Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.20.90

It’s a patented Slow News Week as we head into Summerslam, but the issue is still 10 pages.  Oh, Dave.

But don’t be fooled by the Slow News, as two major promotions actually reach their finales this week, although we didn’t realize it at the time.

– Dave figures that Summerslam is going to do a buyrate on par with Wrestlemania, but probably won’t make as much money.  (In fact, it beat WM’s buyrate, the only time that has ever happened.) 

– In one oddity, Tugboat has been replaced in all the promotional materials by Big Bossman, “for reasons nobody is clear about”.  This in fact was not part of the original plan, as all the publicity materials beforehand had Tugboat on them and they spent the whole summer making him Hogan’s buddy.  All that Dave can find is that it’s some kind of disciplinary action, but he has no about what for, and Tugboat isn’t missing any other shows.  (And to this day, no one knows!) 

– In another change, Rick Martel still won’t be back in time for the show, so Tito now gets to wrestle the Warlord instead.  Shawn Michaels blew out his knee, but he’ll be back for the show.  (And we saw how they handled that one.  That whole week saw Shane Douglas as a replacement Rocker, giving us the following house show that I indeed got to sit through in Edmonton that week:

WWF @ Edmonton, Alberta – Northlands Coliseum – August 18, 1990 (5,000)
Haku pinned Barry O
The Barbarian pinned Ron Garvin
Koko B. Ware pinned the Genius
Ted Dibiase defeated the Big Bossman via disqualification
Marty Jannetty & Shane Douglas (sub. for Shawn Michaels) defeated Akio Sato & Mr. Fuji (sub. for Pat Tanaka)
Dustin Rhodes pinned Bob Bradley
WWF World Champion the Ultimate Warrior & Kerry Von Erich defeated Rick Rude & WWF IC Champion Mr. Perfect

(Yes, not only did I get the Replacement Rockers, but the Replacement Tanaka.  Why didn’t they just do Sato v. Jannetty in a singles match?  Also, I have no memory of this show, other than the weird Rockers match and people immediately giving Barry O a GIANT babyface reaction because the crowd collectively realized all at once that it was ZODIAK and went crazy for him.  And then he jobbed in the opener.) 

– The NWA is returning to the Meadowlands arena, and the advance is OK, not great, because all the hardcore fans buy early and then they have to hope casuals fill out the crowd.  If they do a weak gate, chances of returning again are not good.  And of course due to a technical screwup, their TV show didn’t air on WPIX this week as scheduled, which was the show that was supposed to be the hard sell.  Because WCW.

– The upcoming Clash in Asheville has a lot of people confused, namely as to why you’d debut another three heel tag teams when you’re already loaded down with heel teams to begin with.  They’re debuting the Nasty Boys, Maximum Overdrive, and the Master Blasters, and the Nasties are the only ones who look to get any kind of push.  Maximum Overdrive is probably Jeff Warner from Portland (the worst worker in the promotion) and Tim Hunt (almost as good as Warner but not quite) and they’re probably not even going to be around past this show.  The Nasties are immediately hampered because their big draw is doing the brawling stuff, and you can’t brawl in the crowd on a WCW show due to legal concerns. And the Master Blasters are only there to put over this bouncer they found in Atlanta in a strip club, who is supposedly just as big as Sid but works cheaper.  Dave thinks that MAYBE you shouldn’t debut some untrained goof on a major show because it makes you look desperate. (Yeah, and I’ve heard that this guy is REALLY green.) 

(Man, that’s GREEN.) 

– Dave points out that as shitty as the card looks, the whole point of these shows is not to blow you away, but to make you buy the PPV.  That being said, Dave has no idea where they’re going with this Black Scorpion nonsense, and his best guess is that Sting puts this goof away and Sid Vicious lays him out to set up Havoc.  Dave’s like “Why not just put Butch Reed or Bobby Eaton or Ron Simmons in there to get beat and have a great match with Sting instead?”  (This man just doesn’t grasp the GENIUS of Ole Anderson!)  Or stick Terry Taylor under the mask to have a big debut instead of having him job like a Rooster in the opening match?  Because really, why did you bother prying him away from the WWF in the first place, then?  (All good questions, Dave.)  In fact, Dave notes, these aren’t even his ideas, they’re ideas from instead the company that people have given him because there’s so much frustration at the booking right now.

– All the kids have been rapping about the job done by Ole and Herd so far, and most of it isn’t good.  In fact, Dave was going hold off on his mid-year analysis until after August because the company would presumably be on a “false high” following the big Sting win…but that high never came.  In fact, they’ve been in kind of a steady lull since May.

– Talent is WAY down as compared to a year ago.  They lost Steamboat and Funk and Muta for basically no reason, and the Road Warriors for reasons that are entirely Jim Herd’s fault.  Adding Paul Orndorff and the RNR as replacements isn’t a step forward.

– The TV shows have good exposure, but staffing has been cut to the point where the shows look cheap and are filled with mistakes, making them look bush league.

– On the house show front, Ole has at least improved B Show business from the bottom of the barrel where it started.  So that’s something.

– On the TV ratings front, Jim Herd has been successful in making TBS keep the show at the regular time without preemptions for baseball, so ratings are up a bit over last year.  There’s too much “Coming up next, coming up next week, coming up tomorrow, coming up on PPV” but they never actually deliver anything.

– Long term direction?  Is there one?

– Hulk Hogan will be playing “an intergalactic superhero space mercenary who winds up on Earth” in the new movie he’s shooting, to be called “Urban Commando”.

– To the USWA, where the WWF’s theft of their timeslot might be the thing that finishes them off for good.  It was their traditional TV slot forever and the way that they publicized house shows, and a large chunk of their income.  (Indeed, we’re nearing the obit for WCCW/USWA, unfortunately, as Jarrett loses interest in promoting outside of Memphis again.) 

– John Tatum got taken back to prison on a probation violation for drug use.  He’s facing 2-5 years as a result.

– So the Snowman is allegedly injured, but no one actually knows what’s up with him.  He claimed to have hurt his knee while training and that he’d miss a few weeks and bring the USWA title back to the office…but now no one can find him.  (This would get WAY more crazy in a couple of weeks!)  Jerry Jarrett is still advertising him for shows, of course.

– Jarrett promoted WRESTLEBALL ‘90 in Millington Tennessee, with a main event of a worked softball game where the babyfaces won 10-9.

– Even after losing the timeslot because of questionable content, USWA taped an angle where a fan’s baby was wearing a Chris Adams t-shirt, and Steve Austin came out and threatened to slap the baby.  They never aired it on TV, sadly.  (Not gonna lie, the image of Steve Austin threatening a baby had me in fits of laughter for some reason.) 

– Speaking of lost timeslots, the terrible CNWA promotion in Calgary has been running shows every week and drawing 100 people, but finally lost their TSN timeslot and that’s probably gonna do it for them.

– Although Portland was going to ignore the Art Barr “rape problem” and hope it went away, it got out to the papers and Barr is persona non grata now.  Houses are really down at the same time, since he was one of the biggest babyfaces.

– The IWA promotion is getting dumped from Sports Channel in September, being replaced by …

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…Herb Abrams’ new Universal Wrestling Federation.  Herb is claiming to have contracts with Terry Funk, Ricky Steamboat and John Studd, all of whom have already denied everything.  Herb is supposedly bringing Dan Spivey and Brian Blair to his first press conference, but both of those guys deny they’re going to be there.  In fact, Spivey wants back into the NWA again.  And Herb hasn’t even produced so much as a demo tape for the TV station to see.  But, Dave notes, that’s wrestling for ya.  (Dave v. The UWF is going to be GLORIOUS, I’m thinking.  Between that trainwreck and the upcoming Global Wrestling Federation, we’re in for some good stuff!) 

– Atsushi Onita pitched an idea for an angle where he’d go to San Juan and get into a worked argument with Jose Gonzales, leading to Jose STABBING him to set up a match in Japan where Onita would get revenge.  Dave, voice of reason, points out that even if Gonzales was dumb enough to agree to portray himself as a murderer, which he would never do, he would also never step foot in Japan for obvious reasons. So sadly, we’ll never see this one.

– To the AWA, where DJ Peterson & The Trooper won the tag titles from the Destruction Crew so they can leave for Japan, and the Team Challenge Series stumbled to a sad end with Jake Milliman winning a battle royale in the finale to give Larry’s Legends the “$1,000,000” prize.  It actually finished with Sgt. Slaughter’s team captained by Col. DeBeers.  (And that, ladies and gents, turned out to be the final AWA TV taping.  Larry left for WCW and the promotion existed in name only for another few months, but this was essentially the official endpoint.) 

– Gorilla Monsoon had a toe amputated due to circulation problems, so Vince is going to have to work the Summerslam show with Roddy Piper.  Usually he doesn’t like doing commentary for PPV because he’s got other s--- to deal with.

– The WWF did TV tapings in Providence and Kerry Von Erich got over a little better this time.  Tony Atlas was supposed to debut, but they’re still putting the finishing touches on his new gimmick.  Apparently you won’t even be able to recognize him when he’s done!  (Well, ONE person certainly did know who he was…) 

– Savage is taking a month off after Summerslam, which is why they’re running the oddball Warrior & LOD v. Demolition program as such a short-term deal, until Savage returns for the Warrior program in October.  (So there you go!) 

– Sapphire was wearing a mink coat at the tapings and she’ll be gone after the PPV.

– Both companies want to run more PPV shows in 1991.  The WWF pitched an idea of doing $8 budget shows with mid-level matches and interviews, but the PPV companies weren’t amused.

– Some kid at a house show in Miami tried to jump the rail and attack Bad News Brown (Why are people stupid enough to attack Haku and Bad News Brown of all wrestlers?!?)  and supposedly unconscious referee Dave Hebner had to leap to his feet and tackle the fan.

– Still talk of Davey Boy coming in as a single, but no start date yet.  (PWI Weekly was ALL ABOUT this rumor at the time and was pretty much promising his imminent return every issue.) 

– Larry Z is coming into WCW right away, but Ole and Herd are arguing over how to bill him.  Ole wants to have the AWA World champion on the show, and Herd only wants Sting to be World champion.  Dave feels Herd is correct in this situation, plus the AWA is now viewed as a pathetic bush league promotion from the shows on ESPN right now, and putting Larry on the same level as Sting would just devalue the NWA World title.  (Sad but true!) 

– Ole and Herd are also fighting over usage of the older talent, like Ivan Koloff and Buddy Roberts.

– Tom Zenk no-showed on the weekend got fined $2500, which he then took to the legal system to fight because his lawyer rightly pointed out that guys no-show all the time without getting fines.

– Jim Herd is meeting with Flair and wants him to change his character.  (There you go, the beginning of the end for Herd’s career in that one sentence.) 

– Zbyszko update:  He didn’t work the TV taping for WCW after all, and won’t be coming in.  Verne Gagne wouldn’t release him unless Verne himself was allowed to go on TBS and promote the AWA, so Herd was like “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH, no.”

– And finally, Sting was at a video convention this past week and WCW advertised the crap out of it.  So there’s these long lines, like bigger than for Hogan or Warrior’s appearances, before they start to thin out rapidly because people thought it was the singer and then got disappointed.  (Sad trombone.) 

Some slow news week this was!