Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.26.91

Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/01/04/wrestling-observer-flashback-08-19-91/

I feel like this whole steroid thing MIGHT turn into a bigger problem in the future.  Just a hunch.

– Titan Sports is having still more legal problems surrounding their drugs, in this case a lawsuit filed by Superstar Billy Graham against Vince McMahon and the WWF.  Graham is also planning to blow the whistle on Hulk Hogan’s steroid use, along with the steroid habits of several other top stars.  Entertainment Tonight has actually had a piece on the steroid problem saved up for a while, and they were waiting for Graham to file his lawsuit and drop the bombshell that was needed to justify the piece.

– For their part, the WWF are treating this like “extortion”, since Graham is seeking $1.25 million to settle out of court.  Vince is quite bitter about the situation, saying that he took a washed up former wrestler and gave him a job as a color commentator, PLUS paid for his hip operation.  Vince was also personally hurt by the claims that Graham was making, since Billy was his childhood hero and all. Dave notes that this is quite the feat considering that Vince is only three years younger than Graham. At any rate, Vince will not negotiate with terrorists, and besides which, settling with Graham sets a dangerous precedent where anyone can just get away with suing the WWF for nearly killing them with a dangerous drug lifestyle.

– In order to head Graham off at the pass, so to speak, Vince issued a press release where the company finally announced their drug testing policy, which will be administered by CDT out of Los Angeles.  Still no word on when or how it will be implemented, but it’s a start!  Also, Vince was allowed to have space in Sports Illustrated as a part of their story on steroids in sports, where he talked about the “extensive drug testing” that the WWF has been doing since 1987, which will now include steroids.  (How extensive could it be if steroids weren’t even included?) 

– David Sammartino spoke with Mark Madden about his own steroid use, since Bruno had mentioned that he thought David was on the juice but wasn’t sure.  David confirmed that he was actually a very heavy user since 1981, but just didn’t tell his dad about it.  He actually suffered serious medical issues as a result, like having his blood pressure spike to 200/110 at one point in Japan.  The doctor was amazed that he didn’t drop dead on the spot.  David said that although Vince never told him to take steroids, it was pretty much assumed by everyone in the locker room that they needed to be taken.  Especially by Hulk Hogan.

– If Summerslam turns into a hit on PPV, it’ll be a real coup for Vince McMahon, because the show is literally being sold on the wedding and not much else.  However, the real excitement looks to be the shows in the fall where Ric Flair debuts.  It’s looking like 10/18 in Oakland is going to be the first Hogan-Flair match, although Flair will likely work with Piper in the interim.  Dave thinks that if they do the Piper feud long-term over the fall, then it’ll mean Hogan v. Flair at Wrestlemania, but if they run with Hogan v. Flair now, then it’s something else entirely for Wrestlemania.

– Clash XVI happens on 9/5, and if the show bombs this time then TBS is seriously considering cancelling the specials completely.  It’s clearly the weakest lineup in the history of the show, and the lowest rating in the history of the show seems like a possibility.  TBS actually demanded that the lineup for the show be changed because it originally didn’t feature Sting or Lex Luger, which is why the whole “reverse battle royale with mud” concept was dropped.

– Speaking of dropped, the Johnny B. Badd face turn has already been dropped and he’ll remain a heel, replaced in a feud with Steve Austin by (SURPRISE SURPRISE) Dustin Rhodes.

– WCW is sending out promotional materials for Halloween Havoc featuring something called a “Chamber of Horrors” match, which might be the maze thing we talked about before.  One of the top matches was Nikita Koloff v. Bill Kazmaier in some kind of test of strength, but Koloff is on the outs with the company already and it probably won’t happen.

– Jesse Ventura will be hosting a freakshow called “Grudge Match”, which has already taped 26 episodes and is described as a combination of the People’s Court and American Gladiators.  The gimmick is that they take people with issues and put them a boxing ring with oversized gloves to “fight” for one round, then they use comic weapons (like dead fish) for another round, and the studio audience picks a winner.  The fights will apparently be a shoot.  The original pilot was done with actors, but they were so obviously working matches with each other that Ventura disgustedly threw down his headset and walked off.  (It’s all about the sanctity of the artform, man!)  WCW has been sending out feelers, but Jesse directed them to his agent, Barry Bloom, and no one ever followed up.

– Art Barr is negotiating to work for EMLL in Mexico.

– Cactus Jack became the first wrestler to appear on the Howard Stern show in New York, which is the hottest radio programme in the New York area at the moment and wrestlers are DYING to get onto it.  As it turns out, Stern regular Fred the Elephant Boy is an Observer subscriber, and he talked up Cactus on the show until Stern finally booked him.  Paul E. Dangerously has been desperately trying to get booked on the show as well, with no success as of yet.

– Joel Goodhart’s strong promises of Ric Flair appearing on his 9/21 show have been scaled back to the point where it’s going to be Kevin Sullivan instead.  Dave notes that even if Flair HADN’T signed with the WWF, it’s unlikely he would have appeared for Goodhart anyway.

– Herb Abrams is currently avoiding bill collectors after his PPV show in Florida.

– To the WWF, as they taped post-Summerslam TV in Rochester and Curt Hennig was nowhere to be seen.  Ditto for The Coach, who has been dropped and replaced by Lanny Poffo as the Genius again.  This is apparently a favor to Randy Savage to get him to un-retire.  They did a test run of Sid v. Undertaker with the cameras off, and that got over huge.  They putting Sid in with top rate workers only, like Paul Diamond, to protect him in every way possible.

– Jake Roberts indeed turned heel on Ultimate Warrior in a TV segment that Dave WAY undersells.  Warrior will continue to work with Undertaker for a couple of months while Jake rests his injured back some more.

– WCW has already announced that they will be taking legal action over the NWA World title belt, claiming that it was listed as the property of Jim Crockett Promotions when TBS bought the company.

–  Nikita Koloff’s short-term contract expires at the end of the month and he’s not listed on any bookings from then on.  So it’s probably not looking good.  Also being dropped are Kevin Sullivan (for real this time), Junkyard Dog, Robert Gibson and Oliver Humperdink.  DDP is getting fired as a manager but will remain as commentator.

– And finally, this Van Hammer guy looks great just standing there, so WCW signed him to a $75,000/year guaranteed deal after only two professional matches, because he looks kind of like Sid.  BECAUSE WCW.

Not much this week.  Next week:  SUMMERSLAM.  And you know what goes down there!

  • Adam The Reindeer

    I thought as part of this lawsuit. Billy Graham accused Vince McMahon of molesting children at WWE events? I know a couple weeks later he admitted to making the story up for publicity, or is there a second lawsuit still to come?

    • I don’t think Billy Graham can be considered an overall good person…

      • JB

        The more of these recaps I read, I’m starting to believe that good people in wrestling are pretty rare. Though the same could probably be said for most sports.

        • Bettis

          It’s like the saying, “Never meet your heroes.”

          • RG-Dallas

            I met Hogan in 2007. I was awestruck back then. It was before I accepted Christ in 2011 and I worshipped Hogan like he was a god back then.

          • ILikeNeville

            How did Great God Almighty punish you for your prior wayward ways?

      • RG-Dallas

        I get mixed reports on Graham. If he was the con-artist Vince says he was/is then no he wouldn’t be. And in spite of his admittant Christian views as Wayne Coleman, I’ve never see him part of any Christian organization or even part of the Christian Wrestling ministries that Ted Dibiase used to take part of. I pray peace for all sinners, but yeah respectfully Graham has some shadows. But so do I, so it’s hard to give an opinion.

        He may have lived a double life. Only he and God know for sure.

    • tannerfamilyfun92

      Graham has spent the last 30 years accusing Vince of doing everything up to (and including) being friends with Satan, so nothing surprises me

    • mfm420

      not sure he accused vince of messing with kids (he did say that about patterson though. on national tv no less, phil donahue show, should still be up on youtube)

      he also said later, when he went back to wwe in 03 (summerslam 03, he and vince had patched things up), patterson refused to talk to him and refuses to forgive billy for saying that (and frankly, can you blame pat for that?)

  • tannerfamilyfun92

    It’s funny how many connections Howard Stern has with pro wrestling (Iron Sheik was a regular guest for a few years, he had a lot of WWF guys on during the Attitude Era, including Vince, Stephanie, and later Hogan), yet he openly admits he does not watch pro wrestling and has zero interest in it

    • Adam The Reindeer

      Plus he had Nicole Bass, who went on to be a kinda Pro-Wrestler.

    • Plus, a competing radio station was gonna hire Paul Heyman to compete with Stern! Or, so Paul E. says…

      • tannerfamilyfun92

        I could see Paul E. as a radio shock jock. But he would’ve been crushed by Stern almost as badly as David Lee Roth was

        • johntcole

          Yep, 1993 was pretty much Stern at his creative and comedy peak with Billy West helping out.

    • thejob111

      A lot of his audience at the time overlapped over to WWF so not totally surprised. Especially the Attitude era.

      • tannerfamilyfun92

        Good point. Stern and pro wrestling had the same popularity peak in the late 1990s.

    • It’s also amazing that Fred the Elephant Boy (“Boy”…he’s almost 60!) is still on the Stern Show. He’s far outlived the average Wack Pack life span. #ripjoeyboots

      • tannerfamilyfun92

        I’m shocked that Jeff the Drunk, High Pitch, Fred the Elephant Boy, are all still above ground.

        Shame far more entertaining guys like Hank and Eric the Midget went before them

        • The fact that High Pitch outlived Joey Boots makes no sense to me at all. Granted, Boots was far from healthy, but he’s Michael Phelps compared to Erik.

          Totally agree on Hank – can you imagine him in the world of Satellite Radio and Twitter? He was so far ahead of his time.

          • tannerfamilyfun92

            Hank was the best.

  • Adam The Reindeer

    I still don’t get how the “reverse battle royale with mud” match was even supposed to work as a concept let alone put on a match anyone would want to see.

    • thatguyJMM

      LOGIC, BRO!

      /Russo

    • Nellykins

      Maybe a bit like a Hogpen match? Only less watchable

  • I really kind of wish WCW went through with the “reverse battle royal with mud” concept. That could have been SWANK.

    • Bettis

      Only if it were Missy vs Madusa.

  • npavlou22

    The great part about the Stern stuff is that years later during the Attitude Era, Foley went back on as Mankind. Stern welcomed him and said, “That ain’t no Mankind, that’s Cactus Jack!”

  • johntcole

    I remember Foley talking about his Stern appearance in his second(?) book. Howard started with “Hey dude, I see you’re missing some teeth.” and Mick replied with “Nah, I’ve never missed them.”.

  • thejob111

    If Warrior didn’t get fired, I wonder how the Jake/Warrior feud would have played out. I imagine you plug him in the Savage role and maybe Sid still gets involved. Taker/Jake and Warrior/Sid would have been interesting. Perhaps they end up on the same Survivor Series team (pretending Sid does not get injured).
    Maybe they pass on the Undertaker/Hogan title match. It always seemed like an odd shoehorned feud since Hogan just moved on from Slaughter and it looked like Flair was on the horizon. Plus it was the first title match at Survivor Series so it isn’t like there was precedent for it. Although it might have been done to hype up the lame Tuesday in Texas nonsense.

    Eh who knows, fantasy booking really.

    • A Wrestling god

      I think it was to get to Tuesday in Texas, to test the waters of both weekday and weekly PPV.

    • markn95

      I really wonder how the WWF would have booked things post-Summerslam if (i) Warrior had stayed with the company and (ii) Sid had been healthy. It’s pretty clear that Warrior was slated to headline the “B” shows vs. Undertaker in September and Jake in October/November. He also probably would have captained a team vs. Jake’s team at Survivor Series. That begs the question as to what Sid would have done if Warrior was around. A house feud with Taker is likely but then what role does he play at Survivor Series? It would have been a waste for him to captain the Duggan/Tornado/Slaughter team. Maybe he replaces Piper as captain of the Bret/Bulldog/Virgil team in the opener but that would have required forcing an issue with Flair when they were clearly building Flair up for Hogan.

      Meanwhile, the main beneficiaries of Warrior and Sid’s absence obviously were Piper and Savage, heretofore the color commentators on WWF Superstars. I wonder if they would have stayed in that role had Warrior and Sid been available for the rest of 1991. That would have deprived us of Piper’s IC title run and the Savage/Flair/Liz angle, both of which were pretty big highlights in both guys’ WWF careers.

  • Doug

    William Regal told a great story on his live show about how he and Benoit conspired to get Van Hammer fired because of how much they hated him (both inside and outside of the ring)

    After every match he had, when he came back into the locker room, Regal and Benoit would both shower him with praises, tell him they’re amazed at how much he improves every time he wrestles. They finally convinced him to force himself into Bill Watts’s office and demand to have a huge pay rise or he would walk out.

    Van Hammer subsequently kicked open Watts’s door, and was almost as quickly gone from the promotion.

    He also had a great bit about Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks backstage discussing a lovely cake Daddy’s wife had made, but I can’t really do that one any justice.

    • thatguyJMM

      Please tell me that show was called “Listen to me, sunshine!”

    • Theberzerker #HOHOHUSS

      Benoit and Regal weren’t around in ’92 when Watts was, and Watts wasn’t around in ’97 when they both were. Methinks Regal has some facts mixed up here.

      • Boomska316 .

        I think they both might have been there near the end of Watts’ run.

        • Matt Johnson

          Benoit was in the NWA tag-team tournament so he was definitely there during Watts’ tenure. Wiki says that Regal started off as a face(!) in 1992 in WCW and turned heel in 1993. It doesn’t give a starting month though.

          • Bettis

            I watched 1993 recently and I am almost certain it was late January for Regal as a face. Benoit was only a one shot in 1992 and redebuted in early 93, shortly before Superbrawl.

          • Matt Johnson

            The Torch says that Watts was demoted on Jan 29 93. Benoit wrestled Brad Armstrong at the Clash on 1/13. He may have wrestled some house shows or something as well. Regal debuted on tv on Jan 30 but I don’t know how far in advanced that was taped or if he worked house shows and dark matches before his debut aired. Long story short, they likely were both in the company with Watts but not very long. But long enough to hate Van Hammer.

            http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/Torch_Flashbacks_19/article_68571.shtml#.WG5vX30Zc3k

          • Hammertime

            Regal debuted on the 4th Jan 1993 tapings and I think Benoit came in around that time as well.

            Van Hammer wrestled against Sid Vicious at Slamboree during May 1993 but by that time I think Ole Anderson and Eric Bischoff were running WCW as Bill Watts had been fired in February 1993 so if anyone had fired Hammer it would of been Ole or Bischoff.

            Dreadful worker was van Hammer.

          • Doug

            Thinking about it, it might have been Ole Anderson’s door Van Hammer kicked down.

            Which is actually even funnier to imagine than Watts

        • Bettis

          I think they were all there from Jan-Feb 93 but that’s about it. Hammer is gone a lot but I know he was at Slamboree 93, 3 months later.

          • Big D Wangston

            Was he? Or did he die and they replaced him with a fake Hammer?

      • Doug

        Benoit was around briefly in 93 and Watts lasted till that year too. The timelines are narrow, but Van Hammer seems dumb enough that he could have been tricked within those few months

    • ILikeNeville

      Wait, so Van Hammer got fired and re-hired by WCW?

  • PATRICKisLEGEND

    “– Cactus Jack became the first wrestler to appear on the Howard Stern show in New York, which is the hottest radio programme in the New York area at the moment and wrestlers are DYING to get onto it. As it turns out, Stern regular Fred the Elephant Boy is an Observer subscriber, and he talked up Cactus on the show until Stern finally booked him. Paul E. Dangerously has been desperately trying to get booked on the show as well, with no success as of yet.”

    Wow, I’d love to hear that one.

    • johntcole

      And Heyman was going to compete directly with Stern in 93 had he not gotten back into wrestling.

      • Big D Wangston

        *- according to Paul E

  • Bettis

    If I’m not mistaken, Barry Windham has already turned face at this point. The Chamber of Horrors is about to be announced on TV… with Windham on the heel team. I know they do the car door angle at the PPV but he was a face riding with Rhodes and presumably still on the heel team until the injury. WTF? This isn’t a complex 95-96 Luger angle. It’s not like Windham is friends with Oz, Studd, and Vader(who was randomly a heel again after turning face in late 90). Then Cactus and Abdullah end up in the match to replace Oz and Windham.

    Oh and then there’s the random ghouls, the electric chair switch falling down, and the Refer-eye camera.

    Maybe they should have just done the maze.

    • Manjiimortal

      The random ghouls were such a blast! I love that match for the comedy and carny aspects, which me loves when done right. Plenty of laughs every time I watch the match.

      • Bettis

        I actually don’t hate the match, as non-sensical as it was. Abdullah sold the electric chair better than Giant sold falling off Cobo Arena.

        • Manjiimortal

          Oh yes, Abby sold it like a king, but then again Abby was always great at selling the pain inflicted on him.

    • PeteF3

      They didn’t even TRY to explain why Windham was on the heel team. Gordon Solie in the control center would literally recite the teams and then go, “Hm, interesting” when he got to Windham’s name.

      • Bettis

        Yep I remember that, the good old Wrestling News Network segments on Power Hour. Makes me wish I took notes when I was watching because I love this obscure stuff. If only WCW could tie up more than 10% of their loose ends. It wasn’t just a Russo thing.

  • PATRICKisLEGEND

    “– And finally, this Van Hammer guy looks great just standing there, so WCW signed him to a $75,000/year guaranteed deal after only two professional matches, because he looks kind of like Sid. BECAUSE WCW.”

    6 year old LEGEND was a total mark for Van Hammer. All that cheesy shit worked.

    • ebEliminator

      I am surprised Van Hammer lasted so long in WCW, he was still there in the late 90s when I started watching wrestling and he still sucked.

      • Hammertime

        He left WCW in 1993 and then came back again around 1998.

        • Bettis

          He had a cup, nay, a sip of coffee in early 1995. He was on an episode of Pro challenging DDP in an arm wrestling match. Not sure if he was under contract and hurt for a long time or what. Unfortunately the commentators did not mention that Hammer was a former Jesse the Body Arm Wrestling champ.

          • PATRICKisLEGEND

            I remember his return. I marked the fuck out.

        • ILikeNeville

          Are you named after him?

        • JRH

          Where they proceded to try everything to get him over. First he was with Raven’s Flock (and had some odd piercings IIRC), then when the flock broke up he became a hippie, then became some guy obsessed with “hate”, then joined the misfits in action as Private Stash, only to get his rank moved up to Major (even though it ruined the joke).

  • Theberzerker #HOHOHUSS

    “Howard asked Cactus about his teeth, and Cactus claimed that he left them unfixed because his current fiancée liked it that way. Uncharacteristically, Howard didn’t pursue this obvious lead.”

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.fan.howard-stern/PJhnXit8eEo

    • johntcole

      I’d be more surprised if Jackie Martling didn’t do his trademark giggle at that.

      F Jackie

      • MaffewOfBotchamania

        COLD GOLD MAKES YOU OLD

    • BoredMe

      If Wikipedia is right, the timing suggests that this was indeed Colette that he was referring to, btw.

      • RG-Dallas

        Colette thought he was a rugged sea captain named Captain Jack.

  • Bruce Chung

    Did Ventura do Celebrity Death Match?

    • I don’t think so

    • Basscase

      He did. He was in Season 3 (though I can’t find the video on YT).

  • Boomska316 .

    I don’t see how Graham can blame Vince one iota for his steroid abuse. His heyday was years before Vince ever came to power.

    • Not to mention, whatever his motivation, Vince DID bring him back as a crappy wrestler, then a crappy manager, and an even crappier commentator.

  • BoredMe

    “Cactus Jack got booked by this guy named Howard Stern, who is the hottest thing in New York at the moment”

    I felt like I was reading something out of the 1800’s with that wording.

    • Big D Wangston

      The sports section probably had a game recap for “The local 9”

  • It’s interesting what a difference a month or two makes. Sid was all the talk a few issues ago – now barely even a mention. Just goes to show what a big deal the Flair jump and steroid stuff were.

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      … and no mention of Warrior for over a month (other than he missed a couple dates).

  • Basscase

    At least Nikita returns the following year in time for the best match ever. Oh, and also to get squashed by Vader.

    • RG-Dallas

      That squash ain’t that bad, actually.

  • riraho

    Superstar Billy Graham is kinda sorta a horrible human being huh?

    • Hammertime

      I can see why McMahon idolised him then.

      • Phrederic

        I thought his favorite wrestler was another Graham.

        Dr. Jerry.

    • jabroniville

      Absolute scum. He takes Vince’s money, becomes a sycophant, and them immediately turns on him when the money runs out. He’s garbage.

  • Michael Weyer

    How has no one, not even Russo, ever done the “mudpit battle royale” idea? Sure, we got the reverse one in TNA but the mudpit is a bad idea just lying there screaming out to be used.

  • Buster Abbott

    Warrior’s departure and Sid’s injury obviously mixed up the booking, as it seemingly would’ve made more sense to have Hogan face Flair at Survivor Series to strike while the iron was hot. Then again, I guess you can also have Undertaker vs. Hogan since Taker was such a hugely over character. If you rework the Survivor Series card a bit, you have…

    * Hogan vs. Flair
    * Savage/Big Boss Man/Legion Of Doom vs. Jake/Undertaker/IRS/Warlord
    * Bret/Piper/Davey Boy/Virgil vs. Dibiase/Mountie/Natural Disasters

    The other two elimination matches stay the same

    • Jordan

      What do you do at This Tuesday in Texas if you run Hogan/Flair at Survivor Series? Do you do a rematch?

      • Buster Abbott

        Yeah, the title changes hands in both shows, same as it did with Undertaker in real life.

  • Adam Moore

    I don’t really get the criticism of the Hammer deal. I get he sucked and WCW wasn’t exactly swimming in cash, but if you believe a guy has even a 5% chance to develop into something at the top of the card, you give him $75,000 every time.

    • markn95

      I’m actually surprised Vince didn’t outbid him for them given Hammer’s look. But then maybe e figured the guy was green as grass and WCW would break him into the business, give him national exposure and then have absolutely no clue how to market/push him. That strategy actually worked like a charm with Sid, Undertaker, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash.

    • Joe Martinez

      But when they were hemorrhaging money to the point where they were expecting solid hand veterans to work for $300 a night, it’s a puzzling decision and a slap in the face to the locker room.

  • Dino Bravo Sucks

    “Next week: SUMMERSLAM. And you know what goes down there!”

    Nope. Not at all, actually.

    • mike

      It’s good.

      Trust me.

    • Johnny Polo

      You want a finger? HERE’S A FINGER!

    • NoLookPass

      It’s the ultimate!

  • MemphisHeat

    Back then, here is a sample of WWF’s drug testing program.

    Management: “You on any drugs?”
    Wrestler: “Nope.”
    Management: “Good news, you passed!”

    • JasonMK

      Apparently Warrior and Bulldog can’t even pass that kind of testing.

      • Death Rollins

        “You on any drugs?”
        “I’M BIZARRRRRRE.”

        • JasonMK

          Management: “Bulldog, are you on any drugs?”
          Bulldog: “You’re focking right I am.”
          Management: “You’re supposed to say no.”
          Bulldog: “Gotta love these focking drugs.”
          Management: “What about you Warrior?”
          Warrior: “WARRIORS DON’T ABIDE BY RULES SET MY MERE MORTALS. WARRIORS FOLLOW A DIFFERENT PATH TO IMMORTALITY. THE ‘ROIDS COARSING THROUGH THESE VEINS PUTS ME BEYOND MERE FLESH AND BLOOD, FOR I ASPIRE TO A HIGHER LEVEL OF BEING! *SNORT*”
          Management: “I think we’re done here.”

  • “Graham is also planning to blow the whistle on Hulk Hogan’s steroid use.”

    Other shocking Graham revelations:
    – Buddy Rose weighs more than 217 pounds
    – Dino Bravo isn’t a natural blonde
    – The Undertaker isn’t really from Death Valley.

  • Boomska316 .

    “Herb Abrams is currently avoiding bill collectors after his PPV show in Florida.” Is ol’ Herb the very definition of a money mark?

  • ONITA100

    I’d love to hear this audio of Foley on Stern

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