Steve Austin vs Davey Boy Smith (WWF, May 1997)
MIND GAMES! (The tactic, not the PPV.) This is when the Hart Foundation vs Austin angle was just getting red fuckin hot, and by God, this is when my whole damn life revolved around wrestling. Now I'm paid to care about other things. Sometimes I reckon I'd give anything to just be 15 years old again and not giving a fuck about anything but wrestling and, to a lesser extent, other sports and music and crap. A time in my life when Social Distortion's lyrics never made me go, "I like this and all, but this is pretty goddamn corny, isn't it?" And they were my favorite band. And I could like Green Day without someone in my peer group wondering if I was retarded. Although Nimrod did come out in '97, and that was the first album I ever bought (day of release) by a band I loved and said, "hey, this...sucks."
One wonders if Davey Boy Smith was ever really good. I think you could probably form an argument that he was at one point, but I don't know, was he? The SummerSlam 92 match was 100% Bret Hart. That is a scientific fact. And other than that what's he got? Some tag matches carried by Dynamite or Owen and their opponents? I hate to kick a man when he's dead and all, and I like the Bulldog more than I like anyone in WWE today -- well, no, that's not true. I like Punk and Jericho and Undertaker and probably HHH more than Bulldog. They're in WWE today. Is Rey dead yet? I like him more. Bulldog > Randy Orton, though. Bulldog vs Kane? I'm not sure there. Different years of nostalgia.
But Bulldog was always supposed to be good, at least that's what I thought anyway. Looking back I don't remember a lot of people telling me he was a great worker or anything, but he was always pushed and kind of "athletic," and athleticism was important to me in 1992-97. If you could do cool shit, you were good.
This is an OK match and Austin wins clean with the Stone Cold Stunner, which brings Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart to the ring to deliver a beating.
Ric Flair vs Nick DeCarlo (Mid-Atlantic, 1979)
Ric Flair's astrological sign is Pisces, he attended the University of Minnesota, started wrestling when he was trained by Verne Gagne, and his favorite hold recently has been the figure-four. His favorite foods are meat of all kinds, hobbies motorcycling, horseback riding, and his favorite other sport is football.
Nick DeCarlo's astrological sign is Capricorn, and his favorite hold is the Italian crab. Some of his favorite hobbies include motorcycling.
Just so you know. DeCarlo has a decent start after Flair smacks his head on the canvas on a shoulderblock, then turns it around and calls DeCarlo "boy" a lot. "Tell the girls my name, boy." Uh, wait. Why should he tell the girls your name? Is this how Ric Flair fucks? "Tell the girls what to expect. Headlocks, boy! Knees to the face!"
Flair gets the figure-four. That move is vicious. DeCarlo and Flair both tap out. DeCarlo gives it up, so Flair starts choking and punching him. Flair throws referee Sonny Fargo on his ass. This is wrestling right here. DeCarlo takes a series of beyoooootiful elbows across the throat, arm twitching because Flair has done a nasty number on him. Flair shoving the referee again. God those elbows are great. Flair struts.
Arn Anderson vs Manny Fernandez (Mid-Atlantic, April 1985)
Ole joins commentary and then has a boner: He says he and Arn are brothers, and that's why they look alike. Schiavone double-takes fast and notes that he must mean that their fathers are brothers. I thought Arn was his nephew? So... fuck. Anyway. So Ole changes the subject. "Right now we're probably gonna see one of the greatest matches of all time." I have my doubts, Ole. I have my doubts.
My doubts were well-founded. However this is a good match, as you would expect if you are not an idiot. In fact is a damn good match. Tight, well-worked, makes sense, both guys getting over because of what they're doing in the ring. I think I've probably done it before too, but describing Arn as meat-and-potatoes is dogshit. He was exceptional. So he wasn't Ric Flair. So what? Who is? Back then you had a Man and then some Men. Arn was one of the Men. Manny is one of those terrific talents who was never going to be a long-term guy you could count on. Arn was a professional, a beer-drinker who woke up on time. Manny was more a loose cannon.
So Manny gets knocked into Ole at ringside, and they double-team him, because the Andersons have no honor. Thunderbolt Patterson gets involved, so Arn cracks him from behind and they get up his ass too. Ole stands there and watches as Arn and Thunderbolt fight in the ring. Patterson gets the upperhand so Ole eventually gets involved. It's hard to tell sometimes if Ole is a realistic ass-kicker, or the least realistic ass-kicker (who can actually kick ass) ever. The Andersons finally get chased off by the babyface brigade.
Randy Savage vs Rick Martel (WWF, April 1991)
TECHNICALLY, this is Savage's final match from the career he lost against the Warrior. They explain it well -- he'd signed to be in LA before losing the match, so he was contractually obligated. And Liz is with him. Martel starts OK, but fucks up when he taunts Elizabeth. Look, that made Savage a dangerous psycho in 1986 and it makes him one in 1991.
Rick Martel is weird. At his very best, he was quite good, but he just seemed like he always went about 80% or so of what he could have done. I suspect he made his money, though, and he never, ever sucked. He was never a bad wrestler.
Martel gets knocked to the floor, through the top and second rope, and Mooney is the only guy I've ever heard describe that as "over the second rope." Martel gets piledriven outside, and Lord Alfred is fairly well disgusted. Savage hits the elbow and wins. Then he goes away for a while. Sorta.
"Demolition" vs The Legion of Doom (WWF, November 1990)
This is not Demolition. This feud was bullshit. That stupid Road Warriors DVD talked about this like it was the real Road Warriors and the real Demolition. GTFO. By the time Demolition came around, they were about as good as the real Road Warriors anyway. Crush does his best to drag this down, but Hawk isn't really feeling that, as he does HIS best to drag this down, too. Animal and Smash get tags hoping to save this match near the end. Animal hits Crush with a right hand to the back so feeble that Crush has no choice but to ignore it. Doomsday Device doesn't happen as Fuji smashes Hawk with the cane, leaving Animal to get hit in the back of the head, after which he runs around in a half circle and falls down. Crush with a flying kneedrop, allegedly. Smash sets a piledriver up on Animal, but Hawk hits him with a flying clothesline. So basically Demolition cheated in every way and didn't get hit by the finisher, but they lose clean anyway. This would be the last run where the LOD were able to convince a promoter they were serious big-time money, worth the hassle, and good for them I guess.
The Rockers vs The Brainbusters - 2/3 Falls (WWF, October 1989)
Was there ever a bad Rockers-Arn & Tully match? This is from SNME in Kansas. I've seen this match, but it sounds good to watch again. I've seen a lot of matches and forgot the vast majority of them at this point. That's why doing shit like that WCW deal is so fun to do. Some of those matches I forgot were good, or never really realized were good.
Tully is upset with the Brain. Arn isn't pleased either. I do know this much: Blanchard is wearing black trunks in the interview before the match, then they supposedly walk out, and Blanchard has red trunks. He really was high off his ass, wasn't he? Here comes the Lord. God, I mean. Not Alfred Hayes. They're all mixed up in there and the Rockers win the first fall in just a couple of minutes. Heenan ditches them. Rockers are just on fire. ON FIRE.
But second fall goes to the Busters when Shawn gets throated with a Whatamaneuver trying for a flying headscissors. Before the third fall, Ventura speaks with Heenan, who says the Brainbusters are the worst tag team he's ever managed. Spinebuster = whatamaneuver. Basically same finish as the LOD-Demos match a minute ago as Anderson sets to piledrive Jannetty and gets a flying crossbody from Michaels.
Shawn Michaels vs Jimmy Snuka (WWF, January 1992)
This video's got a 15-minute run length with intros included, and my gut feeling is there ain't needs to be no 15-minute Jimmy Snuka match in 1992. This is MSG and Jimmy's wearing boots. Jimmy Snuka is a wrestling original -- he didn't really have a gimmick necessarily, he just had a personality. Heenan amuses himself with racism. This is actually better than I expected in a rising star vs fading veteran sort of way.
Now we hit the chinlock at about the 10-minute (video) mark. Really Heenan and Monsoon carry the match. "That Fijian fluid is flowin'." Snuka saves his athletic moves for the tail end of the match, reserving his energy and carrying this for the allotted time to boot. Michaels gets the clean win with that suplex of his. A decent, solid match.
Bad Attitude vs Brian Armstrong & Bobby Walker (WCW, 1994)
This is the debut of Bad Attitude, the short-lived partnership of Steve Keirn and Bobby Eaton. Keirn had been on Saturday Night saying he had a partner on his way. Okerlund sets them up with the name. The surprise reveal is Eaton, about three years past is last significant run, but still able to work. I don't recall a single Bad Attitude match, seeing one. Keirn is doing his best to seem relevant or modern, but man is he not. While Eaton has to wear a Keirn-style tuxedo, Keirn has Eaton-style stars and shit on his tights. "Get to know ya" debut match for the veterans, and they win clean. Nice teamwork. Both guys can still work. It just wasn't gonna happen in '94 in WCW for these two.
Bad Attitude vs Dustin Rhodes & Arn Anderson (WCW, July 1994)
Col. Parker's Stud Stable (Bunkhouse Buck, Terry Funk, Meng) talks smack to Dustin in the picture-in-picture promo, a WCW innovasion ten years after the WWF started doing it. Bad Attitude, tag team veterans and specialists, get treated like a second-rate bum team, losing in four minutes.
Justin Hawk Bradshaw & Uncle Zebekiah vs Freddie Joe Floyd & Savio Vega (WWF, August 1996)
This'll sound like I'm lying and shit, but I thought Bradshaw would be a star in '96. I was a big fan of that dude through the APA years. I didn't expect he'd become WWE champion. But he did. I'm not even sure WHY I liked him, I just did. "Freddie Joe Floyd, a consummate professional," says Vince. Smothers is the balls but the internet did overdo it with him a little bit. Still it gave him a second career, so good for him. I saw him live a few times in 2004 and he always looked enormous next to indy guys like Homicide, CM Punk, Cabana, and so on. Holy shit a commercial for World Series Baseball II. Poor Brad Radke. He really got it in that one.
Obviously approved WWF Superstar Savio Vega has to carry this for the babyfaces, but Freddie Joe won't have it with Bradshaw. Vega rolls up Uncle Zeb for the win. This was just a Superstars match. Bradshaw kicks Vega in the spine and gets jumped by Smothers after that, and then Smothers gets double-teamed. Vince encourages Savio to hit everyone with weapons.
Curt Hennig vs Rob Rechsteiner (Winnipeg, January 1985)
Rechsteiner is, as you may well know (since you are soooooo smaaaaaart), a young Rick Steiner. It works since every time they say "Rechsteiner" it just sounds like "Rick Steiner" anyway. Young Rech Steiner starts nicely with a couple of fine amateur maneuvers, but Hennig takes over. "Curt Hennig, the nice fella he is..." Steiner begins to cheat, the lousy prick. Well, not cheat. Test the referee's patience and show a lack of dedicated sportsmanship. That works. Hennig isn't pleased, so he gets it going. There's a backbreaker -- well. It was meant to be. Hennig with a lousy flying dropkick for the win. This wasn't a beaut, but it was worth seeing.
Ricky Morton vs Tully Blanchard (NASW, 1998)
I don't know where NASW is (well, was, maybe), but commentary tells me "south." Either this was joined a couple minutes late or five minutes go fast in this promotion. You know back around this time we got a few bullshit indies in my area in SW Michigan where they'd have these washed-up WWF/WCW guys around, like Typhoon and Koko B. Ware and 23 different fake Doinks and the worst, shortest Kamala you ever saw, and it kills me watching this I couldn't get Ricky Morton or Tully Blanchard on a show in my area. This isn't like it's 1988 or anything, but they still know what they're doing and it's not as embarrassing as the Iron Sheik's sorry stinking ass having a 30 second match with Beef Stew Lou Marconi. Commentator says he grew up screaming at these guys through "millions o' miles of TV cable." Now they're just as hardcore as ever. Well it's 1998. Everything had to be called "hardcore" if you meant to call it good.
Actually, this is more than just "not bad for old men." Not much better, but somewhat better. or maybe I'm just biased. Blanchard would go on to have the only watchable match on the Heroes of Wrestling PPV with Stan Lane, so this isn't surprising, given that Morton today is probably better than Stan Lane was in 1999, simply by being Ricky Morton. That's actually probably not true. Both these guys in this match are better than 95% of the guys who worked the weekend loser spots on WCW TV in '98. But how do you have Tully Blanchard hanging around to do 4-minute jobs for Brian Adams on Worldwide? Ya don't. In classic fashion, Tully takes over, Morton comes back strong, and then Tully gets his feet on the ropes on a pin for the win.
Since this was #13, here's this: