Wrestling Observer Flashback–02.18.91

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Previously on the Flashback, http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/11/28/wrestling-observer-flashback-02-11-91/

When we last left our story, Wrestlemania VII was being moved from the LA Coliseum for mysterious reasons, and…hold on…

UPDATE:  Charlotte just regained the Women’s title from Sasha Banks at a house show in Albuquerque.

…sorry, my new phone is set to buzz me every time that title changes hands for some reason.  It’s loaded with some oddly specific apps.

To the retro news!

– Dave received so many cards, letters, and “personalize audio and video cassettes” (What the fuck is a “cassette”?  Isn’t that what Edison used to record back in the 1700s?)  and general outpouring of support for the 2/4/91 issue detailing his troubles with the WWF.  (It was a very interesting issue, which we skipped 98% of because most of it wasn’t relevant in the slightest to what we’re doing here.) 

– Anyway, Dave presents an actual quote from Vince McMahon in 1985 after the US bombed Libya, when Larry King asked him if the WWF would be looking for someone to play a Ghadaffi figure as a heel:

No, I don’t think we would go that far. Again, I think there’s a fine line in terms of what you are presenting to the public and some things that are very sensitive, I think we have the good taste to stay away from. Other things that are less sensitive, that are more fun in terms of how they are positioned from a marketing standpoint, you can have all the fun you want.

(Remember, they’re all about PUTTING SMILES ON FACES!) 

– Dave thinks that the long-term effects of the Slaughter angle will be felt for a long time to come, and most importantly, the Midas touch is gone.  Vince no longer has the ability to manipulate the media how he wants and pretend like he can just do whatever he wants without repercussions.  Case in point, he now has to move Wrestlemania to the Sports Arena, costing the event MILLIONS in revenue, plus another million for “security”. Dave rightly asks why Wrestlemania is so special, when hundreds of thousands pack Indy 500 and Daytona 500 events all the time, even with the war going on, and no one is worried about THOSE shows getting bombed.  Speaking of bombs, the Main Event on NBC drew a 6.7 rating, by far, and the Rock means by FAR, the lowest rated show that the WWF ever put on NBC.  (Until they returned in 2006 to even lower ratings, AM I RIGHT?  Shit, I’m getting another text message, hang on.)

UPDATE:  Sasha Banks regained the Women’s title from Charlotte during an impromptu rematch in the parking lot after the Albuquerque show. 

– Anyway, back to the Main Event.  You can’t make the excuse of “No Hulk” that they had in November when they did their previous low rating, because he was ALL over this one.  And not only did their last shot at an NBC special bomb (this was in fact the final one, with the final SNME coming a couple of months later), but now there’s letter-writing campaigns to their sponsors.  Wrestlemania will still be profitable and most “letter writing campaigns” amount to nothing, but man, they can’t afford another PR disaster at the moment. 

 

– No, Dramatic Chipmunk, no one said that.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

– OK, now for the part that Manjimortal has been waiting for since the beginning of the year, in a fun feature I like to call…

UPDATE:  Charlotte attacked Sasha Banks at an IHOP after the show, where a referee happened to be having late night pancakes and was around to count the pin, so Charlotte is the NEW Women’s champion again!

– Sorry about that, back to the UWF.  The story so far is that the UWF, led by Akira Maeda as top star and Shinji Jin as smart business running type guy, was an instant sensation from the moment it launched in 1988 and basically sold out every show until the moment it suddenly imploded and died a couple of months back.  Maeda supposedly had the support of all the wrestlers and left to form his own new group, while Jin left to join the SWS promotion.  And then everyone suddenly started going their own way on top of that. 

GROUP #1:  Fujiwara, Funaki, and Minoru Suzuki all split off from Maeda to form “The New UWF”, which is being financed by the guys behind SWS and features all the “shoot style” pro wrestlers but not actual shooting.  Ken Wayne Shamrock (you know, Vince Torrelli from the Carolinas as Dave keeps reminding us) will be one of the top Americans working for this group, and they’re running Korakuen Hall on 3/4.  This group will likely merge in and out with SWS and make appearances on their shows, and will have the pro wrestling ga-ga that Fujiwara wanted to work into the UWF promotion originally.

GROUP #2:  Nobuhiko Takada is forming the UWFi (Union of Pro Wrestling Force International) and they’ll also be running Korakuen Hall, in May, and using all the leftover guys from the UWF who haven’t gone elsewhere.  Despite the astonishingly fast decline in popularity of the whole group, this will likely end up with the most support of hardcore UWF fans because it’ll have most of the surviving roster. 

GROUP #3:  Maeda’s unnamed group will also run the Hall, this time in April, using all the MMA-style guys and will have nothing to do with pro wrestling at all.  It’ll be a hybrid of kicking and submission moves, with no funny stuff or angles mixed in.  (This would of course become RINGS). 

– Back to the Wrestlemania move, and Dave does some investigative journalism, digging deep and peeling back the layers of the onion, and you might want to sit down for this one.  It turns out that THERE WASN’T A SECURITY THREAT AT ALL.  In fact, and I can’t even believe I’m typing this about an angle as successful and hot as the Slaughter-Hogan feud…ticket sales were the shits!  In fact, even after moving all the paid ticket sales to the Sports Arena, they won’t have to refund any money, and in fact can still sell a few more tickets.  So paid attendance was in fact well under 15,000 at the time they moved the show.  They’re still not acknowledging anything on TV and they’re just saying that the show is from “Los Angeles” without specifying a venue.

UPDATE:  Charlotte accidentally left her bag unattended at the airport, and while she was getting questioned by the TSA, Sasha Banks stole the Women’s title out of the luggage and by virtue of “finders keepers, loser weepers” is the new champion. 

– With Savage out with a broken thumb for a while, the house shows are being changed to Warrior v. Slaughter for the time being.  And then Dave goes into a whole rant about how it’s false advertising to bill the Warrior-Savage match as “loser must retire” when they know full well that the loser isn’t actually retiring.  In fact, Savage is already planning on coming back after a short hiatus.  (Man, Dave must have REALLY hated all of Russo’s “retirement” stips, then.  Oh, wait, he did.) 

– Mike Rotunda is doing a two month tour of New Japan for $3000 a week while he figures out his next move after WCW.

– The LOD is already trying to get away from the WWF and go to New Japan full time, but they want $16,000 per week for 16 weeks and New Japan only wants them around for 6 weeks because the gimmick gets stale after that amount of time.  Plus now Japanese fans are onto them and know that they won’t do jobs and so it’ll be a bunch of DQ or countout finishes.  So the deal fell through and they’re stuck in the WWF for now.

– SWS is actually having to fire a lot of guys for basically getting too fat on their guaranteed contracts and even developing gambling problems. 

– Antonio Inoki is running for mayor of Tokyo, but doesn’t stand a realistic chance.  (Yeah, well, they said that about Donald Trump, too, and now look where we are!) 

UPDATE:  Sasha Banks went to the bathroom on the plane, allowing Charlotte to swipe the Women’s title out of the overhead compartment, making sure to stow it under her seat and put her tray in the upright and locked position for landing.  So she’s champion again.

– To the USWA, where Jerry Jarrett has decided to merge all the USWA territories into one big mega-territory, and he’s LEASED A BUS to accomplish this.  (Not BUY a bus, of course, because that would cost money.)  Basically they’re going to do the Nashville show, drive to Memphis, then drive everyone 500 miles to Dallas for Friday night and then back to Memphis for Saturday morning, then back to Nashville for Saturday night.  (I literally cannot think of a single way this brilliant plan could fail.  He’s leasing a bus!  What more does any promotion need to make millions?) 

– The Eliminators on this week’s show were Eli the Eliminator and “a masked guy who has already been fired”. 

– Sadly, the Fabulous Ones and Cornette are done in Memphis again, because the company can’t afford them and houses aren’t enough to justify them.

– With the new “everyone works all three territories” system, that pretty much clears out the entirety of the Dallas leftovers, with the exception of Steve Austin, because no one wants to work Memphis for Jarrett’s shitty payoffs.  Everyone got one last meagre payoff and then quit. 

UPDATE:  Sasha Banks confronted Charlotte in a bar when the plane landed, and a fight looked to be imminent.  However, someone started playing a song on the video jukebox, and Charlotte was so distracted by the sudden music that she stood there yelling at the screen out of instinct, allowing Banks to roll her up and regain the Women’s title. Thankfully a disgraced referee who had been fired for drug violations was working as a janitor and still had his WWE referee shirt under the coveralls.  Sadly for him, the terms of his probation forbade him from counting any pinfalls within state lines or having contact with Ric Flair and his immediate family, so this one might face some dispute. 

– Another winning gimmick from Memphis:  Curtis Thompson is doing a new act as part of a tag team called “The US Males”, and his deal is that he dresses like a mailman, which Dave describes as looking like “Cliff Clavin on massive amounts of steroids”.  (Sadly, his career trajectory would somehow find another low when he got to WCW as “Firebreaker Chip”.) 

– Most of the Dallas regulars who left the USWA are going to end up in Gary Hart’s TWF promotion, but it’s on the last legs as well, drawing 150 people per show with the Metroplex not renewing their lease. 

– Speaking of Dallas, the Slaughter v. Kerry match that was supposed to headline the Reunion Arena show for the WWF is now off, as Slaughter was pulled at the last minute for another show and now it’s Kerry v. General Adnan in the main event, with Fritz in the corner and the winner still getting to wave the flag.  (Anyone else shocked they couldn’t draw for another 10 years after this in Dallas?) 

– To WCW, where Doom indeed split up on the 2/5 tapings in Gainesville (airdate 3/2), so that pretty much gives away the results of the tag title match against the Freebirds on the PPV.  (Oh, Dave doesn’t know the HALF of that one yet!)  No one in the company thinks Simmons has a shot at a babyface because Reed doesn’t have any heat on him as a heel. 

– The tentative main event of the May PPV, which will be dubbed WRESTLEBASH ‘91: Return from the Rising Sun, is Flair v. Fujinami in a rematch from the Tokyo Dome show.  (Hopefully Dusty comes up with a better name for THAT show!) 

– The advance for WrestleWar ‘91 in Phoenix is roughly 1500 tickets in a 16,000 seat arena.  So, you know…not good. Also, in one of those wacky coincidences that always seem to happen to Jim Herd, the WWF is running a house show the night before. 

– Scott Steiner’s worth has dropped greatly after the Clash match was kind of a bomb and he just wants to work tags anyway, so now the plan is for Dusty to push Brian Pillman as his next big star. 

– Apparently there was some sort of tournament for the new six-man titles that Dave completely missed out on, because the finals are at the Omni on 2/17, with Rich & Morton & JYD facing Dr. X & Dutch Mantel & Buddy Landel for the belts.  Weird how everyone missed that whole tournament. 

UPDATE:  Charlotte’s rental car turned out to be a DeLorean, and she accidentally traveled back in time to October 15 1985.  She initially thought about messing with the timeline to ensure that Sasha Banks was never born, but then decided just to go the direct route and had sex with Fabulous Moolah after a bunch of shots to prepare herself, and as a result she magically got the WWF Women’s title somehow and brought it back to the present.  So with the bar controversy, one final convoluted unification match appears to be looming. 

– Back to the Omni, as the Dusty fellatio is in full swing on TV, with the new tagline for the arena being “The House that Rhodes build”.  Dave thinks that’s slightly ridiculous, especially these days, but proposes an alternate tagline:  They should call the Greensboro Coliseum “The House that Rhodes Killed”. 

– To the WWF, where ratings for Prime Time are declining rapidly.  Here’s a dramatization:

– In response, USA is retooling the show to have more comedy skits and taping in front of a studio audience.

– And finally, Dave reprints a bunch of newspaper articles that sample the scathing criticism that the WWF is facing right now.  (“Reprint”?  More like STEALING!)  My favorite bit is one detailing the Warrior-Slaughter cage match at a house show, where the WWF promised not to do anything with Adnan or Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi flag to the building and then used all of them to draw heat at the show. However, a WWF PR rep went to great lengths to explain that they don’t want to offend anyone, and that in fact after that match Warrior tore up the Iraqi flag.  “Boy”, the article comments, “that sure puts them in their place.”