Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.08.95
So there was a big show in Korea you might have heard about before…
– In the top story, the North Korean government destroyed every pro wrestling attendance record in history with a weekend that drew 340,000 fans to Pyongyang Stadium. New Japan put on a show as the headliner of the Pyongyang International Sports and Culture Festival, although the main focus was making children pledge allegiance to Kim Jong Il.
– Opening night on 4/28 drew 150,000 people and then the next night drew an overflow crowd of 190,000 to shatter all records and then some. Dave is pretty sure nothing is topping those numbers any time soon. (Pretty sure Hogan drew bigger numbers in 1985, according to him.)
– The first night’s main event was Shinya Hashimoto going to a 20:00 draw with Scott Norton, and then the next night saw Antonio Inoki beat Ric Flair in 14:52 with an enzuigiri. The show was broadcast on Japanese TV and announced as 160,000, although the North Korean government later claimed that it was actually 190,000. (And then Hogan claimed that he would have drawn 210,000, brother.)
– With the high prices of tickets listed, Dave is somewhat skeptical that the socialist masses would have actually paid that much money to attend the show given their $50/month stipends. However, if all the tickets were legitimately sold, then it would shatter all money records for wrestling shows. (I’m sure Dave will have more on this later in the year, but in fact the audience was basically forced to be there, nearly at literal gun-point.)
– Dave would once again like to remind us that although the previous largest number was 93,173 for Wrestlemania III, later reports put the actual ticket count at 78,000. In case he hasn’t mentioned that one before.
– Hogan was originally offered the spot in the largest-drawing wrestling match in history, but didn’t want to do the job to Inoki and so turned it down. And it turns out that the reports from Inoki about the winner of the match getting a shot at the WCW World title were just, and you’re probably going to want to sit down here…Inoki shooting his own angle.
– In another note, WCW officials are trying to get footage of the show so they can take credit for the crowd, even though Flair was the only WCW-contracted talent working the show.
– Since the crowds were largely unfamiliar with pro wrestling in general, promotion of the show was largely based on the legend of Rikidozan.
– It was also the first (and only as it turned out) time that Flair and Inoki had been in the ring together, and it was clearly Inoki’s best match in years. The crowd was of course crazy behind Inoki, who was a protégé of Rikidozan.
– Reports are that the government was very happy with the show and wants to do it on a yearly basis. (Don’t know if the crowds would agree with that.) Worldwide media coverage was generally negative, basically making fun of fake pro wrestling. Also, the show was supposed to be a way for North Korea to show how open and progressive they were becoming, but any foreigners attending had to be accompanied at all times by a Korean “tour guide”. (Yeah, that sounds familiar.)
– Moving on, the career of Sean Waltman appears to be in jeopardy after suffering a broken neck on 4/24. Kid had already suffered a concussion in March and basically came back too soon. (Waltman come back too soon from injury? Pshaw!)
– Reportedly one doctor told Waltman that his career was over, although a second one upgraded him to “You’ll probably come back.” Currently the plan is for him to take three months off and then come back, maybe. (He was off the road for, what, a week?)
– Moving on…
– Sorry, Dave breaks in with a NEWS FLASH FROM THE FUKUOKA DOME!
– Sabu won the lightheavyweight title from Koji Kanemoto in 16:39 with the Arabian moonsault, but then threw down the belt and smashed the trophy because he wants to be a heavyweight and not a junior. (Gee, wonder where he got the “throwing down the belt” deal from?)
– And in the main event, Muto indeed won the IWGP title from Hashimoto, as spoiled by WCW weeks ago, putting him away with a series of moonsaults in 21:13.
(Did that really warrant a BREAKING NEWS UPDATE?)
– ABC’s Wide World of Sports aired the Sports Illustrated piece about the deaths of Art Barr and other wrestlers, and it’s drawing mixed reviews. They tried to tie together steroid use with the deaths of the big three names from recent memory (Barr, Eddie Gilbert and Big John Studd) but couldn’t really make any kind of solid connection and so it came off as disjointed. Basically the point of the story was “These people died from taking drugs, but we don’t have any strong opinions about how and where they got the drugs, or who was to blame, or what can be done about in the future”. Granted the story was only 6 minutes long, but they actually pulled footage of George Zahorian leaving his trial after the verdict and then never even mentioned his name or his connection to Studd & Gilbert! Basically it was a fluff piece that said “These wrestlers died” and then played sad tinkly piano music to make you feel bad and called it a night.
– Amazingly, WCW even managed to screw up in this limited situation. Although Eric Bischoff smartly refused to be interviewed for the piece, the producers had come to them asking for footage of Eddie Gilbert from their archives so they could use it in the show. WCW officials decided to be that way and refused to even sell them footage of Gilbert, instead sending footage of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage to make sure their current top stars were the only ones promoted. So what you ended up with was the piece talking about steroid use in WCW, with footage of Hulk and Randy everywhere. WCW officials were a bit embarrassed about how that one went down, to say the least.
– The piece interviewed Dr. D, Ultimate Warrior and Missy Hyatt about drugs in wrestling. (Yeah, no biases or axes to grind in THAT group.) Missy pretty much threw the entire company under the bus and said that WCW fans don’t even care that Eddie died because wrestlers are basically so disposable that the company can take some guy with facepaint and call him “The Ultimate Surprise” and no one even notices.
– Speaking of WCW, confirmed for the Great American Bash show on 6/18 are Flair v. Savage, Sting v. Meng for the US title, Nasty Boys v. Steiners, DDP v. Dave Sullivan, Arn Anderson v. Renegade for the TV title, and Jim Duggan v. Kamala. Dave wonders if they can perhaps just cut off the first hour of the show and charge $14.95 like the WWF is doing?
– The next month will see Hogan defending the title against Vader in a cage match at the Bash at the Beach show on Huntington Beach, with free admission. Since Vader is now politically free to do the job, Hogan will finally get his wish there.
– FMW officially announced Hayabusa as Onita’s opponent for the retirement show on 5/5, while Goto/Gannosuke/Ichihara from FMW showed up for the IWA show at Korakuen Hall to officially jump ship and answer that question. They had actually announced Takashi Ishikawa as the opponent for Onita and made it all the way to the contract signing before Hayabusa dramatically burst in and signed in his place. Dave thinks the angle is building to the dramatic triumph of Hayabusa in Onita’s specialty match. (Oh, Dave. How long have you known Onita?)
– Mexico has ANOTHER splinter promotion, this time one led by Mil Mascaras and Tinieblas Sr. which will be called WEDAI. Dave has no idea what this might stand for, but apparently they’re not running Mexico as such and instead will concentrate on doing shows in Spain and South America. They didn’t announce any wrestlers but made sure to bury AAA. (Google has NOTHING about this venture so I’m assuming it didn’t go anywhere past this initial press conference.)
– Satoru Sayama is set to introduce the fourth Tiger Mask character on 7/15 at his “Pro Shooting” show at Korakuen. (That’s actually the guy who is still playing the character to this day!)
– Sid Vicious returned to Memphis on 5/1 and popped the business AGAIN, with a 2500 house, teaming with Jerry Lawler to beat Razor Ramon & Brian Lee by countout in the main event. The match was set up by a particularly classy Memphis angle on TV, where Sid’s real life neighbor (a 12 year old kid with Down’s Syndrome) was being interviewed. Brian Lee came out and stole the kid’s hat and threw it down, then kicked the kid and sent him running away in tears. (I mean, did we even need to ask which promotion was involved if the setup was “The heel kicked the kid with Down’s syndrome”?)
– Paul Wight was supposed to go to Memphis as a part of the WCW/Jarrett deal, but Dave notes that “the shit hit the fan” over that idea and it was nixed.
– Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko continue to tear up the house in ECW every night.
– Rick “Elvis” Parker, the boxing promoter who was being investigated for famously fixing the boxing match between Mark Gastineau & Derrick Dukes, was allegedly murdered by boxer Tim Anderson over the weekend. Anderson turned himself in and is being charged with first degree murder.
(Damn, I looked into this one and there’s actually tons more to the story. Basically Parker wanted Anderson to take a dive to Gastineau in 1992, but Anderson told him to screw off and beat the crap out of Gastineau instead to win the fight legit and end Gastineau’s bullshit undefeated record. So six months later, Parker lures Anderson back for a rematch with Gastineau, with promises of millions of dollars. So Gastineau is 45 minutes late for the fight while Anderson waits around in the ring for him, but his cornermen that night were allegedly bought out by Parker and gave him poisoned water to drink while he waited! Gastineau finally arrived and brutally beat him and knocked him out in the sixth round due to what Anderson calls “hallucinations and light-headedness”. Anderson was found hours later by a janitor in a pool of his own vomit in the locker room. He was forced out of the sport and spent the next few years in out of bed most of the time due to complications from the poisoning, and when he threatened to go to the authorities, Parker allegedly had him beaten by hired goons with baseball bats and made threats against his quadriplegic sister. Finally Parker agreed to a meeting with Anderson in an Orlando hotel room so that Anderson could hopefully discover what poison he was given and seek treatment for it, but Parker refused to let him know and promised that his sister was as good as dead for even making the accusation. At that point, Anderson lost control and shot Parker 8 times with his .38 and then tried to kill himself, but the gun jammed. He immediately turned himself into police and asked for the death penalty. At the trial, jurors were so moved by his story that they asked for leniency to be shown in sentencing, but the crime carries a mandatory life without parole, and he’s been in prison ever since. DAMN. And you thought WRESTLING was a sleazy business! HOW IS THIS NOT A NETFLIX ORIGINAL MOVIE YET?!?)
– Well, we’re not topping that one this week, but let’s finish off anyway.
– To WCW, where Dory Funk has pulled out of Slamboree, so the legends match will be Dick Murdoch v. Wahoo instead.
– STEVE AUSTIN UPDATE: He actually doesn’t have a son as reported last week, but rather a daughter, and she was legitimately ill for a few days and that’s why he left the Center Stage tapings where he was scheduled to do yet another job to Sting. (Whew, so Austin’s job is probably safe then.)
– The 3 second match between Pillman and Bunkhouse Buck reported last time was actually because Pillman was concussed during a squash match earlier in the tapings, landing on his head while trying to do a rana on a jobber. So they needed a way to have Pillman’s hand raised in the tournament without making him, you know, work a match.
– Hulk Hogan is opening up a new restaurant in the Mall of America in Minneapolis called “Pastamania”, with the idea being that they’re going to make it a new franchise. They plan to open 5 in 1995 and then another 25 in 1996. And Hulk Hogan brand pasta and sauces this winter! “Now there’s a product that sounds like a winner”, notes Dave with sarcasm dripping like pasta sauce off a forkful of terrible noodles. (Needless to say, the immense failure of this endeavor eclipses even Dave’s low expectations for it, as they couldn’t even maintain the single restaurant for a year and the “pasta” was described by those unlucky enough to eat there as being about the same as Chef Boyardee noodles.)
– To the WWF, where RAW continues to smash ratings records, doing its all time high for the Bam Bam v. Diesel title match on 4/24 with a 3.9 rating, or 2.28 million homes.
– At the Superstars tapings on 4/25 in Des Moines, they did a match with Jarrett and Razor where Roadie was hanging above the ring in a cage. After the double countout finish, Jarrett got locked in the cage with Roadie, by Razor to get his heat back, and then Vince decided to rib them by letting them hang there above the ring for a few matches.
– Louis Spicoli debuted at the tapings as a grunge rocker named “Rad Radford” and beat Jerry Lynn in a heatless match with cool moves. (That ended up on Hidden Gems or that Unreleased DVD, didn’t it?)
– Missy Hyatt was turned down as an announcer.
– At the 4/26 Challenge tapings, they did an angle where Bob Holly and Jeff Jarrett had a screwy finish and the IC title was held up, but then they did a rematch later in the night and Jarrett got the title back. Hunter Hearst Helmsley also made his TV debut and beat Buck Zumhofe. (Go Hunter!)
– The WWF will be starting their Hall of Fame on 6/24 in Philadelphia, although no word on who is getting inducted. (I’ve got $10 on James Dudley and Koko B. Ware)
– The WWF and Nailz finally reached settlement on their suit and counter-suit from 1992, stemming from the famous fight between Nailz and Vince over the $8000 payoff for his Summerslam match with Virgil. (Frankly he was lucky to get that.) No money was exchanged in the end, and Wacholz gets to keep the Nailz gimmick outside of the WWF.
– And finally, we could only end with this quote from Bret Hart’s column in the Calgary Sun about Joe Montana’s retirement:
“I was sad to see the end of the career of one of the truly great players of this or any other era–perhaps the best there is, the best there was or the best there ever will be. At the same time, I was happy to see Montana go out on his terms–at the top of his game, not crippled or dismembered, with class and no regrets. I hope I’m able to go out the same way and not outstay my welcome like Bob Backlund, Ric Flair and others who, sadly, have besmirched their once-shining reputations, by hanging around long after they should have.”
(I’m sure this will prompt some discussion with the benefit of 25 years of hindsight.)