Wrestling Observer Flashback – 03.13.95
Oh man, Dave is already declaring a PUBLICITY HOME RUN for Lawrence Taylor! Wait, shouldn’t that be, like, a publicity touchdown? Mixing metaphors is such a dangerous business. But enough about that, on with the Flashback!
– The WWF’s announcement of LT’s participation at Wrestlemania XI received major press worldwide, and will likely turn the show into the biggest mainstream publicity show since the first two Wrestlemanias.
– This is actually an interesting move from the WWF, because they basically went into it knowing that the mainstream press would mock them for being “fake” and look down on Taylor for lowering himself to being associated with our so-called sport. However, the WWF has seemingly leaned into the criticisms, thinking that this is an opportunity to turn Diesel and Bam Bam Bigelow into household names. (Yeah, that one didn’t exactly pan out like they planned.)
– The news outlets actually made a laughable number of errors in reporting the show, ranging from the New York Daily News getting the date of the show wrong to inflating Taylor’s salary from $100,000 to $500,000. (As if Vince would ever pay someone half a million dollars to do a single wrestling show! That’ll be the day that, I dunno, Saudi oil princes are underwriting the promotion!)
– Taylor’s actual fee is masked by a NDA, but sources close to him have given the real number as somewhere in between $100,000 and $150,000, although either way it’s a bargain for the WWF given all the publicity that the show will no doubt bring in. Dave is already predicting a huge, record-smashing gate and buyrate for the show, in fact!
– Oddly enough, in many countries where the NFL doesn’t dominate mainstream press, this actually makes Taylor a bigger star by association with the WWF. (Like me, for instance, where I was aware that “Lawrence Taylor” was a football player, but couldn’t even tell you who he played for or how many rouges he scored or whether he liked to go for it on third down.)
– Of course, this was not the first time that LT had been involved in a pro wrestling angle, which none of the mainstream press mentioned because it wasn’t part of the WWF narrative. Taylor had actually been in Lex Luger’s corner for a football match against Mr. Hughes back in 1991 at a WCW show at the Meadowlands. It was actually something of a black eye on Taylor at the time, in fact, because the Giants were in the NFC championship and it was thought to be a stupid risk to be doing pro wrestling stuff two days before that.
– The WWF of course proudly displayed all the press clippings they could find on their TV shows, even though most of them were basically mocking the idea and some were downright negative. One in particular accused Taylor of doing permanent damage to his dignity. Most sportswriters have picked up the idea that Taylor is doing this for the money because he’s got financial problems. (Well, as we’d learn later on, he had plenty of money to throw at “coke and hos” and his dignity would be much more damaged from his boasts of “getting something strange for a little bit of change”. Maybe LT was the original basis for The Godfather?)
– Of note, in all the mainstream coverage, basically none of it even mentioned Diesel v. Shawn Michaels, the supposed main event of Wrestlemania. However, most of them DID make sure to mention that Hulk Hogan had recently left for WCW. The WWF themselves is basically ignoring the entire undercard anyway, only announcing the title match at the press conference and then throwing together the rest on their own TV later.
– Other matches of note to be announced still with only three weeks left: Undertaker v. Bundy, Razor Ramon v. Jeff Jarrett, Smoking Gunns defending the tag titles against Men on a Mission, Lex Luger v. Tatanka, Bull Nakano v. Alundra Blayze and Owen Hart v. Davey Boy Smith. (As they say in the biz, CARD SUBJECT TO CHANGE. That probably would have been a way better show, though!)
– WWF also announced more celebrities for the show (I’m astonished that Dave didn’t even put that in quotes) including Pam Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Nicholas Turtoro, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and “alternative rock group Fishbones” to sing the national anthem. (Ouch. Here’s a link to “Sunless Saturday” from them, which is a pretty great song.)
– OK, onto the giant Tokyo Dome supershow featuring 13 promotions, which has about 30,000 tickets sold thus far and is being advertised as a seven hour show. The current card looks like:
1. Akira Maeda v. Chris Dolman (RINGS)
2. Sasuke & Sato & Shiryu v. Super Delfin & Taka Michinoku & Gran Naniwa (Michinoku Pro)
3. Terry Funk & Shoji Nakamaki & Nobutaka Araya v. Head Hunters & Leatherface (IWA)
4. Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue v. Manami Toyota & Sakie Hasegawa (All Japan Women)
5. Dynamite Kansai & Hikari Fukuoka & Candy Okutsu & Fusayo Nouchi vs. Devil Masami & Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki & Hiroumi Yagi. (JWP)
6. Gary Albright v. Masahito Kakihara (UWFI)
7. Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Yuki Ishikawa v. Don Arakawa & Carl Greco (PWFG)
8. Atsushi Onita v. Mr. Pogo (FMW)
Plus five more matches to really fill out the card, which will come from All Japan and New Japan.
– Taking the lead from WCW, the WWF is adding four more monthly PPVs, bringing the total to 9 for the year. They’re be priced at $15 to compete with the $27.50 WCW shows, which is a surprise to Dave because PPV price hasn’t been a motivating factor in their success or failure thus far. Dave is pretty sure this is finally gonna be the move that overloads PPV and wrestling fans in general once and for all.
– Stan Hansen won the Triple Crown from Kawada at Budokan Hall on 3/4, his fourth reign as champion. The plan had been in place all year for Stan to get one last run with the belt, with Steve Williams taking his place as the top gaijin in the promotion now. (And indeed it was Hansen’s last run with the title.)
– NBC’s “Dateline” news show ran a piece on the UFC on 3/3, which was a big disappointment and only had superficial things to say about the company. It was mostly an embarrassing back-and-forth between Sen. John McCain and Bob Meyrowitz, both of whom came off sounding pretty stupid. In particular Meyrowitz made the ridiculous claim that “no one has ever been injured in a UFC match”, while McCain compared the concept to “feeding Christians to the lions”. (Now THERE’S a reality show that FOX hasn’t exploited yet!) McCain in particular came off as an out-of-touch old prude, rigorously defending the “sweet science” of boxing as though grown men punching each other in the face was any less gruesome. Meanwhile, Meyrowitz came off as a sleazy boxing promoter. (Perish the thought that anyone in combat sports promotion would come off as sleazy.)
– Also, Dave points out that UFC 1 was literally promoted like human cockfighting, and Renco Pardouel elbowing Orlando Weit into unconsciousness is the kind of nightmare fuel that makes Meyrowitz look really idiotic for trying to say it’s not inherently dangerous. At one point the interviewer tried to confront Meyrowitz for saying that kids attending MMA events might encourage them to take up martial arts on their own, exclaiming “You want kids to watch this?” in disbelief. (So yeah, in fact that’s exactly what DID happen eventually.)
– Also also, the show never touched on the persistent rumors that it’s fixed and/or fighters are excluded in order to protect the Gracie name, either of which would be far more damning than any fuddy-duddy arguments from McCain.
– Over to Japan, where New Japan has dropped the Super J Cup this year and will be doing something else instead. (The 95 show was the one with Gedo in the finals, right? So yeah, that definitely did end up happening).
– Eric Bischoff was at a K1 show on 3/3 with Masa Saito, and met with K-1 owner Yoshi Ishii about doing a June PPV tournament, like a WCW version of UFC. But with more rules. (My god why could this not have happened?)
– Meanwhile, details are sketchy, but apparently there’s going to be a UFC-style tournament on 4/20 at Budokan, promoted by Satoru Sayama and featuring Rickson Gracie. (I believe this was the Vale Tudo show that was one of the things that started the ball rolling towards what became Pride.)
– To SMW, where Scott Armstrong and Billy Black are both gone from the promotion this week. So the New Southern Boys team is no more. Black, meanwhile, had been TV champion, but went home on 3/2 because “he didn’t like snow”. (He never really did anything else of note in the business after that, oddly enough, despite working a lot of shows in Japan and coming off as a reasonably big star there.) The explanation on TV for his departure was that he was in the shower and slipped on his tobacco juice, by the way.
– Funny line from Buddy Landel on the last SMW TV show, as Bobby Blaze had recently won the SMW title and Buddy was challenging him to a match. But first he offered $500 to buy the belt, so that Blaze wouldn’t have to embarrass himself. Blaze refused, saying he was doing it for his newborn baby son, and Buddy responded that could use the $500 to hire an investigator and find out who the father actually was.
– To ECW, where Axl and Ian Rotten are really pushing for their “Tai Pei Death match” idea, where they put glue and broken glass on their hands. (I prefer the “Hot Shots” version of it)
– Dave also notes that the Funk/Sandman/Cactus angle from TV this weekend was one of the best in ECW history.
– Also, Dave watched the 30:00 Shane Douglas interview and thought it was great up until a point, that point being 20:00 of Shane Douglas putting himself over. Also, Flair is no longer the main guy and focal point of WCW, so really spending all that time ripping on him doesn’t even make sense from a storyline perspective.
– ESPN 2 is showing Herb Abrams’ UWF again, in prime time! 3AM eastern!
– Steel City Wrestling presents “Deaf WrestleFest” at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf on 4/9 in Pittsburgh, with Demolition Ax main eventing. (Crowd reaction is still louder than Baron Corbin’s matches, I bet.)
– Adding to Ultimate Warrior’s sterling reputation, a news station in Phoenix did a story about notable student loan defaults, and one of the names mentioned was James Hellwig, who apparently took out $80,000 in loans to attend chiropractic school and then never graduated. And now taxpayers are on the hook for $120,000 with interest charges.
(Well, we know one guy who’s offended…)
(And student loans! Too bad Irwin wasn’t around in 1996 to confront him.)
– Over to WCW, where there’s talk of the Road Warriors returning to feud with the new Four Horsemen. The group would likely be Flair, Anderson, Steve Austin and a fourth guy. Names thrown around include Vader, Dustin Rhodes or Tully Blanchard.
– DDP is now doing an angle where’s broke and selling off his car and jewelry.
– Despite all the mainstream pub for LT, it’s not helping WWF house shows, which are flopping as usual with Diesel on top in tag matches.
– They were begging Rick Martel to return and work Montreal as their top babyface there, since it’s their hottest market, but he decided against doing it. (Probably still terrified of Tatanka getting revenge for the whole eagle feather thing.)
– WWF is dragging their heels in court on paying Jesse Ventura for the royalties awarded to him in the videotape lawsuit ($809,000) so he’s suing them again for an additional $254,000 in interest charges.
– Jim Cornette looks to be permanent co-host of RAW for awhile, although Michael Hayes and Shane Douglas both got tryouts. Dave notes that Cornette is great in the role, although he might go crazy if he has to fly into Connecticut every week. Or, you know, crazier.
– Tex Slazenger from WCW got a tryout at the last tapings under his real name of Dennis Knight.
– More legal troubles, as Davey Boy Smith was sued for $1.3 million over the alleged bar attack on Kody Light in 1993. Light claims that Smith choked him and smashed him into a wall for dancing with Diana unknowingly, and as a result he hit his head on the floor and suffered permanent brain damage, resulting in significant loss of motor, cognitive and speech skills. (And then he trained to become a wrestler and today is known as Baron Corbin. Anyway, the criminal trial that followed was the very definition of a circus, but we’ll get to that later.)
– And finally, Dave would like to put to rest once and for all any rumors that Lex Luger has given notice, as reported on the WCW Hotline. It’s just Lex doing jobs for Shawn Michaels leading to speculation that he’s leaving, because fans see someone doing jobs and jump to CRAZY conclusions, like “Lex Luger is leaving the WWF to show up in WCW again.” (I mean…COME ON! That’s just crazy talk. You’re crazy.)