Wrestling Observer Flashback–12.28.87

Time to wrap up 1987 and move onto 88 again!

– With not much going on during the Christmas season, it’s time for Dave to do a state of the union address for wrestling.

– As expected, there’s really only two major league promotions left: The WWF and the NWA.  Everyone else is either local, dead (the UWF) or dying (AWA).

– In even more exciting news, the double-column format for the Observer will continue into 1988!  That way we get 40% more news per issue.

– Meanwhile, everything is rosy with Titan, as SNME drew the third-highest rating in the history of the timeslot, plus the syndicated packages are crazy high rated.  The WWF is claiming a 7% buyrate for Survivor Series at the moment, although they do tend to lie.  Even with their usual exaggeration of the truth, they still made millions on the show and it was a runaway success.

– So Dave is bullish on this whole PPV thing, and he projects that by Wrestlemania 2000, if they maintain a 7% buyrate, WWE could be making $100 million per show!  (Holy cow, they WISH.)  But even without high end dreams like that, PPV is the future of the business, period, and any of the promoters who refuse to see that are going to die.  (True dat.) 

– So over to the flipside, as JCP continues to fall apart, but now they’re apparently going to fall apart with Luger on top instead of Flair.  Although there’s lots of points in Lex’s favor, Dave is overall not convinced that Luger is “the guy”,even with the Hogan-like look.  Hulk has “it”, as does Flair and Bruno and Lawler, but Lex just doesn’t have the charisma to sell tickets on a national basis.  And really, a top star who blows up doing interviews can’t be a great idea.

– Further, there’s been lots of rumors about the financial situation of Crockett at the moment, but they appear to be grossly exaggerated.  (O Rly?)

– Dave explains the “balloon payment” nature of Crockett’s contracts at this point, and notes that it could bite them on the ass in a big way.  He puts out Lex Luger as a hypothetical example, with made up numbers.  Let’s say his contract is $350,000 a year.  That works out to $7000 a week, but it’s not like he gets paid that much.  He gets paid on the house, and if it’s a good week he might make more than $7000, and if it’s a bad week he’ll make less.  At the end of the year, all those weeks are added up, and if he made less than $350,000 for the year, then Crockett pays him the difference as a “balloon payment”.  And since the payments theoretically come at the end of the year when they’re coming off big revenues at Starrcade, this should be no problem, right?  (Cue ominous music here, as the end of 1988 came and suddenly Crockett owes millions of dollars to his wrestlers after a weak year.) 

– Crockett is cutting back to two TV tapings per week, because the old way was burning out Dusty and killing the crowds.  No one, Dave notes, can come up with enough material to fill seven hours of TV a week and make it interesting, and if they could, no one would remember any of it because so much stuff would be happening every week that it would all be instantly forgettable.  (Written in NINETEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN, ladies and gentlemen!) 

– Crockett’s first national PPV will come from Nassau Coliseum on 1/24 with the Bunkhouse Stampede show, featuring a stupid cage match battle royale main event.  They’re shooting for a 5% buyrate, which will help their financial situation a lot.

– Dusty is still teasing a retirement tour, although it’s being held back because they don’t want to steal the shine from Luger’s babyface turn. Dave is all for Dusty retiring and only wrestling once or twice a year.

– Jim Ross has been moved to the TBS main show, replacing David Crockett.  (It was for the better, but I always had a soft spot for him.) 

– Dave can’t comment on the Slammys because they weren’t broadcast where he lives.

– The WWF did a bloodbath in the Hogan-Gang main event at the Meadowlands on 12/13, which royally pissed off the New Jersey commission because Vince had pretty much promised that they wouldn’t bleed in the state any longer.

– The Slammys were actually taped on 12/16 in Atlantic City, and they did two separate shows and combined them into one via editing magic.  Pretty much everyone hated it.  There was an easter egg in the credits, with “Kay Fabe” listed as an Executive Producer.

– Dave thought the Hart v. Savage match on SNME was good, but from a medical standpoint he took issue with the ref removing Savage’s boot to deal with the swelling, because in a REAL ankle emergency you would tighten the boot to reduce the swelling.  (I bet Dave got an angry letter from a “B. Hart” in the letters page next week.) 

– Current plan in the NWA is to build to a Williams v. Windham UWF title match, with the winner facing Flair in the unification match.  (Or, as it turned out, they could just drop the title completely and ignore it.) 

– Another plan is to build to a benchpress contest between the Warriors and the new team of Warlord & Barbarian.

– Ron Garvin has already been phased out of current plans, with Sting doing title matches with Flair instead.

– Dave’s hopes for World Class are already dashed, as Ken Mantell has four cage matches booked for the Christmas show, headlined by Al Perez v. Kerry Von Erich for the Worth-Las title.

– Wild West has already been merged into World Class and is done.  Dave updates the ownership situation as 50% Mantell, and 25% each for Kerry and Kevin.

– Dave notes that this Sid Eudy guy in Continental playing Humongous is “just the worst”.

– And finally, Stan Hansen returned from the last Japan tour to find that his house had burned down, along with everything he owned.  (Always leave ‘em laughing, I guess.)