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20 Years Ago - WON 03/14/88


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-- Dave starts off with the most ... homely looking version of the Wrestlemania IV brackets possible. I wish I had Fast Stone Capture at home so I could show you all a copy of it.


-- Dave says Hogan, Savage and DiBiase are the only possible winners of the tournament at this point, and that while most people think Savage or DiBiase, he doesn't think you can rule Hogan out, although he has a lesser chance than the other two.


-- Dave says because the bracketing has changed, something has gone "afoul" in their original plans, and he isn't sure what.


-- Gladys Knight and the Pips will perform "America the Beautiful" at the beginning of the show.


-- Bruno Sammartino has left the WWF. He received an offer for a company involved in promotion of a national 900 number wrestling hotline which paid more than his job as color commentator. He had been unhappy with the current state of wrestling and didn't like the direction it was going. There were also problems because the WWF never pushed David Sammartino. Dave says the truth is that when Bruno retired in 1981, he had no intentions of ever coming back, but came back to help David's career. Since the comeback drew some big crowds, pressure was put on him to do more and more appearances. He also filled in for Duggan, Jake Roberts, and Ken Patera when they were suspended or injured. He reinjured his back but still made every show through August. He decided at that point he was done even though the WWF still wanted him to wrestle in the Northeast to try to boost house show attendance. Bruno and Vince's problems started because Bruno felt credibility in wrestling was very important, and he didn't like Vince's promotional tactics. Bruno also often refers to his track record of drawing consistent sellouts in arenas where Vince now draws 3,000 to 5,000. "The funny thing is wrestling probably would be better off if McMahon at least tried not to insult credibility at all costs, but that's a subject we beat to death in 1985."


-- 3/5 at the Cow Palace drew 8,500 headlined by Hogan & Duggan vs DiBiase & Virgil, a show Dave attended live. 3/5 in Irvine, CA, drew 500 fans headlined by DiBiase vs Duggan. They had just run LA the day before, which is why the crowd was so small. 3/5 in Boston drew 11,000 headlined by Randy Savage & Strike Force vs the Honky Tonk Man & Hart Foundation. 2/26 in Hollywood, FL, drew 10,000 headlined by Ted DiBiase vs Randy Savage. 2/8 in Clinton, NY drew 450 fans headlined by Killer Bees vs Bolsheviks. "This isn't even a C Team!" an outraged Meltzer said. 2/29 in Utica, NY drew 3,228 headlined by Duggan vs One Man Gang where both no-showed, and instead the main event was the Junkyard Dog & George Steele vs The Bolsheviks. 3/6 in Los Angeles drew 4,000 fans, the lowest drawing Hogan crowd ever in LA. He teamed with Duggan against Virgil and DiBiase.


-- The Iron Sheik is already fired, which may be a record.


-- Adrian Adonis is trying to get back in.


-- NBC has agreed to do five SNMEs in 1988, and one prime time special in the 1988-89 TV season.



-- The syndicated TV ratings have the NWA ratings increasing because the TBS viewership is not counted. The NWA ranked 6th with an 8.9 national rating on 185 stations, ranking just behind the WWF, fifth with an 11.4 rating on 258 stations. Dave says the ratings aren't completely accurate because of the way they're tabulated, but they're significant nonetheless because they determine ad rates.


-- Road Warrior Animal is back working with a mask.


-- 3/4 in Pittsburgh drew 3,000 fans. 3/4 in Houston also drew 3,000 fans headlined by Flair vs Sting. 3/6 in St. Louis drew 5,700 fans headlined by Flair vs Sting.


-- Steve Williams now wants to return. Nikita Koloff says he has no plans of returning.


-- Dusty Rhodes did a horrible interview where he told viewers if they didn't watch the Clash, he would remember and that on Christmas, he would come down their chimney and beat up their kids. Dave thinks he meant it as comedy, but he's gotten lots of calls from people asking if he finally lost his mind.



-- The Von Erichs were on The 700 Club, "alternating occasional truth with a few major lies and minor fibs."


-- Legends of WCCW has started airing on ESPN, and is basically chronicling Kevin and Kerry in the pre-Freebird era. They also have a trivia contest where for some reason, the answer to practically every question is either the Von Erichs or Ken Mantell. "One of the questions even was asking where and when did David die, which as someone explained to me is almost like a parody of the silliness of the family based promotion and the exploitation of the very real tragedies and trying to feed overblown egos."


-- The latest on the Penthouse story is that it's scheduled for the July issue.


-- Kerry Von Erich won the WCCW title on 3/6 in Dallas from Al Perez. It was originally going to be Hayes, but Hayes was "injured" earlier in the card and couldn't wrestle. The concert drew 2,000 fans. Terry Taylor beat Matt Borne on 2/26 in Dallas to win the Texas title. The Simpsons won the Wild West tag titles from Tatum & Victory on 2/29 in Fort Worth.


-- The Texas Stadium show is now on 5/8 and is probably going to have some sort of Freebirds vs Von Erichs match on top. Talk of Flair vs Kerry Von Erich has cooled off.


-- At the concert, the big angle was that Hayes was about to sing Willie Nelson's "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys." He dedicated the song to David Von Erich and invited his brothers on stage. This brought Iceman Parsons out to argue with Hayes. Buddy Roberts then comes out and the Von Erichs get into it. Buddy tries to hit Kerry with a guitar, but Buddy ducks and he ends up knocking Hayes cold.



-- "You aren't going to believe this, but they've got Sputnik Monroe in feuding with Billy Wicks. I thought Eddie Marlin feuding with Tommy Gilbert was outrageous but this is out of control. Wicks apparently was the big star in Memphis before Jackie Fargo (we are talking of the 1950s) and Sputnik is a legendary heel of the business from the late 1950s and early 1960s and lasted through around 1973."


-- Manny Fernandez is gone again, this time fired for missing shows. The Samoans quit just before they were going to win the tag titles. Bill Dundee has left for Knoxville after all, where he will be a babyface. The Rock & Roll Express are also gone, and Steve Keirn isn't coming back this week. As a result, the 3/7 card only had 15 wrestlers, and had quite a few of them wrestling twice. The key matches are Jeff Jarrett vs a heel Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty vs Billy Travis, and then Michaels & Jannetty vs Jarrett & Travis later on the show with no time limit and no DQ. The 2/29 show drew 3,500 fans, a good number for a show without Lawler.


-- "Manager Brother Ernest Angel got off a nice line saying the problem with the TV evangelists is that they can't keep their flies up in reference to Jimmy Swaggart, and it went on TV like that, which I guess is the beauty of live television."


-- Dundee was wrestling Ken Wayne on 02/29 when the Gilbert family all rushed the ring and attacked him. They are now claiming they've run Dundee, Keirn and Lawler out of the territory, to leave the door open for Dundee to return as a babyface and team with Lawler against the Gilberts.


-- Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt have been taking over the Jerry Lawler Show.


-- They lost TV in Jackson, TN, where they always drew well until about a year prior.


-- 3/5 in Jonesboro, AR before 737 (a huge crowd for Jonesboro) was headlined by Jerry Lawler vs Eddie Gilbert in a **** match.



-- The 2/20 card in Edmonton drew 1,080, considered a great house since TV was cancelled and there were no newspaper ads. 2/26 in Calgary drew 850 fans, another packed house, on the next to last night of the Olympics.


-- Owen Hart missed two weeks after his Japanese tour because he injured his back taking a guard rail bump in New Japan.


-- Gary Albright will be coming in as Makhan Singh's brother, using the name Vulcan Singh.



-- The Rock & Roll Express and Eddie Gilbert are scheduled to appear on the 3/17 show in Kansas City.


-- Dave Peterson regained the held up Central States title beating Cuban Assassin on 2/18 in Kansas City. Also, Masa Chono won their World title on 02/26 by beating Mike George in St. Joseph.


-- The 2/26 show drew 738 fans.


-- They are running two shows per week. The wrestlers are starving.



-- Billy Jack Haynes is only interested in guys 280 lbs and up for his startup promotion. Bill Alfonso will be his referee.


-- Buddy Rose talked to Don Owen about coming back, but nothing is coming out of it.



-- 2/29 in Birmingham, AL, drew 600 fans. The bait-and-switch tactics have continued, as Larry Hamilton was a no-show for his match with Scott Hall, and two other matches didn't even take place although all four guys were at the show. 2/16 in Columbus, MS, drew 1,662 fans.



-- Masa Saito is returning and stated on television he would be bringing in Riki Choshu as his partner, and that they would challenge the Rockers, which surprised everyone.


-- Verne Gagne has been talking to Mike Graham about re-opening a promotion in Florida. He was also spotted at the GLOW show in Houston on 02/26, which at 3,500 fans actually outdrew recent WWF and NWA house shows headlined by big matches like Hogan vs DiBiase and Flair vs Sting.


-- Olympia from GLOW is coming in to feud with Madusa Miceli. "I guess Verne was looking over to see if he can bring someone in who looks better and can wrestle worse than Miceli. Well, if it gives him something to keep himself busy."


-- It's not certain that Adrian Adonis will return when his ankle heals. In fact, he probably won't. He was very upset about the injury, and Verne Gagne cut off his weekly guarantee at the end of December. This was just before a trip to Japan. So he lost out on two weeks in Japan and now has no guarantee. He asked Verne for help while he's recovering, and was turned down.



-- They're now running 5 to 7 shows every two weeks in Georgia. They taped 3 hours of TV on 3/6 in Marietta before a sellout 620 fans.



-- The second annual Gillette Cup took place on 2/27 in San Juan and drew 17,000 fans, which was actually considered a disappointing crowd. The show was built around a tournament, of which the finals were Afa vs Carlos Colon.


-- "I've had a chance to watch a ton of tape from here. None of the Puerto Rican wrestlers except TNT could be classified as even average workers. The bouts are slow-paced, although the ones with the likes of Brody and Abdullah and lots of the rest can be extremely bloody. Still, judging from their success, they can't be faulted because they are apparently delivering a product that their audience likes. The audience is a rabid one and I guess they probably have the highest percentage of fans who truly believe as any promotion around this neck of the world which is why emotions and heat run high and they have some huge crowds at baseball stadium spectaculars."



-- The new series started on 02/29 at Korauken Hall in Tokyo before a small crowd. They officially announced that Akira Maeda has been fired, and so the question now is if Maeda even has a future in wrestling. Dave expects someone will try to start a new promotion with Maeda as the top star, possibly also attempting to lure Satoru Sayama back, but that they would need TV.


-- The next tour starts on 4/1 with Vader, Scott Hall, Steve Casey, Villano III, and Manny Fernandez all scheduled to appear.



-- In the 2/23 issue of Tokyo Sports, they had a front page story stating Hiroshi Wajima would have to retire because of a neck injury, but Wajima insists he will be back wrestling. Dave is told he'll be out several months.


-- The next series begins on 03/25. Abdullah the Butcher, Tiger Jeet Singh, Bruiser Brody, Jimmy Snuka, Tom Magee, Austin Idol, Tommy Rich, Fred Ottman and George Skoaland are scheduled to be on the tour.


-- 2/27 TV taping drew 3,050 fans. 2/21 in Maoka drew a sellout 2,100 fans. 2/22 in Fukaya drew 1,650 fans. 2/24 in Matsuzaka drew 2,100 fans.


-- In 1987, AJPW averaged 3,192 fans per show. By comparison, New Japan averaged 3,003 fans per show.



-- Dump Matsumoto has officially retired. Her final match happened on 2/28. She beat Bull Nakano and Condor Saito in a handicap match. Her retirement was such a big deal that Fuji TV Network ran a 30-minute TV special of her career, showing her early matches and big feuds. Dave thinks without Dump, they are going to lose so much and that TV ratings are probably going to drop quite a bit for AJW.


-- JWP drew 1,900 to Tokyo on 02/27 for the opening of their series.


-- 02/27 in Hanno drew 1,445 fans.



-- Sports Illustrated ran a story on Hiroshi Wajima. The story had been on hold since November of 1986.

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Guest antonius block

I think the bracketing running afoul was Dave's own doing. The Crockett Cup tournaments probably looked like varicose veins.


I'd love to see Rhodes' promo because I can't imagine him failing in terms of comedic delivery. I'm less comfortable attributing the Clash's success to Sting than to a darkly comical Dusty promo where he warns of stomping kids while covered in lube and soot.

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I had no idea Bruno quit in 1988, I thought he was long gone by then. I don't remember seeing him after those 6 man matches that were hyping WM III.


How funny is it that Bruno is basically the wrestling equivalent to the little league mom mad at the coach over her son not getting enough playing time, and Vince is the coach who has to be the one to say the kid sucks. Not to mention the Sammartinos had a falling out over David being a steroid user all while Bruno was the biggest critic of bloated physiques. ESPN Classic provided so much comedy since they've shown bloated AWA 1986 David and also chemo patient 1991 UWF David.

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-- They lost TV in Jackson, TN, where they always drew well until about a year prior.

Would this be WBBJ Channel 7? I remember ordering some Memphis TV once and realizing it was originally taped off the only local channel I get. I thought it was pretty neat.
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