Wrestling Observer Flashback–10.19.87

Dave had only HEARD about the Island Death Match last time.  Now he’s seen it.

– In the lead story of the week, Antonio Inoki crossed full on into insanity, doing an Island Death Match with Masa Saito on famous Ganryujima Island off of Japan’s main island. It was supposedly the site of many samurai battles to the death, and in this case it was the site of a pro wrestling match.  Basically there were only a few reporters on hand, plus a TV crew.  The match was supposed to start at sunrise, but Inoki didn’t emerge from his tent until 4:00pm, and even then he circled around and attacked Saito out of the jungle instead.  The storyline version is that the match lasted two hours and 45 minutes and ended with Inoki winning via sleeper hold, but in actuality it went a horribly boring 45 minutes and was mostly restholds.  The match was mostly booked for TV ratings and to keep Inoki “above” Choshu in people’s minds, which is why they gave up the big money gates of their previous matches and went with the empty arena concept instead.

– The blowoff to the STUNT GRANNY angle was a crazy Memphis brawl with Lawler & Dundee v. Fergie & Bass, with a wild backstage fight involving blood and mustard and beer and Lawler stuffing Fergie’s head into a toilet for the finish.  (This is why I used to blow wads of cash on Memphis tapes.) 

– Jim Crockett fired a big shot across the bow with a house show on the day before Thanksgiving, in Nassau Coliseum.  Most had assumed they’d wait until early 88 to try and cash in on their WPIX deal, but they’re making a go with War Games IV (Dusty/Garvin/Windham/RNR v. Midnight Express/Bubba/Tully/Arn).  (They drew 11,000, so that was fine.) 

– Crockett finally started announcing matches for Starrcade, with the Windham v. Doc match first up.  They’re announcing the show as “Thanksgiving night”, completely disregarding the 4pm start time, and it’ll apparently be shown in 100 or so closed circuit locations.  Thanks to the restrictive contract that Titan has with the cable companies, it’s been knocked off most of the PPV systems in the country and it’s too late to change the start time back to the night because the satellite time has already been purchased.

– With crowds dropping after the summer, both WWF and NWA are dropping back to two shows a night instead of three, so perhaps some of the good workers will leave for the AWA and World Class and shore up their ranks.

– Crockett is planning on running PPV again on January 24, and with no competition from the WWF this time, they’ll be SURE to do better, as long as they put on a strong show and Vince doesn’t do anything really shitty to undermine them.

– The Crocketts have actually sold their stake in the Charlotte Orioles baseball team, which is where Tony Schiavone got his start as an announcer.

– In All Japan, Tsuruta and Tenryu are fighting behind the scenes to have the first feud with Brody, because money.

– Stampede is still doing the awful booking of Corporal Kirschner destroying foreigners in short matches, and he’s still not getting over.

– Doug Somers is now teaming with Ustinov as the AWA tag champions, and they defended against the Nasty Boys in Memphis in what was reported to Dave as one of the worst matches in the history of human civilization.  Dave expects that the titles will have changed hands by the time the issue is in the mail. (And he was correct.) 

– To Central States, which is officially pulling out of the NWA and forming the World Wrestling Alliance instead, with the first WWA champion to be crowned out of a talent pool that includes Rufus R. Jones, Porkchop Cash and even Geigel himself.

–  The AWA is not only holding a needlessly complex tournament for the TV title, but is also having a tournament for the women’s title as well, even though literally everyone knows that it’s just going to be Madusa getting it.

– Fritz did an interview building up the Cotton Bowl show, where he admitted that the promotion was in a bit of a downturn, but they’d be getting things back to the level of the “old days” just as soon as Kerry started wrestling again.

– Dave gives further thoughts on the Garvin-Flair title change after seeing it on Worldwide:  It was good and brutal, but he wouldn’t go so far as to call it “great”.  Plus David Crockett as the sole announcer was a dumb idea.

– Apparently the mysterious Canadian Kodiaks used to wrestle in Canada as “the Lords of Discipline”, and Dave was told their real names, but didn’t bother to write it down.

– They shot an angle to set up Duggan v. Race at the latest WWF TV tapings, which Dave feels like is a fate worse than death.

– Vince finally decided that Patera’s vendetta against the Heenan family was a waste of everyone, and instead he’ll be phased down the card and feud with Demolition as a team with Billy Jack Haynes.

– The Princess Bride opened to great reviews, both for the movie and Andre.

– The WWF is also going for the direct approach in combatting Starrcade, running a series of shows in Chicago with Hogan on top in November.

– And finally, Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee indeed did win the AWA World tag titles from the Ustinov/Somers team in Memphis, although Dave doesn’t expect this one to last long either.  Still, it adds fuel to the AWA-Memphis fire.

Not much going on this week.