Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/28/wrestling-observer-flashback-07-15-91/
Well, Flair is fired, but there’s still a PPV to look forward to this week. How bad could it be?
– Oh no, no Bash review for us QUITE yet, as first Dave wants to talk about false advertising and a movement to regulate pro wrestling in Florida. It seems that WCW did a TV taping this past week, drawing 6500 people on the promise of Ric Flair, Barry Windham and Lex Luger appearing. None of which did. Flair is of course gone (although they were treating it like a pro wrestling angle on TV), Windham is injured, and Luger was turning heel and winning the title at the PPV and so couldn’t really appear on TV tapings before that. Fair enough, but why advertise them all in advance, then? And in fact, one of the state legislators was in attendance for the show, which they knew about. Dave thinks everyone in charge should be fired, for reasons we will of course get into shortly.
– Back to Dr. Zahorian and the steroid trials. The whole thing is becoming quite a nightmare for the WWF, ironically not because of the trial itself or his testimony, where he essentially admitted to selling steroids to every wrestler alive in Western Pennsylvania for most of the 80s. No, the real problem is coming from Lyle Alzado, who is claiming that his inoperable brain tumor was caused from years of doing HGH and steroids. The theory (which was Alzado’s alone, completely debunked by medical professionals who have never found a link between steroids and cancer) is what has suddenly ignited the media firestorm against the WWF, which would have faded away quietly if the story had merely been “Zahorian goes to jail for selling steroids to roided up wrestlers”. But now sponsors were freaking out over the issue, because the WWF supposedly markets to children on the backs of giants who use drugs to maintain their freakish physiques, and that’s too much for them.
– In particular, Hogan is being raked over the coals by the media for getting excused from the Zahorian trial, as the press wonders why exactly he deserves to be “protected” when hundreds of thousands of high school football players are not? Bruno Sammartino’s comment on the matter is that Hogan talks about saying prayers and eating vitamins, when clearly he’s never seen the inside of a church and “we all know what kind of vitamins he uses”.
– Now the WWF is promising a steroid testing program, by the way. Best in the world, they’re claiming. Well, then the media called them on THAT bullshit statement immediately as well, and Vince had to actually cut into Prime Time Wrestling to clarify his company’s statement and note that the WWF has “one of” the most comprehensive programs in the sporting world. But still, drug-free entertainment for the whole family awaits when you see the WWF logo, Vince promises! Oh, and it has nothing to do with the Zahorian trial, in case you’re thinking in that direction.
– WCW has commented here or there on the issue, but are largely getting more flak from the media because they were stupid enough to fire their World champion than for the steroid issue. Dave thinks it’s kind of sending a bad message about steroids right now when they make LEX LUGER the World champion, but really the more pressing message is about what happens to your wrestling business when you let people who know nothing about the wrestling business run it.
– So then Vince called a press conference from Trump Plaza, where all the wrestling media was banned from it, and claimed that he had only used steroids once as an experiment and would open himself to a test any time as long as the results were printed in the newspaper. John Arezzi, who snuck in using the credentials from another reporter, asked Vince if he’ll stop pushing wrestlers based on size and looks now. Vince said that they don’t push wrestlers, the public does based on personality and charisma. (So there you go, the Roman Reigns thing is YOUR fault, based on his personality and charisma alone.) Vince “clarified” that he didn’t know when the program would actually start or what it would be testing for or how, and also that the problem wasn’t as bad as the media was portraying it. (Yeah, clearly if there’s one thing we know, it’s that drug problems in wrestling were WAY overblown all these years, and all those people just happened to die of natural causes in their 40s.) Vince pretty much danced around all other questions, before finally giving a soundbite to Entertainment Tonight to close out that sordid era in the history of wrestling. And then Vince sat back and he was like…
– And whatever other memes you might find appropriate here.
– Dave thinks that steroid testing is a positive step, but eventually there’s going to be deaths and fallout from drug use, and at that point Vince can’t just bullshit his way out by crying “STEROID TESTING!” because he’s already supposed to be doing it now. Fans will continue to buy tickets because for the most part, they don’t care about the issue and are mostly as guilty of the promotions as “see no evil” and that’s why the business has lasted for so long. However, while it’s not realistic to think that ALL steroids can be flushed from the company, at the very least he should pay lip service to the problem by pushing people who AREN’T on the gas. And with the media now paying attention, the game has changed.
– Speaking of gamechangers…
– On July 8, WCW offered Ric Flair a one year deal for $750,000, largely because the TBS legal department stepped in when it was realized that Flair was fired without any just cause. Not to mention that Flair was working with a valid contract that the company was attempting to replace with one for half as much money. However, since there was no guarantee given on how he’d be used, Flair turned it down. Dave wants to reassure us that he’d be used ineffectively because it just goes without saying at this point.
– Case in point, the Great American Bash, which sits at 0% positive and 99.2% negative in the poll. Dave does note that the 0.8% of people who gave the show a thumbs in the middle fall within margin of error, since he never would have believed it was statistically possible for so many people to hate one show. (Minor note for you fellow Observer geeks: This is the first PPV review done by Dave where he lists real names after some of the gimmick names, although it’s not quite the “all real names” format that he would soon adopt.)
1. Junkfood Dog pinned Black Bart in 10:00 in the dark match. Crowd watched the pre-game video on the big screen instead of the match. DUD
2. Bobby Eaton & PN News defeated Terry Taylor & Steve Austin in a scaffold match in 6:00. They didn’t even announce the change to the scaffold stip before the show. Dave thinks that they should similarly alter “I Quit” matches so that the winner has to beat the loser in a game of “hide and go seek”. Suffice it to say, this was one of the worst matches in history. What does it say when the booker takes three of the best workers and sticks them in a match where they do nothing at all? -***1/2 is what it says.
3. Diamond Studd pinned Tom Zenk in 6:59. Action moved pretty well and Studd got the win with a back suplex. *3/4
4. Ron Simmons pinned Oz in 7:55. No heat, and Dave says that this is the end for Oz, although Nash will probably be kept around with a new character. DUD
5. Richard Morton pinned Robert Gibson in 17:01. Tons of stalling. Technically not bad, but there was no heat and it seemed to drag on as a result. Morton used the computer for the pin. *1/2
6. Dustin Rhodes & The Young Pistols beat the Freebirds in an elimination tag match. Should have been a great match but it just didn’t work. Really bad early and never recovered. Dustin got the win for his team over Bradstreet with the bulldog. *1/4
7. The Yellow Dog beat Johnny B. Badd by DQ in 6:00. A very long 6:00. Badd is all ring entrance and little else at this point. He’s got potential but he’s YEARS away. 3/4*
8. Big Josh pinned Black Blood in a lumberjack match in 5:39. Nobody cared but the work was solid. Dustin Rhodes interfered for the Josh win, thus making it four people he single-handedly beat on the same show. *3/4
9. El Gigante beat One Man Gang in 6:09. Really bad, but Gang took an impressive slam off the top rope. -*1/2
10. Nikita Koloff beat Sting in a chain match in 11:37. Lots of pops for the low blows. **1/4
11. Lex Luger beat Barry Windham in a cage match to win the WCW title at 12:25. You knew Barry was doomed when they spelled his name wrong on the graphic. Kind of a tough situation for them because the whole crowd was there to turn on the match, and they couldn’t have a good enough match to turn them back. Lots of near falls and good moves, but Barry had a bad knee and Luger is Luger. Luger turned heel at the finish, although no one actually figured it out. And if Barry turned babyface here, then who’s paying the bounty on Yellow Dog? ***
12. Missy Hyatt & Rick Steiner beat Arn Anderson & Paul E. Dangerously in a cage match in 2:08. Missy wasn’t allowed to work because of Maryland commission rules that men and women can’t mix, which Dave interprets as colossal stupidity on either side (WCW if they advertised it while knowing about the rule, and Maryland if they saw the advertising and didn’t bring it up until the night of the show). Murdoch carried off Missy, and then dropped her on her head so he could take a shot at a fan who was going after him. Rick pinned Paul with a clothesline. DUD
– Overall, Dave’s not sure if it’s the worst PPV in history, although he’s sure they’ve gone WAY too far in the wrong direction. On the bright side, Dusty knew about the “We Want Flair” chants and didn’t do anything to stop them because he wanted to let the fans get it out of their system. However, he did get security to rip up a fan’s anti-Dusty sign, because you have to draw the line SOMEWHERE. The state commission made it clear that there would be NO blood allowed on the show. (Did that include Black Blood? Because I would have been fine with that.) The stips had no reason for existing (scaffold match, lumberjack match, multiple cage matches, elimination match…all meaningless) and even worse, the push for Dustin is already out of hand and everything that people worried about the Dusty Rhodes Regime have either happened or have been attempted by Big Dust. Basically, the company is at an all-time low. (Clearly this is a dangerous company to use phrases like “all time low” around, because that just encourages them to prove you wrong as a challenge.)
– Meanwhile, the WWF ran their stadium show in St. Louis, and four people no-showed, including Mr. Perfect (back injury), Jake Roberts (neck injury) and Roddy Piper (retired from active wrestling again, for good this time.) As a result, the entire card changed around, including robbing us of a Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat match. The show drew 14,500 paid and 19,000 overall, which is about 5000 short of where Dave had it pegged. But hey, considering that wrestling is in the toilet right now, that’s still the largest crowd in the US this year. Hogan beat Slaughter in the main event with help from guest ref Randy Savage, and the Megapowers reunited afterwards.
– In All Japan, Rick Rude is surprisingly already doing jobs.
– In Global, the big story of the weekend was this skinny jobber named The Lightning Kid, who weighs 170 pounds, and shocked everyone by winning the lightheavyweight title tournament over Jerry Lynn in the finals and getting himself over in the process. Kid actually beat “The Handsome Stranger” in the semi-finals, which probably doesn’t count as an understated Observer debut but it’s of course the very young Buff Bagwell. Skip Young refused to put Waltman over in the tournament and was fired, but returned the next night anyway. Hector Guerrero was also fired for refusing to do a job in the tournament. Buddy Landel was fired because he’s Buddy Landel.
– Makhan Singh and Rip Rogers have been promising the appearance of “The Boss”, aka the big money man for the heels, and Dave thinks it’ll be a huge letdown when it’s just Skandor Akbar again. (Aha, Dave, you’d be WRONG about that payoff! It was actually pretty clever when they revealed who the evil genius all along was.)
– In Memphis, everyone is still raving about this Rob Zakowski kid.
– Samu is now going by “Sabu” by the way.
– Herb Abrams is claiming that he’s got Ric Flair signed and sealed for the UWF. Dave is skeptical.
– To WCW, where they started the US title tournament in Florida before Luger even won the World title. Johnny B. Badd won a qualifying match and is already turning babyface.
– Tommy Rich turned heel, meanwhile, and joined the York Foundation. Mr. Hughes will be moved away from that group and put with Luger as a bodyguard now. And Ron Simmons will be taking Hughes’ place as Lex’s first challenger.
– Dead Eye Dick and Dutch Mantell of the Desperadoes didn’t sign the dreaded $300 contracts, so the group is history.
– Young Pistols are toying with a heel turn on house shows.
– To the WWF, where the Mounties always get their man. In this case, they came to an agreement with the WWF that Jacques Rougeau will not portray the character in Canadian arenas or appear on Canadian TV. The RCMP spokesperson said that the character will be “phased out” according to their agreement. (Vince sure has a funny way of phasing someone out, then. But then he never was good with contracts or agreements.)
– Sid got his WWF contract this past week, and was so unhappy with the number that he made contract with WCW, but everyone has been ironed out.
– Suburban Commando has been pushed back from August to October, which clearly has nothing to do with anything in the news.
– Dave runs down the 7/9 TV taping in Edmonton, which was the first ever Superstars taping I attended! I took my little brother and I was pretty hyped for it, until it ran for 18 hours straight and we were wishing for death by the end. Biff Wellington won a tryout match with a tombstone, which Dave notes “pretty much assures him of not getting a job.” This was also the show where the Jake Roberts/Ultimate Warrior angle kicked off. Plus Dino Bravo returned as a babyface with brown hair. Isn’t he the BEST?
– And finally, I’m moving this one to the end because I can’t top it: Lou Thesz has a new book of photos and programs out in Japan, which is available to buy directly from Lou in the US. I only note this because I feel like he should have started his own publishing imprint. Horatio?…
Until next time.