Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.18.88

Well, it’s our first obit issue of 1988, back when wrestlers dropping dead before 40 was a RARE occurrence. 

– Keith Franke, aka Adrian Adonis, dies in a pretty nasty car accident in our lead story of the week, along with The Canadian Wildman and Pat Kelly.  They were driving towards a a glaring sun and accidentally drove into a lake.  Dave covers a brief history of Adonis’ career, with the only bit I didn’t remember being his firing from the WWF after Wrestlemania III.  It was for “unknown reasons”, but a dress code violation of some sort was the most likely reason. 

– Bash PPV time!  Dave is constantly amazed at how Sting is the hottest act in the promotion and yet gets buried in the opening match, which has the side effect of peaking the crowd reactions too soon.  On the bright side, “at least he didn’t get stuck in that triple cage monstrosity.”  Very true.

– Dave discusses the screwjob finish of the Flair-Luger match a bit.  The idea was that they have the fans be mad at the Athletic Commission instead of the promotion, and then do rematches where Luger can say “They don’t stop matches for blood in Your Town, USA, so Flair has no chance against me there!”  And thus you do a million rematches throughout the summer.  And it worked, so yay.

Match Ratings:

Tully & Arn went to a 20:00 draw with Sting & Nikita Koloff (***1/2)  Nikita looked terrible, everyone else looked really good and thus the match was predictable but good.  Of course we found out later that Nikita had other stuff on his mind.

The Midnight Express regained the US tag titles from the Fantastics at 16:23 in the best match on the show (****).  Unfortunately, Dave notes, they spent the whole feud trying to live up to their first TV match.

The babyface team won the Triple Tower of Doom nonsense at 19:55 (**3/4).  That’s a pretty generous rating for the disaster they produced with that one.  Dave notes that a Jimmy Garvin v. Kevin Sullivan singles match would have made more sense, but then they’d have to find something else for the Road Warriors to do and with the Powers gone there’s not much else for them. 

Barry Windham pinned Dusty Rhodes to retain the US title at 15:55 (*1/4)  Pretty bad, with Dusty laying around most of the match, but Windham took some incredible bumps for him.  Ron Garvin of course turned here and then disappeared shortly after. 

Ric Flair retained the World title over Lex Luger by blood stoppage at 23:13 (**1/2).  Dave really trashed this one, calling it a bad imitation of Flair matches by two indy workers, filled with predictable spots.  I mean, I only gave it *** myself, but that’s harsh.  Dave goes then on ANOTHER lengthy rant about how stale Flair is and how he needs desperately to turn babyface and how someone else needs to be World champion because Flair is just done as top guy, man.  I think Dave has a man-crush on Sting at this point.

– WWF time:  Owen Hart debuted under a mask as “The Blue Angel” on a house show.  Reports are that Owen’s matches were pretty dull without all the highspots that Owen was known for in Stampede. 

– Big crowds in Vancouver ($100,000 gate) and Saskatoon ($90,000 gate) this week with Savage v. Dibiase on top.  I would have been at the Vancouver show because I bugged my poor dad to take me every time they came. 

– Dave discusses this new Brother Love gimmick and how everyone hates it.  He doesn’t think it has legs and describes it as a bad Saturday Night Live sketch stretched out over several weeks.  Yeah, it got stretched out a lot longer than that, sadly.  Bruce Pritchard, however, is fantastic in the role.  He does get an awesome line when talking about the issues being raised at those offended by the shots at organized religion:  “Entertainment is a parody of life, and the WWF is a parody of entertainment.”

– Over to Stampede, and Chris Benoit & Johnny Smith have been doing this incredible ****1/2 matches all over the province, which always get cut down to a few minutes on TV.  Dave feels like this Benoit kid is great at the moment and the matches can hang with the Savage-Dibiase and Midnights-Fantastics series any day of the week.

– Dave goes into a discussion of the Stampede TV, speaking of stuff getting cut down, and how Ed Whalen basically censors the show to protect his own credibility as a mainstream figure and because of his personal beliefs about what wrestling should and shouldn’t be.  Yeah, unfortunately there are SOOOOOOOO many awesome Stampede matches lost to the ether now because Ed pretty much destroyed the original footage while making the show into his own vision of wrestling. 

– Not much going on in World Class this week.  The SST continues to get the Jesus Push, with the promotion pretty much treating them like the old school heel Road Warriors with Buddy Roberts as a mouthpiece.  Buddy, meanwhile, is doing a funny feud with Michael Hayes over the Freebird name and merchandising rights, and is claiming to have written all the songs on the Badstreet USA album. 

– Great American Bash attendance is way down from 87’s tour, another bad sign for the promotion.  The Luger stuff turned it around again for a bit, though.

– To the letters page, as Kit Parker is already shilling his tapes of old Memphis footage that eventually got turned into the Wrestling Gold DVD set that Dave and Cornette did commentary for. 

– Steve Beverly (was he doing a newsletter of his own at that point?) thinks that Crockett should just move Starrcade to Christmas.  We have a winner!

– Finally, Dave apologizes to the fanbase of the FLAIR women’s promotion, and notes that in fact they have not folded quite yet and will be taping a show in Houston for foreign distribution purposes.  Stay tuned to future issues for this thrilling saga to continue. 

No news is good news for the AWA this week, I guess.