Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.21.94
Dave is EXCITED for pro wrestling in the US again!
Well obviously something would quickly happen to change that, but let’s go with it for the moment.
– Dave declares that the era of wrestling started in 1984 is now OVER. Times are changing, much like they did when Vince McMahon put Hulk Hogan over Iron Sheik and then spent a bunch of money expanding his business nationally while the old promoters laughed at him.
– Dave would also like to point out that he’s not writing an obituary for WWF or WCW by any means, or predicting that AAA will sweep into the US and become a major player. But the Big Two need to find a new era with a new concept to push in order to survive the challenge of groups like AAA. Heck, apparently in a few years there’s going to be 500 channels available! (Yeah, and it turned out that Bruce Springsteen’s song “57 Channels and Nothing On” was far more prophetic.)
– Dave also thinks that those clinging to the hope that Ric Flair will return to his prior form and save WCW should let it go, because in time someone will learn from Flair and surpass him as the next big star. (Yeah, and WCW was saying that for years, and meanwhile Flair still won another, what, 5 World titles after this was written?) But WCW will continue to survive based on Ted Turner’s money and Hulk Hogan’s name.
– Which brings us to the UWFI and AAA PPV shows from the past week. AAA did an estimated 0.3 buyrate (or about 55,000 buys) which is actually something of a miracle considering how little it was hyped. UWFI meanwhile, brought a new style of wrestling PPV, filled with realism and brutality without actual violence. So all this has taught Dave multiple lessons in the past week, and he will summarize them thusly:
Lesson the First: AAA was a huge success in the form that was presented on Sunday’s PPV show.
Lesson the Second: Those in charge of the US wrestling business have proven themselves to be DINOSAURS for not embracing the obvious greatness of AAA. Eric Bischoff wasn’t even at the show! After the show was over, no one in WCW asked why the show was great and what they could do to copy it. Do you think anyone in WCW is going to start hiring Mexicans and promoting faster-paced high-flying innovative matches?
Exactly. Never happen.
Lesson the Third: Granted, Dave doesn’t know if Vince watched the show or not, but as another example, they brought the WWF circus to Japan in 1993 and completely flopped there because they forgot what made them #1 in the first place: Learning from the other promoters and doing it better than they did.
Lesson the Fourth: Antonio Pena is the new innovator in wrestling and everyone should listen to him. He was at the other guys’ PPVs this year taking notes, as well as New Japan and All Japan’s major shows. How many concepts do you think Eric Bischoff brought back from New Japan with him? ZERO.
(Dammit, hindsight meme, you’re ruining Dave’s point here!)
Lesson the Fifth: Jeff Blatnick did the greatest job of color commentary in the modern history of pro wrestling on that UWFI show Friday night. Granted, no one saw it. But the lesson is that the age of “Heel commentators” and huckster pitchmen is OVER. Jerry Lawler is stale in his current role and needs to be replaced. Gene Okerlund is a dinosaur with zero credibility.
Think about THIS: Next month’s UFC may beat Starrcade on PPV! Can you even imagine a world where this “Ultimate Fighting” thing does more PPV buys than WRESTLING? Dave thinks that AAA, with 12 months of promotion on English language TV, will easily surpass WCW on PPV as well.
Lesson the Sixth: Of course, don’t forget about ECW, which is on the verge of becoming a major cult influence on the business. (Finally, after pages of silly joygasms over AAA and UWFI, he nails the real story). It’ll never be #1, but it can build to the point where it makes money on PPV and that’s a good start. ECW is only missing exposure and a big name wrestler to break them through. (They of course never really got the second one, although they made a few for bigger promotions later on.)
Lesson the Seventh: UWFI probably can’t make it in the US no matter what Dave has already said. It’s too new of a concept, too real to be pro wrestling but too fake for fighting fans.
Lesson the Eighth: Faces and heels are FINISHED. “Outrageous, overplayed characters” are on the way out. People love Shawn Michaels and Diesel and don’t give a crap about Lex Luger.
Lesson the Ninth: (Christ, how many lessons can one man take from a PPV?) It’s time for a completely different style, because the steroid monsters don’t sell any more. (Well, they never did sell, wokka wokka…) America needs its own Tiger Mask, the charismatic hero to the kids. Dave thinks that the guy might be this Rey Mysterio Jr. kid on the AAA PPV, but he’s the LAST guy on the show who would ever be signed by either of the Big Two. I mean, have you SEEN how small he is? What a joke! I mean, it COULD work and he COULD be a huge draw for either promotion, but they’d have to understand the character and handle him correctly, and how likely is THAT?
THUS ENDETH THE LESSONS.
– Anyway, Dave watched the UWFI PPV on 11/11, called “Shootwrestling III”, and it was the best of their three US PPVs to date.
– Over to Japan, where the long-awaited Inoki v. Hogan match at the 1/4 Tokyo Dome show is DEAD. Since he’s making up to $1 million per match for WCW, the $100,000 that Inoki is offering isn’t exactly a motivation for him. Plus the Tokyo Dome show is already selling out as it is, and part of the deal with Hogan is that Brutus Beefcake would have to be booked on the show and go over a Japanese native.
– Also, with Foreman winning the World boxing title, Inoki has also declared that his match with Foreman is also dead, and so they’ll need a new main event for the North Korea show. I know, we’re all shocked.
– Terry Funk and Onita are still throwing out challenges to each other in IWA, with Funk doing another press conference on 11/11 and bringing a $500,000 check with him this time, looking for a $1,000,000 winner takes all match.
– Speaking of Onita, he’s working the FMW show on 12/1, in a barbed wire no rope barricade double hell match against the former W*ING crew. Notable here because he’s working as “The Great Nita”, complete with Muta-knockoff gear and green mist.
– Although no announcements have been, negotiations are underway for the “biggest interpromotional show ever” on 04/02, at the Tokyo Dome, aka the day of Wrestlemania.
– Over to Memphis, where Sid v. Undertaker continues to draw strong crowds. This time, the 11/4 show drew 2500 people, the third biggest of the year. Undertaker apparently won the USWA title from Sid, but it turned out that he used a chain brought in by Sid and the decision was reversed.
– Ron Harris of the Bruise Brothers debuted a new partner, a “cousin” named “Gorgeous” Jimmy Harris, since Don was in Puerto Rico doing a tour there. He also acknowledged that Brian Lee was his cousin while introducing Jimmy. (Cagematch has Jimmy Harris listed as the more famous Jim Harris, aka Kamala, but I somehow don’t see Ron introducing him as a “cousin”. Just a hunch.)
– Sabu is still lacking feeling in one arm due to nerve damage from landing on his head at November to Remember. He’s actually had to CANCEL BOOKINGS but he’ll be back later in the month.
– Warrior might have been wrestling on a show in India this past week, based on reports of a match between “Ultimate Warrior” and Demolition Ax triggering a riot when chairs were thrown from the ring into the crowd. 5 people were injured and the fans rushed the ring and started beating on the wrestlers with field hockey sticks. Police were called in and shut down the show. (And yet the Punjabi Prison matches were allowed to continue years later. NO JUSTICE!)
– Jim Crockett is wasting little time in self-destructing, as he’s abandoned the Tennessee market already and will only be running Texas. And even then, everything is in a holding pattern, as the third TV taping drew the same 350 people and now they’re giving up and just bringing in the old Global crew again.
– John Studd underwent a bone marrow transplant last week. (Unfortunately his time was running out.)
– AAA has a second co-promoted WCW show planned for PPV on 04/23. (Didn’t happen.)
– Randy Savage was in the WCW offices negotiating a contract on 11/11. No contract has been signed, but it’s expected to be a done deal. Ironically, the new WWF magazine features Savage on the cover, with the story instead detailing how he thinks all the other promotions are minor league and he wouldn’t accept a $40 million offer to jump to WCW.
– WCW did a dry run of the Clash main event in Orlando on 11/13, with Sting & Hogan & Evad v. Sullvan & Butcher & Avalanche, and the show was a complete disaster, drawing just 2000 people. The match was ½* and had no finish, with the bell ringing for a phantom DQ.
– So after the Vader interview about Hogan was set to be edited off TV due to the direction of Starrcade changing, they edited the second one back in for whatever reason. And then they also edited in an interview where Dustin Rhodes made reference to the interview that was edited off.
– Sherri is indeed managing Harlem Heat.
– Dustin Rhodes has begun a feud with Blacktop Bully, as Bully was “arrested” for shoving Dustin at the Saturday Night tapings. (Man, I bet the eventual match between them will be AWESOME!)
– Young rookie Alex Wright debuted and they’re paying models to mob him while he’s dancing, so we know he’s a teen heartthrob.
– Most of the wrestlers in the WWF are shocked and disappointed at Savage’s defection to WCW.
– WCW is interested in Yokozuna because Hogan needs to get his win back, naturally.
– The “Portuguese Man O War” mentioned last week is PJ Walker, wearing a Power Ranger outfit, although he might end up being called Aldo Montoya.
– Hercules might be coming back in as a member of Razor Ramon’s Cuban gang who has returned to feud with him. (Yup, I remember that one making the rounds a LOT at the time. I think that kind of morphed into the Savio Vega character.)
– Talk of Bruiser Bedlam coming in, as well as the team of Furnas & LaFon.
– Shawn & Diesel were acting like complete babyfaces at the last tapings, with a split between them heavily teased. Shawn is still working with a broken hand and isn’t 100% ready to compete, so he just did the finishes of the tag matches. (It just shows how truly out-of-nowhere that whole Diesel thing was. No hint of it at all yet.)
– And finally, business in Germany continues to be strong with Bret Hart on top during the current tour, which once again proves my theory…
That’s Weekend Update, and I’m outta here!