WWF Wrestling Challenge – October 2nd, 1994

October 2, 1994

From the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Ted DiBiase.

In action this week are the British Bulldog, Yokozuna, The Bushwhackers, Jerry Lawler, and the 1-2-3 Kid

 

1-2-3 Kid vs. Gary Scott

DiBiase says that Kid uses too many high-risks moves that will ultimately shorten his career. He also calls Kid a “punk.” Kid works the leg to start. Scott comes back with a dropkick then hammers away. Scott ducks his head and Kid comes back with a few kicks for a two count. Kid hits a running leg drop then a suplex for another two count. Scott catches Kid with a back elbow smash then hits a running clothesline. Scott stomps away then heads up top but whiffs on a knee drop. Kid then lands several kicks before putting Scott away with a flying leg drop (3:53).

Thoughts: Good action here as Scott has shown the ability to hang with the better workers in the company. Gorilla also put over Kid strong as a member of the New Generation.

 

The newer King Kong Bundy vignette airs. He will be here in action next week.

 

WWF Live Event News segment on the Hart Attack Tour.

 

We are shown a clip from last week’s “Superstars” where Lawler destroyed Dink’s tricycle.

 

Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Ben Jordan

Before the match, tells the crowd to respect royalty then calls the crowd “morons.” The crowd starts a “Burger King” chant as DiBiase says Doink started this feud by squirting Lawler in the face. Lawler uses a back drop then looks into the camera and tells us this is going to be easy. Lawler then mocks the crowd but ducks his head and Jordan lands a dropkick. We now hear from Doink & Dink in an insert promo as Doink says Lawler broke Dink’s heart and that Lawler will pay. Dink even had a sad look on his face. Lawler taunts the crowd after regaining control but gets dropkicked into the corner. Lawler fights back and hits a DDT before finishing off Jordan with a piledriver (2:45).

Thoughts: A rare wrestling appearance on the syndicated shows for Lawler as they are heating up his feud against Doink & Dink. Lawler was entertaining here.

 

Paul Bearer & The Undertaker once again hyping the casket matches on the Hart Attack Tour against Yokozuna.

 

Yokozuna w/ Jim Cornette vs. Frank Stalleto

Gorilla asks about Mr. Fuji but DiBiase claims to know his whereabouts but refuses to indulge. Yokozuna overpowers Stalleto with ease then lands several mounted punches in the corner. The announcers also talk about the Yokozuna/Undertaker feud then bring up “death and taxes” as Yokozuna puts Stalleto away with an uranage (2:42).

Thoughts: Fuji has been absent for a bit but with DiBiase teasing his whereabouts you’d expect him to return soon.

 

British Bulldog vs. Barry Horowitz

Gorilla gloats about Bulldog and says he’s been touring all over the world as DiBiase says that everyone has a price. We hear from Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart in an insert promo saying that Bulldog is not family and they will take him out for messing in their business. Bulldog press slams Horowitz then sends him outside with a dropkick. Horowitz comes back with a neck snap then hits a reverse neckbreaker for a two count. Bulldog now uses a delayed vertical suplex then uses a chin lock. Horowitz fights back but Bulldog catches him and turns that into a running powerslam for the win (3:13). DiBiase then leaves to prepare Tatanka for an interview.

Thoughts: More hype for the Hart Family feud, especially with Bulldog vs. Neidhart this coming Monday night on RAW.

 

Raymond Rougeau now welcomes DiBiase & Tatanka into the ring. Tatanka does in fact come out in a suit here as Gorilla seems shocked then puts down Tatanka for selling out. DiBiase cuts off Rougeau to tell him they do not care what he or the fans think because you should never doubt his greed. DiBiase then calls Luger stupid for turning down his deal and for that he paid a price and will continue to do so. DiBiase says that Tatanka is a real American, a Native American in fact, and does appreciate the value of the dollar. Tatanka tells us he understands the value of a dollar then tells the “morons” in the crowd to shut up. Tatanka is proud to be a member of the corporation then brags about wearing expensive suits and diamonds before laughing about Luger only getting a $100 tip. DiBiase’s part of the promo was fine but Tatanka was just awful. His delivery was wooden and deliberate to the point you thought he was struggling to read off of cue cards. Tatanka could at least cut a halfway decent fiery babyface promo but was the shits as a heel. And we also saw Tatanka once again come out in a suit but that look did not stick for some reason.

 

The Bushwhackers vs. Ron Hagan & Ryan Scott

Gorilla tells DiBiase that Luger is going to destroy Tatanka. Gorilla lists off some house show dates as The Bushwhackers play to the crowd. Hagan lands a few shots but ends up accidentally knocking his own partner off of the apron. The Bushwhackers then hit Hagan with a double clothesline then Butch lands a fist drop. The Bushwhackers stay in control as they work over Scott then once again to Hagan before putting him away with the battering ram for the win (3:18).

Thoughts: They trot out The Bushwhackers to fill time once again as Gorilla mostly talked about the Tatanka/Luger feud.

 

We get the Bob Backlund video package and interview we saw from “Superstars.”

 

Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Ted DiBiase vs. Sonny Rogers

Gorilla talks about Adam Bomb accepting Bigelow’s open challenge then we hear from Bomb in an insert promo as he calls himself the “creation of devastation” then says Bigelow will not just face him but also the entire “Bomb Squad.” Bigelow beats down Rogers to start. Bigelow then targets the neck and hits three falling headbutts then covers with one foot but takes it off before the three count. Bigelow then catches Rogers for a powerslam and keeps moving him around on the mat so the ref cannot count then stops and gets the win (2:30).

Thoughts: This was more hype for the Bigelow/Bomb feud as the company is finally giving Bomb some direction. Although, the verbiage he uses is still really lame.

 

Another Live Event News segment to hype up the Hart Attack Tour.

 

Next week in action are King Kong Bundy (with Gorilla asking DiBiase if he has him in his back pocket), Adam Bomb, Tatanka, Doink the Clown, and Owen Hart.

 

Final Thoughts: We actually had an exclusive segment but unfortunately it stunk as Tatanka cut a horrendous promo. Besides that your typical mundane edition of Challenge. The other issue with the syndicated shows was the new Fall lineup really killed the WWF as they were removed in some markets and put in much less desirable time slots in others. Here is an excerpt about that by Dave Meltzer from the 9/26/94 edition of “Wrestling Observer Newsletter”

 

“After the events of the past two weeks, pro wrestling in general and the WWF in particular are in trouble. Not in trouble because of legal problems. Not in trouble because of scandals. Not in trouble because of bad houses, although there are bad houses. Not in trouble because of bad ratings, although that certainly doesn’t help the situation.

They are in trouble because of a combination of these things, the fallout of these things, and other things beyond their control, in particular in many markets, Fox network’s NFL deal.

The new fall season started and reports from all over the country are the same. Pro wrestling was devastated on local syndication. I don’t have figures on how many shows were either dropped altogether, or moved to the purgatory time zones (the post-midnight period), but from the phone calls here, it is numerous and both WWF and WCW were hit hard. It’s more devastating to the WWF because their syndication package sells the arena shows which accounts for a large chunk of their money, whereas WCW is so weak at the arenas that they are almost all losers anyway, don’t run a regular schedule, thus most of the money is made on PPV, which can be sold just as well off cable.

While both groups apparently pay big money and WWF maintained strong time slots in New York (the times have changed but still strong slots) and Los Angeles, although WCW in October will be moved past-midnight Sunday from a strong Saturday slot on a major station. Things get even rockier after that. WWF in Chicago was moved from two strong slots to two post-midnight shows. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, No. 5 in the country, was the best example of the serious problems this business faces today.

Two weeks ago, local syndication consisted of WWF on a spanish station, two hours of AAA on a weak San Jose spanish station (cut down from seven hours only a few months back), WCW on a UHF San Jose station and a UHF San Francisco station, and WWF Superstars on KTVU, Ch. 2, the market’s Fox affiliate and one of the highest rated and most profitable independent stations in the country. Many of the smaller groups (SMW, USWA, ECW, IWCCW) are on a lower power station that isn’t even listed in the TV Guides and that virtually nobody in the market knows about or can receive. WWF is in jeopardy on the spanish station because it’s part of the Univision network which is negotiating with AAA, although that deal is considered a few months away if it does happen. AAA maintained its San Jose slot through the Galavision cable. WCW lost its San Jose and was moved from 10 a.m. to past midnight in San Francisco, which eliminates the kids audience just before they were to start promoting the Hulk Hogan-Ric Flair match for 10/15 in Oakland (tickets went on sale 9/19 and they had a strong first day). Most importantly, WWF Superstars was dropped by Ch. 2 with the show that aired this past Saturday being the final show, causing the locals involved in WWF promotion to panic. As things stand right now, the 9/22 card at the San Jose Arena will be the final WWF show in the market. Based on numerous phone calls, this market is not an aberration, as WWF Superstars took a tremendous hit around the country. In all those markets, from Chicago to Denver to Orlando to Miami to Greensboro to Raleigh and numerous others, the weakening of the time slot will make drawing at the house shows that much harder. This comes for a promotion that has just completed its two worst months in its history when it comes to drawing at the domestic arenas, and losing San Jose, one of the hottest new arenas for entertainment in the country, doesn’t help.

Carol Chaney of KTVU, said her stations decision to drop WWF, which probably coincides with many others, didn’t come from one factor but from several.

Falling ratings (she reported ratings had dropped 60 to 70 percent in this market from its heyday) were one factor. An even more important factor was the inability of the station to sell ad time during the show. Even with the ratings drop, the ratings themselves were still competitive (Superstars has been doing between a two and three rating at Noon on Saturdays) with what they expect the shows that will fill the spot (“California Dreams,” a cheesy Saved-by-the-bell type first-run syndie and “Who’s the Boss” reruns) are expected to do, but advertisers don’t have a problem with those shows which gives the crux of the WWF’s problems. Chaney noted that for years not only would the regular advertisers who just bought time on the station rarely have a problem with wrestling, but it brought in additional advertisers who specifically wanted to buy time on wrestling. In addition, the station received a percentage of the house show gates. Now she said people no longer specifically request wrestling and a lot of the regular advertisers specifically don’t want to be involved, noting that it had come to situations where advertisers would buy time for Saturday late morning/early afternoon on KTVU and specially say they don’t want any ads during wrestling and the station couldn’t sell the time. Another reason is with Fox carrying football, there are hours of what was regular Sunday programming that have to be fit in and something had to get the ax. None of those reasons were said to be any more important than the others, but combined they spelled the end of WWF Superstars and hence for the time being, live WWF pro wrestling in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, similarly to probably a significant number of other markets.

The specific reasons she gave for advertisers not wanting to be involved with pro wrestling is the negative connotation from the WWF’s legal problems and steroid image, even though people know the legal problems have largely been settled. The steroid use declined drastically over the past two years but Titan was caught so many times in dishonest statements on the subject that the sport and the company’s reputation still has the steroid image. It has left a bad taste and bad image of the product. A second reason is the lack of Hulk Hogan, and advertisers have figured out Hogan is no longer associated with the WWF and the company isn’t nearly as attractive without him. She also noted wrestling has always been a cyclical television attraction and the belief within the television industry is the cycle is up, noting that in the South just a few years ago stations would grab up any wrestling television show they could because it guaranteed ratings, and now stations hardly carry anything. The revenue from the house shows drastically declined in this market as well, which meant KTVU’s share drastically dropped, with both fewer shows (it used to be run monthly, not it’s cycled about every three months) and a far lower average house per show.

Both before and during the trial of Vince McMahon, I was frequently asked what the trial would do to the popularity of pro wrestling and the WWF. My response was it depended on the verdict, of course, but it wasn’t the trial that would determine this as much as the advertisers and television stations. It was written here that the real effects of the trial wouldn’t really hit until September when we saw how many stations dropped the show or moved it to purgatory.

The company is facing its greatest test ever. It has two aces left domestically. The success of Monday Night Raw, and the fact its PPV shows still generate millions of dollars. It can still draw huge money internationally, particularly in Germany. Talent depth is the worst it has ever been and the lack of new young talent in the business overall has been a problem for years but never so bad as it is now. The booking has its ups and downs, but stylistically it is for the most part stale. The company has still never proven it can fill buildings consistently without the steroid guys leading the parade and despite speculation to the contrary, there is no indication the drug policy is going to be dropped and they would be taking a serious risk at the other end in dropping it. The marriages on the horizon look uninteresting. But the television losses of the past two weeks are a bigger problem than all of that.

 One good thing (if this can be considered good) is the WWF always responds when things get bad rather than letting them simply run their course and get worse without an attempt to change things. The Sunday All-American show, which got obliterated by the Fox NFL pre-game show last week in the ratings (doing a 1.3), is undergoing a name change to “The Zone” and will feature more wrestling, less talk as the slogan (and you know how accurate slogans are in wrestling) “since on Sunday afternoons you want to see action not talk.” That isn’t a knock at WCW’s Gene & Bobby show as many took it, but a knock at the Fox pre-game talking heads show. The other change is WWF is making a serious play to bring back Ultimate Warrior, and I can just imagine how much that’s going to cost.”