Wrestling Observer Flashback – 06.12.95
Hey, remember that NBC special that WWF has been so excited about?
Yeah, about that…
– Wrestlemania: The Special, which was supposed to feature Shawn Michaels v. Diesel and LT v. Bam Bam with new voiceovers from Vince, was abruptly canceled on 05/31 and will not be airing on NBC on 6/4 as planned. The reasons are “sketchy”, with the WWF claiming that NBC couldn’t guarantee the timeslot due to playoffs and so pulled the plug. However, the NBA stuff was known about before the special was even thought up, so that can’t be an excuse. In fact, NBC wouldn’t even confirm that there WAS a special planned until after it was canceled!
– Meanwhile, WCW had another take on the situation, with a hotline report that NBC green-lighted the special while certain people high up were on vacation, and once they returned and discovered what they were committed to, it was killed immediately. (I wonder if that’s how WWE got the FOX deal?) NBC was also denying that Dick Ebersol had any involvement at any point.
– And then in another solid dunk by WCW (my pun, not Dave’s) Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart showed up on the Magic-Pacers playoff game again on NBC, with Hulk doing the shirt-ripping, brother and getting a big pop. The WWF struck back with a spicy attack on WCW by replaying Yokozuna beating Hogan at King of the Ring 93 on the 6/5 RAW show. (Bet they’re reeling now! I bet WCW has nothing left in the tank to challenge Vince with after that broadside!)
– On the bright side, the Undertaker v. Jeff Jarrett match on 5/29 set the all-time ratings record for the show with a 3.9. (Still a possibility to run that match next week and see if they can duplicate it.)
– Off to Japan, where Hiroshi Hase’s political career has temporarily delayed the wedding announcement for Akira Hokuto & Kensuke Sasaki. Or at least only for two days, as they moved the press conference from 5/30 to 6/1, and announced a wedding date of 10/1, with Sasaki presenting her with a wedding ring valued at $125,000. (This whole thing feels like it’s building to some crazy angle, but of course it wasn’t.) Previously All Japan women had been essentially forbidden from dating, and in fact this will mark only the second ever marriage between Japanese wrestlers. (Tentacle porn: OK. Interpromotional marriage: BAD)
– USWA is planning a pair of reunion-themed shows for 6/10, called “Memphis Memories II”, bringing back numerous old-timers and past stars for a pair of loaded shows. (Sounds like a typical episode of RAW.) The feature attraction will be the reuniting of the Fabulous Ones and Jackie Fargo making his return. Trivia note about the Fabs: They were originally supposed to be the typical Memphis heel team, turning on Jerry Lawler to join up with Jim Cornette, but they got over so big as babyfaces with the teens that the promotion just keep pushing them as babyfaces instead.
– The shows are so big that they’re trying (with no luck so far) to find out where the hell Jos LeDuc has disappeared to, so he can work the shows. It’s believed that if they can find him and he’s not completely broken down, Jim Cornette will make him a big money offer to work SMW as well. (He did in fact make the show, although he retired for good soon after and couldn’t work for SMW as planned.)
– Speaking of plans changing…
– So unfortunately, Dave’s rundown of the King of the Ring tournament bracket wasn’t actually correct. The bottom half of the bracket will in fact feature Bob Holly v. Roadie and Yokozuna v. Razor Ramon, while the top half has Shawn Michaels v. Kama and Undertaker v. Mabel. However, despite his previously incorrect rundown of the actual bracketing, Dave is still absolutely 100% sure that Shawn Michaels is winning, likely beating Yokozuna in the finals. (Hold on, let me just call my bookie…oh, never mind, he says that he doesn’t take bets on shows from 25 years ago.)
– The Owen v. Bulldog match on the 6/5 RAW was supposed to be live, but actually was just a taped dark match from In Your House #1, and in fact Bulldog wasn’t even at the RAW tapings due to his trial in Calgary.
– On another note, the Allied Powers team of Luger and Bulldog was originally supposed to win the tag titles from Owen & Yoko right away and then drop them to the Blu Twins by Summerslam, but Bulldog’s legal troubles have left Vince gunshy about switching the belts. Plus they’re a complete failure as a team thus far. (SICK BURN!)
– On the bright side, King of the Ring is basically sold out and will be the largest crowd for a wrestling show in the US since Summerslam. (And I bet they’ll be a great crowd, too!)
– Vampiro made his debut as an amateur boxer this week, and got knocked out in his first fight by a college boxer, in the second round, when his corner threw in the towel. This has soundly pissed off people in charge in Mexico because wrestlers are supposed to tough guys and it’s not a good look for a top star to go out like such a tomato can. Dave does give him credit for guts in pursuing this in the first place.
– Another new lucha group is trying to break into California with backing of idiot money marks, in this case the “World Wrestling Organization”, who are going to be using a combination of AAA stars from Mexico and (stop me if you’ve heard this one before!) ex-WWF stars who they believe will be able to draw ex-WWF fans to their shows in San Jose. Dave of course points out that there’s a logical fallacy here, in that if they were stars with any drawing power, then they’d still be in the WWF and drawing money. But if you want to see “stars” like Tonga Kid, Tito Santana, or Doink Osborne, then this is the promotion for you!
– Dave notes that the complete Misawa & Kobashi v. Kawada & Taue 60:00 draw from January was released in Japan in full form on a commercial tape, and it might be one of the greatest matches of all time. (I bet it would be even better in Japan! Oh, wait, never mind.)
– Keiji Muto beat Arn Anderson with a moonsault on 6/4 in Tottori, and after the match Hiroyoshi Tenzan came down and challenged Muto to a match where the loser could NEVER MOONSAULT AGAIN. (Was Tenzan even particularly known for doing moonsaults?) Clearly the winner of that particular match is not going to be any big surprise.
– UWFI continues to rapidly decline, as Vader pulled out of his 6/18 Sumo Hall date against Gary Albright for WCW-related reasons. He didn’t want to do the job anyway, so this worked out well for him. However, the bigger story is that the company has gone from selling out Budokan Hall for every show to barely being able to sell tickets for 2500 seat venues.
– Billy Jack Haynes debuted in Memphis at age 41 as a heel and apparently looked good.
– Jim Cornette is claiming that they’ve got things so streamlined in SMW that they can break even with spot show crowds in the 200s. (Dead by Christmas! No really, they were.)
– Speaking of financial problems, information about ECW’s new ownership is spotty, but apparently HHG is an entity wholly owned by Paul Heyman, with Tod Gordon having no stake in it. Gordon says that any disagreements between himself and Paul have been blown out of proportion and that the company has paid off all their debts. (Also, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in purchasing…)
– Dave notes that these Malenko v. Guerrero matches on ECW TV are pretty damn good.
– Also, expect a big push for Bill Alfonso as a heel ref. (Flaming HOT NEWZ from Dave this week.)
– For those wondering what happened to Oscar from Men on a Mission after the heel turn, he’s now managing Virgil on indy shows in the Northeast. (TREMENDOUS.)
– Over to WCW, and I feel like I need to present the following line without editing or comment:
Ted Turner met with Eric Bischoff on 6/5 in Atlanta. No word on anything that came out of the meeting.
(I mean, in all fairness, wrestling is a strange business and you never know when you’re about to stumble across the one moment that ruptures the sport forever, eventually destroying one company and turning the other one into a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company. But HOLY SHIT. Thankfully next week’s issue has a few more details on this minor meeting.)
– As noted last time, Jimmy Hart worked the Slamboree main event after learning of the death of his mother in a fatal auto accident on 5/21, and just to show you what kind of a person he is, he made sure to be there for the match and not tell anyone about the death in his family because he didn’t want Hulk Hogan to be sad and hurt the quality of the match.
– Speaking of Hogan, he’s still trying to revive “Thunder in Paradise” and will be filming another movie with himself, Sting and Mr. T as the top stars.
– So Brian Pillman is having a rough week. He’s currently involved in a nasty custody battle with his ex-girlfriend over their four-year old daughter. And it’s making the newspapers in Cincinnati and even USA Today. Basically his ex failed to show up on 5/26 to pick up the daughter and in fact disappeared until 5/31, at which point Pillman went searching in the bad part of the city looking for her. So he’s driving around in the slums of Cincinnati in his minivan, randomly asking people if they’ve seen her, and the cops pull him over because that’s a bit shady and his story wasn’t exactly convincing. And wouldn’t you know, he’s got a bunch of prescription drugs in his fanny pack. (Stupid wrestlers and their stupid fanny packs!) And then he got charged with DUI for refusing a breath test and they booked him at the station, at which point the story kind of exploded with the whole “former Bengal arrested for drugs” angle. Of course, he submitted to a drug test on 6/5 and was clean, and then it was discovered that he has a prescription for the various pills in his fanny pack. The DUI is still to be dealt with, however.
– Also, his ex-girlfriend was found the next day in Ft. Lauderdale when she was pulled over for a traffic stop.
– Richard Steinberg quit the merchandise department of WCW to join Blockbuster Video as Corporate Director for Research and Planning. (I was kind of hoping that he was in charge of researching that Netflix company, but it doesn’t appear he was that important…)
– To the WWF, where Chris Benoit double-crossed ECW and did a dark match tryout on 6/5 on the Struthers, OH RAW tapings. The WWF has been trying to get him for a long time, but Benoit keeps escaping their contractual custody. No deal has been signed and they’re just getting to know each other, basically. Although no one knew who he was, he really killed it against Bob Holly.
(OK, enough of that…)
– Skip and Sunny also debuted and got a huge reaction, although Dave suspects it has to do with Sunny’s outfits.
– Tekno Team 2000 debuted and blew so many moves that Vince sent them back out to tape a second squash match.
– Dave was amused by the pre-game show for the In Your House PPV, where JR was interviewing Sid and Sid asked him for a re-take, to which Jim responded “We’re on live, buddy.” (I believe the line was “PAL”, not “buddy”.)
– Dan Spivey also debuted as Waylon Mercy and he’s in line for a big push.
– Steve Williams is still being courted as a top heel, but hasn’t signed any deals yet. Dustin Rhodes and Shane Douglas are also being talked to, but neither one has committed to anything yet.
– Glen Jacobs has been signed, but won’t be debuted until he’s ready. (Or until they’ve got a REALLY good gimmick idea for him, I bet!)
– Jimmy Del Ray missed a few weeks due to dental surgery. (Say now, there’s an idea for a gimmick!)
– And finally, the WWF is releasing audio tape biographies of Razor Ramon, Diesel and Shawn Michaels, aimed at young children. (I don’t even know what to do with that one, so we’ll just end the issue here!)