Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.01.91

Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/23/wrestling-observer-flashback-06-24-91/

It’s the two biggest issues of the Observer of the year!  Maybe two of the biggest ever!  My Christmas gift to you all.

– ”The real world sucks” says Dave to start the issue, and if there ever was a quote to encapsulate the year, that’s it.  The steroid story that Dave didn’t think would be a big deal is about to break in the media, and you know what?  IT’S A BIG FUCKING DEAL.  In an attempt to deflect attention from Zahorian, his lawyer has decided to “leak” the “secret names” of the people that Zahorian is accused of selling to, and wouldn’t you know that tops on the list is Hulk Hogan.  And when Hogan was suddenly linked to the case, it made the front page of USA Today and all kinds of mainstream media outlets that the WWF would have likely preferred that they not get. It was complete panic mode at Titan Towers as a result of the announcement, as they suddenly feel like the WWF is on trial instead of Zahorian. In fact, Basil DeVito released a terse statement to the media as they went on total lockdown and wouldn’t return any calls:

The WWF feels victimized by the tactics and statements of defense attorney William C. Costopoulos in utilizing the media in a “bait and switch” defense.

Dr. George T. Zahorian III, the former Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission appointed doctor, is on trial; not the WWF, or any WWF wrestlers. Neither the WWF, nor any of its wrestlers or associates has been charged with any illegality. We stand by our philosophy of wholesome family entertainment and the positive example we set for the youth of America.

To insure the safety and well-being of our performers, fans and employees, in June 1987, the WWF adopted a drug policy prohibiting the use of controlled substances in connection with any of its professional activities.

– Zahorian’s convoluted defense is that wrestlers were going to be taking drugs anyway, and pretty much had to take drugs to keep their jobs, so they might as well have been prescribed those drugs by a doctor.  Basically the defense is pointing the MR. TITO FINGER OF SHAME squarely at the WWF for putting their client in the position where he had little choice but to distribute illegal steroids to the wrestlers.  Although, Dave points out, the WWF basically unloading a line of bullshit on the media in their desperate attempt to spin the situation is no better.  Especially since the drug policy is for COCAINE, not steroids.

– Hulk Hogan suffered a legit neck injury and was immediately pulled from all his dates on the road until further notice.  He had been working through that injury up until today, oddly enough.  Dave thinks it’s going to get really bad for Hogan, especially since he’s in such a public position as someone who’s supposed to be the superhero face of the company and hero to kids everywhere.  Really, though, Hogan isn’t the bad guy, it’s the system that created him.  Thankfully for him, the judge ruled that he didn’t have to testify and would be exempt from the proceedings because it would negatively impact his personal life.  In exchange, the prosecution had to drop one of the charges against Zahorian.

– So back to the original quote, as everything about this sucks.  Because the motions excusing Hogan were sealed, we’ll never know what the reason for allowing it was.  Probably the real reason is that Hogan is a celebrity, and they get special treatment because they’re celebrities.  There was supposed to be a Hulk Hogan cereal released soon, but now Ralston-Purina is all “We can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a Hogan cereal” since the story broke.

– So then the WWF called Dave to clarify the previous press release, which basically meant beating around the bush and avoiding the steroid issue.

– The first day of the trial had nothing to do with pro wrestlers.  Zahorian is facing 42 years in prison and $3.5 million in fines.  The first person called was a powerlifter named William Dunn who apparently bought a shitload of drugs from Zahorian.  On day two, Dan Spivey, Roddy Piper, Brian Blair, and Rick Martel all testified that they purchased steroids from Zahorian between 1988 and 1990.  Spivey would call the office and place his order, and Zahorian would Fed-Ex the drugs back, without ever doing a medical examination or checking his history.  Roddy Piper’s lawyers spent hours trying to play the same card as Hogan, but to no avail.  He testified that he purchased steroids like deca and stanazol from Zahorian before 1988, and prosecution had evidence that he purchased from the doctor in March of 1990 (once they were illegal).  He said that he received medical treatment for his stomach from Zahorian, but when asked if the doctor pushed illegal drugs on him, he admitted that it was true.

– Dave notes that when the trial is over, change will depend on how the media treats the story.  Really, the best thing for the health of pro wrestling overall would have been for Hogan to testify and turn the trial into a media circus, because then everything would come to light.

– Wahoo McDaniel was quoted in a Miami Herald story talking about meeting Zahorian in 1977.  Bruno Sammartino talked about going backstage and seeing hundreds of needles around, with 95% of the wrestlers using.  Wahoo also said that all the WCW guys are on steroids, which immediately had Jim Herd taking the offensive and claiming that his company didn’t have a steroid problem.

– The tabloid media is jumping all over Hogan already, digging up old photos and stories to show the difference between his public and private image, and another tabloid paper is trying to link the death of Rick McGraw to steroids.

– Finally, Dave thinks it’s time to just get everyone off steroids in the WWF and re-educate the audience once and for all.

Amazingly, there’s other news this week as well.

– To Japan, where W*ING held a press conference in Tokyo.  The president is going to be Kazuyoshi Osako, who used to be the president of FMW.  Victor Quinones of WWC in Puerto Rico was also introduced as heading up the office, which has led to speculation that WWC is financing the group.  For the moment it’s basically just Pogo and a bunch of former prelim guys being used as talent.

– Dave watched some more SWS and it’s getting better!

– The deal where Pedicino will launch the GWF and take over the ESPN slot is a done deal, really, for sure, honest, no doubt about it.  Well, on paper at least, but the money required to close the deal isn’t scheduled to arrive until the end of the week, so there may yet be a snag.  So Friday came and there was no money, despite Joe claiming that it had been wired, and by Saturday the Jarrett side was calling Pedicino a fraud again.  But thankfully, Monday morning, Joe showed up with the money and the deal was done.  Joe was trying to talk Bill Watts into coming as figurehead commissioner, but Watts turned him down.

– Jerry Jarrett ran one last show in the Sportatorium on 6/21, which featured Eric Embry going into business for himself in the main event and turning himself babyface, so that he could hang out at the souvenir stand and sell $20 worth of pictures on the way out of town.

– Oh yeah, in Memphis there’s a rookie named Rob Zakowski who is said to be excellent for someone at his level.  (That would of course be young RVD.) 

– And now, the OTHER part of everything going to hell this week, as the future of Ric Flair in WCW is very much in doubt.  Jim Herd told Flair’s attorney that the company was giving Flair 30 days notice, which would make the Bash PPV his final date.  Jim Herd denied all rumors involved and claims that they’re simply involved in contract negotiations.  However, it would require Flair to take a HUGE pay cut.  Either side can cancel the contract with 30 days notice, but WCW would have to pay out Flair’s entire contract if they give notice.  I bet we’ll have more on this story next time!

– Dan Spivey refused to do a job for PN News on the road and got fired as a result.  Dave thinks that it’s INCREDIBLY coincidental that Spivey testified at the Zahorian trial and then this happened.

– Scott Steiner will be out 3-4 months with a badly torn bicep, and Jim Ross is reporting that the titles are being vacated and put up in a tournament.

– PN News accidentally splashed Angel of Death’s knees at a house show and tore ligaments as a result, so Angel will be out six months.  (That pretty much ended Dave Sheldon’s career, in fact, and he only wrestled sporadically until his retirement from then on.) 

– The Flair thing is actually part of a larger payroll cutting edict from head office, as the plan is to cut out the higher-priced guys and get new guys to sign a deal for $300 per show worked, with a guarantee of 60 shows per year.  That is of course a far cry from the giant contracts being thrown around in years previous.  Technically this also means that WCW could book someone for two months and then bench them without pay, while preventing them from working anywhere else.  Dave doubts that this would happen, but it COULD.

– WCW will be bringing in a SUPERGROUP called the American Patriots, complete with a cross-promotional cartoon on TBS.  The team will be comprised of The Fireman (played by Curtis Thompson), The Police Man (Bill Kazmaier), The Private (Todd Champion), and the Garbage Man (Pez Whatley).  (Frankly I’m shocked and disappointed that we only got the watered-down version of this in the form of the Patriots instead of the full-on batshit crazy Jim Herd madness that it could have been!) 

– London Publishing, the parent company of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, is working on a WCW magazine, with the same quality of paper as the WWF magazine.  (But do THEY have Linda McMahon writing fluff pieces under an alias?  I think NOT.) 

– In something of an understated Observer debut, Dave notes that former AWA announcer Eric Bischoff will be replacing Lance Russell on WCW Pro.  Jim Herd will be overhauling all of the TV shows due to bad ratings.

– Correction from last week:  The mother of the Sting lookalike kid wasn’t actually Ben Sullivan’s mom, but rather Big Josh’s wife Cathy Osborne.

-Dave thinks it’s just WONDERFUL that they’re spending all the TV time hyping up the Desperados and completely ignoring the Flair-Luger match at the PPV.  (Well, that would be a moot point next week anyway.) 

– To the WWF, where they had a really bad week at the houses, but compared to WCW they were practically all sellouts.

– Bob Bradley got a tryout at the 6/18 TV tapings and lost to Louie Spicoli.

– Steve Keirn will now be coming in as “Skinner”.

– WWF is claiming that the WBF debut drew “15,000 people” (in reality 4200, mostly freebies) but just having the show happen was a big success for them anyway.

– And finally, Warrior v. Undertaker in casket matches will headline at the end of August, so that program will continue past Summerslam at least.  (Or not.) 

NEXT TIME:  The unthinkable finally happens!  Not a dream, not an imaginary story!

  • Boomska316 .

    -Hogan would’ve been much better off in the long run if he’d just come clean about the steroids from the start. The Arsenio appearance did a lot of damage to his rep.

    – “Dave notes that when the trial is over, change will depend on how the media treats the story.” How much mainstream coverage did the eventual Steroid Trial get?

    • I don’t remember a whole whole lot. It didn’t get a lot of coverage in my local news and we were basically one town over from the circus in Harrisburg.

    • JosephM

      I don’t know about Zahorian, but McMahon’s trial got pushed out of national coverage because of O.J.

      • Boomska316 .

        I forgot about the OJ thing happening around virtually the same time.

      • “No Way Jose” Gomez

        You think that in a way that helped McMahon? The fact that a lot of the attention went somewhere else?

    • Joe Martinez

      This now would be a big deal, just look at Hulk’s sextape trial.

      25 years ago you had no internet, barely any cable news and the media still had some dignity. Plus, the Presidential election is going to start soon.

    • Hbkslush

      The biggest media coverage that did the most damage was actually not during one of the trials (either Zahorian or Vince), but during a 2-3 month stretch in early ’92. Numerous media outlets started talking about their steroid problems right as the ring boy sex scandal exploded. It got really, really ugly during that period.

      • Boomska316 .

        That’s what I remember most.

      • WaylonMercy2K17

        Yeah, from what I remember the 2-3 month stretch in early ’92 was when the steroid scandals got the most coverage but there were other major events that happened in the next 2 years that put this story on the backburner on most news outlets: The Presidential election, the first World Trade Center bombing, the Waco massacre, the Heidi Fleiss scandal and of course the ultimate wet dream come true for news outlets, the O.J. Simpson circus.

    • Devin Harris

      I only remember shows like inside edition covering it. I really doubt dan rather and tom brokaw gave it much space

  • Maybe it was left out because steroids was (still is?) a serious issue, but there were a couple of spots (Hogan being allowed not to testify, Spivey being fired shortly after testifying) which cried out for a Church Lady “well Isn’t that convenient” meme.

  • TooDarkMark

    I’m getting mild PTSD reading these recaps. I watched so much of WCW, WWF and GWF that summer and everything was just so bad. So very bad. It’s definitly the first time I just gave up on wrestling, and decided basketball and rap music were just safer interests.

    • Mr. P

      WCW was just the pits this year, but I actually thought the WWF was a big improvement over 1990. You had the Roberts heel turn and subsequent angle with Savage, you had Bret Hart winning the IC Title, the Dibiase/Virgil feud, the Rockers breakup, Sid and Flair coming in, Taker going after Warrior and Hogan, the Bossman/Mountie feud, Hogan doing what was essentially a stretcher job at Survivor Series, Earthquake killing Damien, etc. It was the most interesting and certainly the edgiest the company had been in some time.

      • Boomska316 .

        I think 92 was a good year creatively if not financially.

      • JasonMK

        The beginning of 1991 for the WWF was the pits. Then around May/June things started getting really interesting. By the end, there were many reasons to be excited about 1992.

        • markn95

          Free agents like Flair and Sid and the rise of the Undertaker gave the WWF three main eventers they didn’t have the year before. Plus, Piper came back full time after Summerslam. Jake’s heel turn pretty much put him back in the main events as well.

          With a the new star power, house shows were up for the latter half of they year. Sure, you could argue that Hogan-Flair should have drawn better than it did but they were easily beating the numbers Warrior was doing as champ a year earlier.

          • The Professor

            Then not even 1 year after WM: hogan, sid, flair, savage, warrior, piper were all gone. You had midcarders and newcomers like hbk, yokozuna and diamond studd err razor ramon main eventing.

          • radtke

            WWF could have used Savage better. Yokozuna by size alone had to be main event

    • James M. Fabiano

      1991 had a rocky first half, to put it mildly. But in retrospect the later half had a lot of good stuff, on camera at least. Mr. P talks a lot about the WWF. WCW would recover just enough from the (COMING NEXT RECAP) by forming the Dangerous Alliance. And you had Cactus Jack and Vader coming to prominence. GWF was less cartoony enough to be seen as the “ECW” of the time, an alternative. That wouldn’t last over a year, though, of course. I actually have fond memories of that part of the year.

    • radtke

      1991 is the greatest year

  • I’ll Be Your Zero

    Are you sure it wasn’t Spicoli getting the tryout? Bob Bradley had been wresting for eight years by this time.

  • Is it fair to say that WWF and WCW basically imploded within two weeks of each other? WWF with the steroids and WCW with Flair? This is basically the beginning of the tailspin the business went into that didn’t end until the Monday Night Wars.

    • Manjiimortal

      The tailspin arguably had already began in 1990, perhaps even 1989, for the WWF, and 1987 for WCW, though WCW had it much faster and harsher. The steroid trials were a big blow for the WWF, but when you consider how horribly WCW had been doing for over a year then, I don’t see Flair leaving being nearly as dramatic as people have called it. They were already in the shitter while Flair was there.

    • Joe Martinez

      Vince had the Zahorian trial, the Ring Boy scandal and his own indictment/trial within like 2 years. Not to mention business went in the shitter. This is is just the start.

    • I’d say so. The bigger question is which one was the worst implosion? I’d say WWF by a wide margin because it affected the whole company, it was a PR nightmare, and it was a media circus. Flair was just one dude – world champion or not – walking on the company.

      • Mr. P

        Plus WCW was already in the toilet for a year prior anyways. Things didn’t get much worse than they already were.

        • Manjiimortal

          I really want to check the following Observers to see how if WCW took a dive when Flair left, or if they just kept declining at more or less the same rate they’d be doing before. These Observers really make me think that the whole “Flair leaving was a catastrophe for WCW” thing is mostly an overreaction based on the way the GAB 91 crowd reacted.

          • Robert Hawkins

            I would avoid the Observers for that if I were you. Check out Graham’s house show attendance and try to find ratings elsewhere. Dave is certainly going to be out to make it look like Flair’s departure was the worst thing ever, regardless of the facts.

          • Manjiimortal

            You mean History of WWE right?

          • Robert Hawkins

            Yeah just take a look at the numbers in terms of house show attendance. Flair’s departure didn’t help but it didn’t alter things too much. Not sure about TV ratings though.

  • Hbkslush

    Thanks to Scott for posting this issue during the weekend. Was hoping he’d give us this during the Xmas weekend, but wouldn’t have been surprised if he hadn’t. Thanks again, Scott.

  • It’s a shame the full American Patriots didn’t give Sonny Onoo and Harrison even more damning material for their lawsuit years later.

  • The Professor

    “But do THEY have Linda McMahon writing fluff pieces under an alias? I think NOT.)”

    I never heard of this before

  • Devin Harris

    The quality of wrestling was declining because the big two didn’t have any more territories to raid for talent. The fact that the walls are closing in on both at the same time is fitting

    • markn95

      And it took them so long to figure this out. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that WCW opened up the Power Plant and the WWF turned the USWA into a developmental territory (see Kavana, Flex). No wonder 1992-95 was such a down period for business. Not only were the fans burned out, the companies had zero avenues to build new stars.

      • The_Bo

        Plus they both poached from ECW

      • wnyxmcneal

        Wasn’t the Power Plant basically a joke?

        • radtke

          Except Goldberg,show and natural born thrillers

  • JasonMK

    Ralston-Purina gave Hulk Hogan cereal the “future endeavors” send off!

  • Jeremy Rinehart

    If Hulk thought things sucked at this point, just wait until he goes on Arsenio.

  • Napoleon Blownapart

    Dave Sheldon was a monster with a ton of charisma. He might have been a big deal if he ever got to the WWF.

  • TheDDG

    “…and the Garbage Man (Pez Whatley).” Jesus Christ, WCW. Be more of a southern stereotype. You can’t.

    • It was between that and The Janitor.

    • Jeremy Rinehart

      Pistol Pez! For some reason, I have a soft spot for him

    • Rainbow Sherbet

      Jim Herd (on phone): “Hello, is this Jimmy Hart? Listen, I need a song that sounds enough like the theme song to “Sanford and Son” without violating copyright”.

  • Jeremy Rinehart

    Herd firing Flair BEFORE the Bash is the problem. Herd should have told Flair he was dropping the title to Luger at the Bash and would then be released from his contract.

    • cultstatus

      Herd told Flair to come to a house show to drop the title to Luger, Flair refused.

      • I can’t recall, but did Flair refuse because it was Luger specifically, or as another ‘fuck you’ to Herd? I assume the latter.

        • cultstatus

          Luger specifically. Flair said he would drop the title to Windham.

          • Mr. P

            While a dick move by Flair, I think WCW should have just taken him up on it and then have Windham drop it to Luger at the Bash. If nothing else, at least they get the championship belt back instead of have Flair take it to the WWF.

            Either that or pull a Montreal.

          • johntcole

            I don’t know, Barry did deserve a title run I think. Should have had one in 87.

          • Manjiimortal

            Barry didn’t deserve a thing, he was a flake, completely unreliable, that’s why it took him to 1993, when the belt no longer meant anything, to get it.

          • johntcole

            Was he not around during mid to late 87? Him vs Flair at Starrcade would have been a better draw that Garvin in theory.

          • Manjiimortal

            He already was the Western States Heritage Champion during that time, and it really didn’t matter whom was the Champion, because everyone knew it was just so for Flair to win the belt back at the PPV. Whomever was the champion was always going to be seen as a paper tiger.

          • Justin Stark

            Exactly. At least you could rely on Luger.

          • Kuetsar

            No fucking way they could pull a Montreal on Ric Flair. . .

          • Bettis

            What I don’t get is… Windham and Flair were both heels. Hell they were both Horsemen (though the Horsemen were pretty much phased out in April/May with only Arn and Barry teaming)

        • IIRC, there was a stipulation in Flair’s contract that he had to have a certain amount of days notice before losing the title. Didnt we cover this in an observer recently?

          • Jeremy Rinehart

            Flair had to be given 30 days notice

      • Jeremy Rinehart

        Herd is an idiot for wanting Flair to drop the title at a house show. Give Flair his 30 days notice that he’s dropping the title at the Bash

        • cultstatus

          That wasn’t the original plan. Flair was leaving, Herd said “come town x and drop the title to Luger” then Flair said ok but you better have the money I was owed for the title. Then Herd said forget it, keep the title.

          • Jeremy Rinehart

            Like I said, Herd was an idiot about the Flair situation.

  • PrideOfCanada

    (But do THEY have Linda McMahon writing fluff pieces under an alias? I think NOT.)

    Vince Russo was Linda McMahon the WHOLE TIME?! Amazing!

    • JB

      Well, they are both terrible, on multiple levels.

  • PrideOfCanada

    It really is a shame that the WWF didn’t bring in Stan Lane at this time to join up with Keirn under the new name of “Superintendent Chalmers.”

    • Bettis

      Their double team finisher could be the Steamed Ham.

      • Joe Klunk

        Or the Aurora Borealis.

        • Diamond Jim Lowe

          At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country?

  • PalePieceOfPigsEar

    So $300 x a guaranteed 60 shows? $18,000 a year guarantee? I know we’re talking ’91, but holy fuck, that’s still considered poverty, right?

    • Jwilliams

      Adjusted for inflation, about 31K

      • PalePieceOfPigsEar

        Ok, so pure numbers-wise, not so bad. But for what they put their bodies through, still sucks.

        • nwa88

          That’s absolutely terrible for a top guy.

          • PalePieceOfPigsEar

            You’ll get no argument from me there.

        • Also, if you include road expenses and always eating out, etc… it adds up.

    • Mr.Snrub

      Could be worse,poor HHH was offered a 2 year $104K contract in 1993 by that evil bastard Eric Bischoff!

      He was gonna starve!

      • PalePieceOfPigsEar

        Seriously though. $104K isn’t gonna come close to two years worth of tuna, gh, and steroids.

      • Buffalo Hopscotch

        He called HHH a GUD.

  • nwa88

    What was Linda’s fluff piece?

    I can’t wait for the 1991 Superstars and WCW Saturday Night shows to show up on the Network. It’s crazy how much things change between June 91 and early 1992 for both companies.

    • She used to write under an alias as Linda something for a while.

      • If I’m not mistaken, her alias was “Linda M. Kelly” in the first few magazines and then she shortened it to “Linda Kelly”. She was listed as the publisher/editor and wrote articles on the side.

    • Griffin99

      I’m not clear on the specifics, but the name “Superstars of Wrestling” is another WWF/E has problems with, I think it was owned by an Australian company or something? Still, that name was used before 1991.

      I want to see Challenge, Superstars and WCW Worldwide from September 91 so I can work out what hooked me between seeing Summerslam 91 and regularly viewing the weekly shows by the time I went to University in October 91, and be interested enough that I stayed up til 2-3am on Saturday nights for WCW Worldwide as a student.

  • nwa88

    Posted this awhile back, but this is a summary from all of these Observers of the Flair/Herd issues.

    March 1990:

    – Meltzer reports that Flair is supposed to drop the title to Luger in Chicago, but refuses to do so. Flair wants to negotiate a contract extension with a provision in his contract that explicitly states that he can go to work for the WWF without a non-compete period if he agrees to drop the title.

    June 1990:

    – Meltzer reports that Jim Herd refused to give Flair the unconditional release clause as part of his extension, but instead both sides agree that if a contract extension hadn’t been agreed to by a certain date (not stated, but he later speculates this date was shortly before the GAB 1991 show) that either side can terminate with a written notice of 30 days.

    Late June 1991:

    – Meltzer speculates that the Flair/Luger match is being under promoted on TV because of tension between Flair and WCW with his contract extension.

    – Meltzer reports that contract extension negotiations between WCW and Flair’s attorney break down (for the period of June 1, 1992 to May 31, 1994). Apparently there was a verbal agreement in place for quite awhile for the extension, but obviously things changed quickly.

    – Meltzer reports that Flair’s attorney was told by Jim Herd that he was giving Flair his 30 day notice with his last show scheduled to be The Great American Bash or the 7/22/91 house show in Los Angeles (not stated which it was). Flair apparently wasn’t notified by WCW, but by his attorney.

    – Meltzer reports that Jim Herd denies the story and that they were still negotiating a contract extension and that no notice had been given to Flair or his attorney.

    — Flair’s attorney states that WCW wanted to cut his salary from $700k (or so) a year down to 350k immediately. TBS states that the pay-cut would not go into effect until the current contract ended on June 1, 1992, with Flair earning 350k for 1992 and 1993 and $250k for the final year in 1994. Flair (WCW’s highest paid guy at this point) balks at the offer at any rate, with Meltzer citing potential reasons being that Lex Luger would earn 600k in 1992, Randy Savage was offered 500k a year in the spring of 1991 to come in, and WCW offered Sid 400k a year to try and keep him when he decided to leave for the WWF in April.

    – WCW counters that Flair would also have a reduced number of dates in the new contract, and that the offer was fair in that regard. Meltzer speculates that WCW (which lost $6.5 million in 1990) was planning on cutting down most of the big contracts and wanted Flair to put over younger wrestlers, and in that role he would be overpaid.

    – WCW feels Flair may hold the company up for his extension before he’ll agree to drop the title to Luger at the Bash and so the Barry Windham title change plan is hatched.

    – Flair is supposed to drop the title on July 1rst to Barry Windham in Macon Georgia, but Flair was scheduled to be on vacation through July 3rd. The title change was supposed to take place and air either one week or one night before GAB on WCW TV, then Windham defends the belt against Luger at GAB. WCW fears he won’t show for the date even though they requested it due to the animosity between the parties.

    – WCW has a meeting with Turner Home Entertainment about changing the ads for the PPV to Luger vs Windham, and they refuse, stating all of the publicity is already out there, including the expensive PN News rap video created for the event.

    July 1:

    – Flair is fired officially just a few hours before the card in Macon is to take place.

    – WCW is unable to redo the ads for the PPV, but is able to get text crawlers along the bottom stating that Flair will not be apart of the PPV. They start running on Viewer’s Choice and Request on July 4th.

    July 8th:

    – Meltzer reports that WCW offered Flair a one year contract for $750k after firing him, which Flair turns down. According to his sources, it was more intended as legal maneuvering by TBS than anything, as they may not have had a right to terminate his contract in the manner by which they did. Another source states that they wanted to renegotiate it minus the extension for another year, knowing he could not earn that much in the WWF and that he wanted to open a gym in Charlotte which required a great deal of money up front.

    August 7, 1991:

    – Jim Herd, Jack Petrick (Executive VP of TBS, head of the wrestling division of TBS) and Flair meet at a hotel in Atlanta, all three parties sign confidentiality agreements to not disclose the content of their meeting. WCW sources say that Flair was offered a job as a booker, with rumors swirling that Dusty Rhodes was being dropped as the primary booker. Meltzer speculates that this came about because TBS heads were unhappy with the whole situation and the way Herd mismanaged it, the expensive advertisements for Luger/Flair that went to waste, as well as Dusty Rhodes’ poor booking.

    – Meltzer reports Petrick gave Herd and Rhodes two weeks to give them a plan of action for the rest of 1991 that would turn the company around. Herd resigned in January 1992 after Petrick asked him to take a non-wrestling position in TBS syndication, replaced by Kip Frey (whom Meltzer states had even less of a wrestling background than Jim Herd). In exit interviews with the company, Herd came down hard on Jim Ross, Dusty Rhodes and Magnum TA, but praised Jim Crockett (“I feel sorry for him that he has to deal with those three”) and ultimately Flair — saying he “felt Flair was the greatest wrestler there has ever been, that his demands were too high, but that losing him was ultimately the biggest mistake he made and the company went downhill from there.”

    — Flair can’t officially negotiate with the WWF until after September 1rst, but Vince starts mentioning his name on TV in the syndicated shows in mid-August, confident he can strike a deal with him (I’m sure they already had a verbal agreement of course)

    • Manjiimortal

      All the contractual stuff is a mess of legal work, but what I find most interesting is that at no point is it ever mentioned the deposit money clause Flair used as an excuse on why he took the belt with him. Really want to see how this goes.

      • nwa88

        There wasn’t really a precedent for it and obviously WCW never attempted litigation against Flair for doing it, but WCW did successfully stop the WWF from using both the original belt and another belt they made that was somewhat reminiscent of it. So I’d say Flair and Vince’s justifications were probably on shaky ground.

        Flair used the NWA title belt until the weekend of 9/22/1991 when they started forcing them to distort it. They started using the other belt shortly after, although I don’t know if it ever made TV before they were forced to distort that one as well. Flair is holding that one up at the 1991 Survivor Series though.

        • chrisH

          Flair had the actual WCW belt during the Funeral Parlor angle with Hogan and Undertaker (taped 10/21, aired 11/16).

          At the November Superstars taping, he used the knockoff version (he has it during his match filmed that night with Bret Hart for the Invasion ’92 Coliseum Video). In a trivia note, he actually kept it and wore it on WCW TV in 1994 after he lost to Hogan at Bash at the Beach.

          At Survivor Series, he had a custom belt that looked exactly like the WWF tag team titles.

          • nwa88

            Right, that’s the Superstars I meant, not sure why I thought that was September. I remember that not everyone successfully distorted the belt over that weekend in all markets.

          • nwa88

            Good trivia note — so did that belt never make WWF TV undistorted (aside from the peeks at it during the CHV match)? I’ve seen shots of the belt, but are they from WCW TV in 1994?

          • chrisH

            I think the fake WCW belt was always blurred on WWF TV. The censoring angle was likely not only due to WCW’s legal action but also to hide the fact that Flair had switched to other belts.

            For anyone here who hasn’t seen them:

            Fake WCW title (worn at November 1991 Superstars taping as well as in WCW in September 1994; picture here taken from 1994 WCW TV screencap):
            http://i671.photobucket.com/albums/vv72/marchbunny27/VegasBG.jpg

            Belt used at Survivor Series 1991:
            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dc92R_7Tolo/UljcxlrE42I/AAAAAAAACxM/5Igl2m801ts/s1600/WWFFlairWorld-797942.jpg

          • nwa88

            The whole entry of Flair into the WWF and all the belt shenanigans is really fascinating.

            I believe the first time the “Big Gold Belt” appeared on TV was the weekend of August 10, 1991 on Wrestling Challenge — which certainly has to be one of the more eventful things to occur on the show.

          • chrisH

            Yeah, it probably was the biggest thing to happen on Challenge, given that show had only one title change in its whole run (Money Inc. d Natural Disasters).

            I’d really like to see Challenge and Superstars on WWE Network, and for the sake of completion, I hope for the episodes which aired the weekend of the 1991/1994 Rumbles (and the two 1992 SNME episodes) that WWE would upload both versions of each show (the Saturday markets got one version of Superstars and Challenge those weeks while the Sunday markets got very different shows). The areas where Challenge aired on Sundays actually got to see the “Sid destroys the Barber Shop” segment a week before the rest of the country did.

          • nwa88

            The only other candidate I can think of is Shawn turning on Marty.

            That’s interesting regarding the differences. I know that generally speaking, Challenge and Superstars didn’t always air on the same day in every market and that all of them had localized dubs for house shows (during the matches themselves by Howard Finkel, the Event Center segments which also had different interviews depending on the market or a generic set for a market without an upcoming house show). I didn’t realize those particular weekends took it a step further, can you elaborate?

            The only think I noticed for the 1992 SNME’s is that certain versions of the Superstars leading up to them would have Vince saying “later this weekend” while others would say “tonight”.

            It looks like Flair’s knock-off belt being known as the “Vegas” belt, comes directly from the Flair/Hogan phone conversation that takes place during the Fall Brawl 1994 PPV setting up the retirement match. Flair is supposedly in Vegas.

            http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p32/RobRob1_2006/FlairVegas_zpshtnjhqt6.png

          • chrisH

            Sure, no problem. This is just the stuff I can confirm. There may be more.

            – For the 1991 Rumble, the Saturday versions of both shows have the commentators hyping the Rumble during each match, the Update/Special Report segments are Rumble hype, the Event Centers with Sean Mooney are Rumble hype, there are in-arena interviews promoting the Rumble (Brother Love Show with Sgt. Slaughter on Superstars; DiBiase and Virgil platform interview on Challenge), and Royal Rumble Reports with Mean Gene. On the Sunday versions, the commentary is completely different, the Update-EV-SR segments are generic, and there is an extra match on each show (Nasty Boys squash on Superstars; Dino Bravo squash on Challenge) to fill time due to the the in-arena interviews and Royal Rumble Reports being removed.

            – For the Feb. 1992 SNME, the Sunday version of Challenge has the Barber Shop segment with Sid Justice where he officially turns heel. The segment didn’t air in the Saturday markets until the next week (in recap form, billed as having happened “last Sunday”).

            – For the Nov. 1992 SNME, the Saturday version of Challenge has a Big Big Boss Man vs. Shawn Michaels match where Gorilla and Heenan hype the Michaels/Bulldog IC title match airing later that night. The Sunday version omits the match and instead airs highlights of the title match.

            – For the 1994 Rumble, the Sunday version of Challenge is hosted by Todd Pettengill. He introduces each match as happening “yesterday” (they didn’t bother doing a second set of commentary like in 1991), and he alludes to things that happened at the Rumble (Owen turning heel, the Rumble finish) without actually saying them. These segments were clearly taped before the Rumble because when Todd hypes the Rumble replay, he says Tatanka wrestled Ludvig Borga rather than Bigelow.

            On a side note, when the old, online version of Classics On Demand aired 1991 Superstars episodes, they used the Saturday, Rumble hype version, and the episode description claimed that the reason the Slaughter Brother Love Show segment only aired in some markets was due to its controversial content rather than the fact it would have been out-of-date in the Sunday markets.

          • nwa88

            Very cool! It’s incredible how much work was involved for everyone just to maintain continuity and kayfabe in the syndication days.

          • chrisH

            Yeah, that’s definitely true. It’s odd, though, that they did this just for these 4 shows because they did not do it for SNME during the NBC era. I have a VHS tape of the April 1991 SNME, and the NBC station in the area just happened to show Challenge right after it, which is also on the tape. Challenge was clearly meant to be watched first because at the end of the show, Gorilla hypes matches for the SNME show that had just aired.

          • BODConscience

            I forgot how over The big boss man was. That pop he got dwarfed anything we see today.

          • nwa88

            Is that Michaels/Bossman match any good? Seems like two guys that would work well together.

          • chrisH

            Just a quick TV match. Here it is if you want to see it for yourself.

            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2eh44_shawn-michaels-vs-the-bigbossman_sport

          • Bettis

            I never knew the belt or any Flair references came about before the night of Summerslam. Funny that I was watching at the time and in the early peak of my fandom but I can’t remember Flair there besides the PPVs until post Rumble. I think I was too traumatized by Jake’s heel turn (He was one of the guys on my bed set!)

    • Justin Stark

      Flair IMO certainly isn’t coming across like any sort of prince here. Aside from not wanting to drop the title to Luger, Herd was right in his belief that Flair couldn’t justify making what he wanted to….especially when business was in the toilet.

  • johntcole

    Scott keeps going on about how WWE completely botched the Flair/NWA belt angle but really in hindsight, it wasn’t going to have a satisfying conclusion due to litigation.

    Flair winning the WWE title at the Rumble was the best case scenario.

    • PeteF3

      I dunno…there’s plenty of things to point to about how it could have been done better. But it also could have been a lot, lot worse.

  • CDN

    10-12yr old me thoroughly enjoyed ’90-’92 WcW and WWF. No clue the business was in such decline & kind of on the brink, for Vince at least. Just as much as I enjoyed ’92, I was pretty much out by end of ’93.

    But Vince will get a Big Gold present awaiting him and some Justice, and go on to fuck it up.

    • Kuetsar

      Creatively 1992 was great, too bad the box office wasn’t. . . .

      • johntcole

        I’d argue 1991 was creatively great as well.

      • Mr. P

        1992 was deceptive because of the two stadium shows and it looked alright on tv. By late 1993 when they were running high school gyms for RAW it was obvious things weren’t going as well as they used to.

  • Pez Whatley could’ve been a garbage man?! He could be spitting on the honkies while putting them in trash cans…

  • RawisStoned

    I surprised that WCW never had Captain Planet wrestlers.

    • Jeremy Rinehart

      Worst superhero ever. Throw some trash on the ground and he’s finished

      • johntcole

        Plus the horrid liberal smugness of the show in general.

        • jabroniville

          What about when a team with a member from Asia had to lecture the retarded American about population control and the need for small families?

        • Justin Stark

          I still remember the theme song by heart.

          I also heard Trump wants to tap him to head the EPA

        • RG-Dallas

          The only liberal show that got over for me was All in the Family.

      • Buffalo Hopscotch

        He never would have lasted in the nWo days.

  • Grampa Mongolian Stomper X

    The team will be comprised of The Fireman (played by Curtis Thompson), The Police Man (Bill Kazmaier), The Private (Todd Champion), and the Garbage Man (Pez Whatley).

    Oh, my.

    • Joe Klunk

      Not as racist as Shaska Whatley…but not by much.

      • JB

        He is the best black garbage man ever. That was horrible even in 1985.

    • Michael Weyer

      So basically the Village People wrestling stable. How did WWE never try to steal this?

  • Jeremy Rinehart

    Lets say Flair drops the title to Luger at the Bash and decided to stay in WCW. What happens? Is Luger a babyface champion that feuds with Flair, Anderson, Windham, Rude (when he debuts) and Vader. Does Luger go heel, while Flair goes babyface? Do we get Arn turning on Ric and joining the Dangerous Alliance? Or do we get a Horsemen vs. Dangerous Alliance feud? A lot of things could have happened.

  • HitmanHBK

    All I could think of when I saw the original concept for The Patriots is…..

    “It’s fun to stay at the…..YMCA!

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