Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.29.94

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 08.29.94

Momentum is swinging wildly between the two companies this week, although not in the way that you’d usually expect.

Because WCW usually sucks, is what I’m getting at.

– SummerSlam 94 takes place on 8/29 in Chicago, and the WWF hasn’t even made their fake announcement of tickets being sold out yet. That’s probably not a good sign. Even with the show being the debut in the new state-of-the-art United Center, this card is just not setting the world on fire. Also, mainstream press is snidely burying the whole thing, with the narrative being “Oh look, they’re opening the brand new United Center and putting WRESTLING on as the first event, LOL.”

– Although last year’s flop of a show, with Lex Luger’s title chase doing 280,000 buys, was considered a huge letdown, that same number would be a massive success this year. In fact, the Undertaker v. Undertaker angle is such an ice cold storyline that Vince McMahon has already publicly declared it dead and buried after only the one match.

– Brian Lee will be taken off house shows, but he’ll be back soon with a new look and a new character. (Soon as in three years, I guess.)

– Meanwhile, Bret v. Owen also comes to end, after limping to a finish for the past few months while house shows have died steadily with them on top. Although houses started strong with the match, interest didn’t last and the last two months have been the lowest drawing houses in history for the company. Dave does note that although Wrestlemania was an all-time classic match between them, the house show matches have been massive disappointments. “Bret Hart usually doesn’t live up to his self-pronouncements of his own ability at the house shows”, Dave notes. He’s pretty sure they’ll have a pretty good one at the PPV, however.

– The undercard looks like crap and nothing else is particularly interesting or over.

– Meanwhile, they tried an experiment of doing a live call-in show on the USA Network this past week, and it was a complete disaster. The show seemingly confirmed every stereotype of wrestling fans, making it sound the product was a cartoon aimed at morons. Dave thinks that either the company was screening calls to weed out anyone who might accidentally ask a “smart” question, or more terrifyingly, the callers were actually a representative sample of their actual audience. (It was probably the latter.)

– Meanwhile, in WCW, the Clash of Champions on 8/24 should produce the highest rated broadcast in years. It probably won’t, but it should. You got Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, good momentum, and a probable title change. (Well, 3 out of 4…) Logic and storyline and booking direction all indicate a title change, but Dave understands the ego involved and wouldn’t want to place any money on it. Plus there’s only so many jobs that Hogan is going to do for the rest of his career. The hope is for a 5.0 rating, but they need to at least do a 4.0. (Well, they smashed that number, so it certainly worked out well for them.)

– While the World title may not change hands, the US title certainly will, since post-Clash TV direction has Steamboat winning the title and suffering a shoulder injury in the process. (Man, if that had been a back injury they filmed, the tinfoil hat people would have been losing their MINDS.)

– Back to the WWF, who announced the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio as the site of Survivor Series ’94, which is an interesting departure from the big arenas for them. It’s actually a mid-sized building.

– Vader added yet another World title to his collection, beating Takada for the UWFI’s version of the title on 8/18. It was the finale of the four month tournament held by the company, and he won via knockout in 19:24 of a total slugfest. With 5 different varieties of World title in his career, this gives Vader a record that is trailing only Lou Thesz.

– And now, back to the most popular new feature here in the Flashbacks…

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– After a week of haggling, it appears that the rogue NWA World title tournament will in fact be sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance after all. Tod Gordon has reportedly reached an agreement with Dennis Coraluzzo as of 8/22, which gives him 2 out of the 3 votes needed to proceed with official permission. Crockett won’t be at the show, but has clearly given his blessing to it. Reportedly the reasoning behind the change of heart is that according to the NWA’s legal team, the article in last week’s Observer and Torch newsletters…and you might want to sit down for this one…MADE THE NWA LOOK STUPID.

(My jaw is literally hitting the floor with surprise at reading that.)

– From a public relations standpoint, the feeling was that since they couldn’t come up with the massive legal costs needed to fight the tournament (You know, $5000 doesn’t grow on trees!) then they might as well just let it happen.

– Coraluzzo’s objections in particular are that he wanted Chris Benoit to win the tournament, and that was actually the main thing holding up negotiations over the past week. So in the end, he got a promise from Gordon that the eventual mystery winner would drop the title to Benoit right away. However, Paul Heyman reportedly stirred the pot further by promising Coraluzzo that ECW would just steal Benoit anyway. (This just gets more awesome.)

– Meanwhile, Jim Crockett tried to sway his buddy Dennis to the Gordon side by telling him that he “had never heard of Benoit anyway” so why make such a big deal about having him be champion? (I almost literally choked on my drink while reading that sentence.) Dave is like “WHO HASN’T HEARD OF CHRIS BENOIT IN 1994?!” So either Crockett is a liar, or he’s terrifyingly out of touch with the current product. (Let’s face it, at least Bill Watts knew who Benoit and Scorpio were.)

– Dave isn’t exactly sure how the impasse was broken, but he’s sure it’ll become obvious when they actually do the tournament on 8/29. (Oh, that’s an understatement.)

– Hulk Hogan did an interview with a Florida newspaper this past week, getting some good shots at people in the process. When they asked him about Bret Hart’s description of him as a dinosaur, Hulk noted that he made seven figures on PPV for one match, so it’s “better to be a dinosaur than a sore loser.” He also claimed to have been producing television for 15 years, basically taking credit for everything Vince McMahon had done in the industry. (Well, Hulk gonna Hulk.)

– In All Japan, hype for Steve Williams defending the Triple Crown against Kenta Kobashi on 9/3 is already off the charts, with surprising coverage from mainstream TV outlets that have never even covered wrestling before.

– Although Sid Vicious hasn’t been the giant draw in Memphis as Unified champion that they were banking on, crowds have still been consistently strong.

– To SMW, where the Gangstas storyline continues spiraling out of control for Jim Cornette. Backstory: The WWF’s syndicated deal was going into the toilet with ratings hitting new lows, so as a stopgap measure, they made a deal with Cornette and Jerry Jarrett to include SMW and USWA TV shows as a part of their syndication deal to sweeten the pot, and then paid those promotions a piece of the action that resulted. However, with the Gangstas alienating advertisers everywhere, the WWF has now pulled out of the SMW deal, which costs Cornette a significant amount of money every week. In addition, the Knoxville NAACP is campaigning against SMW after the interview that the Gangstas did at Night of the Legends, although Cornette is taking a “Controversy = Cash” attitude towards the whole thing and will be going full steam ahead with the team as his top headliner. (Oh, Jim…)

– Back to the haircut controversy from a couple of weeks back, as everyone has since clarified that there was no argument about Candido getting a haircut or not, but it was simply that the clippers didn’t work and they had to redo the booking as a result. Cornette concedes that he didn’t handle things in the best way, but they’ll get over it.

– Shane Douglas did interviews on the 8/16 ECW show for the NWA title tournament, where he constantly compared himself to Ric Flair and challenged him to “a shoot”. Dave thinks that this is wasting TV time by using your product to build up a match that you can’t deliver. (Well, I’m sure Shane will get it out of his system sooner rather than later.)

– In a sad note, Scott Peterson died on 7/25 after crashing his truck. Peterson had been the original partner of Steve “Steven Dunn” Doll in Oregon, before leaving the business in 1989 and getting replaced by Rex “Timothy Well” King.

And now for the return of the…

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– Davey Boy Smith’s young son Harry made his pro debut for Stu Hart at a local rodeo in Calgary, wrestling his cousin Matthew Hart. Although both are very young, Stu had faith in them to pull it off. (Unfortunately, Matthew Hart, brother of Teddy Hart, tragically died of the flesh-eating bacteria disease at age 13 in 1996.)

– Johnny B. Badd blew out his ankle in England while doing a reality sports show, and that may screw up the current plan of having him win the TV title at Fall Brawl, since everything has already been taped around that.

– Apparently WCW has managed to book Madison Square Garden for a Hogan-Flair match on 11/26, which would actually be one of the biggest stories of the year if it happens. (Well, it didn’t.)

– Rumors were flying that Terry Taylor had been fired, since Hogan has been bringing in his friends and they need to free up money from somewhere to pay for them. However, it just appears to be a restructuring of the deal.

– The big joke backstage is that the WarGames match in September will be the first time ever where Arn Anderson has the best body of anyone in the match.

– In “Because WCW” news, they ran a house show on 8/21 in Charleston, WV, headlined by Nasty Boys v. Sullivans in a cage match. Two problems: First, the Nasties have already turned babyface on TV. Second, the cage never actually arrived at the building.

– House show business in Texas was way back down again, so they decided to bring in some Mexican names to draw from the big AAA/EMLL base that all the kids are talking about. However, the talent they chose was booking Chavo & Mando Guerrero for the show against Funk & Buck. At least the “new generation” matches were said to be good.

– “Thunder in Paradise” appears to be dead in the water already, with the show not getting a renewal yet and nothing on the horizon.

– Erik Watts was on the chopping block to finally rid the company of his contract, but SURPRISE, someone in the front office screwed up and now he’s around for another 90 days.

– A new team debuted at the WCW Saturday Night tapings called “The Long Riders”, said to be two big green guys doing a biker gimmick. (I’m stumped on this one. I’m assuming this was some kind of a one-and-done tryout, but the only other team called “The Long Riders” besides the famous one was the Smoking Gunns.)

– To the WWF, where Brian Armstrong debuted at the TV tapings and “didn’t get over at all.” However, since both he and Maxx Payne were at the tapings and both are musically talented, there’s been discussions of doing some kind of a rock band gimmick with them.

– They did a fake title switch at the tapings in Portland, ME, on 8/17, with Owen Hart apparently beating Bret for the WWF title with help from Jim Neidhart. However, after airing the finish on the video wall, the ref re-started the match and Bret won.

– Michaels & Diesel are now up to about 85% cheers for their matches at both tapings.

– King Kong Bundy is back, but didn’t tape any TV matches yet.

– And finally, your crazy rumor of the week: Rick Rude returning to the WWF, managed by Tammy Fytch. Everyone involved claims there’s nothing to the story. (DAMN. What a combo that would have been!)