Wrestling Observer Flashback – 01.16.95
It’s the year end awards issue! Lots to argue about here, I’m sure.
Let’s dive right into it…
Wrestler of the Year: Toshiaki Kawada
(Of note: Sabu actually finished in second place for the year, which is something we’d never see again.)
Most Outstanding Wrestler: Kenta Kobashi
(This was the equivalent of “Best Worker” today and again, Sabu finishes second in a result we wouldn’t see again.)
Best Babyface: Atsushi Onita
Best Heel: The Love Machine
Feud of the Year: Los Gringos Locos v. Mexican AAA
Tag Team of the Year: Love Machine & Eddy Guerrero
(They won that one running away, as Art Barr cleans up after his death.)
Most Improved: Diesel
(Barely beating out Shane Douglas!)
Most Unimproved: Hulk Hogan
(Barely beating out Lex Luger!)
Most Obnoxious: Hulk Hogan
Best on Interviews: Ric Flair
(Another squeaker over Shane Douglas. Those were the days.)
Most Charismatic: Atsushi Onita
Best Technical Wrestler: Chris Benoit
Best Brawler: Cactus Jack
Best Flying Wrestler: Great Sasuke
(Breaking up quite the run for Jushin Liger!)
Most Overrated: Hulk Hogan
(Sensing a theme here.)
Most Underrated: Brian Pillman
Best Promotion: AAA
Best Weekly TV: ECW
Match of the Year: Razor Ramon v. Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania 10)
Rookie of the Year: Mikey Whipwreck
(Beating out young Jean Paul Levesque, which is probably why Mikey never got a serious shot in WWE.)
Manager of the Year: Jim Cornette
Best Announcer: Joey Styles
Worst Announcer: Gorilla Monsoon
Best Wrestling Show: New Japan Super J Cup Tokyo 4.16.94
Worst Wrestling Show: UWF Blackjack Brawl, Las Vegas 9.25.94
Best Wrestling Maneuver: SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP!
Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic: Ric Flair’s retirement
Best Color Commentator: Bobby Heenan
Favorite Wrestler: Sabu
Least Favorite: Hulk Hogan
Worst Wrestler: Dave Sullivan
Worst Tag Team: The Bushwhackers
Worst TV show: WCW Saturday Night
(How this beat out the GWF TV show is beyond me.)
Worst Manager: Mr. Fuji
Worst Match: Jerry Lawler & Midgets v. Doink & Midgets
(SERIOUSLY? Undertaker v. Undertaker only placed SECOND? And Undertaker v. Yokozuna didn’t even make top five!)
Worst Feud: Jerry Lawler v. Doink
Worst on Interviews: Dave Sullivan
Worst Promotion: WCW
Best Booker: Paul Heyman
Promoter of the Year: Baba
Best Gimmick: The Undertaker
Worst Gimmick: Dave Sullivan
Most Embarrassing: Doink the Clown
(No mention of Bob Backlund?)
– Over to the light amount of news this week.
– Tommy Dreamer is doing jobs in All Japan, mainly working underneath on the cards.
– More information on the Tokyo Dome show from 1/4, with the show being called “better than average” by most people. The Hase/Muto v. Steiners match was rated anywhere from ***3/4 – ****1/2, and Hashimoto v. Sasaki was said to be anywhere from ***1/4 – ****1/4.
– New Japan was so thrilled with the returning Hiroyoshi Tenzan that they’re giving him a title match with Hashimoto on 2/4. That would make him the youngest wrestler to challenge for the IWGP title. The joke is that Otto Wanz might not have improved his wrestling, but sure helped him pick the right pharmacy.
– The BVD “martial arts” tournament was a complete embarrassment, with the matches looking like a parody of UFC, although no one is blaming Sting in either case.
– Great Sasuke was supposed to win the Junior title from Norio Honaga, but he did a job for Ricky Fuji on an FMW show in December, and this made the New Japan braintrust think that they couldn’t put the World Junior title on someone who would do jobs for a lower quality talent like that. (Japan is fucking bizarre at times.)
– The Dome show actually set the all time gate for pro wrestling with $4.8 million. (That’s pocket change for Wrestlemania these days.)
– Eric Bischoff was at the show and made an announcement in the ring that WCW and New Japan would be doing more talent exchanges in 1995 and beyond. “Let’s just say he didn’t leave people with much respect of the American wrestling business” notes Dave. Regardless, Bischoff managed to get close to a million out of New Japan for the deal.
– Weekly Pro Wrestling announced their mega-show at the Tokyo Dome for 4/2, with no matches announced yet, but there will be involvement from 11 different promotions at least. There will be no interpromotional matches, and everyone will send a match to highlight their style and best workers. Onita will likely headline with a barbed wire match. ECW is trying to get involved, although nothing has been done yet. WCW was asked, but Bischoff said that they wanted a Hogan v. Vader match, which would be a political nightmare and not worth the trouble.
– Dan Severn is over huge right now because of the UFC, and UWFI offered him a big contract as a result. (One of the few times you’ll read the sentence “Dan Severn is over huge right now”). The irony is that UWFI was desperately trying to avoid Severn entering the UFC and it ended up being the best thing for his career.
– Yoji Anjyo update: He is now challenging Satoru Sayama to a fight because Sayama stooged out the video footage of the Rickson Gracie “fight” to the media.
– Frank Juarez Update: He actually is Ken Shamrock’s adopted brother, and has now changed his name to Frank Shamrock. (Whew. Now I can sleep at night.)
– Cactus Jack is getting over pretty good in Japan with his IWA feud against Terry Funk, and won over the crowd by wrapping barbed wire around his own throat and dropping elbows on Nakamaki during a tag match and then hitting him repeatedly with a flaming chair. (It just shows that you can get over doing the simple things!)
– To Memphis, where Bill Dundee did an interview talking about how he always hated managers in wrestling, which is ironic considering his last job in wrestling.
– JC Ice finally admitted on TV that he’s Bill Dundee’s son, by the way, which is the first time he had done so. Wolfie D noted that his real name is Kelly Wolfe as well. (The fourth wall is SHATTERING!)
– Tammy Sytch is likely done with SMW and on the way to the WWF. She was actually let go prematurely due to an argument with Jim Cornette over her involvement on a house show series. She was still healing from having a cast removed on her wrist and didn’t want to do anything physical, but Cornette wanted her to interfere in the Candido-Bradley matches and get spanked. So she’s gone.
– To ECW, where that Shane v. Tully “60 minute draw”, which first of all was actually only 43:00, was considered the worst match in the history of the promotion. It was so bad that the mutants turned their backs on it and chanted “We want Bingo”.
– Apparently Tully was blown up 8:00 into the match and it was 40 more minutes of restholds as a result. It’s supposed to build to a rematch but now, just no.
– Stevie Richards finally introduced “Raven”, who is Scotty Flamingo doing some kind of “Crow” ripoff gimmick. (Like that’ll get over.)
– Barry Windham is supposed to be the next guy in to face Shane, but he’s currently suing WCW because his knee is so badly injured that he’s unable to ever work in the business again and will be suffering for life. (Until he came back with WWE in 1996.)
– Jim Crockett appears to be getting some overdue revenge by booking Dusty lookalike Randy Rhodes as a jobber, as well as Dustin’s legit cousin Tracy Austin.
– Abdullah the Butcher gave an interview with an Atlanta paper about his House of Ribs and Chinese Food restaurant this week. (This place is the gift that keeps on giving punchlines!) He claimed to be teaching karate in Canada in 1976 when he was discovered, which Dave notes is actually “1876”, and is also a “seventh degree black belt in tae kwon do”.
– To WCW, where Arn Anderson won the TV title from Johnny B. Badd on the 1/8 Center Stage tapings. Arn is taking the place of Honky Tonk Man in the feud.
– Dave is growing increasingly annoyed by WCW main events ruined by heels running in to attack the babyface every time there’s a star v. star match. (He’s gonna hate Nitro then.)
– Randy Savage subbed for Sting against Avalanche on house shows and got “polite applause” and not much more.
– Van Hammer got arrested for possession of illegally prescribed drugs in Georgia, along with the physician who wrote the “prescription”. WCW is claiming that he hasn’t worked for the company in two years, although Dave is confused by the guy with the same name and wrestling style who was just on TV a couple of weeks ago. (Maybe he’s confused with Jungle Jim Steele or the Renegade?)
– WCW continues to be in heavy duty budget cutting mode!
– Everyone’s on pins and needles waiting to hear the fate of Hogan’s proposed “Thunderforce” sequel to Thunder in Paradise.
– Center Stage might actually get shut down by the fire department, which would screw WCW over pretty good.
– Tickets for Hogan v. Vader in Baltimore on 2/19 go on sale later in the week, although people who called earlier this week were told that not only is there no show on 2/19, but the only wrestling upcoming is the WWF.
– David Hasselhoff will be at the Clash in Las Vegas, because apparently importing “Baywatch” stars is how you give people the rub these days. (I bet Alex Wright loved him, though!)
– Guardian Angel will be changing his name and gimmick. Again.
– Dave watched the “reboot” episode of Monday Night RAW on 1/9 and his illusions of the product becoming more “Japan style” are gone. It was more like 1984 WWF, in fact. The taping was described as “the worst in a long time” although Ramon v. Owen was the best match in months on the show at ***3/4.
– On the other end of the spectrum, the live show was rushed so they could get to the tuxedo match, which was “a living testament to what you can get people who have no self respect to do on television.” And then the match was short so Finkel had to parade around the ring in his red undies with the Bushwackers.
– The Minotaur has already been put into a jobber position on the card and is managed by Jim Cornette now instead of Ted Dibiase.
– Chris Candido worked a tryout as a babyface and was extremely nervous and uncomfortable for some reason.
– Spellbinder also debuted in a tryout as a babyface and got over doing magic tricks.
– Also debuting were the Harris Twins, as Jake & Elwood Blue, managed by Dutch Mantel with a new name. (Aha! So they were supposed to be the “Blues Brothers” and then got tweaked to “Jacob” and “Eli” instead. Neat!)
– Charlie Minn was already fired from his TV announcing job.
– Funny bit from a house show in Dallas on 1/8, as Jimmy Del Ray tried doing a clawhold on a Bushwacker and then the Bodies went on to lose immediately afterwards. So the Bodies argued on the mic afterwards and Del Ray complained “The claw is supposed to work in Dallas!”
– And finally, WWF shows on PPV in Canada might have problems due to a new “violence code” being adopted by Canadian PPV services, which will force “excessively violent” PPV shows to air after 9:00PM. Dave suspects this might be bad for the UFC in particular. (Yeah, UFCs were banned from Canadian PPV for a long time, although I don’t know that this code had anything to do with it.)