Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.18.95
Not really feeling NXT this week, so let’s flash back!
– Despite all the legal boondoggles and media fighting, the Ultimate Ultimate PPV will in fact go down in Denver on 12/16. But in a smaller arena. This was essentially a compromise between the UFC side and Denver government side, allowing both to save face after the mayor of the city publicly declared that the event wouldn’t run in Denver. Basically they’re running a private facility, the 2100 seat Mammoth Events Center, instead of the city-controlled arena.
– However, the city of course made sure to emphasize that this will absolutely be the last UFC ever held in Denver. (It very well might have been. I don’t specifically remember any others.)
– It should be noted that the mayor did not have the backing of city council, as the mayor was unable to pass a motion to actually have the UFC thrown out of the city. Comments from councilors were basically that censorship of city events is not a good thing, and triggering huge political fights in the media without actually doing research is also not a good thing. In fact, the one person on the council who had (GASP!) actually attended a UFC event made sure to call the whole thing a big overreaction from the mayor, and the shows are actually “quite boring” if you watch them. (And people say I’m the backhanded compliment guy…)
– Meanwhile, Senator John McCain was on Larry King and said that although he wouldn’t introduce federal legislation to ban the UFC, it’ll probably be banned in all 50 states pretty soon anyway. (But there’s always Nevada, home of UFC and blackjack and hookers!)
– Oh, and fun fact coming out of the interview: Senator John McCain, leading opponent of the UFC, has never actually watched one out of a few “selected clips”. And he wasn’t aware that there was a referee in the Octagon. (Sounds about right.) Mayor Webb himself, who took his fight against the sport all the way to the Today show, was quoted as saying “Why would I spend my time watching something like that?” when asked if he had, you know, actually watched the sport.
– So now the media sentiment in Denver has swung completely in the other direction, with most of the opinion pieces declaring that ultimate fighting is “mostly a snooze” outside of the 20 seconds or so of violence that sometimes erupt.
– Douglas Griffith, 23, was charged on 12/3 with second degree assault in the beating of Shawn Michaels on 10/13 in Syracuse. He was stationed at the Fort Drum base in Watertown, NY, and is alleged to be one or five servicemen who attacked Michaels. The WWF and Michaels had initially declined to press charges, feeling that it would look worse for them if they did so, but a few weeks back Shawn changed his mind and decided to go ahead with it. (Well, you know, plans change. Also I had been wondering if the attackers were actually Marines or if that was urban legend, so I guess we know.)
– To Japan, where Misawa & Kobashi won the All Japan tag league tournament, beating Kawada & Taue in the finals on 12/9 at Budokan before a sellout 16,300 fans. Kobashi pinned Taue with a moonsault in 24:04 in what was “said to be a great match”. (Likely story.) Crowds had been down for much of the tournament, due to the “sameness” of the matches this year, and for whatever reason the tag titles held by Kawada & Taue were not on the line, as they traditionally should have been. It’ll probably set up a tag title rematch on 3/2.
– Finishing in last place were the team of Rob Van Dam & Johnny Smith, at 1-8. (Well, I’m sure this RVD kid will have his day.)
– Also of note, Misawa & Kobashi are now three-time champions of the tournament, having won the past three of them in a row, and Misawa has now won the tournament FOUR years in a row, having first won in 1992 with Kawada. (And yet people complain about “sameness”. There’s no pleasing some fans.)
– For those wondering why El Gigante was not in the World War III match for WCW as planned, he actually showed up in Japan and worked for WAR on 12/8 in their tag team tournament, teaming with Koji Kitao in a first round loss to Typhoon and Shinja (Akio Sato) by countout. Dave, ever the master of understatement, notes that this matchup “looks absolutely scary”. (That’s one way to put it.)
– For those looking for the exact opposite of “sameness”, AAA ran a unique “Star of Death cage match” at the LA Sports Arena on 12/9, a crazy sixteen-sided cage shaped like an eight-pointed star and featuring a non-stop stunt show with Konnan, Perro Aguayo, Cibernetico, Cien Caras, Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, Psicosis, Halloween and Damien. Tons of blood and incredible stunts, and Dave gives it ****3/4. (I immediately ran to YouTube looking for video evidence but had no luck.)
– Antonio Inoki announced a house show that will apparently take place at the Great Western Forum on 03/03/96, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Marathon, and will feature (get this) All Japan, New Japan, EMLL, AAA, WCW and WWF on the show. (I feel like I should not even have to mention this, but of course this did not happen whatsoever.)
– Muto has managed to get the figure-four super over in Japan now, after being Takada with the move to retain the IWGP title and then Shiro Koshinaka on 12/11. The move had meant nothing before then but now it’s a killer submission. (Funny how that works.)
– Vader is only doing two shots with New Japan, with the Tokyo Dome show and then another one planned for March. He’s also filming another episode of “Boy Meets World”, playing a wrestling champion who is the father of the school bully. Dave’s explanation of the character: “In the TV series, his name is Francis (I think that’s the first name, but there’s a gimmick that he has a pussy first name) Vader and he plays the world heavyweight champion wrestler basically doing his wrestling Vader gimmick, but being scared of the principal of the school because the principal knows his real first name.” (I have to go through ONE HUNDRED THOUSANDS WORDS of this kind of stuff every time I do one of these and you people wonder why I can only do one a week?!?)
– Koji Kitao will be attending the Ultimate Ultimate and will likely be a competitor in the tournament later in 1996. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…no.)
– Meanwhile, Kiyoshi Tamura did a K-1 show but swore that was the only one he’d do because he’s a pro wrestler. (Now HIM on the other hand…)
– Manami Toyota will be doing a very show for AJW on 12/25, wrestling 30 matches on the show against everyone on the roster, all the way from the green trainees up to Aja Kong in the finale. (Don’t tell Vince, he might steal that idea for Baron Corbin.)
– In FMW, a new masked man named “Gekko” made a big debut on the 12/10 show, beating Mach Hayato on the undercard. (It was just Masao Orihara under the mask, but on the bright side, he just saved you a ton on car insurance!)
– EL GIGANTE UPDATE! He actually hurt his back working for WAR on 12/4, which explains his fast exit from the tag team tournament earlier in the issue, and he’s not expected back after missing a bunch of shows. (Yes, mercifully one might say, the countout loss in the tag team tournament was his retirement match, as he never returned to wrestling. I actually find it interesting going through these that we can trace the exact end of certain careers like that.)
– Need more proof that the Monday Night Wars are destroying Memphis? Probably not, but the 12/4 show set a dubious record for the all-time lowest crowd in Mid-South Coliseum history with just 420 fans. Not counting the empty arena match, of course. But this IS counting numerous blizzards and snowstorms over the years that should have killed off attendance and didn’t. Now there’s serious talk of moving the weekly show to Wednesdays. (Who the fuck would watch wrestling on a WEDNESDAY night? That’s a terrible idea.)
– Jerry Jarrett is trying to get SMW’s old timeslot in Knoxville, possibly even to replace Evansville on a weekly basis, but he doesn’t want to pay as much as Jim Cornette was paying the station for the time. (Shocker.)
– Over to ECW, where there is turmoil. Public Enemy’s last show will be 1/5 at the Arena, with plans for a “house party” after the show, and Steve Austin is apparently bound for the WWF. (Well kiss his career goodbye. What’s he gonna be, a clown? A garbage man?) Also, controversy surrounds Nancy Sullivan, after Mark Madden did a report on the WCW Hotline that she’s leaving for WCW. Apparently Madden reported that she’ll be changing her name to “Elizabeth” and managing Randy Savage. (About that…that’s GOTTA be some crossed wires in communication) WCW officials, in particular Kevin Sullivan, were seething about the report getting out and actually deleted the report from the hotline, with Sullivan now trying to have Madden fired and replaced on the hotline with himself. (I mean, I would pay good money to hear him doing a hotline report on the Dungeon of Doom in character, but holy crap would listening to him for minutes on end and PAYING FOR IT get old fast. They could always do the WCW WICKED HOT-LINE though. Also I strongly suspect that their anger wasn’t about Nancy’s defection getting leaked, but that other strong hint dropped by Madden.)
– The ECW TV show was strongly hinting that Terry Funk is absolutely, positively, 100% retired and will not be wrestling anymore.
– Meanwhile, the 12/9 “December to Dismember” show was said to be a flat show and well below the usual standard. (Better get used to THAT) Steve Austin was there with a short crewcut, said to be almost bald now, so speculation is that he’s being prepped for a new character in the WWF. (You’re telling me some bald guy in black tights is gonna get over in the WWF? PSHAW! FOOFERAW!)
– The Mexicans are likely all leaving soon because WCW has secured the services of Konnan and where Konnan goes, so do the luchadors.
– Apparently fans are bitching because there’s talk of raising ECW ticket prices from $15 to $18. (These are the people who would go on to justify Vince McMahon charging $6000 for Fiend replica belts.)
– Clarification from last week’s issue, as Ricky Steamboat’s retirement show in Concord NC actually drew 308 people. (But it was only 84 after his ex-wives took their cut.)
– The Head Hunters are said to be trying to get into the WWF or WCW this year. (Well no one said they were going to LAST there…)
– To WCW, where Hogan was booed out of the building on Nitro against Flair & Anderson, worse than ever before. They even had the Horsemen triple-team Paul Orndorff and send him out in an ambulance for shoot neck surgery in a desperate attempt to make fans boo Ric Flair. “Anyway, that didn’t work at all,” notes Dave. WCW also handed out tons of Hogan merch to people in the front row to make it look like he was popular, but by the end of the show fans were tearing up the bandanas and throwing them at Hogan. Even worse, at one point Hogan got a tag from Sting while the ref’s back was turned, and when the ref asked the fans what had happened they all screamed that Hogan was lying!
– Dave notes that Eric Bischoff watches RAW on a monitor during the show while doing commentary, so that’s why he appears distracted at times.
– WCW also did that “overrun” trick again, running the show 9:00 long deliberately in order to get credit for an extra quarter-hour unopposed, which should allow them to beat RAW in the ratings pretty consistently.
– Apparently Konnan is getting the US title from Sasaki in February, which just has Dave mystified as to why they’re going so hard with the guy. Unless it’s just to get the luchadors in WCW, but that’s silly talk.
– Public Enemy debuts against the Nasty Boys on the Clash on 1/23, and although WCW worked hard to come up with the “Mac Daddies” name for them, they’ll now be going by Public Enemy instead. Although Paul Heyman claims ownership of the name for wresting purposes, WCW struck a deal with Def Jam records, who own the rights to the rap group’s name, and thus they believe themselves to be the legal owners of the name now. (I’m no law-talking guy, but vis-a-vis the Sting v. Sting precedent that was already established at the time, I believe they’re full of shit, but obviously Heyman never pursued it further.)
- WCW is also trying to bring in the Bushwackers as Luke & Butch from Down Under. (Maybe THEY can be the Mac Daddies, since apparently that name is free now?)
– To the WWF, where hints on TV are flying that Ted Dibiase is going to revive the Million Dollar Belt and give it to a newcomer, which Dave puts two and two together and comes up with STEVE AUSTIN. Although he does concede it could be Jeff Jarrett as well. “When people used to say that Austin was going to be the next Ric Flair, I always disagreed and thought it was more likely that he’d be the next Ted Dibiase.” (Well he’d certainly be a million dollar man.)
– Kama is finished as of this weekend.
– Rumors are that Brother Love will be getting a huge push in 1996, and they will be introducing a new sidekick as Sister Love, reportedly a hot looking girl of some kind rumored to be Beulah because the description was “someone who had posted for Penthouse”. (Oh yeah, I remember that rumor floating around RSPW for a while at the time! It went nowhere.)
– Speaking of rumors, there’s one going around about the Smoking Gunns being upset and leaving. However, no one has given notice as of this moment despite lots of telephone game shenanigans in the locker room.
– Dean Douglas is expected to work the PPV despite his bad back. “Whew,” adds Dave with some snark.
– And finally, Aja Kong worked a stiff match against Chapparita Asari on the 12/11 RAW, breaking her nose with a backfist, although Vince McMahon didn’t sound impressed with this whole women’s deal on commentary. (He should probably just get rid of the division. What’s the worst that could happen?)
Next time in the Flashback: The worst happens.