Wrestling Observer Flashback–12.12.88

As a note, these things have been so overwhelmingly popular on the blog that in order to prevent things from getting too overloaded, I’m going to start posting the WWE Network TV stuff (World Class / USWA / Prime Time etc) to Place to Be Nation instead, and of course cross-posting them to Inside Pulse as always.

It’s Monday, on with the retro news!  And of course, the news that we’ve been anticipating for weeks now has finally happened…

– As expected, Dusty Rhodes was officially asked to leave as booker by TBS and handed in his resignation.  Jim Crockett was also bounced to the shock of no one, and will be purged from his own promotion as of January 1.  These two occurrences are of course very related.  For the time being, Crockett will act as booker, with a committee taking over starting in January.  The new guy in charge will be one Jim Herd, currently a Pizza Hut executive, and he will carry the title that we would all soon come to know and love:  Executive Vice President of Wrestling Operations.  Herd actually directed wrestling shows for Vince Sr. in the 70s, so he has some experience.  Not that you would know it based on how his tenure ended up.

– So as we all know now, although Dusty’s no-shows and bullshit with Flair were major contributors to his downfall, the actual incident that sealed the deal was bleeding like a stuck pig all over TV during the Road Warrior attack.  Just two weeks before Cornette had done his bloody angle and TBS actually sent down a directive telling Rhodes in no uncertain terms not to book any more blood for TV.  Dusty was so paranoid about his position, however, that he ran the angle behind the company’s back to make sure that his spot on the Starrcade show was assured no matter what.  Although he’s out as booker, he’ll stay on as talent.  For now.  However, Dusty’s contract is so giant, like legitimately bigger than Randy Savage or Ric Flair’s deal, that it’s doubtful TBS will want to keep him around anyway when the new booker (cough Flair cough) will probably move him down to the midcard. 

– Nikita Koloff quit the company, citing concerns over travel, but in reality he had a major falling out with Crockett and Dusty and was about to be buried by them anyway.  Really, by this point it was no big loss given how distracted and lost that Koloff was anyway.  He will be replaced by Junkyard Dog, which Dave immediately calls out as being the stupidest move they could make. 

– Speaking of stupid, Superclash III comes up next week, and Dave notes that if they manage to do 50,000 buys they should be dancing in the streets with joy.  It definitely did not even do that, as I recall.  The card keeps changing, like for example a Rock N Roll Express vs. Stud Stable match was supposed to be the AWA tag team title match, but Morton had no-showed last week and they decided not to switch the belts.  Madusa has given notice and they’re trying to find a replacement, but she ended up working the show anyway.  Also, although Ron Garvin has agreed to work the show, they don’t particularly want him to and are all also trying to find a replacement.  Also, the Top Guns quit AGAIN and may or may not be on the show.  It’s a big mess.  Can’t wait for Dave’s review!

– The Dusty blood angle actually resulted in 350 angry calls to TBS during the show, the most since Black Saturday.  And THAT’S why he got fired.

– Dave goes into a discussion of booking committees and why they’re a bad idea, and why it’s a bad idea to build around 39 year old Ric Flair.  He’s only got so many more years in him, you know!  Like, 20 of them. 

– Dave attended the NWA show at the Vegas Showboat (the usual home of the AWA tapings) and it was apparently a great show. Mostly notable was the first Midnights v. Midnights match ever, where Paul E. Dangerously’s entrance had the building literally shaking like an earthquake due to the violent heel reaction from the crowd.  Well, Dave would know all about earthquakes.  Double main event was a pair of **** tag team matches, with Flair & Windham v. Eddie Gilbert & Bam Bam Bigelow and then the Road Warriors v. Sting & Luger.  Can you IMAGINE how awesome Starrcade would have been if they had managed to get Steamboat?  Flair v. Steamboat on top and probably Warriors v. Sting & Luger underneath once Rhodes was ousted?  Then you could do that Windham v. Rhodes match they wanted.  Man.

– Don Owen had his license returned to him by the Oregon commission, after agreeing not to have blood on his shows.  Also, Dave notes, because the commission wasn’t getting a cut of the cancelled shows.  Ah, politics. 

– Survivor Series is estimated to have done between 3% and 4% buyrate, or about 350,000 buys.  Final number was actually even less, a 2.8% result, or about 250,000 buys.  Dave thinks that the PPV industry is “flattening out”.  I laugh heartily at this.

–  Over in All Japan, Baba considered the Rock N Roll Express a flop and shan’t be using them again.  Future WON Hall of Famers!

– Remember the Russian exports from a couple of weeks ago?  Apparently the Soviet government is asking for an assload of money for them, to the point where Inoki might have to look for help from Baba and run a joint show to justify it. 

– Over in Stampede, houses are WAAAAAY up with the Bulldogs in, but quality is into the toilet, like some of the worst ever with Kid booking.  Don Muraco is just using it as a quick payday and won’t sell anything for Makhan Singh, and Dynamite Kid is also not selling for any local talent.  They’re also bringing in Larry Cameron from Continental, who would end up being the last ever North American champion in 1989.

– Rick Casey went on Memphis TV and announced that his real name was Wendall Cooley and that’s what he’ll be known as from now on.  See, I had it backwards then, because I thought he debuted as Cooley and changed to Casey, but I guess it was the other way around. 

– Back to the Kerry Von Erich boot incident, as Dave asks around and discovers that Jerry Jarrett didn’t even know, and in fact only 4 people in wrestling had actually known about the foot.  Dave thinks that the amputation took place after an ill-advised comeback match with Brian Adias a few months ago, but really the surgery that was needed to repair his foot is only successful 25% of the time anyway and it would have been more of a miracle if he HADN’T needed amputation surgery after the accident.  Everyone on the Von Erich PR team is going into overdrive denying the incident ever occurred, and as noted they were so effective that it became known as an urban legend from then on rather than something that actually happened. 

– Ron Garvin won ANOTHER major title while under contract to the WWF, this time the WWC Universal title over Carlos Colon.  This was of course a shocking title change given the circumstances, but apparently Garvin agreed to drop it back in January before they put it on him.

– Owen Hart ruptured his groin against Greg Valentine at Survivor Series and will be out for a while.  That was a NASTY one, as I recall.

– Speaking of Survivor Series, Vince actually told Dynamite Kid that the Rougeaus would be the last team eliminated (instead of the first) so that he would think that they would be in the match for the same amount of time and thus not try any funny business, before double-crossing him.  Vince…double-crossing someone at the Survivor Series?  Vince had also told both teams that if anything went down, they would forfeit their pay.  That’s some great handling of the situation, actually. 

– After noting early in the issue that TBS won’t be making any major changes until the new year, Dave lists a bunch of major changes that TBS will be making: 

1)  Wrestlers under contract will be paid a weekly salary based on their yearly deal, rather than the “pay based on the gate + whatever is missing at the end of the year” nonsense Crockett did.

2)  TBS will pay for hotels on the road.

3)  TBS handles travel arrangements and wrestlers fly from home, not Atlanta.  JJ Dillon had been handling this, and apparently was part of the problems.

4)  All TV tapings will be done in Atlanta.

5)  David Crockett is gone from TV.

6)  The Crockett/Rhodes/Dillon trio were kicked out of their cushy Dallas offices.

7)  Syndication and production values will be massively overhauled.

Basically, not a good time to be Dusty Rhodes, Jim Crockett and JJ Dillon.

– Cornette and the Midnight Express were actually fired after a no-show in the past week, but TBS reconsidered and brought them back. 

– Big Dust is still missing shows on the road, but at least now there’s a “legitimate” reason with the “eye injury” rather than just saying he has the flu. 

And finally, future RSPW “legend” Zoogz Rift has a letter printed, talking about how much he enjoyed Survivor Series.