Wrestling Observer Flashback–09.24.90

Lest you think that petty legal squabbles bringing down a minor league wrestling promotion are a recent development, let us take you back to the slow death of the USWA in Dallas…

– The battle for the remains of the USWA in Dallas ended up being a forfeit victory for Kevin Von Erich, as Jerry Jarrett decided to abandon the promotion and no-show the court hearing that was supposed to decide the issue.  He cleaned out his Dallas office and went back to Memphis, thus giving full control of whatever was left at the time to Kevin. 

– Now, although Kevin is claiming victory, most feel that Jarrett is simply going to leave for a few weeks, wait for Kevin to completely tank the promotion again (which is why they had to sell to Jarrett in the first place) and then return with 100% control. 

(Next issue:  Dave picks lottery numbers.) 

– Now, the other problem is that Kevin didn’t really WIN anything.  He has control of a promotion in name only, because all the syndication rights are owned by Jarrett and Max Andrews. So what exactly is he buying?  (The TNA parallels are kind of eerie, aren’t they?)  Kevin can promote wrestling every Friday at the Sportatorium, but without TV of any kind he’s pretty much dead in the water right away.  For the moment, Jarrett is airing Memphis tapes in the syndicated slots dedicated to the USWA, until he can figure something out.

– Kevin’s new/old promotion is World Class Championship Wrestling.  Kevin did a TV taping at the Sportatorium, drawing only 375 people, and he’s going to shop around the tape and presumably find a new TV deal.  (Oh, poor, naïve Kevin.)  The show was said to be a disorganized mess, with rumors of Gary Hart booking up until the day of the show, when it became apparent that it was just Kevin himself playing one man band.  The show started late and had long breaks between matches, until there was no one left in the building by the end.  (Sounds like TNA today.) 

– There is also rumor of Jarrett’s Memphis tapes taking over the AWA slot on ESPN at the end of the year, since Verne’s promotion appears to be on its last legs as well.  ESPN is denying it, but given that the ESPN money is the only thing keeping the AWA alive at this point, that would basically spell the end for them. 

– Since the Clash rating was so ungodly high, the NWA brass is taking it as a sign that all is well.

– Of course, Flair drew much of the rating, which leads one to wonder why a company so obsessed with ratings would then turn around try to phase him out of the company completely. 

– The Halloween Havoc card got switched around again, with the Steiners now defending against the Nasty Boys and Ric Flair taking Barry Windham’s place in tag title match against Doom.  Dave notes that the undercard “appears to be somewhat god-awful”.  Basically the direction appears to be phasing out contracted talent and replacing them with cheaper talent.  The idea is that you cool off the guys with big contracts so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you can cut them loose at the end of the year, without fear of them going to the WWF and getting hot again. 

(Hold on, let me think about this for a second…)



(Yeah, that seems about right.) 

– Dave notes that this is exactly the kind of thinking that got Verne Gagne exactly where he is today.

– Vince McMahon CRASHED the Mr. Olympia contest this weekend, buying a booth to promote his new bodybuilding magazine.  And then he took it a step further, as models handed out pamphlets promoting his newest subsidiary of Titan Sports:  THE WORLD BODYBUILDING FEDERATION.  “Bodybuilding the way it was meant to be” is the tagline, which most take to mean “steroid tests are for little children and communists.”  People within the WWF offices are saying this is going to be such a moneymaker that it could even eclipse the WWF’s income!  The Weiders, current kingpins of bodybuilding, have been paying lip service to steroid testing in order to improve their chances of making the “sport” into an Olympic event, but chances appear to be slim.  But that show of weakness gives Vince an opportunity to get traction by promoting what is basically an all-steroid federation. 

– Right, just like that.

– While no one is going to draw 93,173 people to see bodybuilding competitions, you can still charge really high ticket prices for a big event, so there is a gameplan here.  That being said, the Weiders are not exactly the dumbfuck wrestling promoters that Vince is used to fighting.  Vince is very much the underdog here.  The other angle is that bodybuilding is often a loss leader for selling supplements, so Vince might be getting into that as well.  (Dave keeps hitting ‘em out of the park!) 

– SWS is doing a sort of preview show on 9/29, with free tickets very easy to come by, so the gate isn’t gonna be impressive. It’s a single-elimination tournament with the also-rans and scrubs that they’ve managed to pry away from All Japan, but a unique twist is that all pinfalls must be five-counts.  (A sad tangent related to this, as King Kong Bundy reportedly heard about this show and literally sat by his phone waiting for the call all week, until finally he had to run and take a huge shit, at which point he missed the call and realized that his comeback bid was lost forever.  True story.) 

(Well, I mean, as true as any story in wrestling can be said to be.  In the sense that I made it up.) 

– And now, the new greatest segment in Observer history:

– The UWF was supposed to have their debut show in Anaheim last week, and it never happened.  Basically the owner of the building decided that he didn’t want a TV show taped in his theater, let alone a wrestling show, and pulled the plug on them.  Both Herb and Bruno Sammartino were blaming Vince McMahon for this twist, but Dave doesn’t feel like Vince would give enough shits to even bother.  They announced a rescheduled date of the next night, and then that show didn’t happen, either.  The next date appears to be 09/25 in Reseda, so we’ll see if that happens.  Herb was claiming an advance of 1000 tickets, but only about 30 people actually showed up the night of the taping.  On the bright side, all the guys who were booked actually did show up.  They have a second taping announced for 10/4, but they haven’t announced where it’s actually taking place.  Despite the fiasco, all the wrestlers were paid.  (So they’re still one up on TNA.) 

– Speaking of fiascos, the Sting autograph signing controversy just won’t go away.  Basically the guy who runs public relations for the NWA, and who is taking heat for a lot of what went down, is calling John Arezzi a lair and other not-nice names.  Arezzi had begged the NWA guys to plug the convention at the last Meadowlands show, and Jim Herd refused because he didn’t want the promotion to be associated with third party organizations in case something went horribly wrong.  Which it DID.  In addition, WCW policy had always been that wrestlers do not charge for autographs, and the convention was charging $6 per autograph for Sting, which they didn’t like either.  (SIX DOLLARS?  Jesus, now you’re lucky to get one for less than $20!)  So the backlash from all this is that NWA wrestlers will no longer be doing conventions and signings that aren’t sponsored by the promotion itself.  In fact, no NWA wrestlers will be allowed to do Arezzi’s radio show moving forward.  And of course, there’s immediately heat on Paul E. Dangerously, who is not only doing Arezzi’s show after the edict came down, but booked himself for a convention, without asking the office, where he’s charging $4 per autograph. 

– Dave has been watching lucha libre on TV recently, and his mind is blown that they come right out and say “Technico” or “Rudo” in the graphics on screen. 

– Antonio Inoki, who apparently fancies himself a super-politician already, has decided to fly to Iraq and try to negotiate to free the hostages himself.  Dave is not even making this shit up.

– Back to the “new” World Class, as Kevin Von Erich decided to promote the show by going around Dallas and talking to local gangs, and tryin to convince them not to be gangs anymore, and said that all the revenue from the show would go to fund activities for the betterment of youths in gangs. 

– They actually shot a pre-taped segment before the show where they told fans to gather around a limo because one of the biggest stars in wrestling would be making his return tonight.  And then Kevin walked out and everyone groaned and walked away.

(Hard as it is to believe, this does get sadder.) 

– Memphis is using a pair of masked jobbers called The Scorpions as a rib.

– Larry Sharpe did an exhibition at Arezzi’s convention, using some of his up-and-coming students, and the most impressive was his junior champ, “Chris Condito”. 

– Mark Calaway got the role as the lead heel in the new Hulk Hogan movie, which will no doubt lead to a Hogan-Mean Mark feud in the WWF in 1991.  Mark actually beat out John Nord for the role.

– Correction:  Paul Diamond isn’t fired.  He’s being taken off TV for a few weeks, though.

– Apparently Shawn Michaels won’t need major surgery after all and he’ll be back in four weeks.

– The Main Event special in February appears to have been canned due to poor ratings.

– General Adnan actually had a contract with the LPWA a week before he signed with the WWF, and owner Tor Berg could have rightly taken them to court over it, but decided to let it go without even asking for money because he wants to open relations with the WWF.  (Well that sure didn’t help him out anyway.) 

– Although the Clash had a giant rating, the house shows that followed hit record lows, so obviously none of the people watching had any interest in paying for the product.

– It’s pretty much impossible for NWA guys to get onto any mainstream media because none of the non-Turner shows will cooperate due to pressure from the WWF, while the Turner shows (like on CNN) are so paranoid about being perceived as “advertising” for their sister station that they won’t book guys either.  You might say it’s a paradox.


– Or you could just say it that way.

– Jim Herd’s suggestion to Ric Flair:  Take November off, and then return as a ROMAN GLADIATOR.  Dave notes that he was TRYING to come up with stupid gimmicks for Flair as a joke, and they were still better than that idea. 

– The short Master Blaster has already quit.  They’ll probably have to come up with a new gimmick for the tall one. 

– Tim Hunt of Maximum Overdrive had shoulder surgery so he’s already done as well.  Jeff Warner was repackaged into JW Storm and is already a flop.  (Aaaaaaah!  Never really made that connection before.  And yes, he was the drizzling shits.) 

– Art Barr debuted as The Juicer, and he already is getting heat because he doesn’t want to sell, despite being 175 pounds.  (But the rape thing is totally OK in their minds.) 

– Thunderbolt Patterson is still being kept around and on TV because the moment they fire him, he’ll cry racism and go to the Georgia athletic commission to try and get wrestling governed in the state.  So they’re just gonna wait him out until he quits, presumably. 

– And finally, Jim Cornette nearly quit the company yet again when he was asked at the last minute to do a Danger Zone interview with Paul E., and improvised a line where he told Paul to “shut up and save your wind for when you blow up your date tonight.”  Jim Ross nixed the line and made him go out and redo the interview, causing Cornette to storm off in a huff.  The Midnights, probably not coincidentally, are being phased down the card dramatically and humiliated on a nightly basis as well.  (Because WCW.)