NEWS: FOURTEEN WEEKS IN 1990: PART THREE
In a situation that had reached boiling point long ago, a major shakeup in the National Wrestling Alliance booking committee has occurred. Ric Flair has stepped down as the chairman of the committee, and his spot will be taken by Jim Herd, who has been highly criticized for his lack of practical knowledge and experience when it comes to drawing in professional wrestling. Under Flair's watch -which lasted a little over half of a year- ratings made a huge turn for the better, but the conflicting schools of thought behind the scenes continued to sour by the week. With incredible personal pressure on him, Flair stepped down voluntarily. Flair's last week as chairman of the booking committee saw the NWA set all time cable wrestling records for a non-special events such as the Clash of Champions or Royal Rumble.
Jim Barnett will take over duties as vice chairman, and Kevin Sullivan, Terry Funk, Jim Ross and Jim Cornette will retain their individual creative positions, with rumors of Eddie Gilbert being added to the mix. With the company no longer in position to demote Ric Flair down the card due to lack of healthy or available replacements, the current plan will be Ric Flair working with Lex Luger for the next six months, a scenario almost no one wanted but is the only real option.
Jim Herd hosted a press conference at CNN Center in Atlanta earlier this week and claimed that he was trying to negotiate the rights to use movie characters owned by Ted Turner as wrestling characters in the National Wrestling Alliance. Herd gave the example of trying to find a 6'5", 275lb man with one leg, who could be trained and brought in as Long John Silver. According to Dave Meltzer, he also asked rhetorically if Rhett Butler could pin Ric Flair.
The much hyped live Main Event special on NBC saw nothing done to advance the Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior storyline, and saw James "Buster" Douglas botch his worked punch of Randy Savage, which was incredibly obvious to those watching at home. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage was a poor match, and nowhere near the level of past meetings between the two. Also on the show, Dusty Rhodes pinned Mr. Perfect in further evidence of Hennig's falling stock with the company.
Before his match with The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan addressed rumors that Disney was courting him and in regards to his heavily rumored retirement. Hogan claimed to have no interest in "Holly-weird", and claimed "I'm not about to body slam Donald Duck or drop the leg drop on Jimminy Cricket". Hulk Hogan's new line of vitamins are expected to hit retailer shelves very soon.
Jack Tunney has announced that both the World Title and the Intercontinental Title will be on the line at Wrestlemania VI in Toronto. It is expected that enough tickets will be sold in the next two weeks to officially call the 66,000 seat Skydome sold out.
There has been talk that The Dynamic Dudes and Danny Spivey are being released by the NWA, and talk of Scott the Body Levy being brought in. There are also rumors about Tom Zenk or Brian Pillman being tapped as the newest Horseman, with Flair lobbying for Pillman.
Wrestle War 1990 was met with mixed reviews, featuring only two strong matches and little in terms of storyline development. Buzz Sawyer and Kevin Sullivan defeated the Dynamic Dudes in the show opener, followed by Norman the Lunatic pinning Cactus Jack Manson. In a match that Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter rated four and one-quarter stars, The Rock n' Roll Express defeated The Midnight Express in a statement, show stealing match as no one involved have contracts with the NWA waiting for them to sign. The Road Warriors defeated Mean Mark Callous and Mike Enos, and Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman defeated the Freebirds in a twenty-four minute match that Dave Meltzer claimed "went about 25 minutes too long". The Steiner Brothers defeated Arn and Ole Anderson, and in the main event Ric Flair defeated Lex Luger via count-out in a match that Dave Meltzer rated four and one-half stars. The finish of the main event was panned as being screwy and indecisive, but was done to protect the return match business that the NWA will have to do with the program in upcoming months on tour.
Lex Luger doesn't want the title at this point currently, perhaps due to the soft business that thw NWA is looking to do in upcoming months with so many departures and injuries.
Things just keep getting worse for the National Wrestling Alliance. Arn Anderson suffered a herniated disc at Wrestle War that will keep him out of action for around three months. Shane Douglas, Stan Lane, Ricky Morton and Eddie Gilbert will also be missing a good amount of time with injuries as well. Danny Spivey has officially been fired by the NWA as well for not notifying the office of the numerous dates he would be missing.
The booking situation continues to be a mess, with Jim Herd's glaring lack of wrestling knowledge becoming every more obvious and Jim Barnett seeming out of touch with what wrestling fans want in the 1990's. Ric Flair's legacy as a booker seemed to be to ensure the best quality wrestling matches possible, with Flair aggressively going after WWF talent who would have furthered this agenda, namely Curt Hennig, Bret Hart, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Ted Dibiase. The front office didn't see eye to eye with Flair, and let Bret Hart slip through their fingers when he was ready and willing to make a deal.
Greg Valentine has died his hair black and donned a guitar as part of a new angle in the WWF that will see him team with the Honky Tonk Man and record a single titled That's All Right Honky Tonk Hammer. Sato and Tanaka, aligned with Mr. Fuji, have joined the tag team ranks as the Orient Express. In other tag teams news, some rumors are going around that The Hart Foundation will change their names to The Pink and Black Attack.
Larry Cameron, the exceptional wrestler out of Stampede, is once again rumored to be on his way in, and talks are circulating of Dory Funk Jr. stepping out of retirement for a return to the WWF.
Wrestlemania VI will broadcast to fifty-four closed circuit locations on April 1 for those without pay-per-view capabilities.
Dave Meltzer reports that there is a young wrestler named The Lightning Kid in Minnesota and a young American wrestling in Japan as Pegasus who are supposedly incredible.
Former W.W.W.F. champions "Superstar" Billy Graham and Bruno Sammartino appeared on Entertainment Tonight this week, claiming that 90% of the wrestlers in the World Wrestling Federation --referred to by some as "The Steroid Farm" --are on steroids. While Sammartino looked exceptional for his age, Graham looked old and broken down as a result of his years in the wrestling business.
On the pressure to use steroids in the WWF, Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer stated "I could go into horror stories about wrestlers who's wives have had birth defective children; a wrestler who really didn't want to use steroids while his wife was pregnant because during fits of roid rage he had punched her, but at the times there were pressures from the top because he was getting too small; a wrestler who had a family history of heart problems, and who's doctor told him never to touch them, but without them was making 1/3 of what he was making while on them today".
There is talk that Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger at the May 19th pay-per-view will be a hair vs. hair match. Ricky Steamboat has filed a lawsuit against the NWA for using his name on promotional material for the Halloween Havoc 1989 video release.
Rick Rude was involved in a serious car accident last week in Florida. It was so severe that Rude is seeking neurological help. Rude, scheduled to face Jimmy Snuka at Wrestlemania VI, probably won't be able to wrestle on the show.
In WWF tag team news, The Bushwackers are said to be on the way out of the company, while The Rockers are rumored to be breaking up in the near future with Marty Jannetty going heel. Rumors are very strong of the Skyscrapers, comprised of Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey, debuting in the WWF as soon as next month.
Paul E. Dangerously has been in contact with the WWF and is expected to be heading in to the company soon after Wrestlemania.
Rumors continue of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair both retiring from wrestling. Hogan is taking some time off after Wrestlemania to film a movie, which may offer a clue to the outcome of The Ultimate Challenge.
The World Wrestling Federation's public relations department has announced Wrestlemania VI as a total sellout, with all 66,000 seat gone. The event will be preceded by a 5k run as well as WWF wrestler appearances all over Toronto the day before and the day of Wrestlemania.
Tony Schiavone has given his notice, and after Wrestlemania will return to the NWA to produce and announce NWA syndicated programming. Schiavone left the NWA in 1989 when it became obvious that Jim Ross was the number one guy in the eyes of the company.
Terry Taylor will not have his contract renewed by the WWF, and is not expected to be around much longer.
Arn Anderson's injury is said to be worse than originally thought, and could possibly be career threatening. Anderson's timetable of return --at three months last week --is now said to be closer to one year, if at all. Bam Bam Bigelow and Abdullah the Butcher are on their way in with so many NWA wrestlers on the disabled list. The NWA is also expected to open negotiations with Owen Hart, Scotty Levy and Kevin and Kerry Von Erich in the next few days to fill out the roster.
The situation with The Midnight Express and the NWA continued this week. As of now, when their contract expires in May, it isn't expected that the two sides will come to a deal that would keep the Midnight Express in the NWA. The Midnight Express were going to be released last year, but the three men made it clear they were a package deal, and Jim Cornette was deemed too valuable to the NWA to let walk away. As a result, the Midnight Express were demoted to prove a point, and put in lower card matches.
Miss Elizabeth is not pregnant as has been rumored, and is simply stepping aside to allow the Sapphire character to develop without having to deal with her shadow.
Look for the fourth and final installment of Fourteen Weeks in 1990 soon, exclusively at The Pro-Wrestling Chronicle. All news and information is derived from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, The Pro-Wrestling Torch Newsletter, Herb Kunze and various wrestling books and biographies.