Wrestling Observer Flashback – 05.25.92
This one was never uploaded into the newsletter archives at the time I was doing the 92 Flashbacks, but a reader kindly pointed out that it’s there now, so it’s time for a RETRO FLASHBACK. We’re through the looking glass, people.
Unfortunately William Regal wasn’t yet around at this point, because it’s time for…
– Overall WrestleWar 92 was a good show, but it took until the last three matches to get there. In fact, by the time we had two unscheduled terrible matches in the midcard, Dave was ready to give it a thumbs down and compare it to Bash 91. But by the main event, there was no way to give the show anything but a huge thumbs up.
– BUT FIRST! In another story that you may have heard about sometime before now, Cowboy Bill Watts has been appointed Executive Vice President of WCW, to start on June 1. Everyone in the head office and in the ring will have an “open slate” and will be given the chance to prove themselves, with no prejudices against them beforehand. (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah OK. What a kidder.)
– Immediately two changes are going to be put into effect for the wrestlers: No-showing is an automatic $2500 fine, and arriving late will also result in a fine. Dave thinks that overall the wrestling knowledge brought to the table by Watts will result in Bill being an overall positive for the company.
– Dave does concede that Bill hasn’t been involved in the business for five years and wasn’t a full-time promoter since two years before THAT, but he’s pretty sure he can re-educate the audience to his more athletic style of pro wrestling.
– Dave compares the Watts situation to the coaching of Barry Switzer, who kept winning but didn’t stay successful due to the football business changing around him. “As he pointed out after he was through, every year, he got one year older. But every year, the people he recruited stayed 17.”
– Dave would like to stress that he’s NOT saying time has passed Bill Watts by. (I know, that would be CRAZY TALK!) He does also stress that just putting on a better product isn’t going to solve WCW’s issues, and in fact building relations behind the scenes is going to be far more important to his long-term success. (Well, he’s got that covered. Who’s more of a people person than Bill Watts?)
– As far as what’s going to happen in the immediate future, Dave has some speculation. PPVs are going to be cut back down to four, Clashes to three. The NWA name will disappear completely and the tag team tournament would disappear if hadn’t been so far into the works already. But they will likely bury the NWA singles tournament and not send any top stars to Japan. Also expect some major changes to the TV product, although Dave doesn’t know what those might be.
– Also expect a “distinct wrestling style” with even more differences to the WWF product. (Well that’s an understatement.) Also no more guaranteed contracts, it’s back to working off the house show profits.
– Ole Anderson is the first person hired by Watts, to be working the front office and on TV as a “troubleshooting referee”. Dave notes that Ole wasn’t particularly popular back in 1990 and this move isn’t exactly selling the talent on Watts as the new boss.
– No more low blows or attacking officials on TV! There will also be “strict rules” for TV matches with the idea that fans will be confident that big matches will have clean winners and losers.
– Finally, the old kayfabe practices of heels and babyfaces travelling separately will be reinstated.
– Back to the top story, as WCW presented WrestleWar 92 in Jacksonville, FL, which drew about 6000 people and “probably the lowest ever buyrate for a WCW event”.
– DDP & Thomas Rich beat Bob Cook and Chip the Firebreaker in a dark match. *1/2
1. The Freebirds won the US tag team title from Greg Valentine & The Taylor Made Man in 15:59. If it was up to Dave, he’d drop the useless US tag team titles, because the only one involved who can even work at this point is Terry Taylor. (Someone must have been listening!) Garvin DDT’d Taylor for the pin. *3/4
2. Johnny B. Badd pinned Tracy Smothers in 6:59. Smothers did a good job carrying it. *3/4
The Freebirds introduced their new valet Precious, who looks totally different now with dark hair. They never actually introduced her during the interview, although Tony Schiavone jumped in after the interview and said it was Precious. They still never said who that is, though.
3. Scotty Flamingo pinned Marcus Bagwell in 7:08 by holding the trunks. Dave notes that this Flamingo kid is going to need a lot of interview time and strong angles to overcome his lack of size. Luckily he doesn’t have spectacular offensive moves, but he’s got good heel psychology. (You don’t say?) *1/2
4. Ron Simmons pinned Mr. Hughes in 5:26 with a shoulderblock. It was originally scheduled as a tag match with JYD and Cactus Jack, but Dog disappeared early on. Match was neither good nor bad. *1/2
5. Super Invader pined Todd Champion in 5:27. This was a special UNADVERTISED BONUS MATCH! Dave thinks it would have been better if it was just JR and Jesse doing banter over a test pattern. (The test pattern certainly would have more charisma than Champion.) Dave describes this as the ultimate dream match: The worst of the WWF against the worst of WCW. Invader won with a messed up powerbomb. -*1/2
6. Big Josh pinned Richard Morton. The match was originally supposed to be Josh against the Diamond Studd, but Scott Hall quit the promotion because they wouldn’t give him a guaranteed contract, even though he was being groomed for a feud with Dustin Rhodes. (Oooo, tough call, but I think he made the right move in the long run.) This was another UNADVERTISED BONUS MATCH! Nobody cared. Josh won with the butt drop. *
7. Brian Pillman pinned Tom Zenk in 15:29 to retain the lightheavyweight title. Dave even busts on Zenk’s entrance music here! Started slow but built into a great match. Dave doesn’t think this style can draw on top, but as a change of pace this lightweight thing has been a major success. Zenk missed a top rope dropkick and got pinned. ***3/4
8. The Steiners beat Takayuki Iizuka & Tatsumi Fujinami in 18:16 to be #1 contenders to the IWGP tag team titles. Dave can’t even imagine the confusion at fans having to wade through the WCW, NWA, IWGP and US tag team titles all in one promotion, when there’s only one tag team in the promotion who’s even over and never does jobs. (Good thing we don’t have that kind of situation today! By which I mean FTR does jobs.) This was much was a massacre, almost too brutal in a lot of ways. Iizuka had his face destroyed by the end, with fear of broken bones and a swollen eye. Fujinami is a legit legend and the Steiners were treating him like a total jobber. ***3/4
9. Sting’s Squadron (Sting / Nikita / Steamboat / Windham / Rhodes) beat the Dangerous Alliance (Rude / Eaton / Anderson / Zbyszko / Austin) in the War Games match in 23:25. Match never slowed down for a second, and everyone bled buckets. The only ones who weren’t out of their minds great in the mind were Koloff, who was still fine, and Larry, who isn’t really there to doing that kind of match anyway. Also Eaton had no business even wrestling because he’s all beat up. He had suffered a serious shoulder injury and tried to stay out of the way as much as possible. Larry accidentally hit Eaton in the bad shoulder with a turnbuckle bolt, and Sting submitted him with an armbar as a result. *****
– Speaking of Fujinami, he’s hanging around the US for a bit, working an angle for New Japan where he has to start again from the bottom, so he’s doing a Philly show for local promoter Tod Gordon, who is running an ECW show on 5/25 from the Original Sports Bar, with no word on who Fujinami will be facing there. (Well working an ECW show in 1992 is certainly as close to the bottom as you can get. Also the opponent was The Bouncer, as it turned out. No idea who that is.)
– Meanwhile, pro wrestling last week did the lowest ratings in history on cable, with only Prime Time Wrestling doing something above a complete disaster at a 2.2 rating.
– Antonio Pena’s new “AAA” promotion launched this past week, with lots of defections from EMLL.
– Andre the Giant is working for the UWA promotion in Mexico as El Toreo, mostly working six-mans with guys like Canek and Bad News Allen. He’s said to be embarrassingly bad at this point and the promotion is drawing heavy criticism for letting him in the ring.
– In a major shock that no one could have seen coming, the FMW “ring surrounded by fire” match on 5/5 turned out to be a REALLY BAD IDEA. Turns out that having a ring surrounded by flames is actually DANGEROUS and in fact the Sheik suffered major burns and had to be hospitalized following.
– To Memphis, where Dave thinks that Moondogs v. Jeff Jarrett & Jerry Lawler may be the feud of the year thus far, but he wonders how much longer they can continue to do the same match and stretch it out? (“Hold my Diet Coke”, answered Jerry Lawler.)
– Dave does give them props for not doing anything exploitive with the women this week, mostly because they’ve all quit.
– To Global, where Dave once again needs to clarify that the Stevie Ray in the Ebony Experience is not the same one from Kansas City. Also, apparently the promotion is on its last legs. (Isn’t that every week?)
– The main issue appears to be that the owner of the building gave them a deal where they paid rent based on a $1 out of every ticket, but that’s only giving the building $200 per week now, so they want out of the deal and Max Andrews is looking for a new home as a result.
– Bruce Prichard is currently recovering from a boating accident where he needed 60 stitches to the face and a blood clot in his chest. (Not sure what happened but rest assured that it WAS NOT the fault of Vince McMahon!)
– To the WWF, where they aired the first angle with Ultimate Warrior and Papa Shango, which he describes as “wholesome family entertainment with worthy role models”.
– Dave does hope that the person playing the doctor isn’t actually a doctor, because the real ones that show up on WWF TV tend to end up in jail or on probation for drug crimes.
– Scott Hall is claiming that he has a job lined up in the WWF, playing a character “similar to Fonzie on the old Happy Days show”.
– They did a TV taping on 5/18 and there weren’t any major names debuting, although Kevin Kelly will be “Nails” instead of “The Convict”. Also Papa Shango did more voodoo.
– To WCW, where the Clash of Champions with the NWA tag team tournament will actually air on tape a week later because TBS told WCW about programming on the night of the show and someone in WCW forgot to mention it to anyone else in the company. (I know, we’re all shocked.)
– For what it’s worth, Dave doesn’t expect any major changes from the new regime until after the 7/12 Great American Bash PPV.
– Dave does note that the realities of the PPV business are going to work against the Cowboy’s plan to restore kayfabe, since you have to submit ads 60 days in advance of the show and that might (GASP!) give away future storylines.
– And finally, Harley Race settled his lawsuit with Brenda Willison over the weekend, agreeing to pay her $250,000 for injuries suffered while recklessly driving a boat while intoxicated. He was actually facing prison time but had plead to a lesser charge to avoid a criminal trial. (And then AEW hired him two weeks later.)
And that’s the news from 1992 and I’m OUTTA HERE!