Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.07.90

Just for a change of pace, there’s some stuff going down in Japan this week instead of the US. Excited yet? I know I am.

– So yeah, Genichiro Tenryu is leaving All Japan, apparently starting his own promotion, and people are pretty upset about it. Turns out that Megame-Super, who were one of the sponsors of the big Tokyo Dome show late in 89, and they were like “Well, if Inoki can draw $5 million doing this wrestling thing, why don’t we just start our own promotion?” They were actually one of the leading optical companies in Japan at the time, and I have to imagine their pitch to Tenryu went like this:




– I don’t imagine that went too well. Also, their original target was the UWF, with a signing bonus offered to Akira Maeda of $1 million, but he turned them down, despite the protest of the company president. (Boy, I bet he wished he took THAT deal about 6 months later.)

– Also, the company tried to buy New Japan, but Sakaguchi turned them down flat, although they managed to steal George Takano and the Dragon Master from NJPW. (For those wondering, this was the promotion that became SWS. It didn’t last that long.) Baba had suspicions that this was coming, so Tenryu has been putting guys over for a while now, most notably Jumbo Tsuruta. If they CAN get Maeda in addition to Tenryu, they’ll pretty much be able to destroy one or the other of the big two.

– The NWA actually returned to the Meadowlands for the first time in two years, and it was a good show but not great, with 9500 paid. Dave notes that this somewhat disappointing, but at this point any money is good money.

– Only thing of note on the show is that the Road Warriors were scheduled to wrestle Doom, but Hawk had an EKG that was “alarming” and thus the commission wouldn’t let him wrestle. So it ended up as Animal v. Reed instead. And Animal still wouldn’t job!

– In the shock of all shocks, Mr. Perfect won the Intercontinental title tournament, beating Tito Santana in the finals on 4/23 (airing 5/19). He actually won the title before two of the first round matches were taped, and they also forgot to bring the IC title belt to Texas and just used a tag title instead. (If that had been WCW, we’d be crucifying them to this day, but because it was the WWF, it just kind of got brushed over.)

– Jesse Ventura and Roddy Piper are awaiting word on the “Tag Team” pilot, which has been downgraded on the Hollywood Buzz Meter from “Probable hit” to “Likely mid-season replacement, if anything at all.” Piper had been hoping to use the success of the show to exit the wrestling business completely, but now he’s doing emergency replacement matches because Dusty Rhodes is injured. (See, and just a few weeks before Piper was on the s--- list, until they need someone to pop a house at the last minute.)

– Dave is a tad annoyed by the handling of the Dusty injury, as the company specifically directed everyone to ignore it and not inform anyone before the shows. Ironically, the Dusty-Savage matches have been “drawing flies” around the country, and advertising Piper beforehand might have actually HELPED! So there’s a conspiracy theory related to Piper’s doghouse position recently: They need Piper in cases like these, but they don’t want Piper to be in a position where he KNOWS how much they need him, because he’s enough of a pain in the ass to deal with as it is. Plus he’s theoretically leaving anyway when his show gets picked up by ABC, so it’s in the WWF’s best interest to make sure that Dusty looks like the bigger draw for the moment so that Piper doesn’t use this leverage to hold them up for more money. (Vince McMahon is a complicated dude, that much we know for sure.)

– WWF taped their latest SNME in Texas, and the show was fine . Dave was kind of surprised how heavily they played up Hogan v. Earthquake while totally ignoring Rude v. Warrior, since Warrior is the one who theoretically has to carry the summer house shows while Hogan is off doing whatever he’s doing, and really it needs way more help with a hot angle than Hogan’s match does. Not to mention that Warrior was shunted to the death slot on the show and given a weak opponent, whereas Hogan got the hot opener against bump machine Mr. Perfect.

1. Hulk Hogan pinned Mr. Perfect in 7:58 to finish off that program for good. (This was the end for the Genius as his manager, as it turned out.) Same as every other Hogan SNME match ever. **3/4

2. Earthquake squashed Hillbily Jim in 1:57. This was a “TGFSM” special (Thank God For Short Matches) 1/4*

3. The Hart Foundation went to a DDQ with the Rockers in 9:17. Dave calls it “about as fast-paced as you’ll ever see wrestling get in this country”, but it ended with a schmoz when Demolition interfered to set up some kind of three-way feud with the babyfaces. ***3/4

4. Warrior pinned Haku with the shoulderblock and splash in 4:48. He’s looking skinnier, but still blew up before he even started the match. 1/2* They had to pipe lots of fake crowd noise into the match and a bunch of early spots were messed up.

5. Big Bossman beat Akeem via DQ in 2:58. Originally NBC wanted to air the Wrestlemania match here, but it sucked so badly that the WWF decided to do another match with them instead. Akeem appeared to be working hard, so it was a bit better than expected. *1/4

– Dave in fact amends the Gory Guerrero obit here to give him credit for inventing the camel clutch and Gory Special.

– Dave is pretty worked up over the 5/19 NWA PPV, mostly because the main selling point is using the image of Peter Weller as “Robocop” as though the actual fictional character was going to be there watching Sting’s back. Also, he notes, why are there 96 people at ringside preventing interference in a cage match? What’s the point of the cage? (This would get immensely funnier when the finish of the match came around!) Also, why sell the show on Sting if he’s not even wrestling either? For Dave’s money, you can call yourself the “New Zoo Revue” and have pigs and cows at ringside for all he cares, but it’s the action in the ring that matters, and Robocop ain’t selling tickets. (Very true. The show was a flop on PPV.) On the br ight side, Sting is recovering so well that they can “put this Flair-Luger thing out to pasture by July”. (Dave would probably be BEGGING for Flair-Luger once he found out what was coming!) Dave is pretty sure the show is flopping, since the emphasis is not on the wrestlers, but on “an actor in a Tin Man costume who starred in a hit sci-fi movie a few years back.” (As it turned out, they couldn’t even get Weller to do the show!)

– Dave stops for a minute to talk about Superstar Graham and his expose of steroids, because a paper in Toronto basically had a reporter who launched an investigative report on it, and not only had the story killed but was FIRED because the WWF didn’t want the story getting out. So Dave speculates that this problem is going to get worse really quickly, until sometime soon, someone is going to be dead from steroid use and then everyone is going to be screwed. And as unlikely as it sounds, someday a top level star is going to drop dead at a young age in a public way and be linked to steroids and then TV stations and sponsors are going to start taking their business elsewhere. (Frankly I’m shocked it took another 17 years for that very thing to happen! Also, just look at the mortality rates for the guys who were at Wrestlemanias V and VI and it’s easy to see how much of a problem that it became, of course.)

– In a related note, the troubling EKG that Hawk had was a heart rate of 180 BPM due to a blocked valve. Dave is kind of terrified by that. (12 years left for Hawk.)

(I’m not sure if I got Hawk’s growl thing at the beginning right. Is there an accepted way to spell it?)

– Dave cites a piece from ML Curly about the Robocop appearance on PPV, and it’s pretty funny, as he notes that Robocop is “already the #4 contender to Ric Flair’s title” and that it’s obvious that Robocop was assembled by Vince McMahon as a way to drive Ric Flair out of the promotion and into the WWF in time for Wrestlemania VII.

– In Oregon, Billy Jack Haynes has gone heel, and no longer puts in his false teeth, so as to give himself a more aggressive appearance.

– Antonio Inoki is still not giving up on his idea to have a show in Las Vegas later in the summer, featuring himself against a martial arts guy.

– USWA announcer Mark Lowrance quit this past week after 10 years with the promotion due to issues with some of the recent angles.

– For those keeping track, Jerry Lawler lost the USWA title to Jimmy Valiant again, but only in Memphis. However, the TV show airs in both the Memphis and Dallas markets, so Lawler will probably try to blame Dave for exposing the business again. Lawler actually won the title under the new rules for the USWA, as he went to a 10 minute TV draw with Valiant, which meant an overtime period with the first takedown winning it. So Valiant put his head down for a backdrop and Lawler tried to kick him, but Valiant moved and Lawler landed on his back like Charlie Brown.

– No, not that Charlie Brown.

– To the AWA, where the announcement of Ric Flair on the 5/5 show has given the show an advance that already exceeds the total paid for the “Super Clash IV” show where Zbyszko regained the AWA title. That show only drew 800 people paid, but still, it’s certainly better.

– Sgt. Slaughter is now asking $3000 per appearance for his indy shots. Dave thinks no one in their right mind would pay him that much. (And then he’d be WWF World champion EIGHT MONTHS after this!)

– Paul Orndorff ended up on ESPN last week, as they did a bowling tournament that was hosted in his alley in Tampa. (Wonder if that’s why he got his WCW job later in the month?)

In the WWF again, house shows are just not drawing with Warrior on top against Perfect, although to be fair they’re still priming Rick Rude for the big run later in the summer.

– Dustin Rhodes had a tryout match at the WWF show in San Antonio.

– The advance for Wrestlemania VII is already at $500,000. (Nothing short of a bomb threat could stop this show now!)

– With the departure of Tony Schiavone, Fred Blassie stepped in for some announcing with Vince McMahon and “sounded lost”. (Oh my god, that sounds like the most awesomely terrible thing ever.)

– After all the machinations from the WWF about the Tokyo Dome show and the TV setup, it turns out that Warrior v. Dibiase is the only match that’s actually going to make it to Coliseum Video. (Jesus, what a waste.)

– Paul E. Dangerously will be debuting for the NWA on 5/1, but Dave wants to once again stress that he won’t be doing any managing.

In a very WCW move, Wayne Bloom did a singles job to Rick Steiner under the mask. However, because the team is called “The Minnesota Wrecking Crew #2”, Bloom was introduced as “Minnesota Wrecking Crew #2 #1”. True story!

Sid Vicious has already been introduced as the fourth Horsemen on the most recent TV tapings, which finally gives the group four members again.

And finally, a reader wonders how Barry Windham could have left the WWF after only six months without violating his contract, and it turns out that he never signed one! They sent it to his house and he returned it, unsigned. And then they used him on TV anyway.

Last day of my conference, so I should be back to a more regular update schedule for these by the weekend!