This Week in 90’s Wrestling: January 11th – 17th

JANUARY 12

1990

Terry Funk hosted a suit-wearing Kevin Sullivan in a fascinating interview during his weekly Funk’s Grill segment on NWA Power Hour. Sullivan was feuding with Norman the Lunatic at the time so he and Terry Funk ended up in a philosophical debate over what it means to be compassionate. The funniest part of this was Sullivan drawing a direct comparison between the intellect of Norman the Lunatic and Dory Funk Jr., with Terry conceding the point and playing along. In the main event, Arn Anderson defeated The Great Muta to win the TV title in a *** match. The show was taped on January 2 in Gainesville, GA.

EMLL held its weekly Friday night show at Arena Coliseo with two very good matches. Emilio Charles faced Angel Azteca in a ***1/2 match for the NWA World Middleweight Title and Pierroth Jr. defeated Mogul to win the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Title in a ***3/4 match.

1991

Highlights aired on USWA television of the “Dirty White Boy” Tony Anthony and Doug Gilbert dropping the USWA tag team titles to the returning Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane and Steve Keirn). The Fabs, who were accompanied by Jim Cornette for this run, were the most successful tag team in the history of Memphis wrestling and this was their first time to team up in the market since 1983. Surprisingly, their return did not seem to have a big impact on the gate, which may be why they turned heel by attacking Jerry Lawler in an attempt to collect an anonymous bounty that was placed on his head.

The Ted DiBiase-Virgil feud was teased yet again on WWF Superstars. After DiBiase won a squash match, he cut a promo that he could do anything and control anyone with his money. To make his point, he threw his money on the mat before slapping Virgil and commanding that he pick it up. Virgil teased snapping and the crowd was ready for it, but DiBiase whispered something his ear about his family, which made Virgil relent in a great segment. Also on the show, the taste level of the WWF left something to be desired when the company used President George Bush’s deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait as the “Ultimate Deadline” and tied it into their hype for the Royal Rumble match between WWF World Champion Ultimate Warrior and patriot-turned-Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter.

Highlights aired on WCW Saturday Night of a house show match at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, NJ, where Ric Flair defeated Sting to win his seventh World Title. When Sting defeated Flair to win the title on July 7, the idea was to transition to a new era, as Flair was not originally supposed to get the belt back. However, Sting tanked as champion, mostly because of being saddled with the terrible Black Scorpion angle. Flair was originally scheduled to regain the title as part of the Black Scorpion reveal at Starrcade on December 16, but Sting knew his title run was a flop and asked if he could at least win the blowoff match against the Black Scorpion to save face. Sting was always billed as “The Franchise” in WCW and remained a top star in the company, but he was very rarely the centerpiece of WCW in the years ahead. He showed great potential for superstardom in the late 80s because of a unique look and great athleticism and charisma, but he never came close to realizing his potential. Flair cut his hair at the end of 1990 to fit under his Black Scorpion mask and ensure that his trademark blond mane would not spoil the surprise, but he no longer looked like Ric Flair with the new hairstyle. Flair was also experiencing a crisis of confidence during this time because of political problems with Executive Vice President Jim Herd, so the title reign did not come close to matching his previous ones. Also on the show, Missy Hyatt scored an interview with Alexandra York, who is better known today by her real name, Terri Runnels, when Paul E. Dangerously interrupted the interview to browbeat Hyatt into tears, causing her to run away from the interview.

1992

WWF Wrestling Challenge was home to one of the best and most memorable angles in WWE history, as Shawn Michaels turned on Marty Jannetty on the set of Brutus Beefcake’s Barber Shop, breaking up their tag team after a six-year run and launching Michaels as a singles star. He threw Jannetty through the window of the set, who was fired soon thereafter. The firing indirectly added some weight to the angle. Jannetty was back in the company by year’s end and the two finally had their feud on house shows in late 1992-early 1993 and even pulled out a few gems on WWF television in 1993. Shawn would soon be made over as the “Heartbreak Kid”.

1997

Hiromi Yagi continued her retirement tour on a JWP card at Korakuen Hall, wrestling Tomoko Kuzumi, who found stardom a few years later as Azumi Hyuga, in a ***1/2 match. Yagi returned to wrestling the following year.

1998

Dissension in the NWO continued on WCW Monday Nitro, which aired live from Jacksonville, FL, with Kevin Nash saying “Savage doesn’t want any of me” when asked about problems in the group. One in-ring highlight of the show was Goldberg-Jerry Flynn match. Flynn was a great opponent for Goldberg in the squash matches that established him as a top star, as Goldberg had a game opponent for his MMA-influenced spots. Chris Benoit also faced Dean Malenko in a solid match. In other developments, Chris Jericho completed his teased heel turn by throwing yet another temper tantrum after losing to Steve McMichael and attacking WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Misterio Jr. before his scheduled match against Juventud Guerrera. Because of the attack, Guerrera made quick work of Rey to win the title. That was not the only title to change hands on this episode of Nitro, as in the main event, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash regained the WCW World Tag Team Titles from the Steiner Brothers when Randy Savage, who along with Hulk Hogan was in the corner of The Outsiders, attempted the big elbow on fellow NWO-ite Kevin Nash but ended up hitting Rick Steiner instead. Jim Neidhart also made his WCW debut by finding himself in an altercation with Ric Flair to further build the Bret Hart match at Souled Out. The show did a 4.5 rating.

WWF Monday Night RAW aired live from State College, PA. The show kicked off with Shawn Michaels and HHH hanging out in a limo and mooning the camera. Steve Austin also began to settle into his role as the hottest star in wrestling, being interviewed by Michael Cole in the ring in front of an electric audience and attacking other Royal Rumble participants throughout the night while his involvement in MTV’s Celebrity Death Match was promoted. Also on the show, Vince McMahon announced that Mike Tyson would be on the following week’s show, the flat NWA invasion angle continued with Jim Cornette bringing in the Rock & Roll Express and a commercial for the WWF Hotline teased that Hulk Hogan would be in the Royal Rumble. While Hogan had no intentions of jumping to the WWF, his WCW contract did expire around this time and he sent feelers out to the WWF and encouraged the rumor windmill in an effort to increase his WCW price tag. To build the WWF World Title casket match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble, Michaels introduced Kane as the newest member of DX. Undertaker took exception to this and ended up the victim of a 3-on-1 beatdown by DX until Kane unexpectedly made the save, showing solidarity with The Undertaker in what was a fantastic angle before swerves were overdone, even if it did telegraph that Kane would be turning. The show did a 3.4 rating.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10g907_wwf-raw-is-war-01-12-98-part-1_sport

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10gat2_wwf-raw-is-war-01-12-98-part-2_sport

1999

Korakuen Hall was treated to what may have been the best match in BattlARTS history when Yuki Ishikawa teamed with Alexander Otsuka to face Daisuke Ikeda and Mohammed Yone in a ****3/4 match. The match showcased everything great about BattlARTS as a promotion, as they seamlessly blended elements of shoot-style and pro-style, confidently taking the elements of each that suited them while tossing those that did not. This match was actually an American-style tag with a double heat but within a context that made sense for this company. No one style can capture everything that is great about professional wrestling, but no one style has come closer than the house style in BattlARTS, as this match nicely demonstrates.

In The “To Watch” Queue:

Devil Masami & Harley Saito vs Dynamite Kansai & Eagle Sawai (JWP 01/12/92)