Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.27.95
In today’s top story, possible corruption in the previous trial of a rich white guy. Guess I should be more specific.
– In a New York Post story on 11/22, there is apparently an ongoing investigation into whether Laura Brevetti (lead defense attorney for Vince’s steroid trial) offered a “key witness” a bribe of up to $400,000. The whistle was blown by Vince’s ex-assistant Emily Fineburg. Brevetti’s husband is television producer Marty Bergman, and he is being investigated for pursuing witnesses (and potential witnesses) and attempting to “taint or discredit” their testimony in exchange for a “television consultant” job. Bergman failed to disclose that he was living with Brevetti at the time of the trial, representing himself as a producer for “60 Minutes” at the time and not mentioning his connection to her.
(I am SHOCKED AND APPALLED at the suggestion that professional wrestlers would accept money in exchange for falsehoods! SHOCKED. AND. APPALLED.)
– Brevetti released a statement about the accusations, saying “I have been advised of no investigation and have never been contacted by anyone in the government about the existence of one. In any event, there is absolutely no basis for any claim of wrongdoing by me. It is clear to me that this story is being waged by certain individuals within the government who have a personal vendetta against me.”
(It’s the DEEP STATE CONSPIRACY! SLEEPY JOE AND THE RADICAL LEFT! Sorry, wrong government. Anyway, I don’t think this went anywhere.)
– Speaking of national nightmares hopefully coming to an end in November, Bret Hart won his third WWF title, beating Diesel in the main event of the 1995 Survivor Series. But although the show was notable for that title change, the bigger story behind the scenes is the growing turmoil stemming from “The Clique” taking more power for themselves.
– But all of THAT pales in comparison to the biggest shots fired in the Monday Night Wars yet, which ended up disappointing both sides in the ratings. With WCW offering up Hulk Hogan v. Sting for free on national TV, their biggest matchup to date, the WWF countered with their most daring (and maybe most galling!) angle in years. (Boy, Dave ain’t seen nothing yet.)
– Referencing Shawn’s attack and legit injuries in Syracuse, the main event of RAW saw Michaels collapse in the middle of the ring during his match with Owen Hart, teasing that he either suffered an aneurism or stroke. The angle was so convincing that those in attendance believed it wasn’t an angle.
– Although the WWF had “by far” the superior show, WCW won the ratings battle with a 2.5 to a 2.3. Neither number is a success. According to Dave Meltzer, this clearly proves that “Hogan has no juice left to have a major impact on ratings”. (Well I think we can safely say he was 100% right about that one.)
– Although Shawn’s “injury” couldn’t have helped ratings in this episode, doing a 2.3 coming off a World title change is a complete disaster.
– Many readers likened the angle to the Fritz Von Erich heart attack, with people who called the Titan offices being informed that it was 100% real and Shawn was under doctor’s care for post-concussion syndrome. (Sounds legit to me.)
– Shawn might be legitimately be out for a while ago due to complications from his Marine beating, although current plan is still to have Shawn win the Rumble and then face Bret Hart at Wrestlemania.
– Interestingly, although it was positioned as a bigtime angle, there wasn’t actually any heat put onto any heel. (Really? It seemed like they were blaming the Owenzuigiri from the get-go.) Originally they wanted Jeff Jarrett to make his return and attack Shawn, but plans changed because it was felt that it would just be another wrestling angle.
– For his part, Dave thinks the angle was nowhere near as tasteless as Fritz Von Erich. I mean, it was the same basic thing, but no one was DYING. So not as bad.
– Meanwhile, on Nitro, poor Hogan and Sting had their heat completely scooped by the WWF’s angle, as no one cared about their match the next day. Hogan worked the match dressed all in black and got booed out of the (largely papered) building, with the Dungeon of Doom running in and attacking both guys for the no contest finish. Dave gives the match *1/2. WCW is going to have a rough time popping another rating after THAT debacle!
– Also Savage helped make the save and was strongly playing up his arm injury by having it in a sling, so clearly he’s going to have that surgery after all. (Jesus, HE’S TOTALLY FINE! Why must Dave keep reporting fake news like this? I hope Hogan gets him back good, preferably at the PPV where everyone can see his humiliation and will totally understand it.)
– The WWF effort was far better, with a new kick-ass version of Diesel who is set to appeal to males 26-34. (He’s the DEMO GOD!) Also the Michaels-Owen match was excellent and there was also a good 1-2-3 Kid v. Hakushi match.
– Meanwhile, Nitro was weak, with Brian Pillman taking the place of Ric Flair due to a shoulder injury before doing a job to Eddy Guerrero. The announcing was terrible as ever.
– Also, Sabu returned to ECW. (I guess we’ll get to that later.)
– So back to Survivor Series, as Bret Hart wrested the title away from the Clique (for now) before Diesel seemingly turned heel after getting booed by the majority of the audience throughout the match. This new character direction (with Diesel mouthing “Motherfucker” after the loss) would seem to indicate that they think, and this is a funny one so make sure that you’re sitting down…they think, and I can’t even type this with a straight face because it’s so ridiculous…that a toned down version of what ECW does is somehow the way the company should be moving forward!
– Anyway, the show was generally good and well received. There were more clean finishes than usual. The biggest surprise was the return of Mr. Perfect on commentary, but he appeared to have no real knowledge of storylines or the direction of the company in general. It appears that he’ll mostly be doing the Superstars show moving forward and not RAW.
– This was the first time that Dave can remember where the show was actually not announced as a sellout, with an estimate of 14,000 in attendance (about 75% capacity) and 8000 paid.
– Dave was most disappointed with the show overall.
– Public Enemy also worked the show, doing a dark match opener against the Smoking Gunns that came off more like them getting squashed, with most of the crowd not actually knowing who they were. It was a one-shot deal and no contract has been signed. Paul Heyman, who brokered the deal for the match, is still hopeful on keeping them in ECW.
– The next PPV is In Your House 5 on 12/17, and Dave just can’t even with the lineup they’ve got announced. Dave thinks it’ll do a similar buyrate to the last In Your House. (Shows what he knows, it did WAY WORSE, if that’s even possible.)
– In the PPV opener, Skip & Rad Radford & Tom Prichard & 1-2-3 Kid beat Marty Jannetty & Barry Horowitz & Bob Holly & Hakushi in 18:45. Kid was replacing Jean-Pierre Lafitte, who had hernia surgery earlier in the week. Also, Bob Holly replaced Avatar, which they didn’t even mention on the show. Holly had been complaining that he wanted to leave because he wasn’t getting enough work, so they called up Al Snow and told him right out that they were putting Bob in his spot because he had tenure. (Al actually does not mention this particular story in his book, although he’s got a LOT of bitterness towards the Clique and people in the locker room in general from this particular time period.) Anyway, Dave thought it was the best match on the show. The match came down to Sid v. Marty, with Hennig getting a witty line in about the Rocker Dropper “breaking your neck”, which had to make Vince happy. Kid got the win with help of Sid. ***3/4
– Bertha Faye & Aja Kong & Lioness Asuka & Tomoko Watanabe beat Alunda Blayze & Kyoko Inoue & Sakie Hasegawa & Chapparita Asari in 10:01. Match was a disappointing rush-job. The women had just flown in the night before and were obviously tired. Two pinfalls were counted despite them being booked as near-falls, which left the match way short. Also Curt Hennig knew nothing about anyone in the match and spent the whole time cracking jokes, clearly getting onto Jim Ross’s nerves for the rest of the show as a result. **3/4
– Goldust pinned Bam Bam Bigelow in 8:18 with a bulldog. Goldust is supposed to be the new Undertaker, but his entrance was so long that it just ended up being boring. *
– Undertaker & Fatu & Henry Godwinn & Savio Vega beat Jerry Lawler & Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Mabel & Isaac Yankem in 14:21. The first 11:00 was lifeless action with everyone but Undertaker, until Vega tagged him in and he wrecked the entire heel team single-handedly to win the match, ending with Mabel running away to the back. Booking was good, match was bad. *1/2 (I wouldn’t say “bad” so much as more storyline than match. It was a lot of fun and even I enjoyed watching Undertaker wreak havoc to get his revenge.)
– Shawn Michaels & Ahmed Johnson & Davey Boy Smith & Sid beat Yokozuna & Owen Hart & Dean Douglas & Razor Ramon in 27:24. This was another good match. Ahmed was green but he’s still getting pushed to the moon. (Perhaps the lower gravity up there would have allowed him to take bumps without injuring himself all the time.) Match ended with Shawn and Ahmed double-teaming Yokozuna for the pin. ***1/2
– Bret Hart pinned Diesel in 24:54 to win the WWF title. Diesel dominated the first 7:00 until Bret tied up his laces around the ringpost and then destroyed his knee to take over. JR had a Vinnie Vegas flashback when he called the turnbuckle drop “Snake eyes”. (Which is now the generic name for the move!) Diesel eventually knocked Bret off the apron and through the Spanish announce table. (Is this the understated Observer debut for the venerable Spanish announce table?) He went for the powerbomb to finish, but took too long and Bret cradled him for the pin and the title. And then Diesel jackknifed him afterwards, twice, and beat up several refs. ***1/2
– Sabu returned to ECW in a surprise on 11/18, although it’s supposed to be a one-shot deal for now. This comes after WCW was basically done with using Sabu due to him brawling outside the ring too much and Sheik throwing fire on the PPV without getting permission. It was no secret that the WCW booking committee didn’t like him and didn’t consider him a good worker.
– Of note, Sabu discovered he was fired when he watching Nitro on 11/20 and heard Bischoff talking about “a former WCW talent who is no longer with the company” and then called the hotline and discovered that it was him.
– (We’re running WAY long this time and it’s late, so I’m skipping a whole bunch of Sabu stuff and Japan and the Extreme Fighting PPV debacle so we can get to Memphis…)
– Dave has a further correction in regards to the Ahmed Johnson v. Jerry Lawler match that drew a disaster of a house of 850, as now it turns out that it was actually 550 people, which is somehow even worse. Especially with Lawler making his big return after weeks away in the WWF. It’s not actually Lawler’s fault, but it is clear evidence that the Monday Night Wars have now destroyed the regular Monday fanbase in Memphis, especially since the Louisville and Nashville shots are still doing fine.
– Vince McMahon did another heel interview on the 11/18 Memphis TV show, trying to make Ahmed into a heel since a lot of people were cheering him when he beat Lawler for the title. (Vince as a heel, eh?)
– Dave does a quick rundown of November 2 Remember, just calling it the 11/18 ECW show. Apparently Steve Richards introduced a new flunkie named The Blue Meanie, real name “Brian Rollins”, which is hilarious because Brian Heffron was longtime subscriber. Poor guy never gets any respect. The show ended with Terry Funk doing a retirement speech and basically saying he was passing the torch as King of Hardcore to Tommy Dreamer. (I think we’ll all remember 1995 as the year when Terry Funk finally retired.)
(Also I’m way way way overdue on redoing that show, I know. Might be coming tomorrow. Also Dave criminally undersells the Taz heel turn in his writeup. Like people were literally trying to rush the ring and murder him, it was pretty amazing.)
– Women was really upset with Dave’s report last week that she’s leaving for WCW, and she’s denying it to everyone. (Goddamn Dave and his lame-stream lies! I hope Hulk Hogan really sticks it to him good and soon!)
– Meanwhile, Konnan is for sure going to WCW and isn’t denying it to anyone.
– To WCW, where Ric Flair will be out with his shoulder injury until after Christmas, so Sting will be wrestling Brian Pillman instead.
– WCW is doing a house show on 12/2 in Denver, because they had done an offer where anyone who ordered the previous WCW PPV could get two free tickets to Nitro. But then people actually ORDERED the show, and when does that ever happen? So then even more shockingly, they actually sold out Nitro in Denver, which meant that a few thousand people got turned away at the door, and someone in charge actually held WCW accountable for their stupidity for once and made them do a make-good house show with free tickets being valid for admission. (WCW can’t even paper their damn TV shows without fucking it up.)
– To the WWF, where Brother Love returned to an on-screen role, interviewing Bret Hart about winning the title. Dave notes that Bruce Prichard is suddenly gaining a LOT of power with regards to booking. (No wonder the ratings were shitty.)
– Speaking of booking, one of the things that happened when Vince was on the road at house shows was the Clique going through a list of wrestlers one-by-one with him, evaluating whether they should be pushed or phased down. One of the guys they apparently wanted elevated was Skip (who was clearly not elevated) and one of the guys they wanted gone was Bob Backlund, who is suddenly back on TV with a renewed push.
– Kama and Bam Bam Bigelow have both officially given notice, although Bob Holly gave notice but now will be sticking around. No one knows if Pierre the Pirate is coming back after he recovers from his hernia. (That would be a no.)
– Dean Douglas is also on the way out and was backstage at the ECW show.
– And finally, Dave has nothing to say about SMW anywhere in this issue. So we’ll just leave that as our teaser for next time.