Wrestling Observer Flashback–04.18.88

Happy Labor Day!  Let’s see if Vince or Crockett sabotage each other THIS week.  Unless there’s an even bigger promotional war brewing in Japan…

– Oh yeah, it’s WAR time in Japan, as Akira Maeda is taking his vendetta against Inoki one step further and officially reforming the UWF, taking Takada with him, and they’ll be going back to doing the “hard martial arts style”, with no showmanship and a shitload of karate kicks.  This is actually the second try at it for Maeda, after his first UWF promotion folded after 17 months in business due to a lack of TV.  They’ll only be doing one big show a month, starting on 5/12 in Tokyo.  Dave thinks they’re gonna have a hard time making a go of it without TV.  (As we covered in the 89 Observers, not only did they make a go of it, they were seriously on the verge of destroying Inoki and New Japan completely before suddenly folding due to a variety of reasons, including the collapse of the Japanese economy.) 

– One of the guys leaving New Japan for the new UWF, Kazuo Yamazaki, decided that he should probably burn his bridges on the way out and did a shoot kick to the face of Kobayashi during a tag match after a perceived disrespect before the bell, and then tried another legit head kick while Kobayashi was in an abdominal stretch. (Presumably they forgave him because he returned in 1995.) 

– The WWF is doing a bunch of TV tapings, and loading up on name matches to compensate for not having Hogan for a while.

– Also, they released “projected” numbers for Wrestlemania IV that somehow total $40 million in revenue, and you know Dave isn’t gonna let that one go.  The number is supposed to come from:

1.  $1.5 million live gate (accurate)

2.  $5 million for closed circuit (b-------, only half that)

3.  $20 million on PPV, based on a 10% buyrate (Only in Vince’s wet dreams.  Real number was 550K x $15, or about $8 million, of which they only keep half)

4.  $4 million based on projected videotape sales of 100,000 units (Not even in the realm of probability)

Also, you will note that 1.5 + 5 + 20 + 4 = 30.5, not 40, so not only did they round up their own figures by several million dollars each, but then couldn’t even add them up properly!  And yet a bunch of a mainstream news sources actually picked up on this nonsense and carried it as a real story.

– Basically, Vince HAD to be proactive and send out a press release making the show a huge success, because if the show WASN’T a success, that would mean that Crockett was competition and that doesn’t fit his narrative and might lead to advertisers going elsewhere.

– The Crockett Cup is at the end of the month in Greensboro, and it’s just too soon after the Clash to run another big show.  (Jesus, running a big show only a MONTH after the last one?  Is he trying to destroy the business?!?)  Also, the build has been awful and Nikita v. Flair is a terrible main event and won’t even be announced until a week before the show.  Plus they haven’t even announced all the teams yet!  Not to mention all the name guys they have are already in the top seeds, so the first night in Greenville SC is going to be little more than a series of glorified squashes because they’re not bringing in outside guys.  (Somehow the show ended up an even bigger disaster when all was said and done!) 

– Since the World Class guys are getting so much unwanted time off with the reduced schedule, Central States tried bringing in Chris Adams to get him some money.  So in his first match in for the promotion, he was wrestling WWA “World” champion Mike George, and Mike accidentally dropkicked him FOR REALZ in the face and Adams suffered a broken cheekbone and nose and lost several teeth.  On the bright side, Adams had just returned from a broken hand that didn’t get a chance to heal properly, so they’re gonna re-break that and let it heal properly this time while he recovers from all the other injuries suffered.

– Calgary remains SUPER hot right now, with a complete sellout of 1800 for the last show with Owen Hart and Jason the Terrible as a tag team on top.

– Rookie Jonathan Holliday is supposed to be a babyface, but gives Ric Flair-style (but not Flair quality) promos where he calls himself “Dr. Jonathan Holliday, the Doctor of Desire” and does the heelish playboy act.  Fans are confused and he’s terrible in the ring to begin with, and no one in the dressing room likes him, either.  (For those who don’t recall from the early days of the Flashbacks, this leads to Holliday absolutely getting the S--- beaten out of him in the dressing room by someone who was rumored to be Chris Benoit, literally chasing him from the territory forever.) 

– In Memphis, they announced that 5/9 will be Jerry Lawler Night, and if he doesn’t win the AWA title from Curt Hennig, he’ll retire from the sport.

– The match actually stems from a previous stretcher match they did on 4/4, which resulted in prelim geek Scotty the Body attacking Lawler to distract him, while Eddie Gilbert put him out with chloroform to trigger a riot from the fans.



– Still one of the best Simpsons puns of all time.

– Eddie Gilbert continues to run the bounty hunter angle from outside the territory, sending in tapes calling for someone to break Lawler’s leg.  Dave then notes that Iron Sheik will be in one week to try, and he doesn’t even reference the Verne Gagne story!  WHAT THE F---, DAVE?

– The AWA no longer wants to be a wrestling promotion and instead wants to be a booking office.  (Well, they were halfway there!) 

– (On a personal level, I’m really disappointed that I have to do the heavy lifting and make these jokes for Dave when they’re SITTING RIGHT THERE.  Come on, it’s the Iron Sheik and the AWA within a paragraph of each other and NOTHING from him?  Like, four years of snark and now suddenly he wants to do serious journalism despite calling Shaska Whatley and Tiger Conway “The Job Tones” one page earlier? 

– Heh, the Job Tones.  That’s a good one, actually.  You’re OK in my books, Dave Meltzer!) 

– Oh yeah, the AWA, anyway, the idea is that they use the ESPN show to feature as many wrestlers as possible, and then on nights when they’re not running house shows (ie, days of the week ending in “Y”) they farm out the guys to small promoters and demand big cash for their ESPN TV stars.  It can’t fail!  They’ll make MILLIONS!

– The Rock N Roll Express are apparently staying in the AWA and won’t be headed to the WWF after all.

– And then, suddenly, some quality snark from Dave!  Larry Cameron is headed in, and notes that he’s black because he had previously assumed that Verne was still stuck in a time before Jackie Robinson debuted in 1947, but this at least brings him up to 1949.  (I feel like we’ve had that joke before.  Is this another repeat Flashback that I’ve already done before?) 

– Notably missing from the TV tapings:  The Midnight Rockers.

– To World Class, where…hold on…

– Nope, he’s still not there yet. Maybe next week!

– New on tour with New Japan this month is someone Dave describes as “a guy named Crusher Crunchki” and then just leaves that one there as well!  Jesus, he spends paragraphs mocking the Ultimate Warrior and yet this guy somehow gets a pass?  Anyone know who he was?

– Bob Orton is doing so well in Japan as Billy Gaspar (the PIRATE!) that he’s not returning to the AWA.  However, the clown act only works in small towns and doesn’t get over in Tokyo at all, and his match with Inoki in particular was nothing.

– All Japan is building to a match to unify all the singles titles on 4/15, with Brody facing Tenryu in a match for the National, PWF and International belts.

– Yatsu beat Tom Magee in a match, and I’m only bringing this up in hopes that mentioning Magee’s name will cause the Magee-Bret match to surface on the WWE Network like the Rich-Sawyer match, and also because EVERY TIME Dave mentions Magee in these, he makes sure to call him “former powerlifting champion” like it’s Michael Cole getting prompts from Vince in his ear.  Dave goes into the Secret Origin of Tom Magee at this point, telling the story of his many bodybuilding and weightlifting accomplishments for the 7 people reading who give a s---, and how he trained in Calgary and somehow managed to get WORSE with every match.  Then he went to the WWF and Vince saw a dark match against Bret Hart in Rochester and flipped his lid, thinking they had found the next Hulk Hogan, but Magee somehow continued to get worse while working pathetic C-team curtain jerkers against prelim guys and now appears to have no future in the business.  (Please tell me that Lance Von Erich v. Tom Magee happened somehow somewhere and someone taped it.  I need that.) 

– Stan Hansen is just crazy over now as a result of the goofy “shoot” match a few weeks back, as now fans are into him as a top guy because they think he’s legit dangerous and could shoot on his opponents at any moment.  (Kind of funny to think of half-blind Hansen taking liberties with someone outside of hitting them really hard.) 

– Madusa is doing a shoot for Playboy, as the magazine had been looking for wrestling personalities but got turned down by several others.  Dave notes that if you took a guess at who they asked first, you’d probably be right.  (I mean, the first two are pretty obvious, right?  Were there any other worthwhile choices once you got past them?  Like, what, Wendi Richter?  Fabulous Moolah?) 

– Lou Thesz did an old-timers indy show at 72 and worked a match that was mostly armbars, winning against The Iron Horse by DQ.  (Still not bad for 72!  Also, they should have a jobber named The Dead Horse and he keeps losing but never gets the point.)  Also, Buzz Tyler came out of retirement and “gained so much weight he looked like a dead ringer for the Syracuse Orangemen mascot”.  I have no point of reference for that joke.

– Hmm, OK, so that’s pretty insulting, then.

– Also, Magnum TA’s younger brother Bret Allen worked the show and looked terrible.  (He must have been bad if Dusty didn’t even TRY to milk that one for a few bucks.) 

– All hope is not lost for the Iron Sheik!  Dave has it on good authority that Vince is still willing to hire him back because he always needs marketable cartoon characters for prelims.

– A promoter named Steve Atkinson ran a unique show in Alabama on 4/1, featuring nothing but TBS jobbers (including Randy Hogan, Bill Tabb, Alan Martin, Randy Barber, Mike Jackson, and some guy as a Masked Destroyer among others.  They got 350 people to actually pay MONEY to see this.  Not only that, but then Randy Hogan ran his OWN show two weeks later, in a town 10 miles away, so even the jobbers are in a promotional war right now!  That’s hardcore.

– Clarification:  The Hogan movie is happening and is a real thing, but instead of a Hogan biopic it’ll now be Hogan starring in a movie about some sort of Toughman competition.  Dave notes that any movie along those lines has bombed bigtime thus far.

– It’s the annual Wrestlemania bloodletting!  Say goodbye to SD Jones, Iron Mike Sharpe, Terry Gibbs, Outback Jack, Sika, Johnny V, Hillbilly Jim and Craig DeGeorge.  (Really?  I could have sworn Craig was around longer than that.) 

– Although NWA Main Event debuted with a good hot show, TBS is immediately pre-empting it for baseball four weeks in a row, so it’s airing in a weekend death slot and no one is watching.

– Baby Doll was fired and replaced by Gary Hart as Larry Zbyszko’s manager.  (I assume Dave gets into the reasoning for that firing next week.) 

– The “Midlife Rider” debuted on NWA TV this weekend and we had to watch the video package a half-dozen times on the TBS show as a result, until Dave was waiting for Nelson Royal to offer us a cup of coffee around the campfire.  (Ha!  Quality Starrcade 86 reference there, Dave!) 

– Nikita returned to TV and he looks like a legit 200 pounds, having apparently not touched a weight since he left.

– And finally, the WWF tapes the next SNME as well as Wrestling Challenge over the course of a five-plus hour show in Springfield on 4/22, so “bring your sleeping bags”.  (Now we just call that the monthly PPV!)