Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.04.88

This week:  Actual big, business changing news.  Sort of.  To the retro-mobile!

– The top story of this week and many weeks to come is of course that Dave is now more than 50% certain that Ted Turner is going to buy out Jim Crockett for “eight figures”.  The key is that everyone is pretty sure this “pay per view” thing is going to be the future of the business, and Turner has way more power in that arena and can bring the NWA to bigger numbers than they could by themselves.  The only hangup appears to be David Crockett not wanting to take the buyout, but once that’s smoothed out, then everything should be a go.

– Dave goes off on a whole thing about the Powers of Pain making their WWF debut at various tapings.  So Tito Santana leads them to the ring against Demolition as a substitute for Strike Force and they destroy the Demos around the horn in 5 minute matches, getting wild cheers from the fans.  Dave is basically like “What the fuck?  People were booing Tito against Demolition, and now he’s suddenly a beloved figure?”  Dave’s theory on why the Powers are so over is that, and I’m not making this up, that a great deal of WWF fans at these tapings are so stupid that they think they really are the Road Warriors and can’t tell the difference. 

– The only other big thing to come out of the tapings was the coronation of King Haku, and Dave basically feels like Sivi Afi was dragging down the act anyway, so good riddance.  It did not get over at all in the arena, and I’d say that’s a fair assessment. 

– Dave thinks that the Bash PPV will be a big success, “but then I thought that about Wrestlemania IV, too.”  Man, he just won’t leave it alone.  The show did fine, man! 

– Onto World Class, as Eric Embry has taken over as booker and business is picking up already.  Dave wonders if it’s a long-term success or not.  Sadly, no.  I always did enjoy that whole storyline, though.

– This new generation of Samoans, called the Samoan Swat Team, is getting a monster, monster push in World Class because everyone in the office is in love with them.  And yes, they sure did push the shit out of them.

– This guy Big Van Vader over in New Japan – well, he’s still kind of bad, but rapidly improving.  Could be potential there because Fujinami damn near worked a miracle and got a **** match out of him.

– Adrian Adonis, still in Japan for the moment, is down to 315 and moving better, but can’t maintain the pace of a normal Japanese match.  Unfortunately, I think this is his last appearance in the Observer before the car accident. 

– A weird finish in Stampede this week, as Chris Benoit won the Commonwealth Midheavyweight title from Johnny Smith.  Apparently referee Jurgan Hermann (who played the idiot referee, as opposed to Wayne Hart’s babyface referee and Ron Hayter’s asshole referee) had to no-show for personal reasons, so they used Dean Hart instead as referee.  At the finish of the match, Benoit intercepted a foreign object from Smith’s manager and pinned him to win the title, but the referee was supposed to catch him with the brass knuckles or whatever and reverse the decision.  However, Dean Hart was not actually told this part of the finish, and just counted the pin like a shoot and awarded the title to Benoit. 

– Jerry Lawler is just all over the friggin’ place as AWA champion, defending in World Class against Kerry and in other territories typically against Curt Hennig as a travelling challenger. 

– So….down in Continental, there’s this really green stiff in a mask called Lord Humongous.  Dave is all “This guy is the shits, but he’s 6 foot 8 inches and built like Hercules and he’ll probably end up in Titan someday soon.”  Good call there, although of course he’d unmask first as Sid Vicious.

– A rival promotion to GLOW/POWW called FLAIR got big writeups in the previous couple of weeks of Observers, which was weird because I had never heard of them before but Dave was devoting lots of space to them.  And then this week he notes that they drew 50 people to their taping in Houston and they’re already done.  Well no wonder I hadn’t heard of them.

– True story:  A promoter in Indiana was actually sentenced to prison time for fraud after taking money to promote an NWA show with Flair v. Garvin on top and then never actually delivering what he promised.  So there you go, the ONE promoter in wrestling history to actually get punished for being a lying scumbag.

– Here’s another historic Observer debut, as Dave recaps a nothing AWA house show in New Haven that drew less than 200 people:  “Cactus Jack, who others have called the best no-name worker in the country, was said to be pretty good.”  Yeah, that Cactus is pretty good all right.

– Down in Florida, this kid Scotty the Body shows some promise on promos.

– People in the letter columns are freaking out about the Bash PPV being Crockett’s last stand because GOD FORBID that the NWA dies and we’re left with a WWF monopoly.  I mean, geez, how likely is THAT to happen, anyway?  Get a grip, people.  There’s also a whole running thread about how Dave is too opinionated and biased.  As noted, after 1991 or so he toned it down a LOT and the WON got a lot less fun in some ways. 

– Now, in the WWF section Dave is talking about a potential Iron Sheik v. Ken Patera feud (holy shit we dodged a bullet there) due to both being in the Olympics, Patera in 72 and Sheik in 68.  Wasn’t Sheik’s “Olympic participation” already debunked by that point?  Like, he tried out for the team but never made it. 

– Apparently, even in June of 1988, security was confiscating anti-Warrior signs from the crowds to make sure everyone watching on TV thought he was over.  Too bad that same strategy didn’t work in 1990. 

And Dave wraps it up by noting that there was another earthquake while he was writing this issue, and “they’re not fun anymore” before finishing with “That’s all for now!”  Who can’t love these old issues?