Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.29.88

Hope everyone enjoyed Shitload of Questions Saturday here on the blog!  Of course I got another 10 questions in the inbox by the time the afternoon was done.  Much like Monopoly, it’s a game that no one can win.

Maybe Sunday will also be Shitload of Questions Sunday!  For the moment, however, let’s go back to 1988 again for our weekly Observer fix.

– Main story this week is someone writing a butt-hurt letter about Meltzer “denigrating” the good names of Jim Wilson and Eddie Mansfield.  Now, for those who weren’t around at the time, Jim Wilson was a marginal worker in the territory days who basically cried foul at the practices of the NWA and actually wrote a pretty decent book about it called Chokehold. Eddie Mansfield had 15 minutes of fame as the guy who went on the Morton Downey Jr. show, claiming that Vince McMahon promised him a push in exchange for sexual favors.  In both cases, the guys were shown to be bitter and disgruntled ex-wrestlers who wouldn’t be pushed anyway and in fact did continue working after they were expelled from the business, and in fact quite the opposite of the “blackballed from wrestling” reputation that they were putting forth to the media.  Most of the media charge on their side was led by John Stossel, who was famously slapped around by David Schulz on national TV, and thus wasn’t exactly an unbiased reporter.  The most easy of the claims to shoot down, notes Meltzer, is Wilson’s claims of “monopoly”, especially when Vince McMahon and Jim Crockett were in the process of destroying all the territories while embroiled in the biggest promotional war ever.  Basically Dave’s stance is that these goofs should have known what they were getting into, and I can’t disagree in a lot of ways.

– Real news: The Turner deal is almost done, and expect some big changes to come from it.  No kidding.

– In one of the first of many many many Vince McMahon blunders, he will be promoting the upcoming Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match on PPV, along with the Bob Costas TV show that he’s apparently producing, and the Hulk Hogan movie that is currently filming.  Of course, the Costas show didn’t happen and the other two are among the most legendary flops in the esteemed history of Mr. McMahon.  Dave wonders if perhaps branching out into all this non-wrestling stuff might be stretching Vince too thin.  No shit.

– Steve Williams was arraigned this week on charges of smuggling cocaine and assorted drugs over the border and into Japan.  He must have had a hell of a lawyer not to end up in jail for a long time over that.

– Corporal Kirschner, unfortunately, didn’t have as good of a lawyer and ended up getting six months in jail for non-payment of child support.  I heard that Sgt. Slaughter actually had the kids, but then left the promotion and got Kirschner to take over for him instead.

– The Flair v. Luger rematches are doing crazy business at the houses, each one with the stipulation that it’s “the only rematch” from the Bash PPV, so Dave retracts all his bitchy ranting about the stupid finish, because it’s working like gangbusters.

– Ron Garvin and Tim Horner both quit the promotion over jobs this week.  Garvin was supposed to put Dusty Rhodes over in a bunch of shows after turning heel and wanted no part of that, and Horner was asked to put over the Italian Stallion in the Masked Maniac costume for the stupid Learning the Ropes show.  I can see Horner’s point, given that Alzado’s character was portrayed as the lowliest of low job guys on the show.  Obviously the Garvin departure was a much bigger blow to the promotion.

–  With Tim Horner gone, Dusty immediately hired Ron Simmons back.  That one certainly paid off in the future.

– Over in the AWA, they had their biggest crowd for a TV taping in a while, which Dave notes, shows how much of a draw that Curt Hennig was.  OUCH.

– Verne Gagne is telling anyone who will listen that the NWA is about to fold and he’ll just sign all the wrestlers.  Oh, the irony.

– The mysterious AWA PPV has been moved from November to 12/26, which is where Crockett wants to move Starrcade.  One guess who won that battle.

– Over to the WWF, and Brother Love’s guest will not be a wrestler, but rather Jessica Hahn of Jim & Tammy Bakker “fame”.  Yeah, that didn’t happen either.

– Dave thinks everyone is overrating the Owen Hart vs. Barry Horowitz match that has been getting ****.  He think it’s three tops.

– More Lawler-Von Erich unification matches in Memphis, this time with the screwjob finish being that Lawler wins the title after a double referee schmoz, but then gives it back the next day because he didn’t win it fairly.

– Cactus Jack Foley is in Memphis as a heel, and everyone says he’s one of the best indy workers in the Northeast, but he only looked OK in his TV debut.  Yeah, that’ll put butts in seats.

– New Japan is lending Kendo Nagasaski & Keiji Muto to World Class because this Muto kid is a real protege of Seiji Sakaguchi and they REALLY want Fritz to get him over.

– Cold hard reality for Norman Smiley, a young kid from Florida who was working the sellout UWF shows in Japan for thousands of dollars a night, as he returns home to doing jobs before 75 people.  At least things would pick for him in later years.

– Finally, your Dusty Rhodes Burn Of The Week comes from Continental and the genius of Paul Heyman.  The babyface commissioner threatens to suspend Dangerously and Eddie Gilbert, but Dangerously retorts that it doesn’t matter because they’ll just do what everyone else does and “come back right away as the Midnight Rider”.  Joe Pedicino responds that “It wouldn’t surprise me to see Eddie Gilbert do something as low class as come back as the Midnight Rider.”  High five!  Anyone?