Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.24.88

HUGE issue this week, as Dave catches up with two weeks’ worth of news after going down to Birmingham for a show.

  • So the big news this week is that in fact Jerry Jarrett has purchased 30% of World Class, as rumored last week.  He’ll take over day-to-day operation of the territory effective immediately, with Eric Embry doing the booking and running the show.  Dave thinks that it’ll end up the same way it always does, with the Von Erichs back in charge, but in fact there was no comeback for Fritz this time.  The main thing against the story is that Jarrett was a notorious tightwad when it came to payoffs and no one in Memphis would ever believe he had enough cash to buy another company.  Turns out that he did.
  • The upcoming boxing PPV is causing Vince a lot of stress and headaches as the projected losses grow larger all the time.  Dave thinks that 1989 is the year that the WWF is going to “kill the golden goose” of PPV by oversaturating the market with FOUR whole PPV shows!
  • Quick note about No Holds Barred here:  Although the “$8 million” budget that often gets thrown around for the movie comes from Hulk Hogan’s recollections, Dave puts the actual budget at $19 million.  Roddy Piper is starring in a low budget movie called “They Live”, and if it’s a success then Piper is DONE with wrestling, for good.
  • The arraignment of Jose Gonzales keeps getting delayed because of suspicious problems with witnesses not appearing or changing their story.  The latest one:  Tony Atlas, who previously claimed to actually see the stabbing, failed to show for the latest arraignment.
  • The Road Warriors finally turned heel, destroying Sting after a six-man match, which is of course going to set up a match against Dusty Rhodes & Bam Bam Bigelow at Starrcade.  If you can’t get the logic there, you’re obviously not Dusty Rhodes.
  • Although I hate midgets and their matches, World Class featured a big show at the Cotton Bowl that featured a midget tag team match involving “Macho Man Midget” on one side and “Million Dollar Baby” on the other.  That match needed Andre the Giant Midget, I think, who would obviously just be a normal sized dude.
  • The match for the “held up” World titles in the main event between Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich, in a Texas Death match no less, ended up with an incredibly screwy finish that saw Kerry apparently win both belts.  That did not stand, and in fact the previous title vacancy wasn’t even mentioned or recognized in most places outside of World Class.
  • Also on the show, Eric Embry turned babyface after losing his lightheavyweight title to Jeff Jarrett (although he’d be a heel again by SuperClash III) and this kid Keiji Muto continues to plow through jobbers and look awesome.
  • Ted Dibiase won the annual “Lord of the Ring” tournament in Providence, beating Randy Savage by countout in the finals of what sounds like a shitty tournament.  Was that supposed to be “King of the Ring”, I wonder?  Anyway, the one worthwhile thing was that the semi-final was supposed to be Dibiase v. Ron Bass, but Bass suddenly developed an injury and forfeited after Virgil gave him a wad of cash.
  • Lord Humongous moves to Memphis as Sid Vicious in what would launch him on the road to stardom.
  • Tatsumi Fujinami showed up in Portland defending some sort of World title this week, and in a set of circumstances that Dave doesn’t really understand, did a 30 minute draw with the Grappler and ended up getting the PNW title out of it as well.  Fujinami will also be passing through Memphis to challenge Jerry Lawler for the AWA title next week, and maybe he’ll unify the belts before Lawler and Von Erich do! Later in the issue, Dave notes that PNW has no illusions that Fujinami will ever return to defend the belt, so they’re just going to vacate it and do a tournament.
  • Another doomed promotion starts soon in Oregon, booked by Moondog Moretti and using Al Tomko’s usual crew of guys.  I look forward to hearing about the crowd of 50 for their debut.
  • Ric Flair actually had to take a drug test before he could work in Oregon for a one-shot deal, and luckily he passed.  Apparently Ric was VERY nervous about it and appeared upset afterwards.  And that’s why the WWF didn’t go back there for decades afterwards.
  • To clarify the Top Guns quitting story from last week, the Guns actually did quit the promotion, but then changed their mind on the drive to the next city and retracted their resignation the next day.
  • Rookie Gary Albright debuted in Stampede as Makhan Singh’s half-brother Vokham Singh and looked really good.  The team of Chris Benoit & Lance Idol won the tag titles, which set up a heel turn for Idol after they split.  Lance Idol, real name Steve Winter, was pushed pretty heavily by Stu Hart in 88, but he actually was forced to retire that year and died of a heart attack in 1991.  He was kind of a Chris Jericho type and probably had a bright future in the business.
  • Down in Continental, Sid faced Kokina (Yokozuna) in a street fight for the main event of one of their shows in what sounds like a FABULOUS wrestling exhibition, but managed to injure himself when Alan Martin hit him in the face with a 2×4 and the hockey mask dug into his eye socket as a result.  Sid, ladies and gentlemen!
  • The reason that Fujinami is touring the US at this point is that there’s a very complicated power struggle in New Japan between Fujinami, Seiji Sakaguchi, and Antonio Inoki.  Dave goes into about 6 paragraphs trying to explain it and I don’t understand a word of it.
  • Dave updates further on World Class, which appears to be beginning an Embry vs. Akbar feud that would end up with World Class becoming the USWA by midway through 1989.
  • A new promoter named “Dennis Karaluzzo” is doing pretty well in the Northeast.
  • Cowboy Bob Orton got arrested on a flight into Detroit for being drunk and belligerent on the plane.  I actually remember this one making the news at the time!
  • OK, update on the Rougeaus and Bulldogs:  They had another backstage altercation, this time with Dynamite getting knocked out with a roll of coins by Raymond.  Dave expects Vince to step in and fire some people soon.
  • The WWF is talking with various athletic commissions about the legality of using BLOOD CAPSULES as a way to get color, since the official WWF propaganda at that point was that blading is barbaric and they don’t do it.  Vince’s stance on that changed every two weeks anyway.
  • Hulk Hogan is apparently coming out with a book called “How To Get Big Without Steroids.”  Dave just leaves that one hanging there like a slow curveball.
  • In case you were in suspense, Hogan’s debut in Edmonton did in fact sell out at 15,000 for a $225,000 gate, although he got a disappointing reaction.
  • Starrcade is officially moved to 12/26, and they are throwing dump trucks of money at Ricky Steamboat to make it happen.  So far, no luck.
  • Apparently they are also trying to get Greg Valentine as a Horsemen to replace Tully.  Yeah…OK.
  • Paul E. Dangerously and the Original Midnight Express are coming in for a feud with the Cornette team in two weeks, which should finally turn the Midnights babyface for good.  Dave notes that Condrey is still great but Rose is WAY out of his league with that crew, although the feud should be great because of the managers.  That’s an understatement.
  • Learning the Ropes has debuted in most markets and by all accounts is awful.  Dave will watch tapes this week and let us know.
  • John Studd, Tommy Rich and Bob Orton are all negotiating with the new money people to come in.  Well, two of them would.
  • Over in the letters page, after some truly cringe-worthy fantasy booking of the “new NWA” from whatever the equivalent of neckbeard super-smarky wrestlings were in 1988, Steve Friedlander writes in to ask if the WWF ever worries about negative publicity should something really bad happen as a result of steroid abuse.  Oh come on!
  • And finally, Lex Luger had to miss a show against Ric Flair because of pinkeye.  Hopefully they announced it as a broken leg or something manlier.

And 18 pages later, we’re done!