Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.15.91

Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/25/wrestling-observer-flashback-07-08-91/

pest control Elkhart, IN

It’s the Observer issue so huge that Dave has to post it to the archives TWICE to make sure!

So yeah, Flair got fired, let’s get back into it!

– The Flair firing actually made the national news, with papers throughout the country picking up the story, with all coverage being sympathetic to Flair.  Some local North Carolina reporters are even calling for a fan boycott of WCW events.  (Yeah, but how would anyone tell the difference?) 

– Dave wants to point out that this is NOT a defense of Jim Herd or WCW in general, but keep in mind that there’s two sides to every story.  And granted, everyone on the WCW side looks like idiots for letting Flair get away.  But everyone was playing hardball and sometimes shit happens.

– HISTORY TIME!

– Let’s go back to Chicago in March of 1990, when Flair was asked to drop the World title to Lex Luger, but refused to do so.  He was wanting a new contract or an outright release to go to the WWF before he’d agree to drop the title, and in fact Herd gave him neither.  What they DID agree on was that if both sides could not agree to a contract extension by a certain date (which Dave speculates had recently passed) then either side would have the right to terminate the contract with 30 days notice given. This would give Flair the escape hatch needed to finally do the Hogan match at Wrestlemania, which in fact is what he was aiming for in 1990. Jim Herd had maintained all along that WCW didn’t have an escape clause in the contract, but it turns out that they DID. So the idea was that WCW would terminate Flair’s contract as of August 1 and then attempt to sign him to a drastically reduced three-year deal of $350K/$350K/$250K. And the company would then drastically cut back Flair’s dates in addition to his money. WCW lost millions since taking over from JCP, and Flair’s contract was the first victim of cost-cutting.

– Although, Dave notes, WCW just offered $500,000 a year to Randy Savage to jump ship, which is way more than they’re offering Flair for someone who is less of a guaranteed draw.

– The reason for the abrupt need to lose the belt to Barry Windham is that the company thought Flair would hold up the company for more money before losing the belt to Lex Luger at the Bash, so they wanted to get it off him ASAP.  Ironically, Windham is working without a contract at the moment. So in order to avoid a potential major embarrassment (Flair no-showing the Bash PPV) they instead opted for the guaranteed major embarrassment of firing their World champion. And in fact we’ll never know if the Windham change would have come off as planned, because they fired Flair on 7/1 several hours before the show even started.

– Dave is pretty sure that Dusty Rhodes has been working for this ever since getting the book at the beginning of the year.  Ironically, the plan to bury and de-emphasize Flair, by sticking him with El Gigante, backfired and actually increased attendance because it was something different than the endless Flair-Sting matches which had burned out the crowds. On the other hand, Flair was definitely losing his star aura, as the Clash match with Eaton came off like a midcard match, with no one really buying Bobby as a serious challenger.  Even if the situation is as grossly unfair to Flair as it comes off, it was still hard to justify $750,000 a year for someone who clearly had his star fading. Ironically, getting fired has suddenly freshened him up again and will instantly turn him into the big deal wherever he goes.

– In another twist, the NWA announced that they were still recognizing Flair as World heavyweight champion, even though they don’t promote wrestling shows any more. The legal team for the NWA noted that WCW can recognize whoever THEY want as champion, but have no right to strip Flair of the NWA title. So this means that Flair can legally work Japan and indy shows as NWA champion. And since the belt is the NWA’s belt, he no longer has to return it to WCW. Further, since the NWA laws say that members can’t recognize anyone but the NWA champion as World champion, that means WCW will be expelled once they crown a new WCW World champion at the Bash. Dave also points out that if the WCW and NWA titles have been separate all this time (which they were) then Flair is actually an EIGHT time World champion after the Fujinami deal.  (Eight World titles?  No one will ever catch THAT record!) 

– Dave thinks that if the NWA is willing to play ball, a Hogan v. Flair match, with Flair as the outsider NWA World champion where the WWF doesn’t want him there but is forced into a one-time match, would make the most money. (Like some sort of Invasion?) But if they just bring him in as a WWF guy and put him against Hogan, all interest in the match will die off by the time they get to Wrestlemania.

– Apparently fans aren’t taking this very well, loudly chanting “We Want Flair” at live events, in something that might get embarrassing for them.

– Back to steroids, as the national shaming of our so-called sport continues, with pieces that are pretty devastating to Hulk Hogan in particular. Even worse, Lyle Alzado coming out as dying from steroids is turning into a nightmare for the WWF, with the angle becoming that Alzado actually glorifies their use, even as they kill him. The message coming from his life is that he would have been too small to play football and succeed, and the steroids were a necessary part of the game for him. The same message appears to cover over to the world of wrestling.

– Hulk Hogan, by the way, is expected to appear on the Arsenio Hall Show this week and smooth things over with a public apology. (Can’t see how THAT could go wrong.) 

– Phil Mushnick, future thorn in the side of the wrestling world, launched a scathing piece in the New York Times against the WWF where basically called out the media for buying into the Vince McMahon propaganda about the “wrestling resurgence”, which in reality didn’t exist, and offered even more scathing criticism of former WWF hangers-on like Dick Ebersol, who were more than happy to play into the Vince line of bullshit when it made him money, but then ran away from serious coverage of wrestling when the Zahorian story broke.

– The GWF finally debuted on ESPN on 7/8, and it was a big improvement over the USWA product for the time being.

– Jushin Liger beat Pegasus Kid in a mask v. mask match on 7/4, and Kid was unmasked as CHRIS BENOIT.  Sorry, spoiler for those who didn’t know.

– Seiji Sakaguchi is trying to broker a deal for Muta to win the WCW World title and defend in Japan at some point this year.

– Rick Rude debuted for All Japan on 7/6, and he’s not doing his WWF deal, and still got over pretty good. Baba told him not to do the “cut the music” bit or use the Rude Awakening as a finisher.

– To Global, where Tug Taylor is being billed as “the Original Tugboat” and Dave is like “Why would you ever want to brag about that?”

– To WCW, where the Great American Bash tour is FINALLY turning crowds around a little bit.

– The WCW tag title tournament is scheduled to begin on 7/8 and run exclusively on the World Championship Wrestling show.  Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko will be teaming up as the Enforcers as a part of it.

– Jim Ross continues his campaign against WWF cage matches on WCW Pro:  “You know, the cage matches sanctioned by the Girl Scouts of America.”

– Paul E. Dangerously has become so valuable as a commentator and producer that they’re dropping the Missy Hyatt angle and Jason Hervey feud completely and will just be using him off-screen instead of flying all over the place.

– Oz didn’t sign the dreaded $300/night contract and is thought to be on the chopping block as a result.  (Big Kev would NEVER be so stupid as to sign that deal.) 

– In the WWF, Prime Time Wrestling is getting overhauled again, with Sean Mooney and Bobby Heenan taking over as full-time hosts for the next revamp.

– An “outdoor show” in Vancouver with Hogan v. Slaughter only drew 5500 people.  (That actually wasn’t an outdoor show, it was the BC Place, a domed stadium. Today more popularly seen as the exterior location of STAR Labs on the Flash!  At any rate, it’s a 60,000 seat building, so that’s pathetic)

– And finally, Dave thinks that the Savage-Liz TV angle is some of the best non-wrestling emotion on a TV show he’s ever seen.  And they only had to be married for seven years in real life to pull it off.

Next time: Can that scrappy WCW booking team pull off a PPV without Ric Flair?  We’ll find out how history will view Great American Bash ‘91!

  • Buffalo Hopscotch

    What was the reason for Rude not being allowed to use the Rude Awakening in AJPW?

    • mfm420

      total guess offhand: it didn’t look like much of a finish compared to what most japanese matches ended with (or perhaps since wwf had run an sws show a few months before and pretty much all of the wwf guys got little to no reaction for their finishers, i’m guessing baba wanted something different to get the crowd to react)

      again, just a total stab in the dark

    • Baba felt it wasn’t strong enough.

      • Matt Johnson

        I always thought that Rude and Hawk had the best hangman’s neckbreakers and they looked finisher worthy. They both had a good snap to them where it looked like they were jamming their shoulders into the back of the guy’s neck instead of the usual “grab the guy by the back of the head and guide him down into a back bump” most people do.

        • Miko363

          Dolph Ziggler should have brought back the Rude Awakening as his finisher instead of the Zig Zag.

          • AnInternetToughGuy

            Or anything instead of the Zig Zag.

          • GoodOldRoz

            Yep. Basically just a reverse faceplant.

      • Manjiimortal

        I can see that indeed.

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      When a walking skeleton tells you something, you listen!

  • y2j420

    Boy, how different would it have been if Flair jumped in 1990…it was like a completely different roster in 1990 compared to 1991/1992…the title scene would’ve been different…it might have allowed for the Slaughter angle to never have occurred in a main event role…

    Dusty and Flair would’ve been on the same roster again, but neither with any power…

    • Manjiimortal

      Vince was too deeply set on the Hogan/Warrior match-up by February 1990, so there was no chance of them changing that for Flair, plus if Flair comes up just as Ric Flair, a big name from that promotion in Redneck country he’s dead from the get go thanks to a myriad of reasons. Flair was smart enough to bring the belt with him in 1991 so he could do the Real World Champion shtick.

      • y2j420

        No, I wasn’t talking about Wrestlemania VI being changed…I was talking about how the build up to Wrestlemania VII would’ve been different…maybe Warrior doesn’t drop the title to Slaughter at the 1991 Royal Rumble…Flair arriving in mid-to-late 1990 could’ve changed plans significantly…

        • Manjiimortal

          Gotcha. Yeah, in such circumstances I can see things changing indeed, though I still don’t thing Flair would have succeeded (he didn’t even though he brought the title belt, so coming in without the belt would be death from the get go).

        • Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog

          Wrestlemania VII with Flair-Hogan and Savage-Warrior? Probably would still be my favorite card ever

          • Bettis

            You could have Duggan vs Slaughter on the undercard to blow off the Iraqi stuff (Sarge never gets the belt of course). Take out the Tornado Bravo match to keep the match count the same.

          • Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog

            Hell yes. I would have Sarge beat Duggan too. He was fine as a house show challenger for Hulk after WM. Even if Duggan wins by DQ, have him do a stretcher job to put Slaughter over as a threat. Hogan avenges him after WM.

          • y2j420

            Exactly…that couldve changed the entire feel of the show…I think their ticket sale woes would’ve been lessened with those two matches on top…

  • Night

    I wonder what Rude used as a finisher instead.

    • Aaron

      Hopefully a Ganso Bomb.

      • Big D Wangston

        It was funny to see that move inadvertently in a frickin Ultimate Warrior match in the early 90’s

    • Comrade TatR! The Snowman

      I think he used the AXE BOMBER in Japan

    • Buffalo Hopscotch

      I just looked up and there’s some matches on YouTube where he’s in a 6 man tag match with the Miracle Violence Connection (Terry Gordy and Dr Death) against Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi.

      Doesn’t get the finish in either of the matches though, so hard to tell from that.

    • Bettis

      Finisher? He’d just walk out of the ring and bag a geisha.

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      Someone would try to put Rude in the Abdominal Stretch, and they would tap out.

    • Sting’s bulldog.

  • Fun Elkhart fact: President Obama visited the city three times during his administration. Donald Trump won the county in 2016 with 61.4% of the vote.

  • Next time: Can that scrappy WCW booking team pull off a PPV without Ric Flair?

    Spoiler alert: Not until Superbrawl 2.

  • tamalie

    I’m pretty sure the BC Place show the WWF ran was not scaled for the full 60,000 capacity building and instead used a smaller set up of say 22,000. Lots of domed stadiums of this era hosted events normally held in arenas using partial capacities.

    Lyle Alzado blamed steroids for his brain cancer. I don’t believe that was ever medically proven and there were plenty of skeptics about that theory then and now. What some did buy was that the HGH he used caused his brain tumor to expand more rapidly.

    • The Little Bulldog

      ‘I’m pretty sure the BC Place show the WWF ran was not scaled for the full 60,000 capacity building and instead used a smaller set up of say 22,000. Lots of domed stadiums of this era hosted events normally held in arenas using partial capacities.”

      I was at the show, and this is correct. But it still didn’t look great, especially since it was still light outside and BC Place has a translucent roof (like the HoosierDome for WMVIII).

  • zbinks

    It’s a shame that cooperation between WCW and WWF was nonexistent, because their rosters were begging for a big main event heel talent exchange in between WM 6 and GAB 1991.

  • Robert Eddleman

    I haven’t seen any of the Mooney/Heenan Prime Times, but that doesn’t seem like a great pairing to me. You’d think Heenan’s personality would completely steamroll Mooney. I love the Brain, but he worked best when he was up against an equal character.

    • nwa88

      It wasn’t. You knew the show was dead once they replaced Vince with Mooney.

      • Bettis

        Same thing happened with Mean Gene taking over TNT from Vince in the Spring/Summer of 86. Not a slight on Gene but the show was on the outs.

      • RG-Dallas

        And yet the show continued for another year and a half with the round table discussions, hosted by Vince before the show was dropped for good for Raw.

        • markn95

          Those roundtable segments were pretty good, though. They’ve hung around on youtube and are entertaining to watch, especially with the squash matches edited out.

          It was also great to get Heenan and Monsoon together again.

  • Aaron

    I hope Rick told that lanky, out of shape, Tokyo teabagger Baba to get lost. Hit the music!

  • Comrade TatR! The Snowman

    The guy who says Hey Hey Hey! during the opening of GAB 91, he’s the only good thing about that show

  • PATRICKisLEGEND

    The Warrior stuff must have come up very abrupt, as there’s not even a mention of him yet and we’re only a month away.

    Also, no Sid news?

    • markn95

      When did Sid get announced as the special ref? It sounds like the Matches Made in Heaven/Hell were already being promoted but I don’t remember if they promoted Sid as the ref from the get go.

      In his Wrestling Tidbits from the rspw archive during this period, Herb Kunze was saying that Sid would challenge Mr. Perfect for the IC title at Summerslam.

  • Manjiimortal

    “But if they just bring him in as a WWF guy and put him against Hogan, all interest in the match will die off by the time they get to Wrestlemania.”

    Dave really should have considered playing the lottery, because he again guesses exactly what happened, with the caveat that Flair came with the belt, but he still quickly foundered by the end of the year.

    • Mr. P

      Yeah, I gotta give Dave credit here.

    • Comrade TatR! The Snowman

      I remember Dave saying that as soon as he saw Flair in a Survivor Series graphic alongside Mountie, Warlord and whoever the other guy was, he was like “they just don’t get it”

      • Manjiimortal

        Dibiase if I remember. And yeah, it’s a bizarre pairing no doubt, even with the Million Dollar Man there.

        • Comrade TatR! The Snowman

          oh yeah, Dibiase. He’s not that bad. But still, very cartoony.

      • markn95

        And having Flair come out and squash jobbers on Superstars and Challenge every other week made him seem less special too. I’ll admit that the angle with Piper at the announcer’s desk where Vince McMahon took the chairshot was pretty cool but they should have kept Flair off TV unless he was doing something earth shattering. His next angle was putting Jim Freaking Neidhart out of action with a figure four, lol. And the Funeral Parlor angle with Hogan and Taker was big but way too cartoony for Flair’s character.

        • Griffin99

          I remember the Funeral Parlor, I remember Piper getting furious and even Vince involved, I even remember Flair wrestling Michaels as part of the Rockers split.

          The Neidhart angle and beating jobbers though? Nope.

          • markn95

            Yeah, for some reason they had Flair take out Neidhart with the figure four on Superstars in early November (I think). It didn’t make much sense because they were not on opposing teams at Survivor Series and they had no other kayfabe issue to resolve but I guess they wanted to get the figure four over as a devastating move.

            Neidhart was replaced by Slaughter at the PPV (uness Slaughter actually replaced the fired Dragon earlier, in which case El Matador took Niedhart’s place).

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      Plus, they had Flair always in his robe, and that wasn’t his WCW/NWA deal at all. Flair wore suits that cost more than your car, pal!

      • Manjiimortal

        Yeah, but no WWF wrestler wears a suit pal!! It hides their superhuman (steroid-enhanced, but don’t tell a judge that!) physiques!

        • MyronB

          That was the biggest difference between the WWF and WCW. In the WWF the wrestlers were always their gimmicks who lived in the “WWF Universe” (yeah I know that term was not coined yet) where in WCW they seem more like real people who lived in the “real world.”

          • Manjiimortal

            Good point, in WCW you’d sometimes get the wrestlers wearing normal clothing for interview segments and such, but that never really flew in WWE ever (with the exception of the Evolution phase).

          • Stephen

            Well, there’s good reason for it post-98 – wrestlers’ gear is a revenue stream. I think Cena’s even said that he’d like to go back to the throwbacks once in a while, but he’s not stupid enough to slow down his merchandise sales.

          • Griffin99

            Yeah, by Attitude everyone was pimping their own t-shirt for fans to buy.

          • tonybell73

            If by “normal clothes” you mean “Gold’s Gym tank tops, Zubaz, and fanny packs.”

          • Manjiimortal

            Oh yeah, Sting wore those a lot.

          • tonybell73

            In 1990s WCW, you either wore a suit like the Horsemen, the gold’s gym + Zubaz combo, or a sport coat with jeans tucked into your cowboy boots.

          • Manjiimortal

            That was the Dusty look (also used by Barry Windham and such). It was either one stereotypical look or another stereotypical look, or maybe a THIRD stereotypical look!

        • ebEliminator

          The Attitude Era had a noted lack of suits, and it wasn’t until around 2003 when Evolution started that they became a big thing again in WWE.

        • JRH

          Actually, watching some of the early episodes of TNT, they surprisingly had a lot of the wrestlers come out in “normal” clothes (as opposed to ring attire).

          • MyronB

            And once TNT ended (or even towards the end) it was goodbye “normal” clothes and having regular lives and hello ring gear and being in character all the time.

      • Matt Johnson

        I never really thought about that but you’re right. Wearing expensive suits and flashing his watches and rings were a huge part of Flair’s gimmick.

      • RG-Dallas

        They let him wear the suits in 1992 (from time to time), but yeah … good point.

      • Brendan McDonald

        I think they should get a pass on that. The NWA “wheeling’-dealin’, high-flyin’, jet-ridin'” version of Flair would have been a little too close to DiBiase’s gimmick in WWF.

      • Griffin99

        It did give him the aura of someone with maybe wealth or success to justify such am ostentatious wardrobe choice though. If he’d been a skinny guy in a suit I wouldn’t have cared.

        Plus the belt looked the real deal and casual fans could be sold on that.

    • Jordan

      For a guy that just “reports” wrestling news and rumors Dave seems to have a better grasp on the mechanics of the business and drawing money than most promoters.

      • Manjiimortal

        Most promoters are dumb as hell and they act as every conman, they all thing they’re the one who’s not going to get caught. Wrestling isn’t difficult to figure, but most people on the business are extremely arrogant about their carny practises.

        • Jordan

          It’s not just wrestling. People who have success in business tend to think it’s because of their methods and intelligence and that they ultimately know better than those who will critique it from the outside. It’s the reason why so many businesses fail to adapt with the times.

          • ADF

            Yeah, I would say that staying outside the business is exactly what gave Dave the correct perspective to comment on it.

            I guess that’s the job of a reporter, huh?

    • teenagewildlife

      Flair’s first WWF run will always be best Flair to me

  • Adam The Reindeer

    Let’s pretend that the WWF keep Warrior and don’t screw up Flair. Can you imagine the card for Wrestlemania 8?
    WWF Title vs NWA Title – Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair
    Tag Title – Randy Savage & Ultimate Warrior vs Money Inc
    IC Title- Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper
    Sid Justice vs Sgt Slaughter
    Coffin Match – The Undertaker vs Jake Roberts
    No DQ Match – Natural Disasters vs Nasty Boys
    Battle Royale – Shawn Michaels vs Tito Santana vs Rick Martel vs The Mountie vs Repo Man vs Jim Duggan vs Big Boss Man vs Col Mustafa vs Owen Hart vs Skinner vs Bushwackers vs Beverleys vs Virgil vs Tatanka

    • johntcole

      I don’t get the narrative that they screwed up Flair. Again WWE could not have done anything truly big with the NWA title due to litigation.

      • Johnny Polo

        Plus, your typical WWF fan at the time (like my 9-year-old self for example), didn’t know shit about the NWA or Flair. I initially laughed at the notion of Flair as the “Real World’s Champion.” I was like, “Hulk can floss his teeth with this little guy.” He won me over with his ranting and raving interviews, but he could have just as well bought the title belt he was carrying around at a store for all I knew.

        • Same with me. I only barely knew about WCW or NWA at the time (it didn’t get a lot of play up in Canada). So when Flair debuted and they made this big deal about him being the “real” world’s champion, I was like “Who the hell is this nobody?”

          • Griffin99

            I had no knowledge of him at all, there was about a month of build up and when I saw him I was shocked that this little flabby guy was meant to be a threat to Hogan, who’d just main evented Summerslam with Warrior (and Sid) and destroyed the three old flabby guys who most equated to Flair’s build.

            Obviously in time I came to appreciate Flair’s NWA legacy but at the start, he was a scrawny guy with a sparkly robe who didn’t look like he could live up to the role.

        • Jordan

          I wouldn’t say that was “typical.” Sure, there were lots of younger fans that were primarily into the WWF, but when you look at things like tv ratings WCW wasn’t that far behind in terms of audience size.

        • Buster Abbott

          Flair’s WWF run didn’t get off to a strong start, but he had infinite credibility after winning the Rumble. He could’ve been easily seen as a credible threat to beat Hogan at WM8

        • GoodOldRoz

          When you think about it, that angle was incredibly ‘inside’ for 1991. Aside from the occasional barb from Monsoon or Ross, the competition – or indeed, ANY other organisation – were never acknowledged. Yet here comes somebody l,wearing a belt,claiming to be a Real World Champion. Where did he get it from?

          Amazing really.

          • Griffin99

            Hooked me in seconds though, as a very casual brand new fan in August 91 I absolutely needed to know who this Real World Champion was and why he wasn’t on TV yet.

        • Mr. P

          True. I knew him because I watched WCW, but I was the only one I knew who watched both shows. Everyone else was WWF only. Flair might as well been wrestling in Siberia for the last 15 years.

          • Barry Gilpin

            Every wrestling fan in my area watched both. Superstars and NWA/WCW Worldwide aired back to back. Flair jumping was HUGE in my circle.

        • Griffin99

          As a WWF noob I didn’t even know Hogan was that big a deal at the time, I knew he was the champion and had been for a few years because all the shows started with older pics of Hogan with the belt, but because I didn’t know who Flair was, that also fed into the anticipation.

  • johntcole

    Flair should have left right after losing to Sting at GAB and gone on to face Hogan at Mania 7.

    • Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog

      Iraqi turncoat, Ric “allahuakbar” Flair, pal!

      • Bettis

        Still better than being a Gladiator.

        • ADF

          Is this even a credible part of the story anymore? “Spartacus” hasn’t been brought up in these newsletters so far at all.

      • MaffewOfBotchamania

        ”Five times a day, Muslims pray to ME, baby! WOOOOO”

  • taabr2

    Without a doubt my favorite part of that Arsenio Hall interview is Hogan starting by flexing his steroid enhanced muscle.

  • Kenola

    With the way Nash was jerked around at the start of his career is it any wonder he only cared about money later on?

    • Bettis

      That plus he didn’t start in the business until age 31 which isn’t super old but old enough to not be a mark about himself (Don’t tell the Hitman that)

      • Johnny Polo

        Nash is totally a mark for himself…evidenced by how many times he’s had to note that he isn’t a mark for himself.

        • Bettis

          Ha yeah you kind got me there.

          • ADF

            Starting at such a late age does give a dude perspective on what he actually wants out of the business, though.

          • Griffin99

            Good job a stinky latex mask, green cape and Munchkin accompaniment were high on that list…

  • tamalie

    Was the Hulk Hogan interview on Arsenio truly a disaster to the general public or was it more a case of insider fans, who were inclined to dislike Hogan and the WWF in general, getting up in arms and then extrapolating their views on to an at large fanbase that didn’t notice as much or at least didn’t care as much if they did notice?

    I think the downfall of the WWF in 1992 was hastened much more by the revelation that ring attendants, some of whom were underage, were being preyed upon by homosexual predators than the steroid scandal, which was still damaging just not as much. For all the talk of political correctness that began around then, society was largely not open to accepting gay people at the time and this situation played into the absolute worst fears and stereotypes that many held. Taking kids to a WWF house show suddenly seemed unappealing to many without a doubt.

    By comparison, every WWF show I attended in the 1980s and early 1990s included catcalls about steroids and fans discussing and joking about the wrestlers using them. Hogan lying or not, the revelation was hardly a surprise.

    • Brendan McDonald

      It was a disaster in the sense that it was the #1 thing played on a loop when Hogan was going to testify against Vince for the Feds.

      So, not an immediate a disaster. A disaster when it counted.

    • Jordan

      You sort of inadvertently described why it was such a big deal. Most people didn’t care about wrestling or steroids but Hogan going on Arsenio and making a mockery of the situation drew the ire of people who had mostly ignored it until then.

      • ADF

        I agree. I’ve read a bunch of comments from Bruno Sammartino about how unhappy he was during the 84-88 stretch of his career, when he was in the WWF at the same time as Hogan. He didn’t like Hogan and felt that fans could see the difference between himself and this steroid-enhanced monster. But I would tell Bruno that, yes, the fans knew Hogan was on steroids, but what Bruno didn’t understand was that the fans didn’t care. Much like most people truly don’t care if baseball or football players use steroids–I believe the vast majority of the paying audience honestly doesn’t care.

        What we do care about is being lied to, and treated as fools. It’s like, c’mon, Hulk, we KNOW you’re on steroids. We KNOW it. We’re not going to blame you for being on steroids, but we WILL hold it against you if you try to convince us that you’re not. THAT was the mistake Hogan made.

        • MyronB

          You explained everything perfectly.

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      The more a person says, “basically” when giving a statement… the more they are lying.

      • GoodOldRoz

        This and “everything before the “but” is bullshit” are the truest statements around.

    • Boomska316 .

      He would have been much better off saying nothing at all.

    • MyronB

      Hogan going on Arsenio was the moment when the steroids trial was something that only wrestling insiders cared about to something that the general public paid attention to.

  • Stephen

    Ah, BC place. The stadium whose construction never made sense.

    (Toronto had the Blue Jays. Giant domed Stadium OK. Montreal had the Olympics and the Expos. Giant domed stadium OK. Vancouver had the… Lions?!?)

    • PeteF3

      Part of me wonders if they were aiming to get an MLB team the way St. Petersburg did when they build the Trop, but it wasn’t open until ’83…surely they would know that MLB wouldn’t go for teams in Seattle *and* Vancouver, right?

      • Stephen

        Well, Buffalo built Pilot Field on the same “logic”, but baseball didn’t actually expand for years and years and years after.

        Maybe they figured they could pry the Giants loose? Remember, they nearly moved to Toronto a decade earlier….

        • tamalie

          The CFL was a much bigger deal when BC Place was conceived in 1980 and opened in 1983, because cable wasn’t as widespread, something that gave Canadians access to the NFL. The BC Lions got good just when the stadium opened and averaged between 42,000 and 47,000 fans with the occasional sellout from 1983 to 1986. Attendance fell off in 1987 which is when Montreal folded and the CFL entered a long term period of crisis that seemed unthinkable when ground was broken on BC Place in the spring of 1981.

  • markn95

    So if Flair left WCW in the middle of 1990 and signed with the WWF was there a chance to sell out the Memorial Coliseum with Hogan-Flair?

    If anything, it would have been interesting to see how the WWF got to that main event. My guess is they have Flair beat Warrior (probably at the Rumble and probably with Savage interfering) and have Hogan chase Flair until Mania.

    • Jordan

      No, I don’t think so. Business was just ice cold in 1991 and Flair and WCW weren’t exactly that big in the LA area either.

      • Bettis

        Was business good enough in 88 that it could have drawn for WM 4? (assuming you try to beat WM 3’s record and not run Trump Plaza) Say Flair leaves Crockett after losing to Garvin (or leaves with the belt just beforehand as an FU to Dusty and Garvin) and the Andre feud is blown off at Survivor Series. It would screw up DiBiase a bit but what a jump at that point.

        • Jordan

          Had Fair jumped in the summer of 1988 I think he could have done great business with Hogan on top. I don’t think the timing was right for WMIV, but that would have been a great feud to headline WMV.

  • CDN

    Vince should have caved at least a little bit & acknowledged that Flair was a big deal, & a big time World Heavyweight Champion for a rival promotion. Vince probably would’ve never said “rival”, acknowledging competition, but something should’ve been said to clarify that Flair was an outsider, defending a World Title around the world, a title with prestige, although not recognized by the WWF. Hell, even a hired gun by Bobby Heenan making one last stab at ending Hulkamania, with a veteran multi-time World Heavyweight Champion looking to add the WWF Title to his resume.

    Anything but what they did. And as awesome as it was to see Flair v Piper & Flair v Savage…..Flair v Hogan was the marquee match that had been talked about since 1984. So, to me, Hogan v Flair in ’90-’91 was still a big deal & I CANNOT BELIEVE it did not headline a Wrestlemania. Right up there with how Sting NEVER jumped in time for an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania, & how badly Vince fucked up the Invasion.

    Also I believe, if I’ve read correctly here, Sid jumping was contingent upon a Wrestlemania main event match with Hogan. And all the shit attendance for the Hogan v Flair house show loop, which totally sounds like bullshit.

    HOW DID HOGAN v FLAIR NEVER HEADLINE WRESTLEMANIA?!?!?!?!?

    • Michael Weyer

      They even talk about that on the “History of Mania” doc and folks basically admitting it was all politics and power plays and neither Hogan or Flair wanting to job to the other.

      • Jordan

        Someone asked Dave on twitter recently if Hogan refused to do the job for Flair and he said no. They never asked him to put over Flair or anyone else for that matter (besides Warrior) during that first WWF run.

  • PeteF3

    Honestly, there’s lots to nitpick and criticize about Flair in the WWF…but while it could have been done better, I think it also could have been done a lot, lot worse than it was. Just hearing the words “under contract with another organization” on WWF TV blew my mind.

  • thejob111

    I thought it was cool they bought Flair in with the belt, but they choose to pretend they didn’t know where the belt came from. WWF sounded like idiots trying to ignore it when:
    1) Fans that knew Flair would think WWF were a bunch of clowns.
    2) Fans that did not know Flair and were not familiar with WCW talent would wonder why that belt existed and what the point of Flair was.

    I know they didn’t discuss prior histories of guys in this era, but in this example they should have made an exception.

    • RG-Dallas

      Die-hardship like my dad got it, sort of. I even got it because I was aware as a young mark that Flair had been fired as champion.

    • JasonMK

      I never took it as they pretended they didn’t know where the belt was from. Heenan was clear that this is a championship belt from somewhere else, and Gorilla basically stated thst wasn’t the WWF belt and not recognized as a world title in the WWF. I never had a problem with how they treated it.

      • Griffin99

        It’s great for me to have the eyes of a complete newcomer at this point – when I saw Heenan with the belt, I didn’t even know NWA or WCW even existed, and didn’t know what a “Ric Flair” was, but it was made obvious that it was a big deal with all the Real World Champion stuff from Heenan and the gradual “unveil” (for me) of this “world champion level” athlete.

        If anything, actual Flair was a massive letdown compared to the hype, though the Royal Rumble ’92 match fixed that perception.

    • SuckaFreeSince83

      I only knew of Flair and NWA/WCW through Worldwide I think was what we got in So Cal at the time as we didn’t have cable. And of course through the gas station wrestling mags. My dad and our neighbor across the street were well aware of how big of a deal it was. My old man was Hulkamania through and through. He did however lessen his stance on Flair when that dastardly Sid Justice turned on Hogan at SNME.

  • Michael Weyer

    For a guy who pretty much sucked as a singles worker, Zybsko was great paired up with Arn, a really awesome heel team.

    • James M. Fabiano

      Someone to do the work while he stalled on the apron? 😉

  • Brian Scala

    The more I think about it, the more I realize how Vince couldn’t have run Hogan-Flair at Mania. By the time we get to 1992, Hogan is leaving for Hollywood. There’s no way his ego is putting Flair over on his way out. Plus, Vince wouldn’t allow a WCW guy to beat his meal ticket since 1984. It was either put Hogan against Sid or there’s no Hogan on the card at all.

    • Jordan

      He wasn’t really leaving for Hollywood. Vince made him go away to let the heat from the steroids investigation and Arsenio mess die down, but otherwise your logic is right. Hogan wasn’t going over Flair on his way out and they weren’t going to ask Hogan to do a job in his last match.

      • JasonMK

        But if Flair cheated to keep the title, it would build heat for Flair and Hogan can return to destroy him at WM9.

        • Jordan

          I get what you’re saying, but there were two basic guarantees at Mania in that era: Face leaves with the title and Hogan wins. They weren’t changing that formula for Ric Flair.

  • Holy crap, I agree with Phil Mushnick on something. I need to take a shower.

    • PeteF3

      Phil’s a racist old crank nowadays, but his treatises on wrestling have aged surprisingly well, haven’t they? His big mistake, which he’s admitted to, was impugning wrestling fans along with the wrestling business, which led to the people who could have most brought about change tuning him out entirely.

  • James M. Fabiano

    As I said in another WON recap, WCW Pro was infamous for letting the commentators be more shooty…at least the NY edition was.

  • James M. Fabiano

    “Jushin Liger beat Pegasus Kid in a mask v. mask match on 7/4, and Kid was unmasked as CHRIS BENOIT. Sorry, spoiler for those who didn’t know.”

    Lies! It was Bob Holly.

    • RG-Dallas

      Nah, Bob Holly was Mr. Hardy from the gas station.

      • James M. Fabiano

        Which reminds me…you know what the Hardy Compound vignettes need? A RANDOM BOB HOLLY APPEARANCE.

    • Zac Campbell

      Pretty sure it was Steven Richards

      • James M. Fabiano

        It could be Giant Baba!

  • mike

    Lyle Alzado died of a brain tumor. I know roids aren’t good for your heart, but I have yet to see any studies linking them with brain cancer.

    • Justin Stark

      Thank you.

      Next up….”Sorry kids, diet soda does NOt cause cancer”

  • Justin Stark

    So Flair and Dusty.

    Wrestlings biggest frienemies ever?

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