Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.20.96

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.20.96

Yeah I know everyone hates NWA Powerrr, so let’s FLASHBACK instead.

– In the top story this week, it appears that WCW Nitro is going to two hours, effective on 05/27. This had actually been expected for a while, but it was thought that it wouldn’t happen until the new fall TV season. However, with the terrible rating drawn by the show on 5/6 where it was in a different time slot.

– It appears that WCW will be adding some new features to the show and featuring some new wrestlers, although that’s just Dave speculating. The worst case scenario would be that the WCW booking committee isn’t capable of managing a two hour show without diluting the product. (That’s crazy talk, Dave.) Some people are saying that the ratings upswing as of late has been due to hot-shotting all the big angles and the ratings will drop once they run out of stuff to hot shot. In fact, WCW’s reluctance to feature anyone different on their show might come back to bite them someday.

– The challenge for WCW is going to be getting over a lot more wrestlers as a part of a two hour show because now they won’t be able to ride on the coattails of reputations made in other promotions any more. (I think Dave underestimates their ability to do just that.) In fact, they’ll be forced to get over foreign talent like Regal, Finlay, Guerrero and Benoit, as well as the Japanese and Mexican talent who are being used as cannon fodder at the moment.

– The move is all from TNT, who are desperate to boost ratings in prime time, and they boosted the TV rights fees being paid to WCW as a result. That, coupled with WCW house shows being up for the first time in years, means that WCW is now in the very unfamiliar position of being PROFITABLE for the first time ever.

– Of course, this is wrestling, where there’s no such thing as long-term decision making and things change based on ratings charts every Tuesday, so this is all subject to change.

– With the Great American Bash coming up, Dave is skeptical about the quality or drawing power of the show, as no one is going to pay to see Giant v. Luger and he doesn’t think that Flair & Anderson v. a couple of football players is going to be any good. Plus the undercard just looks like the booker (Sullivan) putting himself in a great match (with Benoit) and Bischoff letting his friend (DDP) work with a great wrestler (Muta). Also, Konnan is somehow in a semi-main spot against Sting for the US title, which he’s done nothing to justify. (That card got shuffled around something fierce in the weeks beforehand, too.)

– Also, Dave thinks it’s really stupid to put Rey Mysterio on this show against Dean Malenko this early, because they’re just gonna beat him and kill off the character before it even can get started. This guy, Dave notes, could be a hero to kids for years to come and sell tons of masks, and they’re going to destroy him in his very first match and he’ll never recover! EVER! (Man, whatever happened to that Rey Mysterio kid anyway?)

– Oh also, in a minor note, Hall and Nash should be debuting with their new gimmicks on the next show after the Bash.

– Ron Reis has moved to Japan and is living at the New Japan dojo, training full-time there so that New Japan can create their own version of the Giant. In a huge understatement, Dave notes that those who know him don’t give the project much of a chance of a success.

– Dwayne Johnson and Barry Buchanan are both being sent to Memphis by the WWF, so they can gain experience and learn to work. (Man just give up on this Johnson kid already! I’m so sick of hearing about him.)

– Louis Spicoli was supposed to work the ECW Arena show this week against Sandman, but apparently he still has heat with the WWF offices because they chose to exercise their option to not let him work shows outside of the WWF while he’s still technically under contract.

– Also on the show, Shane Douglas won the TV title from 2 Cold Scorpio in what was described as the best match they’ve ever had together. (Is that really saying much?) Plus RVD and Sabu are doing a deal where they have brutal matches against each other but refuse to show respect to the other guy.

– The Prime Sports affiliate in Denver has said that ECW will never again air on their station because of viewer complaints. (I wish I could believe that, I really do.)

– Dave actually watched the first RVD-Sabu match on TV and wasn’t impressed. Yeah, it had crazy moves, but there was no psychology, no transitions, and tons of missed spots. (Sounds like an RVD-Sabu match to me.) Dave does think it’s silly to criticize a fake match in a fake sport for looking “fake”, but he also thinks the “vast majority” of wrestlers in WCW or WWF would watch the match and think it’s terrible. But he admits it works for the audience. (But what if it was in the Tokyo Dome?)

And now, it’s your…

– So originally Terry had been planning on working the Inoki World Peace Festival show in a three-way match with Sabu and Brian Pillman, so that he could put them both over and then step away from the world of pro wrestling gracefully after endorsing them both as the new stars of the sport. However, with Sabu having prior commitments and Pillman getting horribly injured in the car wreck, that match is out and thus he’ll just have to retire without working that show.

– To WCW, where they started an angle to turn Lex Luger into a babyface after getting chokeslammed through Ric Flair’s fancy table, although from the Disney taping results it appears they’ll swerve it back to him being a heel again by the summer. Overall, Nitro was a “blah” show this week with a dead crowd. They also had people trying to lead the crowd in how to react, which Dave is told, went badly. (Maybe they should just eliminate the crowd and replace them with giant LED screens? Seems like it might work better.)

– The previous week in Daytona Beach, security “violently ripped” a sign away from fans that read “Hogan’s Klik”. Dave’s theory is that they don’t want viewers thinking that WCW fans are just as bad at spelling at WWF fans.

– Correction from last week: Blood Runs Cold will actually have nothing to do with Kevin Nash or Scott Hall, but instead will be three ninjas, including the former Adam Bomb. (Gotta say, he was pretty damn close on that one!)

– Akira Hokuto and Bull Nakano both worked the Disney tapings on 5/8 in Orlando, with each of them losing to Madusa, who was said to have looked rusty, although Hokuto and Nakano also had a pretty terrific match against each other.

– In a weird bit later in the show, Ric Flair came out for a match against Brad Armstrong wearing the WCW World title belt, and Dave has some theories on what this means:

1. Flair could be winning the title back, which Dave seriously doubts.

2. Flair could be making a replica belt as a part of an angle in the summer.

3. The match will never air and none of this means anything.

4. The match will air and make no sense.

(Honestly either 3 or 4 is an equally viable option for this company. But the answer was “3”.)

– Dave advises WCW to put lifts in the Giant’s boots if he’s going to feud with Kevin Nash, because Kev is a legit 6’9” and is the same height as the Giant in reality and yet Giant is billed as being four inches taller. “No biggie” quips Dave. (Is that a pun?)

– Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper are apparently filming a movie together for the first time in Canada, called “The Overlords”, and co-starring Gary Busey. (Sadly whatever this magnificent trainwreck would have produced never happened, at least as far as I can find.)

– Bischoff pulled Mean Gene’s hotline update off the air this past week, because he said that Hall and Nash coming in were a “done deal”, because apparently Bischoff has some kind of storyline in mind where there’s doubt about them coming in so it’ll be a big deal when they do show up. (Quite the concept.)

– WCW might set their all-time gate record for a Legends show in Buffalo on 6/7, with $120,000 in tickets sold so far. The all-time record is the Flair-Funk Bash PPV with $190,000. (And Dave said at the time that it was a disappointment! Unless he just meant the PPV numbers, but even those were a record that held up for years.)

– Originally Randy Savage was supposed to be suspended as a part of the angle with Flair, but house show business has been so hot with them on top that they’re just going to do a special kind of suspension where he’s not allowed to work TV but does all the house shows. (Tough but fair.)

– To the WWF, where a Hamilton house show did a giant gate of $188,471 Canadian (or aboot $10,000 US) from 11,515 paid (aboot 1000 people in US attendance) featuring an Ultimate Warrior v. Vader main event with no buildup. Warrior pinned Vader around the horn in what were described as terrible matches.

– Vince is trying out a new samoan team of Sammy Slick (the former Samu) and Night Train (Matt Anoia) as “Gangstas in Paradise”. (I bet Coolio was thrilled to hear about that.) They put over the Smoking Gunns all weekend. (Man they spent FOREVER trying to make that gangsta samoan deal into a thing and it just never took.)

– 1-2-3 Kid isn’t expected to return until June. (Well he didn’t specify which YEAR…)

– The Goldust-Undertaker thigh-licking angle was toned WAY down for television.

– And finally, they signed a batch of guys, including Tom Brandi, Tracy Smothers, Alex Porteau, Tony Anthony, and Bill Irwin, with the idea being that they’re only used on TV to put guys over, but first they’ll get wacky new gimmicks and score a couple of wins over no-name jobbers to make them seem like pushed guys. So that way they can have “big” matches on RAW that aren’t perceived as squashes, without actually giving away anything meaningful. (If you think about it that was actually a really smart idea. The problem is that the gimmicks were so incredibly lame that no one took them seriously in the first place.)