Wrestling Observer Flashback–05.08.89

This week’s theme:  Never count Inoki out.

Except when he loses by countout, I suppose.

– In advance of the Tokyo Dome results, Dave runs down the rather amazing career of Antonio Inoki, running down his departure from the JWA and subsequent real life feud with Baba, his ridiculous battle with Ali, and embezzling scandal where his wrestling profits were funding his failed cattle ranch.

– All this leads to the Tokyo Dome show, which DOUBLED the WM5 gate at $3 million and ended up the third-highest attendance in wrestling history at 54,000 people.  Big Van Vader won the IWGP title, beating Shinya Hashimoto in the finals.  Hashimoto being in that position was a huge shock at that point, since he was a very low level guy before that and was mostly hanging around Memphis as a generic Japanese character.

– Also on the show, Keichi Yamada debuted his new gimmick based on a Japanese cartoon character:  Jushin Riger (or Liger after confusion with pronunciation were straightened out).

– In the main event, Inoki agreed to put over the Russian judo champion, after remembering the mistake he made with Ali where neither guy wanted to lose.  The Russian broke his arm with an armbar and Inoki refused to quit fighting, eventually being taken out on a stretcher after a back suplex.  The match took place in a circular ring with no ropes, and Inoki gave the Russian his World Martial Arts title afterwards.  I’m betting Inoki gets that one back later.

– Jim Duggan won the kingship from Haku at the TV tapings on 4/25, complete with coronation ceremony.  Also, on the SNME tapings, Hogan beat Bossman in a cage match, although Dave obviously didn’t get word of the famous superplex spot at this point.

– The WWF is expected to go full court press with promotional hype for No Holds Barred, which debuts June 2.  Furthering the shitshow that was this movie, it now turns out that the WWF is putting up all the promotional money instead of New Line Cinema.  So New Line literally got the movie for free and doesn’t even have to PROMOTE it?  At least someone made money on it.

– The name for Ace & Douglas has been finalized as The Dynamic Dudes.

– At this point, TBS is accepting that WrestleWar is a financial writeoff and they’re concentrating on building towards the Great American Bash PPV instead.

– Jerry Lawler sadly ended the glorious title reign of the Master of Pain, regaining the Unified World title after beating a gauntlet of heels.  As a result of the win, he was granted five minutes with Ronnie Gossett in the ring, but the heels all attacked and ran Lawler’s groin into the post as a reference to the famous angle with Tommy Rich years before.

– Dusty’s Florida promotion is going down the tubes fast, and Dusty is kind of banking things on a show in May against Terry Funk.

– World Class TV is becoming what could be loosely termed “Crash TV” at this point, with stupid angles like Eric Embry bleeding and vomiting all over the ring after an attack from the heels, only to be scheduled for a main event days later.  Akbar gets fired for life by figurehead Frank Dusek, but then it turns out that Dusek didn’t read the fine print and Akbar is back by the end of the show.  Dave notes that it’s certainly entertaining if nothing else.  Dave offers suggestions for next week’s show, like Embry returns from the dead and starts hacking guys to pieces with chainsaws and tire irons, in case they’re running out of stupid shit to try.

– The big storyline thread is that Embry is threatening to break away from World Class with Dusek and form his own promotion under the auspices of the USWA.

– John Tenta went to Giant Baba, asking for permission to be let out of his All Japan contract so he can go to the WWF.

– So also over in Japan, a new promotion called Pioneer features a bunch of lightweights who were fired from All Japan in 1985, and no one’s giving it any chance of survival.  The lead star is Atsushi Onita, and his big idea seems to be freakshow death matches on top.  Of course, a few months later the name would change to FMW and it would help to change wrestling forever.

– The Midnight Express is headed into Continental for some shows right away.

– Kendo Nagasaki did a WWF tryout at the Superstars taping, but the match (even against #1 jobber Tim Horner!) was pretty lousy and he’s not getting picked up.

– Andre and Studd are bombing at the house shows, so they’re making it a tag team program with Studd & Duggan v. Andre & Haku instead to try and save it.

– Blue Blazer was relegated to TV jobber here already, so the writing’s on the wall for his WWF career.

– Hogan v. Savage headlined MSG and only drew 16,000, which Dave notes is a major problem and shows that they may have cooled Savage off already.

– Although Dave speculated that No Holds Barred might gain a cult following on the home video market a couple of weeks ago, a reader writes in to smarten Dave up about the extortion racket that was the VHS rental scene at that point, and basically there’s no chance of NHB making money for anyone but the video rental places.

– Rick Rude did a spot at a house show where Eddie Sharkey was reffing, seemingly paying him off with several hundreds for no apparent reason before the match.  As it turns out, he was giving him a “thank you” for discovering Rude years earlier as a bouncer and breaking him into the business.  Aww.

– Finally, the NWA wants to run Sting v. Muta, but they’re afraid of people booing Sting, so ran a test match at the TV tapings and discovered that in fact people were fine booing Muta and cheering Sting, so now they’re going ahead with it as planned.

And that’s the news that was on the Monday!