Wrestling Observer Flashback–01.30.89

It’s Sunday morning.  Coffee is wonderful.  It’s not looking good for the AWA though, guys.

To the Observer!

– Dusty’s replacement as booker of the NWA has been named, and it’s George Scott.  This was met with a decidedly mixed reaction from pretty much everyone, with the most common feeling being that while he was booker for a lot of successful promotions (70s Mid-Atlantic and 84 WWF) it was more of a case of being in the right place at the right time.  Those who worked with him in the WWF particularly describe him as “not living up to his reputation.”

– Oddly enough, Scott had already been hired a couple of weeks ago, but Jim Crockett fired him the same day because of all the bad blood from the promotional war.  And then TBS overruled HIM and hired Scott back again because at this point Crockett was Commander Krug in Star Trek III hanging off the edge of the cliff by his fingertips and Jim Herd was Captain Kirk stomping on his fingers and yelling “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU!” before getting rid of him completely.  The feeling was that they didn’t want another “Dusty situation” by having an active wrestler in charge, so Eddie Gilbert was interviewed but ultimately rejected.  Oh man, can you imagine Heyman and Gilbert booking 1989 NWA?!

– OK, so at this point the wrestling war gets really nasty.  Last week the USA Network announced a three hour special against the Chi-Town Rumble PPV, and now it’s been upgraded to a live MSG show on free TV.  In response, the NWA has decided to go full-on kamikaze by scheduling their own PPV from the Omni opposite Wrestlemania V.  This would be completely suicidal, but the theory is that Turner could exercise his muscle with the cable companies (many of whom have seats on Turner’s board) and force them into exclusivity to shut out Wrestlemania.  I just can’t even with this idea.  Obviously everyone came to their senses, but even the final outcome backfired on everyone in spectacular fashion and put an end to this kind of nonsense once and for all.

– The biggest complaint about Royal Rumble was that it was basically $20 for nothing to happen.  Just wait until today.

– Dusty Rhodes will be taking Al Perez and Dick Murdoch to Florida with him as his big “talent raid”.  He also wanted Larry Zbyszko (why?) but Larry has already quit to go back to the AWA.  Basically Larry’s wife Kathy Gagne was expecting another child, so Verne Gagne made him an unmatchable offer to come back and be AWA champion so he’d be in Minnesota again.  Dusty also wants to take Barry Windham (his second-in-command as booker) but Barry figures into big plans for the NWA and they don’t want him to leave.

– The NWA had been running Bunkhouse Stampede matches, with the finals scheduled for the PPV, but with Dusty gone they’re just dropping the concept completely because FUCK YOU DUSTY, THAT’S WHY.  And you thought YOUR workplace politics were petty.

–  Lex Luger will be taking Dusty’s place against Barry Windham at the PPV.  They actually wanted Eddie Gilbert for the role because he got over huge in the Steamboat angle on TV, but advertising was already set and when they made the new ads, the angle hadn’t aired yet and Gilbert wasn’t considered a big enough star.

– Dave is just totally confused by the whole AWA title situation.  Verne is telling Lawler and Jarrett that SuperClash lost money and thus he can’t pay them, but is telling everyone else that the show MADE money, so no one trusts anyone.  And then Lawler did the title change with Dutch Mantell in Memphis (where Mantell apparently won the AWA Title, only to have it overturned the next week) and Verne lost his shit about that because no one consulted him before booking a title change, even a screwy one-week Memphis change that no one cares about.  The end result is that Verne is done working with anyone and Larry Z is going to end up with the World title when they finally tape more TV on 2/7, although that might be tough since Lawler has openly said he’s not doing a job for anyone in the AWA.

– Steamboat made his big return on the Saturday show as Eddie Gilbert’s mystery partner, and it was pretty great.  The original plan was for Steamboat to come out and wrestle under a mask and then unmask after getting the pin on Flair, but George Scott changed the plan.  That was the first in a line of bad decisions on his part, actually.  The mask thing would have been much more memorable.  Flair is already giddy with excitement at getting his wrestle his favorite opponent again.

– Dave thinks that the Flair-Steamboat matches probably won’t draw very well on PPV (true) and that they’ll pretty much have to have a match of the year to not be considered a disappointment.  Well, they exceeded even THAT expectation.

– Over in Dallas, the growing popularity of the SST is pissing off the Von Erichs, and they’re going to get turfed soon as a result.  And then the NWA was like “Thanks, we’ll take that!”

– Interestingly, the Financial News Network wanted to back a sequel to SuperClash III headed by Jerry Jarrett in April, but wanted the AWA involved and Jarrett refused.  This pretty much was a dealbreaker for the backers and it didn’t happen as a result.

– Dave clarifies the Backlund situation from the UWF, and notes that Bob wasn’t actually double-crossed, but had issues with the ref and some of the kicks from Maeda.

– Inoki is all gung-ho about this Russian invasion deal, but everyone thinks he’s nuts and there’s no way it’s going to work.  Inoki’s plan is to put together a Team Japan, Team Russia and Team America (Rick Steiner, Big Van Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, Dick Murdoch and Manny Fernandez) and then presumably have a series of battles to find out who’s the toughest.  They’ll decide things the old Navy way – whoever dies first, loses!

– The British Bulldogs are working All Japan and Baba is really disappointed with their effect on the gates.

– Dave wonders about Savage’s role after Wrestlemania V.  Most think that Liz will retire and Savage will go heel.  Dave doesn’t see it.

– Harley Race has decided to retire after his Royal Rumble performance.

– Due to Studd’s terrible Rumble performance, the WWF is changing their mind about giving him a big push in the summer.

– The WWF gave their side of the fight with the Illinois State commission over the Kerry Von Erich thing, which was absolutely not about screwing over Verne Gagne.  See, they just wanted to have the commission rule that wrestling was an exhibition and not a sport, which would set a legal precedent and thus destroy the dictator-like grip of state commissions.  They’re HEROES, god damn you!

– Apparently Rick Martel’s absence was less due to injury and moreso because he had immigration problems and couldn’t get across the border to work shows in the US.  He actually did a couple of house shows illegally and immigration officials discovered him working there and sent him back to Quebec again.  I’d like to picture Martel spraying Arrogance in the eyes of the border patrol and then making a break for the US.

– Update on Rick Steiner’s dog for those of you keeping track:  Rick had been using his own pitbull, Spike, but to make things easier for TV has switched to using Teddy Long’s dog at the tapings.  Dave notes that the dog is a better actor than David Crockett.

– Kendall Windham turned heel at the last tapings, with the idea of having Kendall and Butch Reed join the Four Horsemen to replace Tully and Arn.  And then George Scott vetoed that idea, because he doesn’t like the Horsemen concept, so Flair and Barry will continue as heels managed by JJ Dillon who will not be the Horsemen.

–  Bobby Heenan is up for the role of Curley in a movie about the Three Stooges.

– The AWA officially stripped Jerry Lawler of the AWA title on 1/27 for missing title matches, and will decide the new champion with a battle royale.  Because AWA.

– The 4/2 PPV war appears to be over already, as cable companies were going to side with Turner due to Vince’s high demands for revenue from the Wrestlemania show, but Vince has lowered his asking price.  So it looks like Turner won’t be running a PPV in opposition after all.  Perhaps he’ll try something else instead?

I guess we’ll find out next week, because Dave is DESPERATELY OUT OF TIME!