Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.10.94
Apparently it’s been a month since I’ve done one of these. But there’s just been so much good stuff on the WWE Network to review!
Anyway, the Ric Flair “retirement” is looming and Dave is feeling melancholy about it, so let’s jump right in…
– WCW shot a creative angle to add to the Flair retirement match against Hogan, by “finding” a fan camera where Flair was seen meeting with guest referee Mr. T on a street corner. Basically no one believes Flair has any chance of winning, so this is their way of casting doubt in the minds of fans. Depending on how they follow it up, it might be an effective angle. (Given they didn’t follow it up at all and it was basically never mentioned again, it wasn’t that effective.)
– In reality, most people are just waiting to see what screwjob they come up with in order to get out of the retirement stipulation. Regardless, the advance is a huge $100,000 and it should easily break the money record set by the 89 Bash. (In fact, although it did strong business at the box office, the buyrate was a disappointment, actually dropping from the Bash’s 1.0 to 0.97, whereas WCW was counting on an increase to 1.5 or so.)
– On the bright side, Dave notes, no one seriously believes that WCW won’t call Flair “out of the bullpen” in 1995 out of desperation, even though Flair is absolutely insisting that Havoc is his last match.
– Dave talks about Flair’s place in the company’s history and how he’s still, at worst, the third-biggest star in the company and why they’re so stupid to be removing that piece from the game board for no reason. Let’s say Flair sits out an entire year (BWAHAHAHAHA!), when he returns he’ll mean a lot less because the retirement and return deal is really a career-limiting move in wrestling, although not necessarily the end. And let’s say his value as a high level wrestler is $300,000 per year on the conservative side, plus another $150,000 per year as booker: That means they somehow need to find a way to make up nearly $500,000 a year in star power. (Hey, there’s always Brutus Beefcake.) Not to mention that with Ricky Steamboat done for good, you need someone to carry the house shows as well. Basically what all this means is that in order to justify the Flair retirement angle, he would need to return next year and do a ridiculous 300,000 buys on his return PPV show, or roughly 30% higher than their biggest buyrate in history. (Or, and try to follow along with me here, they could bring him back with no advertising and have him lose to Hogan again in a match he’s not even involved with, this time while wearing a dress. THEY’LL MAKE MILLIONS!)
– So let’s recap where WCW stands five months into the Hogan Experiment. Cable ratings are down. Syndicated ratings are in the toilet. The first Clash he appeared on did a bad number, but the second one was the biggest Clash in company history. His PPV match with Flair was the biggest buyrate in company history. However, while he may have gotten the fanbase excited to see that one specific Flair match, he hasn’t brought any of the mythical casual fans that WCW was counting on. House shows are up, but they’re running a lot less of them, and Flair is the one headlining those, not Hulk.
– Speaking of house shows, all the Hogan/Flair shows after Havoc have been changed to Hogan/Vader, which brings up a political kettle of fish. Since Vader is the UWFI champion, and they’d be unhappy about their champion jobbing to someone else’s champion, Vader won’t be doing any jobs to Hogan. Vader might actually be trying to get WCW to buy out his UWFI contract and bring him in full-time to make the big Hogan money. And if WCW handles it correctly, (BWAHAHAHAHAH!) then Hogan v. Vader could be a big money match.
– The main event of Survivor Series 94 will be Bret Hart v. Bob Backlund in a “New Generation v. Old Generation” showdown, although after the first tryout match between them on 9/26 flopped badly, Dave guesses they must have a lot of faith in their own promotional abilities to try it on PPV. (And they did!)
– Also, Wrestlemania XI is booked for 04/02 in Hartford. “I guess Utica and Poughkeepsie were already booked on that date,” notes Dave.
– With the GWF dead and buried, Jim Crockett is expected to sign a 10 year lease on the Sportatorium and run shows there starting 10/28. He’ll likely use a lot of the same guys that Gray Pierson lost his shirt using, with Tully Blanchard as top star. (Nothing says hip and with it like Tully Blanchard as your top star in 1994!) It’ll likely be under the NWA banner.
– To All Japan, where Steve Williams and Toshiaki Kawada are doing a deal where they’re “shooting” on various opponents to build up the match with each other, because they’re so out of control and dangerous.
– To New Japan, where Power Warrior will likely revert to Kensuke Sasaki because Hawk is going to reunite with Animal as the Road Warriors early in 1995.
– Speaking of Hawk, Masa Chono was supposed to turn heel and go over a bunch of people strongly, leading to a challenge of IWGP champ Shinya Hashimoto where he’d lose. So he beat a few people on the tour, and then Hawk refused to put over the STF and instead would only agree to losing to a fluke rollup. And then when the match happened, he immediately kicked out at three and attacked Chono to get his heat back, basically going off-script. At least it wasn’t as bad as Scott Norton, who refused to lose, period, and they had to do a DQ finish instead to get him to put Chono over.
– FMW began a new angle where Kanemura and a bunch of former W*ING guys have “left the company” to form the W*ING Alliance, which will run their own shows. In reality, it’s just an angle and they’ll be headlining in 10-man tags against FMW stars on all the FMW shows.
– WAR is said to be in dire financial straits and unlikely to survive 1995, which is why they switched Presidents a couple of weeks back in what turned out to be a shoot. Japanese bankruptcy law says that you can’t start a new business for a long period of time after declaring bankruptcy, so this way Tenryu can find new backers and start a new business under his own name should the worst occur.
– Even though Lawler v. Vicious didn’t draw in Memphis itself, once the program got to Nashville they doubled the usual house, even with no TV building it airing there.
– Jim Cornette’s impending trial for smashing in the car window has been continued to February, and there’s a lot of pressure on KC O’Connor (the alleged victim) to just drop the charges and settle out of court.
– SMW also ran an angle where the Gangstas had an SMW tag title win over the Rock N Roll Express overturned in a Dusty Finish, so they went to an unnamed legal organization that was definitely not the ACLU and pressured the front office into awarding them the belts.
– For those wondering, the mystery commissioner who was never revealed was intended to be Bill Watts, but he disappeared somewhere in Australia and Cornette was never able to get a hold of him again, so he just never paid off the angle because he couldn’t find anyone else worthy. Bob Armstrong will take over the role after the next tapings to kill the storyline once and for all.
– Dave runs down the TV tapings, and Cactus Jack of course gets the best line of the next month of TV. It was set up by Tammy Fytch using Boo Bradley’s cat Boots to control him, by threatening to hurt the cat if Boo didn’t do as he was told. Cactus sums up the angle thusly: “This isn’t the first time a little pussy has messed up a man’s mind!”
– ECW held a typical hot show at the ECW Arena on 10/1, and the Benoit-Sabu match had a bit of fortunate (sort of) coincidence. The finish was Sabu getting beat up to the point of coughing up blood to cause a ref stoppage, but as it turns out, he was working a match with Cactus Jack at the Hamburg TV tapings the night before and suffered several cracked ribs after accidentally moonsaulting the railing. So he didn’t even need to fake internal injuries!
– They also did a major angle with Tommy Dreamer accidentally burning Sandman in the eye with his own cigarette, which everyone from ECW is now saying resulted in a legitimate eye injury. Dave doesn’t know for sure one way or the other.
– Turns out that Ron Simmons working the Florida swing for ECW had nothing to do with any settlement with WCW, he just wanted to work it. And then he no-showed the next set of tapings anyway.
– Turns out that Curt Hennig was backstage at the Herb Abrams “Blackjack Brawl” fiasco in Vegas and was scheduled to do an interview, but even Herb was coherent enough to realize that he’d get sued into the stone age by the WWF if he actually put him on TV.
– Johnny Polo is back working indies as Scotty Flamingo.
– To WCW, where Jean Paul Levesque debuted his new character at the Center Stage tapings on 9/28, wearing a “Louis XIV” outfit.
– Steve Regal did a bunch of jobs because he’s leaving right away.
– Warlord, Sgt. Slaughter and Tito Santana were all backstage looking for work, and Warlord assured everyone that he’s been off steroids for 18 months.
– As far as the Steiners and Road Warriors go, the Steiners are available as of 12/15 but WCW isn’t interested at their price. The Warriors, however, are a definite maybe.
– WCW is going to run some kind of “cruiserweight” tournament in order to give Brian Pillman another push, with more Japanese and Mexican wrestlers being brought in for him to face. (Like THAT would ever work!)
– The AAA/WCW PPV won’t run in Canada because cable companies there don’t feel there’s any interest. (I don’t think it did air up here, come to think of it.)
– Craig Pittman from WCW will be entering UFC 3, because WCW wants a mole so they can find out what’s what. He’ll be getting $60,000 from WCW plus whatever prize money he can win. Meng was offered the spot first but turned it down.
– The latest WWF tapings were basically the Bob Backlund Show, including an angle with Arnold Skaaland and squashing Bob Holly with the chicken wing.
– RUMOR KILLERS: Ultimate Warrior is not returning. Sid Vicious is not returning…yet.
– And finally, Oscar was off the road and appears to be gone, so Mabel has to do his own rapping from now on. “Does anyone miss him?” wonders Dave. (I’m assuming that’s a rhetorical question.)