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June 22, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: WCW Great American Bash review, details on Karl Malone/WCw, tons more

A look at the upcoming Bash at the Beach with a Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman vs. Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone match, a review of WCW Great American Bash. plus tons more.

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 June 22, 1998

WCW GREAT AMERICAN BASH POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 22 (20.8%)

Thumbs down 77 (72.6%)

In the middle 7 (06.6%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Chris Benoit vs. Booker T 56

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero 15

Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho 14

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Hogan & Hart vs. Savage & Piper 42

Juventud Guerrera vs. Ron Reis 31

Randy Savage vs. Roddy Piper 20

 

Based on phone calls and fax messages to the Observer as of Tuesday 6/16. Statistical margin of error: +-100%

 

With the NBA playoffs having been concluded, WCW is expected to announce its 7/12 Bash at the Beach main event for San Diego as Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman vs. Karl Malone & Diamond Dallas Page.

While the match has largely been known as finalized for a few weeks now within the industry in some form, and pretty well known to include Page and not Randy Savage (as Hulk Hogan and company tried to get the original plan changed to) for the past week, it became something of a national media story on 6/13 when the Salt Lake City Tribune reported that Malone had signed the contract. It went reported throughout the world over the next day, and was in particular big news in Japan where both the NBA and pro wrestling is mainstream news. During the sixth, and what turned out to be the final game of this year's NBA playoffs pitting Rodman's Chicago Bulls and Malone's Utah Jazz, which as it turned out was going head-to-head with a WCW PPV show and was one of the highest rated NBA games in history, there was a scramble for a loose ball with Rodman and Malone winding up on the floor throwing elbows and NBC announcer Bob Costas made a remark about saving it for your bogus wrestling match, and then said that he didn't know why Malone would lower himself to participate in a pro wrestling match. Costas had been heavily critical for much of the series on Rodman, and on the game that followed last week's Nitro made several references to Rodman's traveling freak show.

This led to tremendous heat on Costas from pro wrestling fans with memories, since Costas was actually a wrestling fan in the territorial days of the Sam Muchnick promotion in St. Louis and attended many big events there. Later, when the WWF was getting the big national push, Costas not only did a shallow television special on pro wrestling and its fans (largely portraying fans as largely toothless trailer park trash) and doing Gene Okerlund-esque interviews with the wrestlers, but also served as the ring announcer for February 18, 1985 "War to Settle the Score" MTV special from Madison Square Garden which set up the angle for the first Wrestlemania. He also did several live radio broadcasts on KMOX with Dan Dierdorf of WWF house shows from St. Louis. By the late 80s as the boom began to wane, Costas begin distancing himself from pro wrestling and by the 1991 Persian Gulf war angle, was in the role as a former supporter who had become very critical of the company.

There were a lot of references during the week to Rodman receiving $250,000 for appearing on the 6/8 Nitro, a figure that was first released in the New York Times. Bulls players, when asked about his missing practice, stated that since he was fined reportedly $10,000 by the league and $5,000 by the team, that if he received $250,000 for doing the show, they considered it a smart business move rather than as the media wanted to portray it as someone in the middle of the playoffs blowing off practice because of a set of mistaken priorities. In actuality, that figure may not be accurate, and as the week went on, it became more apparent that the Nitro in Auburn Hills wasn't even the reason Rodman missed practice. The Salt Lake City Tribune stated Rodman wasn't being paid to do the Nitro because TNT wouldn't do something like that due to its NBA contract and that it was something that Rodman decided at the last minute to do after he already had decided to miss practice due to being out late the night before partying. There is some truth to at least part of it in that the practice was in the morning in Chicago, so he easily could have practiced and made it to Detroit in time for Nitro. However, Rodman had agreed to do the Nitro on 6/8 at least by 6/4. As far as the money discrepancy in the various stories, we're not sure what the truth is, but my feeling is something like this. Rodman had signed a deal last year to do three PPV shows, two of which he would wrestle in, for $750,000 per shot, and tied in with those PPV appearances were television appearances on Nitro to shoot angles to build up to those shows. It is believed that Rodman had two TV shots and one PPV left on the contract signed last year, and this was one of those shots. So you can consider the TV appearances and PPV as each being $250,000, or you can consider the PPV as $750,000 and the TV appearances as promotional work depending upon your point of view.

With all the media publicity nationally already announcing the match, WCW only barely got out of its tunnel vision dream world on the 6/15 Nitro. The company did acknowledge rumors and even mentioned the name Karl Malone and showed a photo of him, and also had Hogan say that he and Rodman were challenging Page to get any partner he wants for a tag match at Bash at the Beach. Page did an interview and hinted about rumors on the street, but never mentioned Malone by name. WCW was attempting to get Malone to appear on Nitro on 6/15 at the Nassau Coliseum, but that didn't materialize. It is now believed the announcement of the tag match will either take place on the 6/18 Thunder from Philadelphia if Malone appears on the show, or the 6/22 Nitro from Jacksonville, or if WCW can put this together and they are seriously working on it, on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno sometime this week if they can get Malone booked on the show. Although this is also not certain, it is believed some sort of an angle will take place on the 7/6 Georgia Dome Nitro where they will attempt to book both Rodman and Malone to appear. Malone, as mentioned earlier, is an avid pro wrestling fan and is personal friends with Page, and recently spent one hour on the phone with Bill Goldberg. His mother is also said to be an avid pro wrestling fan from years back.

Exactly what this means as far as buy rate goes is another story. With a ton of mainstream pub, actually more than for any WCW PPV in history, last year's Bash at the Beach featuring Rodman as a pro wrestler drew an 0.89 buy rate, which tied its third largest of the year trailing the Starrcade with Hogan vs. Sting and Halloween Havoc with Hogan vs. Roddy Piper. Rodman's other much-hyped appearance at Uncensored, in the corner of the NWO in a triangle team match, also drew an 0.89 buy rate. Usage of celebrities if they are big enough, and Rodman vs. Malone will be big enough to at least create curiosity, is a guarantee of mainstream media pub, but not necessarily a guarantee of profit on the show. Realistically, Rodman's price tag last year and the amount he drew was largely a wash, and he was a bigger media star last year than he is now, although he is hot coming off the playoffs once again. But even as a wash, he did get the WCW name over as a major brand name which has major residual effect down the line. However, in hindsight, PPV appearances last year by Reggie White and Kevin Greene from a box office standpoint had to be considered a failure, even though Greene was tremendous given his experience level as a performer (White was as bad as they come) as the Slamboree show built around the return of Ric Flair after being out of action for eight months and appearances by White and Greene drew an 0.60 buy rate, which was well below the company's monthly average without outside celebrities. There is no question in hindsight that the WWF's usage of Mike Tyson during the first part of this year was a huge success on many different levels, even if Tyson did even less as a performer than White. Malone's celebrity status is probably on a par with White and certainly ahead of Greene, but he on his own isn't going to mean anything for the buy rate, and it's only the idea of capturing people's imagination for him against Rodman where this may stand a chance.

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And now it's time to play Jeopardy. The answer is, the undercard was pretty good and the last few matches sucked. Who hit the buzzer first?

The latest version of your typical Sunday afternoon WCW event complete with Chris Benoit losing again, Hulk Hogan and his friends stinking up the joint again, and some real good wrestling and mind-blowing booking was the Great American Bash on 6/14 at the Baltimore Arena.

The show drew a sellout crowd of 12,810 (11,061 paying $289,345 plus $102,880 in merchandise). In this case, the live crowd hurt the show. The crowd was really into the Chris Benoit vs. Booker T opener, a late addition to determine who would get the title shot later in the show at WCW TV champion David Finlay. Benoit, a prototype of the no-nonsense super worker that gets over better in Baltimore than most cities (not that he doesn't get a good reaction everywhere these days), was with the exception of Bill Goldberg, the wrestler with the biggest fan reaction on the show. And when he lost again on a night everyone felt he'd finally get his due, it took the crowd right out of the show. Poor Chris Kanyon and Perry Saturn couldn't do a thing no matter how hard they worked to get anyone to care. And after an absolute fiasco with Ron Reis vs. Juventud Guerrera, the crowd turned on the show to the point where Eddie and Chavo Guerrero Jr. and even Finlay and Booker T worked solid matches to boring and worse chants. The crowd exploded for the 2:00 Goldberg show, until going back in the toilet for a legends tag team match billed as the main event with Hogan & Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper & Randy Savage that was even worse then expected, and followed with a Piper vs. Savage encounter that served little purpose, and a Sting vs. Giant match which would have been acceptable in the middle of the card but in the anchor position ended the show with an initial babyface pop, but with an overall flat feeling.

Flat is probably the best way to describe the Bash as a show. While still thriving off the momentum created as interest in the company was on the ascension until two months ago, it is clear again that the future demands some major changes. The answer is relatively easy and initially will be painful. The old guard needs to pass the torch to the new guard. Business will go down initially, but as with the WWF, in the long run the face of the product will be fresh. It was funny seeing just before the main event that Jurassic Park sign regarding Hogan & Hart vs. Piper & Savage air because the director thought it was a positive sign, not realizing the sign emphasized the growing feeling that the wrestlers on the top of the promotion were dinosaurs. You could probably write a book, and someday someone might, just on how anyone could pay Bret Hart so much money and use him so poorly, but while his short-term money is with Hogan and that can't be thrown away, by being positioned in the dinosaur match, he clearly in the eyes of the fans became one of the dinosaurs. In addition, the announcing on this show was weaker then the wrestling. Bobby Heenan had his worst show in a long time, adding nothing, making his usual dated references while Tony Schiavone and Mike Tenay simply said nothing, even in situations that demanded a storyline. For instance, at the beginning of the show, Schiavone mentioned something about Baltimore being synonymous with the Great American Bash, but then never said why. Tenay gave virtually no background on anything or anyone, which is largely what he's there for. Having him shill for things like Hogan & Hart teaming together for the first time (actually they had teamed together twice previously in recent weeks) and Goldberg's 100th win took an edge off both matches as if everything is a fraud and nothing matters, which is true, but not the reaction you want to give your audience while watching a show they are supposed to take seriously, especially since someday they'll need that credibility to get over an angle. The whole Malenko giving back the belt on Thursday was never explained with any logic (not that there is anyone who could come up with the logic to explain it), and while it's WCW's style to try and build surprises on television the next night, the befuddled announcers inability to explain the status of the belt due to the DQ made the company and announcers look like this whole company is something where rules are put together and changed whenever is convenient, which again is the case, but not something you want to have the audience believe. The entire Juventud Guerrera vs. Ron Reis thing has been a horrible idea from the start, and putting Juvi over in a match where Reis sold nothing but a low blow, visually exposed him like he's never been exposed before, never took one bump and lost because someone else hit him with a chair isn't doing any favors for the most charismatic undercard guy in the company right now. When seeing the ridiculous size difference, which was even more pronounced than one would think and mentioned by Tenay as the biggest size discrepancy in a singles match ever in wrestling (he forgot to mention that it was also the biggest talent discrepancy in a singles match ever in wrestling), it begged for a tale of the tape. But in typical wrestling fashion, they couldn't get that right because nobody wanted to say just how small Juvi is even though right there before your eyes he's looking like he's 3-foot-9 because the other guy is so large. Pushing Reis as his real height of 7-2 only made things silly when Giant, who is two or three inches shorter and seeing them in the same ring on the same night made that pretty evident, came on later in the show and they had to push him as 7-4. There was so much that could have been said about Chavo vs. Eddie, but all we got was the same nephew vs. uncle who grew up as brothers and are two years apart in age story that has been told since this feud started. Goldberg's 100th win came off badly because it was never acknowledged during the show literally until Goldberg went in the ring when it should have been mentioned in the open. However, maybe nobody wanted to emphasize it since such a large percentage of fans recognized what a fraud that 100 turned out to be when WCW simply stopped counting when Goldberg hit 99 despite him wrestling five matches since that time because in its ability to swing and miss when home run pitches are lobbed into them, WCW was totally unprepared when it came to booking Goldberg as he reached the century mark. The less said at this point about Piper the better. Suffice to say that his role should be to come back every few months and do his commissioner role on interviews to help get someone else's angle over, and build to one referee appearance or mid-card grudge match on a PPV every year and special appearances when Nitro is in a city like New York and Boston where he has a history. He can only kill shows in the ring and do angles nobody will care about when pushed as a headliner nowadays. And while there is quite a bit of mileage left in Hogan, and a little bit left in Savage, the days of them going against each other and or Piper to headline are over. WCW would be better off starting now to prepare for life after them, and I don't mean replace the 45-year-old guys with the 40-year-old guys who are backing them up that have always failed when given the ball in the past, but by elevating the 25 and 30-year-old guys who some might argue aren't ready from a personality standpoint (although that isn't even close to the case anymore) but if put in position will be ready shortly, rather than what appears to be the strategy of trying to ride some aged broken down horses that drew big money in their time when preparing for the 1999 Kentucky Derby. Savage's real only value today is in the role Terry Funk played for years in ECW, in that he was linked with people in order to get the rub from his credibility and make them into genuine stars at least within their world to carry the company, like Public Enemy, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, Cactus Jack and Shane Douglas all got. He should be doing programs where he trades wins, but does clean jobs to them to elevate them, against the likes of Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and even Eddie Guerrero to build for the future. He did that effectively with Page last year and elevated Page to stardom but again the problem was he created another 43-year-old star.

The situation with Savage is that they did the two match finishes with him submitting both times and the angle the next night in New York where the camera missed Eric Bischoff destroying his knee with a chair to set up his undergoing the reconstructive knee surgery that he's been needing sometime this week in Colorado and he's expected to be out of action until Starrcade. The decision to undergo the surgery made the decision on whether to put Savage or Page into the Rodman match and whether or not to turn Savage to the black and white group into a moot point. The only major show that Savage had been announced in a key role was the 7/10 show at the Forum in Los Angeles where he was to meet Hogan for the title in a cage match. It is believed the show will be changed to Hogan vs. Sting in a cage for the title, and Hart, who was to wrestle Sting, will instead wrestle Benoit which I believe would be a first time ever match-up. The Elizabeth role will not be so much to antagonize Savage, but to create the impression that Bischoff is doing her, an idea that WWF will also run with as an apparent copy alluding to Sable doing whatever it was to get her job back.

1. Booker T (Booker Huffman) pinned Chris Benoit in 16:20 to earn a TV title shot later in the show. This marked Benoit's fifth straight loss on PPV, and seven of his last eight PPV matches. It's all a work that nobody should complain about doing jobs when they are being treated fairly, but it's pretty bad when the guys who complain about doing jobs simply never do them, and the guys who are brought up in the business not to complain get abused for it. They were pushing that T was going into the bad with a bad knee. The crowd popped big for Benoit's hard chops. The wrestling was crisp and solid but nothing spectacular and somewhat of a slower-pace than their TV matches. This series has done wonders for Booker T as far as gaining respect as a top worker and started weak but gained momentum, but this climactic PPV match was no better than several of their television matches. That isn't a knock, because most of their matches were very good. It picked up at the end with Benoit using a superplex off the top rope and a rolling german suplex, followed by a dragon suplex which got a huge pop when T kicked out as fans really thought it was the finish. Benoit used a head-butt off the top for a near fall. T came back with kicks both in the front and back of the head to set up with missile dropkick finisher. ***1/2

2. Chris Kanyon (Chris Klucsaritis) pinned Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo) in 14:46. This was a hard match for the wrestlers, although both did a very good job. A guy dressed in a Mortis costume came out, which allowed Kanyon to sneak in the ring behind Saturn and attack him. It's clear that nobody cares about Kanyon yet, and they did them no favors by leaving them flat when Benoit lost in the opener. Kanyon invented all sorts of moves and executed them well, although both showed inexperience in transitions. They were also out there for too long because the crowd really quit caring about them 8:00 in, and since there was no familiarity yet with all the new moves they invented, they didn't really react well to them. It's also pretty clear that if Kanyon was positioned as a major leaguer, he could grow into a player. Billy Kidman was at ringside, and Scotty Riggs and Horace Boulder soon followed, along with Lodi who came out with Saturn. As the Flock attacked Kanyon outside the ring, Saturn took them all out with a tope and Kanyon took a hard guard rail shot. Saturn superplexed Kanyon in from the apron while standing on the middle ropes. Saturn then used what was almost a bridging sleeper hold but again the lack of familiarity by the crowd meant they didn't understand what he was doing. Saturn did a great springboard off a chair into a dropkick into the corner. Saturn then used the Sabu Triple Jump moonsault, at which point Schiavone and Heenan basically killed their credibility with 10% of the audience saying they had never seen that move in their lives, when it's the trademark move done in every match (and sometimes several times in every match) by a guy who has been a top star in the business now for three years and even had a cup of coffee once with their company. Saturn tried a slingshot move into the ring from the apron but was caught in mid-air by Kanyon with a Northern Lights suplex. Kanyon did a flapjack off a fireman's carry for a near fall and a move very close to a diamond cutter off a torture rack for another near fall. Saturn his a half nelson german suplex and a side kick. Both tumbled to the floor after fighting on the ropes. At this point, the Mortis who was in the ring introductions showed up (it may have been Dale Torborg but I'm not sure), along with a second shorter Mortis that was clearly Raven. Raven Mortis knocked the other Mortis, who we'll call Rigor for the lack of a name, outside the ring. The crowd was totally dead for the run-ins. While this was going on, Kanyon hit Saturn with a reverse Russian leg sweep for the win. After the match Raven Mortis DDT's the original Kanyon Mortis on the floor, and unmasked revealing Raven. Raven started browbeating Saturn on the mic for losing, then as Saturn glared at him, he started to apologize. At this point Kidman, Riggs and Lodi came out to do their usual incompetent run-in, and Raven changed his tune and began yelling at Saturn again. Saturn jumped him, and the Flock and Raven attacked Saturn. Somehow Raven disappeared, allowing Saturn to make his own comeback by suplexing Kidman and Riggs and superkicking Lodi out of the ring. **1/2

3. Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) beat Dean Malenko via DQ in 13:52 for the vacant WCW cruiserweight title that Malenko gave back for absolutely no reason three days earlier. Malenko was really aggressive early. They did a weird spot that was over the heads of the audience where Jericho did a "fake" Ray Stevens bump into the corner to make Malenko think he was hurt, Malenko charged but Jericho moved but Malenko stopped short on the charge. Well executed match with good build and psychology but it never came close to the level you'd expect from these two. At one point Jericho got away from a Super gut buster attempt and wound up doing a Frankensteiner off the top and then went for a boston crab. When Malenko reached the rope, the crowd popped big, showing just how over the finishing moves are for these guys who actually beat each other with their finishes. Jericho tried a Lion tamer, but they did a triple reverse spot spot winding up with Malenko getting the Texas cloverleaf on but Jericho got the ropes. After a double arm backbreaker by Jericho, there was actually the start of a groundswell of crowd reaction for Jericho. Jericho then got Malenko in the corner and said something about him being nothing, just like his dead father. Malenko went nuts, choking Jericho and threw him out of the ring and hit him with a weak chair shot for the DQ finish. After all the stuff that takes place on WCW PPV shows, to call a DQ for a weak chair blow really took the match down. They announced on television the next day that the DQ was called because Malenko threw down ref Charles Robinson. The two ended up brawling to the back, although brawling would be too strong of a word for what they were doing and waltzing would be a little too weak. Basically Malenko dragged him to the back, a few punches were thrown back and forth but not many, they wound up outside the building where Malenko rammed Jericho into a corner mailbox. At this point Doug Dillenger stopped Malenko while Jericho ran across the street, which was hilarious because cars were actually coming, and into a building. Schiavone said something about how Dillenger had to stop it because they were brawling too close to traffic, like it's okay to do a street fight otherwise. ***

4. Juventud Guerrera (Anibal Gonzalez) beat Ron Reis in 8:45. Before the match they showed a Juvi video of him walking up steps. Nobody had any clue why or what it was supposed to signify. The only guess is they're trying to get him over as a pretty boy for little girls, although there was nothing that even hinted of that. Since there seemed to be implicit instructions as to not mention the size difference other than there was one, this was probably the biggest size difference for a singles match in the history of pro wrestling, probably 21 inches in height (7-2 to 5-5) and maybe 220 pounds in weight (380 to 160). And it looked even worse than it sounded. Juvi looked like a mosquito (which, by the way, is his gimmick) going against a giraffe. Except you might be able to train a giraffe to do a good dropkick. Reis destroyed him except for two low blows, and eventually Juvi was knocked almost out and he had to drag himself up hanging onto ref Charles Robinson's shirt. At this point Van Hammer showed up and clocked Reis with a chair and Juvi did a huracanrana that Reis totally messed up for the pin. This is probably the single worst match Guerrera will ever be in. -*

5. Chavo Guerrero Jr. (Salvador Guerrero III) pinned Eddie Guerrero in 14:46. Very well wrestled but no real heat. This is another feud that makes no sense. Eddie, who is one of the best wrestlers in the business, is afraid to fight his crazy nephew who on television gets squashed still by everyone. Eddie was backdropped and his shoulder scraped on the ringpost and was cut open. Chavo did some nice spots building to a moonsault block. Eddie took over working on Chavo's knee. After a dropkick to the knee, Heenan said it reminded him of Theismann's leg. How many years ago was that? At this point the crowd started chanting boring, but Eddie got up and acted like an orchestra conductor leading the chants as he must have been pissed. Eddie put Chavo on his shoulder with the old Bruno Sammartino backbreaker and spun him around like a whirley-bird. Chavo came back with this incredible twisting dive over the top. At that point came loud "We Want Flair" chants. The announcers didn't acknowledge the chants although what could they have said? Chavo did a springboard bulldog for a near fall. Eddie came back but missed a frog splash. Chavo went for his swinging tornado DDT but instead Eddie tried to throw him over the top rope out of it with the end result that Eddie got hot shotted on the top rope. Chavo then springboarded off the ropes into another swinging DDT ala Shinjiro Otani for the pin. They had about 3:00 cut from the match very late so a lot of what they were building up for never materialized and they had to rush into the finish. ***

6. T pinned David Finlay in 13:13 to win the WCW TV title. Crowd was still dead for this one although again very good work. Fans didn't want to see T again and pretty well took it out on this match. Most of the match saw Finlay work on T's left leg. His offense was solid and T's selling was great, but it was a 70s style match so it was too slow paced even though the work was good. As it went on, there were more loud boring chants. T made a comeback and hit the most awesome ax kick to date, but as he did his breakdance spot to his feet, Finlay cut him off with a clothesline. Finlay went for the tombstone piledriver, and T was supposed to reverse it and score the pin, but T couldn't pull the move off and dropped him as his low back couldn't pick up the weight. They did a few impromptu spots before T used a regular piledriver and got the pin. Finish and crowd really hurt what was a well-worked match. **1/4

7. Bill Goldberg (Scott Goldberg) pinned Konnan (Charles Ashenoff) in 1:57 to retain the U.S. title. Goldberg got the most enthusiastic ring entrance this side of Antonio Inoki. Same match we've seen about 99 times but the reactions to it keep getting bigger. There was a lot of heat stemming from the changing of the original finish. Curt Hennig was unhappy because the real heat for him was to be the guy who screwed Goldberg on his 100th win and he had major words with Eric Bischoff regarding both this and his interview on Thunder being canceled a few days earlier. Kevin Nash was unhappy because it was his idea that was accepted, and then later overruled. Anyway, Hennig and Rick Rude jumped Konnan after the match and Hennig pulled off his red and black t-shirt to reveal underneath it a white-and-black version. Well, that's two more turns for this week that nobody cares about. Kevin Nash and Lex Luger ran in to make the save. 1/2*

8. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) & Bret Hart beat Roddy Piper (Roderick Tombs) & Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) in 11:40. Piper got the weakest entrance reaction I've seen for him in years, and Baltimore should be a big Piper town. While Piper & Savage got separate introductions, Hart came out to Hogan's music. It was terrible. Hogan worked the first 6:28 before tagging out, and it wasn't like Hart did much either. The ONLY good thing in the match was a spot where Hart went to do a head-butt to Piper's stomach and Savage put a chair over Piper's stomach and Hart head-butted the chair. Piper was mainly worked on from that point until Savage hot tagged, with Hogan & Hart trying to feed him and not looking good in doing so. Savage went to the top rope, but fell off, selling that his knee had given out. Hogan then wrapped the knee around the ringpost, and Hart put him in the sharpshooter for the submission. DUD

9. Piper beat Savage in 1:37. Gene Okerlund entered the ring as Piper acted as if he didn't want to wrestle Savage since Savage was "injured" on the finish. Savage then jumped Piper and the match started. Savage actually dropped the elbow on Piper but sold the knee again, and by the time he crawled over, Piper kicked out of the pin. No heat at all even for that spot. Savage attacked ref Charles Robinson. Piper used a low blow and put Savage in the figure four and Mickey Jay ran in and called for the submission. DUD

10. Sting (Steve Borden) pinned The Giant (Paul Wight) in 6:40 to win both tag team titles. Giant came out smoking a cigarette because Sting did an interview last week talking about Giant spending all day smoking and being so out of shape. He wore a t-shirt over his regular ring outfit, I guess because he was subconscious about being out of shape. Anyway, Giant may no longer be the world's biggest wrestler, but he's still probably the world's biggest chain smoker. Sting started out fast but Giant met him with a boot as he tried a second Stinger splash in the corner. Giant pressed Sting overhead and dropped him on the top rope similar to Kevin Nash's old snake eyes move. He held Sting in a long bearhug, which was amazing since they were doing such a short match. Sting came back with a dropkick to the knee and two Stinger splashes to set up the bodyslam. Sting used the scorpion deathlock but Giant powered out of it. He then used the reverse DDT (scorpion death drop) twice but Giant kicked out of both. Giant tried a choke slam but Sting kicked him low to stop the move. Finally Sting used a reverse DDT off the ropes and got the pin, and they announced that he would announce who his partner was on television the next day. *1/4

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Kenta Kobashi surprisingly ended Toshiaki Kawada's six-week reign as Triple Crown champion, capturing the belt for a second time on 6/12 at Tokyo's Budokan Hall before a near sellout crowd of 15,000 fans.

The result makes sense to a degree since Kobashi did a job in a tag team title match on 6/5 where he and Johnny Ace lost when challenging Kawada & Akira Taue, with Taue being the one to score the pin on Kobashi. This seemingly sets up a Kobashi vs. Taue Triple Crown title match for 7/24 at Budokan Hall.

Kobashi captured the title in 33:49 with a lariat and pin in a match said to be great. It was Kobashi's second title reign having previously held the title enroute to winning the Observer's Wrestler of the Year Award in 1996, winning the belt July 24, 1996 from Akira Taue at Budokan Hall and holding it until January 20, 1997 when he lost to Mitsuharu Misawa in their Match of the Year candidate in Osaka.

The title change won't air on television until 6/21. We don't have much in the way of details on the match other than there were a few storylines built into it to make Kobashi an underdog and create the idea he was going to lose. Kobashi's right knee went out during the tour, which was publicized to the point it was said Kobashi needed to take more than a month off, but in fact, actually didn't miss a match. In addition, in a six-man tag on 6/9 in Aomori, Kobashi was dropped on his head by Kawada and knocked out and carried out on a stretcher, although he still wrestled in the main event the next night on tour.

Kawada had captured the title on 5/1 at the Tokyo Dome from Misawa in the biggest match in the history of the All Japan company. After scoring what would be the biggest win of his career, it was somewhat of a surprise that All Japan would drop Kawada as champion so quickly. It appears the long-term plans were changed when this current tour, which ended on 6/12, was the poorest drawing tour in the history of the company, largely due to Misawa missing the tour resting up assorted injuries to his back, neck, both knees and hand. The feeling is that even though Kawada has been a main line player in the company for about a decade and one of the two or three best wrestlers in the world over that time period, that the popular wrestlers in the company who are drawing cards are believed to be Misawa and Kobashi. Although Kawada will always be kept strong and probably have other title reigns in the future, it now appears the company has accepted him as something like a Sting or a Tatsumi Fujinami, in that they can be hot attractions in challengers roles and near the top, but when it comes time to carry the promotion, for whatever psychological reason it is, such as perhaps failing to win the big one so often that fans don't accept them as the top star, it just doesn't work when they are the champion.

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The 6/8 ratings race saw the current pattern continue with Raw winning a close battle, its third straight win and fourth over the last five weeks with the other show being basically a tie on a show which not so coincidentally enough saw both companies end up with battles inside a cage with a top on it.

Raw from San Antonio did a 4.32 rating (4.09 first hour; 4.55 second hour) and a 6.91 share. Nitro from the Nassau Coliseum, which broke the building's all-time record gate and would have been the sixth largest gate ever for pro wrestling in the state of New York did a 4.03 rating (3.83 first hour; 4.08 second hour; 4.18 third hour) and 6.79 share. The Nitro replay did a 1.4 rating and 6.1 share.

WCW set the building record drawing $426,105 on 13,381 paid and a sellout 14,254 in the building, breaking the record of $414,865 on 16,585 paid set at Wrestlemania II headlined live by Mr. T vs. Piper and on the big screen from Los Angeles by Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy. With the exception of the August 8, 1980 Shea Stadium show headlined by Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko ($541,730), it was the largest non-PPV gate in the history of New York state (and last week when writing about the MSG crowd being the largest non-PPV gate in the U.S. in the history of the WWF we were mistaken and left out the Shea Stadium show). In addition, they did a whopping $187,163 in merchandise, or $13.53 per paying customer, more than half of which was Red & Black Wolfpac stuff and Goldberg merchandise accounted for some $55,000.

For WCW's first show in the New York City market in two years, it had to overall be a disappointment as a show even though the early crowd reaction and the fact they sold the building out in just a few minutes is a big positive. From live reports, the crowd was heavily early 20s white males and seemed different from a WWF crowd and closer to an ECW crowd. The sound system was terrible, with most of the interviews seemingly impossible to hear, and since the show was largely interviews (57 minutes of wrestling in three hours), it didn't make for a good live show. There were complaints about no video wall airing the matches as well. The crowd was far more into the interviews with former WWF stars, Hogan, Nash, Savage and Piper (Page also got a good reaction on his interview), all of whom were basically kissing up to the New York fans in their interviews to get easy heat. It was said backstage Bischoff was all too aware in thinking it was becoming too much of a talk show with not enough wrestling. But it was strange because there were complaints about long periods without any wrestling, but the crowd reaction to the actual wrestling matches was weak, in that way being more like a WWF crowd. Nash & Sting got big reactions for their interview, but when Sting announced Nash as his new championship tag team partner the reaction was a huge disappointment, and that continued during their tag title match against Harlem Heat. Ditto Page, Savage and Piper getting huge reactions for their interview, with Piper getting the best reaction of anyone on the show although Wolfpac merchandise dominated, and the crowd reaction to the cage match was almost an embarrassment live. Approximately 500 to 1,000 fans left just as the match started, and those who stayed appeared to have little caring for the match as chants of "ECW," "We Want Flair" and "Goldberg" dominated the match, which wasn't very good although what can you expect from Savage because of his knee these days? It appeared the most over personalities were the two who weren't there, Flair, a lot of which was precipitated by Benoit holding up four fingers, and Goldberg, whose mother went in for surgery after breaking her hip and he flew to Miami to be with her and missed the show, an unfortunate circumstance that nobody should be blamed for but fans were still unhappy, particularly since a lot of the local promotion including a huge story in New York's leading Jewish community newspaper, was built around his New York debut.

The consensus was that Raw was the better show, particularly down the stretch. How both companies head-to-head had cages with tops on them is one of life's great mysteries, but clearly that was no coincidence. One company found out about what the other was doing and decided to copy, with the belief being that one company found out from the building workers who got the advance word a cage would be set up in the building at the other show. The best theories on this are that either Dusty Rhodes, who has been largely writing the television (before Hogan and Bischoff revise everything) for the past three weeks (and he's the subject of a lot of finger pointing being the ratings results these past three weeks), somehow found out what WWF was planning for San Antonio since they needed advance set up for that big cage, or WWF was tipped off by a member of the union crew at the Nassau Coliseum. We do know that Rhodes was the one who ordered the cage for Nassau and it was largely a secret from even the bookers and the rest of the production crew that didn't find out until it was set up the day of the show.

Raw promised a Hell in the Cell cage match with Undertaker & Steve Austin vs. Kane & Mankind throughout the show, and again, failed to deliver, although the show had a spectacular finish with Undertaker destroying Paul Bearer inside the cage with graphic close-ups of Bearer's bloody face, while at the same time Austin and Kane were pounding on each other at the top of the cage as the show went off the air. Nitro hyped and delivered Diamond Dallas Page vs. Randy Savage with Roddy Piper as referee in a smaller cage with a top on it, which wound up with the NWO Hollywood getting the cage to raise and once they all ran in, having it lowered and destroying all three, doing the angle to put Savage on the shelf. Raw won that quarter by a close margin, scoring a 4.60 rating in 3,382,000 homes to Nitro's 4.42 rating in 3,235,000 homes (actually Raw had a 5.9 rating for its three-minute over-run after Nitro had gone off the air), closer that it probably should have been considering how the live crowd didn't care about Savage vs. Page Because of the ebb-and-flow in ratings, comparing quarter-by-quarter this week is necessary to tell the story since Nitro won three of the eight quarters and basically so many of the decisions on who gets how much air time, particularly in the WWF, is done by these comparisons. Raw won the first quarter by a whopping 5.0 (McMahon, Sable, Austin, Undertaker, Bearer interview) to 3.3 (Piper interview and Chono & Tenzan vs. High Voltage; Nitro rebounded to a 4.1 (Wolfpac interview, Kanyon vs. Sick Boy) to 4.0 (Vader vs. Maivia) lead and remained on top with a 4.6 (Rude & Hennig interview; Dillon giving Jericho the belt and Jericho-Malenko brawl) to 3.4 (Jarrett vs. Drozdov, Venis vs. Chainz) and the hour ended with Nitro dropping to a 4.2 (Giant vs. Adams and Hogan & Bischoff interview) and Raw raising to a 4.1 (Undertaker interview; Mero vs. Runnels). Raw dominated the second hour, with a 4.4 (X-Pac vs. HHH) to 4.3 (Sting & Nash interview and beginning of match vs. Heat), a 4.5 (Snow-Lawler angle, Austin interview, Severn & Shamrock vs. Hart & Henry) to 4.0 (end of Sting & Nash vs. Heat; Bischoff & Steiner interview) and 4.4 (beginning of tag team Royal Rumble) to 4.1 (beginning of Savage vs. Page cage match).

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ECW, which should make it official this week that its 8/2 Heat Wave PPV show will be from Hara Arena in Dayton, OH, should also finalize this week that it will be running six PPV events in 1999.

The 8/2 event has three matches finalized, Taz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow as the main event, Justin Credible vs. Jerry Lynn in a match with stipulations to be determined but the one most likely is it'll be a 30:00 Iron man match (most falls in 30 minutes determines the winner) and Chris Candido vs. Lance Storm. Two other matches are pretty much definite as well, with Tommy Dreamer & Sandman & Spike Dudley vs. Buh Buh Ray & D-Von & Big Dick Dudley in their usual bloody brawl, and New Jack vs. Jack Victory. The other main match will be Sabu & Rob Van Dam against Masato Tanaka and a partner who has yet to be confirmed, although Paul Heyman is working on bringing in Hayabusa for the spot.

ECW has yet to put together a show that really clicked on PPV since its first Barely Legal event. Since that time the shows have been marred by poor lighting, weak crowd reactions and inconsistent and often very bad wrestling when ECW is taken out of its element, which is a weekly 60 minute pre-edited television show and its wrestlers are taken out of their element from their usual house shows where they can just brawl in the crowd when the in-ring action starts lagging.

By booking Dayton, a city ECW has never run, the crowd reaction problem should be alleviated since ECW usually gets its best crowd reactions the first time it hits a market with a hungry spiked up audience. Most of the matches announced look on paper to be above average. The six-man is a patterned brawl that works live because everyone knows their spots. New Jack vs. Jack Victory looks on paper to be the biggest challenge. Taz vs. Bigelow should be at least a decent match and Lynn vs. Credible is the best match ECW has put on consistently all year, although having them go 30:00 is a risk because there are really only a few performers in the business who can produce a better match in 30:00 than 20:00 and both Lynn and Credible are totally untested in that realm. Heyman's major mistake on PPV shows has been in putting two wrestlers who are good athletes but not experienced at doing long television matches on long PPV matches where they start missing spots and the matches fall apart, with Rob Van Dam's matches with both Sabu and Too Cold Scorpio both bouts that would have been a lot better kept to 12:00 than dragged out to try and give them the chance to do a four-star match, but expose again that they aren't as good as their press. Sabu & Van Dam, if going against Hayabusa & Tanaka, again puts them in a position where they are being given the chance to steal the show. Tanaka, who starts as a regular in ECW at the end of the month, is probably the most solid worker in the company, and Hayabusa has improved greatly over the last year as an all-around worker and is a flier of the level that it should motivate Sabu & Van Dam to be at their best just to keep up with the standard.

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In a match that was never supposed to take place, Bill Goldberg pinned Sting in about 3:00 in the main event on 6/13 in Pittsburgh at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

The match took place as a last minute idea, largely approved by Sting, to save the show when Sting's scheduled opponent, The Giant, no-showed the main event. Giant's plane out of Buffalo was canceled. Actually he was booked on an early flight, changed it to a later flight, but there was a lot of heat for him missing the show being that even when the flight was canceled, he was only a two-and-a-half to three hour drive away and would have made the show with plenty of time to spare but didn't do so.

After four consecutive sellouts of the 6,700-seat arena, WCW for some reason booked a terrible line-up (Chris Adams vs. Barry Darsow, Marty Jannetty vs. Scotty Riggs, A Lucha Libre tag match, Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Billy Kidman, Public Enemy vs. High Voltage, Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho, Booker T vs. Chris Benoit and Goldberg vs. Konnan. With the advance poor, the decision was made to add Sting vs. Giant to the show as mentioned here previously.

Even with that addition, the paid attendance was only 3,608 fans paying $71,784. The decision was made, which from most accounts saved the show, to have Goldberg beat Konnan in about 30 seconds and then issue a challenge to Sting under the guise that he's also a Wolfpac member. Sting accepted and just as the match started, Kidman, Riggs and Darsow hit the ring and Sting and Goldberg together cleared the ring of them. As Sting dispatched one of them, he turned around right into the tackle, and Goldberg pinned him with the jackhammer to a huge pop, a loss Sting volunteered to take.

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This is the third issue of the current four-issue set. If you've got a (1) on your address label, it means your Observer subscription expires next week.

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Upcoming shows covered will be 6/28 WWF King of the Ring, 7/12 WCW Bash at the Beach, 7/26 WWF In Your House, 8/2 ECW Heat Wave, 8/7 K-1 (option seven only, will be up only one day), 8/8 New Japan Osaka Dome (option five only, available about 2 p.m. Eastern time on 8/8), 8/8 WCW Road Wild and 8/30 WWF SummerSlam.

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MAJOR EVENTS CALENDAR 6/19 TO 7/19

6/19 WWF Houston Compaq Center (Austin vs. Helmsley)

6/20 WWF Oklahoma City Myriad Center (Austin vs. Helmsley)

6/20 USWF Amarillo Fairgrounds Arena (Tanner vs. Castillo)

6/20 RINGS Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Kohsaka vs. Kenichi Yamamoto)

6/20 All Japan Women Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center (Toyota vs. Hotta)

6/21 WCW Richmond, VA Coliseum (Sting vs. Giant)

6/21 Pancrase Kobe Fashion Mart Atrium (Mezger vs. Schiltt)

6/22 WCW Nitro Jacksonville, FL Coliseum

6/23 Memphis Power Pro Memphis Mid South Coliseum (Lawler vs. Kane)

6/24 KRS Pride Three Tokyo Budokan Hall (Takada vs. Sturgeon)

6/24 WCW Thunder Orlando, FL Arena

6/27 ECW Philadelphia ECW Arena

6/27 RINGS Tokyo Bay NK Hall (Tamura vs. Kohsaka)

6/27 WWF Boston Fleet Center (Austin & Undertaker & LOD vs. Helmsley & Outlaws & Kane)

6/28 WWF King of the Ring PPV Pittsburgh Civic Arena (Austin vs. Kane)

6/28 New Japan Nagano Big Hut Winter Olympic Hall

6/29 WCW Nitro Tampa, FL Ice Palace

6/29 WWF Raw is War/Shotgun tapings Cleveland Gund Arena

6/30 WWF Raw is War/Shotgun tapings State College, PA Brice Jordan Center

7/2 WCW Thunder Columbus, GA Civic Center

7/2 WWF Winnipeg, MB Arena (Austin vs. Maivia)

7/4 WWF Vancouver, BC General Motors Place (Austin vs. Maivia)

7/4 Fuyuki Gun Nagoya City Gymnasium (Fuyuki & Kanemura vs. Onita & Hayabusa)

7/6 WCW Nitro Atlanta Georgia Dome (Hogan vs. Goldberg)

7/7 Pancrase Neo Blood tournament Tokyo Korakuen Hall

7/8 WCW Thunder Birmingham, AL BJCC

7/9 IWA Great Kabuki Retirement show Tokyo Korakuen Hall

7/10 WCW Los Angeles Great Western Forum (Hogan vs. Savage)

7/12 WCW Bash at the Beach PPV San Diego Cox Arena (Hogan & Rodman vs. Page & Malone)

7/13 WCW Nitro Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena

7/13 WWF Raw is War/Shotgun tapings East Rutherford, NJ Continental Airlines Arena

7/14 WWF Raw is War/Shotgun tapings Landover, MD U.S. Air Arena

7/14 New Japan Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center (Fujinami vs. Tenzan)

7/15 New Japan Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center (Chono & Tenzan vs. Tenryu & Koshinaka)

7/15 All Japan Osaka Furitsu Gym

7/16 WCW Thunder Oakland, CA Coliseum Arena

7/18 K-1 Dream '98 Nagoya Dome (Aerts vs. Filho)

7/19 All Japan Niigata City Gymnasium

 

RESULTS

 

6/5 Yorktown Heights, NY (New Breed Wrestling - 1,200): H.C. Loc b Chip Stetson, Bud Liscious b Rodney Allen, John Diamond DDQ Tony DeVito, King Kong Bundy b Danger, Roughhouse Ralph & Mike Bell b J.W. Storm & Latin Lover, Chainz (WWF) b Primo Carnera III, Tito Santana b Johnny Kain, Kenny Casanova won Battle Royal

6/6 Lubbock, TX (World Ultimate Shootfighting Federation - 350): John Turner b Javier Buentello, Jeff Lindsey b Luis Sanchez, Ken Coleman b Chris Lutrell, WUSF womens lightweight title: Tina Fellabaum b Diedre McCann-DQ, Heavyweight tournament: Arturo Arcos b Aaron St. Louis, Brandon McDowell b Michael Birchfield, Jason Burkhalter b James Martel, Craig Zelmar b Joe Fraley, McDowell b Zelmar, McDowell b Arcos to win title, WUSF lt. hwt title: Jesse Gonzalez b Juan Hernandez

6/6 Rocky Mount, NC (NWA All-Star Wrestling): Dango Nguyen won elimination match, Billy Black b David Jerrico, Border Patrol b Madd Maxx & Fly High Eddie, Tatanka b Mr. Hughes, Rock & Roll Express b Bushwhackers

6/6 Duson, LA (Southern Championship Wrestling - 230): Dapper Dan d Amos Moses, The Grappler (Len Denton) b Bill Irwin, Moses & Debbie Combs b Dan & Robbie Rage, Joey Comeaux b Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy b Grappler

6/6 Simi Valley, CA (IWF): Kimera b Guerrero Azteca, Lucky Pierre b Tel Aviv Terror, Lil Haystacks b Bobby Bradley Jr., Larry Doyle & Richard Wadd won tag team tournament, Kyle Haystacks b Perro Ruso

6/7 Grand Rapids, MI (WCW - 8,626): WCW TV title: David Finlay b Mike Enos, Brian Adams b Hugh Morrus, Barbarian b Jim Duggan, Psicosis & Juventud Guerrera b Damian & Norman Smiley, WCW cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko b Chris Jericho, U.S. title: Bill Goldberg b Perry Saturn, Kevin Nash b Diamond Dallas Page, Sting b The Giant

6/7 Brisbane, Australia (RINGS): Shiro Temma b Kevin Thomson, Colin Turnbull b Maynard Marcum, Barnie Cook b Steve Farnell, Pat Couran b Sean Price, Leigh Brein d Sam Koch, Ryan Henry b Dominique Deligny, Christopher Hazemann b Kenichi Yamamoto, Daniel Bond b Dean Lawler

6/7 Delcambre, LA (Southern Championship Wrestling - 600): Dapper Dan b Rebel Warrior, Bubba Monroe b Derrick Lee, Debbie Combs b Robbie Rage, Amos Moses b Bill Irwin, Terry Gordy & Michael Hayes b Joey Comeaux & The Grappler (Len Denton)

6/7 Rialto, CA (Empire Wrestling Federation - 170): Krazy K.C. b Third Dimension, Mono Negro b Payacito Dinko, John Black b Ciclon Mexicano, Wrecking Crew & Coroner b Tim Patterson & Eddie Williams & Johnny Love, Bobby Bradley Jr. b Suicide Kid

6/8 Isezaki (Big Japan): Shunme Matsuzaki & Kishin Kawabata b Makoto Saito & Daikokubo Benkei, Neftaly & Shadow VII b Miho Kawasaki & Bufalo Salvaje, Minoru Fujita b Ryuji Yamakawa, Tomoaki Honma b Yuichi Taniguchi, Osamu Kawahara & Isao Takagi b Gennosuke Kobayashi & Kendo Nagasaki, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga b Jason the Terrible, Big Japan tag titles 2/3 falls: Shadow Winger & Shadow WX b Masayoshi Motegi & Shoji Nakamaki, Great Pogo b Kung Fu Lee (Shinya Kojika)

6/9 Saginaw, MI (WCW Saturday Night tapings - 3,015): Perry Saturn b Damian, Juventud Guerrera b Billy Kidman, Van Hammer b Ron Reis, Dean Malenko b Evan Courageous, Booker T b Barry Horowitz, Chris Jericho b Chavo Guerrero Jr., Alex Wright b Johnny Swinger, Diamond Dallas Page b Eddie Guerrero, Public Enemy b High Voltage, David Finlay b Norman Smiley, Psicosis b Courageous, Vincent b Buddy Lee Parker, Jim Neidhart & Davey Boy Smith b Hugh Morrus & Barbarian, U.S. title: Bill Goldberg b Raven

6/9 Hidaka (All Japan women): Tomoka Isozaki b Mayumi Takahashi, Nana Nakahara b Noriko Toyoda, Miyuki Fujii b Sachie Nishibori, Takako Inoue & Kumiko Maekawa b Nanae Takahashi & Kayo Noumi, Manami Toyota b Miho Wakizawa, Masked Zaps b Yumiko Hotta & Momoe Nakanishi

6/10 Kuji (All Japan - 1,400): Maunukea Mossman b Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Giant Kimala II b Takeshi Morishima, Bobby Duncum Jr. & David Heath b Kentaro Shiga & Masao Inoue, Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota b Haruka Eigen & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Masa Fuchi, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako b Jun Izumida & Akira Taue, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith b Yoshinari Ogawa & Toshiaki Kawada, Steve williams & Gary Albright & Wolf Hawkfield b Kenta Kobashi & Takao Omori & Tamon Honda

6/10 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Neo Ladies): Saya Endo b Sachie Abe, Tanny Mouse & Sumie Sakai b Angie & Fung Suzuki, Bloody b Yuka Shiina, Kyoko Inoue b Chaparita Asari, Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda b Misae Genki & Yoshiko Tamura

6/11 Buffalo, NY (WCW Thunder/Ilio DiPaolo Memorial - 15,393 sellout/13,255 paid): WCW cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko b Scotty Riggs **, Juventud Guerrera b Billy Kidman ***1/4, Booker T b Chris Benoit-DQ ***1/4, Konnan b Scott Putski, Perry Saturn b Glacier, The Giant & Disciple (Ed Leslie) NC Randy Savage & Lex Luger, U.S. title: Bill Goldberg b Konnan, Kevin Nash & Lex Luger b Hulk Hogan & Bret Hart

6/11 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (FULL - 1,000): Kazuhiko Masada b Chinnen Nishida, Momoe Nakanishi b Kayo Noumi, Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & Super Brazo b El Brazo & Brazo Cibernetico & Brazo de Platino, Super Crazy & Mosco de la Merced b Tarzan Boy & Kid Guzman, Dos Caras & Giant Dos Caras (Kenji Takano) & El Sicodelico Jr. b Villano III & Pierroth Jr. & Negro Casas

6/11 Lula, MS (Memphis Power Pro Wrestling - 270): Spellbinder b Master B, Tony Falk b Yellowjacket, B.J. Awesome b Mr. Wrestling, Jackie b Brandon Baxter, Brian Christopher b Billy Travis, Jerry Lawler & Moondog Spot (Larry Booker) b Tracy Smothers & Kid Wicked

6/11 Dalton, GA (Music City Wrestling - 100): Frenchy Riviera b Skinny Kenny, Brickhouse Brown & Andy Anderson b Chris Michaels & Shane Eden, Colorado Kid DCOR Billy Black, Flash Flanagan b Reno Riggins

6/12 Tokyo Budokan Hall (All Japan - 15,000): Takeshi Morishima & Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Makoto Hashi & Kentaro Shiga 9:46, PWF jr. title: Maunukea Mossman b Satoru Asako 10:12, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinari Ogawa b Gedo & Jado 10:28, Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota b Jun Izumida & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi 9:35, Steve Williams & Wolf Hawkfield b Masao Inoue & Takao Omori 14:13, Johnny Smith & Johnny Ace b David Heath & Giant Kimala II 8:18, Akira Taue b Bobby Duncum Jr., Gary Albright & Yoshihiro Takayama b Tamon Honda & Jun Akiyama 7:15, Triple Crown: Kenta Kobashi b Toshiaki Kawada to win title 33:49

6/12 Erie, PA (WCW - 2,485): Chris Adams b Barry Darsow, Marty Jannetty b Scotty Riggs, Norman Smiley & Ciclope b Los Villanos IV & V, Chavo Guerrero Jr. b Billy Kidman, Street fight: Public Enemy b High Voltage, Dean Malenko b Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit b Booker T, U.S. title: Bill Goldberg b Konnan

6/12 Yasuura (All Japan women): Sachie Nishibori b Tomoka Isozaki, Noriko Toyoda b Mayumi Takahashi, Nana Nakahara b Miyuki Fujii, Masked Zaps b Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi, Kumiko Maekawa b Miho Wakizawa, Yumiko Hotta & Kayo Noumi b Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue

6/12 Aomori (Michinoku Pro - 217): Yuichi Taniguchi b Masaru Seno, Tiger Mask b Flying Kid Ichihara, Gran Naniwa & Masaaki Mochizuki b Naohiro Hoshikawa & Masato Yakushiji, Jinsei Shinzaki b Yone Genjin, Super Delfin & Gran Hamada b Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka

6/12 Morioka (FULL): Kazuhiko Masada b Chinnen Nishida, Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & Super Brazo b El Brazo & Brazo Cibernetico & Brazo de Platino, Tarzan Boy & Kid Guzman b Super Crazy & Mosco de la Merced, Dos Caras & Giant Dos Caras & El Sicodelico Jr. b Villano III & Negro Casas & Pierroth Jr.

6/12 Fort Smith, AR (World Pro Wrestling - 3,500): Doink the Clown b Mambasa, Action Jackson b Salomon Grundy, Kevin Northcutt b Guido Buttafuco, Jerry Grey b Executioner, Bushwhackers b Greg Valentine & Bob Orton, Cage match: Jake Roberts b Brian Knobs

6/12 Charleston, WV (New Dimension Wrestling - 1,128/after baseball game): Patriot b Russian Assassin 2000, Rick Link b Max Rhodes, Buddy Landel b The Worm, Rock & Roll Express b Bobby & Jackie Fulton, Link won Battle Royal

6/12 Bayou La Batre, AL (Ultimate Championship Wrestling - 543): Chief Red Cloud b Tommy Martinelli-DQ, Chad Cheatum b Big Daddy, Joey Barrett b Scorpion, Bob Armstrong & Steve Southern b Cajun Connection, Tony Sweatt b Corporal Punishment, Joe Kane b Scott Armstrong, Stevie Richards b Al Savage

6/12 Hayward, CA (All Pro Wrestling): Rick Turner b Chris Ward, Jay Smooth b Jason Clay, Michael Modest b Chicano Flame, Tony Jones & Vinny Massaro won three-way match over Boyce LeGrande & Robert Thompson and Erin O'Grady & Donovan Morgan, Maxx Justice b Frank Murdoch

6/12 Bath, England (Big Time Wrestling - 260): James Mason won Battle Royal, Leroy Brown b Kwick Kick Kid-DQ, Mason b Shane Stevens, Julie Starr b Klondyke Kate, Ian McGregor b Mad Dog Wilson, Jason Cross b Blondie Barrett, Lewis Blain b Gangsta, Adam Angel & Brown & Clive Cannell b Justin Handsford & Kid & Davey Jones (isn't he a little old to be doing wrestling?)

6/12 North Richland Hills, TX (NWA Southwest Championship Wrestling - 125): Mark Cox b Luscious Love, Kit Carson b Jeremy Slade, King Parsons b Rod Begnaud, Carson & Khris Germany b Slade & Lance Pindragon, Rod Price b Krusher Kong

6/12 Lebanon, PA (International Pro Wrestling): Tommy Idol b Dana Hinkle, Larry Brown & Thor b George Anthony & Don Rock, Mike Quackenbush b Christian York, Paul Mitchell b G.Q. Bronsky, Devon Storm b Jimmy Cicero, Corporal Punishment (not original) b Mark Schrader, Frank Stalletto won triangle match over Julio Sanchez and Johnny Graham, Tom Brandi b King Kong Bundy

6/12 Nashville, TN (Transcontinental Wrestling - 8,800 free show after Nashville Sounds baseball game): Madd Maxx b Jagar, Kevin Kirby b Troy Clash, Demolition Ax b Thunderfoot (Gene Ligon), Lee Thomas b Hunter Thompson, Super Mario & Jimmy Valiant & Big Cheese (Sal Corrente) b Gary Royal & Ken Timbs & Terry Lawler

6/12 Fayette, AL (Ind - 200): Mighty Dragon NC Rock & Roll RPM (Alan Martin), Ragin Bull (Randy Barber) b Rockin Rebel (Donny Martin), Mike Jackson b The Nightmare (Ted Allen), Shannon Strickland & Jason Holmes b Dan Sawyer & Night Prowler, Russian Spoiler (Paul Garner) b T.J. Prodigy, Strickland won Battle Royal

6/13 Albuquerque, NM (WWF - 8,907): WWF lt. hwt title: Taka Michinoku b Papichulo, Jeff Jarrett b Steve Blackman, Faarooq b Mark Henry-DQ, Bradshaw b Kama Mustafa, European title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley b D-Lo Brown, Skull & Eight Ball b Midnight Express, Kane b Vader, Submissions match: Ken Shamrock b Owen Hart, New Age Outlaws & X-Pac b LOD 2000 & Darren Drosdov, WWF title: Steve Austin b Mankind

6/13 Pittsburgh, PA (WCW - 3,608): Chris Adams b Barry Darsow, Marty Jannetty b Scotty Riggs, Norman Smiley & Ciclope b Los Villanos IV & V, Chavo Guerrero Jr. b Billy Kidman, Street fight: Public Enemy b High Voltage, Dean Malenko b Chris Jericho, Booker T b Chris Benoit, U.S. title: Bill Goldberg b Konnan, Goldberg b Sting

6/13 Memphis (Memphis Power Pro TV - 100): Tracy Smothers b Lance Jade, Derrick King b Tony Falk, Master B b Blade, Brian Christopher b Kid Wicked-DQ, Bill Dundee & Godwinns b Smothers & Billy Travis & B.J. Awesome-DQ

6/13 Saigo (FMW - 250): Shark Tsuchiya b Crusher Maedomari, Tetsuhiro Kuroda b Hideki Hosaka, Koji Nakagawa & Gedo & Jado b Naohiko Yamazaki & Mammoth Sasaki & Mr. Pogo II, Yukihiro Kanemura b Ricky Fuji, Masato Tanaka & Hayabusa b Hido & Hiromichi Fuyuki, Hisakatsu Oya won Battle Royal

6/13 Nonato (Michinoku Pro - 200): Tiger Mask b Masaru Seno, Gran Hamada b Flying Kid Ichihara, Yone Genjin & Gran Naniwa b Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka, Jinsei Shinzaki b Yuichi Taniguchi, Masaaki Mochizuki & Super Delfin b Masato Yakushiji & Naohiro Hoshikawa

6/13 Freeland, PA (World Star Wrestling Federation): New Jersey Devil b Manslaughter, Jay Love b Grunger Skank-DQ, Hungarian Barbarian b L.A. Smooth, Kale the Eternal b Perfect Creation, Puerto Rican Mob Squad NC Chicago Heat & Little Running Bear & Violator, Salvatore Bellomo b Nikolai Volkoff, Doink the Clown b George Anthony, Samu b Tito Santana, John Rambo b Lucifer Grimm

6/13 Cordele, GA (Peach State Wrestling - 476 sellout): Billy Black b Richard Slinger-COR, Chris Blade b Dale Lucas, Malia Hosaka b Starla Sexton, Jim Bryant & Fred Avery b Steve Lawler & Dennis Gale, R.D. Swain b Craig Pittman, Tony Atlas b Mike Golden, Ted Oates b Dutch Mantel

6/13 Mobile, AL (Ultimate Championship Wrestling - 424): Tommy Martinelli b Chief Red Cloud, Joey Barrett b Scorpion, Al Savage b Chad Cheatum, Lovely LeAnne b Angel of Death, Tony Sweatt & Bob Armstrong b Joe Kane & Rusty Doll, Stevie Richards b Corporal Punishment, Marcel Pringle b Ken Lucas

6/13 Alexandria, VA (Independent Pro Wrestling Association - 250 sellout): Frank Stalletto b Mark Schrader, Shorty Smalls b Worm, Otto Schwanz b Dan Rage, Chris Stevenson b Joey Matthews, Christian York b Julio Sanchez, Big Slam b R.J. Blaze, Buddy Landel b Jimmy Cicero

6/13 Philadelphia (Grande Wrestling Alliance - 460): Kwame b Ironhead Bell, O-Dogg b Kool Kid Ice, Ron Starr b Cyclone, Krash Krew b Himalayan Playas, Alexi Taktarov b Midnight, New Jack & Atlas Rivera b Madd Dawgs, Bob Steele b Iron Sheik-DQ

6/14 Dallas Reunion Arena (WWF - 9,899): Taka Michinoku & Papichulo b Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor, Faarooq b Mark Henry-DQ, Skull & Eight Ball b Midnight Express, Jeff Jarrett b Steve Blackman, Undertaker b Kane-COR, Bradshaw b D-Lo Brown, Submission match: Ken Shamrock b Owen Hart, Hunter Hearst Helmsley & X-Pac & New Age Outlaws b LOD 2000 & Darren Drosdov & Vader, WWF title: Steve Austin b Mankind

6/14 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan women - 1,400): Tomoka Isozaki & Nana Nakahara b Noriko Toyoda & Miyuki Fujii & Sachie Nishibori, Emi Motokawa b Mayumi Takahashi, Miho Wakizawa d Kayo Noumi, Takako Inoue b Zap I (Kaoru Ito), Zap T (Tomoko Watanabe) b Yumiko Hotta, Manami Toyota & Kumiko Maekawa b Nanae Takahashi & Momoe Nakanishi

6/14 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (JWP - 1,100): Sari Osumi b Tomiko Sai, Osumi & Commando Boirshoi b Kayuko Haruyama & Erika Watanabe, Rieko Amano d Kanako Motoya, Dynamite Kansai b Tomoko Miyaguchi, JWP tag titles: Cuty Suzuki & Devil Masami b Tomoko Kuzumi & Hikari Fukuoka to win titles

6/14 Nagaoka (Gaea): Chikayo Nagashima b Rina Ishii, Sakura Hirota b Maiko Matsumoto, Toshie Uematsu & Maiko Matsumoto b Hirota & Meiko Satomura, Kaoru b Toshiyo Yamada, Mayumi Ozaki & Sugar Sato & Nagashima b Makie Numao & Sonoko Kato & Chigusa Nagayo

6/14 Iwate (Michinoku Pro - 241): Yone Genjin NC Yuichi Taniguchi, Naohiro Hoshikawa & Masato Yakushiji b Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka, Masaaki Mochizuki b Masaru Seno, Jinsei Shinzaki b Flying Kid Ichihara, Gran Hamada & Super Delfin b Gran Naniwa & Tiger Mask

6/14 Omori (Battlarts - 548): Megumi Yabushita b Chikako Shiratori, Masao Orihara & Takeshi Ono b Mach Junji & Tomoaki Honma, Daisuke Ikeda b Takemura, UWA middleweight title: Willow the Whisp (Jeff Hardy) b Ikuto Hidaka to win title, Yuki Ishikawa & Naohiro Hoshikawa b Yone Genjin & Mohammad Yone

6/14 Kawasaki (FULL - 484 sellout): Kazuhiko Masada b Chinnen Nishida, Miho Wakizawa b Noriko Toyoda, El Brazo & Brazo Cibernetico & Brazo de Platino b Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & Super Brazo, Kid Guzman & El Sicodelico Jr. b Super Crazy & Mosco de la Merced, Dos Caras & Giant Dos Caras & Tarzan Boy b Pierroth Jr. & Villano III & Negro Casas

6/14 Marrero, LA (CWF - 486): Steve Southern b Snapper, Snowman b Night Crawler, Southern Lover b Chief Red Cloud, Lord Humongous b Spike, Stevie Richards b Joe Kane, King Mabel & Gator DDQ Corporal Punishment & Assassin

6/14 Salem, VA (New Dimension Wrestling - 1,014/after baseball game): Cruncher Perfater b Dirk Diggley, Rick Link b Max Rhodes, Bad Boy Buck b Chuck Jones

6/15 Uniondale, NY Nassau Coliseum (WCW Nitro - 14,254/13,381 paid): Street fight: Public Enemy b Hugh Morrus & Barbarian *1/2, Chris Benoit b David Finlay ***1/2, Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b High Voltage **, Kanyon b Sick Boy, The Giant b Chris Adams, WCW tag titles: Sting & Kevin Nash b Harlem Heat 3/4*, Cage match: Randy Savage NC Diamond Dallas Page *

6/15 San Antonio, TX (WWF Raw is War/Shotgun tapings): Rocky Maivia b Vader, Darren Drozdov b Jeff Jarrett, Val Venis b Chainz, Dustin Runnels b Marc Mero, Hunter Hearst Helmsley b X-Pac-COR, Owen Hart & Mark Henry b Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn-DQ, Kane & Mankind won tag team Royal Rumble 3/4*

 

Special thanks to: Bob Barnett, Paul Verlander, Dan Parris, Victor Martinez, Dan Frongillo, Adam Pennison, Larry Goodman, Frank Mott, Dominick Valenti, Chuck Morris, Martin Mendizabol, Trent Van Drisse, James Blair, Joe Silva, Kurt Brown, Matthew Duffield, Phil Jones, Jim Ward, Matt Griffin, Kim Lamberth, Jeremy Medeiros, Rob Moore, Adam Pennison, Travis Edgeworth, Chris Plano

 

 

1998 MATCH QUALITY RATINGS

 

Based on major show matches so far in 1998, based on having two or more singles or tag team matches on major shows covered through the 6/22 issue. Last year's ranking in parenthesis if in top 20 last year.

 

SINGLES: 1. Mitsuharu Misawa 4.31 (3); 2. Mick Foley 4.25; 3. Steve Austin 3.92 (20); Jun Akiyama 3.92; 5. Koji Kanemoto 3.83 (1); Ultimo Dragon 3.83 (10); 7. Jushin Liger 3.75 (6); 8. Shinjiro Otani 3.56 (5); 9. Toshiaki Kawada 3.50 (15); Chavo Guerrero Jr. 3.50; 11. Chris Benoit 3.42; 12. Diamond Dallas Page 3.38; Raven 3.38; 14. Chris Jericho 3.33 (19); 15. Masahiro Chono 3.25; Shiro Koshinaka 3.25; Dean Malenko 3.25 (17); 18. Keiji Muto 3.13; 19. Kendo Ka Shin 3.06; 20. Eddie Guerrero 2.92 (12); Bret Hart 2.92 (11); 22. Owen Hart 2.88; Hunter Hearst Helmsley 2.88; 24. Kenta Kobashi 2.83 (1); Kensuke Sasaki 2.83; Tatsuhito Takaiwa 2.83 (7); 27. David Finlay 2.75; 28. Undertaker 2.58; 29. Kazuo Yamazaki 2.50; 30. Booker T 2.39; 31. La Parka 2.38; 32. Juventud Guerrera 2.08; 33. Justin Credible 2.00; Sabu 2.00; 35. Ken Shamrock 1.88; Rick Martel 1.88; 37. Stan Hansen 1.63; 38. Don Frye 1.54; 39. Konnan 1.50; Perry Saturn 1.50; 41. Sting 1.44; 42. Rob Van Dam 1.38; 43. Naoya Ogawa 1.30; 44. Scott Hall 1.25; Curt Hennig 1.25; 46. Bam Bam Bigelow 1.13; 47. Vader 1.00; Randy Savage 1.00; 49. Bill Goldberg 0.94; 50. Brian Johnston 0.88; 51. The Giant 0.83; 52. Igor Meindert 0.63; Kevin Nash 0.63; 54. Jeff Jarrett 0.50; 55. Lex Luger 0.38; 56. Shinya Hashimoto 0.25; Hulk Hogan 0.25; 58. Davey Boy Smith 0.00

TAG TEAMS: 1. Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace 3.83 (3); 2. Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono 3.38 (9); 3. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue 3.25 (2); 4. Johnny Smith & Wolf Hawkfield 3.13; 5. Shinya Hashimoto & Osamu Nishimura 2.75; 6. Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi 2.50 (6); 7. Yoshihiro Takayama & Masahito Kakihara 2.42; 8. Steve Williams & Gary Albright 2.38 (4); 9. Gedo & Jado 1.88; 10. New Age Outlaws 1.75; 11. FBI 1.00; 12. LOD 2000 0.83; 13. Kevin Nash & Scott Hall 0.63 (10)

 

JAPANESE TELEVISION RUNDOWN

5/12 PANCRASE: 1. Daisuke Ishii went to a draw with Kousei Kubota over 10:00 and a 3:00 overtime. It was an even match, fought mostly on the mat with no real close calls when it came to submissions and no points being scored; 2. Satoshi Hasegawa beat Kim Jong Wan in 2:01 when Hasegawa spun into a quick armbar for the submission; 3. Katsoumi Inagaki beat Wesley Gassaway in :51 of overtime after they had gone the 10:00 regulation with no points being scored. Gassaway actually outwrestled Inagaki most of the match but never went for any submissions so Inagaki was never in danger. Inagaki went for several submissions later in the match but didn't get them. The finish was weird as Inagaki got a choke sleeper and Gassaway appeared to get to the ropes and the ref screamed for a break, but apparently Gassaway tapped before making it to the ropes; 4. Alex Andrade upset Osami Shibuya via 1-0 score after 10:00 regulation time. Andrade, a protege of Guy Mezger's from Dallas, wanted to keep the match on their feet and did a good job of resisting takedown attempts. Andrade scored the only point with a knockdown from what appeared to be a glancing blow that made Shibuya lose his balance. Shibuya finally got him down and was going for submissions as the time expired; 5. Keiichiro Yamamiya beat Takafumi Ito in 1:31 of overtime after they had gone the 10:00 regulation. This was the best match on the show as both were aggressive both on their feet and on the ground. Ito had a lot of puffiness under his eye from repeated slaps. Match ended when Yamamiya caught him with a knee to the face and the ref immediately stopped it; 6. Ryushi Yanagisawa beat Omar Bouche in 2:35 with an ankle lock. It was clear Bouche was inexperienced and pretty much out of his league here; 7. Semmy Schiltt beat Yoshiki Takahashi in the main event in 5:44. Also a good Pancrase style match. Both men threw a lot of blows standing but Schiltt used his enormous reach to dominate. Because of his size, Schiltt is a very difficult opponent for most of the Pancrase fighters giving up about a foot in height to him an all that reach standing. Takahashi is a very offensive-minded fighter, which is also often what gets him into trouble. He ended up catching an accidental low blow. At another point, he took a palm shot and staggered but immediately regained his presence enough for a takedown, however the ref ruled it as a knockdown even with Takahashi on the verge of taking Schiltt down. It was in hindsight a good call because Takahashi's eyes were glassy. When the match resumed, Schiltt overwhelmed Takahashi with palms before a hard knee put him down and the ref stopped the match. Takahashi was totally glassy-eyed from the knee and there was no questioning this stoppage.

5/17 ALL JAPAN: 1. Wolf Hawkfield & Johnny Smith beat Gedo & Jado in 12:31 from the Tokyo Dome show. Gedo and Smith were really good in carrying the match, including doing some old-style European wrestling spots that god a good pop. They did an innovative spot off Smith being "unable" to execute a skin-the-cat maneuver and Gedo attacked him and eventually nailed him outside the ring with a plancha. Unfortunately, Jado didn't look that good and Hawkfield was totally out of his league. Gedo even pulled off a moonsault off the middle rope to the floor. Smith & Hawkfield put Jado down after a double-team hotshot, a double-team splash off the top (actually Wolf did the splash and Smith came off the top with an elbow) before Smith used a reverse DDT on him for the pin. **3/4; 2. Maunukea Mossman pinned Daisuke Ikeda of Battlarts in 10:50 with his Hawaiian crusher. It was a little weak early but both turned it on into a real good match with lots of near falls. ***1/4

5/24 ALL JAPAN: 1. Giant Baba & Hayabusa & Kentaro Shiga beat Jinsei Shinzaki & Giant Kimala II & Jun Izumida in 20:19. About 10:00 aired on television. II & Izumida came out in white outfits as if they were followers of Shinzaki, who was the focus of the match. The fans reacted to Baba, but he is 60-years-old and it wasn't as if he was a great worker when he was 40. Hayabusa pretty well carried things for his side and did some nice moves including a running dive out of the ring near the post. The match was good with Hayabusa vs. Shinzaki, but got bad when II or Izumida were in. Finish saw Baba hit the lowest high kick in history on Izumida followed by Hayabusa scoring the pin with a firebird (450) splash. *; 2. Jumbo Tsuruta & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura beat Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi & Don Arakawa in 10:22. Eigen, who is 52, actually took a slam off the top rope. Kimura looked horrible. Tsuruta, who was there for nostalgia purposes has had his belly expand at about the same ratio his arms have shrunk, and could barely get off the ground for his famous jumping knee pat. Finally Momota pinned Arakawa with a cradle. Only the final 4:00 of the match aired and it was real bad. DUD

5/29 RINGS: 1. Hiromitsu Kanehara beat Lee Hasdell by a 6-0 score after they had gone the 30:00 time limit. This appeared to be the only shoot match on the card, with Hasdell always staying near the ropes so that Kanehara could never finish him. There were good standing exchanges in the first 10:00. From the 10:00 to 20:00 mark, Kanehara got Hasdell tired out and dominated him, scoring five points using an ankle lock, a shoulderlock (hammerlock) and a few armbars that were just about completed as Hasdell always got to the ropes. The final 10:00 mainly consisted of Kanehara on top of Hasdell controlling him; 2. Kenichi Yamamoto beat Christopher Hazemann in 12:39 with a choke. This was a very good match in that they were exchanging finishes with rope breaks but it still visually looked credible, although it was obviously a work. Hazemann has turned into the best undercard foreign worker in the promotion and Yamamoto is very good within this style as far as making things look legit. This appeared to be a home-and-home deal as Yamamoto beat Hazemann in Japan, and in exchange Hazemann beat Yamamoto on the 6/7 show in Brisbane, Australia. Lots of rope breaks and knockdowns going back-and-forth with Yamamoto leading 9-8 when he got the tap from a choke; 3. Grom Zaza beat Joop Kasteel in 5:54 with an ankle lock. Zaza, a former Olympic games wrestler, pretty well took Kasteel down at will and kept going for clumsy standing ankle locks with Kasteel always going to the ropes. It appeared to be a work, but it was surprising in a work just how much they had Zaza dominate Kasteel, who is something of a name here, on the ground. It will all Zaza except for two knockdowns by Kasteel, as he was ahead 8-4 with all the points coming from rope breaks with Zaza going for the ankle until the finish. Zaza works and is often compared by the wrestlers to a Russian Severn and this was kind of a sloppy match; 4. Ilioukhine Mikhail beat Masayuki Naruse in 13:52 with an ankle lock. Of all the worked matches on the show, this looked the most believable and was the second best match on the card. Naruse is all banged up from working such a brutal style every month but these are two guys of about the same size and same ability which made the even match totally believable. Mikhail even worked a half crab submission into the repertoire; 5. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka beat Volk Han for the first time ever in his career in 10:10. This wasn't as good as their classic matches in 1996, but was still the best match on the show and the second best match in the promotion so far this year. Great mat wrestling and escapes, and since both are over with the crowd as being super shooters, it added to the drama. It was Han's best performance in a long time as he pulled out great submissions and his matwork was incredible, plus they worked some great back-and-forth sequences on the mat. When he's in with someone of the calibre of Kohsaka, Han really shines as being really a class above from a technical standpoint any pro wrestler in the business. After trading big moves, Kohsaka got the submission really almost out of nowhere with an armbar; 6. Bitszsade Tariel captured the RINGS world heavyweight title from Kiyoshi Tamura in 3:39. This was one of the weirdest matches and results when it comes to a world title change of this era. First off, Tamura was coming off being blitzed in an actual shoot on 4/16 against Valentijn Overeem (which in hindsight is probably one of the most important results of a pro wrestling match this year as far as long-term repercussions to a major office). On the finish, Tamura waited way too long to tap and clearly his knee was wrenched badly. Tamura's knee wasn't even close to being ready at this point, although that was incorporated into the story line. What was weird is not that Tamura would lose the title due to his injury as that is logical, but that he would lose it to Tariel, who clearly means nothing as exemplified by all the empty seats even at ringside for this show which actually had a strong undercard. The match itself was a total squash, totally different from their classic last year. It was Tariel weighing 310 and Tamura at 195, and Tariel just overpowered him standing, knocking him down several times before catching him with a beautiful kick to the side of the head for the knockout. During the match, Tariel stayed away from Tamura's knee rather than played into it to explain the squash. The way the match went, they were seemingly building for Tamura's dramatic comeback, but he actually did nothing the entire match and the response after it's over is that Tamura, the company's biggest star and top draw with Akira Maeda's impending retirement, has been exposed as far as being a top-flight shooter over his last two matches to the point that you almost only want to see him against smaller guys and he can't be taken seriously on top. It also renders the world title as something of a joke just a few months after it was created when a guy with no ground skill who can't work and isn't over like Tariel holds it, even if he's just a transitional champion to get the belt to someone like Kohsaka if that's even the plan. To Tamura's credit, the match looked totally legit even though it wasn't.

5/31 ALL JAPAN: 1. From the Dome again, Akira Taue & Takao Omori & Masao Inoue beat The Gladiator & Hideki Hosaka & Tetsuhiro Kuroda from FMW. It was real interesting because at the time the match was taking place, these guys were all supposed to be in the FMW rival promotion called Zen, which has since been dropped. On Baba's TV they didn't even bother selling the FMW's angle and just called them FMW. They got some pretty good heat teasing Taue vs. Gladiator. Gladiator did an amazing running dive over the top on Taue to the point the momentum took both over the guard rail and they crashed on the press table. As a worker Gladiator isn't very good in that he's in the wrong place a lot when taking others' moves, so he makes the other guy look worse then he really is. But his big moves are hot and he definitely has charisma. He's tailor made for ECW and I'm not sure why he never sticked there. They teased him doing the power bomb over the top rope through a table but it never happened. Hosaka did a few Frankensteiners but neither he nor Kuroda really did much. Finally Omori pinned Kuroda with the old Ray Stevens Bombs Away in 17:43. **1/2; 2. Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace & Satoru Asako beat Taue & Toshiaki Kawada & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi in 27:09. Only the last 5:00 aired on television and it looked to be a good match, but not a great one with the highlight being Kobashi vs. Kawada to build for Budokan. Finish saw Ace pin Kikuchi after an Ace crusher off the ropes.

6/7 ALL JAPAN: 1. Kawada & Taue retained the Double tag team titles beating Kobashi & Ace in 30:26. For some reason, the Sapporo show didn't even have a good television production set up as instead of network calibre, it looked like an old Bob Geigel Kansas City taping from the 70s with poor lighting and a two camera shoot. Only the last 5:00 of the match aired. It's too bad on both accounts. What aired was spectacular with the an crowd going crazy with every spot as if they'd witnessed a great match. During the course of what aired, it was mainly Kobashi selling great for big spots, but even what Ace did was great. It was All Japan at its best teasing and blocking big spots. Finally Taue hit the choke slam, but Kobashi blocked a second. Taue got a near fall with a high kick before finally getting another choke slam in and finishing things up with the Dynamic bomb. It's unfair to rate the match because so little of it aired but it appeared to be way above four stars; 2. Gary Albright & Steve Williams beat Yoshihiro Takayama & Masahito Kakihara in 15:08. Actually Takayama looked decent here and Kakihara looked good so it was a decent match. Williams ended up pinning Takayama with a backdrop driver, then after the bell, tried to give him another one. Albright stopped him, since when Williams is gone, Takayama was going to become Albright's new regular tag team partner, and this wound up with Williams and Albright teasing a break-up, which was never followed up on either. **1/2; 3. Head Hunters beat Tamon Honda & Satoru Asako in 9:24. The final 5:00 aired on television. Mainly Head Hunters doing all their flying moves. They looked more solid than usual so didn't look out of place at all with All Japan. Head Hunter A did a dropkick off the top which was aerodynamically amazing considering he looks to be about 440 pounds. He ended up pinning Asako after a moonsault. **1/2

MEXICO: Very little of major note this week. We do know that La Parka did miss the 6/12 Tijuana show and was replaced on top by the original Mascara Sagrada, who teamed with Felino & El Hijo del Santo to beat Dr. Wagner Jr. & Psicosis & Blue Panther in a main event said to be close to four stars. Parka is also not going to EMLL after all, although former Azteca wrestlers Vampiro Canadiense, Tinieblas Jr., Black Magic (WCW's Norman Smiley), Lizmark Sr. and Los Villanos are all starting this week

6/19 at Arena Mexico is headlined by Vampiro & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Tinieblas Jr. vs. Magic & Cien Caras & Steele which is interesting because you've got a tag team with a WWF and WCW wrestler together, plus Emilio Charles Jr. & Head Hunters vs. Wagner Jr. & Apolo Dantes & Scorpio Jr. and Felino & Shocker & Tony Rivera vs. Santo & Violencia & Karloff Lagarde Jr. The 6/12 Arena Mexico show was headlined by Rayo & Hunters vs. Steele & Cien Caras & Mascara Ano 2000 and Atlantis & Lizmark Sr. & Ultimo Dragon vs. Bestia Salvaje & El Satanico & Dantes

The biggest AAA show of the week is 6/19 in Puebla headlined by Heavy Metal vs. Kickboxer in a chain match inside a cage plus a new tag team called Dulo y Directo (which is the name of the television show that the Brennan Brothers host) & Mascara Sagrada & Blue Demon Jr. vs. Maniaco & Histeria & Psicosis (AAA version) & Abismo Negro

A correction from last week. The 6/5 Arena Mexico Anniversary show with the Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. Steele mask vs. mask match did sellout the 18,000-seat arena. Steele is continuing to work dates in Mexico along with WWF television. Another correction from last week's issue. In the letter about Ultimo Dragon, it mistakenly referred to Antonio Inoki as the EMLL booker when Dragon got his name when of course it should have been Antonio Pena

Political strings were pulled so the 6/19 show at the Auditorio in Tijuana was changed from a CMLL show to a Promociones de Mora show with a mask vs. mask headliner of The Kiss vs. Pierroth Jr., which obviously Kiss will lose. Mil Mascaras, Negro Casas and Los Villanos are also booked on the show. It was interesting because it appeared they had been building for months for Kiss to lose his mask to Rey Misterio. Misterio is in need of major knee surgery which will put him out of action for about six months, so before he leaves he's attempting to sell his hair to the highest bidding promoter.

ALL JAPAN: Besides the Triple Crown title change, there wasn't much of major interest from a result standpoint on the 6/12 Budokan show, however we were told that the crowd enjoyed most of the matches. The semifinal saw Gary Albright & Yoshihiro Takayama beat Jun Akiyama & Tamon Honda in 7:15 when Albright pinned Honda using a power bomb. This was something of a shooters match since Albright & Takayama have the rep from working for the old UWFI promotion, with Albright a legit world class amateur wrestler in his day, Takayama has done legit shootfights including getting his ass kicked by Kimo, Akiyama was an Olympic alternate for Japan in wrestling and Honda represented Japan as a heavyweight in three different Olympic games, including a fifth place finish in 1984 in Los Angeles. In Steve Williams' final match with the promotion, he teamed with Wolf Hawkfield to beat Masao Inoue & Takao Omori in 14:13 when he pinned Inoue using his backdrop driver. It was interesting to see how much respect Giant Baba showed for Williams' tenure with the company in that he didn't have him do even one job on the way out in his final tour. After the match, Williams got on the top rope and motioned about a belt around his waist basically indicating he was going to win the WWF title which got a big pop. When Williams left, Johnny Ace was brought out and he got on the ropes and began posing, which apparently was a ceremonial type deal of trying to make the transition from Williams as the top foreign star in the promotion to Ace, and Ace in that position just exemplifies that All Japan is on its way down. They also had the retirement ceremony for Mighty Inoue. Maunukea Mossman retained his PWF jr. title pinning Satoru Asako in 10:12 using the Hawaiian crusher. After the match Mossman returned the title belt saying that he wanted to wrestle as a heavyweight

The TV show on 6/14 instead of broadcasting the title change, aired the jr. title match, the Inoue retirement ceremony, highlights of a Bruiser Brody vs. Jumbo Tsuruta match and the Sapporo match on 6/5 with Gran Naniwa & Super Delfin from Michinoku Pro against Asako & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Next tour is 7/4 to 7/24, opening up in Toda with the biggest shows on 7/5 at Korakuen Hall, 7/15 in Osaka, 7/18 at Korakuen Hall, 7/19 in Niigata and the final show on 7/24 at Budokan Hall, with most likely a Triple Crown title defense. On that tour will be Albright, Ace, Hawkfield, Johnny Smith, Giant Kimala II and The Head Hunters

5/31 TV show did a 2.4 rating.

NEW JAPAN: No shows this past week and the only real storyline stuff revolves around Naoya Ogawa, Don Frye and Brian Johnston. For reasons I'm not exactly clear of but it probably has something to do with working the angle to make it appear to be legit, TV-Asahi refused to broadcast footage of Ogawa attacking Seiji Sakaguchi. They are also doing an angle where Frye & Johnston have signed contacts with New Japan but Antonio Inoki is claiming that they are wrestling for UFO

The main event on the 6/13 television show was the Koji Kanemoto vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. Junior tournament final

5/23 TV show did a 2.5 rating.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Great Kabuki announced that his final match would be 7/9 at Korakuen Hall, which is one day after his 50th birthday. IWA will be promoting a farewell tour for Kabuki starting 7/1. Kabuki had a long and somewhat storied career in wrestling around the world, beginning his career as a 16-year-old for the old Japanese Wrestling Alliance on October 31, 1964 with a match against Kotetsu Yamamoto under his real name of Akihisa Mera. He first came to the United States in 1970 and wrestled in Michigan and Indiana as a Japanese tag team with Mitsu Arakawa under the name Yoshino Sato, not to be confused with Yoshinosato of Japanese wrestling fame which was the wrestling name of one of JWA's owners, Junzo Hasegawa. After leaving that territory, he bounced from territory to territory in the United States during the 70s using ring names like Mr. Sato, Akihisa Takachiho, Professor Takachio and Akio Moto, usually as a tag team partner with Akio Sato, although he also held championship tag teams in the United States with Kinji Shibuya and Masa Saito. His biggest career break came in 1981 when Gary Hart came up with the Great Kabuki gimmick, with the face paint, and spewing the green and red mist that Great Muta (who was originally billed in WCW as the son of Kabuki) used to gain more national prominence in 1989 in WCW. Kabuki was the top heel in Texas feuding with the Von Erich family just before the Freebirds arrived and the big Texas wrestling boom, and also worked several main events at the Omni in Atlanta against the likes of Tommy Rich and Dusty Rhodes and against Junkyard Dog for Mid South. Rhodes liked the gimmick so much that he brought Kendo Nagasaki into Florida and transformed him into a Kabuki knockoff and had a long program with him. Kabuki stayed in the U.S. for a few more years before going back to Japan full-time. At first, with All Japan, he became a big attraction with his unique ring entrance and gimmick, including getting an NWA world heavyweight title match against Ric Flair and was kept strong with the promotion rarely doing jobs. His biggest match in All Japan would have been on July 19, 1990 when he & Jumbo Tsuruta upset Terry Gordy & Steve Williams to win the Double Tag Team titles, however one week later he quit the promotion to take a big money offer from Super World Sports (SWS), the promotion that actually by raiding All Japan paved the way for the company's 1990s success because it forced them to elevate Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi to the top of the cards when Genichiro Tenryu and Kabuki left. After SWS folded, Kabuki bounced his way around the Japanese indie scene where he's resided over the past several years. Actually the Great Kabuki gimmick was not invented by Hart, but was first used by a Filipino wrestler masquerading as a Japanese heel named Ray Urbano (whose estranged daughter who had absolutely no interest in pro wrestling and little knowledge of her father, as life's coincidences would have it, was one of my best friends in high school and college) in the 1970s in Los Angeles, although Urbano was never any kind of a star with the gimmick

Speaking of history, the 6/14 Argentina vs. Japan World Cup soccer match drew an unbelievable 67.3 rating, which made it the second largest rating for any television show in the history of Japan. How does that relate to pro wrestling? It moves the famous May 24, 1963 match between Rikidozan vs. The Destroyer (Dick Beyer), which did a 64.0 rating, down from third to fourth place on the all-time list. At the time the match was held, it was the most watched television event ever in Japan and realistically had to be the single most viewed pro wrestling match in the world until probably the Ali-Inoki match which drew a slightly lower rating in Japan (54.6) but had far more viewership around the world since it was on free television in many countries and on closed-circuit throughout North America. Since that time, besides the soccer game on Sunday, it had been topped two other times, by a 1964 New Years Eve battle of the bands type special which basically for some reason everyone in the country watched (81.4 rating) and the gold medal match in the 1964 Olympic womens volleyball tournament which Japan was in that drew a 64.3 rating which single handedly helped make volleyball for years one of the biggest sports in that country

The weirdest angle of the week took place on the debut show of the resurrected FULL promotion on 6/11 at Korakuen Hall which leads to a match on 6/18 in the same building headlined by Hisashi Shinma vs. Pierroth Jr. Shinma, 64, is the same Shinma that was Antonio Inoki's long-time business manager and the figurehead President of the World Wrestling Federation in the era between Willie Gilzenburg and Jack Tunney (around 1978-85). It started in the main event of the show where Dos Caras & Giant Dos Caras (Kenji Takano) & El Sicodelico Jr. beat Villano III & Pierroth Jr. & Negro Casas when Pierroth Jr. was pinned with a fast count. Pierroth Jr. got up and was angry about the count and screamed for company President Hisatsune Yoshinori Shinma to come out, who is the son of the famous Shinma. They argued and Pierroth gave Shinma Jr. a bodyslam, which brought Shinma Sr to do a run-in and he punched Pierroth which led to challenges. Shinma Sr. did judo in his youth but never wrestled professionally. It is readily acknowledged this is a copycat of the Vince McMahon-Steve Austin interview although with the promoter as the babyface, to the point where Shinma even said in an interview (as a joke) that he might ask McMahon to be his tag team partner. With the exception of Lou Thesz, who wrestled a match in Japan when he was 74 in 1990, I can't think of anyone who is 64 who has wrestled in Japan and Shinma is not a big man

The Japanese Diet (senate) elections take place on 7/12 and two pro wrestlers are running for office, Yumiko Hotta of All Japan women (who is still wrestling every night) and Takashi "Kengo" Kimura of New Japan, whose wife is already a noted politician. Hiroshi Hase has been serving in office for several years

Another historical deal was on 6/8 in Isezaki on the Big Japan show, the main event was Great Pogo vs. Kung Fu Lee. Kung Fu Lee was the ring name that Big Japan President Shinya Kojika used in Texas in 1974 when he was put over as the top heel in the old Amarillo territory when Bruce Lee and Kung Fu were household names. Pogo used a power drill and a machete to the head to lead to his victory

Great Sasuke officially announced that his first match back after knee surgery would be 7/18. He was in the ring doing a five minute exhibition at the Michinoku show on 6/14

All Japan women opened its Grand Prix tournament on 6/14 at Korakuen Hall with Takako Inoue pinning Zap I (Kaoru Ito) in a match in which a fork and a chain were used, and Zap T (Tomoko Watanabe) beat Yumiko Hotta in another bloody match. Later that evening at the same building, JWP ran a show headlined by Cuty Suzuki & Devil Masami winning the JWP tag team titles beating Tomoko Kuzumi & Hikari Fukuoka

Willow the Whisp (Sometimes WWF jobber Jeff Hardy) debuted in Japan on 6/14 for Battlarts and in his first match in captured the vacant UWA middleweight title beating Ikuto Hidaka

The only sketchy details we have on the first RINGS show ever in Australia on 6/7 in Brisbane is that the show was held in a hotel ballroom and was sold out and Akira Maeda was there and talked of promoting more shows in Australia in the future.

HERE AND THERE: Added to the 6/23 Memphis card are Brian Christopher vs. Jesse Jammes, Jeff Jarrett vs. Billy Travis and an appearance by Koko Ware. There is another promotion running smaller shows in Memphis currently headlined by Doug Gilbert and Dutch Mantel. The Godwinns appeared on the 6/13 Memphis live television show as babyfaces teaming with Bill Dundee to beat Tracy Smothers & Travis & B.J. Awesome via DQ on top. Ref Bill Rush was painted yellow on TV in the dressing room and they are hinting that it was Spellbinder who did it since Spellbinder was suspended last week. Derrick King announced that on the 6/20 television show he was going to propose to Jackie and wanted to hold the wedding on the 6/23 show. Paul Bearer did a television interview to build up the Lawler vs. Kane match giving the storyline that he found out that Lawler actually knew the television cameras were on when they were talking on Raw in the angle where Bearer & Lawler supposedly didn't know they were being filmed and Bearer was bragging about screwing Undertaker's mother. Jarrett did a taped interview where he said that Travis was a promoters' nightmare because they never knew until he arrived whether he'd show up for his bookings or not, or if he'd been arrested. Travis then went on television and said that at least he didn't go on a PPV show and lip synch a song with Sawyer Brown

The July issue of Esquire Magazine has a story on Jason Sanderson, the indie pro wrestler from New England who won $66 million in the lottery and is still wrestling on weekends as the Wolfman. It's a real good story talking about Sanderson growing up in Vermont and watching tapes of the Vachon Brothers from Montreal, then moved to Texas watching Jose Lothario, The Funks and The Von Erichs. The story called Sanderson, who will receive about $2 million per year until the year 2021, the world's richest pro wrestler. The story noted that local promoter Jeff Costa, who trained Sanderson, wanted to do a run-in angle at the press conference where he got the money but Sanderson's wife nixed the idea. Sanderson did at the press conference plug Costa's next show and they've actually done an angle where Sanderson put the $66 million at stake in a match

Billy Graham's 6/12 combination religious revival show and pro wrestling event in Beaumont, TX headlined by Terry Funk vs. Cactus Jack in a death match was canceled due to a weak advance

Ted Oates had what was billed as his final career match on 6/13 in Cordele, GA before a sellout of 476 pinning Dutch Mantel, who was his first career opponent in a 1972 match in Americus, GA. Oates had his trainer, long-time Georgia favorite Dick Steinborn, in his corner. Steinborn presented Oates with a replica of the old Georgia heavyweight title belt, and Mantel demanded that he put the belt up in the match. On that show, Fred Avery of the PYT's took a nasty chair shot from Steve Lawler which resulted in him legitimately having to be rushed to the emergency room and needing 20 staples to close the cut. Abdullah the Butcher, who worked the undercard, showed a drivers' license which listed his birthday as January 16, 1941, which would make him 57 years old. Japanese records have listed his birthday as November 2, 1936

Border City Wrestling on 7/19 at 2 p.m. in La Salle, ONT has Scott D'Amore & Larry Brun vs. D-Lo Brown & Rocky Maivia on top, plus Al Snow, Adam Copeland, Christian Cage and Bruiser Bedlam. For more info call 519-734-1512 and if you mention the Observer you can get $2 off any ticket

Stevie Richards worked three weekend shows in Alabama and Louisiana. He had just had another neck operation about two weeks ago to remove two plates and the new scar was opening up during all three matches

Grande Wrestling Alliance on 8/1 at Sports Super Center in Philadelphia is headlined by New Jack vs. Justin Credible

New Breed Wrestling on 6/20 in Saratoga, NY at the City Center is headlined by Chainz and Barry Windham

R.F. Video will be opening up a pro wrestling merchandise store on 7/1 at the Franklin Mills Mall in Northeastern Philadelphia. The story will sell WWF, WCW, ECW and Japanese merchandise

A few days after drawing the biggest house in the history of Music City Wrestling in Nashville, the company made its Georgia debut on 6/11 in Dalton, GA before less than 100 fans and the ring didn't show up. They laid down some gym mats inside the barricades and started the show 30 minutes late, held four matches with the final bout being a 30 second long main event with Flash Flanagan vs. Reno Riggins where it appeared Riggins broke his ankle and the show ended in about one hour

At Steve Nelson's 6/20 show in Amarillo, Juan Mott, who is 1-2 in MMA competition with losses to Murillo Bustamante and Akira Shoji, will be replacing Billy Scott in the light heavyweight title match with Paul Jones underneath the Evan Tanner vs. Tony Castillo heavyweight title main event

Big Time Wrestling in Bath, England held a benefit show for Giant Haystacks on 6/12, who is recovering from life-threatening cancer. Haystacks, who wrestled briefly in North America in Loch Ness for WCW a few years back and as the Loch Ness Monster in the 70s in Calgary, dropped from around 600 pounds down to about 250 and is now bald from the long-term effects of the cancer

There is now a legal battle over the name Pro Wrestling America in Minnesota. Ed Sharkey had been promoting using that name for years, but recently Mark Kallenback, Ken Yates and Adnan Kaisy incorporated the PWA name in Minnesota

Blast from the past: Hector Guerrero is now living in Montgomery, AL, still wrestling in that area and sometimes does high school anti-drug programs with Mike Jackson, the famous Georgia jobber of the early 80s who is still a high school teacher and also still does area indies.

MMA: News has really slowed due to UFC not planning on running a live event until November. John Perretti is definitely wanting to headline that show with Randy Couture vs. Bas Rutten for the heavyweight title, although there is also sentiment that Rutten should at least have to win one match before getting a title shot being that he's never even participated in a match under these rules in his life

We haven't received any word on the man vs. woman match on 6/12 in Pasadena, TX and it may have been canceled since there was talk of the government intervening leading up to the show

The results were all largely disappointing for the wrestlers who have competed of late in MMA at the try-outs for the U.S. national freestyle team that represents the country in the upcoming Goodwill Games and later in September at the World Championships. The format is that there is a tournament in every weight class on 6/12 where the winner of the tourney advances to meet the national champion in a best-of-three series on 6/13 in Waterloo, IA. At 214 pounds, Mike Van Arsdale, 4-0 in MMA and ranked No. 7 as a heavyweight by Fighting Sports Newsletter, coming off a second place finish (a very close overtime loss to Melvin Douglas) at the nationals, in the tourney to get another shot at Douglas, wrestled somewhat flat and ended up placing third with his only loss coming in an overtime match in which he was taken down with seven seconds left in the match which turned out to be the difference. Kevin Jackson, who also took second in nationals, was a big disappointment at 187, losing twice and ending up in fourth place in the tournament he was also favored to win. Jackson, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist, who is 4-2 in MMA and ranked No. 7 in the under-200 division, has now said that this is going to be his final year of competitive wrestling. He is applying for a job as a Resident Athletic Coach for USA wrestling at their national training center, and has been told that if he gets the job, he can't participate in MMA because USA wrestling feels that the UFC gives wrestling a bad image. It's interesting because Jeff Blatnick is one of the members of the USA wrestling board, and apparently the wrestling community was unaware that Blatnick is the UFC commissioner which I guess shows what a tremendous job UFC has done of publicizing the appointment. Sean Bormet, who has fought in Japan, placed fourth in the 167 pound tournament and Frank Trigg, who has also fought for Shooto, didn't place in the same tournament. The only fighter who made it to the finals was Tom Erikson, whose luck wasn't good either. Erikson was shockingly pinned in the nationals in 20 seconds when he was thrown and suffered a concussion, but the guy who beat him, Tolly Thompson, wound up tearing up his knee competing internationally so Erikson got the No. 1 spot by being the No. 2 finisher at nationals. Kerry McCoy won the tournament, so they were to meet in a best-of-three. Erikson, who is 6-0-1 (and that draw he'd have easily won had their been judges) and is the No. 4 ranked heavyweight, was ahead 4-3 when he twisted his ankle and it was said he still remained competitive despite being injured, although McCoy ended up winning 6-4. Erikson was planning on coming back later in the day to try and win two matches, but the ankle started swelling badly and he was taken to the hospital where it was diagnosed as a fracture and he had to forfeit. With him out of the big meets, it gives Erikson time to concentrate on MMA, where he is planning on fighting Igor Vovchanchin (22-1), the winningest MMA fighter of modern times, in an undercard match on the Nobuhiko Takada vs. Rickson Gracie 10/11 match at the Tokyo Dome

The only change on the 6/24 KRS show at Budokan Hall is that Emmanuel Yarbrough's opponent was switched from Yoashuaki Horimatsu to Daisuke Pakasse, and who either of them are and what that means is anyone's guess

SuperBrawl will be running a show on 8/4 at the NBC Arena in Honolulu.

ECW: There were no shows over the weekend

Justin Credible may have a herniated disc

The television this week was playing up the Beulah angle big complete with Buh Buh claiming that Beulah has gone around the dressing room spreading VD to all the boys

John Kronus will be going on another FMW tour next month

Atsushi Onita is scheduled to be at the 6/27 ECW Arena show. It is not definite whether or not he'll wrestle on the show although Paul Heyman would like to put him in the ring and start an angle with him. The idea is to build toward something along the lines of Onita & Masato Tanaka vs. Sabu & Sandman perhaps in the explosive barbed wire match, or Onita vs. one of the two.

WCW: The Charlotte Observer ran a story on 6/12 on Ric Flair's lawsuit to attempt to get released from his WCW deal. Basically the argument is over whether Flair can be held to the letter he signed in November 1997 agreeing to stay for three years before the actual contract was signed. Flair's lawyer, Bill Diehl of Charlotte said the letter isn't a contract and called it nothing more than an outline of proposed economic terms that haven't been agreed to. According to the lawsuit, WCW has failed to recognize Flair's status as an internationally known wrestling champion and said WCW reneged on its promise to treat Flair during the terms of the deal as the Babe Ruth of wrestling. WCW made attempts to settle with Flair this past week to get him to return on the 7/6 Georgia Dome show, but from all accounts, the sides are no closer. After the ratings defeats, it is believed WCW will once again attempt to settle with Flair on even more favorable terms. Bringing back Flair, while it should help the ratings a little, probably a lot when he first comes back, is still like bringing in Jim Hellwig, putting a band-aid on a bullet wound in regards to having far bigger problems that need to be addressed in regard to shaking up the "pecking order.

Nitro from the Nassau Coliseum on 6/15 opened with Public Enemy beating Hugh Morrus & Barbarian in a street fight in 5:22 when Rocco Rock pinned Barbarian when he was on top after both and Morrus all fell off the apron and went through two tables that were side-by-side. Lots of garbage can shots, they used barbecue tongs and other objects. At one point Barbarian used a power bomb on Rocco into a garbage can. Is that legal now? It was getting old about 3:00 in and by the 4:00 mark the crowd wasn't even reacting to the low blows. Still, it at least wasn't bad. Chris Benoit beat David Finlay in 12:17 with the crossface of a very good match with some brutal chops by Benoit. It really is amazing that Benoit can put on performances like this every night under less than adverse conditions. Benoit then did an interview and asked Booker T to come out. T came out with Stevie Ray. They teased a brawl but Benoit shook T's hand and raised it. T said that Benoit was the best wrestler he had ever been in the ring with and he had more respect for Benoit than anyone else in wrestling. Benoit called T the toughest foe of his career and that if he ever needed a good man in his corner to call him. Ray got mad and Benoit repeated what he said. Ray attacked Benoit and T pulled him off Benoit. Steve McMichael showed up to a big pop for the save to go after Ray and T broke them up. The fans were chanting "We Want Flair." Benoit then held up four fingers to a huge reaction to make the "We Want Flair" chant even louder. The current plan is to make Benoit, McMichael, Finlay and Malenko in the Four Horsemen if Flair doesn't come back, which is just another kiss of death to Benoit because that group will never be portrayed as being serious competition for the other groups. Malenko is really complaining about it as well and doesn't want to do it unless he's going to have a major speaking role. Piper got a big pop on his interview and he was really excited coming out. Fans continued to pop for everything Piper said even though he made no sense, ending by saying he'd ref the cage match, just a few weeks after he'd said he'd never ref again. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan, bringing out their IWGP tag titles, beat High Voltage in 10:07 when Chono pinned Kaos with a Yakuza kick. Solid work but they were out there way too long in front of an audience that didn't care. Rage looked good. More Flair chants. Chono & Tenzan gave Voltage a lot of offense before beating them. Wolfpac interview and they brought out Sting who wouldn't say who his partner would be, although Sting did his best interview in years. Kanyon beat Sick Boy in 3:25 with the reverse Russian leg sweep, which is now being called the Flatliner. When he was Mortis he used a Samoan drop off the ropes and it was also called the flatliner. Kanyon did a lot of nice moves. Rick Rude & Curt Hennig did an interview with them challenging Goldberg, which brought out huge chants for Goldberg. J.J. Dillon announced that since the title was vacant and Jericho won the match, even by DQ, that he's the cruiserweight champion, but then ordered him to defend the title against Malenko in 30 days. Jericho refused and insulted Boris Malenko again and Dean came out and they brawled to the back. This brawl was better than the one the previous night at least, ending when Jericho ran away again. Giant, who came out to the ring smoking a cigarette, choke slammed Chris Adams in 44 seconds. Hogan, Bischoff and Ed Leslie came out. Hogan got a lot more cheers than you'd expect. Sting announced Nash as his champion tag team partner and they beat Heat in 12:16 when Sting pinned Ray with the scorpion death drop. As over as Sting & Nash were earlier in the show, there was very little reaction to this match. Match was boring, as not only did it expose that Sting & Nash shouldn't be out there for a long match, but also Booker T, who was getting over so great as a wrestler from the Benoit series, all of a sudden was somewhat exposed that it was really a lot more Benoit that it looked. Nash did the crotch chop away from the camera which was a big pop. It was funny as Bobby Heenan was going crazy about how Ray was bigger than ever and in the best shape of his life, and when he came out, you could see he was in the worst shape. No Jim Ross in this broadcast booth. Bischoff and Steiner did an interview. The words were fine but Scott's delivery is like pulling teeth. Steiner said he was a thespian, and Bischoff joked that has nothing to do with Ellen DeGeneris. Finally Savage vs. Page wound up with the White & Black all destroying Savage, Page and Piper before the Red & Black got the controls of the cage and raised it and they made the save

Thunder on 6/11 in Buffalo, NY combined with the annual Ilio DiPaolo tribute show drew a sellout 15,393 (13,255 paying $250,193). The show also drew a 3.71 rating (3.31 first hour; 4.04 second hour) and a 6.59 share on the live show and a 1.3 rating and 5.3 share on the replay. It was at least better than most of the recent Thunder shows. Bischoff opened doing an interview with Giant & Ed Leslie where Giant said if he won the match with Sting that he was going to pick Leslie as his tag team partner and called Leslie a killing machine. I guess he was referring to television ratings and then challenged Lex Luger to get a partner for the main event. Malenko beat Riggs in 6:11 of a solid match. Juventud Guerrera beat Billy Kidman in another good match with the 450 in 7:08. Lodi's signs were a riot including "Dr. Evil (from the movie Austin Powers) for President" and even better, "Rodman banged DDP." Schiavone, who was at least wearing a suit to hide this week's weight gain, interviewed Luger. Bischoff and Hart said they were recruiting Benoit onto their team. Hart did a good interview about he and his family breaking Benoit into wrestling. Benoit vs. T in their seventh match, which was good, although not their best match, went 16:41 ending when Hart hit T with a chair. Benoit refused to pin T and as the ref counted T as being knocked out, Benoit told the ref what happened and he DQ'd Benoit. Dillon came out with Malenko and Jericho. Malenko for some reason gave back the belt saying he wanted to beat Jericho one more time. Jericho wanted to take the belt but Dillon ordered a match at the Bash for the vacant title. Konnan beat Scott Putski in 4:06. The first 90 seconds weren't terrible. After that it was a different story. Saturn beat Glacier with the Death Valley Driver in 3:42 and after the match Kanyon hit Saturn with the reverse Russian leg sweep. Dillon did an interview with Booker T who said he didn't want to win the best of seven in that way and agreed to add a match on the PPV. Ray was made because his brother had already won it and couldn't understand why he gave Benoit another chance. Bischoff & Liz did a promo. Liz was better than usual basically saying that Bischoff was the real Macho Man. By this point the fans were chanting for Goldberg. Luger & Savage no contest Giant & Leslie in 1:11 when the white NWO all attacked Savage and Nash made the save. They had dark matches after where Goldberg beat Konnan and Nash & Luger beat Hogan & Hart. Among those in attendance at the banquet the night before at the Buffalo Race Track in Hamburg, PA and introduced before the show started were Wolfman Willie Farkas, Kurt Von Hess, Billy Red Lyons, Waldo Von Erich (who got the biggest pop of anyone), Gino Brito, Dick Beyer, Lou Thesz, George Scott, Tony Marino and Angelo Poffo. It was mentioned on television they were there but none were shown on TV. They did show Jim Kelly, the former Bills QB who was a good friend of Ilio's and even proposed to his wife in Ilio's restaurant. Thesz actually left before the show ever started although nobody asked him to stay either. I still consider it something of a respect deal for the profession that if a Lou Thesz or a Dick Beyer are at the show that you should show them on television, the same way if Hall of Famers are at a baseball or basketball game they'll show a crowd shot of them and the announcers will put them over with stories about their careers. If you recall the last time WCW was in Buffalo, Kelly and I believe Fred Smerlas did a run-in unplanned when the lights went out and attacked Savage. Apparently another of the Bills, whose name was given to me as Rufus Jones believe it or not (as there was a fairly prominent 70s wrestler of the same name), was being goaded by other players to hit the ring all night but he never did it

The loser leaves town stip in the Jericho vs. Malenko match that was never planned took on such a life of its own that even the WCW's own web site listed the match as a loser leaves town match. That's what happens when there is no internal communication and everyone, even those whose jobs internally it is to keep posted on such things, gets more info from third hand sources outside the company than from the company itself

CTV in Canada is now airing Thunder on Thursdays

Several newspapers around the country ran this weekend about Jeff Torborg's son becoming a pro wrestler as part of a tag team called the Pit Crew although they listed his son as Joe Torborg and not Dale Torborg

The original plan was for Rey Misterio Jr. to win the cruiserweight title on 6/18 in Philadelphia from Jericho but that was nixed and Misterio Jr's first match back is now scheduled for 7/12 in San Diego and he's supposed to do a feud with both Jericho and Malenko. There was also an idea floated around that instead of handing Jericho the belt, that they would do a match in New York between Jericho and Malenko and that Malenko would have Jericho beat when suddenly Ted Irvine would clock Malenko with a hockey stick but it was nixed as well. There has been a lot of talk about teaming Rey & Juventud as a modern Rock & Roll Express tag team champions, but the difference between then and now is that when Morton & Gibson showed up both in Mid South and for Crockett, they beat every monster tag team in both territories clean as underdogs and held the belts in both territories almost immediately upon their arrival. What top stars in this company are willing to put those guys over and tell me it's even feasible to suggest them beating Sting & Nash. Misterio Jr. was in New York as well but not put on camera

Jimmy Snuka was backstage at Nitro in New York. They should have called the New York Nitro a night of missed opportunities since they had Snuka and Piper in the same building, not to mention the strange (lack of) usage of Hart, who was part of the anonymous pack of heels doing a run-in when the cage levitated and had no place in the rest of the show

In the Nitro Girls negotiations, they were offered a much smaller raise than they were asking for and apparently Bischoff in negotiations said something to the effect they he could get anyone to fill the spots of anyone unhappy and word got around and you can figure how all that goes

There were about 20,000 tickets sold for the Georgia Dome when the announcement was made for Hogan vs. Goldberg. At press time the figure was 22,511 tickets sold for $703,320. Tickets are moving at a steady pace and the prediction is to do around 35,000 but the announcement didn't really hasten the pace the tickets were moving

MPI Video has been releasing tapes of episodes of the 1965-66 NBC music show "Hullabaloo" and one of the tapes released includes The Gentry's doing their classic "Keep on Dancing," which features Jimmy Hart in his former life

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review did an article building up the house show on Goldberg

The 6/12 Chattanooga News-Free Press ran a story on Kevin Nash, focusing mostly on his college basketball stays at UTC from 1978-80. He played in 85 games, averaging 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds and started as a junior. Dan DeVoe, his coach at the time, described Nash as a somewhat talented player who lacked a proper work ethic both on the court and in the classroom but described him as very intelligent but not necessarily mature. Apparently there was a very famous confrontation between the two which led to Nash not coming back his senior year

Some tentative big show dates for the rest of 1998 are, 10/5 Nitro in Columbia, SC, 10/8 Thunder in Indianapolis, 10/11 house show in Milwaukee, 10/12 Nitro in Chicago at United Center, 10/19 Nitro in Minneapolis at Target Center, 10/22 Thunder in Albuquerque, 10/25 Halloween Havoc PPV in Las Vegas, 10/26 Nitro in Phoenix, 11/1 Nitro at Broward Arena in Fort Lauderdale, FL, 11/5 Thunder in Memphis, 11/8 house show in Philadelphia at Core States Spectrum, 11/9 Nitro at Nassau Coliseum, 11/16 Nitro in Wichita, 11/19 Thunder in Fort Wayne, IN, 11/22 World War III PPV in Auburn Hills, MI at The Palace, 11/23 Nitro in Grand Rapids, MI, 11/30 Nitro in Chattanooga, 12/7 Nitro in Jacksonville, 12/14 Nitro in Macon, GA, 12/17 Thunder in Charlotte, 12/21 Nitro at the TWA Dome in St. Louis, 12/27 Starrcade at MCI Arena in Washington, DC and 12/28 Nitro at the Baltimore Arena

Marcus Bagwell was on the radio in Atlanta plugging the Hogan-Goldberg match and said he'd be a member of the white & black when he returned

Brian Adams is out of action with a back injury. One of those deals where he was supposed to wrestle Goldberg on the 6/8 Nitro in Auburn Hills

Juventud Guerrera will be getting married in Mexico City on 6/19

Expect some sort of changes in the Raven character and/or surroundings. Lots of people are unhappy with the flock gimmick

Besides the TV tapings and Pittsburgh, the other house show of the week was 6/12 in Erie, PA which drew 2,485 paying $56,543 with Goldberg vs. Konnan on top. Using Goldberg in the main event position this week on the house shows failed, although partially because everyone figured, correctly so, that Konnan was only going to last two minutes with him and why pay for a two minute main event, not to mention supported by fairly weak undercards. Even though Goldberg gets probably the biggest reaction of any wrestler of this decade, aside from selling merchandise, he has only really meant a big deal in the ratings once (his match with Raven) and has as of yet not been a ticket seller. Obviously with the right opponent he'll be both a ratings draw and a ticket seller, but at some point he has to show vulnerability and do 10:00 matches if he's going to work on top and the question becomes how much if any will he cool off when he's no longer playing monster and when the undefeated streak ends? It's a really tricky game although he's really no different than Road Warriors, Undertaker and other monsters when they first got their push. Not including the PPV show, merchandise for the week was $398,330 or $11.01 per head

WCW Saturday Night on 6/13 did a 2.4 rating.

WWF: Raw on 6/15 in San Antonio drew a sellout 7,504 paying $153,830. The show opened with Sable coming out with no explanation as to why she was back after losing the loser leaves stipulation other than simply Vince McMahon let her back and he can do whatever he wants. It appears they are going to go something in the direction of alleging she slept with him to get her job back but at some point it'll probably come out that she didn't. After McMahon kissed Sable Continued on page 16.

THE READERS PAGES

 

JYD

Compile every wrestlers' obituary that you've ever written, put them in a book and you'll have a collection of the greatest essays done on pro wrestling history. You have a talent for paying tribute to fallen wrestlers and I don't mean that to sound like a morbid compliment. On the contrary, you manage to present a clear picture of a person's strengths and weaknesses without sounding like either a technical historian or a seeker of scandals.

The Junkyard Dog obituary totally rocked as one of your best pieces ever. You emphasized his lack of technical wrestling talent, yet your recap of his New Orleans glory days made me wish I could have been there to see it live. I can remember being a huge fans of great workers like Dynamite Kid and Tatsumi Fujinami during that time period, and along with that came my dislike for wrestlers like George Steele and Jimmy Valiant. But up until he became homogenized in the WWF, JYD was an exception to that rule from the Freebirds blinding angle to the Jim Duggan disguised in the gorilla suit angle.

While I still prefer fast-paced wrestling and workers like Negro Casas and Eddie Guerrero, I now have a better appreciation for character wrestlers who get over big-time and draw money based on their charisma, as well as the talented workers who carry them in the ring. In an age where so many folks have a cow if a match fails to reach five stars, I think sometimes people forget that a charismatic non-worker who means box office bonanza always has and always will have a big place in the business. I remember a 1920s edition of Colliers magazine that raved about the ability of Wayne Munn, the football star who had taken pro wrestling by storm. The article went on to state that he won all his matches in record time with his new innovative hold, the bodyslam, which would knock the wind out of his opponents, leaving them vulnerable to his pinfall. That article was the first thought that came to my mind when you wrote of Bill Watts explaining JYD's short matches by exclaiming that "JYD doesn't get paid by the hour."

I believe you article will tug a nostalgic heartstring for many of us nearing or past middle age. Although I lived in California and never saw Watts television week by week, your narrative on the nature of the wrestling business in those days brought me back to the character wrestlers of Los Angeles during my childhood. True my favorite wrestler growing up was the athletically talented Raul Mata, his dynamic high spots being well ahead of his time and he had an awesome babyface aura. But my friends at school and I also loved the melodrama of wild boys like Fred Blassie for the juice and the interviews, Man Mountain Mike because he'd squash his opponents and we all feared Ernie Ladd, not for the athletic capabilities that he definitely had, but for the bandage of his thumb that he loaded with a foreign object. I bet this week after reading your article there are readers in the Northwest reminiscing about Moondog Mayne, readers in the Midwest longing for Crusher & Bruiser and East Coast readers thinking about Bruno Sammartino.

Kurt Brown

Brea, California

All of your bios are exceptional, especially the story on Fritz Von Erich, but your JYD story really brought back some childhood memories and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I grew up during the Nick Gulas era in Birmingham and all these years I had no idea that Sylvester Ritter was the one wrestling as Leroy Rochester. I did know Leroy Rochester was the real name of Leroy Brown, and for all these years just assumed he was the one who wrestled here briefly teaming with Gypsy Joe and feuding with Pez Whatley.

Jim Ward

Birmingham, Alabama

WCW ANNOUNCING

Major thumbs down to Tony Schiavone for his announcing throughout the Marcus Bagwell ordeal on the 4/22 Thunder. Why the hell was he apologizing to the TV audience for the injury taking up television time? He might as well have said, "Buff may be paralyzed, so let's talk about the Hogan-Savage match from Nitro." Granted, the situation was totally unexpected. However, Schiavone came off like an insensitive moron who didn't know when to hold off on pushing fictional story lines at the expense of a potential tragedy happening right in front of him. I was praying that Buff wasn't going to be hurt like Reggie Brown was. Schiavone was busy getting his twice-a-week hard on talking about Hulk Hogan. Bobby Heenan visibly showed he didn't give a rats ass about the b.s. Schiavone was sprewing. He kept looking toward the ring because he was concerned. All the fans I talked to were concerned. Schiavone needed to get a reality check.

When do you think five hours of live television weekly will overexpose WCW and hurt its ratings? It has to get stale eventually, right? Nitro and Thunder just seem so damn long sometimes.

Jason Singh

Vallejo, California

I really have to give a big thumbs up to Mike Tenay and Scott Hudson. I hadn't seen WCW Saturday Night in years, but tuned in a few weeks ago out of boredom. The play-by-play was the best I've heard in WCW in a long time. Tenay and Hudson meshed extremely well and made each move in every match mean something. Praise should also go to Joey Styles for his work in Living Dangerously. While some of his announcing has started to become cliched, for the most part he did a solid job. I was especially impressed during the FBI vs. Chris Chetti & Jerry Lynn opener. He provided background on all four wrestlers, got over their moves and didn't spend the entire first match hyping the main event. He almost reminded me of a pre-Hogan Tony Schiavone.

The only reason I watch Nitro and Thunder is for the cruiserweights, Ric Flair and Chris Benoit. It's a real travesty all the crap they have to endure. I wonder if the Luchadores went to the WWF would the situation really be any better? After the Taka Michinoku vs. Barry Windham match, I'd think not.

With the growth of the NWA, has anyone considered doing a nationally syndicated television show under the NWA banner? This could feature the top angles and best matches from each of the affiliated groups, and highlight unknown wrestlers.

A word about DUD matches. I think it is necessary to have workers such as Steve McMichael, Jim Neidhart, Jim Duggan, Sid, etc. Why? For comparisons sake. To quote a certain cartoon, "You gotta have something that suck to have something that's cool."

Preston Powers

Midway, Tennessee

I feel very strongly that WCW and WWF should concentrate on improving their own products before taking shots at competition. It only makes both companies seem childish and insecure. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Name withheld by request

BIGGEST DRAWS

I'm especially interested in the various lists you present on occasion, especially the top recorded crowds in wrestling history. I love putting together wrestling lists and recently, using Sammy Eans' Wrestling Almanac and past Observer and Torch yearbooks decided to try and expand on your list of shows that drew 60,000 to all crowds of more than 30,000.

I found there to be 50 recorded pro wrestling crowds of more than 30,000. For Multiple main event appearances--Shinya Hashimoto (9), Genichiro Tenryu (8), Antonio Inoki (7), Hulk Hogan (7), Atsushi Onita (7), Keiji Muto (6), Nobuhiko Takada (5), Tatsumi Fujinami (4), Ric Flair, Masahiro Chono, Riki Choshu (all three), Ultimate Warrior, Kensuke Sasaki, Sid, Stan Hansen, Naoya Ogawa, Hayabusa, Strangler Lewis, Bruno Sammartino, Terry Funk, Mr. Pogo (all two). I found it surprising that Hayabusa and Pogo made the list but neither Bret Hart nor Shawn Michaels did.

By promotion, New Japan has had 23, WWF has had nine, FMW eight, UWFI three, NWA three, All Japan two and SWS two. No WCW shows make the list. The three I listed as NWA were Lewis vs. Jim Londos September 20, 1934; Lewis vs. Danno O'Mahoney July 30, 1935 and Buddy Rogers vs. Pat O'Connor June 30, 1961. I'm not confident it that's accurate to list those under the NWA banner. By year, 1995 had seven, 1993 and 1997 had six, 1992, 1996 and 1991 had four, 1998 has had three so far, 1990 had three, 1994 had three and 1989 had two. I think this list proves that the 1990s were the most successful decade ever for pro wrestling around the world.

By city, Tokyo has 21, Kawasaki has six, Fukuoka has four and Pyongyang, North Korea, Toronto, Osaka, New York City and Chicago each have two. By building, the Tokyo dome has 19, Kawasaki Stadium six, Fukuoka Dome four, May Day Stadium, Shea Stadium and Jingu Stadium two each.

Daric Tienharra

Bremerton, Washington

DM: That was some interesting notes. I'm sure that Jim Londos, Danno O'Mahoney, Lou Thesz, Rikidozan, Strangler Lewis and Antonio Inoki headlined several shows that drew more than 30,000 that aren't on lists and there were a lot of stadium shows in Mexico during the 70s that drew huge crowds headlined by Mil Mascaras and El Santo. In the mid-80s, Inoki headlined a week of shows in Pakistan where just about every show supposedly drew more than 30,000 fans but I couldn't swear to the accuracy of those numbers either. As for Lewis-Londos and Lewis-O'Mahoney, neither should be listed as NWA since the NWA wasn't even formed until 1948. Rogers vs. O'Connor was an NWA title match although it was Fred Kohler, an NWA member who ran his own circuit, that promoted the show. I believe that Rogers and O'Connor had a rematch for the title at Comiskey Park that also drew around 30,000 fans, although any numbers from pre-1970 have to be taken with a grain of salt because there were no historical reference books or verification of much before then and even local newspapers and local publicity would heavily exaggerate attendances.

BAGWELL

I don't know if you read Wrestling Perspective, but I wrote an article for it a little over a year ago concerning a spinal injury suffered by a fictitious wrestler, which hit home when Marcus Bagwell was injured.

I myself suffered a spinal injury two-and-a-half years ago from falling during a seizure. My head and neck snapped back in much the same manner as Bagwell's, crushing my third cervical vertebrae and severely bruising my spinal chord. Initially paralyzed from the chest down, I have since regained all but about 15 percent usage of my limbs. But I still need to use a cane or a walker to get around.

As soon as I saw the replay, I knew what happened to Bagwell. It was as frightening to me as to anyone who saw it. I understand what must have been going through his mind as they laid there unable to move. I also understand what he has to go through. It's a long difficult road ahead of him and I hope he is able to eventually climb back into the ring. When he does, the audience in the arena that night should give him a standing ovation.

Michael McGowen

St. Louis, Missouri

LEWIS-STECHER

Returning to the July 4, 1916 Joe Stecher vs. Strangler Lewis match, my thinking the match was a shoot came from the fact Lewis wrestled the entire match on the defensive. Why screw up a match in front of 18,000 fans by not locking up if the match is a work? If you're going to work a match, it isn't going to look like Severn vs. Shamrock II. I know John Williams' theory is they worked a five hour long match so the imagination of everyone who wasn't there would create a legendary match out of the result, but that theory doesn't solve the riddles surrounding the contest and if true they were really counting on the naivete of the American public. But history does show that's what happened, so it's possible Williams is right. But why did the match have to be, not just bad, not so terrible as to screw up an event that you sold 18,000 tickets for? I have another theory. The July 6 report on the match in the Chicago Tribune goes out of its way to report on all the Stecher supporters around the country who had attended the match and bet on Stecher to win that had to telegraph home to get money for transportation. Since there would be heavy odds against a draw in a match scheduled to be fought with no time limit to a finish, the gamblers stood to gain a lot from the match having no winner. A long boring outdoor match lasting until there was no light and had to be called would make some sense. Gamblers fixed a World Series in 1919, so what would be hard about them rigging a pro wrestling match. But everything is theory. Nobody will ever know that the real facts are. Tales from wrestlers passed down are just that. Anyone who ever talks to old wrestlers knows how hard it is for them to separate fact from fantasy. Ad Santel telling Lou Thesz a story in 1937 about something that happened in 1911 is as reliable as Larry Zbyszko talking about his match with Bruno Sammartino. It's a business of self-promotion. All anyone can do is pick out the story that makes the most sense at the time, or is the most entertaining, or the story they can make some money on by repeating. The Lewis-Stecher match was for the World's title if you consider Stecher's win over Charlie Cutler on July 5, 1915 as a world title change as most people do.

Steve Yohe

Montebello, California

DM: The gambling theory is an interesting one and one that can be considered. The biggest argument against that theory and the match being a work and the participants agreeing to go five hours is that with the mentality of that time and even to this time, wrestling promoters never think how things will play out historically and if all parties agreed because they were getting a cut of gambling killings, again, something that big would have eventually come out in wrestling folklore somewhere because the other thing constant about wrestling is that while you can't count on the truth from old stories, neither can anyone keep a good secret. Wrestlers, and people in general but wrestlers more than most, like to put themselves over. Old-time wrestlers were old-time con men and the story they are going to repeat to the other con men is the one they look the best in. If Lewis had the choice of saying he fought a real-life five hour shoot and even though he tired Stecher out, he never beat him, or that there was no way Stecher could have ever hung with him and he just carried the guy because it was a planned idea to make more money down the road, or that he made a killing from gamblers and carried Stecher, the story that made him look the weakest to his con men buddies was the story he told decades later after none of this mattered anymore, so more than likely, it was closer to the truth than either of the other two versions. Eventually those stories would have gotten out, although probably not until years or decades later. Remember, the gamblers fixed the Series and couldn't keep that one quiet for very long and if you understand sports, you'll know that baseball itself probably tried to keep that one quiet as well and it still got out and forced their hand to take what to the public would seem like drastic action. And that was a whole lot more important to keep quiet than making a killing by working a draw in a pro wrestling title match. Also, the match would have been better if they knew what they were doing rather than shooting. If both agreed on a finish beforehand, they'd have tried with a crowd that big to do an exciting for that time frame match, or as least as exciting as they were capable of doing. The idea that if they stink up a match but because it went five hours it would become legendary, which does make sense actually long-term, so that ten years later it'll draw money goes against every wrestling promoter mentality I've ever come across. Their mentality is to not kill the local town for the next show in two weeks (or two months or whatever) and nobody ever thinks more than a few months ahead. How things will look historically is never taken into any consideration. Besides, if the match was worked and they had that much time to kill, while they'd still do a boring match because I don't think it's possible to have a five hour match that isn't dreadfully boring, there would be at least be high points of excitement mixed in with the boredom, plenty of subplots and more overt strategies so the newspaper description of the match would have read better in the midst of not having a decision. But obviously, any of the theorized scenarios are possible, and the only people who really know are dead, and if they weren't, you still couldn't trust their versions. There have been three very similar very famous matches now, Lewis-Stecher, Ali-Inoki and Severn-Shamrock, all of which because there was little physical harm done to the participants because for the most part the participants wouldn't lock up for long periods of time, over very lengthy matches that people have theorized from that lack of locking up were all works. But my feeling on all three accounts is you had three shoots where the stakes in the minds of the participants were so high that they were all afraid of losing and the end result was really lousy matches, but very real matches, in all three cases. I can say from people involved in the translations and communication that Ali-Inoki was what it was, and I'm pretty sure I know what Severn-Shamrock was and think the description in Shamrock's book about that match is pretty much right on target as to what Shamrock was thinking all the way through that day and what Severn was thinking is pretty well detailed in the Observer that came out after that match. Historically, WWF may be able to convince people that match also was a classic instead of a bore, and from reading an article in their magazine by Kevin Kelly about the Severn-Shamrock feud (which actually had the second match as the first one), they certainly made that attempt. Maybe they'll draw some money on PPV with a rematch and maybe they won't, but if they do, people 100 years down the line may look at it in hindsight and determine the controversial time limit decision to Severn and the first win by Shamrock must have been planned to make them 1-1 like a pro wrestling give-and-take, when it wasn't. I can also guarantee when it comes to Severn-Shamrock, that the judging was 100% honest because if SEG had any influence on the judges or even made mild pressure that in a close call give it to who they wanted, the one they wanted to win was Shamrock, and he was the champion and it was a close call by any standards, yet Severn won. Years from now some people will look at the WWF in 1998 and how the storylines went and the big business in the early part of the year and conclude that the Montreal finish must have been planned by everyone involved based on the success after the fact. But at that specific point in time, nobody was thinking past that day and McMahon was just trying to get through the double-cross and make it come off as palatable for the fans watching as he could, which obviously didn't happen and then the story took on a life of its own and McMahon used that to become the lead heel character in his company.

Continued from page 13. on the cheek, Steve Austin came out, helped Sable out of the ring, called McMahon a chickenshit, using those words, on TV. McMahon ran away from Austin and claimed that Undertaker was behind last week's sneak attack. Undertaker came out and said he wanted a title shot but that he wasn't behind the sneak attack. Paul Bearer came out and said he and Undertaker together had planned the entire thing and McMahon had no knowledge of it. Mankind is back with Bearer. It wound up with a challenge for a tag match in the Hell in the Cell as the TV main event, which, of course, never took place. In a KOR match, Rocky Maivia pinned Vader in 4:40 with the uranage after Mark Henry had splashed Vader outside the ring. Vader was more aggressive than he's been and Maivia didn't look bad considering he just got scoped about ten days earlier and didn't favor the leg that much. Darren Drozdov pinned Jeff Jarrett in 2:12 when Marc Mero hit Jarrett with a low blow. Val Venis pinned Chainz with the splash off the top rope money shot in 4:36. Chainz looked better than he's looked in a while. Dustin Runnels pinned Mero in 4:06 when Sable came out and distracted Mero and Runnels used the bulldog. Later in the show Runnels dedicated the win to Jesus Christ. I guess he realizes that for his career to go anywhere at this point he needs divine intervention. Hunter Hearst Helmsley beat X-Pac in a KOR match via count out when Owen Hart crotched X-Pac on the guard rail while Helmsley was distracted by Maivia in the stands cutting a promo in 5:14. X-Pac looked good. The most unintentionally humorous thing on the show was them billing X-Pac as 222 pounds. Jerry Lawler interviewed Al Snow who came out in his Avatar costume. He said he wanted Vince McMahon arrested for attempted murder since he tried to kill his career with such a lame gimmick wearing an Aldo Montoya mask. Nobody knew what he was talking about. Lawler and Snow ended up getting into it with Lawler trying to throw the head into the stands but Snow ended up giving him a low blow with the head and another blow to the face after using his Northern Lights bomb on ref Jack Doan to get that over as his move. Hart & Henry beat Dan Severn & Ken Shamrock via DQ in 4:41. Severn's offense was a lot better when it came to wrestling, but his brawling and selling leave a lot to be desired. Shamrock was real good. While the announcers teased tension and showed clips of their second UFC match, the two really didn't do anything to build up to a future conflict. Hart had Shamrock in the scorpion when DX did the run-in. It wound up with a Wild Brawl with the Nation, DX, Severn & Shamrock and even Vader, trying to get revenge on Henry costing him his match, all involved. Next was a Tag Team Royal Rumble

with such teams as LOD 2000, Kane & Mankind, Midnight Express, Head Bangers, Skull & Eight Ball, Golga & Kurrgan, Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor (who looked like midgets in with all those deceptively big guys like DOA, Golga, Kurrgan, Bart Gunn, etc.), Faarooq & Steve Blackman, Bradshaw & Taka Michinoku and finally Terry Funk & Too Cold Scorpio. It was certainly different watching LOD having to play the tiny patsies role for Kane. It was awful, with Kane & Mankind winning when Kane kicked a chair held by Mankind into Funk's face and he went over the top in 8:24. Then came the cage match. Mankind & Kane were out there. Austin came out. Undertaker didn't. Mankind & Kane attacked Austin. Bearer locked himself in the cage. Undertaker came from under the ring and destroyed Bearer, who juiced heavy with major camera close-ups. Kane climbed to the top of the cage to try and get in, allowing Austin and Mankind to kill each other including a few sick chair shots. Austin then climbed to the top of the cage and started fighting Kane as the show went off the air

Steve Regal has been given medical clearance from his pneumonia to begin wrestling. Regal, Steve Williams and Edge (Adam Copeland) should all debut on TV within the next two weeks

Madison Square Garden had about 6,000 tickets sold for SummerSlam at press time

Michael Cole was in an auto accident during the week in which he totalled his car, although he came out of it fine and was working TV by Monday

There is some talk after exposing the stupidity of the rules of the Triple Threat matches (which are won by whoever scores the first pin, so logically teams should never tag another team) with the finish on the 6/8 Raw, that they'll change the rules when they do three-way matches in the future

Survivor Series will be 11/15 at the Kiel Center in St. Louis

WWF has yet to sign any new Mexican wrestlers for its Univision television show which will be a 30 minute show on Saturday afternoons starting in August or September. Bruce Prichard and Victor Quinones were at Arena Mexico for the Anniversary show on 6/5 and were impressed in particular with Negro Casas and El Hijo del Santo. They are trying to find an unmasked good looking pretty boy type to build it around, such as a Hector Garza, but since he's under contract to WCW, the two most likely to be considered are Latin Lover and Tarzan Boy. At present, there are no immediate plans to either do tapings or run house shows strictly Latino and the TV would be taped at the regular WWF tapings, which means largely to an audience that won't react. Eventually the idea would be to do Lucha Libre house show and TV tapings at those shows

Weekend house shows saw 6/13 in Albuquerque drew 8,907 paying $157,736 and 6/14 in Dallas at Reunion Arena did 9,899 paying $182,672. Merchandise for the week including San Antonio was $271,914 or $10.34 per head

It appears all NWA references have been dropped as Midnight Express was never referred as tag champions and they've dropped the references with Severn as well

Somebody ought to give Mick Foley a real award for his work here over the past year in putting over Kane and Austin

King of the Ring quarterfinals are Shamrock vs. Henry, Jarrett vs. Mero, HHH vs. Maivia and Severn vs. Hart scheduled for 6/16 in Austin, TX

Jeff & Matt Hardy have signed contracts with the WWF

During the Undertaker vs. Kane match in Dallas, there were loud chants of "Percy sucks" in references to Bearer's prior-life role in the Dallas circuit

Live Wire on 6/13 did a 1.5 rating and Superstars the next day did a 1.7.

WRESTLING OBSERVER NEWSLETTER June 22, 1998

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