Wrestling Observer Flashback – 04.29.96
Bad days ahead for Brian Pillman.
– Brian Pillman was released from hospital on 4/19 after rolling his Humvee and suffering a crushed ankle among other injuries. He had taken a 40 foot fall from the vehicle when police found him, and lost so much blood that rescuers weren’t sure he was going to make it. (But WHAT ABOUT HIS WRESTLING CAREER, DAVE?) By the end of the week, after taking bone from his hip to reconstruct his ankle, he was in good enough shape that the doctors told him that the long-term prognosis was good enough that it shouldn’t threaten his wrestling career. (Whew.)
– Pillman also underwent some facial surgery to repair fractures in his skull, including a fractured cheekbone and dislocated jaw, and had to have his jaw wired shut for a week. (Not being able to talk for a week was probably the most painful part for him.) In an odd bit of news, he wasn’t wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident, and had he been wearing it the vehicle would have crushed him when it rolled over. (There you have it, DAVE MELTZER HATES SEAT BELTS.)
– Although the accident happened two days before Pillman’s $225,000 / year WCW contract was set to expire, both WCW and the WWF are still interested in signing him when he recovers, since his personality is what he’s all about over anything he does in the ring at the moment.
– WCW taped two weeks of Nitro on 4/22 in Albany, GA, and The Giant won the WCW title from Ric Flair during the taping of the 4/29 episode, although Dave doesn’t have much in the way of details at the moment. The show was being taped in advance because of most of WCW’s top talent going to Japan for the Tokyo Dome show at the same time. The decision had apparently been made weeks ago, with the idea being to build buzz for the change on a taped show.
– Dave feels like this one will be controversial, since the Flair-Savage feud has revitalized the house show business for WCW and taking the belt off Flair now seems like a bad idea. Plus, for all the reasons that no one ever put the World title on Andre the Giant in his prime. In a trivia note, at age 24, Giant is actually not the youngest to ever hold the belt, with Lou Thesz believed to have been 21 years old when he won it in 1937. But he is the first rookie to ever win it and he is one of the youngest ever to hold it, along with Tommy Rich and Kerry Von Erich at the same age. (Can MJF say that he’s been World champion yet at that age? NOPE.)
– UFC is going through another legal battle on 4/25, this time in Detroit over an attempt by local politicians to block the upcoming show at the Cobo Arena. In their attempts to prevent the 5/17 PPV from happening, the Detroit politicians are citing an obscure 1896 law about “prizefighters” not wearing gloves. If this goes through, it could also affect pro wrestling and “even mud wrestling in bars”.
– Although there’s been a couple of changes to the upcoming WWF In Your House PPV, Goldust will still be defending the Intercontinental title against Ultimate Warrior, but in fact went to see world-renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews about his torn up knee, who told him that he could rehab it without major surgery. (TAPE IT UP AND WORK THROUGH IT!) Although Goldust will still work the match, he’ll have to baby the knee. (Don’t worry, I’m sure the match won’t be TOO bad.)
– Meanwhile, reports from WCW are that the Bash at the Beach PPV in July will somehow feature Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
– To Japan, where Akira Taue pinned Steve Williams with a chokeslam in 21:41 to win the 1996 Champion Carnival tournament. The show drew a 16,300 sellout of Budokan Hall on 4/20. The idea is that Taue is considered to be a distant fourth behind the Misawa/Kobashi/Kawada trio on top of All Japan, so they wanted to give him the tournament win to create some more parity on top. Plus Williams didn’t need to win the tournament anyway.
– Dave announces that ECW had pro wrestling’s first “lesbian moment”, as Beulah revealed that her pregnancy was fake and she was actually cheating on Tommy Dreamer with Kimona Wanalea. And then Tommy, explaining that he’s hardcore, ended up kissing both of them, “teasing another new kind of three-way dance” according to Dave. (He’s really selling the moment there, I know. And people make fun of me for underselling stuff these days!)
– To FMW, where Onita was really over on the last show on 4/21 after getting some blowback from fans who didn’t believe he was actually retired the past few shows. But now the fans fully accept that he’s really not coming out of retirement this time, and they’ve decided to cheer him again because he’s a man of his word.
(For once Tucker has it right.)
– To Memphis, where there has been talk of moving the Monday night shows from the Mid-South Coliseum to the Big Flea Market instead, which would seat 2400 people. (I’m very sad that we never got any WWE shows from there so that Vince would have to say it on national TV.)
– Belief is that Jeff Jarrett will work out the remainder of his WWF contract in Memphis and then jump to WCW in November. Brian Christopher has actually been under contract to the WWF since late 1994, although they still have no plans to bring him in at this point.
– For those wondering, Bill Dundee regained his van from Cyberpunk Fire on the undercard of the 4/15 Memphis show.
– For those keeping track, blood is already back in ECW after supposedly being banned forever by Paul Heyman a couple of weeks back. Although according to Heyman, the blood in the Raven-Douglas title match on 4/16 was “unintentional” and because of insurance reasons, he’s not even considering bringing back the blade, and also that he normally would have stopped the match but because it was the main event, they needed the pinfall finish. Dave feels like the fanbase isn’t going to put up with a bloodless ECW for much longer.
– On the next show, the 4/20 ECW Arena show, Damien Stone changed his name to “Little Guido” to eliminate one “Damien” from ECW. And then fans were chanting “Smoking Gunns” at the Bruise Brothers, so they freaked out and threw a chair into the crowd, hitting a fan with it. (On the bright side, it’s just ECW fans.)
– They’re starting a storyline where Sabu beats Rob Van Dam and then wants to shake his hand as a show of respect, but Rob refuses it. (Doubt that goes anywhere.)
– D-Von Dudley actually delayed another gimmick debut, as he accidentally knocked JT Smith silly with a botched chairshot in his debut last week, which meant that Smith couldn’t start his new team with Little Guido as a pair of Italians. (Doubt that goes anywhere either.)
– To WCW, where Hulk Hogan indeed did leave as threatened and will be off shooting a movie until August. This appears to be a relief for everyone else in WCW, who were getting pretty concerned about him eating up all the TV time. Tentative plan is for Hogan to return and face either Hall or Nash in whatever role they end up with, although Dave notes that plans will likely change 50 times before then. (Or he could do something different.)
– As Dave points out, this is actually a brilliant hiatus for Hogan, because ratings traditionally begin their annual downturn at exactly this time, and then start to rise in the summer again right after the point when he wants to return.
– Also the Halloween Havoc match with Randy Savage is going to be a Monster Trucks match now. (A new yearly WCW tradition!)
– On Nitro, Sting & Luger went to a nonsense no-decision with Flair & Giant in a match where the tag team titles were on the line, but so were Luger’s TV title and Flair’s World title, but also the announcers said that Sting could pin Luger and win the TV title or Giant could pin Flair and win the World title.
– Current plan is for all Nitro and Saturday Night shows to be taped at Disney Studios as of 7/1, with Nitro live on Monday and then WCWSN taped on Tuesday. (Please. Running the same arena filled with fake “fans” over and over will never work.)
– Shark was cut to make room from Hall and Nash and their salaries.
– To the WWF, where Dave notes that Bret Hart is getting WAY too much TV time for someone who might not be coming back.
– The build for the Shawn-Diesel title match is a subtle bit for inside fans who know that Nash is leaving, hinting that he might win the belt and then take it to WCW. (Of course, we all know that no one would REALLY ever be worried about that happening!)
– Dave notes that the WWF had a pretty sleazy hotline tease this past week, where you had to call to find out what Davey Boy Smith and Magic Johnson have in common besides being professional athletes. Obviously the thing you’re SUPPOSED to gossip about is that maybe the Bulldog also is HIV positive, but Dave doesn’t have the actual answer to this riddle, either.
– And finally, in the “Vince gonna Vince” department, Vince promised Bam Bam Bigelow an unconditional release in exchange for doing the job to Goldust on PPV, but then lo and behold when the actual release arrived, it was conditional on him not going to WCW, which had been his plan. So now he’s free to go in October.