Wrestling Observer Flashback – 03.18.96

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 03.18.96

Just like the Untouchables, if you sign two of ours to a guaranteed contract, we sign one of yours to a guaranteed contract! And his hot wife!

– Johnny B. Badd quit WCW on 3/11 after a discussion with Eric Bischoff in the airport, and will be signing with the WWF for three years.

– Also, the Nasty Boys were fired as a cost-cutting measure to make room for Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and were expected to join Mero in the WWF, but Bischoff changed his mind and talked them into staying after Nitro.

– So with the Nasty Boys supposedly on the way out, Bischoff replaced them on Nitro with the returning Steiner Brothers, who signed a deal with WCW mid-week and then put over the Road Warriors on the live Nitro. Bischoff came up with an angle with either the Steiners or Warriors “put the Nasty Boys in the hospital”, which sets up a potential feud when they return, and he made sure not to bury the Nasties in any way.

– Now, as for Johnny B. Badd, that’s another story.

– On the Nitro show, Bischoff made sure to bury Badd six feet under, saying that he “blamed a woman” for losing the TV title and that he chickened out on a rematch with Lex Luger and couldn’t hang with the big boys.

– So the situation is that Badd had been working without a contract since 2/28, and had been offered a new two year deal at about $300,000 per year. So Mero went to see Bischoff looking for a short-term contract that would pay him $6000/week while they were negotiating, because without it he would be making $150 per show like a common JABRONI. Now, the other side of the story is that Bischoff’s people claim that Mero’s short-term contract had a clause that would guarantee him the whole $300,000/year if he suffered a serious injury, which obviously WCW wasn’t going to sign off on. (Hey, he could always scam Lloyd’s of London like any other wrestler, unless someone fucks up THAT sweet scheme by the end of the year. BUT HOW LIKELY IS THAT, LOL?)

– Anyway, this negotiation went south in a hurry and Mero ended up quitting after refusing to put Luger over on Nitro one last time, but told Bischoff that he had been with the company for five good years and hoped they were leaving on good terms. Bischoff apparently told him that in fact, no, they were not leaving on good terms. (Harsh. Also more details on this came out later and Mero didn’t look very good when all was said and done.)

– Because he was working without a contract, there’s no waiting period and he could join the WWF immediately if he wanted.

– The major incident behind his departure was Bischoff asking him to do a public appearance at a race on 3/9, which Mero said was the same day as his daughter’s birthday and asked to be let out of it. But then he did show up, at which point WCW legal told him to go home because Eric didn’t want him there anymore. (OK, so this is coming from Mero’s POV obviously, and if I’m remembering my Wrestler Bullshit Scorecard correctly, it later turned out that WCW was 100% in the right and Mero basically no-showed a contractually agreed-upon event and then lied about it after the fact, which was the specific thing that led to his firing.)

– Another mitigating factor was supposedly the feud with DDP where Johnny B. Badd was essentially stealing Kimberly, and WCW brass wanted to keep them together as a duo long-term, but this offended the Christian sensibilities of Marc Mero the person, who told them that “he didn’t want to be in a situation where every time they booked him in an angle he’d not want to do it if Jesus Christ wouldn’t approve of it.”

(I may have toyed with some SLIGHTLY more sacrilegious humor before settling on this meme, but there’s no point in driving everyone off right out of the gates. Anyway, given the shit that he happily did in the WWF for his guaranteed money in the name of ratings, who is he fooling?)

– Back to the Nasty Boys, who were making $250,000 each, and were told that they were being dropped to save money because WCW is on the a budget at the moment. (Hmm, this seems to run in direct contradiction to the WWF propaganda which stated that Bischoff was given a blank chequebook by Ted Turner to sign whoever he wanted for whatever he wanted. I’m so confused now.)

– Other names being brought up as being on the chopping block include John Tenta and Bunkhouse Buck. Coincidentally, Buck is currently working an angle where he’s no-showing all the TV, which is apparently a bizarre side-angle to “prove” that Brian Pillman could really be fired as well. Even though he’s not. (Narrator: But he actually was.)

(This Pillman stuff is worse than time travel and Samoan family trees.)

– There is also talk of people coming the other way, specifically Sean Waltman, but that deal fell through because his WWF contract has rolled over and thus he’s locked up again. (Unless he was such a mess that the WWF suddenly decided to release him from a valid contract and let him go to the other show, BUT HOW LIKELY IS THAT, LOL?)

– Also, because we haven’t heard from Hulk Hogan yet on this situation, he has been telling people that they’re paying too much for Hall and Nash and the money would have been better spent on Yokozuna. (God bless Hogan, still working that grift to the bitter end!)

– Dave went to see some ECW shows, and I’m skipping most of the recaps there, but I just want to highlight the most brilliant piece of foreshadowing ever, which of course came from Mick Foley. He was working his last match as Cactus Jack and of course all the mutant idiots chanting “You sold out” at him and treated him like garbage, and he told the crowd that “all the people giving him the finger would worship him when he goes to Wrestlemania”. (BOOM. MIC DROP GIF HERE.)

– Also poor Rick “Big Titan” Bogner worked a match on both the New York and Philly shows and got completely eviscerated by the crowd, who gave him no chance and booed him mercilessly. (Man, that’s gotta be the low point of his career!)

– Ric Flair was arrested on 3/7 for being the passenger in a DWI incident, charged with aiding and abetting because he asked 20 year old Collette McCune to drive him home from a club and didn’t realize she was at a 0.15 blood alcohol level at the time. Because of course he was blackout drunk at the time himself. (That’s our Nature Boy!)

– Hakushi has left the WWF and will debut for New Japan at the 4/29 Tokyo Dome show under his real name of Ginsei Shinzaki. The show will also feature Lex Luger taking on Masa Chono and Randy Savage v. Tenzan in Starrcade rematches. The prevailing logic is that Luger will be putting over Chono in return for getting the win in the US. However, as Dave notes, they’re probably going to tell Tenzan that just being in the ring with Savage is as good as a win, because Savage ain’t laying down for him.

– To Memphis, where the Unified World title tournament at the Mid-South Coliseum increased attendance to about 1000 people. One guess who won it. You’ll literally never guess.

– It’s Jerry Lawler, by the way.

– Chris Champion debuted in Memphis this week, still doing the Yoshi Kwan gimmick from WCW in 1993.

– Dave has now figured out that Sid’s retirement was in fact a work, as Sid was working indie shows after “retiring” due to injury. Although he’s still pretending to be retired in Memphis and working as an announcer. He’ll probably end up back in the WWF again.

– Men on a Mission are doing a storyline where they’re complaining about how badly they were used in the WWF and beating up jobbers after winning. (This leads to Mo changing his name to Mohammad and forming a stable called The Nation of Domination down there. Man, he ended up getting screwed by the white devil but good in that deal! Got kicked out of the group he formed before it even made it to the WWF!)

– Brian Christopher recently got engaged. Not to himself, Dave clarifies.

– In ECW, Raven is out for two weeks with gout. (Now there’s one you don’t see on the injury reports in wrestling very often.)

– Speaking of retirements, Wahoo McDaniel retired AGAIN on a spot show in North Carolina on 3/9, beating Billy Black in the undercard. Dave notes this is about his 20th retirement this year. (He’s catching up to Conor pretty quickly!)

– To WCW, where Brian Pillman was on Nitro with a banner for “1-900-288-PILL” to show how crazy and totally fired that he really is. But Bischoff wanted authenticity, so he didn’t clue in the directors on the angle, and thus no one actually shot him with the banner and the whole thing was pointless. (As noted by many people now, there’s only one person who actually made money on this whole deal and his name was Brian Pillman.)

– The Steiners v. Road Warriors match powered Nitro to a 3.2 win over RAW’s 2.9 rating this week.

– Apparently WCW did a marketing survey and it told them in explicit deal that people want to see Eddie Guerrero pushed more, they want to see better workrate in the matches, and that people really liked Alex Wright and he should be pushed more as well. Also, people were tired of Hulk Hogan and didn’t like Sting as much as the company thought they did. (I’m sure they will take all of those suggestions to heart and make the appropriate changes sometime in, we’ll say, the twelfth of never.)

– And now, it’s time for…

– In a dark match on the Nitro show, a newcomer from the Northwest indies called Kid Flash got a tryout and had a good match with Chris Kanyon, the most impressive tryout since Sean Waltman, who of course wowed everyone and then didn’t get the job. (I know what you’re thinking, and YES, this is the Observer debut of BILLY KIDMAN, and holy shit, there’s no chance we’re topping that one for a long time! We might as well retire this feature right now.)

– Lee Marshall is already getting heat backstage because Mean Gene sees him as a threat. As Dave notes, he shouldn’t. (I dunno, I think he’s Grrrrrrr…oh wait I already made the Tony the Tiger joke a couple of issues back. Never mind.)

– Caesar’s Palace wants Halloween Havoc 96 to take place outdoors in the same fiasco of an “arena” that the WWF used for Wrestlemania that one year, and even WCW was smart enough to know that it would be a disaster but then the Palace cut them a cheque for $300,000 to pay for the show and, you know, now it’s happening.

– After being announced for Chicago last week, the 5/19 Slamboree show has been moved to Baton Rouge because the lineup was too weak for Chicago.

– The WCW Hotline is once again banning any mention of the WWF under orders from the very top.

– To the WWF, where they did a Superstars taping and…hold on, I’m saving this one until later. It’ll be worth it, trust me. Let’s start again.

– To the WWF, where Ringmaster has changed his name to “Stone Cold Steve Austin”. (I know you’re probably thinking that Dave has set a new record for underselling a historic moment but HOLD MY BEER.)

– High Voltage got a tryout against the team of Alex Porteau and Rod Price and it didn’t go well for any of them. (Well Porteau got a job out of it as one of the “name” jobbers at least.)

– Mankind debuted, wearing a mask, and he looked OK.

– With Razor Ramon suspended, they explained his absence in the tag tournament by having Savio Vega team with Steve Austin instead in a losing effort to the Bodydonnas, and then of course Austin turned on Vega. (And it set up a pretty good feud!)

– In the dark segments for RAW, I have been corrected! In fact, without a doubt this is the true…

– Yes, how could we forget about MARK HENRY showing up and getting insulted by Jerry Lawler, as Dave notes that he’s a weightlifter who is being sponsored by the WWF and will likely end up as a wrestler after the Olympics.

(OK, my mistake about Kidman earlier, sorry if I offended any Mark Henry fans by retiring the feature before we even got to his debut. But now with two giant Observer debuts in the books, we know for sure we’ve hit the peak of this feature and don’t have to worry about any further ones this week.)

– Diesel was playing complete heel at the tapings, insulting Shawn Michaels to set up a feud between them after Wrestlemania.

– Bret Hart made more friends via an interview on RAW against Shawn Michaels, as he put down Shawn’s choice of Jose Lothario as trainer by noting “he’s never met a tough Mexican wrestler”, thus offending an astonishing number of people by the time the show aired on the West Coast.

– Marty Jannetty turned on Shawn Michaels during Shawn’s match with Leif Cassidy, officially turning the New Rockers heel.

– Fatu will probably be repackaged into a member of a Samoan gang with his cousins soon.

– House show business continues to be strong over the past week.

– Supposedly only six people have managed to name all the Presidents and thus earn themselves a Bob Backlund autograph since he started doing that deal.

– And finally, the WWF is making a play for Rey Mysterio Jr., but it’s not going to happen. (Can you even imagine Rey Mysterio in the WWF? Now WWE is another story.)

(Not to overstate this or anything, but here is the moment that these Observer Flashbacks have literally been building to since they debuted years ago. You might want to grab some popcorn for this one.)

– At the Superstars taping in Corpus Christi, TX, a dark tryout match saw…well, let’s turn this over to Dave for the call.

“A newcomer named either Craig Johnson or Duane Johnson got a pin over Brooklyn Brawler. Not sure who the guy was but it was a try-out match and he looked green but okay.”

(I guess ultimately… it doesn’t matter what his name was.)

(Thank you for reading, and have a great week.)