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Matt D

Wrestling Observer Recap: 2/19/1996 - Cover Story Only

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I know that we don't usually do these for ones on the Observer site itself, but there's so much stuff in the lead story here, and stuff I've never even heard of before, that I want to rewrite some of it out. My tenses are going to be all over the place and I apologize for that.

 

The story is that Vince is coming out "Guns blazing" against the Turner Empire.

 

In the past 7 days he:

-Filed a complaint with the FTC claiming that TBS has been enacting a "systematic plan to destroy the WWF so it can achieve a monopoly." He did this on 2/8/1996, attacking the Time-Warner merger, it seems, since that was a hot topic with a lot of eyes on it. Dave didn't have the exact details and FTC claimed not to have a copy of it. He said it wasn't a single action, but lots of different things:

Nitro being put up against Raw, the shows starting a few minutes early/ending a few minutes late "unprecedented" in television in 1996, alleged contract tampering with WWF performers, snatching syndicated time slots from WWF using CNN Headline News as leverage, eating into profits by charging less for ad time to steal sponsors from the WWF, name calling on TV, and fabrication of stories about the WWF on the WCW hotline. The contract tampering mentioned Diesel, The Bushwhackers, and Jean Pierre Lafitte (there was a paragraph on that later).

-Took out a quarter page ad in both Weds and Thurs NYT Financial sections claiming that Turner had a vendetta against WWF and warning the stockbrokers about it.WCW only responded with a quote in the Wall Street Journal saying the FTC thing was without merit.

-Had McDevitt send a letter to Bischoff demanding an apology for comments on Nitro that WWF had caused a power outage in Lakeland during the 2/5 show. Bischoff had to apologize on air which he did begrudgingly. He was also forced not to talk about WWF on air which was apparently frustrating to him since he was about to do a "full court press."

-Writing a letter to Turner complaining about blading. Which is kind of awesome:

 

"Dear Ted: Since there has been no response to my repeated request and you and your pro-wrasslin' company stop the practice of self mutilation, I can only assume based upon the last two weeks of Nitro that the practice of self mutilation (slicing oneself with a razor blade) is not only condoned but encouraged. As you know, Hulk Hogan has been bleeding all over the place the past two weeks. There have been numerous references on your wrasslin programming that this weekend's double cage match will be so violent that one opponent will be "bleeding to the point of no recognition." This encouraged practice of self mutilation is disgusting, violent, potentially infectious and completely contradictory in everyway to your testimony before Congress in June of 1993 and contrary to your 1995 participation of "Voices against Violence." Notwithstanding numerous unprecedented predatory practices against the World Wrestling Federation, if you continue to promote self mutilation, I hope your stockholders hold you accountable for this unethically, guttural, potentially unhealthy practice."

 

Dave says that this is looking pretty desperate especially considering that buyrates are up and Vader is coming in and the babyfaces are starting to draw and are pretty deep over in WWF land, but that Vince thinks he's fighting for his life again, and he's worried about the summer more than the spring (which makes sense given what would happen with Hall and Nash). He also says that on paper, WWF seemed way ahead on everything but ratings and that by going on the attack like this, the public perception would be that WCW was actually ahead.

Dave does a lot of compare/contrast here between what Vince claims WCW had been doing and what he did himself ten years before, something that Vince at the time claimed was totally different. He said he wasn't trying to put people out of business back then, just survive and grow himself. There's plenty of listing of Vince's "sins" (like Survivor Series 87 and Rumble 88 and buying out the time slots and raiding the talents. There's some fact checking too as WCW claimed that WWF were under cutting them on ads, but "a third party" said otherwise. He also looked at Bret's blading vs Davey Boy back in December, which was suspect at the time but I think Bret's admitted to since.

 

Dave spent a paragraph on the Billionaire Ted skits, saying that Vince claimed these were the only way he could legitimately air his grievances, because if he did so openly, it would turn off viewers. So he could use them to inform and entertain, and he could make he public aware of what sort of person Turner really was. He claimed that Ted had a vendetta against him since Vince would never let Ted buy in.

 

He also said that Vince wanted to move Raw to a time period not up against Nitro (Monday night at 10 PM for instance). IF so, Dave said WCW would just expand to two hours anyway, which Vince said he actually wanted, since it would water down the WCW product and help him win. WCW thought Vince would be hurting himself by a move to 10 because they'd lose the kids and if they expanded to two hours then they could show 15 minute matches instead of 5 minute ones.

 

Contract stuff:

Diesel claims to have been offered a 3 year 750K per deal through an intermediary (Hogan wanted to bring him in as a heel, says Dave). Most expect him to take it given his age and how he has a family. Other people say it's 450K

Bushwhackers offered 120K per a piece but were still under WWF contract (WCW didn't know). Vince wouldn't let them out.

Lafitte seems like tampering. Not out til 7/7 but everyone knows he's jumping. He does his negotiation through Rougeau.

Overtures towards an unhappy Razor (shrinking paychecks and unhappy with the Goldust feud).

Vince said that Lex was under contract when he jumped. Luger said he wasn't. I think it's come out as a handshake or verbal deal no?

 

Pretty interesting stuff all around, especially so early into 96, well before the NWO was a wisp of a dream. If there is a FTC complaint I think that'd be really interesting to look at, especially Vince complaining about a potential monopoly considering how the War and and how close TNA is to the brink.

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I thought it was Razor that signed with WCW first, then Diesel?

 

Also interesting that WCW offered the Bushwhackers a deal in '96......why?

 

The FTC complaint just comes of as Vince being desperate, petty and hypocritical.

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I thought it was Razor that signed with WCW first, then Diesel?

 

Also interesting that WCW offered the Bushwhackers a deal in '96......why?

 

The FTC complaint just comes of as Vince being desperate, petty and hypocritical.

For the same reason Earthquake, The Nasty Boys, Honky Tonk Man, and so on were offered deals?

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I thought it was Razor that signed with WCW first, then Diesel?

 

Also interesting that WCW offered the Bushwhackers a deal in '96......why?

 

The FTC complaint just comes of as Vince being desperate, petty and hypocritical.

For the same reason Earthquake, The Nasty Boys, Honky Tonk Man, and so on were offered deals?

 

 

The Bushwhackers were friends of Hogan?

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I thought it was Razor that signed with WCW first, then Diesel?

 

That's always been the story that's been told. Razor signed and told Nash the money and the number of days, and then Nash signed.

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I would assume both were being courted, with Hall signing first and Nash using that as leverage to get himself a better deal (which makes me think the $450k offer mentioned was probably the correct one).

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