Days away from Wrestlemania now, and the media still won’t quite leave Vince McMahon alone. He might have to do something DRASTIC at the show to get people talking again, I bet. We’ll see how it plays out for him next week.
To the Observer!
– First up, big changes in the WCW bean-counting hierarchy, as Jack Petrik has now followed Jim Herd out the door and Bill Shaw replaces him as President of WCW. Petrik’s official reason for leaving is that he’s working on some kind of 24-hour “cartoon network” that Turner is trying to put together. (Like anyone will ever watch THAT.) Shaw’s first act was to appoint Bob Dew as Kip Frey’s immediate supervisor.
– Geraldo’s “Now It Can Be Told” show is actually in jeopardy due to a restraining order filed by ringboy Tom Cole’s attorney, since Cole did an interview with the show but had signed an agreement that it wouldn’t be aired until after he went back to work with the WWF full-time again. On the bright side, it seems like the upcoming 20/20 piece and a few others might finally be the end of the media onslaught, as the mainstream press seems to be growing bored with the story already. (Today, the Twitter-verse and 24-hour news cycle would have combined for an even more devastating attack on them, but it would have blown over within a week, tops.)
– For their part, the WWF basically bought a story in the New York Daily News (rival paper of Phil Mushnick’s New York Post) where the paper gave them a large story showing Jim Duggan doing charity work and thanking them for all the good deeds they’ve done over the years. Dave cynically attributes this to “calling in your markers” as the WWF PR department tries to rebuild their image. (I feel like they should have used a picture of Terry Garvin and thanked HIM for all the work he’s done with kids over the years.)
– The WWF also held a press conference with new steroid czar Mauro DiPasquale where they again parroted the line of crap about how 50% of wrestlers tested positive initially and now it’s down to 15%. Mauro is claiming that the company will be “clean in May, beyond IOC standards.”
(OK, to be fair, he WAS skinnier when he returned. But COME ON.)
– Phil Mushnick immediately wrote a hilariously scathing takedown of the press conference, calling it a “tip sheet for steroid junkies” and mocking them for trying to portray the positive benefits of steroids in treatment of MS. “Oh, so that’s it – the WWF’s steroid use was merely an experiment to aid in the research of muscle disease.” (By the end of the decade I was solidly against Mushnick and his constant railing on the WWF, but he was pretty awesome at this point.) Mushnick also pointed out the blatant contradiction of Vince going on Larry King and claiming there was “zero” steroid use in the WWF and then holding a press conference where he said it was 15%.
– Also, Mushnick pointed out that another lawsuit against Vince was quietly filed, as his longtime limo driver Jim Stuart decided to sue for wrongful termination after he was alleged fired for not wanting to cover up the behavior of the people accused in the sex abuse scandal.
– Dave talked to DiPasquale separately from the press conference, and the doctor pointed out that the only way for tests to be truly unbeatable was to make sure that guys could be tested literally at any time or place, not just in the gym or arena. (This, of course, is exactly what USADA does now for the UFC and it’s why so many guys get popped now.)
– Dave thinks that at this point it’s the boy crying “Wolf” with regards to the magic unbeatable steroid tests, and anyone in the media who actually buys into it gets what they deserve. Speaking of which, Vince was supposed to have hired an “independent agency” to investigate all the sex allegations weeks ago and no one has heard a word about it since then.
– Speaking of steroids, Lex Luger appeared on the WWF Superstars show to plug the WBF show and Wrestlemania, and Kip Frey was furious. He went on a radio show and acknowledged that there was a loophole in the contract that technically allowed him to do that, but said it made the WWF look like “slimeballs”, but as long as he doesn’t wrestle, whatever. (Well it would cease to be his problem soon enough anyway.)
– The hottest rumor of the week is that Ultimate Warrior will be returning to the WWF at Wrestlemania, as Hulk Hogan is pretty much talking up his retirement after that show and they need something badly. Although there’s also lots of talk that if Hogan’s next movie flops, he’s done as a leading man.
– And now, the UNDERSTATED OBSERVER DEBUT OF THE WEEK that you’ve all been waiting for, ever since Dave started bringing up John Arezzi’s radio show. Arezzi’s show is in serious jeopardy after a split with his financial backer, who went to Vince McMahon and struck a deal of some sort to stop the negative criticism of McMahon on the show. Since Arezzi’s backer actually owns the trademark on the show and Arezzi wants to continue on with snarking on the WWF, he’ll have to start his own newsletter. (Arezzi ended up doing a new show later, while that mysterious backer got a job with the WWF magazine out of his deal that paid off very well for him and, you know, changed wrestling forever.)
(Great, now we’re never gonna hear the end of it from him.)
– Dave goes on a quick rant about the “WWF took the business out of smoky halls” things, noting that smoky halls coming to an end had everything to do with anti-smoking laws and absolutely nothing with the WWF.
– Van Hammer didn’t actually check into rehab, as reported last week, but instead went to a psychiatric facility for “personal problems”.
– Speaking of personal problems, it’s time for…
– Kerry was arrested AGAIN this week after failing to attend rehab as a condition for his release after his last arrest, and he spent two hours in jail and paid $7500 in bail to get out. Kerry is claiming that he already completed a rehab program “in California”, and ended up spending the entire two hours signing autographs for other prisoners. Regardless, Kerry is claiming that he’ll be back for Wrestlemania.
– Billy Graham, on the heels of all his whistle-blowing, underwent surgery to replace his artificial hip, and suffered a partially collapsed lung during the operation, losing a lot of blood in the process. He’ll be in the hospital for a while. (Presumably he’ll refuse all medications and painkillers while he’s there, because he’s got enough at home.)
– Dave is still hearing that Conan (Konnan) will be joining the WWF after Wrestlemania, but he’s been hearing that one for so long that it’s probably fallen through by now.
– Although Dan Spivey was thought to be done with All Japan for good, he made some phone calls with Baba and returned to do jobs for Kawada, presumably rebuilding his standing again.
– Sadly, the Duran-Funaki trainwreck is outselling the Flair-Tenryu match by 10-to-1 thus far.
– Koji Kitao will in fact return to wrestling, after signing a huge deal with the UWFI, with a clause that says he’ll never have to do a job. Dave thinks it’s one thing to sign Hogan to a deal like that, but Kitao?
– Sadly, Dr. Death is history in Memphis. Dave thinks it was Kenny Kendall from Florida.
– Eddie Gilbert won the North American title from brother Doug (the Dark Patriot), in a title change that would go south for the promotion so dramatically that you can pretty much pinpoint the slow death of the company to that moment. But we’ll get there.
– Jim Cornette’s new “Smoky Mountain Wrestling” holds their first big show on 5/22 to crown the first champion and tag champs.
– Eastern Championship Wrestling debuted on 3/24 with the usual local guys like Johnny Hot Body, DC Drake and JT Smith on top.
– Although the Flair/Sid v. Hogan/Piper matches have drawn like gangbusters everyone else, they only did 9000 people at MSG on 3/23.
– And finally, Rude and Dangerously did in fact sign new WCW deals for two years, ending the remaining contract squabbles. (Paul E’s would later fall under “Things that didn’t end well”, our theme for the week.)
Next time: WRESTLEMANIA VIII!