Matwatch – 06/27/88

“This is the premiere, the debut, put-up-or-shut-up time.” Steve Beverly gives a brief introduction to himself. He works in academic communications at Auburn University, where he’s concluding a year-long work in tracing the history of pro wrestling on television, and Steve confesses to being a fan of wrestling for the last twenty-three years. He’s gone from being simply a fan, or a “mark,” to being a ring announcer and television commentator, to being an academic reviewer. Like many fans, he’s seen things over the last five years that he never thought he’d see in wrestling, and while he’s happy that it’s become so mainstream, he still considers himself a “purist” and detests some of the more cartoony aspects, although he confesses to being an admirer of Vince McMahon for his marketing and merchandising. Steve also makes it clear that this bulletin won’t be an all things for all people sort of bulletin. His employment at Auburn isn’t allowing him to focus nonstop on wrestling. Steve plans to provide a thorough week to week view of wrestling from the television side of things, as well as covering the major stories, and looking critically at how various wrestling companies are using television and proving insights as to whether or not the promotions are being responsible in their presentation of wrestling to the fans.

A regular feature is planned to be called “REMEMBER WHEN” which will show how past feuds were heightened through the use of TV, as well as looking at the various angles, turns, sell jobs, and interviews in wrestling history. Steve hopes that longtime fans will enjoy this bit of nostalgia.

In addition, Steve hopes to be able to bring humor into this bulletin. Steve feels like wrestling has lost much of its natural humor with all the competition between the promotions. After they get going, Steve plans on having a section for readers to submit letters, but he stresses that he’s not looking for fan gushing or personal attacks on other people. He wants serious opinions on the wrestling shows that readers watch on TV. He also wants a “USA Today” approach with weekly wrestling reviews including segments for Lines of the Week, Best Pictures, Strongest Comments, Worst Interview, Blooper Award, Dreaded Glitch, and Boo of the Week.

Steve concludes his intro by saying that if he gets the chance to interview people within the business, they’ll be included in future issues. But because it’s such a closed business, most people involved won’t want to be named. This is a true joy for Steve, and he hopes the readers enjoy this complimentary first issue and they’ll find a subscription form enclosed later on. He just asks that people give Matwatch a chance and participate with him.

Steve’s Sidelights

Let’s go to 7:00 PM on Saturday Night in Atlanta, on channel 36 WATL. Steve made the journey to Joe Pedicino’s third annual Wrestlethon, along with John Hamilton and Richard Hyatt (Columnist for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and known as Missy’s brother). The event was done to raise money for bullet proof vests for the Atlanta Police Dept. The night began with late night POWW and AWA shows, and then Joe cut in during the Fox Late Show to introduce rookie Joey Maggs, only to have Eddie Gilbert blindside Maggs and destroy the kid. It would have been great, except for the fact that nobody clued in Ross Schafer (Late Show host) in L.A., and he kept trying to talk over Joe’s narration, and the studio audience was too distracted for the angle to get over. The angle was replayed the next morning to milk the hype for that night’s show in the new WATL studio.

Pedicino replayed his two-hour documentary “The History of Pro Wrestling” from 5:30-7:30, which ironically had interviews with Jim Crockett, whom Joe recently had a bad falling out with, and then showed another half hour of taped material as the crowd entered for the 8:00 live show. Joe hyped up the show as the first live wrestling show to originate from Atlanta in more than twenty years, which Steve states in accurate. The card was made up of mostly wrestlers from Southern Championship Wrestling, a few AWA wrestlers, and the big guest being Eddie Gilbert from the Continental Wrestling Federation, along with Paul E Dangerously and Missy Hyatt. Richard Hyatt was a friend of ring announcer Rhubarb Jones and asked him to tell Missy that her long lost brother was in attendance, but he didn’t buy it. “The only no-show was Ted Oates, and nobody missed him.” Joe pulled off a nice small scale WWF sort of show, with Rick Stewart doing interviews.

Brad and Bart Batten vs. Steve Pritchard and Gerald Finley – the Battens played heels and looked good, although not on the level of the Midnights, Fantastics, or RPMs. Finley wasn’t even in until 7:00 and he was pinned at 7:45.

Tommy Rich vs Joey Maggs – This showed how much of a shell of his former self Tommy Rich has become. Mostly rest holds, although Maggs had a little support from the angle last night. Tommy hit a suplex and did more rest holds and pinned Maggs after his flying body press.

Paul E. came out to challenge Tommy Rich to wrestle Eddie Gilbert. It was hard to understand because there was no PA in the studio. The main event was Rich vs. Gilbert with Rich never wrestling again if he loses.

Randy Rose and Joel Deaton vs. Chic Donovan and Mighty Igor – Rose looked good, but was going through the motions, and Donovan looked unusually bad. Rose scored the pin with a knee from the second rope.

Mr Big vs. Ricki Starr and Tim Anderson – Steve says this is the worst match of this kind he’s seen this year. Blackwell spent three minutes trying to sell and rolling against the ropes. He finally pinned Anderson with a splash. When Blackwell tried to get up a fan yelled “Anyone have a crane?”

Ranger Ross and Rufus R. Jones vs. Soldat Ustinov and Nick Busich – Busich is the worst Russian that Steve has ever seen, although he did draw some USA chants. Ross sold the bearhug well, but it went too long. The heels were finally disqualified when Busich did the wimpiest ‘hitting the ref’ that Steve has ever seen.

Manny Fernandez vs. Big Jim Bryant – Manny looks like he can hardly go. Bryant spent most of the match on the mat, and Ronnie Garvin couldn’t even make him look good. Manny got into it with a fan in a Mangum TA shirt and was visibly laughing. Manny pinned him with the flying burrito.

The show appeared to be over, but Rick Stewart said that the WATL general manager phoned in authorized the program to continue so that the Rich and Gilbert match can happen. Paul E. promised to stay at the announcer’s desk and not get involved. Rich wanted the police officers to handcuff Dangerously, but it didn’t happen.

Eddie Gilbert vs. Tommy Rich – This was night and day from Tommy’s match the night before, he looked like the Tommy Rich of 1981, and Gilbert sold huge for him. Tommy went for a sleeper and Eddie shoved him off and knocked down the ref. Tommy threw Eddie over the top rope onto the floor, which wasn’t padded. Tommy gave Eddie a body slam on the floor and Dangerously left the announce desk and hit Rich with the phone. Tommy recovered first and threw Eddie into the ring, ready for the kill, and Dick Slater ran in and attacked Tommy to draw the DQ. Then, out of nowhere, Slater turned around and started attacking Eddie, Manny Fernandez came out and they gave Eddie a double piledriver, while the crowd was screaming for Tommy to help Eddie, and Paul E. was screaming worse than Roddy Piper. Finally, the rest of the babyfaces came out to help Eddie.

It’s not exactly clear if this was supposed to happen. After the show ended, with most of the crowd having left, Pedicino was heard saying that he didn’t understand why Slater did what he did. “I don’t know what he was thinking when he hit Eddie.” Gilbert actually got up quickly after Slater hit him and yelled out “Boy, what’s wrong with you?” WATL still airs Continental’s TV, where Eddie is still a top heel, so it didn’t really make sense, but the crowd was sure hot for it. This marks the second time that Slater has done something like this, he recently attacked Tommy Rich, Jerry Oates, and Hoss Deaton during a tag team match, and he got in legit trouble with Buck Robely over it.

Overall, it was a fun night, and it looks like Pedicino will be going live from the studio on a regular basis.

Other News

NWA – The Powers of Pain have left the NWA for the WWF. They refused to work scaffold matches with the Road Warriors, so Dusty pushed them out. They’re being replaced by Ivan Koloff and the Angel of Death, who cancelled his plans to go to Stampede. Steve doesn’t think this will go over very well, since Angel is about as fun to watch as Ox Baker. The 7/31 show in Detroit is being headlined by Kevin Sullivan and Dick Murdoch vs. Dusty Rhodes and The Sheik. “Yes, THE Sheik, who was a major heel in the sixties in the Detroit and upper Midwest areas, and is now about 62 years old.” There’s also talk about bringing in Dick the Bruiser in Indianapolis and teaming him with The Crusher. The NWA front office guys all love this idea, maybe they’ll do a run in Miami and bring in Sputnik Monroe. The Flair/Luger title match should be over huge for the 7/10 PPV and the only thing that should be able to hurt it would be if too many people spend big money on the Tyson/Spinks fight. Recently on Worldwide the NWA did one of their “make-em-mad” routines by doing a Luger/Windham match and announcing a 45-minute time limit, with only five minutes left in the show.

Continental – They drew 2,700 for their TV taping in Montgomery, which is the biggest crowd since a Ric Flair vs. Wendell Cooley match two years previously. Steve Armstrong is back with Tracy Smothers, and Brother Ernest Angel is in, managing Sika with his legit nephew Samu. The TV last week was the best show that they’ve produced since Eddie started booking.

USA – Fuller put on a hot show this week, with a *** match between Terry Gordy and Doug Furnas, with Gordy selling big to make Furnas look great. Gordy won by countout after giving Furnas a suplex on the floor. Buddy Landell attacked Tennessee Champion Wendell Cooley, to set up a title match for the next week. Tommy Rich did a pre-taped interview where he was attacked by Bill Dundee and the RPM’s. “Tommy’s had it rough lately, hasn’t he?” This group has a very nice looking TV show.

WWF – Nobody knows how they will use Barbarian and Warlord. One idea being talked about is turning Demolition babyface to feud with them, but they just started feuding with the Hart Foundation. Big Bubba Rogers debuted this week as the Big Boss Man, it’s a funnier routine than him wrestling in suspenders, but it’s probably going to make a lot of Atlantans angry because they’re making fun of their prison wardens. The events center guy, Sean Mooney, is a dud, and Steve thinks they should try to get Jim Ross and have him also do play by play.

World Class – Their TV is already looking stale, which is a shame for someone as talented as Michael Hayes. Now that he isn’t booking, Hayes appears to be just another one of the boys. The group has also been hurt by the recent departures of Chris Adams and Terry Taylor. Michael Hayes and Kerry Von Erich as a team seems like a renovation of what they were doing four years ago, and at this rate Hayes probably ought to try to make peace with the NWA. It’s also a waste to team Terry Gordy up with Shaun Simpson.

International World All Star Wrestling – “So you’ve never heard of this bunch before, huh?” They were running Monday nights at the Chickasaw Club in Columbus, and now are running TV out of Macon on Friday nights at midnight. Steve saw their show on Friday, and it was excruciating. The legendary Randy Hogan is teaming with his brother Ricky, and they wrestled The Redneck and Fred Haney Jr. “Sugar” Ray Lloyd recently left SCW for this group, and they’ll most likely run Macon, Valdosta, Albany, and maybe Columbus and Waycross.

Final Notes

Warlord and Barbarian started on Saturday night as babyfaces, and are being managed by Tito Santana, as revenge for Demolition injuring Rick Martel. SCW has its first live card in Columbus this coming Saturday night. Eddie Gilbert and Austin Idol packed the house in Montgomery. Steve talked with Dave Meltzer, and Dave thinks that Slater deliberately tried to show up Eddie Gilbert at the Pedicino show because it was on live TV, and nobody could edit it. This is why promoters rarely run live shows anymore, because too many wrestlers have burned them. Angel of Death started on TBS this week, and Paul Jones made sure to bury Warlord and Barbarian as cowards. At least five guys will be altered from the original NWA lineup this week in Montgomery. Ricky Santana, Warlord, Barbarian, The Terminator, and Johnny Ace were all scheduled to appear. Steve recently watched two hours of tape from Mexico and said nobody missed much. The wrestlers are mostly masked and it’s hard to get into their identities with so many alike.  Lastly, Steve says he’ll need $5 from subscribers prior to August first, so he can make sure to send issues through August and September, and he closes by saying that next week he’ll be reporting on the NWA show in Montgomery.

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