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MATWATCH

July 4, 1988

 

Steve hopes that he’ll have the new Matwatch logo by next week but wants to start off by previewing the upcoming “Great American Bash” PPV. This is Crockett’s first chance to put on a first class PPV show, and he can’t afford to blow it. Crockett has everything going for him right now: Ted Turner has cleared more then ten million households for access to the PPV, the price tag is much lower than the WWF’s, there’s no competition from the WWF, the Flair/Luger main event has been built up on TV like no other main event, since Flair defending against 14 various opponents during the 1986 Great American Bash tour and Baltimore is the NWA’s top drawing city, so they can expect a sellout. Steve thinks they should get at least a five-percent national buyrate, which would put 1.8-2 Million dollars in Crockett’s pocket, with Turner taking a similar cut. The marketing for the show has been first-rate and if your area has been equipped to receive the show, then there should be print ads in the local newspaper.

 

The card is as follows:

Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – Steve expects this to tell everyone whether or not Flair is staying in the NWA. As of now, there’s not a title change expected, but if Flair does decide to move to the WWF, then expect Luger to win the title here. Steve thinks it’ll take roughly four weeks to see that Luger won’t draw, but Dave Meltzer jokes that Dusty still hasn’t figured out that Ronnie Garvin didn’t draw last year. Steve predicts Luger to win by DQ, to keep Flair as champion, and to set up a series of matches throughout the fall.

 

Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham – The NWA usually doesn’t tip their hands at upcoming title changes, unlike the WWF, but a recent campaign of NWA themed Mello Yellow cans lists Dusty as being the U.S. Champion. Steve expects Dusty to win the title here, and then do a retirement at Starrcade.

 

Triple Tower of Doom – They’ve tried several times on TV to explain the rules, but Steve still doesn’t fully understand them. He expects the good guys to win, in order to settle the angle with Sullivan and Precious.

 

Tully and Arn vs. Sting and Nikita – Tully and Arn are set to defend the tag titles throughout the summer, so Steve expects the babyfaces to be disqualified for hitting the ref, or some such nonsense.

 

Midnight Express vs. Fantastics – With the fans paying $15 a pop for this one, he expects to see Jim Cornette get ten lashes with the belt here.

There’s also a couple of undercard matches, Larry Zybyszko vs. Brad Armstrong and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. The Sheepherders, but Steve isn’t sure if they’ll be on the PPV. He thinks the tag team match might, and the Zybyszko match won’t.

 

Even with all of its talent and organizational issues, the NWA is still the cream of the crop in workers and overall performers. Flair is still one of the greatest names in the history of the game, so they’ve got a strong anchor, but they cannot afford to make any mistakes. If Jim Ross isn’t one of the lead announcers, it’ll be a mistake. If Dusty tries to steal the spotlight, it’ll be a mistake. If the ending to Flair/Luger leaves the fans unsatisfied, it’ll be a mistake. Steve wants to see an outright victory from either of them, but he thinks this is where they’ll foul things up. Steve thinks the Crockett group, despite all of the criticisms that they’ve received in 1988, deserves a lot of credit for putting together a show that gives them a chance to break out into a lot of big money markets, which is something very few people thought was possible back in January.

 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Matwatch believes that the sale of the NWA to Ted Turner is imminent, probably by August 1st. Crockett and Turner had a meeting two weeks ago and were said to have made an agreement in principle for a complete buyout from Turner. There are a few remaining details, such as the prices and the terms of the payments. Crockett will stay on as GM for at least one year, and no word about Dusty staying on as the booker. Steve thinks Crockett could pay for the company with his share of four successful PPV shows. We should expect a much more aggressive marketing campaign due to Turner’s new licensing and merchandizing company.

 

-          The 7/18 Bash event in Columbus, GA will be taped for the Worldwide Wrestling TV show, which is the first time a TV show has been taped in Columbus.

-          If Flair does jump to the WWF, don’t expect him to be Harley Race’s replacement as the King. The plan is for Bobby Heenan to do a 4-6 week search and announce Haku as the new king, and then kill off the angle.

-          “Isn’t the stuff that Bruce Prichard is doing as Brother Love just awful?” Not only does it distract from the wrestling (not unusual for the WWF) but he also can’t get off the broken record of “I Love You.” Steve prefers Brother Ernest Angel in Continental, talking about “Sister Hyatt” and “Brother Platt.”

-          Scott Putski showed up on NWA TV and is getting a small push for the Bash shows in Houston and Dallas. Steve thinks Crockett might just be trying to cash in on the name of former WWF star Ivan Putski. Scott seemed to be emulating Jimmy Snuka instead of his father, but the fans seemed to go for him, although his interviews stunk.

-          If you call 1-900-909-4LOU, you’ll get to hear Bruno Sammartino’s diatribe of how Vince screwed over his son David. Vince asked Bruno and David to team up in March of 1985 against Heenan and Orndorff, and then used David as undercard preliminary guy afterwards. It’s nothing new, but Steve finds it interesting that they’d use the 900 number for that.

-          Dave Meltzer ought to sue the 970-RING service in Atlanta, since they essentially read information verbatim from the Observer.

-          Steve saw footage of Big Van Vader in Japan. He comes to the ring in a half-suit of armor and then takes it off to reveal another mask. He obviously looks like Darth Vader. The character is supposed to be a heel, but the kids love him.

-          Anyone who can’t get the Bash PPV and would like a copy can get one from Steve for $10 (which barely covers the cost of mailings and a decent quality cassette tape) but the cost of waiting for Turner’s official release is $35.

-          One final note regarding the sale to Turner. If it goes though, then all talent negotiations are expected to be held by Steve Kasten (president of the Hawks and Braves) and the balloon payment setup by Crockett will be replaced by a more orderly schedule. Crockett will be responsible for paying the talent all monies owed from his 1987-88 contracts.

 

PROMOTER PROFILE

Jim Crockett made a calculated decision in 1985 which changed the face of wrestling almost as much as Vince McMahons national expansion did. He upped the price for NWA Champion Ric Flair to appear on World Class events. World Class owner Fritz Von Erich balked and refused to pay, and WCCW withdrew from the NWA. In the coming months, Crockett cut off all relations with Jerry Jarrett in Memphis, Mike Graham in Florida, Bill Watts in the UWF, Bob Geigel in the Central States and Ron Fuller in Continental. Don Owens in the Northwest does continue to run cards as an NWA member, but he hasn’t used Flair in two years.

 

Crockett decided to make his own attempt at going national and swallowed up the UWF and Florida in the process, while also sending talent to the Central States to help bail them out. By the spring of 1987, Crockett had nearly 175 wrestlers employed, those of us who have followed the shutdowns of Florida and the UWF know what happened to the talent, which could have eaten McMahon’s group alive for wrestling and working ability.

 

The NWA still has a highly regarded talent base, but if one person, namely Steve Beverly, was in charge of restructuring the company then here’s what he would do to fix their issues.

-          Dump Dusty Rhodes as the booker, he may still have promotional abilities, but Dusty can’t keep pushing himself as the biggest star. The failure of the Midnight Rider showed that.

-          Develop fresh young talent. Steve feels like Sting ought to be a top star right now, and that Tim Horner and Brad Armstrong as vastly underutilized. He’d also make a play for talent like Curt Hennig, Owen Hart, and Paul E. Dangerously.

-          Make Jim Ross the lead announcer. David Crockett is as talented as Oscar Robertson used to be. Ross knows the holds, has a good grasp on the history of various feuds and nobody generates excitement from a hot match like Jim.

-          Get rid of the Four Horsemen and turn Flair babyface. It’s long overdue and would generate a lot of interest with Flair traveling the country against his former friends.

-          Re-establish relationships with other companies, which Steve concedes will take a new owner to do. The Crockett Cup and Starrcade need fresh faces in order to market a fresh flavor. There was a chance to get talent from Stampede and World Class for the Crockett Cup in April, and it didn’t happen.

-          Dump the Bunkhouse Stampede show. Nobody cares.

This was just half a dozen thoughts. Steve sees the sale to Turner as the best thing that could happen for the NWA. Turner is a broadcast professional, who saw the success of wrestling on his old WTCG station. He also sees home video and PPV as a gold mine for the company.

 

The biggest criticism of Crockett is that he’s still using his old cronies, while McMahon has branched out and hired on young and hungry media market specialsts. Ted has several people like this in his employ and there’s no love lost between Vince and Ted after Vince’s failed attempt to take over the World Championship Wrestling slot in 1984-85. Turner is a very shrewd communication professional, and Steve would like to see a war between them, and guess who he thinks would win.

 

I REMEMBER . . .

Steve first met Mario Galento in 1968, he’d been around for thirty years mostly as a villain. He left most territories after disputes with promoters, and he traveled with a “brother” by name of Al Galento and created an image which actually led to his getting arrested in New York City. Mario’s first wife, Lucille, had written a book about him called “The Gentle Brute” which he always sold at live shows. He was born with the name Bonny Lee Boyette, and with a name like Bonny, he learned how to fight very quickly. During the 1950’s he’d had wins over Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers and Wilbur Snyder, all of whom would wear the NWA or WWWF Titles. He turned babyface during the 1960’s in a boxing match with Buddy Fuller when Rocky Marciano knocked out Galento while the referee was down. After his turn, he showed his affection for children. He would show up at bookings hours before the show just to entertain the children. Steve recalls seeing him at an event in Waycross, GA where he demonstrated the sleeper hold and the Hangman. Many of the wrestlers would use the kids to sell their photos and send them home with their own photo as payment. Mario Galento sent them home with 15% of the earnings. Steve feels like he’s one of the few old-timers that could still go in today’s age. His battles with Butcher Vachon are legendary. Steve isn’t sure of his whereabouts now, or even if he’s still alive. But in today’s high gloss programmed world of wrestling, we need more people like Mario Galento.

 

TV TEMPO

Reviewing the key happenings on TV for the weekend of July 2-3:

NWA: On NWA Pro Nikita Koloff gave Al Perez the Russian Sickle, for a mild amount of heat. On the Saturday TBS show, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express returned and said they were after their fifth World Tag Team Title. On the Sunday Main Event show, Sting and Steve Williams had a twenty-minute draw with the Midnight Express, and Nikita Koloff beat Barry Windham by DQ after the other Horsemen interfered.

 

WWF: The Rougeaus beat the Killer Zzzz’s with their new rule breaking tactics but were still cheered. The only other highlight was seeing Jesse Ventura without his earing or head scarf.

 

CWF: Tom Prichard and the Dirty White Boy had a wild brawl that ended when White Boy’s valet, Lady Mystic, interfered. But Bambi (a former POWW wrestler and valet in Memphis) showed up to help Dr. Tom. Expect to see the ladies have catfights.

 

Southern: Mr. Wrestling II and Buck Robley had a bad match that saw Dick Slater interfere after less than a minute and Chris Adams make the save. Robley is simply awful and it’s sad to see that II is reduced to doing this.

 

AWA: Robert Gibson and Greg Gagne challenged for the AWA Tag Titles in a match that was taped three weeks ago and showed that they’d never teamed up before. It shows the lack of immediacy in the AWA with Robert already back with Crockett teaming with Ricky Morton, and he’s on AWA TV demanding a rematch.

 

World Class: Jerry Lawler and Terry Taylor had a good match for the AWA Title. Kerry Von Erich challenged Lawler for a Title-for-Title match afterwards.

 

USA Pro: Wendell Cooley and Buddy Landell had a short brawl that was triggered when Landell’s manager, Terry Adonis, wanted to buy out Cooley’s contract for the match.

 

Northwest: Jesse Barr is back as Jimmy Jack Funk and beat Al Madril. Dave Sierra (Cuban Assassin) has left for Japan.

 

Blooper of the Week: Gary Hart for crediting Kevin Von Erich (instead of Kevin Sullivan) for inventing the Triple Tower of Doom.

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