Wrestling Observer Flashback–06.28.86

Finally, after our trip back to 1984 and our eventual arrival here, it’s the return of the most-requested* feature in Blog of Doom history**, the running joke by which all other gags are judged!


* requested by me

** “history” defined as the Memorial Day weekend.

– Oh, that wacky Kerry!  The top story is that Kerry was in a motorcycle accident, and the police report (which Dave is almost visibly rolling his eyes at right on the page) says that Kerry was switching lanes in Fort Worth and he accidentally slammed into the back of a police car that had stopped at a left turn lane.  Of course, the real story came out later and we all can fill in the blanks, I’m sure.  I’m glad to see that Dave has progressed far enough in his cynicism that he’s no longer buying any of Fritz’s b------- stories the way he did with David Von Erich’s death two years prior.  Anyway, Kerry suffered massive damage to his foot, basically crushing it and killing all the nerves past the ankle, and only experimental microsurgery was able to save him from having it amputated.  Now, it should be noted that the actual amputation came a few months later, after the surgery failed and Kerry tried to come back on it far too soon.  But for the moment the timetable is that he’ll be out for 18 – 24 months.  This whole thing qualifies as one giant run of stupidity, because he had already watched one brother die of drugs and that somehow didn’t trip anything in his pea brain to get him to get his life back on track.  Not to mention that I think drunk drivers deserve their own circle of hell in the first place so f--- him for that.  But when he hit rock bottom in 93, with most of his family dead from all the s--- they did to themselves and he had a chance to man up and serve prison time to make up for all the people he burned and disappointed, he chose the coward’s way out and killed himself rather than face responsibility.  Anyway, enough of that rant.  Dave notes that even if he comes back, he’ll probably be a fraction of his former self, and if that’s not the understatement of the decade I don’t know what is.

– The other big news is that the business is falling off a cliff for most promotions right now, including the WWF.  Basically they went into hype overdrive leading up to Wrestlemania 2 and burned out the audience, and most of the rest of the country’s audience by extension.  Attendance is falling fast, because of TV oversaturation and staleness of the talent in most of the major promotions.  Ironically, the two guys who would provide the biggest shot in the arm for the Big Two are the two guys getting buried by Dave week after week in these newsletters: The Blade Runners.

– Dave notes that Canadians should get subscriptions into him early because mail service is just atrocious between the two countries.  Tell me about it, that’s why I always preferred doing tape trades within Canada.

– Updating a story that was brought up a few weeks back, there’s nothing to the AWA-WWF buyout stories, as talks were quickly broken off because Verne was asking THREE MILLION DOLLARS for his promotion.  Are you KIDDING ME?  Dave points out that Vince already controls all his cities and TV timeslots, so really the only thing of value is the AWA name.  And as it turns out, the tape library, which years later Vince bought for pennies on the dollar and then made a killing on the AWA DVD.

– Dave talks about working on an encyclopedia of wrestling of sorts, so I guess that other book he was doing is dead.

– Over to Crockett, where the Dusty v. Flair series is SHOCKINGLY not drawing that well.  Dave notes that Dusty is also refusing to do interviews on the TBS show because the crowd has been turning on Magnum recently and he wants to avoid any similar backlash.

– OK, MYSTERY SOLVED.  Remember Fritz Von Erich’s fake Road Warriors where he was gonna bring in Jeff Gaylord with a mohawk and team him up with an unknown 340 pound muscle man?  Turns out that was recent Eddie Sharkey graduate Terry Szopinski, who is debuting for Crockett this month as…the Warlord.  And what team was he most famously a part of later on?  A pair of Road Warrior ripoffs.


the rest of the story

– Anyway, apparently he graduated at the bottom of his class but got a job by being gigantic.  Dave thinks that it’s ridiculous that Crockett can’t even try to make him look different than Animal, and with Baby Doll as a babyface manager this whole act is just the worst.  Plus they’ve already got Konga the Barbarian also doing the Road Warrior ripoff look, so really they’re just burning out the whole gimmick at this point.  Hey, maybe those guys should team up!

– Dave has done the math and it turns out the 14 different opponents for Flair are really just Ricky Morton, Dusty Rhodes, Hawk and Animal in different cities.

– To World Class, where the nicest thing that Dave can say is that the office is in complete disarray.  Mike Von Erich is being rushed back to replace Kerry, and of course we know how that decision ended up.

– Rick Rude is shopping around for a better deal, and has now started calling up the AWA looking to see what they’re offering.  Dave is amused that the World Class “World” title was created by Fritz because Flair supposedly wouldn’t defend it in Texas anymore, so they wanted a “fighting champion” for Texas.  Since winning the title months before, Rude has defended it exactly twice.  Dave continues breaking down all their numerous lies and mistakes on TV lately, like getting names of arenas wrong and constantly rebooking cards.

– The UWF is trying to get into Missouri now, but Dave thinks that they’re gonna be locked out of Kansas City and St. Louis by not-so-mysterious forces.

– Speaking of those forces, WWF crowds are falling, but Dave wouldn’t read anything into it unless it continues past summer.  Probably it’ll pick up again in the fall.  Yeah, there’s another massive understatement, but really no one could predict Paul Orndorff suddenly becoming the biggest draw in wrestling for damn near a whole year.

– As an example of the post-WM freefall, a St. Louis show drew 1300 people, which was the second-smallest show in the history of the city.

– Dave notes that the most recent MSG show had the Savage/Adonis v. Bruno/Tito match, which he didn’t see and doesn’t care to.  In fact, he doesn’t rate Savage as highly as everyone else because his good matches aren’t as good as Flair and his bad ones can be atrocious.  Man, would Dave change his opinion on Savage DRASTICALLY over the next couple of years.  Also, I reiterate that the crazy tag match was awesome and well worth seeking out.  And the Santana-Savage match with Bruno as ref which Dave gave a measly **3/4 was GREAT and a **** match as well.

– Dave has been disappointed by the Steamboat-Roberts series thus far, although they’ve been ***1/4 matches thanks to Steamboat slowing it down and waiting for Jake to catch up.  Jake’s another one where Dave really came around on him in later years.

– Apparently there’s rumors of turning Paul Orndorff heel, although Dave’s theory is that he’s so abrasive to deal with that the front office just has a hard time believing anyone would cheer him as a babyface.  Regardless, if Piper does decide to stay away, they’ll need a top-drawing heel for Hulk Hogan coming out of the summer, so Orndorff might get that spot.  You don’t say?

– On 6/7, a show in Queens drew 231 people, with a main event of Pedro Morales & Tony Atlas v. The Moondogs.  If that was the main event, what the everloving F--- was on the undercard?  TO THE INTERNET!

WWF @ Queens, NY – June 7, 1986 (231)
Salvatore Bellomo defeated Ron Shaw
Jim Powers defeated Terry Gibbs
Susan Starr defeated Leilani Kai
Rene Goulet defeated Mario Mancini
Tony Atlas & Pedro Morales defeated the Moondogs

THIS WAS A THING THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED AND PEOPLE WERE EXPECTED TO PAY MONEY TO WATCH.  Were these the 231 people that bought Peter Criss’s solo album, too?  Was there really nothing playing at the movies that you couldn’t just go see instead of this?


These people could likely have gone to see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or even Back to School, or hell even Raw Deal!  And they instead chose to go see a WWF wrestling show headlined by TONY ATLAS in 1986 in a tag team match against the damn Moondogs!

– Wrestlemania III will be April 5 1987, so they will be doing another one.  They must have moved it up a week for some reason later on.

– After slagging Savage in the previous paragraph, Dave crunches the numbers and decides that he’s actually the #1 draw in the company right now, since Hogan only works 3 times a month.  Savage is the guy on the frontlines headlining the shows when Hogan’s not there.  Ironically, most of the top guys that Vince is using right now (Savage and the Bulldogs in particular) are guys that other promotions were either scared to use or didn’t want to give a chance.  Or in the case of Ricky Steamboat, someone who was so great of a worker and a babyface that Dusty Rhodes made sure to push him out of the territory so as not to threaten his spot.  That’s pretty high up there on the list of petty political b------- from Dusty, I have to say.

– Jesse Ventura’s talk show replacement, the Body Shop with Don Muraco, is a complete embarrassment due to Muraco being in no condition to perform on TV, and everyone knows it. Thankfully he would clean himself up bigtime for the Piper angle later in the year.

– Only thing of note in Japan is that Fuji TV is going to move New Japan’s show from Friday nights to Mondays because ratings have fallen so low.  God, who would want to watch wrestling on a Monday night?

– Superstar Graham signed a two-year deal with the WWF and will be coming in to team with Hulk Hogan.  You can hear the veins in Dave’s forehead popping out just typing that.

– In the AWA, they’re still advertising Jerry Blackwell for every show despite Blackwell being unable to get licensed to wrestle pretty much anywhere in the country.  Small detail, I know.

– Verne broke up the Hall & Hennig team because Scott Hall wasn’t getting any better in the ring and Hennig was supposed to rub off on him or something, and they need him to suddenly be awesome because he’s bigger than Hulk Hogan and better looking and they’ll take any excuse to push him to the top.  So now he’s programmed with Col DeBeers in hopes that working with a veteran every night will impart some sort of wrestling skill onto him.  Unfortunately he was still about 4 years away from being anything above hot garbage in the ring.

– The AWA TV show isn’t doing them any favors, as they’re building up a Bay Area series of matches between Bruiser Brody and big fat Earthquake Ferris.  Only problem is that the same shows with the hype videos for the match also feature Ferris doing a squash job to Col DeBeers.  Also, in order to “prove” that Jerry Blackwell is going to be at his advertised dates, they’ve been showing a video of him training to get back in shape again.  Only problem is that it’s Ken Resnick doing the interview, and he’s been on WWF TV for the past month, plus the videos are more than a year old and already aired several times in 1985!

– In Florida, Hiro Matsuda is running the office and is pushing students Lex Luger (duh), plus Sean Royal (later one half of the New Breed before the auto accident that ended his career) and Ed “The Bull” Gantner.  Luger was so popular that they finally just turned him babyface by having Barry Windham save him from a White Ninja attack.

– For those asking where Sgt. Slaughter disappeared to at this point, he wrestled Ric Flair in Central States and lost via countout by holding the cobra sleeper while he was standing on the apron.  Slaughter was asking about $3500 per show at this point, and absolutely would not do jobs. Dave’s take:  Back when he was legit a big deal, it was because he was great.  Then once everyone started telling him that he was great and a big deal, he turned to “dog poop”.

– Also in Central States, Bulldog Bob Brown is being managed by some guy named Slick.

– Dave stops to talk about the business downturn again, and he says quite clearly DON’T BLAME VINCE.  The collapse of the territory system was coming whether or not Vince brought his circus to town, and the WWF basically just sped up the inevitable destruction of all the old rich white guys who didn’t understand the TV business and were going to get swallowed by it.  If it wasn’t Vince, it was going to be Crockett.

– Dave runs through some results and then continues on with his train of thought:  In the next year, there’s really only going to be 2-3 major promotions left.  Currently there’s only 5 (WWF, AWA, UWF, World Class and Crockett).  And the AWA and World Class are about to become B-shows at best.  He thinks that the UWF will have to work harder because of economics to stay in that group, but they’ve got a shot.  Unfortunately, economics just worked too much against them in the end and the promotion fell apart in Oklahoma like they were the Thunder or something.


– In order to run opposition in New Orleans against Bill Watts when he couldn’t book a show there, Vince instead broadcast the MSG show on New Orleans TV on the night of a Superdome show.  Which then only drew 7000 people.  Which was, however, still double what Vince did last time he tried to run there.

– Dave has late word that Kerry’s operation was a success and he won’t lose the foot.  So World Class is already going ahead and advertising him for upcoming dates.

– Duggan’s concussion in the UWF was actually even worse than reported, as he took a bolt right in the head and not only suffered a gruesome cut and a concussion, but then the cut itself got infected and there was fear his career would be over as a result. He seems to be recovering, however, although as we know he was never the same after that.  Whether or not that injury had anything to do with it, I don’t know, but the timing is pretty striking.

– The Flair v. Hawk match at Philly’s stadium is actually doing a very strong advance thus far.

– Rick Rude is scheduled to drop the title to either Kevin Von Erich or Chris Adams pending the winner of a pole match, with the title change coming on 7/4 so Rude can leave. Originally it was Kerry getting that title, but you know, glug glug vroom vroom smash smash.

– Dave has seen some Memphis and thinks that Jeff Jarrett is pretty good for a rookie despite being only 170 pounds.

– Don Fargo apparently turned up on the AWA TV tapings randomly, doing a TV job.  I can confirm that.

– And finally, Dave scrawls in pen in the blank space that Chris Adams won the pole match and will be getting the title shot at Rude in July.  Hot news like that couldn’t wait until next issue, I guess.

Peace out, and until next time, may your memes be dank.