Wrestling Observer Flashback – 08.14.95
Guys, I know this will come as a shock, but ECW isn’t getting along with a TV network.
– ECW’s deal with the Sunshine Network is possibly coming to an end after a controversial angle with Sandman and Mikey Whipwreck this past week, which resulted in the most recent episode getting pulled from the network. Heyman claims that programming director Dave Omstead watched a tape of the episode and was so offended that he pulled it from all of Sunshine Network’s scheduled airings and cancelled the show. Sunshine Network claims that ECW pulled out of their contract due to ongoing negotiations and they no longer had a deal to air the show as a result.
– Of course, after some negotiations, everything should be worked out by next week’s show and anything offensive will have been bleeped out of the airings. (Oh come on Dave, talk about a bait and switch!)
– For those wondering, the angle is the one where Sandman beats Mikey 10 times with the cane while Woman basically has an orgasm because she loves the violence so much, which was said to be a blatant ripoff of the same scene from Natural Born Killers.
– Over to the WWF, as Gorilla Monsoon was announced as the new “interim” president of the WWF, and in his first act he took Sid out of the IC title match at Summerslam and replaced him with Razor Ramon instead in a ladder match. The idea of course is to replace Jack Tunney, although Tunney was frequently portrayed as a bumbling goof in over his head, and Gorilla has a huge ego and would never let himself be portrayed in that manner.
– The actual reasons behind the change in the match are threefold, and Dave shall summarize them henceforth:
REASON THE FIRST: The original Summerslam lineup somehow looked even worse than King of the Ring, itself a legendary dumpster fire of epic proportions, and the WWF is a little touchy about negative criticism of their product at the moment.
REASON THE SECOND: Shawn Michaels is a sizzling hot babyface right now having great matches every night, and Sid is Sid. The feeling was that if they put Shawn in there with him and he delivered a stinker, it would significantly cool his momentum.
REASON THE THIRD: Since they wanted Shawn to have a great match and his previous ladder match was considered maybe the best match in the history of the entire promotion, this was the logical choice.
Originally the idea was to switch from Sid to Jerry Lawler, which explains the angles shot on RAW that will end up paying off on the 8/14 show, but then they thought “Hey, Razor isn’t booked, maybe we can do a GREAT match instead of a good one!” (Truly revolutionary thinking here.)
– In the same vein, 1-2-3 Kid v. Hakushi was also added to the show in order to produce a great match, and young up and coming star Hunter Hearst Helmsley was added to the show against Bob Holly. (Wait, hold on, I’m feeling like these names we’re hearing all have something in common but I can’t put my finger on it…)
– Notably removed from the show is the Owen & Yokozuna v. Allied Powers match, because “both matches are equally average on paper” and this way someone other than Luger & Yoko can get a PPV payday for once. (I have no idea why Luger wouldn’t feel appreciated by the promotion at this point.)
– Oh, also, Bill Watts was hired as a TV scriptwriter out of nowhere in a decision that Dave considers very surprising. Random fact: Watts sold his promotion and syndicated network to Jim Crockett for $4 million in 1987, but in fact only ever received $1.2 million of it because Crockett himself went bankrupt and sold to Ted Turner the next year. (The moral: It really fucking sucked to be Bill Watts in 1987.)
– Dave points out Bill’s disaster of a run with WCW in 1992, where he took over from Kip Frey (who literally knew nothing about pro wrestling before or after his time in WCW) and managed to sink business in every conceivable facet while still pretending like he knew everything about wrestling.
– Dave notes that Bill’s position is STRICTLY writing scripts, and will not involve any interfacing with talent or anyone in the office outside of Bruce Prichard. Also he’ll have no decision-making powers when it comes to contracts. (As I’ve heard it said before, plans changed.)
– Basically Watts is replacing the retiring Pat Patterson, who had been Vince’s assistant booker and right-hand man for most of the period from 1985-1994 outside of the brief time when he “quit” over the sex scandals. The retirement comes, not coincidentally, at a time when many head office executives are being cut from the company to save money.
– Sadly, promotional considerations are no longer being paid for by the following: Lord Alfred Hayes.
– Speaking of money losers, WCW had their Clash of Champions show on 8/6 in Daytona Beach, and it drew a 3.5 rating, which everyone is pretty happy with despite the lack of Hogan on the show. Hogan actually worked with Kamala on the Main Event show beforehand to avoid the technicality of paying him for working the Clash, and it drew a 2.1 rating. Granted the rating is down significantly from last August’s Hogan-Flair rating, but that’s hardly a fair comparison. (You’ve gotta be fair to Flair!)
– Despite the good rating, the direction of the company remains the same, with a couple of good matches and a bunch of silly angles that are supposed to be aimed at children despite no children watching the product.
First up, the Main Event:
- Johnny B. Badd pinned Big Bubba Rogers in 3:14 when Bubba fell over and Badd pinned him. Bubba has gained considerable weight as of late. (I’ve heard he’ll job for food.) *1/4
- The Nasty Boys beat Los Especialistas (aka The Barrio Brothers under masks) in 2:45. The Nasties beat them quickly, and then unmasked them as the Barrio Brothers, at which point Eric Bischoff went on a big rant about how they were “phonies” pretending to be from Mexico.
- Brian Pillman pinned Marcus Bagwell in 4:25. They did an exceptional job given that neither one is over in the slightest and they had no time and no one cares. Pillman’s been studying Eddie Guerrero, clearly. They collided on a bodypress attempt and Pillman landed on top for the pin. ***
- Hulk Hogan beat Kamala by DQ in 4:36. Pretty bad but it had heat and was fast paced because it was so short. Hogan won with “a foot to the face that looked like crap” and the legdrop after kicking out of the big splash. *
Moving onto the Clash…
- Sting & Hawk beat Meng & Kurosawa in 7:23. Dave’s not sure what planet Hawk was on but he looked worse than ever. Kurosawa looked totally lost, perhaps because he’s a Japanese guy with no martial arts experience playing a martial artist because he’s Japanese. Hawk nearly fell off the ropes doing a clothesline and pinned Kurosawa. One of the worst matches of the year. -**
- DDP pinned Alex Wright in 8:14. With the change in bookers, Wright has lost his push and even his entrance music. Wright missed a dive to the floor and Page pinned him. Bobby Heenan went on and on about how Page will be a champion in the sport soon, which is their subtle way of foreshadowing DDP winning the TV title from Renegade at Fall Brawl. **3/4
- Renegade pinned Paul Orndorff to retain the TV title in 3:59. Orndorff took the entire match to prevent any possibility of Renegade blowing spots. DUD
- Harlem Heat & Sister Sherri beat Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck & Col. Rob Parker in 11:01, thus earning the Heat a shot at the tag team titles at Fall Brawl. Of course, Sherri was knocked out at one point during the match, and when she recovered she was suddenly an amnesiac who was in love with Parker, resulting in him taking a pratfall in shock and getting pinned. Terrible match. Funny angle. -*
At this point Hogan and Savage did an interview with a March of Dimes kid, where Savage promised to give $1 out of every PPV order of Fall Brawl to the charity. Dave’s theory is that they’ll raise the price of the show by $3 to make up for it.
Also, Hulk entered the Dungeon of Doom and met THE GIANT, who is supposed to be the son of Andre and is made up to look like him.
- Vader beat Ric Flair & Arn Anderson in a handicap match in 8:05. The story of the match was Arn did well but Flair would come in and screw it up. Finally this resulted in Arn getting pinned with a powerbomb while Flair failed to make the save. Match was too short, as it was booked to go 18:00 but had to be cut short due to everything else running long. **1/2 (Except for the Dungeon of Doom segment, of course, which could never go too long.)
Dave was impressed with the hip references from Bobby Heenan, as he bragged that the debut of WCW Monday Nitro would have so much interest that it’s like “Who Shot JR” or the finale of MASH. He’s into the early 80s now, Dave notes!
– Also, Dave was pretty shocked by the reaction to the Collision in Korea show because he hated it, but the show received mostly favorite responses from his readership.
– Specifically, Eric Bischoff was a complete trainwreck on commentary, although Dave notes he’s improved. From “the level below Ed Whalen at his worst to the level of slightly better than Gordon Solie at his least coherent”. (I believe Dave is, as the kids say, THROWING SHADE there.)
– On the bright side, Eric didn’t screw up any names and was able to relate that was he was friends with Scott Norton in high school. Also, when guys were throwing kicks, he was good at calling them. So there’s that.
– Also of note, he spent most of the show burying the Steiners for “never quite reaching their potential”.
– Also, the production was awful.
– Moving on, SMW did their “Super Bowl of Wrestling” show on 8/4 in Knoxville, setting a company record with 4600 paid thanks to Shawn Michaels and Undertaker on top. Also setting records was the USWA three nights later, with the SMW feud helping to draw 3000 fans in Memphis. The SMW show was 4 hours and 35 minutes long due to functioning as a big show and a TV taping, and featured three title changes. Undertaker was said to have worked particularly hard in a match against Unabom. (I feel like he’d have good chemistry with Glen Jacobs for some reason! Also that match is a Hidden Gem on the Network.)
– Notably, the Heavenly Bodies returned to the territory and won the SMW tag team titles, taking the spot of the Rock N Roll Express. In fact, Bob Armstrong (playing the proxy for Jim Cornette) came out before the match and “buried the carcass of the fired Ricky Morton”, talking about how Morton and his girlfriend filed false charges against Tracy Smothers and then stole Tracy’s tag team title belt and refused to give it back. Robert Gibson then said he called Ricky, and Ricky told him that “Rock & Roll can go to hell” and that the team was DEAD.
(He’s got a lot of families, apparently…)
– To add to the financial woes of WAR and UWFi, FMW also announced a corporate restructuring with a new parent company.
– The latest ECW show had to change all around because Chris Benoit, Marty Jannetty and Luna Vachon all no-showed for various reasons, which resulted in Cactus Jack turning heel much sooner than planned. Also, Big Dick Dudley debuted, replacing the departed Little Snot Dudley.
– OK, I’m running out of time here tonight, but we gotta get into the Rob Feinstein story that Dave tells here. So they were doing a gag at the show where Bill Alfonso was on vacation, so he sent his “personal videographer” Feinstein to tape the shows for him so that he could “reverse decisions later”. (You cannot say Paul Heyman isn’t a creative guy!) So apparently when ECW got into financial trouble original under Gordon, Rob was owed $5200 as a part of the money trouble, along with lots of other people on the merchandising end. So Rob was told he’d be paid back monthly, which of course went about as you’d expect. So it ended up with Heyman owing him MORE money by the end, with Feinstein quitting as tape distributor on 8/7, so Heyman wrote him into a TV angle where he buried Rob for ruining the ECW tape business by sending stuff out late and in poor quality. (Man, he should have waited and saved up his big burial for later!) Of course, the late tapes and poor quality had nothing to do with Feinstein in reality and it was mostly due to Paul Heyman himself.
– Also, Paul Heyman has flip-flopped on doing a PPV and is now open to negotiations with other groups again.
– OK, moving on to WCW as we wrap things up soon hopefully so I can go to bed.
– Disco Inferno debuted at the Disney tapings, doing a feud with Alex Wright over who is the better dancer.
– Marcus Bagwell & Scott Studd debuted as a new team called The American Males, in what Dave calls “a combination cowboy stripper gimmick” that the front office is already writing off as a disaster which will require them to turn heel. (Can you even imagine Marcus Bagwell as a heel?)
– Paul Orndorff has a new awful gimmick with deliberately awful music where he stares at himself in a mirror. (We haven’t even gotten to the best part of THAT one yet!)
– Brian Pillman has been added to the Ric Flair & Arn Anderson team for the moment, likely building to a Flair & Sting v. Arn & Pillman tag team match “which would end with everyone turning on Sting”.
And now, the one you’ve all been waiting for, and my entire career of doing this gimmick has been leading to…
I’m too excited to type it out without squealing in delight, so I’ll just copy the words directly and savor each one more than the last:
“Allan Iron Eagle (Joe Gomez) got some wins at the taping.”
(Was it good for you too? If only Dave knew what a firestorm of change and greatness that a little TV taping would bring. Sure, the world might have known BC and AD as the two main eras before, but now there’s also the PG Era. POST-GOMEZ.)
– Mike Rotunda is coming in. Don’t ask Dave why. But hey, the original idea was to do a press conference for Nitro and just have Rotunda show up unannounced, as if it was some kind of interpromotional match. (What a stupid idea. Like anyone would buy a WWF guy just showing up on Nitro unannounced, or that people from the WWF would show up for an interpromotional war. THAT’S JUST STUPID.)
– The first main event on the first Nitro will be Hogan v. Orndorff. (Plans change.)
– Terry Taylor went on the WCW Hotline and buried Al Snow as being “all stuck up” because he came into WCW looking for more money and claiming to have a WWF deal as leverage.
– In other news, Al Snow really does have a WWF deal.
– Also, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were thoroughly buried because they’re not coming in either, as Taylor badmouthed Guerrero for never drawing money, even though Guerrero main evented the AAA-WCW PPV just months beforehand! Both guys turned down three month deals from WCW, feeling that this was an indication that the company had no plans for either one of them.
– Dallas Page is already scheduled to drop the TV title he hasn’t won yet to Johnny B. Badd, at Halloween Havoc.
– Hulk Hogan is telling people that he’s totally willing to drop the title to Sting, brother. This was also a story he was telling last year at the same time, for those keeping track.
– JEFF JARRETT UPDATE: He’s still sitting out his contract and there’s no movement on either side. Jeff’s trying to get out of his deal and go elsewhere. Normally the policy is that you can go anywhere but WCW in these situations, but in this case Vince is being a particularly big dick about it and blocking him from going anywhere.
– Sid’s interview on RAW was solely to head off rumors that he quit the promotion.
– And finally, despite rumors going around like crazy, the 9/11 RAW show will not feature Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels. (Might be some money in that matchup in the future, though.)
Jesus Dave can ramble sometimes. And I’m off to bed, so good night!