Wrestling Observer Flashback–05.27.91

Previously on the Flashback… https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/15/wrestling-observer-flashback-05-20-91/

Let’s see if I can finish this before I fall asleep on the couch like an old man.  We’ll make a game of it!

– And it’s right into Superbrawl with no preamble or funny business to start.  Dave is all business this week.

1.  Mighty Thor pinned El Cubano in the dark match.

2.  The Freebirds beat the Young Pistols to win the vacant US tag title in 10:21 when Hayes pinned Smothers.  Hot match with lots of highspots from the Pistols and lots of the Freebirds getting out of the way of said highspots.  People just don’t like the Pistols, even though they come off as very likeable on TV.  Pistols were making the comeback when Fantasia, who was Brad Armstrong dressed like the Gobbledygooker, (although Dave still isn’t 100% sure it’s him at this point) came out and DDT’d Smothers to give the Birds the win.  A hot opener.  ***1/2

3.  Dan Spivey pinned Ricky Morton in 3:11 with a powerbomb.  It was all fast-paced action while it was going on, and the crowd was pro-Spivey.  Dave though the humiliation of Morton was a little much, but the logic is that he’s turning so he’s a new character soon anyway.

Old Ricky Morton:

New Richard Morton:

– I bet you didn’t even notice it was the same person back in the day!  Anyway, this was a basic big-little match.  *1/4  (See?  Same rating as I gave it, basically.  Now everyone go harass Meltzer on Twitter about it.) 

4. Nikita Koloff pinned Tommy Rich with the Sickle in 4:07.  OK for what it was.  *

5. Dustin Rhodes pinned Terrence Taylor in 8:05.  Dave actually STEALS MY GAG, as he notes that Taylor checked the computer and it told him “You don’t have a prayer in this match unless the company changes bookers.”  and then told him “If you screw up one more spot with the booker’s son you’ll be wearing your hair in a rooster style again.”  Match was just fine.  **

6. Big Josh pinned Black Bart in 3:45 with the butt drop.  Bart was replacing Larry Z, who had a knee injury.  Nobody cared anyway.  DUD

7. Oz (Kevin Nash) debuted with a squash of Tim Parker in 0:27 with Al Perez’s “alley-copter” move. Dave calls the entrance “one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve had in this lifetime when it came to rationalizing being a wrestling fan.”  (I dunno, we just had a match with two live bears working as seconds for Matt Borne, I’d say it’s at LEAST in the conversation.)  The reaction from the crowd was a mixture of “stunned amazement and obscenity laced vehemence.”  (To be fair, I feel that way about most Kevin Nash matches.) 

(See?  Hilarious AND topical to the review!) 

– Overall, the Oz thing wasn’t actually as bad as Dave had feared.  So that’s good.  But the arena smelled like sulphur for the rest of the night.  So that’s bad.  -***  (I would just assume that the sulphur smell was due to being trapped in Hell watching “Best of Big Daddy Cool” DVDs for all of eternity as punishment.)

8. Barry Windham pinned Brian Pillman with a superplex in a taped fist match in 6:08.  The show was in the toilet at that point due to Oz, but this at least brought it back to the sink.  Dave thought it was a great match while it lasted, but way too short.  ***1/2  (I feel like I probably underrated it, but real men don’t apologize, vote for Hilary, or most importantly pay attention to matches instead of thinking up Oz and bear-related jokes from the previous matches.) 

9. El Gigante pinned Sid Vicious in 2:11 of a “stretcher match”.  Word got out that if Sid had no-showed, they wouldn’t release him from his contract until it actually expired on September 5.  (Boy, really playing hardball with him there.  Actually if they did play hardball Sid would have no idea what to do.)  And in fact the WWF was equally adamant about Sid showing up and doing the job here.  (You know Vince, all about that time honored tradition.)  Dave suspects that working with Ric Flair MAY have given people false hope about how far Gigante had progressed.  This was “like two blind men trying to wrestle each other.”  Sid took the pin and then immediately got up like nothing had happened and left.  People were mad, but everything about the match was a bad situation.  Dave admits that perhaps he was wrong about this being money, because all the tension of the giants colliding was gone in literally 30 seconds.  -*

10. Ron Simmons pinned Butch Reed in a cage match in 9:25.  Simmons bled 35 seconds in, and Reed beat on him for the whole match.  Not bad, but people just aren’t into the feud.  Simmons won with a spinebuster out of nowhere.  **1/2

11. The Steiner Brothers pinned Sting & Lex Luger in 11:08 to retain the WCW tag titles.  Dave was surprised by how good the match was, but also by how much heat was generated by four babyfaces.  This was a total Japan-style match with high spots and no selling, and the crowd loved it all.  It really showed that maybe the business is changing.  (It wasn’t.)  This was the best Sting has looked since returning and he was the MVP of the show.  Luger’s bag of tricks wasn’t nearly as full as the other three, but he didn’t hurt the match.  (That’s literally one of the nicest things Dave’s ever said about Lex.)  A cheap non-finish with Nikita Koloff moved the feud to Sting right away, which was the goal, but hurt one of the best matches of the year.  ****1/2

12.  Bobby Eaton pinned Arn Anderson in 11:10 to win the TV title.  They had to follow the last match, so that wasn’t ideal.  The work was solid all the way, and the crowd popped big for the finish because they were building up to the screwjob and then just delivered the clean finish.  ***1/4

13.  Ric Flair pinned Tatsumi Fujinami in the BATTLE OF WORLD CHAMPIONS.  Dave thought it was better live than the Tokyo match, but others who saw it on tape (like me!) didn’t think it was all that great.  Fujinami didn’t get a bad reaction or anything, but the finish with the double referees and Flair pulling the trunks was designed to make everyone mad. The fans, however, don’t get mad at the heels, they get mad at the promotion, so the execution fell flat.  ***3/4

– Overall Dave gives it the thumbs up, but it didn’t build to anything that will draw money or anything.  (That’s the understatement of the year considering the show that followed.) 

– Dave confirms that the Missy Hyatt thing was intended as a parody of the Lisa Olson controversy, although Dave is mystified as to why they continue to push her as a heel.

– The crowd for the WWF show the night before was nearly identical, with Warrior v. Undertaker drawing 5100 and this one drawing 4887.  However, a monsoon outside of the arena stalled walk-up traffic and thus the show ended up short of a sellout.  Dave thinks that Chief Jay Strongbow must have done a rain dance before leaving town the night before.  Buyrate looks to be an unsurprising 1%.

– The WWF will be running a stadium show in St. Louis this July, and it’ll be taped for Coliseum Video as a form of REVENGE against the St. Louis Arena for daring to book WCW.

– You tell ‘em, Tito.

– The idea is that they’ll produce a blow out show and sell 20,000+ tickets at Busch Stadium while WCW does 2000 the previous month and looks so inept that the arena runs them out of town.  Top match looks to be Hogan v. Slaughter with Savage as ref, and Warrior v. Undertaker in a casket match.  Dave notes that this giant stadium show is directly opposed to the Great American Bash PPV in Baltimore, but he doesn’t think it’s an effort to sabotage the show or anything.  (They did QUITE enough of that on their own.) 

– Both promotions hit a skid in the ratings, resulting in perhaps the lowest weekend of cable ratings in modern history.  Prime Time is finding a new bottom every week in the new format.  While week to week ratings don’t mean anything, the trend is getting pretty alarming here.

– So as it turns out, NBC and the WWF have parted ways.  WWF is already negotiating “elsewhere” for the Main Event, where “elsewhere” is somewhere that’s not FOX, ABC, NBC or CBS.  Apparently the Slaughter angle on the February show is what did them in for good, with bad press and low ratings driving them off the network.  As well, the main guys who were charge of NBC during the glory days, Brandon Tartikoff and Dick Ebersol, are now out of power, so that’s how the TV business goes.  Dave wouldn’t call it a disaster, but it’s not good news.  (You probably can’t draw a direct correlation, but the entire business went into a death spiral for the next five years, so there might be SOME truth to it.) 

– Steve Schumann, who was better known as Lance Idol in Stampede, suffered a heart attack on Friday after his match in California.  He was wrestling as Steve Golden that night and bled so badly during the match that he had to be taken to the hospital, and while he was there for treatment he suffered a heart attack and passed out.  They were luckily able to revive him.  Schumann is already notorious for promoting a show in the area two years prior, where he FAKED A SUICIDE ATTEMPT to get out of paying the boys.  (And you wonder why people don’t trust promoters.  Also, unfortunately Schumann suffered another heart attack in September and this time wasn’t able to be revived.) 

– Herb Abrams announced the lineup for his star-studded PPV spectacular, which will undoubtedly make Total Nonstop Deletion look like Wrestlemania X-7, where he accused the WWF and WCW, by name, of being a “bunch of carbon copy cartoon promotions” and Hogan and Flair of being “paper champions”.  He’s also claiming that the purse for Williams v. Bigelow will be well in excess of $1 million.  (Wonder if his eventual death was a fake suicide attempt to get out of paying that $1 million and he just fucked it up and actually overdosed?) 

– The President of SWS, Hachiro Tanaka, has announced that he’s stepping down and naming Tenryu as the new company president, to hopefully give the promotion an actual wrestling mind behind the scenes.

– In FMW, they did an angle where Mr. Pogo lost his job with the promotion and went to WWC because he was so hard up for cash, but then got fired from that promotion and had to come crawling back to Onita to save his livelihood and put food on his table.  Onita took pity on him and re-hired him, thus turning Pogo into a babyface, and on his first night teaming with Onita he turned heel and spit fire in his face to go heel again and restart their crazy feud.  The next night after the FMW show, they did an angle in the hotel lobby where Onita stormed the building and attacked Pogo there, which got lots of attention.

– Dave got results from Memphis on 5/20 and was in shock that the card could even happen, because Eric Embry wasn’t there and of late he’s been in two or three matches per show.

– Bam Bam Bigelow will appear on an upcoming episode of Candid Camera.  Originally the producers approached WCW and they offered the Diamond Studd, but because he hadn’t debuted yet, there wasn’t any footage available to give the TV people and the deal fell through.  So they went to Herb Abrams instead, who was happy for the publicity.

– Eddie Gilbert and Cactus Jack tore the house down at Joel Goodhart’s latest Philly show, doing a barbed wire match that was a crazy no-contest and basically killed off the remainder of the show because no one could follow it.  The next show, on 8/3, will feature a 2/3 falls match between them with a first blood match, death match, and then cage match finale.  (THAT match was a legendary piece of business among tape traders for years afterwards, and led to the creation of ECW.) 

– Joe Pedicino is now shooting for June as a start date for the mysterious GWF, although his $25 million is looking increasingly unlikely to ever show up.  (Maybe he could try selling gold?) 

– Down in the Georgia All Star promotion, someone named “Van Hammer” debuted, who was described as having the looks of Sid Vicious with Lex Luger’s body.  Dave thinks that if he can show Ultimate Warrior’s stamina and El Gigante’s ringwork, he’ll be a force in this business!

– To the WWF, where Steve Keirn is definitely gonna be the Gator Man.

– “Hard Copy” is going to do an expose on Ultimate Warrior, accusing him of being a homosexual prostitute to make money before his wrestling career.  The WWF is just going to try to ignore it and hope it goes away.  (They actually contacted me for an interview after Dungeon of Death came out, looking for unknown dirt on the Benoit murders.  When I told them it wasn’t that kind of book, they pretty much ended the conversation right there.) 

– To WCW, where Masa Chono will be coming in to team with Hiro Hase against the Steiners at the November Clash.  (Well, no, as it turned out.) 

– Best guess is that the Steiners will be returning to Japan on 5/31 to drop the IWGP titles back to Sasaki & Hase, which Dave thinks is a little bit quick since they could be huge stars in Japan.

– Dave doesn’t have confirmation, but there’s a rumor that this Mark Merro fellow once knocked out Razor Ruddock when they were amateur boxers.

– And finally, there’s talk of using Dick Slater & Dick Murdoch under masks to challenge the Steiners.  Dave thinks they could be called “The Dicks”.

– Don’t be silly, those were the JOHNSONS.  Totally different thing.