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Wrestling Observer Recap -- Date Unknown


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I no longer have time to do write-ups for every issue I read in chronological order, but I'll try and post summaries of certain issues when I have the chance. Since my last summary, Dave has ended the Observer.....sort of. Due to time constraints and waning interest in wrestling, the April issue was going to be the last. He said that since many people were only two issues into a four-issue subscription, he would do two more smaller issues to close things out. After that, he might continue doing some sort of small newsletter, but only for correspondants. I believe Dave stated he had about 900 subscribers and a 97 percent renewal rate.

 

The legal print size with pictures and a cover ceased to exist after the April issue. In its place is an 8x11 format, totaling about six to eight pages w/ no pictures, newspaper reprints, or letters from readers. I'm about six issues into the new format and, obviously, Dave hasn't quit. What's the line from The Godfather? "Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in." The same must apply to wrestling journalists. I actually like the new format better. It's leaner and Dave is sharper in his writing. Actually, the writing itself isn't much better -- still lots of sentence run-ons and typos -- but Dave is focusing a bit more on analysis over results, which makes for a better read.

 

Anyway, some of the new issues he labels or gives a number, some he doesn't. I think the below summary is from Wrestling Observer Newsletter #6, although it isn't labeled. Enjoy.

 

*Last issue, Dave asked readers to send in their nominations and opinions for various all-time great categories in wrestling. Dave is using the material for a book he is writing on wrestling. He was especially looking for people who have watched wrestling since the 50s and 60s. 80s wrestlers dominated most of the polls, but Dave said even those that have watched since the 50s and 60s ended up voting mainly for 80s-era workers.

 

*Thez ended up ranked as greatest ever, Flair second and Race third. Sheik was best heel, Kowalski second and Piper third. Bruno top face, Hogan second and Kerry third. Funks/Briscoes greatest feud, Freebirds/Von Erichs second and Blassie/Tolos third.

 

*Dave doesn't feel its fair to compare 50s and 60s era wrestlers to 80s wrestlers. The modern product makes for much better TV.

 

*Fritz and Inoki have agreed on a deal. Fritz will be Inoki's main supplier of foreign talent, although Inoki may try and retain some relations w/ the WWF for Hogan, Andre and Adonis. The Fritz/Inoki deal was brokered by Brody, which explains why Brody will be on several upcoming Dallas cards.

 

*There is also talk that Inoki may approach Watts about a deal. Meantime, Baba will be in the states to meet w/ Crockett. Dave speculates Baba might try and work a deal with McMahon as well.

 

*Apparently, Fritz also has secured an ESPN slot for the fall, but Dave has no details. World Class also has shows plance for Massechusetts and Vegas. Dave says World Class will need to recruit more wrestlers in order for the expansion to work. There's no way they have the talent to both expand and send 3-6 workers to Japan each month.

 

*The Crocketts 7/6 show in Charlotte drew 25,700 fans paying $15 and $25 a seat. Even though they Crocketts had to pay skydivers, fireworks crew and David Allan Coe, they still should've made a good profit. There's an absurd number of titles in Crockett's territory.

 

*WWF ran an outdoor show 7/8 at Sullivan Stadium in Mass. that drew 20,000.

 

*AWA in the Northeast drew their smallest crowds to date, however Dave was told both shows were excellent. Flair/Slaughter was announced as the next main event at one of the shows and nobody really cared. Flair isn't over at all in northeast because they don't portray him as a dominant champion.

 

*Dave was surprised the AWA Meadowlands show didn't draw better. He says the promotion was very creative, which makes him think someone besides Verne was behind it. Dave also says the AWA has a lot of guys that are good on interviews and that he's actually enjoying the TV show for the first time in a long time. He also says the Crockett's TV show is improving, but not quite there yet.

 

*The last couple of issues Dave has mentioned that many people think the WWF workrate is improving. Dave says that talk should end becasue the 8/10 semi-main event for MSG is Uncle Elmer/Studd.

 

*McMahon has added a third syndicated show, "WWF Superstars of Wrestling," which consists of McMahon in a studio showing highlights. WWF is attempting to get three localized hours in each market. Jesse Ventura has become a good commentator.

 

*Getting back to the all-time greats poll, Dave defends himself for saying Bruno was a great attraction, but not that great of a worker. He says several other wrestlers and folks in wrestling agree with him.

 

Memphis

*Star Wars show on 7/15 drew 10,000. Taylor won the International title but is headed to Crockett.

 

Central States

*7/11 drew 2,000 headline by 2 out of 3 falls with Flair/Race. The pre-match hype said the 2 out of 3 falls provision would prevent Flair from getting DQ'd just to save the title. Naturally, Flair lost two straight falls, the second by DQ, to retain the title. Dave wonders if Flair will ever win another match outside of te Carolinas again.

 

*7/12 St. Louis drew 1,800 headlined by Kerry/Hernandez. Dave says w/out Kerry on the show, they would've been lucky to draw 800.

 

Japan

*Things are quiet in Japan. Not much to report.

 

World Class

*Mike Von Erich has dissappeared. He even missed a Von Erich TV commercial taping.

 

*Dave mentions that he's had a chance to watch some recent Dallas tapes and the wrestling has gotten bad with the exception of Chris Adams.

 

Florida

*Things are dead. Recent shows in Miami drew less than 200.

 

*Hector Guerror left the territory to work as a stunt man in a movie called Bad Guys.

 

*Barr and Hernandez were fired after a dispute w/ Wahoo.

 

AWA

*7/16 St. Paul drew 2,500. WWF drew about 4,000 in St. Paul a week later, headlined by Hogan/Piper.

 

*Dave wants an explanation why Martell is still champ. He realizes they don't have an adequate replacement, but says and inadequate replacement would be better at this point.

 

*Not much besides results for Mid-South, Oregon or Hawaii territories.

 

Crockett Area

*This group is loading up on wrestlers, including Taylor, Kevin Sullivan and Kendo Nagasaki.

 

*TBS show will have a title match for the next two months or so.

 

*Condrey/Eaton look great and should feud with R&R Express soon.

 

Misc.

*Mike Von Erich returned on 7/22.

 

*Dave hears WWF will no longer promote in Western Canada. If that's the case, Stu Hart may start Stampede again, which means Hart, Dynamite and Smith may leave WWF.

 

*Wrestlemania video cassette broke into the top 10 for nationwide sales at $40 a pop. It's at No. 3 behind a "We are the World" tape and Jane Fonda workout.

 

*NWA convention will be Aug. 18-20 at the Dunes Hotel in Vegas. It may be the last one.

 

*Nikita Koloff is set to become one of wresting's hottest commodities in Dave's opinion.

 

*The Crockett's will help local promotions by sending in 3-5 top stars for "American Bash" goes on tour type of shows. Dave says there will be three to five big players left after a year or so led by McMahon and Crockett. Dave thinks Watts will still be there along with Fritz and Verne. Verne is hurting, however.

 

*A lot of speculation that Championship Wrestling from Floriday is in critical condition.

 

*Dave congraulates a reader for her upcoming marriage to Howard Finkel. Dave says Finkel is McMahon's right hand man so "nothing in here is safe from the eyes of Titan Sports any more."

 

*Bobby Heenan now and assistant booker in WWF. McMahon is out trying to play Hollywood talent agent so George Scott is running most of the wrestling. That explains why the TV shows and angles have more continuity.

 

*WWF drew first sellout in Toronto.

 

*Hogan will be on Love Boat next season.

 

*AWA drew 1,400 in Salt Lake on 7/11, by far their worst crowd there ever.

 

*Latest ratings show the top five syndicated TV programs are wrestling.

 

*JYD has dissappeared for two weeks. Despite rumors, he hasn't jumped.

 

*Dave says that despite previous pessimism, he thinks wrestling is headed for a big fall season. He can't explain why, but he thinks promotions are getting their acts together.

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*McMahon has added a third syndicated show, "WWF Superstars of Wrestling," which consists of McMahon in a studio showing highlights. WWF is attempting to get three localized hours in each market. Jesse Ventura has become a good commentator.

For what it's worth, this show had been around for at least a year at this point, maybe much longer.
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AWA

*7/16 St. Paul drew 2,500.

 

The card was actually 7/14. Courtesy of Clawmaster:

 

7/14/85 St. Paul, MN @ Civic Center

Sgt. Slaughter & Greg Gagne beat Nick Bockwinkel & Ray Stevens dq

AWA Champion Rick Martel beat Michael Hayes dq

AWA Tag Team Champions Road Warriors beat Scott & Bill Irwin

Bob Backlund beat Larry Zbyszko

Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts beat Steve O & Buck Zumhofe

Boris Zhukov beat Baron Von Raschke

Cowboy Lang & Little Coco beat Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook

Att 2500

 

The Martel-Hayes match was their second in as many months. The other Birds interfered. That set up promos for Martel/Crusher (back as a surprise partner) vs. Gordy/Hayes in August. Crusher and Verne had one of their famous money/payoff arguments and Crusher was taken off the card and replaced by Curt Hennig. Hennig was not a real star yet but it's not fair to say that the August show was hurt because of him being there instead of crusher...the Hayes-Martel feud just didn't draw. A big part of that was Hayes was too similar to Jim Garvin and that program had just concluded (three matches worth) a few months previous. that, and Hayes was far inferior in the ring than Garvin was so the initial matches between the two were not good.

 

One other note, the LOD-Irwins bout on that card was the first of two (they rematched in August). Both good, bruising bouts, but it's obvious that the bloom was off the rose for the LOD in the AWA at this point, too. If Verne would ahve pulled the trigger on a Freebirds-LOD feud right about here the AWA would have been far better off for it through the summer and fall.

 

*Dave wants an explanation why Martell is still champ. He realizes they don't have an adequate replacement, but says and inadequate replacement would be better at this point.

I can only imagine how Dave would have went off had they given the title back to Bockwinkel, who was perhaps the only viable option at that point. Hansen was still 6 months away. Martel's main challengers from July through the end of the year included Hayes, Zbyszko, Zurkov, Bockwinkel, and Hansen starting in September.

 

Gordy, Lawler and Jumbo also had shots, but one-offs. Not sure who could have possibly been plugged into the Champion role at that point, unless you gave it to Zurkov and flipped it right away to Slaughter.

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I think Verne was putting off the LOD/Freebirds feud until the fall because AWA attendence was traditionally down during the summer. He didn't want to run a potentially hot feud when he couldn't get the absolute most he could out of it. You could debate the merits of that decision, of course. He did run the feud a bit in the Northeast, but it never really got hot.

 

I think the thought was that Slaughter didn't need the belt to get over, which I never understood. The WWF built Hogan as this unstopable force of a champion and rode him to the top. I'm not saying the AWA could've done the same w/ Slaughter, but they needed a champ who intrigued non-wrestling fans and came across like an unbeatable super hero. Slaughter could've fit the bill. Then again, Verne was probably scared to put it on Slaughter in case he'd jump back to Vince.

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*Dave wants an explanation why Martell is still champ. He realizes they don't have an adequate replacement, but says and inadequate replacement would be better at this point.

I can only imagine how Dave would have went off had they given the title back to Bockwinkel, who was perhaps the only viable option at that point. Hansen was still 6 months away. Martel's main challengers from July through the end of the year included Hayes, Zbyszko, Zurkov, Bockwinkel, and Hansen starting in September.

 

Gordy, Lawler and Jumbo also had shots, but one-offs. Not sure who could have possibly been plugged into the Champion role at that point, unless you gave it to Zurkov and flipped it right away to Slaughter.

Of that list Gordy would seem like the best option. Why not?

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I never understood why they put the belt on Hansen of all people. Verne always seemed all about rewarding those who've been loyal, yet gave the title to the one guy with absolutely no ties to the company. It's not like they were duped either, Stan's always been very open that Baba was his main priority so there's no excuse.

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I never understood why they put the belt on Hansen of all people. Verne always seemed all about rewarding those who've been loyal, yet gave the title to the one guy with absolutely no ties to the company. It's not like they were duped either, Stan's always been very open that Baba was his main priority so there's no excuse.

My feeling on that is that Verne needed a real "name" to be his next heel champ, and he decided to take a chance with Hansen. Several of his closer colleagues tried to tallk him out of it including Nick Bockwinkel as they suspected it would end badly.

 

By '86 Verne was probably starting to see the WWF pulling ahead significantly and he was pulling out all the stops.

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  • 1 month later...

Without any real knowledge or background, it’s probably not all that different from when Otto Wanz got a run as champion. Baba knew that winning an American World Title would boost Jumbo’s popularity and drawing power (the same way that winning the NWA Title did for Baba), so he made a deal with Verne. And, because the buck stopped at Verne, and there weren’t a whole board of members like the NWA had, Jumbo got a few months with the title instead of a few days like Baba did as NWA Champion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

*Bobby Heenan now and assistant booker in WWF. McMahon is out trying to play Hollywood talent agent so George Scott is running most of the wrestling. That explains why the TV shows and angles have more continuity.

This must have been in the mid/late 1986 time period. Scott being in charge probably explains why the WWF was so awesome from a continuity/presentation standpoint during this period.

 

summer of 86 till WM 3 might be the peak of WWF booking. Logical, straightforward and building to the big moment

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because the buck stopped at Verne, and there weren’t a whole board of members like the NWA had, Jumbo got a few months with the title instead of a few days like Baba did as NWA Champion.

Wanz's reign was bought and paid for, with little logic attached to it other than the "SURPRISE! Anyone can beat anyone on a given night" mindest being reinforced.

 

Whether Jumbo's reign was paid for or not (and I don't know if it was or not, to be honest), it at least had sense when you looked at how things flowed after that. Jumbo won the title from Bock, then Martel beat Jumbo for the title. Meanwhile, in the previous year Martel had been unsuccessful in beating Bockwinkel for the title. Suddenly, Martel vs. Bockwinkel had an element of doubt: Perhaps Martel would only be a short-term champion as well, and Bock would regain the title and continue as the Champ, same as it had been for nearly a decade.

 

The initial Martel-Bockwinkel matches with Martel as Champ were very good and you could hear and feel the element of not knowing who would win in the crowds.

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