Wrestling Observer Flashback – 09.12.94
Thankfully this week is a bit calmer, although there’s always the stupidity of the NWA to depend on. And sadly, we do lead off with the death of a legend…
– Leading off is the death of “The Great” Boris Malenko, father of Joe and Dean. Dave relates the story of a famous angle from Florida in 1966, where Malenko was wrestling Sammy Steamboat (no relation) on TV, and began biting his ear and drawing blood! Promoter Eddie Graham came out to stop the vicious attack, and punched Malenko in the mouth, causing his false teeth to fly out of his mouth, at which point Graham stomped and smashed them to pieces.
– So yeah, Boris Malenko (real name Larry Simon) died from leukemia on 9/1, at the age of 61. He trained Johnny B. Badd, Sean Waltman, Paul Diamond, and a host of others. Most prominently, he’s credited with getting Ricky Steamboat ready to debut at the final stages of his training.
– Anyway, the false teeth angle set the promotion on fire in the 60s, doing such big business that they actually stayed open during the summer because of it, which was unheard of at the time.
– Vince Sr. actually gave Simon the “Boris Malenko” name when he was in the WWWF in the early 60s, although he never actually used it in that territory, leaving for the southern territories before actually adopting the name.
– No word at the moment on the Summerslam buyrate, other than “lower than 93’s show”. On the bright side, they made a shitload of money on the gate, a record $488,000 thanks to $200 ringside seats and 20,000 paid.
– WCW and AAA have announced the lineup for the “When Worlds Collide” PPV show on 11/6, with all 2/3 falls matches. The main event will be Konnan v. Perro Aguayo in a cage match and El Hijo del Santo v. Eddy Guerrero in a hair v. hair match.
– WCW, meanwhile, were supposed to be doing vignettes on TV explaining who the AAA guys were and how lucha libre works, and then they apparently changed their mind and were like “Nah, people can figure it out.” Plus they didn’t want to compete with their own Halloween Havoc show.
– Speaking of competition, remember that supposed WCW show in Madison Square Garden in November with Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair on top? Well, once Vince McMahon heard about that, he was like…
– Well, actually, what happened in that they miraculously produced a contract that said they had right of first refusal for all dates in MSG, so the Garden dropped WCW and gave the date to the WWF instead.
(Man, just think of how history would have been changed had we been robbed of Diesel’s coronation as champion that night?…)
(Horrible to even contemplate, I know. Truly the darkest timeline.)
– WCW, meanwhile, is threatening a lawsuit (just like they have for decades without ever growing a pair) and/or running the Meadowlands as competition on the same night since Hogan had already agreed to work a date that weekend anyway.
– Speaking of WCW, they’ve pulled Starrcade out of the planned location in San Antonio because it’s too soon after Survivor Series in the same building. Most likely it’ll move to Nashville, because WCW wanted Charlotte but Hogan would refuse to work there because of the booing and Flair fans.
– Hey, what’s a week in 1994 without an update on the NWA/ECW situation? ECW changed the name of the promotion to Extreme Championship Wrestling on the 8/30 TV show, and Shane Douglas will be the ECW World champion now. The NWA, in a move that will surely cripple ECW for years to come, has declared the tournament NULL AND VOID and in fact will no longer recognize Shane Douglas as a former NWA World champion, SO THERE.
– Moving on…oh wait, we’re not done yet, it apparently gets stranger.
– So Douglas and Paul Heyman were doing John Arezzi’s radio show, and Shane was on first, and took sole credit for throwing down the belt that night, stating that it was his idea alone and it just came to him spontaneously while he was in the ring. After Shane left the show, Heyman was interviewed by Arezzi, and he said that it was all HIS idea and it was all planned well in advance. Arezzi then booked Dennis Coraluzzo the next day, and his version is that both guys are liars, and since they had contradictory stories obviously one or both of them fit that description. (Spoiler: Shane was specifically the liar in this case, but both of them are liars in general, I suppose.)
– Tod Gordon, meanwhile, claims that Jim Crockett asked him to do the tournament, with the understanding that Shane would win it and then drop it to Crockett’s chosen guy (Benoit). But then Crockett started talking about how the ECW champion would be a stepping stone to the big belt, like the old Mid-Atlantic championship, and that pissed Tod off, and then he learned that Crockett didn’t actually have NWA approval to run the tournament in the first place.
– Coraluzzo’s story is that he made the deal with Gordon to have Benoit win the title tournament, but then shortly before the show Gordon informed him that Douglas was winning instead, and then would drop it to Benoit at the tapings the next afternoon. At this point Dennis just knew deep down that a double-cross was coming, but he “wanted to be a team player” under the advice of NWA attorney Bob Trobich. (I mean, I don’t KNOW Bob Trobich, but I’m thinking that I wouldn’t even let him advise me which brand of toilet paper to buy after reading all this.)
– In fact, the real truth is that Paul Heyman was the mastermind all along, and had it all planned for weeks before the tournament was even announced.
– And now, to Mexico for another…
– Dos Caras’ 18-year-old son, who is apparently 6’2” and 230 pounds, will debut shortly and hopefully revive the nearly-dead UWA promotion as a part of a trio with his father and uncle Mil Mascaras. (Unfortunately, he instead chose to pursue amateur wrestling in college and nearly made the Olympic team in 2000, but you could say that pro wrestling was his DESTINY because he’d return eventually…)
– Steve Williams retained his Triple Crown over Kenta Kobashi on 9/3 with a backdrop driver after 41:23 in what was said to be a hell of a deal. Baba was raving about this Kobashi guy afterwards at the press conference, saying that in a few years he’d be champ and regularly beat guys like Williams and Misawa. (I wouldn’t say REGULARLY…but he was mostly correct. Also, I thought Dave gave this one *****, but I checked and it looks like it was their match from 93 instead.)
– Pancrase ran a show on 9/1 in Osaka, with a Funaki v. Shamrock main event that went 2:30 and ended with Shamrock going down to a choke sleeper, which tells Dave that the results are PREDETERMINED.
– Current theory is that Shamrock is saving himself for the next UFC show, because he’s headlining against Gracie and wanted to rest up.
– As expected, Gedo & Jado & Fuyuki regained the WAR six-man titles from the awesome trio of Bob Backlund, Warlord & Scott Putski on 9/1, with Backlund doing the WWF angle where he snaps and puts the chicken wing on Fuyuki after the match and won’t let go. (Say what you will, but Bob was INTO the character.)
– To Memphis, where the Sid v. Lawler title match finally took place after weeks of teasing, on 9/4, with Sid retaining the title with the help of Spellbinder. Then Lawler challenged him to an immediate rematch and pinned him in a non-title match. Crowds are now back down to normal levels again.
– Tommy Rich & Buddy Landel are claiming that they are on strike just like the baseball players. (Baseball players don’t typically no-show every other game, though.)
– In SMW, they’re building up a new mystery commissioner, which is due to the fact that Jim Cornette hasn’t yet come up with who the commissioner is going to be.
– Ole Anderson’s son Brian is headed into the territory, likely doing an Ole Jr. gimmick. (He ended up being a total washout, sadly.)
– OH SNAP, IT’S AN UNPRECEDENTED DOUBLE UNDERSTATED DEBUT ISSUE!
– Dave notes that a Larry Sharpe trainee named “A.C. Connor” debuted in a dark match and looked good. (At this point I’m like “Wait, where have I heard that name before…” and of course it’s D-LO BROWN.)
– SMW TV had an interview with a fan where they asked him who his favorite wrestler was, and he said Terry Funk, and no one even edited it out! This kind of blows Dave’s mind, because he’s reminded of a similar deal from WCW in 1992 where they asked a fan who his favorite wrestler was and he said “Jushin Liger”, who was the Lightheavyweight champion at the time, at which point they told the kid to redo the interview and say “Sting” instead.
– After all the panic and blame for the Johnson City haircut fiasco with Ricky Morton and Chris Candido, they returned there this week and drew the usual 500 fans, so no big whoop.
– To ECW, where people have been raving about the 8/30 TV show, which had the tournament rundown and Shane’s big interview. Dave notes that Shane is up there with Jake Roberts and Ric Flair as the best interviewers in the business at the moment. (Boy did THAT moment pass.)
– ECW’s talent exchange with WCW is over and done with due to WCW having a hissy fit about ECW running a show in Florida, which is “their” territory.
– The Freebirds turned heel at the 9/2 GWF show in Dallas, as Michael Hayes made a deal with Grey Pierson where he gets to book his own angles, but Grey gets to book all of his own ridiculous bullshit on the rest of the card. (We’re now into the death throes of the promotion, FINALLY, as it wraps up for good by the end of the month.)
– The Hulk Hogan European tour for WCW has been a major bomb thus far, drawing a decent 6000 in Switzerland for his usual beating of Ric Flair, but then 2000 per night all through England.
– Speaking of Flair, there’s heat on him from Hogan because he shot his own angle at the Clash by stealing the belt. YOU DON’T STEAL HOGAN’S THUNDER, BROTHER.
– Alex Wright debuted on TV and immediately impressed people with his “Das Wunderkind” gimmick. He’s already got his father, Stephen Wright, beat in the hair department as well.
– To the WWF, where Michigan wrestler Kodiak did a dark match while wearing what was described as a “bear costume”. (THE COMING OF MANTAUR.)
– Davey Boy Smith and King Kong Bundy both officially debuted at the Challenge tapings on 8/30 as well. 1-2-3 Kid and Sparky Plugg are now working as a tag team for whatever reason. (Yeah, like that’ll go anywhere!)
– Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz also debuted and actually won a match with a superplex, so the strike is FINISHED.
– A cable company in Maine accidentally aired a porno in place of Summerslam on 8/29, which naturally resulted in tons of complaints. Dave is amused that one caller said that his kids watched the movie for 15 minutes before they realized it wasn’t the WWF, and he’s not sure if that means they need to be watching more or less wrestling. (Perhaps it’s the secret origin of Val Venis?)
– Johnny Polo has quit the WWF after spending the past few months working in the office doing production stuff. He wants to wrestle again and they don’t want him in that role, so he’ll likely go back to the indies as Scotty the Body. (Or…maybe something different.)
– For those keeping track, Radio WWF was officially cancelled on 8/17.
– WWF is claiming that King of the Ring beat Bash at the Beach with a 1.3 buyrate compared to a 0.9 buyrate, despite all evidence and industry claims to the contrary. (For those wondering about the actual numbers, King of the Ring did 185,000 buys and Bash at the Beach did 225,000. So there you go.)
– And finally, apparently the Bret v. Owen cage match went longer than expected, so the Undertaker v. Undertaker match was cut down from 15:00 to 8:00 and that’s why it was so god-awful. (Yeah, THAT’S why.) Brian Lee is scheduled to meet Vince this week and find out what his new gimmick is. (I picture Lee patiently waiting outside Titan Towers for that “meeting” like Seymour the dog in Futurama…oh man…now there’s something in my eye…I GOTTA GO, OK?…)