Wrestling Observer Flashback–02.12.90

It’s the week before the week where all hell breaks loose!  Could it be the week where ROLLER GAMES debuts here?  Only the Soup Nazi knows for sure.

– The WWF had their official Wrestlemania announcement press conference in Toronto, and they officially announced Hogan v. Warrior as the main event of the show.  Also included are the mixed tag match with Dusty & Sapphire v. Savage & Sherri, Haku & Andre v. Demolition, and Jake Roberts v. Ted Dibiase for the Million Dollar Belt.  Dave expects, as he has admittedly predicted every year, that this is the year where Virgil will turn babyface.  (Keep guessing, Dave).  The show sold 10,000 tickets on the first day, so it’ll likely be a 55,000 seat sellout.

– The boxing press latched onto the Tyson story, revealing that Vince McMahon is negotiating with Don King for a Hogan-Tyson match.  The “legit” press desperately wants to bury the WWF involvement due to the ramifications of Tyson potentially doing a worked match, but there’s just too much money at stake to keep it quiet.  Tyson’s management is pretty open about the fact that after Holyfield, there’s no more challenges for Tyson to destroy.  Regardless, with Wrestlemania already booked and announced, Tyson will not be a part of the show no matter what.

– Another story in the legit media is that Hogan is considering retiring from wrestling and working for Disney.  Really, the only one who knows the truth on it is Hogan, and he’s currently not saying anything.  The Warrior match is rumored to be his last, although Warrior was playing heel at the press conference (Dave notes that most of that was his real personality).  A title change makes sense because it’s been proven that Hogan can draw big without the title, and Warrior as World champion will draw bigger than Warrior as IC champion.  Also, Warrior works a full schedule and Hogan works whenever he wants, so they can book more title matches on the house show schedule.  However, Dave would be equally unsurprised to see the big legdrop and 1-2-3.

– While he doesn’t have confirmation, Dave is pretty sure Tully Blanchard is debuting for the NWA at the Clash of Champions.  He’s been in talks with Jim Herd all week, with a contract for $156,000 on the table (more than fair, notes Dave) and if he doesn’t debut at the Clash, it ain’t happening.  Really, the negotiations only happened in the first place because the booking committee pushed and pushed Herd until he finally capitulated.

– Whipper Billy Watson died at age 74 this week, after a career as one of the most popular Canadian wrestlers in history.  (It’s true, my dad used to talk about watching him as a kid all the time and always brought him up as the greatest.)  He was NWA champion in 1956, winning and losing it to Lou Thesz with a healthy eight month reign, and main evented in Toronto under Frank Tunney for decades.  He ended up working for charity tirelessly, raising over $150 million for children’s charities in the city from the 50s until his death.  Ironically, on the afternoon of his death, the WWF was running a house show at Maple Leaf Gardens, and pretty much had to acknowledge it to the crowd and pay tribute at a time when they tended to ignore wrestling history.

– The NWA will begin drug testing at the end of the month, which Dave notes may or may not be Tully-related.  It’s likely that coke will be the only thing tested.

– The SNME featuring the Hogan-Warrior angle ended up doing an 11.1 rating, second highest of all-time after the Hogan-Andre battle royale.  And then the Prime Time Wrestling that showed a replay of the segment became the highest rated episode of the show as well!  So obviously people are into this Warrior guy.

– Things continue to move slowly towards the AJ/NJ/WWF show, as Vince was in Japan for Tyson’s training camp, and Baba is trying to pitch a Hogan v. Tenryu match as the main event.  It’ll probably end up as Hogan v. Choshu instead.  Either way, what does seem likely is that everyone goes their own way after the show, because these giant alliances never last.

– And now, a turning point for the Observer, although we didn’t know it at the time, as Dave announces that he’s taken a job with the National, writing a wrestling column for the paper.  While it seemingly wasn’t a major milestone in his life at that point and the paper itself only lasted a year and a bit, it had three important side-effects:

1)  Dave was mentored extensively by Frank DeFord, and his writing style underwent a drastic change for the better, with the Observer focusing less on match results and more on detailed business analysis;

2)  The exposure in the paper started drastically increasing his subscriber base for the Observer, and most importantly;

3)  DAVE BOUGHT A GODDAMN COMPUTER.

– Back to the WWF, as there’s already contradictions on the ticket sales.  While the WWF is now claiming 17,000 tickets sold a day after the press conference, Canada’s Ticketron service is saying that the number is actually 6000.  Dave is pretty sure it’ll end up as an easy sellout regardless.  Capacity is 55K for baseball, and WWF is saying it’ll be 63,000.  “We now return you to your regularly scheduled Observer”, he finishes.

– In Memphis, Jerry Lawler dressed up as “Dr. Lawler” and went on a very thinly-veiled heel rant where he analyzed “urine samples” from Jeff Jarrett and Kerry Von Erich (Is that where the Club got it?) and declared that both of them are on steroids.  He said that we just needed to listen to Kerry’s interviews to learn what steroids do to your brain, and that Jarrett would be 100 pounds without drugs.  He also went onto a rant about how “real wrestlers” are dying out and being replaced by steroid freaks like the Road Warriors, Hogan and Sting.  (He’s not wrong.  About any of it.  Lawler is a very noted straight-edge guy and he’s still wrestling well into his 60s, after a heart attack no less.) 

– Kerry Von Erich continues to get pushed down the cards in Dallas, as he won’t commit to a full schedule and Jerry Jarrett doesn’t want to push him as a result.  Speaking of which…

– Mark Lowrance was away at another broadcasting gig this week, so Percy Pringle filled in on the weekly USWA show in Dallas.  He interviewed Kerry a few times over the course of the tapings, and no less than five times Kerry called him “Mark”, four of them occuring right after Percy specifically corrected him and said he wasn’t Mark.  (Steroids are a hell of a drug, says Dr. Lawler.) 

– Joel Goodheart continues making a name for himself as a promoter in Philly, running shows with Terry Gordy v. Bam Bam Bigelow on top.

– The WWF has sent out offers to both Owen Hart and Buddy Landel, although Buddy would likely be a jobber in the WWF and Owen already was.  There’s also interest from the NWA in both guys, and Dave thinks that’d be the way to go for both guys.

– The potential for Stu Hart to reopen Stampede is looking more and more slim by the day.  Ed Whalen has already joined the new promotion owned by Fred May (Whalen was the guy trying to get Stu to close up shop for years) and most of the remaining Stampede talent has already started working there as well.  Their first show drew 300 people, but May has control of all the old timeslots, plus the TSN one.  (I believe this would be the short-lived CNWA promotion, no?) 

– David Shultz, who has been working as a bounty hunter since his legal troubles way back in 1985, got into more legal troubles when he got arrested after an edict from Hartford police not to assist bounty hunters any longer.  Shultz got into a nasty confrontation with a target who threatened to blow his head off when he was knocking on the door. Shultz called for police assistance, and they came out and basically told Dave that they couldn’t intervene, and that if he broke down the guy’s door he’d be arrested.  So Shultz broke down the door anyway, and got arrested.  Dr. D’s side is that police are harassing him for messing up their murder case by helping to clear the guy they wanted to pin the crime on.

– Barry Orton is out of prison and teaming with Bob on the indies again.

– OK, Dave feels the need to clarify the Arsenio Hall thing, because now there’s all kinds of stories going around:

Story #1 (The NWA Story):  They deny the whole thing ever happened, only heard about it from the Observer, and sent out photos of their guys to the Hall show and never heard back from them.

Story #2 (The Arsenio Story):  They deny that they ever contacted the NWA, aren’t interested in having NWA wrestlers on the show, and are also kind of pissed that the story was getting coverage in the newsletter.

Story #3 (Anonymous Arsenio staff member Story): The Hall show wanted Ric Flair in April, got no cooperation from either the NWA or TBS, and now it’s a dead issue.

Dave says we can decide who’s right ourselves.

– And then, on this week’s TV, Jim Ross said that Buzz Sawyer will be doing the show.  The Arsenio Hall people deny it.  Sawyer’s friends say he’s doing the show, but only as a wrestling school instructor and not as an NWA wrestler, but Hall’s people say that’s wrong, too.  (WHY CAN’T EVERYONE JUST GET ALONG?!)

– Sid signed a one year extension with the NWA, so forget about him jumping ship any time soon.

– The next excuse from Flair for not doing the Japan show is that the NWA was going to dock him a week’s pay if he left, although he’d be making well over a week’s pay from doing that show, so whatever.

– In a timely newsbite these days, Dave notes that Buzz Sawyer pinned Tommy Rich on the syndicated shows this weekend, which is notable for nostalgia fans only.

– And finally, I’m sad to report that there was no news section for Roller Games this week, so I can’t update you on them even if I wanted to.  Which I don’t.

Next week:  HOLY S--- ALL OF THE STUFF GOES DOWN.  Mike Tyson!  Sting!  The Tokyo Dome show!  It’s a TWENTY PAGE Observer!