Wrestling Observer Flashback – 04.15.96

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 04.15.96

And now, Dave would like to talk about PPV.

– In our top story, Dave goes over how everyone who isn’t boxing or wrestling has basically been a complete failure on PPV, with the exception of a Howard Stern New Year’s special that was “one of the worst shows in the history of television”. (Having seen that show, I’d call that assessment actually more generous than it deserves.)

– For a PPV to be successful these days, it has to have a big hook in the form of a match that people want to see badly, or else some other factor that attracts the attention of mainstream media sources, like a Tyson fight. Or you can be a weird outlier like the UFC, which has neither thing but still manages to be a consistent draw on PPV without TV or big names.

– All this discussion brings Dave to Pancrase, which debuts on PPV with a taped show this week. (Ah, that’s where he was going. Well now I can ignore the rest just like everyone did with Pancrase.)

– Anyway, Dave is BLAH BLAH BLAH about fucking Pancrase for a few pages although it ended up meaning almost nothing in the long run so let’s skip ahead and go back to mocking WCW.

– Things got pretty wild in Mexico this past week, as AAA did a show on 3/29 and ended up having all 24 wrestlers involved suspended by the athletic commission in Tijuana. So basically they had a lumberjack match in the main event, which turned into an impromptu battle royale, and this led to the commission suspending everyone involved for “endangering the safety of ringside spectators” and then actually reporting this decision to the media. So what’s actually happening is that the commissions in Mexico are ridiculously corrupt, and Konnan managed to piss them off (Shocking I know) so they sided with his enemies and decided to screw with him.

– Meanwhile, Konnan’s nemesis Rey Mysterio (The original one) promoted his own show that was supposed to be taking place on 5/5 in the same city, dubbed “Triple Power” as a shot at AAA, supposedly a co-promotion with the WWF. The main event was announced as Undertaker v. British Bulldog, with Vampiro on the undercard and even Doink the Clown teaming with Matt Borne as “Evil Clown”. The problem came soon afterwards, as the WWF officially announced that they had no idea what the fuck these guys were talking about and none of their talent was ever booked for the show, nor had anyone spoken to them about it. (Gotta love Mexico!)

– To Japan, where FMW announced another stadium show for 5/5, the traditional show “that has drawn crowds as large as 52,000 in 1994 to see Onita get blown up”. Sadly, with Onita retired and thus unable to get blown to bits, other people are going to have explode this year. So at a press conference, FMW announced the main event as a 20 million yen winner takes all match with Masato Tanaka & Hayabusa v. Mr. Pogo and a mystery partner, who will of course be Terry Funk. This will be a no ropes barbed wire electric land mine explosive death match. (Hopefully the bombs go off for this one. I’ve heard that can be a problem.)

– Also in Japan, Jushin Liger accidentally created a new finisher, hitting Otani with a palm strike to the chin to get the pin and retain the IWGP Jr. title on the New Japan TV show. (SHOOOOOOOOOOTAY! Amazing that Liger was able to milk that one for another couple of decades, too.)

– Eddie Guerrero returned to Mexico on 4/7 for a show in Juarez with AAA, bringing his nephew Chavito with him for a tag team match where his partner turned on him and made him into a babyface for the first time in a long while there. The crowd was apparently chanting “Eddie” so loudly that he had tears in his eyes.

– Back to Japan, where All Japan continues to push rookie Maunukea Mossman, giving him the win in a six-man match with Gary Albright & Steve Williams over Kobashi & Furnas & Kroffat.

– Dave puts over the booking job of Riki Choshu with regards to the upcoming Dome show, as he’s theoretically the biggest star left in the company and yet he’s putting himself on the undercard so that the younger talent can all have a shot at the top of the card, and notes that WCW should probably learn a lesson from that. (Well we know how that turned out.)

– More on the New Japan v. Weekly Pro magazine feud, as the impetus now appears to be that New Japan wants to produce their own magazine, much like the WWF did in the 80s, although of course the wrestling magazine competition in the 80s was nowhere near the same level as it is in Japan.

– Koji Kitao (“former sumo grand champion turned bad wrestler turned shooter” according to Dave) launched his own shoot wrestling promotion, Universal Vale Tudo, and booked himself in a tune-up match for the first main event on his way to a fight with Royce Gracie in the fall. Unfortunately for him, he was knocked out in 5:49 by Pedro Otarvio, whom Kitao outweighs by 150 pounds. Kitao is still expected to appear on the next UFC regardless.

– To Memphis, where the big push is currently the 1000th episode of wrestling on WMC-TV after it debuted in 1977 in the current form. (Think about that and how stale and dead the Memphis show was in 1996, and then consider that RAW has been on the air LONGER than Memphis was at this point.)

– Meanwhile business on the road continues to be awful, with the 4/1 show at the Mid-South Coliseum drawing 600 people, and that was actually UP from the previous week’s show.

– ECW is now building to a match between Shane Douglas and Brian Pillman, with the gimmick being that they won’t air Pillman’s commercials unless he agrees to a match with Shane, so he’s not actually done with ECW yet. (Sadly, next week’s events will put an end to that for good.)

– Raven’s loaded boot gimmick is due to legitimate problems with misaligned bones in his foot, so naturally he decided to make it a part of the act.

– Lou Thesz finally released his autobiography called “Hooker” in North America after previously only being available in Japan. (It’s an amazing book and it’s too bad it predates the point when wrestling books actually got respect and sold.)

– Dave plays “Where Are They Now?” noting that former star Rocky “Soulman” Johnson showed up to work a Florida show on 4/6 at the age of 54. Oh, and did you know that his son Dwayne Johnson recently had a tryout with the WWF in Texas? (Heard he looked solid as a rock in the match, but it didn’t matter to the crowd what his name was.)

– Herb Abrams apparently wants back into the business and is planning on running shows in New York. “Just what this business needs” notes Dave. (After July the point would be moot.)

– Senator John McCain continues his war with the UFC, now outright making shit up for newspaper interviews. He was quoted as saying “I’m not one of the moralists, but when I see on these tapes little children yelling ‘Blood! Blood! Kill him! Kill him!’ then it is an unhappy commentary.” Of course, this is contradicted by the fact that children under 16 weren’t allowed to attend the shows in Denver that he was talking about, although Dave does note that you might hear that sort of thing at football games, hockey games, and independent wrestling shows.

– To WCW, where Slamboree will feature the Lethal Lottery gimmick, with the eventual winner getting a title shot at the WCW World title at the June PPV. (Spoiler: Card subject to change.) Hulk Hogan isn’t appearing on the show, so Dave is giving it a tentative thumbs up already.

– WCW is claiming a 0.8 buyrate for Uncensored, or about 175,000 buys, which means Hogan makes $550,000 off it.

– Eric Bischoff fired back at Vince McMahon, HARD, in a newspaper interview, although Dave hasn’t finished parsing all the tea spilled yet so he’ll have the quotes and snark on full display in next week’s issue.

– At a celebrity softball game in Orlando over Wrestlemania weekend, the Nasty Boys ended up on the same team as Ken Shamrock, and THAT turned awkward in a hurry thanks to their notable confrontation in a hotel room a few years prior. However Knobs patted Shamrock on the back and tried to make nice at least, and nothing happened. But Terry Taylor still did a WCW Hotline update and tried to put over how much tougher the Nasties were because they “won” the initial fight, despite the fact that they jumped Shamrock 2-on-1 and beat on him with literal furniture.

– Rocco Rock’s punishment for his DUI shenanigans ended up being doing a dark match job for Renegade on the 4/1 Nitro taping.

– There was apparently an issue with Elizabeth’s contract and she was thought to be leaving right away, but it’s been straightened out.

– The story with the Road Warriors is that they haven’t signed a contract with WCW, although they did sign an offer sheet. But then Hall and Nash got their offers and the Warriors immediately tried to renegotiate the deal by floating an offer from the WWF as leverage. However, because the WWF doesn’t actually offer guaranteed money, WCW refused to match it, and so the Warriors now have to either sign the contract with WCW or sit out for a long while and then go to the WWF and take their chances. (And we know which way they chose.)

– To the WWF, where buyrate estimates for WM range from 1.2 to 1.5, or about the same as last year. WWF sources apparently have no estimate yet, but they’re sure it’s up from last year.

– Original plan for the main event was for Hart and Michaels to be tied at two falls each before OT, which was then negotiated down to one fall each, and then ended up with zero falls each.

– The Goldust-Piper match was actually taped a month ago, and Piper legit broke his hand during the match and has been wearing a cast ever since. But he had to take it off for the live portion at Wrestlemania to preserve the illusion.

– The WWF had planned for a Summerslam rematch between Shawn and Bret, in a ladder match, but Bret was going to be putting him over again and at this point he has no interest in doing so. (You get the sense that this is going to become even more of an issue as we go along.)

– Bret also went off on Shawn in his newspaper column (Oh here we go…) as he did some storyline stuff but then went off the script and complained about Shawn being viewed as a role model for kids when he got beat up in Syracuse for being a jerk. He also poked at the Warrior, noting that Warrior was more exhausted after his minute long match than Bret was for his 62 minute match, and noted “Warrior will fade fast if he hasn’t learned more than shaking the ropes. But hey, he looks great.” (Well, he wasn’t wrong.)

– Dave really liked the unopposed RAW show and thought it did a better job of building heat on the heels than any episode in a long while. RAW has also been moved to 8:57 start time in an effort from USA to screw with TNT. Dave expects Nitro to start at 8:56 next week in retaliation.

– The WWF will be running Kuwait for five consecutive sellout nights in May, as they determine the winner of the prestigious KUWAITI CUP.

– At the Superstars tapings on 4/2 in San Diego, they did an angle where Savio Vega beat Steve Austin while under a mask as The Caribbean Kid, and Dave jokes “I bet he looked a lot like Kwang.” (That’s some quality snark.)

– Fatu is doing a losing streak gimmick that is going to lead to Samu and Tonga Kid being repackaged as Pubic Enemy thugs who recruit him as a heel. (Man it felt like they were floating that angle for YEARS seemingly before finally dropping it for good.)

– Warrior beat Goldust by countout in a match that was described as much better than their previous PPV practice run, and now everyone is breathing easier because it was a passable match this time. (I wouldn’t breathe so easily, everyone.)

– The Bushwackers returned at the same taping after WCW tried to sign them unsuccessful a few weeks back.

– The USA Network was delighted with the rating drawn by the Slammys because the 1.7 blows away the 1.0 they usually do in the timeslot. In fact, TV Guide is going to give them a “cheer” in the “Cheers and Jeers” section!

(There you go, blame the Slammys.)

– Warrior’s WM match actually blew up AOL, with more than 1500 people on the chat line during the match, which took down the service for a bit. (That’s a pretty 90s reference.)

– And finally, the Connecticut Post on 3/31 had a lengthy front page feature on the Goldust controversy, with comments from Roger Hooverman, who is a member of the Fairfield County gay community.

– Anyway, Hooverman finds it deplorable that they’re portraying Goldust this way, especially when gay men are being murdered in real life while the company makes it seem like gay bashing is OK. The WWF responded by saying that the company has “toned down the character” after complaints (YEAH RIGHT!) and it’s not actually portraying a homosexual character, but rather an androgynous one. Which, Dave notes, is fine except that the whole point of the character is that he’s a “f—t” that is hitting on “straight studs” and getting beat up for doing so. (Dave uses the word there, but Google would prefer I don’t).