Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.17.89

As if things weren’t bad enough for Stampede Wrestling right now, it’s about to get worse…

– The lead story this week is the rather scary serendipity of another car accident in the wilds of Canada, thankfully not a fatal one this time. Last year at the same time, Adrian Adonis died due to poor driving conditions, and this year it was Davey Boy Smith getting flung through a windshield and essentially put out of action for a year with a broken back.  Although everyone else suffered minor injuries by comparison, Karl “Jason the Terrible” Moffat had his leg broken in two places and it essentially ended his career for years afterwards, as he didn’t show up again until the mid-90s, working tiny Canadian indy shows, and he was a shell of his former self.  Chris Benoit and Sumo Hara got off much easier, with minor injuries and neither missed any significant time.  Stampede was forced to cancel shows for a while afterwards, and obviously this completely killed the Davey v. Dynamite feud.

– Jake Roberts, in addition to his neck problems and surgery, was convicted of assault and battery stemming from an arrest months beforehand, and he’s still facing trial for a bar fight a few weeks back.  In retrospect it’s kind of astonishing that the WWF didn’t just cut ties with the guy sooner than they did.

– In an interesting note this week, Pennsylvania successfully passed a bill that de-regulated pro wrestling in exchange for companies like the WWF agreeing to abide by certain standard rules and regulations.  The main sticking point with the previous athletic commissions (aside from having to pay “taxes” to run shows) was the state’s insistence on wanting to use their own referees and even timekeepers and ring announcers.  This turned into a major issue when WWF would run major shows like SNME and have to fight to get Howard Finkel as their ring announcer.  What’s REALLY interesting in the long run is that one of the things that had been previously eliminated was bleeding, after years of the NWA booking shows with multiple juice as a matter of habit.  Blood had dried up completely for a few years in Philly, and with the new regulations it opened up opportunity for a whole new type of promotion that could use blood and violence again.

– With Roddy Piper replacing Bobby Heenan on Primetime Wrestling, Bobby will instead be getting his own 30 minute talk show called “The Bobby Heenan Show”.  Dave notes that the contents of this should be interesting.

– The NWA shot the big “Marietta Massacre” angle to set up the 89 Wargames match, with the Road Warriors facing the Freebirds in a cage match before the SST ran in and everyone brutalized the babyfaces.  Hawk ended up bleeding all over the ring and going out on a stretcher.  There was issues getting it onto TV, but it was a very effective angle to heat up the Warriors v. SST feud.

– In a stipulation that is uniquely Memphis, Master of Pain lost a match to Freddy (Tommy Gilbert under a horror movie mask) where Freddy would unmask if he lost, and Pain would be tarred and feathered by the fans if he lost.  So instead of letting the fans do the deed, MOP actually elected to tar and feather himself.  This ended up being the start of his babyface turn.  Because when you think of a giant badass named Master of Pain who was found killing guys in prison fights, you think “babyface”.  I know that for people in Tennessee it’s probably still commonplace for people to be tarred and feathered just for weekend entertainment, but up here in Canada it’s kind of a weird idea.

– In the next classy World Class (I mean, “Class” is right in their name!) angle of the week to see how cheap the heat can get, Skandor Akbar bought Corporal Braddock as a new client, and immediately convinced him to burn the US flag to show his loyalty.  I mean, as Canadians, we burn US flags just to keep warm, but I can see how people in Texas might take issue with it.  Luckily for Texans and flag enthusiasts everywhere, Eric Embry continued his transition from English scumbag to god-fearing American hero by making the save.

– The stock angle gets more and more complex by the week, with a supposed bidding war between Tojo Yamamoto and Max Andrews based on a stipulation from a match with Embry and Tojo where the winner would get to buy the stock at “fair market value”, only for Tojo to raise market value or something.  Short version, they still don’t know who owns the company and it’ll likely come down to yet another match with Eric Embry involved somehow.

– And now, THIS WEEK IN KERRY VON ERICH STUPIDITY.  Even Dave is treating Kerry’s idiotic streak as a running gag now.  So at the TV taping, Kerry was wrestling Al Perez when Kevin ran in for the DQ after Perez grabbed a chair.  Perez didn’t USE the chair, mind you, he just brought it into the ring.  OK, so later in the show, Kerry does an interview explaining this and I swear I am not making this up.  The reason Kerry gives for his brother interfering is that Kevin saw Perez setting up for a deadly wrestling move onto the chair called the Atomic Brainbuster, which was banned from wrestling in 1952 when a wrestler named Stuttgart used it to KILL SOMEONE.  Well, I mean, clearly Kevin HAD to run in for the DQ, then!

– Inoki’s latest plan is to run a New Year’s Eve show, simulcast via closed circuit in both Tokyo and Moscow ala Wrestlemania 2.  I’m pretty sure this didn’t happen, but Dave notes it’s unlikely to work anyway.

– Stampede is desperately trying to get Owen Hart back in for some shows to fill the void left by all their top babyfaces getting injured in that car accident.

– Promoter Jerry Gray in Florida is setting the bar for scumbags everywhere, promoting shows with top stars like “Hammer Valentine” and “Macho Savage”.  Wait a minute, I feel a Frinkiac meme coming…


– Roddy Piper did a surprise appearance at a WWF house show in Calgary against Randy Savage in the main event, and the show only drew somewhere between 900 – 2000 people depending on who was counting.  That’s kind of mind-blowing considering that should be a dream match.

– Various people have asked for examples of letters printed in the Observer, so here’s one of them this week.  I don’t really like going through and typing out stuff like this verbatim, but since so many have asked I’ll do it this week.  Especially since it’s a Scott Hudson letter, which is a pretty good representation of the kind of stuff you get in these.  Plus, you know, Scott Hudson.

“I’ll get right to the point.  Lex Luger has for the past three weeks been the best heel in pro wrestling.  He’s been stunning during and since his turn at the Clash.  His interview on the 6/24 TBS show was perfect.  His tirade about little kids wanting his autograph was a riot.  Hopefully his workrate will keep up with his attitude to make the Steamboat-Luger match in Baltimore the sleeper match of the card. 

Ric Flair’s total babyface return on the 7/1 TBS show was really hot.  His match with funk could very well equal one of the Flair vs. Steamboat matches this year.  High expectations I realize, but hopeful none the less. Everything else about the NWA is exciting to me now also.  The best thing is that the power that be are apparently willing to allow the promotion go through this rebuilding period.  All too often we see groups losing faith in bookers, wrestlers and/or fans too quickly and bailing out when the promotion could really take off.  The CWF during Eddie Gilbert’s reign as booker is a good example.  The NWA is doing the right thing by giving these ideas a chance to grow.

The WWF is boring me to tears.  Zeus will be a bomb in the ring and I think it’ll adversely affect the WWF.  He can’t wrestle.  No Holds Barred was an insulting piece of filth that only deepened my distaste for the WWF.  I can’t blame McMahon or Hogan because they are giving the public what it wants but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  But I’m pulling for the WWF to survive with some decency so when they go the way of Schaun Cassidy, Pet Rocks and Atari, there will be something left with which to build a decent wrestling promotion around.

Scott Hudson, Tifton Georgia.”

– The Rockers-Rougeaus “marathon” matches are getting rave reviews and stealing the show around the horn.  This Shawn Michaels kid seems to be making that a habit.

– Meanwhile, the B-Show tour with Warrior v. Rude on top is drawing shockingly well every night.  No doubt this was considered a test for Warrior, which he passed quite easily.

– Butch Reed appears to have been fired from the NWA.  You could say he’s DOOMed.

– Dave just lambasts Gordon Solie’s update segment on NWA Main Event, noting all the stuff he got completely wrong (“Lord Alfred Blears”) and basically making fun of Solie for promoting WWF’s house show feuds for them.  As it turned out, Solie was drunk off his ass for these segments to the point where they could barely assemble anything from the footage, so it’s not terribly shocking.

– Lex Luger’s mannerisms as a heel are just incredible, Dave notes.

– Finally, everyone is blown away by this Scott Steiner kid and his overhead blockbuster slam finisher.  Man, just wait until Steiner reveals his REAL finisher at the Bash and rules the year-end awards with it for the next few years!  Dave might poop his pants.  And then Dusty can clean it up.