Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/04/13/wrestling-observer-flashback-10-26-92/
So, uh, Dave did not care for Halloween Havoc. If you’re allergic to some ANGRY RANTING, I’d advise you to click somewhere else now. This is gonna be entertaining.
– The issue is subtitled “Halloween Havoc: Night of the Promotional Living Dead” so that’s probably not a good sign. 87.6% of thumbs are DOWN.
– But first: Things are really bad. Wrestling business is in a tunnel with no light at the end, and ratings are falling to record lows, and holy crap was Halloween Havoc terrible. And WCW overall is a runaway train, without a conductor, headed straight for a wall. And that wall is called 1993. (Or as we know him today, Eric Bischoff.)
– Dave has a real problem with this whole Erik Watts thing, because fresh young talent is almost always a good thing, but not talent that is clearly there only because they work cheaper and are related to the promoter.
– OK, so now to the thing that everyone is waiting for: Halloween Havoc isn’t the WORST PPV of all-time, but it’s in the conversation. Although to be fair, it was more a case of going off a cliff at the halfway point. (Definitely. The opening matches were good stuff.)
– Dave sums up Bash ‘91, the previous all-time low point of the company, as “a PPV card, the Great American Bash, in which the match-ups going in looked horrible on paper, were by and large even worse in reality, had the main event changed two weeks before, then confused the fans by turning both participants during the main event and the most over babyface at the show was a heel who had just been fired two weeks earlier.” But even with that show hanging over the promotion’s head, this one seemed like the death knell for Bill Watts’ disaster of a reign. The company has absolutely no direction, it’s just 1970s philosophy and matches being thrown on TV scattershot with nothing being built for the future. Turns are stopped and started. Characters are introduced, dropped, then brought back as if they were never gone and then buried again. Guys announce that they’re leaving the promotion, are given title belts “for God only knows what reason”, and then they leave the promotion!
– Oh, not to mention that a guy gets the World title because of an outdated notion that the color of his skin will somehow make people buy tickets to see him, while meanwhile every criticism and cheapshot at the WWF that Watts made is now completely exposed as fraudulent on his part. Also, every other PPV up until now had seen Watts blaming “the other guys” who ran the promotion into the ground before him, even though he was running the shows from start to finish, but finally Havoc was the first one he was willing to take 100% credit for, without the caveat that “so and so booked this angle before I got here” over and over. And what did we get? Anti-venom, snake attacks, ref bumps, a no-show, bait-and-switch advertising, and for the grand finale destroying the credibility of every singles title in the promotion.
– They drew 7000 to Philly, which was the largest house of the year for WCW. Probably won’t be so large the next time they come back.
A. Erik Watts & Van Hammer beat Vinnie Vegas & DDP in 12:00 when Watts pinned Page with a side roll in the dark match. -*
1. Tom Zenk & Shane Douglas & Johnny Gunn beat Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton & Michael Hayes in 11:02 when Gunn pinned Hayes. Good heat, although the crowd was cheering the heels. Gunn and Hayes dragged things down whenever either was in, but the match was good otherwise. Nothing spectacular, and the crowd booed the finish. **1/2
2. Rick Steamboat pinned Brian Pillman in 10:35 after a double reversal of a sunset flip. Good action, but the match was way too short. ***1/4
Next up, Bill Watts came out and suspended Terry Gordy for “a contract violation”, since Gordy quit that morning, and announced that Steve Austin would be taking his place. Also, there’s some kind of court injunction and now Big Van Vader will be taking Rick Rude’s place and defending the US title for him, because reasons. Dave feels like the “storyline” here was literally booked with 20 seconds of thought before the show. (That feels like giving them 15 seconds too much credit.)
3. Vader destroyed Nikita Koloff to defend the US title on Rude’s behalf, pinning him with a powerbomb in 11:53. **3/4
4. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes retained the tag titles, going to a 30:00 draw with the one and only teaming of the two Steve Williams’. The work was good but there was NO heat, so it seemed like it really sucked. There was no storyline to the match, just guys trading moves back and forth. Also, since there was no chance of Dr. Death and Stunning Steve actually winning those titles, the match dragged horribly. Then they had a ref bump and a false finish with Austin supposedly winning with a second ref counting, but then restarted the match and went to a draw instead. ***
Next up, the relatively famous interview where Paul E. goes nuts on Madusa and fires her from the Dangerous Alliance, resulting in a kick to the head and a match at the 11/18 Clash between them. Dave would normally guess that it would lead to Starrcade, but at the rate Dangerously is going he’ll be gone by the Clash. This was a tremendous segment that woke up the crowd and should have been the turning point in the show. But then…
5. Rick Rude beat Masa Chono by DQ in 22:33 in the NWA World title match. This match destroyed the show AND the NWA World title in the US in one fell swoop. (Well, I mean, to be fair, Shane Douglas REALLY destroyed the title two years later, but that’s neither here nor there…) Dave wonders if there’s ever been another case of two wrestlers having a Match of the Year Candidate in their first meeting ever, and then having a Worst Match of the Year Candidate in their second meeting? On a positive note, at least it wasn’t broadcast in Japan. Kensuke Sasaki was outside ref, and Harley Race was inside ref. And he just reffed it right down the middle, despite being there as a heel ref. The biggest babyface in the match was Ric Flair, who got “We Want Flair” chants for the whole match. And this seemed to piss off Rude, who tanked the match as a result. And meanwhile Chono was still messed up from the botched Steve Austin piledriver. And then Ross & Ventura completely no-sold all of Chono’s various submission holds on commentary. Dave notes that it makes sense that the crowd would be completely dead for it all because they never bothered to explain any of the holds on TV, so perhaps WCW thought that fans had ESP and could just read minds to suddenly understand the psychology? And then a fight broke out in the crowd and the match was lost for good. Anyway, Race was bumped to the floor, and Sasaki called for the submission when Chono put Rude in the STF, but SHOCKER, Race recovered and declared Rude the winner by DQ for throwing Chono over the top rope. One of the worst World title matches ever on PPV. -***
6. Ron Simmons pinned Barbarian with a powerslam in 12:41 to retain the World title. It’s sadly obvious at this point that Simmons is no World champion. And Barbarian is no #1 contender. Barbarian broke out the cobra hold, aka the Shinninomaki, which Dave notes is actually named after a train station in Tokyo. Fun fact: The hold causes the audience to go to sleep long before the wrestler ever does. Another one of the worst World title matches ever on PPV! 1/4* (See, Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton was just trying to live up to a certain pedigree.)
Next up, they did an interview with Bruno Sammartino, Ron Simmons and Erik Watts.
The idea here was to give Erik the rub by having him alongside the former World champion and the current World champion, and people backstage were PISSED about it. “This Erik Watts push is out of control” Dave notes. (It’s not even the worst of it yet!)
7. Sting pinned Jake Roberts in a Coal Miner’s Glove match in 10:34. Jake is beyond washed up in the ring, and he’s actually dragged Sting down with him in the process. They did a boring match until Jake hit the DDT, but Sting got up first and climbed for the glove. And then Cactus Jack brought the snake bag out and poor Jake got his own snake back in the face and it gnawed on his cheek while Sting pinned him. Unfortunately, the snake and biting were both all too real, and Jake ran back to the dressing room with a snake attached to his face. 1/4*
– Dave has no PPV figures available yet. (I do! It did a 0.9% buyrate, which was a hell of a number considering the disaster that the promotion had become. Clearly all the nonsense with Jake could still pop a number. This was also the first WCW PPV available in Edmonton, and maybe all of Canada, and I certainly bought it.)
– The big rumor at the show was that Rude was going to announce Sid Vicious as his choice for referee, although clearly there was nothing to that one.
– And it’s another record low for Prime Time Wrestling, with a 1.7, which puts ratings into the danger zone on USA Network. Expect Vince to start loading up the show with more quality matches as a result. Wrestling being at these kinds of lows in October is a real, real, real bad sign.
– Ric Flair’s career was thought to be in jeopardy this past week, with doctors warning him that any further jarring blows to the head could damage his ear nerves for good and end his career. (He better hope he’s not flying United, then! HOW ABOUT IT!) Despite these dire warnings, he’s still going to be at the Survivor Series, because of course he is.
– Animal quit the WWF this past week, after suffering a broken tailbone in Japan on 9/15 and working through it for a month. The WWF is claiming to have no knowledge of this happening.
– More house shows are being cancelled, mostly Randy Savage v. Razor Ramon main events. They’re going to merge the A and B shows into one tour for the time being until the bleeding stops.
– The WWF will be taping the second SNME for FOX this week, airing 11/14, with Money Inc defending the tag titles against Savage & Warrior, plus Bret Hart v. Papa Shango and Ric Flair v. Big Bossman. Obviously that last match will have to be changed to something else.
– All Japan had its 100th consecutive sellout on 10/21, with a main event dream match of Misawa defending the Triple Crown against Kawada for the first time. It ran 29:00 and was apparently awesome. (I guess even Misawa v. Kawada had a “first time” way back when.)
– The biggest gate of the week actually went to UWFI, who packed 16,500 people into Budokan thanks to extra chairs at ringside. The main event was Koji Kitao making his return and doing the job to Nobuhiko Takada after a series of kicks to the head in the third round. Kitao is still a major celebrity in Japan at this point and people are completely buying his “shoot style” reinvention.
– Vader is basically done with New Japan at this point, since they are paying him a shitload of money and he blew out his knee, but then held off on getting it fixed while he worked dates for WCW instead. New Japan didn’t really appreciate that and may be cutting him loose. Between that and Bigelow leaving for the WWF, it looks like Scott Norton and Road Warrior Hawk will end up being the top gaijin as a result.
– Over to Memphis, where USWA champion Butch Reed discovered what Jerry Jarrett actually pays his guys, and walked out. So on 10/17 for the Memphis TV show, they announced that Todd Champion had won the title “in Cleveland”, which was a fictitious title change. And then Champion “won the title” again from Junkyard Dog in Louisville on 10/20, because that town is a week behind and JYD was the champion at the point they were at. At least that match was real.
– Kevin Von Erich quote of the week: He was interviewed by the St. Louis Times for a “man on the street” deal and asked “What are the essential ingredients for good sex?” Kevin’s advice: “I need a spotter and lots of extras, some key stunt personnel, maybe a pulley on the ceiling and a good strong bungee cord. That’s great sex, not just good sex!”
– Bam Bam Bigelow debuted as a heel on 10/26 for the WWF TV tapings in Springfield, IL.
– Jimmy Garvin did a dark segment in a suit and tie, doing an interview where he predicted all heels winning at Survivor Series and pretty much bombed. (I wonder if this is where the “Jimmy Garvin was originally going to be Doink the Clown” thing started from?)
– Bob Backlund also debuted as a babyface and got no reaction.
– Expect Bigelow and this Yokozuna character to get big pushes in 1993, maybe even all the way to Bret Hart.
– Dave is getting 50/50 odds on Hogan being back by the end of the year.
– Tentative plan is currently Las Vegas for Wrestlemania IX.
– Hey, remember last week how that Sports Supplements Buyer’s Guide magazine was ripping on ICOPRO for being fraudulent and shady? Dave actually did some perfunctory research on the magazine itself, and it turns out that it’s ALSO fraudulent and shady, listing their debut issue as “Volume 2, issue 3” and quoting doctors that don’t exist. Dave’s take: This is the last he’ll talk about bodybuilding because Vince has pulled out completely now, but the entire industry is built on con men and fraud, so he’s not shocked.
– WCW is running a “King of Cable” tournament in November, leading up to the Clash on 11/18.
– The Steiners and the TV title are no persona non grata on WCW TV, so they’re gone.
– And finally, Jim Ross was reprimanded by WSB Radio for making “an off-hand remark about gay people” during a football broadcast.