What the World Was Watching: WWF Wrestling Challenge – April 8, 1990

With Tony Schiavone gone, Wrestling Challenge sees an announcing shakeup with Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan now calling the action.  They are commentating matches at the end of the taping cycle in San Francisco.

Opening Contest:  Hercules (5-2) beats the Brooklyn Brawler via submission to a torture rack at 2:37:

The Brawler tries to go for the eyes, but Hercules recovers and slams the Brawler’s head into the top turnbuckle ten times.  Hercules follows up with a series of clotheslines and the torture rack to break a two-match losing streak.

Gene Okerlund does the Special Report segment from Toronto.  He narrates photographs of the main event of WrestleMania VI.  Okerlund says that WWF President Jack Tunney will not allow the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan to have a rematch because they could injure each other permanently.

The Orient Express squash from Prime Time Wrestling airs.

Roddy Piper (7-0-1) beats Conquistador #2 after a swinging neckbreaker in 28 seconds:

In a sign of the lag of the taping cycle, Piper is still wearing half blackface and Bad News Brown does an insert promo about how much he hates him.  The Conquistador puts his head down on an Irish whip and Piper stuns him with a swinging neckbreaker to win quickly.  After the match, Piper takes off the Conquistador’s mask, but the Conquistador wraps his head in a towel and heads to the locker room.

McMahon urges fans to call 1-800-877-1414 to buy their tickets for WrestleMania VII at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Okerlund interviews Rick Martel, who puts over a profile that will appear in the next issue of WWF Magazine.  When Okerlund complains about the smell of Arrogance, Martel says that he knows Okerlund wants to get his hands on the product so he should not lie to viewers.  Martel says the WWF superstar that smells the worst is Jake Roberts, so he will look to correct that in the future.

Ronnie Garvin (4-3) defeats Steve Vega via submission to the reverse figure-four leglock at 2:22:

Garvin has quickly fallen down the card since winning his feud with Greg Valentine at The Royal Rumble, settling into a Tito Santana-like role of putting over bigger stars.  The former NWA World champion barely breaks a sweat, using the Garvin Stomp to set up the reverse figure-four.

The Hart Foundation congratulate Demolition on winning the WWF Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania VI, vowing to retake them.

Earthquake (w/Jimmy Hart) (10-0) pins Jim Gorman after the Earthquake Splash at 1:32:

Earthquake calls out Hulk Hogan in an insert promo, saying that the former WWF champion cannot survive the Earthquake Splash.  That deviates from the Earthquake’s challenge to the winner of the WrestleMania VI main event on the Brother Love Show a few weeks ago.  The craziest part of the squash is Earthquake going to the top rope to chop Gorman and the Earthquake Splash finishes shortly thereafter.  After the match, the Earthquake gives Gorman a few more Earthquake Splashes and Gorman does a stretcher job.

Tito Santana (6-3) beats Buddy Rose after the flying forearm at 2:33:

These two wrestled last month on Prime Time Wrestling.  This bout is better because it does not drag on due to television time constraints.  Santana uses his speed to daze Rose and a backdrop sets up the flying forearm.

A replay of Rick Rude’s challenge to the Ultimate Warrior on Superstars is shown.

Earthquake and Jimmy Hart claim that they cost Hulk Hogan the WWF Championship because of the Earthquake Splash that Hogan received a few weeks before the pay-per-view.  Both promise to bury Hogan’s career under a pile of rubble.  Hogan complains about WWF President Jack Tunney not granting him an immediate rematch for the WWF Championship before telling Earthquake that he will do whatever it takes to beat him and become the number one contender for the WWF title again.

Rhythm & Blues (w/Jimmy Hart) (8-0-1) defeat Louie Spicolli & Mark Young when the Honky Tonk Man pins Spicolli after a double side suplex at 2:45:

In the split screen the Bushwhackers say they are so angry at the Blues that they are ready to explode.  The Blues do some token work on the jobbers before finishing Spicolli with a double side suplex.

Tune in next week to see Dusty Rhodes in action!

The Last Word:  This was arguably the most consequential episode of Wrestling Challenge this year as it sets up new feuds after WrestleMania VI.  Just a week after winning the WWF Championship, there are bad omens for Ultimate Warrior’s reign as Hulk Hogan is getting programmed against the promotion’s biggest heel.  Rick Rude has a legitimate argument for being the Warrior’s first challenger but Earthquake has been booked as a bigger threat.

After doing a new set of Superstars and Wrestling Challenge tapings, the WWF went to New Zealand for a few house shows that were held in conjunction with the Arena Wrestling Alliance.  Here is the result of one of those cards, courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com:

Auckland, New Zealand – Mt. Smart Supertop – April 8, 1990:         Jim Powers beat Abbudaa Dein…Tom Magee beat Royal Viking…The Pitbulls defeated Steve Strong & Mando Yanez…Don Muraco beat Haku…Norman Smiley defeated Bob Orton, Jr…The Bushwhackers beat the Bolsheviks.

Backstage News*:        The WWF had to take some financial hits from WrestleMania VI as closed-circuit programming was a disaster and only four percent of the pay-per-view market bought the show, when the WWF was hoping they could get a ten percent share.  As a result, the company made a million dollars less than the previous year.  That is a bad look when more homes now have pay-per-view access.  One of the reasons cited for why pay-per-view buys fell short was the price point, with $30 being cited as too high.  Others are speculating that the Hulk Hogan-Ultimate Warrior main event did not appeal enough to casual fans and/or that casual fans do not care as much about babyface vs. babyface matches.  Dave Meltzer also argues that The Main Event did very little to add heat to the main event program.

*There are rumors that the WWF wants to get NWA World Champion Ric Flair for WrestleMania VII and program him against Hogan.  The event has already sold $300,000 worth of tickets and the WWF knows it needs a big match to sell out the Los Angeles Coliseum.  However, Flair is currently under contract for WCW and Meltzer argues that it would be stupid for WCW to release Flair, who is under contract until the spring of 1991.  Since getting Flair’s services is unlikely, fans can expect the WWF to build a rematch between Hogan and the Warrior for next year’s event, which explains why WWF President Jack Tunney is putting off an immediate rematch between the two.

*Rumors to the contrary, Hogan is not retiring and will still be the focal point of WWF television going forward, even if he does not have the WWF Championship.

*The reason that Diamond Dallas Page appeared on WrestleMania VI was because Tugboat told Vince McMahon that Page owned a pink Cadillac.

*Backstage news is courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for April 16.

Up Next:  Prime Time Wrestling for April 9!