What the World Was Watching: The Wrestling Summit (Special Column)

As noted in prior columns, this show was a joint effort by the WWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and All Japan Pro Wrestling.  The WWF was looking to expand its global presence while New Japan and All Japan felt threatened by Akira Maeda’s shoot-like Universal Wrestling Federation, which drew a 50,000 person crowd to the Tokyo Dome for a big show in November 1989.  To counter them, New Japan and All Japan worked together on a supershow at the Tokyo Dome on February 10.  Then, they built on that effort by partnering with the WWF for another big card in Tokyo on April 13 that was named The Wrestling Summit.  According tothehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew a crowd of 53,742.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – February 24, 1990

Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura commentate today’s action, concluding the taping in Miami, Florida.

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What the World Was Watching: Saturday Night’s Main Event – January 27, 1990

Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura provide the commentary for this evening’s matches.  They are taped from Chattanooga, Tennessee on January 3.  According to oswreview.com, this show scored an 11.1 rating, an improvement over the 8.7 rating of the previous edition.

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Bret vs. Misawa, Savage vs. Tenryu & Hogan vs. Hansen (and other Dream Matches!)

 

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Hogan & Hansen: Main Event in the making!

WWF/AJPW/NJPW WRESTLING SUMMIT:
(Tokyo Dome, April 13th, 1990)

* This is a pretty wild and wacky card, full of the kind of “Dream Matches” you’ll never see again- I’m really shocked it’s not more famous. I mean, it’s a triple-show with All Japan, New Japan, AND the WWF all at once! In the Tokyo Dome! Apparently highlights were aired on Japanese TV, but complexities with the rights led to the full event never being shown in its entirety (which might be why it’s so obscure). The biggest matches are Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen, Macho Man vs. Genichiro Tenryu, and the Ultimate Warrior vs. Ted DiBiase. The WON awards declared this the “Best Major Wrestling Show” of 1990!

“TL;DR” Version: So come see Bret Hart vs. Mitsuharu Misawa in the most disappointing Dream Match of all time! Hogan with his “Japan working boots” (where he’s more “Unstoppable Monster” than the Technically-Gifted Powerhouse I was led to believe he was) on against Stan Hansen in one of his greatest matches ever! Macho King & Queen Sherri doing their schtick against a stoic top-tier Japanese legend in a befuddled Tenryu! Grumpy ol’ Jumbo Tsuruta dealing with hard-working heels in Martel & Perfect!

The show had two dark matches- Dan Kroffat, Doug Furnas & Joe Malenko beat Samson Fuyuki, Tatsumi Kitahara & Toshiaki Kawada in (11:56), and Jushin Liger beat Akira Nogami in (8:37). An extremely shaky fancam of the latter exists- it’s mostly hold-trading. They trade corner moves and Liger hits a surfboard and a rock-the-cradle. They trade flash-pins and Nogami hits a very good plancha and German Suplex for two, but Liger dropkicks him coming off the top and hits a Tope Con Hilo to the floor! He misses a roundhouse kick but gets a powerslam and finishes with a Moonsault Press. Looks **1/2-ish but holy god am I not gonna go move-for-move with such a shaky vid.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Royal Rumble 1990

Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura are in the booth and they are live from Orlando, Florida.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, this show drew a sellout crowd of 16,000 fans.  It also drew a buyrate of 2.0 (an estimated 260,000 buys), an increase from the 1.5 number the Rumble did the previous year.  This would also be the last pay-per-view that Schiavone would call for the WWF.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Wrestling Challenge – January 21, 1990

Tony Schiavone and Gorilla Monsoon call today’s action, which originates from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The taping took place on January 3.  This is the last show before The Royal Rumble.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Prime Time Wrestling – January 15, 1990

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are in the studio to spar with each other before they toss the broadcast over to new matches.  Tonight’s feature match comes from Chattanooga, Tennessee and was taped on January 3.

Heenan is upset that he cannot have the guests he wants on the program whereas Monsoon was able to bring Arnold Skaaland on last week’s show.  Monsoon tells Heenan that he had better not abscond with the yellow Royal Rumble hats on the broadcast desk.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Prime Time Wrestling – January 1, 1990 (Start of a New Series!)

1989 was a strong year for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).  The Mega Powers angle between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage created a strong buyrate for WrestleMania V and rematches between the two throughout the spring and summer generated healthy gates.  In addition, the company expanded its revenue streams by adding The Royal Rumble to its pay-per-view lineup in January.  And other competitors were faltering as the American Wrestling Association (AWA) was on its last legs and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was riven by divisions between Executive Vice President Jim Herd and talent like Ric Flair.  Times were good for the WWF’s Golden Age.

However, there were some cracks underneath the surface that the WWF would grapple with as 1990 began.  The company’s star, Hulk Hogan, wanted to make his mark on Hollywood and WWF owner Vince McMahon wanted to find the next big act to replace him.  And without Hogan it was unclear whether casual fans, who fueled the WWF’s rise throughout the late 1980s, would continue to tune in.  Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior appeared the most likely successor, with a physical build similar to Hogan’s and laying claim to being the second-biggest star in the company.  Both men had been kept away from each other in storylines and McMahon looked at a clash between them as a way to resolve the conundrum.  And beyond the Hogan-Warrior transition there were questions as to who the big heels of the company would be.  Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase had failed in their efforts to win the WWF Championship, reduced in standing by multiple losses.  Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, and Zeus were considered possibilities but Perfect had not held a singles title yet, Hogan refused to work a program with Rude, and Zeus was limited in the ring.  So, the WWF was on the look for new talents that they could slot into main event programs and continue to draw houses on par with those of the late 1980s.

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Abdullah the Butcher vs. Zeus (and other Dream Matches)

And we’re back with more bizarre finds of “what can I find by typing random names into YouTube?” (and also some requests from sadistic BOD members). This set sees a match between two of the worst workers of all time clearly booked by a monster, along with some unusual WWF matches- the Colossal Connection vs. The Rockers, plus a certain legendary JTTS worker “Huss”-es his way in!

Once again, WWF YouTube videos are non-kosher to post here, but you can find them pretty easily.

ZEUS vs. ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER:
(World Wrestling Council, 1990)
* OH MY GOD SOMEONE ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN!!! This is in Puerto Rico, a pretty wild territory (a murderous one, even), with the famous blood ‘n’ guts wrestler Abdullah facing off against Zeus, following his WWF run, which was so bad he wasn’t even trusted to do a solo match with Hogan in a big way. They look like a pair of “Fist of the North Star” villains fighting- Zeus roided to the gills and in silver & black pants, and Abdullah this scarred-up monstrosity, baggy pants hoisted up to his tits. I mean, at least Zeus LOOKS like a star.

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Rock Star Gary reflects on…WWF WrestleMania

Live from New York, NY

Airdate: March 31, 1985

Attendance:  19,121

Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Here we are–the very first WrestleMania that has spawned over three decades of supershows for the WWF/WWE. Let’s dig in to how the World Wrestling Federation got to this point:

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