Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/01/26/wrestling-observer-flashback-11-25-91/
Welcome to the new era of steroid testing in the WWF, where everyone is now clean and the problem is solved forever! I gotta say, the 80s were pretty rough as far as drug use went, but we made it out the other side with a comprehensive drug program so effective that you never again heard of any wrestler so much as abusing Tylenol.
With that out of the way, let’s discuss something other than steroids this week.
– In our top story, we’re two weeks into steroid testing…
and it’s already a huge scam.
– Basically nothing has changed and guys are as huge and gassed as ever, and Dave offers a range of sarcastic reasons why that might be so in the face of “comprehensive drug testing”. Basically everyone got off the stuff for a week while they did the testing, got slightly softer for a few days, and then went right back to the needles and pills again. Certainly something is fishy enough to make it seem like the locker room “sentiment” that people welcomed the policy to “level the playing field” was indeed a bunch of crap. And really, unless the WWF actually steps up and starts suspending people for doing this stuff, everyone will know it’s just a joke. And since all results, procedures, and suspensions are confidential, we’ll never know for sure anyway.
– On the bright side, the WWF PR department has managed to “change the story” from their steroid problem to their steroid testing. And because it’s easy to prove “steroid problem” through arrests for steroids and the like, and it’s impossible to prove “steroid testing is a sham” because they don’t release any information on it, the press won’t dig further into the ridiculous testing scam.
– WCW, meanwhile, has seemingly found the light at the end of the tunnel for 1991, with a great Clash show on 11/9 that saw Ricky Steamboat back in top form. The addition of the Dangerous Alliance has already proven to be a great facelift for the promotion, and the WCW TV shows are now starting to beat the WWF on cable again. Of course, house shows are still in the toilet, but it’s a first step.
– The show actually did a 4.3 rating, or the best one since the Black Scorpion show last year. The tag title match was the peak of the show, of course.
1. Big Josh pinned Thomas Rich in a lumberjack match at 6:03. Josh pinned him with a buttdrop and it was a decent start to the show. *3/4
2. Bobby Eaton pinned Chip the Firebreaker in 4:52 with a back suplex. Chip screwed up early, but it was decent by the end. *1/4
Lex Luger jumped out of the final mystery box to attack Sting, injuring the wrong leg (Instinct on Luger’s part due to all his lucha libre experience, Dave notes) but it was a pretty great angle. Luckily, Dave is totally ignorant of the symbolism of Madusa crawling around on all fours and fondling Sting to distract him.
3. Tom Zenk pinned the Diamond Studd in 1:24 with a crucifix. Over before you could blink, but it was fast-paced, despite the distraction of a split-screen angle with Sting. *1/2 (Dave points out a subtle moment with Bobby Eaton that I missed here, as he was helping Sting into the ambulance and told him that there was “plenty of time” to make it back for the end of the show, which was a subtle hint at his heel turn.)
4. Steve Austin pinned PN News to retain the TV title in 4:21. Lady Blossom was covered up in her final appearance, just to make sure she didn’t get over. Another pretty hot match, with a few sloppy spots. **1/4
5. Cactus Jack pinned Van Hammer in 4:03. It was Hammer’s best match thus far, thanks to Jack! They worked surprisingly well together, and Jack pinned him after a guitar to the head. **1/4
Eric Bischoff brought us an update from the “Parts Unknown Medical Center”.
6. Ricky Steamboat & Dustin Rhodes won the tag titles from the Enforcers in 14:48 of “one of the best US matches of 1991”. Both Anderson & Zbyszko sold the introduction of Steamboat great, and it was the first time Steamboat ever worked with Arn, in fact. Steamboat’s heat segment should be taught at wrestling schools. (I’m sure Cornette MUST have done just that.) They teased the Enforcers filing some kind of protest due to Steamboat not having a valid contract, which was kind of a sleazy way to get hotline buys. ****1/4
Missy Hyatt introduced Marcus Alexander Bagwell, who is obviously being marketed to little girls, and Dave doesn’t think that’ll go over too well. Especially a pretty boy with a rich snobby name.
7. Brian Pillman pinned Johnny B. Badd to retain the lightheavyweight title in 4:19. They had to follow the previous match and did fine. Badd turned babyface after taking the loss and KO’d Teddy. **1/2
8. Rick Rude pinned Sting in 4:50 to win the US title. This was the best they’ve done getting Sting over as a babyface since the Horsemen turn in 1990, although it was close to being hokey. Rude clipped the knee and pinned him, which Dave thinks was a bit weak since they basically gave Sting a million excuses for losing in a stronger manner. Very intense, but short. ***
9. Lex Luger pinned Rick Steiner to retain the WCW title in 11:30. This was in the death spot after all the shenanigans from earlier and it couldn’t follow any of it. Luger seemed out of sorts as well. Luger hit Rick with the belt while the ref was distracted by all the interference, and pinned him. **1/4
– Update on the WCW-WWF letter writing exchange over Steamboat: Less than an hour before the show, Titan finally sent a fax to the WCW offices in Atlanta (which were empty at the time) claiming that yes, they indeed had a problem with WCW using Steamboat. But WCW legal eagle Kip Frye found out about the letter, ran it past Jim Herd, and they decided to ignore it and use Steamboat anyway. (Does that count as an understated Observer debut for K. Allen Frye? And also, 10 Cool Points to whoever guessed that Vince would do exactly that kind of dick move!)
– Speaking of petty nonsense, the WWF is now digitizing the image of the NWA World title in all the syndicated shows, but apparently not in enough markets to make the NWA happy. However, the judge in charge of the case ruled that any damages done was due to Flair himself appearing on WWF TV, and not specifically because of the belt. However, just to end the legal threats, the WWF has switched to giving Flair an old tag title belt, with WWF logo prominently visible, which kind of kills the whole gimmick. (So basically the WWF won that court case and just went along with the NWA’s demands to shut them up.)
– All Japan Women held Wrestlemarinpiad III, with a 45 minute Texas death cage match main event pitting Bull Nakano & Monster Ripper against Aja Kong & Bison Kimura. It ran 45:00 and ended with Kimura knocked out, and then after THAT, Monster Ripper challenged Bull Nakano to an immediate cage match, title v. title for the WWC and WWWA belts, where they went another 33:00 until Nakano won with a sleeper hold. (This show, and the 1993 version, were the HOLY GRAIL for tape traders in the early 90s. The one time I met Herb Kunze to hang out and watch wrestling, this was one of the shows we went through. It was pretty great.)
– Tommy Young is suing Tommy Rich and the Center Stage Studios in Atlanta for $25,000, claiming that a power outage during a Rich-Rotunda match caused Rich to miss his cue and push Young when he couldn’t see. This of course ended his career as a referee.
– The first Flair v. Hogan match in Chicago on 11/24 drew a disappointing 8000 paid, as every week that Flair is on TV hurts his drawing power more.
– In Memphis, Jerry Jarrett is giving a strong push to a Joel Goodhart wrestler from Philly named “The Sandman”.
– Joining the Grave Digger in the hot new market of Undertaker ripoff gimmicks, The Body Snatcher debuted in the GWF, looking like a “smaller Bam Bam Bigelow”. (According the INSANELY overwritten Wikipedia article on the subject, the Snatcher was the wrestler later known as Big Bad John, who went on to become a minor actor in Hollywood after leaving wrestling.)
– Pat Tanaka & Chris Champion are scheduled to come into Global as a new version of Badd Company, although there’s a complication in that Pat Tanaka apparently has no idea that this is happening.
– The reason why Patriot didn’t get a WWF job is that Bill Eadie trademarked the Patriot gimmick when he was booker of the GWF, but registered it under the previous owners of the promotion, who are no longer involved. However, legally they retain the trademark to the Patriot and could claim ownership if the WWF throws him on TV.
– At an ICWA show in Florida that drew 22 fans (not a typo), rookie Rob Zakowski resurfaced, this time calling himself Rob Van Damme. Dave doesn’t connect the two gimmicks, however.
– Steve Williams & Dan Spivey have apparently pulled out of Gordon Scozzari’s AWF tapings on 12/14 because Herb Abrams is claiming they’re under contract. (Now there’s a feud for the ages.)
– A high school wrestling coach named Sugar Ray Lloyd worked an indy show in Marietta at the high school where he coaches, teaming with another coach who was a high level amateur in the 70s. (This was the very un-notable debut of the man who would be repackaged 5 years and several months of video packages later as GLACIER.)
– To the WWF, where the Savage snake angle drew a LOT of complaints when aired in uncensored manner on USA. Dave thought it was pretty awesome, but too much of a hotshot angle in a lot of ways.
– Savage is being replaced by Sgt. Slaughter on the house shows to sell the angle, which means that they spent weeks false advertising Sid Justice (who is injured), replaced him with Randy Savage (who is fake injured) and then false advertised HIM to sell an injury that was taped five weeks ago.
– Just another day in WCW, as they fired Harley Race and an enraged Lex Luger quit the promotion in protest. Thankfully they worked everything out.
– Jim Crockett is being credited with a lot of the creative turnaround because, and try to follow me here, he suggested that they put more heat on the heels.
– Bill Kazmaier got fired. No one will miss him.
– And finally, had Steamboat been narc’ed by the WWF and unable to work the Clash, Great Muta was the backup plan. (Well he could have used the dragon gimmick entrance at least. Because, you know, Japan and stuff.)