Wrestling Observer Flashback–05.04.87

Trying to power through this one before UFC 200.  Wish me luck!

– The top story is Dave being confused by a unique gimmick match in Memphis, with Austin Idol v. Jerry Lawler in a cage match where the loser gets his head shaved.  This isn’t unique in itself, but if Idol loses the match, then everyone in the Mid-South Coliseum gets their money refunded.  But Dave doesn’t see Jerry Lawler losing his hair, so he’s not sure how they’re going to book this one.  (The answer:  AWESOMELY.)



– Dave goes over the lineup for what is now unfortunately the David & Mike Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions, and the mystery of the Candi Devine trainee from last time is solved:  Her name is Susan Starr.  Whew.  Skip Young is replacing Mike Von Erich in a whipping match against Brian Adias, and to build up heat for the match he blamed Adias for Mike’s suicide.  (World CLASS Wrestling!) 

– The UWF is quiet due to going dark for a few weeks, although Steve Williams has been confirmed as staying with the company after lots of rumors of going to the WWF.  Ted Dibiase is still not revealing his intentions yet.  One Man Gang and interviewer Bruce Pritchard are both headed to the WWF for certain.

– The WWF returned for TV tapings after their post-WM hiatus, and they again taped some Missy’s Manor segments which were AGAIN so terrible that they’re never going to be aired.  Also, Ken Patera did a debate with Bobby Heenan (UGH!) and then beat him up and put him in a neck brace.  Patera, notes Dave, is not having the same post-prison success in maintaining his work that Chris Adams and Saito are having.  (Now there’s an understatement).  Also, Brutus Beefcake debuted his new barber gimmick, beating Johnny V with a sleeper and then shaving the side of his head.

– Jim Neidhart was declared innocent of all charges in his trial, as the prosecution could only produce 1 witness, while Jerry McDevitt was able to produce 17 who testified that they didn’t see nothin’.

– Yoshiaki Yatsu had tried to get onto the Japanese wrestling team for the 1988 Olympics, but the committee ruled that he was a professional athlete and thus ineligible.  So instead, he’ll be coaching the wrestling team.  (And hey, they won 2 gold and 2 silver that year!)

– Dave’s got some space, so it’s time to rant about Jim Crockett’s promotion right now!

– First up, Dusty is probably going to overextend himself by booking three promotions at the same time.  (Hot take there, Dave.) 

– Overall, the whole promotion is stale and finishes are bad around the horn, leading to dropping crowds as of late.  As an example of not knowing the market, Dave talks about a battle royale they ran in California a few months back, where the Road Warriors were the last two guys, and so they flipped a coin and chose a winner that way instead of battling it out.  (To be fair here, that’s a common finish from the time for both sides of the wrestling war.)  Also, they’re just not getting heat on any heels, unless it’s Tully Blanchard in Charlotte, basically.

(So at this point I take a break and watch UFC 200.  And it was…OK.  It was looking like an all-time great show on paper, but the Aldo-Edgar match was kind of a dull decision, and Cormier pretty much destroyed Silva in boring fashion for three rounds.  Really sucked the fun out of the show.  Brock looked good for a 38 year old guy who hasn’t fought in 5 years, but I don’t know that he should be back into the title mix or anything.  But he wasn’t embarrassed, or injured, so that’s a win for WWE!  And then the women’s match happened and I shut it off.  Back to the Observer!) 

– It’s sweeps time for cable TV, so that’s why they’re doing yet another tournament for the US tag titles on TBS.  So far we’ve got Garvin & Windham over the Russians by DQ, with the New Breed v. Armstrongs and Midnights v. Road Warriors coming up. The New Breed/Armstrongs match is pretty much custom-made for a double DQ to shoot both the Midnights and Garvin/Windham to the finals right away and get it over with.  (Correct-a-mundo, Dave!  Not only that, but for some reason the Warriors got removed from the tournament and replaced by Shaska Whatley & Baron Von Raschke, making this a supremely lame tournament, and one which was definitely NOT awesome.) 

– Dave runs down a Greensboro house show, and notes with Sean, Nelson and Gary all competing, there was a lot of royalty on the show.

– Dave goes over the impending pro debut of John Tenta, talking about his previous leg injuries and an ultimatum from Baba that he needed to drop down to 320 before he could compete as a wrestler.  Apparently he also wrestled for LSU at the same time Steve Williams was in school, and lost to him.  (Wait, Baba wouldn’t “let” him wrestle unless he lost weight?  Why not just call Vince right then?) 

– Choshu’s army debuts as a part of the IWGP tournament in May, and there’s some BIG egos involved in it with Choshu, Maeda and Inoki all in play.  Things could happen.

– Back to Memphis, as a chain match between Lawler and Idol sees Lawler sneaking away while Idol is hooked up to the chain, then attaching his own end of the chain to the ringpost.  So when Idol goes to attack him, he can’t actually go anywhere and he’s pretty much helpless, and Lawler pulls out a chain of his own and pummels him half to death to win in 39 seconds.  That’s quite the finish.

– OK, more confusion (for me) in that NWF promotion, as Paul E. Dangerously is managing the Motor City Madmen, comprised of Mike Moore and Mike “Tombstone” Dumer.  Moore is the guy who eventually became the Motor City Madman in WCW as a singles wrestler, but I was under the impression that Tombstone was also Moore earlier in his career?  But now they’re different guys?  I can’t even find any information about either one anyway.

– To the AWA, where I have to stop and marvel at the shitty tag team tournament won by the Russians (which is bad enough), but one of the teams was actually Jerry Blackwell and Paul “The Avalanche” Neu, otherwise known as my favorite whipping boy, PN News.  Why would you subject people to that?

– Verne is co-promoting some shows with Don Owen in Oregon, featuring Nick Bockwinkel defending the World title against Col. DeBeers.  This is classic stupid Verne for a multitude of reasons, but here’s the big ones:

1)  Col. DeBeers left the AWA weeks ago after doing that outlaw show and getting fired for it.

2)  The show is in Oregon, where DeBeers wrestled as “Ed Wiskoski” for most of the past 10 years as a main event heel, so any name value you’d get from him in the state would be lost by having him be DeBeers!

– Speaking of stupid messes, it’s World Class time!  Kevin Von Erich is still the “World” champion, but there’s literally no other active champions at this point.  The six-man titles were last held by the Von Erichs, and with one of them dead (Mike) and one of them gone (Lance) there’s no word on what’s up with the belts.  (Answer:  Nothing.  They were put on ice until 1988 and then pretty much retired right after new champs were crowned.) Dingo Warrior was Texas champion, but he’s fired.  (Al Perez would “win” that title in Puerto Rico in a few months)  The tag belts are held up being some bullshit scaffold match at the Texas Stadium show.  The TV title has been retired.

– Bruiser Brody, apparently more generous since he’s booking the territory, actually did a pinfall job for BLACK BART of all people.

– Unlike the media circus and wrestling all-star gathering that was David’s funeral, Mike’s was a low-key affair only attended by a few friends in the business and his family.  In fact, they were running a show at the same time.

– Speaking of Mike’s death, at all the house shows while he was in his Schrodinger’s Cat state between 4/11 and 4/15, they announced him as “missing, with foul play suspected”.  In fact, had the police not found and released the suicide note to the press, Fritz’s plan was apparently to lie about his death and claimed he was murdered.

– Dave recaps one of my favorite Bill Mercer fuckups, as he relates the story of Mercer introducing Nord the Barbarian on TV as Nord the Norwegian after a rambling discussion of Vikings, which leads to him claiming that he was from the great country of “Norwegia”.

– Stampede is doing big crowds for the series of shows with a double main event of Makhan Singh v. Owen Hart for the North American title, plus Davey Boy Smith v. Bret Hart in a chain match underneath.  Nearly 6000 on a couple of occasions, which is HUGE for Calgary.  (They showed that chain match on Stampede TV and it BLEW MY LITTLE MIND at the time.  I think it ended up on a DVD release of some sort?  Anyway, it was a hell of a match) 

– A letter writer details the possible anti-trust implications of the Crockett buyout of the UWF.   I’m sure it was well written, but I couldn’t get past the first two sentences because I was laughing so hard at the idea of the government giving a shit about Crockett buying the UWF.

– Dave continues putting over Beef Wellington and Brian Pillman as the best rookies he’s seen all year, as well as Jeff Wheeler.  And then Wheeler did nothing in the sport from then on.

– New to Florida is the Great Kokina, who is “either the cousin or brother of the Tahitian Prince” and weighs 375 pounds.  (See, even Dave has trouble keeping the Anoia family straight.  Also, this had to be the last time Rodney ever saw the good side of 400 pounds, right?) 

– Scott Hall accidentally knocked out jobber Colt Steele with an elbow to the jaw during a TV match, mostly because he was a clumsy oaf at the time.

– Buzz Sawyer is opening a wrestling school in Sacramento (What is he gonna teach you, how to do a shitload of coke and piss off promoters?  Oh, wait, I think I already made that joke in another Observer Flashback.) 

– And finally, scrawled in pen at the end, Dave notes that Lawler lost his hair to Idol thanks to interference from Tommy Rich, and it was “wilder than it sounds”.  No kidding.  Details next week.