Wrestling Observer Flashback – 02.12.96

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 02.12.96

Guys, I think these Monday Night Wars are gonna be getting serious pretty soon.

– The WWF is now getting REALLY nasty with the Billionaire Ted skits, launching a particularly attack on WCW with the latest one. On-screen, they’re trying to expose the millions of dollars that WCW has cost Ted Turner since he bought them. And at the same time, Vince is bitching to the FTC about alleged “predatory business practices” with some allegations about drugs in there as well.

– Essentially, the endgame appears to be throwing a wrench into the upcoming Time-Warner merger before it takes place later this year. Vince’s actual complaint to the FTC is that WCW’s parent company took a prime spot in Memphis for their syndicated TV show by forcing them to bundle it with CNN Headline News. Vince claims that an official of the station in question told him so at the NATPE convention, but refused to say so under oath if called by the WWF in a lawsuit. (Hey, I know someone else who is great at making false accusations in the media but then backs down when pressed for real evidence in a courtroom! Sorry, got all POLITICAL there for a minute.)

– To be clear, if Turner’s organization did what is alleged, it’s absolutely legal and happens all the time. But in this case it just happened to be Vince getting screwed over so he’s the one making a big fuss out of it.

– Dave notes that if the merger goes through, WCW would be “part of the largest media conglomerate in the world and have financial power no pro wrestling organization in history would have ever had.” (Well, first of all, being part of that conglomerate proved to be what the kids call “a double edged sword”. And boy did WWE blow them out of the financial waters once they went public!)

– Dave does note that if Vince keeps poking the bear, he could awaken a very nasty sleeping giant in the process and have the whole thing backfire on him horribly. (BUT HOW LIKELY IS THAT, AM I RIGHT?)

– The 2/5 skit in question portrayed Ted as an uncaring person who wasted $40 of stockholders’ money because he wanted a plaything in the form of WCW. They also added an alleged quote from him where he said that he wanted money and power so that he could get to heaven and tell his father to kiss his ass. (Projection much there?)

– Also, WCW appears to be backing off from plans to block the Huckster v. Nacho Man from happening at Wrestlemania, because Eric Bischoff feels like suing would just playing into Vince’s “abused underdog” image and give him exactly what he wants.

– Meanwhile, WCW Nitro had a power outage due to a construction mishap near the arena, which left things off the air for a few minutes, and then had Eric immediately accusing the WWF of sabotage (in veiled terms) once they got back on.

– Oh yeah, and all of that came just after one of the strangest matches in recent history. A match with Kevin Sullivan & Hugh Morrus v. Brian Pillman & Arn Anderson completely fell apart on live TV and might spell the end for Pillman in WCW. Basically Pillman stopped selling and got into a “worked shoot” with Sullivan, before storming to the back while Bischoff desperately told the director not to shoot him for fear of what he might do or say on live TV. (Of course, as we quickly learned, this was all bullshit and Pillman was working with Bischoff all along, while playing the long con on him at the same time.)

– Once they got to the back, Pillman started complaining that Sullivan wasn’t selling for him (which was true), although another report said that Pillman simply stormed out of the building without saying anything and people thought he had quit. But then he showed up the next day at the Universal tapings, so presumably that’s not the case. This is all leading to a “Respect Match” at the 2/11 SuperBrawl PPV show between Pillman and Kevin Sullivan.

– Dave notes that although some of the stuff has been Bischoff building up Pillman’s character on TV, a lot of it is not a work, as Pillman has been on legitimate thin ice with WCW for weeks now. (Narrator: He actually wasn’t.)

– Meanwhile, Davey Boy Smith’s assault trial is going to the jury after Smith was forced to admit on the stand that…gasp…WRESTLING IS FAKE. This actually made headlines throughout Canada. (I can corroborate this story. It did indeed make headlines up here.) Smith had been charged with aggravated assault after an incident in a Calgary nightclub where he allegedly attacked and beat up Kody Light. Light had been making moves on Diana Smith in the club, at which point she introduced him to her husband and a brawl erupted. However, none of the prosecution witnesses were consistent with what Smith supposedly did to Light.

– Basically, the witnesses seemed to think Smith did some kind of a wrestling throw to Light, like a powerbomb or piledriver, and Davey actually had to go on the stand and explain that in order to perform that kind of move, he would require the cooperation of his opponent, which he definitely would not have had in a bar fight. This is where the “OMG WRESTLING IS FAKE” headlines came from.

– However, the real damning evidence for the “victim” proved to be Dr. John Butt, who testified that his crippling injuries were likely caused by slipping on the way out of the bar and falling backwards onto his head, rather than being slammed into a wall or whatever Smith was supposed to have done to him. Light suffered a fractured skull in the bar and was left deaf in one ear and with impaired motor functions.

– WCW did another round of tapings at Universal studios, and although there weren’t many future plot twists or title changes revealed, it did come out that the Giant and the Zodiac will be turning babyface in the near future. Hogan had been pushing for Zodiac to be turned for some time, because he wanted to be able to hang out in public without people talking. Zodiac appeared on the shows taped for April on 2/4 as “The Clipmaster”, playing his old Barber character. (AHA! The Clipmaster has long been a sort of urban legend about Beefcake’s WCW run, as it never made WCW TV and people were never sure where or when it actually happened. Now we know.)

– Also on the tapings were the additions of Ice Train and Allan Iron Eagle as the new partner of Renegade, with both working in losing roles. (Poor Joe. Hasn’t even made WCW TV yet and Dave is already burying him.)

– Meanwhile at the tapings, Johnny Grunge got drunk and took a WCW production van on a joyride, resulting in an arrest for DUI and a few hours in jail. It’s noted that no one can figure out exactly how Public Enemy got the keys away from Doug Dillenger. (I feel like there’s a wacky ECW skit in there somewhere.)

– Also, the next WCW PPV is scheduled to be Uncensored in March, featuring a Doomsday cage match main event, with Hulk Hogan facing four men (Arn Anderson, Kevin Sullivan, Ric Flair and The Loch Ness Monster). (Oh, we haven’t even scratched the surface of THAT one yet!)

– So Dave does a business analysis of the past year, and brings up an interesting point. When the Rock N Wrestling stuff hit in 1984, Vince was all over the mainstream media bragging about how MSG was selling out every month as a result of Lauper and all the publicity was leading to big TV ratings. But the trick was that MSG was ALREADY selling out every month and TV ratings were ALREADY high, so all he was doing was giving the press a story with a narrative he controlled. Which is exactly what Eric Bischoff has been doing with the ratings wars (whether or not he realizes he’s just copying Vince!), because WCW has always beaten the WWF in cable ratings but now it’s just being highlighted in a different way. And the numbers always go up in November when football coverage on TBS is winding down, which made every “winter booker” into a genius. And every “summer booker” into a moron. It just happens that this is the first time that someone from WCW was smart enough to highlight how WCW always has beaten WWF in the cable ratings to someone who will listen.

– All Japan did a surprising finish on the last tour, with Jun Akiyama beating Lacrosse (the former Jungle Jim Steele) with a flash pin in only 1:38. This was a very deliberate booking move because All Japan fans get too accustomed to “knowing” that matches are going long, and it’s good to shake things up every once in a while.

– Atsushi Onita appeared on a Tokyo Pro Wrestling show on 2/5, assuring everyone that he’s not coming out of retirement. (Wait for it…) This is the beginning of an angle to bring him out of retirement, of course. (There it is.)

– The weekly Memphis show at the Mid-South Coliseum was cancelled for 2/7 due to a massive snowstorm, since it was felt that crowds have been so brutal anyway that it wasn’t worth trying to run.

– To ECW, where 911 either quit or was fired, due to not wanting to put over either Taz or Sabu. (And boy didn’t that prove to be a great career move for him.)

– Debuts at the last New York show where Juventud Guerrera and Chris Jericho. Guerrera was actually a replacement for Psicosis, who was stopped at the border, and Rey Mysterio Jr. went back to Mexico and brought Juvy to New York instead. Jericho beat Rob Van Dam in what was said to be a hot match.

– There’s also a lot of pressure from Konnan for the luchadors to go work for WCW instead of Paul Heyman, although Heyman wants to keep bringing them back in. But in case Konnan gets his way, Rey was written out after a brutal suplex from Taz. (Hmm, WCW could have a pretty good cruiserweight division with those guys…)

– They also had a spoof on Missy Hyatt’s lawsuit against WCW, as Stevie Richards pretended to quit Raven’s group to save himself from a beating by Sandman, and then announced a sexual harassment lawsuit against Missy Hyatt, claimed to have been molested by her on TV.

– Bam Bam Bigelow seems to be replacing 911 already, as Tod Gordon answered a challenge by Taz to 911, saying that 911 is too scared of Taz to answer for himself and introducing Bam Bam as his replacement instead. Bigelow is still under contract to the WWF at the moment, so he might not be a done deal yet.

– Apparently the organizers of Antonio Inoki’s Los Angeles show are trying to get a Terry Funk retirement match as the main event. (If you buy six Terry Funk retirements, you get enough stamps on your card to have the next one free!)

– The show was original going to be called World Wrestling Festival, but with the WWF no longer involved, Eric Bischoff shot down the idea because the initials spell “WWF”.

– And now, a new feature! It’s time for the…

– Yes, Terry is going to be a guest on the Cable Radio Network on 2/9, where he is expected to announce his retirement here in 1996, maybe after one final match in Los Angeles or a couple in Japan. But, Dave stresses, this is really it for him this time, of that he is sure.

– Dave didn’t even do a poll of the CWA PPV on 2/2, because there was only 9 responses, leading him to believe it did the lowest buyrate in history.

– To WCW, where the company is expected to crack down heavily on drug and alcohol abuse. Specifically, the new problem drug appears to be prescription sedatives. (This was sadly prescient of a LOT of deaths to come, with Soma plus booze contributing to more than a few deaths in the years that would follow)

– Dave isn’t a big fan of the DDP bingo winnings storyline.

– To the WWF, where Vader is having another shoulder surgery done and he’ll be back for Wrestlemania.

– Billy Gunn is out with neck problems for four to six weeks, as he hurt it during the Royal Rumble tag title match. (Man, that set up a DIRE few months for the tag team titles.)

– Rad Radford had a seizure and passed out on 1/31, and spent most of the next day in critical condition in a San Pedro hospital. He passed out in front of a friend’s house in the pouring rain and was found the next morning at 6:30am by a neighbor. (Probably should have been a warning sign for someone. Anyway, it turned out that Spicoli had in fact overdosed on Soma, as we were just talking about a few paragraphs ago, and this was the end of the line for him in the WWF.)

– Dave had heard that Cactus Jack’s new name will be ManKind the Mutilator.

– Jim Cornette has officially joined the booking ream.

– And finally, in a very minor note that I don’t know why I’m even including, there’s a little bit of concern, although I don’t know why, that MAYBE Diesel and/or Razor Ramon might go to WCW when their contracts expire in a couple of months. But, I mean, how likely is THAT? So silly to even worry.