Wrestling Observer Flashback – 08.18.95
And now it’s time for the MONDAY NIGHT WARS.
– The really big news coming out of the first head-to-head meeting of RAW and Nitro is that WCW immediately took the lead in the ratings war, with a 2.5 to 2.2 victory. The taped episode of RAW wasn’t particularly different than any other one they’ve done lately, although the ending was weird because they showed clips of the next two weeks of main events, thus exposing that they’re taped and not live. (And now we’re BEGGING them to go taped again!)
– Nitro was a huge letdown after the first week’s show, with the hyped up Luger v. Hogan match being terrible.
– The debut episode of Nitro had actually drawn a strong 2.9 rating, which is higher than RAW would normally do in the same slot without football.
– Back to the head-to-head shows, as RAW basically just ignored the competition and acted like it was any other show. Luger has been erased from WWF history already. Meanwhile, Bischoff gleefully played up the war, saying that Luger won’t be the last one to jump ship and even gave away the fact that RAW was taped two weeks ago by saying Shawn beat “the big guy” with a superkick that wouldn’t get a green belt yada yada.
– However, Bischoff actually got a lot of flak from Turner people for hitting Vince too hard on commentary, so Bischoff said that he’s got it out of his system and we won’t have any more cheapshots or stunts.
– Dave thinks that Bischoff just came off as a bratty child with all the knocks on Vince, basically reminding fans that there was another show on the other channel. He does concede that SOME of the inside shots were pretty funny, though.
– Also, by ignoring the whole Luger deal, WWF came off as hiding the truth and lying to the fans about the situation. (What? PERISH THE THOUGHT!)
– The WWF show did have the better announcing, but that’s a win by default because the Nitro team is among the worst ever. Mongo actually got worse in the second week and he’s not only clueless, but doesn’t have any name value to add.
– Also, Sabu’s debut sucked because even though “he tried to commit suicide”, the announcers had no idea how to get him over and couldn’t call any of his moves. Also, at one point Sabu killed himself on a concrete bump outside and Bobby Heenan was cracking jokes, which completely undermined the situation.
– Meanwhile, Vader was written out of the WCW show right away because he “hadn’t filled out the right papers”, and in real life he’s officially suspended and no one really knows what his deal is going to be moving forward. For his part, Vader has apologized to everyone involved because he doesn’t want to lose his $750,000 a year deal. (Wise move. Didn’t work, but still.) WCW really wants to get rid of him and his contract if possible, and the WWF really wants him and will get him at a super-cheap deal, so it’s win-win! (Well for everyone but Vader.)
– As for the “Match of the Century” between Hogan and Luger, it was shocking how not-over Luger was after all the stuff that went down and the hype behind his debut. Luger was clumsy and overweight and took the legdrop in only 5:00 before all the heels ran in and got destroyed by Hogan and Sting. Meanwhile, Luger was helpless to do anything because he had to lay there selling the legdrop. “Makes me want to see the War Games really bad,” notes Dave.
– Dave also watched the UFC won by Marco Ruas and blah blah blah next.
– To Japan, where the UWFI v. New Japan deal continues to be the biggest thing since whatever the Japanese equivalent of sliced bread would be. The main event of Takada v. Muto with both titles at stake appears to be set up for Takada to win the IWGP title because it’s the right thing for business, with Takada defending against a series of New Japan challengers. In fact, the match will have extra heat from Japanese marks because they don’t believe NJPW would “allow” its champion to lose to someone from a small inferior promotion, which is why it’s going to draw such huge heat. (Spoiler: Didn’t happen.)
– Meanwhile, they’re going all out with the rivalry stuff, with Masa Chono doing a press conference where he promised to attack Yuko Miyato in the parking lot before the show, playing off heat they had years back when Chono was NWA World champion.
– Jesse Ventura’s lawsuit against the WWF for unpaid royalties made it through the US Court of Appeals, and the WWF has lost the case once and for all. Ventura was awarded $809,000 because Titan lied about wrestlers not receiving royalties for tapes without their name on them. (WHAT? I’m shocked that they would lie to their own wrestlers!) With interest and legal fees, Titan will be on the hook for about $1.2 million when all is said and done.
– All Japan did a rare angle on their 9/10 Budokan Hall show, as Kenta Kobashi and Stan Hansen were teaming as a part of a “Survival War” match, and it ended with Kobashi accidentally kicking Stan in the head to set up Kawada getting the winning pinfall. After the match they brawled around the ring, with Hansen hitting Kobashi with a lariat until Baba broke it up. Baba then did an interview where he said that they don’t book feuds or grudge matches, so they won’t be following up on this one. (Suuuuuuure they won’t.)
– To Memphis, where Bill Dundee got into a fistfight with Wolfie D on 9/8 over the proceeds from the merchandise table. The end result was Bill getting pulled off TV. (So I guess he won the fight?)
– Finally, we have discovered the payoff for the Downtown Bruno v. Local DJ deal, as it’ll lead to a tag team match in Tunica MS where the DJ will team with another DJ. (Thrilling)
– To SMW, where Al Snow pledged that if he couldn’t beat Brad Armstrong for the SMW title, he would leave the promotion. So you can guess how that one went.
– Meanwhile, Robert Gibson is replacing Ricky Morton with young Chris Michaels as his tag team partner. (He’s still around, apparently. Obviously the team with Gibson didn’t work out, though.)
– They also did a show on 9/9 in Johnson City where they taped scenes for a movie called “A Box of Moonlight”, which isn’t about wrestling but has wrestling scenes. Anyway, the highlight (to me at least!) was Headbanger Mosh working as “Fidel Castrator” with a fake beard and a machete. Thrasher then worked against him as “Sadaam Insane”.
– The NWA held their annual convention on 9/8 in Orlando, although at this point the only members are Dennis Coraluzzo, Steve Rickard and Howard Brody. The only major point was that they’re keeping Dan Severn on as NWA champion as long as he’s a big name in the UFC world.
– ULTIMATE WARRIOR UPDATE: He cancelled his appearances on 9/29 and 9/30 in Massachusetts because he saw Renegade imitating him on TV and he was MAD. See, the promoter he was supposed to working for was the one who put WCW in touch with Rick Williams, and now their relationship is OVER. Dave finds it hard to believe that Warrior hadn’t actually seen Renegade on TV before now, since he was at the show WCW did on 7/16, where Renegade was working, while negotiating with them. The punchline: Renegade will be taking Warrior’s place for the missed shows. (You cannot make this stuff up.)
– HOT NEWS in 1995: The wrestling magazine market appears to be dying rapidly, with only the Weston mags and the WWF one really left on the stands. (Damn kids and their internet, ruining print media!)
– To WCW, where Dave has discovered that Luger definitely did not have a contract with the WWF at the time of jumping, although he apparently had a verbal agreement to stay through October. He now has a guaranteed two year deal with WCW, which Dave notes makes him the master of contract negotiations. (Brock Lesnar probably BLEW HIS MIND.)
– LANNY POFFO UPDATE: The deal to bring him in for a Gorgeous George gimmick is dead.
– Gene Okerlund’s contract is almost up and he’s using the WWF as leverage to get a new one, saying that he could have Todd Pettingill’s spot. Most people think he’s full of crap.
– Disco Inferno looks to be getting a big push, while the New Japan Three are just going to be thrown on TV and PPV to have good matches with nothing behind them.
– Arn Anderson’s wife got involved in the feud with Flair, with the idea being that they’re so low-down that they’re even using their wives to sell the “breakup” before turning on Sting. Dave relates it to the famous Ole Anderson/Dusty Rhodes angle where Ole basically pretended to reunite with Lars Anderson for months and made him look like a moron.
– Kevin Sullivan debuted a new Dungeon of Doom member at the 9/7 tapings, who is called The Man of Question, billed from the Isle of Nowhere. It’s apparently Bill DeMott, who was originally going to be called The Man With No Name before WCW ruined the idea by giving that name to Ed Leslie “for about two weeks”. The Man With No Name gimmick was actually a ripoff of an idea from Paul Heyman, who eventually gave the gimmick to Al Polling instead and then turned him into 911. (That’s a lot of backstory for Hugh Morrus.)
– WCW is still working out the Cobra/Pittman backstory, changing it from Vietnam to Desert Storm now, although Cobra said it was the jungle he was abandoned in. (Perhaps it was the famous Iraqi jungles.)
– To the WWF for some history, as the announced number for Summerslam was actually NOT A LIE. The show was a sellout of 18,000, just like they claimed.
– The Undertaker’s “Creatures of the Night” were Doug Basham and Susan Sapphire.
– And finally, the new RAW opening was shot on the roof of Titan Towers on 9/7 and cost $200,000 to shoot the four minutes of footage needed. People in the area complained about the spotlights and helicopters, with the FAA even receiving complaints. The police later clarified that Vince had in fact filled out all the necessary paperwork and nothing illegal happened. (In unrelated news, Linda McMahon donated $18.5 million to the Connecticut police department.)