Wrestling Observer Flashback – 09.19.94
And now, for the first time I can remember, the UFC gets the lead story.
Well, that probably won’t happen again for a while.
– So UFC III was supposed to be another easy ride for Royce Gracie, but in fact the KING IS DEAD. Well, sort of. Steve Jennum was put into the finals as a last-minute substitute for an injured Royce and won the tournament, which doesn’t exactly make him the new king of fighting. Ken Shamrock won a pair of matches but then bowed out of the finals due to injury. Kimo was by far the most memorable contestant and more importantly, put such a beating on Gracie that he was knocked out of the tournament.
– The show was actually in some jeopardy, with Request TV threatening to pull it at the last minute and various media outlets characterizing it as “human cock fighting”. (Humans fighting birds? That hardly seems fair. No wonder they wanted it banned.) What this event really showed was that after two PPVs where strikers and boxers were completely dominated by ground-fighters, the game is evolving already, with strikers now mixing in wrestling and jiu jitsu to achieve success against guys like Gracie. (A sort of mix of martial arts, if you will.) However, the format and product are so brutal that it’s inevitable someone is going to be seriously injured. (Hence the rule changes that came a little later.)
– Speaking of senseless violence, Jim Cornette was arrested on 9/12 for vandalism and destruction of personal property after smashing in the car windows of a former employee with a baseball bat. He released on a $5000 bond. The employee, KC O’Connor, was fired by Cornette on 8/7 after Cornette accused him of stealing a tennis raquet and then blamed him for a lot of negative publicity surrounding the promotion as of late.
(Hulk Hogan wouldn’t let either one date his daughter, I bet.)
– Anyway, hilarious cheapshots at Hogan aside, O’Connor claimed that Cornette still owed him $300 in expenses that he had paid out of pocket. Then Cornette remembered that O’Connor had borrowed a video camera from him, and called looking for it, and O’Connor got pissed off at Cornette because Bruiser Bedlam was apparently allowed to stay in O’Connor’s apartment with Cornette’s blessing while he had been out of town. So the argument quickly escalated and Cornette blew his stack (What? NO!) and O’Connor said he was keeping the video camera. So Cornette drove over to the apartment and made sure to block in O’Connor’s car so he couldn’t escape the parking lot, and they got into a yelling match that ended with Cornette threatening to go get his baseball bat and smash up the windows if he didn’t get the camera back. O’Connor wisely called the police while Cornette was in the act, and Jim ran away and got out of town, before turning himself in the next morning. (Guys, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions here, but I think Jim Cornette might have a bit of a temper.)
– In semi-related news, major SMW backer Rick Rubin is busy with a costly lawsuit in the UK, which likely means that money may be slow in coming to the promotion. (In fact Rubin pulled out completely in 1995 and that was one of the death knells for the company.)
– Dave notes that both promotions are pretty dead this week, so let’s talk about the state of the union! While the WWF escaped the steroid trial unscathed, they’ve never been in worse shape as far as popularity goes. TV ratings are down and house shows are in the toilet. The problem is that once you get past Undertaker, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Diesel and Razor Ramon, who’s left? Doesn’t anyone really buy Jim Neidhart as the promotion’s lead heel? (Now his WIFE…)
– Meanwhile, WCW has become “The Hogan Wrestling Federation”, and many people are skeptical about the long-term prospects of that. Really, Hogan can’t be blamed for making his own schedule at 41 and not caring about WCW’s house show business. (Sounds familiar.) He’s almost certainly going to re-up with WCW, but he’s almost certainly not going to be around for house shows or TV tapings. He might lose the title to Sting under the right circumstances (Say, for 700,000 PPV buys and with a paid off referee) but if he doesn’t lose, then the belt will be put on ice as far as house shows go. (Again, sounds familiar.)
– WCW’s next major show is Halloween Havoc on 10/23, with Hogan v. Flair in a cage match for the WCW title, plus Steve Regal v. Jim Duggan, Dustin Rhodes v. Arn Anderson, Nasty Boys v. Funk & Buck, Pretty Wonderful v. Stars & Stripes for the tag titles, Johnny B. Badd v. Honky Tonk Man for the TV title and Guardian Angel v. Vader in a strap match. This, to Dave, looks like a merely OK show. (Which it was.)
– Back to Summerslam: Actual paid attendance was 19,500 out of 23,000 in the building, grossing $386,000. This is a lot less than the previously quoted $488,000, and apparently a lot of the money is going to a local marketing firm anyway. WWF and a couple of other sources are claiming a 1.4 buyrate (310,000 buys) while a third party is claiming 0.89 (205,000 buys.) However, Dave notes that none of these numbers answer the real question coming out of the show: Whether or not Domino’s really delivers. (God, I hope not, that shit is AWFUL Also, the higher number turned out to be the correct one.)
– Addendum to last week’s Boris Malenko obit: Malenko actually went to the store and bought fake false teeth for use in the angle with Eddie Graham, because why would he want his real ones all smashed to pieces?
– And now, Dave’s mid-year awards picks, because apparently there’s fuck-all going on this week.
Wrestler of the Year: Hard one to predict. Probably someone from All Japan, but there’s a strong case for Bret Hart or Ric Flair. (Spoiler: It was Kawada.)
Most Outstanding: Sabu and Sasuke are hard woekrs, but it’s gotta be Kawada, Kobashi or Benoit. (Spoiler: It was Kobashi.)
Best Babyface: It’s the year of Onita! As for Sting, don’t make Dave LAUGH. “To be the best babyface, you have to put fans in the stands, not just get the few who are there to make noise when you walk out.”
Best heel: Even though Flair is fighting the fans by playing heel, he’s great at it. Also, Love Machine. (Pretty sure the When Worlds Collide show sealed the deal on this one.)
Feud of the Year: Probably the top All Japan Japanese v. Japanese feud, or more USA v. Mexico in AAA. And hey, Hogan v. Flair did turn the company around. (Again, Los Gringos Locos for the win.)
Tag team of the year: A horrible year for tag teams. Misawa & Kobashi, maybe? Los Gringos Locos? (And again, the AAA PPV made this one a slam dunk.)
Best on Interviews: Flair, Shane Douglas, Jake Roberts. (Spoiler: Flair, duh.)
Most Charismatic: Gotta be Onita.
Best Technical Wrestler: Clearly Chris Benoit. No one else Dave would even consider for second place.
Best Brawler: Cactus Jack won last year when he shouldn’t have, and this year he had even better brawls. Dave doesn’t think Sabu really qualifies here. (Spoiler: Better get used to Mick winning this award…)
Best Flyer: Great Sasuke and it’s a MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE if he doesn’t win. (Rest easy, Dave.)
Best Promotion: Can anyone touch All Japan? (Surprisingly, yes. Again, the AAA PPV pulls it out.)
Best TV Show: Dave thinks RAW is grossly overrated, with one good match and then 40 boring minutes. (Better than 150 boring minutes.) Dave thinks ECW is the best, but probably won’t win. (Au contraire!)
Match of the Year: Dave doesn’t think the ladder match will win and here’s a dozen Japanese matches that say why. (Oh Dave.)
(I mean, COME ON. The match that basically created the entire style of wrestling that dominates the business today? Of course it should have won, and did handily.)
Manager of the Year: Probably still Jim Cornette.
Best TV announcer: A weak year, but Vince McMahon is the best of anyone who speaks English and Joey Styles blows away everyone else.
Best Major Show: Super J Cup, nuff said.
– To AAA, where Paco Alonso gave a press conference to refute rumors about AAA joining the NWA, basically calling it a dead organization. Sadly, wrestling in the US has become nothing but a television product. (He would really hate WWE today, then.)
– In FMW, Onita finally regained his World Brass Knux title from Mr. Pogo in a DOUBLE HELL match after turning Pogo’s fire on him. Afterwards, Yukihiro Kanumura from W*ING attacked Onita with a barbed wire baseball bat and destroyed him. (Hopefully Kanemura lets go of W*ING)
– Paul Heyman wrote in to correct Dave about the NWA tournament in one sense: Chris Benoit wasn’t jobbed in the first round to screw Coraluzzo, they just wanted to protect him with a fluke finish so that Scorpio could go to the finals.
– Even with ECW out of the picture, the Three Stooges of the NWA still can’t decide on who they want as champion. Coraluzzo and Crockett are fighting over who they want, and Steve Rickard is going to have to be a deciding vote. They might run another tournament, or maybe not. Whatever.
– Roddy Piper is telling people he’s retired, again, for sure this time, after that Lawler match in June. FOR REAL. Honest.
– Terry Funk did a run-in on Sabu at an indy show in LaPuente, CA on 9/11, after Sabu had a ****1/4 match with Al Snow. Funk came out of the crowd unannounced and got into a wild brawl with Sabu, destroying dozens of tables and chairs, which led to the people in charge of the community center freaking out because they thought Funk wasn’t part of the show. Police were brought in and dispersed the crowd, but no arrests were made. It was apparently one of the most wild and memorable scenes ever at a wrestling show. (I think we can all agree that none of us will ever forget 9/11 after this.)
(Oh, yeah, sorry…)
– Muscle Mag International had a story about the former Ludvig Borga, and he claimed that WCW made him a $300,000 per year offer. “Yeah, sure,” says Dave.
– GWF continues to plummet, and top star Moadib (aka Ahmed Johnson) no-showed on 9/9 against Chris Adams. This show was said to be particularly horrible.
– To WCW, where Ron Simmons and Tex & Shanghai were all wished well on their future endeavors.
– Robert Parker was just announced on TV as replacing Meng in the WarGames, and they made no attempt to explain why.
– Whereas the WCW European tour has been a mixed bag thus far, Bret Hart is packing them in on the WWF’s swing through the UK and Germany. Which once again proves my theory…
– Current WWF TV is teasing an Owen Hart babyface turn (nope), a split of Shawn and Diesel (yup) and Doink joining with Dibiase’s crew (SO MUCH NOPE.)
– If you think Vince hasn’t gotten his giant grapefruits back after all the sexual harassment troubles, witness the commentary during Steve Lombardi matches, where he calls him “the best backstop in baseball” and ponders whether he’s a pitcher or a catcher. Perhaps they’re just baseball references, Dave notes.
– Jim Ross was supposed to have his contract with the WWF renewed, but there were partial problems with his football announcing schedule getting in the way, and much larger problems with the company being all butt-hurt and pissy about his interview with the Torch. (One guess which one influenced their decision more.)
And finally, from the letters section…
Lou D’Angelli of 517 Scott Rd., Gladwyne, PA 19035 is looking for a regular supplier of USWA, old WWF/NWA shows from Philadelphia, old line-up cards and tapes of wrestling radio shows. He has ECW, SMW, Sabu, old NWA and more tapes for trade in exchange.
That of course is the very understated Observer debut of Sign Guy Dudley.
And that’s the news, and I’m OUTTA HERE. Enjoy the long weekend! If you’re Canadian.