Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.06.90

Apparently, steroids are bad.  This and other top stories in this week’s edition of “DUH” weekly!

– It’s another in a series of long-form essays from Dave on off-weeks, this time talking about steroid testing being implemented in the NFL and how it used to be an IQ test more than anything, because guys just had to know when the testing was coming.  The newspapers are cautiously optimistic that random year-round testing will at least put a dent in the steroid usage in the NFL, even if stuff like this new “Human Growth Hormone” thing can’t be caught by normal steroid tests.  And it’s apparently becoming the drug of choice with weightlifters.  (And brain damaged murderers.) 

– Tying it back to wrestling, Dave actually uses an analogy that he used just yesterday on the radio show:  Lots of wrestlers use steroids and take crazy bumps, and many will have years cut off their life as a result, but at the same time many will not.  Just like some people smoke for a week and develop lung cancer, while others smoke two packs a day for 30 years and never even cough.  (Sadly, it was the former statistic that proved to be the true one.)  The problem is of course much worse in wrestling than in football, because at least football drug use is enhancing performance among guys who had to show amazing levels of talent just to get onto the field.  In wrestling…

…well, let’s just say there’s many other factors that go into someone’s push.

– Oo, oo!  Time to play “Dave changes the names of some stars he’s talked to, and we guess who he’s talking about.”

CASE #1:  “JOHN”

– “John” (not his real name) is one of the best performers in the business and one of its biggest stars as well who was on top everywhere he went.  He claims to have never taken steroids before in his life, despite being a very big guy naturally.  Plus doctors told him that taking steroids would likely be a death sentence due to family history.  However, once he got to the WWF, he looked “puny” next to Hogan and Warrior, and all of a sudden bulked up and doubled his income.  Dave doesn’t know for sure that it WAS steroids, but it’s all a bit too coincidental.  (Who would have been a top star that joined around 1989-90 who suddenly got bigger and thicker?  I’m thinking Curt Hennig fits the description here PERFECTLY.) 

– Next up, “Ralph”, who had used steroids throughout his career.  He was a prelim guy in the WWF and was getting buried.  The NWA and Japan weren’t viable options, so he decided to go heavier into the roids, but they gave him severe roid rage and he ended up smacking around his pregnant wife.  He got a little bit of a bigger push, but is still a prelim guy.  (No idea on this one.  Could be lots of underneath guys.  Paul Roma?  Jim Powers?) 

– “Bill” was a smaller guy and a great worker, but couldn’t take roids for medical reasons.  Then he came to the WWF and became “Job Boy Bill”.  That wasn’t paying Bill’s bills, so he started doing steroids and suddenly his bench press went up 100 pounds.  He got stronger and gained a lot of weight, but didn’t have the genetics to create the action figure muscles that top guys need.  He upped the dosages but it’s a myth that injected more roids suddenly makes you look like Superman. So Job Boy Bill remains Job Boy Bill.  (Could be a LOT of people.)

– “Vanessa” is the wife of a pro wrestler, and was trying to get pregnant.  The doctor noted that her husband, George, already had excellent genetics and trained hard, so advised him to drop the steroids because it had made him temporarily impotent.  It was nowhere near Nikita Koloff levels of slimming down, but he lost a bit of size, like 15 pounds.  And suddenly George went from main eventer to middle of the card.  (This has GOT to be Randy Savage.  Or perhaps Rick Rude, but he was never really a main event guy at this point.  I’ve heard the same basic story about both of them, though.) 

– Dave goes into an interesting list of suggestions that pretty much outline the current Wellness Policy, mainly random drug tests for everyone in the company that can come at any time, and major penalties for failure, including pulling big names out of top feuds if they fail and giving them real suspensions.  Dave notes that it might be embarrassing for the guy to fail and be publicly shamed for it, but it would be even worse for the company for people to start dropping dead of heart attacks.  (Well, we learned about ALL of those things soon enough.) 

– Dave thinks that if you eliminate the roid freaks from the top of the card, then what was once an “average” body will become freakish by comparison again and so guys won’t need to do the roids to keep up with the Joneses.  (Belee dat!  Put John Cena back in 1989 and try to tell me he’d get a second look next to Hogan and Warrior and Beefcake.) 

– Dave thinks that Vince and Jim Herd are playing a dangerous game of Russian Roulette right now, because odds are that the guys who drop dead of heart attacks will do so years after they’ve left the promotion and faded from the public eye, but all it takes is one person to have their heart explode while employed by the WWF and suddenly the whole system goes to s---.  (And that one guy was Eddie Guerrero, unfortunately.)  And Dave is pretty sure that NBC will drop the WWF like a hot potato if a scandal breaks, since SNME nearly got canned over Bossman blading in the cage match with Hogan.

(As noted before, this is a MAJOR shift in the tone and format of the Observer, as Dave is mentored by Frank DeFord at the National and redefines his newsletter. Had he kept up the way it was, he would have been killed off by the internet era when anyone could get match results and write bitchy letters.  Without knowing he was doing it, he pretty much adapted to survive and thrive before the threat even came about.) 

– Dave gives a bit more detail on the official departure of Jesse Ventura from last week, as Jesse was offered a game deal by Sega, and since Vince has an exclusive deal with Nintendo the relationship went south and never recovered.

– Dave has some clarifications on the Haku bar brawl from last week, since he was basing his information on a newspaper clipping that turned out to be inaccurate about some stuff.  First up, it wasn’t Brady Boone who took a stool to the head, it was Curt Hennig.  (Knowing him, he probably deserved it.)  There’s actually several versions of how things went down.  The version in the paper said that James Bishop asked a woman to dance, who was hanging out and talking with the wrestlers, and Haku attacked him.  Another version said that the guy insulted the woman and Haku attacked him.  Another one is that the woman wasn’t involved and that Bishop challenged Haku to the fight.  (How drunk would this idiot need to be to do THAT?)  The actual eye-witness account said that Bishop was insulting the woman, if that matters.  To add further awesomeness to the legend of Haku, the six police officers couldn’t subdue him until they finally hit him in the head with a club “about the size of a baseball bat”.  And even then, that didn’t knock him out and only mildly annoyed him, but at least they got the cuffs on the guy.  And once they got him calmed down and booked in at the station, he was the nicest guy in the world.  (HOW THE F--- COULDN’T ANYONE GET THIS GUY OVER AS THE BIGGEST BADASS STAR IN THE WORLD?!? Seriously, I’m not at all surprised that someone was able to do a whole website of Haku stories.)

– You can add “tanking Saturday Night’s Main Event” to Warrior’s impressive list of accomplishments this year, as the Omaha show did a 7.2, which is near the bottom for the series.  To be fair, Hogan was on the show, but wasn’t wrestling, so who knows what effect that had.

1.  Warrior beat Rick Rude by DQ in 9:43.  Warrior blew up 20 seconds in, but Rude made him look decent.  Match was pretty slow, but they’ve had a million matches so they know how to work together.  **1/2

(Interlude:  Dave was disappointed by how scarce the 11,000 Warrior masks really looked, since they couldn’t find enough of a group actually wearing them to make them look impressive.)

Hulk Hogan did his comeback interview and Dave calls it the best he’s ever heard from Hogan.  Think about this:  The main angle is Hogan, Tugboat, Earthquake and Dino Bravo as the four main participants, and yet it’s still going to do business at Summerslam.

2.  Demolition beat the Rockers to retain the tag titles at 8:51.  Timing was way off, especially since Brian Adams was way out of his league.  **3/4

3.  Mr. Perfect pinned Tito Santana to retain the IC title in 10:11 in an excellent match.  Stupendous bumps from Mr. P.  ****

4.  Kerry Von Erich pinned Buddy Rose with the tornado punch in 3:09.  Kerry showed nothing here.  3/4*

Overall, Dave thought it was one of the better shows in the ring and one with the best flow as of late.

– Congratulations to Hulk, as Nasty Nick was born this past Friday.

– Apparently the main event for Clash XII is going to be Sting defending against some guy called “The Black Scorpion” and Dave has absolutely no idea who that’s supposed to be.

And now, everyone’s favorite segment…

– So also debuting on this Clash show is a team called “The Master Blasters”, featuring “a 6’7” bouncer that Jody Hamilton found in Atlanta making his pro debut, and a partner of whom I’m unaware of.”  Well almost everyone else was also unaware of Iron, because he disappeared from the sport a few weeks later.  However, that former bouncer did OK for himself.

– Well, I mean, BESIDES that.

– Summerslam is officially sold out to the tune of $335,000, the largest gate of the year in the US.  Not counting Wrestlemania, which was in Canada.

– To Memphis, where Eddie Gilbert is driving business up again, and his return show did the largest gate in more than a year.

– The big angle in the Adams/Austin feud came when Jeannie called out Toni on TV, with blackmail photos of Chris Adams, and revealed pictures of Chris with another woman, as well as an apparent porn shoot with Chris and a nude photo of him with tape tastefully covering his crotchal area. Toni then freaked out on Chris because he was wearing a sweatshirt in the photos, which Toni had just bought him recently!  UH OH.

– Art Barr plead guilty to rape, just before the case was scheduled to go to trial.  He got two years probation, 2,000 hours of community service and had to pay restitution to the 19 year old girl.  The Portland promotion is carrying on as if it’s business as usual and won’t be changing his character.

– The WWF managed to trick people into packing an Oakland show on 7/28, because it was on the same night as SNME aired, with the same main event (Warrior v. Rude), so lots of people thought it was SNME.   Hey, if tricking people into buying tickets to see Warrior helps, more power to ya.

– Curt Hennig missed a few shows due to having his head bashed in with a bar stool, but the WWF basically ignored it and just stuck Akeem out there.

– Dustin Rhodes had made a deal to debut in WCW and they even aired an interview with Arn Anderson on TV where he talked about Dustin, but the WWF snapped up the…uh…apparently hot free agent instead.

– Ranger Ross wrestled under a mask as The Pearl, wearing a gi and doing all of Muta’s moves in a sad attempt to make people think it was Muta.

– When Vader had his long-delayed eye surgery last week, they discovered five other broken bones in his eye that he didn’t know about.

– Owen Hart update:  He will not be coming in after all.  He had told them September, then went off to do a tour of Japan and when the office called him looking for a firm start date he asked for an extension to December, at which point they just decided not to use him after all.

– Turns out that Jim Herd paid out Paul Ellering’s remaining salary for the year when the LOD left the promotion, which meant a cool $130K for him for doing nothing the rest of the year.

– The New Fantastics (the Fulton brothers) debuted at a taping for WCW and were an immediate flop.  Speaking of flops, the Pearl was dropped after one taping, meaning the gimmick was so lame that it didn’t even survive until the end of this recap!

– WCW is once again making offers to Tully Blanchard, but he’s now so deeply into Jesus that he’s not interested in returning at all.

– Apparently Davey Boy Smith is in talks to return to the WWF.

– And finally, Cactus Jack is working for Joel Goodhart in Philly for the moment.  (Hopefully that works out for him.)