Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.11.95

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.11.95

Guys, I don’t think this UFC thing is gonna be around much longer if lawmakers have their way!

– The debate over whether UFC and the other events like it should be banned has been raging in the press and the city of Denver has become a hotspot for the controversy.  On 12/1, the city ordered the Ultimate Ultimate show scheduled for 12/16 CANCELED, using the only tactic more dangerous than fish-hooking or eye-gouging:  LEGAL LOOPHOLES.

– So yeah, apparently there’s an obscure law on the books that says management of the building must provide the city with a list of planned events every three months, and they failed to do so, therefore the government had no choice but to shut down the planned UFC event.

(Honestly I’m shocked they didn’t try to pull out THAT law as well in order to get UFC banned.) 

– SEG, the parent company of UFC, is still determined that the event will take place in Denver, even if it’s not in the planned building.  Apparently they had a “signed contract”.  (Maybe the government had Vince negotiating this stuff for them.) 

– The UFC still wants to work with the Denver government in the future, so Bob Meyrowitz is trying to go the diplomatic route and not be confrontational with the mayor of the city.

– Meanwhile, UFC VP Malcolm McLaren is going a little more along the “confrontational” route, threatening openly to sue the city if the event is canceled.  The local papers mostly agree with the government’s feeling that the events are brutal spectacle and need to be banned, but also pointed out that “the sanctity of a contract does not apply selectively, [and] if you sign a deal with Larry Flynt, for example, you can’t ignore its terms because you later stumble into a revivalist’s tent and find yourself born again.”

– The editorial piece did point out that after they do the event in December, THEN they should pass a law banning the UFC from Denver, all nice and legal-like.

– Mostly the fight has devolved into a series of meaningless catchphrases, like “human cockfighting”, although one columnist in Denver did sum up his feelings with a bit more imagination, writing:  “The fighters can beat each other to a bloody pulp and I won’t care. As far as I’m concerned, they could stage an ultimate fight every weekend, with 30 contestants in the ring for each of 30 cards. Then bury the 870 dead. Maybe after a few years, the species would improve its breeding stock. The concept is disgusting, the entertainment is morbid, the audience is sick.”

(I’m impressed that the guy remembered to subtract one person from each 30 person slaughter because they would have presumably won the tournament and thus survived, Hunger Games-style.  Most people would have just done the 30×30 math and called it a day.) 

– Sadly, all this hysteria and ballyhoo is also threatening to cause trouble for real sports as well, namely pro wrestling.  Well, if you count ECW as either one.  (That snark is ALL ME, by the way)  An article in the 12/5 Norwalk, CT Hour is suggesting that future ECW shows could be shut down in the state due to laws that might render the shows “illegal”.

– In the same article, Paul Heyman defended the shows, noting “Our fans bring frying pans, cookie sheets and car fenders and hand them to our wrestlers.  No one’s going to accept a tire iron.”  (Hold on, I can go a couple of ways with this one…Tony Falk?  No, wait, I’ve got it.)

(See, he really loves drugs and not beer, is what I’m getting at there.)  

– Speaking of legal entanglements, Vince McMahon decided to refute the charges of witness tampering levied against him by going on WWF Superstars and doing a four minute speech specifically aimed at the New York market version of the show.  He basically did a 70s heel promo on Phil Mushnick and his “government cronies.”  (Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll get over it and move on like adults soon.) 

– Vince summed up the conspiracy against him as “yellow journalists conspiring with vengeful public officials” trying to save face after their attempts to prosecute him failed.  (Man, this all sounds terrifyingly famililar for those of us stuck in the hellish nightmare world of 2020.) 

– Vince also claimed that his exoneration in the trial also meant that he was completely innocent of all the allegations of steroid distribution made against him in the trial, because apparently that’s how this works now in Vince’s world.

– At this point, Dave would like to point out that although Vince is completely bonkers in his statements, it was absolutely a fair and just result for him to be exonerated, given the specific wording of the laws involved and the specific charges levied against him in the trial.  It would have been a horrible miscarriage of justice for Vince to be convicted of anything given how flimsy the government’s case was.

– Dave would also like to note that Vince’s modus operandi when he’s in trouble is to develop a paranoid belief that the media and government have banded together to “get him”, and then to divert attention from that “trouble” by turning attentions away from the facts and turn the story into a personal vendetta.  (COME ON!  How can I not mock your orange President?  I’m gonna be like George and Jerry at the end of “The Contest” if this issue keeps serving up softballs like this.) 

– Dave does note that the government’s complete incompetence was summed up by the specifics of their “smoking gun” against Vince, a package of steroids supposedly delivered to Hulk Hogan by Dr. Zahorian via Fed-Ex on October 24, 1989, which were then given supposedly by Vince to Hulk at the Nassau Coliseum because that was the only place where the government had jurisdiction to prosecute him based on the specific venue of the court.  The problem is that the only show that the WWF did at the Nassau Coliseum at that point was October 18 1989, which means that Vince McMahon not only would have to be a steroid distributor, but also have access to a time machine of some sort in order to deliver the package to Hulk Hogan six days before he actually received it.  And the government had SEVEN MONTHS to figure this shit out and still brought it to trial.  (Maybe the same guys who booked that Freebird title reign in 1991 were working for the government?) 

–  Oh hey, speaking of incompetence, WCW finally realized what a damn disaster that Starrcade would be if it’s just a bunch of New Japan v. WCW matches, so they added a triangle match as the main event, with the winner getting a shot at Randy Savage for the WCW title immediately afterwards.  This is strange because Sting and Lex Luger are already in the tournament, whereas Flair is not.  Rules are a little vague on this “Triangle match”, but only two people will be allowed in the ring, and tags will have to be made.

– WCW also suggested to New Japan that they do a “home and home” series, with the initial tournament being held in Tokyo, and would be tied going in the final match, so that a WCW heel could “throw the match” by selling out to Sonny Onoo, thus giving New Japan the win.  And then WCW would win at Starrcade to even it up.  At this point, Dave notes with maximum understated restraint, in a voice that I can only read as Ron Howard narrating an episode of Arrested Development:  “Wisely, New Japan disregarded the suggestion.”

– Buyrate Newz!  Although Halloween Havoc initially clocked in around 0.8 according to early estimates, the number has been dropping ever since and now it’s been lowered to somewhere to 0.55.  World War III is equally dire, looking like a 0.4, which is a complete disaster given the giant cut taken by Hulk Hogan when he’s on the show.  Meanwhile, WWF is claiming a 0.85 for Survivor Series, which is contradicted by, you know, facts, which put the show at 0.57.  Either way it’s a big drop from the 1994 show, which did a 1.5 by WWF math and 0.9 by everyone else’s.

– Crowds for the All Japan tag team tournaments have been way down, lower than Dave can ever remember.  Normally they would normally sell out every night, but now the company is turning into “CBS”, once great but now times have changed and it’s now reaching a much older demographic.  (Good thing everyone in wrestling learned THAT lesson and didn’t let it happen again!) 

– To New Japan, where Inoki v. Big Van Vader was announced as the final main event of the 1/4 Tokyo Dome show, which will be Vader’s first match after getting fired by WCW.

– To Memphis, where things are getting really dire as the Monday Night Wars are just killing them every week.  And it’s clearly RAW and Nitro because other shows on the weekly circuit are doing fine, with Louisville now outdrawing Memphis every week, something that NEVER happens.

– One last update on SMW before we close the books on them for good.  Everyone in the promotion has been calling USWA looking for work, although Tracy Smothers is the only one who has secured a job so far.  Buddy Landel will going to the WWF in December.  But they’ve already got too many people, so that’s gonna be a tough sell.  Robert Gibson seems to be wrapping up his wrestling career and will be moving back to Florida to work in the family construction business.  (Farewell, Rock N Roll Express!  Wonder if we’ll ever see them again?)  Dirty White Boy will be working in his father’s plumbing business.  (Wait, WHAT?  Tony Anthony as a plumber was a SHOOT?)  The Heavenly Bodies are going to ECW because that’s the only promotion that will touch Jimmy Del Ray at the moment after the lawsuit in California broke.  The Headbangers have a WWF tryout soon.  The company will continue selling merchandise and videotapes to attempt to pay off their debts.

– To ECW, where Public Enemy to WCW is a done deal, and as noted the Bodies have been brought in to replace them.  (That must have been a pretty short term deal because I don’t remember them at all there.) 

– Bubba Ray Dudley has been getting the best crowd reactions of anyone on the ECW shows.  (Yeah, he can really rile up the crowds, I hear.) 

– The people organizing the Stampede reunion show on 12/15 are hopeful to get Dynamite Kid to show up and also hopeful for him to bury the hatchet with Davey Boy Smith because Kid is still really, really, REALLY bitter towards Davey.  (Yeah, that’s gonna be a “no” until the day were literally both dead in the ground, sadly.) 

– Dave doesn’t have details, but apparently Little Beaver, who was the midget destroyed by King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania III, has passed away at age 59.  (I’m assuming they were cleaning up the Silverdome and finally found his flattened corpse in of the football field a decade after the show.) 

– Ricky Steamboat had a retirement ceremony in Concord, NC, before 250 fans, which Dave finds pretty sad.  Also, Ricky currently has a lawsuit ongoing with Titan, with Titan claiming that they are the ones who made him a big star after years of him being “just another wrestler”.  Dave thinks someone needs a history lesson about how New York isn’t the center of the universe.  (Not to defend Vince here, but that’s really more of a GEOGRAPHY lesson…)

– To WCW, where Dave was perplexed by Giant beating Scott Norton on Nitro because Norton could be someone and Giant was exposed by the match.

– The show actually ended 10 minutes later than the hour, which gave them a 0.2 bump in the ratings, thus giving them the win this week by that margin.  (And thus was created a monster that persists to this day.) 

– Although booker Terry Taylor had a piece of paper listing the first 50 eliminations in the World War III battle royale, Hulk Hogan was so paranoid about people leaking the finish that he insisted on calling the final 10 in the ring himself.

– WCW will return to the Omni for Nitro on 1/1 after being away from the “Madison Square Garden of the South” since October of 1993, when they drew 700 people and decided not to come back again.

– The Diamond Doll posed for the swimsuit section of Muscle Mag International, billed as “Kimberly Page”, which Dave notes is at least a better stage name than “Falkenberg”.

– The “doctor” on RAW who was supposedly Shawn’s personal physician was in fact a real doctor, Dr. Unger from San Bernadino.  Dave notes that he’s like George Zahorian in that he is basically a big wrestling fan who likes to pal around with the boys, but Dave also clarifies that he’s not a steroid dealer as far as he knows.

– The Thursday RAW replays have been canceled, since they never advertised them anyway out of fear that it might draw viewers away from Mondays.

– Pat Patterson has officially retired and moved to Florida, cleaning out his desk on 12/1 and booking one last angle for Mr. Bob Backlund, the bit where he procures the chicken-wing on everyone in the promotion on a crazed rampage.

– And finally, the WWF received some complaints about Diesel mouthing the word “motherfucker” after his loss to Bret Hart, as they’re currently trying to do a balancing act between a “rougher product” and avoiding alienating the sponsors.  “That isn’t going to be easy” notes Dave, in the understatement of the year.  (Well, hopefully someday they find that balance, because I think a “rougher product” might just do well for them!)