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21 Years Ago: WON 3/23/88


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Wrestling Observer Recap: March 23rd, 1987


TOP STORY: Tag team tournaments are front and center in this issue.


-The WWF ran the “First Annual Frank Tunney Memorial Tag Team Tournament on 3/15 in Toronto. Dave comments that Titan’s re-writing of the wrestling history books continued with the WWF claiming that Tunney brought over tag team wrestling to North America from Australia.

-The Toronto card drew a sellout of 18,000. Results: Killer Bees beat Kamala and Sika in a comedy bout (Kamala pretending he didn’t understand tag wrestling), Martel/Zenk over Spivey/Jerry Allen, Bundy and Orndorff over Muraco/Orton (crowd cheered neither team), Demolition over British Bulldogs via DQ (Dynamite looked really bad according to Dave), Demolition over Martel and Zenk by Countout, Killer Bees over Bunday and Orndorff after a mask confusion switch allowed Orndorff to get cradled, and then Bees winning the tourney over Demolition for a same-night title shot against the Hart Foundation. Bees were ordered to remove their masks but pulled new masks out a few minutes in and Bret ended up cradled for the pin. Danny Davis reversed the cradle and Bret ended up getting the pin for the win. Other bouts saw Hillbilly Jim pin Dino Bravo and Sivi Afi pin the Red Demon (Jose Luis Rivera).

-Titan ran a tourney in the same style the week previous on 3/8 at the Meadowlands but only drew 5,000. Some different teams in like the Rougeaus and Spivey/Morales. Finals saw Martel/Zenk win the tourney over Valentine/Beefcake. Martel/Zenk vs. Hart Foundation was the same finish as the Toronto card. Apparently the matches were all bad except the title match. Dave: “The report on the card I got was that selling tapes of it to dentists would cut out the need for novacane.”

-Crockett Cup lineup was announced and Dave suggests that unless they planned to work with other promotions, they should cut next year’s field down to 12 or 16 teams. Too many jobber teams made the lineup seem very watered down. “Notables” not in the top 10 seeds included Steve Keirn and Stan Lane (Keirn out of retirement to reform the team one more time), Thunderfoot I and II (Gene Ligon and Joel deaton), and Italian Stallion and Ricky Lee Jones. The list of non-rated teams seems to prove Dave’s point here. Flair vs. Windham will headline the 4/11 show and Ole-Big Bubba will headline the 4/10 show.

-no issue next week, but a double issue with Crockett Cup and Wrestlemania III results and coverage after that.



-Wrestlemania had sold 78,500 at this point which was 9,500 short of a sellout. Sellout was “a certainty” which would make it the largest indoor crowd in North American history.(my note--when did the final "real" number of 78,000 ever come to light?)

-Dave: “Do you realize that those midgets will look like small specs of dust from most of the seats there?”

-live gate in Pontiac would be over 2 million—higher than all three gates at Wrestlemania II combined

-no word on PPV or closed circuit expectations but Dave expected big walk-up business in the last two weeks. Ontario which is “inexplicably bananas for this stuff” sold out all of it’s closed circuit locations already including 12,000 seats at Maple Leaf gardens which sold out in two days

-Dave estimated the whole package would bring in 17-20 million dollars when all was said and done

-SNME on 3/14 amazed from a technical perspective. The matches were not good or bad

-Savage vs. Steele was watchable, “which is a big compliment considering George Steele was involved.” Hart Foundation vs. Spivey/Santana was good when Spivey was not in the ring. “Even though Ray Charles could see the finish coming, it was still a lot of fun.”

-Andre looked bad but not terrible, all things considered. He is wearing the “Machines” tights to hide his back brace, which he apparently needs at all times now

-Andre-Hogan would surely be a bad match but as long as it was not embarrassing like Mr. T vs. Piper was last year, no harm would be done

-Also: Jim Neidhart’s trial for allegedly striking a stewardess was to begin on 3/16. “US Marshals were standing next to the Dressing Room for the card on 3/15 in Toronto, and handcuffed him after the show to bring him back across the border. Neidhart was facing 20 years in jail if convicted



-Ivan Koloff/Dick Murdoch won the US tag titles from Barry Windham and Ron Garvin at the TBS tapings on 3/14

-only eventful things from the TV shows were Ole and Arn Anderson’s interviews and Jim Cornette’s interviews with the Dog Biscuits. “Hilarious stuff”.

-Rotondo and Morton’s interviews made snide remarks about Titan

-Manny Fernandez talked faster than Roddy Piper and made no sense at all. His interviews had Dave rolling on the floor, he was laughing so hard.

-3/8 “B” show in Beckley, WV drew a sellout of 5,000 for Brad Armstrong/Rick Morton winning non-title over Rude/Fernandez and Wahoo beating Arn

-3/12 in Raleigh saw Garvins beat Midnights by DQ and Wahoo/Raschke lose to Koloff/Murdoch

-3/12 in Sunrise drew $60,000 (4700, just under a sellout) for the largest gate in South Florida in years. Results saw Tully beat Dusty by DQ (Dillon throws object to Tully, Rhodes intercepts, KOs Tully, ref goes down Dusty’s trunks and finds object, DQs Dusty. This finish was going around the horn), Nikita over Arn, Rude/Fernandez over Morton/Gibson (really good), Windham drew Luger, and Valiant over Konga the Barbarian plus prelims

3/13 in Washington drew 3200 for Rude/Fernandez over Morton/Gibson in a cage (everyone going through the motions for a bad match. Fernandez apparently worked hard and carried everyone)

3/15 at the Met Center in Bloomington, MN drew 2500 for Flair over Windham in 26:00 (really good), Road Warriors returning from Japan to beat Rude/Fernandez by DQ, Luger over Raschke (one long bearhug), Dusty over Big Bubba in a 4:00 minute cage match “bad enough to piss off the fans”, and more

3/5 in Memphis drew 2500 (had to be disappointing due to all the popular wrestlers brought in for the show including Valiant, Mantel, and Morton/Gibson). Main event was Rhodes vs. Bill Dundee

-upcoming 4/4 Boston card looked like it would out-draw the WWF




-Mike Rotonda won Florida title from Ed Gantner on 3/15 (“least telegraphed title change in at least the last day or two”). MOD Squad beat southern Boys for the tag title on the same card. Sullivan also beat Bad News Allen in a Thunderdome cage match

-this was the last show for most of the wrestlers that had been working the area. Only 4 would be kept on (Kevin Sullivan, Scott Hall, Gantner, and Ron Simmons).

- Kendall Windham would be kept to feud with Gantner when he recovered from a broken leg in a few weeks

-Florida title lineage from the last few weeks: Bad News Allen lost the Florida title to Sir Oliver Humperdink after ref bumps and interference. Hump gave the title to Gantner, who then lost it to Rotonda

-A feud between Ric Flair and Rotonda was going to be pushed

-Adrian Street would be back for one show but would not stay since Crockett and Continental were not on working terms

-The New Breed would be going to Charlotte but the rest of the Florida crew not mentioned previously was to be cut loose

-Tombstone (Mark Dumer), one of the Florida wrestlers who was feuding with Scott Hall at the time, placed tenth in the 1984 World Powerlifting Championships. His lifts included a 604 lb bench press, 780 lb deadlift and an 880 lb squat

-one stipulation with the Crockett takeover: All wrestlers they employed had to give up their independent bookings outside of the area. This affected Scott Hall and Kevin Sullivan directly


Puerto Rico

-Lineup for the 2/28 Antonino Rocca $25,000 Gillette Cup included Bruiser Brody, Invader I, Mighty Igor, Tony Atlas, Abdullah the Butcher, Jason the Terrible, TNT, and Dory Funk Jr. Also Colon vs. Hansen for the Universal title and more.



-Viet Cong Express (Hiro Hase) and Gama Singh had a weird chain match on 2/21 in Calgary. Hase spent the whole bout using clean wrestling holds including a tremendous series of bridging suplexes to dominate. Both wrestlers are heels that were feuding to boot…

-Brian Pillman is refereeing until his shoulder heals up. He is feuding with the heel ref of the area (Dave does not name him)

-Kerry Brown and Duke Myers returned as a tag team called Porky’s I and Porky’s II

-Ron Starr returned as a Heel to team with Mukhan Singh

-Rookie Biff Wellington is looking to be a top candidate for 1987 Rookie of the Year


Central States

-Geigel’s first show in Kansas City on 3/6 drew 500 with Ken Timbs/Porkchop Cash going to a double DQ with faces Bart Batten and Rick McCord (the tag champs), Stony Burke beat CS Champ Bob Brown in a non-title match, Rufus Jones beat the Warlord (“the only Crockett Wrestler that Crockett wouldn’t recall”)(my note—I assume Crockett pulled out of some sort of agreement with Geigel which is why it is noted as a “Geigel card”. I found that strange since Geigel promoted KC forever…)

-tournament for the TV title was upcoming (they claimed Tully Blanchard was stripped of the title)



3/9 drew 8,000. Results: Brickhouse Brown beat Johnathan Boyd, Mark Starr over Boy Tony via DQ, Alan West double countout vs. The Hunter (dale Veasey), Akio Sato/Tarzan Goto lost to JT Southern and Paul Diamond. Loser of the fall ahd to leave town, and Goto was the loser so he was gone, Soul Train Jones beat Lord Humongous in 17 seconds to retain the International Title (Dave notes that this version of Humongous is not Jeff Van Camp or Mike Stark, but apparently some 6-foot-8 rookie that is exceedingly bad) (my note—must be Sid), Jeff Jarrett over Pat Tanaka by DQ (“Great match”), The Midnight Rockers retained the AWA tag titles over Bib Bubba and Mighty Goliath and the main event was Jerry Lawler/Bam Bam Bigelow over Austin Idol/Tommy Rich when Lawler pinned Idol. (Dave: “I’m told it was an easy 4-star match.” )

-Dave states that from what he has seen and heard, Tommy Rich is doing a great job as a heel there but his interviews still don’t make any sense

-Jerry Jarrett taking over the booking from Lawler on 4/1

- The promotion’s crowds are even more impressive in light of Crockett and UWF coming in recently (both drew about 2500). Memphis is drawing 7500 or better every week

-Jerry Bryant was told by doctors to completely give up wrestling. The wording given Dave was that they told him there was no way he could continue wrestling and expect to live very long (my note—details, anyone?)



-Expect changes here since Eddie Gilbert was now booking and Jim Ross was running day-to-day operations. Watts had stepped aside. New faces were expected…

-3/8 Tulsa TV tapings had Adams and Taylor going to a draw vs. Sam Houston/Ted Dibiase in a babyface battle

-UWF back on TV in Philadelphia after a ton of phone calls to the local tv station (one day saw 250 calls come in!)

-Mike Boyette missed some dates after suffering a concussion on the 3/8 TV taping in Tulsa vs. Gary Young (my note—I remember seeing this. I though Boyette might have been killed and I think it was just him landing wrong on an armdrag. He was out cold—yes, they aired that bout and the injury)

-Watt’s son Erik was to start in the fall at the University of Louisville as a quarterback prospect


More WWF News

-Neidhart’s trial postponed until 4/8

-Samantha Fox cancelled her Wrestlemania III appearance. She was supposed to present the crown to the Harley Race-Junkfood Dog winner

-Titan’s biggest enemy lately: GLOW! GLOW’s TV show cut the ratings in Los Angeles in half from 6 to 3, and were debuting in New York head-to-head with Titan’s TV on Saturdays

-SNME rating was a 10.9 and a 30 share

-3/10 TV in Dayton was a sellout. Not much done besides push Duggan to the moon. All action of his surrounded Iron Sheik and Volkoff

-Blackjack Mulligan and Dan Spivey teamed at this TV taping and looked terrible. Dynamite Kid was in a 6-man with Davey and Tito but did not tag in once

-fans were unhappy because they were told there would be 18 main events and all the squash matches led to constant boring chants. Creative editing would fix that, of course

-Columbus taping on 3/11 also drew a sellout. One notable was the Hart Foundation and Roma/Powers totally botching their finish in their match, so they came back out and redid the entire match a bit later with the properly executed finish. Match was pretty much exactly the same both times.

-A recent CNN broadcast said that the plan was for Andre be pinned by Heenan at Wrestlemania, and then turn on Heenan after announcing his retirement. Dave says that a source close to him said that if Andre’s back holds up, and it was expected that it would, he would come back later that year for some rematches with Hogan around the circuit. That made sense to Dave considering how the Silverdome show was selling

-Tom Magee made an appearance at Dayton TV (Dave: “Magee is said to have a better body than Lex Luger, but I assume that depends on which part of the cycle each is on when you see them”)

-3/14 in Philadelphia drew 16, 943 ($201k+) for Hogan/Piper over Kamala/Orndorff

-Ken Patera is waiting for a starting date

-3/6 in Providence had Savage/Honky Tonk Man over Steele/Steamboat by DQ



-4/9 Minneapolis show would be an all tag-team affair with the main event being Bockwinkel/Stevens vs. Super Ninja/Mr. Saito. Also a cage match featuring Col. DeBeers and a partner vs. Jimmy Snuka and a partner. The stipulation would be DeBeers would be allowed to pick both his own AND Snuka’s partner (my note—don’t think this one ever happened)

-Stevens and Bockwinkel being billed as “Greatest tag team of all time”. Dave says it is a debatable point but in the end has nothing to do with how they are today



-Buddy Landell over Ron Fuller for the Continental title on 2/28 in Chatanooga



-Abdullah the Butcher is the new International Champion after beating Hercules Ayala

-Sweet Daddy Siki has returned as a heel

-the New Guinea Headhunters were coming in from Alabama after they finished up a loser-leave-town stint around that circuit

(my note—I think International shut down not too long after this report was filed. Abdullah was the last champion and they did his title win around the circuit in every city they wrestled in on their way to closing up shop)


World Class

-Steve Casey had to have ankle surgery after landing wrong on a backdrop

-Scott Casey (no relation) brought in to continue Steve’s feud with Black Bart

-3/13 in Dallas had a double main event of Fantastics vs. RPMS and David Manning/Red River Jack with Brody in their corner vs. Gary Hart/Nord the Barbarian with Jeep Swenson in their corner (late note said the show only drew 1,100)

-Swenson is about as thickly muscled as anyone you would ever see, and was actually OK in the ring considering he was the lead-footed power lifter type

-WCCW should have a weight lifting contest between Dingo Warrior, Jeep, Ted Arcidi and Nord since none of them can wrestle worth a lick (although Dingo was noticeably improving)


Other Late Notes

-Piper’s retirement appearances on the West Coast did not draw well

-Jackson, TN drew 3700 for Lawler-Idol in the main event

-“Moscamania” is on the shelf as Angelo closed up shop. No NWA dates were scheduled through Ontario in the near future and the NWA had lost all of it’s Canadian television. Mosca sent a memo to those stations letting them know he was not involved anymore

-TSN in Canada looked like it would pick up Stampede wrestling and would drop the AWA. They had been using old AWA on ESPN tapes for their wrestling TV recently (my note—I don’t remember the ESPN matches on TSN at all)

-Rip Rogers was coming to Central States

-In a major surprise Lex Luger was made the fourth horseman. Dave liked how the whole thing was done

-several in Florida were impressed with how much better Luger had gotten in the last while. This is credited to tutelage from Tully Blanchard while teaming with him to wrestle against Barry Windham every night

-3/16 in Memphis would have Bigelow vs. Rich and Lawler vs. Idol in simultaneous singles matches with it being legal for each partner to come to the other ring and double-team for up to a minute at a time. Rich had a Japan tour with Baba scheduled so Dave expected him to get injured in this match

-Vivian Vachon returned to the ring in Japan after a ten-year layoff. She didn’t look good but that was to be expected. She mostly battled training fanatics

-Deep South Economics lesson: The circuit was drawing 200-300 a night, for gates around $1300 to $2000. Mr. Wrestling II was wrestling with a guarantee of $200 a night and Tommy Rich for a $250 guarantee per night. How were they paying the rest of the crew? ...with great difficulty..not much left to go around at all.

-Fantastics, Brody and Nord all going to the next NWF tapings. Scott Casey to Montreal…

-Bill Watts did an interview on a St. Louis feed of a UWF show. He caused a ton of fireworks within city government when he accused the city government of restraint of trade and being in Titan’s hip pockets because he could not get a UWF show booked at the Kiel Auditorium. Dave paints this as having created a huge controversy but everything Watts said was basically true. He also said Watts did a great job portraying himself in a sympathetic light.

-Kerry Von Erich was only expected to ever return for once-a-year special occasion type of angles.


**I bolded the few Manny tidbits for Rob. :)


Also, if someone can tell me how to make quotation marks appear instead of that greek gibberish that does appear in it's place (also for apostrophes), please let me know for next time.

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Guest Rob Naylor

Thank you for this man.


I really enjoy reading all this periods wrestling news .... in something other than a PWI. Granted, at the time, reading the WON would have likely ruined my enjoyment of the magic of the NWA and territories (I always thought WWF was fake, so that wouldn't have mattered), but looking at the behind the scenes stuff from this time is really interesting.


I remember reading about Sean Royal and Chris Champion in Apter mags when they were in Florida and I was so stoked when they got to the NWA. They were really cool to me for whatever reason. I was a huge Brian Bozworth fan in 87, so seeing high flying two pro wrestlers with Boz cuts AND Beastie Boys theme music made me an instant fan.

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Jerry Bryant was diagnosed with ALS during this period and passed away a few years later. He was coming off of his first push as half of Memphis Vice with Lou Winston. Bryant was pretty much the only Memphis job guy to get really good, and it gets sad watching him in '85-'86 where he's improving constantly knowing that it came to a brutal, screeching halt.

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