leading up to it.

– Ric Flair signed a two year extension on his contract, taking him through 1994, so that pretty much eliminates any chance of Flair v. Hogan at Wrestlemania.

– To the AWA, where the 5/5 show will be called “Twin Wars ‘90” and feature a double main event of Zbsyzko v. NIkita Koloff and Ric Flair v. Brian Pillman.

– Although Bruce Hart is trying really hard to recreate Stampede Wrestling, he’s being forced to run smaller towns outside of Calgary and Edmonton because he can’t get commission approval to promote.  His main rival, the CNWA, is still doing about 100 people per show.

– Tim Horner is currently trying to sue Vince McMahon to get out of his WWF contract, since they won’t book him but are threatening to sue him if he goes back to the NWA. Same deal as Terry Taylor, apparently.

– The Memphis city council approved a ban on minors attending events such as heavy metal concerts and other displays of “extreme violence”.  The worry is that the wording is vague enough that it could also apply to wrestling.

– To the NWA, where Barry Windham has agreed to come in and finally give us Four Horsemen again, starting at the 5/19 PPV.  Of course, he’s also scheduled to tour Japan in May, and as usual no one knows what the hell is going on with him anyway.

– Terry Funk was originally supposed to referee the main event, but with his departure they’re going to have to change the show around again.  Also changed is Zenk & Pillman v. The Samoans, which has been changed to Zenk & Pillman v. The Midnight Express for the US tag titles because the Samoans no-showed a TV taping and got fired.  Again.  WCW actually issued a statement on the Funk departure and claims that it was merely an oversight in paperwork that led to the “Funk’s Grill” segment being left off the TV tapings.

– Giant Haystacks, aka the Titan, went home to England to tend to his cancer-stricken wife, and likely won’t be back.  So much for that program.

– Sting and Sid Vicious will both be back in July, and Sid will probably feud with Luger as a heel.

– Talks are ongoing with New Japan about using Big Van Vader in the US as some kind of special attraction.  Maybe even Muta as well.

– On TV, Ted Turner has banned all use of the word “foreign” because of the Goodwill Games, so now WCW announcers have to call it an “international object”.

– And finally, Dave thinks that Mean Mark Callas has tons of potential, but the heart punch is a lame finisher and someone with that kind of upside really needs a more impressive maneuver.  (Perhaps a piledriver?)