Wrestling Observer Flashback – 08.21.95
Are you ready for WAR? WCW might be. Let’s find out!
– After weeks of negotiations, WCW finally secured deals to bring in Chris Benoit, Sabu, Dean Malenko and Eddy Guerrero for their new-fangled “WCW Monday Nitro” show debuting in a couple of weeks. Sabu will be debuting on the second Nitro, but Benoit is still working Japan at the moment so realistically he won’t be around until October. Guerrero reached a deal after weeks of negotiations and “some name-calling”. (Presumably that’s referring to Red Rooster’s hotline report we discussed last week?) Basically the deal was brokered by New Japan, who had been their primary employer as of late, specifically by Masa Saito.
– Paul Heyman, meanwhile, had been under the impression that this group (Let’s call them “Radicals”, maybe?) would be anchoring the first ever ECW PPV and he was pretty surprised when both Guerrero and Malenko kind of left him in the lurch without much warning.
– The feeling from the guys is that because the deal is actually with New Japan, they’ll be protected from getting buried due to Bischoff wanting to maintain good relations with the organization. They probably also won’t get a mega-push, but none of them were expecting that going in anyway.
– Benoit actually had a lucrative standing offer from the WWF to come work for them whenever he wanted, even going so far as to allow him to work his 18 weeks a year in Japan, but New Japan balked at having one of their top stars working for a company that’s trying to move on their territory in Japan. Going to WCW is also kind of surprising because it’s a heavy clique-based company now with “Friends of Hogan” and “Friends of Flair” dominating the political scene and anyone who is outside of that Venn Diagram getting lost in the shuffle. (Good thing the WWF would never be controlled by any “cliques”!)
– Speaking of New Japan, Jushin Liger will be coming in for the first Nitro, working with Brian Pillman in the opener while the show is main evented by Flair v. Sting and Hogan v. Big Bubba.
– For those wondering, Mike Rotunda was promised a tag title reign with Big Bubba Rogers as a lure for jumping ship. (Well that sure didn’t end up happening.)
– Meanwhile, the WWF is taping the 9/11 and 9/18 shows on 8/28 in Canton, OH, so the first live battle won’t even be until 9/25. Rumor was that Shawn v. Bret was going to headline on 9/11, but that will probably change to another headline-level match instead. Also rumor was that there’s backstage tension between Bret and Shawn, but that was STRONGLY denied by the WWF. (I’m sure things are fine between them.)
– Speaking of New Japan, they sold out 5 consecutive nights at Sumo Hall for the G1 Climax, ending with IWGP champion Keiji Muto becoming the first reigning champion to win the tournament, taking out Shinya Hashimoto in the finals. Overall, the tournament was described as “disappointing”.
– Crowds in Memphis were actually a bit below the announced giant numbers from last week, but still over 1500, which is really good for a show headlined by Billy Jack Haynes v. Tommy Rich. Also retired Phil Hickerson was brought back for the show to reunite his team with Frank Morell (from “centuries ago” notes Dave).
– Brad Armstrong appears to be done with working the USWA shows after refusing to work in cage matches over the weekend, because “he’s a wrestler and uses wrestling moves”.
– Anyway, this bout of self-respect means that you can expect Brad to be gone from the Memphis territory FOREVER. Or since it’s wrestling, a couple of months, whichever comes first.
– Meanwhile, Downtown Bruno and his wife Uptown Karen are working some kind of angle with a local DJ, after appearing on his show and accidentally breaking his autographed Elvis photo. (That’s pretty heavy heat for Memphis!)
– Dave notes that SMW had an up and down weekend, with “Fire on the Mountain” drawing 1900 people on 8/12, and then the “Carolina Cup” in Charlotte the next night drawing 80 people. The Cup was won by Tracy Smothers & Dirty White Boy, by the way, beating the Heavenly Bodies in the finals.
– UPDATE on the situation with ECW and Sunshine Network: There’s no update. Sunshine wants $1500 a week to continue airing the show, which Paul Heyman claims isn’t feasible, and Sunshine continues to tell fans that the show was cancelled because ECW pulled out.
– ECW is also going to run a house show on 8/28 because there’s a large Japanese wrestling fan tour group coming for Summerslam and they “buy all the merchandise they can get their hands on”. (Never let it be said Paul can’t fleece his fanbase with maximum efficiency!)
– UPDATE on the ECW v. Rob Feinstein situation, as ECW is claiming that Feinstein owes them money in addition to ECW owing him money, because, see, Feinstein did such a lousy job distributing their tapes that they had to redo all of the orders and thus it cost them well over the $6000 that Feinstein is supposedly owed. (Never let it be said that Paul can’t also fleece his business partners with maximum efficiency!)
– Ultimate Warrior is working three dates in September for Tommy Fiero in New Jersey. He’s actually available for indie dates, and you can also book Mil Mascaras through the same agent! (Oh man, now THERE’S a double bill!)
– Over in Mike Samples’ Indianapolis promotion, he’s doing a storyline where top heel Victor “Bonecrusher” Lewis (who is black) was told by his mother that his father was a famous pro wrestler but never told him which one. The payoff is going to be that the mystery dad was actually Dick the Bruiser, which will lead to Lewis changing his name to “Vic the Bruiser” and bleaching his hair while adding a stomach claw finisher. (Still better than Jason Jordan as Kurt Angle’s son.)
– Over to WCW, where Dave notes that Disco Inferno changed his name to “Johnny Swinger”, possibly due to a trademark case of some sort and had a match with Dave Sullivan under the new identity. (I suspect that Dave may be confusing Disco with, you know, Johnny Swinger, who did a bunch of jobs for WCW around that time.)
– Big Bubba worked the tapings wearing a surgical mask so that he didn’t have to breathe the rabbit scent from Dave Sullivan’s imaginary rabbit and thus suffer severe allergic reactions. (Well really that only makes good sense.) Sadly, he lost to Dave Sullivan when Dave stole the mask, and thus suffered bouts of uncontrollable itching.
– Meng’s name will be changed to THE FACE OF TERROR soon. (Little bit of the telephone game happening with that one, I’m pretty sure.)
– Speaking of logical gaps, Cobra debuted at the Center Stage tapings doing a gimmick where he gives his dog-tag to a ringside fan and wasn’t over in the slightest. The storyline, such as it is, is that he’s feuding with Craig Pittman because Pittman apparently abandoned him in Vietnam, despite the fact that both men would have been about 11 years old when the Vietnam War ended. (Maybe they were just on vacation there and Pittman stuck him with the bill at the Pho restaurant? Did they ever specify that it was during the war? Also, fun fact, in Vietnam the war is called “The American War” to this day.)
– Lord Alfred Hayes was in the office trying to get a job after “retiring” from the WWF.
– Dave notes that Paul Orndorff is undergoing a change back to Mr. Wonderful again by consulting a real life psychic after falling into a depression due to his loss to Renegade. (And you thought wins and losses didn’t matter!)
– Hulk Hogan’s album didn’t crack the Billboard Top 200, but it DID chart on the Billboard Children’s Chart at number 12.
– Red Rooster did a followup on his hotline after taking heat for burying Malenko and Guerrero, qualifying his remarks by noting that he meant they had never drawn money or proved themselves in THIS country. You know, the country where Guerrero was drawing $200,000 houses in Los Angeles and putting on the best matches in the country for ECW night after night? Dave notes that, fair enough, you can’t learn from something that apparently doesn’t exist and the second largest city in the country doesn’t count.
– Over to the WWF, where Davey Boy Smith began a heel turn at the 8/12 MSG show. Then he officially turned on the RAW show that airs on 8/21, turning on Lex Luger at the Garden and then turned on Diesel for the TV show.
– Oh, and apparently Luger gave his notice at those tapings. Dave’s not sure what’s up with that, but Sting’s pushing hard for WCW to make him an offer in exchange for Luger coming in as a heel and putting over Hogan right away. (I’d sure be surprised if that happened!)
– JEFF JARRETT UPDATE! Lines of communication are open, with WWF officials confident that he’d be returning at some point. (Maybe he was just lip-syncing Roadie’s negotiations?) Meanwhile, Roadie is pretty much dead in the water given he failed a drug test at the show that they walked out on. (Ah, now that makes more sense.) Roadie is being allowed to work wherever he wants because the feeling is they don’t want him back anyway. Reportedly Jarrett had a good phone conversation with Vince on 7/30, but then called back again and Vince told him to “go through the lawyers” and that’s where things were left off.
– Adam Bomb also gave notice, but whatever it was blew over by the RAW taping and he was back working a squash match again.
– Goldust was introduced on the live RAW doing a transvestite gimmick, which Dave calls a CAREER KILLER. The only good thing he can say about it is that it was “well produced”. Even in Mexico, where the whole deal is pretty common, guys like Pimpinela Escarlata can’t get out of the opening match. Dave thinks that MAYBE if Dustin does a good job people might accept him in the role, but he puts the odds at “about 90%” of hampering his career long-term. Case in point, look at what happened to Terry Taylor. (Man, what a shame. Whatever happened to Dustin Rhodes, anyway?)
– Also on the show, Henry Godwinn turned babyface, as Ted Dibiase revealed that he was just using HOG as “a dirty man to do a dirty job”.
– Good news for Brian Bayless! With Mike Rotunda off to WCW to live out his dream as future tag team champion, Tony Garea has been given his job as road agent back again.
– Part of the reason that Adam Bomb was so upset and gave notice was that Henry Godwinn suffered a legit ankle injury playing softball, and so got booked in a 30 second win over Bomb at MSG. (Hope he doesn’t walk out and show up on WCW Nitro!)
– And finally, new scriptwriter Bill Watts was at the MSG show, and HERE’S A SHOCK, he was completely unfamiliar with most of the wrestlers and had to take notes in the stands to get up to speed. (Don’t worry, I’m sure this will work out perfectly well for everyone.)