Wrestling Observer Flashback–10.23.89

Hopefully I’ll be done coughing by the time this gets posted.

– Antonio Inoki added another chapter to his legend this week, as he made a public appearance at a concert and a mental patient jumped onto the stage and apparently slashed him with a knife from his ear to his throat.  I hope Sid had an alibi.  He was rushed away by medical staff, but apparently it wasn’t as bad of a throat-slashing as it initially appeared and he actually returned later to give his originally scheduled speech to the crowd.  The man was tough, you have to give him that.

– Saturday Night’s Main Event was a thing that happened again this weekend, and Dave’s got a review.

1.  Randy Savage pinned Jimmy Snuka, with Savage doing his usual stellar job of carrying dead weight like the Superfly to something decent.  **1/2

2.  Hulk Hogan beat Ted Dibiase to retain the WWF title at 8:00 with a rollup after Zeus’ interference backfired.  They are now actively trying to erase the pinfall loss at Summerslam from history, so Dave warns those of you who ordered the show to purge the result of the main event from your mind lest Vince does it for you.  BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENED.  Decent match, but Hogan seemed slow and lethargic.  **

3.  Roddy Piper beat Haku with a belly to belly suplex at 3:02.  Nothing special.  *1/2

4.  Rick Martel and Tito Santana went to a double DQ in the Survivor Series hype match at 8:40 when both teams got involved for the schmoz.  This was pretty great for a TV match and the closest thing we ever got to a PPV blowoff of the Strike Force feud.  And then Tito wore the tights for another three years anyway.  ***1/2

5.  The Bushwackers beat the Rougeaus in 3:15 with the stomach breaker on Jacques.  Biggest highspot of the match was the Rougeaus lip-syncing their entrance music.  1/2*

– Dave thinks that Halloween Havoc will probably do the lowest buyrate of the year, especially without a World title match on top.  If the tag title match was stronger it might have a shot at doing better, but no one takes the Freebirds seriously as champions and no one takes the Dudes seriously as challengers.  In fact, the Clash IX card that will air two weeks later on free TV looks like a stronger show on paper, with the Flair v. Funk match and Midnights-Dudes blowoff.

– Dave actually corrects the names of some of the kickboxing stars that Maeda is bringing into the Tokyo Dome, including Maurice Smith.  Good for him.

– Dave feels like Survivor Series ‘89 isn’t going to do well, especially without any kind of particularly focused main event or storyline leading into it.  Plus it’s on Thanksgiving, which might be a great night for going out to watch wrestling, but not for staying in to order it on PPV.

– The third annual King of the Ring tournament stunk up Providence this week, with Tito Santana winning after Barry Windham no-showed what was likely his tournament to win.  The redone field saw Akeem over Beefcake, Hercules DDQ Jim Neidhart, Warlord over Butch Miller, Santana over Bad News Brown, Rick Martel beat jobber Bill Woods, Luke Williams beat Nikolai Volkoff, Haku beat Red Rooster, Jimmy Snuka beat the Barbarian, then Santana over Warlord, Martel over Luke, Snuka over Haku.  Third round was Santana over Akeem, Martel over Snuka, and then Santana beat Martel in the finals.  Dave is hopeful for complete results with all the screwjobs and crap finishes listed for next week.

– So remember how last week Jerry Lawler was putting over green rookie Soultaker in non-title matches to build him up as Memphis’s version of Zeus?  Well, turns out it wasn’t such a hot business move after all, as that same match drew a $2000 house for the 10/9 show in Memphis, which is likely a record for lowest of all time.  Fans barely even reacted to the total squashing of Lawler, which lasted 10 minutes and was atrociously bad.

– In a mildly interesting note that’s related to today, Memphis is running all kinds of special promotions to get kids back into the shows again, like promising special sections where you can bring as many kids as you want for free and there’s no booze allowed and salty language will result in immediate ejection.  PG Era Memphis!  Anyway, Dave explains that kids used to pack the Mid-South Coliseum in the early 80s when Lawler and the Rock N Rolls were hot, but now they’ve grown up and moved onto the “major leagues” like the WWF and NWA, or just moved past wrestling altogether.  Which is interesting because that’s EXACTLY what happened to WWE, as all the young fans brought in by John Cena 10 years ago didn’t stay fans of the product, and ratings have been steadily dropping off as they grow up and move onto other things.

– The Punisher won his first title in USWA, taking advantage of Eric Embry being blinded by ammonia to win the Texas title by forfeit. Also, that rookie Steve Williams (who Dave vehemently notes, is the student of Chris Adams and NOT Dr. Death) got his first win in the sport, beating Sheik Braddock by DQ.  I feel like if they matched up The Punisher with this Steve Williams kid and put it on a TV show on Monday nights, they might have something.  As long as they don’t run the same match 800 times afterwards.

– Dave doesn’t seem particularly hyped for WRESTLEWRECK ‘89 but I bet if Embry booked a show where everyone did a Roller Derby before the matches he’d be losing his mind with excitement.

– Paul Orndorff has confirmed that he’s coming out of retirement soon and will be working some indies again.  Hopefully that convinced everyone he was alive the whole time.

– Everyone is deserting the CWF right now, including long-standing top stars like Wendell Cooley and Jerry Stubbs, following the breakup of Ron Fuller and David Woods.  In fact that was pretty much it for the promotion.

– The WWF is having trouble selling tickets for their next SNME taping because the main event is Hulk Hogan v. The Genius.

– Bob Orton is doing house show matches for the WWF as a sub for Hillbilly Jim and will be interviewing for a job at the Kansas tapings.  That went nowhere, of course.

– The WWF is now putting up signs outside TV tapings that basically say “If you bring in banners that interfere with our television equipment or say derogatory things about the babyfaces, then we reserve the right to confiscate them.” So Dave thinks that it’s now totally fair if they do it.

– People are actually gaming the system now by wearing obvious NWA t-shirts to WWF tapings, because the WWF gives out free shirts to people in the first few rows who do exactly that.  In the hilarious punchline, people try the same thing at NWA shows and the guys running those shows aren’t paying attention, so you end up with a bunch of WWF shirts on NWA TV tapings in the front row.

– Apparently David Sammartino getting a job with the NWA was never on the table as a part of Bruno doing the ref gig at Havoc.

– So in things I honest-to-god never pieced together until now, the Dragon Master who is being brought in to replace Dick Slater in the J-Tex team was Kendo Nagasaki with a shaved head and new gear.  I have no idea why I never made that connection until now.

– And finally, Dave notes that “Jesus Christ with an Etch-a-Sketch” couldn’t draw for the NWA right now, as there’s no clear direction for the product under Flair’s booking regime other than the vague Flair v. Muta hints.  Just wait until Starrcade when that problem gets even worse!  I have to say this run of Observers is really bursting the nostalgia balloon of 1989 as far as the NWA goes.