Saturday, June 28, 2014
My friend Thom came to his first PRFBBQ last weekend. He's heard a few of his friends--mostly members of my two bands--raving about the Chicago getaway that happens once a year during a weekend in late June several times over the years, but i don't think he ever seriously considered attending until this year, when his Seattle band Seminars played. His bandmate James played three of the festivals with his currently slumbering band, Police Teeth, and so Thom (who met James through us after he moved there from Milwaukee--this is important) got dragged along back to the Midwest for this annual collection of Internet nerds that also happens to be the most exhilarating, wall-to-wall excellent DIY festival you'll ever hear about.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
In August 1991, the WWF, Bobby Heenan, and Ric Flair made wrestling history after Flair was fired from WCW due to creative "differences" with its president, Jim Herd (can you imagine Ric Flair disagreeing with the idea of completely redesigning his character and renaming him "Spartacus?" That would have made millions!). Throughout the Hulkamania era of the WWF, hardcore wrestling fans who followed every wrestling promotion and marked out for technical wrestling contended that Hulk Hogan only kept a stranglehold on the WWF Title because he'd never wrestled Ric Flair. Whether you were a complete mark or someone who actually realized that, ya know, it was completely logical that Ric Flair in the WWF would have been booked as just another heel that would lose to the big boot and legdrop, what with Hogan being the companies golden egg-laying goose and all, it was still fun to daydream about what would happen if, someday, the two men who held the two most prestigious championships in pro wrestling in the 1980s were to collide. And in 1991, after Flair's ignoble dismissal from the company that was once Jim Crockett Promotions--the company he ruled for ten years--it was finally possible.
Not that any of us teenagers really knew the behind the scenes politics in the NWA at the time, so when this aired on WWF Wrestling Challenge, there was almost no advance warning and jaws hit the floor across North America on one Saturday morning in August:
I love how Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Neidhart act like they've never seen the Big Gold Belt in their lives, and have never heard of Ric Flair. Buncha company man babyfaces treating their employer like it's the only game in town, while the diabolical heel manager has his finger on the pulse of the wrestling underground. And yes, that is the original Big Gold NWA World Championship Belt that Heenan is holding in this video. When Flair was fired from WCW, he was the world champ, and when Jim Herd and WCW demanded it back, Flair said, "ok, fine, as long as you return the $25,000 deposit i paid when i first won the belt way back in 1981." (This was a thing that NWA champions did back in the day, apparently.) WCW didn't have the money (because it was paid to the NWA, not them), and thus Flair kept the belt to use on WWF television as the "Real World's Champion."
So Flair immediately started making life difficult for his old friend/nemesis, Roddy Piper, and eventually got onto Hogan's radar by interfering in Hulk's title defense against the young Undertaker at the 1991 Survivor Series. After tombstone piledriving Hogan onto a chair that Flair slid into the ring, 'Taker had won his first title and was headed to a WWF "President" Jack Tunney-mandated rematch at a 1st time (and only) PPV the following Tuesday, creatively called This Tuesday in Texas. There, Hogan regained his title after throwing ashes from 'Taker's urn into his face (which, EW). Because Tunney was at ringside and witnessed the flagrant cheating from the WWF's resident superhero, justice prevailed (the concept, not Sid Justice) and Hogan was stripped of the championship, which would be filled by the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble match.
Now, let's be clear here--titles being won in battle royals is some serious lame sauce, and as a young mark i initially rolled my eyes at this announcement. You win a title via pinfall or submission (or grabbing a belt hanging above the ring by using a ladder, i suppose), not simply by tossing dudes over the top rope. The idea of The Barbarian or "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan fluking their way to the title was a serious concern of mine. What i forgot was that this shit is scripted so the title win would be booked in a way that made damn sure the winner deserved it. And hoooo boy, did the winner deserve it.
Since the events here are so critical in setting up the matches for WrestleMania VIII, let's go through the card. BONUS COVERAGE!