Wrestling Observer Flashback – 07.10.95
Oh man, there’s about to be wrestlers in a SHOOT, and Dave is hyped. Like Kenny Omega at the Tokyo Dome with full on jazz hands.
Did I do that right?
– So Dave is reminiscing about all the previous times that pro grapplers have met in brutal shoot combat, unconstrained by the shackles of predetermined finishes. (Trust me, when we get to the punchline of what match he’s so hyped up about, it’ll pay off.) To Dave’s recollection, the last time this actually happened was the famous match between Joe Stecher and Ed “Strangler” Lewis 70 years ago. (Still too modern for Jim Cornette.) Basically it wasn’t a fight as such, but an actual wrestling match that ended up in a five hour draw, which basically killed off the idea of shooting matches. (Probably still less boring than RAW.) Although this was the last of the legit matches on the major circuit, Lewis kept milking the idea of “shooting matches” all the way into the 30s, basically playing on the public’s desire to see something real.
(Sidenote: I would once again like to point out for those who think that the 60s and 70s were somehow the golden days of kayfabe and the public was a bunch of stupid sheep who were shocked when Vince “exposed the business”, that there were tons of newspaper articles written as far back as the turn of the century about how the wrestling business was a bunch of carney nonsense with rigged finishes. There was never a time when “everyone thought it was real”.)
– Although there’s been times when guys have lost their temper and occasionally stopped cooperating, going into a match where the finish wasn’t known is a rarity in wrestling history. The last known case of guys in that situation was in California in the 50s, during a promotional war, which resulted in Johnny Valentine facing off against Joe Pazandak to determine the “true California state champion”. Although Pazandak was a feared and skilled shooter, Valentine came out swinging and destroyed him in minutes, pounding him into the ground. (And his son sat in the audience, thinking to himself that he too would fashion a gimmick about pounding people into the ground, like a sort of HAMMER. But he would take much longer than his father to get warmed up.)
– All of this is building up to Dave’s excitement over the UFC SUPER-FIGHT between Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn. (Yes, you can start laughing now. Although at least the one on UFC VI was just a quick squash for Shamrock and not the atrocity that their rematch was.) Dave does note that this shoot fight probably won’t last five hours. (The second fight between them sure as fuck felt that way.) Anyway, it’s not inconceivable to Dave that this show could draw a buyrate rivalling any wrestling PPV show this year, and it’ll certain outdraw Hogan-Vader and Diesel-Sid and might even beat Wrestlemania. (It did 240,000 buys, which is respectable and not bad for a company without a TV deal, but certainly wasn’t threatening anyone in the wrestling business. Yet.)
– Anyway, Dave would like to stress that the stakes are HIGH for this show, as the winner will be a major player in the UFC and maybe even a mainstream sports star for years to come. Also, if either one wants to go into pro wrestling, this could propel them to the top of that sport as well. (Yeah, also, no.)
– Dave does another bazillion paragraphs previewing and handicapping the fight and then predicts Severn in six minutes. (Really, you can’t fault him too heavily for getting excited about UFC at this point, given what a shitshow the national wrestling scene was becoming.)
– Moving on to the fake world of fake wrestling, the WWF filed suit against Matt Osborne, aka the original Doink the Clown. Titan is of course demanding that he stop using the Doink gimmick on indie shows. Borne had actually promised Vince that he wouldn’t use the gimmick further, but refused to actually put that in writing. Titan has promised to prosecute anyone on the indie scene who dares to infringe on their trademark by playing Doink and entertaining the children of the world. (And you thought Disney was bad. Also, as you can probably guess, these legal threats went nowhere because there’s still millions of fake Doinks infesting the indie scene like head lice. I’m assuming because “clown” is just too generic of a gimmick to actually trademark.)
– Dave suspects that the timing here might have more to do with Borne’s recent troubles with the law. (Like, a feud with Big Bossman?) Borne was arrested in May for vandalizing a car and then in June for domestic abuse stemming from a dispute with his girlfriend. Jerry McDevitt was quoted in a Pittsburgh newspaper story as saying “This guy was arrested. People think ‘Oh, that’s Titan’s character.’ Titan is very concerned about the image of its wrestlers. That’s part of the reason you don’t want people using your trademark, because it dilutes the meaning of your trademark.”
(Whew, been a while since I’ve had a chance to bust out a good Foghorn Leghorn meme. So I wonder if he just crossed out “Matt Osborne” and added “Kevin Nash and Scott Hall” in the 1996 lawsuit?)
– Dave is kind of suffering from angle overload after the ECW Cyberslam shows on 6/30 and 7/1. First up, there was this new girl at ringside cheering for Stevie Richards, apparently named “Francine”. Raven & Richards won the tag team titles from Public Enemy thanks to interference from the Gangstas (after Raven had already walked out on Stevie in disgust) but then one referee reversed the decision before Bill Alfonso re-reversed the decision because the state commission doesn’t allow reversed decisions, and so Raven and Richards are the champs. Plus Shane Douglas had a verbal debate with Cactus Jack, where Shane again played up how he’s going to the WWF while Jack took potshots at his “classic” match with Tully Blanchard and the fans chanted “We Want Flair” to annoy Shane.
– The next night, a new team debuted called “The Dudley Brothers”, played by Anthony Michaels of SMW and Jeff Bradley out of Florida, managed by “Big Dick Dudley”. Dave’s summation: “Dudley Brothers are two guys doing the Hansen brothers retard nerd gimmick from the hockey movie “Slap Shot” from the mid-70s” (This doesn’t really count as an understated Observer debut as such because they changed members about 18 times before getting to Buh Buh and D-Von. In case you’re wondering.)
– Although there’s no buyrate estimates for King of the Ring yet (Spoiler: Fucking awful), we can confirm that their announcement of 19,000 people in the building was completely full of shit. Total attendance was 14,000 and paid was far less. Basically they just decided to add another 5000 people to the figure for no reason, since 14,000 was impressive enough by itself. But the people running the promotion are incapable of telling the truth, so this is what happens.
– To Japan, where UWFI star Kazuo Yamazaki sent out faxes to the newspapers saying that he’s leaving for New Japan. (Another nail in the coffin for the promotion.)
– Speaking of which, Nobuhiko Takada did a surprising about-face and agreed to run for Japan’s House of Councilors after claiming that he wasn’t actually retiring and didn’t have any political aspirations. (Well, he must have changed his mind again, because he not only didn’t he run, but he also didn’t retire either.)
– Sayama is training someone to be Tiger Mask IV, and he’ll make his pro debut with the gimmick on 7/15 at Korakuen Hall. Dave thinks that’s WAY too much pressure to put on someone. (Well, he’s been Tiger Mask ever since.)
– To Memphis, where the Rock N Roll Express beat PG-13 to win the USWA tag team titles, with the RNR putting up their “NWA” tag team titles. Mark Curtis, the “troubleshooting” ref for SMW, hit Wolfie with a hubcap and then counted the pin for the RNR. (Once again, I fucking love this whole feud and the heel RNR in USWA was AMAZING.)
– Here’s a shock: Vince was not happy about last week’s show where Vader and Undertaker happened to work the same show in Memphis.
– At the ECW internet convention deal, both Cactus Jack and New Jack were making jokes about having their cheques bounce while working for SMW. (IRONY! Also, why did they never team up as the Jack Brothers?)
– Al Snow has done such a good job getting himself over in SMW that both WWF and WCW are making offers and he’ll likely be gone soon. Dave jokes that he’s an “overnight sensation” after 11 years in the business.
– Terry Funk has been spending several hours a day in traction after working with a wrecked back for most of the past year. There’s serious question about his long-term future in wrestling. (I joked about this a few weeks ago too, but once again I’d like to point out that this was TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO and he’s still mostly not retired.)
– Ultimate Warrior is opening up a wrestling school in Scottsdale, AZ, apparently having gained the rights to his Ultimate Warrior name because he’s using it on the advertising. The brochures state that he started in the business in 1975, although by Warrior’s own admission he has trouble remembering things that happened to him a week ago, let alone when he actually started in the business.
– On 7/1 in Elizabethton, TN, a promotion called “All Pro Wrestling” advertised “WCW superstar Big Bubba Rogers” for their show, and before the show started some guy who looked a lot like Ray Traylor (but wasn’t him) came out and was signing autographs claiming to be as such. But once the show started, “Big Bubba Rogers” sat ringside heckling the matches and yelling stuff like “Learn to take a bump!”, which finally prompted a bunch of the wrestlers to confront him about whether or not he was ACTUALLY Ray Traylor. (And they say wrestlers aren’t the smartest bunch!) So the fake Bubba and a friend ended up fleeing the scene and jumped in a car, at which point two local cops gave chase, caught them, and brought them back to the building, at which point the current match was ended and “Big Bubba” was forced to go into the ring and publicly apologize. (I don’t know which is more humiliating, being forced to apologize, or pretending to be RAY TRAYLOR.)
– Announcer Ken Resnick has scored a part as a government agent in the upcoming movie “Men in Black”, starring Jack Scalia. (Wait, WHAT? That’s not a thing that happened. Although MIB went through so many crazy revisions that I guess it’s conceivable that it was originally supposed to star Scalia instead of Tommy Lee Jones.)
– To WCW, where Ric Flair has been ousted as booker and replaced with Kevin Sullivan. Flair’s got a lot of beefs, most of which Dave agrees with, like wanting to book TV around the TV title but being unable to do so because the TV champion can’t work more than a minute without getting exposed. Flair wanted to put the belt back on Arn Anderson so they could fill TV time with TV title matches. Kevin Sullivan appears to have the inside track due to his outside connections, like with ECW and other promotions, with the feeling being that he can bring in outside talent from there and spice up the midcard. (Well I know one midcard ECW talent he regretted bringing in…)
– BREAKING NEWS: Rocky Mountain Thunder returned to the business after many years away, and worked a match with Jim Duggan at the Center Stage tapings that was said to be “One of the worst in the history of civilization”, with every move in the match being missed. (I mean, I feel like “the entire history of civilization” is a BIT of an exaggeration.)
– EVEN MORE BROKEN NEWS: Manabu Nakanishi’s name has already been changed from Black Terror to something else, although Dave does not yet have the scoop on what the new name might be.
– Also, don’t hold your breath for a Hollywood Blonds reunion, because Steve Austin is out for another five weeks with a muscle tear in his arm. (Also that reunion is on hold for another reason soon.)
– Dave calls the 7/1 WCW Saturday Night show “among the worst ever”. Specifically the target of his anger is the Diamond Doll / Evad Sullivan date segment where DDP and Max Muscle jump Sullivan on the street and WCW spliced in kung fu movie sound effects. (I’m not seeing the downside here.)
– To the WWF, where Henry Godwinn has suddenly been moved into the Million Dollar Corporation to replace King Kong Bundy, who is out with pneumonia. (He did come back a couple of weeks later, but I don’t think he ever returned to TV and according to Cagematch, he basically lost every match outside of squashes for the rest of his WWF run that year.)
– 1-2-3 Kid returned and looked pretty good for a guy who just broke his neck.
– BREAKING NEWS: Dr. Isaac Yankem is in fact Glen Jacobs, aka Unabom of SMW, and not Shane Douglas as previously speculated.
– Tony Norris will be getting a tryout at the upcoming Texas TV tapings.
– They’re doing an angle now where Barry Horowitz is pushed as having never won a match, but then upsets Skip Bodydonna to set up 10:00 time limit rematches around the horn.
– And finally, The Headshrinkers have been broken up and Fatu is getting a new push and is now from his real hometown of San Francisco and he’s telling the kids not to do drugs! (Perhaps he should have a word with his own kids about that subject here in 2020.)