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Wrestling Observer Recap -- 3/4/85


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Cover

*Steamboat press-slamming Flair with the headline “The End of an Era.”

 

Pulling No Punches

*Dave comments on the 20/20 piece involving Eddy Mansfield and Jim Wilson. Also, John Stossell getting slapped around by David Schults.

 

*Mansfield demonstrated how wrestlers “fake it,” even blading himself. Dave doesn’t think it will negatively affect the business at all. Dave says Mansfield didn’t lose his job for going to the media, but because he often no-showed bookings.

 

*Apparently, Wilson claims he was kicked out of wrestling for refusing to do homosexual favors for a promoter. Dave says he wasn’t kicked out for this, but because he’s a horrible worker who refused to do jobs.

 

*Dave was contacted by Stossell a few days before the piece ran. He wasn’t impressed by Stossell because he only knew what Wilson, Mansfield and Hulk Hogan had told him. He didn’t do any other research.

 

*Dave thinks that if someone went up to 50 journalists and told each of them repeatedly that their profession was phony, one of the journalists would eventually smack you around like Schults did with Stossell.

 

*Dave says in many ways journalism is more fake than wrestling because reporters have to report on things they know nothing about (as a journalist myself, Dave has a good point here).

 

*Dave says the only part of the 20/20 piece that was sloppy instead of shallow was when McMahon was not challenged when he said he has never done anything to keep other promotions out of buildings. Overall, Dave was entertained by the report but not really informed.

 

Mr. Mike’s Mondo Wrestling

*Mike is upset that the AWA doesn’t know how to use its talent pool. Brody is also gone and Mike didn’t think he was ever really used right.

 

*Slaughter’s reception at the 1/13 St. Paul show was so-so. The show drew a disappointing 11,000.

 

*John Nord debuted and Mike sees big things for him if he’s able to talk.

 

*Mike commends the marketing skills of McMahon for the Hogan-Piper MTV match. He says wrestling is close to being a genuine fad and it will be cool to like.

 

*Mike says Vince struggles to convince people in local markets that his product is good. However, he convinces the “important people,” the TV and advertising execs, that his product is good because it’s popular in New York.

 

*The 2/1 Pro Wrestling USA tapings were held in St. Paul. Mike said they were ok with the highlight being a Terry Funk appearance.

 

*Mike thought the 20/20 piece was good fun and will help the wrestling business grow as a fad.

 

*Mike is disturbed by the fan reaction to Garvin’s valet, Precious. People have taken it beyond fun and it’s now a little disturbing (Precious got attacked by a fan and needed 18 stitches a few weeks back).

 

Newspaper Reprints

*There’s a story and obit piece about Eddie Graham’s suicide.

 

*There’s a puff-piece about McMahon from some trade magazine.

 

*There’s a piece from the Tulsa World about Mid-South and its use of wrestlers in country music videos.

 

Inside Japan Wrestling

*Business is way up for All Japan, way down for New Japan. New Japan sold out wherever it went in ’83 and ’84 but can’t draw 3,000 per night in ’85.

 

*Several All Japan wresters have started wrestling a faster pace to keep up w/ Choshu’s style.

 

*Tsuruta and Choshu met several times in tag matches, but they didn’t go over real well. Tsuruta is feuding w/ Yatsu instead.

 

*All Japan TV show will move to prime time once baseball season ends. This will severely damage Inoki, but Inoki still holds a prime time slot on Friday night.

 

*Road Warriors and Ellering will be in from 3/8-3/14 and will get $10,000 apiece.

 

*Rumors that the AWA offered to send talent to New Japan for $120,000 per year. The company is paying WWF $500,000 in ’85 for talent.

 

*Rumors that Inoki is planning a bout between himself and Larry Holmes in either Tokyo or Los Angeles.

 

*Super Tiger now appearing w/out a mask in UWF.

 

*UWF’s president is out of jail on bail, but the company’s future still looks bleak.

Letters from Readers

*One letter saying that Florida wrestling isn’t so bad. The usual WWF bashing. One anonymous writer talking about how WWF is finally getting things right and are selling out arenas throughout the country.

 

WWF

*Dave says the WWF is riding the crest of a wave that is the biggest in wrestling in more than a decade. Crowds are way up, except in areas like Dallas or St. Paul

 

*The wave will lead to a closed-circuit MSG card headlined by Hogan-T/Piper-Orndorff.

 

*Dave praised the MTV special leading up to the Hogan/Piper MSG bout. He said it went off w/out a hitch and the celebrity tie-ins made it feel that you’re with the “in” crowd by watching wrestling.

 

*He says Piper proved that he is the most valuable commodity in wrestling right now and summarized the Hogan/Piper match and ensuing angle w/ Mr. T.

 

*Dave says Hogan has become an awful wrestler. He used to be just OK, now he’s terrible. He says Hogan comes across well to first-time viewers, but he’s not sure how many first-timers are watching WWF compared to actual wrestling fans.

 

*Dave says McMahon needs to capitalize on the Mr. T angle and try to turn all the non-wrestling fans that will be interested in the angle into wrestling fans. Dave doesn’t think Mr. T being involved in wrestling will negatively impact the business long term.

 

*Jimmy Hart and Jim Neidhart due in 2/12. King Kong Bundy coming in March. Rumors that Steamboat is also coming in March. Gone are Schults, Mulligan, Briscos, Adonis and Murdoch. Schults was fired for trying to jump Mr. T. He was fined $3,000 for beating up Stossell.

 

*Bret Hart, who Dave says was once good, is being wasted in the WWF.

 

*Highlights how the WWF is going into the home video business. Also highlights other WWF merchandise coming out, including Hulk Hogan dolls. Dave wonders if the dolls will have spots to insert needles.

 

*Latest WWF TV ratings are up slightly.

 

Northeast Opposition

*2/5 Philly show by Crocketts drew 3,770. Fan reports say it was good, but TV stations reported it the lowest attended card in a long time. Flair/Slaughter will headline 2/28.

 

*Crockett should be taking over most northern cities run by Ole soon.

 

Northwest

*Billy Haynes returned 2/2.

 

Southwest

*Buck Robley is now booking and Eric Embry has apparently bought the ownership of the company from Joe Blanchard.

 

World Class

*Von Erichs were on Los Angeles TV to announce they would run live shows there in the future.

 

*Dave thinks Chris Adams is the best heel in the country right now.

 

Mid-South

*Best matches on this circuit involve Dibiase/Duggan.

 

*Speculating that Kimala may be turned face.

 

*2/15 in Houston drew 5,600. Watts ran Houston again six days later, one day before the WWF came in for a show.

 

*Mid-South’s TV show won its time slot in 15 of 23 slots around the circuit, including up against college football in some cases.

 

*Duggan has done some recent music videos with country singers. Dave says Mid-South is going all out w/ the videos, which he doesn’t mind if it doesn’t get in the way of wrestling. He thinks it eventually will, however.

 

AWA

*Rumors that the AWA may soon give up on Martel as a champ that can draw. Dave isn’t sure who else to give the title to, however. Slaughter doesn’t need a belt, Bockwinkle is still good but fans perceive him as too old and Masked Superstar doesn’t really fit.

 

*Fans are getting worn out on Slaughter because he’s being pushed as the second coming.

 

*Drew 5,300 on 1/30 in San Fran, about triple what they had been drawing. Baron/Hennigs def. Roadies/Ellering when Baron pinned Ellering. Fans cheered the Roadies until they started to run away from the Baron’s claw. Fans started throwing plastic cups at the Roadies, which they caught, stuck down the crotch of their trunks, and threw back at the fans. They did the same thing in Puerto Rico, only w/ rocks.

 

*Main reason the Fabs left was because they were sick of the Roadies no-selling.

 

*Chicago and Salt Lake each drew 9,000.

 

Memphis

*A snowstorm forced some shows to recently be cancelled.

 

*Rumors that Lawler will soon win NWA title from Flair.

 

Florida

*Word is that the territory will be reorganized w/ Mike Graham giving control to Dusty.

 

*Percy Pringle in the area as a manager.

 

*Dave says the Freebirds are the only good thing going in this territory.

 

Georgia

*Several new workers in from Abdulla the Butcher’s training school.

 

*T-Bolt Patterson’s suit against the NWA was recently settled out of court. T-Bolt got $50,000 from Barnett and Crockett will pay him $2,000 per week to wrestle. T-Bolt signed to no longer stand w/ Mansfield and Wilson in their lawsuits.

 

Mid-Atlantic

*Magnum TA getting a big push.

 

*Speculation that Steamboat left because Dusty wanted to turn him heel.

 

Update

*AWA on 2/20 in San Fran was awful and drew 1,981.

 

*NWA on 2/20 in Pittsburgh drew 750 and was also terrible.

 

*WWF sold out Indianapolis, but only drew about 800 in Oklahoma.

 

*Rumors that two groups may start running Calgary, one led by Cuban Assasin and one as a Stampede revival. Bad News Allan and Bruce Hart are battling over who will book the Stampede group. Brett, Davey Boy and Dynamite won’t work unless Bruce books.

 

*Lawler making arrangements to bring in Dynamite and Davey Boy.

 

*Steamboat definitely scheduled for 3/5 WWF taping in Poughkeepsie.

 

*Orndorff has dropped weight for his series w/ Hogan. They want to have Hogan do several power moves so it helps if Orndorff is lighter.

 

*Dave thinks it would be “interesting” if Piper and T “go against the grain” at Wrestlemania.

 

*Expect to see a falling out between Inoki/McMahon soon.

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Some AWA notes based on the recap:

 

*Mike is upset that the AWA doesn’t know how to use its talent pool. Brody is also gone and Mike didn’t think he was ever really used right.

I don't get how Brody wasn't used right in this guy's mind. He was pushed as THE monster heel in the area, never got pinned in his feud that they pushed with Blackwell, was programmed to beat up two major babyfaces in handicap matches...All I can think is that he expected Brody to take a loss somewhere along the way and we know in hindsight that Brody refused to do any jobs, even for Blackwell who he liked. Tough for Verne to get Blackwell over as the top face if he isn't allowed to score a pinfall win in his face-turn feud. :angry:

 

*Slaughter’s reception at the 1/13 St. Paul show was so-so. The show drew a disappointing 11,000.

 

*John Nord debuted and Mike sees big things for him if he’s able to talk.

11,000 was a pretty good number but probably at the lower end of the fall/winter season. Through the spring and summer the only other time they would approach this number was at Star Cage in April, which drew between 11-13,000. By the time the summer came attendance was down more than half.

 

*Rumors that the AWA may soon give up on Martel as a champ that can draw. Dave isn’t sure who else to give the title to, however. Slaughter doesn’t need a belt, Bockwinkle is still good but fans perceive him as too old and Masked Superstar doesn’t really fit.

This is one of the reasons that Martel held the title for pretty much another full year. Challengers that were more than one and done in that time frame included Jimmy Garvin, Michael Hayes, Nick Bockwinkel, and then Stan Hansen. Single title shots (major market or tv shots) went to wrestlers like Backlund, Saito, Gordy, Buddy Roberts, and Jumbo Tsuruta.

 

Part of the problem was that the Garvin matches, which drew pretty well, were followed by Bockwinkel bouts (second time around with far less impact) and then Hayes, who didn't draw at all in St. Paul or Chicago. Programming Hayes and Garvin so close together killed hayes' impact as a challenger. Contrast that with martel in Winnipeg, where he went from Garvin to Bockwinkel, followed by one-offs with Saito and Zbyszko, and into a program with Boris Zurkov. Zurkov was pushed as a monster heel and his three-bout series with Martel drew very well. St. Paul and Chicago could have benefited from a monster being pushed after Garvin instead of Hayes.

 

At the end of the day, Martel losing the title by, say, March 1985, might have been the wise thing to do. Good point about not having the right challenger to take it, though, although a segue from say Zurkov to Slaughter would probably have worked very nicely in hindsight.

 

 

*Fans are getting worn out on Slaughter because he’s being pushed as the second coming.

Further to my point above, giving Slaughter the belt would have given the fans a new reason to be excited about the Sarge, if he was in fact getting "worn-out" in the fans eyes. part of that would also have been him coming off a year-long wave that started in the WWF....you have to trend down somewhat eventually.

 

*Drew 5,300 on 1/30 in San Fran, about triple what they had been drawing. Baron/Hennigs def. Roadies/Ellering when Baron pinned Ellering. Fans cheered the Roadies until they started to run away from the Baron’s claw. Fans started throwing plastic cups at the Roadies, which they caught, stuck down the crotch of their trunks, and threw back at the fans. They did the same thing in Puerto Rico, only w/ rocks.

Rocks. Excellent. **insert Mr. Burns clacking fingers here**

 

*Main reason the Fabs left was because they were sick of the Roadies no-selling.

I'd have left too if I was supposed to get the titles but the current champs vetoed my win inside the ring (as told by IIRC Ellering in his shoot interview. Might have beenon the LOD set as well, can't remember).

 

Thanks for the updates, good stuff here as usual.

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*Main reason the Fabs left was because they were sick of the Roadies no-selling.

I'd have left too if I was supposed to get the titles but the current champs vetoed my win inside the ring (as told by IIRC Ellering in his shoot interview. Might have beenon the LOD set as well, can't remember).
Yes, that story was on WWE's LOD DVD documentary.
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Some AWA notes based on the recap:

 

*Mike is upset that the AWA doesn’t know how to use its talent pool. Brody is also gone and Mike didn’t think he was ever really used right.

I don't get how Brody wasn't used right in this guy's mind. He was pushed as THE monster heel in the area, never got pinned in his feud that they pushed with Blackwell, was programmed to beat up two major babyfaces in handicap matches...All I can think is that he expected Brody to take a loss somewhere along the way and we know in hindsight that Brody refused to do any jobs, even for Blackwell who he liked. Tough for Verne to get Blackwell over as the top face if he isn't allowed to score a pinfall win in his face-turn feud. :angry:

 

*Slaughter’s reception at the 1/13 St. Paul show was so-so. The show drew a disappointing 11,000.

 

*John Nord debuted and Mike sees big things for him if he’s able to talk.

11,000 was a pretty good number but probably at the lower end of the fall/winter season. Through the spring and summer the only other time they would approach this number was at Star Cage in April, which drew between 11-13,000. By the time the summer came attendance was down more than half.

 

*Rumors that the AWA may soon give up on Martel as a champ that can draw. Dave isn’t sure who else to give the title to, however. Slaughter doesn’t need a belt, Bockwinkle is still good but fans perceive him as too old and Masked Superstar doesn’t really fit.

This is one of the reasons that Martel held the title for pretty much another full year. Challengers that were more than one and done in that time frame included Jimmy Garvin, Michael Hayes, Nick Bockwinkel, and then Stan Hansen. Single title shots (major market or tv shots) went to wrestlers like Backlund, Saito, Gordy, Buddy Roberts, and Jumbo Tsuruta.

 

Part of the problem was that the Garvin matches, which drew pretty well, were followed by Bockwinkel bouts (second time around with far less impact) and then Hayes, who didn't draw at all in St. Paul or Chicago. Programming Hayes and Garvin so close together killed hayes' impact as a challenger. Contrast that with martel in Winnipeg, where he went from Garvin to Bockwinkel, followed by one-offs with Saito and Zbyszko, and into a program with Boris Zurkov. Zurkov was pushed as a monster heel and his three-bout series with Martel drew very well. St. Paul and Chicago could have benefited from a monster being pushed after Garvin instead of Hayes.

 

At the end of the day, Martel losing the title by, say, March 1985, might have been the wise thing to do. Good point about not having the right challenger to take it, though, although a segue from say Zurkov to Slaughter would probably have worked very nicely in hindsight.

 

 

*Fans are getting worn out on Slaughter because he’s being pushed as the second coming.

Further to my point above, giving Slaughter the belt would have given the fans a new reason to be excited about the Sarge, if he was in fact getting "worn-out" in the fans eyes. part of that would also have been him coming off a year-long wave that started in the WWF....you have to trend down somewhat eventually.

 

*Drew 5,300 on 1/30 in San Fran, about triple what they had been drawing. Baron/Hennigs def. Roadies/Ellering when Baron pinned Ellering. Fans cheered the Roadies until they started to run away from the Baron’s claw. Fans started throwing plastic cups at the Roadies, which they caught, stuck down the crotch of their trunks, and threw back at the fans. They did the same thing in Puerto Rico, only w/ rocks.

Rocks. Excellent. **insert Mr. Burns clacking fingers here**

 

*Main reason the Fabs left was because they were sick of the Roadies no-selling.

I'd have left too if I was supposed to get the titles but the current champs vetoed my win inside the ring (as told by IIRC Ellering in his shoot interview. Might have beenon the LOD set as well, can't remember).

 

Thanks for the updates, good stuff here as usual.

 

Expanding a bit on Mike's (I still don't know exactly who "Mike" is or why he gets his own column) point regarding misuse of talent. He says that Brody's appearances were "sporadic and based out of necessity." He did few interviews after Sept. 30 and the Blackwell fued was biazaare with inconclusive endings. He concludes by saying "Brody was fine, considering the restraints, but largely wasted to my demanding tastes."

 

I agree that giving Slaughter a title run would've been a good idea. It would've given them a champion with recognition in the Northeast and someone who came across as a tough guy that couldn't be beat.

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Expanding a bit on Mike's (I still don't know exactly who "Mike" is or why he gets his own column) point regarding misuse of talent. He says that Brody's appearances were "sporadic and based out of necessity." He did few interviews after Sept. 30 and the Blackwell fued was biazaare with inconclusive endings. He concludes by saying "Brody was fine, considering the restraints, but largely wasted to my demanding tastes."

 

I agree that giving Slaughter a title run would've been a good idea. It would've given them a champion with recognition in the Northeast and someone who came across as a tough guy that couldn't be beat.

I have always guessed that Dave was personally so far away from the AWA hub (Minnesota) and he hated the way the territory presented itself (always noticable in his write-ups, IMO), that having a middle-man to report on what was going on in the center of the company's universe was seen as a necessity. The middle-man seems to reflect Dave's own bias when it came to the AWA, which is probably why he picked him to do the job. Honestly from my readings it could just as easily be Dave writing those columns.

 

As far as Brody goes, it's hindsight now that Brody refused to do a job in the Blackwell feud, which would make it appear as bizarre as it was. Without knowing that, bizarre is a good description of how the feud played out, but really it was booked fine/in a traditional sense in St. Paul IMO:

 

May 84--Blackwell and Sheik/Abby start having problems in some tag matches

June 84--Blackwell wins battleroyal, is attacked by Sheik/Abby/Brody

July 84--Blackwell "injured" and out, Brody wrestles Brunzell and Atlas in a handicap match in St. paul (Brunzell wants revenge from Brody putting him out of action in April along with Greg Gagne on TV)...also note that Blackwell was contemplating jumping to the WWF here and if he had done so, there never would have been a feud..Brody would have just been credited with ending Blackwell's career.

Sept 9 84--Did not appear in St. Paul. Suspension of Sheik noted from the handicap match but it gets rescinded just after this card, IIRC.

Sept 30 84--First Brody-Blackwell match. Blackwell wins on a DQ, Curt Hennig tries to save Blackwell which helps Blackwell's face turn along

October 84--Brody-Blackwell Lights Out match. Blackwell pins Sheik to get the win (necessitated when Brody refused to do the job). Greg Gagne runs in to save blackwell during the match, his first time back since April. blackwell face turn cemented when he and Greg embrace after running Sheik and Brody off. (Note: INCREDIBLE POP for Gagne and Blackwell).

Thanksgiving 84--No Brody, Superstar in to save Sheik from Gagne in cage, Blackwell saves Gagne.

December 84--Blackwell-Gagne lose to Brody-Superstar when Blackwell gets pinned by Brody after a 2 x 4 shot.

January 85--Brody L DQ to Blackwell (or DDQ, can't remember exactly) after Slaughter and Sheik interfere. Slaughter was handcuffed to Kaissie at ringside for this bout (Slaughter's debut in the AWA).

After this, Brody left for some time. Just a guess: Brody was told it was his turn to job to the face (Blackwell), since he'd got a pin over him and it needed to be evened up..sort of the point for the face to go over eventually, right? And, with that, I think Brody just said "fuck it" and left the area. For every line Larry Matysik writes licking Brody's ass about him "always thinking ahead", there was no excuse for Brody not to lose one to Blackwell in this feud. It was the needed conclusion.

Feb 85--Blackwell adn Slaughter challenge the LOD, Brody gone.

 

Even if Blackwell would have been able to wrestle at Wrestlerock a year later, he wasn't getting a pin on Brody, it would have been Nord. Again, non-sensical.

 

So of course the feud made no sense at the end of it all. Sad thing is, I don't think Dave or Mike or whomever would have been any less critical of this feud

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*Dave thinks that if someone went up to 50 journalists and told each of them repeatedly that their profession was phony, one of the journalists would eventually smack you around like Schults did with Stossell.

I'm a journalist, and I'd smack Stossell around given the chance.

 

*Dave says in many ways journalism is more fake than wrestling because reporters have to report on things they know nothing about (as a journalist myself, Dave has a good point here).

At the end of a good newscast, we always say "Well, we fooled em today." I've always thought that a good reporter can make it sound like they know what they're talking about on any given subject, so yeah, Dave's right here.

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*Dave thinks that if someone went up to 50 journalists and told each of them repeatedly that their profession was phony, one of the journalists would eventually smack you around like Schults did with Stossell.

I'm a journalist, and I'd smack Stossell around given the chance.

 

*Dave says in many ways journalism is more fake than wrestling because reporters have to report on things they know nothing about (as a journalist myself, Dave has a good point here).

At the end of a good newscast, we always say "Well, we fooled em today." I've always thought that a good reporter can make it sound like they know what they're talking about on any given subject, so yeah, Dave's right here.

 

The exception to this are beat writers. Usually, if you get a reporter that's covered one specific beat for a long period of time, whether it's sports, politics, local courts, etc., he/she is very knowledgeable. They're able to narrow their focus to one subject and group of people and eventually know what they're talking about. Back when I used to report for a small daily, I'd cover a little league baseball game in the afternoon, write a feature about a local business after that, then cover the city council meeting at night. I was very knowledgeable about little league baseball. The other stuff was more of an adventure.

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Yeah, I'm in tv, so no beats for us. It's something different every night. Some guys are more knowledgeable in certain areas than others, so they'll be on that stuff more often. It's funny, I was at the state capital today with all the beat writers and radio guys that basically live there. I always get annoyed because those guys can't talk about anything not related to state politics. They live in quite the insulated little world.

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