Wrestling Observer Flashback–09.27.93

And now, the beginning of a grand tradition in wrestling:  Shawn Michaels weasels out of having to lose a title in the ring.  You know it’s bad news for the WWF when their troubles eclipse the dumpster fire that was Fall Brawl ‘93. 

– It’s TURMOIL in the WWF this week, as Shawn Michaels quit the promotion while still Intercontinental champion.  Current plan is to crown a new champion in some kind of 20 man tournament at the tapings on 09/27 in New Haven.

– Also, Doink and the Steiner Brothers were all removed from upcoming bookings.  In the case of Doink, it’s believed that no one will notice because Steve Lombardi is just going to take Matt Borne’s place on all the shows. Meanwhile, there appears to be some kind of suspension to Scott Steiner, which has resulted in the team being removed from all appearances until Survivor Series.  And of course they already lost the tag titles to the Quebecers on the 9/13 RAW, a decision that was apparently based on all the backstage stuff going on with the team.  It’s believed that after the Steiners honor their dates when the suspension is up, they’ll head back to New Japan and leave the WWF for good.

– Meanwhile, lucky fans at house shows will get the exciting tag title match of Quebecers defending against Bam Bam Bigelow and Adam Bomb for the time being.  (Big Bam Bomb?  Fire Bomb?) 

– Shawn’s departure marks the first time in the modern era that someone has left the company without dropping a title (although certainly not the last!) and the last time it happened, period, was Victor Rivera leaving for a rival promotion while half of the WWF tag team champions in 1975.  Shawn was reportedly upset about something with the promotion, and was gaining weight as a result to the point where he had a belly for the first time in his career.  (He was definitely on the pleasantly plump side around that point, which makes the steroid accusations that came later all the more suspect.) 

– Meanwhile, the issue from the Steiners was (as expected before they even signed) the fact that they could easily be making more money in Japan and just weren’t happy with what they were making in the WWF.  No one is really sure what their contract situation is, but best guess is that it expires in December, but it might run as long as December of 1994.  Either way, it’s believed that the WWF wouldn’t stand in their way if they went back to Japan, as long as they didn’t go to WCW.

– Time for FALL BRAWL!  But first, a much more dramatic fight than anything on the PPV, as WCW waged war with the NWA in court four days before the show.  The NWA was attempting to obtain a restraining order against WCW preventing them from advertising the Rude v. Flair match as any kind of “world heavyweight title match”.  WCW officially pulled out of the NWA on September 1, by the way.  So WCW agreed to the NWA’s terms, which were that they would approve the switch to Rick Rude as long as WCW agreed to have Rude drop the belt to a wrestler of the NWA’s choosing on an NWA show by 01/31.  And if Rude refused to do the job, WCW would have to pay $100,000 per day. 

– So then Rude pretty much told them that he wasn’t going to agree to that, which would mean WCW would be guaranteed to rack up hundreds of thousands in damages, and the deal changed.  WCW’s lawyers were all…

…and the NWA meekly agreed to a deal where pretty much everyone happened the way WCW originally intended, but the announcers on the PPV would have to read a disclaimer saying that WCW isn’t affiliated with the NWA in any way.  Everyone was agreed, done deal.

– Then, later in the morning, WCW decided to alter the deal anyway, and pretty much told the NWA to GFY, hiring a new lawyer who had previously won the lawsuit against the WWF for putting the NWA title on TV without permission. However, in a pretty shocking twist that was right out of the future playbook of Vince Russo, it turns out that the NWA forgot to read the fine print. This one will require a bit of explanation.

– OK, so in 1985 Flair paid the $28,000 to have the Big Gold Belt made (or so he claimed, let’s not revisit that again) and then quit the company in 1991 and took the belt with him, claiming that it was his property.  WCW/NWA teamed up to sue and Flair returned the belt in exchange for getting his $28,000 back, and WCW/NWA thus owned the title belt. At this point, the actual membership of the NWA was Seiji Sakaguchi of New Japan, and Bill Watts of WCW, so essentially they were the only two groups in control of the NWA and made all the decisions, legally speaking.  In October of 1992, Bill Watts drafted a letter to Sakaguchi that was said to be a bill of sale, stipulating that NWA President Sakaguchi was selling the physical NWA World title belt to WCW for the $28,000 that was paid to Flair. However, no one from the NWA had actually bothered to read that “bill of sale”, and suddenly in court the new lawyer revealed that in fact the “bill of sale” had not only sold the physical belt to WCW, but all intellectual property rights to the NWA name!  So the judge denied the restraining order, although WCW wasn’t going to use the NWA name on PPV anyway because why give them the free publicity at that point, ya know?

– Basically, the NWA can do a tournament and name whoever they want as champion, but in the minds of the fans, the real champion is still in WCW and the NWA is pretty much screwed now, credibility-wise.

– In another twist to the story, after Dave reported that Hawk and Ted Dibiase were the top names being considered for NWA champion last week, WCW immediately tried to sign both of them to screw with the NWA, and succeeded in getting Hawk to return. Dibiase quit negotiations midway through the week when he was told that his first match in the promotion would be a 30:00 draw with Dustin Rhodes at Halloween Havoc, at which point he was like…

– Oh hey, there was a PPV as well, and it was rubbish.  It looked terrible on paper and still managed to disappoint somehow.

– In the dark match, Erik Watts beat Bobby Eaton with the STF.

1. Lord Steven Regal won the TV title from Ricky Steamboat in 17:05. Mostly Regal working the ribs in a boring match that the crowd didn’t react to at all.  Dundee hit Steamboat with the umbrella and Regal pinned him to win the title.  *3/4 

2. Charlie Norris pinned Big Sky with a kick in 4:34.  When everyone in the promotion is a big guy, two more big guys are not special, and especially when Norris is trying to get over as a big guy and they match him up with someone 3 inches taller.  DUD

3. Scorpio & Bagwell beat the Equalizer & Paul Orndorff in 10:46 with a Scorpio splash. Equalizer killed the match single-handedly and then got pinned for the finish.  And then the heels laid out the babyfaces afterwards, which makes TOTAL sense given that the faces are challenging for the tag titles at Havoc.  *1/2

4. Ice Train pinned Shanghai Pierce at 3:27 with a powerslam. Ice Train is painfully not ready for this.  -*

5. Nasty Boys beat Roma & Anderson for the tag titles in 23:58, with new manager Missy Hyatt.  A fan stole the show with a sign that read “Hey Missy, did you buy them?” and Jesse Ventura legit cracked up for several minutes over that one.  Match was long and boring. No one likes Roma so getting heat on him is impossible. Nasties cheated to win and Roma once again looks pathetic in the position he has no business being in.  *1/4 

6. Cactus Jack pinned Yoshi Kwan in 3:38 with the DDT.  Kwan had already been ruined by TV jobs weeks before this match anyway.  3/4*

7. Rick Rude pinned Ric Flair to win the “World Heavyweight title” in 30:47. Rude is either still hurt from the back injury or just doesn’t care anymore.  And since he’s a heel who won’t bump anymore, that pretty much makes him useless.  And who decided to put them out there for 30:00?  Still ended up as the best match on the show, which isn’t saying much, but the first half was brutally bad.  Rude got the pin with a foreign object while in the figure-four.  **3/4

8. Sting & Dustin & Shockmaster & Davey Boy beat Sid & Harlem Heat & Vader in the Wargames in 16:39 when Kole submitted to a bearhug from Shockmaster.  Animal was in Sting’s corner for no reason other than WCW had advertised him as being in the match for weeks and didn’t want to look like they were false advertising.  Mostly standing around and easily the worst Wargames ever.  Davey Boy Smith screwed up the finish as well, as Shockmaster put Kole in the bearhug and Kain just stood there not saving him because Smith was supposed to tackle him, and never showed up.  *1/2

– On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tod Gordon’s upstart ECW put on a show with massive buzz on 9/18, with the largest attendance in the history of the company and rave reviews from everyone. During the show, Eddie Gilbert turned himself babyface, leaving the promotion and his booking position, to be replaced by Paul Heyman.  (Wonder how that’ll work out for them?) 

– Shinya Hashimoto won the IWGP title from Muto on 9/20 in Nagoya, since Muto is wrestling Hogan and doing the job pretty soon, and it makes no sense to have the champion eating the legdrop. 

– And now, a new feature I’d like to call…

– Ryuma Go (last seen running “Oriental Pro Wrestling”) is starting yet another promotion, using a combination of his own guys and Sandy Barr’s guys, called “Radio Pro Wrestling”, to be broadcast widely through Northern Japan.  

– Tatanka went through Memphis and won the USWA title from Lawler for a week, leading to a legendary Vince McMahon promo where he wore the belt under his suit while cutting a promo against Lawler.

– Bob Armstrong lost a loser-leaves-SMW-forever match to the mysterious Black Ninja (his own son Brian, in fact, although that won’t be revealed) in a major letdown of a “mystery opponent”, and will be doing the Bullet gimmick shortly.

– SMW starts on Channel America in October for those with C-band satellite dishes.  (I had one!  It was F------ AWESOME and only eclipsed by the WWE Network.  I could watch SMW, ECW, whatever b------- promotion in Texas, WWF, WCW, the Fox superhero cartoons, reporters picking their nose…you name it.) 

– Speaking of b------- promotions in Texas, GWF drew about 238 paid, with 750 in the building, for their latest show.  This would seem to be an improvement over drawing 70 paid with 1500 freebies in the building, but in fact they lost money because 1500 people paying for parking and concessions makes more money than 230 paying for their seats. 

– John Hawk got the insensitivity award of the week, with a promo where he said “The Freebirds are gone and all the Von Erichs are dead, so I’m taking over.”  Kerry’s daughters were actually at the show backstage.  (Hey, JBL saying something stupid, what a shock.) 

– John Studd is training a former basketball star named Ron Reis, who is a legit 7’2”. 

– The episode of RAW with the tag title change actually did a 1.8, by far the lowest in the history of the show.  (Man, was Roman Reigns in the main event?) 

– Crush is doing subtle hints of returning from his ankle injury as a heel.

– Sgt. Slaughter was fired as road agent to save money.

– Madusa is negotiating to come in and feud with Luna Vachon in November.

– Johnny Gunn might also be coming in around the same time.

– And finally, with Ted Turner buying New Line Cinemas (the movie company that Hulk Hogan is signed to), Turner is now technically Hogan’s employer!  What a crazy thought THAT is.