Of the 5 major promotions that stood tall and profitable a few short years ago, 3 are gone; though 1 of those 3 has managed to stay alive by traveling from the US to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Japan…wherever there’s a (small) paying crowd. This organization is not only a throwback to the days when pro wrestling drifted like a carnival, but also a reflection of the only way left to do business since the War started.
Hundreds of wrestlers are out of work and left staring out over the horizon, wading through the doomed visions of their greedy bosses and left standing on the broken bones of their brethren. Contracts were created & voided in a matter of days, sometimes hours. Promises were broken as often as the dawn arose. Dreams were scattered across states like tiny branches after a huge storm moved through the area. And it was a storm.
But it wasn’t the type you’re prepared for.
You’ve got a gallon of water, a flashlight & some blankets in your trunk in case you’re caught in an emergency situation. You’d have needed the filtered water from the mighty Mississipp’, floodlights from the Cotton Bowl and ten layers of blubber-lined, Eskimo underwear to last the night.
You own a generator, grow your own crops and have a pantry full of canned vegetables. But what you needed was a nuclear power plant, all the corn in Iowa and Pablo Escobar’s Swiss Bank Accounts to last just one season.
And this war, this storm, this plague, isn’t over.
If you lived…congratulations, you’re part of the company I mentioned above that’s touring Dubai in a fleet of broken-down soccer mom vans, setting up your ring in a tent so that right after the World’s Strongest Man attempts to rip the mustache off the World’s Hairiest Woman, Koko B. Ware can pin Ronny Garvin for your promotion’s Championship Belt; a strap that your boss has taken a lien against to cover this week’s payroll.
Your adversaries (in case you’re wondering) are the ones who not only survived but are flourishing. While your promotion’s wrestlers ride donkeys, elephants or camels (depending on where your tent is this week) to the next gig, what used to be your competition is relaxing in limousines. While you’re sleeping 12 men to-a-van, they’ve rented out an entire floor at The Ritz. They’re flying to their next show in a private jet; you’ve got a fly in your Always-Save Powdered Soup.
There were a hundred signs toward this stop in hell, but they were (mostly) ignored.
And now – with most of your company’s talent having been raided & its reputation & line of credit held together by threads of its glorious past – both of the remaining promotions have come to rub salt in the wound.
Wait, let me re-phrase. After slicing your stomach open and watching your guts spill onto the floor, they paid to have them shoved back in. And since you’ve had a few months to recover, they’ve come back to rip open the wound by the stitches and piss in it.
Later, you’re scheduled for a colonoscopy that you only wish had something to do with Jim Ross, so you’d have some form of credibility by association.
That’s how deep the wounds run for everyone involved. That’s the kind of vengeance everyone is seeking for even the smallest, perceived slight. On the bad side, the contempt is (seemingly) the only thing left.
And on top of the 3-square, balanced turd-sandwiches you eat every day since this all started, you need to get ready to open up (at both ends) just a little bit more because one of the two victorious promotions is running a show in your backyard tomorrow night.
And the week after that?
The 2nd promotion is doing the same thing.
3 years ago, those shows would have been about you.
Rubbing shit in your weathered wound is just a bonus. They’re both running shows there because they can & because what used to be your old stomping ground is now one of the few, undecided hotspots of action. Your “house” is like a political party and election time is just around the corner.
Scheduled Matches for Tomorrow Night:
Dark Match: Brian Pillman VS Bad News Allen
Jimmy Snuka VS The Junkyard Dog
Tag-Team Champions The British Bulldogs VS The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper VS Lex Luger
The Fabulous Freebirds VS The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
Nikita Koloff VS King Kong Bundy
Randy & Lanny Savage VS Kerry & Kevin Von Erich
Intercontinental Champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine VS Tito Santana
Tiger Mask II VS The Great Muta
Heavyweight Champion Sting VS Terry Funk w/Manager Harley Race (and Special Referee Ric Flair)
PLUS, Andre the Giant in a 10-Man Battle Royal (other participants: “Iron” Mike Sharpe, Steve Lombardi, Barry Horowitz, Barry O, Boris Zhukov, Jim Powers, One Man Gang, Paul Roma, “Playboy” Buddy Rose).
The following Saturday Night (at this same venue) will see the following incredible grapplers, among others – from the 2nd thriving promotion – get down to business in the squared circle:
Dark Match: Greg Gagne VS Owen Hart
The Road Warriors VS Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
Wahoo McDaniel VS Dick Murdoch
The US Express VS Tag-Team Champions The Midnight Express
Ted Dibiase VS Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Big John Studd & Kamala VS The Steiner Brothers
Sid Vicious VS Hillbilly Jim
Television Champion Ricky Steamboat VS Jerry Lawler
The Midnight Rockers VS The Hart Foundation
Heavyweight Champion Dusty Rhodes VS Bruiser Brody (with Special Referee Hulk Hogan)
Great cards, eh? There’s even a few more matches not mentioned. But why so great?
Reason #1: It’s The Garden, baby. MSG.
Reason #2: Professional Wrestling is truly closing in on a zenith of mythical proportions. Closed-Circuit and PPV’s are bringing in millions of dollars to the remaining companies. Gates are averaging in the high-tens, sometimes-hundreds of thousands of dollars. Viewership on USA, ESPN and TBS is through the roof. Merchandising sales are bringing in untold riches as men who were previously rock stars in only their hometowns now grace the cover of muscle, wrestling and sport magazines worldwide.
Reason #3: Things are about to get a whole lot bigger because both of these shows will be televised and seen around the nation. AND (much) more importantly: both nights are build-ups to 2 of the most historical nights in the history of professional wrestling.
Show 1 (partially) decides who’s going to be in the ring at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina on Feb. 6th, 1988 (and will set up some new feuds).
Show 2 will offer matches (and several surprises) that determine many of the contenders for a March 26th, 1988 event at The Superdome in New Orleans, LA.
The 1st Night’s Show featuring Heavyweight Champion Sting is brought to you by the NWA-WCCW.
The following week, featuring Dusty Rhodes & Bruiser Brody?
Courtesy of the AWA.
Next Week: The Results of Both Cards & what that leads to, as well as the start of how we got from Vince meeting with Hogan & Flair to discuss his expansion plans in the previous review to where we are Now and why some stories are not always told in a linear fashion.
For my impatient readers (some of whom have already emailed me): Remember, this is a long story. All will be revealed…in time. Relax; enjoy:)