Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.31.94
Time to say goodbye to two legends of the sport, with…BWHAHAHA, never mind, I can’t even finish that sentence with a straight face.
To Halloween Havoc!
– So yeah, Ric Flair is “retired” and WCW is already making plans to have him come back in February. Dave isn’t buying the retirement for a minute, although he was a bit dismayed that the point of the show ended up being trying to make Avalanche into the new top heel.
– Meanwhile, the WWF actually outdrew WCW by twice as much in Montreal for the retirement of Jacques Rougeau after a reported “five star match” against Pierre. (I dunno about that claim. Hopefully they put it on the Network at some point.)
– Back to Havoc, which WCW is predicted to “shatter” their all-time buyrate record and do 1.8 to 2.0, which would be double what Bash at the Beach did. Cable industry people are predicting a 1.5. (Everyone ended up WAY off, as the show came in at 0.9, which was a success but hugely disappointing based on what they wanted it to do.) No matter how high the buyrate comes in, anyone who thinks that the number is based on WCW overtaking the WWF in popularity is out to lunch.
– The show drew 8600 to Detroit, with about 14,000 people in the building after comps, although capacity was 21,000 so it actually looked shockingly empty in a lot of places. They actually had about 3000 free tickets given out that never ended up attending.
– Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Flair was actually engaged in a contract dispute with WCW, which almost resulted in Flair walking out before the match and ruining their PPV. In the end, he signed a new deal that has him under contract until 03/97. So it worked out that Flair made $1.1 million in exchange for doing a job, which Dave notes will probably stand as a record “until someone demands that Hogan do one.”
– Now, the argument does exist that if Flair doesn’t come back, then they’ve basically mortgaged all of 1995 in exchange for popping a big number to end 1994, but no one seriously believes Flair is actually retired. Also unlikely is the slim possibility that someone will report WCW to the FTC for false advertising. (“Card subject to change” is a powerful tool.)
0. Booker T pinned Brian Armstrong with a flying forearm in 6:20 in the dark match that aired on Main Event. Brad actually had high blood pressure and was prevented from wrestling by the ringside doctor. Booker T was starstruck by Muhammad Ali and seemingly lost interest in working the match. *1/4
1. TV champion Johnny B. Badd went to a 10:00 draw with Honky Tonk Man. Better than expected, but too many restholds and the finish was telegraphed. *1/4
2. Pretty Wonderful beat Marcus Bagwell & The Patriot to regain the WCW tag titles in 13:47. Another average match from them. Bagwell got the heat the entire way and never did get a hot tag to Patriot. Roma hit Bagwell with a top rope elbow and Orndorff got the pin. **1/4
3. Dave Sullivan beat Kevin Sullivan by countout in 5:17. Better than their match in Oakland, at least. The Evad character is “the most not over pushed character that should be over that Dave has ever seen”. (Just wait until Roman Reigns!) Dave just doesn’t have the charisma to overcome the force-feeding to the fans and get over. DUD
4. Dustin Rhodes beat Arn Anderson with a cradle in 9:50. Solid from start to finish. Dustin took the bump of the show, flying over the top rope and clearing the ring steps to the floor. Arn used the ropes for a pin attempt, and when the ref caught him, Dustin cradled for the pin. Arn attacked after the loss and got a babyface pop for doing so. ***1/4
5. US champion Jim Duggan beat Steve Austin by DQ in 8:02 after getting thrown over the top. This was particularly stupid given Dustin went flying over the top rope much more dramatically in the previous match. Better than their previous matches at least. **
6. Vader pinned the Guardian Angel in 8:17. The Angel character is so obnoxious that he can’t get over as a babyface. Same match they’ve had on TV a whole bunch of times. **3/4
7. The Nasty Boys beat Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck in 7:56. Finish saw Funk getting piledriven on a pumpkin and Knobs pin him. A nothing match. *
8. Hulk Hogan pinned Ric Flair to retain the WCW title in 19:25. Match had a ton of heat, with Flair mostly working the knee. Sherri had her skirt pulled off at one point while climbing the cage, and in fact she had lost weight leading up to the match. The masked man got involved and Hogan fought everyone off and pinned Flair with the big boot and legdrop. Flair then disappeared while the masked man attacked again (albeit a different one) and Hogan unmasked him as Brutus Beefcake before John Tenta joined in. ****1/4
Dave gave a show a thumbs up on Sunday night when it was over, but then changed his mind to a thumbs down a few days later because it was sold as something extraordinary and ended up being ordinary.
– Toshiaki Kawada won the Triple Crown for the first time on 10/22, pinning Steve Williams in the main event at Budokan Hall by pinning Steve Williams with a high kick in 37:58. It was supposed to be the best match of the year.
– WCW has changed the main event of the 11/16 Clash of Champions again, with the match now being Sting & Hogan & Evad v. Butcher & Avalanche & Kevin Sullivan. Dave Sullivan has been a major ratings disaster every time they put him in that kind of position, so this seems like a terrible idea. Dave also points out that Beefcake as the masked man makes no sense since Beefcake was STANDING RIGHT THERE when the masked man attacked Hogan on several occasions.
– Due to UFC 3 being viewed as the worst of the 3 PPVs to date, the company has made some changes to the format of the show. First up, it’ll still be an 8 man tournament, but there will also be a 4 man mini-tournament to determine potential alternates in case of injury. Ken Shamrock won’t be entering any more tournaments because he wants to protect his Pancrase career. However, UFC promoters want to do Gracie v. Shamrock as the main event of UFC V, with a tournament underneath, which would then determine a challenger for the winner of that match on the next show, and so on.
– Minoru Suzuki of Pancrase will likely participate at UFC V in some form. They were also contacted by Eric Bischoff about using Meng and they wanted to make it happen, but Meng wasn’t interested. Eric also pitched using a Power Plant student named Craig Pittman, but UFC doesn’t want to be too much like pro wrestling and so they declined.
– Turns out that the 10/17 Memphis show headlined by Undertaker v. Sid drew 3100 paid, the second largest house of the year. And that’s without Jerry Lawler on the show!
– Sid’s next challenger was determined on the 10/22 TV, building to a sure classic: Sid v. Mabel.
– Sabu suffered yet another injury, a broken finger, in a tag match on 10/22. Dave will be shocked if he lasts as a top guy long-term. The fans were on Shane Douglas about how Flair could kick his ass, so Shane grabbed the mic and yelled at them about how Flair won’t get the chance because he’s doing the job against Hogan.
– Cactus Jack has a side business now selling leather vests. It’s called Cactus Jackets. (Somehow I’m not surprised.)
– Jim Crockett will finally run his first TV show from Sportatorium on 10/29, with a main event of Tully Blanchard & JYD & Moadib v. Black Bart & Gary Young & Skandor Akbar. (Sounds like a real barn burner.)
– Everyone who worked the last Herb Abrams PPV saw their checks bounce, and then bounce again the second time they tried to deposit them after Herb assured them it was a clerical error on the part of the bank. (In the business, I believe that’s called “Pulling a Heyman.”)
– To WCW, where Gene Okerlund messed up an interview with The Butcher by forgetting his name mid-interview. The interview actually had an explanation for the heel turn, since Hogan was supposed to attend a funeral for Beefcake’s parents but was too busy making a move and arrived late. Then they re-shot the interview and left out that explanation.
– Hogan and Flair were both supposed to appear on the NFL game between the Vikings and Packers on TNT, with Flair doing a live promo. But then the producers killed the plan at the last minute and cut Flair out completely, not even showing him on the sidelines, and moved Hogan’s interview to 30 minutes into the post-game show, when no one is watching.
– Hogan was honored by the Make-a-Wish foundation for doing 200 wishes in the past 10 years and being the most requested sports personality, and when the WWF got wind of it, they contacted the foundation and offered to do a “Holiday Wish” house show tour in December to raise money for them. (Charity wars!)
– Meanwhile, Hogan and some of the WCW crew went to a restaurant in Salt Lake City after a show in 10/14 and it stayed open to accommodate them as a special favor. So they racked up a $200 bill and then left without paying.
– To the WWF, where Vince called a meeting with everyone before the RAW tapings in Burlington, where he told everyone to watch his interview with Chet Coppock and consider it the new company line when doing interviews. Bret Hart apparently went off on a huge rant about how much it sucked that the meeting would end up in the Observer and complained about Dave giving him bad match ratings. (As Dave has noted many times, Bret really hated him for many years until the Montreal Screwjob made an enemy into a close ally.)
– And finally, the Action Zone debuted on 10/23 with a *** Bret v. Owen match that went 15:00. Apparently next week will see a Ramon & Kid v. Diesel & Shawn tag title match that is said to be “fantastic”.