Wrestling Observer Flashback – 07.31.95
I know this year has been a slog, but we’re getting closer to September, when the magic happens!
But first, WWF returns to your house! Whether you wanted them there or not.
– Actually, first it’s a bit of political talk, as Hiroshi Hase won election to the senate in Japan. This would seem to put an end to his wrestling career. He ran under the Liberal Democratic party and won his seat by 28,000 votes. Elsewhere, Inoki failed to be elected under his own Sports Peace Party, while Takada’s brief bid for politics ended quickly when he fell about 600,000 votes short of the 800,000 needed towards getting a national seat. Inoki’s failed re-election likely has a lot to do with the endless scandals he was implicated in, which by the way he still denies. (FAKE NEWS, one could say.)
– OK, over to the politics we’re all more familiar with, in this case WWF’s In Your House II show. The biggest news was that after being involved in the two best matches on the show, both Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie quit the promotion. Both were reportedly unhappy about the direction of the angle they were involved in. In fact, they were supposed to do a breakup angle after Jeff lost the IC title to Shawn, but both guys simply walked out of the building and the company had to shoot a phantom breakup angle without them. (Once again proving that Jarrett draws more money by not being there.) The ironic thing is that Jarrett was finally starting to show some charisma during the angle, after years of endless pushes had flopped. Rumors are that WCW is interested, but Jarrett’s very valid WWF contract is a problem. On RAW the next night, Vince promised that Jarrett would never again sing on a WWF show. (Oh, if only we could believe that.)
– Speaking of WCW, Dean Malenko won the ECW TV title from Eddy Guerrero on 7/21 in Tampa, due to Guerrero getting poached by WCW and starting there shortly. He’ll be feuding with Alex Wright. (Big plans for him there!)
– So as it turns out, Kerwin Silfies was NOT in fact fired as a part of the cost-cutting measures, as reported last week. (I knew it! Hang in there, Kerwin!) However, the other corporate blood-letting measures have people in the TV industry asking pretty serious questions about the financial stability of the WWF. In addition to the executive fatcats getting their golden parachute, the following talent were also axed: Headshrinker Sionne, Afa, Lou Albano, Doink, Dink, Stephanie Wiand, Duke Droese and Tony Garea. (I can hear Brian Bayless shrieking in horror from here.) Also, Mantaur, Tekno Team 2000 and the Heavenly Bodies are on the way out via the dreaded “phasing down”. Also, Hakushi gave notice, so expect him to be “phased down” as well, and King Kong Bundy should be gone by September. Really, as Dave notes, the only one here that was any kind of surprise was Doink, and even then only because WWF was going after trademark infringers so aggressively.
– Still, even though the company has seemingly lost millions of dollars, it’s still owned 100% by the McMahons and there’s been no movement to sell it on their part. If the day ever came where they sold interest to outside parties, then you’d know things were dire. (Or, the exact opposite, as it turned out.)
– OK, finally over to In Your House II, which actually surprised Dave with the enthusiasm of the positive responses he got, probably because people were desperate for anything to love after King of the Ring. The motivation of the wrestlers was way up, and Dave is pretty disappointed that we’re never getting the payoff for the Jarrett-Roadie angle because the lip-syncing deal was an all-time classic setup.
– The show wasn’t sold out, with the crowd somewhere between 6500 and 7000.
– In the dark match, Skip pinned Aldo Montoya in 4:00 after rolling through a crossbody. All action, just too short. (Just like Skip!) **
- Roadie pinned 1-2-3 Kid in 7:26 with a piledriver off the middle rope. Dave is a tad concerned that someone coming off major neck surgery would be taking that kind of bump. (Knowing Waltman they probably had to negotiate down from coming off the TOP rope.) A damn good match that would have been better with more time. ***1/4
- Men on a Mission beat Razor Ramon & Savio Vega in 7:50, in what Dave calls the surprise of the night, in that it was a good match featuring one guy back from rib injury and MOM being awful. Mabel squashed Ramon with the belly to belly for the pin to continue his push, which was gutsy but logical booking considering Mabel is getting the next title shot. **3/4
At this point, JJ did his concert, which came off great.
- Bam Bam Bigelow pinned Henry Godwinn in 5:33 with a cradle. Kind of a dead match. ¾*
- Shawn Michaels pinned Jeff Jarrett to win the IC title in 20:01. Every spot was perfectly timed, with the first part of the match being AAA style lucha libre and the last part of the match being 1980s Ric Flair. Shawn was out of his mind great here, taking incredible bumps and doing Randy Savage’s top rope elbow better than he does. Roadie accidentally tripped Jarrett and Shawn superkicked him for the pin, which would have caused the split had they not walked out. ****1/2
- Owen Hart & Yokozuna retained the WWF tag titles over Lex Luger & British Bulldog in what Dave calls “something of an upset”. The heels were teasing a split early, but otherwise Owen Hart was a one-man show and carried the entire match. The Allied Powers did a double suplex on Yoko and had him pinned, but Owen came off the top on Luger and Yoko got the pin to retain at 10:54. **1/2
- Diesel beat Sid in 10:02 in a lumberjack match to finally end their feud. Sid somehow gets worse every time you see him and Diesel didn’t look any good either. The lumberjacks actually saved the match from negative stars. At one point Diesel did a plancha onto the heels, and Dave notes that he’s probably the biggest man ever to try that move. (Modern wrestling says HELLO!) Shawn interfered after Sid hit two powerbombs, and Diesel stumbled into a big boot for the pin to retain. ½*
In the dark matches, Bret Hart pinned Jean Pierre Lafitte with a cradle in a *** match, and Undertaker beat Kama in a casket match that was worse than anything on the PPV.
– In a quick PPV business roundup, UFC are claiming 300,000 buys for the last show, which would be the same as Wrestlemania. Bash at the Beach looks to have been a success with 190,000 buys for $2.37 million.
– Summerslam looks to have a media-friendly match featuring Owen Hart & Yokozuna against William “Refrigerator” Perry & Steve McMichael, but at the moment McMichael is still with the Packers and wouldn’t be available for the match, despite his very well known desire to be a pro wrestler. WWF is currently claiming 11,000 tickets sold for the show, which normally Dave would laugh off, but in this case he thinks might actually be real.
– Hulk Hogan v. Kamala has been added to the 8/6 Clash of Champions, sort of. See, Hogan gets $300,000 for every Clash show that he works, so in order to save that money, they’re putting him on the Main Event pre-show deal instead, so that they can promote him as being there without actually having to kill their profit margin by putting him on the Clash show itself.
– Speaking of Hogan, the deal to bring in Ultimate Warrior looks to be dead, so they’re gonna substitute Sting instead and build to a Starrcade match with Hogan v. Sting. Also on the books is Hogan v. “the as yet unnamed really tall guy dressed up to look like Andre” for Halloween Havoc. (Come on, I’m sure someone in WCW creative can come up with a better name than THAT! Oh, wait, I’m just being informed that, no, they can’t.)
– Meanwhile, someone in WCW has FINALLY decided that Renegade needs to be phased down and sent back to wrestling school because he’s awful and not ready for the position. (GEE, YOU THINK?!?)
- Speaking of Warrior, he made his triumphant return to wrestling in Las Vegas on 7/22 amidst a flood of nasty legal threats from the WWF, beating Honkytonk Man in the main event before 2000 fans. No word on match quality, but after bitching about steroids on ABC, Warrior was sure big and muscular here.
– To Memphis, where the SMW feud continues to pick up the crowds. A Texas death match between the Rock n Roll Express & PG-13 drew 1500 fans on 7/17 and a six-man on 7/24 involving Tommy Rich and Tracy Smothers drew 2000 fans.
– Dave speculates that another reason for the big crowd on 7/24 might have been Luger & Bulldog coming in to face Billy Jack Haynes & Brian Lee on the show, but then quickly changes his mind and tells us to forget it.
– Axl Rotten debuted in Memphis as well, feeling that going through the USWA would be a good way to leave ECW and go to the WWF. (Yeah, that didn’t work out very well for him.)
– Downtown Bruno is managing a guy named “Johnny Rotten”, who is Sid Vicious’s real life neighbor, and is doing a gimmick where he too declares himself to be the master of the powerbomb. (I don’t have a lot of information on the guy, but his career didn’t last long and he died in 2014 at the age of 40.)
– After an incident in ECW where fans buried the ring in chairs and nearly got the company thrown out of the building, Public Enemy adjusted their strategy this week. They invited fans into the ring to dance with them instead, which would seem to be safer, but underestimated the weights involved and in fact collapsed the ring from the stress of all the fans in there at one time. Nobody was hurt, but the ring was badly damaged.
– With Axl Rotten no-showing all the ECW shows, they replaced him with Bull Pain, which wasn’t exactly a fan favorite move. Ian Rotten told the fans that Axl has “gone to the land of midgets and toe-suckers”, aka the USWA.
– Speaking of class acts, Paul Heyman and Scorpio went off on each other at the Ft. Lauderdale house show, with Paul telling the crowd that Scorpio was called “Bagwell Blower” in the dressing room, while Scorpio accused Paul of being Bagwell’s secret lover. “And that’s just the clean stuff” notes Dave.
– OK, over to WCW, as the unnamed new Monday show debut has now been moved to the Mall of America in Minneapolis with Hulk Hogan in the main event.
– Al Snow is still the prize in a bidding war between WCW and the WWF, with WCW putting down more money on paper, although WWF tends to be a better place for newcomers to get over. (I mean, how could the WWF POSSIBLY fuck up Al Snow?)
– And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, as Dave reviews the 7/22 WCW Saturday Night show where Hulk Hogan visits the Dungeon of Doom! He charitably calls it “the all-time most poorly acted and dumbest skit in history”. (I think he’s actually being nice to it.) Dave notes that Hogan’s confusion after getting beamed into the Dungeon shows he at least has the good sense not to watch his own terrible TV. This led to the really tall guy bursting through the wall and choking Hogan out, while wearing an Andre ring outfit and an afro like Andre had. And then the announcers never acknowledged anything that happened for the rest of the show. Probably due to personal embarrassment. Dave notes that they’ve got these segments booked on the show through October, just in time for Emmy Award considerations.
– Also, Dave does concede that after watching the skit, the horrible Buck & Slater v. Harlem Heat tag title disaster “looked like an All Japan main event” by comparison.
– Dave would like to also note that Renegade was in fact not trained by Killer Kowalski, so in fact Kowalski disavowing all knowledge last week was a shoot. The confusion comes in from Renegade working as Rio Lord of the Jungle for Kowalski’s indy promotion at one point while moonlighting as a stripper in Boston. (Ah, well, then that clears it up.)
– Public Enemy is in fact not coming into WCW after all. (If only that was true, Dave.)
– Current plan is for the new Monday show to actually be live every Monday, with two hours of WCW Saturday night taped afterwards.
– Plans of Tank Abbott as a wrestler have been dropped “after people actually thought out what they were thinking”. (Dave’s snark is ON POINT this week!)
– Bischoff is bringing in his best friend Sonny Onoo to be a manager doing the outdated stereotype role.
– To the WWF, where promos started for “Gold Dust”, who will be some kind of cowboy from Hollywood, and “Dean Douglas”, which was a major disappointment after years of him doing great promos in ECW. The segment was terrible and went on forever. Other than that, Dave thought it was the best RAW of the year thanks to the Bret v. Hakushi match. Shawn Michaels also superkicked both Heavenly Bodies out of the WWF in another good match.
– They also started vignettes for MAKIN’ A DIFFERENCE Fatu , where he talked about growing up near the Cow Palace and going to matches there. However, they showed an electronic marquee that said “WWF” in the background, which doesn’t exist, so they likely just used one from the Anaheim arena and superimposed it. (That’s an oddly specific change to make.)
– Tony Norris got a try-out in Houston on 7/15.
– And finally, the Spellbinder from Memphis debuted on the WWF TV shows on the weekend, although Dave doesn’t know the name he actually used. (And thus a legendary WrestleCrap moment was born!)