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20 Years Ago - WON 09/19/88


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WWF

-- TV Guide is reporting that Summerslam did one million buys! Electronic Media magazine has it at 900,000 buys. TV Guide says it was the most ordered event in the history of PPV. The WWF themselves is claiming 880,000 buys. However, judging from cable company reports, the buyrate was really low and disappointing, and Dave is predicting the real number is closer to a 4.0 to 4.5 buyrate, which is still profitable. Dave says usually, the reported WWF information that can't be independently verified is about double what it really was.

 

-- "I've got another bombshell. If you thought the first item this week was a biggie, well Titan has struck again. They've raided another group for someone that you just wouldn't believe. Yes, Titan has signed -- sit down -- are you in your chair, yet? Rod Tronguard. Yes, Rod was lured away from the AWA where he had been a legendary announcer and is now working Titan cablecasts along with Lord Al Hayes & Superstar Billy Graham, the wrestling announcing dream team. Tronguard wasn't the first choice for the job from what I'm told, but I'm simply amazed by this one."

 

-- Hogan vs Bossman sold 7,000 tickets in the first five days for their Edmonton match, which is Hogan's first time in the city. They are expected to draw around 20,000 fans.

 

-- The jury is out on Hogan right now. He worked the entire weekend and only drew 3,600 in Springfield, MA against Ted DiBiase and 8,000 in Boston for the same match, and less than half a house on Sunday night at the Meadowlands against Badnews Brown. They are having Hogan wear a helmet with a fist on it so they can sell helmet replicas at Christmas time, so the helmet is playing a part in every finish because they feel like they need to get it over by Christmas shopping season.

 

-- The WWF can't seem to figure out Owen Hart's name, as he's being billed as Blue Angel, Blue Lazor, and Blue Blazer all at the same time.

 

NWA

-- Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson officially quit the NWA, as they had been threatening to do for 5-6 weeks. They dropped the NWA tag titles to the Midnight Express in an impromptu title switch. There were no TV cameras present, and no Apter mag photographers. Dave is told they will debut for the WWF on 10/4 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they missed the TV taping the next night in Fayetteville, and a night shot in Greensboro. These rumors had been going strong for a while. Earlier this year, Arn Anderson was making an appearance at what Dave thinks was NATPE and Vince McMahon was there, and the two disappeared together for lunch for several hours. The two had a great conversation, and the WWF has been interested in Arn ever since. Tully Blanchard was interested, but there was always question of whether or not they would take him, since he doesn't fit their style. They gave word through another wrestler recently that unless Dusty was replaced as booker, they were through. Dave says there are probably several reasons why they left top spots in the NWA for a midcard position in the WWF, part of it being that they had been waiting for the balloon payment on their contracts since May. No word on whether any other wrestlers will follow their lead. Dave says this is a big loss for the NWA, not only because they were headliners, but because it also kills the Four Horsemen without getting mileage out of a breakup feud, and turning Ric Flair babyface to feud with the Horsemen is the biggest money feud they have. Ric Flair probably was going to go babyface by spring no matter who was running the company, but they may not be able to do this now because they have a heel shortage. Dave thinks if the sale doesn't go through soon, Tully and Arn will not be the last ones to jump.

 

-- The sale to Turner is just a few steps from completion. Jim Crockett has agreed to a deal, but David and Frances have not yet agreed to terms. The Turners still want them to clear their debt before the sale. TBS will be purchasing the assets of the company, including contracts, rings, production equipment, and arena contracts. The sale is expected to be finalized within two weeks. Dave says next week he will break his vow of silence on how to save the NWA.

 

-- The Clash did a 5.4 rating and an 8.9 share, which is about 2.5 million homes. The lead-in, Sanford and Son, did a 2.0 rating. The show opened with a 3.5 for Brad Armstrong vs Mike Rotunda and the audience increased throughout, peaking with a 6.5 for Windham vs Sting, which was about 3,068,000 homes or 6.5 million viewers. It didn't trail the first Clash by much, which is impressed since the show wasn't promoted nearly as well and the line-up was nowhere near as good.

 

-- Dave says for the most part he enjoyed the Clash, but parts were "so bad it was inexcusable". The biggest strength when comparing the NWA to the WWF was the overall workrate. The camera work was great, better than Summerslam even. John Ayers, however, was worse than anything on either show. The NWA show had good workrate and bad finishes in three of five matches. Dave says there was more heat for the Clash opener than the Summerslam main event.

 

-- Inexcusable: John Ayres. The finish of Dusty's match. Dusty's match. No follow-up after the hot opening.

 

-- Dave also says they should have interviewed Sting and had him win the title since he's gotten so over without any help from the promotion.

 

-- Flair could have been used better. He might as well have not even been there until the last 30 seconds of the show when he did a great interview.

 

-- The card:

 

* Brad Armstrong vs Mike Rotunda: Better heat and story than anything on the show, but he wishes they had done more action in the last few minutes. **3/4

 

* Steve Williams & Nikita Koloff vs The Sheepherders: Decent pacing early and good pacing later. Doc did an amazing flying body press off the top rope. Good match. ***1/4

 

* Dusty Rhodes vs Kevin Sullivan: Dave had a problem with the heels not being DQ'd after interfering in plain sight of the referee. *1/2, with the match deserving a better rating, but having such a bad finishing sequence.

 

* Ricky Morton vs Ivan Koloff: Dave can't figure out how Morton can be used effectively anymore. **, mainly for Ivan's post-match babyface turn

 

* Barry Windham vs Sting: Very good match with a flat finish. Windham looked great carrying Sting, but Sting needs to expand his offense a little more for these long matches. Barry juiced and took great bumps.

 

-- Crockett lost TV in San Diego (which also aired in San Francisco/Oakland) and Pittsburgh. He is in danger of losing more TV because he is trying to pay off his debt at 40 cents on the dollar.

 

-- 9/3 in Baltimore drew a $125,000 gate headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/10 in Philly drew 6,532 fans and $73,972 headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/9 in Houston drew a disappointing 3,000 headlined by Flair vs Luger. 9/11 in Greensboro drew 2,500, a major disappointment for the first Flair/Luger match. 9/2 in Norfolk drew a $40,000 gate headlined by Flair vs Luger.

 

WCCW

-- Lawler and Kerry are teaming in Memphis, but feuding in WCCW. They were scheduled for a unification match on 9/9 in Dallas, but Lawler had a legit broken hand, so he came down to do an angle instead. He and Kerry ended up in a shoving match and out of nowhere, Lawler sucker punched him with the cast hand and Kerry juiced.

 

-- Kevin is still in the hospital. His condition is serious -- not life-threatening, but his concussions are bad.

 

-- They are doing an angle where Buddy Roberts is running for President with his runningmate as Iceman Parsons.

 

MEMPHIS

-- Jerry Lawler is in control (My note: I'm not sure if he means booking) which Dave thinks will make for nine weeks of hot shows on ESPN.

 

-- Sgt. Slaughter is working a few shows. His inactivity has been because his asking price is so steep, and he recently raised it from $2500 to $3200. Dave says that's interesting because he can't see Verne or Jerry Jarrett paying him anywhere near that.

 

-- Greg Gagne, Manny Fernandez, Wahoo McDaniel, and Billy Travis are scheduled to work the ESPN tapings.

 

CONTINENTAL

-- Eddie Gilbert was hospitalized with a rupture disc and severe nerve damage in his shoulder and neck area, plus bone spurs and bone chips in his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae in his neck which is fusing together. Doctors recommended surgery that would end his wrestling career, so he is undergoing physical therapy and will be out for about two months. Gilbert had a full recovery from his auto accident in 1983 working for the WWF, but he pinched a nerve when Willie B. Hurt slammed his head into a door. There will be a major angle stemming from this, and Gilbert will still be booking while out of action. Dave thinks it's going to be tough keeping business strong, as great as Paul E. is, because there is no top heel now.

 

-- Terry Gordy, Bob Orton, and Bam Bam Bigelow will all work here from time to time between tours.

 

OREGON

-- Mel Saracema purchased the assets of Billy Jack Haynes' OWWF and will be running a group called Pacific Coast Wrestling Association starting on 10/1.

 

-- Dennis Condrey is in working full time as a heel.

 

-- Ric Flair will face Top Gun on 9/20 in Portland. Owen also wants the Road Warriors to come in for a show this fall.

 

-- Don Owen petitioned the state to remove the law requiring metal barriers separating the crowd from the ring area and pads around the ring, saying he couldn't afford to haul everything because it would require him to get an extra truck. Sierra was there without his mask and said the mats are less safe, and he has twisted his ankle on them. The end result is that Owen has two months to comply.

 

ALL JAPAN

-- Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu regained the PWF tag titles from Tenryu & Hara on 8/30 in Osaka before 3,900 fans.

 

-- 9/4 in Kanazu drew 2,450 with Tenryu/Hara/Kawada vs Kabuki/Ishikawa/Fuchi on top.

 

-- Barbara Goodish presented Stan Hansen with Bruiser Brody's chain at the memorial show.

 

NEW JAPAN

-- Antonio Inoki has still not returned since the 60-minute draw.

 

-- This series is being used as a test for Fujinami, to see how well he can draw without Inoki around.

 

-- 9/5 in Osaka drew 5,600 fans, which is way better than All Japan's number the week before, but still only so-so in a 7,000 seat house. The show was headlined by Choshu/Saito vs Fujinami/Koshinaka.

 

OTHER

-- Leroy McGuirk passed away 9/9 at his home in Claremore, OK at the age of 78. He was the longest reigning world champion in the history of wrestling, holding the junior title from 1939 to 1950 when he retired. Dave says his wrestling biography is long and stories, so he'll just cover the highlights. He lost the sight in one of his eyes while in his early days in school, but still became one of the best wrestlers of his era, winning both the Oklahoma state and national high school championship at 145 pounds in 1928 before heading to Oklahoma A & M, which is now Oklahoma State University. He graduated with a degree in journalism, while also winning the NCAA championship in 1931 at 160 pounds and in 1932 at 175 pounds, as a senior. He was a runner up for the 1932 Olympics, losing in the final round. He turned pro in Tulsa after missing out on the Olympics and turned pro in 1934. His career ended after a car accident in Little Rock, as a passenger, when the crash threw him forward and cracked his glasses into his good eye, which made him blind. He later became the head of the NWA booking office in the Ozarks area, which later turned into Mid South for Bill Watts. He was voted into the Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977. His daughter Mike is the ring announcer for WWF Challenge, and he started the careers of Bruiser Brody, Bill Watts, and Danny Hodge. Bill Watts learned how to promote from McGuirk, who believed strongly in emphasizing matches that told a story. Believe it or not, even though he couldn't see, he still did commentary by listening to the crowd and his play-by-play announcer. In 1982, he sold what was left of his territory to Watts.

 

-- Leroy Rochester, billed as Bad Bad Leroy Brown, also passed away on 9/6 in a hospital in Savannah, GA at the age of 38. He also used the Elijah Akeem name and wrestled as half of the Zambouie Express with Kareem Muhammad. He was a main eventer almost from the start of his career in 1975. He was the first wrestler to use entrance music, even pre-dating the Freebirds. He wrestled everywhere except the WWF and AWA, as the AWA has a "no pushing blacks" policy. He had faded until 1985, when he was brought back by Watts and held the UWF tag titles with Bill Irwin. He was fired in early 1987 and worked small Georgia indies sporadically.

 

-- Hurricane Castillo Sr., the babyface manager for Carlos Colon, was shot in San Juan the morning of 9/4 after an argument in front of a bar. He may be paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.

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The Owen's name thing is funny. It's odd hearing all these stories about disorganization in the WWF. Can you imagine them experimenting with a name now?

 

That's one of the things I notice watching WWF and NWA stuff from the 80's. The shows have a real unorganized feel to them. Vince may have things a little too homogenous in some areas, but at least the TV presentation is nice and clean now.

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I like reading the Continental stuff, but it's sad knowing that there's only a few more weeks before Eddie has his blowup with Woods and the whole thing goes to shit. Does anybody have the Gilbert-booked run on DVD in decent quality? Wouldn't mind owning that.

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Funny how AJ sold out Budokan, with inflated ticket prices, then the next night the same match doesn't even do 2/3rds full at a smaller venue, just because Osaka is weaker for the promotion. It's frigging two hours away by train! And NJ smokes it with a non-title tag featuring Koshinaka. The more things change...

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