Wrestling Observer Flashback – 03.20.95
Oh man, MORE PPV shows from the WWF? Sounds like it.
– The WWF has announced that they’ll be adding another four PPV shows in 1995 in order to keep pace with WCW, starting with a 5/14 show in Syracuse which will be dubbed “In Your Home”. The new shows will run 1:45 and cost only $14.95, which is $10 less than WCW’s non-Hogan shows. Ones that feature Hogan cost $27.95. (Really? I never noticed that they were more, unless my cable company just priced them all the same.) To balance off this low price for the new shows, the big shows will get more expensive, at $34.95 for Wrestlemania and $29.95 for Summerslam.
– So at this point, there’s a whopping 18 wrestling PPVs scheduled for 1995, plus whatever UFC puts out there, plus whatever wacky stuff like Herb Abrams or UWFI or whatever. At this point, it seems like the real money in wrestling has gone from house shows to PPV, as evidenced by all the groups that only do house shows going out of business. WWF and WCW really only do them because that’s what always has been done. ECW might be doing OK in Philly, but hasn’t turned any kind of profit outside of the bingo hall and pretty much has anyone with a business background “shaking their heads” in disbelief because you can’t sustain a long-term promotion that way they’re doing it. Clearly they need to get on PPV to survive.
– On the other hand, every one of WWF and WCW’s PPV shows for the past year has been profitable, and in fact the potential revenue from PPV as compared to house shows isn’t even close. A great drawing house show might make a few thousand, but even a low level PPV grosses MILLIONS.
– So, as a result of all the focus on PPV, Vince has now decided to cut back on house shows again and put all his energy behind building the money PPV shows instead. B-Shows will be cut back almost entirely, and A-Shows will continue as before, but more frequently switch to overseas shows instead with promoters paying for the shows in advance and thus guaranteeing profitability. Domestic shows will focus more on running in markets where they have to in order to keep their TV shows. Plus the usual big markets. Or places where WCW wants to run, because you gotta hurt the other guy!
– OK, back to the cheaper PPV shows, which will more closely resemble Saturday Night’s Main Event than traditional PPV shows, with matches designed to build to the bigger shows. (Yeah, that didn’t last long if at all.)
– Dave thinks this is going to be leading to even more sniping between the groups, such as Bobby and Gene doing a bit on WCW TV where Heenan talked about his $2500 suit and Gene said that Bobby is just like another guy he knows who constantly exaggerates how much he pays for things. This was a veiled reference to Lawrence Taylor and his supposed $500,000 contract for Wrestlemania.
– Meanwhile, WWF is bitter at the cable companies again, because they DARE to actually support WCW Uncensored and won’t open up ordering of Wrestlemania until after that show is done. However, Dave would like to once again stress that most of the ordering for Wrestlemania comes in the last week anyway, and it’s guaranteed that the show will be a big success. That’s why they’re doing the bit on WWF TV where they stress to fans to “ask for Wrestlemania by name”, because otherwise cable companies might just assume it’s Uncensored that viewers are looking for.
– Onto another show which might challenge Wrestlemania for the biggest money show of the year, the Weekly Pro Wrestling show at Toyko Dome! Both AJ and NJ announced their matches this week, with Hashimoto defending the IWGP title against Masa Chono, and an All Japan dream match of Misawa & Kobashi & Hansen v. Kawada & Taue & Dr. Death. They’re close to a sellout at this point, and if they hit it, they’ll break the all-time record set by New Japan earlier this year. The psychology behind booking the matches was very unique, in that smaller groups sent killer matches, so the big groups felt the need to send bigger matches because they didn’t want to lose face.
– Unfortunately for all of us, WCW’s plans to do a UFC show in Japan on 6/4 have been scrapped. There’s not enough time to make it happen for cable company deadlines, so it’s either going to be delayed until September for a combined show with K-1 and Inoki, or more likely, the whole thing is a dead issue. (I’m still so sad about this. It would have been GLORIOUS!)
– Still in Japan, Jungle Jim Steele debuts for All Japan on 3/21 as The Lacrosse. (Very popular with college aged women, I’d imagine.)
– Last week Tenryu did a bizarre press conference where he announced the end of the WAR/FMW relationship, which everyone assumed was leading to an angle of some kind. Well, it was real, and WAR is now affiliated with New Japan again and Masa Chono is working shows for WAR next week. In addition, Riki Choshu will be reforming his famous team with Animal Hamaguchi of WAR to face guys from the new Ishingun in a show that’s going against the massive Tokyo Dome show.
– Muto, Hase and Hashimoto will be traveling to the US in May and will probably be doing something at Slamboree.
– IWA did a thumb tacks death match on 3/7 at Korakuen Hall, featuring Hiroshi Ono & Nakamaki facing Leatherface & Cactus Jack. Both Leatherface and Nakamaki took bumps off the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and onto the floor, which was covered with thousands of thumbtacks. Jack didn’t take the bump. The bright side? This does in fact confirm that there are two people in the world crazier than Cactus Jack.
– WAR will also debut a new character called Death Mask, who will be John Hawk playing the Undertaker character ala Brian Lee. But with blond hair. (Another career highlight for JBL)
– To the USWA, where PG-13 did a hair v. hair match against Tommy Rich & Gorgeous George III (aka The Maestro) and drew a 1600 person house in a **** match. And then they also drew four times the average for the Nashville shows this week as well. Rich and Sid actually got into a big dressing room argument over who was the bigger draw and most over while Sid was champion, and although everyone outside of the territory thought it was Sid and everyone inside thought it was Rich, the answer now seems pretty clear.
– Hey! Here’s a sentence you only hear in Memphis: “Diamond Mike has returned as a manager of Jack Hammer, Big Daddy Cyrus and Crusher Bones. Big Business Brown, who was with Cyrus & Bones, was promoted to being with Tommy Rich & Doug Gilbert.”
– SMW is involved in a lot of discussion about the future of the promotion, and It’s not a secret that Cornette has barely been scraping by and the spot shows aren’t drawing.
– Over to ECW, where the Comfort Inn that had been acting as unofficial headquarters for the promotion is no longer allowing wrestlers to stay there. Apparently there’s been a series of disturbances. (From Raven, Sandman and the Rottens? I can’t imagine what THAT might be about.)
– The AWF out of Chicago debuted on a “weak cable station” over the weekend, featuring the announcing duo of Terry Taylor & Mick Karch. The wrestling was said to be “about what you’d expect” and it’s hard to be hip and cool when your show features Ken Resnick interviewing Sheik Adnan in 1995.
(Never get tired of using that one.)
– John Hawk defends his North American title against Greg Valentine in Jim Crockett’s dying Dallas promotion next week. They’re doing a feud where manager Brandon Baxter brought out a guy in a turban and white sheet as “Sgt. Snackbar”, in a scathing parody of Scandor Akbar, and pulled off the sheet to reveal Dusty Wolfe in a Doink outfit. (And yet neither WWF or WCW are trembling in their boots. Don’t know why.)
– George Zahorian is out of prison and trying to get his medical license back. He describes his prison stay as “worse than hell”…
– Anyway, Zahorian claims to have “led astray” and used by the world of pro wrestling. Attorneys for the state are vehemently against reinstating his license, since he never actually admitted to his crimes. He’s currently working for $5 an hour as a clerk.
– For those worried that Jacques Rougeau’s retirement might have been real, he’s working a show in Taunton, MA on 3/24.
– Onto WCW and the latest backstage drama! Ric Flair was furious with the booking committee and threatened to quit the company on 3/6, but everything was smoothed over a few days later. Basically Flair was mad that Hogan wasn’t working the TV tapings leading up to the PPV, and he’s also mad because Randy Savage now wants the Hogan power of booking his own angles. Dave does note that Flair is trying to recreate his 80s run, except that now he’s 15 years older and trying to play the “playboy heel” in his 40s isn’t a great idea. Basically Flair is trying to redo the Four Horsemen again with the same people, while Hogan wants to redo the Ultimate Warrior with someone else (apparently an indie geek named Rio Lord of the Jungle) and redo Andre the Giant with someone else (this Paul Wight kid we’ve heard so much about) and they’re both grasping at their 80s youth and failing miserably. (Well, Wight turned out OK at least.)
– Meanwhile, Brian Pillman, Steve Austin and Dustin Rhodes, who are supposed to be the future of the company, coast aimlessly with no programs.
– For those wondering about the ULTIMATE SURPRISE on the Uncensored show, it was originally supposed to be the Road Warriors, but now it’s going to be Rio Lord of the Jungle dressed up like Ultimate Warrior because they can’t afford the original.
– The Dustin Rhodes v. Blacktop Bully truck match will be pre-taped and then spliced into the show, because they don’t want to risk anything bad happening while trying to shoot live from the back of a moving truck. (WCW logic: Let’s have a match IN THE BACK OF A MOVING TRUCK, but we’ll pre-tape it, because otherwise we might look STUPID.)
– They taped a match with Steve Regal v. Bobby Eaton for TV on 3/18 that was really weird, as Eaton was a total babyface, and after Regal won cleanly he went to the interview podium and said he wanted to team with Eaton. (And thus the Bluebloods are born!)
– Dave Sullivan did a stretcher job to Vader at the tapings, and this drew some heat from those in charge. Because, and Dave swears he’s not making this up, they didn’t want to hurt Evad’s credibility for his upcoming feud with DDP.
(I don’t even know what to do with that one.)
– WCW is pushing hard to get Curt Hennig in as one of the new Four Horsemen, although they’ve gone down this road before and it always ends badly for them.
– They’re also trying to get Elizabeth, but Dave is pretty sure no one’s actually contacted her about it yet.
– Mike Enos & Wayne Bloom were at the TV tapings, apparently in line for a push as a baseball playing tag team.
– Over to the WWF, where they announced Owen Hart and a mystery partner against the Smoking Gunns for Wrestlemania. No word on the partner, but they’re trying to get Chris Benoit and shoot them to the top of the division as a tag team.
– There’s some interest in using Erik Watts, although not for a while.
– And finally, Pierre Oulette debuted in his Pirate gimmick, with an eye patch, but he did acknowledge being a Quebecer and just said “Today I have a new story”. (Well that’s one way to do it.)