Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.22.95
(Carrying on! Another one written on or about 09.22.19 as I try to get as much done as possible in advance.)
And now…the WWF is IN YOUR HOUSE!
(Ironically, Diesel’s title reign was tanking crowds so badly that they were literally shooting TV in people’s houses by that point…)
– It’s a NEW DAY, YES IT IS, as the WWF introduces monthly PPVs and far less house shows. In fact, most months there’s only a week or two between WWF and WCW PPV shows now, and UFC in there some months as well. But for the moment, Dave has no idea what lessons anyone is going to take from this.
– “In Your House” was the first of their bi-monthly budget-priced PPVs, debuting on 5/14 from Syracuse. The idea is to lure lapsed fans back with cheap prices, but that’s questionable. Historically, PPV is an impulse buy, so price isn’t a factor unless it’s ridiculously overpriced. (Even then, Mayweather proved that ridiculous prices can’t even stop him.)
– Basically, if you position a show as “something that’s OK to miss”, then fans will feel like they can miss it. (And thus you have the current situation WWE finds themselves in!) On the flip side, Wrestlemania XI was priced higher than ever and it flopped, so it’s not an exact science. While Crockett used to run discount shows at Christmas time and drew big crowds, that was once a year and not monthly. In fact, this one won’t really tell us much anyway, and the second show in July will be more important to future trends.
– As for In Your House #1, it wasn’t a blowaway show or a terrible show, it was an entertaining show for an hour and then went off the rails. Overall, middle of the road, thumbs in the middle.
– Even more important than the limp show was the limp response, as feedback was way down compared to other PPV shows. Plus there were noticeable blocks of empty seats on screen. (I believe those are what we call “Diesel fans”) Basically the only thing with any heat was Diesel v. Sid, and it stunk up the joint, and couldn’t even sell out the building for the first PPV in the city. Overall, thumbs down from Dave.
1. Bret Hart pinned Hakushi in 14:39. Hakushi is great but he’s miscast as a heel and he’s got no heat. Regardless, the match easily stole the show because of Hakushi’s work and Bret being Bret. Bret reversed a german suplex into a cradle for the pin, but “injured” his knee while jumping out of the ring on the way out. ***3/4
2. Razor Ramon beat Jeff Jarret & The Roadie in a handicap match in 12:40. The heels mainly worked on Razor. Razor made a comeback and tried the Razor’s Edge on Roadie, but Jarrett clipped the knee and tried the figure-four, at which point Razor kicked him into Roadie and then pinned Jarrett with the Edge. Afterwards, a “fan” ran in to save Razor from further beating, and he was later identified as Savio Vega, aka Kwang without the mask. ***
3. Mabel pinned Adam Bomb with a powerslam in 1:53 in the King of the Ring qualifier. Not good but it was at least fast. ¾* (Wish we could have said that about the Mabel push.)
4. Owen Hart & Yokozuna beat the Smoking Gunns to retain the WWF tag titles in 5:44. Way too short. The Gunns did some double-teams on Owen until Bart bumped to the floor, where Yoko legdropped him and then threw him back in for the pin from Owen. **
5. Jerry Lawler pinned Bret Hart in 5:09. Bret revealed that his “injured” knee was a ruse, and Lawler freaked out. Bret basically squashed him and didn’t sell any offense, but Hakushi interfered and hit Bret off the top rope and put Lawler on top for the pin. *1/2
Before the main event, they did the gimmick where they gave away a house to someone. Dave notes that in the vast majority of house giveaways, the winner sells it within six months due to taxation. (Pretty sure that’s what happened there, too.)
6. Diesel beat Sid by DQ in 11:29 to retain the WWF title. Clumsy and predictable. The match had the most heat on the show, but they couldn’t work together at all. Sid got the powerbomb for a near fall, but Diesel hit his own powerbomb and then Tatanka ran in for the DQ. Dave was unimpressed with the shitty TV finish on a show that’s supposed to kick off a new series of PPVs. (Better get used to it.)
– Unfortunately, the “World champions collide” angle of the Shamrock-Severn match at UFC 6 is now out the window, as Shamrock dropped the Pancrase championship to Minoru Suzuki on 5/13 in Tokyo. The Suzuki kid only needed 2:13 to put him away with a knee-cross. Dave isn’t sure if it was worked or what, but he’s certainly noticed that matches involving Suzuki or Funaki are lacking a certain intensity that real fights have. Although Dave is confused how someone could lose to Frank Shamrock but then beat Ken.
– The WWF presented their final show at the Boston Gardens on 5/13, dubbed “A Night to Remember”, bringing back lots of former headliners for a nostalgia show. (Or as we call it now, “Monday Night RAW”) It drew approximately 10,000 people and included appearances from Tony Garea, Pete Doherty, George Steele, Angelo Savoldi, Arnold Skaaland, Pat Patterson, Killer Kowalski, Chief Jay Strongbow, Gorilla Monsoon, Nikolai Volkoff and Vince McMahon. The appearances from the old guys overshadowed all the new guys wrestling on the show. Even with the big crowd, the show sucked.
– Another five-star match from Dave, as he watched the Champion Carnival final between Mitsuhara Misawa and Akira Taue and called it a “psychological masterpiece” and Taue’s best match ever.
– Also on that show, young Maunukea Mossman got beat by Mighty Inoue in a bad match, but Mossman showed some potential. (I believe that’s the Understated Observer Debut for Taiyo Kea but I’m not 100% sure.)
– The real attendance for the North Korea show was apparently 170,000 and drew $8.5 million, which would shatter all previous records for pro wrestling. Regardless, everyone who made the trip described it as a horrible experience, with everyone being under surveillance constantly and all their phone calls bugged.
– Once again demonstrating why he’s the best promo in the business, Ric Flair gave the following quote on behalf of the North Korean government:
“Before leaving this beautiful and peaceful country, I would like to make a tribute to the great leader, Mr. Kim Il Sung, who had devoted all his life to the Korean peoples’ happiness, prosperity and the Korean reunification. The great leader, his excellency Kim Il Sung, will always be with us.”
(Woo! Classic Slick Ric!)
– Dave can now confirm that the Sheik is 69 years old, and he’s in stable condition after his heart attack last week and will be released from hospital soon.
– FMW lost another piece of talent, as Big Titan jumped to WAR to team with Death Mask for a program with Tenryu & Arashi. (So yeah, Fake Razor Ramon and Fake Stan Hansen!)
– Apparently Onita’s retirement is super-duper double serious, because he’s divested himself of all power in FMW and won’t be involved at all moving forward. In fact, the company running FMW has been shut down and a new one formed by Hayabusa, Battle Ranger and Katsutoshi Niiyama. Apparently they’ll be getting away from the blood and guts death matches. Having said that, the former W*ING group within FMW held a press conference on 5/12 and Yukihiro Kanemura actually changed his name to W*ING Kanemura. And they’ll be feuding with Pogo in death matches across the country.
– Speaking of splinter groups, the deal with Tarzan Goto and Gannosuke leaving for IWA is that the wrestlers all knew that Goto would be in charge when Onita left, and people weren’t into that idea. At least with Onita, he might have an egomaniac, but they made money with him on top. There was no proof that Goto could continue that trend, so Onita was forced to choose between Goto and the more popular Niiyama and went with the latter. So Goto had to leave and took his allies with him.
– Onita will be doing some acting while he figures out his post-wrestling life, and he’s got books coming out and movie offers.
– Rumor is that New Japan will send Sabu to work in the IWA King of the Death Match tournament on 8/20. (I feel like he might do well there.)
– SMW is expecting a big crowd in Knoxville on 5/19 for a match between Terry Funk & Bob Armstrong and the Gangstas, with Cornette promising to refund everyone’s money if the Gangstas aren’t left laying at the end of the match.
– Dave thinks that Al Snow is living up to his rep as one of the most underrated wrestlers in the business, doing a Gino Hernandez character in SMW with a dry wit. Although he’s worlds better as a wrestler than Gino could have ever dreamed of being.
– To ECW, where Bill Alfonso debuted doing a heel ref gimmick, where the state athletic commission sent him to “call it down the middle” and would shut down the promotion if anyone was to hit him. (I feel like that one might have some legs.)
– Paul Heyman was handling payoffs for the show instead of Tod Gordon, but there’s still nothing new in the news about reorganizing the company. Apparently, there’s still significant outstanding bills for the company. (What? NO!)
– ECW had to cancel a stadium show in Scranton, PA, because the stadium got new astroturf installed and wouldn’t let them run the show unless they provided a $10,000 tarp to protect it. (Think of all the people he could fail to pay with that kind of money!)
– Apparently Sabu is a medical genius and we just didn’t know it! Turns out that after years of super-gluing his wounds shut, there’s been actual medical research recently suggesting that gluing wounds shut can be more effective than stitches in some cases, particularly with kids.
– Although, Dave notes, let’s not grant him a Nobel prize quite yet, since hand ended up getting infected. (Yeah, well, the cutting edge of medicine is a dangerous business.)
– Of note on PPV lately is a fake UFC show called “Fight Zone” with fake fights and fake fighters and fake blood and a fake crowd and badly worked matches. Apparently it’s hilarious. The only name of note is Tony “Ludvig Borga” Halme.
– Although Jim Crockett is out of Texas, he’s trying to get involved with Mid South Wrestling out of Jackson, MS. (Lucky them.)
– Over to WCW, where Steve Austin met with Eric Bischoff and now everything is fine and dandy. So as a part of the deal, he was forced to do a job to Renegade at Center Stage on 5/10 and then another one on 5/11 to Randy Savage in the US title tournament. In exchange, there’s an agreement in place to reform the Hollywood Blonds with a push. But that hasn’t happened yet. (I feel like my writing career has been building to this meme!)
– In other news, Kevin Sullivan will be managing a top group of heels called “The Dungeon of Doom”, featuring Kamala, John Tenta in a new gimmick, and Paul Wight as Andre 2.0. (Oh, if only that’s where it ended!)
– STEINER BROTHER UPDATE: The on-again off-again relationship is definitely back into “off again” and this time for good. They weren’t big on putting over the Nasty Boys and talks are done.
– DDP debuted a new gimmick at the Center Stage tapings on 5/10, where his Diamond Doll holds up signs that say “10” when he does moves. (Like some doofus going “10” over and over would ever get over.) Also, Page beat up Wildcat Willie.
– There was rumor after the tapings that Big Bubba Rogers was leaving the company, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. (We should have been so lucky.)
– The next victim of WCW budget cuts: Ring announcer Gary Michael Capetta, who had been earning more than $100,000 a year. Dave Penzer will take over on TBS.
– Jobber Chris Sullivan has been renamed Chris Speaker, due to the abundance of guys named Sullivan already. (What are they gonna do if they ever run Boston?)
– To the WWF, where Bob Backlund announced his candidacy for President in a hilarious segment where he got all kinds of dates wrong, like talking about how Kennedy was assassinated on December 23, 1983, which is actually the date that Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF.
– Dave is pretty damn sure that Mantaur exists solely as a practical joke on Jim Cornette now.
– And finally, apparently the WWF will induct their first group of Hall of Famers on 6/24 in Philly, including The Grand Wizard, Antonino Rocca, Moolah, Ivan Putski, George Steele, Pedro Morales and Ernie Ladd. Dave’s take on the WWF Hall of Fame: “It’s been said before and will be said every year, but until they induct Sammartino, whether he’s willing or not, it will always come off as more being nice to people who remained nice to them and a yearly reminder of pettiness rather than awarding of achievement.” (Good thing we’ve moved past that in these modern times.)