Wrestling Observer Flashback–12.27.93

Time to wrap up 1993!  And no, I’m not doing anything wacky like jumping back and forth in time or anything, we’re just moving on to 1994 and all the Hulk Hogan-ness therein.  Doing all the Unreleased stuff was super fun, though, and I’m glad everyone enjoyed it.  But back to business!

– Merry Christmas from Dave!  Pretty much everyone is shut down for the holidays at the moment, with Japan re-opening the country in January, so things should be light from a news perspective this week.

– Ted Turner actually addressed his wrestling company for the first time ever on 12/16, although it was basically just a “pep rally” with him talking about cross-promotion being the wave of the future.  Also, he vowed that as long as he was around, the company would never go out of business.

– Moving on, since nothing is going on this week, it’s time for…

– Overall, most people thought it was going to be the year of change, but it was mostly the year of spinning your wheels and status quo.  Although WWF was up slightly from the historic lows of 1992, much of the current ratings upswing is because cold weather usually means people stay inside and watch TV, so it’s hard to read too much into that.  Most concerning to Dave is that if TV ratings were such a money-making machine towards promoting PPV, then why was Survivor Series such a colossal flop?

– In fact, PPV has fallen 25 percent across the board for both promotions, even as they add more and more shows to try to continue the golden goose.  And both groups are continuing to add shows until we reach critical mass and people just start picking and choosing.  (AKA what happened with stuff like the In Your House experiment.) 

– Meanwhile, in Japan, everything is terrific and they’re selling tickets hand over fist in New Japan at the moment.  However, even NJPW is showing signs of burnout, with the tag tournament flopping and TV ratings decreasing.

– However, what’s most impressive about Japan is not the success of the big two, but the relative success of all the other small groups vying for attention in a geographically limited area like Japan.  FMW is still strong, aside from the regrettable time Onita literally jumped into a polluted river with open wounds and was out for months as a result.

– Also contributing was the rise of the “shoot” groups like UWFI and Pancrase, and in fact Takada is pretty much the biggest draw in the world, resulting in 46,000 people watching his match with Vader despite no TV.

– Meanwhile, the best wrestling in the world is easily All Japan Women, with Dream Slam and Dream Slam II ranking as the greatest two live wrestling events ever held.  (Dave throwing down the GAUNTLET.) 

– In Mexico, EMLL had an up-and-down year, and actually got cancelled off Televisa effective immediately, leaving them without a TV outlet.  (Well, they’re still around, so obviously they recovered.)  AAA, on the other hand, hit historic highs at the beginning of the year, but then toppled to historic lows when Konnan was “retired”.  But then Konnan returned and suddenly they were doing huge numbers again.

– Onto the news, as Bobby Heenan is basically confirmed to be coming into WCW next month.  And that should spell the end of Jesse Ventura’s contract as well.

– Sid was brought into the office and told “Hey, we’d love to bring you back as soon as possible, but it’s the OTHER WRESTLERS who just don’t want you around, big guy.”  (That is some high-level passing of the buck there.) 

– OK, time for the Davey Boy Smith update.  He was buried on TV after getting fired last week, because he thought that he was free to work indy shows when not booked for WCW, according to the deal he signed with Bill Watts.  And he also had a previous deal with All Japan when he signed and Bill thought that was fine as well.  Also, Cowboy (allegedly) promised him more money for working the European tours and drawing money there, because DUH.  So Smith went on that tour and Bischoff just paid him his normal amount, and as a result Davey decided to sit out the next house show tour.  WCW’s head office then claimed that they didn’t actually have Davey’s number to call him and work things out, so Davey quit.  WCW then turned this into a firing for missing a TV taping and buried him on TV and then again on Mean Gene’s hotline.

– WCW’s take on the Watts version of the contract:

– The topper to all this is that Smith had asked to be able to work for All Japan and got the runaround from the usual people in the front office because they had “big plans” for him at Battlebowl that couldn’t possibly be changed, so All Japan lost interest and didn’t ask Smith back again.  Meanwhile, WCW advertised the Nasty Boys for the PPV and all the house shows following, and then just let them go work Japan anyway and no-show all those dates because WCW.  Davey’s gonna go work England in the meantime.

– Not really much details in the death of Larry Cameron last week, unfortunately.  Latest word is that he took a bad bump and suffered a blood clot that may have moved to this heart and killed him later on.  Otto Wanz is trying to spin it as an “asthma attack” in the newspapers, but that’s clearly bullshit and in fact some of the Americans on the tour left in disgust, like Bruiser Mastino and Cameron’s partner Mad Bull Buster.  (That would be Mantaur and Pitbull #2, respectively).  Wanz did a tribute show on 12/18, featuring the debut of young 18 year old Alex Wright, who is said to have great potential.

– John Tenta quit EMLL after only one show, claiming that he was stiffed on his payoff.

– Madusa debuted for the WWF as “Alondra Blayze” and won the WWF Women’s title in a “tournament final” over Heidi Lee Morgan in Poughkeepsie.

– Meanwhile, another newcomer is “Sparky Pluggs”, who is Bob Holly from Pensacola and had actually quit wrestling two years ago.

– WWF did a Salvation Army benefit in New York on 12/17, with 450 people paying $75 each for a dinner and autograph session with the major names, which made everyone there happy. Most accessible?  Vince McMahon.

– And now, time for a new segment that Dave would like to call…

– So yes, the WWF got people to pay to vote on whether Savage should be reinstated as commentator (even though he had already been taped doing commentary on Mania) and then the next week they asked people to vote on whether Lex Luger should be allowed to compete in the Royal Rumble (even that was already decided weeks ago.)

– Despite what you might have read in some OTHER newsletters, the Black Knight was Jeff Gaylord and not Glen Jacobs.  (This actually set off a YEARS-long debate online for some reason, with opinion swinging back and forth until people had actually seen Jacobs wrestle enough that it was clearly not him.) 

– Although the obvious plan is Yokozuna beating Undertaker at Rumble and then losing the belt to Luger at Mania, there’s also talk of having Taker win the belt and turning Yokozuna babyface.

– To WCW, where they’ve done a tremendous job with the buildup to Flair-Vader in what should be a great match, but the undercard is going to be hot garbage.

– There’s all kinds of rumors flying about the booking position in WCW, in particular Terry Funk campaigning like crazy to get the job.

– Curt Hennig was in the office this week, but then, Dave notes, so was Sid Vicious.  (And they both amounted to nothing as it turned out.) 

– WCW is set to introduce a European championship next year.  (What a stupid idea.) 

– The only matches set for the Clash on 1/27 are Jack & Payne likely winning the tag titles from the Nasty Boys and Ron Simmons v. Ice Train in the match seemingly intended to cause remotes across the country to change channels to other networks.

– And finally, Johnny B. Badd did an interview announcing that Michael Hayes is coming out of retirement to be his tag team partner, but the Hayes turn on him has already been taped.