Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/03/27/wrestling-observer-flashback-09-21-92/
Guys, I don’t know if we’ve talked about this before, but holy shit does WCW suck. Let’s discuss it further.
– Just when you thought that they couldn’t find a lower level to sink into, TV ratings hit record lows for WCW this week, with WCW Saturday Night falling to a 1.7, the lowest rating in the 20 year history of the show on TBS. Usually they’ll have recovered from summer lows by now, but NOPE. Even the WWF is in the dumps, with Prime Time only doing a 2.4 rating for the Flair title win. Basically this shows that they’ve driven off most of the “casual” fans on both sides and only the hardcores are left. (Boy, does THAT sound like a familiar refrain…)
– Butch Reed was fired after only two weeks with WCW after no-showing and never bothering to give an explanation for it. They had actually started a program between Reed and Ron Simmons, and now have abruptly dropped it without any explanation. (Yeah, I remember that being really jarring at the time.)
– The candidate to replace Reed in the storyline was indy guy Mondo Kleen (“a larger version of Teijho Khan” notes Dave), but once WCW sent him a contract offer, he took it to Titan and got a better deal immediately, and he’ll start at the WWF TV tapings in October. (Smart man! Just don’t call him a jobber.)
– Paul E. Dangerously was taken off TV yet again, and Steve Austin will work as a solo act from now on. They REALLY want to fire Heyman but just can’t find a way to do it.
– Jimmy Garvin was released as well and they bought out the remains of his inflated contract, reportedly close to $180,000 cash to get rid of him.
– Michael Hayes was also bought out for a similar amount, but was then immediately re-signed to an announcing contract instead. In fact, the Freebirds were supposed to be released completely, but due to someone forgetting to actually release them, (the dreaded “clerical error”), their contracts automatically rolled over at the same ridiculous rate and WCW was stuck with them for another 18 months. So the office just decided to eat the costs now and get rid of them.
– Bill Watts had meetings with the Steiners, Sting and Rude, and apparently Sting has decided to be the spokesperson for the wrestlers. The Steiners were offered the $1000 per night deal, but the WWF still appears to be their destination in December.
– It seems like Bill Watts and Brian Pillman have reached an amicable solution to their standoff, and Watts is on the Pillman train now. Watts isn’t holding a grudge and told people it was “just business”, and everything’s fine between them.
– Also, Barry Windham is not only NOT going to be retired, but he and Dustin won the WCW/NWA tag titles from Gordy & Williams this week.
– Meanwhile, Watts is putting the brakes on the light heavyweight tournament and will make an announcement on WCW Saturday Night saying as much. Privately, Watts is concerned that labelling guys as “light heavyweights” will mean fans won’t buy them as threats to heavyweights if they’re matched up. (So don’t match them up, DUH.)
– Watts is also rescinding the top rope rule, with the exception of kneedrops onto a prone opponent. Watts actually admitted that the rule was a mistake in the first place.
– Watts actually contacted Dave after the story in last week’s Observer, and clarified that he’s all for incentive bonuses, but not GUARANTEED incentive bonuses, which is what Kip Frey was offering to everyone.
– Also, Watts is restructuring the contract offers yet again, with new deals having a clause built in where the company can terminate them at any time with 30 days notice. This, however, doesn’t hold true for the wrestler. And the deals come up for renewal every four months. Watts admitted that this doesn’t give them any security, but if the wrestlers want security, they should “go work in a bank.”
– Also, the company’s Workman’s Comp payments for 1992 were $400,000, so no more medical coverage will be offered for missing dates and such. If they want insurance, they make enough to buy it themselves, says Bill. (I feel like Watts must have voted for Trump for some reason.)
– On the subject of Erik Watts: Erik’s contract is the same as everyone else’s. Bill compared Erik to Dory Funk Jr., who debuted with a big push and was doing 60 minute draws with the NWA World champion soon after. (Yeah, but I’m pretty sure Dory could throw a dropkick at the very least.)
– Overall, Watts’ philosophy is that the business is a promoter’s market right now, and if someone can get a better deal than WCW is offering, they should take it. Dave notes that well into the future, we can look back and judge if that was a good idea. (Judgement from the far future: HELL NO it wasn’t a good idea, much like many of Bill’s ideas from this time.)
– Dave shoots down most of Bill’s rationalizations, especially the “guaranteed contracts make for lazy athletes” one. Everyone in football and basketball and baseball are all in unions with guaranteed deals, are they lazy? Everyone in New Japan and All Japan are on guaranteed deals, while the WWF guys are not. Who’s the lazier group?
– I think it was a rhetorical question.
– WAR and the WWF held a joint show in Tokyo on 9/15, drawing about 7000 paid to a 17000 seat arena, which was actually better than anticipated. Ironically, most of the house was drawn by the New Japan wrestlers who were working the show, namely Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka as a tag team. Even worse for WAR, they allowed top heel King Haku to be squashed like a bug by Undertaker in only 5:00 with a tombstone. And then the main event, which saw Ric Flair defending the WWF title against Tenryu in a 2/3 falls match, ended up in a double countout and left the fans enraged.
– Meanwhile, FMW drew 30,000 to a baseball stadium four days later, with Onita beating Tiger Singh in the main event, a no rope explosive barbed wire death match. The undercard featured John Tolos going to a 10:00 draw with Killer Kowalski, featuring a combined age of 129 years.
– All Japan on 9/17 saw the debut of former Olympic wrestler Jun Akiyama, who was pinned by Kenta Kobashi in the semi-main of the show. Baba apparently has plans to give Akiyama a major push down the line.
– Although the USWA shows are being run with numerous castoff WWF talents, such a Sgt. Slaughter getting a main event run against Eddie Gilbert, it is SHOCKINGLY not helping them draw in the least.
– GWF rival Big D debuted a new guy named “The Handsome Half-Breed” Dino Hernandez. Dave thinks there might be a BIT of plagiarism in that one.
– Your weird gimmick of the week comes via Portland: Midcard goof Damian Knight is an albino who wears thick glasses when he’s not wrestling, because the light burns his eyes and skin and cripples him, and he can see better in the dark. So they do a gag where he’s losing badly, but then Al Madril kills the lights in the arena and when they come back up, Knight magically has the opponent pinned. (That’s a pretty damn clever gimmick for a goofy midcard guy, actually.)
– Joe Pedicino has a new business called Food Fax, where he faxes lunchtime menus to offices within a six mile radius of any restaurants who pay his fee. “What a shocker,” Dave notes, “Pedicino coming up with a new idea that revolved around lunch.”
– As noted earlier, Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham beat the MVC to win the unified World tag titles at Center Stage on 9/20 in what was said to be a **1/2 match. Williams & Gordy are leaving for Japan right away and needed to drop the titles. It was said to be a hot taping, mostly because everyone in the company is under the gun to improve ratings OR ELSE.
– A potential seventh game of the World Series this year will again go head-to-head with Halloween Havoc. (Wait a second, how did the World Series go in 1992 again…oh yeah…)
– Needless to say, no seventh game was needed. You’re WELCOME, WCW.
– WCW has a new policy for PPV and Clash shows, where all matches must be significant, with no throw-away matches on big shows. (Well there goes most of WCW’s booking strategy.)
– They’re also trying a wacky new policy where people win cleanly with their holds at house shows, mostly heels going over babyfaces up and down the cards. Crowds are confused by this.
– Barry Windham is back working as Dusty’s booking assistant again.
– Shane Douglas, Erik Watts and Dustin Rhodes are all getting pushes right to the top as babyfaces.
– Newcomers at the WWF TV tapings in Winnipeg: Maximillion Moves, Lance Cassidy (aka Steve Armstrong as a singing cowboy), Matt Borne, and Terry Taylor. Dave has no idea who Maximillion Moves is. (The answer is Paul Diamond in the robot suit, of course. The name would be shortened to Max Moon quickly, though.)
– They’ve dropped the elimination tag gimmick for Survivor Series and this year will just feature normal matches, which is a reaction to the idea that you can’t just put whatever you want on PPV and have it draw any longer.
– Lou Albano is surprisingly trying to un-burn his bridges and return, which shocks a lot of people based on the stuff he said on the way out.
– Technically both Hawk and Sid are still under contract to the WWF, so Hawk is not free to work anywhere he wants like he’s claiming. Both are suspended but not fired.
– And finally, Paul Diamond debuts next week as Comet Kid on TV. (Man, they just could NOT make up their damn minds about that gimmick.)