Wrestling Observer Flashback–03.02.87

Previously, I’m throwing dice in the alley, and Officer Leroy comes up and he’s, like, “Hey, I thought I told you…” and I’m, like… https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/06/27/wrestling-observer-flashback-02-23-87/

– The lead story is the death of outlaw promoter Ann Gunkel at age 50, from cancer.  Ann actually inherited Ray Gunkel’s Georgia promotion from him when he died in 1972, but the good ol’ boys network decided to squeeze her out for being a girl.  So everyone in the promotion promptly quit and went with Ann to form an entirely new Georgia promotion with a mandate of “Fuck the NWA”.  And once she had put the screws to them and then took them to court for anti-trust, they finally just bought her out to get her off their backs and keep the whole thing quiet, which resulted in the formation of Georgia Championship Wrestling and the first wrestling show on Superstation TBS.  Ironically, the Georgia promotion became such a powerhouse because Ann Gunkel so completely strip-mined the talent pool that the NWA was forced to bring in every heavy-hitter available so as not to look like a bunch of damn fools and get beaten by a GIRL.  Those heavy-hitters included the Briscoes, who eventually bought into the promotion and of course led to Vince McMahon getting control on Black Saturday in 1984.

the rest of the story


– Dave goes over the results of the SNME taping in Detroit, which did a monster 21,000 sellout and featured the famous battle royale with Hogan and Andre leading up to Wrestlemania.  Apparently Paul Orndorff got a huge babyface reaction, which was edited off the show.

– Wrestlemania III is sitting at 40,000 tickets sold thus far, but Dave STILL doesn’t think they can sell 50,000 tickets with only five weeks to go.  (Christ, they sold something like 75,000 tickets in a week just based off that shitty Shane v. Undertaker match alone!)  The show is blacked out in Michigan and Ontario in order to promote ticket sales.  (What exactly is “blacked out” in Ontario, I wonder?  The PPV we didn’t have in Canada for another 5 years after this?) 

– Celebrities include Mary Hart, Bob Uecker, Aretha Franklin, Alice Cooper, Samantha Fox and Bruce Boxleitner.  (Dave has been talking about Boxleitner for weeks in these, but it never happened.)  A “wild rumor” is that Pete Rose will get involved somehow as well.  (Pete Rose at a Wrestlemania?  I would bet not.) 



– Dave would like to admit to his error in last week’s issue, as he reported that the Midnight Express had won the US tag titles from Ron Garvin & Barry Windham, and in fact this was patently untrue.  In fact they “stole” the belts to set up Jim Cornette getting suspended so he can go on his honeymoon.  (He’s not still married, is he?  What poor woman would want to put up with him over the long term?  You could never have a nice quiet dinner at Dairy Queen!)  Also, the WWF show in LA drew 13,000 and not the 7,000 that Dave reported.  (That’s a pretty significant difference.) 

– Just for fun, Dave decides to report on some territories he doesn’t usually cover. 

– In the Deep South, the main guys are Wrestling II and Tommy Rich, and they run out of Georgia.  They’re owned by Jody Hamilton (Nick Patrick’s dad) and they do about 200 people per show.

– Dave also got to see some tapes from Puerto Rico, which gives us the Observer debut of Invader #1, aka Stabby McMurderer.  Also, TNT, who grew up to be Savio Vega. 

– To Stampede for the first time in a while, as Dave talks about the Viet Cong Express.  The Express were, for those not aware, a young Hiroshi Hase and a junior prospect named Fumi Niikura.  Dave notes that Niikura was listed as suffering a heart attack on TV in his usual cynical Dave voice, but this was in fact exactly what happened and Niikura was forced into an early retirement in 1993.  Hase went solo and the rest is history.

– Dave also notes that two rookies, Kenny Johnson and Jeff Wheeler, both look promising.  (Johnson went on to be a WWF jobber here and there and kicked around the Western Canada indy scene for many years, and I remember him being featured on shows headlined by Beef Wellington in Edmonton a few years before Beef’s death.  Wheeler disappeared from the sport completely after Stampede.) 

– Sgt. Slaughter was supposed to be doing the NWF TV tapings in April, but his latest demand is for $3000 per match, which has effectively priced him out of the business completely. 

– To the WWF, where “Jack the Snack” turned babyface as a result of the Honky Tonk Man hitting him with a gimmicked guitar. Dave doesn’t go into the controversy behind the gimmicked-or-not thing, but does note that Honky clobbered him pretty good. 

– Tom Magee continues to work dark matches while Vince salivates and plans out what to do with his next Hulk Hogan.  At the moment, however, creative has nothing for him.

– Jim Crockett has officially pulled the plug on the Central States experiment and everyone has been recalled home to Atlanta.  Also, the plans for the opposition promotion in Tennessee have also been scrapped because Dundee doesn’t want to do it.

– HOT NEWZ out of Florida, as Dusty and Crockett flew down for a private meeting with Mike Graham, which should result in Crockett running Florida one way or another.  (The crushing irony of Jim Crockett losing his shirt in Missouri and waving the white flag just ONE PARAGRAPH EARLIER is not lost on me, nor should it be lost on you in this case.) 

– The deal to bring Stan Lane in has apparently fallen through. 

– To the UWF, where Dave is really bugged by the new Super Ninja running around because he can’t figure out who the hell it is.  His guess is Ryuma Go.  (And he is correct.)

– As a general note, the UWF was drawing BIG around this time, basically doing better than ever in a lot of ways, which is why it was so shocking when the oil market fell apart and took the promotion with it by the end of the year.

– In World Class, Kerry Von Erich has been mysteriously missing shows lately. 

– Titan Sports will be instituting drug testing of its athletes shortly.  Since Vince hates coke and speed in his guys, that’s what he’ll be testing for.  Steroids will be cheerfully ignored.  (I really hope there’s not people still wondering why all these 80s clowns dropped dead.) 

– And finally, Dave would like to clarify that his preview of Wrestlemania was just his PREDICTIONS.  Were he to know the winners in advance, he wouldn’t print them.  (He might be destroying the business in the eyes of carnies and promoters, but he’s not a MONSTER.  You know who is?  ASHLEY LYNN.) 


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