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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Feb. 29, 1988
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
- Crockett has taken a page out of WWF’s playbook and announced a card to counterprogram Wrestlemania. Not all the details are known yet, but on March 27 Crockett’s NWA will run a 2.5 hour show from 4 pm to 6:30 pm, the same time slot WW has reserved for Wrestlemania (remember when Wrestlemania was less than 3 hours?). It’s probable that this show will be held at the Greensboro Coliseum, and it’s being billed as some kind of “Clash of the Champions” and is expected to be packed with seven main event level matches. Flair defending against Sting will headline, along with Dusty and the Road Warriors vs. the Powers of Pain and Ivan Koloff in a barbed wire match, Tully and Arn vs. Windham and Luger for the NWA tag titles, Midnight Express vs. the Fantastics for the U.S. tag titles, Mike Rotunda vs. Jimmy Garvin for the TV title in an amateur rules match, Zbyszko vs. Shane Douglas, and tentatively Kerry and Kevin Von Erich are scheduled for this and the Crockett Cup. That last is huge, as it means there’s an open line of communication between Crockett and Ken Mantell.
- As for Wrestlemania, the card is set for that now. The tournament is the main point of the card, but there will also be a few other matches. Honkeytonk Man vs. Brutus Beefcake match for the IC Title is one, and Dave expects a title change here or sooner than Wrestlemania. Dave hears that Honkeytonk isn’t going to be punished for refusing to drop the belt, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t make an example of him so nobody else gets any bright ideas about refusing to go along with storylines. The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders and Bobby Heenan is also on the docket, while Demolition and Strike Force will fight for the tag titles. Lastly, Hercules Hernandez takes on Warrior, and a battle royal will feature all those unfortunate no-talent bums who just can’t earn a spotlight match on the card like Sam Houston, Bret Hart, and Harley Race. Celebrity appearances are to include Vanna White as guest timekeeper, Robin Leach of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous presenting the title to the winner of the tournament (looks like a sign DiBiase will win), and Bob Uecker returning as ring announcer and color commentator.
- So will Clash of the Champions hurt Wrestlemania? Yes and no. Wrestlemania is theoretically an 18 match card, though double eliminations will probably help bring it down to around 16, and that many matches on a card for a 2.5 hour show (not to mention the ridiculous length of WWF ring entrances, intermissions, and other assorted nonsense they tend to pack a show full of) means most matches won’t even top 5 minutes (more on the length of the show next week: spoilers, Wrestlemania is closer to 4 hours). The card for Wrestlemania is honestly just not good. Dave thought the tournament was a stroke of genius at first, but the layout and talent in it make it much weaker than it should be. Hogan, who is the big marquee guy, is now just one of the boys here, and that means there’s no real main event to hype up because the tournament means they can’t build the show around Hogan vs. DiBiase or Hogan vs. Andre. And that probably hurts impulse purchases on ppv. It makes some sense to make Hogan one of the boys if he’s taking the summer off, though, and all indications point that way, because the goal is to make the belt the main draw of the company independent of Hogan. But that’s unlikely to work. No belt today can draw on its own. Hogan is a draw. Flair is a draw. Hennig and Perez aren’t draws, with or without belts. There’s no difference between a show where Flair defends the belt and one where he’s in a tag match, and the same goes for Hogan: they’re the draws, and fans don’t care about the belt. And you’ll notice not one word of that has a thing to do with whether Crockett will hurt WWF on Wrestlemania with their show. And that’s because for the most part, any damage done to Wrestlemania is WWF’s own fault for booking the show they’ve booked. Wrestlemania 4 will be a success. No question there, and there’s zero chance Crockett can ruin the show with their counteroffer. What they can do is cost WWF a bit of money, just like WWF did to them in January. There is a chunk of WWF’s potential market for Wrestlemania who will watch Crockett’s show instead because it is free and Wrestlemania costs $20. Wrestlemania will be a success because it’s Wrestlemania and last year’s show earned a lot of good will in the fans’ eyes as a can’t-miss show like the Super Bowl. So Crockett will have a small effect, and probably cost WWF serious money, but in the grand scheme of things it won’t be a big blow. Crockett stands to do well, as most of the country can’t get ppv so they ought to get a pretty solid rating, while WWF will most probably have a similar buyrate to last year and pull in around $18 million (which will net the company $9 million after cable gets their cut). And that’s not touching closed-circuit, which WWF will do well with, but that’s where Crockett can cost them money. Being a free alternative will probably knock off about 10% of WWF’s closed-circuit viewership, possibly more if they build well since WWF has booked Wrestlemania the way they have. And still, there’s taking into consideration the reality of what happened in January. Can Crockett get past the negative reception of its last few big shows against WWF’s run of well-received big shows?
- Finally, something different, it's Road Warrior Animal injury update time. Dave knows he’s made errors and wants to get everything straight in one go here. So. Animal was legit injured on January 29 in Pittsburgh. Warlord, not Barbarian, Samoan dropped Animal. It was done wrong or Animal bumped wrong or just freak accident, but thebone above Animal’s eye got smashed badly, and it wasn’t known how bad right away. He went to Greensboro for the weightlifting competition the next day, and they were worried about pressure on the eye, so while they used legit weights they just called out fake numbers (as opposed to WWF, which went with fully gimmicked weights for theirs). After the competition, Animal went to the hospital and they discovered he had a detached retina, broken bone, and his eye was knocked half an inch into his forehead. He had eye surgery, and they’re advertising his return for this coming week. No word on if that’s going to happen or not, though - they were pushing that he’d return in Philly last week when they knew he wasn’t going to be. More on this next week, because Dave keeps finding this story to change on him.
- [Alabama/Knoxville] The Continental split-up finally went down. The Knoxville territory will be called USA Pro Wrestling and will be running east Tennessee, with Ron Fuller running the show. Their roster includes Mongolian Stomper, Buddy Landel, the Rock & Roll RPMs (Mike Davis and Tommy Lane) as USA Tag champions, Hector Guerrero, Doug Furnas (injured with a concussion), “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Austin Idol, and a few other names. Continental Championship Wrestling will remain in Alabama and start running Northwest Florida again as well, with David Woods running the promotion. Dutch Mantell, Wendell Cooley (currently out with a broken kneecap), Lord Humongous (Sid Eudy) and Detroit Demolition (Randy Culley, aka Moondog Rex, who actually was part of the original Demolition while Barry Darsow grew his hair out, and still wearing Demolition gear) managed by Downtown Bruno (later on it turns out Culley is not being managed by Bruno and is instead the fourth member of a stable including Robert Fuller, Dutch Mantell, and Jimmy Golden as a weak imitation of the Four Horsemen called the Studs), Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony (and Mystic as Dirty White Girl), Tom Prichard, Scott Hall, Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden as tag champs, and some others.
- Memphis is going to start on Financial News Network on April 2 and run weekly on Saturday nights at 9 pm eastern. Don’t rest on this info, as it’s outdated by next week. The network has discussed possibly running New Japan on Sunday nights, but Dave thinks it’s so unlikely to actually happen he shouldn’t have bothered typing it.
- There’s been a fund set up to help pay Al Blake’s (Vlaidimir Petrov) legal expenses. Blake was convicted a few months ago for cocaine trafficking. Dave gives the info for people to write in and get more information about the fund.
- Billy Jack Haynes has been granted a promoter’s license in Oregon and started a promotion called Oregon Wrestling Federation. He apparently plans to hold six shows a week in Oregon, with himself as top babyface. Haynes will now be in direct competition with both Don Owen and Vince McMahon. Plans are to have a roster of about 14-16 wrestlers, but no names are official yet, and there’s rumor that he’ll get tv in Portland on the local ABC affiliate. Haynes plans to concentrate on big guys rather than small guys like most of the regional territories now focus on. The only name that anyone knows he has contacted is Tom Zenk. Owen also runs Washington, but no plans currently exist for Haynes to run up there. Owen’s promotion has been around since the 1920s, and there’s really not room for two regional promotions, so this should be interesting to see how it shakes out. Also interesting to see what happens with Haynes wrestling - reports from WWF indicate that he left because of poor health due to a heart condition. It’s really hard to find any real information with a quick google search, but I strongly suspect that this venture goes under before the year is out.
- The Simmons Research Bureau released its annual sports demographics statistics for this year, and pro wrestling is one of the sports they cover. Some good news and some bad news for wrestling, of course, and the accuracy of these numbers is debatable, but they are important in that they are perceived as facts by advertising firms and thus these are very important for figuring out advertising rates. In good news: wrestling supposedly saw a 5% increase in viewers over the past year with 30.3 million adult viewers, ranking 7th behind pro football, MLB, college football, the NBA, college basketball, and boxing. Sports viewing on the whole was down 5.6% though, and wrestling and the NBA were the only top 10 sports to see an increase (boxing was down 16.4% from last year). Dave doesn’t really take the report seriously because of its findings on roller derby. Derby supposedly saw a 29.8% increase over last year, but Dave thinks that’s just preposterous, as just two years ago roller derby had national coverage on ESPN and drew good ratings, and last year they weren’t even on the list while this year it was 20th out of 21 listed). This year? No new tapes for syndication, one Derby group isn’t even running, and the other hasn’t made new tv in over a year. So the idea that they have been getting more viewers (to the tune of a 29% increase) without putting out new material for tv is just absurd. Setting that aside, the bad news is wrestling’s demographics are considered less desirable by advertisers. The raw numbers look good and might make it a good buy for advertisers, but they’ll pay less for ad time because wrestling viewership isn’t dominated by the demographics advertisers want to market to. Wrestling, according to Simmons, is strongest among Black folks, 18-24 year old men, men more than women (61% of the audience is men, 39% women) in general, low income families, people who have less than a high school education, and single adults. In short, advertisers will look at this and conclude wrestling fans are stupid, poor, and too young (18-24 men don’t have the same level of disposable income as another age bracket up) and Black to be worth the effort of spending large amounts of money to try and reach for little perceived return.
- A correction on Crockett Cup - it’s set for April 22/23 in Greensvile, S.C. for the first day and Greensboro for the second day. Seedings will likely be announded on March 27, and Dave recommends readers (a lot of readers typically have attended the Cup) stay in Charlotte since it’s halfway between both sites.
- Wrestlemania tickets should be sold out by the time this issue reaches readers. After figuring out exactly how many freebies they’re giving, somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 tickets were being held out of 18,165 total seats. As of February 19, around 1,500 tickets were left to be sold, and paid attendance will be in the 15,000 range. That means roughly 3,000 freebies.
- The Penthouse story on the Von Erichs has been delayed again. The earliest it’ll appear is August, and given the history of the family, they’ll likely suffer one real tragedy, two fake tragedies, and find a new fake relative all before the issue hits newsstands.
- Paul E. Dangerously had a hilarious promo moment in Southern Championship Wrestling while interviewing Randy Rose. Paul was saying he doesn’t care how much money it costs, he’s going to do away with Tommy Rich, and Rose pulls out his wallet and throws a bunch of dollar bills in the air. Paul just looks at him and says something along the lines of “I see you cashed Verne’s check.”
- The Bunkhouse Stampede finals did a 3.5% buyrate out of 6 million available homes, which means roughly 200,000 buys. Gross revenue should be in the $3 million range, with JCP getting about half. Dave’s sources said anything higher than 3% would be profitable, so the show wasn’t a bomb financially, but it definitely could have been better.
- [Memphis] Over here the AWA tag titles are held up between the Rock & Roll Express and the Midnight Rockers. The finish on February 15 in Memphis saw a ref bump, and then a second referee came out, and both referees counted simultaneous pins for each side. The next day in Lousiville (which drew 3,000, when normally they draw 1,000) they repeated the finish, and probably did the same the next night in Evansville as well. So there will be rematches in each city as well to decide the champion. Ah the days of non-televised shows being the important thing, so you could do this sort of thing and really make the title histories convoluted and confusing.
- [Memphis] Missy Hyatt showed up on February 20’s tv in Memphis with Doug Gilbert. She avoided the subject of Eddie Gilbert, who hasn’t made an appearance, but that’s obviously going to happen. The story as Dave understands is that Gilbert was fired by Crockett for missing two tv tapings nobody had told him he was supposed to be at. It’s a miracle he lasted as long as he did anyway, considering he somehow got into the position of UWF booker for the UWF vs. NWA feud and wound up outlasting all the ex-UWF guys except Black Bart, Sting, and Rick Steiner.
- New to Memphis is an opening act heel guy named Scotty the Body. Dave’s heard of him from some independent promotion somewhere, but the guy isn’t getting a push, and from what Dave’s heard of his ability, he doesn’t deserve one. Eh, never say nevermore, because this is the Observer debut of Raven.
- [Oregon] The Frank Bonema Memorial show on February 16 was a major disappointment, only drawing 600. The matches were all good, at least. The Grappler beat Hennig for the AWA title after using a loaded boot, but the promoter later on said he was ordered by AWA president Stanley Blackburn to hold up the title (which means the title is held up in both Minneapolis and Oregon). Given the time difference, fans in Oregon must be expected to believe Blackburn is the hardest working president in wrestling, since it was well past midnight in Minneapolis when he supposedly made the call to hold the title up.
- Stampede is being forced into a smaller building due to the Olympics being in Calgary. The building they have to work with seats 950, and with all the competition around town they’ll not be able to draw very well in all likelihood. And even after the Olympics, with how much money the event takes out of the economy, they’re likely to still have problems for a while.
- In what will remain of Continental (Alabama), Scott Hall is being set up to feud with Lord Humongous (Sid Eudy). Hall is improving, but is nowhere near ready to have a good match with Humongous, who is just awful. Probably too much softball stunting his ability.
- Is the world ready for a Von Erich comic book? No, not really, but we're getting one anyway. Creative Ink of Tyler, Texas is scheduling the March release of “The Saga of the Von Erich Warriors” in which Kerry, Kevin, and Fritz are taken from Earth to the planet Namoria to rescue the Namorians from attackers from the planet Nefarian. The comic winds up not coming out until 1989, and it’s a one off single issue.
- If Ken Mantell and Jim Crockett can strike a deal, expect Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich in Texas Stadium in May. Don't hold your breath. WCCW has started doing okay business again (okay, however, does not translate to taking Crockett’s place as the number 2 promotion like some people who have way too many drugs in their system think), so that’s probably helpful to negotiations.
- WCCW has cut ticket prices to $5 for their February 22 Fort Worth show, headlined by the Thunderdome cage match. The Von Erichs and Steve and Schaun Simpson and Bill Irwin will face Buddy Roberts and King Parsons and Rip Morgan and Angel of Death and Eric Embry in a cage match where all ten men are in the ring tornado style, and each time a guy gets pinned he gets handcuffed to the corner and when all members of a team are handcuffed their opponents get to uncuff their partners and beat the losers for five minutes without a referee.
- WCCW came up with something Dave thinks is even dumber than buying a belt. On February 14 (Dave has the 15th), the Texas tag titles were contested in a best two of three falls, where the final fall went to a double countout. So they brought out a deck of cards and each team drew a card, with the high card winning the titles. So John Tatum and Jack Victory won by drawing the high card against the Fantastics.
- No word yet from AWA’s Feb 20 Las Vegas tapings before they go on hiatus other than the Rock & Roll Express debuted (or were scheduled to, update on this below) as babyfaces. Obviously that’s a silly move, since they have a natural feud with the Midnight Rockers if they were heels and they have always been booed in the Twin Cities. Also Tom Zenk quit the AWA on the day of the taping just as they were setting up for a feud between him and Curt Hennig (also an update on Zenk below). Zenk knows his worth, though, and he knows he’s not going to be paid decently to actually wrestle in AWA, so it’s not worth doing. Also, he seems to have no idea what the thinking behind having him debut in a draw with Billy Robinson before going on to feud with Hennig.
- Speaking of AWA pay, Hennig isn’t the only one who will be paid while AWA is on hiatus. Kevin Kelly and Madusa are also on guarantees, although theirs are substantially less than Hennig’s Hennig is getting around $1500 per week, while they’re on under $300 per week. Better than nothing, though.
- Here’s the current situation with the tag titles and world title in AWA. So the tag titles are currently held up in three different cities, but everywhere else the Midnight Rockers are definitively the tag champions. As for the world title, that’s held up in two cities and they have different challengers with claims to the title in those cities. Totally not a headache to keep track of.
- Verne Gagne and Wally Karbo’s lawsuit has been settled out of court. Karbo was Gagne’s partner and co-founder of the AWA when they broke away from the NWA back in 1960, and he sold his interest in the company to Gagne in 1985, from which I suspect this lawsuit emerged. From piecing info together (none of the newsletters to this point that I have contain anything about the lawsuit, and this isn’t easy to pull from the internet either), it looks like Gagne was unable or unwilling to pay what he owed to Karbo in full, so Karbo sued, and here we are with the settlement. Dave’s gotten two stories out of this settlement: one has Verne agreeing to pay in full by March 1, while one report says Karbo is settling for getting 10 cents on the dollar of what he’s owed. Maybe we’ll learn more in the future, because it’s an interesting piece of info about the death spiral of the AWA.
- Former UWF TV Champion Savannah Jack has developed serious heart problems. Serious enough he may need a heart transplant. He’s still working as a manager right now for Pro Wrestling America. Don’t worry - Savannah Jack will pull through this one.
- POWW is scheduling 20 dates in March. A few of their women can work, but most are trying to get exposure to launch into modeling or film acting, which, hey, do what you gotta do to make it. The pay for them is pretty good, Dave hears, but the issue is that their training hasn’t really given them enough to really make it in wrestling for any of them who choose to try - the ex-GLOW girls in particular apparently don’t even know what spots are, let alone how to do them. It makes the matches between the women who can work and those who can’t really bad.
- Global Wrestling in Florida has lost all their big name talent except Colonel Kirchner. Dave says they’ve become the “only amateur pro wrestling organization in the country” if you get what he’s saying.
- A Muscular Dystrophy auction at a new york night club saw a bunch of sports memorabilia auctioned off, including a pair of Bruiser Brody’s boots. The boots sold for $500.
- There’s a new book by Jim Friedman called Drawing Heat coming out. Dave’s going to read it this week and give impressions, but his initial impression is that it’s a smart analysis of how wrestling has changed over the years.
- Apparently on their last Japan tour, Abdullah the Butcher and TNT had some issues. TNT refused to work with Abby for a few days, feeling like he was being held back to make Abby look better, but they resolved it. Likewise, Tatsumi Fujinami boycotted a card where he was supposed to team with Inoki because Inoki’s ego is planet-sized. But that has also been worked out.
- Very little of the New Japan jr. heavyweight tournament was broadcast in Japan. TV Asahi believes that jr. heavyweight matches between Japanese guys don’t create much in the way of viewer interest, and were really only interested in the matches pitting a Japanese guy against a foreigner.
- All Japan is putting Killer Khan, Tiger Chung Lee, and Shunji Takano in Tenryu’s Revolution group. Khan and Lee are on the older side and it just makes Dave wish Baba would invest more in younger talent. Takano has excellent potential with this group, at least. I'll be keeping an eye on this - 1988 is where Revolution starts picking up steam.
- John Tenta is a candidate for most improved in Japanese Wrestling Journal for 1988. He throws the best dropkick in the entire business and makes the Road Warriors look like kids. His dropkick is so good it's actually his photo on Wikipedia
- According to Japanese Wrestling Journal, the December 27 New Japan show where the fans rioted in Sumo Hall drew massive ratings when Takeshi Kitano appeared. Dave just quotes a translation of what the journal says and I’ll do it here too:
It started off with a 6 rating while Kobayashi wrestled Hase for the jr. title however it drew nearly a 17 rating at its peak when Takeshi Kitano, one of the top comedians in Japan, appeared at the Sumo Hall for the first time. This means that Takeshi has strong ratings power for TV. This is the reason Inoki and TV Asahi joined hands with the famous comedian. However, Takeshi’s angle is fading out because of the riot held in the Sumo Hall. To make matters worse, New Japan is banned from using the Sumo Hall “for good.” There is nothing wrong with Takeshi being involved in the business since the TV was in a critical situation and New Japan had to take desperate steps to keep the show in prime time, but the plan backfired due to Inoki’s ego.
- AWA update - the Rock and Roll Express didn’t show up to the Vegas taping. So Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka got a non-title match with the Midnight Rockers and won that.
- [WWF] Cuban Assassin and Badnews Brown almost had an incident at the WWF tv tapings on February 16 and 17 in Wichita and Topeka, Kansas. Brown was chasing Assassin around with a chair. Apparently there’s some bad blood between them (and their wives got into it as well) stemming from their Calgary days that led to Assassin leaving Calgary. I guess nothing actually happened beyond the chase with the chair, though, because Dave doesn’t say anything else.
- Recent AWA shows have been drawing between 42 and 300 fans. The Baron Von Raschke vs. Sheik Adnan grudge match they taped at the Vegas taping will definitely boost those numbers. Yesiree.
- Tom Zenk apparently left AWA because they kept blowing him off when he asked for guaranteed money. Verne, you can’t expect people to stick around if you won’t pay them.
- The AWA Title situation remains screwed up, but that’s pretty normal. On the February 21 airing of their Minneapolis tv show, Verne said all the midwestern promoters want to recognize Greg Gagne as champion and said if Stanley Blackburn doesn’t like it, then maybe AWA should get a new president. And thus Stanley Blackburn has been put in the position of being the top heel in the promotion, a full decade before Vince McMahon would actually successfully position himself the same way. Verne also compared this to the situation that led to the formation of the AWA in the first place - the Lou Thesz vs. Edouard Carpentier match in 1957 where Carpentier beat Thesz in two falls (one by DQ) and the NWA wouldn’t recognize the Carpentier as champion but all the midwestern promoters decided to recognize Carpentier as the legitimate champion (and the NWA would eventually pretend Carpentier’s reign never happened at all), which led to them uniting under Verne and Karbo a few years later when Verne beat Carpentier (by countout in the third fall) and forming the AWA. Dave’s not sure what to make of all this, but there seems to be a lot of pressure on Hennig and AWA seems to be holding Greg as an option to cover their asses if Hennig does something. But Hennig really hurt himself bad taking a bad neck and shoulder bump and is supposed to be resting, but instead he worked Vegas and Portland and the AWA office is mad that he’s missed shows (maybe they’re looking for an excuse to cut his guarantee given their financial situation). Dave just hopes Crockett’s people wake up, because Hennig would make a perfect fourth Horseman.
- WTBS has extended its contract with Crockett through 1994. There are a bunch of changes to the tv on TBS as well. The Saturday morning studio show is now becoming NWA Pro on a one-hour delay. The Saturday evening show will almost always be in-studio, and Sunday will be in the arena every week beginning in April with high caliber matches (they’re looking at only 3-4 matches per week for that, which should give the show decent length for undercard matches and 20 minutes for the main event). The Sunday show is aimed at getting ratings up (workrate = ratings, you know), and Saturday is mainly to build house show interest. And the TBS shows will now all be part of the syndicated package, and that should boost their syndicated rating to around the 8.5 level, which is just 1.5 points behind WWF and should get them decent ad sales income through TV.
- Talks between Crockett and Mantell have gotten “real cold” as of the latest info. Dave’s thinking nothing’s going to come of it at this point.
- FlaiSting at Clash of the Champions will have J.J. Dillon in a cage above the ring. They’ll also have three judges to decide the match in the event of a time-limit draw. TBS has also agreed to four Clash-like specials per year and Turner signed a five year deal with Crockett to co-promote ppv cards together. So look to Crockett to try to do another ppv this year.
- A reader suggests that since the Von Erichs keep winning Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic that Dave should rename the award. The Fritz Von Erich Promotional Tactic of the Year would allow Dave to stop spilling so much ink on how scummy the Von Erichs are and instead allow a quick reminder without having to go into detail. It's funny, because this is the last year the Von Erichs will ever win the award. Fritz's fake heart attack will win for 1988 - next year WWC will win for pushing Invader #1 (fuck Invader #1) a year after he murdered Bruiser Brody, the 90s are pretty evenly between WCW and WWF, and from 2001 on WWF/E only loses this award twice: TNA in 2007 (signing Pacman Jones) and Bellator in 2016 (Kimbo vs. Dada 5000). Really, it's the Vince McMahon Promotional Tactic of the year award at this point in all but name.
- Did you know that Boris Malenko was apparently blacklisted out of the mainstream promotions back in 1972? I didn’t. But apparently it followed a babyface turn in Florida where he teamed with Eddie Graham’s son Mike. Dave’s not sure why he got blacklisted, only that it was pretty common at that time. He did briefly go to Texas in 1972, maybe that had something to do with it?
- Magnum T.A.’s latest on-air protege is Shane Douglas. In other Magnum news, his doctors have told him he ought to be able to start jogging again by summer.
- Crockett is working with the people behind the Candian tv show Learning the Ropes that is being offered up for syndication soon. It’s a comedy about a school teacher whose night job is as a masked wrestler and features clips of NWA wrestlers in character, and if it’s a hit this could help Crockett get some of their guys to become real celebrities. Needless to say, you probably don't remember this show because it wasn't a hit, and if it does ring a bell it's probably thanks to Brian Zane or Wrestlecrap.
- Reports of Crockett’s demise are greatly exaggerated. They drew $350,000 last weekend alone, so they’re still going reasonably strong.
- Big praise for the Varsity Club in the NWA. Dave’s amazed at how well the gimmick has helped Mike Rotundo turn things around when his career appeared to be stagnating.
- Although nearly everyone agrees Sting has surpassed Luger, Luger’s still the guy Crockett’s going to be putting time into as the young babyface. Luger’s still going to get all the chances, and Dave likens it to a first-round draft pick who turns out not so hot and a 7th-round pick who does better: you still keep giving the first guy chances because you don’t want to admit you made a mistake and because you’ve invested too much time and money into him already. Speaking of monetary investment, Luger’s contract is seven times more lucrative than Sting’s. So yeah, they’re gonna run with Luger to make that money worth it because the sunk cost fallacy is a difficult one to get over. Sting’s contract runs out in May, so those negotiations could become quite interesting.
Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Feb. 15, 1988
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
- The big story this week is WWF has announced a 14-man tournament for Wrestlemania IV. The word going around is that there will be four other matches: a battle royal (which ought to get another dozen guys on the card for the big payday, probably two tag matches (Dave speculates Demolition vs. Strike Force and Bulldogs vs. Islanders) and an Intercontinental title defense for Honkeytonk Man. The leading candidate for challenger there is Brutus Beefcake, so they’ll need to get on top of shooting an angle for that this week if they want to try and get it over. Anyway, the real meat of Wrestlemania is this tournament, and the bracket has already been announced on the syndicated shows.
- So looking at this bracket, what are the likely outcomes? Dave thinks there’s really only two possibilities, and there’s only two possibilities for the final match. Hogan vs. DiBiase is the obvious finals if Hogan is to win, and if Hogan’s filming schedule for his upcoming movie (it begins in April) allows for it, this will be the finals. If he can wrestle during the summer, Dave expects him to win, if not he expects DiBiase to win overall since the winner of the tournament needs to be a heel to drop it back to Hogan when the company decides the time is write (Dave thinks the ppv in August looks like that time). If DiBiase wins, Dave thinks it’s going to be Don Muraco he beats in the finals, however. Dave then goes down the bracket and explains who he thinks wins when, ruling out combinations of guys (if Roberts beats Rude, Bravo beats Muraco, so we get Roberts vs. Bravo, for example). Savage doesn’t go out in the first round, obviously, but neither should Steamboat lose to Valentine, so that’s probably our token face vs. face match leading probably to a draw or double elimination. Notice anything weird about this bracket, though? WWF changes plans and redraws the bracket. They swap Roberts/Rude and DiBiase/Duggan’s place so DiBiase is on the same side of the bracket before Wrestlemania, so all this speculation by Dave ultimately goes nowhere because that one shift completely changes the tournament. More on that change when it happens. Dave is definitely right about one thing, though: there are going to be way too many matches on this show, so they're definitely going to have to have some fuck finishes to get the number of matches down in the tournament so things work.
- The Main Event’s final rating was a 15.1 and a 25 share, ranking 31st for the week. Dave feels like this has to be a major disappointment for WWF and NBC, as both figured the show would be in the top 10 easily. It won its time slot and the rating was better than the 11.6 average NBC has gotten in that slot with Rags to Riches, but it’s not as big a winner as they hoped. So in the LA Times and USA Today, Dick Ebersole (who co-produced the show with Vince) said that they weren’t interested in a weekly prime-time show because it would hurt live gates. But the reality is they won’t even be offered a slot, because they won’t be able to sustain competitive ratings. Dave was really surprised by the rating, and this show’s rating was the most interested he’s been in something wrestling related for a long time, because it was a test of just how much the general public would bite on wrestling. And what we’ve learned is that to the general public the biggest wrestling match possible, with the biggest hype possible (Andre vs. Hogan) with a month of buildup on all shows and even big news media attention (almost every newspaper ran a feature about the show at some point during the build) only got mediocre mainstream support. Wrestling fans are supremely loyal and will watch no matter the time slot, and the same show on Saturday night at 11:30 pm would have gotten at least a 12 rating), but moving to prime time didn’t get them a big increase in viewers. It renders moot the question of how first-time viewers will take the evil twin angle and such, because few of the viewers were first-time watchers. The audience was the same wrestling audience we’ve always had, and 85% of the general public just ignored the show and hype outright. Nothing wrong with that, people like and dislike what they want to, and WWF can still make loads of money off the 12-15% of people who do have an interest in wrestling.
- But this really puts Hulk Hogan and his appeal/drawing power into perspective. To the cult wrestling audience, he’s bigger than any wrestling star has ever been in the U.S. But he’s not mainstream, not really. He can help get wrestling on prime time network television a couple times a year, but they can’t build wrestling on him to make a mainstream appeal. And Hogan, for as over as he is here, clearly falls short of the most over acts to have graced Japan (Inoki in his heyday) and boxing (Larry Holmes, for example). WWF did prove they can be put in a weak time slot during sweeps with a lot of hype behind a special card and win the slot, which is no small thing. We can probably expect another prime time special in the future, but probably no more than one or two a year. You won’t read about wrestling’s resurgence in Time Magazine, and networks won’t discover Crockett’s shows because nobody’s looking at wrestling as a hot item (if the show had cracked the top five, maybe they would). The long and the short of it is, WWF is no worse off than they were two weeks ago, and Wrestlemania will still make a lot of money. And although Vince has gotten WWF to the point where they are making more money off wrestling than any other promotion in history, their “mainstream” interest in this country doesn’t even come close to New Japan’s tv heyday (1982-1985), and Hogan’s ability to draw a rating is probably more than anyone else in the modern era in the U.S., but probably isn’t as strong as Chigusa Nagayo’s ratings drawing power is in Japan.
- And you might be wondering if it’s appropriate to compare to Japan, or if the comparison is ridiculous given cultural differences. Dave notes that the U.S. is more tv oriented in Japan, which should put things in greater perspective - Hogan has all the advantages of American television culture and is still behind Nagayo and Inoki in terms of relative mainstream appeal/drawing power in their culture. In short, Dave had a conversation with a WWF employee a couple months ago about wrestling style (serious, hardcore vs. sports entertainment fast food) and if it was the style, being the best run promotion, or how much money they spend that makes WWF number 1. Their conclusion was that they couldn’t figure out a clear answer. No other promotion that offers a traditional product has hundreds in the front office, $250,000 to spend on every tv taping, etc. There’s no way to control for the sheer magnitude of advantages WWF has to be able to tell if they would be beatable, and the only way to know the answer about style would be if there was another promotion that had a traditional style but also had the production values, the front office staff, etc. And on the flip side, would people like Carlos Colon, Riki Choshu, Antonio Inoki, or Chigusa Nagayo be as over as they are if their local markets had a dozen different wrestling promotions on tv?
- [Memphis] Financial News Network announced on Tuesday that they’ll start airing CWA Wrestling weekly beginning in April. Dave forgot to write down the time slot, but thinks it’s Saturday nights at 9 pm eastern. ESPN signed a new exclusive deal with AWA for 2 years, which kicks World Class off ESPN. Angelo Savoldi’s ICW in New England got a deal with Tempo cable, so all other wrestling will be dropped from that service.
- AWA is “restructuring the company.” No word on what that means other than that their Las Vegas card this Sunday will be their last for about a month before they reopen in late March. Maybe they’ll change some major things about how they run? Dave thinks Verne’s gotten tired of people making decisions that cost him money, so he’ll probably be booker again. From what Dave hears, Curt Hennig will be the only wrestler getting paid during the time off, so expect Verne to fob him off to Memphis for the interim. The Midnight Rockers will probably also work Memphis in that time. No idea about the rest of the roster, but they’ll probably have to find new work in other territories if they can find work in wrestling, or regular jobs if they can’t.
- Over in Puerto Rico they sold out on January 30 a big show at Roberto Clemente Coliseum. That’s roughly 32,000 fans to watch Carlos Colon vs. Iron Sheik for the Universal Title, with manager Chicky Starr in a shark cage above the ring. Carlos won, of course, as Sheiky baby is heading back to WWF. Dave talks a bit about Carlos - he’s over like Rover, but the man’s comebacks are dull as hell. It’s a bizarre thing, what gets over with crowds.
- Stampede’s February 5 show had what was probably the best match in Calgary in months. Bruce Hart and Brian Pillman defended the International Tag Titles against Great Gama and Jerry Morrow, with three assigned referees (Wayne Hart, heel ref Jurgen Herman, and heel ref for Karachi Vice Akeem Singh). Herman wound up being the main referee, but got knocked down by Gama, and after that when Pillman went up top to do a dive, Akeem threw powder in his eyes and Gama did a cobra hold. When Herman came to, he saw Pillman passed out and awarded the match and titles to the heels and they celebrated with champagne until Wayne Hart told Herman what happened and the decision was reversed.
- Les Thornton has been given a promoter’s permit by the Calgary Boxing & Wrestling Commission. He’ll start running shows against Stampede in the spring.
- WWF is doing a Wrestling Challenge taping on March 9 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That’s about 20 miles from Greensboro, so they’re encroaching a bit on Flair country, which means they’re making moves to kill the competition dead.
- WWF has a Saturday Night’s Main Event scheduled for March 12, to be taped on the 7th.
- Honkeytonk Man was supposed to drop the Intercontinental Title at The Main Event but vetoed the title change. Lots of chaos backstage as a result of it, and the match was also supposed to be shorter than it wound up being. He held out and refused to job and he’s still champion, so in the end he got what he wanted. You might wonder why not just have Savage win anyway and not give in by having him shoot on Honkeytonk, but the key is Honkeytonk realized that Vince wouldn’t want to take a chance of anything bad happening on tv, and you definitely aren’t going to want a match turning into a shoot and getting real violence on live tv. This also probably explains why he’s not in the tournament.
- Billy Jack Haynes apparently asked Vince McMahon for help starting a promotion in Oregon to run against Don Owen’s promotion. Vince wasn’t biting, and this ultimately is the real reason he was let go, probably, as those close to him say it wasn’t his health, but that he wanted to get out anyway because he wasn’t being pushed (and neither was Brady Boone).
- Jesse Ventura will get to do color commentary this season on some New York Yankees games for local pay-tv. He’s apparently thrilled about this.
- Correction: Bam Bam Bigelow didn’t have arthroscopic knee surgery. He just took a week off to rest his knee, and isn’t planning to get surgery until just after Wrestlemania.
- Bam Bam also had a drug possession charge dismissed against him in Freehold, New Jersey on the grounds that the evidence was obtained illegally and that state police had no grounds to search his car. They found a small bag of marijuana under his seat and he got a misdemeanor possession charge, but again, no probable cause to search so that’s a 4th amendment violation. They pulled him over and searched his car, apparently, because he waved at the officers. If convicted, he would have been in big trouble because he’s still on probation from a 1986 conviction for threatening to kill a local sex worker (that’s a big yikes right there), so he would have caught a 5 year prison sentence for revocation of probation.
- Memphis has a revolving door of talent, as Bill Dundee is leaving and Manny Fernandez, Scott Hall, and several others have disappeared. Dundee is going to the new promotion that will be running out of Knoxville. New to the area this week are the Rock & Roll Express, Tommy Rich, and Samoans Samu and Kokina. Samu is Afa’s son, and Kokina is, from the information Dave has, Sika’s son (he’s Afoa’s son, not Sika’s son). Kokina is impressively large at 400 lbs, but Samu is definitely the more impressive wrestler. Kokina, of course, will later on travel to Japan for a kayfabe sumo career and come back to the WWF as Yokozuna.
- [Memphis] Tommy Rich is apparently a babyface, going by his recent interview. He apologized for all the bad things he did and said he was wrong to team with Austin Idol and Paul E. Dangerously, but he said he still hates Jerry Lawler. There’s legit heat between him and Lawler which is why Rich left last year anyway while he was a top heel. So he said he wanted all the fans in Memphis who hated Lawler to come support him. Expect a 50/50 crowd for their february 15 grudge match - although the promotion can’t draw without him, there is a large group of fans who don’t like that he’s constantly on top of the card.
- [Memphis] The manager with the preacher gimmick has dropped that gimmick, and the Choir Boys tag team are gone. Too much negative attention in the form of phone calls to the studio last week. The manager, Ernest Angel, now manages CWA Tag champs Max Payne and Gary Young, and his behavior has been toned down and he’s apologized somewhat for his behavior the previous week.
- Continental (Alabama) had its last week this week as a unified promotion this week, since the Knoxville office ran its first show this weekend. They drew 7,000 in Knoxville on February 12. Dave’s not sure what the eventual talent split will work out, but known guys going to Knoxville are Johnny Rich, Bill Dundee, Hector Guerrero, Ron Fuller (didn’t he announce his retirement a few weeks ago?), Austin Idol, Lord Humongous, Doug Furnas, Mongolian Stomper, the Armstrongs, and Tracy Smothers.
- [Oregon] The Frank Bonema Memorial Show is scheduled for February 16. Boneme was their long-time tv announcer who passed away five years ago. Curt Hennig vs. The Grappler (Hennig as babyface) for the AWA Title is the main event. The show will also have a battle royal for the TV Title, Mike Miller vs. Rip Oliver in a cage, The Assassin vs. Avalanche in a mask vs. headgear match (Avalanche lost his hair in a match and has been wearing headgear like Kurt Angle or Molly Holly to hide it), and a couple more matches.
- Steve Estes, a former wrestler local to the Kansas City area, pleaded guilty to a Class B felony. The charge was related to the hold-up of a Mexican restaurant in October. He was charged with a Class A felony, but the charge was reduced on plea bargain. He faces five to fifteen years.
- Mean Gene Okerlund’s son Todd is on the U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey team right now. At the time of writing the team will have won their first game, but their fortunes turn south over the rest of the group stage and they don’t qualify to go to the knockout rounds of the tournament.
- Mad Dog Vachon is suing the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinic for several million dollars. His claim is that if he had received proper treatment he would never have needed to have his leg amputated. This starts a big series of cases lasting all the way until 1994, and you can read the final case summary here.
- There’s a movie in Japan called “The Crazy Family” which includes the family’s 13 year old daughter doing nothing but weightlifting and training and singing so she can be like Chigusa Nagayo. It’s from 1984, so I don’t know why Dave’s only just noticing it now.
- Florida has dropped legislation that would have created a state athletic commission that would regulate wrestling. Legislators met with Duke Keomuka and Gerald Briscoe, and were subsequently convinced that wrestling is pure entertainment and not a sport at all.
- In Southern California a new group is starting up called the American Women’s Wrestling Federation. They’re running ads for beautiful women who want to be trained as wrestlers. Mando Guerrero and Debbie Pelletier (The Killer Tomato, later Dallas in GLOW) will be training, and Dave remarks that Debbie doesn’t know the first thing about wrestling.
- Bruiser Brody is promoting a show in St. Louis at the Fox Theater on March 4. He’ll face Jerry Blackwell in the main event, and Sam Muchnick will be there to raise the winner’s hand. The building is apparently the nicest building within 500 miles of St. Louis and not the sort of place that would ordinarily let wrestling in. Muchnick apparently felt used by the NWA at a recent taping by constantly showing him on camera and making it out like he endorsed the NWA and that they have continuity with the NWA he ran back in the day. So that’s why he’s on board. Crockett’s NWA has a show in St. Louis two days later.
- Wrestling fanzine publisher David Leehy promoted a show that drew 200 in Richmond Virginia on February 5 for Virginia Wrestling Association.
- Ohio’s state senate passed a bill that would put a 5% tax on all wrestling receipts, with money raised going to the boxing commission. The money would be earmarked for creating a medical advisory board for boxing. No regulation of wrestling is proposed in the bill, and the bill still has to pass the house. Seems a bit unfair.
- WCCW drew 3,800 (buy one ticket, get a second for a penny, same deal for concessions) in Dallas on February 12.
- Michael Hayes is back in WCCW as a babyface. No surprises there. They’re building to a Hayes concert on March 5 at the Sportatorium, and that’ll probably have a big angle. Somebody’s gotta attack Hayes. Won’t be Terry Gordy, since he’ll be in Japan, but somebody will.
- WCCW’s tv show is airing mainly tapes of old matches. That’s fine in the Fort Worth area, since they had no live cards for two weeks, but Dave’s puzzled nonetheless. Maybe they somehow missed a taping?
- Ken Mantell has this idea of reopening Wild West and starting their tv back up and having Wild West and World Class feud. Where’s the logic in that? Plus, there are enough promotions that this would only confuse the average fan.
- Steve Williams told the press in Japan he’ll be coming to work in World Class. It’s not been announced stateside yet, but he said he’d wrestle in WCCW as UWF champion and defend the belt against the Von Erichs.
- AWA is putting all the heat with the recent Hennig/Gagne title match on Stanley Blackburn. They’d billed the match as a title match, Gagne won and was presented with the title, but Stan refused to honor the title change because it was a cage match. Something to talk about in the month they don’t run shows, I guess, but this is what passes for creative in AWA.
- AWA will use the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena as their new home base now that the Minneapolis Auditorium is gone. There’s some concern that the arena’s ban on alcohol will adversely affect ticket sales.
- Despite some screw ups, New Japan did fairly good business with their most recent tour and jr. heavyweight tournament. Inoki beat Choshu decisively on February 4 to retain the IWGP Title, which puts a final end to Choshumania and any chance he had of regaining the popularity he’s lost over the past six months. On the final night of the tour, Shiro Koshinaka won the Top of the Super Juniors tournament. Vader and Inoki went to a double countout for the IWGP Title that saw the return of the masked pirate who was attacking Inoki last year.
- In bad wrestling stuff in New Japan, Choshu’s performance has noticeably slipped and Buzz Sawyer seems to be trying to sabotage Owen Hart. Choshu just looks like he doesn’t even want to be in the ring anymore. As for Sawyer, he’s been teaming with Owen and when Owen starts up his more flashy offence, Sawyer starts barking, howling, and playing to the crowd to distract them from what Hart’s doing. Buzz Sawyer is a total buzzkill.
- New Japan plans to tour Brazil in late March.
- Steve Williams gave an interview saying he’s tired of touring all over the U.S. and he wants to spend more time with his wife. He also said the NWA broke a bunch of promises they made to him when they bought out UWF, and he seemed pretty upset that Dusty never followed through with the promised unification match with Flair. He said “I don’t go back to NWA Crockett promotions anymore. I’d like to wrestle for promotions which set a high value on ability. New Japan is good because they use Vader, Buzz Sawyer, Bob Orton and Owen Hart who can do hard wrestling.
- All Japan Women is looking pretty healthy right now. They drew 3,500 fans on January 28 for a big grudge match pitting Yumiko Hotta and Hisako Uno against Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori. It was last year on April 27 when Ogura tombstoned Hotta off the middle ropes and broke her neck, and there was worry that Hotta would never wrestle again. The next night they drew 4,500 as Ogura won the AJW Title (their tertiary belt after the “Red Belt” WWWA World Singles Title and the “White Belt” WWWA All Pacific Title) from Bull Nakano via disqualification. Both shows work out to over 100,000 gates given ticket prices in Japan, and AJW’s merch machine is better than anyone else, as they get more money selling merch per capita than any other promotion. Monster Ripper (Rhonda Singh from Stampede, in the future Bertha Faye), is working here now too.
- Paul Boesch was elected/appointed to the NWA board of directors, making him the first non-promoter ever on the board. Back in the NWA’s glory days, the board would select the world champion, but that’s probably pretty much up to Jim Crockett now and the board is more or less a figurehead thing. The real value for the NWA here is using Boesch’s name value in the Houston area, and he’ll be starting as they return to Houston on March 4. He’s not on board as the promoter, however, and has no financial stake in the show, so it’s pretty much just a “Hey, remember Paul Boesch? He’s with us” kind of thing.
- More details will be forthcoming about the Crockett Cup next week, but Dave has a bit to report right now. The original plan was two sites on two dates: April 9 in Greenville for the first round and April 10 in Greensboro for the finals, but they’re already advertising on tv now that the Cup will take place in Greensboro in late April. No information on if they’ll be filling out the 24 team slots with outside teams, but if they can get World Class and Stampede, maybe even New Japan involved that could help. But with the egos involved it might be impossible.
- Crockett’s TBS show this weekend had a balding, blond jobber named Randy Hogan. Subtle.
- Shane Douglass is back in Crockett and is using a sleeper hold for his finisher. He seems to be getting a bit of a push, but they don’t seem to know what they’re doing, as Schiavone is calling him the 1986 rookie of the year and Jim Ross is calling him the 1987 rookie of the year.
- Road Warrior Animal’s eye injury is legit and he’ll be out of action for a few weeks. He broke his orbital bone when Konga the Barbarian botched a move on him and was nearly blinded (similar injury to what Maeda inflicted on Riki Choshu). They were billing him as returning this past weekend, which had Dave thinking it was a work at first. Dave’s not sure how effective the angle with the weights was in terms of increasing crowd turnout. So far, middling turnout says not very effective.
- It’s astonishing how fast Luger’s face run has fizzled. Luger’s the kind of guy you can look at and in a snap decision decide he’s a future top babyface star and begin the push, but when you look at him close you realize he just doesn’t have it. He’s got the body, the good looks, the hair, all the surface level stuff you want in a guy. It almost convinces you he’s over and the future of the business. But having a good body and blond hair is pretty common, and his looks aren’t anything special either. He could still be a big star and almost certainly will be a star at some level in the future, but he just doesn’t have the connection to the audience that will make him the guy. He didn’t have it in Florida (the promotion literally died trying to get him over as a babyface in 1986), and he doesn’t have it now. Sting needs a lot of work on promos, and he’s not got the body Luger has, but he has the connection with the fans and has just eclipsed Luger in their eyes. And it’s super obvious to anyone watching. The crowd comes alive for every little thing Sting does, and they don’t really care about Luger and Windham when they talk. Sting’s look comes across as more cool to the fans too. Dave has this feeling that Crockett will want to keep all three at the same level, ensuring nobody gets over enough to make a difference. And Luger’s not to blame for the crowd reaction. The promotion wasted no time making him just one of the boys after his face turn, and Dave thinks they should have given him a few months of a major singles babyface push rather than just ruining the impact of his face turn by making him a tag team guy.
- An anonymous wrestler or referee from Oregon writes in about the latest athletic commission business in Oregon. Short version: Don Owen and the commissioner were arguing over enforcement of certain rules in the combined boxing and wrestling rule book. The commissioner wanted to regulate wrestling exactly the same as boxing. He saw a guy thrown over the top and saw the top rope break during a match, leading to a nasty spill. He told Owen that having four ropes would fix that problem, and he didn’t like seeing heels use foreign objects in front of the referee and would appoint a commission referee if that kind of stuff continued. Three weeks later, he came back with a changed point of view after meeting commissioners from other states. Clearly someone smartened him up about what wrestling actually is, and he changed his mind about the ropes and foreign objects, though he did want drug testing and a ban on blading. He lied in the media that he said what he said about the ropes and referees, but he did say it. In the writer’s opinion, the commission is on the right track now. They check tickets closely, seem concerned for the welfare of fans and wrestlers alike, and have introduced changes that the Northwest has needed for a while. It doesn’t solve the big problem out there, though. And that problem is that Don and Barry Owen run things like it’s the 1940s and are afraid to try new things. They also don’t want to pay well, and with the death of the territories happening, they can get away with it because there aren’t that many places to work. A lot of wrestlers would prefer if Sandy Barr ran things in the region, because he’s been seen as very fair. Finally, unrelated, a paragraph about shoot style and shooting that I think is very interesting as we see things like MMA begin to take nascent form in the next few years:
One other thing I would like to touch upon. That is the people who seem to get off on “shooting style” pro wrestling. Shooting is NOT pro wrestling. In fact it’s the very antithesis of pro wrestling. Why anybody who claims to be a pro wrestling fan would like to see it is beyond me. Pro Wrestling is an art form. Making it look good WITHOUT hurting anyone is what makes you a good worker. Good technique, a light touch and a gift for gab is what constitutes a top-notch pro. Wrestlers who deliberately hurt people in the ring may be feared, but they are not respected. We find many of these asses in Japan, but we have our share in the United States and Canada as well. When you give someone your body, you expect them to take care of it. People pay to see action and drama. Legitimate wrestling matches have never proven to be able to draw any significant following.
- Another writer writes in about the Observer yearbook and how a large chunk of it was super professionally done and could be the basis for expansion into a proper book, but there’s also sophomoric and childish stuff (like the nicknames) that hurt it. The writer thinks Dave’s passed the point of just being a fanzine and shouldn’t bog down the quality of his publication with stuff of that sort. Dave, for his part, thanks the writer for his points, but maintains he’s never wanted or claimed the Observer as a professional publication. The Observer is a publication for hardcore wrestling fans and plays on a lot of the inside humor they want to hear.
- There’s an entire page devoted to letters about The Main Event. Some folks think Andre should retire with what dignity he still has, because he just shouldn’t be in a ring anymore. Some loved the finish to the title match, others hated it and found it ridiculous. One reports that just before the show started, the local tv announcer pivoted from Wheel of Fortune to the show by saying “Join Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant next for live wrestling comedy.”
- Correction on the above about Road Warrior Animal’s injury: He apparently hurt his eye the night before the bench press contest. A move was done wrong, or he took it wrong, but either way, his eye popped out of socket. Major credit to him showing up the next day to do the contest angle before going to the hospital. It explains Ellering’s comments about $50,000 not being worth the price of an eye, which didn’t make sense at the time.
- New Japan has changed plans and their big show they were going to have in the Tokyo Dome (capacity 55,000) will now be at a tennis stadium in Tokyo (capacity 10,000) on May 7. Looks like he’ll wrestle Vader, Willem Ruska (a former gold medalist judoka), or Chris Dolman (a sambo wrestling champion), and none of those pairings has the drawing power to fill the Dome. If he really wanted to sell out the Dome he’d need Koji Kitao (who was recently kicked out of sumo) or a big name boxer like Michael Spinks or Larry Holmes, but he couldn’t get them. On Kitao, he recently was contacted by Wajima, which means Baba’s on the hunt for him, although things are so early they haven’t even had preliminary talks yet.
Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Feb. 15, 1988
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
- The Main Event is in the books. WWF came up with the perfect finish for Andre vs. Hogan at The Main Event, and Dave hopes whoever came up with it got a nice bonus. It’s been 33 years since the last time wrestling was on prime time network tv (and Dave says it still isn’t there, but WWF came out looking good anyway). Everything they wanted to accomplish they accomplished, and they did it successfully. Andre didn’t get hurt, Hogan dropped the title without having to do a real job, Wrestlemania has been set up, and the finish was so weird it distracts completely from the weaknesses elsewhere in the show. Doing a screwjob finish to take the title off someone as over as Hogan could well lead to new heights. For the overseas audience, Dave recaps the show. Only two matches aired (and the show was live), and the result of Hogan dropping the belt to Andre was so well known Dave suspected this was a purposefully leaked thing to throw people off the scent. And it was hard not to know, as several radio stations reported the title change Friday morning before the show aired that night and it was in the San Jose Mercury that morning at the front of the sports section as well. All this because WWF launched its advertising blitz for Wrestlemania with the tagline “Hogan tries to regain his title.” WWF wasn’t even concerned about the spoilers, because their goal was to use the publicity to drive up ratings. They opened with Honkeytonk vs. Randy Savage for the Interconinental Title, and Savage carried the match to watchable status. Production for the show was much less slick than usual, with the camera missing shots (Jimmy Hart’s interference on several occasions). Anyway, Dave gives the match two stars.
- As for the WWF Title match, a good match was never in the cards and it’s probable that Andre is no longer physically capable of a good match. He’s lost a lot of weight, and he performs well as a heel, but he has no business in the ring. Andre did nothing but stand still for the first three minutes and change, and when he and Hogan did go at it, Andre never went down. Dave doubts if Andre would be able to get up again if he had. They did the Ric Flair bump from the top, Andre choked Hogan and you could see he was running out of gas. He tried to kick Hogan but couldn’t support himself on one leg, and Dave imagines Vince seeing $25 million “flying out the window.” Andre got back to choking, though, and the crowd shots indicate, from all the waving and mugging for the cameras, that they weren’t paying much attention at all to the match. Hogan got his comeback, then Andre did a bad hiplock that was supposed to be a vertical suplex, and covered Hogan to win when the referee counted three even though Hogan kicked out at one. No riot like at Sumo Hall, as Dave Hebner shows up right after Andre handed off what he called “The World Tag Team Championship” to Ted DiBiase before the fans can go nuts, and Vince and Ventura exclaim their shock at the identical (not even close to identical) referee situation. Earl tosses Dave out of the ring, then Hogan tosses Earl but Hogan tossed him too far and DiBiase and Virgil couldn’t catch him.
- So where does all this lead in terms of Wrestlemania? The story seems to be that DiBiase paid for someone to get plastic surgery to look like Dave Hebner and steal the belt. The syndicated shows the next day said that Jack Tunney has banned commentators from talking about the occurrence on February 5 (remember, they were taped before February 5, so that’s good cover). They even played it up as the heel commentators trying to talk about it, but getting censored, with Ventura storming off set and complaining about the censorship. Everything worked so well Dave’s even guessing his $25 million estimate for Wrestlemania may be a conservative estimate. Ted DiBiase appeared on February 6 at WWF shows in Boston and Philadelphia billed as WWF champion, but next weekend’s syndicated shows will announce that the title will be held up (Dave says he’s not sure of it, but it all seems to be going that way), which leaves us several potential routes to Wrestlemania, and potentially even out to the August ppv. Hogan could face DiBiase at Wrestlemania, then Andre in August. DiBiase could drop the title to Hogan, then Hogan defends against Andre (or he doesn’t drop and Hogan gets a rematch in August to win it). Dave thinks up several convoluted things, but thinks it’ll be a lot simpler: Hogan and Andre in a cage for the held up title with Hogan winning at Wrestlemania.
- Dave gives a brief overview of the career of Geoff Portz Jr., the Stampede wrestler (also known as Scott McGhee and Garfield Portz) who suffered a stroke last week. Portz is 40, and his father was a big name in England in the 1960s. He collapsed while pumping gasoline, and his prognosis looked bad at first, but he’s taken a turn for the better and can already speak again. Too early to tell if he’ll ever wrestle again. Turns out this is it for him, with the exception of two one-off matches in 1989 and 2010.
- Dynamite Kid collapsed last week at the San Francisco airport before last Saturday’s show (the one Dave went to from last rewind). At least one radio station reported a heart attack, but it was a seizure of some kind. He’s already back in the ring. Also back in the ring following arthroscopic knee surgery is Bam Bam Bigelow.
- The final Minneapolis Auditorium card for AWA had a disappointing turnout of 1700 fans. In part, the low turnout can be attributed to WWF deciding to run a show in the Twin Cities the next week as a “Mad Dog Vachon” night with plenty of their own old-timers (namely Bockwinkel, Blackjack Lanza, and the Crusher, whose name value are all bigger than the crew Gagne brought out. Speaking off, Gagne had Red Bastien, Bert Smith (Stan “Big K” Kowalski), Carl Eller (not a wrestler, but one of the Purple People Eaters front four for the Minnesota Vikings in the early 1970s), Butch Levy, Leo Nomellini, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Dick the Bruiser (they actually put him in the ring), Billy Robinson, and perennial jobber Kenny “Sodbuster” Jay. As far as the show itself, not much of interest. Tom Zenk went to a draw against Billy Robinson (who is 50 and retired), which makes little sense since Zenk’s the only viable babyface challenger for Hennig. Midnight Rockers retained the tag titles over Kevin Kelly and Mr. Go in a decent match. Greg Gagne pinned Curt Hennig (referee Leo Nomellini) in a cage match where it was never announced whether or not the title was on the line. Hennig did the job after he shoved Leo, who then did a football tackle to him and Gagne covered for the pin. Good work, having your world champion job to a 60 year old retired football player. Dave runs down Leo’s credentials in football (Leo played on the same team as Verne in college and is in the NFL Hall of Fame, and late in his career (the 1950s) did pro wrestling in the football off-season. Anyway, they later had an explanation for Curt being the champion: “a cage match can’t be a title match.” Okay then.
- Other AWA news: Adrian Adonis won’t be back until March at the earliest (he won’t be back at all). No word on Paul E. Dangerously’s contract status, but negotiations don’t appear to have broken off. Nord the Barbarian is gone.
- Rip Rogers has been a big surprise in Stampede and become a good worker. He had a really good match with Chris Benoit on January 29 in Calgary where he put Benoit in a Boston Crab after spraying something in Benoit’s eyes, and the referee immediately called for the bell instead of waiting for Benoit to submit, and declared Benoit was unable to continue. Heel referee, screwjob finish? Is Calgary just Albertan for Montreal?
- Gary Allbright, a former All-American wrestler from Nebraska, has begun at Stampede. He’s been introduced as Makhan Singh’s half-brother and is being trained in the Hart Dungeon. He’ll debut in about a month, and word is he has major potential. I don’t know when, but I’m assuming after this at some point, is when he meets and marries his wife, Monica Anoa’i.
- February 5 was the last Stampede appearance for Badnews Allen. Allen didn’t do any jobs on the way out per order of Vince McMahon, who didn’t want him doing anything that would weaken him going to WWF or strengthen Stampede on the way out.
- Losing Sumo Hall due to the riot definitely hurt New Japan. They had to move the Choshu/Inoki rematch to Korauken Hall, which sold out easily but that’s only 2,000 tickets.
- The finals of the NJPW jr. heavyweight tournament happened on February 7. Hase vs. Koshinaka for the final, no result reported yet. Hase is getting a big push, but he’s not the most over among the jr. heavyweights - Takada and Yamazaki are more over. Also Owen Hart returns in May, which means he’s not heading to WWF in the next few months, at least.
- Little news for All Japan since they don’t start back up again until late in the month, but Dave does issue a correction. It regards the Asian Tag Titles and who won them when and he’s looking into getting the actual situation cleared up. I can't really follow what he's saying here, so I'm not even going to try.
- Weekly Pro Wrestling did its reader awards, and Tenryu won both Best Japanese Wrestler and Most Popular Wrestler. Clearly he’s the hottest thing going in Japan. Chugsa Nagayo vs. Yukari Omori from October 20, where Chigusa won the world title, won Women’s Singles Match of the Year. Crush Gals vs. Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori from January 5 won Women’s Tag Match of the Year. Bam Bam Bigelow won Best Foreign Wrestler.
- World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico had a big show at a baseball stadium and drew around 25,000 fans for a show main evented by Carlos Colón vs. Iron Sheik.
- Chavo Guerrero (Chavo Classic) is now working in catering in Southern California and has apparently retired from wrestling.
- The big news in Memphis is that they turned Bill Dundee heel. They did a battle royal on February 6, with the winner getting a shot at the CWA Title. Jeff Jarrett and Bill Dundee were the final two and Dundee threw Jarrett over. Jarrett skinned the cat while Dundee celebrated, then hit him with a couple dropkicks to eliminate him. Later in the show, Jerry Lawler defended the title against Jarrett, and Dundee came out and hit both of them with a chair and beat them both senseless.
- Memphis has a tag team called the Choir Boys managed by a guy called Angel who’s doing a preacher gimmick. The whole act is getting their phones flooded with calls from religious groups who hate it. Angel’s deal is he’s on a mission to start “Wrestling Village USA”, a reference to Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA.
- Dave gives a brief overview of Mexico. There are dozens of promotions and wrestling draws big crowds. Gates aren’t that big, due to the weak peso, so not a lot of Americans working there as even the main eventers make like $25-$30 for cards that draw thousands. In the Mexico City metro, there are five shows every Wednesday, seven every Friday, and ten every Sunday and even with that many shows the big cards draw over 15,000 fans. The big names include Perro Aguayo, Super Halcon, Super Muneco, Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and El Canek. One of the top heels in Mexico City is a guy called Beautiful Elvis who is doing a Honkeytonk Man ripoff gimmick.
- This Southern Championship Wrestling promotion in the Atlanta area is getting pretty hot. They drew 620 and had to turn people away on February 6. Notable from that show was Bruiser Brody wrestling a mannequin that he called Dick Slater. Brody literally dismantled the mannequin and tore it limb from limb. Brody seems to have the most interesting stuff in this group, based off the summaries I’m reading - in the second hour of the show Brody wrestled Steve Bennet and shoved Bennet’s face into a plate of chicken (the shows are held at a restaurant/bar). Dick Slater came out then and they brawled to set up their match for the future.
- Southern Championship Wrestling and Deep South Wrestling are lobbing shots across the bow at each other lately. Deep South recently made fun of Joe Pedicino (who is SCW’s tv announcer and famous for Pro Wrestling This Week) and Bonnie Blackstone (co-host of Pro Wrestling This Week). They had people parodying them, with the guy playing Pedicino getting stuck in his chair and the woman playing Blackstone playing bimbo. SCW and PWTW has mostly been quiet about this, though they did show a clip from Puerto Rico of Invader #1 (fuck Invader #1) vs. The Assassin, and said that “This is the Puerto Rican Assassin because there is nobody named The Assassin in the United States that can wrestle.” Jody Hamilton, who runs Deep South, happens to be their main event guy as The Assassin. Dave thinks the inside baseball can be pretty fun at times.
- Michael Hayes was on an Atlanta area show this weekend and said of the NWA that “it may be the major league, but their checks are minor league.
- Not a lot of news for Crockett, the biggest thing is that Ted Turner’s now involved. Turner’s trying to get them back on track with ppv. Crockett originally announced four for this year (Bunkhouse final, Crockett Cup, Great American Bash, and Starrcade). With McMahon undisputedly on top of the wrestling business having announced four for this year and the 60/21 day before and after clauses, there wasn’t really much hope for Crockett to have a future in ppv going forward. The future of wrestling as a business is in ppv and outside merchandising, not house shows, so being effectively locked out of ppv means that no matter what goes well for Crockett, there’s no way for Crockett to compete. So Turner’s getting involved and helping Crockett get an early Bash date for July on ppv (Starrcade and Crockett Cup on ppv have already been canceled). There are no current plans for another ppv until January, for Bunkhouse finals 1989 (Dave notes that the difference between Crockett and McMahon is that McMahon learns from his mistakes).
- In the ratings, WWF’s syndicated package has placed 3rd with a 10.6 national rating. Crockett’s package is ranked 12th with a 6.5 rating.
- [NWA] Sting’s catching fire as a young babyface. He’s even surprised Dave with how quickly he’s been rising and that he’s surpassed Barry Windham and Lex Luger. Dave worried Luger would lose steam, but didn’t imagine he would lose it this soon. It’s okay, though, Dave. Luger’s on track to get betrayed by Barry Windham, which should work well for both. Back to Sting, Dave thinks he might still need work on promos, but he does some amazing things in the ring and has a connection to the audience that’s undeniable. In a year or so he could be built to carry the promotion.
- There looks to be no hope of reconciliation between Crockett and Michael Hayes/Steve Williams/Rock & Roll Express. The Express claim they have a June start date with WWF (Dave’s skeptical) and will be finding independent work until then. Meanwhile people are calling the Crockett offices about them and the official company line is that they aren’t gone, just renegotiating. Hayes looks to be going to World Class, but he has been talking to WWF (as have a couple other folks in JCP). Williams is just going to stay in Japan, but Dave thinks he should get in with World Class for spot duty to help keep his conditioning up in between tours of Japan.
- Bad news aside, Dave does think Crockett’s booking has been getting back on track. The Road Warriors bench pressing angle was great and Dave thinks it’s going to do well money-wise for Crockett. Anyway, Dave wants to revise his previous assessment that the weights were legit. He has a friend who legit benches 500 lbs, and watching the angle Dave thinks the weights were fudged. He thinks they did the 470 too easily for it to be real, even if they can legit bench in the 550 range. Looking at the plates, Dave ballparks the 470 at 365 and the 600 at 505. Anyway, they’re going to be working ladder matches (with $50,000) on top of a wooden ladder) against Warlord and Barbarian. Dave also tips his hat to whoever came up with saying that Animal broke the orbital bone in his eye. Using technical terms makes things sound legit.
- Dave decides to revisit Tully Blanchard vs. Barry Windham from several weeks back because it really is a slow week in Crockett news. The match went for 27 minutes and was heavy on limb work and selling injury. Windham and Blanchard know how to work that style, and the match was technically, compared to the wrestling Dave grew up with, a good match. Lots of readers enjoyed it. But the issue is that the fans were not buying into it. 22 minutes in, Tully had Blanchard in a figure four after having worked the leg for 12 minutes, and the crowd’s only response was the call the match boring. This could be a sign of things to come, because if crowds keep reacting like this long matches could go the way of the dodo. Dave remembers a FlaiWindham match in Houston last year that went 30 minutes and which he considers a 4 star match. They did their usual deal - 7 minutes slow start then turn up the heat, but in those first 7 minutes hundreds of fans left the arena. So what Dave thought was a great match (and which those at ringside seemed completely into) was not well received by those in the bleachers who left. Matches with slow builds like this simply may not appeal to the fans of today, and Dave doesn’t want to get into that too much, but he’s seen too many examples of fans not sustaining interest in long matches that he thinks slow, story-focused matches simply may not be viable as entertainment for modern wrestling fans.
- In WWF trivia, about 14 months ago the Hart Foundation defeated a jobber team of Owen James and S.D. Jones. Owen James was, of course, Owen Hart. Even then, you could see how much better he was than pretty much anyone in WWF. This would have been the September 14, 1986 Denver house show. I can’t find any video of it, unfortunately.
- Dave watched the January 25 MSG main event of Hogan/Bigelow vs. DiBiase/Virgil. It was a very good match and DiBiase is the perfect opponent for Hogan. He gets the best out of Hogan, and despite Virgil being abysmal and Bigelow not being in much due to his knee acting up, the match was an easy 3.5 stars for Dave.
- Wrestlemania ticket sales are not going as well as Dave had anticipated. As of February 8, only 5,000 tickets had sold, and there are 4,000 remaining. And rather than 2,000 freebies given out, there are almost 9,000 being given away, with a final maximum attendance of 17,800. Dave figures within the week they’ll be sold out then. Wrestlemania 3 sold around 20,000 in the first week, so it makes sense to move away from a big stadium this year. No way they’d fill it. Speaking of Wrestlemania 3, WWF is now claiming they grossed $20.4 million rather than $17.1 million last year. Dave’s worst case projected scenario for Wrestlemania 4 is around $23.5 million, with a likely $25 million. Wrestlemania 4 may be available via closed-circuit in 161 locations in North America, so there you’ll find a lot of profit to be made.
- The first page of letters this week are largely focused on what was wrong with the Bunkhouse finals and how it proves Dusty needs to go. Another one mentions how the Rumble was a nice surprise as a counterpoint. There is a point about World Class mentioned in one, and Dave gives us the that Kerry and Kevin each own a third and Ken Mantell owns about 30%, according to the latest word Dave has.
- I’m officially blaming rare book dealer and letter writer Earl Williams for breaking the star rating scale. He wrote a letter about how much he liked the 1987 yearbook (Dave used to do big yearbook special issues covering all the big stories for the year and the results of the annual awards voting, but the only one I have in my files is from 1986 and it’s practically unreadable it’s such low quality) and gives the yearbook 10 stars. Earl, you’re in Oakland. You can’t give ten stars. You’re too far from the Tokyo Dome for that.
- If you’re wondering about Dark Journey, who was fired by Crockett last year, Dave has an update on her. She had an interview with WWF, but they wanted a wrestler not a valet, so she’s left wrestling and started up a business in Southern California.
- Last thing from the letters, Dave writes in response to a question about if there are any wrestlers of color on the horizon to win major championships. His response to that part of the letter (and the part about wondering why NWA doesn’t market Ron Simmons) is worth putting in full:
We could probably do an entire book about the plight of minorities in pro wrestling. In an era where Cosby is the most-watched TV show in the country it’s obvious that pro wrestling promoters and bookers are living in the past when it comes to the belief that blacks must play stepin-fetchet characters or pimp roles to get over. Wrestling is way behind most every other sport and entertainment in this regard. [...] In all honesty, I don’t think Simmons is ready for a push yet although at one point there were plans to give him a big push this summer although I’m not certain if those plans have changed or not. He does have potential to be a big star, but then again, I can see them pushing the same old role on him, as every interview they have to continually harp on him coming from the ghetto and all that.
- Global Wrestling, the one that’s publicly traded, is already showing old tapes for its tv show. That's not a good sign.
- Roddy Piper’s doing great in Hollywood. Reports indicate he’ll never have to wrestle again unless he wants to.
- Ken Mantell wants to put together a Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair match for May. If it happens, so long to any pretending the World Class Title is a major title. It doesn’t happen.
- We ought to know the main event for Wrestlemania 4 for sure by next week, but it’s looking like a clear Hogan/Andre cage match with the title held up from what Dave’s seeing. He's really set on this cage thing.
- The Main Event drew a 16.1 rating and a 26 share (ratings to be revised next issue). That makes it the most watched wrestling match in U.S. history. More details next time, but the basics are it did an average rating for prime time and did a lot better than Rags to Riches (which usually airs in that time slot). It probably hit around number 25 for the week, though some NBC people were talking top five or top ten. No weekly series will come out of this, but another prime time special is sure to happen. Dave expected better numbers as much as anyone involved, but guess there aren’t as many potential wrestling fans in the U.S. as Dave thought.
- New Japan’s last prime time show will be on March 28 before they get moved to 4 pm Saturday. Of the remaining 40 weeks this year after the move, New Japan will be pre-empted for golf coverage on 14 of those weeks. That’s gonna hurt New Japan a lot, to the tune of $1.6 million just in rights fees from the network, nevermind exposure, live gates, and ad revenue.
- Speaking of New Japan, they’re giving Samurai Warrior a push for some reason. Warrior is a Hiro Matsuda trainee and he’s got a singles match with Choshu on March 11. He’s awful and it makes no sense why he’s getting a push.
- WWF won’t make Wrestlemania 4 available on satellite. They claim some bars and hotels got Survivor Series on dish and charged money to watch it, so there goes the dish market.
- The last words of the issue, handwritten right before being sent out in the mail, are “Flash: WWF Title Vacated”
Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ January 25, 1988
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
- February 5 could be the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning of this current wrestling war. No doubt about it that McMahon’s Main Event will be a big success, especially with Andre vs. Hogan headlining and lots of publicity. There’s a good chance it cracks the top 15 weekly ratings, but that’s where things get tricky. If it succeeds, WWF will want to do it again, as will networks. Does this then mean weekly prime time wrestling? Just four years ago it was almost unthinkable that pro wrestling would be on network tv at all, and WWF has had a run of successes all through 1987. They’re firing on all cylinders and drawing big ratings with everything, and that’s the sort of thing networks find appealing. Could this lead to network tv for Crockett? Probably not - no way would Crockett give up the creative control necessary to make their show fit for network tv, and no network would have “you-know-who” (I’m guessing Dusty?) as the showcased star. Dave expects that if this show is a success, we may see WWF getting offered a weekly network deal by fall of 1989 to combat falling ratings (doesn’t that sound like Fox in 2019 making a deal with WWE?). The question is if WWF can put on interesting weekly tv shows long enough to keep interest in the long-term, and Dave’s not sure they can do that. He also isn’t sure Vince will be smart enough to avoid the trap of weekly network tv if the opportunity is there. On the other hand, whatever time they did get would be very lucrative for the duration. So would passing it up even be the smart move? Wrestling as a whole could fall to scandal at any moment, so is the long-term really worth considering too hard?
- Focusing on the event itself, Andre and Hogan have big pressure on them. Andre’s condition means they can’t do a good match on their own, so they need a good finish and need to gimmick their way around the limitations. Hogan winning cleanly is the bad option - it would kill interest in Hogan’s match for Wrestlemania because nobody will be able to get over to Andre levels to be believable. Andre winning with Hogan challenging at Wrestlemania is the most discussed scenario, but Dave wonders if they’ll mortalize Hogan. It’s a hell of a needle to thread.
- At the time of writing, Rumble vs. Bunkhouse is one week away. Dave fully expects Crockett’s ppv to fail, based on all indications he has. Dave’s pessimistic about their ppv numbers and the number of homes they’ll clear, and they’ve done a terrible job at hyping things up. The fact of the matter is this: every cable company will compare their performance to WWF (an unfair comparison), and that’s just going to not look good for Crockett. Failure here will make it harder to get the Crockett Cup carried, especially if WWF puts the pressure on after Wrestlemania. One of the companies Dave has contacts with has given indication that the Bunkhouse Stampede isn’t selling at all with them, which is not a good sign.
- The Midnight Rockers are AWA Tag Team Champions. The December 27 match in Vegas ended with a double pin and the referee awarded the match to the Midnight Express. They’ve since announced that decision was overturned and the Rockers are champions. The real reason is that the Midnight Express have quit the AWA. Randy Rose wasn’t making enough money and wanted a guaranteed contract to keep him coming up from Georgia, and Condrey (who had a guaranteed contract) got his contract cut. So Condrey quit immediately, and Verne apparently didn’t want to keep using them so he didn’t even want to bring them back to do the job. Dave’s not sure where Paul E. Dangerously stands in this, but he’s heard stories indicating he’s still with them and that he’s split from them. Either way, he wasn’t at the most recent AWA taping. The Rockers are still mostly wrestling in Memphis, but expect that to change soon.
- Good news for Crockett: their tv ratings seem to have stopped dropping and they might be rebounding. Their syndicated package has returned to the top 15 (coming in at number 14, two spots behind the All-Star Wrestling Network package which has 65 fewer stations it’s available on). So it’s good for Crockett that they’re improving, but that comparison to the ASW network means there’s still lots of room for improvement. WWF came in fourth place with their syndicated package.
- All Japan Women has a big challenge ahead of them as both Dump Matsumoto and Yukari Omori arintend to retire in the Spring. AJW has a retirement rule in place where wrestlers are expected/made to retire at 26, and Omori just turned 26 last week. Matsumoto is 27, but they had waived the rule for her due to her drawing power and because they had no one to take her spot as a top heel. So this past year was spent building Bull Nakano and Condor Saito for that role, and the goal is to phase out Dump over the next two months. Dump, like Devil Masami, reportedly wants to continue wrestling and may tour North America. If used correctly, Dave believes she could make women’s wrestling in the U.S. and gain one of the biggest cult followings in all of wrestling. She’d need to be given the push and let completely loose for it to work, but “her gimmickry is such that she would actually get over more in the U.S. than in Japan.” Dave’s seen how Americans react to her in Japan and how they go to AJW shows just to see her (and more Americans go to AJW shows than go to either New Japan or All Japan), and he really thinks Dump has the potential to be among the biggest things going in America if she were to come over, on the same level as the Road Warriors. The Jumping Bomb Angels have been doing fantastically in WWF, so there could be a spot for Dump there. The only problem is it would mean phasing out most every American woman they have, because the only one they really have who can keep up is Leilani Kai. Anyway, Omori and Matsumoto retiring would mean five of the eight biggest draws for AJW would no longer be working there, leaving Bull Nakano, Lioness Asuka, and Chigusa Nagayo to carry things along as they try to develop new draws.
- [Memphis] Another week, another week with neither Lawler nor Bill Dundee turning heel. Their January 11 match (ring vs. $5,000) ended in a ref bump and the visual was Dundee pinning Lawler, until Terry Taylor ran in and hit Dundee with a DDT, then beat up Lawler and the match was a no contest.
- [Memphis] For January 18 they have Lawler putting up his ring against Curt Hennig’s AWA Title. Lawler’s talking about this as any kind of loss will result in Hennig getting the ring, and Dave wouldn’t be surprised if Hennig drops the belt, probably to drop it back to Hennig in Vegas in February at the next tv tapings.
- [AWA] The last show in the Minneapolis Auditorium will be on February 4 and is being billed as Old Timers Night. They’re bringing in Dick the Bruiser, Kenny Jay, Leo Nomellini, Bronko Nagurski, Billy Robinson, Dr. X, Red Bastien, and Butch Levy for guest appearances, and Curt Hennig vs. Greg Gagne will be the AWA Title match. Otherwise the card is a mystery.
- Nord the Barbarian’s car commercials have made him the most over wrestler in the Twin Cities after Hogan. AWA is, of course, afraid to push him too much lest he leave and it winds up hurting them. Nord doesn’t work dates outside Minnesota, even.
- Due to the Winter Olympics coming to Calgary next month, Stampede’s going to have to move from their usual spot in the Pavilion. The Pavilion seats 2000 people, and their shows in February will be in a 1000 seat building.
- Southern Championship Wrestling’s second tv taping drew 400 and had a couple highlights. Dick Slater said in a promo that when he was through with SCW he’d be more hated than Bill Watts. The other highlight was Bruiser BRody accidentally calling Grizzly Boone Grizzly Smith. The promotion’s figurehead president also confiscated Paul E. Dangerously’s mobile phone.
- Global in Florida now has Gordon Solie doing tv for them. The Malenko brothers are the best workers, and Solie talks about how much the fans are booing those dastardly Russians even as they get nothing but cheers and are the most over guys in the promotion.
- The UWF (Japan version) has folded and is closing up, and that’s the only real news in New Japan. The UWF was Akira Maeda and his friends negotiating as a group with New Japan and they had their own business office. With Maeda gone from New Japan, the group has dissolved and been fully absorbed into NJPW. Kazuo Yamazaki is being kept on, and Maeda will probably return in the future. UWF guys will now stop wrestling a different style and won’t sell UWF merchandise at shows anymore.
- [New Japan] Inoki and Fujinami are teaming again. Dave finds this pretty unsatisfactory and indicative of how any success New Japan is having right now is in spite of their booking, not because of it. They teamed, feuded, never had a singles match, and are now teaming again all without the feud ever coming to anything or getting resolved. Irritating.
- [World Class] The Freebirds (King Parsons, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts) won the WCCW 6-man tag titles on January 4. The former champs were Kevin Von Erich, Steve Simpson, and Chris Adams. Matt Borne subbed for Kevin in the match as the Birds attacked Von Erich backstage and left him injured, but he came out during the match to interfere and cause a disqualification. And in WCCW titles change on disqualification, so yeah. Anyway, extra funny for Dave is how pointlessly they lied on commentary in the match where Kevin, Steve, and Chris won the titles on Christmas in the first place. They called it the finals of a tournament being held around the country over the past several months, but everyone knows Simpson was out for several months because of a torn retina and only just came back. Not to mention the other guys involved who were either in Japan, not working for World Class, or otherwise occupied. Lying’s baked into the DNA of the business, but that doesn’t mean everything you say has to be a lie.
- World Class is pushing Ken Mantell’s wrestling school hard on the air. They’re calling it the World Class Academy of Wrestling. It was formerly known as the UWF training center.
- Mantell’s come up with a hell of a gimmick match idea, and it’ll be the feature on the January 22 Dallas show for WCCW: the Thunderdome match. It’s a ten man elimination tornado cage match pitting Kevin & Kerry Von Erich, the Fantastics, and Chris Adams against the Freebirds, Jack Victory, and John Tatum. There are five sets of handcuffs in each corner, and when a man gets pinned he gets handcuffed to the ropes. When all five members of a team are cuffed, the winners get the keys and can uncuff their guys, after which the referee will leave the ring and they get five minutes to beat up the cuffed and defenseless losers. Dave thinks this sounds like a great match concept and expects a sellout on the strength of it (and no, as much as he’s been ragging on WCCW, there’s no sarcasm there at all - he’s genuinely positive on this).
- Word this week on WCCW’s ownership is that Mantell owns 30%, but the company’s been restructured and he’s Managing General Partner and calls all the shots. Fritz has called at least one shot, though so…
- Steve Corey had been helping revive WCCW’s business with spot shows, but some of his ideas lately have been not great. He recently promoted one in combination with a Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert-Lloyd tennis exhibition, and Dave thinks there can’t be anything dumber than trying to put in one show a women’s tennis exhibition with pro wrestling. Fortunately the tennis players balked and the show wound up canceled, but jeez.
- **Last note from WCCW: on the January 4 show they had Brian Adias and Frankie Lancaster vs. Missing Link and Bill Irwin in a first blood match between Wild West and WCCW representatives. Link and Irwin won, and Bill Mercer went on and on about how it was a win for Wild West over World Class, which has Dave thinking at least Crockett did one thing right with their UWF vs. NWA angle. There Crockett had NWA win and come out on top and look superior, which was stupid, but smarter than scuttling Wild West, then having Wild West look better than World Class anyway. The galaxy brain move would have been to not mention promotions at all.
- WWC from Puerto Rico now airs on channel 41 out of Patterson, New Jersey in the New York area.
- Dave got a line-up for a January 9 card in Pasadena, Florida for “Women’s Championship Wrestling.” Wendi Richter was listed as world champion, and Luna (Vachon) and Lock (Wenona Littleheart) are there as The Daughters of Darkness.
- Dave’s calling off his hunch about Lawler winning the AWA Title in the short term.
- [NWA] Dick Murdoch has a great match with Nikita Koloff. That alone is a big surprise, but he’s also giving hilarious promos and has become the highlight of the promotion. Dave doesn’t think their February 6 barbed wire match will be as good, but he’s pleasantly surprised about Murdoch putting on his working boots.
- [NWA] Barry Windham vs. Tully Blanchard for the Western States Title on January 15 (to air January 23) was awful. It went almost half an hour, and 17 minutes in they did a bit where Barry injured his leg and limped for the rest of the match. Near the end, he did a flying clothesline and the referee counted to two before stopping, expecting the bell to ring for a time limit draw. But the bell didn’t ring. So he looked at a replay and called for the match to resume, only for Flair and Arn to run in, with Luger running in to make the save, with the Horsemen beating Luger up and wanting Windham to join them. Several fans jumped the rails and ran into the ring to attack the Horsemen and had to be dragged out, and in the end Luger and Windham shook hands. Dave says scrap any notions of Windham being the fourth horseman (he considers that Steve Williams probably has too many Japan commitments, and that really just leaves Ron Garvin which won’t happen), because it looks like they have no candidates lined up. Au contraire, Dave. They’re just slow-burning Windham’s heel turn. Wait until April.
- Once again we have a letter asking for coverage of POWW and GLOW. There’s more space in the issues now that Dave’s gone to two columns, so coverage of them and of more international wrestling from England, South Africa, and Mexico would be welcome. Seems like Dave’s got a small, but vocal subset of subscribers clamoring for more coverage of women’s wrestling at home as well as abroad.
- Roddy Piper’s The Highwayman pilot is going to be picked up. Piper is probably not going to be involved in the series going forward, though. In other news, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Lex Luger were in a pilot for Canadian tv called “Learning the Ropes.” It’s about Lyle Alzado (who was also involved in the pilot for The Highwayman and also won’t be involved in the series going forward) as a single father schoolteacher with two kids who works as a wrestler on the weekends. They made four pilots and it’s set up as a half hour sitcom. Not sure yet if it’ll be picked up, but the letter writer who gives us these bits of info about these projects promises to let us know if she can find out.
- Roddy Piper is also going to be the lead in John Carpenter’s next movie, which is a great sign for him having a future in Hollywood. It’s a little movie called They Live.
- Iron Sheik appears to be returning to WWF. Dave expects him and Bubba Rogers to debut on the January 26-27 tapings.
- Wrestlemania IV won’t be at the Superdome. Dave’s not sure where it will be, but the Superdome, Kingdome, and Silverdome are all booked for the NCAA basketball tournament. Dave’s been told they’ll be at a 20,000 seat arena, but only a few know for sure and they’re keeping their lips sealed.
- Joel Watts (son of Bill) quit WWF’s tv crew and is apparently getting out of the wrestling business. I’m gonna blindly blame Kevin Dunn.
GeekVape Zeus X Mesh RTA 2ml/4.5ml (The Best Mesh RTA Yet)
Hi Reddit readers, In this review i take a look at the Zeus X Mesh RTA from GeekVape. The Zeus X Mesh RTA was supplied for the purpose of this review by Clay from GeekVape.submitted by Timwis123 to Vaping [link] [comments]
We were told the Zeus X would be the ultimate and final RTA in the Zeus family but that statement proved premature as obviously the lightbulb got switched on to the fact the family was missing a mesh option. The Zeus X Mesh is named correctly as it's the Zeus X with a mesh deck. Both RTA's have the same dimensions, use the same size glass options and both outer and inner chambers including the airflow system is identical making the Zeus X and Zeus X mesh base sections interchangeable.
My initial thoughts were is this just laziness as the mesh RTA's up to now have been manufactured in a way to make us believe they needed to be quite complicated and tricky to wick for mesh RTA's to work or was this just making something more complicated than it needed to be and simple works best (no punk rocker hairdo's with the wicking here), let's find out!
In The Box
4.5ml Standard Edition
1x GeekVape Zeus X Mesh RTA (4.5ml) 1x Spare Glass Tube (3.5ml) 1x 810 drip tip 2x Ni80 0.4ohm Coil 1x Spare Parts 1x Hex Wrench 1x GV Triangular Tool 2x Feather Cotton 1x User Manual 1x Warranty Card
2ml TPD Edition
1x GeekVape Zeus X Mesh RTA (2ml) 1x Spare Glass Tube (2ml) 1x 810 drip tip 2x Ni80 0.4ohm Coil 1x Spare Parts 1x Hex Wrench 1x GV Triangular Tool 2x Feather Cotton 1x User Manual 1x Warranty Card
The Zeus X Mesh came in the usual Black sturdy cardboard box which is how Geekvapes samples are packaged so the retail packaging will differ. I received the Silver version, it's available in Gun Metal, Stainless Steel, Blue, Wine Red, Black, Gold, Green, Red & Black or Rainbow. The Black looks to be a matte black and unlike the first two versions of the Zeus (Zeus and Zeus Dual) where if i can remember rightly all versions had a media blasted finish (if not most of them did) apart from the Matte Black and Media blasted Gunmetal the other versions have a metallic sheen. The RTA is 25mm at the base but tapers outwards so the top section is 26mm and the bulge glass (standard edition) increases it's overall diameter further. Its around average height but due to it's girth does seem a short stumpy RTA. Apart from very slight difference in styling to the top section it's identical to the Zeus X with the Zeus logo visible on the outer chamber and "ZEUS" written in metallic on the reverse of the chamber. The base section has grooved texturing for grip and "GEEKVAPE" is carved into the airflow control ring which accommodates large dual Cyclop slots. The top cap has knurling for grip which then slopes and steps to a low profile Black delrin 810 drip tip. The base has all the usual branding and safety marks and the Gold plated 510 protrudes quite a way. Nothing at all to complain about with the build quality it's the same standard as the other Zeus family members.
Zeus X Mesh Specs and Features:
Size: 25mm x 47.8mm Capacity: 4.5ml/2ml Type: Mesh Coil RTA Drip Tip: 510/810 Top-to-side airflow eliminates leakage Postless mesh build deck for easy building Build deck switchable with GeekVape Zeus X RTA Simplified refill system for quick access Support 810 and 510 drip tip Thread: 510 Colours: Gun Metal, Stainless Steel, Blue, Wine Red, Black, Gold, Green, Red & Black, Rainbow
It's Various Parts
Starting at the top we have a removable very low profile 810 drip tip which can be swapped for the also low profile (but not quite as low) included ultem drip tip or one of your own, well actually that's with the sample version but the retail version includes a 510 option instead (see picture below). The top-cap screws off as does the base section. The 4.5ml bubble glass can be wiggled free very easily and can be replaced with the straight 3.5ml glass (the TPD version comes with 2ml glass only but you do get a spare). The airflow control ring can also be easily removed which leaves the juice port and airflow intake section with attached chamber. Unlike most RTA's that's not it, when looking inside the chamber the wall looks slightly stepped which is because their is an inner chamber that fits tight against the outer wall. The inner chamber is removable and is just press fitted into place secured with an o-ring when the very top of the chamber enters the air pipe.
Again this is a sample version and the contents i have listed come from a vendors site which differs from what i received. I received 2 strips of N80 0.17ohm mesh and 2 strips of KA1 0.2ohm mesh and 4 6mm x 6mm shoelace cotton.
The top-cap is less than half a turn and it's off, it's the same bayonet design Geekvape have used previously. Once off the 2 kidney shaped fill ports are revealed which are quite narrow and recessed down so large nozzles and glass droppers won't fit but most standard nozzles will be fine. Luckily there is quite a deep channel between the edge of the tank and air pipe section so it won't be too messy if using larger nozzles, just time consuming. Once filled just position the bayonet tabs in place push down and give it a slight turn.
The Zeus X Mesh has the signature Zeus top airflow with large dual airflow slots that are fully adjustable. You also have an inner chamber which gets press fitted into place but the air is better directed than the usual double walled system. With the airflow slots open you can look inside the chamber and clearly see the light from the openings of the airflow slots and a steep ramp (same both sides) where the air is angled downwards, you line the airflow holes on the inner chamber up with these angled ramps when press fitting into place so the air comes through your airflow slots and is directed straight through these holes on the inner chamber. On that inner chamber which sits over your build we have two rows of 5 and 4 holes either side that directs air to the sides of the mesh and a further 5 (either side) on the sharply tapered ceiling which directs air to the top of the mesh.
As mentioned the inner chamber airflow system is the same as on the Zeus X but it gives perfect coverage of the mesh so not laziness but someone having the foresight to realise the exact same design would work for a mesh build. There are 2 notches on the side of the deck (one each side) and also on each side on the inner chamber their is cutouts to match. When fitting the tank together the deck will not screw on to the outer chamber until the cutouts on the inner chamber have interlocked with the notches on the deck ensuring the airflow will be positioned correctly. The inner chamber when in place reduces the space and the ceiling tapering quite sharply from a low start is a tried and tested design that encourages flavour.
A big thing has been made about the fact the base sections with deck are interchangeable between the Zeus X and Zeus X Mesh but what real advantage does that have? The answer is i have already seen just the Zeus X Mesh base section on some vendors sites so no doubt the Zeus X base will also become available. This means those that already have the Zeus X need only buy the base and those that purchase the Zeus X mesh but don't have the Zeus X will be able to buy just the Zeus X base to use with their Zeus X Mesh Tank!
Using Mesh In An RDA (and now RTA) Issue
Mesh is becoming the way to go with stock coils upping the flavour and giving coils more longevity but mesh RDA's were not met with the same enthusiasm being inconsistent with flavour and renowned for dry hits. Mesh gives great flavour, yes that's just my opinion but it is an opinion shared with countless others but the mesh needs total contact with the wicking material and a combination of the flexible mesh and cotton which expands, then shrinks as it dry's and also can sag and change shape as it's constantly expanding, shrinking and sagging means with all the best will in the world trying to keep cotton touching the entire surface area of the mesh was a big problem. It has worked perfectly with stock coils as the cotton is packed between the mesh and the outer shell of the coil head so the cotton always covers the mesh surface area, But then came along the solution!
Spring Loaded Ceramic Seat
Mr JustRight1 came up with the perfect solution, which was introduced with the Profile RDA which is a Spring loaded Ceramic seat which sits directly underneath where the Mesh domes over from post to post. The Ceramic seat pushes the cotton against the mesh and as the cotton expands, then shrinks etc the ceramic constantly pushes the cotton against the mesh with the spring allowing it to lower or raise to achieve this. Mr JustRight1's Ceramic seat now seems to be used in every mesh RDA and RTA design and i bet he wishes he had $1 for every ceramic seat used but then again if his Jewellery is real then he probably does!
The Deck and Build
The Deck is very simple with a vertical sitting clamp each side for the end of your mesh to slide into and of course the now obligatory spring loaded ceramic seat between. We have phillip head grub screws on the sides, so simply loosen the screws, slide your mesh ends evenly in place and tighten the screws, it's that easy. Like with the other mesh RTA's we have seen you are supplied with a simple tool to bend the mesh around before fitting, it bends the mesh to the perfect shape (the simple ideas are always the best).
Before wicking pulse your mesh at low wattage (25W max) to burn off any residue from manufacture. When it comes to wicking is were the Zeus X mesh comes into it's own compared to the competition because it's straightforward. You are supplied with 6mm x 6mm shoelace cotton which is four times the mass of cotton in the standard 3mm x 3mm shoelace cotton so essentially you use twice as much cotton than with a dual coil build. Once you feed the cotton underneath the mesh leave your ends long enough to feed down into the GTA style channels but not long enough that they will touch the floor of the tank as you need e-liquid to flow underneath for good wicking. This wicks better than the Unity or Kylin Mesh so don't thin out your ends even though it feels like you are really packing the cotton in the channels more than what would usually be advised, this is because if you thin out the cotton you could get flooding. The channels are large enough that as long as liquid can flow freely underneath the capillary action doesn't get choked off with the cotton packed down. That's it, just normal wicking you would do on any GTA type deck just don't thin your cotton ends. Just one thing worth mentioning about the deck is the spring loaded ceramic seat has a much stiffer spring than on other RDA's and RTA's which have one, making it much less flimsy, it just feels better made!
I just can't fault it, i really can't apart from it's slightly on the loud side but it's smooth enough. The flavour just pops especially with the N80 mesh and both supplied mesh types gave a really wide flavour range for example the N80 vaped really well even if reduced cloud as low as 30W and i took it right up to chain vaping for 2 mins at 80W and the vape was still saturated and full of flavour, the KA1 mesh performed similar but the N80 just edged it for me. It just seems RTA's like the Profile Unity have turned out to be over engineered as this is just a straightforward build and wick on a GTA stle deck yet it out performs both the Unity and Kylin Mesh by quite a margin with the added bonus of having a leak resistant top airflow!
I received this way back and initially tried it with both an N80 and KA1 build but delayed the review because the release date was delayed, before writing the review i did my second N80 build to familiarise me back with the tank (remind me how good it is) and when i used it before and over the last couple of days i just have had no issues whatsoever, It's a winner!
Well made Good colour options Reasonable capacity Plenty included Bayonet style top-fill Top airflow (leak resistant) Flavour for days Smooth airflow Wicks like a dream No flooding (don't thin cotton ends) Straightforward build and wick Included 510 & 810 drip tips (retail version) Best quality ceramic seat yet Interchangeable base with Zeus X Base available separately Best mesh RTA to date
Slightly loud Using glass droppers to fill will be time consuming
I would once again like to thank Clay from GeekVape for supplying the Zeus X Mesh RTA for the purpose of this review.
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