Observer Flashback: Jan 1988

The Observer site actually posted the Royal Rumble 88 issue of the Observer today because of the Rumble, which is interesting because previously 1991 was as far back as they’ve gone.  And I just can’t resist going through the newsbites and reports, back when Dave was much more gung-ho about giving opinions and snark…

– Minor note that I’ve always wondered about: The Rock N Roll Express actually quit just before the Bunkhouse Stampede because their push was totally derailed.  Dave notes that they’ve been living on borrowed time for the past nine months anyway.

– Dave feels it’s ludicrous that Ric Flair hasn’t turned babyface yet and Dusty hasn’t turned heel.  Like really, Flair has no top babyface challengers in 1988 anyway!

– Dave thinks that Crockett might have some sort of counter to Wrestlemania IV.

– Dave actually didn’t think the Jumping Bomb Angels match was very good, which of course runs counter to popular opinion at the time. 

– The Rumble was OK, but he thinks it would be improved by stressing the “every man for himself” aspect.

– Dave on the upcoming Main Event:  “So next on the big event agenda is the NBC special on 2/5. I’m told not to worry about Hogan and Andre’s match as Andre’s back is in a lot better shape than it was in last year, and they somehow survived that. He and Hogan are practicing daily I’m told and have a good match worked out (now let’s not get carried away). There is a ton of speculation that Andre will win or the title will be held up. As mentioned before, Hogan can’t win because it will kill WM4. If they are going for a cage match, then you know the finish involves outside interference of Ted DiBiase (actually you can be sure DiBiase will get involved in the finish on 2/5)”

– Stampede features Keichi Yamada and Hashif Khan this month, aka Jushin Liger and Shinya Hashimoto.

– Big Van Vader debuts in New Japan at this point, squashing Inoki in a total shock, but Dave buries the new gimmick, calling him a total flop who didn’t get over because he doesn’t have a Brody/Hansen type of physique. 

– A very minor note in the All Japan section is that an upcoming show will feature Satoru Sayama’s “shoot boxing”, a weird combination of stuff that’s like wrestling combined with boxing and martial arts.  Like that would ever get over!

– Rookies Akira Taue and John Tenta both show good promise for the future.

– Dave reveals a WWF carny trick: The Get Well Matilda storyline was because they wanted to rebuild their mailing list for merchandise mailings.  That’s pretty smart.

– Bobby Eaton was apparently married to Bill Dundee’s daughter at this point.  Huh.

– Dave notes that there’s a reason why Nikita’s matches have sucked as of late, and it’s not drug related so don’t hold it against him.  Yeah, unfortunately his wife’s impending death pretty much wrecked him as a top guy, as he never really was the same guy again.  Also, Steve Williams was supposed to do a UWF title unification deal with Flair, but he was basically too much trouble to deal with with his “Japan-crazy” attitude so they’ll just forget about it and ignore it.  Yup.

– Finally, under the reader pages, “Steve Friedlander” of the Bronx is selling hundreds of hours of wrestling tapes, and given the time and location I suspect that might actually be noted wrestling super-fan Judah Friedlander, who would have been an 18-year old student in New York at the time.  Just a guess on my part.