Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.15.95
(Hello from the past! I’m actually writing this a couple of weeks in advance so I can have some material banked for when I’m at my work conference, so if I make any horribly inappropriate remarks about someone who just died on the weekend or whatever, it’s because this was originally done on 9/22/19).
Previously on the Flashback: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2019/09/09/wrestling-observer-flashback-05-08-95/
Kicking off this week, it’s news that the WCW Disney tapings could be in danger of changing for good!
– With Eric Bischoff under serious pressure from TBS to cut costs on the company OR ELSE, the relatively expensive Orlando TV tapings could soon be on the chopping block. Really, people inside wrestling hate them anyway, with results getting out that spoil storylines and title changes. (WCW was already adept at doing that for free without paying for tapings) Also, cheerleaders would artificially make crowds cheer for the “right” person, giving the shows a “fake” feel and fooling those in charge into thinking certain people were over.
– But more importantly to the bottom line, all of the big stuff now happens on the Saturday Night shows anyway, and no one pays any particular attention to WCW Worldwide. (Well except for hardcore nerds on RSPW who worshipped Roadblock and the Gambler). And at $280,000 cost per taping, that just doesn’t make financial sense.
– In fact, the only significant thing that happened at the last set of tapings was Kamala debuting, and Kevin Sullivan getting rebranded into “The Taskmaster”.
– But it wouldn’t be WCW without stupid backstage drama! And in this case, it went down between the Renegade and Steve Austin. It all started, as these things usually do for WCW, when they received a cease-and-desist order from the WWF claiming that Renegade was infringing on their copyright for the Ultimate Warrior. (Which is also kind of hilarious on another level, since Warrior himself bitched endlessly about the WWF stealing HIS copyright on his own character). Dave then drops the snark bomb, pointing out that “Hunter Hearst Helmsley” is literally a rebranding of WCW’s Lord Steven Regal character. In fact, he kind of hopes it goes to court so WWF would have to argue that “they developed the intellectual character of a no-talent steroid freak who can’t work a lick, paints his face, blows up in 30 seconds, runs around like he’s spastic, shakes the ropes and does unintelligible interviews and by gosh, judge, they’re copying our ideas and we want damages. The judge would probably rule in favor of Titan and say the damages are worth 50 cents.”
(GODDAMN that was some good snark!)
– Anyway, Renegade is no longer allowed to shake the ropes any longer (WHAT? That was 15% of his moveset!) and the arm tassels and such had to go. Oh, and he was going to go over Steve Austin at the tapings in 10:00. AND THEN THE TROUBLE STARTED.
– Austin refused to do the job for Renegade, and thus became a hero to certain people backstage as a result. In particular, those who have been around the company for a decade and are tired of ex-WWF stiffs or newcomers to the sport coming in and burying people who have been working from the bottom of the company. On the other hand, the pro-Renegade people said that guys like Austin, and Johnny B. Badd, and Brian Pillman, all had their shot and look what happened to the company? Plus they’re making over $200,000 a year and don’t draw. So there.
– In fact, nobody could even figure out who actually wanted Austin to do the job for Renegade in the first place, because it was all based on people passing the buck to other people, and supposed booker Ric Flair was away at his hotel room in North Korea and incommunicado because it was bugged by the Korean government. (Now THERE’S an excuse you don’t hear every day! Unless you’re working in the Trump White House.)
– Of course, anyone who could read the calendar would know that Flair actually wasn’t in North Korea at the time, but that’s the least of issues going on here.
– So Flair finally returned on the last day of the tapings and sent a long time convincing Steve to do the job, at which point Austin refused again and walked out. Flair’s argument was that Arn Anderson was going to do the job for Renegade at the PPV in 30 seconds, so Austin should man up and lose as well. (And boy, didn’t THAT work out great for Arn!) Sadly, even this iron clad logic didn’t sway Austin, and Tex Slazenger got the duty instead, which resulted in a match so bad that the footage had to be scrapped because it was unairable. Reportedly it was so terrible that people backstage were literally on the ground laughing at it. (Sounds like WCW to me.)
– Austin’s future with the company appears to be in doubt at the moment, although to be clear he still hasn’t quit or been fired, and he met with Bischoff on Monday everything seems to be fine again. The general consensus is that it’ll blow over and he won’t lose his job over it. (I mean, could you imagine how stupid WCW and Bischoff would look if they fired Steve Austin? Never happen. Also, it’s kind of amazing how the WWE narrative has always been “Steve Austin was a big star in WCW and then one day they fired him by Fed-Ex and he went to the WWF”, when in fact we’re learning that there was a bunch of external factors going on and not all of it was on WCW.)
– Also of note, Renegade has been “heavily tutored” by Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart to get through his choreographed 30 second matches and look passable, although his promos are even worse than his wrestling and it took two dozen takes to get him to properly grunt “I want the belt” when they were shooting the buildup to his match with Arn Anderson. (Amazing! How can you not love this company?)
– In UFC news, two recognized pro wrestling World champions will face each other in a shoot for the first time in decades when Ken Shamrock fights Dan Severn at UFC 6 on 7/14. (That should be an AWESOME match!) Although they’ve tweaked some rules to hopefully tighten up time limits on matches here, everyone who saw Severn’s last UFC appearance believes it’ll be a “wipe open” match. (Yeah, as in wide open spaces between them in the ring.)
– In other UFC news, the Semaphore Entertainment Group has actually taken over 100% controlling interest in the UFCs, buying out the 50% previously owned by Art Davie and other investors.
– The Sheik, age unknown but believed to be around 67 or 69, suffered a heart attack on 5/6 while in Tokyo, after returning from his stint working for FMW the past few nights. He’s back home and doing fine. (Well he lived for another 8 years at least.)
– Freddie Blassie also suffered a heart attack on 4/28 and underwent triple bypass surgery on 5/3 to repair the damage.
– Atsushi Onita’s retirement is now in the books, although Dave is already thinking he’s going to be back sooner rather than later. His “last” match on 5/5 drew 50,000 people to the baseball stadium for a $2.5 million gate. Included in the merchandise being sold was a memorial coin for Onita, featuring a glass casing and a two inch piece of barbed wire wrapped around it. (Sadly I could not find a listed on Ebay for it. YOU LET ME DOWN, INTERNET NERDS!)
– To the shock of no one but maybe Dave, Onita beat Hayabusa in his retirement match, pinning him in 18:11 in the explosive barbed wire match after Hayabusa missed a moonsault. This allowed Onita to also retire as World Brass Knux champion. It was said “to be good for an Onita match”.
– Onita has declared that he’s really retired for real, and he will not follow Inoki into politics, either. This is actually spin control, since he was desperately meeting with every political party in Japan trying to get support for doing exactly that, and got turned down cold by everyone.
– The latest update on 1-2-3 Kid is that he’s definitely returning to wrestling now, although there’s no exact timetable. He’s got a bulging disc, a herniated disc and a pinched nerve, with numbness in the arm as a result.
– To Memphis, where Sid Vicious continues to pack them in. Although Dave notes that last week’s giant crowd was overestimated a tad. Although the crowd dropped to 1500 on 5/8, that’s still pretty great. Sid teamed with Jerry Lawler against Brian Lee and Ron Harris in the main event.
– Also, in a follow up from the Down’s Syndrome kid angle from last week, Sid announced on TV that they were going to make him the official mascot for USWA. (I’m just gonna leave that one there.)
– After the WCW v. WWF drama with people getting brought in for training from both sides, all the guys in question are now gone anyway so it amounted to nothing.
– SMW did a big angle on 5/6 in Johnson City with Ricky Morton returning from injury but Snow and Unabom tricking him into a cage match where he got destroyed thanks to misdirection with a fake Unabom on the outside. Still, the mega-show only drew their standard 600 fans and there’s not much that’s boosting attendance at this point. (Tick, tock…)
– Over to ECW, where there’s going to be changes within the company in the next few weeks. People are making offers to buy into the company, although Heyman is spinning this is a major positive because he wants to push hard for national expansion, feeling that it’s now or never.
– ECW actually drew their largest ever crowd in Ft. Lauderdale on 5/5, with 1200 people, in a show where security had to confiscate boxes full of frying pans and cookie sheets from fans. (I guess they don’t want people having fun!) And then Raven and Dreamer did a brawl all over the building, so security threatened to shut down the show if anyone else went past the barricades. So they stayed in the ring for the next two matches but then started wandering in the crowd again by the end of the night.
– The next night in Tampa, fans threw chairs into the ring to mimic the opening of the TV show, and now they’re probably kicked out of the building as a result.
– BREAKING NEWS: Jim Crockett’s NWA promotion might be done. His hotline has been canceled and so have all his TV tapings. (That’s normally a pretty bad sign, yes.)
– North Carolina has introduced a bill trying to create a boxing commission, with the stated goal being to ban the UFC from running shows there again. Apparently they won’t go after pro wrestling shows, because “that would be like regulating a Broadway play”. (I dunno, more people were hurt by that Spider-Man show than UFC, I’d say.)
– With the retirement of Refrigerator Perry this week, rumors are already swirling that he wants a piece of the (imaginary) money pie that LT got for Wrestlemania. Doesn’t seem serious and neither promotion is particularly interested in him.
– The Hulk Hogan tour of Germany, which was supposed to start on 5/24, was canceled because the Germans wanted to restructure the deal and WCW would have lost money on the tour.
– While Chris Cruise takes Spanish lessons to join the Spanish announce team for WCW, David Crockett will be taking his place on the syndicated shows working with Terry Taylor. Dave notes that the depth is really apparently when David gets another job and his family doesn’t even own the company anymore. (DAMN.)
– Vader was on “Boy Meets World” on 5/5 doing a silly bit where the kid on the show joins the school wrestling team and they do some worked pro wrestling spots and pretend it’s amateur wrestling. (Oh man, there’s a significant portion of the audience these days that’s ridiculously nostalgic for that show now. I literally never watched it because I was out of university and busy not being 12 years at the time, but it’s a real sacred cow among Gen-Y people.)
– Brad Armstrong was fired as a cost-cutting measure, although he may have failed a drug test. (Seriously?)
– Eric Bischoff is hanging around Japan trying to close a deal to promote a K-1 PPV show in September.
– Arn Anderson might turn babyface to feud with Ric Flair. (Or they might go a different way…)
– This Paul Wight kid might be debuted as soon as Slamboree because they’re raring to go with him and want to feud him with Hulk Hogan as the next Andre.
– Apparently Harlem Heat were carrying the tag belts around for the entire Disney taping, although the Nasties are getting them at Slamboree, so who knows.
– Although Dave said last week that Brian Christopher would be showing up in the WWF right away, he has now changed his tune and we shouldn’t expect it.
– The Bodydonnas debuted on WWF TV this week, doing vignettes where they insult the audience by saying they’re all fat and out of shape. (Karma came back to bite Sunny on that one.)
– Fox is reportedly considering doing a one-hour WWF show on Sundays after football next season. No deal is done yet. (WWF on Fox every week? That’ll be the day.)
– Dan Spivey’s WWF gimmick will be “Waylon Mercy” with his hair dyed black.
– Jim Ross is trying to get Steve Williams and Johnny Ace to come in, although no deal is done yet. (Johnny Ace in the WWF? That’ll be the day.)
– Duchess Sarah Ferguson was approached about presenting the winner of the King of the Ring tournament with the crown, but turned them down. They also wanted to get Kato Kaelin to be a houseguest for the “In Your House” show, but he also turned him down. (They should have just put Paul Diamond under a mask and pretended it was him.)
– And finally, Rad Radford debuted on the Action Zone, but Jim Ross was deliberately playing a hick character and claimed to have never heard of grunge, having just gotten an 8 track of Gary Lewis and the Playboys for his pickup truck. (God, hopefully the hipsters don’t try to bring THAT back as well.)