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Wrestling Observer Flashback–10.14.91

Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/01/13/wrestling-observer-flashback-10-07-91/

This week, Jim Herd picks another one of the wrong battles to wage as his time draws nearer…

– Paul Heyman was indefinitely suspended on 10/7 for reasons that are still unknown at press time (still unknown to this day, in fact!) and this is gonna mess up their plans big because the (don’t call it a ) booking committee wanted to switch him back from announcer to manager if they could strike a deal with Rick Rude. Heyman is making $150,000 a year and his contract still has nearly a year left on it, which would make things more expensive because the contract specifically calls for more money if he’s working house shows.  Reports are that the suspension had nothing to do with either money or changing the role. (While we never found out the reason, we do know the result:  Paul’s lawyer father went above Herd’s head and threatened to sue TBS back to the stone age, resulting in the suspension ending in record time.) 

– In a weird bit of forgotten history, Jerry Jarrett had struck a deal with Jim Herd to bring in USWA champion Jerry Lawler for a unification match with Lex Luger, which would have resulted in the winner (Luger) being named as the undisputed NWA World champion and WCW phasing that name back into use again.  The deal was hinging on the company’s ability to get the Big Gold Belt back from Flair, and it would have started on 11/11 at a WCW TV taping in Memphis. And then supposedly Paul Heyman blabbed the scenario to BFF Eddie Gilbert, which made Jarrett flip out because “too many people knew”, and the whole deal fell apart before anything could be finalized.  Heyman of course claims that not only didn’t he tell Gilbert, but he knew nothing of the angle to begin with.

– Back to the WWF’s cost-cutting measures, as the main reasoning behind the move appears to be “regionalizing” the house show schedules, so that guys would work a loop in the Northeast or west coast or whatever, instead of flying from New York to Florida to Detroit and back in the span of a week. This will likely result in more small market shows, since they’re in the area anyways.  Vince claimed that nearly 20% of revenues from house shows were going towards flying guys from one show to the next. It’s not the biggest expense, but it’s the one where they company can cut back severely without affecting the quality of the shows.  (If only Jim Crockett had learned that lesson!)  With house show margins so soft lately, it’s a major reason why they decided to run Hogan v. Flair at the house shows instead of waiting for Wrestlemania:  They need the money NOW.

– More details on the “surprise” PPV on 12/3, as Dave has discovered that there won’t be a non-finish at Survivor Series, but there will be some sort of major angle that sets up the new show.  The show is being called an “experiment”, with a price of $12.95 for 1:50 of wrestling, and there will be zero dollars spent on advertising, with the only hype coming from the Survivor Series PPV itself.  (And what a failure it was!) 

– While Vince talks about the house show margins causing the problems, most in the company are “not so privately” blaming the WBF fiasco. Even the neutral bodybuilding magazines are mocking Vince’s endeavor at this point, with most people within the “sport” figuring that Vince will give it another two years and then drop it.  (TWO years?  Even that was an optimistic projection!)  In fact, despite the dire warnings from the Weiders that anyone signing with the WBF would be banished forever, most feel that they’ll all be allowed back when the WBF inevitably dies off.

– There was a bit of movement in the Mexican strike, as Televisa agreed to move the start time of the weekly TV show so as not to conflict with house shows, but union boss Manny Guzman wants to stress that the job action is not over yet. Although he announced that he and 200 wrestlers would be staging a protest at the federal government buildings in Mexico City, but only a few actually showed up and mostly signed autographs for fans.

– Hulk Hogan’s “Suburban Commando” opened to reviews that Dave generously calls “mixed”, although at least no one was butchering the movie like critics did with “No Holds Barred”.  Hogan is suddenly emphasizing his family life and children in all his interviews, which is funny because he spent the past decade avoiding any discussion of those topics.  They’re also emphasizing that he’s 38, as if to stress that he’s a mature family man now instead of a “wild-eyed musclehead”.

– Yup, he’s a real mature family man, all right.

– Anyway, Hogan was much smarter in his press appearances this time around, giving short answers and avoiding any reference to steroids or Dr. Zahorian.  However, he did make sure to take credit for musical entrances, working the crowd between moves, and turning wrestling into sports entertainment.  Also, he’d probably name himself as the greatest American of all-time.  (I know many of you would say Dino Bravo, but please remember he was CANADIAN.) 

– Billy Graham’s segment on Entertainment Tonight was cancelled because they didn’t want to run it until he actually filed the lawsuit against the WWF, and he’s still shuffling his feet on that one.

– With a new book out on Muhammad Ali, Dave relates the story of the Inoki-Ali fight and the planned finish:  Ali was supposed to pound on Inoki with punches until Inoki was beaten to a bloody pulp, with the referee trying to stop the match and Inoki begging him to let it continue.  Finally Ali would quit punching him because he’s a sportman and Inoki was so clearly done, at which point he would turn his back to talk to the ref and Inoki would pop up with an enzuigiri and pin Ali!  This would leave both men looking strong with an issue for a rematch, but on the way to Japan, Ali had second thoughts about doing the job and the match almost didn’t happen. Instead, they came up with all kinds of wacky rules to give everyone excuses after the fact, and we got the disaster we all know and love today.

– Another day, another near riot in New Japan, this time because of Great Muta.  The main event of the 9/23 show in Yokohama saw Muta beating Fujinami with an “American finish”, hitting him with a beer bottle and then pinning him with a moonsault.  Of course, the Japan crowds HATE screwjob finishes like that, so Inoki made a snap decision and jumped into the ring, ordering both guys back in for a clean finish.  Except he didn’t tell anyone beforehand, so neither guy would play along and the fans were double-pissed.  So then Riki Choshu jumped into the ring and cut an awesome promo on Muta and his gang, about how he’d beat them all in singles matches because he’s not retiring after all. And then Inoki made sure to get himself over, as he followed with “Yeah, and if Choshu can’t beat them, then I will!” which is ridiculous because Inoki isn’t wrestling any of them and he was pretty much just being Dusty Rhodes.

– Immediately after the show, like IMMEDIATELY, pretty much all 18,000 people sprinted for the trains and went to the FMW show at the Kawasaki Baseball stadium.  And they drew 33,000 for that show!

– Chris Benoit is said to be training a new kid named Scorpio at the New Japan dojo, who is said to have “great leaping ability and potential”.  (Hope it’s not 2 COLD at that dojo, AM I RIGHT?) 

– Sandy Barr went NUCLEAR at a commission hearing about Art Barr’s wrestling license, as Art was not granted a new license for various reasons, mostly because he lied on the original application and neglected to mention a 1986 cocaine conviction.  (It could have been worse…)

– Although they won’t take any action against him, they made it clear that his license won’t be renewed, and Sandy went berzerk, claiming that they granted licenses for other convicted felons (like Billy Jack Haynes).  Thankfully, before things got too tense, Buddy Rose cracked up the entire room by asking about steroid testing, since he didn’t use them but was curious since his body was “pure muscle holding up all this fat”.

– Eddie Gilbert won the latest GWF tournament, this one for the TV title, beating Handsome Stranger (Buff Bagwell) in the finals, albeit by DQ.

– The mysterious Boss, who is the lead heel behind the Cartel, was supposed to be Madusa, but she jumped to WCW before she could even debut and now they need someone else to play the role.  The ID will be revealed at the 10/18 TV tapings, and will be a big surprise.

– To WCW, where Scott Steiner is advertised for the Chamber match at Halloween Havoc, but still doesn’t have medical clearance yet and will probably be replaced by Big Van Vader.

– Nothing has been announced on TV for the RULES of the Chamber match, aside from the match being an electrified cage with instruments of torture where the winners are the ones to escape the cage within a time limit.  And when the time limit expires, the losers left in the cage have to endure undetermined torture of some sort.  Luckily, Dave has the inside info on what the torture will be:  Getting locked in an empty room and being forced to watch Great American Bash 1991 from start to finish.

– Bill Kazmaier is supposed to be getting a big push against Lex Luger in November, so he’s all over TV at the tapings lately, which led to some shenanigans.  The crowd spent an entire squash match chanting “steroids” at him, so loud that the match is going to have be retaped next week.  Plus, Kazamaier was supposed to save Sting from a double-team beating in a match against Abby & Cactus, but he ran in DURING the match and Nick Patrick had to cut him off and keep him out of the ring while they rushed to the finish so that Bill could then make the save.  So that match will have to be redone as well.

– In the WWF, aka the opposite of WCW, the England tour is doing HUGE business every night, including the Royal Albert Hall show where Davey Boy Smith won a battle royale .

– The Undertakers (who got a tryout as a part of a legal settlement with the WWF over the name, using the name “Double Trouble”) got another tryout at the Challenge tapings, this time as “The Fat Boyz”.  (And they didn’t get over with that gimmick?) 

– And finally, Sgt. Slaughter taped a promo video from the Memorial Cemetery in Washington DC, where he toured the tombstones of soldiers who had died in battle.  Oddly, one of the tombstones that made TV was for “Pedro Morales”, which Dave hopes doesn’t start any rumors “like the one about the Ultimate Warrior”.

Next week:  Speaking of legends, THE GREATEST STORY IN WRESTLING HISTORY.  Please, no spoilers if you already know what we’re building up to here.  You won’t be disappointed on ANY level, I absolutely guarantee.