WCW Saturday Night Interactive! : 27.04.1996

Booty Man vs Ted Allen

So Booty Man wins. No real surprise there. He hits him with the high knee, which is a pun on the word ‘hiney’. Booty. Hiney. Great work. Whoever came up with that needs a raise.

I’m just going to use this time to talk about Brutus Beefcake, the original and (not really too much of a stretch) best iteration of Ed Leslie in the wrestling ring. When I was younger, my first two wrestling videos were Wrestlemania IV and Wrestlemania VI. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I loved IV. It gets a bad rap now, and probably rightly so, but I used to really enjoy sitting through such barnburners as Don Muraco vs Dino Bravo and Rick Rude and Jake Roberts chinlocking their way to fifteen minute time limit draw.

One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this card was Brutus Beefcake’s attempts to beat the Honky Tonk Man for the IC Title.

Brutus Beefcake was a character who was easy to get behind, especially during a time before I really cared about wrestling workrate. He wore bright pink with weird fishnet bits? Awesome! He liked to cut people’s hair after the match? Brilliant, sign me up. I wished and implored Beefcake to win the title every time I put on that VHS, and every time he came up short. Small victories were gained as he grabbed Jimmy Hart and cut his hair, but it wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for, or the outcome I’d expected. How can this poor mans’ Elvis defeat a guy as cool as Beefcake?

If ever there was a man who represented the law of diminishing returns, it is Ed Leslie. As I grew older, as he progressed in his wrestling career, the interest in Beefcake waned. He became Booty Man, Zodiac, The Disciple; each iteration more awful than the last. As my interest grew in wrestling, holes bigger than the ones in Beefcake’s tights were noticeable.

Dream Team-era Beefcake, hiding behind the wrestling talent of Greg Valentine, was arguably the best. He was able to get in the ring, deliver his stuff, and get out to allow Valentine to do the grunt work of the match. Beefcake as a face was over, and continued to entertain anyone who, in hindsight, was under the age of about 10. Everything past that – forget it.

Keith Richards once said about Madonna that she had a thimbleful of talent in a sea of ambition. Beefcake is wrestling’s variant on that theme – has any wrestler managed to exist at the highest level for as long as that with less talent? You could make a stand for his physical look (at least early in his career) and his charisma as Brutus, but what did he bring that allowed him to sit near the top of the wrestling world for 15 years.

More importantly, why am I still having to watch him in 2015? Cheers guys. Good job.

Making PROGRESS: Chapter 1

With the UK independent scene arguably at the brightest it has been for many a year, I decided that my look at the modern world of wrestling needed to celebrate this upward trajectory the sport has been on in this country. With the current proliferation of companies willing to allow you to stream, either for a monthly free or per episode of a promotion, it has never been easier to follow along with the best of British. So, I turned to PROGRESS.

For only around £5, I subscribed and watched Chapter 1: In The Beginning… This promotion was the one that had all the word of mouth, all the interest as I looked for the promotion I wanted to view. I’d seen Revolution Pro live, dabbled in some others, but for months, I’d been hearing that the best was coming out of PROGRESS – and even though I’ve only watched the first show, I can see where this argument comes from. It wasn’t perfect; in fact, far from it in places, but there is the clear potential which has subsequently seemingly been fully realised.

Chapter 1: In The Beginning…

On the first show, PROGRESS set out to crown a new PROGRESS Champion. As well as this, we had a three way for the BCW Scarlo Scholarship Title to enjoy.

Noam Dar vs El Ligero (First Round Match)

I didn’t want this to be a play by play account of every match, but by nature, some matches will be covered in more detail than others. In terms of names on the card, these are two that I was already well aware of. I’d seen Ligero fight Mark Haskins on a RevPro show (a match that was cost him by the dastardly ‘El Ligero’) and saw Noam Dar in a losing effort against Michael Elgin. Both men had impressed even in defeat, and I looked forward to the match.

Unsurprisingly, for a veteran worker (Ligero) and a rising star (Dar), the match was very good. Dar’s interactions with the crowd, including his ‘nut El Ligero in the face’ promo for the fans at home, were golden, and highlighted the adult-orientated theme of the promotion from the off. He also is the wrestler who most effectively deals with the crowds interactions, some that are very funny indeed. Dar gives off an element of a Scottish Nakamura in his mannerisms at times, and is a very good stooge, not being afraid to look stupid to get the match over. Mixed in with the crisp strike combos of Ligero, the match moves along at a cracking pace. Dar’s airplane spin into a Northern Lights Suplex was a brilliantly executed move for a near fall, whilst Ligero came close to grabbing the victory with a pinning combination. A springboard DDT ends up being enough for Ligero to progress. A very good match to kickstart PROGRESS.

Colossus Kennedy vs Nathan Cruz (First Round Match)

I’m always a big fan of a big man and Colossus Kennedy is the biggest guy entered into the tournament. The beard is also pretty impressive. He is drawn to face Nathan Cruz, a wrestler who gets a ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chants upon arrival.

What follows is an OK outing for the two men; one I feel that is weakened by Kennedy. Whilst not outright bad in his ability, he just lacks what I personally enjoy in a big man wrestler. He isn’t quick like a Crusher Blackwell, vicious like Vader or uses his bulk like Yutaka Yoshie or Dave Mastiff – he just is. I enjoyed the initial big man/little man interactions and the bodyslam into a suplex by Kennedy is impressive, if a little wayward in execution. However, as the match progressed, it just lacked a spark for me. I was watching in bed, therefore not making notes, and I’d struggle to remember much that happened…except for the finish. A side kick to the head is somewhat Catch 22 in nature; it would be enough to knock someone out in real life, but just doesn’t look impressive enough in a wrestling ring. Still, Nathan Cruz does enough and heads to the final.

Colt Cabana vs ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (First Round match)

Your mileage on this match comes completely down to what you feel about the two gimmicks. Colt Cabana is the same guy who has been peddling his wares ever since leaving WWE (and basically before then), whilst Mike Mason is a man pretending to be a dog…I’m lukewarm on Cabana; his comedy can be good but a bit too much stalling due to it, and his European style is average at best. Mason, I just don’t get. There isn’t really a redeeming feature in that gimmick, though it does bring out the only Valet of the evening, Becky James.

The match follows the obvious pathway – Cabana makes Mason look stupid, interacts with the crowd and out wrestles him as the match begins to move away from the comedy. When Mason takes control, his moves lack conviction. His punches across the chest lack any real impact and look weak. This carries into the finish, where Becky manages to slip the dog lead to Mason whilst the ref is preoccupied. The punch for the finish barely hits Cabana, and makes an OK match weaker through the poor finish. Mason is through to the final, though I’m not quite sure why.

Zak Sabre Jr. vs Marty Scurll (First Round match)

Two other wrestlers that I have seen live; Scurll more than once and Sabre Jr. in an excellent match vs Nakamura. Both men are part of the same stable, ‘The Leaders of the New School’ and the match begins as tag matches between partners often do, each man matching the other move for move. The matwork at the start in particular is fast, clinical and spectacular. Scurll, compared to his matches I’ve seen before, is fighting a more technical fight, as if to show his partner that he is able to match him move for move.

Scurll works well as a heel, and it is unsurprising when he is the first of the two to go ‘above and beyond’, slapping Sabre Jr. violently around the face – a stiff kick back shows that Sabre is more than willing to go to battle if needs be. The story of the fight then becomes one of strikes, as each man shows a willingness to punish other guy with slaps, kicks, forearms and headbutts to get the job done. Sabre Jr. also slaps on several armbars, a move that is impressively over for something so simple and a fact that he deserves credit for. Sabre Jr. almost takes the win with a beautiful sitout powerbomb, before Scurll begins to use his flashier moves, a dive to the outside the pick of the bunch. A forearm exchange swiftly turns into a clothesline exchange and a headbutt exchange before a pinning combo exchange sees Scurll eek out the victory. Best match of the night so far, and a fitting end to the match, with one guy just marginally better than his tag team partner.

Xander Cooper (champion) vs Darrell Allen vs Zack Gibson (BCW Scarlo Scholarship Title)

I’ll be honest: I’ve never heard of that title before. Still, to have a triple threat match on a PROGRESS show is a big opportunity for all three men. I’d stopped taking notes at this point, choosing instead to try and enjoy the matches without the added difficulty of making notes at the same time – I couldn’t have timed it better, because there was a lot going on in a very good showcase for the three men.

Of the three, Xander Cooper seemed the most polished; his crowd interactions on their clapping of a suplex was a particular highlight. Darrell Allen was the popular fan favourite, and his speed was an asset, making him a potentially exciting prospect. I’d initially though little of Zak Gibson, yet as the match progressed, he grew more and more into it. Indeed, the corner dive by Gibson after several corner to corner moves involving all three men was the best move of the match and a novel spot, as where the subsequent pinning attempts. Gibson’s exploder and a knee to the face off the top (commentator sold as a lungblower, though I’m not quite sure) were also impressive moves which further threw my support behind the Scouser.

The finish was a bit of a shame – Allen’s 450 splash seemed to go awry, Gibson taking knees to the gut and Allen hitting his face hard on the canvas. Cooper booted a clearly-dazed Allen out of the way and grabbed the pinfall to remain champion. All in all, a good showcase for all involved.

Marty Scurll vs Mike Mason vs El Ligero vs Nathan Cruz (For the vacant PROGRESS Championship…a staff)

I have to admire the four men in this match for the excellent decision to head into the crowd for the first half of this title match. When a crowd might have been flagging, the men tired, they choose to bring it into the audience and grab their attention. Cruz’s chop assault by Ligero and Scurll was great, whilst the disappearance into the woman’s toilet harkened back to Kevin Sullivan vs He-who-shall-not-be-named. Scurll even found the opportunity to sit in the ring and down a pint on command. It was only when the match returned to the ring that I even realised that it seemed to be a four corners match that actually required tags.

El Ligero, to my surprise, was the first man to go – whilst I never expected him to win, I thought he would be a good face against a heel gunning for the title in the final fall. Becky James pulled the ref as Ligero covered Mason, allowing Cruz to boot him in the side of the head and pick up the pinfall for the elimination. Luckily for me, Mason went next. Ligero, unhappy with Becky, pulled Mason’s feet as he hit the ropes, allowing Scurll to come up behind him and package him up in a schoolboy.

At this point, I felt sure that Scurll would win. Even though he is easy to hate, he seemed to be playing face to Cruz’s heel, the crowd firmly behind the Take Me Out star. The final stretch saw both men go at it for another ten minutes (considering the amount of time each man had spent in the ring this night, an effort that was phenomenal). With an opponent who could match him, Cruz looked much better as the two men duked it out to become the first champion. A ref bump occurred, signalling the end for Scurll in my eyes. But it was Scurll who had Cruz pinned, only for the ref to not see it. Cruz then pinned Scurll, only for a kick out at 2 and 9/10ths! A dodging Scurll managed to roll up Cruz for another near fall, only to be blasted with the kick to the side of the head – the most legitimate one of the evening – and allow Cruz to become the new PROGRESS Champion! Not who I would have put my money on, but a worthy winner in the end.

A good show to start my PROGRESS viewing. Sure, I didn’t like Mason or Kennedy much, and Cabana is a little tiresome, but it was more than made up for by some of the cream of British Wrestling. The more I watch Scurll, Ligero, Sabre Jr. and Dar, the more impressed I am.

Onwards and upwards – to Chapter 2!

The Modern Way: Elimination Chamber 2015

To prove that I am down and hip with the kids, and not festering in a room watching 1980s re-runs constantly, I’ve decided that I will add a few modern columns to the website. I plan, when I have time, to add a UK indy column using the streaming services of PROGRESS and ICW, but this column will be about my monthly foray into the world of WWE.

The only WWE I watch are the ‘PPVs’, or at least the showcase events now that they are all on the Network. Bleary eyed on a Tuesday morning, I will read the RAW results and instantaneously forget them, whilst dipping into the Smackdown results will usually occur later in the week. I very, very rarely watch the matches themselves, so my only exposure is through the PPV events. However, as I do watch them, I though a column made sense as I give my opinion about the world of WWE.

Elimination Chamber 2015

The New Day (Champions) vs Prime Time Players vs Cesaro/Tyson Kidd vs The Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension vs Los Matadores for the Tag Team Titles

A novel way to begin the PPV with what I believe is the first Tag Team Elimination Chamber. The Lucha Dragons opening the match suggested to me that they were in there to look good and be the proverbial ‘spot-monkeys’ in the match, nailing the big wow spots that would have everyone talking. This may have been the case, but the various big spots didn’t quite pan out. It seemed as if there was a missed opportunity when Kalisto was grabbed by The New Day, whilst his splash off the top of the chamber was impressive, but was telegraphed for too long, leaving a group of wrestlers hanging around in the middle of ring waiting….and waiting. The connection from the move also looked poor – a general situation that seems as if it would be the blame of the catchers, who didn’t seem to be in the correct position at the correct time.

Considering how they have been treated recently, I was surprised the Ascension defeated not only Los Matadores and (more surprisingly The Lucha Dragons). The Ascension just don’t connect with me – there is an impressive visual aspect about the team, but it just feels a bit bland when it comes to execution. They spent too long stalling around in the early stages of the match and it was good to see Darren Young and The Prime Time Players eliminate them from the match.

As the match progressed, the stars of the match were clearly Cesaro, Titus O’Neill and The New Day. Whilst a little European Uppercut heavy, Cesaro’s offense looked good, especially a dropkick worthy of Kazuchika Okada in full flight. Tyson Kidd was also a commendable presence in the match, and should be lorded for the huge changes he has made to build a personality that the fans are willing to get behind, rather than provide nothing but apathetic reactions. Titus O’Neill’s Hulk-esque rages were brilliant to watch – I could buy O’Neill as a no questions asked ass-kicker.

I expected to see Cesaro and Kidd facing off against The New Day for the title, so was pleasantly surprised to see Darren Young schoolboy Cesaro. For me, this was a fresh pairing, and the two teams battled hard, the PTP coming across as viable potential winners. Still, the correct decision was made and The New Day retained the belts after a pile-on to justify the addition of the 3rd member to the match. It would have been too early to take the belts off of them, yet the PTP looked good in this losing outing.

Nikki (champion) vs Naomi vs Paige for the Divas Title

I’ve seen a range of posts on various forums deriding this match, especially with the relative success of the NXT Women’s division. In truth, it was not perfect. There were a few clearly blown spots and few too many times when the calling of moves in the ring was obvious. However, I’m just pleased to see a renewed showcase on the women’s division. The match went a reasonable amount of time, during which the women made the Diva’s Title a desired possession. Rather than the bitch slapping and rolling around of yore, the moves the women pulled out were brutal and impressive – I specifically liked the top rope german suplex/top rope powerbomb combination, as well as the attempted reverse frankensteiner by Naomi, which was rough but has to be commended.

Unfortunately, the match was let down by a lack of heat amongst the other issues. Maybe the damage that WWE has done over the years to the women’s division isn’t going to be rectified until a more concerted effort is made to champion the women – maybe with an addition of some fresh blood? The finish saw Nikki retain with the Rack Attack, but a new challenge from a Sasha Banks or Charlotte Flair could be the shot in the arm the division needs going forward.

Kevin Owens vs John Cena

A good match. A very good match. Not a great match.

Kevin Owens feels legit. He has that Roy Nelson/Tank Abott ‘I came here to fight’ style nature (…and no, not just because they are all a little on the larger side) and it works to make this match feel big time. Naturally, the fact that he is standing opposite John Cena helps that along no end.

The match built well, and this was especially helped by Cena’s selling throughout. Cena does what the greats like Flair and Hogan did well, which is sell to make their opponents look good. Not goofy over-selling, but a legitimate suggestion that they are hurt badly by their opponents’ offense. It helps that moves such as Owens’ rolling cannonball are a brilliant piece of ‘big man’ offense.

The slow build to some near falls worked well, and after the first pop-up powerbomb, I expected it to end in a DQ, a furious Owens beating Cena down with a chair. But the match continued – I almost bought the missed moonsault into an AA for the victory, jumping out of my chair with my hand against my head, as if a goal had been missed in football. But the match continued.

…the pattern continued for too long. Too many false finishes. With the rematch seemingly already in the pipeline, I feel they needed to leave something, anything for the next time they meet. Once you’ve kicked out of two finishers and three or four moves that look like finishers, where do you go next? How do you build the tension in the next match when we know the finishers aren’t going to cut it? It brought together the worst of Indy Owens and Super Cena to create a prolonged finishing sequence that wasn’t necessary.

Brave though, for WWE to give Owens the clean victory. Could be a made man.

Neville vs Bo Dallas

A necessary ‘evil’ after the Kevin Owens vs John Cena match, the pace was slow which hurt the heat but allowed the audience to recoup after the heady heights of the previous match. The insane gymnastics skills (rather than a knock on him, it is the only way I can describe them) that Neville showcases are up there with the best high flyers going today, and are already clearly making him a fan favourite. Bo Dallas, on the other hand, has a conflict insofar as his character interests me, but his moves don’t. He is too much the product of his wrestling heritage, lacking anything that can be considered exciting. Due to the upward trajectory of Neville, it was unsurprising to see him win with the Red Arrow. Nothing spectacular and the start of a small downward spiral that headed into the next two matches for me, personally.

King Barrett vs Dolph Ziggler vs Sheamus vs R-Truth vs Ryback vs Mark Henry for the Vacant Intercontinental Title

Unlike the Tag Team Title match, this is just a match that never really gets going, not helped by the seeming botch that allowed Mark Henry to join the match earlier, throwing any and all momentum out the window. Barrett had done a good job of building up the momentum in the match, attacking R-Truth in his pod and taunting those who had yet to enter, only for it to come crashing down quicker than the plexiglas surrounding the pods.

Watch the match – it falls apart. Ziggler with his almost-dying-selling tries his best to work around it, but he can’t save it. For such seasoned veterans, there are a lot of guys standing around not really sure what they are expected to do. I did like Sheamus channelling his inner Gladiator, though the blocking of the door was completely missed by the crowd and the commentators if their comments were anything to go by.

Ryback eventually did enough to pick up the victory by pinning Sheamus – as a personality, I just prefer Sheamus and would have liked to see him pick up the title. I’m not quite sure where they go with Ryback – maybe a returning Rusev (my ultimate choice for IC Champion) will be the next challenger knocking on Ryback’s door.

Poor Barrett.

Seth Rollins (champion) vs Dean Ambrose

The match was solid, but after the Owens vs Cena match, I was burnt out for the remainder (highlighted clearly by the shorter write-ups the further I get…I genuinely had less to say). It paled in comparison to their Lumberjack Match on Raw, although the need for the ‘main event feel’ and the increased timing required to feel meant they couldn’t go balls to the wall in the same manner. As the pace quickened towards the end of the match, the quality naturally improved – the guys needed to play to these strengths from the get go. However, as soon as the ref bump happened, I saw where the ending was heading.

A Dusty Finish in 2015? It hasn’t been done for a while, but it can’t be good in this day and age to give with one hand and take away with the other in such a manner. The Ambrose victory got a huge pop, which bodes well for the future, though I assume it was more out of the surprise factor as I don’t perceive many fans thinking Ambrose truly had a chance. At a time when you are trying to engage fans as general interest seems to be waning, does it make sense to leave such a sour taste in your fans’ mouths? Potentially, you drum up interest as ‘anything can happen’ if you choose to watch a WWE event – but when that anything that can happen is so negative, the impact can only be negative as well.

Overall? Mixed quality. The Tag Team Chamber and Owens/Cena was good, the rest stumbled along, with the second Chamber match the only outright bad match thrown out there. Still, the Owens/Cena match burnt out the crowd and myself, causing the second half to be more torturous than it probably needed to be. Leaves me interested to see where they head next, across a number of storylines – that’s what wrestling is all about in the end, I suppose.

1984 Year in Review: WCCW Fort Worth TV 11.02.1984

For the next column in the 1984 Year in Review, we head back to Texas to see what was happening in WCCW as things are about to be turned upside down and inside out by news from outside of the wrestling ring.

This show would have aired the day after the death of David Von Erich, a death that occurred during a tour of Japan and has had many stories written about what might have happened on that fateful night. I’m not here to cast aspersions or to debate the validity of the stories that are out there, just to focus on the wrestling. With only a day having passed and the nature of the way wrestling shows would have been produced, moved and aired during those days, nothing is mentioned and the show carries on as normal – a focus on the 30th January show the modus operandi of this weeks’ TV. Unlike other NWA affiliates I’ve looked at, a lot of WCCW’s focus when it comes to their TV does seem to be old matches from the supershows, rather than taped-for-TV matches. Naturally, that means that the quality of match on offer is generally better, but it lacks the immediacy that you feel when watching Mid-South or Georgia.

The first match of the night unsurprisingly is a six man tag team match between The Freebirds and The Von Erichs. The Freebirds Six Man Tag Team Titles are on the line, as well as there being two stipulations. If the Freebirds win, they will be allowed to wrestle all over Texas with impunity (Roberts and Gordy had storyline bannings from certain areas, if I remember correctly). If the Von Erichs won, the Freebirds would be banned from Texas for a year. The Von Erichs were due to be David, Kevin and Kerry, but an assault backstage by the Freebirds left Kevin injured, Mike Von Erich stepping up to take his place. David Manning, the referee, has a lot of involvement at the start, three times getting on the mic to admonish The Freebirds, especially as they go to leave with their trophy, threatening to strip them of the 6-Man Tag Team Titles if they don’t return to the ring. They do, and the match is on.

As would be expected, a match between these 6-men is never going to be anything other than watchable, and that’s what it is. It lacks a little something – the big match feel is lacking, especially when you compare it to some of their bigger arena matches and stadium matches. Mike Von Erich is also a poor substitute for Kevin, even though he is given a lot of opportunities to shine. Unlike how you might expect a tag team match to go, with the heel heat and the hot tag, this match is a lot more even, with each team having their time to shine. David’s leg is worked on by the Freebirds, whilst the Von Erichs focus on Roberts’ leg when they get the chance. The crowd are hot and the match chugs along at a decent pace so as to make twenty minutes fly by.

There are two criminal offences in the match. One is the use (twice!) of a stomach claw, which is probably the worst move in wrestling. Hayes at least sells it like a champ in the first instance.

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The second instance sees Roberts lifted clean off of his feet by Kerry Von Erich in at least what amounts to an impressive feat of strength.

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The second criminal offense is the finish, which leads on from this second stomach claw. With his brothers in complete control, Kevin rushes the ring, bloody and bandaged up, to attack the Freebirds. Why he would do this when his brothers were arguably about to win the titles is beyond me. You do at least get to see a frustrated Kevin lay a couple of nice punches on his brothers as well before they smother him to the canvas. The winners by DQ are the Freebirds and they are allowed to wrestle anywhere in Texas going forward.

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Later on in the same card, we see a second outing for Mike Von Erich as he takes on Ric Flair in a ten minute challenge match. The stipulation here is that if Mike can last ten minutes with Ric Flair, David Von Erich will be allowed to challenge for the NWA World Title in match with stipulations of his choice. If Ric Flair did win, David wouldn’t get another shot at the title.

This match is a masterclass of making someone look better then they are to serve the storyline; Flair makes Mike look like a legitimate threat, being outmuscled and outmatched several times in the fight. Mike controls more of the ten minutes than Flair does as the cockiness of the champ comes back to bite him on the ass. He even comes close to beating Flair, a roll-up getting a two count and a sleeper hold only broken by the time limit. The reaction of the crowd to what amounts to a draw is pretty impressive, and the family are quickly in to hug Mike. Sadly, David Von Erich would never get his re-match for the NWA World Title.

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The final match of the night and what seemingly amounted to the main event of that evening was Chris Adams vs Jimmy Garvin for the NWA American Heavyweight Title which was held by Garvin. It was to be a cage match, but both valets were allowed in the ring; Precious for Gavin, Sunshine for Adams. This felt a little bit like it negated the need for a cage, as the cage would primarily be there to stop the interference of the women. The first seven minutes of the match also felt that they forgot it was a cage match, as there was a lot of technical work and very little heat.

Finally, Garvin rammed Adams’ head into the cage and split him open. This seemed to light a fire in Adams and the match itself, with a heated final three minutes as Adams looked to take out his frustrations on the champ. The finishing stretch saved this match from tedium, especially the closing sequence that saw Adams win the title from Garvin.

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Whilst the match didn’t show him at his best, it is hard not to watch Adams and think that it was a waste of life how things developed for him going forward. A very talented wrestler who worked well as both face and heel. Jimmy Garvin from around this time has always been a surprise to me, due to my initial time seeing him as a wrestler being his fairly naff run as a WCW Freebird. At this time, he is a premier heel and is easy to hate.

A decent little show, though lacking that high-end feeling that you would get for the bigger named events WCCW ran. It will be interesting going forward to see the effect the death of David Von Erich has on programming. The immediate knock-on effect is that Bill Watts isn’t on Mid-South TV, but that’s a story for another episode. So long, take care.

1984 Year in Review: NWA World Wide Wrestling 11.02.1984

NWA World Wide Wrestling 11.02.1984

When I first began this attempt to review the NWA TV over the course of 1984, it was this show I was most looking forward to. However, as I’ve moved through the first months of the year, it has rapidly sank to the bottom of my interest list. Outside of the odd wrestler here and there, it seems to showcase a bunch of wrestlers I couldn’t care less about. No wonder that my output for this column slows down when this is the next show I have to review…

There is an interesting start to this show, as we see Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel fighting my favourite jobber, Tony Russo, and his partner, Bill White. At this time, it seemed that Wahoo McDaniel was moving between the territories with a different Youngblood as partner depending on where he was situated. Mark seems the more high profile of the two, and this match is a showcase for their chop-based offense. Both the Youngbloods look exciting for the time period, though haven’t really been extended in front of the TV cameras. Beautiful bump by Russo for the finish in the GIF below.

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Dick Slater is the REAL World Champion! At least, that is what he will still have you believe. We head to the ring to see a young Tim Horner attempting to take on Slater. A short match, made watchable due to the amount of control Slater is willing to give Horner, making this a somewhat competitive match. The commentary adds to this, as Horner is really being sold as an exciting wrestler for the future. Indeed, it takes a Slater reversal and nefarious pin to grab the victory to the shock of the commentators. They seem to be treating Horner the same way Mid-South seemed to be treating wrestlers like Rude and Poffo, named guys who were a step above the standard jobber.

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In what could be considered a fairly big match for the TV era, Jimmy Valiant finally gets an opportunity to get his hands on Paul Jones’ Army in a match as he teams with Dory Funk Jr. to battle against The Assassins. Standard heel vs face dynamic, with the face team taking over at the start before a prolonged beatdown by the Assassins. Whether I like him or not, I can’t fault the fact that Valiant is over with the crowd, and a hot tag to him gets the crowd on their feet. Unfortunately, the ending is just not logical and ruins a perfectly acceptable match. The Assassins initially win, an axehandle off the top rope by Fat Assassin allows them to get the pinfall on Valiant.

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However, Mark Youngblood hits the ring to explain this to the ref – WHO RESTARTS THE MATCH! Didn’t see anything, no word from any other official, just puts his trust in the friend of one of the losing team. Outrageous. Almost instantaneously, the Assassins are looked in submission holds, forcing Jones to enter the ring and clobber Funk Jr. with his shoe.

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I’ve already made my feelings known about Rufus R. Jones, but he is mildly entertaining in his squash victory over Jeff Sword – mainly due to his Freight Train finishing sequence. Guy got some moves.

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With TV Title Tournaments the thing de jour at the moment, we head to another match in this particular version as Greg Valentine clashes with Ernie Ladd. In terms of match ‘draw’, this show has been one of the biggest I’ve watched, as this match follows closely on from the Valiant/Funk Jr. vs Assassins in terms of notable occurrences. Valentine and Ladd don’t mess around, and spend their allotted time beating each other up with nary a technical move thrown in. Valentine is even able to jump out of Ladd’s double leg drop, a move that put some other jobbers away in recent weeks. Unfortunately, as would naturally be the way during this era, the decision to have two top guys go at it in the ring meant that you were never going to get a clean finish – and that is the way with this one. Valentine makes his way through in the tournament when an overwhelmed Ladd goes to his trunks to blast Valentine with a foreign object, leaving the referee no choice but to call for the bell. Entertaining for what it was, but Ladd does just look quite awkward in the ring – Taue-esque, without the wrestling ability to overshadow that.

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Finally, we get to see the Moscas in action as they take on Hans Schroeder and Gary Royal. The Moscas win the match in short order, but it is interesting to look at the difference between Sr. and Jr. during these tag team matches. Mosca Sr. doesn’t do much, but what he does looks good, with the additional benefit of a charismatic presence in the ring. Jr. just lacks in every department, though I do give him some props for the nice looking crossbody block which wins this match for the father and son team.

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A fine show by all accounts, just the usual issue with the wrestlers that are being highlighted. In contrast, all WCCW do is highlight their biggest guys, and they are all worth watching – and we will see them next time on the 1984 Year in Review.

 

 

 

 

WCW Saturday Night Interactive! – 20.04.1996

Madusa vs Col. Robert Parker

This is one of those moments where I will just assume that everybody hates me. Not content with giving me one Madusa vs Col. Robert Parker match, I get the pleasure of watching the re-match from the following week. No Fire and Ice, no Ric Flair, no Booty Man – ok, so that last one might not be too much of an issue.

As Parker heads to ringside, it is made clear that this time (due to the ending of the previous match, no doubt) it will be a No-DQ match. This just screams to me that Dick Slater should  get involved from the offset, as there is now no reason for Slater not to interfere. Indeed, it would be stupid if he didn’t, especially due to Parker’s general fear of Madusa. Parker even hides behind the referee to try and keep Madusa at arms length.

And interfere Slater does – he grabs her by the hair as she is unsure which man to go for (Slater had been flicking at her with a towel to distract her). This hesitation allows Parker to run in and hit her with a knee in the ‘belleh-welleh’. Automatically, this match is one hundred times better than the previous incarnation as Dusty drags a turd kicking and screaming into watchable-ness just through his inane commentary. A vicious looking choke drop plants Madusa into the mat, before Parker attempts to drop her with a piledriver. At no point does it look possible that the piledriver will connect, and unsurprisingly, Madusa reverses it with a backbody drop. One body slam later (which, although a little rough around the edges, is an impressive feat of strength when you consider the relative size differences) and Col. Robert Parker is hightailing it towards the back. The ref counts and Madusa is your winner by Countout, leading to the inevitable No-DQ, No Countout rubber match (…I fucking hope not).

If they actually gave these matches a bit of time, they might be worth a watch – Madusa works well as a sympathetic babyface, Parker as the scheming heel – spend a bit of time with Madusa getting a beat down before finally fighting back for the big pop and the victory would make a lot of sense. However, we just get six minutes of wasted time over the course of two weeks where no-one benefits and nothing is really resolved. These two matches couldn’t have been more pointless.

What else did I see: As I flicked through the editing software, I caught The American Males defeating Men at Work following a missed moonsault by Kanyon. A moonsault that missed when Bagwell didn’t move. A completely bizarre spot.

More bizarrely, Ric Flair needed the interference of Woman raking the eyes of Jim Duggan to save his WCW World Title. I get that Flair likes to make his opponents look good, but this is going a step too far.

As my usual site doesn’t have all the results, the Booty Man defeated The Punisher, The Steiner Brothers and The Public Enemy went to a Double DQ and Fire And Ice defeated Maxx Muscle and The Gambler.

Building an Empire – Episode 4

As left off at the end of Episode 3, Hulk Hogan had just been crowned the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion after defeating the Iron Sheik with the big legdrop that would become a move synonymous with Hogan’s rise to the top of the wrestling world. However, it is 1984, and there are any number of top heels queuing up to knock this brash newcomer off of his perch.

One of the men in question is himself a relative newcomer in Paul Orndorff. Orndorff had signed with the WWF in late 1983 and had all the credentials needed to be a star: he was a good wrestler, had an excellent physique and the necessary charisma to go far. Add his manger into the mix, Roddy Piper, and Hogan had a potentially dangerous duo gunning for his title. In this interview, Hogan doesn’t seem too concerned – why would you though, if you’ve butted heads with a Sherman tank, arm-wrestled a rhino and hammerlocked a polar bear? One of the more obviously ‘out there’ promos we’ve seen from Hogan so far, and part of the package that made him so interesting during this ascension.

Another name that Hogan will inevitably cross paths with down the line is the Iron Sheik, a re-match for his title surely not too far away. Blassie is in good form here as he bemoans the switch from Backlund to Hogan as number one contender, and promises that The Iron Sheik won’t get caught cold next time the two men meet in the ring.

The first actual title defence we see from Hulk Hogan is against The Masked Superstar, a match that had previously been alluded to by Hogan in an interview prior to winning the championship. As a booking angle goes, I always liked when matches like this were kept – Hogan was going to face Superstar anyway, now it is just for the title and it takes on a much larger significance. This is an edited version of the match, so it is hard to draw too many conclusions from it. As a fan who grew up watching Demolition, it always surprised me that Bill Eadie was once a man who contested World Title matches, yet you can see why – in his younger years, he was physically strong but also offered some quickness and technical ability where needed. The finish is interesting, as Hogan removes a foreign object from Superstar’s mask, which is enough for Hogan to be given the win by DQ even though the referee technically hasn’t seen it being utilised. Still, first title defence for Hogan.

The two men would also end up in the ring with each other during a big name Battle Royal, though arguably the inclusion of names such Andre the Giant and Big John Studd eclipses that of The Masked Superstar. The quality on the video isn’t great, which hurt my enjoyment somewhat, but I did like to see Big John Studd playing the cowardly giant, spending a lot of time out at ringside rather than in a position where he could conceivably be eliminated. The pile-on on the poor jobber was eye opening, as it was a spot I’ve never seen in a battle royal, and really gets over the potential dangers of having so many men in one right at one time. Paul Orndorff also looks excellent in this, taking out Rocky Johnson at ringside and busting him wide open on the ringpost. Eventually, Big John Studd picks up the victory, sneaking up on an entangled Hogan and Andre to throw them both over the top rope. A surprise victory, though it does chalk up another potential threat in Hogan’s title reign. Andre and Hogan torment Studd after the victory.

This interview shows that not only does Piper have Orndorff under his wing, but he also is the man in the corner of Big John Studd. The words out of Studd’s mouth showcase his desire to prove he is the bigger and better giant than Andre, whilst also throwing out a challenge to Hogan for the title. Piper is his usual maniacal self, questioning Hogan’s hairline and telling him to hand the belt over so as not to suffer at the hands of Studd.

The final match on this episode sees Hogan defend his title once again against The Masked Superstar, but is preceded by a interview with Kal Rudman, a man I’ve never heard of before – and I’m not totally surprised, as he is pretty dull. Hogan takes a thinly vieled pop at the NWA during his talks about being champion, before promising to rip the Superstar’s mask off if he tries anything underhanded.

So, to the rematch. This is the full match, so we get a better overall look at Hogan as champion. The crowd are hot, with the Superstar almost hated as much as Hogan is loved by the crowd in attendance. Indeed, the constant cries imploring Hogan to rip off the Superstar’s mask are often picked up on the commentator’s mics. Whilst this isn’t shedding new light on Hogan in anyway, it is always amazing to note the amount of heelish tactics he uses even when wrestling as a face. There is an eye poke, he stamps on the Superstar’s fingers and he even joins him at ringside to continue his beating. Perhaps this is what endeared him to the crowds, who liked to see a face who would be willing to get down and dirty when it was needed. The finish is different this time, though Superstar’s dropping of his foreign object leading to a DQ is still obviously not a clean pinfall finish for the Hulkster. Considering how they went above and beyond to get him over in his first month, it seems weird to see Hogan not go over clean, though by protecting The Masked Superstar, this match-up could be ran again and again.

That’s all for this episode of Building an Empire. Hogan reigns supreme after working through his first two title defences, but there is a long list of heels chomping at the bit to dethrone him.