Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.12.94
Previously in the Flashback…
Back on the horse! Hopefully I can remember how to do these.
And now, Dave looks ahead to 1995!
First up, will going with the unproven Diesel as champion freshen up the promotion? Is the rapid decline of the past two years slowing? (Spoiler: No. To both.)
Will WCW’s new direction, which has people perceiving the company as moving talent away from the WWF for the first time since 1984, pay off? Especially when every match at Starrcade looks like death on paper?
Will AAA survive the death of the Love Machine?
– As for the smaller promotions, USWA will always survive, although Sid will likely jump back to the WWF sometime in 1995 (and then leave in 1996, predicts Dave.) (Shows what he knows, it was 1997!)
– SMW has been shaky lately, thanks to no-shows and Cornette reneging on stips, but building big shows around old timers isn’t something you can build a territory around. (Unless you’re 2018 WWE.)
– ECW keeps playing to the same crowd of 1100 people per night in Philly but hasn’t proved anything elsewhere. Dave doesn’t actually know the financial situation, but Tod Gordon isn’t Ted Turner so they’ll need to expand to survive, most likely. However, most TV station managers aren’t wrestling fans, and the product is just too violent for the mainstream sports fan.
– Moving on, Randy Savage debuted for WCW on WCW Saturday Night on 12/3, revealing that he’s either going to slap Hogan’s face or shake his hand at Starrcade. That’s probably the only thing WCW can do with Savage to help Starrcade at this point, since him wrestling adds nothing to it. Meanwhile, Titan lawyers sent cease-and-desist orders to WCW, because they claim Savage had an “implied agreement” with the WWF at the point when he appeared, and hadn’t yet signed his WCW contract. This stands as a stark contradiction to Vince McMahon’s supposed “heartfelt” goodbye to Macho Man on RAW, where he wished him all the best. Savage actually hadn’t signed a contract with the WWF since 1991, when Vince made sure to get him to sign because WCW was offering $600,000 to jump ship. So given a standard 2 year deal, Savage would have been free and clear as of 1993, which is exactly what he himself believed. Granted, deals traditionally renew for another year unless one side gives written notice, so that might be the cause of the legal issues. In fact, both Bret Hart and Ted Dibiase famously tried to leave for WCW years back and were stopped because they forgot about the 90 day window where they could leave before the deal rolled over.
– Speaking of Savage, current rumor is that Savage will immediately win the WCW title after he debuts, then turn on Hogan to set up a repeat of the Wrestlemania V program. The current main event of the Clash in January is Butcher v. Savage, which would seem to indicate Butcher winning the title from Hogan and then immediately dropping it to Savage. (OK, we definitely dodged a bullet there.)
– Art Barr’s funeral drew 250 people on 11/30, with the cause of death still mysterious, although toxicology reports are due back later in the week. Most of the crowd consisted of longtime Portland wrestling fans and wrestlers from the area.
– To Japan, where Kensuke Sasaki has abandoned the Power Warrior gimmick and returned without the makeup, given that WCW is reforming the Road Warriors sometime in 1995. The current plan is a feud between the Warriors and the Steiners in New Japan, although this would be an issue because someone’s gonna have to lay down.
– Dave had a chance to watch some FMW and was impressed by Big Titan, who does planchas and missile dropkicks while standing 6-6 and 300 pounds. (Big things ahead for young Rick Bogner, I bet!)
– UWFi planned ahead by having Kiyoshi Tamura beat Dan Severn by knockout on the 11/30 show, since Severn is going to the UFC show on 12/16. That way it’s no big deal if he loses in UFC, because the UWFi guys all beat him. And if he does win, then UWFi can say “Man, a midcard guy from our promotion won the UFC tournament!” (That would be UFC 4, where Severn went to the finals against Royce Gracie and got choked out.)
– The new Tokyo Pro Wrestling promotion, headed by former WAR star Takashi Ishikawa, cancelled its debut show on 12/5 with no reason given.
– The old Sid magic in Memphis seems to be dying, as the crowd was down to 950 people on 11/28 with Sid & Spellbinder v. Men on a Mission as the main event. (Who WOULDN’T want to spend $20 for that classic?)
– Candi Divine will randomly be defending her UWF Women’s title (the Herb Abrams version) against Miss Texas on the 12/5 show.
– Buddy Landel was on fire at the SMW TV tapings for December, throwing shade at Ric Flair by saying that he was the Nature Boy until “he lost to a 60 year old bald man”. Also, after an angle where he tried to suffocate Dirty White Boy with a plastic bag, he said that White Boy should be used to having a bag on his head, because that’s the only way he can get any action from Dirty White Girl.
– ULTIMATE WARRIOR UPDATE: Warrior was hyped as wrestling 11/19 in Harlingen, TX, but it turned out to be someone who looked nothing like Hellwig working against Jason the 13th. Apparently Warrior really had agreed to do the show, but then backed out four days before the show and the promoters found a bodybuilder and stuck him in the role.
– The UFC is doing a marathon show on New Year’s Eve airing all four UFC shows in a row, and Dave thinks it’s not a bad idea for a wrestling promotion to try the same thing next year. (Wasn’t the WCW All Nighter around this time?)
And now, time for your…
– Take it away, Dave…
“They had a battle of giants in the main event on 12/3 in Clementon, NJ for WWA with Frank Finnegan, billed at 589 pounds, against Paul White, billed at 7-2, 440. I’m told White’s dimensions aren’t that much of an exaggeration and that at that size he even has something of a physique.”
(Sounds like a BIG SHOW for the WWA.)
– The American Wrestling Federation did a marathon TV taping in Chicago on 11/29 and 11/30, taping 13 episodes of their show in hopes of shopping it around to a buyer. Production quality was high, the wrestling quality not so much. The main event saw Tito Santana beating Bob Orton for the newly created AWF title in a *3/4 match.
– Jim Crockett’s promotion was down to 575 people on 12/3, with a main event of Kevin Von Erich & Chris Adams over Dick Murdoch & Black Bart. Curiosity over Kevin’s return is rapidly fading.
– Rick Martel and The Natural redid the Flair-Steamboat suit angle on a 12/4 show in Selkirk, MB, with Natural getting stripped down to his underwear. (Not sure if this is another understated debut, but the Natural is Don Callis.)
– So it turns out that WCW kind of screwed over AAA hardcore. After the PPV they did together, which was based on WCW promising not to interfere with AAA’s TV deal with Televisa by making a deal with rival Imavision, WCW suddenly showed up on Imavision after all. Dave notes that for any other promotion it would be a sign of devious backdoor shenanigans, but in WCW’s case it’s probably because they just forgot about the deal or someone forgot to send a memo.
– Dave also notes that AAA has pretty much pissed away any momentum they had in the US from the PPV in record time. (Well your top heel dying a week later will tend to do that.)
– Steve Austin appears to be out of action for up to a year after suffering a knee injury on 11/14 in Sarasota. He’s got torn ligaments and will need reconstructive surgery, although he’s seeking a second opinion. Dave thinks this could be beneficial for him, since he was going nowhere and taking a year off means he’ll be fresh and have a new direction when he returns. (I mean, unless they FIRE him in the mean time…)
– Arn Anderson is also suffering from a serious knee injury, and they brought in Dick Slater to replace him, billing him as a cousin of Terry Funk. Gene Okerlund, in the unintentionally hilarious comment of the year, noted that he wasn’t aware that Terry had any relatives who wrestled.
– Turns out that Curt Hennig and Rick Rude showing up at the Center Stage tapings last week was just because they wanted to show up and “cause a ruckus”.
– The second All Nighter on TBS will be in honor of Ricky Steamboat, which many people find hilarious because they fired him while he was injured to cut costs and now they want to make money off his name. (Man, I bet they wouldn’t be so classless as to fire another person while they’re injured.)
– Diamond Dallas Page was rehired and is getting a push, feuding with Evad Sullivan over an arm wrestling gimmick.
– Brian Armstrong quit to join the WWF, so Scott Armstrong has taken his place as the designed Armstrong jobber in the team with Steve.
– WCW had been negotiating with Jacques Rougeau about coming out of retirement for a match with Hulk Hogan at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, but even WCW was smart enough to realize that it would be suicide to run that show and they pulled out.
– Sherri might be switched from Harlem Heat to the new team of Steven Regal & Jean Paul Levesque.
– To the WWF, where Dave would like to correct the erroneous reports that Brian Lee will be Jeff Jarrett’s roadie. In fact it’s Brian Armstrong, who will be called Lee Roadie, which is probably where the confusion stemmed from.
– Mark Canterbury debuted at the TV tapings as Henry Godwinn, playing a hog farmer gimmick that was a complete flop.
– They started a tag team tournament to fill the titles vacated by Shawn & Diesel, with Tatanka & Bigelow the obvious winners.
– Also debuting was Hakushi, the former Kensuke Shinzaki from Michinoku Pro, who did a bunch of hot moves and got over as a babyface, despite being a heel.
– A bunch of weekend house shows, headlined by Bob Backlund v. Diesel rematches, were cancelled due to weak advances. (Off to a strong start in the Diesel Power era!)
– And finally, the NWA will have to find itself yet another champion, since Chris Candido is headed in after January. Tammy Fytch is of course coming with him to the WWF, although they’ll probably use her more as an announcer than a manager. (Hopefully they can find SOME kind of role for her. I think she’d do OK for herself.)