Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.22.94

In news that will mean absolutely nothing to you, faithful reader, I am now writing these in Word first rather than typing them up directly in the blog editor, which means that I can now start saving them in the archives for those of you who have been kind enough to pay for access.

This week, the NWA finally regroups and crowns a new champion, hosted by ECW in Philly! Sounds like a real feel-good story with a happy ending for everyone.

– Controversy this week, as Tod Gordon announced that he would be hosting the NWA World title tournament in Philly on 8/27 at the ECW Arena. Originally it was announced as coming from New Jersey, but after numerous complaints from the ECW faithful, it was moved to the bingo hall.

– At this point, the NWA (whatever is left of it) does not approve of this plan. The title has been vacant since a humiliating split from WCW in 1993, where WCW basically switched the title from Ric Flair to Rick Rude without approval of the NWA board and then won a court battle that would have forced them to have Rude lose the NWA belt in the ring to someone of the group’s choosing. It turns out that Seiji Sakaguchi had in fact given the rights to the NWA name and title to WCW while he was President of the NWA, and no one knew about it until the case went to court.

– Soon after, some of the remaining spurned promotors got together and tried to remake the NWA, led by Dennis Coraluzzo and Jim Crockett, with Tod Gordon later joining but not getting a seat on the board. Jim Cornette tried to join but got rejected because he was managing the WWF champion at the time and they felt that it would be a conflict of interest. “Sound confusing and irrelevant to today’s wrestling? It gets better.” (Now there’s some quality Dave snark!) So then Tod Gordon basically just announced that he was resurrecting the NWA title and holding a tournament, but no one on the board actually approved it. Tod’s excuse is that it was Jim Crockett’s idea, and since he is on the board, that’s basically the same as board approval.

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– Dennis Coraluzzo decided to give his approval to the tournament, with a couple of stipulations. First, the other promoters needed to be guaranteed dates on the champion. Second, the champion had to agree to drop the title in the middle of the ring at the behest of the board. Third, Coraluzzo wants to be able to choose the decide who gets the title next. (Oh man, now I’m picturing Coraluzzo as Sting and Tod Gordon as Flair, with Dennis cutting an impassioned promo and going “Tod, if you swerve me, I’ll leave you for dead!” This shit is better than most pro wrestling storylines!)

– So here’s what we know thus far: Gordon and Heyman have someone in mind, who isn’t known, and Coraluzzo didn’t have any input into it. Steve Rickard of New Zealand doesn’t want the tournament now and wants to wait for the NWA convention in September. Jim Crockett, who apparently proposed the original idea to Gordon, wants the champion crowned right away because he wants the NWA champion to work his long-awaited new territory (BWAHAHAHAHA!) and possibly drop the title to one of his guys there. Thus Crockett would gain control of the title again and apparently everything would go back to like it was in the 80s again. (This is AMAZING. How did these morons even manage to order coffee for their meetings?!) For his part, Tod Gordon is telling people that he’s being set up. (Irony! Fantastic!)

– Regardless, Tod is running the tournament with or without permission of the NWA, and will be using the NWA name and title belt no matter how things shake down. Basically, the NWA is still $5000 in debt from the legal fight with WCW, and thus one of the three musketeers would have to ante up their own money for a legal fight with Tod Gordon, so it’s unlikely anyone will actually challenge Tod. (I’m just about to the point where I’m going to start chanting “THIS IS AWESOME!” at the stupidity on display here, and then “You deserve it!” next week. This is EPIC FAIL.)

– In closing, Dave notes “By allowing the tournament to continue without approval and without a legal fight, the board is giving up its power over the name, and hence, years after it was the dominant name in wrestling, and after it truly no longer existed, the final burial of the NWA world heavyweight championship as it once existed, is scheduled to take place at the tournament billed to be its resurrection.” (And to think Dave didn’t even know what was about to go down!)

– To WCW, where there’s a few changes to the Fall Brawl card. Meng has been pulled from the WarGames match and replaced by Col. Parker, which makes the finish pretty obvious. Hogan is apparently going to suffer a “career ending injury” at the Clash, so he’ll be absent from the PPV and Dusty Rhodes is going to have to be the big draw. Johnny B. Badd challenges Steven Regal for the TV title and will be winning it there, since he’s already programmed with Honky Tonk Man for the title later in the year based on the Disney tapings.

– Also, originally the plan for the Halloween Havoc cage match was that Flair was going to retire if he lost, but advertising has now changed to Hogan vowing to retire if he loses, since Flair isn’t retiring any time soon and Hogan isn’t losing to Flair in this lifetime. (Didn’t he end up losing that strap match to Flair in 99, and doing a job to a shoe as well early in Nitro’s run? So that’s within our lifetime!)

– WCW and AAA will indeed be co-promoting a PPV on 11/6, although WCW won’t have any involvement on the wrestling side and the actual card will be all AAA guys. It’s scheduled for the standard 2 hours and 47 minutes, which is a problem because Mexican shows traditionally go insanely long due to bookers of those promotions letting their guys go as long as need to tell the story they want.

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– Ultimately, the idea is to syndicate an hour-long AAA TV show in America, using WCW’s connections with the TV industry. So what’s the problem? Well, if AAA makes it onto WCW’s TV shows, it’ll probably be presented like “Hey folks, here’s Mexican wrestling. Isn’t it cute? Look at all the guys in masks flying around.” (To be fair here, that sounds a hell of a lot like how Vince presented it later on.) Even worse, they’ve been working on this deal for MONTHS, and how many shows have WCW execs gone to see in Mexico so they can actually understand the product? Answer: One. Attended by Gary Juster. Just look at how stupid the on-air guys sounded when they tried to do a co-promotion with New Japan.

– Road Warrior Hawk was convicted of second degree assault stemming from an arrest in March after attacking a man at a movie theater in Minneapolis. He was given a two year suspended sentence and won’t serve time if he stays out of trouble and stays away from the victim in that time. Hawk’s innocence became difficult to maintain once it was revealed that a TV station actually had videotaped the entire incident as a part of a story they were working on at the time. (Can you imagine if that had happened today? The story would have been all over Twitter in SECONDS.)

– As expected, Jacques Rougeau and the WWF had a joint press conference in Montreal to announce his retirement show for 10/21, with a main event of Jacques v. Pierre and expectations of drawing 21,000 to the Forum. (They didn’t quite hit that level, but it was still one of the biggest houses of the year for the WWF.)

– Dave finally saw the Steve Williams win over Misawa for the Triple Crown on All Japan TV, and gave it ****3/4.

– To Memphis, where a new team using the “Dante & Mephisto” gimmick has him wondering who the heck they are, since it’s based on a famous gimmick team from the 70s. (Don’t get excited, the answer is “Just a couple of guys”.)

– Turns out Sid Vicious was not the big draw, as his title match with Jerry Lawler drew a disappointing 1600 people, the lowest all month.

– Buddy Landel, who was working as a youth minister, actually came out of semi-retirement to be Brian Christopher’s mystery partner in a tag match with Doug Gilbert & Tommy Rich. (Wonder if he got fired from THAT job, too?)

– Here’s a huge shocker: Wade Keller and Bruce Mitchell of the Pro Wrestling Torch wrote some pretty critical things about Jim Cornette and the state of SMW, and Cornette EXPLODED on them via voicemail. He left a message that was basically a series of death threats, stemming from a parody article done by Mitchell detailing how Cornette could in fact take the Gangstas angle even further than he already had.

– Back to ECW, where Terry Funk and Cactus Jack had a short and disappointing main event brawl with Public Enemy because the show was running long and there was midnight bingo still to come. So Funk called an audible and asked for a chair from the crowd, which resulted in 100 – 200 chairs getting tossed into the ring and burying Public Enemy underneath them.

– Earlier in the show, 2 Cold Scorpio debuted against Sabu and people were booing Scorpio because of the WCW stink and such, but he was so impressive that the crowd turned around and ended up chanting for him after the match.

– Turns out that new Global booker Michael Hayes managed to have all his new ideas vetoed by the owner, so he’s already fired as booker after one week.

– To WCW, where a hoax about Ron Simmons being dead got completely out of control, to the point where all the local media in Tallahassee were working on legit stories about it until the truth came out. Once everyone figured it out, an Atlanta paper debunked the rumor, but noted that although Simmons isn’t dead, his WCW career sure is.

– Correction from last week: 1-2-3 Kid was never scheduled to face Jeff Jarrett at Summerslam, and it was Mabel all along.

– Although the idea of Backlund’s crazy heel turn being caused by a returning Papa Shango was planned at one point, the idea has been dropped completely and Charles Wright will be repackaged into a completely different gimmick soon. (That was a pretty big rumor on RSPW at the time, I should note.)

– Fans in Pittsburgh successfully trolled Bret Hart at a house show on 8/5, as they held up a banner during the Bret/Owen match that read “Flair vs. Hogan 1.1, King of the Ring 0.7, who’s fooling who?” Bret was unhappy about it, Dave guesses.

– Remember that guy they hired as head of public relations a couple of months back who was seemingly stepping into the lion’s den with that position? Well, he’s gone already.

– And finally, Shawn Michaels & Diesel worked as a tag team for TV tapings scheduled to air after Summerslam, and got 70% cheers. (Hopefully Vince won’t make any rash decisions based on that reaction…)