Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.29.91

Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/30/wrestling-observer-flashback-07-22-91/

OK, OK, look, I know things are looking pretty messed up for the WWF right now, but DON’T PANIC.  Vince has this steroid testing thing on lockdown, and Hulk Hogan is going to go on Arsenio Hall’s show and clear EVERYTHING up, sharpish.

Would either of those people ever lie to you?

– In our top story, both Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan are pretty much looking like giant liars at this point.  However, Dave notes, let’s not get sidetracked from the real issues by all the nonsense about Vince supposedly only ever using steroids once, in the 80s, and then never again.  Really, even if he still does, it’s his own business and doesn’t affect the livelihood of anyone who works for him.  Also, Hulk Hogan is not the problem, he’s a symptom of the problem.  That being said, his appearance on Arsenio Hall is nothing short of an act of complete fraud and hypocrisy, even by the standards of people who work in pro wrestling for a living. So here’s the rundown of his “story”:  According to Hogan, he only used steroids three times in his entire career, starting when he was champion in 1983.  He didn’t even win the title until 1984, but we’re just getting started.  The steroids were to rehabilitate an arm injury that would have put him out of action for a whole year otherwise.  Yet miraculously he never missed a single show with an injury that year, especially not an arm injury. Basically Hogan used what is known as “The Bosworth Defense” for his steroid troubles, which is when pro athletes get popped for drugs and claim that they only used them one time, long ago, for rehabilitation.  In fact, he’s created his own category, the Hogan Defense, where he claims that he weighed 196 pounds at 10 years of age, brother.  Immediately everyone in wrestling called him out for being completely full of shit, desperately trying to protect an image that is probably already destroyed on a permanent basis.  However, had Hogan manned up and told the truth, the story would have blown over in three weeks and everyone would have moved onto the next news cycle (something that Hogan thankfully took to heart with his most recent troubles), but now the sharks in the media are circling, looking to punch holes in Hogan’s ridiculous non-apology and Vince’s non-testing.

– Vince is equally screwed, since he tried to deflect the steroid problem away from Hogan by essentially throwing himself on his own sword for the media’s benefit. Dave is pretty sure that the WWF will survive this one with no long-term damage…as long as it only happens ONCE. If the mainstream media starts poking a SECOND time, however, after Vince has already declared his company to be drug-free, then there’s gonna be trouble.

– On the bright side, Dave is convinced that, at the very least, the WWF is pretty serious about cleaning up and enacting steroid testing.  They’re talking to some high-level guys in the drug testing world trying to figure out who will administer the program. Are they serious about getting rid of steroids?  Well, if people start dropping 30 pounds overnight, we’ll know they are.  (Of course, we know what the real answer to that one was.)  Getting rid of the drugs is impossible, but getting it under control is not only very reasonable, but should be expected.  However, no matter how good the testing, they can always be beaten, so it’s really a more beneficial system if you let people know that you don’t need to be a giant steroid freak to get pushed.  In fact, beating the tests is a pretty trivial matter, just by flushing your system with water and then switching to HGH (still untestable even today, I believe).  Even Alka Seltzer can mask drugs pretty easily.

– Basil DeVito does want it noted that it’ll take six months to have “fair” testing because it takes that long for everything to get flushed out of the systems of current users, so don’t expect anything major to happen until then.

– Not-So Great American Bash update:  There are now 19 “thumbs up” votes for the show.  Dave now rates it as the worst PPV of all time when everything is considered.  The buyrate appears to be about 145,000 orders, or a 0.97, one of the lowest in company history.  However, the NEXT show is the one where it’ll likely hit rock bottom.

– Dave isn’t terribly excited about Summerslam, and the main event sounds worse every time he types it.  He’s pretty sure it doesn’t have a prayer of hitting the buyrate numbers of the previous couple of shows.  (Which was true.  It did OK, not great.) 

– Hey, it’s time for an Understated Observer Debut!  In discussing the CMLL section, Dave mentions that “Canadian Vampire Casanova is now the most popular wrestler in the promotion for reasons beyond my comprehension”.  He’s a 24 year old kid from Montreal who is pretty much a raw rookie.  Today we know him better as Vampiro, of course.

– Tenryu was officially named the new president of SWS, replacing Hachiro Tanaka.  Tanaka, however, is going to start ANOTHER promotion, featuring Koji Kitao on top.  (Not sure what that was, but it didn’t happen.) 

– The UWFI is selling out at the moment, but using a lot of no-name Tennessee guys on their shows because booker Shinji Sasazaki is retired and working at a Japanese restaurant there.

– Chris Champion is doing the Ninja Turtle gimmick again, this time for FMW.  (Wait, I’ve got it!  That’s how he got in touch with his Oriental side and transitioned into Yoshi Kwan!) 

– SWS will be reuniting the team of Tenryu & Ashura Hara for their 8/9 show at the Yokohoma Arena, and it’s already looking to be a disaster since their last show did less than 3000 paid and this is a 17,000 seat building.

– In Memphis on 7/15, Rob Zakowski beat Sabu.  (Somehow I feel like we haven’t seen the last of that match.) 

– To the WWF, where Hogan was pulled from all his dates in order to work with the Special Olympics.  Time to rehab that image!

– Jim Neidhart has been beating Earthquake all over the country, which might be explained by rumors that Quake has given notice.

– Apparently Mr. Perfect will be taking a few months off after Summerslam to heal up his back.  (Just a BIT longer than that, unfortunately.) 

– Dave is just as mystified as we are about why Undertaker, the hottest character in the company, isn’t even on the Summerslam card.

– The Mountie did a house show in Toronto, and was billed as mere mortal Jacques Rougeau, wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

– And now it’s time for an exciting new feature that I’d like to call:

– Ned Brady, who worked in Florida as “Repo Man”, had a friend who knew WWF honcho JJ Dillon.  So Brady’s friend decided to call Dillon and let him know about his friend Ned Brady and his cool gimmick, at which point JJ trademarked “Repo Man” for future use and sued Brady to prevent him from using the gimmick any longer.

– Andre the Giant now needs two canes to walk to the ring.

– To WCW, where it turns out that Jim Ross was suffering from kidney stones during the Bash PPV and had six hours in surgery to remove them afterwards.  (I felt like I was passing kidney stones while I was watching the show as well.) 

– Dave is curious as to why Jim herd still has a job at this point.  (Don’t have to wonder for long, Dave!)  Herd appeared on George Michael’s Sports Machine and declared that no one was sadder than him about Flair’s departure.  Dave notes that compared with Hogan, Herd might sound sincere. But then they aired the finish of the Luger-Windham PPV main event on the show, and TBS freaked out on the show’s producers and told them not to air any more finishes.  Dave is like “Can you imagine MLB demanding that a sports show not air the finish to the World Series?”

– The whole Missy v. Dangerously feud was pulled from house shows at the last minute because Jim Herd pulled the plug himself.  Dave notes that the sad thing is that most people aren’t even mad about the false advertising, they just don’t care enough about the promotion to feel anything but apathy.

– And finally, the reader pages reveal that Rob Feinstein of Pennsylvania has tapes to trade.  Hopefully he does well with that.

  • 196 pounds at 10? Did someone whack Hogan on the noggin and make him think he was Dusty Rhodes?

    • Well he was a fat kid with a huge head brother!

    • taabr2

      Aw come on, everything in wrestling is exaggerated.

      • Kuetsar

        Not like Hogan does it. His lies are like Bart’s forged grades in “Kamp Krusty”, there is not even remotely plausible.. . .

    • You’ve never heard Hogan tell the story of when he slammed Andre.

  • mfm420

    hgh testing: yes, you can test for it now, both in the blood and urine (only came about last few years, blood i think in 2010, urine in 2013 or 14. kinda explains how ryan braun, arod, and the others in the biogenesis scandal got away with it, mlb only does piss tests, not blood)

    iirc, when a bunch of guys got tested in the early 80s and passed, one of the docs held on to samples, froze them, then tested them around 2010. pretty much everyone tested positive for roids/hgh under current testing (its on one of those espn 30 for 30 docs looking at the 100 meter race at the 88 olympics)

    • jabroniville

      It reminds me of something Lance Storm once said- Ben Johnson (Canadian disgraces sprinter) wasn’t punished for using roids- he was punished for not pissing clean.

  • Night

    Vince trotting out the crippled Andre every week on TV was hard to watch.

    • Rainbow Sherbet

      Whenever I see him in this period, I’m reminded of a line used in OSW that Andre was “leaning his way down the ring”.

    • Boomska316 .

      I was always under the impression that they had Earthquake attack him just so he would have an excuse to use the crutches in public.

      • I might have my dates mixed up, but it might’ve been around the time that Andre was having surgery done to relieve the pressure on his joints.

    • thejob111

      That was sad. But to be fair Andre kept going and even worked in Japan still. Takes two to tango.

    • PeteF3

      Andre had told Vince in 1990 that if he didn’t put him back on the road, he was going to go work for Herb Abrams. And he did (though he didn’t actually wrestle). Wrestling was the only life Andre knew.

    • tamalie

      At least Andre wasn’t wrestling. There is or was a match on YouTube featuring Andre in Mexico from 1992. He looks so bad that it’s actually uncomfortable to watch.

  • Hogan talks about that Arsenio interview in his second book. He pretty much does the literary equivalent of banging his head on a wall and calling himself stupid over it.

    • RG-Dallas

      Hogan’s greatest admission was when he said he lied all the time.

      • Griffin99

        And you believed him?

  • Rainbow Sherbet

    “Canadian Vampire Casanova” sounds like a villain from an Aquabats concert.

  • Boomska316 .

    Can you imagine if all these scandals had come about during the modern age of social media?

    • Devin Harris

      then it all would have been forgotten about in three days

      • It would have been back then as well if Hogan and Vince hadn’t handled it so badly. Pretty much all they both had to do was say “We admit we have a problem and we’re working on changing it” and then it would have blown over. Instead they piled lies on lies.

  • The Gambler

    If I recall correctly, “Nasty Ned” wound up on WCW B-Shows several years later doing what looked like a Repo Man knockoff.

    • Big D Wangston

      Squirrelmaster probably kept him away from the fresh fish

    • thatguyJMM

      Now I kinda wish he stuck around a few years later to be a caddy for “Hole in One” Barry Darsow and really wink-wink for the audience

  • Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog

    1991 was hot garbage in hindsight and I was none the wiser as an 8 year old mark. However, I’m beginning to see why I was losing interest so rapidly by late 92

  • Devin Harris

    I don’t think it was as simple as coming clean. Hogan and Vince had way too much on the line. There wasn’t a right answer.

    • Dave notes in this writeup that honesty may not have been the BEST policy in this case, but dishonesty was pretty much the worst.

    • slapdabass

      It’s basically what anyone does when they get in trouble. First, you deny it. Once you realize you can’t deny it anymore, you admit to as little as possible. They were completely terrified of losing everything and panicked.

      • jabroniville

        How illegal were steroids during the points where most of the Zahorian investigation was concerned?

  • Nick Demola

    Rob Feinstein changed my life.

    No, not like THAT! Just the tapes, man.

    • Maybe he and Chris Champion went cruising in Japan?

  • thejob111

    It is amazing that the Hulk defense also has been applied several times by sports figures that get caught over the years.

    If you just be upfront and admit it, the public forgives you and moves on. Denying or playing the “rehab just this one time” angle never works and just angers people.

    • JAWAS ♥ SMOAK

      Then Ryan Braun added another wrinkle, and called the sample taker an anti-Semite.

  • markn95

    Given that Undertaker was being built up for Hogan at the next PPV, I’m surprised they didn’t have him squash Duggan or something to keep building him up. He had been losing to Warrior at house shows around the horn and didn’t really have a high profile televised win after the Snuka squash at Mania. Sure, he was really, really over but he was still unproven as a main event heel.

    But maybe they feared the MSG crowd would give him too much of a face pop.

    Another alternative–have Jake & Taker team up against the Rockers who were done as a team and could afford the loss. Really amazing that those four didn’t make the card and Valentine, the Bushwhackers, Warlord, and Hercules did.

    • thejob111

      I loved Summerslam 91, but they did leave off a bunch of talent that should have been in over other guys.

      The wedding probably cost a match or two on the event.

    • Either Jannetty or Michaels was out with a knee injury, so they couldn’t work SummerSlam.

    • Jake didn’t turn until right before Summerslam (like it aired the day before on Superstars) so there was no way to hype that tag match.

      Like the Dugan idea though.

      • RG-Dallas

        It had to be a week before summer slam due to the posion.

    • Empian

      The Rockers bumping for zombie heel taker would have been great.

    • JasonMK

      Really, the Undertaker’s place on this card should definitely been in the main event tagging with Slaughter against Hogan and Warrior.
      1. How do you leave the Undertaker off this card.
      2. He’s currently engaged with Warrior in a hot feud.
      3. He’s protected in the tag match since they pin Slaughter and end that feud once and for all.
      4. In the tag they can begin transitioning his feud to with Hogan, thus setting up Survivor Series.
      5. HOW DO YOU HAVE A MATCH MADE IN HELL AND NOT HAVE THE UNDERTAKER INVOLVED!!!!

      • Buster Abbott

        I think they wanted to keep Undertaker away from the beyond played-out Slaughter character

        • ADF

          The big problem with all of this is Warrior’s contract situation, where he holds McMahon up for money and threatens to stay home if he doesn’t get paid, which Dave hasn’t noted yet (I’m assuming he hasn’t heard about it at this point, but it’s definitely already happened). I feel positive that if Vince knew he could have relied on Warrior past SummerSlam, we would have had some sort of Warrior-Taker casket match or something. That’s probably what the whole “Match Made in Hell” tagline was originally supposed to refer to. But issues backstage had reached the point where there was no hope for reconciliation, at least not before SummerSlam, so Vince had to come up with some throwaway match that didn’t affect any long-term plans.

          That’s how I’ve always seen it, at least.

    • Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog

      Either have Have him destroy Duggan or run a double main of Taker-Warrior and Hogan-Slaughter. Do title vs career between Hulk and Sarge. Or put it in a cage

  • slapdabass

    Why was Vampiro so over in Mexico? Was he just so different than anything they had seen before?

    • Zac Campbell

      Yes

    • jabroniville

      It was a borderline Attitude Era gimmick in a world of more cartoonish figures, I think. And Vampiro was a good bit larger than most Mexican wrestlers.

      • Rick Blade

        There’s a picture floating around of him from a Mexican wrestling magazine where he looks a bit like Robert Smith from The Cure, so he had that gothic, mysterious rock star look which probably was attractive to the young girls in 1991. I think he’s legit 6′ or taller so he probably did tower over other luchadores.

  • taabr2

    That Arsenio interview is classic grade-a Hogan bullshit. Arsenio was clearly not sold on the trash spewing from Hogan’s mouth and Hogan seemed shady as fuck, just look at how to freaks out and pathetically try to lighten the mood at the end of the interview.

  • What on earth about the Repo Man gimmick could ever be considered “cool?”

    • PeteF3

      Wonder if Nasty Ned’s version was closer to the cult movie.

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      Those tire treads on his coat.

  • aboynamedart

    I remember watching some of young Vamp’s shows in CMLL. He’d ride down on the back of a motorcycle as Born in the USA played, since he was aligned with evil gringo Ken Timbs. But the fans engineered his face turn and it was off to the races.

  • Manjiimortal

    The SWS Yokohama Arena show had a pretty bad card from a drawing perspective, as they ran a Tag Tournament and the only WWF guys were the LOD, and that was too little for a 14.000 seats arena. They needed some bigger names there to draw, something like Hogan reuniting the Mega Powers or something. Tenryu and Hara were a great team (and their match against the Natural Powers was pretty great), but there wasn’t the star power within the SWS roster to carry such a venue.

    The whole steroid trial really makes it look like the whole thing could have blown over if the WWF didn’t made it a circus.

  • mike

    “And finally, the reader pages reveal that Rob Feinstein of Pennsylvania has tapes to trade. Hopefully he does well with that.”

    It should also be noted that Feinstein is asking if any teenage boys would like to watch said tapes at his house. He can also come to yours. No cameras, please.

    • jabroniville

      I think Rob will supply his own.

  • JosephM

    This Observer was released on my 12th birthday.

    • Robert Hawkins

      Huh. I am only seven weeks plus younger than you.

    • TwentyTimes

      Rob Feinstein wonders if you have any tapes to trade.

  • “Hulk Hogan weighed 196 lbs at 10 years old? What a wimp!”

    – Kevin Owens

  • RawisStoned

    Summer slam 91 was such a fun card. All the faces went over in major matches, a new star was created in Bret, Virgil gave us a great feel good moment, and the Mountie goes to jail stuff was some of the funniest stuff wrestling has ever done and still holds up today.

    • Justin Henry

      “You want the finger?! THERE’S the finger!”

    • Michael Weyer

      God, I just adored how they followed him dragged through the halls and to the paddy wagon, screaming all the way. Beautiful.

  • PrideOfCanada

    “And finally, the reader pages reveal that Rob Feinstein of Pennsylvania has tapes to trade. Hopefully he does well with that.”

    Are you sure this wasn’t in the kids section?

    • Todd Clayton

      I’ll pretend you said the “Here and There” section.

    • nwa88

      Probably the midsection

  • Justin Henry

    The Jim Herd going on George Michael’s Sports Machine story has me wondering: what are they going to do for a host now?

    • nwa88

      Andrew Ridgely Wake Me Up Before You Go Sports Machine Show

  • Eric Jorgensen

    Pretty sure Neidhart was subbing for Jake on all those shows. In July of 91′ I saw him beat Quake and Andre was in his corner at the LA Sports Arena.

    • PeteF3

      If that’s the case, that explains why the Anvil went over. Unless it really messes up plans (e.g., it’s Andre, or a heel titleholder) WWF policy is that in the event of a substitution, the babyface wins.

      • Robert Hawkins

        Did Bret go over Macho Man in that singles match in 1990 where Bret basically was brought from the airport to the ring that he talks about in his book? I wonder.

  • y2j420

    Just keep that Rob Feinstein character away from your children…

  • MaffewOfBotchamania

    ”Dave is pretty sure that the WWF will survive this one with no long-term damage…as long as it only happens ONCE. If the mainstream media starts poking a SECOND time, however,”

    eh, I’m sure no other scandals could happen in 1991!

  • TooDarkMark

    The George Michael Sports Machine was such a great spot for WCW and another thing ruined by whoever ruined those things. It came on late night on Sundays, but talked about WCW as if it was the NFL. I wonder who exactly at TBS was angry at them showing the finish? What idiot gets upset at mainstream positive coverage?

    • rxchrisg

      RIP George Micheal. Never knew he was a wrestling fan.

      • booger

        Sweaty dudes in trunks, I think he would have loved it

        • HitmanHBK

          With a tag team name like WHAM!, in the mid 80’s, of course you’ll get over huge and draw money. And his singles run was pretty good too.

      • RG-Dallas

        Maybe it was a different George Michael.

  • rxchrisg

    Even as a kid I didn’t understand why people would care about steroids in wrestling. How can you cheat at a sport where it’s predecided who wins? It’s not like hulk would have lost if he was a little less strong.

    • jabroniville

      The only real rationalization I can give is that the roids often make guys slower and more plodding, thus making the product worse while the bodies get more impressive. And that guys who might otherwise be healthy are forced to take unhealthy amounts of the stuff just to stay in line with the others’s pushes.

    • It’s an issue of workers’ rights. No independent contractor should have to compete against another independent contractor who violates the law to increase his chances of being selected.

  • I remember when Chuck Klosterman, a big Oasis fan, profiled Noel Gallagher on Grantland a few years ago, he wrote, “When you like a band, you want to hear about the good times. When you love a band, you want to hear about the bad times. I want to hear about ‘Be Here Now’.”

    That’s how I feel about pro wrestling and these Observer flashbacks. It’s just plain FASCINATING.

    • Diamond Jim Lowe

      That was an awesome interview.

  • Gene Parmesan

    Given the grief that the RCMP gave the WWF for The Mountie character, maybe they should have repackaged him as a hardened criminal after the jailhouse match at Summerslam.

  • jabroniville

    It seems funny that they would fuck over a guy so completely, just to give the former Smash a Jobber To The Stars gimmick.

  • WaylonMercy2K17

    Semi-famous WCW jobber “Nasty” Ned Brady was directly to blame for Repo Man being created, that’s certainly an interesting revelation.

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      13 years? lol i’ll pretend you said 18

      • WaylonMercy2K17

        The bust that led to him giving up ROH happened in 2004 so yeah, it was 13 years after 1991.

        • Ludwig Bore-ya

          Swing and a miss!

  • “Andre the Giant now needs two canes to walk to the ring” … and yet he’d continue to wrestle into December of 1992.

  • HitmanHBK

    Sorry, but I have very little sympathy for anyone who created Repo Man.

    • ADF

      It could be that his version of the character was better than the WWF’s version. I dunno, I’m just taking a guess.

  • HitmanHBK

    I want to make a video with Hogan’s appearance on Arsenio, and splice in some Gorilla Monsoon sound bytes shouting, “YOU’RE A LIAR”.

  • Phrederic

    “Canadian Vampire Casanova”

    Great name.

    “is now the most popular wrestler in the promotion for reasons beyond my comprehension”

    I suppose Dave never was into the pretty ones. He needed them thick.

  • g win

    Dave is like “Can you imagine MLB demanding that a sports show not air the finish to the World Series?”

    Ppv events (boxing and ufc) and the olympics do this with sportscenter and other shows. They show still pictures instead. Not sure if it helps or hurts their bottom lines.

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