Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.13.95

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.13.95

Guys, I think these Monday Night Wars might actually be a thing.

– With the WWF probably getting a PPV bump after Survivor Series, WCW will be running a Sting v. Hogan match on 11/20 in order to prevent “the inevitable ratings loss” that night.

– Also, Hogan was stripped of the WCW World title on the 11/6, so the match won’t be for the World title, with the belt instead going to the winner of the World War III battle royale on 11/26.

– Although they’re doing teases of Sting turning heel and aligning with Lex Luger, Dave can’t imagine that even WCW would be so stupid as to turn their top babyface when there’s not enough top babyfaces to go around as it is.  (Never underestimate the stupidity of WCW.) 

– But never mind this “Monday Night War” nonsense, how are the companies doing in PPV against each other?  They’re doing great!

– No, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that, Triumph.  You see, if you ask the promotions, they’re doing great.  But if you ask them how their competition is doing, they’re doing terrible.  So there’s a logical problem there since both sides say they’re doing great and the other side is terrible.  Either way, the numbers given don’t match up with what independent sources actually say.  And amazingly, the outside sources are almost always way lower than what WWF and WCW say.

– Example:  The WWF claims that In Your House III did a 0.88 buyrate (200,000 or so buys) and so did In Your House IV.  You know the show that basically everyone else in the world claims was a giant bomb?  Most estimates actually put the show at 0.46 buyrate (or between 80,000 and 100,000 buys).  Now, Dave is no mathematician or anything, but he’s pretty sure that there’s a difference in estimates of more than 100,000 buys, then either it’s the most unreliable tracking system ever, or someone in the WWF is lying.  (That’s as crazy as saying they’d lie about their talent having a contagious disease during a pandemic!)

– On the other side of the coin, WCW is claiming that Halloween Havoc did 190,000 buys for a 0.8 buyrate, which is below what the 94 show did, but that one had Hogan v. Flair in a retirement match so that’s hardly a fair comparison.  Hogan would take $590,000 off the top of that one, leaving them a healthy gross.  However, independent sources are putting the number closer to 0.68, or 160,000 buys, which would give Hogan a cool $500,000 and left WCW making about as money as they were without him.  Now, if you ask the WWF, the buyrate was less than 0.5, or about 118,000 buys and $370,000 or Hogan.  This would be a complete disaster for them if true.  (Which it’s not.) 

– Dave notes that WCW put the World title stip on the battle royale because otherwise it would have died on PPV.  And expect either Luger or Giant to win.  (This prediction of course led to one of the most infamous segments in WCW history at that show.) 

– WCW did a marathon 7 days of Worldwide tapings, with the only new additions being the “Super Assassins” (a masked Warlord & Barbarian) and One Man Gang, all of whom looked terrible.  (And yet one of them was soon to end up with the US title!) 

– The angle to set up Starrcade was on WCW Pro, with Bobby Heenan selling 50% of the Pro show to Sonny Ohno, who is a user car salesman who got a job as New Japan liaison because he speaks Japanese, despite having no knowledge of Japanese wrestling.  The character name is a running joke from the announcers so they can make references to Cher, since the character was originally just “Mr. Ohno”.  (That’s about right for their pop culture wheelhouse at that point.  Man, say what you will about Hall and Nash, but the show got a LOT hipper once they got there.) 

– The payoff for the angle on the shows was WCW investigating Heenan’s claims of owning 50% of Pro in the first place, at which point Ohno becomes the heel manager of the New Japan guys leading to Starrcade. This was all supposed to be terrible according to those who were at the tapings.

– Kensuke Sasaki came out with the US title for shows taped in November, since he wins the title from Sting on 11/13 at Sumo Hall.  For some crazy reason, the New Japan office was pissed at WCW for spoiling their surprise title change in Japan, and Masa Saito refused to let anyone shoot photos of Sasaki with the belt.

– Early in the tapings, the American Males threw a tantrum about having to put over Koji Kanemoto and Shinjiro Otani because they’d have to SUBMIT.  (I wonder if Buff got his mom to call into the office and complain?)  So for the rest of the tapings, they mostly had Jerry Lynn put over the Japanese guys, and they were all good matches.  (And I’m sure Lynn was legit happy to put them over, too). 

– There’s already reports that Ron Reis will be changed from THE YETAY into the Giant Ninja and act as a bodyguard for Ohno, but that hadn’t actually been taped as of yet.

– To ECW, where the Pennsylvania athletic commission are considering possible sanctions against the promotion for the whole fire problem last week.  Unfortunately for the commission, pro wrestling was deregulated there years ago thanks to the WWF’s lobbying of the government, so they’re mostly just there to take a cut of the taxes and don’t hold any real power.  In fact, after a Crockett show years ago where Wahoo accidentally got a blade stuck in his forehead during a match, they enacted a law to make it ILLEGAL to bleed during a wrestling match.  Dave notes just how effective that law has been in PHILADELPHIA, which shows you how much “power” the commission actually has.  (Maybe they need to appeal to a higher power?) 

(On second thought, forget it.) 

– While discussing the New Japan v. UWFI feud, Dave goes onto a whole deal about how the UWFI guys were all really small, but no one noticed because they only worked against each other, but then they came to New Japan and suddenly guys who looked 5’10” in UWFI suddenly looked more like 5’7” against the bigger NJPW stars.  On the flipside, if your promotion is full of nothing but monsters who are 6’4”, then it’s incredibly hard to make a monster unless he’s freakishly large, and it also makes guys who are “only” 5’10” look like midgets by comparison.  (A lot of this applies very much to the whole problem with NXT and the main roster right now, where guys like Ciampa and Gargano look fine in the ring with Undisputed Era, but they come to the main shows and seem tiny next to Sheamus or Drew.  Meanwhile, someone like Billy Gunn seemed like an average-sized guy for years in WWE, but he goes to AEW and suddenly looks like Andre the Giant.) 

– To Memphis, where Jerry Lawler made a rare appearance as Unified World champion and dropped the title to Ahmed Johnson on 11/6 in a 25:00 match.  Ahmed got “a ton of cheers”.  Even with the return of Lawler, the crowd was still the same it’s been for weeks.

– Tracy Smothers missed the TV tapings in Memphis due to working SMW, so he was replaced with a 400-pound masked guy, played by Mantaur, and dubbed “The Smoky Mountain Surprise”.  (I was disappointed upon going to Urban Dictionary and discovering that there’s no horribly filthy definition for that one, like eating fatty fried chicken and then accidentally shitting yourself after sneezing.) 

– To SMW, where in fact the big reveal of Sgt. Rock’s identity turned out to be Jacqueline.

– As a followup from last week, Stan Lane was unable to be a surprise on the Thanksgiving Thunder show due to eye surgery, so Cornette’s second choice was a wrestling bear.  However, Cornette did some checking and discovered that it’s actually illegal to use bears for that purpose in Tennessee.  (I did my own checking and discovered the origin of that law!)

(See, what I COULD have done is gone with the joke about how Cornette tried to blackball the bear for not having sex with his wife while he watched, but I decided to go the classy route and use the Simpsons meme instead, because I have CLASS and wouldn’t kick a man while he’s down like that.  YOU’RE WELCOME.)

(Also, the actual mystery partner that he ended up getting to oppose EVIL ROBERT GIBSON should be pretty obvious.)    

– Anyway, the main event of the first night of the Thanksgiving tour is Brad Armstrong challenging Terry Gordy for the SMW title, but then Gordy is going back to Japan and will miss the rest of the tour.  So using impeccable wrestling promoter logic, Cornette is deliberately false-advertising Gordy for the entire tour while knowing he won’t be there, because otherwise fans will figure out that he’s losing the title to Armstrong on the first night and then not go to the other shows on the tour.

(By a staggering coincidence, there was only one other show on that tour and then the company went out of business forever.) 

– To ECW, where Public Enemy is apparently talking with Vince McMahon about going to the WWF.  Both sides were happy with the talks and the question is now “when”, rather than “if”.  The meeting was actually set up through Paul Heyman, because Vince didn’t want to go behind his back.  (I don’t know if you’re heard, but Vince is all about helping himself and not hurting the other guy!) 

– Dave is more impressed at Heyman’s masterful ability to make TWO DIFFERENT PROMOTIONS think that Public Enemy is worth anything to anyone.  Especially when they wouldn’t be allowed to do anything that got them over in either of those promotions.

– Sadly, WWF has now lost interest in 911.

– Needless to say, Steve Austin’s “Monday Nyquil” skits weren’t particularly popular in the WCW offices.

– Two more ECW talents are ready to join WCW, and there’s already storylines being prepped for them.  (Maybe it was Mike Awesome and they just took 4 years to come up with an idea for him?) 

– The former Crush was sentenced to a $10,000 fine and five years probation for 11 counts of steroid possession and weapons charges in Hawaii a couple of weeks ago.  (At least HIS ugly face tattoo was a fake one.) 

– To the Sportatorium wrestling promotion, where booker Grizzly Smith has decided to keep using the fake Konnan, even though all the Hispanic people in the crowd who they’re trying to appeal to know that it’s a fake and boo him heavily.  (Thank god everyone soon learned their lesson about using knockoff gimmicks in wrestling)

– To WCW, where Jimmy Hart threw water at the Renegade and washed off his makeup, saying that he’s not a Renegade, just a guy named Rick.   (Oh man, Renegade is about to go find the greatest partner in wrestling history and get some REVENGE!) 

– Lex Luger missed his cue to come out during the Flair v. Sting match on Nitro, which angered Eric Bischoff, and he punished him severely.  (OK, I guess Lex isn’t QUITE as bad as Hitler.) 

– WCW won the ratings war this week, doing a 2.3 rating as compared to RAW’s 2.1, which is the lowest rating for the WWF in more than a year.  (NOT DIESEL’S FAULT.  He just needed better opponents.  I can’t stress that enough.) 

– On the Nitro taped for 11/13, they did an injury angle for Randy Savage’s severely torn tricep that will put him out of action for three months.  (FAKE NEWS!  I hope someone burns this dirt sheet on PPV to teach it a lesson!) 

– Names being thrown around for the 60-man battle royale are Tito Santana, Sgt. Slaughter, Rick Martel and the Iron Sheik.  (In the end, did ANYONE care about the parade of jobbers and curtain-jerkers they had filling up the ring for that thing when you couldn’t even follow the match on TV anyway?) 

– To the WWF, where Vince McMahon did a surprise morale-boosting meeting on 11/3 at a house show.  There’s been a lot of paranoia lately, justifiably so.  Basically cancelling all the B-shows won’t affect the main event guys, but a lot of the midcarders are losing a lot of payoffs.  Dave notes that the company can’t go on running money-losing shows just so a bunch of midcarders can have work.

– The title change from Diesel to Bret is such a done deal that wrestlers are acting like it’s already happened, and Dave suspects that Shawn is winning the title from Bret at Wrestlemania.  But, you know, plans can change.  (Definitely not in this case.) 

– The good news is that Diesel’s matches with Yokozuna at the house shows are doing extremely well by current standards.  The bad news is that it’s all Canadian money so it’s basically worthless.  (Our actual national currency is basically Tim’s cards anyway.)  

– The building in Phoenix booked a WCW Nitro show on 12/4, so to punish them for daring to deal with the competition, the Royal Rumble has been moved to Fresno, CA.  (I’ve heard Vince is all about helping himself and not hurting the other guy.) 

– WWF signed a two year contract extension with USA.

– Adam Bomb is at a legal impasse with the WWF, since they don’t want him back, but won’t release him from his contract.

– In probably the only time you’ll ever see Dave talking about the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in the Observer, he notes that Bret had some of their players in his corner at the Regina tapings, and one of them named Glenn Kulka really wants to be a pro wrestler.  (WWF tried really hard to make that happen as well, but he just couldn’t make it work.) 

– And finally, Waylon Mercy quit the promotion this week, since he was going nowhere anyway.  Lots of other guys are talking about quitting as well, like Bam Bam Bigelow, and Dave is pretty sure Bam Bam SHOULD quit and go back to Japan before he gets turned into a complete jobber.  Dave notes that Wrestlemania flopped, but it could hardly be called the fault of anyone involved.  (And, I would like to stress, ABSOLUTELY not Diesel’s fault.  He just needed better opponents.) 

(Of course, I’m just kidding around with you.  It was TOTALLY his fault.)