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NEWS: FOURTEEN WEEKS IN 1990: PART ONE


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When 1989 came to an end, American wrestling was at a pivotal point. In New York, rumors of Hulk Hogan's retirement continued to swirl, problems with pay-per-view syndicators plagued the WWF, and the search for the next WWF heavyweight champion continued. In Atlanta, backstage conflict overshadowed what was one of the greatest years for any company in modern wrestling history. Lex Luger was still being pushed as the next NWA champion by some, and Ric Flair continued to hold the title. Meanwhile, the two parts of a former tag team out of California were slowly becoming the two fastest rising stars in wrestling, with ascentions and eventual falls that would mirror each other eerily. Fourteen Weeks in 1990 is a special feature at The Pro-Wrestling Chronicle that will go behind the scenes in both New York and Atlanta for a look at the beginning of the end of a golden period in American wrestling.

NEWS: FOURTEEN WEEKS IN 1990: PART ONE

WEEK ONE: JANUARY 1-7, 1990

The WWF pay-per-view No Holds Barred: The Match, The Movie -taped on December 12- aired on December 27. The event featured only one match, a tag team cage match that saw Randy Savage and Zeus lose to Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake in a match saved only by Randy Savage. The pay-per-view drew a 1.8 buyrate, approximately one-third of the buyrate of the original match at SummerSlam between the two teams. The No Holds Barred pay-per-view was offered at a discounted rate. It marked the last appearance of Zeus for the company.

The most pivotal story of the first week of 1990 was perhaps the continuing conflict between the World Wrestling Federation and the companies that they relied on to syndicate their pay-per-views, Request TV and Viewers Choice. During the No Holds Barred pay-per-view, Gene Okerlund read a telegram informing fans that several cable companies were not carrying the Royal Rumble. On the pay-per-view and on WWE syndicated television over the weekend, announcers urged fans to contact their cable companies. Jesse Ventura even stated that he fought to defend America, and that he finds the cable companies withholding the pay-per-views from the public to be un-American. Coming from the WWF, who had routinely blocked their competitors from major arenas and conducted power plays to force all but a few cable operators to drop NWA pay-per-views in favor of their own, this stance by the WWF could be considered comical. The impasse between both sides stems from what the WWF feels is their fair share of pay-per-view revenues.

With 1990 now officially underway, Wrestlemania VI from Toronto, Ontario on April 1st is on everyone's mind. The rumors circulation in late 1989 had one of the following four matches being the strong possibility: 1) Hulk Hogan vs. Brutus Beefcake after a heel turn; 2) Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior after a heel turn; 3) Hulk Hogan & Elizabeth vs. Randy Savage & Sherri; 4) Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus. Hulk Hogan is scheduled to meet Mr. Perfect on the February 23rd Saturday Night's Main Event, and many believe Hogan might drop the title to set up a Wrestlemania rematch. With Zeus no longer in the WWF, and Brutus Beefcake not turning on Hogan at the No Holds Barred pay-per-views as many had suspected, neither seem to be likely possibilities at this point. Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that there has been recent talk of Roddy Piper leaving Prime Time Wrestling and aligning himself with Bobby Heenan as a heel to become the top challenger for Hogan, but Meltzer believes Hogan vs. The Warrior is the most likely possibility as of this point.

The lawsuit between Hulk Hogan and comedian Richard Belzer was just settled out of court. Hogan was being sued for five million dollars due to an incident that occurred six years earlier on March 28, 1985 when Hulk Hogan accidentally dropped Belzer and busted his head open just prior to Wrestlemania. The settlement is believed to be a very favorable settlement for Belzer, which was made to keep Hogan out of the negative light. Disney remains interested in Hogan due to the strong success of No Holds Barred with children, and this continues to fuel rumors of Hogan retiring.

The A-shows are currently being headlined by Hulk Hogan and Mr. Perfect, with Hennig looking spectacular. The World Wrestling Federation has been getting out of ruining Hennig's perfect record by having Lanny Poffo to take the falls in a lot of handicap matches as of late. Rick Rude and Roddy Piper are headlining B-shows.

Barry Windham continued to no-show dates for the World Wrestling Federation. He may have had a valid reason this time, as Barry had to bail both Kendell and his father Robert "Blackjack Mulligan" Windham out of prison after they tried to pass counterfeit $20 bills. Windham's time with the WWF appears to be limited.

The NWA had strong interest in Pat Tanaka to join the the stable of The Great Muta, the Dragon Master & Buzz Sawyer. The WWF knew this, and decided to sign Tanaka. He'll be heading in as one half of a Japanese tag team with Akio Sato.

Jim Herd is still heavily pushing for the World Title to go to Lex Luger, who just signed a three year contract for what is believed to be 1.5 million dollars. Ric Flair is still in favor of Sting as his next challenger. Mark Calloway has started up on television, and should probably become a Skyscraper with Dan Spivey. Other new acquisitions include The Rock N' Roll Express -working without a contract- and Jorge Gonzalez, a legit 7'6" basketball player from Argentina. Missy Hyatte is still being held off of television as an announcer until her speech teacher gives WCW brass word that she has completely dropped her Southern accent.

Rumors are abound that Billy Jack Haynes and Bob Orton are on their way back to the World Wrestling Federation. Haystacks Calhoun has sadly passed away after suffering the seventh major heart attack of his life.

WEEK TWO: JANUARY 8-14, 1990

It is now virtually certain that the main event for Wrestlemania VI will see The Ultimate Warrior challenging for Hulk Hogan's WWF Championship on April 1st. How the match will play out is still a matter of great speculation. The Ultimate Warrior turning heel at this point might not be entirely wise, as he is the second most popular star in the company and more popular with children than Hulk Hogan. There is a possibility that he would play heel in just this feud, and make amends with Hulk Hogan at the conclusion of the match. Set up for the feud should possibly begin as early as The Royal Rumble, and should definitely continue at the next Saturday Night's Main Event taping in several weeks.

The Big Bossman turned babyface over the weekend after a heel run that saw him doing incredible business with Hulk Hogan on multiple tours. In the angle, Jake Roberts stole the Million Dollar Belt and placed it in the back of the arena with his snake. Ted Dibiase instructed Bossman through Slick to get the Million Dollar Belt back. When The Big Bossman did, he gave it to Jake Roberts rather than Dibiase and then laid out The Million Dollar Man and Slick.

Sting, who's popularity has been surging for the last twelve months, was officially made the fourth member of the Horsemen over the weekend. In other Horsemen related news, Sid Vicious is probably headed to the WWF soon unless WCW can make him an offer worth staying for. He is still out of action after suffering a punctured lung at the Clash of the Champions 9 in a match against the Steiner Brothers.

Gary Hart has been fired by the National Wrestling Alliance.

Arsenio Hall, who is a wrestling fan, has been trying to get WCW talent on his show for weeks. Thus far, he is having no luck getting through to the company, as they flat out refuse to allow their talent to appear on the show as long as Hall keeps booking guests from the WWF. WCW, which hardly receives any mainstream press or appearances, should perhaps learn the old adage about beggars and choosers. Hall is said to prefer the NWA or the WWF because of the superior in ring wrestling.

WEEK THREE: JANUARY 15-21, 1990

The World Wrestling Federation has come to terms on a seven year deal with Viewers Choice to syndicate all of their pay-per-view events until at least the end of 1996. The deal was signed just over a week before The Royal Rumble, which will now be airing through Viewers Choice.

Saturday Night's Main Event was taped this week and a huge angle was shot involving Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior faced Curt Hennig & Lanny Poffo. After a big boot and leg drop, Hulk Hogan pinned Lanny Poffo. Mr. Perfect throws Hogan out of the ring, and he and Poffo brutalize The Warrior. When Hogan steps back into the ring, he accidentally bumps the Warrior, who has his back turned to Hogan. Warrior turns around and punches Hogan before realizing what he has done. The two wrestlers make up with each other, but the seeds are planted for their main event in Toronto. There are rumors that Curt Hennig will win the Royal Rumble, with Warrior and Hogan perhaps playing a part in each other's eliminations. Also on Saturday Night's Main Event will be Ronnie Garvin taking on Greg Valentine, and Jim Duggan against Randy Savage.

Barry Windham is officially gone from the World Wrestling Federation after a rocky stint consisting of numerous no-shows and a character that never really got off of the ground. More information on the situation with Barry's father Blackjack Mulligan and his brother Kendell Windham: Florida investigators confiscated around $500,000 in counterfeit money from the two, and Kendell has been fired by the NWA. His spot is probably going to be filled by Cactus Jack Manson, who has been gaining a cult following on the independents due to the insane punishment and bumps that he takes in his matches.

Andre the Giant and Haku continue to hold on to the WWF tag team championships. Andre, at 44, can hardly travel currently due to his size, and it remains unclear just how much longer the two will be able to hold on to the titles before having to drop them for the sake of practicality.

Kerry Von Erich is still being lobbied for by some in power in the NWA. There is no word on whether or not he has been or will be offered a deal with the company. John Studd is also in negotiations to come in to the NWA.

Jorge Gonzalez will wrestle under the name El Gigante, and is currently being trained by the NWA. He should debut on February 25th on pay-per-view.

WEEK FOUR: JANUARY 22-28, 1990

The WWF has reached a deal with Mike Tyson, the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet. Tyson will serve as referee for a match between Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan that will air on February 23rd WWF special on NBC. There was some internal debate on whether Mike Tyson should be used in this capacity, or saved until Wrestlemania VI. The thought seems to be that the WWF wants to use Mike Tyson -one of the biggest draws in sports- to get as many people watching on NBC as people so that they can see the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan's angle setting up Wrestlemania. Many are salivating over the potential box office of a Hulk Hogan vs. Mike Tyson match, but politics would prohibit almost any finish aside from the two teaming up to run off heels at the end according to Dave Meltzer.

The third annual Royal Rumble was broadcast live on pay-per-view on Sunday from Orlando, Florida. The event drew a 2.0 buyrate, only two tenths of a point higher than the No Holds Barred pay-per-view several weeks before. The undercard was rather forgettable, with Greg Valentine losing to Ronnie Garvin in an "I Quit" match being the only standout bout. In the main event, Hulk Hogan won a Royal Rumble match that saw an angle shot between he and The Ultimate Warrior. When the two were the only wrestlers in the ring, they crisscrossed the ring and knocked each other down at first, and moments later Hogan accidentally knocked The Ultimate Warrior out of the ring. The Orlando fans were rabid for the dream face-off, and Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior are now both looking to go into Wrestlemania as fan favorites.

Hulk Hogan is expecting his second child soon, and some believe he may want to take some time away from wrestling in the not so distant future.

New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling have apparently banded together in attempts to stop the World Wrestling Federation from invading the Japanese market.

The Clash of the Champions: Texas Shootout takes place on February 6th, and most believe that it will set up an angle between the Horsemen and Sting that will result in Sting taking the title from Ric Flair on February 25th in Greensboro at Wrestle War 1990. Also on the card, Lex Luger is expected to meet Steve Williams for the United States Title and Big John Studd takes on El Gigante in a battle of the giants.

The Bushwackers, who have proven to be a strong draw for the WWF, are probably going to be facing Andre the Giant and Haku at Wrestlemania and taking the Tag Team Titles.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura has signed on to do a pilot for ABC where he plays the role of an undercover police officer who moonlights as a professional wrestler.

With Stampede closing up, Owen Hart and Larry Cameron are heavily rumored to be coming in to the World Wrestling Federation some time soon.

Ole Anderson is out of the NWA booking committee, and Jim Herd and Jim Barnett are now taking much less active roles. The committee now consists of Jim Cornette, Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan and Jim Ross. Ric Flair, Jim Cornette and Kevin Sullivan are putting the matches together, while Jim Ross handled production of the TBS show and Terry Funk handled production of syndicated programming.

Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman are getting over very big, and are reminiscent of a younger and more marketable version of the Rock n' Roll Express. Zenk, who Ric Flair convinced Jim Herd to sign, had been a favorite of Flair's since first seeing him four years earlier in Portland.

Look for Part Two of Fourteen Weeks in 1990 soon, exclusively at The Pro-Wrestling Chronicle. All news and information is taken from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, The Pro-Wrestling Torch Newsletter, Herb Kunze and various wrestling books and biographies.


5 Responses to “NEWS: FOURTEEN WEEKS IN 1990: PART ONE”

  1. Anonymous drqshadow 

    Yo, Jay. Just wanted to let you know your blog has jumped above Meltzer in my bookmarks' "order of importance" listing. I'm loving these historical bits and backstage niblits. Great ideas all around.

    Don't be a stranger!

  2. Anonymous Shane Leroy 

    Great stuff Jay, The site kills an hour of my "work" day every week day at the office.

  3. Anonymous tanvir 

    I'm loving this blog. Best thing on the net since MEATHOLES.

  4. Anonymous Trevor Sherman 

    Well, I just can't say enough about how much I enjoy this web site. Keep up the great work, and I will continue to visit and read. Really wonderful articles.

  5. Anonymous Jason 

    A very insightful look at a golden period in professional wrestling. I enjoy reading up on this period in the business more than I do the current one. You are to be commended for your effort. Keep up the good work.

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