Wrestling Observer Flashback–April 1984 Part 1

For my own sanity we’re going to split the ‘84 issues into two parts, although I’m going to post one at 6am like usual and then the next one at 6pm to see if we can get some evening action going again.  At the very least it’ll break up the giant blocks of text and allow me to go into a bit more detail on stuff.

– The lead story this week is the funeral of David Von Erich, as Dave talks about how close he got to becoming NWA World champion, and notes that he would probably have been Flair’s heir apparent. History and perspective have shown that not to be the case, of course. More interestingly, the “cause” of death has now shifted to an “apparent heart failure”, which is much different than the acute intestinal trauma that the Von Erich family initially put out to the press.  Like really, there’s a world of difference there.  But hey, I’m no doctor. Kevin was quoted in a story about the death as saying that it was a heart attack caused by “over-exertion” because gosh darn, David just always pushed himself so hard, sometimes getting a third or fourth wind, and this time he just didn’t get up.  Of course, the real story was still to come.

– THIS WEEK IN KEVIN VON ERICH STUPIDITY:  Another quote from Kevin in the story is a real howler.  “He was a cowboy.  He liked to take one or two drinks after a match.  He was in no way, shape or form involved in drugs.”  I feel like I needed to highlight that one for some reason.  Also, another contradictory detail added to the story, as the family has now started talking about how David was complaining about the flu for days before his death, as well as “coughing up blood after matches” for up to a week before the trip to Japan.  So in summation thus far, David was exhausted and suffering from the flu for a week before the trip, including coughing up blood, and he went to Japan for a tour where he wrestled in a main event for All Japan, went to a steakhouse and had sushi, which caused inflammation of his intestinal tract and led to him having a heart attack in the hotel room.  Have I got that all or is Fritz going to add another symptom next month, I wonder?  At this point I feel like poor David was going through an extended death scene like OJ Simpson in the original Naked Gun movie or something.  I keep waiting for a detailed reconstruction of the hotel room ala CSI where we see him stepping on a series of rakes and landing facefirst in a birthday cake or something.

– I would like to remind everyone at this point that it was ABSOLUTELY NOT DRUGS.

– Dave announces he’s moving back to California in a few weeks, but credits living in the hotbed of World Class for improving the newsletter a lot.

– Another notable death, although under much less ridiculous circumstances, as El Santo passed away.  He was pretty much the template for all the masked luchadors that followed and was of course a huge movie star in Mexico in addition to being a legendary wrestler.

– To the territories!

– So this Hulk Hogan guy, he’s a pretty good draw so far.  He sold out MSG again in his first title defense, against Paul Orndorff, but the actual show was terrible.  Well it’s the WWF under Vince Jr, what do you expect?

– Sgt. Slaughter finally turned full babyface on 2/14 in Allentown for the TV tapings, as Iron Sheik jumped him before their match and then ran away after a quick brawl.  Dave hates these kind of flag-waving storylines, but concedes that there might be some money in this one.

– Vince fired a big shot at Verne Gagne (besides, you know, stealing all his top talent in a one-month period) by taking his TV slot in San Francisco, which was of course a pretty huge market for the AWA.  Be prepared to read that sentence a lot over the next couple of years.

– Speaking of TV, the WWF will begin using the St. Louis Kiel Auditorium shows for its primary TV in syndication, with blocks of three hours taped and filled in by Allentown tapings where needed.  Dave notes that they are quite blatantly taking this strategy from World Class, which has had great success with it.  Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t just steal all the production guys from World Class and be done with it.

– Tito Santana and Don Muraco had a “real” Texas Death Match on 2/25 in LA, which is the first time Dave can recall the WWF doing a match where falls don’t count.  So basically a Last Man Standing match.

– Next target for the Vince blitzkrieg:  Memphis and Louisville.  That should be interesting, notes Dave.  Vince has also sent Lord Alfred Hayes to set up a European office, and of course he’s working with Shinma in Japan to create the proposed Universal Wrestling Federation, although the WWF didn’t actually end up with any involvement.

– Also of note, Vince is negotiating with New Japan to bring Bruiser Brody over to the US and make ALL OF THE MONEY against Hulk Hogan.  Too bad that one never panned out.  The Road Warriors are also in negotiations to come in, and Dave thinks that makes sense because they epitomize terrible wrestlers with no talent, just like everyone else in the WWF.

– Vince has told all the talent that no more fan clubs are allowed, and any further clubs will be exclusively handled by the office only.  Also, anyone who works for Ole Anderson in Baltimore will be fired immediately.  Well that’s just common sense.

– Here’s the first real testament to the amazing drawing power of Hulk Hogan:  He did house show appearances as champion for the first time in Philly and Pittsburgh, drawing 15000 and 18000 respectively, which is up from 7000 each for the previous shows without him.

And we’ll take a break there, and return with Japan and the rest of the territories later tonight!