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20 Years Ago - WON 12/12/88


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WWF

-- The WWF is claiming a 4.2 buyrate for Survivor Series. That doesn't really sound exaggerated to Dave, but cable industry sources are disputing it, saying it sounds high. They didn't clear as many homes as they did for Summerslam. They are claiming they cleared 11 million homes, but it was more like 8-9 million. "Even if we figure 3.5 percent of nine million, that would be 315,000 homes at about $20 a pop. Of that $6.3 million gross, Titan's share would be around $3 million, which is certainly profitable, but would be far less then the estimated losses incurred on its boxing venture a few weeks earlier. The PPV industry is really flattening out. Even though the NWA has a good date for its Starcade, there are several reasons why they should be very happy with a two percent buyrate. It looks like Titan will make less money running four PPV shows in 1989 than it made with two shows in 1987, unless they come up with new ideas that totally capture the imagination of the wrestling public."

 

-- John Studd will likely return at the next SNME to start a feud with Andre the Giant and Rick Martel is returning as a midcard babyface. Strike Force will be forgotten.

 

-- Owen Hart will be out for a few weeks. He did a leapfrog against Valentine at Survivor Series and Valentine forgot to duck, giving Owen a ruptured groin. (My note: None of us ever had groins.)

 

-- "Here's what happened with Dynamite Kid and the Rougeaus on Thanksgiving night. The reason the Bulldogs lasted so long and the Rougeaus went out so early was so the Rougeaus could get out of the dressing room and disappear while Dynamite still had 30 more minutes to wrestle. Vince warned both teams if it got out of hand during the match that they wouldn't get paid for the card. One report also said he told Dynamite that it would be the Rougeaus, not Conquistadores, in the finals against Powers of Pain at the end so Dynamite wouldn't try anything during the match knowing they'd be eliminated at approximately the same time, then double-crossed Dynamite so to speak ... Give Vince tons of credit for getting out of what could have been a sticky situation."

 

-- 11/28 at MSG drew a sellout 19,700 fans and a $240,000 gate headlined by Hogan vs Boss Man. 12/3 in Cape Girardo, MO drew 2,000 headlined by Warrior vs HTM. 12/2 in Providence drew 5,000 headlined by Andre vs Jake. 12/4 in Springfield, MA drew 2,700 fans headlined by Savage vs Akeem. 11/27 in Rochester drew 4,000 fans headlined by Savage vs Akeem. 11/19 in Wheeling, WV drew 3,000 fans headlined by Warrior vs Honky.

 

NWA

-- "The expected bombshells took place this week. But it is too early to tell whether overall, the future course of the National Wrestling Alliance will be in a positive or negative direction.

 

"On Wednesday morning, Dusty Rhodes officially resigned as booker of the NWA. From all accounts, this was a forced resignation ordered by the TBS hierarchy based on several episodes over the past few weeks. On Thursday, Jim Crockett was officially informed that he would no longer be running the day-to-day operations of the company starting January 1st.

 

"Officially, the Universal Wrestling Corporation will be handled day-to-day by James Herd, currently an executive with Pizza Hut. Herd's official title will be Executive Vice President of the company, with Jack Petrik acting as President and overseer of the operations. Herd has some wrestling background in that he was the Director for Vince McMahon Sr.'s television tapings out of Washington, D.C. in the mid-1960s, then was the Director for Sam Muchnick's television show in St. Louis from 1969 through the early 70s. Herd later became General Manager at KPLR-TV (Ch. 11 in St. Louis), which was the station Muchnick's program aired on. He followed that with a stint working the front office for the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League and then went on to Pizza Hut. With Pizza Hut being in the process of being purchased by Pepsico, Inc. (Pepsi company), Herd, who was the No. 2 man in the marketing department at Pizza Hut, decided to accept Petrik's offer to run the wrestling company.

 

As of press time, the new booker in the NWA is Jim Crockett. This is expected to change in January. Nothing is for certain, but it appears that the booking will be done by committee, which had been speculated elsewhere. The make-up of the committee has yet to be determined, but it looks to me if present plans continue, that the actual key brain and power in the committee will be Ric Flair, which is both good and bad as I'll get to later. But there are numerous variables left in the equation.

 

Ironically, when TBS took over the company, Rhodes was in a stronger position to retain his job then most casual observers would believe. Much of Petrik's knowledge and understanding of the wrestling company came from Crockett, who of course, was very high on Dusty as booker (don't ask me why, that is still one of life's great mysteries). However, there were outside forces pushing for Rhodes' ouster, but up until just a few weeks ago, Rhodes was apparently going to retain his position in the early days with the new regime. The problems in a behind-the-scenes power play involving Flair, which actually had been going on since late October, came to a head. Flair was able to make a deal with TBS which increased his personal power to determine his own finishes and angles, and Rhodes was incensed because he felt Flair went behind his back to Petrik to get the power, and more, it decreased Rhodes' power and control over the promotion's World championship. Then, just a few weeks back, Rhodes tried his own manipulations to weaken Flair's position and booked him for only five dates in December. An ensuing blow-up occurred over Flair's role in Starrcade, which resulted in the Starrcade main event being changed from Flair vs. Rick Steiner to Flair vs. Lex Luger, a decision made by Petrik over Dusty's head. Rhodes then missed a weekend's worth of major shows, claiming the flu, which is where his position weakened. The word actually was out at this point that Rhodes was as good as gone as booker, however that word was premature. What appears to have been the straw that broke the camel's back was the angle that aired on 11/26 with the Road Warriors putting a spike into Dusty's eye on TBS with heavy blood and close-ups. The angle was originally slated for the Clash of the Champions show from Chattanooga on 12/7, but Rhodes obviously knew his position was weakening and hurried to get it on the air to get the major sympathy back with him and get himself with the promotion's hottest babyface (Sting) against the hottest heels (Road Warriors) for Starrcade. Apparently TBS had sent a directive to the NWA because of the blood during the Midnight Express vs. Midnight Express angle a few weeks earlier when Jim Cornette bled heavily after being hit with a telephone regarding blood on TBS and Rhodes blatantly defied the memo and ran his angle anyway.

 

Rhodes will be given the opportunity to remain with the company as a wrestler, although it's debateable whether that will last for any length of time. If Rhodes didn't appear on the Chattanooga show (and I'd bet money he will appear), than you can say that he's history. Another question has to do with Rhodes' contract, which was so lucrative that it was out of the realm of economic feasability (with the exception of Hulk Hogan, I don't believe that any wrestler was legitimately earning more money than Dusty, although Randy Savage and Ric Flair were probably around the same ballpark). Also, if anyone else was booker, they wouldn't build the key angles around Rhodes, which would cause Rhodes to leave as it's well-known Rhodes would rather dominate a smaller territory and make less money for ego reasons than be a middle-of-the-card performer on a national basis, which would be his most logical role. Another question is whether or not Rhodes will be moved down the card and how much influence he will have on Crockett, or if he'll make an Inoki-like comeback and wind up with the key spot in the booking committee after all the heat dies down. Remember, Crockett stuck with Rhodes all the way out of business, and still after that."

 

-- Nikita Koloff quit on Sunday because of the new travel policy. He lived in Charlotte and had to drive to Atlanta to catch flights to shows. Nikita had been in the doghouse with Crockett and Dusty for months and felt he was about to be buried, and Dave says he was probably right. He's expected to work for Nelson Royal's new Carolinas-area indy. Junkyard Dog is coming in to fill Nikita's spot and team with Ivan at Starrcade. "When I first heard about JYD coming in, I thought of it as just another bad decision coming from the top and laughed it off. But after thinking about it, it's a lot more than that. The NWA desperately needs to create new stars in 1989 and rebuild the company. They have an excellent core to build around, but if they just revolve around the core, things will remain stale. This was the perfect opportunity to bring in a new face at Starrcade, and instead they brought in probably one of the two or three worst performers in the world today. You can talk about what JYD did in the past as an attraction, which is very true, and he was never a great worker even when he was one of the three or four biggest box office names in the game, but that is ancient history. You don't rebuild using a wrestler who is years past his prime. Dusty Rhodes was probably the single biggest name in this business save maybe Bruno Sammartino or Andre the Giant during the last decade, and see how successful building a company around him over the last two years has been. They have both the vacancy and the need to create new stars, and they fill the spot with a guy who had been losing preliminary matches in the WWF."

 

-- "The angle where Dusty got spiked by the Warriors was followed by approximately 350 mainly very negative phone calls from TBS viewers. It was the largest outpouring of negative comments regarding wrestling at the station since Black Saturday in 1984 when Vince McMahon took over official control of Georgia Championship Wrestling, Inc. and with it, got the TBS time slot. More importantly, the show drew a 2.5 rating, much lower than the week before, and the rating fell throughout the show, instead of built up as is normally the case of the TBS wrestling shows. The commotion was such that even Ted Turner himself requested a copy of the tape. That's why reruns of the angle have been with blurred pictures of the actual incident and of the blood on Dusty. I suspect we've seen the last of graphically bloody angles from the NWA, at least in uncensored form."

 

-- "While the idea of a booking committee may sound good, it has never worked before in wrestling. That doesn't mean it can't work, but it does mean that looking at past history, the odds are against it from the start. For those of you who played sports in high school, the position of booker in many ways is similar to that of coach. The coach makes out the starting line-up, has to motivate players nightly (or for each performance) to give it their best, work as a team unit, explain what he wants from the player at each position. All coaches have assistant coaches who give input, but there is one man at the top whose job it is to make the final decisions and take the responsibility for those decisions. Think of the chaos and lack of leadership that coaching to committee, where every decision needs a 3-2 vote or whatever to pass, would cause. You would get bogged down in ridiculous arguments over very petty matters and it would be very hard to get things done constructively. Not impossible. But very hard. Of the names mentioned as being on the probable committee, it appears that Flair is going to wind up being the most powerful, although that isn't necessarily the case. It's too soon to make any judgment on Flair's booking ability, other than there is no question he was and is certainly smart enough to create an image and personality for himself that has stood the test of time.

 

-- "Now let's look again at reality. Ric Flair turns 39 in February. TBS is looking at building the franchise around him. He will be the highest paid employee of the company. TBS wants to turn him into a legitimate cross-over media celebrity next year. At the same time, he will be the focal point of the day-to-day cards and be counted on for that nightly 25 minute four-star match. Now add the position of booker. Somebody has to arrange and lay out five hours of television each week, figure out angles to be played and marriages to be made, motivate wrestlers on the road, book cards that make sense month-after-month in dozens of cities (something Rhodes was weak at), and take the heat because to regain the support of fans, the promotion is going to have to give up the screw-job endings that have killed so many of the towns. That means somebody has to lose and you've got a circuit filled with guys who don't like to lose and aren't used to losing. For Flair to be put in the position of being the key brains behind the booking is a full-time job. His wrestling will suffer greatly because he won't have the gym time, or his booking will suffer because he's spending too much time trying to keep the affects that aging has on an athlete away. This doesn't throw into the equation the fact that if they are successful in making Flair a legitimate celebrity, he'll have to take time out for media requests and interviews, talk shows, public appearances and the like. There are simply not enough hours in the day for any one person to handle that many tasks. Flair definitely should have say-so over his own programs, but there needs to be one booker who handles the details and it is a waste of Flair's talents as a wrestler and potential celebrity for him to be put in the position where he even worries about detail work. As far as creativity goes, the NWA has the best possible person right under its nose, and it's someone who nobody is considering to even be on the committee."

 

-- Flair did an interview with Mark Madden for the Pittsburgh Press. Among the highlights:

 

* Flair does think in his generation, he is the best wrestler, because he has God-given ability, physical skills and gift of gab. Plus, he has had phenomenal health.

* Flair thinks Barry Windham is one of the best current guys, and had one of his best matches ever with him at the Crockett Cup.

* He grew up in Minneapolis, went to University of Minnesota and played football and wrestled. He was academically ineligible after his sophomore year and then met Verne Gagne through Greg. He was rooming with Ken Patera at the time, who was training for the Olympics.

* He left the AWA quickly because it was hard to get matches on top.

* George Scott convinced Flair to model himself after Buddy Rogers.

* "When I don't think I'm one of the best anymore, I won't wrestle. I've always had a positive attitude and I've never rested on my past laurels. When any athlete believes his press clippings, or his fan mail, he should look for something else to do."

* Flair says Hogan has always had the WWF public relations machine behind him, but he thinks fans who follow wrestling closely see him in a different light.

* His kids seem fine with him being on the road all the time, but his wife has had to adjust

* The WWF is more popular, but the NWA has the better wrestling

* Flair sees himself wrestling another 8 years

* He once again repeats that Windham is phenomenal, but that he's not quite at Flair's level. Luger needs to work on his in-ring, but is a really good athlete. Sting is a tremendous athlete.

* He would like to be remembered as someone who was the best wrestler of his era, and someone who had to work hard to both get his spot and keep it.

 

-- Dave attended a couple of live NWA shows in Las Vegas and San Francisco. Here are his thoughts on each show:

 

VEGAS:

-- Overall, the best show Dave has attended since night 2 of the Crockett Cup. However, he suspects disappointment in not selling out the Showboat. The show drew 2,500 fans, but the arena was set up for 2,900 fans. Normal capacity is 2,700 but they rearranged to accomodate the sellout that didn't happen. San Francisco was a decent show, but the crowd was tougher and the matches weren't as good.

 

-- The Vegas show drew a $27,400 gate and the place was popping huge all night.

 

Ron Simmons vs Italian Stallion: Babyface match and a loose ring, but it didn't affect any of the matches all night, and the crowd was into the match. *

 

Midnight Express vs Original Midnight Express: First ever MX vs MX match! The match went to a 20-minute draw, and Dave has no idea why they would put such a hot match so early in the show. The heat was insane for this one, with the entire building shaking like an earthquake, and drinks of fans in the audience were even tipping over at times because of the noise. The two teams don't have as much wrestling chemistry as you'd think, but they did have lots of wild action. Cornette and Paul E. rolled around amongst all the chaos of the post-match brawl, which got an amazing reaction, but Dave says if they're going to do that, they need to keep it short, because neither is exactly Bobby Heenan as far as working, and it looks really bad when they lock up. But ... Dangerously did get more heat at ringside than Dave has ever seen Heenan get.

 

Ron Simmons (pulling double duty and subbing for Nikita Koloff) vs Mike Rotunda: They announced that Dusty wouldn't be there because of the Road Warriors attack on TBS and even said he had to be hospitalized, which got a HUGE pop! "Everyone cheered when they announced Dusty had to be hospitalized. I mean everyone." Rotunda won the match by using the ropes for leverage. Both guys worked hard and Rotunda did a good job carrying the match, but the crowd was still deflated from the previous match. **

 

Rick Steiner vs Steve Williams: Steiner wasn't as over as you'd think coming out, but did a great job getting himself over as the match went on. Dave wouldn't say Steiner is the most improved wrestler of the year, but he is the most improved act of the year. **1/2

 

Ric Flair & Barry Windham vs Eddie Gilbert & Bam Bam Bigelow: Gilbert subbed for Dusty. This was the first time Gilbert and Flair had ever worked together and the match was super, with tons of Wahoo-like chops and stiff shots. "It was really fun to see Flair in there with a complete wrestler for a change who both looked good on offense and sold big for Flair's moves." ****1/4

 

Road Warriors vs Sting & Lex Luger: Tremendous heat. Dave expected the Roadies to get cheered, and they did, but Sting and Luger got twice the reaction. They brawled all the way back to the dressing room. ****

 

SAN FRANCISCO:

-- The line-up was the same and most of the matches were similar. The crowd was 2,800 in the 7,000-seat building drawing a $32,000 gate. Not very impressive, however the only TV they have in this market is on Saturdays at midnight at a station based in San Jose.

 

Simmons vs Stallion: Better than the previous night. *1/2

 

Midnight Express vs Original Midnight Express: Much slower paced than the previous night's match. The entrance and finale got great heat, but the crowd was dead in the middle of the match, which seemed to bother the wrestlers. *1/2

 

Ric Flair & Barry Windham vs Eddie Gilbert & Bam Bam Bigelow: Total Road Warriors crowd here. When they announced Dusty was injured by the Road Warriors, they went crazy, but when they said Dusty wouldn't appear, they booed heavily and were even more upset when announced Gilbert would be subbing in this match. Gilbert and Bigelow both got booed heavily in their entrances. Windham got a mixed reaction and Flair got a huge babyface reaction. However, when the match started, the fans reacted the way they were led by the wrestlers. Good match, but nowhere near as good as the previous night. Bigelow played FIP instead of Gilbert, and Eddie Gilbert was the hot tag guy this time around. "You figure it out." When Flair pinned Gilbert, the audience popped huge as if the babyfaces had won. ***

 

Mike Rotunda vs Ron Simmons: Fans were very upset about Nikita not being on the show, and no one bought the story about his wife being ill. All restholds and no heat. 1/2*

 

Rick Steiner vs Steve Williams: Lots of stalling and barking, not a good match at all. DUD

 

Road Warriors vs Sting & Lex Luger: Good match, but a step down from the previous night. Luger was having an off night and his timing was slightly off. The crowd was solidly on the Road Warriors' side, and booed Sting when he made the hot tag. Sting had more heel heat than anyone on the show except Paul E. Warriors were total faces and tried to adapt to the crowd. ***

 

-- "Where do we start? Expect these changes under Jim Herd: 1) Wrestlers will get weekly paychecks based on their contract. For example, a wrestler with a $100,000 contract will be $2,000 per week, rather than paid by the gate and have so-called balloon payments (that don't materialize) at the end of the year; 2) Wrestlers will have their hotels taken care of on the road; 3) TBS, not J.J. Dillon, will handle travel arrangements and wrestlers will fly from their home town, not all from Atlanta; 4) All TV tapings, both for TBS and the syndicated package will eminate from a mid-sized arena in the Atlanta area; 5) The announcers on the syndicated package will remain pretty much the same. TBS package will have Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone doing the p.m. show without David Crockett, however Crockett will do a solo act on the a.m. show without Ross & Schiavone. Early speculation is this is either giving Crockett a bone, since the Crocketts are still in a position of some power in the company, or perhaps they want to do away with the a.m. show and putting David on solo is setting up a ratings drop so it can be canceled and David can be done away with on television. There is talk that Jim Cornette will do color on the a.m. show but that is just talk. Actually all of what I've written is still in the planning stages and some, or all may not materialize; 6) Crockett, Rhodes and J. J. Dillon have had to move to smaller offices in Dallas; 7) There will be attempts to improve syndication, particularly in the major markets like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles; 8) The TV shows will be post-produced so the production quality should improve."

 

-- 11/24 at the Omni in Atlanta drew 8,000 fans and a $96,000 gate headlined by Luger/Sting vs Road Warriors.

 

-- Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) will appear on a future Clash.

 

-- Petrik wants to improve relations with the Japanese promotions.

 

-- 12/1 in Albuquerque, NM drew 4,700 fans and a $34,000 gate headlined by Sting & Luger vs Road Warriors in a **** match. Flair missed the show, as he had to rush home because his wife was hospitalized.

 

-- Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane were fired after the Albuquerque show, but everything was worked out later in the week.

 

-- 12/3 in Houston drew a miserable $14,000 gate, which Dave calls "miserable" for Sting/Luger vs Road Warriors.

 

-- "The idea of having the managers work the Bunkhouse Stampedes is so stupid I can't believe they are doing it. First, it only makes the match look bad since the managers can't work. Second, it takes away the danger angle because how dangerous could it be if Humperdink, Cornette and Dangerously are involved. Match turns into comedy."

 

MEMPHIS/WCCW

-- 11/28 drew only 1,000 fans with a main event of Lawler/Rick Casey/Dundee vs Fuller/Golden/Sid. "The only thing I know about the card is that Dundee gave Downtown Bruno five piledrivers on teh concrete and Bruno is out of commission. I don't know if he's headed to the Dallas part of the office or not, but that would be silly since the World Class TV show airs in Memphis, but they are doing a lot of silly things of late."

 

-- Jim Garvin came into Memphis as a heel, but is now in WCCW as a babyface.

 

-- Rick Casey said on TV that his real name is Wendell Cooley and that he will go by that name moving forward.

 

-- At the 12/3 tapings, Fuller & Golden took on Scott Steiner & Todd Morton and Todd juiced a bucket until Dundee came out. Fuller knocked him out with a trash can and Dundee juiced as well. Dave is told the angle was really good, but since Fuller & Golden are involved, it's so not fresh that no one cares.

 

-- Mike Miller and Brian Adams left for Oregon.

 

-- 12/3 in Jonesboro drew 625 fans headlined by Dundee/Cooley vs Fuller/Golden in a ***1/2 brawl with lots of bleeding. 12/2 in Dallas drew a $6,600 gate.

 

-- Chris Adams was on the 12/3 TV from the Sportatorium, which surprised everyone since he's running opposition in Dallas and has a show on 12/15 which is Adams vs Iceman with Missy Hyatt and Fantasy in the corners.

 

-- World Class TV has been almost entirely Eric Embry and Jeff Jarrett. Every week, Embry gets jumped by Akbar's group but comes back to do a run-in later in the show because he's too tough to go to the hospital. Also, the babyfaces, even Hayes, spend all of their interview time just talking about Embry and Jarrett.

 

-- When Dave was in Dallas, the only topic of conversation seemed to be Kerry Von Erich at the AWA show. "I really don't know many details on the subject other than there were at least four wrestlers at World Class who knew Kerry's had his foot amputated so it wasn't as big a secret as I'd thought, though it shocked the hell out of most in wrestling, including Jerry Jarrett. The amputation was done after Kerry's attempt at a comeback too soon in an ill-fated attempt to draw a house with Brian Adias, but before he came back full-time last November. I'm not sure if coming back too soon was the reason, although most likely it was simply that the micro-surgery performed on his foot (taking muscle tissue from his back and planting it into his foot) didn't take and amputation was then necessary. I've got a friend who had similar surgery and the success ratio for it is less than 25 percent and he also needed his foot amputated. The fact Kerry performs as well as he does is nothing short of remarkable, all things considered. A lot of people in wrestling are trying to say the incident never occurred, but it was the only topic people were talking about in Las Vegas."

 

CONTINENTAL

-- Buddy Landell is in and did a run-in on Doug Furnas in Knoxville. The card drew a $20,000 house, their biggest since David Woods took over.

 

-- Terry Gordy is coming in as the top heel when he gets back from Japan.

 

-- Despite the big Thanksgiving house, business was back down to almost nothing over the past week.

 

-- On TV, they were plugging that Bob Armstrong would unmask because he wanted the match with the

 

OREGON

-- Don Owen reached a compromise with the Oregon State Athletic Commission. Owen agreed to put up barricades and agreed to no more blood. The Saturday night show drew a very small crowd. Matt Borne wasn't on the show and has been suspended for his part in causing the promotion to be shut down.

 

STAMPEDE

-- Don Muraco and the Bulldogs have popped the territory, but the wrestling quality has been terrible. 11/25 in Calgary drew a sellout at the Pavillion and on 12/2, they drew a follow-up sellout. 12/3 in Edmonton drew 3,000 fans and a $25,000 gate.

 

-- Larry Cameron and Tommy Ferrera are coming in.

 

-- "Muraco doesn't do a thing in his matches here. Junkfood Dog never came, nor will he, while Bulldogs didn't sell hardly at all for the locals although they did do some moves."

 

-- "Kid & Smith are still caleld the Bulldogs, and Kid is the booker, but Muraco is no longer called The Rock."

 

ALL JAPAN

-- 11/20 at Korauken Hall drew a sellout 2,350 fans. 11/21 in Nagoya drew 8,200 fans. 11/25 in Kumamoto drew 2,700 fans. 11/24 in Fukuoka drew a poor crowd of 1,900 in Ashura Hara's hometown, which seems to be hurt because of the Hara scandal. 11/28 in Osaka drew 5,100 fans.

 

-- The Rock & Roll Express were considered a huge flop. They were expected to get over at the level of the Bulldogs or Mascaras/Caras, but got no heat for most of their matches.

 

NEW JAPAN

-- "The latest on the deal with the Soviets is that it is going to take a lot of money to close the deal. I don't even have a ballpark figure but was told it would cost 'equivalent to an NFL football player' for each wrestler, which makes me think for 10 wrestlers you are talking several million dollars. TV-Asahi no longer considers wrestling high on its priorities and has turned down funding the deal. There is even talk that Inoki will go to Baba and try and have him help out and both groups would combine for a Japan vs. Soviet Union & USA card at the Tokyo Dome (56,000 seats) in May. The contracts are expected to be signed on 12/20 in the Soviet Union."

 

-- 11/25 in Hiroshima drew 4,580 fans.

 

-- Keichi Yamada has left Europe and on 12/5 in Bremen won the middleweight title, which he will likely defend throughout Europe next year.

 

-- TV ratings are bad. 10/22 TV headlined by Inoki vs Choshu only drew a 4.6 and 11/5 with Inoki vs Bigelow drew a 4.2. By comparison, Baba's ratings have been in the 6's. They drew a 6.9 for Jumbo vs Hansen in a title unification match, and a 7.4 for Jumbo vs Tenryu in a super match.

 

UWF

-- The UWF TV special on 10/26 drew a 12.7 rating. This was the second highest wrestling TV rating of the year in Japan behind Dump's retirement. It was mainly interviews with the UWF stars and training clips and brief clips of matches. There are rumors that Ch. 6 in Tokyo will start broadcasting the UWF once a month next year.

 

-- "Now does this angle sound familiar or not, except it's really not an angle -- Hisashi Shinma (former New Japan president) and Naoki Otsuka (a leading New Japan promoter who helped put together Choshu's original jump from New Japan to All Japan, then was double-crossed by Choshu when he jumped back) are getting together to form a promotion and they are calling it 'The Original UWF'. If you recall, Shinma actually started the UWF as a regular pro wrestling outfit in April of 1984 using Maeda as the top star after luring Maeda from New Japan, then was booted out of power in a power play with Satoru Sayama (original Tiger Mask). At that point, the old UWF went to its so-called shooting style with emphasis on kicks and submissions and eliminating high spots or 'fake-looking' moves. Shinma at a press conference said he would have his wrestlers, and he's trying to lure the top karate guys to his group, battle against Maeda or Takada for the UWF name. Shinma is trying to destroy the legitimate image of the UWF because they forced him out of power and changed 'his' promotion. Of course, Maeda won't accept any challenges. Shinma is forming his own group from the remains of the JWP promotion, which went bankrupt recently. The word is out that Shinma and his karate guys are going to show up at Maeda 12/22 card in Osaka (Takada vs. Backlund) and challenge Maeda after he beats Norman Smiley, which could be interesting. Shinma promoted a show at Korauken Hall on 12/3 featuring women matches, karate matches and El Gran Hamada vs. Atsushi Onita in the main event. Shinma then leaves for Mexico and the U.S. from 12/7 to 12/15 to book and scout foreign talent and wants to open up a new promotion with the help of Otsuka and karate gyms in April."

 

-- Maeda and Don Nakaya Neilsen recently joined hands in public with Maeda to announce a rematch, but then Neilsen signed an exclusive contract with a kickboxing promoter so he can't work any more mixed matches."

 

-- Nikkan Sports reports that the UWF will be sending videotapes to US stations next year in hopes of promoting shows, but it's a long shot at best, because trying to expand into the US would be death.

 

JOSHI

-- AJW had a special called "Women Wrestlers tour the US" and aired highlights from the Hawaii shows and the Chigusa Nagayo vs Madusa Miceli match from Vegas. All the matches were terrible. The Crush Girls wrestled two Hawaiians that were so bad that they stopped selling and the match turned into a series of amateur tie-ups and you can guess how that went. Dave says that match has to be seen to believe how bad it is.

 

MEXICO

-- Blue Demon had his retirement match this past week in Mexico City. Dave can't pin down the date, but knows he teamed with Blue Demon Jr. and Ringo Mendoza against Pirata Morgan & El Satanico & Emilio Charles Jr. Lots of Mexican legends were in attendance, including Black Shadow and Ray Mendoza. "Demon, 56, began wrestling at the age of 16 and his career spanned some 41 years. He won his first title in 1953 and was the biggest name in Mexico in the early 1960s and worked full-time as a main eventer through 1983 when he slowed down his schedule. Demon ranks just behind El Santo and Mil Mascaras as the most famous wrestler in the history of Mexican lucha libre. His 22-year-old son has been wrestling for nearly five years."

 

LETTERS

-- Pretty sure this is the first Steve Yohe letter I've seen in the WON, praising the tag match and saying the show was overall pretty good. He also thinks they're phasing out DiBiase too soon and should do another round of Hogan vs DiBiase. He also said "They Live" was one of the best b-movies he's seen in years. He also criticizes Dave for not covering the return of Bob Backlund all that much when it should have bee the headline story. He also says Flair should start being more vocal to the NWA, as they've killed him with phony finishes, but that also, some of his problems are self-inflicted, as he goes on TV and sells for George South like he's trying to make him the next Ricky Steamboat.

 

-- "Worst Merchandising Scheme: Four Horsemen vitamins (I wonder if we would have seen Road Warrior steroids had Jim Crockett held onto the NWA much longer)" -- Nicholas Koliaiakis, Massapeque, NY

 

-- "Is it my imagination or did the NWA set the all-time record for most turns in one year? Since the beginning of the voting period, they've turned everyone but Dusty Rhodes, Sting and Ric Flair." -- Scott Williams

 

-- " ... While Andre certainly never took steroids to increase his size since he was more than big enough, I do believe he used them in recent years, particularly before Wrestlemania III and afterwards to help strengthen his back muscles which had weakened to the point that he could no longer stand upright on his own because of his enormous girth. Actually, that is a legitimate medical purpose for use of steroids." -- Dave Meltzer

 

-- "First, regarding your comments on Ric Flair 'carrying' George South -- as good as Flair is, South hardly needs to be carried. On the independents here some years back, there was a wrestler by the name of Mark 'Iron Man' Thunder. He was the only good wrestler in this promotion and often worked three or four times a night under various guises carrying the entire show. He could walk down the aisle and five minutes later have every redneck in the place wanting to kill him. He was a superb performer. Imagine my surprise when months later he popped up as a jobber on TBS named George South." -- James Steagall, Stoneville, SC

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I know it's a couple of weeks early, but in terms of the WCW narrative, you could call this the unofficial beginning of 1989. Dusty and Crockett are phased out, Jim Herd is in. They want to build around Flair. I think this is the first mention in the WON of Flair's age even being anything resembling an issue, and that would be a repeated theme throughout '89. So the stage is set.

 

For the WWF, it seems like there were a lot of departures in 1988. The roster was leaner (in terms of number of people on the roster, not necessarily waistlines) going into 1989, which was a hugely successful box office year for the first half or so, then absolutely nothing of note was going on until they started teasing Hogan/Warrior in January of '90.

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1988 saw a bunch of the featured midcarders from the boom period leave town

 

off the top of my head

 

Muracco, Steele, JYD, Bulldogs, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bundy, Steamboat, Billy Jack Haynes, Billy Graham, Killer Bees, Iron Sheik (well he was barely there anyway), Sika, Butch Reed

 

there's probably more but it was clearly a transition year for the company. And yes the second half of 1989 is about as pedestrian as a company could get. Unfortunately it continued into 1990 where the WWF probably hit the creative low point of Vince's reign

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  • 4 weeks later...

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