Weird Wrestling from the Interwebs Episode 4: Abyss, SJK, Team Supreme and Matt Hyson vs Steve Corino, Southern Discomfort, Spud and Teddy Hart

Abyss, SJK, Team Supreme and Matt Hyson vs Steve Corino, Southern Comfort, Spud and Teddy Hart

Like most sports, there is always an argument to suggest that wrestling is better served up live than on TV, DVD or streamed into your living room. If ever there was a match that summed up this necessity to be somewhere live, it is the ten man elimination match that headlined 1PW Invincible. Admittedly, I barely knew what the hell was going on watching it with a commentary team; I can only imagine the confusion of a lot of the fans in attendance.

It is fitting, as I attempt to further develop my modern interest in UK wrestling to be taken back, through a randomiser, to one of the bigger players in the Indy scene of the mid 2000s. 1PW were well known for having some of the best UK talent, but also bringing in talent from the US, and this is perfectly highlighted in this most random of elimination tag team matches.

The match actually begins as a tag team encounter: Spud and Teddy Hart vs SJK (Corey Graves) and Matt Hyson (Spike Dudley). It is told to us that Hyson was due to be Spud’s partner in a tilt at the Tag Team Titles, only for SJK to pay him off. In return, Spud hired the walking oven glove Teddy Hart (seriously, his outfit is hideous) to get revenge. The match sees Spud worked over before a spinning DDT allows him to tag Hart. Hart hits the obligatory flying moves (a pretty looking springboard moonsault wiping out both men) before Team Supreme hit the ring. This is followed by Southern Discomfort, then Abyss, and finally by Steve Corino (looking a little on the chunky side). At this point, the smoke in the ring makes it literally impossible to make out what is going on, the referees have no idea what to do and the commentators can’t work it out either.

As the smoke clears, it is decided that this would be an elimination match, with falls counting anywhere. This might as well have been the point where the cameras switch off, as the action is impossible to follow. Luckily for Spud, the highlight of the match is caught as he hit a somersault plancha off of the top of the balcony – a very impressive move in a match that felt too bitty to bring any real quality.

To add to the confusion, Hyson and Abyss start beating each other up, overspill from a TNA feud, and Hyson is eventually pinned off camera after being hit with a Black Hole Slam. We can only guess it is Tracy Smothers who gets the pin, as he then allows himself some time to dance as his music hits. Unsurprisingly, Smothers walks into an Abyss chokeslam to even the match up at 4-4.

Poor Jack Storm. The next elimination has the most painful and cringeworthy move of the night – one that looks like it could have been a lot worse than it seemingly ended up. Chris Hamrick struggled to lift up Jack Storm whilst on the second turnbuckle, but seemingly jumps anyway, planting Storm with a piledriver. It looked rough as hell, and is the end of Storm’s evening. Hamrick doesn’t last much longer, an SJK lungblower followed by an Abyss torture rack bomb doing for him.

Dave Mastiff, in a former life as Dave Moralez, is the next to be defeated, as Hart hits a Sky Twister Press-esque move, before Spud drops the Five Stone frogsplash (great pun) to eliminate both members of Team Supreme. Hart is a little too arrogant though, and instead of pinning SJK after a bearhug into a DDT, he heads to the top ropes. A shooting star press gets nothing but knees, and SJK pins him. To add one last confusing footnote to this match, Corino knocks Harts foot off of the rope during the pinfall.

The world’s biggest Black Hole Slam is enough to pin Spud, Abyss swinging him around a good 7 or 8 times before dropping him. Abyss then seems to disappear, leaving SJK and Corino to duke it out in the middle of the ring. Corino has the upper hand, nailing SJK with a nice suplex and a lariat. As he sets up for another lariat, Abyss returns with a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire. Corino takes a strong chairshot and is busted wide open. A chokeslam onto the steel chair is enough, and almost in a form of poetic justice, we actually miss out on the three count, just to gift wrap the overall confusion of this match for all.

In terms of an interesting line-up, this match has it all. Looking into the future, you have WWE announcers, TNA alumni, some of the cream of UK talent…and Teddy Hart. Yet, as a spectacle, I can only hope that it was better live. It became a rush to eliminate everyone before the end, with no real opportunity to develop anything. There were a few holy shit type spots, but other than that, it was just a confusing mess, that was never really helped by the guys commentating either.

This has always been a match I’d seen on paper and wanted to watch, for many years. Now, I realise that I’d never really missed anything.

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Weird Wrestling from the Interwebs #3: Harley Race/Crusher Blackwell vs The One Man Gang/Tiger Jeet Singh

For this episode of Weird Wrestling from the Interwebs, we head to All Japan, which seems to have its cup flowing over with odd teams competing during the middle of the 1980s. Two of these men ‘make sense’ to me, whilst the other two are a surprise for sure.

The match sees Harley Race team up with Crusher Blackwell to take on the team of The One Man Gang and Tiger Jeet Singh. From my knowledge of All Japan wrestling, the appearances of Harley Race and Tiger Jeet Singh are not particularly abnormal, yet the partners are wrestlers I truly wouldn’t have placed in an All Japan ring. One Man Gang. Crusher Blackwell around this time would have still been wrestling in the AWA, whilst One Man Gang would have been touring around stints in the UWF, it would seem.

Blackwell is a man that I felt should have been bigger (pardon the obvious joke) than he ended up being in the wrestling world. A good character, with size and agility arguably in equal measure, he had a lot to offer. According to websites, he was sniffed about by the WWF, but never fully desired to head up to wrestle for them. As big men go, he is one of the more oddly shaped out of the lot, short and incredibly round, belying an ability to leave his feet as and when needed. He doesn’t look like the conventional ‘big men’ that WWF have had over the years – whether that worked against him in the long run is debatable.

One Man Gang would soon leave UWF for WWF, a run in the Wrestlemania IV title tournament one of the bigger singles highlights (and one of my first wrestling memories). He’d adapted the One Man Gang gimmick to be a little less rough around the edges (something I saw in my 1984 Year in Review series where he looked more like a wildman than a biker gang member). An entertaining hand, if not the greatest wrestler of all time.

The finish of this match could probably be telegraphed by the competitors – there are no real obvious ‘fall’ guys. Harley Race and Tiger Jeet Singh are the names, Blackwell and Gang are the monsters, and the match has draw written all over it. Unsurprisingly, it does end in a draw, but there is a fun little five minute match within that obvious ending.

With guys the size of Gang and Blackwell, emphasising the size of the wrestlers through the initial opening of the match makes a lot of sense, and we see Gang and Blackwell fail to lift each other or knock each other down. This draws ‘ooohs’ from the crowd, both men real spectacles to the Japanese crowd. A big boot from Gang sees Blackwell hit the mat, and I legitimately cringed as it looked stiff for the first notable move of the match – only to be followed by a big lariat which looked even more painful. Blackwell, for a big man, works well as a plucky babyface type at times due to his movement, and as Gang comes in for another lariat, Blackwell lashes back, a double clothesline putting both big men on the floor. A couple of misses see Gang hit the turnbuckle before Blackwell hits the mat on an attempted splash, before Blackwell shows his agility by landing a dropkick. Now, it isn’t a very good dropkick, but you can’t argue with a guy that size willing to leave his feet.

Harley Race is brought into the ring and crowd go wild – Harley is clearly the most popular of the men in the match. Race instantly slams Gang with ease, making Blackwell’s initial attempts look laughable. A kneedrop is followed by a missed headbutt, which allows Gang got make the tag to Singh. My knowledge of Singh is less than limited, but his interactions throughout the match make him at the least entertaining. Singh locks Race in a chokehold, before Gang manages to distract the referee long enough for Singh to get out a metal pole from his shoes. Race is able to block the attack and nail Singh with his own weapon, hitting a suplex to follow. The match inevitably breaks down here, as Blackwell and Gang won’t get out of the ring. Singh escapes the pin before the ref can even get down to count and heads to ringside, followed by Race. As the big men battle in and around the ring, Singh and Race head into the crowd, the double countout finish a certainty from the second Singh heads to ringside. The brawl is fun, and eventually, Blackwell manages to save Race from Singh’s grasp. The faces head back to the ring to celebrate for the crowd.

No five star classic, but it perfectly sums up what this is supposed to be about – strange, yet entertaining, matches from around the world. Check it out.

Weird Wrestling from the Interwebs #2: Tatsumi Kitahara/Rochester Roadblock vs Naoki Sano/Tito Santana

Strange matches in pro wrestling history and the promotions run by Genichiro Tenryu go hand in hand. First in SWS, followed by WAR, Tenryu made a living out of bringing in random men from across the world to team up and fight against each other. Sure, he had his mainstays that formed the backbone of his promotions, but any other conceiavble wrestler was fair game. Thus, we get this tag team match, as a perennial jobber teams up with one of Tenryu’s men to face off against one of the most under-rated US-based wrestlers of all time and a junior heavyweight who never seemed to quite scale the dizzying heights of his time spent in New Japan at the end of the 1980s, early 1990s.

From a personal point of view, this match has two wrestlers I know well, one wrestler I know of by name and a fourth wrestler I’ve never heard of. By all accounts, Tatsumi Kitahara was closely allied to Genichiro Tenryu, having followed a stint in AJPW with runs in SWS and WAR before freelancing for the rest of his career up to date. Sano, I was aware of from his famous run against Liger (yet never having seen the matches…). Tito Santana was a man I’d been a huge fan of when I was younger, an important part of any of the WWF VHS’ I owned. And then…the Roadblock.

The Rochester Roadblock is what makes this match weird in my eyes. Santana in Japan is interesting, but WWF and SWS co-promoted shows, so a lot of WWF talent went out to Japan. Indeed, at this time, Santana probably have somewhat outlived his usefulness in the WWF, so would probably have appreciated the chance to showcase his wares somewhere they might be better appreciated. But…Roadblock? A guy that I remember carrying roadblocks down to the ring on Nitro in 1996? How did Tenryu ever consider him a guy that he needed to put on his books and wrestle in his ring?

Unsurprisingly, the crowd only really pop for Sano and Kitahara, especially Sano who is much loved by the members of the crowd. It is the initial tease of these two getting it on in the ring that gets the crowd going initially, and it is Sano who outwrestler Kitahara in the early going, before Kitahara landed a nice German and snap suplex, one after the other. As soon as Kitahara chooses to tag in the Roadblock, Sano backs off and tags in Tito Santana.

For a big man, Roadblock just looks unthreatening, not helped by the mixture of an awful singlet, hideous moustache and the worst hair of any of the guys in the ring (unless you count the referee). You hope that at least he will throw the smaller guys around with glee, but his offense doesn’t look much better than he does. We see the normal ‘big guy vs little guy’ collisions, before Santana takes him down with a flying crossbody and a couple of dropkicks. Roadblock’s selling just looks awkward, always as if he is on a slight delay to everyone else in the ring. Strangely enough, due to his size, Roadblock is the man in trouble for the first concerted period of time as Sano and Santana use some quick tags to isolate him, but he is able to eventually fight back with an odd bearhug into atomic drop on Satana.

Roadblock’s fairly poor offense is highlighted when Kitahara comes in and absolutely nails Santana with a knee to the gut and a high kick – Kitahara’s strikes look so crisp compared to Roadblock’s tapping and slapping. Sano has had enough at this point though, and breaks a boston crab attempt from Kitahara on Santana. Roadblock does get a chance to re-enter the ring as now his team try and utilise a few quick tags, and hits a fairly decent clothesline, helped by Santana’s always excellent selling. Santana’s beatdown leads to the spot teased earlier, as Roadblock locks in a fairly weak looking bearhug. Every big man must have a bearhug, but this one never leaves the audience in doubt as to the outcome, with Santana nailing Roadblock with several elbows to break the hold.

This ‘tease’ sends us down the home straight as Sano is tagged in to allow him and Santana to double team Roadblock with a double slam. Kitahara breaks up the pin, leaving all four men in the ring. As Sano is chased by Kitahara, he springs up to the top rope and moonsaults over his opponent, landing perfectly to allow him to nail Roadblock with a beautiful superkick. Kitahara and Sano brawl to the floor as the reeling Roadblock is nailed with a Tito Santana flying forearm for the victory.

The match wasn’t at all horrendous, but there is always just the awkward feeling whenever Roadblock enters the ring. Outside of his size, you question what did Tenryu ever see in him as a wrestler – but, weirder things have happened.

Probably on the same card in SWS.

Weird Wrestling from the Interwebs #1: Don Muraco vs Cactus Jack

As strange as wrestling is, what with logic-defying Irish Whips and the enduring legacy of Glenn Jacobs, there are moments when you stumble upon something and just think ‘…..abuh?!’ Due to life’s rich tapestry being represented across the wrestling world, some of the matches that get booked do cause eyebrows to be raised, and that isn’t only by Genichiro Tenryu. In this column, I’ll be looking to explore some of the weirder and more wonderful aspects of professional wrestling. Random wrestlers showing up in far-off promotions? Check. Odd tag team partnerships? Check. Rochester Roadblock? Check. What more can a wrestling fan ask for?

Before heading to today’s match, many thanks to DVDVR, where most of these matches have been sourced from based on recommendations for some of the more random wrestling matches floating about on the internet.

I used a random number generator to make the process truly random – I don’t want to be guided by my own personal opinions or desire to watch one specific match. I will take whatever it tells me to, no ifs, ands or buts. With this in mind, this match isn’t exactly one of the weirder potential options I could have watched. Don Muraco and Cactus Jack have spent time in the wrestling that overlapped by over a decade, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that they ended up wrestling at some point – yet it just feels…off. Muraco’s heyday was in the 80s, and he was already starting to circle the drain in terms of his in-ring ability – staggeringly, he went on to wrestle on and off until 2006 (at least according to Wikipedia, the font of all wrestling knowledge). This was a young Cactus Jack, although he had also been wrestling for seven years by this point. The promotion who housed this battle of two men whose paths were going in completely different directions? Herb Abrams’ UWF.

My knowledge of Herb Abrams’ UWF is limited. My knowledge of Herb Abrams is only slightly better, although this primarily revolves around the drug-fuelled orgyfied nature of his death. With Muraco now no longer seen as worth a spot in the WWF and Cactus Jack trying to find a spot in a bigger promotion, UWF seemed to work as a place for waifs and strays – a spot below the top table that kept veterans active and offered younger, hungrier wrestlers a chance for that little bit more exposure.

The idea of a Don Muraco match in 2006 is a scary idea, considering the lack of mobility on offer in this match. At least at this point, he seems to look less like his muscles are trying to escape out of his skin. This match feels like a perfect showcase for what Mick Foley was willing to do, even on a small time TV match, to try and get both himself and his opponent over. The match? Pretty average, unsurprisingly. Yet… it tells a decent little story of Muraco not wanting to enter Foley’s world at ringside, helped by Foley’s belief in sacrificing his body to work around the rest of the fairly limited action otherwise.

The match sees Muraco send Foley to the outside twice, refusing to follow him to ringside both times. The third time saw Muraco head to ringside and initially lose out in the brawl that ensues. What follows is one of the more ridiculous spots I’ve seen (and that included Jack hitting himself with a wooden chair and knocking himself down earlier in the match), as Muraco tombstones Jack on the concrete floor! Such a major potential spot used in such a throwaway manner is surprising, although it does open up a big cut on Jack’s head for some good colour. Not content to be dropped on his head on the concrete floor, Jack also ends up with his head caught in the ropes in the Hangman. Falling out of this move sees Jack counted-out and Muraco awarded the victory, though the ‘real victor’ of the match is Cactus. In hindsight, his willingness to go above and beyond in this match (and most matches at this time) is difficult to stomach when you consider his physical condition today. However, you can definitely see why the years that followed saw increasing success on his move to WCW and WWE – the man appeared to be truly ‘Unpredictable’.