Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 6, 1998
2018.01.12 18:01 daprice82 Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 6, 1998
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE: 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997
Snow day in Memphis. Figured I'd do some arts and crafts since I'm stuck at home.
WATCH: Undertaker vs. Mankind - Hell In A Cell
- Dave opens the issue by saying that despite anything Mick Foley has ever done or ever will do in this industry, he will always be remembered for June 28, 1998 and the match that will never be forgotten against Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. Dave recaps the match and Mankind's injuries: three knocked out teeth and dislocated jaw from the first bump, with one of the teeth ending up in his nose. He was also banged up from the second bump (Foley later wrote that going through the cage was the way worse bump) and reportedly has little memory of the actual match. Dave says in one night, Foley catapulted himself into an all-time legend with this match and the footage of it will likely live on forever, but he wonders where does the business go from there? As is always the case, someone will try to emulate it and one-up it, but that can only end badly. Wrestlers are always putting their bodies at risk in the ring, but Mankind literally risked his life for that match. The way Shawn Michaels is forever linked with ladder matches and Bret Hart is forever linked with the screwjob, Mick Foley will forever be linked to Hell in a Cell. Dave says that, for better or worse, he will never forget that performance as long as he lives but he wishes he had never seen it. He says Mick Foley has given his body to the business more than anyone and fears that when he's 70, he'll be living with so much pain that it wasn't worth it. Thankfully, Foley didn't suffer any truly serious injuries, but Dave says the match makes him sad because much like Foley was inspired by Jimmy Snuka's famous cage dive and wanted to one-up it, there was probably some kid that no one has ever heard of yet who was watching this match. And 5 or 10 or even 15 years from now, he will try to one-up that moment and he won't end up as lucky as Mick Foley. Behold, arguably the most famous match of all time:
WATCH: Steve Blackman vs. Marc Mero - Brawl For All
- Other notes from King of the Ring: the show was sold out a week in advance. Early in the show, Sable walked out to the ring "without tipping over" and introduced Vince McMahon, which led to an angle where Pat Patterson grabbed her ass and she slapped him, leading to the inevitable subtle gay joke about Patterson from Jim Ross. Rocky Maivia beat Dan Severn in what Dave thinks may be Severn's first pinfall loss he's ever had as a pro wrestler, even in his indie and Japanese days. Too Much vs. Al Snow & Head was an abysmal comedy match, negative stars territory, and even Jim Ross basically buried it on commentary. Ken Shamrock won the King of the Ring tournament. Steve Austin was nowhere near 100% after spending much of the week in the hospital with a staph infection but he worked hard and looked okay. It was a first blood match, and Austin had an accidental legit cut on his back early in the match, but they didn't count it. Kane ended up winning the title, only to lose it back the next night on Raw.
- The ratings battle this week was a total massacre of WCW. Raw drew its 3rd highest rating ever with a 5.36 rating. And while Nitro also did a strong rating of 4.05, WWF's dominance just eclipsed it. The quality gap was just as wide, with Raw being a fantastic top-to-bottom show while Nitro was simply awful. Both shows tried new experiments. For WCW, it was a segment called NWO Late Night, which was basically a parody of a late night show hosted by Bischoff, complete with a house band and lengthy interview segment. It bombed royally and was among the worst segments in the history of Nitro. As for WWF...
- WWF attempted to do matches without a predetermined finish for the first time ever, which is something Dave never expected to see in WWF and he wonders what that will mean if they run shows in states where that sort of thing is regulated. The plan is to do a Tough Man-style tournament with shoot matches, three 1-minute rounds, and 20-ounce gloves, legal takedowns, a points system, etc. In the first fight, Steve Blackman basically ate Marc Mero alive, which was surprising given his legit boxing skills. And Bradshaw beat Mark Canterbury (formerly Henry Godwinn) by decision in the second fight. Dave says the idea is to take a lot of the lowercard guys who aren't being used much and hope they can get over this way. None of the top stars are allowed to participate because they don't want to risk exposing them. The wrestlers were offered extra money for doing the shoot fights. Neither Dan Severn or Ken Shamrock were allowed to enter either, since given the rules, Severn in particular would probably destroy everybody. The fights held their own in the TV ratings, but went over like a church fart with the live crowd (and thus Brawl For All begins).
WATCH: Bradshaw vs. Mark Canterbury - Brawl For All
WATCH: Koji Kitao vs. Nobuhiko Takada (knockout happens at 11:09
- Atsushi Onita debuted in ECW this past week in a match and it's likely building to one of Onita's beloved exploding ring matches taking place in the U.S. They filmed a press conference after with Onita proclaiming himself the King of the Death Match and challenging Sandman. It's expected the match will take place later this summer and won't be on PPV but will probably be released on video.
- In NJPW, Scott Norton has shaved his head and is being pushed as a complete copy of Goldberg. They have him coming out in every match and dominating his opponents in quick fashion and winning with power moves, trying to recreate the magic that worked in WCW.
- Koji Kitao is expected to announce his retirement from pro wrestling this week. Dave says Kitao is arguably the most undeserving sumo grand champion ever and was kicked out of the sport for throwing the mother of his coach through a window. He then ended up in pro wrestling and was briefly a huge draw when he debuted but never amounted to much and developed a reputation for being impossible to work with, refusing to do jobs and shooting on opponents. Dave talks about a match where Kitao refused to job to Nobuhiko Takada so they agreed to a draw and then, in the middle of the match, Takada knocked him out with one kick to teach him a lesson. Kitao was also famous for an incident with John Tenta which turned into a shoot and led to Kitao getting fired from SWS.
WATCH: Koji Kitao vs. Earthquake
WATCH: The Eric Bischoff Show
- Tod Gordon returned to wrestling by appearing at a show put together by Dennis Coraluzzo. They did an angle where 5 masked guys ran into the ring and attacked Coraluzzo. The first 4 took their masks off to reveal themselves as Stevie Richards, 911, and the Pit Bulls. Then the 5th put his foot on Coraluzzo's chest and unmasked to reveal Tod Gordon. Considering all the past bad blood between Coraluzzo and ECW (particularly Heyman and Gordon), it surprised people that he would show up. Gordon has been out of the wrestling business since last year when he got caught trying to help WCW raid ECW talent and Heyman fired him. Coraluzzo appears to be working an ECW vs. NWA angle, without the cooperation of anyone who is actually signed to ECW.
- ECW TV started this week with this message on the screen: "No Viagra jokes, no cross-dressing basketball players, and best of all, no Hulk Hogan."
- ECW recently ran a show in Philadelphia in the Woodhaven Center. It looked better on TV and had a hotter crowd than most ECW Arena shows. There's talk of running more shows there, but Heyman doesn't want to stop doing shows in the ECW Arena because that's where the company began and it has become almost a mythical cult-like location among ECW fans. The reality is, it's a small dump of a building and ECW can make more money running shows in Philadelphia at the other building. With ECW continuing to grow and gain popularity, it's unlikely they will continue doing ECW Arena shows every 3 weeks like they have been because the company has to focus on making bigger profits. With their TV expansion into places like Chicago, Detroit, and Atlana, they're going to have to start running shows in those cities and it just doesn't make business sense to keep running regular shows in a building that doesn't generate as much money as they could do elsewhere.
- More backstage tension in WCW, reportedly involving heat between Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. Nash was pulled from Thunder last week and then called on Monday saying he was injured and refused to show up for Nitro. Scott Hall was backstage at Nitro but also walked out without appearing on TV for reasons unknown, although it's rumored he was asked to do a job to someone. Dave doesn't seem to know many more details as of yet.
- On Nitro, Chavo Guerrero came out pretending to ride a little horse on a broomstick. Dave says Chavo has been great lately, but this was stupid and overkill (one of my favorite stories about how much WCW was a disorganized mess is Chavo talking about the horse thing. I can't remember where I heard it, maybe a podcast or something. But he basically said the horse idea wasn't approved by anybody. He and Eddie thought it would be funny, so he simply took a stick-horse out to the ring and rode it around. Expected to get in trouble when he got backstage afterward since he never cleared it with anyone. But turns out nobody cared because nobody, least of all Bischoff, had even been paying attention. Can you imagine that in WWE? Imagine if a lower card guy like Bo Dallas decided to just start riding a horsey to the ring without clearing it through Vince or the writers. He'd be fired before he even got back to the locker room).
- Vampiro debuted on Nitro against Brad Armstrong, to no reaction at all. He was decently impressive though (this wasn't really a true debut. He didn't wrestle in WCW again until almost a year later, at which point he started full-time. This was just a one-off).
- When recapping Nitro, Dave vents again about how bad the NWO Tonight Show segment was, saying it's got to rank near the top of the list of all-time bad ideas in wrestling. He also notes Scott Steiner was the guest and says his biceps get freakier by the day. Anyway, despite how bad it was, they spent $70,000 on the set so we'll probably be seeing it again next week.
WATCH: DX impersonates The Nation
- WCW Thunder notes: the show drew a 2.65 rating which is the lowest in the history of the show. Dave says they really should just kill off Thunder at this point because it's obvious that everyone from the bookers to the workers are overworked and it's killing them. He says they're killing a promotion that was on fire 3 months ago but won't be much longer if things don't change. There was also a segment on the show with Benoit talking to Arn Anderson about reforming the Four Horsemen, which leads Dave to say, "You know what I like about that idea? Everyone, and I mean everyone that I know, whether they are in WWF or WCW, knows that reforming the Horsemen without Flair is total death, yet WCW is going to do it anyway. Boy, that'll show Flair who's boss."
- Bret Hart and Chris Benoit are both wanting to work an program together and word is it will probably happen soon. Hart has suggested having a 2/3 falls match and an Ironman match with Benoit.
- Police are investigating to try to find out who did the prank call before the last PPV that resulted in Bret Hart thinking his father had died.
- This year's WCW Road Wild PPV will feature a 30 minute concert by country music star Travis Tritt, "as if the Road Wild PPV wasn't an annual disaster to begin with." Dave says WCW has tried this in the past back in 1989 with a concert by the Oakridge Boys. Dave was there live and says he's a big fan of the Oakridge Boys and even that sucked and was out of place and nobody cared.
- There are rumors that Karl Malone is being paid $1 million to work the WCW PPV but Dave says it's not true. He doesn't know the exact amount but he knows Malone is making less than Dennis Rodman, who is getting $750,000.
- A lot of execs in the PPV industry are expecting Bash at the Beach to do an equal buyrate as Wrestlemania, due to the involvement of Malone and Rodman. In fact, their hopes for it are so high that they believe they might be able to make up the money they lost on a recent Evander Holyfield fight that was cancelled at the last minute. Dave thinks they shouldn't hold their breath (Dave was correct). There are still 2,000 tickets available for the PPV so it's not sold out yet.
- Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan at the Georgia Dome Nitro next week is still expected to be a non-title dark match, with Goldberg going over clean. Locally, they're advertising the match by saying you can only see it in Atlanta. They were hoping announcing the match would lead to a boost in ticket sales but so far, it hasn't.
- Time Waner management are doing a major internal audit of WCW. Only time will tell if this becomes a major news story or not, but you gotta figure it's probably not good news if Turner execs are sniffing around trying to figure out where all their money is being spent and if it's being spent wisely.
- A local wrestler named Rhino Richards worked a dark match tryout before Raw this week in Chicago (that would indeed be the one and only Rhyno).
- Pat Patterson missed this past week's Raw because his long-time "friend" Lou Dondero passed away. Dondero was very well known within the business and had been around since the old San Francisco territory days in the 70s (Patterson has talked about this guy extensively in interviews and in his book. It was basically his life-long partner, they had been together since the 70s. Obviously gay marriage wasn't legal during any of this time, but this was essentially Patterson's husband passing away).
- Steve Regal debuted in WWF in the most unceremonious way possible, beating Droz in an unannounced match to no fanfare at all. Jim Ross tried like hell to get him over on commentary, but the whole match was basically a backdrop for a Sable angle. Dave says it's almost like someone wanted to make sure Regal didn't have a chance to get over in his debut and it worked. He didn't.
- They did an angle on Raw with Val Venis attempting to seduce Yamaguchi-san's wife. Dave says Yamaguchi's real wife is actually a pro wrestler that nobody should ever mess with. It led to Kaientai attacking Venis (this is the beginning of the "choppy choppy pee pee" angle).
- Paul Ellering returned as the new manager of LOD and the real reason he was brought back was to replace Sunny. Due to recent no-shows and erratic behavior, Sunny was given an ultimatum to go to some sort of rehab or counseling, or else she would be fired. Sunny chose counseling and won't be back until she completes whatever it is they're making her go to. Dave also mentions that Sunny has been upset about Sable bypassing her as the top female star in the company (this was it for Sunny. Turns out she actually refused the rehab after all and they fired her but I'm sure we'll hear about it).
- Don Frye has challenged Ken Shamrock to a fight in UFC. It almost certainly won't happen, but if it somehow did, it would be interesting since it would be a NJPW star vs. a WWF star in a UFC cage.
- At the latest Raw taping that will air next week, DX did a skit where they all dressed up and imitated the Nation members. Just in case you thought WWF never copied WCW (referring to the NWO impersonating the Horsemen a few months back).
MONDAY: Historic Georgia Dome Nitro, Goldberg wins WCW title, Brawl For All news, and more...
- Phil LaFon was released from his contract. Doug Furnas is still technically employed but they're working on terms for his release also, so that team is gone but may wind up in ECW.
- Shawn Michaels' friends are saying that his health is better than he's letting on and he'll be back in the ring sooner than people think.
- In an internet chat, Dan Severn was asked about his feelings on Ken Shamrock and basically flat out said that Shamrock is on steroids and that most bigger guys in wrestling are. Severn has always been outspoken against steroids and accused Shamrock of using them in their 1995 fight. Speaking of Shamrock, he still has an outstanding contract with UFC for the fight with Takada that never took place, so he is still contracted to fight again for UFC at some point, assuming WWF allows it.
- WWF developmental wrestler Andrew Martin missed a show recently because he was detained at the Canadian border over some past criminal issues still on his record.
- In the letters section, among a bunch of other stuff, some guy mentions that all wrestling fans need to go out and get a Nintendo 64 because this WCW vs. NWO World Tour game is amazing. True dat.
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