–Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan are on studio duty for today’s broadcast. Heenan argues that Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Jimmy Hart are not happy about Ric Flair being reinstated.
–Bischoff hypes WCW’s trading cards that are coming out this week. He notes that the Diamond Doll is nowhere to be seen on Diamond Dallas Page’s card. Heenan says that is simply because there was not enough room on it.
–Bischoff and Heenan recap the action that has taken place so far in the United States Championship Tournament.
–United States Championship Tournament First Round: Steve Austin (w/Colonel Robert Parker) (8-1) pins Hacksaw Jim Duggan (16-1) when Austin gets his shoulder up first after a back suplex at 7:25:
These two men have some history as Duggan was a last-minute substitution for Ricky Steamboat at Fall Brawl and defeated Austin in less than a minute to win the U.S. title. Today’s match is largely a stallfest as Duggan moves slowly and Austin takes several powders after Duggan wins some early exchanges. Duggan hits his three-point stance clothesline, but Austin gets knocked out of the ring and when Duggan back suplexes him back in, Parker holds Duggan’s foot down and Austin gets his shoulder up to advance. Austin looked incredibly weak here and that does not say much for his chances in the quarter-finals against Randy Savage or the Butcher. Rating: ½*
–Bischoff says that Savage will never forget what Ric Flair did to him at Uncensored.
The Last Word: Austin is the first heel to advance in the United States Championship Tournament. The poor match with Duggan made this another throwaway edition of Main Event, though.
Backstage News*: Sergeant Craig Pittman made the semi-finals in the Vale-Tudo Japan Open Tournament on April 20 in Tokyo. Pittman defeated kickboxer Wayne Emmons, who substituted for UFC competitor Joe Charles, in the first round in a little over two minutes but lost to Yuki Nakai, who upset Gerard Gordeau in his previous match. By all reports Pittman dominated Nakai but lost via a controversial submission when the referee mistook a groan for giving up. WCW had hoped Pittman could make the finals and defeat Rickson Gracie, thereby securing a future UFC bid. New Japan officials were impressed by Pittman, though, and inquired about bringing him overseas for future shows.
*Arn Anderson and Steve Austin are already committed to a New Japan tour in May and June.
*Sports Illustrated has shown some interest in doing a story about recent deaths in pro wrestling. WCW officials turned down their request for an interview.
*WCW might be flirting with the idea of a Hulk Hogan-Antonio Inoki match, as Inoki has told reporters in Japan that the winner of his match with Ric Flair in North Korea will get a shot at the WCW title.
*Gene Okerlund has returned to work, so his health has improved significantly relative to earlier reports.
*Harvey Schiller has given Eric Bischoff a year to get WCW’s finances in order, so more talent cuts could be on the horizon.
*In talent relations news, WCW offered ECW’s Sabu a contract as a cruiserweight, but Sabu turned it down because he did not want to be stereotyped as a small guy and he wanted to be in the hunt for the U.S. title. Dory Funk, Jr. has also informed WCW that he will not wrestle Wahoo McDaniel at Slamboree because New Japan talent – namely the Great Muta – will be at the show, thereby causing him significant political problems in Japan.
*Backstage news provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for May 1.
Up Next: WCW Pro for April 29!