Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.27.95 (Part 2)
So as noted in this morning’s Flashback, there was a point halfway through the issue where it was getting really late and I was already at 2000 words, so I skipped big chunks of interesting stuff and moved on. Well, here’s a supplemental version covering the bits that I missed in my desire to get the hell to bed!
– Sabu returned to the ECW Arena on 11/18, and there’s a lot of politics involved. His introduction saw Paul Heyman turn out the lights (after promising that there would be no fire and no fire extinguishers this time!) and reveal Sabu. They actually made an agreement for his return on 11/1, but wanted to keep it a surprise until then.
– Sabu had never actually signed a WCW contract, unhappy that his position in Japan was being hurt by WCW using him as a midcard guy. This was also why he never wanted his weight announced, because it would create the perception in Japan that he was a “junior heavyweight” and limit his upward mobility there.
– No one in WCW was actually aware of the fact that Sabu was gone at this point, and he’s still advertised for the PPV as a part of the World War III match and also for a match with Eddy Guerrero on the 12/11 Nitro. However, even if he hadn’t been fired, he was already scheduled for a tour of Japan (or as Mike Tenay would say, “the Orient”) starting 11/23 and thus wouldn’t be able to work either show.
– This leads to a discussion of the weird situation between Sabu and Dennis Coraluzzo, as Sabu was supposed to work a show in New Jersey on 11/18, the night that he returned to ECW. Sabu had originally turned down the date, saying that he was committed to an indie show in San Bernadino that night. Then, on 11/13, Sabu called and said that his booking was cancelled because he was booked for New Japan that week instead, and in turn New Japan had cancelled THOSE bookings so he was now free to do the show on 11/18 after all.
– So Sabu agreed to fly himself in and pay for his own hotel room, and Coraluzzo advertised a Sabu v. Hakushi main event to hopefully pop a crowd and justify Sabu’s asking price. But then WWF officials “freaked out” about a potential WWF v. WCW main event (WWF guys at this time were allowed to do indie shows as long it’s not the Big Three rivals) so Dennis had to book a DQ finish so that Hakushi didn’t have to do a job. (Remember, it’s fine if he gets beaten like a drum on their OWN internationally broadcast TV shows, but god forbid he loses on a random show in Jersey.) Coraluzzo actually knew that Sabu was going back to ECW eventually, because Sabu had been telling him exactly that all along. But he didn’t know that Sabu would show up on the ECW show LATER THAT NIGHT. So they did the Hakushi match with the DQ and then Devon Storm interfered to set up future Sabu v. Storm matches for Coraluzzo, and then Coraluzzo saw the Sabu appearance at November to Remember and realized he was just played. (The running joke of Heyman constantly screwing over Coraluzzo is pretty funny in a sad and dark way.)
– Heyman’s side of the story is that Sabu agreed to do the ECW show first and then asked Paul if he could work the Coraluzzo show earlier in the night, and Paul agreed to it because it would actually justify Sabu being in the city in case anyone saw him. Of course, the week before the big return, it had become an open secret that Sabu was returning, to the point where people were reporting it on hotlines and the fans in the building knew about it before Sabu even appeared and were chanting his name. In fact, about the only person who DIDN’T know was Dennis Coraluzzo.
– Sabu tried to make good with Coraluzzo, calling him up afterwards and claiming that Heyman paid him $3000 for the one appearance, which would be stupid to turn down. (Hopefully it was cash.) Coraluzzo claimed that Sabu offered him half of his $3000 payoff and wanted to continue working the December dates that they had previously worked out. Heyman basically said that Coraluzzo’s claims of Sabu getting $3000 for one night are full of shit.
– Meanwhile, another group tried to run a no holds barred show in New York, and this time it went very badly. The Extreme Fighting Championships was supposed to take place in Brooklyn at the Armory, but two days before the event it suddenly turned into a pollical landmine. Senator Roy Goodman held press conferences decrying the event, resulting in the Armory ownership group trying to get out of their lease with the EFC group. Their claim was “they had been misled into believing the event was a martial arts tournament rather than a political hot potato.” After a first judge rightly stopped that attempt because the contract was valid, a SECOND one immediately overturned it in an emergency court of appeals on the basis that the show would be “violating the state’s assault and battery laws”.
– Meanwhile, Senator Goodman prematurely had declared victory in the fight against MMA in New York, declaring at a press conference before the initial court rulings on 11/15 that the show had been successfully kicked out of New York. Once it became apparently that he was completely wrong, he did a second press conference where he said that was still 100% right but had just made the announcement prematurely. (Wonder if he also knows about building walls?) This brought MR T into the fight, since he was involved in the show, who went on Howard Stern and insisted that the show was still happening in Brooklyn, period. Also, the EFC is “the real deal and not the fake Hulk Hogan stuff you see on TV.” Through all of this, the promoters assumed that all the controversy would lead to a giant buyrate. (I’ve heard controversy creates cash.)
– So then, after the show had been well and truly kicked out of New York, where they don’t take kindly to strangers and mixed martial artists, the whole Extreme Fighting entourage was piled into a bus and sent packing to Wilmington NC at a TOP SECRET location on the Carolco movie studio lot. It was so top secret that even the bus driver wasn’t told where his destination was. And since there was no way to advertise the show before, they handed out a few hundred free tickets to locals, but didn’t tell them what the show would be. (This is like if WCW tried a fighting show.)
– And then after all the clandestine buildup and controversy, the show sucked and was by far the weakest of all the UFC ripoffs. There were no graphics, no apparent weight divisions, they lied about what matches would be taking place on the show, they lied about records of the fighters, they lied about their credentials, and everyone was supposedly undefeated.
(The good news is that they just saved a bundle on car insurance!)
– To Japan, where New Japan announced most of the 1/4 Tokyo Dome lineup and there’s no Americans booked for it. If this is the direction moving forward, then it will certainly decrease the bargaining leverage that many guys have had in the past by using New Japan. This stems from the strong business that New Japan has been doing by using the UWFI feud to draw instead of foreigners. And in fact, the Dome show will be built around another series of “interpromotional” matches with that group.
– The rumored main event of the show is a rematch between IWGP champion Muto and Takada, which had previously broken gate records. Takada has been doing interviews basically pointing in that exact direction.
– Also rumored for the show is Antonio Inoki, with the opponent likely to be either a mainstream combat star, or a legendary big name making a return, like Tenryu or Fujinami. Maybe even Maeda? (They actually went another direction entirely with it.)
– Meanwhile, the sudden lack of foreigners might be because the WCW co-promotion show on 11/14 was a complete flop, drawing only 4700 people in Hamamatsu, with most of those being freebies. The main event was originally Flair & Sting v. Muto & Osamu Nishimura, but WCW wanted it changed to Flair & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Muto because of the Flair turn at Halloween Havoc.
– Also, the Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi group officially folded on 11/19, after a combined show with PWFG and Michinoku Pro, which is certainly an interesting combination. After the show, it’s rumored that everyone from the company will form a new group called Alpha Japan Promotions.
And there you go!