Wrestling Observer Flashback–05.28.90

It’s the Capital Combat issue!

This is actually an interesting time for me to be reviewing, because I had moved from Vancouver to Edmonton just before Royal Rumble 90, around Christmas time.  In Vancouver you couldn’t switch channels without hitting a syndicated Crockett show, but by 1990 WCW’s syndicated package was dropping off a lot of systems.  Not only that, but Edmonton (and today here in Saskatoon) is WAY up north, with no access to local American networks like the Bellingham ones.  Basically, at the end of 1989 I lost all access to WCW until Shaw Cable picked up TBS in the summer of 1991, at which point I had ALL OF THE WRESTLING again.  So 99% of the stuff going on in the TV shows in 1990 is totally new to me, as I was only able to follow through PWI Weekly, and bless the almighty Apter for putting out that fine publication.

– The poll is very divided for the PPV, with 49% thumbs up and 45% thumbs down, and 13% “in between”.

– Although Dave was entertained by the show, he’s kind of pissed that they promised a whole bunch of stuff and delivered none of it.  And the poll results also reflect that, with most people liking the action but hating the other stuff.  Specifically, the finish of the main event was a giant rip-off.  (Which it was.  Who the f--- books a DQ finish in a CAGE MATCH?) 

– The show actually did draw a sellout of 7500, but the DC Amory was BRUTALLY hot and wasn’t air-conditioned, which is kind of funny considering they should have learned that lesson at the Fort Bragg Clash show last year and apparently did not.

To the review!  This is Dave’s live review, as he hasn’t seen the tape yet.

1.  The Road Warriors & Norman beat Cactus Jack & Bam Bam Bigelow & Kevin Sullivan in 9:16.  The match was fine, but nothing special with the exception of Cactus Jack.  **1/2

2.  Mean Mark pinned Johnny Ace with the flying elbow at 10:37.  Both looked green because there was no transitions between moves, and the audience lost patience.  *3/4

3.  The SST beat Mike Rotunda & Tommy Rich in 17:54.  Work was solid, but it’s just way too long for these guys.  The crowd was dead because the actual heat in the building was the worst during this match.  Everyone was pouring sweat and the match was pretty bad overall.  1/2*

4.  Paul Ellering pinned Teddy Long in the “no hair v. no hair match” at 1:57.  Terrible, but short.  Everyone was pissed that they promised Long would be shaved bald, and the hairstylist only took a couple of snips.  -**1/2

5.  The Midnight Express won the US tag titles from Pillman & Zenk when Eaton pinned Zenk in 20:19.  Cornette was in a cage at ringside so that they could have a cage at ringside for Robocop later on.  Good fast action all the way and the best match of the card.  ***3/4

The Robocop angle came next, and it amounted to Sting getting “trapped” in the cage and Robocop pulling the door off.  He meant nothing to the show, and even though they gave out hundreds of Robocop posters, none of them made it onto TV.  On the bright side, it didn’t hurt the show at all.  (I would dispute that.) 

Next up came Junkfood Dog, and he’s on the wrong side of 323 at this point and it doesn’t take “Albert Einstein with X-ray glasses” to see through Ole’s idea of making a new black superstar on top.  Apparently Ole’s first choice was Tony Atlas.  Dave notes that if he could draw ANYTHING he’d still be in the WWF because they gave him chance after chance until they were forced to fire him.  And the least he could do is get down to 270 or less to show he’s committed.  Dave thinks that someone should have given Ole the number for Larry Cameron, who at least looks like a star.  But if Ole thinks he can recreate 1980 Georgia, this probably won’t be a long reign as booker.

6.  The Rock N Roll Express beat the Freebirds in a “Corporal Punishment” match in 18:59.  There was mucho confusion about the what the match actually meant.  Jim Herd envisioned a Country Whipping match, Ricky Morton thought it was an Indian Strap match (as did Ole) and the promotion for the match was that the loser got whipped with the straps.  So a bunch of backstory on the match:  It was originally supposed to be the Country Whipping match and it was booked to go 25:00, and if guys are beating each other to death with whips for 25:00, they’re gonna be literally beating each other to death.  So that idea was out.  Then “a certain individual who will go nameless but his namesake was a famous cowboy” was told to go buy whips for the match.  And he ended up going to a sex shop to buy “whips” instead of just going to buy leather belts.  So since they were stuck with a pair of cat-o-nine-tails, they just tied them to the ropes and had them used for a couple of spots in an otherwise normal match.  The match was good, but not what was advertised.  **3/4

Next up, an interview with Doug Furnas, because there was fear that Tom Zenk wouldn’t show and they needed a backup plan.

7.  Doom won the NWA tag titles from the Steiners in 19:18 when Reed pinned Rick.  Typical stiff power brawl from these two.  The Frankensteiner was the biggest pop of the night.  ***1/4  (Are you KIDDING me?  That’s pretty low, Dave.) 

8.  Ric Flair managed to retain the NWA title over Lex Luger again, in a cage, when he got disqualified at 17:21.  Luger was nowhere near 100%, but Flair is so awesome that they trusted him to get a good match out of the proverbial broomstick.  (This issue is the first time I can recall someone making that comparison for Flair, and I’m wondering if Dave actually coined it.)  Luger was supposed to bleed a gusher, but, you know, life threatening staph infection two days earlier.  (Thankfully even WCW wasn’t THAT stupid.)  El Gigante looked awesome, but had no idea what was going on or what he was supposed to be doing.  ***1/2

Dave feels like Vince couldn’t have done a better job of booking a finish to sabotage the NWA if he was doing it himself.

– Most likely, the way that the promotion is going to save face is by suspending Woman (who they want to get rid of) and Ole (who wants to stay behind the camera) and putting all the heat on them for the DQ.  While Dave can understand the people who wanted desperately to see a title change, Sting is only five weeks away and THAT’S the money match.  (As it turned out, it wasn’t, but it sure seemed like it was at the time.)  And really Luger wouldn’t have had any challengers if he got the title.  That being said, Luger WAS the plan all along and it was going to happen here, but the combination of Ole getting the book and Lex getting the infection meant that the title change was kiboshed at the last minute.  Luger is going to need a month or two off to recover as it is, so why bother putting the belt on him since Sting is back by the time Luger would be ready to defend anyway?

– Dave was impressed overall that they managed to kill off the cage match stip, hair stip AND strap stip all in the same night.

– Dave thinks that Windham at the very least should have hidden under the ring for the DQ, ala Lawler-Rich, but then he decides that Barry would have likely expired from heat 30 minutes in and thus it probably wouldn’t be feasible.

– Early buyrate estimates seem to be decent, around a 1.5%.  (That’s actually dead on.)  So really, the s--- finish of WrestleWar didn’t hurt this show at all.

– OK, onto the WWF, as they did the big angle of the summer, with Hogan doing a stretcher job on the Brother Love show to Earthquake.  Hogan will be announcing his retirement from wrestling in a few weeks to set up his comeback at Summerslam, and Tugboat is getting a major push out of this.  And it appears that Warrior is stuck with Rick Rude because that one is running all summer long and there’s no other heels.

– To Memphis, where the Snowman showed up while Lawler was doing an interview, and it’s apparently a shoot.  Snowman claimed racism (WHAT?!?  In TENNESSEE?!) and threatened to go to the ACLU if he wasn’t hired back for a match with Lawler.  Dave is dubious about this actually being a shoot, but we shall see.  Either way, it was great.

– In Japan, the times are about to change.  The Foot Loose broke up and Toshiaki Kawada completely changed his look, going to gear more reminiscent of the UWF guys.  His new partner, Tiger Mask, unmasked during a tag match with him and declared “I am Misawa”, and will now be wrestling as “Mitsuhara Misawa” from now on.  (Like that would ever get over.)  The Tiger Mask gimmick appears to be no more.  Misawa issued a challenge to Jumbo Tsuruta for the Triple Crown on 6/8 at Budokan Hall.  (Spoiler:  The match changes the course of wrestling history.) 

– The Road Warriors actually offered themselves to both New Japan and All Japan for 16 weeks a year at $20,000 a week, but neither promotion wanted them at that price, so they took the WWF offer.

– Tenryu is headed to the US to personally throw a s----ton of money at Hulk Hogan and/or Ric Flair so they’ll work the first SWS show in August.  The Flair move is particularly ballsy because there’s actually lots of heat on Flair in Japan stemming from his no-shows the last time he was booked.  Dave hears that the money is so insane that even Hulk will have to listen.

– Back to Memphis/Dallas, where Bill Dundee and John Tatum have been trading the Southern title in a series of switches so confusing due to phantom title changes that Dave is pretty sure they’re just f------ with him at this point.

– Dave is amazed that Jeannie Adams is dragging up stories of “stuff that Chris Adams had to do to stay in the country” when he first arrived, because they’re apparently legit crazy stories that have been rumored about Adams for years.  Dave is pretty sure this Adams v. Steve Austin feud is going to explode into a nutty soap opera that should be entertaining.

– Blackjack Mulligan and Kendall Windham got their sentences for counterfeiting, and Kendall got 27 months in prison and two years’ probation, while Blackjack got 24 months and two years’ probation.  (Holy crap, that seems pretty harsh.  But indeed, both guys served two years in prison.) 

– In a minor note, Grizzly Smith actually worked an indy show with Sam Houston & Rockin’ Robin on the show, and admitted that both were his children.

– And now, in the greatest travesty since the Miz winning five IC titles, it’s time for…

– Down in Florida, Dave notes the debut of one JOE GOMEZ, a former lineman who just debuted two weeks ago.  And that’s all we get about the future greatest superstar in the history of Monday Nitro!  What the F---, Dave?

– Apparently the talks of ComSat buying WCW are greatly exaggerated, and in fact the real story is that they merely want to buy PPV rights for broadcasting in Ramada hotel chains.  Dave’s still not letting this one go quite yet, though.  Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!  (Or in this case, just smoke.) 

– Ole has been talking with Big Van Vader about coming in for the next PPV.

– The Clash XI card has been drastically revamped with Ole taking over, and it’s now Flair v. JYD as the main event.

– Turns out that Woman was the only one “suspended” for the cage match fiasco (ie, fired in real life) and Ole will be managing the Horsemen on-screen after all.

– JYD is replacing Luger at all the house shows for the next month, and Dave has LOTS to say about that but he’ll spare us for the time being.

– Stan Hansen worked the latest TV tapings, and managed to split the face of jobber Paul Drake open with a lariat, leaving him looking like he was in a car wreck.  (The man works fast.) 

– Tommy Young was told by doctors not to return to wrestling, because any serious bump could cripple him for life.

– The Road Warriors are unsurprisingly putting over the Horsemen all over the country on the way out.

– TUGBOAT UPDATE:  He’s still not Bronto and it doesn’t appear to be happening after all.  The big push for him came at the recommendation of Dusty Rhodes, of course.

– The Road Warriors will debut in August as the Legion of Doom and will get to keep the face paint, but will have to grow out their hair.  The plan is to feud with Demolition in the fall, leading to a Wrestlemania match where the losing team has to remove their facepaint.

– And finally, the New York Law Journal did an interview with the head legal counsel for Titan Sports, and one of the questions asked was what would happen if a main event star on a PPV couldn’t wrestle.  The policy of the company, the lawyer noted, is to cancel the event.  (I guess Owen Hart didn’t qualify as a “main eventer” then.)