Wrestling Observer Flashback–11.07.94

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.07.94

So it turns out that WCW’s record buyrate for Halloween Havoc wasn’t quite what they anticipated…

– The buyrate for Havoc 94 currently sits at 0.95, which is good but well below the 2.0 number predicted by WCW. They were shooting for 500,000 buys and got 220,000, which means they made $2.45 million and Hogan takes home $600,000 of it. If you throw in the money that Flair was reportedly paid by WCW to do this particular job and he remains retired, then the show was a failure.

– Meanwhile, WCW is denying the claims of that number, saying it was actually a 1.6, although sources within the company are saying it was still a disappointment. (The real number was indeed 0.95)

– So this puts the company put into a quandary again. Hogan’s a draw, but there’s some major fan backlash against him at the moment and there’s really no one else to go to as an alternative. Flair let himself be really damaged as a top level guy, and Sting is already a proven failure on top. If the longtime WCW fans really are sick of Hogan already, it’ll start to show in the ratings and buyrates pretty quickly.

– Although Hulk hasn’t actually signed by the past end of the year at the moment, he’s currently in negotiations that would extend him longer and in fact give him complete control of the company as well. He’s already in control of all storylines with himself, John Tenta, Jim Duggan, Brutus Beefcake and Honky Tonk Man. He’s also going to be joining the booking committee and Greg Gagne and Bill Dundee have been let go to compensate. (Well there’s one positive at least.)

– Really, the true test of his drawing power will come in 1995 with Flair gone, since the company has been given over to Hogan’s cronies. But if Hogan does leave, who takes over on top? Sting is long done as a main eventer, no matter how big of a reaction he gets from the crowds.

– AAA has their biggest show, probably in their history, on 11/6 with the “When Worlds Collide” PPV co-promoted with WCW. And of course, promoting with WCW means dealing with all the things that come with WCW. Because WCW. For example, after they decided to finance the show, they basically dropped all promotion from their own TV shows. And then instead of flying guys from AAA into the WCW tapings to cut promos, they decided to save money by simply reusing footage from Mexican TV and airing it on the TBS shows. So they called AAA and asked for tapes, and AAA were like…

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– Once the tapes got to Atlanta, days late, the producers decided that they weren’t broadcast quality and rejected them for air. So by then it was too late to do anything to promote the show properly and the company was in full panic mode pushing Hogan v. Flair anyway. So after putting the whole thing together and agreeing to finance it, Eric Bischoff suddenly had a 180 change of heart and wanted nothing to do with promoting it, leaving the entire promotional push in the hands of Chris Cruise and his event centers on WCW TV instead.

– So to recap, WCW chose the date of the show, WCW approached AAA about doing the show, and WCW put up all the money to air the show on PPV and stands to make all the money if it does well. And then they proceeded to sabotage and bury every aspect of the show leading up to it, because they didn’t want to jeopardize the chances of anyone getting over on Halloween Havoc. (They had little to worry about there.)

– In all fairness, AAA is also doing a shit job of promoting their own show in Mexico, with the feeling being that since there’s no penetration of PPV into Mexico at this point, it’s not worth promoting a show that their audience can’t see.

– Dave runs down the card for the AAA PPV, and apparently we should watch out for this Rey Mysterio kid, and the Love Machine/Eddy Guerrero tag match will likely steal the show. We’ll see if he’s right!

– Missy Hyatt filed suit against WCW on 10/19 for various sexual harassment claims. The suit names Ric Flair, Jim Ross, Don Saneford, Eric Bischoff, Bill Dhue, Mike Graham, Greg Gagne, Ole Anderson, Gene Okerlund, Bill Tinsley and Craig Leathers and accuses them of everything from fondling her breasts to outright threats and intimidation if she didn’t go on dates with them. The following 12 points were specifically outlined in the suit:

1) Hostile environment sexual harassment;

2) Sexual discrimination;

3) Retaliation–Hiatt complained to her supervisors and as a result of her complaint, claims she was fired and her termination was upheld by senior members of WCW management;

4) Wage discrimination–Hiatt claims she was paid substantially less than other pro wrestling personalities that she performed an equal amount of work as for the same company;

5) Intentional infliction of emotional distress;

6) Negligent hiring, retention and supervision of sexual harassers;

7) Negligent investigation surrounding allegations of harassment and discrimination;

8) Assault and battery (allegations of unwanted touching, threats and intimidation);

9) Breach of contract–Hiatt alleges WCW hasn’t paid her her due percentage of her merchandising income;

10) Fraud and misrepresentation–Defendants had knowledge and falsely recorded and reported Hiatt’s merchandising earnings;

11) Conversion/tortious interference with property as to defendant Bischoff–Bischoff allegedly refused to return Hiatt’s personal belongings until she signed over her rights to other belongings such as title to three expensive motor vehicles (This came after Hiatt’s break-up with actor Jason Hervey, a friend of Bischoff’s. Allegedly Hervey sent Hiatt’s things after the break-up to Bischoff instead of Hiatt. Hiatt claims Bischoff wouldn’t let her get her things back until she signed over her rights to cars and a motorcycle);

12) Conversion–refusing to pay Hiatt merchandising income allegedly due her.

– No dollar amount has been listed in the suit thus far. (Man, if this kind of thing came up today, it would have been a LOT bigger news and there sure as hell would have been a dollar amount listed on Twitter right away.)

– Hercules didn’t show up for the Sumo Hall show on 10/30 for New Japan, leaving partner Scott Norton to team with Ron Simmons instead. Of course, Simmons was the one who did the job to the Steiner Brothers, which is kind of odd because they’d been protecting Simmons every night by having partner Nailz take all the pinfall losses instead of him. Simmons looked impressive on the tour and should be getting a regular job with New Japan as a result.

– Steven Regal was also over big on the NJPW tour, with audiences seeing him as a Billy Robinson type of star. (I can see that.)

– Here’s a clash of styles for you: Michinoku Pro did a big show outdoors on 10/30 with a main event of Onita v. Great Sasuke in an explosive barbed wire no ropes double hell death match. Given that Sasuke couldn’t fly around the ring like he usually does, it was a complete flop and was only said to be about **.

– The next day in Tokyo, Onita had a party celebrating his 1000th stitch! (I hope he thanked Terry Funk in his speech.)

– Speaking of Funk, after he left FMW for IWA and, you know, personally betrayed Onita to the point of tears and all, Funk decided to be the bigger man and challenged Onita to a $1 million winner take all match to decide the beef between them. Onita responded by saying that he held no animosity towards Terry, and he’d love to go over to his house and have a steak sometime. So Funk wrote another letter, this time with a check for $500,000, and clarified that if Onita ever came over to his house for steak, he’d POISON it. (Note to self: Do not attend barbeque at the Funk ranch.)

– Down to Memphis, where the 10/24 show headlined by Sid v. Mabel actually drew a pretty respectable 1350 people.

– Vince McMahon was back as a heel again, doing the heel act to build up a softball game for charity against Lawler. It should be noted that although Vince’s heel act in 1993 was wildly praised, it was death at the box office in Memphis. (Maybe he just needs a better opponent…)

– Dave caught up on watching SMW tapes this past week, and one thing is obvious: The Gangstas experiment just didn’t work. New Jack can talk, but his promos don’t mean anything and they don’t sell tickets.

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(No reason.)

– Anyway, the Gangstas weren’t ready in the ring for this kind of position and Ricky Morton had to carry the matches, and that could only go so far. Plus the race card was only good for a certain kind of heat, and there was no substance to back it up.

– Dave also watched the Cactus Jack v. Sabu match from ECW with the beer bottle spot. He notes that guys can’t expect to work matches like that and remain in one piece, but to fair, clearly neither guy is in one piece right now anyway.

– Some WCW guys will be used on the 11/19 ECW show as a part of the legal settlement over the “When Worlds Collide” show, but it will only guys of WCW’s choosing, and it won’t be Brian Pillman, and once that show is done, there will be no more deals between them. (Boy, they sure went back on all of those promises soon enough.)

– Sabu is expected to make a play for going to WCW as a result of the deal, although he’s also got feelers in the WWF as well.

– Sports Illustrated listed Muhammad Ali presenting Hogan with the WCW title at Halloween Havoc as “This week’s sign that the Apocalypse is upon us.” Dave is like “Brutus Beefcake in the main event of Starrcade is RIGHT THERE!”

– Jim Crockett’s new promotion at the Sportatorium finally debuted on 10/29, to a chorus of “Meh”. It was apparently “better than GWF”, which is hardly high praise, and it drew 350 people. The biggest star was clearly Tony “Moadib” Norris. It was all clean pinfalls, at least, but the “action” was like the late 70s Johnny Weaver style that hasn’t been on TV since. Crockett apparently was running the show so cheaply that he didn’t even turn on all the lights until the taping started in an effort to cut costs. Tony Norris got over so big that he’ll be pushed as the top babyface moving forward, and they’re also trying to bring in Kevin Von Erich. (Why?)

– Iceman Parsons and Action Jackson both showed up looking for work, but they were turned away because the new group didn’t want to look like the GWF. They both left “visibly unhappy”.

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– A group in Ireland billed as “American Wrestling Direct from the WWF” sold out four shows using people billed as 1-2-3 Kid, The Bushwhacker, the Hollywood Blonde, The Ultimate Chippendale and Doink the Clown III. Johnny Smith is also involved, playing the part of British Bulldog.

– Back to Cactus and Sabu, who had a match on 10/29 at a Vegas casino and tore down the house, including brawling into the casino itself and doing a piledriver on a blackjack table in the middle of an ongoing game.

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– Indy promoter Cliff Bartz was arrested by the FBI in Cocoa Beach while living under an assumed name. He had been running shows in New England and was arrested for masterminding armed robberies and intimidating witnesses. (Sounds like a normal wrestling promoter to me…)

– Steven Spielberg blocked Schindler’s List from PPV because he didn’t want it associated with pro wrestling.

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– I don’t think that’s the list he was referring to.

– Over to WCW, where Vader did interviews on the 10/25 Center Stage tapings threatening Hulk Hogan, because he was told that Vader v. Hogan was “money in the bank” by those in the front office. So then after doing the interviews, Hogan vetoed the program and decided on Brutus Beefcake for the Starrcade main event instead, and Vader was told that the program would be on the back burner for the time being, and the interviews were all scrapped.

– Sherri was managing Steve Austin at the most recent Disney tapings, with Austin turning into Ric Flair in the ring. Austin had actually been promised that he would regain the US title from Jim Duggan at Halloween Havoc, but, you know…someone changed their mind because that wasn’t going to work for them, brother. So instead, Austin is being promised a top spot in Flair’s place. (Wow, 1995 SUCKED for Steve Austin.)

– Harlem Heat re-started the “manager on the phone” gimmick because Johnny Attitude is already gone, so they’ve scrapped the storyline and now they’ll be talking to a new manager on the phone.

– To the WWF, where the statute of limitations on the government re-filing the dropped charges against Vince quietly passed, so that matter is now officially done with.

– Bob Backlund is getting the title at Survivor Series, “for better or worse”. (Oh, don’t worry Dave, he won’t have it for long, and at least it couldn’t get any WORSE…)

– Dave saw the Kliq tag match on Action Zone and gave it ****1/2, calling it the best WWF match all year on TV.

– Luna Vachon and Dave Heath were married on Halloween night in Florida.

– And finally, they drew 9500 to MSG on the weekend with a Bret Hart v. Jim Neidhart main event that Bret won when interference from Bob Backlund backfired. Bob got over big as a heel, and promised Vince during an interview that the next time they returned to MSG, he’d be the WWF champion. (Well, Bob, I’ve got good news and bad news for you…)