Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Jason Hess
Hello and welcome to the latest installment of
Houston Wrestling here at Kayfabe Memories.
In this edition of Houston Wrestling memories, we
will once again take a look at how Houston Wrestling was perhaps the
most unique “territory” in the United States.
The time period was one that had some rippling effects on not
just one promotion but two, and somewhat changed the course of wrestling
history…albeit for a little while.
Let’s jump in with both feet shall we?
As has been documented here in our Houston section, Paul Boesch
“retired” from wrestling promotion in August 1987 after a gala card
that turned away thousands at the Sam Houston Coliseum.
While many on the inside knew the real reason of Boesch’s
decision to walk away, us “mark” fans just thought Boesch was
wanting to retire. After
all, the guy was already in his early seventies, and had been involved
in wrestling in one form or another since the 1930’s!!!
As Boesch somewhat reveals in his autobiography “Hey Boy!
Where’d You Get Them Ears?,” he was greatly upset by the frequency
of no shows that would happen at cards with WWF talent provided.
However, by early 1988, Boesch was seen in a figure head role
during the Dusty Rhodes suspension angle in the NWA, and soon after, was
seen helping Peter Birkholz promote cards under the NWA banner at the
Sam Houston Coliseum.
venture with Crockett Promotions was rocky from the start, as Crockett
Promotions had their own problems.
The windfall that was thought to be gained from advertising
rights and pay per view revenue never materialized, and the
“balloon” payments that Crockett had to make on contracts were
becoming due. Crockett was
trying to sell out to Ted Turner before he went under himself.
However, Houston did have some respectable crowds for
Crockett…at the beginning. And,
Crockett put the much ballyhooed U.S. Title tournament in Houston in May
1988!! Furthermore, Houston
was one of the stops during the 1988 Great American Bash tour, and that
date drew the largest crowd in Houston for Crockett.
And that’s when things began to go wrong……very wrong.
Hated Finish: It
was July 14, 1988, and the Baltimore Arena was sold out to the tune of
14,000 plus fans who were waiting to see “The Price For Freedom”
Great American Bash PPV. The
main event was the heavily promoted Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger NWA World
Title match that had been simmering for nearly seven months, since
Luger’s face turn away from the Four Horsemen in late December 1987.
The match had what is now called the dreaded
“Dusty Finish,” which makes fans seemingly think that the babyface
had won the match and the title from the heel champion, only to have the
champion retain the title on some sort of “technicality.”
In this case, Luger had Flair in his finishing hold, the
“torture rack” back breaker. Tommy
Young rang for the bell, and the place exploded.
A new champion was crowned…..or so we thought.
In actuality, Young was stopping the match due to a cut on
Luger’s forehead. It
seemed as if the Maryland State Athletic Commission frowned upon matches
continuing after blood had been spotted. (No comments on how little
blood there was coming from Luger okay?)
So, Young stopped the match, and awarded the bout to Flair.
Boos were resounding to say the least.
A Surprising Result: However, the short term aftermath of the Great American Bash finish would prove to be fruitful for JCP. Under the guise of “this is the first rematch since the Great American Bash,” JCP promoted Flair vs. Luger rematches across the country, and attendance was going on a decidedly upward swing. Case in point saw the September Baltimore rematch, which drew an unbelievable gate in the six figures (back when a six figure gate was still something to rave about), and other cities which saw a huge rise in attendance in the Flair vs. Luger rematch series. All of the cities seemed to be doing good….except Houston. More...