Wrestling Observer Flashback – 09.04.95
NEXT WEEK: The Monday Night War begins.
But this week, we’ve got Summerslam to attend to.
– But first, the lead story is the rapid descent of UWFI, as they have reached out in desperation to New Japan for a combined show at the Tokyo Dome on 10/9 and maybe more after that. The main event looks to be Takada against Muto in a battle of the World champions, plus a midcard full of interpromotional matches.
– So it turns out that there was a lawsuit “filed” by UWFI over the departure of Kazuo Yamazaki to New Japan, but it was actually a work in order set up this angle. It certainly seems like UWFI will be able to use the mega-gates from these interpromotional shows to save the company. (Well, for a little while at least.)
– The impending death of the UWFI came from reasons that are threefold, and Dave shall list them henceforth:
REASON THE FIRST: Pancrase started running in Japan in direct competition to the “shoot style” of UWFI, except it actually looked like a shoot. Also, the UFC started exporting tapes to Japan, at which point fighting fans actually got to see what real fighting looked like, and it wasn’t UWFI.
REASON THE SECOND: Yuji Anjyo’s ill-advised grandstand challenge to Rickson Gracie, which just made everyone involved look stupid once Anjyo got “his head handed to him” after bragging for months that he could take Gracie in less than two minutes. According to Japanese tradition, it was then supposed to be on top UWFI star Takada to fight Gracie for the honor of his company, and Takada was like…
REASON THE THIRD: Once Takada was exposed as a coward for not fighting Gracie, his career as top guy went into a further tailspin with his “retirement” and then completely embarrassing attempt at running for office.
REASON THE FOURTH: Dave doesn’t subscribe to this theory, but some in Japan think that using Big Van Vader as a top guy in a “shoot” company turned off a lot of fighting fans. Dave actually thinks this is bullcrap because Vader drew huge houses as champion so obviously he didn’t turn off that many people.
– Really though, the real story is the continued ability of New Japan to make money by presenting “matches that people aren’t supposed to be able to see”. Even if pro wrestling isn’t “real”, they present the matches as though they’re real because fans “know” that someone has to lose and thus both sides will be afraid of losing face. (And then WCW and WWE both drew millions even based on a watered-down model of this in the forms of the nWo and Invasion angles, but didn’t learn anything else from them.)
– Moving on, Dave is pretty sure that Shawn Michaels is the top star in North American wrestling after Summerslam. He should probably be World champion, in fact, and he’s “the Ric Flair of the 90s”. In fact, according to Dave, Shawn is far superior to Flair athletically and “as charismatic as Flair was at his peak” and could even far surpass him. And on Flair’s best day, he couldn’t have put on a show like Shawn Michaels did at Summerslam. (This is high praise from Dave.)
– Although Wrestlemania X was the best WWF PPV ever in Dave’s eyes, Summerslam was the most well-received from the readership. The show appeared to be a legit sellout of 18,000, although there’s no word on buyrate yet.
– The ladder match wasn’t as good as Wrestlemania, but was still one of the five best WWF matches Dave has ever seen.
– Meanwhile, Dave thinks that Glen Jacobs was brought up a year too soon and he’ll end up being “the next Brian Lee” rather than the next Sid Vicious. (Well he would soon get experience as an Undertaker knockoff…)
– Also, Dave is pretty sure it’s time to pull the plug on Diesel. He’s had a string of four horrible main events now and no one can follow Shawn Michaels anyway. Plus they can only push a certain type of opponent against him, and it limits the quality of the main events as a result. Unfortunately, there’s no Vader in the WWF to work with Diesel.
To the show!
- Hakushi pinned 1-2-3 Kid in 9:28. It was fast action and well executed, but the announcers had no idea what to call any of the moves. Everything was just “great move”, including the legendary Space Flying Tiger Drop. Kid went for a spin kick and Hakushi suplexed him for the pin. ***1/4
- Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Bob Holly with face-first piledriver, which he apparently calls “The Pedigree”. (Like that name will ever catch on.) *3/4
- The Smoking Gunns beat the Blu Twins in 6:10 with the Sidewinder. (Ironically Dave doesn’t know the name of the move here, instead just describing it as a top rope legdrop onto a sideslam). *1/4
- Barry Horowitz pinned Skip in 11:21. Very entertaining and well-booked, with good wrestling. Sunny tried to throw in the towel early as a spoof on the Tyson thing from the weekend, which is because the WWF is “insanely jealous” of all the money drawn by the whole deal even with such a terrible show. Hakushi came to ringside, distracted Skip with a springboard to nowhere, and Barry got the win with an inside cradle. ***
- Bertha Faye pinned Alundra Blayze in 4:37 to win the Women’s title. “This feud is death” notes Dave in the understatement of the issue. Blayze hit a pair of dropkicks, but missed a third one and got powerbombed and pinned. DUD
- Undertaker beat Kama in a casket match in 16:26. Much better than Undertaker’s PPV matches of late, but still too long and it dragged. **
- Bret Hart beat Isaac Yankem DDS by DQ in 16:08. Yankem didn’t get over despite Bret’s best efforts. Pretty bad to start but it picked up a lot thanks to Bret. Lawler interfered and they doubled on Bret with a choke for the DQ. ** (I thought it was better than that, to be fair.)
- Shawn Michaels beat Razor Ramon in 24:58 to win the ladder match and retain the IC title. The crowd was actually more pro-Razor live, believe it or not. Dave can’t say enough nice things about Shawn selling the knee. (Hopefully it wasn’t so crippling that he’ll have to vacate a World title some day.) The drama was better than WM, but not the bumps. The finish was actually a little bit messed up, as Shawn wasn’t able to get the belt down on the first try and had to do it again. Ramon than teased a heel turn but handed Shawn the belt anyway. ****3/4
- Diesel pinned Mabel to retain the WWF title in 9:15. They couldn’t work a match at all inside the ring. Mo interfered, but Lex Luger made the save but “for some inexplicable reason” Diesel threw him out of the ring like he was a heel. Luger than ran Mo off to the dressing room (….and then he just kept running…) Diesel won with a clothesline. ½*
– Meanwhile, at the ECW show on 8/26, Paul E. Dangerously declared WAR on WCW. He gave a speech that lasted 25 minutes, swearing at WCW, which prompted the crowd to chant about how “Bischoff takes it up the ass” (doo da, doo da, I presume) “and worse”. (Not sure how much worse it could get. Is Bischoff worse than Dino Bravo?)
(Oh, OK, I guess we’re doing this now.)
– Anyway, the idea is that Heyman is supposedly pissed off at WCW about “stealing” the New Japan Three. Dangerously did stress than regulars like Public Enemy and 911 “aren’t going anywhere”, and neither are the Steiners.
– Also, Paul announced that this kid from AAA, Rey Mysterio Jr, would be facing Psicosis at the next show. (No chance of losing THEM to WCW, I’d imagine!)
– Eddie Guerrero did indeed drop the TV title to 2 Cold Scorpio, who is himself ALSO in negotiations and is expected to come in around October.
– WCW got some press in broadcast magazines after their press conference announcing this new “WCW Monday Nitro” show. The story in Multchannel News noted that TNT is selling ads based on a 2.0 rating, and Dave notes that this “shows that TNT knows full well that Nitro won’t come close to the numbers RAW is getting.”
– Meanwhile, WWF taped the episodes of RAW that will be airing head-to-head with Nitro, with Waylon Mercy getting pinned by Bret Hart to blow off the Mercy character already and write him out. Also, Shawn Michaels pinned Sid with three superkicks and no angle involved, so obviously Sid is getting phased down. “And deservedly so” notes Dave, kicking the big guy when he’s down with a kick that couldn’t earn a green belt at the YMCA. (I’ve got layers like an onion with these.)
– Over to Japan, where Cactus Jack actually ended up with a badly burned arm after his King of the Death Match tournament win. Not to mention a black eye and four stitches because he told Terry Gordy to “hit him as hard as he could” during their match, and that went about like you’d expect.
– Michinoku Pro had a “masked man” tournament on 8/25, with Dos Caras winning over Great Sasuke in the finals. The two bottom finishers, Gran Naniwa and Gargola, faced off in a loser-must-unmask match, which ended with Gargola taking the fall and revealing himself to be Jerry Lynn from Minnesota. (Hopefully he doesn’t try to fool anyone with a mask again for a while.)
– In Memphis, Bob Armstrong debuted as a heel commissioner on behalf of SMW, interrupting the show on several occasions and putting down the USWA. His son Roadie is now working as Brian Jesse James as well.
– Also, the Spellbinder returned, so apparently his WWF tryout as a magician character didn’t go over very well.
– To ECW, where apparently there was a guy in the front row doing a “Sign Guy” gimmick during the Dudley Dudley match, playing another Dudley brother. Tommy Dreamer gave this “Sign Guy Dudley” a DDT and he was taken out on a stretcher. Apparently his name is Lou D’Angelli and he does backstage work for ECW.
– 911 keeps getting closer to chokeslamming Bill Alfonso, but once again was stopped at the last second, this time by a confrontation with Big Dick Dudley.
– To WCW, where they did sold shows in Las Vegas, so in a twist this time it was the promoters losing money and not WCW. The shows were hosted by game show host Bob Eubanks, who is actually a longtime fan of wrestling and Roller Derby. The sold shows only drew about 1400 people, so the wrestlers basically just sleep-walked through them.
– WCW also taped Pro on 8/22 in Anderson, SC, highlighted by the debut of Sabu in dark matches against Chris Kanyon. The matches won’t air but they’ll be used to make a video package hyping him up.
– Apparently Sabu looked great, but a table didn’t break and he got pissed off and took a swing at a fan in the aftermath.
– Also, Harlem Heat was wearing the tag team titles so Dave presumes that they’ll be getting them back at Fall Brawl.
– Also, Scott Studd is now going by Scotty Riggs.
– Highlight of the show was the feud between Arn Anderson and Ric Flair, as they brawled to prevent a taped fist match between AA and Jim Duggan, and then Flair did an interview begging Sting to be his partner, acting totally insincere. Sting didn’t trust him. (Come on, when has Flair ever lied to Sting before?)
– Ron Simmons gave notice to ECW, apparently because he’s booked for the 11/26 WCW PPV as part of a re-formed Doom with Butch Reed.
– Apparently the winner of Johnny B. Badd v. Brian Pillman at Fall Brawl will get a US title shot, although plans are to not actually have the match and just do a gimmick where Pillman wrecks Badd’s car and causes him to miss the show. (That particular angle was actually done with the DDP-Badd feud instead.) Dave thinks that given the lineup of the PPV, they should wreck Renegade or Cobra’s car instead.
– WCW SLEAZE UPDATE: Remember how Dave joked last time that in order to pay for the $1 of every PPV order that WCW was donating to charity, they’d probably raise the price of the show? Well, in fact, they raised the price of the show to $25.95.
– To the WWF, where Lex Luger was at the Superstars tapings in Canton, OH, and they did an interview with him showing that everything is fine between himself and Diesel after Summerslam.
– Diesel & Shawn will be billed as “The Dudes with Attitudes” for their tag team title match at In Your House 3, which Dave notes is ripping off WCW’s idea from 1990. (Too be fair to the creative genius of Vince McMahon here, the actual name was TWO Dudes with Attitudes, which is totally different.)
– Apparently the Eliminators got completely got shit on by the locker room for their tryout match in Manchester, NH. They actually weren’t allowed in the dressing room and had to change in the boiler room. Wrestlers were watching during their match and catcalling them, telling them to go home. Afterwards, Rene Goulet told them “they did really good for nobodies”. (I’m guessing they DIDN’T get the job?)
– Vince McMahon did an interview on America Online after the 8/21 RAW show and came off as a complete ass. Someone asked about promoting a joint show with WCW, and he said that Bill Shaw had approached him in the past and told him he’d be a moron not to consider it. “Since that time I often sit in the corner with a dunce cap babbling to myself” Vince noted.
– Also, Vince said they’d be inducting Bruno Sammartino into their Hall of Fame. (Yeah, in like, 20 years.)
– Turns out that reports that Bill Watts won’t be interfacing with talent are in fact untrue.
– And finally, there were a bunch of WWF wrestlers doing promos for ESPN Sports Center, with the joke being that they’re trying to bribe ESPN for more coverage of wrestling. ESPN, of course, acts like they’d never stoop to covering pro wrestling on their shows. (The idea that ESPN would ever sacrifice their credibility by taking money from the WWF for coverage is ridiculous! Maybe if they changed their name to WWE, though.)