Wrestling Observer Flashback–09.16.91

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Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/01/08/wrestling-observer-flashback-09-09-91/

It’s time for the Clash of the Champions again!  And it sucks!

Plus Flair signs with the WWF.  So, you know, slow news week.

– Ric Flair officially signed his deal with the WWF, which surprisingly had no guarantees beyond the usual TV appearance minimums.  WCW had reportedly made one last Hail Mary offer to him that was “so lucrative he couldn’t refuse”, but apparently WCW has some definition of that phrase that means the opposite.  Flair is already on TV, taping an angle in Ottawa where he lays out Roddy Piper with a chair and Piper tries to hit him back but nails Vince instead. (That was CRAZY!  Dave way undersold that one.)  Flair will work the first ever singles match with Hulk Hogan on the 10/25 Oakland house show, and he’ll debut at MSG against Piper on 10/28.  (Hey, I reviewed that show when it was on 24/7.  The show was awful but the Flair match was GREAT.) 

– Dave notes that outside of the Flair program, there’s pretty much nothing going on as far as WWF box office potential.  The B-show with Sid Justice v. Jake Roberts isn’t exactly going to light the world on fire. And Sid has already been a disappointment as a main eventer against Undertaker thus far.

– Sorry, we’re live, pal.

– Halloween Havoc isn’t looking great, with a main event of Lex Luger v. Ron Simmons in a 2/3 falls match, with Dusty Rhodes rumored to be inserting himself somehow.  The Hunchbacks were scheduled to debut in the Chamber of Horrors match, but now it’s “The Creatures” because “certain people” are just never going to admit to pushing for the gimmick and then killing it due to embarrassment.  Scott Steiner is also being advertised for the match, but COME ON.  (He was still months away from returning, as it turns out.)  Also, Barry Windham is scheduled to be on the heel side in that trainwreck for reasons not yet explained.  Because WCW.

– Dave’s summary of Clash XVI:  At least it was better than Bash ‘91.

– On the bright side, they tried really hard to make people care about Ron Simmons as a main event guy.  They failed, but they TRIED hard.  (Really, that’s the best that you could hope for with WCW at this point.)  Dave does think that the emphasis on Ron Simmons having a chance to be the first BLACK heavyweight champion comes off as behind the times and mildly racist.  But at least they’re not doing stereotypical black character with Simmons.

– Also, the show wasn’t boring, and they didn’t overload it with angles like Clash XV, so there’s that.  The negatives were everything else.  The wrestling sucked, and they need to bring in actual wrestlers and not just a musclehead with bleached blond hair where they can just stick a guitar in his hand and say “Hey, you’re the next Ultimate Warrior!”  Or not just a 6’9” bouncer where they spend $250,000 on a gimmick no one wants to see and say “Hey, you’re a main event heel now.  Plus you’re 7 feet tall.”  (To be fair, both sides have been telling that particular lie about Nash ever since, so at least it’s consistent.)  And when all the gimmick guys destroy the business to the point where the company is nearing the point of collapse, what’s the solution?  MORE GIMMICK GUYS.

1. El Gigante won a “Georgia Brawl” battle royale, throwing out One Man Gang and Oz to win at 9:33.  Oz’s bump was on a seven second delay.  Just a bunch of guys doing stuff.  One Man Gang had lost a match in the Omni where the loser got their head shaved, so of course his head was not shaved in the least.  DUD

2.  Brian Pillman pinned Badstreet with a flying bodypress in the light heavyweight tournament semi-final at 6:52.  This was the one and only match in the whole tournament that actually showed why the division could and should be something different and exciting.  They stole a bunch of Jushin Liger spots and it was pretty great.  ***3/4

3.  Sting pinned Johnny B. Badd with a small package at 6:11.  Dave still loves Badd’s ring entrance.  Started hot, but broke down quickly from there.  The gift box for Sting brought the match to a screeching halt, and Cactus Jack popped out and mauled Sting after the match.  *

4.  Richard Morton pinned Mike Graham in the other semi-final in 7:40.  This was the opposite of the other semi, and no one cared about Graham in the least.  Match was fine and had no heat Morton got  the pin with a rollup holding the trunks.  **

Bill Kazmaier did a test of strength deal with a steel bar, where WCW neglected to gimmick the bar and thus it didn’t look particularly impressive to the common fans.  The Enforcers attacked him afterwards to set up the main event angle.

5. The Freebirds beat the Patriots in 5:42.  The title switch was already in the can, so neither team had the belts and they just ignored the US tag titles on commentary so as to not make anyone look stupider than they already appear for insulting people’s intelligence this way.  The Patriots are nowhere near ready for this push.  *

Sting and Cactus brawled again at this point, with Jack taking some incredible bumps.

6. Ron Simmons pinned the Diamond Studd with a shoulderblock in 2:25.  Short but hard fought.  *1/4

7.  Van Hammer pinned Terrence Taylor with a knee off the middle rope in 1:07.  He missed by a foot.  Dave sums it up as everything wrong with pro wrestling demonstrated in 67 seconds.  -**

8. Steve Austin retained the TV title over Tom Zenk in 9:07.  They did the Randy Savage “counter a back suplex with a foreign object” finish.  It was slow.  *3/4

9.  The Enforcers won the WCW tag titles over Rick Steiner & Bill Kazmaier in 3:33.  Yes, a whole 3:33.  The Enforcers hit Bill in the injured ribs (specifically on the left side, despite injuring the right side earlier) and got the pin.  Dave counts this as a low point for the tag titles.  (He wasn’t wrong, but it would get better soon.) 

– To Mexico, where there’s a very large battle looming with EMLL about to start airing their weekly show on network TV, and rival UWA is very upset about that. There’s actually a wrestler’s union in Mexico, and their stance is that airing the EMLL shows on TV will overexpose the product and “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs” so to speak.  (This actually triggered a whole BUNCH of stuff, with EMLL beginning a boom period and becoming CMLL shortly after, while Antonio Pena broke off and formed AAA, all of which ended up destroying the UWA a few years later.) 

– Back to the Clash, which indeed set a new record as the lowest rated Clash ever with a 3.7 rating.  Still, many in the company were actually pleased with this number, since they expected worse.

– Oh hey, we haven’t piled onto Herb Abrams in a few weeks, so let’s catch up.  Seems that Herb made the local papers in Florida because he skipped out after the PPV show without paying any of the bills.  The manager of the Manatee Civic Center alleged that Abrams left via the back door and ran away in a limo, without paying the $7000 fee for renting the arena.  Also, Herb has yet to pay “several thousand dollars” worth of advertising bills to local radio stations.  The group running the Civic Center is attempting to have Herb’s television equipment and/or revenues seized if he returns to the state for another TV taping.  Herb’s official response from his answering machine is that he’s out of the country for a month, although Dave knows for a fact he’s actually in New York as we speak.  Oh, and the hotel in New York where a wrestling convention was recently held insisted on a cash only deal with organizer John Arezzi because they had been burned by Abrams too many times in the past and now didn’t trust any wrestling people.  (Frankly I’m shocked WCW didn’t hire Herb as booker!) 

– WCW cancelled their upcoming Meadowlands date due to the pathetic turnout of the last one, although they do have a return date on 12/27.  (I believe that’s the one with the FUCKING AWESOME Pillman v. Liger match that circulated in the tape trading scene for years afterwards.) 

– WCW did come to Oakland for a house that only 500 people attended.  Everyone worked hard, unlike the WWF show, but the problem is that no one was there to see it and what was advertised isn’t what people want to see.

1. PN News & Big Josh beat Johnny B. Badd & Mike Graham in 9:12.  Badd got the biggest cheers of the night despite being a heel.  Everyone booed when the faces won, in fact.  3/4*

2.  Tom Zenk & Bobby Eaton beat Terrence Taylor & Richard Morton in 17:44. Crowd chanted “Rooster” at Taylor, but he was hilarious dealing with hecklers.  Lots of stalling and comedy spots.  Zenk pinned Morton with a superkick.  Taylor is great and one of the best workers in the promotion, and look where that gets you.  **1/4

3.  Dustin Rhodes pinned Diamond Studd in 11:31 by reversing a slam.  Studd’s whole deal loses a lot without DDP.  *

4. The Enforcers beat the Patriots to retain the tag titles in 13:51.  Mainly walking and talking.  Larry clotheslined Chip to reverse a rollup and Arn got the pin.  *1/4

5.  Sting pinned Oz in 9:05.  This was awful.  It was actually unfair to Oz to put him in this position in the first place.  Dave says, and I quote:  “Kevin Nash will be a force in wrestling because of his size, but: a) It won’t be for a few years; b) It won’t be with this company; and c) It definitely won’t be with that name” (I guess he was only half-right about not being with this company, but otherwise BULLSEYE.)

6. Steve Austin retained the TV title over Rick Steiner with a DQ loss in 10:24.  Started slow but turned into the best match on the card.  This Steve Austin has so much poise that he’ll be one of the top guys in the business before too long.  (Dave’s on a roll this week!)  ***

7.  Barry Windham & Ron Simmons beat Lex Luger & Mr. Hughes via DQ in 11:48.  Fast packed and all action.  The Simmons push seems to be taking a little bit with crowds after the Clash.  Luger tried a figure-four at one point, which drew groans from the crowd.  Race interfered for the DQ.  **3/4

8.  El Gigante beat Gang in a cage match so bad that words can’t even describe it.  -**1/2

– To Japan, where the mega-push of Misawa continued, as he and Kawada retained the tag titles over Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue when Jumbo submitted to a Misawa facelock in 26:34 in a shocking finish because Tsuruta doesn’t do jobs for ANYONE right now and certainly not by submission.  The show drew a sellout of 15,000 fans.

– SWS is creating a “WWF junior heavyweight title” with a tournament on 9/16, with the finals coming on the joint WWF show on 12/12 .  It’s clearly a vehicle to put Naoki Sano over, and notably the WWF will send “five junior heavyweights” to compete.  Dave has no idea who would even be classified as such in the promotion, outside of the Orient Express.  (As it turned out, they didn’t even send anyone for the tournament and just had Rick Martel face Sano in the finals)

– In the USWA, Jerry Jarrett was DOUBLE-CROSSED by his own box office, as he was advertising tickets for $1 more due to all the talent appearing on the big Labor Day show, but the box office forgot to raise prices and just charged everyone normal rates.  That’s $2000 out of his pocket!

– In kind of a funny running bit for the past few weeks, Jerry Lawler had been trading the World title with “The Dragon Master”, and Dave is confounded because he has no idea who is playing the character.  (Cagematch.net thinks it’s Kazuo Sakarada just like in WCW, but Dave was pretty sure it wasn’t him.) 

– As noted last week, ESPN is about to order 46 shows from Global to fill 13 weeks of programming, which is insane.  Dave thinks that if they try it, and don’t start doing more angles and long-term storylines to go with the squash-squash-squash format of the tapings, it’s going to burn out the Dallas market FAST.

– Erik Watts, son of Bill, is the starting quarterback at the University of Louisville.

– Florida is threatening to begin regulation of pro wrestling and steroid testing, and both WWF and WCW are threatening to pull out of the state if that happens.

– Dick Murdoch is already booking dates in Puerto Rico, so the firing from WCW was real.

– WCW had to cancel their house show in Phoenix because the ring crew brought an 18 foot ring, but the ropes were only 16 feet.  There was only 450 tickets sold anyway, but obviously fans were none too happy.  (They’re just inventing new and creative ways to fuck up now!) 

–  A new guy called “The Web” is booked for shows this week.

– Neither Badstreet nor Brad Armstrong is anywhere to be found on booking sheets after this week.  (Come on, Dave, put the pieces together!) 

– To the WWF, where the annual King of the Ring tournament in Providence came and went with a thud, drawing only 2500 people to see Bret Hart win the tournament over IRS.  This is already really long so I’ll skip the rundown.

– The Sgt. Slaughter babyface turn began on TV this weekend.  (God, I did not buy into that one AT ALL.  If ever there was a case where someone desperately needed to be taken off TV for months, this was it.) 

– And finally, Kerry Von Erich missed his weekend dates, although we’ll find out the reason next issue.  Spoiler:  It’s not a happy reason.