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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Dec. 21, 1987

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE:
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
1-5-1987 1-12-1987 1-18-1987 2-2-1987
2-9-1987 2-16-1987 2-23-1987 3-2-1987
3-9-1987 3-16-1987 3-23-1987 4-6-1987
4-13-1987 4-20-1987 4-27-1987 5-4-1987
5-11-1987 5-18-1987 5-25-1987 6-1-1987
6-8-1987 6-15-1987 6-22-1987 6-29-1987
7-6-1987 7-13-1987 7-20-1987 7-27-1987
8-3-1987 8-10-1987 8-17-1987 8-24-1987
8-31-1987 9-7-1987 9-14-1987 9-21-1987
9-28-1987 10-5-1987 10-12-1987 10-19-1987
10-26-1987 11-2-1987 11-9-1987 11-16-1987
11-23-1987 11-30-1987 12-7-1987 -
  • Dave’s been following wrestling for 17 years at this point, and sometimes it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all with that kind of experience. But after seeing All Japan Women live, he realized he’d seen nothing. The shows he saw during his trip to Japan had the best wrestling he’s ever seen, so much so that nothing before comes even close. The atmosphere and the action have Dave struggling to find words, and he’s just as dumbfounded by how good Chigusa Nagayo and Dump Matsumoto are at their jobs. 90% of AJW's audience is teenage girls, a demographic you don’t really see as a focal demographic over here, but to these girls the wrestlers are so over an American fan has to see it live to really get it. Dump’s the best heel in the world by a distance and as for Chigusa Nagayo: “the reaction she gets not only can’t be duplicated by any wrestler in this country (Hulk Hogan certainly comes the closest and at best his isn’t half as good) but you’d probably have to use Madonna or Bruce Springsteen at their peak for comparison. The crowd literally lives and dies with every move she makes.” At one show, the crowd were all crying, and then the main event of the 3-hour show was a fast-paced 50 minute match where every move was a high spot and the crowd never let up for the whole match.
  • Dave’s therefore changing his vote for Wrestler of the Year to Chigusa Nagayo. He’ll still vote for Hogan for best babyface, since Hogan has broader appeal and is a bigger draw, but Chigusa's sheer level of overness with AJW fans and her skill are huge. Strictly in terms of business and drawing power Hogan should win Wrestler of the Year, and should have won 1985-1986 as well (Ric Flair won those years in landslides). Dave personally figures ring-work for 60% of the equation, with impact at the box office to be 40%. Dave will not be putting Flair in his top three for Wrestler of the Year, even though his promos and ring-work merit it. Allowing his drawing power to be cut so hard and the destruction of his perception among the marks when he has the ability to call the shots about his presentation means he doesn’t deserve to be considered for Wrestler of the year at all this year (Riki Choshu winds up winning for 1987, breaking Ric Flair's 5 year streak).
  • A lot has changed during the week Dave was in Japan. Fritz Von Erich sold WCCW. Ken Mantell and a group with him have bought the company, and there are conflicting stories about the exact breakdown of the ownership (Dave keeps hearing either 30% or 51% of the stake is owned by Mantell), but Texas newspapers are reporting Fritz is out entirely and Mantell now signs the checks. Kevin and Kerry still own a lot of the company, so they’ll still get big pushes. Mantell still owns Wild West Wrestling, and the plan for now seems to be to run both promotions. That’s not going to be good for them in the long run, since they’re competing in the same area of Texas. Expect a merger when they figure that out. A lot of guys are returning to World Class now that Mantell’s in charge, like Missing Link, Bill Irwin, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts. Looks like Fritz finally wanted out of the business, because everything suggests he contacted Mantell. Mantell was the booker for World Class during their heyday in 1983-84, so there’s obviously the hope he can rescue things, but his time in UWF in 86-87 saw him repeat the World Class booking from in UWF and it didn’t work and killed business enough that Bill Watts had to sell to Crockett. If he tries to relive 1983 in 1988, it’s not going to work. If he can build new stars and remove the focus on the Von Erichs, there’s a chance of World Class becoming a major power again.
  • The February 1988 issue of Penthouse will do a story on the Von Erichs. Dave doesn’t know what’ll be in the story, but Fritz is apparently worried about it and how it will portray him.
  • Kazuharu Sonoda, who teamed with Great Kabuki in World Class and would sometimes play the Great Kabuki character when the real Great Kabuki was double booked, died in an airplane crash on November 29. He was 31 years old and had been in the business since just after he turned 18. The airplane had a fire in the cargo hold that caused it to break up in mid air and killed all 159 on board. Sonoda’s trip to South Africa was to be a working honeymoon as a gift from the Great Kabuki - Kabuki was sending him in his stead to do a tour under the Great Kabuki name and gimmick and enjoy a vacation at the same time. Raja Lion, the 7’2” supposed martial arts champion working for Baba, was also supposed to be on the same plane, but canceled at the last minute and avoided disaster himself.
  • No numbers yet for Starrcade and Survivor Series. Starrcade did sell out in Chicago and drew well on closed-circuit on the East coast, but the Crocketts seem disappointed by the final gate. Dave speculates slightly more than $1 million for the final gate. While he was in Japan, Dave heard Survivor Series did $4 million, which sounds reasonable but he can’t vouch for the accuracy of it. What Dave can say is that Survivor Series was definitely a financial success in addition to being good. In terms of impressions of the shows, Dave’s heard from hundreds about Starrcade and the reaction has been mixed. Many thought it was great. There was near universal dissatisfaction with the UWF Title match. And the TV title unification was largely unpopular, which Dave blames on the build up ruining the match. Dave has heard that the UWF Title match was different from what it was supposed to be, which restores a little of Dave’s faith in Dusty as a booker. The majority was disappointed, and about 20-25% of responses said the show was terrible. Dave falls in the disappointment camp. If it hadn’t been Starrcade, it would have been fine. But Crockett needed a great Starrcade, or at the very least to outperform WWF’s show in quality, and that did not happen.
  • Business is still not good coming out of Thanksgiving. Ted DiBiase and Hogan’s matches just aren’t drawing as much as they should. The Bunkhouse Stampedes have so far been disappointments at the gate, enough that Crockett needs to reevaluate their entire model or they’ll cease to be a major promotion entirely. The November 28 Saturday Night’s Main Event is the best life sign in these times: an 11.3 rating and a 30 share are what Dave has heard (not official), which would be the second highest rating the show has ever gotten and third highest rating for that time slot in tv history. TV ratings are the biggest indicator of public interest right now, so even if live crowds are down, this shows that WWF is still very interesting. They’re just not turning that into a rabid desire to be at the show. Crockett’s ratings are dropping, though, and they need to get fans watching tv again before they can worry about getting live attendance back up. In syndicated ratings, WWF gained viewers leading toward Survivor Series, while Crockett remains out of the top 15 and has a below 5.0 combined rating, putting them behind the AWA and Pro Wrestling This Week, which combined have a rating in the low 5s.
  • Dusty is throwing everything he can at the booking to break out of the fall, and that includes turning Lex Luger. Luger turned on December 2 at a Miami Beach Bunkhouse Stampede. The match came down to Luger, Arn, Tully, and J.J. Dillon. Dillon asked the others to let him win so he could go down in the record books as a stampede winner, and Arn and Tully eliminated themselves. Luger then threw Dillon over the top to win. Turning Lex is a good move, but Dave figures it’s the second best move they could have done and that’s the difference between Crockett and WWF - WWF generally goes with the best thing they can do, not the second best. Another year as a heel might have been good for Luger and helped him shore up his skillset, but Crockett is in desperation mode and needed to make a major move. And Luger has the potential to be a great face, and could make a lot of money for Crockett with Flair if they handle things right. But if nobody’s watching tv, it won’t matter how hot he gets as a face. Other major things happening to try and get things righted: Kevin Sullivan’s group with Rick Steiner, Mike Rotunda, and Steve Williams is one; another major turn is coming soon; lots of new angles that aren’t being spelled out yet. They’re going to change up their tv as well, but if the shows all remain basically duplicates that might keep ratings down and make them worse. And the plan is currently for every hour they tape to go to two different shows, with a different commentary team depending on which show. Nikita might do an interview with Gregory for the Florida show and then immediately do a simiar interview with JR for UWF. Dave thinks basically duplicating tv shows with only interviewer and announce team differences is going to tank ratings when fans figure it out. On the pus side, the shows have improved.
  • Paul Boesch has come out of retirement and is trying to rebuild the Houston market with Crockett.
  • New Japan and All Japan have concluded their tag tournaments. New Japan’s was in Osaka on December 7 in front of a crowd of 6,120 and shown live on tv. Fijunami & Kimura were tied for second with Masa Saito & Fujiwara and had to face them in a battle to determine who would face Inoki & Dick Murdoch in the final. The final was a bloody and excellent match, and Kimura bled a lot before he and Fujinami won. With Choshu and Maeda not involved, the tournament lacked interest.
  • The biggest story of the New Japan tournament happened on November 19 during a match between Choshu/Masa Saito/Hiro Saito vs. Maeda/Takada/Kido. Japanese Wrestling Journal reports that Maeda wouldn’t sell for Choshu at all and Maeda shot on Choshu. Choshu eventually figured out what was happening, and at one point Choshu had Kido in the Scorpion Deathlock when Maeda kicked him in the eye legit. Choshu went after Maeda, and the rest of the teams had to break it up. Eventually the match ended with Choshu pinning Takada with a lariat, and nobody knows why Maeda did it. The crowd was mostly UWF Japan fans, and they cheered Maeda on the whole time because they wanted to see a shoot. This took both out of the tournament, and the Journal reports it destroyed the tournament and left Choshu with two broken bones under the eye.
Watch: Maeda shoot kicks Choshu's eye
  • The match was taped, but it’s understood that it will never air on tv and has caused a major PR shitstorm for New Japan. How do you explain suspending someone for a kick to the face to the public when that happens in every match? You can’t do it without going into the distinction between shooting and working and toward no semblance of kayfabe at all. Maeda has only kept his job because New Japan decided to spin an angle out of it. He’ll be punished and knocked down a few pegs and do a lot of jobs to keep his job, no doubt there. Seiki Sakaguchi believes Maeda’s style is hard for fans to understand and may be why ratings are so low, so they’ll be phasing down on Maeda’s shoot style. Dave believes Choshu and Saito was supoosed to be the winning team.
  • All Japan’s tournament final took place on December 11 before a crowd of 13,200. Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu beat Brody and Snuka in the final, with Yatsu pinning Snuka after pulling a midair reversal of a dragon suplex.
  • Dusty Rhodes is “thinking” about retiring. For a long time, it’s been said Dusty was going to retire after Starrcade 1988, so this may be legit. Then again, Dusty saw how over Terry Funk got when he announced his retirement, and Dusty never misses a trick.
  • The winners of all the Bunkhouse Stampedes will participate in the big one on Januay 24 on ppv. Dave wishes them good luck on their first national ppv attempt, because they need it.
  • JCP ends too many tv shows with main events in progress. Dave’s not opposed to the idea in theory, since leaving your audience wanting is proven to work. But with where they are, they need to satiate their fans’ want for a little while.
  • Steve Williams hasn’t made his heel turn yet, but expect it before year’s end. Williams does introduce some problems, like contacting New Japan to add four weeks per year to his schedule, which now is up to 16 weeks. He’s been threatening to quit the NWA on and off for the past year but never goes through with it. So until something concrete happens, Dave’s not going to take it too serious. 16 weeks in Japan at the rate Williams gets paid is about $92,000, which isn’t bad for someone with 36 weeks of leisure time outside that.
  • JCP is full of injuries now. Rick Steiner has a separated shoulder. Barry Windham’s collarbone is broken, and Ricky Morton’s got a bum back.
  • The UWF Tag Belts have been forgotten. No idea what the status of the Sheepherders is, but they aren’t the champions anymore and the belts (along with the Florida tag belts) will simply no longer be referenced. Steve Keirn also quit the promotion, apparently to go to either Memphis or Global.
  • [Stampede] Jason the Terrible turned face and things are heating up and they’re selling out more often than not right now. Jason beat Zodiak in a mask match and unmasked Orton, who then left the territory. The Badnews Allen attacked Jason and sprayed paint through his mask into his eyes, before unmasking him.
Watch: The end of "one heck of a ring-ding-dong-dandy"
  • Stampede are kayfabing Hiroshi Hase’s return to Japan as forced retirement due to injuries inflicted by Jason.
  • The Iran-Iraq war isn’t enough to stop pro wrestling in the Middle East. Foreign wrestlers are being kept out right now, though.
  • Curt Hennig had to be hospitalized after AWA’s show on November 28. He was wrestling Wahoo McDaniel in an Indian Strap Match for the title when Adrian Adonis interfered and used a knife to cut the strap, but wound up cutting Curt’s finger. Somehow this wound up with Curt getting disqualified over the interference (I guess since Adonis was attempting to act on his behalf), and it was thought for a bit that he might lose some of the finger.
  • AWA was supposed to do the tournament for their women’s title on November 28, but have delayed it. Instead, Madusa pinned Bambi in a shitty match and the tournament final is scheduled for December 27 in Vegas. Madusa vs. Candi Divine.
  • Verne Gagne and Larry Hennig will not be wrestling on the Christmas show for AWA. It’ll be Greg vs. Curt with Verne handcuffed to Larry at ringside.
  • WCCW’s Christmas card is shaping up. Al Perez vs. Kerry Von Erich for the world title will headline. No second guesses who wins there. The Six-man tag titles will return as well.
  • The big question for WCCW is how they handle the return of Lance. He’s under contract with David Manning to work independents and eventually Manning’s promotion if he can get it off the ground, but in the meantime he was working for Wild West. No idea what Manning’s relationship with the new WCCW will be like, so who knows what Lance will wind up at.
  • WCCW’s Thanksgiving show drew 6,000 at Reunion Arena in Dallas. It’s less than Dave had anticipated (ticket prices were way down - general admission was $5 for adults and $3 for kids). Kerry’s comeback match (he’d been back for several weeks, but don’t expect honesty from Von Erich promotion) was 57 seconds against Thing, then Brian Adias, and finally a non-title match against Perez. He won all three matches. Perez then lost another non-title Texas Death Match against Kevin.
  • Memphis unified all their singles titles in a tournament on December 7. They had Lawler (Southern Champion), Jeff Jarrett (Mid American Champion), and Manny Fernndez (International Champion) in, and the goal was to get rid of all the titles and declare a Continental Wrestling Association Champion. They’re still recognizing Curt Hennig as World champion, so this isn’t a world title. Lawler beat Jarrett then beat Fernandez by DQ to win the tournament.
  • The Rockers are the Southern tag champs in Memphis and have turned heel. Their reputation for being great workers is clashing with the reports of them in Memphis as basically doing almost nothing in Memphis. After seeing their work in Alabama, Dave thought they just had an ego and thought they were too good for the area. Folks in Memphis are blaming it on their wild partying. Fans weren’t going for them as faces anymore due to their cocky interviews and because they see the Rockers as ripoffs of the Fabulous Ones (a comparison Dave does not get in the slightest), so they needed to be turned.
  • World Organization Wrestling in Florida are talking about running shows in direct competition with Memphis wrestling. One of the guys they’ve got is a muscular guy managed by Don Fargo by the name of Bob Holly.
  • Former Kansas State footballer and wrestler Curtis Hughes (the future Mr. Hughes of WCW/WWF) has been refereeing in Alabama and is training to start wrestling.
  • Shunji Takano (Ninja in Oregon) was on trial in mid November for allegedly hitting a fan with his nunchucks in Eugene, Oregon back in July. He was found guilty and fined $250. His jail sentence was suspended and he has been instead sentenced to community service.
  • Dave doesn’t know what’s aired and what hasn’t, so here’s what he knows about the DiBiase/Hogan program. DiBiase offers Hogan “7 figures” for the World Title, and Hogan considers it and says he could help his family with the money, but he turns down the offer because he can’t let down the Hulkamaniacs. Then DiBiase makes an agreement with Heenan and Andre that if Andre wins the title, he’ll sell it to DiBiase and get the deal Hogan turned down. Dave thinks the idea of buying/selling the belt is stupid, but it’s less stupid with WWF since they don’t pretend to be a sport. This would be worse in NWA. Anyway, this should all be building toward Wrestlemania and Hogan’s scheduled to leave for a few months to film a movie after Wrestlemania, so rumors will fly that Andre will beat Hogan and sell out to DiBiase. It’d be the first time in WWF history the belt was around the waist of a great wrestler, at least.
  • WWF taped the Saturday Night’s Main Event for January 2 in front of 11,000 fans. The attendance has to be a disappointment considering the hype. Hogan beat Bundy again, which led to Andre attacking and stealing the belt before beating up several other faces and even no-selling Duggan’s 2x4. Strike Force beat the Bolsheviks in two straight falls to keep the tag titles, Jake Roberts beat Sika (who’s back because Killer Khan disappeared and they needed a foreign guy, and whatever got Sika fired was apparently not major enough to make them forget about him), and Greg Valentine beat Koko B. Ware.
  • A source at the last MSG show said the Jumping Bomb Angels got twice the reaction for their match as Savage did for his. Dave isn’t sure WWF will ever get a number 2 face over enough he can draw gates on his own. Aside from Rock/Austin falling in their lap and doing just that through sheer force of will, I think this is something they never did figure out.
  • That’s the length of a regular issue, but this is a double and Dave is going to tell us about his trip to Japan for the next ten pages. It’s a fascinating place. Nobody knows who Joe Montana is, but everyone knows Abdullah the Butcher. Wrestling is big business in Japan, and they tend to set the trends that come to the U.S. several years later. Toys, action figures, records, even Hulkamania were a big deal in Japan well before anyone in the U.S. envisioned it. Vince McMahon gets a lot of credit as a genius in marketing pro wrestling, but he toured Japan several times before 1984 and recreated what they had there. Hogan as an American hero is just the American version of Inoki, with just as big an ego. The albums, t-shirts, action figures, and the rest are all extensions of what Japan had from the 70s on. Vince’s failed attempts to push women’s wrestling came as a result of seeing that they could do big business in Japan. The only thing Vince hasn’t copied from Japan is the work ethic of the wrestlers.
  • While wrestlers in Japan are on tv commercials and talk shows all the time, that doesn’t make the industry stable. Dave’s first trip to Japan was in December 1984, and a lot has changed since then. All Japan was on top and clearly outclassed everything else, and while New Japan was suffering from its arrangement with WWF it still had a big audience on tv. The Crush Gals were the rock & wrestling idols of Japan for the teen set, and their posters were all over record stores and merch available everywhere. Dave didn’t go to an All Japan Women show in 1984 and regrets that deeply, but in every record or book store he went to, the Crush Gals’ popularity was inescapable.
  • Compared to UWF and Crockett in 1987, it’s hard to look at Japan as in a bad way, but this year’s trip was different. In Tokyo there were ten stores that catered specifically to wrestling fans back in 1984, compared to five now. Only three weekly magazines are left standing and one monthly, and the monthly is strictly joshi. The Chigusa Nagayo and Riki Choshu calendars are around, but gone are the Crush Gals, Tiger Mask, Stan Hansen, and Choshu records and the posters of the joshi. The most they found was a new 45 by Fujiwara. The lack of the joshi posters is probably due to idol culture in Japan, where they can take a teen, turn her into a rock star, and spit her out in two years. Nearly every teen idol name Dave remembers from his trip three years ago has disappeared from the stores and replaced with new 17-year-olds. The fact that Chigusa Nagayo has managed to increase in popularity and maintain a hold in the mainstream now that she’s 23 has to do with, in Dave’s mind, her improvement of her wrestling to become the best there is in the entire business.
  • If wrestling has declined over the past few years in Japan, that doesn't mean it’s not still the ultimate experience for a fan. The sheer volume of wrestling coverage is unfathomable to an American. The daily newspaper had a full page devoted to Starrcade and Survivor Series, while American newspapers ignored the results. The death of Kazuhau Sonoda was the lead story in several newspapers, and even though he was just a mid-card guy his death was covered more than American newspapers would cover the hypothetical of Hogan going down in a plane crash. Dave spends a lot of time going over the Japanese wrestling magazine landscape. He managed to work out a deal on getting a lot of magazines to bring back to America for people to be able to buy cheaper than by import subscription.
  • Dave talks at length about the presentation of wrestling and the fan demographics in Japan. It’s much more sports-like in presentation, and lack the surreal characters, skits, promos, etc. that attract audiences in the U.S. Ticket prices are higher in Japan with the cheap seats as low as $16 (the bigger shows cost $75 for ringside). So the audience is wealthier and more white collar than in the U.S. In the major cities, the fans are almost entirely boys and men between the ages of 15-30. The audience grows older in smaller towns, accounting for the continuing popularity of guys like Baba and Inoki.
  • He next explains the basics of men’s wrestling in Japan: what New Japan and All Japan are, who their big stars are, etc.. All Japan is more reliant on foreign stars and New Japan relies more heavily on feuds between Japanese wrestlers. He compares Inoki to Dusty, in that he’s popular and pushes himself high on the card, and hardcore fans don’t like him much but unlike Dusty he’s really considered a legend by everyon in Japan. That is one of four reasons people in Japan gave Dave for why New Japan has been suffering in the ratings. The other big reasons are that Japanese culture is still interested in seeing the Japanese prevail over the big, monstrous Americans and New Japan has almost none of those. There’s also a feeling that New Japan’s style is perhaps too esoteric and too heavy on submissions for the casual fan to catch on to. Lastly, they aren’t fans of people changing jobs and bouncing between promotions. Nobody minded when Choshu jumped to All Japan in 1984 because he said a lot of things about Inoki that fans took as true. Jumping back to Inoki purely because he wanted more money and thus breaching contract and making a whole legal thing of it has not been received well in Japan, though, and the jump is popularly felt to have almost killed wrestling in Japan.
  • The five New Japan shows Dave went to while in Japan made good money at the gate, but the big issue is tv. TV-Asahi has lost interest due to bad ratings and have turned down the request to host the Crockett Cup in April, and New Japan’s tv is in danger of being moved to midnight Mondays or off the air entirely. Landing an afternoon slot on the weekend would be the best goal.
  • The tv ratings issue is pushing Inoki to try some wild things, the most controversial of which is currently an angle involving a comedian named Mr. Takeshi. Takeshi was once the most famous comedian in the country and is analogous to a Don Rickles or Johnny Carson now, and he’s doing a Cyndi LaupeAndy Kaufman type of angle with Inoki, saying he’s putting together a group to beat Inoki, with a probable end point of a Tokyo Dome show in April. New Japan’s fanbase hate this angle. But New Japan needs to hope the fans stick around and they can get new eyes on the promotion and convert them to fans. It’s the same gamble Vince made with Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T, and it helped cement Hogan. Masa Saito is involved with Takeshi in the storyline and the first involvement of Takeshi will be at the December 27 show, with Takeshi being given the role of bringing over a massive guy named Leon White in as Saito’s partner against Fujinami and Kimura.
  • All Japan is more stable than New Japan right now. Choshu leaving certainly hurt them, but they’ve recovered and are doing steady business now that Tenryu is hitting his stride as a heel. Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher returning has been a big boon. Tv ratings arent spectacular, but they’re safe and doing better than New Japan (New Japan’s range from 6-9, All Japan sits in a consistent 11-12 range).
  • The last promotion Dave covers is All Japan Women, and he finds it hard to explain. The best explanation he can give is this description of an event on December 6 at Korauken Hall:
about 2,400 teenage girls log-jammed in an 1,800 seat building breaking every fire law known to mankind. It was the best live card I’ve seen in at least three years and the main event was by far the greatest match I’ve ever seen live. In fact I’d say without question it was better than any match ever held in the United States in the history of this business. It was a 12-girl tag team match with the most falls before curfew deciding the winner, and he rates it 5 stars. The match went 50 minutes of nothing but high spots and the crowd was screaming at about double the level of a Hulk Hogan posing routine for the entire time. When Chigusa Nagayo was squaring off against Lioness Asuka, the roar was louder than you’d here [sic] in the seventh game of an NBA championship series with 18 seconds left and the home team down by one. I’ve never experienced anything like the energy that comes out of the crowd, and the girls in the ring worked every bit as hard as the crowd. The girls are on TV on the Fuji network and while they consistently draw 7s plus on Saturday afternoons, the week we were there they drew an 11.3 rating. To give you an example of the popularity of this group in Japan--that rating for one show is higher than the rating of all McMahon’s syndicated shows in the United States put together. In fact, it’s roughly the same as the rating that McMahon’s best Saturday Night Main Event NBC special drew, so when I compare the importance of Chigusa with Hulk Hogan it is not an outlandish statement at all.
  • Despite putting on the best wrestling in the world, AJW’s audience is almost 100% teenage girls. They live and breathe Chigusa Nagayo. The fans who go to men’s cards don’t go to women’s cards in Japan, and the fans and reporters Dave met could not understand why he and his group were so interested in an AJW card. There’s a negative stigma about women’s wrestling in Japan among the fans, probably because the show is designed to appeal to a teen girl’s interests. But it wouldn’t surprise Dave if AJW was as profitable as any other major promotion. They have the ratings (Japanese promotions are paid by their networks, rather than the other way around like in the U.S.) and more importantly, they have major merch - about 15 minutes before the show mentioned above, only 150 people were seated. But then one of the guys Dave was with pointed him to the lobby, and about 1,500 girls were buying all of the merch. Videos, cassettes, posters, keychains, purses, wallets, Dump Matsumoto gym shorts, shopping bags, books, programs, streamers - you name it, they were buying it. Given ticket prices, Dave estimates the gate at about $75,000, and they probably more than doubled that with merch and concessions. There were also other Americans at the AJW show, which you don’t see as much at men’s cards. Based on American reactions to Dump Matsumoto, Dave believes if she were given quality opponents and allowed to work without restriction, she’d make women’s wrestling huge in the U.S. She and Chigusa have drawn several times gates of more than $200,000 (Crockett only did that twice this year - the WarGames matches in Atlanta and Miami, and Hogan did it about a dozen times this year).
  • The main attraction of the show was that it was Devil Masami’s retirement show. AJW has a mandatory retirement age of 26 (only Dump Matsumoto has been granted an exception by the promotion), and Masami turns 26 on January 7. Dave’s not clear on the reasons, but he figures it probably goes back to the idol culture thing - promote them young, wring out every drop of marketability, spit them out and bring the next fresh crop in. It keeps the stars relatable to the audience, Dave supposes. Some argue that they like their female stars young and cute, but Dave doesn’t see that as a major reason if there’s no men in the audience. Masami’s final match was a five minute exhibition with Chigusa, and the crowd went silent for it out of respect. Chigusa bumped for Masami for the most part, and in the final 45 seconds or so of the match, when Dave thought they’d turn on the intensity, both women broke down in tears together, and the crowd broke down with them. Masami is expected not to stay retired, but to leave Japan to continue her career.
  • Dave does note some positive things that come out of the age rule AJW has. For one thing, pro wrestling is part of pop culture, but pro wrestling promoters have a really bad understanding of pop culture. Some musical groups have long runs, but most groups that get hot don’t last long and the fizzle quick. The average run for any kind of teen heartthrob to last in pop culture is about two years. Hogan cannot simply sell out a building by showing up. The Rock & Roll Express and Road Warriors can’t draw big numbers by themselves anymore. By having the age rule, AJW forces the constant development and pushing of new talent to the top, which keeps things from getting stale. It keeps you from having a Dusty Rhodes who is still popular and somewhat legendary, but turns other people off. Dave isn’t in favor of the rule at all or any kind of mandatory retirement - he’d still love to watch Bockwinkel or Masa Saito five days a week, but it’s undeniable that the business has been hurt by guys staying long past their prime and using what political power they have to stay on top. It’s hurt by promotions who don’t build stars and only think about the upcoming card, never realizing you need to sometimes tear the whole business down and rebuild and freshen things up to keep alive in the long run.
  • Anyways, Dave runs down some of the key wrestlers in AJW and talks about them. You’ve got Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo, Dump Matsumoto, the Jumping Bomb Angels, Yukari Omori (nearing retirement age), Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori (both very young and coming up as a top babyface team), Bull Nakano (19 years old and already a top tier worker), and Condor Saito.
  • Dave then gives complete results and ratings for every card he saw during his trip. I’ll stick to negative stars and 4+ star matches for matches of note. December 11 All Japan had Tenryu/Hara vs. Hansen/Gordy go to a double count out in the tag tournament. 4.5 stars. December 6 AJW had Dump Matsumoto vs. Yukari Omori go to a double count out. 4.5 stars of an absolutely bloody match that went all around the arena and included a fork (American fans started cheering Dump after she got out the fork, and she blew them kisses in response, though Dave makes a shitty joke about Americans cheering for a fork after having to use chopsticks). The 12-woman tag match mentioned above gets 5 stars and is the best thing Dave’s ever seen live. December 3 New Japan has Shiro Koshinaka & Kazuo Yamazaki & Keiichi Yamada beat Hiro Saito & Norio Honaga & Kensuke Sasaki in a six man match. 4.5 stars. They had another 6 man the next night where Yamazaki & Nobuhiko Takada & Yamada beat Hiro Saito & Honaga & Dynamite Chris. 4.5 stars. Antonio Inoki & Dick Murdoch vs. Masa Saito & Fujiwara went to a 30 minute draw on the same show. 4 stars. Lastly, New Japan saw Fujinami & Kimura beat Masa Saito & Fujiwara in the tournament semi-final on December 7. 4 stars.
Watch: Hansen/Gordy vs. Tenryu/Hara
THURSDAY (last issue of 1987): 1987 in review, Observer expanding to two columns of text per page, WWF riding high, projections for 1988, on the importance of PPV, and more.
submitted by SaintRidley to SquaredCircle

7

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ May 9, 1988

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
• PREVIOUS •
1987
FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE:
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
1-4-1988 1-11-1988 1-18-1988 1-25-1988
2-1-1988 2-8-1988 2-15-1988 2-22-1988
2-29-1988 3-7-1988 3-14-1988 3-21-1988
3-28-1988 4-4-1988 4-11-1988 4-18-1988
4-25-1988 5-2-1988 * *
  • WCCW has finally announced the card for their May 8 David and Mike Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions. Credit to the company, they’ve not put much effort into pushing the Von Erich part of the name this year and seem to have kept that part out of deference to Fritz. The headliners are two triple tower of doom matches. Dave’s understanding is that there will be three rings built atop one another with a firefighter’s pole through the center to allow ring to ring transitions. You can also move from level to level by climbing the cage from the inside. They’re also having an 18-man Royal Rumble style battle royal called a Texas Roundup inside the three rings, with the winner being the wrestler who gets to the third ring, climbs the cage, and grabs the envelope with the “money” for the winner and five prizes for fans. I’m astonished TNA in the Jarrett/Russo days never did this. Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy will have a Bad Street match, Kerry Von Erich challenges King Parsons for the title, and Kevin Von Erich teams with Bruiser Brody vs. Buddy Roberts and a mystery partner. Roberts was originally meant to partner with Kamala or Abdullah the Butcher, but they’re both booked. There will be other matches as well, but eh.
  • Over in Oregon the battle of May 7 is coming. Don Owen’s show in Portland will feature Hennig vs. Tom Zenk along with his regular crew, while Billy Jack Haynes’ Oregon-Washington Wrestling Federation debuts twenty miles away in Oregon City. No cards, partial or complete, have been announced, but Haynes has 16 guys including Tom Magee (yes, the one who only Bret Hart knew how to make look good), Steve Gatorwolf (fuck Steve Gatorwolf), Chavo Guerrero, Corporal Kirchner (due to be promoted to Colonel when WWF turns their eyes this way), Brian Adams, Fred Ottman (Memphis’s Big Bubba, whom you’ll come to love as Typhoon in a couple years), himself, and a bunch of other guys who I can’t make any interesting comments about.
  • Memphis’s Monday show after those will surely be the most talked about show of the weekend, though. Hennig defends the AWA Title against Jerry Lawler in a match where Lawler will retire if he doesn’t become champion. Most of the undercard is still unknown, but that match alone carries the interest.
  • Crockett has made a major retreat and given up the New York market. Nassau Coliseum accepted WWF’s ultimatum, and will now refuse to allow Crockett to run shows. Over Crockett’s four show run at the arena since November, it’s been rocky. They had a successful first show in November, but the second show was the Bunkhouse Stampede in January, which drew a gate of $80,000 (actually above WWF’s average there). But that show was so poorly received it killed them. The third show drew poorly, and they managed to improve a bit to $48,000, around WWF’s typical non-Hogan card there, for the fourth show. But with the ultimatum and the fact that gates have dropped to basically equivalent to a WWF card, they’re out. They’ve also lost their time slot in New York, leaving them without local tv access in New York and LA. Crockett may have pulled the plug on New York tv themselves. They were paying a rumored $6,000 weekly for access, and that just does not make sense to do when you can’t run local shows anymore. It will hurt their ad revenue, so it’s a mixed bag.
  • WWF taped Saturday Night’s Main Event on April 22 to air April 30. Dave mentioned the results last week, but upon airing some changes had been made. They didn’t air Andre/Roberts and instead put on a Rick Rude vs. Koko B. Ware match. Randy Savage is obviously the face of the company right now - they didn’t even mention Hogan on the episode. And it’s a big improvement to the wrestling quality having Savage as the main event over Hogan. Duggan’s work has significantly regressed. Bulldogs vs. Demolition was garbage and they were not working together at all. Rude vs. Ware was fairly good and the only match that didn’t involve a total carry job by one guy.
  • Joe Pedicino is collaborating with WATL-TV in Atlanta to do a 30 hour wrestling telethon on June 17-18. They’re even going to have over six hours of wrestling live in studio. As part of the telethon, they’ll have a bunch of syndicated wrestling shows as well as the Henry Winkler movie The One and Only (Dave’s favorite wrestling movie of all time) and the Alex Karras movie Mad Bull (not as good, but some good in it). They’re also going to do a segment on the history of pro wrestling in Atlanta. Proceeds will go to the Atlanta police department so they can buy bullet proof vests. Dave even has word that two WWF wrestlers will appear.
  • Dave’s regular typewriter is in the shop, so he’s using a different one that kind of sucks. He apologizes for any issues, and has gone with a smaller font to give more content as a make-good. Yay, more stuff for me to type about.
  • [All Japan] John Tenta accidentally broke Jimmy Snuka’s ribs on April 21 with a powerslam. Not much else of interest out of All Japan this week.
  • [New Japan] Antonio Inoki has a broken foot and is out of action. That’s gonna hurt New Japan at the gate. Riki Choshu vs. Vader has been made to replace Vader vs. Inoki for May 7. It’ll be an interesting test of Choshu’s remaining drawing power.
  • New Japan went really weird with a locker room scene on the April 22 tv show. The main event had Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami beating Vader and Masahiro Saito by dq, and the locker room scene had Inoki and Fujinami arguing. Fujinami then got scissors and started cutting his own hair until Inoki hit him and told him to wrestle Vader in Osaka on April 27 (at which show Fujinami declared he’d retire if he lost).
  • The major hype in Memphis still surrounds the LawleHennig match set for May 9. They’re claiming Larry Hennig is leading the voting for referee over Jackie Fargo, but that’s obviously to drum up more support for Lalwer.
  • Meanwhile, Memphis is bringing in guys from WCCW for three matches on May 2. Dave’s heard conflicting stories. They’re there for just the one show, or they’ll be in again multiple times. Just have to wait and see, Dave supposes. Even with Lawler vs. Eddie Gilbert with Missy’s hair at stake, they’re billing Iceman King Parsons vs. Kerry Von Erich for the WCCW Title as the main event, and Dave doesn’t get the point in bringing in another world champion when you’re spending so much effort and time on hyping up the AWA title match for the next week. This is the beginning of the Memphis/WCCW alliance and eventual merger.
  • A funny story from Southern Championship Wrestling. They’ve got this local country western DJ on color commentary and he goes by Rhubarb Jones. For a few weeks, they did a bit where Paul E. Dangerously constantly called him “Rub Hard Jones” and Jones would correct him. Then the blowoff was Dangerously asking “How come whenever I call you Rub Hard you say it’s Rhubarb, but when Missy Hyatt calls you Rhubarb, you say Rub Hard?” This made it on the air. And honestly, it sounds like a fucking funny bit.
  • Stampede’s crowds have dipped a bit. It’s probably a bit of annual drop off as summer comes along, but also according to local fans it’s because the show has become so much less family oriented with all the blood and excessive violence lately. Kids have been the biggest demographic to drop, so that makes some sense.
  • Les Thornton is not content to start up a competing wrestling school to Stampede, but is now planning to start a competing promotion. He may get started as soon as May, and he’s planning to run Calgary too.
  • World Class is negotiating to get their syndicated package added to the All-Star Wrestling Network ad package. That’s the same one that has the AWA.
  • Big John Studd has sent out a country music demo to some record companies. He’s apparently trying to cash in on his fame as a wrestler as a selling point for how well his record would sell. One person in the music industry told Dave that Studd wrestles better than he sings, and Dave says if it does ever release not to buy it if there are any cats who live in your neighborhood.
  • UWF announced its May 12 Korauken Hall card. There will be three matches: Nobuhiko Takada vs. Shigeo Miyato, Tetsuo Nakano vs. Yoji Anjo, and Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. That’s the entire stable of wrestlers they have so far. Since they sold out so quick without announcing the card at all, it’s a good thing they’ve saved the best main event they have (Maeda vs. Takada) for June. Since there are only three matches, each match will likely be in the 30 minute range.
  • Dave hears word that Iron Sheik will be back in WWF if he can clean up his act. No more cocaine for Sheiky baby.
  • AWA has an interesting card for their May 14 tapings in Las Vegas. Tanaka and Diamond defend the tag titles against Chavo and Mando Guerrero, Greg Gagne defends the International TV title against Brian Knobbs, the Midnight Rockers take on Riki Choshu and Masahiro Saito, and Curt Hennig vs. Jerry Lawler for the AWA Word Title.
  • In addition to Memphis and the AWA, Continental now recognizes the AWA Title as a world title. The AWA title is quickly becoming the world title of the remaining independent territories. Related, in a recent interview Curt Hennig said that he’s the real world champion among himself, Ric Flair, and Randy Savage because they only defend their titles in one company while Hennig defends his in all companies.
  • The Fantastics beat the Midnight Express on April 26 in Chattanooga to win the NWA US Tag Titles in a 40+ minute match. They teased referee stoppage and Bobby Eaton, who was the illegal man, wound up pinning Robert Fulton. Cornette did a promo saying he was planning a party for this coming weekend because of course Jim Crockett would return the belts, but obviously that’s not going to happen, Dave says.
  • Ric Flair missed some shows this past week (April 25 in Nashville and Chattanooga, April 27, and April 28. Dave’s heard two stories - either a severe fever or a staph infection. Due to his absence, the NWA offered refunds for those who wanted them. He was supposed to wrestle Road Warrior Hawk in Nashville, and that show drew around 2,500 people.
  • Dave thinks it’ll be interesting to see if WWF tries counterprogramming the next NWA ppv. It’s set to air on July 10 with Flair vs. Luger and a triple tower of doom match (they should be glad that WCCW is using it first, it means they can see how it actually works in practice and figure out the bugs before doing it themselves). Correction time: the triple tower of doom WCCW has concocted wasn’t a Dusty Rhodes original. It was a Kevin Sullivan idea, which makes way more sense when I remember the doomsday cage match he came up with. Anyway, Dave thinks it would be smart if both stopped this game of countering each other’s big shows. It’s just costing both sides a lot of money and neither side has really benefited.
  • The 1988 NWA Great American Bash tour will run June 26-August 7 and have some 40 or 41 shows. A lot of those shows will have War Games matches. After the Bash tour, Crockett’s wrestlers are going to be getting a week off to make up for working 6 weeks straight.
  • NWA got the time slot WCCW used to have in Jackson, Mississippi and their first tape they sent had no commentary track. They had promos, but not one word of commentary.
  • Word is that a 6’7” masked wrestler called “The Texan” is coming to NWA to feud with Dusty Rhodes. Dave thinks they’re bringing in Dick Murdoch, who once wore a mask and attacked Rhodes, but 6’7”? Maybe if he had stilts.
  • WWF is instituting a new policy where managers aren’t being booked for house shows anymore, only tv tapings. The only exceptions are where they’re booked to actually get in the ring and wrestle a match. Elizabeth is a unique case, and Dave’s not sure where they’re landing on her yet, but she’s so integral to Randy Savage’s act that you can’t take her out without upsetting fans. The last Dave’s heard is they’re likely to have her only appear in certain markets and not regularly anymore.
  • Additionally, WWF has made significant cuts to the number of dates. Last year at this point they were running between 20-25 shows a week, and they’ve cut it down to 10, 12 on tv taping weeks. The new schedule has three shows on Saturdays and Sundays, two on Mondays and Fridays, and Tuesday-Thursday as days off (again, except on tv weeks). Well, that’s the schedule for the big names. The rest will work when they get work, with the third string guys working twice a week at most. With this severe a cutback, you can expect probably more guys to be let go. On the other hand, this new scheduling will give the wrestlers more chance to rest, and seems to be having positive effects on performance (though DiBiase/Savage and Hart/Badnews working together might also be a factor). DiBiase/Savage is the only major drawing match they have, so cutting dates means avoiding overexposing the match, too, so that’s a possible factor. This is evidence that pro wrestling as an arena spectator sport is in the worst place it has been in a long time and even WWF is tightening their belt, which only means that everyone else is probably feeling it a lot more.
  • One of the letters this week is about how fans smart to how the business works should act at shows. Not said in the letter is that they should shower, almost as if that’s a given. Anyway, the writer conjures up the image of the fan who goes to the show and calls the wrestlers by their government names and screams at Wahoo McDaniel to “blade!” when he gets posted and goes prone on the floor and how irritating those people are. Smart fans, our writer argues, should try to keep the heat up for the match. Cheer the faces, boo the heels, help encourage the marks around you to do the same. The writer is friends with a mid-level heel from a promotion not to be specified to protect the source, and the writer tries to make a point of going to that heel’s tv tapings. Some of the wrestler’s colleagues know our writer is an Observer subscriber and considers Dave a friend, but even so, after the last taping the writer went to and played it off like they were a total mark, one of the managers came over and thanked the writer for keeping the heat up and asked for thoughts on the angles and how they were getting over. You don’t get asked questions like that from the workers if you’re the kind of irritating, insufferable smart fan who has to show off how smart you are. Honestly, I really enjoyed this letter, because it definitely jives with my feelings about how to act at a show. Respect and engage with the performance you are presented. I remember going to a RISE show last year where I had a fantastic conversation with AQA, one of the women there who was coming from Booker T’s school, and she was asking me about how her elimination looked from my vantage, if I thought she hit her spots well, and that sort of stuff. I’ve had a lot of great conversations like that at RISE and SHIMMER shows and I’m really glad I got to have that conversation with AQA. By the way, she’s fantastic and is definitely on her way to having a big future once she hits the point of signing with Impact/WWE/AEW.
  • Another writer notes that he has a friend who now works part time for the Rhode Island State Athletic Commission. Said friend knows nothing about wrestling and can’t even answer questions about whether blading is allowed in Rhode Island because he doesn’t know what the question means. So yeah, that’s what you’re dealing with in athletic commissions.
  • Our most interesting letter of the week concerns the origins of the term “working.” A lot of people think it originates with the advent of tv and working for the benefit of the camera, but the term originates back in the early part of the 20th century. Wrestlers began using what they called the “working” system rather than shooting, which allowed them to turn wrestling into a traveling act. Wrestlers at that point still had to be capable shooters, of course, just in case someone didn’t want to go along with the script. And there were wrestlers like Jack Sherry who couldn’t adapt to working rather than shooting, and so they were on the outs with the major promoters of the era. Also, the writer found a membership list for the NWA from 1968. Just 20 years ago the NWA boasted 23 different member promotions in the U.S. and Canada. How much things have changed.
  • There’s a big letter from a couple guys in Maine that goes off on Dave for his “anti-WWF” bias and it’s a big enough deal that Dave actually responds. In brief, the letter says “we are disturbed by your continuing, and, we believe, unwarranted criticism of Titan Sports and Vince McMahon in particular. This anti-Titan attitude, while understandable, and in some cases laudable, has been of concern to us for some time, and we had intended to write soon, but your recent post-Wrestlemania newsletter moved up our timetable.” Fucking hell, that’s most of the opening paragraph and I am rolling laughing (literally, I am high as balls as I do this part). Their criticisms of Dave’s takes on Wrestlemania seem to be saying Ventura was great on commentary and Uecker was funny. And since Dave’s writing basically the newsletter of record on wrestling, he’s being derelict in his responsibilities. One good thing they suggest is that Dave try to keep commentary and news separate. Basically, they usually find themselves agreeing with Dave and are very confused and concerned that his opinions on Clash and Wrestlemania were opposite of theirs. The part that really ticks Dave off is that, “at risk of insulting” Dave, they conclude that his commentaries are tailored to satisfy certain constituencies of his readership rather than reflecting his own opinions. Dave even says that the one thing they got right was that he felt insulted by their letter, and not because they disagree with him. Dave even says “anyone who agrees with all my opinions is obviously letting me do their thinking for him.” There you go. He then gives a complete takedown of every point they made, pointing out where they ignored the context of his statements, pointed out how it wasn’t just him who felt how he did, points out his takes on Starrcade and Survivor Series to kill dead the idea that he has an anti-WWF or pro-Crockett bias, etc. As for biases, Dave does admit to a bias toward Crockett’s in-ring style compared to WWF’s, but it’s also hardly his favorite style (New Japan juniors, there’s his favorite style at this point), and he also admits to a bias toward how WWF handles publicity, its company, and its rotating talent in and out of the spotlight to keep things fresh.
  • So, Dave transcribed the first hour of Bruno Sammartino’s radio interview from 6 weeks back. A couple highlights, then I’ll just put a link to read the transcript yourself. He felt like the lone voice defending the old way of wrestling and nobody would listen. He says some wrestlers today, he might call them athletes, but Bam Bam Bigelow? He’s too fat to be an athlete. He calls Andre and Hogan sad because of Andre’s condition, and even worse because making it out like the match of the century is practically obscene to him. He doesn’t consider either of them to be wrestlers. Basically, he’s going to old man yell at the cloud of modern wrestling for a while and he said Vince doesn’t want commentary to refer to it as wrestling anymore. He tries to maintain some kayfabe about the legitimacy of wrestling in his day, but tries to claim it mostly was. There’s stuff about his son I’m going to be honest about not reading, I’m just not sober enough to care about David. He also says he never once saw a bladejob or blood capsule in his life and points to his scars above his eye “that came from being hit”. He is vague about Jimmy Snuka, but he says Snuka’s got serious drug problems and seriously messed himself up.
Read: Bruno radio interview transcript
  • There’s also a long letter about Bruno, so you can read that along with the transcript So click that link too. Smash that like button. Subscribe to my twitch channel. Words.
Read: end of transcript and letter
  • Dave also gives comments of his own on the transcript, letter, and Sammartino’s issues with McMahon. In short, the business of wrestling has changed a lot, especially lately, and change isn’t inherently bad. Some changes made wrestling more mainstream acceptable. Some caused the decline of regional territories, but were always inevitable. Some brought unheard of amounts of money to the business. Wrestling isn’t shooting, but entertainment isn’t a dirty word and things like wrestlers booking to suit their egos dates back to the 20s. Dave says the wrestlers who have learned to do today’s craft and not an outdated style that won’t connect, should be commended and respected. If you know how to work for your audience, can maintain conditioning, and work hard to get yourself over, you’re the kind of wrestler Dave respects. If you don’t respect the paying customers and think steroids can substitute for knowing your shit, Dave thinks less of you for it. Using steroids doesn’t disqualify you from respect - a lot of great workers are well conditioned and use the stuff to maintain the size that pleases the promoters. He just dead refutes the idea that wrestling was legit in Bruno’s day or that he never bladed. He also talks about Vince and that Vince has on the one hand had a very negative influence on ring style, but he’s opened wrestling up to the larger media landscape and that’s a good thing.
  • Dave rates Savage vs. DiBiase from the April 25 Madison Square Garden show 4 stars. A rare high mark for a WWF match at this point.
Watch: DiBiase vs. Savage at MSG
  • Harley Race will be out for several months. He ruptured his intestine and had to have 18 inches of it removed.
  • Big Bubba’s coming next week with a prison guard gimmick and will likely be built up for Hogan’s return.
  • Owen Hart is now apparently 50-50 on coming to WWF.
  • Ricky Steamboat has apparently quit WWF. He was scheduled for the MSG show against Greg Valentine, but wasn’t there and wasn’t on tv. It could just be a hiatus, but Dave reckons he’s gone.
  • Dave wants us to confirm, but does Matilda look different than she used to?
NEXT WEEK: Midnight Rider unmasked, Jerry Lawler becomes AWA World Champion, Roddy Piper comes to Oregon, Clash II announced for June 8, and more!
submitted by SaintRidley to SquaredCircle