Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/03/22/wrestling-observer-flashback-09-01-92/
Hopefully Dave has some time to relax and take some downers after last week’s blitz of news delivered Crash TV-style. And speaking of downer, it’s time for a State of the Union for WCW!
– Dave relates a brief history of World Championship Wrestling, and how TBS purchased the company in 1988 despite their crippling debt. Jack Petrik would have to wage war against the WWF and spent lots of money to win, and it was probably futile anyway. Or they could just be a smaller company and let top talent walk to the WWF every few years before rebuilding again. The goal would be to minimalize losses, not win the war.
– Naturally, WCW chose neither approach. Instead they produced a cheaper-looking TV product with less stars, and then hired Jim Herd (who had no experience with wrestling) to try to compete with the WWF by doing exactly the same thing as them. But worse.
– To date, WCW has reportedly lost more than $20 million, but that’s actually a misleading number due to various accounting gymnastics. PPV revenue is listed under Turner Home Entertainment, not WCW. Ad revenue goes to Turner Broadcasting, not WCW. Expenses for producing TV and PPV come from various forks of Turner, not necessarily WCW. So really, who knows how much is or isn’t being lost?
– What we DO know is that their popularity has nose-dived over the past four years. And regardless of what the real numbers are, they’re losing money rapidly and something was going to have to be done. Despite everyone rejoicing when Bill Watts was hired, his mandate wasn’t to take on the WWF and win, it was to cut the losses down as much as possible. Bill understands that through wrestling history, most cities can’t support two different rival promotions over the long haul. There’s always one winner, and one loser.
– Sorry, forgot the spoiler warning there.
– Anyway, TBS’s ambitions towards beating Vince led to them signing all their talent to big money, long-term contracts, because Vince had a habit of snatching up rival talent and destroying the company. So at least way he couldn’t just steal the Road Warriors and Lex Luger at will. But as Dave notes, the funny part is that they all ended up with the WWF anyway. But to go from number 2 to number 1, WCW would have to sign all three of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage AND Roddy Piper away from the WWF. (Come on, how likely is THAT?) In fact, Dave sums up WCW’s biggest problem by noting that whenever he does talk shows, people ask him “When will such-and-such jump from WCW to the WWF?” but never the other way around.
– So Jim Herd was fired and replaced with Kip Frey, who was equally clueless but had enthusiasm and a willingness to spend money. But the bleeding was too heavy, despite the lift in morale, because Frey just didn’t understand the business.
– Ironically, after all the big money contracts left, Lex Luger got the best deal out of the bunch, collecting $350,000 a year to sit at home and go to the gym, the two things he loves the most.
– So Bill Watts’ plan is seemingly to job out and humiliate all the guys with guaranteed deals, cutting their contracts and replacing them with per-night deals to “motivate” them. What Dave has heard is that main event guys get $1000 per night, midcarders make $500 and prelims get $350. No guarantee of dates. As Dave notes, if a new booker comes in and doesn’t like you, suddenly you’re broke but still under contract. And if you’re a main eventer and you give notice, you’re downgraded to the prelim price of $350 per night while the company jobs you out for the last two months.
– Don’t forget that there’s no medical coverage written into these “contracts”, so if you blow out your knee and miss some dates, well, you’re an “independent contractor”, so tough.
– Now, that $1000 per night isn’t exactly what you’re paid. In fact, $250 of it is held in “escrow”, released later to cover fines and no-shows. People were immediately crying foul over that one, but Dave’s no lawyer and can’t really speak on the subject.
– Onto the news, as Ric Flair regained the WWF World title from Randy Savage on the 9/1 TV tapings in Hershey, PA. This was actually really messed up, as they did 12:00 of a match earlier in the show and then Vince McMahon shut down the match midway and everyone brawled back to the dressing room. So they went out again later in the night and did a match more to Vince’s liking, with Savage selling the knee “properly”, and Razor Ramon kicking him in the knee after 25:00 to cost him the title. Oddly, the WWF announced the title change at house shows immediately after the change and Flair defended against Undertaker at a house show on 9/7.
(OK, at this point I’m very confused about the dating, because this one is listed as September 7, which would be too soon for Dave to have the report on Savage winning the title, and especially not what happened at a house show on September 7! The next one, with the Summerslam review, is listed as September 8, and then it jumps to September 21. So I’m thinking this is actually the September 14 issue and I’ve just wasted a huge amount of time. But fuck it, I’m already 1000 words into this thing and it’s 11:30PM and I have to work, so THIS IS WHAT YOU GET. And you’ll like it. Sorry I had to tell it like it is, but that’s the way it is. I’m like Bill Watts that way, but with more hair.)
– Reports on Summerslam’s buyrate are looking like a 1.5, which is a whopping big drop from even last year’s dismal showing. With a high price tag and most importantly no Hogan, this is looking like a disaster for the company.
– Clash XX happened on 9/2 at Center Stage, and Dave would give it a thumbs up for the old features and reminiscing about the past. As a wrestling show, it wasn’t so hot.
1. Rick Steamboat pinned Steve Austin in 10:43 to win the TV title. Paul E. was in a cage above the ring, so he’d be off TV. It was a no DQ match, so Steamboat pulled out the old top rope cross body to win the title. Solid but flat due to the poor crowd reaction. ***1/4
2. Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson beat Dick Slater & Greg Valentine in 5:42. Larry Zbyszko was in the heel corner for reasons that were never adequately explained, and he botched his interference to give Eaton the pin on Valentine. Cameras missed it anyway. *1/2
3. Ron Simmons pinned Cactus Jack to retain the World title in 8:51. Simmons did not look like a World champion in the ring, and Jack was hurting bad here and it showed. *3/4
4. Barbarian & Butch Reed beat Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham in 8:13 when Barbarian booted Windham in the face. The babyfaces sold great, match was OK. **
5. Rick Rude & Jake Roberts & Big Van Vader & Super Invader beat Sting & The Steiners & NIkita Koloff in an elimination tag match at 15:15. Highlight of the match was Rick Steiner and Vader doing all the hot Japan spots. Jake pinned Koloff at 7:26 after a collision with Rude. Sting pinned Invader 30 seconds later. Scott got DQ’d for coming off the top rope on Vader. Rude gave Rick a neckbreaker on the floor for the countout. Sting faced the three remaining heels alone until Vader was DQ’d, but Roberts tagged in and finished Sting off with the DDT to a big reaction. ***1/4
– The memory aspect of it was very well done, with positive pieces on guys like Flair, Piper, the Briscos, Dibiase, etc., which was surprising in that one of them had just won the WWF title the night before.
– Also on the show, Brad Armstrong was stripped of the lightheavyweight title, and Brian Pillman turned on him via promo. Watts did announce a tournament for the belt. (Which would never happen.)
– The show ended up with a 3.7 rating, which wasn’t the worst of all time, so that’s good.
– The show was followed by a commercial for the “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” match between Sting and Jake Roberts at Halloween Havoc, which seems ridiculous given Watts’ supposed desire for “real wrestling”.
– Hawk quit the WWF the day after Summerslam, and Animal will be repackaged as a singles wrestler, effectively ending the Road Warriors as a tag team. In fact, both Hawk and Berzerker disappeared after Summerslam, and were suspended for six weeks as a result. Hawk was said to be fed up and just quit, with the inciting incident being the Penthouse article. Turns out that it listed him as being suspended for drugs in February (which was true) but Vince had promised that it would be a secret within the company, which obviously it wasn’t. Rumor is that Hawk will end up in Japan teaming with Scott Norton.
– In this issue, Dave debuts the “Results” section with short-form house show results from all promotions in one section, rather than putting them in the individual promotional sections. That actually has remained to this day in that form!
– The broken record of AAA continues, with Dave once again putting over Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis like crazy because they stole the show again.
– Tenryu has already gone crawling to Inoki to get WAR going as a promotion, making noise about wanting to wrestle Inoki on the 1/4/93 Tokyo Dome show for New Japan, with guys like Kengo Kimura coming into WAR in exchange.
– FMW is planning the biggest card in their history, at the 50,000 seat Yokohama Arena, featuring Onita v. Tiger Jeet Singh in a barbed wire match with explosives on the barbed wire.
– Don’t give them any ideas.
– Also, Dave notes that those kids from Calgary, Sudden Impact, will be on the show and “believe it or not” will be the best workers on the show! Yeah right, whoever heard of “Chris Jericho” or “Lance Storm”, anyway?
– Anyway, the main storyline for the Onita match is actually a sort of reference to the famous Olympic gymnast who did his whole routine on a broken leg, as Onita also suffered that injury in storyline and has been getting carried out on a stretcher all the time as a result.
– Onita also has an idea for an exploding ring match, where there’s a timer and when it expires, whoever is left in the ring gets caught in an explosion. (I’m pretty sure Cactus Jack was one of the people stupid enough to agree to that one.)
– Former college star and current sambo champion Dan Severn is being courted by the UWFI, although the US amateur governing board isn’t terribly happy about him going pro while still doing amateur matches.
– Over to Global, as Jack Victory is feuding with former real life business partner John Tatum over the pizzeria they used to run together. Pizza boxes as a weapon have been used. As thrilling as it sounds.
– Sam Houston is actually holding the TV title hostage until the promotion pays him the money owed to him, so new champion Mike Davis has to use a tag belt. (All the belts in the promotion were tag belts at this point, weren’t they?)
– Eddie Gilbert was going to defend the “GWF North American title” on a rival show in Texas, but ended up no-showing because GWF owner Greg Pierson left a message on his answering machine warning him that if he stepped off the plane with that belt, Texas marshals would be there to arrest him for stealing GWF property. As it turns out, Pierson and the GWF don’t even own that physical belt, because it was purchased by original GWF owner Carol Lindsay and wasn’t signed over as a part of the sale of the promotion due to all the bad blood that went down.
– The Heavenly Bodies retained the SMW tag titles from the Fultons, using the good ol’ ether soaked rag gimmick.
– Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage settled their differences at the TV tapings, helping each other out from heel attacks and exchanging an elbow pad for sunglasses to form “The Ultimate Maniacs”. Dave thinks that means they’re officially engaged now.
– Crush is now Hawaiian instead of Portlandian and has developed a Hawaiian accent, because reasons.
– Erik Watts is on the road with WCW now, and the wrestlers were greatly impressed by his opponent, Mark Cantebury, who managed to carry Watts to some decent matches. There’s a TAD bit of resentment against poor Erik. (Shit, the issue we missed must have the debut of Erik Watts, then! Now I’m really bummed. Oh well, back to that one tomorrow.)
– Dave once again notes that Cactus is going to kill himself if he doesn’t tone his style down.
– Jack Petrik was officially retired by TBS this week. Apparently the massive failure of WCW was only one reason.
– Vinnie Vegas was given notice by the company.
– WGN has cancelled the weekly TV show, so another national spot bites the dust.
– Jim Crockett is rumored to being promoting again in Dallas in November 1993, once his no-compete runs out. (Which he did. And failed again.)
– And finally, another wacky Watts rules, in that wrestlers will be assigned cars to travel in rather than just being allowed to pick their own rides with friends like it’s been done for 100 years. (Maybe they wanted to film their own version of Ride Along 25 years early?)