Wrestling Observer Flashback – 07.03.95
OK then, who’s ready for KING OF THE RING? “So how bad was it?” is the very first question posed by this issue. So you know we’re in for some good shit, PAL.
– Dave attempts to answer the question by noting that the show ended 11 minutes early and no one complained. The fans were also chanting the name of the wrong promotion during all the bad matches. So they were chanting it a lot. It was so bad that the best part of the show was the color commentator pretending to translate a Spanish language interview segment. Bad enough that not only did someone think putting vomit on the show was entertaining, but in fact it was really was more entertaining than most of the show. Bad enough that MABEL WON THE TOURNAMENT.
– For the record, Dave doesn’t think it was the worst ever or even in a long time, but it was pretty bad. However, he did have numerous amounts of feedback calling it the worst of all time, with a response that wasn’t just negative, but vehemently negative.
– People were thinking that Jim Ross on the booking committee would help with the “no smaller guys on top” attitude, but keep in mind that Jim was trained by Bill Watts, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century because he believed no one would buy Terry Taylor beating Kamala. (Good thing Bill isn’t in charge of the WWF in 1995! Oh wait….) So inevitably, Bill would go back to what he knew best, and then he went out of business along with all the other regional promotions.
– Dave calls Mabel “generation later version on Ray Candy and Leroy Brown”, the guys that Watts pushed when business was down because that’s what he always did.
– King of the Ring was the worst WWF PPV in a long time, so bad that Dave can’t even imagine how the people putting it together thought it might work in the first place. Dave did enjoy the commentary of Dok Hendricks, who basically just slipped back in Michael Hayes mode and was aided tremendously by Jim Ross, who prepared mountains of trivia notes for him to read when needed.
– Although the announced attendance was a sellout 19767, the actual number was 15,000 with the upper tier completely empty. However, with tickets scaled to $200 each at ringside, it made a ton of money.
- Savio Vega beat IRS at 4:01 in a King of the Ring qualifier on the pre-game show. Dave notes that Rotunda is about to retire and become a road agent, so the result here was never in doubt. (Good thing that WCW money kept him employed for, what, another 5 years?) The story was that Vega is somehow Rocky Balboa. (Bitch please, he was barely Rocky Maivia.) *1/2
– Dave notes that Shawn Michaels did a promo before the show talking about not being the most popular wrestler among the wrestlers, but being popular with the fans. And as a rule, most wrestlers have more nice things to say about Bret Hart. (WITH A TEAR IN THEIR EYE, I hear!)
- Savio Vega beat Yokozuna by countout in 8:24. Vega had a lot of trouble working with Yoko because of his size and condition at this point. Razor Ramon, who was at ringside for Vega, chased Jim Cornette, and Owen Hart showed up and attacked him in turn. Yoko went after them outside and hit the post by accident for the countout. ¾*
- The Roadie pinned Bob Holly in 7:30. Fast-paced and Holly was very impressive. Roadie is green but has great potential. **1/2
- Shawn Michaels drew with Kama in 15:00 to eliminate them both. Michaels did the best he could have with Kama. Kama worked the back, and they did a bunch of near-falls in the last couple of minutes. **3/4
- Mabel pinned Undertaker in 10:44. Winner of this went to the finals because of the draw in the previous match. Match was terrible. The ref was bumped and Taker got a visual pinfall after the flying clothesline, but Kama ran in and kicked Taker in the face, allowing Mabel to get the pin. -1/2*
- Savio Vega pinned Roadie in 6:36 to advance to the finals. Roadie took some great bumps, but there was no heat at all. Jarrett collided with Roadie and Vega rolled him up for the pin. *
- Bret Hart beat Jerry Lawler in the Kiss My Foot match in 9:20. Lawler was really sloppy taking Bret’s big moves here for some reason. Bret got the Sharpshooter for the submission and then shoved Jerry’s own foot into his mouth after Hakushi’s interference backfired. Match had by far the most crowd heat and interest. **3/4
Dave notes that doing hype videos about their work with the Special Olympics is kind of pathetic, because then it crosses the line between charity work and public relations. (Just look at John Cena, who went out of his way to make sure they weren’t turning his endless charity work into another part of the show.)
- Mabel pinned Savio Vega to win the King of the Ring in 8:32 in a horrible match. Long bearhug and then a long chinlock followed. Although there were many many other “ECW” chants through the show, this was the only one to make it audibly onto camera. Vince didn’t actually know what was going on because he turned up the crowd, thinking they were chanting for Vega.
Mabel pinned Vega with a big splash, and then Razor Ramon came in and attacked the new king, at which Mo attacked Ramon from behind and they doubled on him until 1-2-3 Kid made the save, and he got laid out as well. -* Fans pelted him with garbage during the coronation.
- Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow beat Tatanka & Sid in 17:35. The parts with Bigelow and Tatanka were good, and otherwise it was a bad match. Diesel spent the match selling his injured elbow. Match built to Sid walking out on Tatanka and leaving him to get pinned by Diesel to set up the Sid-Diesel rematch next month. This did wonders for Sid’s monster heel rep, Dave notes, leaving him little more than a Buddy Landel coward. *1/2
– OK, time to talk about a situation that I’ve been waiting to come up for a while, namely the Harlem Heat / Stud Stable tag team title switches!
– So on 6/21, Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Bunk won the WCW tag team titles from Harlem Heat at the Center Stage tapings, which will air after the July PPV. It’s part of the storyline where Col. Parker spends weeks hitting on Sherri while she fights off his advances. Now, the problem is that Harlem Heat haven’t been tag team champions since losing them to the Nasty Boys at Slamboree in May. Anyway, original plan was that the Heat would regain the titles from the Nasty Boys at the Bash PPV. But then, BECAUSE WCW, they randomly showed a match on World Wide Wrestling this past weekend, which was taped on 5/3 in Orlando (before the Heat even lost the titles to the Nasties!), and although the Heat were the champions at the time of the match being taped, they did commentary for the match where it retroactively became the Heat regaining the titles from the Nasty Boys after Slamboree! And then they aired a match on WCW Saturday Night were the Heat jobbed to Sting & Hawk, with no reference to the Heat being tag team champions.
– The Ultimate Warrior looks to be making his first US wrestling appearance in two years for promoter TC Martin on 7/22 in Las Vegas. Hellwig had actually been available for US promoters at a price of $10,000 per shot, but no one took him up on it. (Ironically these days you had guys like Rey Mysterio getting that kind of money all the time.)
– Over to Japan, where Nobuhiko Takada had announced plans to retire, at which point UWFI whiplashed and put out their own press release, noting that what Takada had MEANT TO SAY was that he was THINKING of retiring at age 35, which was two years away. Turns out that Takada didn’t actually discuss his impending retirement with anyone in the company before making the announcement, which is a problem because the promotion can’t survive without him.
– Update on the Vince McMahon interview from last week: Turns out that Dave was basing his reports on second-hand information from readers, and in fact having heard the interview himself, Vince wasn’t anywhere near as mean-spirited towards Hogan and Savage as the reports made him out to be.
– WCW’s Great American Bash show is tracking at somewhere between a 0.48 and 0.60 buyrate, with WCW claiming that it’s 0.60 so the real number is probably the lower one. That’s about the same or slightly more than Slamboree, but with Hogan on the former show they lose a big chunk of the revenue to Hulk’s cut, which would make the Bash far more profitable.
– At this point, Hogan looks to be involved in his own deal with Jimmy Hart and Kevin Sullivan and the DUNGEON OF DOOM, while Flair basically has control of everything else.
– Manabu Nakanishi will apparently be called “Black Terror” when he debuts for WCW. (I think that’s actually better than “Kurosawa”)
– The upcoming Clash of Champions will feature a segment with Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom, and The Giant (aka this Paul Wight kid they’re so high on) will be part of it to do an angle. However, because they’re trying to avoid a repeat of the Shockmaster incident, the segment has already been taped to prevent anything stupid from happening. (Aside from the Dungeon of Doom in general, I suppose)
– The unnamed WCW prime time show on TNT has been pushed back to 9/4 in order to go unopposed by RAW in their first week. WCW is trying to get New Japan to send over Sabu, Al Snow and Eddie Guerrero so they can put some hot matches on the show.
– Speaking of New Japan, with Animal still on the shelf long-term due to his “career ending” injuries that pay him handsomely via insurance policy, Hawk is reuniting with Sasaki again to reform the Hell Raisers.
– Speaking of raising hell, Vader made a surprise appearance at the Memphis show on 6/26, debuting unadvertised and destroying prelim guys TD Steele and Mr. World Class. The thing was taped for WCW TV, with the idea being that he’s on the “Road Kill tour”, going around the US and destroying people in other promotions while challenging Hulk Hogan. The idea appears to be from Terry Taylor.
– What was even more notable about this is that Undertaker was on the same show on loan from the WWF, teaming with Bill Dundee in the main event.
– Also on the show, SMW referee Mark Curtis was there playing heel ref to help Billy Jack Haynes win the USWA title from Brian Christopher. And the Rock N Roll Express were representing the NWA (even though it doesn’t exist) to really pile on the guest appearances from other promotions!
– Terry Gordy returns to the ring for SMW as a part of “The Super Bowl of Wrestling” on 8/4. He’s done a few TV appearances thus far and people who have seen him said he looks “acceptable” in the ring but nowhere near the old Gordy. (Now that’s an understatement)
– Everyone in ECW is pretty convinced that Shane Douglas is headed for the WWF and it’s just when, and not if.
– NEWS FLASH: Jim Crockett Jr. is officially done with wrestling at this point.
– NEWS FLASH: Dave’s former favorite rookie Jack Victory is now managing a strip club in Atlanta. (Well the comeback was still to come.)
– Over to WCW, where nothing of note happened at the Center Stage tapings. Dave does point out that Diamond Doll is actually married to DDP and has various degrees in advertising and public relations, however.
– John Tenta has been rebranded as the Shark, having shaved his beard and put in fake teeth. It was said to be “really bad”.
– NEWS FLASH: Marcus Bagwell has returned from his EXPLODING CALF IMPLANTS as of this taping.
– Steve Austin suffered a bicep injury in Japan and will be out for a few weeks (For those keeping track, this minor note is the one that changed the business.)
– Over to the WWF, where Lawler is doing an angle after the PPV where his teeth were wrecked by having his foot shoved into his mouth, so he’s bringing his dentist, Dr. Isaac Yankem, into the promotion. Dave suspects that it’ll be Shane Douglas. (Swing and a miss!)
– Dustin Rhodes signed and will be debuting shortly.
– Lots of rumors of the WWF and USA ending their relationship when their contract expires at the end of the year. Basically the WWF is trying to increase their slice of the advertising pie and is using offers from the E Network as leverage. Dave is pretty sure there’s nothing to it.
– And finally, the reason behind pulling the plug on the NBC Wrestlemania special appears to be traced back to NBA commissioner David Stern, who didn’t want any pro wrestling advertised during the NBA game that was scheduled to air before the special. Basically NBC decided that if they couldn’t plug the special during the game, it wasn’t worth putting on, and they pulled the plug. It just shows how cold and uncool wrestling has become here in 1995. (Hopefully something occurs to change that perception within the next year or so…)