|When Ole Anderson returned as WCW chief booker in May 1990 he set out to
replace WCW's contracted wrestlers with cheap, short term workers who could
be pushed or jobbed as it suited him. That meant using the contracted workers
in such a way that they "don't get hot or have any noticeable following
- so when they're cut loose at the end of their contracts, it isn't [widely
regarded as] a loss." (WON 9/24/90).
It was widely expected that, after a brief exposure to Anderson's regime, most of WCW's young contracted workers would jump to Titan when their contracts expired in early 1991. Tom Zenk however had a 2 year contract (unusual at the time). It would need additional pressure to make Zenk quit. When Zenk refused to go, Anderson applied the simple logic that "getting beat kills your career" and booked Zenk to an unending series of losses and humiliations - (Part 1 (Jan - May 1990); (Part 2 (June - December,1990)
But in the end it was Anderson who was forced out......
At last the contracted workers began to be pushed again.
But initial talk of Zenk getting a push seemed premature when the booking sheets for January showed him against the Iron Sheik for the 1/11 Meadowlands show.
however, in December, a brief push arrived with Zenk booked to win the
TV Title revitalizing a belt that had lost much of its status during
Arn Anderson's tenure. "A television
taping on 12/4 at Center Stage in Atlanta before a sellout crowd was headlined
by Zenk winning the TV title from Arn Anderson after a dropkick off the
top rope.... a great match. They are doing a gimmick where Zenk has a 46
match winning streak so he's getting a big push now with the new booking
January 1991 - as well as holding the World TV Title,
After the Zenk-Anderson title switch was aired (Saturday -12/22/90) WON reported (1/8/91) - "An old-style match which lasted 17 minutes. Slow builder but tons of heat for the finish which was most impressive ......" The match drew a 3.4 rating, the best rating for the WCW Saturday show since February 1990.
The mismanagement began with WCW's claim of a 45 (sometimes 46) match winning streak for Zenk prior to winning the TV title - as if the last 7 months of Zenk's downcarding by Ole had never happened.
were being taped and broadcast out of chronological order - which wasn't
unusual - but the announcing team's continuity seemed to fail them when
it came to putting Zenk over, as the sheets were quick to pick up -
Problems in WCW booking and continuity deteriorated further when Dusty Rhodes arrived as chief booker in early January, 1991.
Rhodes had been a major figure in the Crockett NWA clique in the days before Turner. Returning to Atlanta [having being pink-slipped by McMahon] Rhodes began to consolidate his power base within the organization by reforming the old Crockett clique. Barry Windham and Kevin Sullivan were brought in as members of the booking committee. Magnum TA was brought in as road agent.
Anderson, another member of the Crockett clique, was immediately booked to regain the World TV title from Zenk at a TV taping on 1/14/91. Rhodes' son was coming in and Rhodes had no intention of letting Zenk get over with the belt ahead of Dustin.
was left unaware of the proposed title switch until the last minute. Anderson
was informed some time in advance. "It's something" he told his fans "you
can take to the bank". A week before the match was aired (but
several weeks after it had actually been taped) Anderson prepared the TV
audience for what was to come -
"People have been telling me what I couldn't do all my life. A lotta people call me an [under]achiever, Zenk. They say you're not big enough. You don't have a body like Tom Zenk's. You shouldn't have got what you got in this life. Well, my friend, you look in these eyes and I looked in yours and I've seen that same fire and I feel I've seen that same hunger; that will to achieve when everybody thinks you can't. So remember one thing, Greek God. This might be a grandstand play for you or a way to get beautiful women. But, by God, that's how I make my living and I'm better than everybody else. A couple of broke knuckles, a few stitches makes no difference when you're a world class athlete; when you're a world champion, you suck it up and go. Now you wanna be somebody? You wanna elevate yourself? Next week, my friend, make your grandstand play right on this show. I don't think you're man enough to jump on me. Bottom Line."
of Champions XIV (1/30/91) Missy Hyatt announced the results of voting
for "The Sexiest Wrestler working in WCW" - "Everyone knows it should have
been me, but my favorite wrestler won it. He looks great in his tights,
he's got a great tan, and best of all he's single ... and he really
is sexy. He's our World TV champion, the Z-Man. Congratulations gorgeous..."
Two years later, Zenk offered to act as witness in Hyatt's sexual harassment claim against WCW management. Shortly after that, WCW management decided not to renew Zenk's contract.
then booked Zenk to continue defending the TV title in arenas and TV matches
until the title switch finally aired. TV matches included the match
against Eaton at Clash of Champions XIV on 1/30/91, a full two weeks
after Zenk had been booked to drop the belt.
In mid-January 1991, America was at war in the Persian Gulf. At WWF, McMahon and Patterson were doing all they could to cash in on the conflict. They decided on a Hogan vs Sgt. Slaughter feud for Wrestlemania VII. Slaughter hired the "Iraqi" Sheik Adnon as his manager, denounced the US, burned the flag and took to wrestling in a pair of boots "sent him by Saddam Hussein'. Hogan set out to tour US military bases and was said to be "preparing to travel to the Middle East."
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter condemned WWF for using the war to build heat for its top heel. McMahon retaliated by accusing WON editor Dave Meltzer of journalistic bais against WWF.
Meltzer chose to defend himself by picking an issue where he could prove his own impartiality by criticizing WWF and WCW equally. The issue he chose was the practice of not recognizing title changes until the match had aired on TV.
Meltzer criticized WWF for booking Kerry Von Erich to defend the title
he'd lost to Curt Hennig until the title switch had been broadcast on TV.
Then, turning his 'impartial'
eye to WCW, he noted -
Despite Meltzer's protestations, "Dixie Dynamite" proceeded unchanged, with Zenk booked to defend the title he'd dropped, two weeks earlier, according to Rhodes' script.
For an increasingly bemused Zenk, it was business as usual in WCW's mismanagement of his career - with the TV belt itself just another weight to be carried around in his sportsbag. No extra pay came with the belt and his booking schedule offered little more than a three-way program for the TV title with Zenk (face) Eaton ('tweener) and Anderson (heel) - and Anderson booked to retain the title indefinitely (WON 1/14/91).
"push" had lasted just over three weeks.