Wrestling Observer Flashback – 03.11.96

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 03.11.96

Remember how in last week’s issue, Kevin Nash had until the weekend to make up his mind about leaving…?

– In the top story, Kevin Nash officially gave notice to the WWF that he’d be accepting an offer from WCW, via phone call to Vince McMahon on 3/5. General belief is that WCW was offering anywhere from $450,000 to $750,000, although the lower number is the more likely one. (And yet he managed to make even MORE). According to interoffice memos, there’s not going to be any change in bookings for Diesel and he’ll stay with the WWF through 06/06.

– The lineup for Wrestlemania has been “tentatively finalized” as a six match show, with a one hour match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels on top eating up most of the allotted time. The Huckster v. Nacho Man comedy match will indeed be on the pre-show for legal reasons.

– There will be no celebrities involved this year because they want to present the wrestlers as the main celebrities.

– Surprisingly, the house show business continues to be red hot at the moment, with shows in the Northeast doing their biggest gates in months, although on the flip side they’re getting decimated by injuries at the same time. Springfield MA featured five headliners no-showing due to injury, although they recently instituted a new policy where announcements of no-shows only allow for refunds if they’re requested before the third match on the show. However, also starting this week, they’ve started a new policy where they have to advertise the no-shows on a sign outside of the building before the show starts. (Truly they are caring and magnanimous promoters.)

– In addition to Razor, Diesel and Jeff Jarrett already missing action over the week, Yokozuna was sidelined by a family emergency (Man, that could be ANYONE. Do you know how many people are in those families? The mailman could have a head cold and they could probably find a bloodline for him), and Undertaker, who was also needed back in Texas for family reasons. (Maybe he learned about a secret brother that he thought was dead but turns out to be alive and evil? And then good again. And then evil. And then good. And then really evil for a while. And then good again. And then evil. And then good. And then evil. And then libertarian.)

– It should be noted that Razor’s suspension is for failing a marijuana test, which coincidentally happened on the same day he gave notice. Dave is pretty sure he actually failed the test, but notes that the timing makes the WWF look like it’s using a giant double standard for punishment. Vince actually did an interview with the Torch, where he said “No one has anything to worry about if they don’t test positive.” (Can’t argue with that.)

– WCW still hasn’t actually signed Ramon to a contract as of yet, although Vince is telling people that there was a $500,000 offer on the table from them. Dave thinks that sounds high, but concedes that maybe contracts are being inflated by the wrestling war? (To say the least.)

– While normally guys would just go home and wait out their contracts, WWF deals are heavily weighted to merchandise and PPV money, and are paid out on a 90 day delayed basis, so that way they can make sure he works all the house shows and loses every night on the way out.

– If Ramon and Diesel do make the jump to WCW, they’d have to make some big changes to their characters. Diesel would probably just have to stop doing the bit where he raises his gloved fist in the air to get a crowd reaction, and maybe ditch the leather pants. (Given that’s basically his entire act in WCW as well, I’d say he must have had a good lawyer.) Titan Sports is already trying to claim intellectual property of Scott Hall’s slicked back hair and curl, plus the toothpick and accent, and especially the jewelry and gear. Dave does note that Diamond Studd was already a thing in WCW and he had literally all of those things outside of maybe the accent.

– WCW is also claiming a “third man” of some sort will be following those two shortly, another major star.

– In an unrelated story, Jeff Jarrett is still suffering tremendous back pain and won’t be back for six more weeks. (Come on, Dave! Put the pieces together! Although actually it’s probably not JJ because although he’s done with the WWF at this point, he doesn’t show up in WCW until October.  Of course, one of them was about to move over the OTHER way, too.)

– In sad news from Memphis, Sid Vicious announced on the live Memphis show on 3/2 that he was retiring from pro wrestling due to various injuries to his neck and shoulders. (God, that’s a shame. Just think if he had stuck out the business for another couple of years! He might have ended up winning a World title or even multiple ones! Well, we’ll never know now.)

– God bless him, Dave actually does a career recap for Sid even though this retirement is such obvious bullshit, although WWF was not aware he was going to make the announcement and Sid still has months left on his contract. Sid had been working as a color commentator on the Memphis shows while sitting out the injuries, and got word from his doctor that if he suffered one more blow to the neck, it could result in paralysis. And so he decided to hang it up. (Godspeed, Sid! Try not to tear a bicep while folding up your tights for the last time.)

– Mick Foley is suing WCW over losing his ear in Germany. Foley filed suit in Fulton County GA, claiming that someone had tightened the ropes before the match, resulting in his usual spot of getting his head tied in the ropes going very wrong and tearing his ear off.

– To All Japan, where Mitsuhara Misawa defended the Triple Crown against Gary Albright for the first time on 3/2 at Budokan, winning with a rolling elbow in 14:20. (Man, Albright was a guy who was taken from the business WAY too soon and should have been the next Steve Williams or Stan Hansen level guy for All Japan for a long time.) Also on the show, young Maunukea Mossman made his Budokan debut and did a job for the Ace Crusher. (I always liked Taiyo Kea although I don’t think he ever really lived up to what he could have been.)

– Dave is still perplexed that WCW and New Japan are sitting on this giant pool of cruiserweight talent where they could do a tournament for weeks, and instead both sides are fine with just pretending it happened and running a single match for the title instead.

– To Memphis, where all the shoot interviews from Bill Dundee leading to the match with Jerry Lawler led to nothing, as they only did 700 people for their match at the Mid-South Coliseum on 2/28. Lawler won the match, of course.

– Also they’re doing a tournament for Jeff Jarrett’s Unified title since he’s out long term with the back injury. One of the guys is a new “Giant Warrior”, not Butch Masters but another guy who is said to be as big as Diesel but not as good. (I was all ready for a big reveal when I looked it up, but nope, it’s nothing, just some guy from Jersey. You win some you lose some with these things.)

– There had been talk of splitting Memphis into a Western and Eastern territory, with Lawler running one and Jerry Jarrett the other, so they could take over some of the former SMW areas, but whatever there was has fallen through. Instead Lawler is working with Bert Prentice to allow Memphis guys to work more dates during the week by doing Prentice shows on off-days.

– Big Titan will be making his ECW debut against Sabu this weekend. (Hey wait a second, if Razor does leave, I hear this guy does a pretty good impression of him! Maybe someone should look into that.)

– Louie Spicoli debuts on 3/29 so clearly he was fired by the WWF.

– More controversy with ECW on Sports Channel! Dave notes “In a nutshell, everything is as it as, but the story itself gets a lot more complicated.” (Well that’s quite the tease. You have my attention.)

– So Dennis Coraluzzo has an associate named Eugene Moore and he’s batshit crazy. At one point Eugene went on a radio show and issued a challenge to ECW to do a champion v. champion shoot cage match for $250,000 and the loser never promoting wrestling again. At this point the NWA champion was Dan Severn and the ECW champion was Sandman, so not exactly a fair fight. Later, Moore signed a complaint to a government department in Philly over the fire incident, even though he wasn’t at the show. Later again, Moore was caught letting air out of people’s tires in the parking lot at an ECW show, but he had an explanation for it. (Sadly, none is forthcoming in this story.) Anyway, Dave doesn’t want to make it sound like it’s only Coraluzzo playing dirty, but ECW’s fanbase makes anything into a heel v. face issue, so naturally stuff like this gets blown up. (I’m waiting for someone from AEW to sneak into the NXT parking lot and let air out of their tires.)

– Anyway, Joey Styles went on TV this past weekend and thanked “Eugene Moore of New Jersey” for paving the way for them to get proper building permits, and as a result of his help they were naming the next show after him: “The Big Ass Bash”. (Ok, that’s pretty funny.) Dave notes this is pretty low level shade compared to even what’s on WWF TV these days with Billionaire Ted. But of course, Moore got all triggered about the remark and called Bob Ayars at Sports Channel Philly, threatening to sue the station and ECW. So supposedly Ayars said to Moore that he was done with ECW and would pull the show immediately. Moore and Coraluzzo even started playing a supposed answering machine message from Ayars saying exactly that. However, the show is not canceled, and Ayars denies ever saying that, leaving an explanation of Coraluzzo and Moore putting together a forged answering machine tape in a bizarre revenge scheme on ECW. (Pro wrestling, ladies and gentlemen!)

– Due to current tensions over Fidel Castro shooting down pilots over Cuba, the Cuban Assassin actually had to turn babyface at a show in Florida on 3/1, denouncing Castro and supporting a free Cuba, since the audience was 99% Cuban that night. (I must admit to not remembering what that whole deal was about.)

– On 2/23 in Los Angeles, there was an art show dedicated solely to lucha libre, presented by four Latino artists. They of course held a wrestling show in conjunction with it. Meanwhile, a week earlier in Chicago, another group held a show in a Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor. (Slow news week I see.)

– To WCW, where Mean Gene accidentally gave away a future title change, reporting on the WCW Hotline that Lex Luger had won the TV title from Johnny B Badd, when in fact it wasn’t scheduled to happen yet at that point and Luger had only taped interviews with the belt. The plan is for him to win it on the 3/11 Nitro at this point.

– The 5/19 show at the Rosemont Horizon will revive the Battle Bowl gimmick, although Dave notes “at least it isn’t six cage matches”. (Well that would come later too.) Dave thinks it would be a great place to debut Steve McMichael as a wrestler, but apparently they have some kind of secret plan and will debut him later. (Hopefully they’ve got something good for it!)

– With Center Stage kicking wrestling out, WCW Saturday Night will be taped at a series of smaller Georgia arenas, which will also help keep the show fresher.

– The main angle coming out of the first taping on 2/28 was DDP promising to retire if he lost to Johnny B. Badd at Uncensored, although Dave notes that no one believes retirement stips. (Aside from the Sid one earlier in the issue, of course. But when has Sid ever lied before?)

– WCW Saturday Night on 3/2 actually did a massive 3.2 rating because Nitro was pre-empted by The Civil War mini-series, which itself did an even more massive 6.4 rating, so it was likely the right call to pre-empt Nitro.

– Johnny B. Badd’s contract is up and he’s working without a deal at the moment.

– Brian Pillman is launching his own hotline, 1-900-PILLMAN.

– To the WWF, where apparently the “Shattered Dreams” catchphrase Goldust uses is a play on Dusty Rhodes’ nickname. (Of course it is. Funny how they spent decades taking shots at him and then turned him into a folk hero)

– Billionaire Ted was pretty lame on the 3/4 RAW episode, with Ted on a game show and out of context quotes from Ted Turner as the big punchline. One funny bit saw the Huckster have to miss the show because he was still handcuffed after the angle on the 2/26 Nitro and couldn’t escape.

– On Superstars, they did a Godwinns v. New Rockers match and a dog took a dump in the ring before the match, with Mr. Perfect quipping that he hoped it didn’t act as a sign of the quality of the match. Sadly, it did.

– And finally, Dave clarifies that Bruce Hart used to ghost-write the Calgary Sun articles for Bret, but now Bret writes them all. (Oh, someone got an angry letter from Calgary, I bet!)