Wrestling Observer Flashback–12.19.88

We are getting closer to the magic moment that is AWA Superclash III.  But not yet.  Not until next week.  You don’t just fire up the Sunny video and whip it out right away, do you?  Have some self-respect!  Wait until the bile in your throat goes away first.

I feel like we’re off-topic right away.  To 1988, where the theme of this week is “card subject to change”.

– Here’s a hilarious story that will make you shake your head lovingly and go “Oh, that wacky Vince.”  So as mentioned, SuperClash III is coming up in Chicago this week, with Kerry Von Erich competing in the main event.  However, it turns out that Illinois had an obscure athletic commission rule that stated no one with an artificial limb could compete in the state.  So guess who called the state athletic commission to report on a wrestler with an artificial foot?  So the commission, who are not idiots, scheduled a hearing for 12/14…the day after SuperClash.  So then the same mysterious person, who we’ll call “Schmince ShmcMahon”, went to COURT to force them to move the hearing up to 12/9 instead.  However, Kerry was on tour of Japan at that point, so the commission rules that:

a)  Wrestling is fake, yo, so the rule doesn’t apply.

b)  Even if it was a legitimate athletic competition, they can grant an exception and would in this case anyway. 

Cue Vince throwing down his old-timey hat in disgust and shaking his fist at Verne Gagne.

Come on, though, that’s such a supremely dickish move that you have to respect it a bit.  Dave compares it to Road Warrior Animal facing Downtown Bruno in a match and wonders why the hell Vince is so obsessed with destroying the AWA, even at the cost of exploiting an amputee to get a show cancelled.  Well geez, if you put it THAT way.  Ironically, of course, years later Vince would HIRE his own amputee and put him on several shows! 

–   World Class and the AWA, meanwhile, are still denying that this whole “artificial foot” thing is even an issue or even exists.  At one point Kerry DID write “amputee” on an insurance form, but that was a misprint.  And yes, there might have been something that happened in Vegas where Col DeBeers accidentally pulled Kerry’s boot off and “nearly had a stroke” when he saw what was underneath, but there was no actual photographic evidence.  And yes, Kerry showers with his boots on, but that’s because he has an ankle brace that ABSOLUTELY can’t get wet.  Also, apparently Jerry Jarrett and Fritz Von Erich both think that every wrestling fan in the world is a fucking moron. 

– Bam Bam Bigelow was thought to be done with the NWA, but will still work Starrcade against Barry Windham.  If he hadn’t shown up, Eddie Gilbert would have taken his place. 

– Dave reviews Clash IV, which was the lowest-rated of the specials thus far and the first one produced by TBS instead of Crockett.  Not a great show overall.  Ratings ahoy!

The Fantastics beat Eddie Gilbert & Ron Simmons to win the US tag titles in the finals of the tournament at 27:04.  Solid match, but someone forgot to bring the belts to the show.  Whoops.  **1/2  Fans booed the finish and it didn’t really do the Fantastics any favors.

Steve Williams beat the Italian Stallion in 15:17.  Dave wonders if they were literally trying to kill off Doc’s heat here, because if there was any other goal it failed.  -*

Ivan Koloff pinned Paul Jones with one hand tied behind his back 8:21.  Another one that was too long and “as bad as any match televised in any country in any year.”  -***  The Russian Assassins beat up Uncle Ivan until JYD made the save, which Dave notes would have been more effective as a surprise if JYD hadn’t done an interview immediately before the match saying how he was back and teaming with Ivan at Starrcade.

Road Warrior Animal beat Dusty Rhodes by DQ at 2:54 to win the six-man titles.  Another shit match, but all action at least.  *

Ric Flair & Barry Windham beat the Midnight Express at 17:54 in a match where TBS basically went to all four beforehand and said “No pressure, but you have to save the show.”  So they did.  ****

– 50s wrestler Baron Michele Leone died this week.

– The trial of Jose Gonzales begins in two weeks, and it’s expected he’ll plead guilty to something and serve a lengthy probation but no jail time.  Well, that was partly right, in that he served no jail time.

– Jerry Jarrett is turning people on both sides, to match up the heel/face alignments in Dallas and Memphis and thus not make it so ridiculously complicated to book.

– To give you an idea of where the AWA sits right now mere days before their PPV, they haven’t run a TV taping since 9/19 in order to save money, and ESPN has just been cutting together shows from previous episodes and airing them in death slots in the afternoons.  When they bother to show them at all.  ESPN actually haven’t aired an episode in two weeks as of this issue.  They don’t even talk about the PPV on the shows.

– Don Owen pulled out of Washington state completely and gave up his TV slot in Seattle.  The end is near for that promotion.

– Speaking of the end nearing, Don Muraco won the North American title from Makhan Singh in Stampede and the Bulldogs won the tag titles as crowds continue to dwindle.

– Speaking of dwindling crowds, the AWA PPV is a total disaster even before it airs, as almost no one has bought the show in advance.  At that point in the history of the business, PPV wasn’t an impulse thing like it became.  You had to WORK to order a show and typically did so days or even weeks beforehand to make sure the cable company could hook you up.

– Ted Arcidi went on the Morton Downey Jr show and claimed that he didn’t do steroids and if you did steroids in the WWF, then Vince would suspend you.  And then “his nose grew so long that you could no longer see his face”, says Dave.

– Although Vince is claiming a 4.2% buyrate for Survivor Series, the real number appears to be closer to 2.1%, so Dave notes that you just cut the WWF number in half to get the real one.  He think 4 shows a year is oversaturating the market and they’d be better off with 2.

– WWF had a house show in Hamilton, but the plane was delayed, so they just started the show and put a couple of job guys out there to work a 20 minute broadway, with LOTS of stalling, and then rushed Hogan and Bossman out there for another 20 minute stallfest before the rest of the crew finally arrived.  Sounds like a classic.

– Starrcade, besides the booking issues, actually has logistical issues with being held on 12/26, since cable companies are closed from the 24th – 26th for Christmas. TBS is pushing fans to order by 12/23 to prevent problems, but this might hurt.

– Jim Herd is going to insist on more people doing jobs. 

– Dave wishes us all a Merry Christmas, and that’s about all for this week!