Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.06.95
Big stuff this issue! Halloween Havoc! Also ECW is red hot right now, firing on all cylinders, and burning up the indy scene!
– But first, WWF is the opposite of red hot right now, as the PPV numbers for the Winnipeg In Your House are coming in at a terrifying 0.35 buyrate, which is actually down from the previous “worst ever in history” number that just happened last month. (And IYH5 was still to come!) It was actually the first show since the earliest days of PPV not to crack 100,000 buys, which would make this in turn the first ever WWF PPV to lose money. (And they said Diesel’s title reign wasn’t notable.) Unlike WCW, which is funded by Ted Turner’s pocket change, if the PPV business goes into the tank for the WWF, they might have to cut even more staff or even cease to exist.
– Oh, but if you’re WCW, then don’t celebrate too fast! This might mean that the Monday Night Wars are in fact a giant failure, oversaturating the airwaves with too many free matches and driving people away from PPV.
– Regardless, this is clearly a sign that the “In Your House” formula is not working and the idea that reducing the price of a show will drive business is WRONG. Meanwhile WCW isn’t falling as fast with their monthly full-priced shows, although Dave notes that they don’t have as far to fall, and they have Hulk Hogan, so it’s not exactly an equal comparison.
– Overall, Dave’s not sure what could have caused this catastrophic failure of a buyrate, exactly. Yes, the card was weak on paper but no weaker than the September show. (Really? REALLY?) Dave’s only logical conclusion is that it’s THE MONDAY NIGHT WARS that are killing the PPV business.
– Dave does also concede that the horrible bait-and-switch finish of the September show might POSSIBLY have soured fans on this one, because typically fans will move past that sort of thing and forget about it quickly. But oh man, if either company has to give up their Monday night show due to the evil influence of the MONDAY NIGHT WARS, then they’re in trouble. (Dave is sounding like he’s prepping a “Seduction of the Innocent” type expose here soon.)
– Over to ECW, where it was PANIC AT THE BINGO HALL thanks to a fire. It started with a planned angle and quickly turned into a panicked fanbase thanks to things getting out of control. In fact, many ECW fans left messages promising never to return due to the company putting them in danger. Dave is pretty sure the next show will sell out anyway.
(Tell ‘em, Homer)
– So in the final match of the show, Tommy Dreamer had pinned Cactus Jack, but Jack and Raven double-teamed Tommy until Terry Funk made the save with his flaming branding iron (as he was known to do). So Jack ran back to the dressing room and returned with a shirt that was covered in kerosene for the angle, draped over a chair as a weapon. So somehow the kerosene-soaked shirt ended up hitting Funk’s branding iron early and Funk caught on fire. Jack immediately broke character and dived onto him, trying to put him out, and bits of burning cloth ended up in the front row as a result. Also the ring caught on fire. Also a fan might have caught on fire. (And yet I can barely get a fire going in my backyard fire pit without it snuffing out pathetically after 3 minutes.)
– So at the same time as everyone was on fire, they were doing ANOTHER angle where the lights go out and Raven is crucifying Tommy Dreamer, but the darkness caused everyone to freak out while the fire was still going and people were spraying fire extinguishers all over the place. There was also a lot of chair-throwing going on at the same time and one or two people were hospitalized for minor injuries. Plus their were various cars vandalized and one stolen. (I hear Vince Russo watched it and thought it was pretty good, but it needed another twist.)
– For his part, Funk received second-degree burns on his arm and back. However, despite nearly burning to death, he has DEMANDED to wrestle on the 11/18 November to Remember show. (And they had a hell of a tag team match, too!)
– Paul Heyman has promised not to play with fire anymore.
– So how do we top that one? HALLOWEEN HAVOC!
– Apparently, old man Dave says, creativity in 1995 means a man falling five stories to his apparent death and then showing up 15 minutes later without a scratch or even wet hair. (Sounds like a HHH match to me.) Also there were so many turns that it made 1988 Dusty Rhodes shows seem tame by comparison. (He’s gonna LOVE Vince Russo!) Dave gives the show THUMBS DOWN, calling it “the wrestling version of Plan Nine From Outer Space” and one of the stupidest angles in history. (Come on now, let’s not say anything we can’t take back when they do much stupider ones years later!)
– Dave does concede that the actual wrestling was better than the last WWF PPV, but if THAT’S our measuring stick, then we’re in trouble.
– So they drew 13,000 to Detroit, claiming a sellout despite actual chunks of empty seats being visible on the show, for a healthy gross of $138,000 considering all the comp tickets floating around the city.
– Eddy Guerrero pinned Disco Inferno in 3:21 in the Main Event opener with a springboard rana. *1/2 Dave complains that Bischoff called it a “victory roll” despite it being the OPPOSITE of that move. (Man Dave is salty this week.)
– Paul Orndorff pinned Renegade after two piledrivers in 1:22, after which he was sent back to wrestling school, presumably for a long while. DUD
– Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko beat Steve Regal & Bobby Eaton in 8:41 when Benoit pinned Regal with a dragon suplex. Ended up being a good match, but it was originally booked to be for the #1 contendership to the tag titles. But then they decided to make Benoit into the fourth Horseman, so they wanted him to win here. But the Blue Bloods were already taped getting a title shot, so they just dropped all mention of the stip here, although they thankfully had never announced it in the first place. ***1/2
– Craig Pittman pinned VK Wallstreet in 3:37 thanks to interference from Bubba Rogers and Jim Duggan and taped fist shenanigans. 1/4*
– Johnny B. Badd won the WCW TV title from DDP in the PPV opener in 17:01. Badd had injured ribs so he wasn’t doing as much as usual. Page was doing his Terry Funk impression and bumping around outside the ring. (Wouldn’t he need to be on fire to be doing his Terry Funk impression? Sorry, too soon.) Page used Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s Pedigree move, which was called a “pancake” here. (OK there move name snob Dave, that’s in fact UNTRUE and the pancake is a totally different move, taken from Col. DeBeers when Page was probably learning wrestling from him in the AWA.) ***
– Randy Savage pinned Zodiac in 1:30 after the flying elbow. This was supposed to be Kamala, but he quit the promotion rather than do a job. (Wouldn’t want to hurt his credibility by looking stupid or anything…) A fan jumped the rail and tried to storm the ring, at which point Savage moved the action away from the area so the camera wouldn’t film him. Savage is working with a detached tricep, which should be keeping him out for a few months. (BULLSHIT! Hulk Hogan cleared up that nonsense at the next PPV by pointing out that it’s clearly a fake injury!) DUD
– Kurasawa pinned Hawk in a big upset at 3:15. Hawk looked pretty aggressive, since he was doing the job, and thus wasn’t bad. At least Kurasawa got to throw suplexes, which is a move he can do. Kurasawa got the pin with a suplex and help from Col. Parker. *
– Sabu pinned Mr. JL in 3:25. A hot short match. (Not as hot as the ECW match this week.) The Sheik was at ringside and nearly got wiped out by a Sabu moonsault to the floor. Watching him go down at 70 after a heart attack was terrifying, but he was OK and threw fire at JL. (Do we know if he was in Philadelphia that week?) **1/2
– Lex Luger beat Meng via DQ in 13:14. Horrible match, even worse finish. Meng had Luger pinned with a foreign object, but Kevin Sullivan ran in and hit LUGER, causing Meng to get DQ’d and lose the match. Dave does note that this made sense later. -*
– Sting & Ric Flair “technically were awarded a DQ win” over Brian Pillman & Arn Anderson in 17:09.
At the start of the show, it was announced that Flair had been injured by Anderson & Pillman, although they did an interview with Anderson & Pillman before the match and they never even mentioned this. So Sting worked by himself for the first 6:00 while Pillman played Tully Blanchard, and then Flair came out to cheer on his partner. And then finally Sting managed to tag his partner, and Flair immediately turned on him and reformed the Four Horsemen. Dave notes that Flair actually had a rotator cuff injury and wouldn’t have been able to work the match anyway. The match did have the most heat on the card and the angle was “very well done”. ***3/4
– And then we got the sumo monster truck match, which was the combination of 5:00 live and several hours of taping the previous night. (CINEMATIC WRESTLING!) Dave exposes the business by pointing out that Hogan and Giant weren’t actually driving the trucks and they had stunt drivers doing all the work.
(WHAT? Are you saying Giant really CAN’T drive a monster truck? I’m shook!)
– Dave was impressed that even Hogan’s truck looked like it was on steroids, though.
– So of course, they got into an argument after the “match” and Giant fell off the roof of the building and fell into Lake Michigan, even though the roof of the arena isn’t actually overhanging Lake Michigan. So he plunged to his death. And even worse, this is why wrestling is in the state it’s in!
– Randy Savage pinned Lex Luger in 5:23. Jimmy Hart came to ringside and Savage was trying, at least. Luger collided with Jimmy Hart and got elbowed for the pin. 1/4*
– The Giant beat Hulk Hogan by DQ, so Hulk retains the World title in 16:57. Hulk initially announced that there would be no match, due to the tragic death of the Giant and all. But luckily Giant proved to be immune to five story falls and came out for the match, although he was sadly not immune to legdrops and “poorly timed foot to the faces”. (Dave is BRINGING THE SNARK this week!) Basically they redid Hogan-Andre with more mobility from the Giant and less charisma from Hulk. Dave was actually really impressed for a guy having only his second match. Hogan hit the legdrop but Jimmy Hart hit the ref, turning on the Hulk behind his back. And then he hit Hulk with the belt and Giant got the deadly bearhug, at which point Luger and Savage ran in and Luger turned on Hogan as well. The YETTI ran in, now played by Ron Reis since El Gigante got into the country and then immediately went AWOL. So the YETTI and Giant teamed up with a “kinky sandwich” on Hogan. Dave is still trying to figure out if the Yetti is supposed to be a mummy or an abominable snowman, although he notes that if it’s the second one, they “got it half right”.
– Dave notes that like many great angles, this one started good but then went wrong when the guy showed up wrapped in toilet paper and tried to have sex with Hogan. ** for the post-match. (I had been debating redoing that show, but I have no chance of topping that line.)
– This was actually Hogan’s final WCW match until February 1996. Dave notes that there’s been talks between Hulk and the WWF, but if there was any seriousness to them, they probably would have taken the belt off Hulk at this show. (Oh really now?)
– One of Dave’s readers decided to investigate the supposed 200,000 person attendance in 1945, trying to determine if the Korea show was actually the biggest attendance of all time. Although the match in Pakistan between King Kong and Hamida Pahelwan was said to have drawn 200K, in fact new research of newspapers at the time shows that they were only reporting 50,000, so in fact Flair and Inoki now hold the legit record. (I bet that reader was a “Z. Bresloff”)
– To Memphis, where the Monday Night Wars are just destroying attendance, with even an appearance from Razor Ramon barely popping the crowd past 800. Since the Louisville and Nashville shows were actually up a lot, it’s pretty clear that RAW and Nitro are the culprits.
– Billy Jack Haynes has quit the promotion after only one week of returning from retirement. (And THAT one stuck, as he never returned to the business again.)
– Also, as promised, Brad Armstrong’s “never being brought back to Memphis again forever” lasted three months, as they brought him back.
– To SMW, where Robert Gibson shocked the crowd on 10/28 by turning heel, aligning with Jim Cornette to give the Heavenly Bodies the tag team titles. The building was stunned into silence by the move.
– This is leading to Thanksgiving Thunder with shows the week of 11/23, with Heavenly Bodies & Gibson v. Smothers/White Boy and a mystery partner. Apparently Cornette is trying to get Stan Lane, but might just go with a wrestling bear instead. (That’s, uh, quite the difference there.)
– 2 Cold Scorpio won the ECW tag team titles over Rocco Rock in a singles match at the fire show, picking Sandman as his partner. During the match, fans spent the whole time chanting the names of various black wrestlers at Scorpio, such as Virgil, JYD and Zeus. (#BlackWrestlersMatter)
– Meanwhile, Stevie Richards lost a match to Johnny Grunge where the loser had to wear a dress, so Jason volunteered to wear it for him and then went with a wig and makeup on top of it, acting like the idea of cross-dressing turned him on. So 911 chokeslammed him. (OK, so ECW wasn’t quite as progressive in some ways.)
– Dave notes that Steve Austin won’t be going to the WWF any time soon.
– Also not going to the WWF any time soon, Big Van Vader.
– The 10/30 Nitro was another weak one. With Savage’s legit injury (NO! NO! NO! Hulk said it was FAKE! You marks!) and all the turns, they had to redo the entire show and it showed. However, with the PPV bump, Nitro did a 2.5 to RAW’s 2.2.
– Even though the Heat’s title win over the Males was aired on the 10/28 WCW Saturday night, the win was never mentioned on Main Event or Halloween Havoc, and never mentioned on Nitro, and in fact the American Males were never even acknowledged as former tag team champions while getting squashed by Luger and Meng! (I fail to see the issue with that last one.)
– Benoit will be joining the Four Horseman shortly and they’ve already filmed vignettes with him doing so.
– Brian Pillman’s DUI in Cincinnati was finally settled with a $25 fine and a year’s probation. Plus he has to take a three day driving course. (I’m sure he’ll be a safe and cautious motorist from here on.)
– With Giant Gonzalez out, they’re looking for a new giant for their three-ring battle royale thing. Leading candidate is Giant Haystacks from England.
– A Georgia physician was indicted on 83 counts of prescription drug violations, and OF COURSE Van Hammer’s name popped up on the list of people supplied by him. (I wonder if Hulk’s monster truck was also on that list.)
– Bill DeMott, after one appearance as The Man of Question, was repackaged into “Humorous” at the Saturday Night tapings.
– Also at those tapings, Jerry Lynn worked without his mask as himself, and lost to Ric Flair. (Maybe he didn’t want anyone to recognize him since he was jobbing?)
– To the WWF, where Adam Bomb may or may not be brought back later this week. Or maybe he’ll be released from his contract.
– Apparently Avatar’s debut was a disaster not only because Snow had nerves, but because the ring ropes had been stretched out by the battle royale and not tightened, plus they were covered in baby oil from some of the guys in the match. (Michael Nakazawa?)
– Goldust’s TV debut on 10/30 came off much better than the PPV.
– And finally, a lab in Switzerland is developing the world’s first test for HGH, with potential for trials in time for the Olympics. However, all they needed to do was ask Vince McMahon, who has been claiming to have a foolproof test for the drug since 1991 as a part of his stringent drug-testing program.