Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.16.95
I’m actually recovering from a shoulder injury at work today but I’ll power through an Observer Flashback for you. I guess I’ll just be typing one-handed.
Um, never mind.
There’s a big main event at the Tokyo Dome! And it sure didn’t go down how anyone expected.
– Keiji Muto defeated UWFI’s Takada in the main event of the Tokyo Dome supershow on 10/9, submitting him with a figure-four in 16:16 to retain the IWGP heavyweight title. The gate was somewhere between $6 million and $6.5 million, although Dave channels his Johnny Cochran and quips “When it doubt, go with the lower amount”, with a sellout crowd of 67,000 people. This included 2200 standing room only tickets sold on the day of the show, making it the largest indoor event in Tokyo’s history. (Bet they called it 93,173 on TV). It was also the fifth largest crowd in the history of pro wrestling, trailing the North Korea show and the other usual suspects.
– In fact this show sold even more tickets because they didn’t bother to build elaborate sets and block off chunks of the stadium, resulting in more fans getting packed in than ever before. The whole idea was to appeal to hardcore wrestling fans who wouldn’t care about bells and whistles like that anyway.
– However, while the show was a giant financial success, the booking of the show was another thing completely, coming across as New Japan essentially bitch-slapping UWFI to show them who the boss is. New Japan was essentially put into the position of saving the dying UWFI after they had been embarrassed by them over the years, which meant Riki Choshu got to call all the shots.
(Wait a minute…this sounds eerily familiar…)
– in addition to Muto beating Takada for absolutely no reason, New Japan won another five of the eight interpromotional matches, with the feeling from the fans being that UWFI’s so-called tough guy shooters looked second-rate next to the real New Japan stars. Basically, if this was going to be a one-shot deal, then New Japan did the right thing, but if they wanted to draw money long-term as a feud, this was incredible stupid. In particular, Muto could have done a great storyline where he trained after losing the IWGP title to Takada and then regained it at the Dome in January. But now a lot of Takada’s tough guy mystique is gone for good. (You know, if anyone ever learned lessons in the wrestling business, this might be an important one to remember about six years from now…)
– Not only did New Japan win 5 of the matches against the UWFI’s shooters, they won with SUBMISSIONS. And not only did 5 of them end with submissions, but 3 of those 5 wins ended specifically with UWFI guys tapping to the armbar that UWFI fighters specialize in. Takada submitted to a figure-four from Muto, which is considered an ultra-fake wrestling move in fighting circles because it’s impossible to apply it in a real fight. (Muto probably put it on the wrong leg, too, to really trigger Dave!)
– On the bright side, the show had incredible heat from the crowd, said to be the most of any show ever at the Tokyo Dome.
- Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Yuji Nagata beat Kazushi Sakuraba & Hiromitsu Kanehara in 10:47 when Sakuraba submitted to Ishizawa’s armbreaker. (Brighter days would be ahead for Sakuraba)
- Shinjiro Otani submitted Kenichi Yamamoto with a crossface chicken wing in 7:18.
- Prelim wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama submitted Takashi Iizuka with a Fujiwara armbar in 7:39. (Maybe Iizuka should have used the Iron Fingers on him? And of course, Takayama would also go on to bigger and better things, including but not limited to one of the most famous fights in history)
- Naoki Sano pinned Jushin Liger in a pro wrestling style match after two german suplexes in 10:14. This was actually Liger’s decision to put Sano over and create a new rival for himself.
- Riki Choshu beat Yoji Anjyo in 4:45 with the scorpion. Anjyo had guaranteed “200% victory” at the press conference leading up to the show, which was the same percentage he gave himself against Rickson Gracie, it should be noted.
- UWFI’s Masahito Kakihara beat Kensuke Sasaki in 9:03 with a heel hook, which was one of the only matches booked like you’d expect.
- Shinya Hashimoto submitted Tatsuo Nakano in 7:20 with another armbreaker on a UWFI guy. It looked like a total mismatch thanks to Hashimoto’s huge size advantage.
- Keiji Muto retained the IWGP title over Takada, with Muto working the knee before locking on the figure-four for the submission. (By 2000 that would be his entire deal.)
– And now, it’s time for your weekly update…
– Jim Hellwig was supposed to begin a new chapter of his career as promoter, starting on 10/7 in Las Vegas after buying into the NWC promotion with TC Martin. Originally the new company was going to be called Ultimate Creations, but earlier in the week Warrior suddenly requested that the name be changed to Warrior Promotions for legal reasons. So Warrior moved the promotion’s home arena from the 1200 seat ballroom at the Silver Nugget Hotel to the Aladdin Hotel’s 6500 seat arena instead. And then he was going to show up on 10/6, the day before the big debut there, and do some promotional work and interviews. (I think we can see where this story is headed…) So about 15 minutes before his first scheduled appearance, Warrior called Martin and informed him that his car had broken down outside of Scottsdale and he wouldn’t be there. 12 hours later he finally showed up in Vegas and checked into the hotel, putting a block on his phone so no one could call him. At the meeting the next morning, Hellwig collected $6000 in cheques from sponsors and said he’d settle with the hotel and then write cheques to cover the wrestlers’ pay. (Wait for it…wait for it…) So then Hellwig then no-showed another appearance that was paying $2000 of that sponsorship money, and then checked out of the hotel without paying, claiming that they didn’t live up to their end of the deal because his name wasn’t first on the marquee when he got there. And then he was gone and missed the first show he was promoting as co-owner. (Aaaaaaaaaaand there it is.)
– In case you’re wondering, the top match ended up being Virgil doing a double countout finish with Jim Neidhart, with the storyline being that Anvil had run into Warrior at the buffet earlier and scared him out of town. The double countout came about because Virgil threw a fit before the match because he didn’t want to do the job.
– New Jack had yet another not-so-friendly altercation in the locker room at an ECW show in Jim Thorpe, PA on 10/6. During a match with DW Dudley & Dudley Dudley, DW was reportedly working too stiff with New Jack. So when they got back to the dressing room, New Jack cracked DW in the back of the head with a night stick from behind, knocking him out and splitting his head open. Amazingly, DW still managed to tackle New Jack and beat on him before the other boys broke up the fight. This led to New Jack cutting a promo on everyone in the locker room, challenging anyone to fight him or Mustafa. At one point, it looked like Jack was going to throw DW through a plate glass window and out to the street 30 feet below.
– Afterwards, New Jack calmed down and apologized to everyone for his behavior (and the attempted murder, presumably). Although everyone wanted him fired, Paul Heyman felt it was best to keep him around to fulfil future dates that were already advertised. (I mean, what’s the worst that could happen….?)
– So then at the show the next night, New Jack cut a promo on Jim Cornette, calling him a racist, and then on Bill Watts, calling him a racist as well who was “riding the range and living in the 70s”, and then on WCW for I guess being racists as well for not letting him train at the Power Plant. Dave feels like it’s questionable timing to burn every other bridge in wrestling one day after you nearly get fired from the only promotion who will give you a steady job.
– Also on the show, Rey Mysterio Jr. had what was said to be the best match of the year against Psicosis in a 2/3 falls match, despite the power going out in the third fall and the guys barely having enough room in the ECW Arena to do their usual dives.
– Also, despite teases by ECW, Terry Funk would like to once again stress to anyone listening that he’s not returning to the ring for ECW or anyone else, at least not until 1996, and probably not ever because he’s absolutely, positively retired for good this time.
– Over to SMW, where Jim Cornette is bringing in a newcomer named “Sgt. Rock”, although Dave has no idea who it’ll be. (It is a relatively famous wrestler, but you will 100% never guess who it ended up being if you don’t already know the answer.)
– In a minor note from the ECW show covered earlier, there was a new Dudley brother introduced, named Bubba Ray Dudley. (I believe this would count as our Understated Observer Debut of the Week)
– For those keeping track, Cactus Jack did another greatest interview in the history of the sport on the 10/3 TV show.
– I hope you’re all sitting down, because I have some shocking news to share: After the Middleton show on 9/22, several of Paul Heyman’s cheques to the talent BOUNCED.
– Yes, I know this is rocking your world, so I’ll give you a minute to compose yourself. But it turns out that Paul’s car was broken into and his briefcase containing his checkbook and records was STOLEN, so he had to close out the account, you see. (I’m sure he won’t make a habit of this, at least.)
– Odds are still pretty solidly behind Steve Austin ending up in the WWF, although if he sticks around ECW he’ll get pushed as World champion for a long time and make good money.
– Chuck Wepner, the boxer who inspired Rocky, is trying to sign for a super-fight in the UFC in 1996. This is of course ridiculous given that Chuck is 57, although Dave does relate the story of Wepner’s famous fight with Muhammad Ali in the early 70s, where Wepner was basically a bum who used dirty tactics to infuriate Ali and hung in there for the full 15 rounds. However, unlike the movie, this one didn’t have a happy ending, as Ali got so pissed off at Wepner’s tactics that he snapped and beat the hell out of him in the last round before finishing him off decisively with one minute left in the last round so that Chuck could “never tell his grandchildren that he went the distance with the champ”. (That’s ICE COLD from Ali. Holy shit.)
– To WCW, as Nitro on 10/9 was another “rush job”, featuring Sting pinning Shark (who was billed “from Tsunami”). Dave also rags on Jerry Lynn’s mysterious new identity as Mr. JL, although the match was great. Dave also doesn’t get why Sting would play peacemaker between Luger and Savage and then basically convince them to have a match against each other at Halloween Havoc to settle things. Speaking of settling things, Hulk Hogan did a crazed promo challenging Gorgeous George to a match in Heaven, as Dave figures that someone told Hulk that George was a bigger draw in his day and now Hulk has to figure out a way to legdrop him in the afterlife.
– RATINGS WAR: Nitro and RAW tied with a 2.5 rating on 10/2, although Nitro had a 3.7 share to RAW’s 3.5 share. (BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DEMO?!?) Although to be technical, WWF can still claim the win overall because their Thursday replay of RAW does bigger numbers than the Monday replay of Nitro, so they can say they have bigger combined numbers.
– Despite rumors to the contrary, Vader has still not been released from his contract or fired. Basically WCW is done with him but is deliberately screwing with his ability to negotiate with the WWF. So for the moment he’s working as a volunteer coach for the Colorado Buffalos football team.
– As of right now, Flair isn’t scheduled to turn on Sting at the PPV.
– To the WWF, for your JEFF JARRETT UPDATE. He’s expected back by most people. Ditto Adam Bomb, who walked out but hasn’t been released yet, so he hasn’t been able to work anywhere.
– Al Snow will come in as a babyface, and he’s said to have “a good gimmick”. But not the Crow.
– Bill Watts is already making friends by instituting a new policy where guys don’t know the finishes of their matches until the day of the show, so that finishes won’t leak. (This is the same company that was giving away footage of their own taped shows because they wanted to be Melrose Place!)
– Anyway, Dave rightly points out how stupidly behind the times this idea is, and in fact notes that if they tried that crap on recent PPVs there was at least one **** match “that would have been lucky to hit *1/2.” (OK, I’m intrigued, which one was he referring to there, I wonder? The ladder match at Summerslam?)
– And now ANOTHER understated Observer Debut, as Dave notes that potential Olympic weightlifter Mark Henry was at the MSG show, and they like him enough that they’ll probably try to make him into the next Ken Patera if he does well there.
– And finally, the WWF took out an ad on the 10/2 Nitro show hyping up the 10/3 MSG show, saying it would have action “too hot for TV”. The show ended up featuring action like Barry Horowitz v. Sir Mo, 1-2-3 Kid v. Bob Backlund, Bret Hart (with George Steele in his corner) v. Isaac Yankem (with Jerry Lawler in his corner) and Diesel beating Mabel in the main event. (TOO HOT FOR TV!!!!!!)