Wrestling Observer Flashback – 07.17.95
Like sands through the hourglass, so go the days of our lives.
And in other news, Ric Flair has been fired as booker again.
– Kevin Sullivan officially replaced Ric Flair as booker of WCW after a meeting on 7/5. This move was hardly a surprise to anyone paying attention. The fight is between Team Hogan (Put the title on a babyface star and feed him a series of big fat heels) and Team Flair (Put the title on a heel and have a series of babyfaces chasing him). Dave’s take: Both approaches are pretty worthless in the 90s, so really what difference does it make?
– The actual reason for Flair’s firing is that he refused to move from Charlotte to Atlanta and work 40 hour weeks in the office. (What is this, NAZI GERMANY?) While Flair has certainly also been taking some heat over the shitty state of the product (ie, RENEGADE) and the all-time low ratings for WCW Saturday Night, his hands have mostly been tied since he doesn’t control the booking of the biggest stars.
– Flair has been removed from the committee entirely, but Arn Anderson is still on it at this point.
– Paul Heyman is currently discounting the idea of a large-scale raid of ECW wrestlers, even with Sullivan in power, because the position is so tenuous even at the best of times and he probably won’t want to burn bridges with ECW in case he ever wanted to go back. That being said, probably coming in to WCW are the Head Hunters, Public Enemy, Eddy Guerrero, Al Snow, Chris Benoit, Shane Douglas, Woman and Disco Inferno. (To be fair, Shane ended up in the WWF. Also, maybe there’s a MOLE in ECW helping facilitate this stuff. But how likely would THAT be?)
– Dave does point out that you might as well shut down any speculation of Douglas coming in, because he’s 99% going to the WWF and will never go to WCW and feud with Flair, as rumored.
– SMW is prepping for the biggest show in their history, with “The Super Bowl of Wrestling” on 8/4 in Knoxville, to be headlined by either Shawn Michaels or Jeff Jarrett defending the IC title against Buddy Landel. And unless WWF plans have drastically changed, they’ve already filmed the interviews where Shawn talks about defending the IC title.
– Back to ECW, as the Steiners are coming in for the 7/28 show and will be staying for two months. Heyman wants to keep them away from the tag team division because they won’t do jobs for any of the existing teams, so they’ll just do six-man matches instead.
– And now, THE END OF AN ERA.
– President Jack Tunney resigned this past week, as both Tunney and Billy Red Lyons were let go as a part of “aggressive house-cleaning” in the front offices, including other executive scapegoats as Steve Planamenta, Rex Lardner and Skip Desjardins. (Not Skip! NOT SKIP!) While they’re not saying anything publicly about the reasons for the cuts, the shitty buyrates and immense legal bills for Vince’s trial seem to be the culprits. (In fact the Tunney story would get juicier later.) Meanwhile, replacing Tunney as the new face of Canada will be Carl DeMarco, who used to be Bret Hart’s agent.
– Tunney took over as fictional President of the WWF in 1984 after splitting with Jim Crockett Jr., a figurehead reward for his new loyalty to the WWF overlords. Dave points out that many of his on-screen decisions made no sense and made him look like a “bumbling, semi-senile over-his-head President who oversaw all the chaos”. (Good thing we’ve moved past THAT sort of President.)
– So with Tunney gone, they’ll have to fill the role of Authority Figure, and they’re already starting angles on TV around the decision making process. (BUT WHO COULD IT BE? A computer? The leprechaun? Vickie Guerrero? Teddy Long? Johnny Ace? I HAVE TO KNOW NOW!)
– Current rumor is Shane Douglas playing a heel commissioner. Dave thinks Bob Backlund would be an awesome choice for the role.
– Linda McMahon, ever the electrifying spokesperson, issued the following statement with regards to the changes: “We are moving forward, but we must consolidate and streamline some areas and change the management systems in order to operate efficiently. Some positions will be lost, and the transition phase will require everyone’s cooperation. When additions are necessary for growth, they will be added.”
– That’s Slick Willie for you!
– To Japan, where Dave actually addresses a question I’ve had for a while now: What the hell happened to Billy Black’s push over there with AJPW that basically ended his career? So Black has been telling people that everything is fine between them and he’ll be back in All Japan right away, but Dave disagrees. Turns out that he was a regular a few years back and got double-crossed on a finish in a match with Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, and didn’t take it very well. He freaked out in the dressing room and went off on a swearing-filled rant against some people who you really shouldn’t curse out, and was never bought back again. (Yeah, and after a couple of short stints with ECW and SMW, he never wrestled another match with any major promotion again in North America, either.)
– To New Japan, where Masa Chono’s father passed away on 7/9, so he was forced to vacate the IWGP tag team titles he held with Tenzan. (Talk about a rough week.) Instead, Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata will face Scott Norton & Mike Enos for the titles. Dave is somewhat mystified at the monster push being given to Hirata all of a sudden, as the team beat the Steiner Brothers and the Hell Raisers over two nights. (Wait, Mike Enos is competing for a major title and THAT’S who Dave is questioning? Also, Hirata has had quite the career, originally competing in Stampede as Native American star Sonny Two Rivers in the 70s and ending up today as Super Strong Machine.)
- Nobuhiko Takada cancelled his scheduled matches on 7/13 and 7/22 and will be running for the House of Councilors after all, along with Inoki and Hase. Meanwhile, another kickboxer quit the UWFI promotion this week, which Dave notes is another weekly sign that the company is in trouble.
– Curtis “Firebreaker Chip” Thompson did a try-out match for SMW and beat Mike Samson in a terrible match where Thompson only did rest-holds, leading Dave to wonder if he knows what “try” is supposed to mean.
(Good thing Chip is already a fireman because he’s gonna need to put out that SICK BURN!)
– So after Paul Heyman took potshots at Jim Cornette bouncing cheques at the ECW Q&A deal last week, Jim Cornette made sure to respond. (Of course he did.) He said that, yes, SMW has bounced their share of cheques because they run week-to-week, but they always make good on it. The only person who he still owes money to is Cactus Jack, due to a funny story about Jack waiting three weeks to cash a cheque, at which point it bounced. So Cornette wired money directly to him in Atlanta, not realizing that Mick had moved to New York, so Mick called Cornette and cut a promo on him, calling him “Herb Abrams”, at which point Cornette sent the money to New York instead and Foley apologized. Although he hasn’t called Cornette back since then.
– Cornette would also like to point out that ECW is thousands in debt and just went through a complete financial restructuring to bail them out, and yet HE’S the one being portrayed as a “welshing low-life”? (Don’t worry, JImbo, Heyman definitely lost that war in the long run.)
– Cornette also said he needed to unload the Gangstas and called up the WWF trying to find them work, and they “ran from that idea like a vampire from a cross”. So Cornette called up ECW to get them a job, and New Jack went behind his back and struck a deal with Tod Gordon to start two weeks before the end date Cornette had asked for.
(For those keeping track, this is generally considered the point when the Cornette-Heyman relationship goes completely south and their real-life feud begins.)
– Incredibly Strange Wrestling managed to book a spot on the Lollapalooza show on 7/4 in Seattle, thus managing to perform before the biggest crowd in North America in 1995. The ISW group, which features luminaries like “The Rapist”, “The Abortionist” (complete with coat hanger!), and a female valet who revives her men by taking off her panties and rubbing them in their face, was seen by a concert promoter at one of their shows in California, and here we are! They’ll also be doing the Lolla shows on 8/14 and 8/18 in California.
– Meanwhile, on a Peach City Wrestling show on 7/7 in Cordele, GA, Iron Sheik was working against masked man The American Eagle, as played by Jackie Fulton. However, even though the Eagle was wearing a mask and no one was supposed to know who he was, Sheik completely exposed the gimmick by getting on the PA and calling him “Jackie Fulton” and talking about how much he hated his brother Bobby Fulton. (And to think this is only the START of hilarious Iron Sheik stories in the years to come.)
– Although Jim Hellwig is scheduled to a work a match for a promoter in Las Vegas, he’s telling people that it’s a one-time only deal. (Just like when he tried those steroids in college.)
– Meanwhile, also on 7/7, a show held by Golden State Wrestling saw the ring announcer annoying everyone, to the point where the promoters told wrestler Prime Time Peterson to throw a cup of tea at him. Which he did. Turns out it contained urine. (GOLDEN State, you say?)
– For those who will be at Huntington Beach for the Bash at the Beach show, the PPV will be filmed between lifeguard stands X and Y. City officials are expecting 10,000 for the free show, but WCW promoter Zane Bresloff is claiming 50,000. (Man, can this guy get ANY big show numbers right?)
– Vader’s Road Kill tour stopped in Evansville, IN for a USWA show this week, where he destroyed everyone. (What an amazing gimmick.)
– Dave once again declared this week’s WCW Saturday Night show to be the WORST EPISODE EVER, although he does give Bobby Heenan credit for moving into the 70s with his TV references.
– Lee Marshall and Mike Tenay both got tryouts as announcers and did well, although neither will likely end up getting the mysterious TNT show gig, since that’s 100% going to Bischoff.
– Speaking of which, the first show is rumored to be taped in the Paramount Theater in MSG. (Oh, now THAT would have been shots fired!)
– With Kevin Sullivan and Terry Taylor running the WCW Pro tapings, they tried a wacky new strategy where they actually stopped the show and redid matches with botched segments instead of just rushing onwards and trying to fix it in post-production.
– Manabu Nakanishi Gimmick Update: His new name is Katana, which means “Samurai Sword”. (Swing and a miss.)
– To the WWF, where the bloodletting continues. Come August, in addition to taping TV every four weeks instead of three, Wrestling Challenge is being cancelled because it’s not worth the expense of doing another day of taping. It’ll be replaced by a generic recap show. In addition, taping days will always be the Monday and Tuesday after a PPV, so that way they never have to expose results like WCW does.
– King Kong Bundy is still employed, by the way, although he’s been out with pneumonia and phased down because it’s basically acknowledged that his matches suck. (Ouch.)
– Sid is also being phased down and Mabel is getting the top heel role for a while instead. Speaking of which, Mabel is now officially King Mabel.
And now, the return of a segment we haven’t had in a while…
– In addition to waging war with WCW, the WWF is now waging war against the Observer itself! Turns out that they’re starting their own newsletter, which is being put together by one Vince Russo, “who did a terrible newsletter of his own which lasted all of a few issues”.
– In the opposite of cost-cutting, the WWF bought a literal blimp for $250,000 this past week, and they’ll be sending it ahead of time to cities where they’ll be running shows.
– Also, Summerslam has already sold 8000 tickets without any matches announced, which Dave finds kind of mind-boggling. (Obviously they heard Pittsburgh’s local hero Shane Douglas was coming in.)
– Roadie is out for a bit after a car accident, but he’ll be back with a huge babyface push.
– Dustin Rhodes is talked about as coming in with a heel gunslinger gimmick. (OR…and follow along with me here, they could tweak that idea just a SMIDGE…)
– Negotiations with Steve Williams are in a state of nothingness, with Dr. Death neither agreeing nor disagreeing to come in, but talks are still ongoing.
– And finally, Denis Gauthier Jr, who was drafted in the first round by the Calgary Flames, is actually the son of Montreal promoter Joanne Rougeau and nephew of The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers. (He had a pretty good NHL career, too.)