I really thought the New Blackjacks were gonna be awesome, but Barry Windham was going bald and wasn't exactly in one of his giving a shit periods and kept getting hurt and it just wasn't gonna happen. Michael Cole and Kevin Kelly desperately try to force some chemistry and make names for themselves and show what they can do. Shit, those two are trying harder to impress than any of the wrestlers are here. I don't get people who don't like Bradshaw. I mean, I know he's supposedly a real prick and all that, but whatever. And I won't say I was psyched when they decided to suddenly make him a main eventer, but that wound up working out alright too. The dude was a hell of a big man worker, I thought. I was always a fan. There's documented proof of my insane Bradshaw fandom.
I figure I liked this team because I dug Bradshaw and I have always really liked Barry Windham, even when he's not giving much of a shit. For some reason when I was a kid and I first noticed where Barry was announced from, Sweetwater, Texas, just sounded like the coolest shit on earth to me. I have this weird mental picture of Sweetwater in my head that's been the same for years and still comes up when I think about it, with a little lake at dusk on a hot summer night. It's beautiful. But in reality Sweetwater is a bunch of crazy sons of bitches who kill lots of rattlesnakes. Which is pretty cool. Someday, I want to go to Sweetwater, Texas and see some rattlesnakes get theirs.
Chris Adams & Chris Von Erich v. Steve Austin & Percy Pringle (1989)
The parts of this match with Adams and Austin are quite good, but the rest is ridiculous. Chris Von Erich is really over, of course, but the poor kid should've never been in a ring. He looks ludicrous next to Austin. You just feel bad for Chris watching him in the ring. He had all the heart and spirit, but physically he's just a total disaster. Pringle is entertaining in a very small-time sort of way, and if anyone should feel lucky, it's him. He got years and years in the WWF thanks to the Undertaker when really, he was a small-time Southern performer built for local audiences. Von Erich pins Pringle with a sunset flip, but takes a small beating from Austin after the match before Adams chases them off with a chair.
Ron Simmons v. Road Warrior Animal (March 24, 1990)
Animal starts hot, so Butch Reed comes out to get Simmons' back, and is quickly followed by Hawk out to join Paul Ellering at ringside in Animal's corner. Theodore R. Long is not present, and his absence is part of the narrative. They have a pretty good match and then Butch Reed trips Animal for the DQ, and everyone brawls. Teddy runs in to floor Ellering. I think I'm liking the Road Warriors more as I get older.
Rey Misterio Jr. v. Bobby Eaton (December 16, 1996)
Well this seems like it could be weird or awesome or both. Both are best remembered as high-energy guys, but their respective high energy styles are pretty different. They aren't even talking about the fucking match because Heenan is too busy recalling times that Roddy Piper fought the entire NYPD or whatever. The video is 2:24 in before they even fucking mention that this match is happening. Bobby pretty clearly has little idea of what to do with Rey, and this really isn't working at all. These two guys are both great (well, Bobby was well short of great by '96) but they're on totally different wavelengths. And it's old hat and all but Jesus Christ, they are not even kind of calling this match. Eaton goes up and Schiavone expects the Alabama Jam, but Bobby drops a flying knee instead. Eaton poorly takes a huracanrana from the middle rope for the finish. This stunk.
Jeff Jarrett v. Bobby Eaton (November 18, 1996)
Let's see if '96 Bobby meshes a bit better with Jeff Jarrett. Two minutes into the video they mention that this match is happening. This is definitely better than the Misterio match, pretty meat-and-potatoes stuff with Jarrett about to win the match with the figure four as Ric Flair makes his way down, and Eaton gives it up after just a couple of minutes. Then there's a promo after the match with Jarrett and Flair and Mean Gene.
Orlando Jordan v. Ace Steel (April 1, 2006)
Orlando Jordan fucking creeps me out. Everything about him. He's just a weirdo. He was creeping me out long before I knew he was bisexual so keep your wig on, grandmas. He's just got a fucking creepy look about him all the time. He's a weird bastard. Ace Steel is a guy I learned about through IWA Mid-South and saw live a handful of times (he was largely out of the promotion by the time I started going to shows regularly in 2004) there and in ROH, and someone I liked immediately. But even though I'd call myself an Ace Steel fan, there's undeniably nothing special about him. He's just a hard-working, totally solid guy in the ring. Jordan makes him look tiny. Ace gets some stuff in but eventually loses, of course. I'd just never seen the sporadic Ace WWE TV matches, so I wanted to check it out.
Chuck Palumbo v. Ace Steel (October 5, 2007)
I was way, way past watching WWE at this point and I'd never seen Chuck Palumbo's biker gimmick. This one doesn't go quite as well for Ace, and then Chris Masters comes out to put Palumbo in the full nelson. Speaking of Chuck Palumbo, here's my gift to you all. My all-time favorite site in the history of the internet.
Chris Candido v. Spike Dudley (August 9, 1997)
This is the one where Candido baits Taz by dressing as him and imitating him. I saw Candido do his Terry Funk gimmick at an IWA Mid-South show a short while before his death. Candido was always a genuinely nice guy at those IWA shows -- that's no bullshit. Seeing him work with Funk up close was an honest thrill. Candido really worked hard on those shows, and he worked extra hard to make Funk look good that night. I was always a fan of Candido's once I saw him in ECW outside of the Skip time in the WWF. Cool entrance music, great style, could obviously go in the ring, and just had a presence about him. I'd learn later what an awesome bastard he was in Smoky Mountain, but I became a Candido fan with his post-WWF time in ECW. I got into the game late with ECW and I can't say I was a major ECW fan the way so many people can, but it was undeniably different and a good time. This is basically a squash with Candido shredding Dudley to build him up for the big match with Taz shortly after this. Spike always took the nastiest Blonde Bombshell.
The Wild Eyed Southern Boys v. Rough N Ready (1987)
Smothers is about 25 here, and Steve Armstrong is about 22. And they are green as grass. They go for a flying dropkick finish with Smothers holding up either Rough or Ready and Armstrong coming in with the kick, but Armstrong completely whiffs. That's the finish anyway, though, at an official 1:55. I mean goddamn he completely missed that. They have a promo with Lance Russell after the match. Steve's actually pretty solid on the mic, and Tracy's Tracy.
The Young Pistols v. Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk (1991)
It really is a shame that Steve and Tracy didn't get more time to keep a heel run going in WCW, because they were good at it. Everyone always talks about the Hollywood Blondes being the great but too-brief tag team of the 1990s, but I'd throw the Pistols/Southern Boys into that category, too. Yeah, they're not Steve Austin and Brian Pillman, but they were damn good. Their feud with the Freebirds was pretty outstanding, and they were really effective as heels, since they could work their asses off and were just redneck enough to be kinda ugly, which meant they worked better as dicks than as pretty boy youngsters. But they were playing a game that was rapidly dying. Fuck I miss good tag team wrestling. Pillman and Zenk were pretty damn good together, too. The Pistols cheat to win after a good, fast-paced match.
THE SPOTLIGHT UPON: KEVIN VON ERICH
The Fabulous Freebirds v. Fritz, Kevin & Mike Von Erich (May 6, 1984)
Of course this is from the first David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions. It's streetfight rules, apparently meaning you can use anything that you wear to the ring, which I reckon means you get to take off your belt and whip some ass if you wear a belt, but Kevin just wears a pair of white pants, because Kevin is a narcissist who wouldn't know what to do if girls weren't trying to rub his abs. You've got 32,000-plus in Texas Stadium getting rowdy for this match, and they go insane when Fritz gets a double claw on Hayes and Roberts. At that point this match can't be contained any longer and it turns into a pier-sixer. But the violence doesn't last long enough for my liking. Kevin hits a flying crossbody on Roberts and the Von Erichs win the NWA world six-man championship. Then some "huge, mean Oriental" comes in and raises a ruckus. There was never a feud as hot or killer as this one for my money. The Freebirds and the Von Erichs were magic together.
Kevin Von Erich v. Matt Borne (1986)
The more I watch of World Class, the more and more I'm digging Kevin Von Erich. He and Borne are bulling each other around the ring to start this thing off. Kevin threatens to punch him in the mouth, then takes over with some knees and then a flying headscissors for two. Man Kevin could really go. Is Kevin underrated due to, you know, being alive? I'm not even trying to slam Kerry or David by saying I think it's clear that Kevin was the best of them in the ring. I like this because these guys can wear the same trunks and nobody gives a shit. Also because it's good. Borne is constantly dirty in this match, and Kevin is ready to fight him tooth-and-nail if he has to, but he's ready to fly, too.
The bitches will not let Kevin forget that they want him to go. The crowd response in World Class is unlike anywhere else really -- even in '86, when they were past their real best, it was pretty damn good. Kevin gets the claw, and Buzz Fuckin' Sawyer runs in to put the boots to him. Borne and Buzz do a number on Kevin while we wait for another Von Erich to hit the ring for the save ... but nobody's coming. Kevin takes a shoulderbreaker, Buzz goes up while Borne holds him down, and there's the big splash. Now Buzz is fuckin' biting him. YEAH. YEAH. World Class is awesome. Why did it take me this long to really get on this train?
Harley Race v. Kevin Von Erich (July 2, 1983)
Harley's on his seventh and final NWA title run, having just won it on June 10 from Ric Flair, which wound up setting up Starrcade and all that jazz. This has the rule that if the champ is DQ'd, the belt changes. Race isn't much pleased with that, claiming it was Flair's stipulation. Harley bitches a few minutes in about being thrown over the top, which is also legal in this match. Race has a just plain awful start to the match, and looks, frankly, like an old man who might be in over his head with a young stallion like Kevin Von Erich.
Harley's taking a beating in there, and he throws Kevin out to the floor, where he hits the commentary table and hurts his shoulder. But Race isn't attacking, he's trying to get a breather. So now Kevin's fighting one-armed, going so far as to stick his hand down his trunks Al Bundy style so that his arm stays on his body and gives him "protective leverage." It gets so bad that David Manning is considering stopping the match, and Kevin says, fuck you, Manning, this is for the NWA world's heavyweight championship. And crafty mean old bastard Race gives no quarter.
Eventually David runs down to check on Kevin, Race kicks him in the head, and then David's pissed off and goes after Race because he can't TAKES IT NO MORE. David really kicks Harley's ass and is just screaming at him. Good match, good post-match with David.
Matt Borne & Buzz Sawyer v. Kevin & Lance Von Erich (1986)
What an awful idea "Lance Von Erich" was. Holy shit. And he's barefoot like Kevin, I guess to give him extra Von Erich credibility, even though the rest of them wore boots and eventually Kerry didn't even have two feet. This is clipped a bit, but it appears to just be on Lance wristlocks so BFD. If they could clip Lance out entirely that'd be great. Kevin comes in and does some good work but then fuck me, Lance is back. Kill him! Kill Lance! I suppose that's kind of insensitive. Lance finally gets the fuck out of the ring, and Kevin claws Buzz, then Borne breaks it up and it starts breaking down. The referee doesn't much try to gain control, but then he counts Borne out on a Lance piledriver. They weren't legal, but hey. KILL LANCE!
Kevin Von Erich v. Jimmy Snuka (1981?)
This is in Georgia. They're both wearing boots. Terry Gordy is on commentary saying he's come out to watch a boy get whooped by a champion. Gordy goes to ringside as Von Erich has a very nice start against the established star. As Von Erich keeps working Snuka over with holds, Gordy goes back to the commentary position with Gordon Solie and crows about sending Kevin back to Texas "where he belongs." This is really competitive and pretty damn good. Snuka even gets the Superfly Splash and KEVIN KICKS OUT! What! Fuck! What! This match rules. Snuka's going for the claw, but then Kevin gets the claw! Holy shit it even works on hard islander heads. Gordy gets in to go after Von Erich, and Michael Hayes runs in to attack Terry Gordy and help Kevin Von Erich. Whoa doctor! This was sweet.
Ric Flair v. Kevin Von Erich (May 5, 1985)
Flair comes into the second annual David Von Erich memorial show having lost his NWA belt the first time out to Kerry Von Erich, and comes out first before Kevin hits the ring to "Stranglehold," which is one of the great wrestling entrances of all time. Kevin dominates early as you'd expect and gets a sleeper on Flair, who slowly starts going out, but his arm drops just once and he grabs the ropes.
This is good but not great. Better than the Harley match in '83, though. The crowd is really into it, but I don't think they believe that Kevin is really going to win. They just want him to, if that makes sense. They've got this two-ring setup for the big main event thing, and they wind up using that a little bit. They're both working pretty hard, and given that it's probably God awful hot out there you can't really blame them for being a bit sluggish. The Flair getting dumped from the top rope bit here is a good one -- he wastes time telling a fat boy to shut up, which is his undoing on this occasion.
The final bit of the match is really strong -- the crowd begins going insane, especially when Kevin goes for the backslide, which Kerry beat Flair with the year prior. Then Kevin gets the claw and Flair's in a heap of shit now, but they spill out to the floor together, and they're both counted out, with Flair pulling Kevin back to the floor twice in desperation. They continue to fight and fight, and eventually the Von Erich family comes out to pull Kevin off of Flair, because as Fritz says, Kevin might KILL FLAIR with the claw. Not enough moves may kill a man anymore.