Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.03.94
Guys, this Hogan-Flair feud is getting serious now! CAREERS ARE ON THE LINE!
What’s so funny?
– In a move that Dave describes as “stunning”, WCW has added a stipulation to the Hogan v. Flair main event at Halloween Havoc where Flair will retire if he loses, and since Hogan isn’t losing, you can do the math here. The decision to retire Flair was made on 9/25, and Flair wasn’t told about it until the next day.
– However, let’s bury the bigger story that came from those TV tapings: Hulk Hogan gave Dave Sullivan the VERY BOOTS that he wore when he slammed that 700 pound nasty stinky wart-infested Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, probably still damp from the sweat of terror that Hogan experienced when he realized Andre might not do business with him, brother, since he was just going to die the next day anyway. Brother.
– Speaking of Brother, Hogan added “Brother Bruti” to his entourage in an effort to fight off the evil masked man, since Titan Sports owns the trademark to the Brutus Beefcake name and is unwilling to let him have it back. (Wait a minute, Beefcake and the masked man were in the same place at the same time…?)
– The career v. career stipulation is an attempt by WCW to draw their biggest PPV buyrate ever, with the drama of that added to Muhammad Ali’s involvement in some form, and they began distributing hype to the media as of 9/26.
– The belief from those on top is that no one believed Hogan was losing anyway, so retiring Flair at least adds some intrigue to the match. It’s noteworthy that this decision making process did not include asking Flair, who in fact is the booker and probably should have had input.
– Although quite a few people actively want Flair out of the company, there’s no solid word as to which was the one who actually pulled the trigger on his “retirement”.
– This whole thing was pretty much made at the last minute, despite a monster advance in Detroit, because all the advertising for house shows after Havoc still had Hogan v. Flair on top, which will likely become Hogan v. Vader instead. The feeling was that since Flair is still booker, he’d never step down into a mid-card role and would have to be programmed against Hogan or Sting at Starrcade. Plus having Flair around means people are going to continue booing Hogan. (You have to love that logic. Also, SO GLAD that they got Flair away from Starrcade so we could have that Hogan-Beefcake barnburner in the main event instead.)
– For his part, Flair has sworn that once he retires, that’s it, and he’s not coming back. Hogan requested a shift back to his familiar booking pattern of building up a big fat monster heel and then dispatching him over and over.
– Flair was also offered a spot as a manager, which he declined, although Steve Austin will be getting a big makeover and get a monster push to the top in Flair’s spot. (Oh yeah. Totally. What could go wrong?)
– The chance is always there that this is just an elaborate work and Hogan will lose and come back under a mask, but it’s a pretty slim chance.
– Jushin Liger suffered a freak accident in the ring on 9/24 and broke his left leg badly, and he’s out for the time being, likely six months to one year. The IWGP Junior title would be put up for grabs in a one-night tournament, which ended with Norio Honaga getting a surprise win over Chris Benoit in the finals to capture the belt.
– And now, the news item that we’ve all been waiting for since 1993 but didn’t think the day would actually come…
– Yes, the walking embarrassment to wrestling that was the Global Wrestling Federation finally breathed its last this week, as Grey Pierson was 13 weeks behind in paying rent to the Sportatorium and the group was evicted once and for all on 9/21. Pierson is claiming that he’s got backers in Kuwait who are going to finance him purchasing the building. (HAHAHA, who would ever believe Middle Eastern oil barons would ever in a million years give a crap about financing a wrestling company…
– Jim Crockett is currently expressing interest in running weekly shows at the Sportatorium, and people around the area are thinking he’s just prepping to lose huge chunks of money on a weekly basis.
– The tapes of GWF are owned by Pierson’s production company, and they won’t be released back to him unless he pays the $4000 that is owed to the company by GWF. (Man, when you’re in debt to your own company, you’re a deadbeat.)
– Speaking of things coming to an end, Jesse Ventura was officially fired by WCW with five months left on his contract, and removed from all future television appearances. Jesse got “Wally Pipped” out of his job, referring to Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp, who suffered a minor injury that kept him out of a few games in the 1920s, and resulted in a young replacement named Lou Gehrig taking over his position. In Jesse’s case, he went on a vacation to Hawaii for a week and Bobby Heenan came into the company and took his spot while he was gone.
– Jesse’s situation within the company got worse as Heenan’s stock rose. He had been told by the higher-ups that he would be part of a three-man announce team for PPVs, but then it suddenly became Tony and Bobby calling the entire show by themselves and Jesse getting one token match to call. By the time he got to Bash at the Beach, Jesse could barely be bothered to interact with Tony on air, giving one-word answers. Finally the company decided to just replace him on World Wide with Heenan, ending his employment, although he’ll still be paid full salary until 03/95.
– To All Japan, where Dave finally got to see the full Williams v. Kobashi match from 9/3 TV and gave it ****3/4. Next up for Dr. Death is defending the Triple Crown against Kawada on 10/22 at Budokan.
– It’s been announced that Inoki will indeed face George Foreman in North Korea on 04/15/95. He’s also planning on facing Hogan at the Tokyo Dome in January, and maybe Flair as well before he retires. (Well, he’ll have to hurry up…)
– What’s more extreme than a no rope electrified explosive double-hell death match? How about one held in a POOL?
– That’s right, FMW upped their explosive death match game once again, staging a match on top of a pool where every time someone fell out of the ring and into the pool, something EXPLODED. Of course, Onita won.
– Also on the EXTREME POOL SHOW, Yukihiro Kanemura teamed up with Mr. Pogo and a couple of others to form the W*ING Army, apparently fighting to prove that W*ING is still awesome. (Don’t worry, I’m sure Kanemura will get this out of his system any DAY now…)
– Speaking of this sort of thing, time for a feature that we haven’t seen in a while…
– OK, so WAR appears to be splitting up again, with Takashi Ishikawa working there without a contract for the past few months and finally deciding to just leave and apparently take some of the wrestlers with him to start a new promotion. Tenryu’s brother-in-law has been President of the promotion for a while and personality conflicts between him and Ishikawa led to the split, in addition to Ashura Hara retiring earlier in the year because he couldn’t get along with the President either. (This all apparently led to the formation of Tokyo Pro Wrestling, which was a complete footnote and died a few years later.)
– To Memphis, where in fact Jerry Lawler LOST his final shot at the Unified World title, getting disqualified against Sid Vicious for throwing fire. Gate receipts have been hugely disappointing for the feud, in fact, which may have led to them keeping the belt on Sid.
– Jim Ross officially starts with SMW, as predicted, on the 10/3 TV tapings. He’ll also head up a 900 line for them. He’s also negotiating to call the December UFC PPV.
– Add Mark Madden to the list of people abused by Jim Cornette via voice mail.
– Cactus Jack should also be coming in for the Thanksgiving show. (Oh man, AWESOMENESS incoming soon! I’m anxiously awaiting Dave’s reaction to Mick’s poetry reading.)
– ECW started touring out of state with shows in Florida on 9/23 and 9/24. They did decent numbers with about 600 people in Ocala, “but at some point you’d think profit has to enter into the equation.” (Tell that to Paul Heyman’s creditors.) Ron Simmons worked the shows and put over Sabu both nights, although he got his mouth busted up by Sabu’s ass on a table spot as a reward.
– Hey, guess who’s back? That’s right, it’s time for…
– Yes, Herb returned to promoting shows for reasons known only to him, with BLACKJACK BRAWL on 9/23 in Vegas. Although the arena holds 17,000, there were only 228 in the building. This despite Steve Williams appearing on the Tonight Show with the UWF title belt and hinting that he’d be facing “The Hulkster” on this show. (Spoiler: He didn’t.) The show brought new meaning to the word “fiasco”, with every match billed as a title match and no finishes to speak of. Highlight was Cactus Jack and Jimmy Snuka battling to a double countout in a lumberjack match. (Man, I feel like Dave really short-changed how awful this show was. I’m pretty disappointed in him.)
– WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Elizabeth is working in a Florida department store, but she looks different and never gets recognized.
– The UFC is rumored to have offered Meng a spot in the next tournament, with WCW agreeing to give him two months to prepare if he wants to take them up on it.
– Terry Funk seemingly quit WCW on 9/26, sending a fax to the office saying that he couldn’t continue to work for them under the current money deal. Most are assuming that means he quit, but it’s Funk, so who knows.
– Patriot & Bagwell won the tag titles from Pretty Wonderful at the Center Stage tapings on 9/25 in a ** match.
– WCW is claiming that the reason they advertised Steamboat for the PPV is that they didn’t actually know until two days before that his career might be over, since he was working house shows and all.
– WCW ran a TV taping in Knoxville on 9/26, filling the building with 4500 freebies, with the ongoing theory being that they did it just to fuck with Jim Cornette as revenge for the Ole Anderson thing.
– The renewal of “Thunder In Paradise” announced a couple of weeks back was suddenly cut down to a 10 episode order last week, and now has been cut to a zero episode order. Hogan is still trying to find a way to make a second season happen, but it appears to be dead.
– WCW started promotion of the AAA show over the weekend, and as expected put together a masterful lesson in how to make sure absolutely no one buys the show.
– There’s no resolution to the legal squabble between ECW and WCW over the When Worlds Collide name, but there’s another added wrinkle now as well because apparently there’s heat between Tod Gordon and AAA’s Ron Skoler for reasons that Dave isn’t entirely clear about. In fact, Skoler pitched the idea of sending Konnan, Eddie and Love Machine to ECW to feud with some of their guys, and Gordon shot it down completely. (Guess we’ll never see Eddie Guerrero in ECW! Jesus, can you imagine Art Barr & Eddie Guerrero running wild in ECW as a tag team, though? Apparently almost happened!)
– To the WWF, where Samu no-showed over the weekend with no explanation, so the NEW HEADSHRINKERS were born and are now Fatu & Barbarian, aka Sionne.
– And finally, Dave attended a WWF house show in San Jose on 9/22 and with 3200 people in a 20,000 seat arena, it was like attending a funeral. Shawn Michaels was the only highlight of the show, which was capped off by a terrible Bret Hart v. Jim Neidhart title match where Bret did nothing to make Anvil look any good. Many people Dave spoke to said that Bret had “some nerve” talking about Flair’s performances the way he did after watching that trainwreck. (Oh great, now we’re gonna get a letter from “B. Hart” in the letters page next week, I bet.)