Wrestling Observer Flashback–04.17.89

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone, and hopefully you all had fun doing your drinking yesterday.  I however am on high-dose antibiotics to combat my bladder infection, so needless to say booze wasn’t on the menu.  I mean, mixing booze and drugs?  Who am I, Kerry Von Erich?


– Dave is actually impressed with how they put Randy Savage together with Sherri Martell as his new manager, because if Elizabeth just dumped him and went with Hogan, there’s a large portion of the audience who would think she’s being a bitch and boo her.  This way, Savage looks like the dick and Hogan still gets to be aligned with Liz whenever she returns.

– In other “Wonderful World of Fantasy” news, it appears that Zeus, the 6’8” steroid monster from No Holds Barred, will be trained to wrestle and oppose Hulk Hogan in the summer in a very misguided attempt to draw money.  Dave now regrets calling the Bushwacker match from Wrestlemania one of the worst matches of all time because Zeus as a wrestler might give it a run for its money.

– Dave notes that in fact most of the feedback from WM5 seemed to think that the Rockers-Towers match was the best of the night, rather than Hogan-Savage.  It was pretty good and underrated by Dave, but best of the night?  I think not.

– Dave discusses the numbers for Wrestlemania and the various records smashed.  Official paid attendance was 18900, about 600 short of a sellout, but close enough to claim one.  The $1.7M gate broke the previous record set by WM3 (which, again, Dave lists at 90,000 paid at this point).  As usual, the early PPV numbers are all over the place.  Titan was predicting a 10% buyrate (which, in an 11 million home universe, would translate to 1.1 million buys.  That would be a no.) and announced an 8.3% buyrate (913,000 buys) for a $25 million take.  Also, no.  More conservative and realistic numbers from the cable companies put the show at a very disappointing 5.5% buyrate (600,000) and that’s closer to where the real number ended up.  I think the final number at the time was around 750K, although then it came out EVEN LATER that even that was a fib and the real, real number was lower.  Still, it held the record for all-time highest PPV buys for a long-ass time.  Dave sums it up by noting that WM3 did a 10% buyrate because PPV was a new toy, and wrestling companies thought that if they kept adding homes to the PPV universe then the percentages would hold as more people gained access.  In fact, what was proven as time went on is that there’s a wrestling audience of between 100,000 and 700,000 people who will order on PPV, regardless of cost, and that was the ceiling for a very long time, no matter how many more people gained the ability to order.

– Dave has an interesting discussion about Great Muta, as he thinks they could push Muta into the Sting position as top babyface and hopefully take emphasis away from all the steroid users.  He notes that Muta has of course been in the US for about a year learning the North American style, but was specifically told by World Class NOT to do all the flashy stuff because no one would cheer a Japanese wrestler and you don’t want your heels showing up your babyface (ie, the Von Erichs).  It was only once he got into the NWA and was basically told to cut loose that everyone suddenly realized what they had.  I appreciate Dave’s enthusiasm, but really the NWA botched him just as badly later on anyway.

– The great debate of the week:  Should the Chicago match or the New Orleans match win Match of the Year?  As it turned out, the Clash match won, but the rematch is still coming up in Nashville and could also be a contender if they have something special up their sleeves.

– Jim Cornette gave a quote for a newspaper in regards to the Clash, saying that if he was in witness protection and wanted to make sure no one would ever look for him, the Clash was the perfect place to be.  BURN.

–  Home video rights to No Holds Barred have already been sold to Columbia for $2.5 million, and with a budget reported at this time of $11 million plus another $3 million for distribution costs (since the WWF is basically going to have to pay those themselves), there’s no way it’s making money.

– More parting shots to George Scott on his way out of the company:  Everyone was pissed because they shot weeks of TV for syndication after Chi-Town Rumble where, for example, Rick Steiner gave interviews talking about how Steve Williams screwed him out of the TV title.  And then Scott changed a bunch of the finishes of the PPV at the last minute and made it a clean win for Rotunda instead, without any interference, leaving them with tons of unusable footage.

– Eddie Gilbert & Rick Steiner apparently lost the US tag titles to the awesome duo of Butch Reed & Iron Sheik at a house show in New Haven, but Dave doesn’t think that they’re THAT stupid and will clarify the situation by the time we get to the mailbag.

– Also, in stuff I haven’t mentioned, Randy Rose has been working an angle with Jack Victory ever since Chi-Town Rumble where he won’t leave the promotion despite losing the fall in the loser-leaves-town match.  He blames Victory for the loss and is apparently a babyface.  I have zero recollection of Rose as a singles wrestler in the NWA or even appearing on TV after the Rumble show, but Rose v. Victory was actually penciled in for WrestleWar at this point.

– And of course, guess what promotion just had to run a house show in Nashville the night before WrestleWar, in the same arena?  Just try to guess.  You’ll never guess.  Dave thinks it’s pretty slimy on the part of the arena, since in theory you’re undercutting your own profits by allowing the WWF to siphon off the NWA’s fanbase and basically hurting both products.  My own personal theory, which is probably a bit wacky and out there, is that Vince more likely paid a little bonus to the arena anyway.

– Master of Pain Update:  He retained the Unified World title, losing to Jerry Lawler by DQ.

– Meanwhile, in World Class, Lawler has been defending that same Unified title, along with the AWA title which he still hasn’t mailed back to Verne out of spite.  THIS WEEK IN KERRY VON ERICH STUPIDITY:  Lawler defended the title against Kerry and used a spoon to draw blood, at which point Kerry blatantly cut himself open on camera, several times in fact, not even bothering to conceal the blading.  The end result of the match is that the title is held up.  But only in Dallas.  Can you tell that Jarrett is already losing interest in his Texas empire?

– Eric Embry beat Gary Young in another loser-leaves-town match to win the Texas title (a rematch from Embry’s loss where he just never left), but Young isn’t actually leaving the territory so they’re just going to ignore that stip.  However, Embry faces Botswana Beast next week in ANOTHER loser-leaves-town match, and the Beast actually did quit, so that one should stick.

– David McLane somehow talked Stallone’s mom into starting another wrestling promotion with him, this one called Lady Sports Club, using all the POWW talent but under their real names rather than cartoon gimmicks.  For those keeping track, McLane was forced out of both GLOW and POWW and still wouldn’t take the hint.

– Dave recommends a story in PWI this month, and even gives the page number, about the Bruiser Brody verdict, written by Dave Rosenbaum.  Did Dave get worked by Apter there or am I missing some kind of inside joke?

– Dusty Rhodes lost his weekly TV slot in Florida to the NWA.  Things are looking bleak for his vanity promotion.  Maybe he might need to explore other employment options…?

– The WWF set up some new feuds on the TV tapings, like Brutus Beefcake bullying Sherri to sow the seeds for Summerslam, and Jake Roberts beginning a feud with Ted Dibiase that would drag on for a YEAR.  Randy Savage was supposed to tour Italy, but was actually working WM with a huge staph infection in his elbow and needed to get it cut and drained.  Ew.  Something something CM Punk joke.

– They gave Tom Magee yet another tryout, this time as a heel called THE MEGA-MAN managed by Jimmy Hart, but he was so terrible that they’re not even going to air it.  You’d think they’d get sued pretty hardcore by Capcom over that anyway.

– Ron Garvin lost a “loser must retire” match to Valentine on these tapings, and returned as a referee right away.

– The Powers of Pain are done, and wrestled singles squashes on the shows.

– Rumors are flying that Owen Hart has given notice and will jump to the NWA, but that isn’t the case, says Dave.

– Dave also wants to clear up one of the big misconceptions in wrestling right now:  Missy Hyatt doesn’t have a Gucci bag, it’s actually Louis Vitton.

– Speculation is that the NWA is going to bring in veteran WWF director Craig Leathers to do their next PPV, as Tommy Edwards got a lot of heat for production gaffes on the Chicago show.  And in fact that’s exactly what happened.

– We get some clarification on the US tag titles as promised:  Reed & Sheik apparently did cheat and win them in New Haven, but there was a big argument with Teddy Long and Nick Patrick afterwards about it, and then they just ignored the title change and Steiner & Gilbert showed up with the belts the next night in Atlanta anyway.  I can say that they abandoned the belts after WrestleWar anyway.

– Johnny Ace is coming in to team with Shane Douglas in a team called the New Generation.  Oh no, Dave, it’s even better than that!

– Dave goes into a rant about announcers and “he didn’t hook the leg!” to end the issue.  Basically if you tell fans that you’re not going to get a pin without hooking the leg, then you trivialize all the other pinfall attempts and no one buys them.  And on the flipside, when someone gets pinned without having the leg hooked, like Randy Savage did when he ate the legdrop, brother, then he looks like a goof.  It’s a no-win argument, basically.

And on that note of hard-hitting journalism, we’re done for another day.