Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.24.94
Only one week left to go before the wrestling world loses either Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair!
But first, another, totally real and legit, retirement. Honest.
But first but first, a quick note from Dave demonstrating the thin state of the wrestling talent pool internationally, as Jungle Jim Steele debuts for All Japan next month. (Little did Dave know that Steele would actually gain semi-respectable status as Wolf Hawkfield!)
– Anyway, onto the promised retirement, as the Rougeau wrestling dynasty comes to an end once and for all on 10/21 when Jacques Rougeau retires after a match with Pierre at the Montreal Forum. The show will feature a bevy of local Quebec wrestling celebs, like Edouardo Carpentier. In fact, what is basically a glorified WWF house show will actually destroy the money being made by Halloween Havoc’s live gate, which is very telling as to which company is by far the most popular.
– Pretty much this is a sign pointing to how badly WCW has blown the Flair retirement. They could have milked his “last ever” house show tour for months and probably sold out shows all over the Carolinas, but instead they did basically nothing. On the flip side, no one is particularly paying attention to the TV shows anyway.
– The decision to retire Flair ultimately came down to WCW being under pressure from corporate to draw a huge buyrate and justify the Hogan signing. Yeah, there’s politics and stuff involved, but the main reason is that they just came up with the retirement angle as the biggest potential storyline they could run to pop a number.
– For his part, Flair is insisting that after he retires, he’s done. Finished. Never coming back. Ironically, this was never WCW’s intention, as the whole thing was designed from the start as a way to have him leave for 6 months and then return triumphantly as Hulk Hogan’s tag team partner to hopefully pop an even bigger number.
– OK, moving back to the All Japan tag team tournament, and it’s pretty much a three-team race, which is why goofs like Jungle Jim Steele are getting employment to shore up the ranks. It’s gonna be Williams & Ace, Misawa & Kobashi or Kawada & Taue and no one else has any legit shot.
– Back to the WCW braintrust, as Curt Hennig is now definitely out as the mystery man. WCW was said to have offered him a yearly deal and Curt countered at $400,000 for one year and that was too much for WCW to pay. (Now there’s a phrase you don’t read every day.)
– This week in Because WCW, advertisements were sent out a week ago to all the major cable companies, listing the main event of Starrcade: Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair. (Would have been way better than what we got.)
– Hulk and Flair did their “final” tour of house shows across the US this past week, with decidedly lukewarm success. Granted, the shows did much better than the typical WCW house shows, but nowhere near what WWF does for an average Oakland house show, for example.
– Dave actually attended houses from WCW, WWF and AAA that weekend, and AAA was so far ahead that it was no comparison. The WWF was “like a funeral”, getting deader as the night went on, and the WCW show featured an audience that barely knew any of the characters because no watches the TV shows. However, the ex-WWF guys got big reactions, which tells you what shows they DO watch.
– Meanwhile, even in a big casual market, Hogan was still getting mostly boos, which might become a problem because everything in WCW is built around him at the moment and people don’t know or care about anything else on the shows.
– Dave’s rundown on the WCW show in Oakland, which featured a busted sound system and entrance themes being played on a boom box via cassette tape (no, really):
1. Johnny B. Badd pinned Jean-Paul Levesque with a sunset flip in 13:22 to retain the TV title. Levesque has “obvious star potential”. *1/2
2. Honkytonk Man pinned Brian Pillman in 7:36 after a missed crossbody. A travesty. DUD
3. Sting pinned Steven Regal in 7:35. Best match on the show. **3/4
4. Dustin Rhodes & The Nasty Boys beat Arn Anderson & Bunkhouse Buck & Col. Parker. Terry Funk was supposed to be there, but had “transportation problems”, which was actually a Chevy commercial. Rhodes pinned Parker for the win. **
5. Kevin Sullivan and Dave Sullivan went to a double countout in 7:22. No one got the Evad gimmick, which shows no one is watching the TV. Dave was awful, and the finish saw Kevin putting on a Hogan bandana so that Dave wouldn’t hit him. Lame finish. -*1/2
6. Jim Duggan beat Steve Austin by DQ to retain the US title in 16:21. Way too long and terrible, but it had a lot of heat. Austin hit him with a foreign object to win the title, but the ref reversed it. ½*
7. The Patriot & Marcus Bagwell beat Pretty Wonderful to retain the tag titles in 22:47. Worst match Dave has seen all year, almost like they were ordered to go out and bore the audience as much as humanly possible. Bagwell sold the whole way, no one cared. They did the double-reverse of the cradle behind the ref’s back to put Patriot on top of Roma for the finish. -**1/2
8. Hulk Hogan pinned Ric Flair with the big boot and legdrop in 17:53. Exact same match they had in 1991 in the same building. All action, but not that heated and they were off on their spots a lot. Steve Keirn was playing the mystery man this week and got beat up by Hulk to end the show. **1/2
– Warlord is doing a show for UWA in Mexico with a bunch of luchadors, and Dave can only imagine what THAT is gonna be like.
– Dave has figured out why the junior heavyweight division in New Japan is so hot in comparison to the heavyweights at the moment: The tag team tournament was supposed to feature Ron Simmons & Barbarian as a top foreign team, but now Nailz will be taking Barbarian’s place. Mystery solved.
– UWFI continues making grandstand challenges to the Gracies, with the next victim of their trash-talking revealed as Rickson Gracie. They’re challenging him to face Takada at Budokan Hall on 11/30. It was supposed to be Koji Kitao in the spot against Takada, but WAR stole him away for 12/4.
– To Memphis, where the Sid Vicious v. Undertaker title match actually popped a crowd, and ended with Sid getting disqualified due to Spellbinder interference. Jerry Lawler went on TV and told the fans that were the only city in the country lucky enough to see a Sid v. Undertaker match. Dave says “insert your own joke here”. (That shit won’t be so funny when it’s MAIN EVENTING WRESTLEMANIA three years later, Dave!)
– I guess I did kind of insert my own joke there.
– Over to SMW, where the new format of the TV show debuted (Jim Ross on commentary instead of Bob Caudle, new lighting and production) and it was a 100% improvement.
– Unfortunately, the Gangstas v. Rock N Roll Express match in Knoxville drew the smallest crowd in the history of the city for Smoky Mountain, with just 481 people. (Just because someone has heat doesn’t mean it’s money-drawing heat, which is a lesson that Cornette learned the hard way. Thankfully Heyman never put them in a position where they would used as the main draw.)
– ECW is trying to load up the 11/5 ECW Arena show to really put the screws to the Coraluzzo/SMW supershow NWA title tournament running across the river. (You could say it’ll be a November to remember!
Given I have no recollection of who was in that second NWA tournament, ECW won that one.)
– Shane Douglas is working a program with Ron Simmons over the ECW World title in order to make people think he’s a legit World champion, by beating a former World champion and all. (You know what would REALLY get him over? A one hour draw with Tully Blanchard!)
– Jim Crockett is supposed to be signing the deal to take over the Sportatorium and run his first show on 10/29. Unfortunately, the only people who seem to be aware of this new endeavor are the wrestlers working the show. The talent list is the usual group of aging NWA castoffs and Texas locals, although Jim will be bringing in Kevin Von Erich to “jumpstart the group.” Oh, he’ll jumpstart them, Dave says…RIGHT INTO OBLIVION. (Crockett did fine with that aspect himself.)
– Tito Santana is supposed to be running a new promotion out of Chicago using the usual crew of ex-WWF guys on 11/4.
– Harlem Heat finally revealed their new manager at the 10/10 WCW TV tapings to pay off the cell phone gimmick, a newcomer named Johnny Attitude whose real name might be Rick Green. (Do not remember any of that. His real name was actually John Greene, and in fact he just passed away on June 12 at the age of 53 after working as a job guy for WCW until he retired a few years into his career and went on to promote Micro Championship Wrestling with Hulk Hogan. It’s weird doing a quick bit of research and then falling down the rabbit hole of his Facebook page. He seemed like a cool guy.
– Apparently Mark Madden and Gene Okerlund have buried the hatchet.
– Your Larry Zbyszko story of the day: Larry got heat from the booking team when they asked him to put over Blacktop Bully and he refused, with his reasoning being that no one would believe that a fan from the audience could beat a wrestling legend. Dave is astonished that Larry actually thinks he was a “wrestling legend”. (I’m not.)
– It’s official: Wrestlemania is going to Hartford!
– The Headshrinkers are doing the Freebird deal where any two of Samu, Fatu or Sionne can challenge for the tag titles at the house shows. This is an odd stipulation because Samu has not actually appeared at any of these house shows and might not even be back with the company again.
– Davey Boy Smith will have to stand trial for the assault charges levied against him in a bar brawl in 1993 in Calgary. (Oh man, what a circus THAT trial was.)
– Scott Norton actually worked a WWF show in Sunrise FL on 10/9, putting over Bob Holly of all people in the opener. Dave is AGOG at the balls on Norton, who has held up every major promotion in the world over his refusal to do jobs for top guys. Apparently he is so desperate for a WWF job that he’d even stoop to putting people over in dark matches like some kind of common wrestler. (Please tell me that one will show up in the Hidden Gems at some point!)
– Bob Backlund is getting the “mega, mega, megapush” on TV leading up to his title shot at Survivor Series, although he’s probably not getting the title because word from people in WCW is that Luger is the one getting the belt.
– On a related note, Dave doesn’t know if Backlund’s act will sell PPVs, but he’s thoroughly entertained by him.
– WWF’s latest trick: They had Jim Cornette come out at the RAW tapings in Burlington and cut a lengthy Jim Cornette promo about how stupid and terrible Vermont is, which got tremendous heel heat. However, the purpose was not to get Cornette over (because, I mean, obviously, right?) but rather to film the crowd reactions and then splice them into the shows at points when the OTHER heels are out there stinking up the ring to a dead crowd in real life and thus give the illusion on TV that they’re super over. (Clearly we’ve found the solution to the Roman Reigns problem right before our eyes!)
– And finally, the final episode of All-American Wrestling aired over the weekend, featuring clips of a young Vince in 1983, with the set being torn down at the end while Ted Dibiase protested.