Wrestling Observer Flashback – 07.24.95
Oh man, Dave is REALLY into this UFC thing now.
– In the top story, Dave watched UFC VI and thought it was “the most intense and the most exciting live sports event [he’d] seen in many years”. In fact, he compares the Oleg Taktarov v. Tank Abbott final to Tsuruta v. Misawa from 1990 and the famous hair match between Toyota & Yamada in 1992. (That means he REALLY liked it.)
– By the way, Dave is now 100% convinced that UFC is a shoot.
– While Taktarov won the tournament and his place as a monster heel for the promotion, the real star of the show was Tank Abbott, who had spent the week shit-talking the competition and turned into the major target for everyone in the tournament. Abbott’s announced discipline is the made-up “pitfighting”, which is just a fancy term for “doing whatever is needed to win on the streets”.
– In particular, Tank had words for Dan Severn in his media kit: “Severn? He slaps like a chick. My mom can hit harder than that.”
(It’s almost like someone who can combine the bluster of pro wrestling with the skill of martial arts could make some real money in this UFC thing!)
– OK, back to fake pro wrestling again, as WCW presented Bash at the Beach, making “Vince McMahon look like George Washington” with claims of “hundreds of thousands” of fans on the beach for the show. Dave was there live and due to completely incompetent setup of the ring and bleachers, he calls it one of the worst shows he’s ever seen. Although to be fair, it wasn’t quite as bad on TV, but still a big thumbs down.
– As you’d expect from WCW, they were full of excuses for how lousy the show came off, with fans throwing garbage at the ring out of boredom. It was too hot outside! It was a heel crowd! It doesn’t matter because the audience is mostly kids now!
– Whereas most people had to stand around on the beach and had a lousy view of the ring, rest easy knowing that there was a set of bleachers reserved for employees of Slim Jim.
– Dave was doing a head count at various points in the show, and could never quite get to the “hundreds of thousands” promised by the announcers multiple times in the show.
– In fact, the most Dave could figure was 9500 people, although that got inflated to “40,000” by a couple of local newspapers who were covering the show. Although a bunch of the media covering it also called it a “WWF” show. So, you know, great night all around.
– Backstage at the show were Tank Abbott (having talks about the K1 thing that Bischoff is still pushing for) and Jim Hellwig (who Hogan is pushing for but can’t get due to the WWF owning all his trademarks at the moment).
- Johnny B. Badd pinned Chris Canyon in 2:03 with a top rope Frankensteiner in “one of the best matches of the afternoon”. *1/4
- Road Warrior Hawk pinned Mark Starr in 1:25. ½*
- Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck beat Marcus Bagwell & Alex Wright in 3:25 when Buck suplexed Wright for the pin. Vader destroyed them all afterwards. ¼*
- Sting retained the US title over Meng in the PPV opener with a sloppy schoolboy in 15:31. Dave called it “awful live but much better on PPV”. Meng attacked afterwards and the “heel crowd” cheered because they wanted violence, but Hawk made the save. **
- Renegade retained the TV title over Paul Orndorff in 6:12. No heat at all, and Orndorff working a decent match wasn’t enough to get a good match out of Renegade. Renegade is said to be a student of Killer Kowalski, but Kowalski is probably disavowing all knowledge of teaching him at this point. DUD
- Kamala pinned Jim Duggan in 6:06. Bobby Heenan was in dated reference overdrive here, and Dave was disappointed that we didn’t even get one reference to Frankie or Gidget. Anyway, the dated references were appropriate because the match also belonged in another decade. Zodiac hit Duggan from behind with the ref distracted and Kamala got the win. -1/4*
- Diamond Dallas Page pinned Dave Sullivan in 5:04. The big reactions during the match were a woman taking her top off, and then the police hauling her away. And it was once again a distraction finish, with Page hitting the Diamond Cutter for the win with help from Max Muscle. ½*
- Harlem Heat retained the tag titles over the Nasty Boys and Blue Bloods in a triangle match where no one explained the rules beforehand live, and the finish didn’t make sense anyway. Match was all sloppy brawling and made no sense. Finish was a dogpile with Knobbs and Booker T on Regal, but since Booker was one in the middle and thus technically pinning Regal, the Heat retained the title. Nobody live could figure out what was going on. -1/2*
- Randy Savage pinned Ric Flair with the flying elbow in 13:55 of a Lumberjack match. Flair was talking about Elizabeth, but it’s not happening at the moment. Nowhere near as good as last month’s match, but way better than anything else on the show to that point. **3/4
- Hulk Hogan beat Big Van Vader in the cage match in 13:13. Vader worked hard enough to carry it to something watchable. Hogan hit his legdrops but “his buddy and the booker” were slow hitting their mark and so Hogan had to stall while they did a run-in, and then Dennis Rodman chased off Zodiac & Sullivan. Hey, Dave notes, at least it wasn’t William Shatner. (As if Dennis Rodman could ever draw money for WCW, right?) Hogan crotched Vader and climbed out of the cage to win, as Dave was amazed that Vader managed to escape this program without ever doing a pinfall job to Hulk. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson came out and bullied Vader for losing afterwards, which apparently is Vader’s babyface turn. **1/2
– Over to GOOD wrestling, as Chris Benoit debuted a “new killer move” in the form of a tombstone piledriver off the top rope to win the Top of the Super Junior tournament on 7/13. (Speaking of his new killer moves…) He beat Shinjiro Ohtani in the finals in 19:16.
– The fourth Tiger Mask debuted in Korakuen Hall on 7/15, taking on Great Sasuke in his first match, with newspapers reporting that it was a good one. No one knows his identity, although he’s apparently a protégé of Sayama. Sasuke won by countout in 15:39, and afterwards announced that Tiger Mask IV will be joining Michinoku Pro. (As noted previously, TM4 has been in the role ever since and still wears the mask to this day!)
– To Memphis, where the Rock N Roll Express v. PG-13 feud continues to set the territory on fire, doing a strong 1500 fans for the 7/17 show.
– Steven Dunn debuted in the territory on 7/10, taking the place of Brian Christopher due to a legit broken shoulder from a bad bump. Dunn announced that he was moving to Tennessee because he was tired of all the travel in the WWF (ie, he was fired). Dave notes that he looks to have put on a good 30 pounds. All of it in the belly.
– To ECW, where Dave notes the stunning coincidence that the guys worked Lollapalooza last week and did big numbers and now ECW is presenting “Wrestlepalooza”.
– Jacques Rougeau did his first show on 7/15 in Verdun, QC, before a reported 3500 fans, but who knows for real? Main event was Abdullah the Butcher over Richard Charland, and Rougeau is teasing an affiliation with WCW to be announced soon.
– To WCW, where Flair continued trash-talking Vader through the Center Stage tapings so that everyone knows Vader is the babyface in their upcoming handicap match at the Clash. (What a disaster that ended up being.)
– Al Snow got a tryout match at the tapings against Barry Houston and looked great. He also had a meeting with Vince a few days later. (And people think today’s AEW bidding wars are heated! The companies were so desperate in 1995 that AL SNOW was considered a hot commodity!)
– Manabu Nakanishi finally debuted at the tapings, now dubbed “Kurasawa”, which Dave believes to be named after the famous director. (You THINK? Given that’s about the laziest reference you can make aside from calling a heel “Hirohito”…)
– Disco Inferno also got a tryout and looked great, earning a job immediately. (Al Snow AND Disco Inferno in the same week? How did they not win the wrestling war right then?)
– Oh, um, the new TNT show is gonna be called “something like Wrestling Nitro” and will be taped in Miami on 9/4. TNT barely scraped together a third of the budget that Bischoff was expecting for the show. (Sounds like another typical WCW disaster waiting to happen. Wrestling Nitro? That’ll put butts in seats.)
– Hasselhoff was supposed to appear at the PPV but suddenly pulled out due to his busy schedule. (I hear he was asked to show up as a special favor to Alex Wright.)
(Slam dunk! Three points!)
– Terry Taylor is denying that WCW is interested in signing Tank Abbott, noting that “WCW has four or five guys who could stretch him.” Dave is very interested in who those people might be.
– UPDATE: Killer Kowalski is disavowing any knowledge of training Renegade. (Nice setup and payoff there, Dave.)
– Ed Leslie and Greg Valentine are going to try and get the rights to “Brutus Beefcake” and “The Hammer” back from the WWF, since the WWF isn’t currently using any wrestlers with those gimmicks and thus anyone should be allowed to use them. (If only there was some legal way for the WWF to protect their trademarks by having them used on TV once the original wrestlers left! Oh well.)
– Oh, and in case you thought things couldn’t get any worse for WCW, Hogan wants to bring in El Gigante. (If there’s one thing that wrestling has taught me, it’s that things can ALWAYS get worse for WCW.)
– More bloodletting on top of the WWF, as head of TV production Kerwin Silfies was fired in addition to other key execs last week. This has wrestlers on the bottom rather panicked. (Kerwin must have returned because he ended up being the inspiration for Kerwin White years later.)
– A Jeff Jarrett music video is getting filmed in Denver on 8/11, which will introduce the world to a new dance move called “The Double J Strut”. (Oh man, hope he doesn’t leave the company two weeks before that, because the world needs to experience those sweet dance moves!)
– Reports are that King of the Ring did 0.65 buyrate, which would make it the least bought show in WWF history by a healthy margin, with only 150,000 buys. On the bright side, the live gate was great.
– A reader bumped into Lawrence Taylor recently, and when asked about wrestling again claimed that he would never do so again and it was “the biggest mistake of his career.” (I feel like he might have bigger ones in him. Just a hunch.)
– Morale is low and wrestlers are doing the bare minimum to get by on house shows. (This would actually be an improvement for Kevin Nash.)
– Fatu’s new gimmick is “a street type who tells kids to say no to drugs and stay in school.” (Only wrestling can see one person go from “Samoan savage” to “Motivational speaker” to “Vaguely Arab sultan” to “Dancing Fat Guy” before finally getting over.)
– And finally, the WWF is doing a TV angle where wrestlers are having personal possessions stolen from the locker room, which apparently will wind up as a part of Jean Pierre’s pirate gimmick.
And on that note, have a great day!