Wrestling Observer Flashback – 07.22.96
‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the blog…something something that rhymes with flashback. Actually I guess “hack” rhymes with that.
– In the top story that seems incredibly obvious in hindsight, Dave thinks that the UFC is going to be dominated by top level heavyweight wrestlers for a good long while. Moving on.
– The WWF is apparently planning a 10th anniversary celebration of The Big Event by holding a giant stadium show in Toronto at the Exhibition Stadium, which will be headlined by Shawn Michaels v. Goldust in a ladder match for the WWF title. (How do you have a ladder match without a roof on the building?) The show will be called “WWF X Press” and will be a sold show as a part of the CNE Fair on 8/24. It’s expected to draw the largest crowd for wrestling in North America in “several years”. (As it turned out, it drew about 21,000 people, which is pretty good for 1996 WWF.)
– ECW once again drew the largest crowd in its history for the 7/13 show at the ECW Arena, as the fans were packed so tightly that there was literally no walking room in the building. Oddly enough, it’s impossible to get accurate attendance numbers because the State Athletic Commission in Pennsylvania refuses to release numbers for ECW shows, resulting in 1500 ticket sellouts being reported as “400 people”.
– The highlight of the show was said to be a four-way match for the ECW TV title, featuring Shane Douglas pinning Pitbull #2 to win the title in a match that also featured Chris Jericho and 2 Cold Scorpio. Francine turned heel on the Pitbull for the finish, pulling up her skirt to reveal “Franchise” panties. (That’s like a perverted version of the nWo t-shirt reveal turns)
– The main event of the show was Sandman against Raven in a cage match, with Brian Lee and Tommy Dreamer fighting all over the arena while that was going on. It was a complete bloodbath, setting up a repeat of the spot where Raven gets crucified on the cage, but Sandman’s son Tyler stood in the way of Raven getting hit with the chair this time. Also Brian Lee shoved Tommy Dreamer off the top of the cage and put him through three tables, because Tommy Dreamer.
– 911 also returned on the show, although Dave isn’t 100% what’s going on with that. The spot he was used for was a chokeslam of Taz, who promptly no-sold it and choked him out. Dave isn’t sure if this is Paul Heyman trying to keep the deal with Al Poling for the rings that he supplies, or just a one-shot punishment for the Paul Varelans nonsense.
– Matthew Annis, the son of Georgia Hart, passed away at 13 years old after an 11 day ordeal with the deadly flesh-eating bacteria. He hadn’t been expected to live past 7/5 due to streptococcus literally eating away his internal organs, but he recovered enough to make it another week before finally succumbing to a heart attack, the last organ that was still functional. Matthew had already begun training for a second generation British Bulldogs team with cousin Harry Smith, as in fact Davey Boy and Diana had moved back to Calgary from Florida so that Harry could train at the Hart Dungeon in preparation for an exhibition match on 7/20. (Teddy Hart kind of took Matthew’s place in that team idea, although he was such a fuckup that they somehow managed to bungle a can’t miss idea like “Second generation Harts/Bulldogs team”.)
– Latest figures are in, and WCW is looking like a 0.48 buyrate (120,000 buys) for the Great American Bash in June, with WWF doing 0.60 (150,000 buys) for King of the Ring. Most early estimates for Bash at the Beach have it pegged at 0.78 or 178,000 buys. Dave would rate all three numbers as disappointing if they hold up, but he concedes that with 12 or more PPVs in a year now, you don’t need to do as many buys every month to make up the difference. (Dave was claiming the death of PPV on a weekly basis for years on end before WWE ever dreamed up the Network and killed it themselves for real.)
– Dave is greatly amused by AAA and Konnan’s next-level carny promoting, as they’ve apparently learned from smaller US shows that all you have to do is “bill whomever as whatever champion and throw a belt on him for the house shows.” For example, Rey Mysterio Jr. defended the “Mexican welterweight title” against Psicosis in Phoenix and LA shows, losing it both nights, although neither guy actually holds a title in the promotion. Also La Parka came to the ring with Konnan’s IWA heavyweight title but the match was announced as a light heavyweight title match, even though THAT champion was actually Damian 666.
– Speaking of La Parka, WCW has passed on him, because they felt American fans wouldn’t like the costume or the comedy, but did offer him a job if he would agree to drop the costume and stop doing comedy.
(I would like to remind you, dear reader, that WCW PAID PEOPLE to come up with these suggestions for their talent.)
– WCW sent some top guys to New Japan to work a tour starting in Sapporo, which gave us the comical image of the Giant defending the WCW title against 5’7” tall Kensuke Sasaki, although fans got into it a bit by the end of a grueling 5 minute match. Also the Road Warriors did an exceedingly rare job to Sting & The Great Muta. The show was otherwise described as nothing special and the crowd wasn’t particularly special either.
– For those keeping track, former Weekly Pro Wrestling editor Tarzan Yamamoto is saying that “journalism in Japan is dead” after leaving the magazine.
– TERRY FUNK RETIREMENT UPDATE: He’s working the main event of the FMW show on 8/1 in an “electrified explosive match”. (Good to hear he’s taking it easy in his twilight years. Also, I have questions about this stipulation, like “Are the explosives electrified?” for one.)
– To Memphis, where Ahmed Johnson no-showed the main event on the 7/9 show at The Big Flea Market, however it wasn’t his fault in this case. Vince McMahon needed him to stay in Stamford for an extra day to shoot the angle where Warrior got replaced by Sid Vicious.
– Back to ECW, as Inside Edition was there filming for a segment that’s upcoming.
– Dave notes that although they hyped up Tommy Dreamer’s previous triple table bump as a “25 foot drop” on TV, that would make the Bruise Brothers 23 feet tall each because they’re the ones who set up the tables.
– For those following the fake AWA saga, Dale Gagner has been promoting the “return of the AWA” for shows in Minnesota, which no real Gagnes have any hand in promoting, and the group crowned Johnnie Stewart as the new AWA World champion on 7/8, beating Twin Turbo in the main event of a show that only had 3 matches on it. (Sounds like the AWA to me.)
– A trainee of Bill Anderson who works out of San Bernadino CA suffered a head injury on 7/7, cracking his head on the floor while doing a dive during a match. An ambulance was called but he’s doing better now. (I note this for two reasons. One, this is what could have happened to MJF. Two, his ring name was DICK DANGER and that’s one of the most awesome wrestling names I’ve heard in forever.)
– To WCW, where Dave thought Nitro was better than most of the two hour shows this week, although he’s not a fan of the Disney tapings and thinks that Hogan and the Outsiders are just turning themselves babyface with their interviews lately since the nWo launch.
– Also Hulk Hogan will now be known as “Hollywood Hulk Hogan”. (We’ll see if that gets over.)
– The odds of moving the WCW offices full time from Atlanta to Disney in Orlando are rapidly decreasing by the day.
– to the WWF, where there’s no immediate change in the Warrior situation this week. Lots of rumors and innuendo, though! Turns out that his performance bond is actually closer to $250,000 than the previously reported $100,000. (That would be more, to quote Jon Lovitz.) Warrior’s statement on the matter: “If resolving my personal issues and protecting the way I chose to believe puts me in the WWF dog house as stated on the money-making 1-900 line, then so be it. Bow-wow and kiss my ass. Always believe.” (I’m sure he’ll be back in 10 years. 15 at the most. Maybe 20 on the absolute outside.)
– Expect big changes on the TV front in September, as the syndication world dies more and cable becomes the only thing of importance in that world.
– Sid is still working through a neck injury from his last run, and is afraid to take any bumps this time around, which explains the one minute squashes he’s been working. (He’s afraid to take any bumps? What’s the worst that can happen if he goes to the top rope or something? Oh. Yeah. Never mind.)
– Davey Boy Smith has not actually signed his new 5 year contract, although he has a copy of it and is likely just mourning the death of his nephew.
– Dave is impressed with the angle to replace Warrior that aired this past week, not because it was any good, but because they actually got something done in a reasonable amount of time instead of just pretending it didn’t happen and moving on.
– And finally, in a completely minor note I’m sure, 1-2-3 Kid was given his release and he’ll probably go to WCW or whatever.