Kayfabe! Timeline The History of WCW 1988 As Told By JJ Dillon
Posted by Mike Campbell on 03.12.2013
The legendary manager of the Four Horsemen takes us back to the year that Jim Crockett Promotions became World Championship Wrestling.
Timeline The History of WCW 1988 as told by by JJ Dillion
Once again, Kayfabe Commentaries went out and found the perfect guest for this series. 1988 was year that Jim Crockett Promotions became WCW, and who better to take us through that year than someone who was not only at the forefront of things on TV as the manager of the Four Horsemen, but also working in the office at the time? I'll say it right up front, there won't be a whole lot of surprising revelations from this release. There were a few things that I wasn't aware of myself that I'd have liked to hear more about. For instance, Shane Douglas started working for Crockett in early '88 and quit two months later. Given Shane's reputation for taking himself too seriously, I'd have liked to know if this was another case of that. The departure of the Rock and Roll Express is brought up, but Dillon apparently doesn't know if the rumors about Ricky Morton refusing to have his hair cut is true or not.
Dillon takes us through the year 1988 and covers all the major, and minor, angles and events throughout the year. The Sting/Flair feud, Tully and Arn's jump to the WWF, the infamous blood stoppage at the Great American Bash that year, and a host of others. But, Dillon is so well-spoken and with his time in the office, he's able to give a fresh perspective on things. Flair/Luger is a good example of that. It's something that I'm sure everyone knows what happened by now: Luger had Flair in the rack and the ref stopped the match due to a tiny cut. It's the famous Dusty finish, where the fans think Lex has it won and he didn't. But, JJ brings to light that the idea behind it was to basically thumb their noses at the commission, because they were so against blood. So when the fans got all pissed off, the promotion could turn around and say "Don't blame us, call the commission." Dillon also tells the story of Lex being terrified of blading and Dillon had to do it, and Lex was afraid that there would be some hideous scar on him. (Note from Mike: Crockett had the right idea too, because the '89 Bash was also in Baltimore and Flair and Funk put on a bloodbath!)
There's also some talk about things that happened outside of WCW during the year. Specifically the murder of Bruiser Brody in Puerto Rico, which Dillon speaks at length on, and gives some very gruesome details (albeit second hand) of how badly Brody was treated, almost to ensure his eventual death. The ambulance was purprosely delayed, and during sugery, the doctors were told to stop and take a break. There's also some talk about the WWF, and some of their ideas, like running the Royal Rumble opposite the Bunkhouse Stampede PPV. Of course, this leads to Crockett's revenge with killing the WrestleMania buyrate by running Clash of the Champions the same day. Sean takes this to an interesting discussion about celebrities. WWF had Vanna White, Bob Uecker, and Gladys Knight. Crockett's big names were Jason Hervey, Donnie Osmond, and Eddie Haskell. Dillon also admits that the WWF didn't need to run the Rumble to kill the Bunkhouse Stampede, the lack of real promotion and lack of organization had already killed the show dead in the water. The show started at 7:30 and the tickets said 8:00, fans are still filing in as the PPV is starting up. Vince even tried to run a show in Crockett country, doing a house show headlined by Hogan/Andre in the Greensboro Coliseum and only drawing 3,600.
The biggest story of the year was Turner buying Jim Crockett Promotions toward the end of the year. Negociations had been ongoing for a while anyway. The wrestlers knew they were in trouble when their balloon payments never came. They sidetrack a bit to talk about Crockett's contracts, and how they were done in order to somewhat compete with Vince's contracts. Vince's contracts only promised x number of dates, but they were getting the opportunity to be in the WWF and to get over and get the WWF machine behind them. To keep his guys happy, Crockett went one better and promised that in the coming year, the wrestler would make x amount of dollars (it's the same as how WWE contracts work now, with a downside guarentee). The boys still go their payoffs based on the houses, but at the end of the year, if they didn't make the x amount, they got a balloon payment for the difference. Dillon says he knew Ted would jump at the chance to buy the company because of how loyal he was to the business.
And, it's all too fitting that '88 was Dillon's last year with Crockett. His contract had expired, and with so much going on, in regards to Turner taking things over, nobody had gotten around to re-signing him. Tully called Dillon and advised that Vince was interested. He took a call from Vince, pondered it for a couple of days and took the job. Although he took the offer in December, he didn't start until January. This leads to a mistake on the KC end of things. They basically wrap up things in November and talk about JJ's departure, but don't bring up anything in December, even though JJ himself states that he didn't start until February. This leaves the biggest show of the year, Starrcade, out in the cold.
Honestly, the lack of Starrcade is the only real black mark to be found. The rest of the issues are mostly little things, like not going in depth on Shane Douglas or The Rock and Roll Express' departures. Tully and Arn's departure comes up, of course, but JJ didn't know much about it. He knew Tully and Arn were upset over low payoffs, but because he was part of the office, they didn't gripe to him about it.
The 411: Even though there wasn't a whole lot of new ground broken by this release, Dillon is still a fabulous interview, and it shows here. I can't think of anyone else more qualified for this particular subject than JJ Dillon.