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20 Years Ago - WON 10/12/88


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WWF

-- NBC will televise three prime time wrestling specials during the season instead of just one, as had been previously reported. NBC has also agreed to broadcast the Slammys in prime time. Forbes had a story on this over the past week which seemed to be a mix of fact and fiction (I'll say), as they also reported $80 million in ticket sales in the past 12 months when $40-$50 million is closer to reality. The WWF's cash flow is about $19 million, and the company would be worth about $100 million on the open market. Ad rates are about half of what a normal sitcom or game show with those ratings would sell for, which shows that advertisers just don't consider wrestling a good television buy, even though McMahon has changed the audience. Some sponsors will always be interested because of the sheer number of viewers, but they will spend more money per viewer on almost anything else.

 

-- The British Bulldogs are headlining the upcoming European tour. Randy Savage will work a few dates as well.

 

-- Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard start at the TV tapings in Toledo.

 

-- The Survivor Series PPV will only have four matches.

 

-- 9/29 at MSG drew 13,500 headlined by Honky Tonk Man vs Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage vs Andre the Giant. 9/30 in Denver drew 6,500 and $75,000 headlined by the same matches. 9/29 in Miami drew 7,500 headlined by Hogan vs Boss Man. 9/18 in Toronto drew 8,000 headlined by Roberts vs Rude.

 

-- Summerslam drew a $355,345 gate at MSG and an additional $63,376 at the Felt Forum. The combined gate is the third largest ever in the New York area. The record remains $541,730 for Bruno vs Zbyszko at Shea Stadium. Second place is Wrestlemania I at $502,000, which just barely nudges Flair vs Kerry Von Erich at Texas Stadium for the overall #5 spot of top live gates in US wrestling history. Wrestlemania III still has the record, drawing a $1,599,000 gate at the Silverdome.

 

-- "There was some legit backstage heat between the Bulldogs and Rougeaus stemming from an incident where Jacques Rougeau shaved the head of one of the Bulldogs' friends (a ring attendant in one of the cities who suffers from downs syndrome), which, ironically, is one of the Bulldogs' favorite hobbies (ask Outhouse Jack and Joey Marella) and it evolved into a fistfight with Dynamite either cleaning Raymond's clock, or both at once, depending on the version of the story you believe."

 

-- The C & D show crew will be cut back because the shows aren't drawing, and the A & B gates are down right now also. "Titan doesn't have any match which can pop a crowd at present (they are still in far better shape than the NWA which doesn't have any match which can pop a big crowd either since Flair-Luger is starting to fizzle down). Really, they desperately need to get a heel on fire and it looks like Curt Hennig will be the beneficiary, but I don't think they are even thinking about Hennig vs. Hogan, and it'll be six months before Hennig meets Savage so I think we're in for a slow period. Hogan has not drawn anything near what was expected of him since his return (part of it can be blamed on his opponents -- DiBiase was destroyed at Summer Scam far more than they realized; Brown and Haku are not main eventers and Bubba Bossman is too much like One Man Gang plus no angle has been done to get heat on their series; however in years past, Hogan always drew with foes good or bad."

 

-- Live gates are a bigger portion of income than Dave had been led to believe. Wrestlers had always told Dave the live gates were gravy, and merchandising was where the money was, but according to the Forbes article, the WWF only receives about 3% of the $150 million annual gross in WWF-licensed products, or about $4.5 million annually. "Figure $40 million in live gates, $12 million more in souvenir sales at live gates, $7 million as their cut of two major PPV shows, plus live gates of those shows, $5.5 million on PPV for Wrestlemania (Titan's cut of an estimated $13 million), $1.5 million on the live house, $3 million on closed circuit and $1.5 million on videos/souvenirs of WM plus all sorts of other sources like TV ad revenue, magazine, etc. It's still a very healthy business, since it has about 166 front office employees and maybe 80 wrestlers (front office employees average $27,000 per annum.)"

 

-- Hogan's debut in Tallahassee against Ted DiBiase only drew 3,200 fans, but they were expecting to draw 12,000 fans.

 

NWA

-- Rumors of Lex Luger and Ric Flair both leaving are false. Luger was still in the NWA as recently as the last house show and he has made threats and wants some type of show of good faith from the new organization, but he's still around. The rumors that Flair is already on WWF booking sheets are also false.

 

-- The NWA was NOT sold to TBS the previous Friday, which is what everyone said would be THE date. Dave heard the deal was that Turner would only purchase 65% of the company, with an option to buy the remaining 35%, but has yet to confirm this. The wrestlers did all receive documents to sign at the last TV taping to transfer responsibility for their contracts from JCP to TBS. TBS has stated no contracts will be renegotiated until May 1, and after the purchase, only very small changes will be made through the end of the year. However, they will be making drastic changes in the first four months of 1989.

 

-- Turner wants to sign key WWF wrestlers before the end of the year. They are looking at Bam Bam Bigelow, Ricky Steamboat, One Man Gang and Greg Valentine. Bigelow and Steamboat have already left, and Dave thinks OMG and Valentine would be of little value. Dave is told Bigelow's TV taping debut "was something between a bomb and a major disappointment." There is significant interest in Ricky Steamboat, and they really want Flair vs Steamboat to headline Starrcade. This is far from being finalized, as Steamboat doesn't really have much desire to return to wrestling. OMG is out since he's about to get a big push as Akeem, and Dave thinks it would be a major mistake to offer Valentine a key spot. "My own feeling is there are several guys out there who can be signed for a lot less money that would be more effective in the spot, and if they wanted to get someone from Titan, they should at least try and get someone like Bret Hart or Jake Roberts who has some charisma and isn't burned out like Valentine is and could be effective as a drawing card." They are also trying to get Eddie Gilbert back in, but Dave isn't sure if they're interested in Paul E. Dangerously, although he says it would be a mistake not to be interested.

 

-- Dave saw the NWA show in Chicago on 10/2. The crowd was between 5,000 and 5,500 fans and about a $65,000 gate. Rundown:

 

Ron Simmons vs Rip Morgan: Better than you'd expect. *1/2

Mike Rotunda vs Italian Stallion **1/4

Midnight Express vs Dick Murdoch & Dusty Rhodes in a 30-minute draw: Best match on the card, and Dave has no idea how they pulled it off. Eaton took some insane Terry Funk-style bumps. "Dusty hit a gusher on this one, to the point of it being genuinely disgusting (the cut, not Dusty in general). They kept pounding on the cut which made things even worse. It was an all action brawl from this point on and both very good and very heated with Murdoch not going (sic) any clowning." ***1/2

Fantastics vs Sheepherders: Their typical good brawl. ***1/4

Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs Russian Assassins: **1/4

Sting vs Barry Windham: Great heat during entrances, okay during the match. Good match, but too many low blows. ***1/4

Ric Flair vs Lex Luger: They are back to doing Dusty finishes in all their main events, which is killing the momentum this feud had going at the gate. ***1/4

 

WCCW

-- Rumors that Jerry Jarrett has bought 30 percent of WCCW are wrong. He has been in and out of Dallas and has been negotiating. Ken Mantell currently owns 30 percent and would probably be willing to sell his share. Dave thinks Jerry Jarrett is too smart to buy into the group unless he has 51 percent and full decision-making power, and most feel he is trying to do just that now.

 

-- WCCW is being replaced by the AWA on ESPN.

 

-- They have gotten out of the problems they were facing from the city of Dallas over the condition of the Sportatorium. The city will overlook the fire hazard problems as long as World Class agrees not to prepare any food on the premises. They can only sell pre-packaged food. Previously, Dallas gave WCCW until the end of the month to spend $40,000 fixing the building or they would quarantine it.

 

CONTINENTAL

-- Dave attended the Road to Birmingham show. His thoughts on the show? Since you asked:

 

Opening battle royal: *1/4

Bob Armstrong vs Tony Anthony: A 41 second match which Dave says had a really hot pace. 1/4*

Tom Pritchard vs Kokina: DUD

Dutch Mantell vs Mr. Wrestling II: 10-minute draw which lasted 8:22. II got no reaction. Dutch was the heel, but got mostly cheers. "II had one fan, noticeable because it really was only one." *

Terry Gordy vs Austin Idol: Best match of the tournament. **1/2

Jerry Stubbs vs Tim Horner: DUD

Tony Anthony vs Dutch Mantell; **1/4

Austin Idol vs Terry Gordy: -1/2*

Tom Pritchard vs Jerry Stubbs: **

Ken Wayne vs Danny Davis Hair vs Hair: **3/4

 

-- Brad Armstrong is starting for CWF soon. Bob Armstrong is now booking.

 

-- FNN is still airing the show.

 

NEW JAPAN

-- 9/18 in Mitsugi drew a sellout 1,340 fans. 9/19 in Toyooka drew a sellout 2,300 fans. 9/20 in Oyabe drew a sellout 2,880 mainly to see Hiroshi Hase return from his knee injury in his hometown. 9/21 in Inuyama drew a sellout 1,760 fans.

 

-- "I got to see the 5 vs. 5 match from 9/12 in Fukuoka and it was a solid four-stars but no match of the year. Yamada and fantastic, but he was the second guy out. Also got to see the Chigusa vs. Asuka match which was four stars plus, but I don't think they'll be having the kind of matches they used to because with the UWF popularity in Japan, submission holds are more in vogue than spectacular flying stuff. This was worked great with the most legitimate looking worked shoulder separation act I've ever seen. They did set a new world record for most streamers ever thrown before a match."

 

UWF

-- The latest show on 9/24 in Fukuoka drew a sellout 4,000 fans headlined by Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

-- "By the way, the latest issue of UWF magazine had a list of the 'toughest shooters' in the U.S. and listed the British Bulldogs, Steve Williams, Brad Rheingans, Bob Backlund, Rick Steiner, Buzz Sawyer, Mike Rotunda, Badnews Brown, Iron Sheik, David Schultz, and the Malenko brothers in no particular order for those of you who have fascination with that aspect of wrestling."

 

-- "I realize that many long-time fans like the look of a TV studio show. It evokes memories of the good old days when all the shows were shot in studios. But nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Today, all wrestling shows must be compared with Titan's TV product and the comparison, when limited to production values, is very much unfavorable. Despite the fact the in-ring product of the NWA is far superior, the casual fan usually can't identify these differences. What they do see on Titan are 10000 fans in a brightly lit arena having the time of their lives. it is loud, though sometimes canned, the fans response to the faces and heels are all properly orchestrated to avoid embarrassment to the promotion and has a major league look." -- Chris Zavisa on the letters page

 

-- "I'm sitting here watching NWA Worldwide Wrestling and they've played that 'Catch the Pinfalls' video four times. Wouldn't 'Catch the screwjobs' be more appropriate?" -- John McAdam on the letters page

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-- "I got to see the 5 vs. 5 match from 9/12 in Fukuoka and it was a solid four-stars but no match of the year. Yamada and fantastic, but he was the second guy out.

Yes, this was the match that came third in the DVDVR best of the 1980s NJ Results. Given that write up I can see why the match was slept on for so long.

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Bam Bam really did flop in the NWA. Look how much his career fell in one calendar year

 

I've often wondered about that, it seems like the NWA had no idea what to do with big guys like Bam Bam since most of their talent was (by wrestling standards) average sized. I don't think there was anyone over 300 pounds who got over in JCP/NWA/WCW until Vader showed up.

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* avoids Dusty Rhodes joke*

 

Big Bubba?

 

But yeah, Luger, Nikita, the Road Warriors and to a lesser degree Sid were probably the biggest guys to get over in that time period before Vader.

 

And this is just reminding me how Paul Wight is a guy both companies have messed up, when he should have been a pretty easy-to-make star.

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I think a guy like Paul Wight is kind of a victim of the modern state of wrestling. But I'm a fan of his.

 

In the old days a guy like Andre would bounce between a bunch of different territories, crushing all in his path everywhere he went for ever and ever, and that worked great. Now when you're out there on national TV every month running a PPV every 4 weeks it's just not on to build up this invincible giant the way it used to be done. I could see Wight being pretty much that same thing today, if such a state existed. I guess The Undertaker is basically the one guy that gets this kind of status today and there's only really room for one guy with that kind of aura in the WWE universe. I think the current model of national tv wrestling is broken but I'm also a realist that you aren't ever going to turn the clock back and it is what it is now, and that's that.

 

He's still had a good career but he doesn't have the aura he could have at all.

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