Wrestling Observer Flashback – 02.20.95
I’m not even sure when this is getting posted this week, but it’s being written in the morning of Wrestlemania in case anyone dies or whatever and jokes become horribly inappropriate. Always a risk in this business.
Anyway, it’s once again the BREAKING POINT FOR THE BUSINESS this week. Seems to happen a lot.
– Yes, WCW has once again taken the next step in destroying the business, turning PPV from a special concept into a monthly house show by adding new PPV shows in June and November this year. In fact, they might just drop the Clash of Champions concept entirely and do 12 PPVs a year! Can you imagine?
– Realistically, PPV is the only thing left that makes money for WCW, but at what point do people get sick of PPV and check out?
– WCW obviously thinks that their PPV audience is here to stay, because they’ve not only expanded to 9 shows per year, but also raised the price from $24.95 to $27.50. (Meanwhile it would have cost you $60 to order the ROH/G1 show on FiteTV this weekend. Inflation is a bitch.) But hey, if 100,000 people continue ordering every show, that’ll bring them one step closer to sweet, sweet solvency.
– Of course the big winner is Hulk Hogan, who will make a whopping $4.7 million if he works all the shows. (That’s not gonna work for him, brother.) Price increases have made no negative impact on buys to date, so it seems safe to call this estimate a conservative one. And UFC will probably increase their price in response from $14.95 to $24.95 moving forward as well.
– Dave notes that while ultimately economics dictates the saturation point with these things, compared to a night out at a major sporting event, $27.50 is actually a bargain. Well, aside from some of the recent PPVs, where “free would be overpriced.” (Quality snark from Dave there.)
– Next up, Dave offers a preview of the next WCW PPV, Uncensored, which he sums up thusly: “On paper it looks like a weak show as none of the matches look to be sure bets to be good.” (Now there’s an understatement!)
– Based on current trends and advertising, SuperBrawl is looking to do better than Starrcade, even with the weak undercard. (Yup.) They’re also introducing a new promotional concept, where they run a “dark” match on Main Event as a pre-show teaser, featuring Arn Anderson v. Johnny B. Badd for the TV title in a lumberjack match to entice viewers to order the show. Dave thinks this is a great idea.
– Not much is known about the Slamboree show on 5/21 yet, although there’s rumors swirling around Ricky Steamboat being involved or inducted in the Hall or whatever. However, there’s currently HEAT backstage because he’s threatening a lawsuit over his termination with 10 weeks left on his contract. You’d think that all the years of service from Steamboat would be worth honoring him, but wrestling is very much a “either you’re with us or against us” business and Steamboat is very much against WCW at this point.
– Meanwhile, the tournament final of the presumed cruiserweight title tournament, which will be Brian Pillman winning it, will also happen on the 5/21 PPV show. The tournament has already been postponed multiple times but this time it’s really happening, for real, on 3/6 in Dothan AL at the TV tapings. But it might be postponed again because that’s their MO and they want to find some outside talent to keep it from becoming another jobber title like last time. (They literally postponed the tournament for another YEAR, in fact.)
– They are actually trying to get Sabu to come in and go to the finals against Pillman, but Paul Heyman is FURIOUS about them trying to steal his top guy so that might not be worth the fight.
– Speaking of postponements, the Steiner Brothers are now being pushed back to June instead of March because everyone realizes that the tag title scene is pretty dead right now and it would be a waste of them given their massive price tag, especially if the plan is to have them put over Harlem Heat. And the Steiners are NEVER going to agree to doing that job, so WCW’s feeling is that…
…it wouldn’t be in the company’s best interest for their own champions to look bad against outsiders and never get a win in the end against the non-regulars. (Obviously someone changed their mind a year later.)
– Speaking of outsiders, WCW is in discussion stages of running its own “UFC-style PPV”, featuring an unnamed member of the Gracie family as the main draw. It’ll feature a wrestling ring with rope breaks, with more striking and kickboxing. (Not gonna lie, this would have been an epic trainwreck that I’m sad we never got to see.)
– Antonio Inoki is combining with the North Korean government and the all-time world record for attendance may be in jeopardy as a result, with a 150,000 seat stadium show on either 4/28 or 4/30. New Japan will be heavily involved, but not much is known about it at this time.
Oh, and at this point it’s time for…
– DID YOU KNOW? “As is well-known, the presumed all-time record was set on March 29, 1987 for the Hulk Hogan-Andre the Giant match which sold out the Pontiac Silverdome (claimed to be 93,000 fans but other sources who would know peg the real figure at 78,000).” (Huh. Interesting. Has anyone ever mentioned that before?)
– Over to the upcoming Weekly Pro Wrestling Super-Duper-Show at the Tokyo Dome on 4/2, where they’ve abandoned the idea of using foreign companies as a part of it. The organizers figure that 13 different Japanese companies is enough and adding more would be “overkill”. Plus with all the matches running 15-20 minutes long each, they don’t want the show to turn into a marathon. (Ironically I’m typing this out as I wait for the start of the 7.5 hour Wrestlemania…) They’re already sold 18,000 tickets with no matches announced, although Onita will be doing some kind of electrified barbed wire match at the very least.
– OK, so back to Scheme Gene and his tease of a dead 45 year old former heavyweight champion, which resulted in an all-time record gross for the WCW Hotline of somewhere around $50,000. At the same time, it came under fire for being overly sleazy in an industry where sleaze is the way of life. Even worse, Okerlund took 5:00 to mention that Blackwell was the guy who died.
As a result of the backlash, TBS issued a new edict that deaths could not be used as hotline teases in the future. And Gene was forced apologize on the hotline the next week, although it came off as insincere to those who listened to it. In fact, he said that if he was being forced to apologize, then “others on the hotline” should also apologize for reporting that Jesse Ventura was going to the WWF as an announcer on RAW as a done deal. Of course, this is even more ridiculous because the person who started that particular rumor was in fact Mean Gene himself on the hotline.
– Over to Japan, with Dave’s summation of the TV match with Misawa & Kobashi v. Kawada & Taue: It was the best match he’s ever seen, “if you want to know what it sounds like to hear 4200 people have a simultaneous orgasm that lasts 15:00, you’ll have to see this match.” (Something something Joey Ryan…) Needless to say, he gives it *****. (The match, not the orgasm.)
– A quick note from Mexico, as a magazine did an article on Brazo “Super Porky” De Plata, who is over 300 pounds and at his last physical his doctor told him that he’s overdosing on Vitamin T: Tacos, tamales and tostadas. (He actually had a run in WWE with the “Super Astros” show a decade later and he’s still alive today, at least.)
– A weird week of booking for Keiji Muto, as he did a shocking job to Mike Enos of all people on 2/7 in Hirosaki, and then the next night in Sendai, he came back as The Great Muta and pinned El Gigante with a green mist and moonsault, making him one of the only people in history to pin Gigante.
– UWFI made a surprise announcement that Vader will defend his World title against Takada on the 4/20 show in Nagoya, instead of the former June plan of a Dome show, with the theory being that they want to get the belt off him as soon as possible.
– To Memphis, where Sid teamed up with Lawler against Big Daddy Cyrus & Crusher Bones and actually popped a bigger house than the title match from the previous week! Lawler had done a promo segment with Sid on TV the week prior to regaining the Unified title from him, where he offered to put the SMW title up against the Unified title, but Sid refused the title v. title match because it was beneath him and “a company of wrestlers who can’t get a job anywhere else.” (Dropping TRUTH BOMBS!)
– And then the 2/11 TV show just opened with them saying that Sid had lost the Unified title to Lawler and left the area, and that’s that.
– Speaking of SMW, Jim Cornette continues to make friends in wrestling, as Bruce Mitchell attended a TV taping with friend KC O’Connor (he of the window-smashing incident with Cornette a few months back) and Cornette found out about it after the fact and lost his shit. He made another threatening phone call to Bruce Mitchell and Wade Keller, telling them never to come back to his shows or he’d “fight them then and there”. Cornette has heat with the Torch writers over a famous satirical article published in the newsletter about the Gangstas using Affirmative Action to win their matches and other stuff, and he had already threatened to kill and/or beat up both writers once before. Regardless, Dave notes that nothing they’re writing about Cornette is more damaging to Cornette’s image than being on WWF TV and managing Mantaur.
– In a sentence no one ever thought they’d type, the NWC promotion drew a sellout of 1050 fans to Las Vegas with a phenomenal main event featuring Virgil. (I feel like one of those robots that tries to do a logic puzzle and has their head explode.) To be fair, Virgil’s opponent was Terry Funk, who literally worked a one-man match complete with fighting fans and lighting his branding iron on fire.
– Paul “Butcher” Vachon, father of Luna, ran for office in the 2/13 Canadian federal election as a representative of the NDP in Brome-Mississquoi, Quebec. Sadly, he fell just short of the 17000 votes of the winning candidate, with a total of 338. (Well at least he beat the Green Party.)
– More NWA drama, as Jim Crockett has decided to stop paying his NWA dues and was sent a cease and desist order by the NWA to prevent him from billing future shows with that name.
– Not much from the WCW Center Stage tapings, although Dick Slater wasn’t used and might already be gone. Dave gets another funny line when he talks about Flair coming out for an interview with Nick Bockwinkel where he says that he’s “tired of watching wrestling on TV” and wants to return. Dave notes that everyone is tired of watching on TV lately because it’s sucked so bad for the past three months.
– If you thought the Monday Night Wars would turn out to be bitter, that’s nothing compared to the NASCAR WARS. Yes, to combat WWF’s sponsorship of Bob Holly this season, WCW has signed an agreement with Winston Cup driver Billy Standridge and will be cross-promoting on their TV shows. (But will they put the tag team titles on him, too? Actually I wouldn’t have put that past them.)
– Rough week for Harley Race, as he underwent hip replacement surgery on 1/24, but orderlies DROPPED HIM and they had to redo the entire surgery. Race thinks it’s probably the end of his wrestling career. (Which it was, sadly.)
– Dave thinks that the DDP-Evad feud is great, as long as it never actually results in a wrestling match.
– Tammy Sytch has already been removed from her role as Tamara Murphy and will be repackaged into a cheerleader for Chris Candido instead. He’ll debut as a babyface right away.
– Rumors abound that Roddy Piper will be in Diesel’s corner for Wrestlemania.
– And finally, Dave is a bit triggered by terrible announcing, as Jim Ross on Action Zone called a back suplex “a Northern Lights Suplex”, which is almost as bad as Tony Schiavone calling everything “full arm drag and twist” on the other show.
I’m outta here, and time to go watch WrestleMania!