Saturday, September 6, 2014

Early Clash Questions

Hi Scott

Hi Gareth!

I've recently got the Network, and started watching some old NWA stuff starting with Clash 1 (I'm up to the end of the Flair-Steamboat stuff). A few questions / topics I thought you might enjoy shedding some light on, as I understand you're somewhat a fan of this period... they're a bit rambling so apologies for that.

1. Was the NWA still an overarching umbrella for multiple territories? It seems that Crockett / Turner basically IS the NWA at this point. Was Flair still the visiting champ to World Class etc as he had been in previous years?

Nope.  By the time the Clashes had begun, Jim Crockett had bought up all the competition and gone solo as a promoter under the Turner family umbrella.  By the end of the year, Turner had bought Crockett out completely.  For as much shit as everyone gives Vince for predatory practices (which is valid), Crockett squashed all the people he was supposed to be working with just as viciously.  The NWA might have existed in name, but you had to book the champion through Crockett exclusively. 

2. Luger's push didn't go very well. If not for the Turner takeover was the plan for him to become a permanent Hogan-like face on top, replacing the territory-touring heel model of Flair? By the end of WrestleWar 89 the announcers are treating Flair like a face, and without the need to make the top guys in each territory look a million bucks not quite winning the belt from Flair, that model seems odd when Hogan is doing such big business for the competition.

The plan was definitely for either Sting or Luger to succeed Flair as the top drawing card, and they of course tried many times to make that happen with little success. 

3. Speaking of the Turner situation, I know they had problems with Flair soon after this for him to jump to WWE. But here they aborted Luger's title win for Flair to retain. Was this a pro-Flair attitude or more just a negative Luger one?

Do you mean at Starrcade 88?  It was pro-Flair in the sense that they wanted to build to the Steamboat match.  There was no issue with Luger aside from them feeling it wasn’t the right time. 

4. Was Steamboat always coming back at this point or was this a Turner related decision and/or a panic reaction to Luger's collapsed push? They're some of the all-time greatest matches, but it does seem like a bit  of a stop-gap feud - have a few months of awesome bouts with a proven partner for Flair while they figure out what to do, then get the belt back on him.

He was always coming back.  Once he was fired from the WWF they wanted to bring him in and make him champion as soon as humanly possible.  Original plans called for him to get it at Starrcade 88, in fact, but they couldn’t work out the timing. 

Sorry if this is all common knowledge - this era of NWA / WCW is more or less all new to me. Praise be to the WWE Network (and to the PS3 for being so easily convinced it's in America and not the UK).

Glad to help.  It’s one of my favorite times to talk about. 

21 comments:

  1. I've been interested in the conspiracy theory that Flair purposely gave the belt to people he knew he could keep under his thumb (Sting, Steamboat) as opposed to someone who might actually have the potential to crossover like Hogan (Luger). While it's probably revisionism tainted by personal bias, I think it's an interesting theory. There's really no reason Luger should have won the belt at some point in '88 or early '89 while Sting was out injured. Flair promising to drop the belt to only Sting isn't really a valid reason to allow a champion to derail your booking plans, especially since Luger had the potential to legit draw money for the company.

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  2. I agree. But there was too much Flair love at the time and people tended to ignore that crap but jump on others for the same thing. Heyman is a lying cheat who defrauded many but he's adored. Vince Russo has always tried his best to get more people to watch wrestling but he's hated by the smart fans...its wierd.

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  3. Was Steamboat really fired by the WWF in 1988? I thought he left on his own accord.

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  4. Luger's drawing potential has always been ruined by odd booking decisions in both WCW and WWF. Instead of striking while the iron was hot they kept delaying him winning the title so much that he became cold and someone else became the potential title holder.

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  5. He pretty much saw the writing on the wall regarding his spot there.

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  6. I'd buy it. Just re-read Flair's book after re-reading a couple of Foley's, and good GOD does he come off as being completely full of shit. That book actually turned me from "meh, not a fan" to "fuck this guy" well before most others turned on him after going to TNA.

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  7. Mr. Muchnick retiring pretty much killed the NWA. There wasn't a trustworthy person to run the organization after that and it became every man for himself.

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  8. Never read flair's book - worth a read? Foley tends to be a bit of a mark for half though so while his books are good, still have to take with a grain of salt.

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  9. Russo is hated by the smart fans because he's a terrible booker.

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  10. I still remember being in the grocery store and seeing Steamboat wearing the WCW/NWA World Title on the cover of Pro Wresting Illustrated. I started watching their programming the next Saturday morning. Even at the tender age of 10, I was fed up with Hogan and was excited about seeing a guy I liked holding the top title elsewhere. Then I found out Flair had defeated Steamboat to regain the title and his next big challenger would be...Terry Funk!?!? It was so crazy seeing WWF's midcarders headlining in a new company; I loved it. Something has always fascinated me about seeing repurposed wrestlers. Of course, it doesn't always work out (the parade of washed up WWF guys who followed Hogan to WCW), but when it's a genuine talent getting the chance to succeed in a new setting (Rude, Christian, James Gibson) the results can be a true joy to watch.

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  11. Flair's book is fine.

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  12. This was a pretty big Fuj theory as well. He always claimed Flair never would have dropped the belt to Magnum.

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  13. Yeah, I'd say it's worth a read... for me it was worth it because I hadn't read much about the time he broke into the business, so that was pretty interesting.

    All wrestlers are marks for themselves to a certain degree it would seem (although I remember Jericho seeming pretty normal, only read his books once each though). You can be a mark for yourself and still not be an asshole, which Foley never comes across as (well, maybe in his later books a little). Flair, however, definitely came across like an asshole to me.

    He's never wrong. He goes out of his way to bury people it seems. When talking about tales of debauchery from his past, he occasionally says "now, I don't want you to think I'm advocating this sort of behavior" - then goes on to describe it (along with the added anecdotes from friends/co-workers of the time) like he wishes he was still doing it. "Hey, you - don't do this cool thing!"

    When it gets to the later days of WCW when he was getting screwed around by Bischoff and everyone, you feel a little bad for him. But everything he's done since "retiring" and jumping to TNA made me think "wow, okay... this guy is probably a piece of shit."

    But yeah, worth a read.

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  14. Admittedly, I'm biased because I didn't grow up watching him. I started in the Attitude Era, and by then he was already "that old guy who won't go away." But even though I didn't start watching wrestling until 1998, as soon as I got into it I made a point to watch as much old stuff as I could get my hands on. The Blockbuster near me had a bunch of late 80's/early 90's WCW stuff, and a neighbor whose relative owned a mom n' pop video store gave me all their old WWF tapes when they closed down. I ended up seeing quite a bit of Flair from his heyday, and I bought his first DVD when it came out and I found it used. I can get down with that older style of professional wrestling, but I've just never been a fan of his work. And the more we find out about him as a person, the less and less I like him over time...

    ...which is why, yes, I could totally buy the theory brocore suggested above. I'm not saying "oh, definitely," but I'd believe it.

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  15. Surprisingly, Flair was pretty kind to Russo in his book because although he acknowledges that he was a terrible booker, he seemed like an alright guy otherwise.

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  16. Russo went to bat for Flair regarding money WCW owed him so yeah, I can see why he'd like him over Bischoff.

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  17. As trustworthy as one shyster can be among a group of them. The NWA was only successful for as long as it was because they were successfully able to stifle legitimate competition. The company even had a few anti-trust lawsuits brought against it for that very reason.

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  18. It's not that weird. Being a good person isn't what I look for in terms of favorite wrestling performers. It is a cool bonus when it lines up that way but I mainly just want someone to entertain me on television and be not as bad as Benoit.

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  19. Does anybody other than Jimmy E hate Russo on a personal level?

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  20. If you take Mick's work with a grain of salt, have a huge chunk for Flairs. It's worth reading once, and then never again.

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  21. full of shit, but fine.

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