Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.19.94
It’s week 3 of the WWF title being held hostage by Diesel! But don’t worry, this can’t possibly last very long.
To the news!
– Big changes for the upcoming Clash of Champions show on 1/25, as WCW is moving it from Virginia to Las Vegas, which makes it the first Clash broadcast from anywhere west of Central time. The idea is that the show is taking place during the NATPE TV convention, so that WCW beancounters can make valuable business contracts in the TV industry and show off Hulk Hogan. Basically the show is considered a freebie at this point, where they’ll take a loss and basically do an entire show at Caesar’s Palace with the sole goal of impressing networks.
– So with the change of venue, they’re also changing the card completely, with the new main event of Hogan & Savage v. Sullivan & Butcher instead of the original plan of Hogan not being there and trying to main event with Savage v. Butcher.
– They also taped a promo to be aired after Starrcade, which seems to indicate that the Sting v. Avalanche match at Starrcade will end with Guardian Angel running in after a ref bump, setting up a rematch at the Clash with Angel as special referee. Dave thinks that perhaps they could turn Ray Traylor heel again to freshen him up, but changing identities AGAIN might be pushing it. Also, Harlem Heat will defend the tag team titles that they won on 12/8 (but won’t “win” until 1/7) against Stars & Stripes.
– Over to Japan already, as UWFI made one too many grandstand challenges and had it backfire on them this time. They had been challenging Rickson and Royce Gracie in the wake of UFC’s success, offering an open challenge to either one on their 11/30 show, looking for a match with Takada to determine the toughest in the world. This turned into Yoji Anjyo personally claiming that he could beat Rickson in under a minute at a press conference. This was seemingly the end of it, but then Anjyo flew himself to the US and showed up without warning at the Gracie academy in Santa Monica on 12/7, issuing yet another challenge in person this time. Anjyo was basically the guy behind the whole “shoot challenge” aspect of UWFI’s business model and was seemingly one of the toughest fighters in sparring contests behind the scenes. And he had taken down an uncooperative Iron Sheik during a worked match, and Sheik is also a tough guy. So…no problem, right?
– And then the payoff: Rickson decided to actually take him up on the challenge, and then immediately took Anjyo down into full mount and then pummeled him into hamburger with punches and then choked him out after five minutes of torture. People are speculating that this whole thing was an angle to set up Gracie v. Takada once and for all, but in fact it was just a grandstand challenge gone horribly wrong for the UWFI side. Luckily for them, it wasn’t Takada himself taking the beating. (Now, for those who don’t know the actual payoff for the story, three years later they finally did get Rickson to agree to that fight, and formed a new fighting organization to promote it. It was called the Pride Fighting Championship.)
– Speaking of fake fighting, it appears that Inoki has finally found an opponent for his Tokyo Dome main event on 1/4: Kimo Leopoldo from UFC.
– Also, Dave is pretty sure based on all the information he’s received thus far, that UFC really is a shoot. But the jury is still out. (Maybe we’ll discover the truth someday!)
– The Tokyo Dome show will also see the dome debut of Sabu, who will team with Masa Chono against Fujinami & Junji Hirata (the former Super Strong Machine). It’s a six-month deal with NJPW, which is something of a surprise because most had assumed he’d sign with the WWF for the easy money and lighter schedule.
– Misawa & Kobashi won the 18th annual Real World Tag League tournament, which gives them the PWF & International tag team titles as a result. It’s their second straight win.
– In EMLL, Hayabusa tried a Space Flying Tiger Drop on 12/2 and missed, failing to clear the top rope and landing on his head on the floor as a result. (Not the last time the Observer would have that kind of note about him, unfortunately.)
– Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas were supposed to be leaving All Japan for the WWF, but cancelled their meeting and will be staying in Japan with an increased role for the time being. All Japan is trying to avoid any further embarrassment like with Ray Traylor, who got a big push and then left for WCW without notice. There were also rumors about Chris Candido jumping to Titan right away, which resulted in his January tour with AJPW getting canned, but apparently that was a misunderstanding and he’s staying away from New York for the time being.
– Baba held a press conference after the show promising that they were going to SHAKE THINGS UP in 1995 and make some changes, like focusing on more Misawa v. Kobashi singles matches!
– The Hell Raiders officially split up in late November, with Kensuke Sasaki wiping off his facepaint to symbolically kill off the Power Warrior character, leading to him teaming up with Hiroshi Hase again.
– Prelim guy Hiroyoshi Yamamoto will make his return at the Tokyo Dome show, and will now be known as “Hiroyoshi Tenzan” instead. (This guy is worse than Ray Traylor! Pick a name and stick to it!)
– And now, it’s a packed edition of…
– Former wrestler Kung Fu Lee from Texas is starting up a new promotion called Dai Tokyo Pro Wrestling, not to be confused with the recent Tokyo Pro Wrestling startup. Kendo Nagasaki is the top star, which means NOW is gone. Masayoshi Motegi quit Social Pro Wrestling Federation to form Yume Factory. And Micky Ibaragi from the old W*ING promotion has announced a new W*ING promotion that will debut on 3/25.
– Speaking of Tokyo Pro Wrestling, they debuted on 12/7 after cancelling their 12/5 show, with a crowd of about 1000 people and mostly Japanese no-name indy guys.
– To Memphis, where Jerry Lawler’s increased presence on WWF TV has confused fan reaction to him to the point where he doesn’t really draw a reaction either way.
– The 12/12 show features a rematch of the historic worst match in American wrestling history, as Sid Vicious defends the Unified World title against Adam Bomb (aka Nightstalker), which drags up memories of their horrific Clash match from four years back.
– Tammy Fytch took a bad bump at an SMW show on 12/10, falling off the apron and breaking her fall with her hands, which resulted in a cast on her hand for a few weeks. (Hopefully she won’t have any problems with painkillers or anything.)
– Scotty Flamingo starts with ECW on 1/7, apparently. (That’s a weird fit. I don’t know if he’ll get over there. Hopefully he can come up with a new gimmick.)
– Missy Hyatt is doing the talk show circuit while pursuing her lawsuit against WCW, but Turner’s lawyers are trying to have the case dropped because wrestlers are independent contractors and not employees, and thus the laws don’t apply to them. This actually worked when Ranger Ross sued for racial discrimination a few years ago. (Aha! I bet they settled and that’s why we never got the resolution.)
– The 12/10 Sportatorium show was said to be the worst yet, over 3 hours of terrible wrestling that saw fans walking out well before the main event. (Was it Ronda Rousey in the main?) Scott Putski was trying out a new gimmick as “Konnan Dos Mil”, literally ripping off Konnan’s gimmick “but minus the ability and charisma”. Buddy Landel got fired because he was working SMW on the side.
– Over to WCW, where Blacktop Bully debuted Robert Parker as his new manager, and won a squash with a wristlock.
And now, a new feature I’m workshopping, called…
– At the TV tapings, Steven Regal & Jean Paul Levesque worked as a team, and Dave has word that young Levesque has signed a new deal with WCW, so all the rumors of him going to the WWF are OUT THE WINDOW. (Can you even imagine Paul Levesque in the WWF?)
– Also, the idea about Sherri leaving Harlem Heat to manage Regal & Levesque is not happening after all.
– Butcher did an interview on the tapings, using the typical WCW subtle jabs at the competition, where he complained it was time for Hogan to pass the torch to a NEW GENERATION wrestler such as himself.
(Yes, yes, we get it.)
– Alex Wright debuted at the tapings, simply introduced as Das Wunderkind.
– Also, as noted earlier, Harlem Heat won the tag titles from Stars & Stripes, which will air on 1/7 after Starrcade.
– Although Gene Okerlund reported on his hotline that Bret Hart was negotiating with WCW, it was totally made up. (Can you even imagine Bret Hart going to WCW?)
– To the WWF, where Diesel did a series of main events against Backlund in his first test as champion, which resulted in a 30 second jackknife win and then laying out Owen and Neidhart for good measure afterwards. Crowds in all the cities were half of what the usual B shows did. Rule of thumb is that the babyface champion draws his best crowds right after winning the title and then things go down from there. (Don’t worry, rock bottom is still on the way!)
– Dave further shovels dirt on Bob Backlund, noting that traditionally his gimmick is for working 5:00 midcard comedy matches against Jimmy Valiant while being managed by Paul Jones. (OUCH!)
– Tammy Fytch was being considered for an announcer spot, but they hired Stephanie Wiand instead.
– Bull Nakano was suspended for six weeks, perhaps for hairspray abuse. Dave reveals that scientists have discovered a hole in the ozone layer above her apartment in Tokyo.
– Royal Rumble is selling really fast, so Dave advises that if you want tickets for Wrestlemania, get them soon because all the good seats will be gone quickly once they go on sale! (Or…not.)
– Louis Spicoli looks to be coming in.
– And finally, the RAW tapings from Liberty NY were completely dead. Dave notes: “Since everyone in wrestling knows the problem and nobody will say it, Vince McMahon needs to bring in some new people, not just wrestlers because that he’s doing, but change those doing the booking. They are getting so caught up in what gets them off that they aren’t realizing it isn’t getting the fans off at all.”
(Well, good thing they’ve learned THAT lesson here in 2019!)