Wrestling Observer Flashback – 10.30.95
Man, so people REALLY did not like that In Your House show. The one in 1995, although you might also assume I was talking about the NXT one recently because that one wasn’t great either.
But first! An update on the Shawn Michaels incident in Syracuse.
– Dave notes that the WWF wasn’t TECHNICALLY dishonest in their reporting of the story, in the sense that Shawn’s doctors advised him not to go to Winnipeg for the PPV after everything had already been taped for syndication with Shawn being advertised as being there. Although on the actual PPV pre-game show, Todd Pettengill said that Shawn would definitely be there and would be wrestling. Although they had actually been quite honest with similar injury problems in the recent past, it was felt that telling people in advance that Shawn was injured and off the show would have hurt last-minute buys too much. (Lemme tell ya, it sure didn’t HELP, since even with advertising Shawn for the show this was still rock bottom for PPV buys for them.)
– Dave also notes that this comes on the heels of In Your House 3, where they literally guaranteed that a title would change hands in the main event of the show, and then ended the show with no titles having actually changed hands. So, credibility-wise, this wasn’t their best couple of months. Although they started off honestly dealing with the Shawn situation because it was beyond their control anyway, by the end they fell back into being sleazy wrestling promoters doing sleazy things again.
– Back to the Syracuse beating, as police reports were mostly the same as reported in the Observer last week. The case was in fact already closed by the time things were reported last week, despite them saying on RAW that there would be a “police investigation”. According to the official report from the police, the instigators were yelling insults at the driver of the car and not Michaels. Also, Shawn was apparently passed out in the front seat of the car and was pulled out and beaten while unconscious, having no chance to defend himself. (You know if he had a minute to stomp his foot in the corner, those thugs would be in TROUBLE!) The police report also didn’t mention anything about the attackers being “servicemen” or military in any way, only that they had short crew-cuts like Davey Boy did.
– Dave also thinks it’s weird that they had to upend plans so dramatically because of the injury, since it’s not like they wanted Razor Ramon to have the title beforehand and Shawn would have recovered and been back in plenty of time for Survivor Series anyway. (Unless they were just deliberately fucking with Shane Douglas, BUT HOW LIKELY IS THAT?)
– Anyway, onto the 10/22 PPV itself, which ended with a disgusted Vince McMahon throwing down his glasses and headset and saying the word “horrible” as he walked to the back after the show was off the air. While this was going on, his “next Hulk Hogan” was getting booed out of the building by fans after yet another terrible main event. So, Dave notes, it’s probably time to call up Bret Hart again so he can save the day.
– This was the topper for a bad two weeks for Vince, with injuries to two of his top stars, plus Bill Watts quitting, house show business going into the toilet, a new top character completely bombing, and one of the worst PPV shows in the history of the company.
– Now, Dave wants to be fair here, because although the poll is the worst in the history of the company with 3 thumbs up and 226 thumbs down, he feels like that’s a BIT excessive. On the positive side, the show drew 10,000 people to Winnipeg, which isn’t bad, although Vince still made sure to lie on TV and call it “a capacity crowd”. (Actual capacity being 17,000) To be fair, everything after WCW claiming 100,000 people for Bash at the Beach, any attendance lie is going to seem minor by comparison. Also, Bret Hart did a great job. But he wasn’t actually on the PPV portion.
– In the dark match, Bob Holly pinned Rad Radford in an average opener.
– Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Fatu in 8:06 with the Pedigree. Fatu was working hard and carried Hunter well. Dave is pretty sure they’re protecting this Helmsley kid and keeping him strong for the future. ** Afterwards, Hunter was doing his Steve Regal impression while being interviewed by Jerry Lawler, when HOG came in and chased him off with a slop bucket for “an angle that went basically nowhere” according to Dave. (Oh, if only that were true.)
– The Smoking Gunns beat Razor Ramon & 1-2-3 Kid in 12:46 to retain the tag titles. Dave makes fun of Billy’s new haircut, noting that it makes him look like Shane Douglas. (Ouch!) The match was good, but not up to the usual level of the Kid, and the crowd was dead. The match was also clumsy, especially around the hot tag. Kid came in and did the cocky pin, allowing Billy to roll him over and pin him to retain. The Kid tried to do a heel turn by beating up both of the Gunns, but that backfired and the crowd booed the babyface Gunns instead. However, Kid was later rude to a caller on the 900 line, so there’s your heel turn. **3/4
– Goldust pinned Marty Jannetty in 11:15 with a front suplex. Goldust got an elaborate entrance, but looked like “a banana with black ears” once the robe came off. They were trying, but didn’t work well together and misses a bunch of spots. Also, the gimmick didn’t get over. *1/2
– Yokozuna and King Mabel went to a double countout in 5:12. Horrible match that was a candidate for worst of the year. -**
– Razor Ramon pinned Dean Douglas in 11:01 to win the IC title after Shawn Michaels forfeited the belt to Douglas. Dave calls the shots of Shawn slowly walking to the ring to hand over the title “a production masterpiece”. (Well they’d get a lot of practice with Shawn sadly handing over titles rather than losing them in the ring.) Crowd was dead, match was dead, and it looked like they were pacing for a 25:00 match but only went 10. Razor got the pin and the title off a back suplex, but Dean’s feet were under the ropes so he had an out. (Which was never mentioned again.) Real bad. *
– Diesel beat Davey Boy Smith to retain the WWF title in 18:14 in a match that was 99% Bulldog working the knee. Would have been good if submissions meant anything (which they don’t) or if they built to a good last portion (which they didn’t) or if the match had a good finish (which it REALLY didn’t). So overall it’s a NOPE. Bret Hart ran in for the DQ on Diesel to set up their match at the Survivor Series. *
– In a dark match, Henry Godwinn pinned Sid in a “quick but terrible” match.
– In another dark match, Jerry Lawler did a 5:00 rant against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, drawing more heat than anything else on the show, leading to Bret Hart (with football players in his corner) beating Isaac Yankem with the Sharpshooter in the hottest match on the card.
– In another dark match, Owen Hart & Yokozuna beat Savio Vega & Bam Bam Bigelow when Yoko pinned Vega.
– Dave notes that they relatively large crowd speaks to the job they did promoting the show locally, although the show changed so much in the two months leading up to it that local media couldn’t keep up with what the matches were actually supposed to be after a certain point.
– WCW will be doing its first taped Nitro on 11/6 in Jacksonville because they’ll be in Japan the next week. (Hope that Vince gives away their results on live TV! That’ll show ‘em!)
– The WCW guys will in Tokyo at Sumo Hall for a combined show with New Japan that was supposed to be taped for PPV but that’s been completely forgotten now because WCW. The main event sees Sting defending the US title against Kensuke Sasaki. With matches like Hashimoto & Yasuda v. Giant & Arn Anderson and Muto v. Steve Regal, Dave notes that this lineup isn’t “particularly compelling”. (Wonder if it’s on New Japan World? Seems like it might be interesting from a train wreck perspective.)
– This will all lead to the World War III PPV in Norfolk, with THREE GIANTS in a three-ring battle royale, including El Gigante repackaged into “Yetti” and Ron Reis as “T-Rex”. (There was definitely some wires that got crossed there.) Dave notes that they have 44 wrestlers under contract for a 60 man match, so they’ll have to find another 16 people on the indy scene for a one-shot. Winner gets a shot at the WCW title at some point, probably January at the Clash.
– Finally, after weeks of screwing him around, WCW fired Vader on 10/11. Official reason was due to his shoulder injury, so legally speaking the incident with Orndorff never happened. This is likely for legal reasons as well, because Orndorff wasn’t exactly professional in his handling of the Vader situation. Vader’s plan appears to be taking a few months off to heal his shoulder and then returning with the WWF, who are desperately in need of a monster heel.
– Despite the revival of the USWA v. SMW feud in Memphis, they still only drew 425 fans on 10/16, even with the BUSHWACKERS in the main event!
– To show how dedicated Tracy Smothers is to the business, he worked in Knoxville on Friday night for SMW, then drove 450 miles to Memphis for no pay to cut a promo on TV, and then drove back to Morristown for a Saturday night show!
– Speaking of which, both of those SMW shows drew pretty sad crowds. The feeling is that they have their super-hardcore fanbase and the only times anything draws over top of those 400 people is when WWF sends guys for special appearances. So no matter what they do with their core guys, they’re only going to draw so many people. (Tick tock…)
– Dave says that although Robert Gibson might be turning heel, he’s definitely not the mysterious Sgt. Rock being promoted by Cornette.
– Cornette is pushing a guy named The Wolfman because he’s affiliated with a nutritional company that is supposed to be like steroids without the side effects, and they’re sponsoring the show. Dave notes that if anyone actually COULD devise something like that, they sure as hell wouldn’t need to advertise it on SMW TV.
– Speaking of SMW’s finances, Rolling Stone magazine interviewed Rick Rubin, and story noted that he owned a wrestling company but didn’t say which one. (Yeah, not for much longer as it turned out.)
– Dave watched the Psicosis v. Rey Mysterio 2/3 falls match on ECW TV and gave it ****3/4, noting that their Mexico City match was better.
– The current Sportatorium group is actually doing 800 fans per week, which isn’t bad all things considered. The deal with the fake Konnan from last time is that they tried to get the real one but couldn’t make the scheduling or money work, so they decided that Konnan & Konnan 2000 as a team was too awesome of an idea to let die and just stuck another guy under the mask.
– Over to WCW, as Nitro from Huntsville on 10/23 was their weakest show to date. Randy Savage v. Kurosawa was as bad as Mabel v. Yokozuna from the night before. Kurosawa is a great wrestler but he’s booked to be a martial artist who only does kicks and punches. Badly.
– Also, King Curtis introduced a guy frozen in a giant ice cube who will end up being Giant Gonzalez as The Yetti, but he couldn’t get into the country and so they just had someone else in there and pretended it was him.
– Hulk Hogan, master of good taste, did an interview dressed in all black where he said “everyone knows what people can do with black gloves and a black cap”.
– In an update on the Stu Hart tribute show, Chris Benoit and Brian Pillman have been pulled by WCW because, SURPRISE, there’s WWF guys on the show so they can’t be there.
– WCW is talking about bringing in Dave Finlay from Europe.
– To the WWF, where the Brandon Manitoba RAW tapings saw Goldust get a better reaction than in Winnipeg, beating Savio Vega. Meanwhile, Al Snow debuted as Avatar and it was a complete flop with no crowd reaction. Dave has never seen Snow blow more spots. Also, Alundra Blayze retained the Women’s title from Bertha Faye. If you ignore the fact that the feud is death and Faye is awful, the match was pretty good.
– Undertaker had surgery to repair his eye, with an implant being needed to move his eyeball back to its proper place. In fact, when he was breathing previously, “little bits of air were coming out of his eye area”. So, you know, that must have been painful for him.
– And finally, it’s time for your INCREDIBLY STRANGE WRESTLING UPDATE! On the 10/21 show in San Fran, they did a match with JR Benson v. The Rapist in a “loser must retire match”. At one point both guys were knocked out, and so were their valets, so Benson revived his valet (Jenny X) by going down on her. They ended up fighting into the street and the Rapist’s valet knocked out Benson with a chair in the middle of the street, so Jenny X returned the favor by reviving Benson. No, not by going down on him, you perverts! They were out in public on a crowded street! Get your mind out of the gutter.
She peed on him instead.