The SmarK Rant for The Best of USWA Part 1 (05/03/92)
The rapid death of the “new” World Class that we’re currently covering in the Observer Flashbacks has inspired me to go back and finally watch these on the Network, as I was curious to see what Jarrett did with the remains of the Dallas promotion in between Kevin’s abortive comeback attempt and Joe Pedicino’s launch of the GWF.
This is 90 minute show produced (and I use that word very loosely) by the Global Wrestling Federation after they bought the footage of the Dallas chapter of the USWA, so they could have stuff to air in the timeslot before officially launching in mid-1991. And it could make a decent primer for newer fans here on the WWE Network as well, I guess. I don’t even want to get into the bizarre ownership situation with the footage, but it’s complex, to say the least.
Steve Williams & Terry Gordy v. Steven Dan & Khris Germany
No date on this one, but it’s 1991, after Jerry Jarrett reclaimed ownership of the promotion. Joe Pedicino is on commentary as we’re transitioning to the GWF. Williams drops Germany on his head with a backdrop driver and Gordy stretches the guy on the mat. Dane comes in and gets some token offense, but foolishly lets Germany back in and Gordy just destroys him before Doc finishes him off with the Stampede at 6:07. The MVC were pretty much in their prime as a team at this point, so this was a big get for the USWA at the time. Nothing to the match.
Gary Young v. Ed Robinson
I’m already feeling like this is stretching the “Best of the USWA” conceit. Cactus Jack is hanging around ringside, between WCW gigs, as is Scotty the Body. I’m guessing the squash-o-riffic nature of these matches means that this is all just footage from Jerry Jarrett’s massive set of tapings he did in early 1991 to keep the timeslot. Gary Young, looking pudgy and rusty, squashes this random geek in boring fashion and finishes with a flying knee at 5:01.
Grab for the Green Battle Royale
Bunch of the usual midcarders here, plus the debut of One Man Gang, who would have been fresh off quitting the WWF, before he shaved his head again and went to WCW. So this has to be in January of 1991 then. The object appears to be to climb a pole and grab a bag of money. So we get a bunch of punching and kicking, and the pole comes loose and drops the money. Cactus Jack grabs it and claims victory, but apparently it was a SHOOT by the pole and doesn’t count. So yes, this company can’t even do a pole match without fucking it up. So they restart and we get a lot of Billy Travis and Gary Young fighting on the pole as the star power is really evident here. Then guys start going over the top and getting eliminated. So you can win by grabbing the money, but can also lose by getting thrown out of the ring? That seems unnecessarily complicated. So all the geeks and jobbers (and Cactus Jack) get thrown out in rapid succession, like within the span of a minute, leaving us with Billy Travis, One Man Gang, Gary Young and Bill Dundee, aka the only stars this show has. So we get a bunch of bullshit and then it’s down to Gang and Dundee, and at this point the winner should be obvious because only one of them can CLIMB THE FUCKING POLE. Gang basically squashes Dundee, but he misses a charge and Dundee gets a pair of two-counts because suddenly pins count now. The ref is bumped and Dundee climbs the pole and gets the money, but Eddie Gilbert runs in and knocks out Dundee, then Gang splashes him and pins him at 10:47. Plus wins the money, I guess? This made no fucking sense. DUD
Jeff Gaylord v. Jimmy James
Oh boy, Jeff Gaylord, now I KNOW this has to be the best of USWA. Gaylord is allegedly threatening us with his new finisher, the Tiger Stretch. Gaylord throws the jobber around the ring and chinlocks for him a bit, but then we’re treated to Gaylord having to sell while the guy makes his token comeback, but comes back with a flying shoulderblock (the Tiger Tackle, unique in that Gaylord misses it by 18 inches and the guy still has to sell) and finishes with a goofy move where he crosses the guy’s legs and puts the arm between them, and then pins him like that at 5:09. This devastating hold is apparently the dreaded Tiger Stretch. I don’t usually feel the need to do screenshots, but I just HAVE to share his one with you:
The TIGER STRETCH, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, that was actually his finisher, although to be fair I cut it off before he flexed so perhaps that added enough leverage to prevent the guy from kicking out.
Southern title: Eddie Gilbert v. Jeff Jarrett
You can tell that Jarrett is back in control because his son is booked as the top star. Gilbert quickly bails and does some clownish bumps for JJ but comes back and slugs away until he misses a blind charge and hits the post. Jarrett works on the arm while Gilbert yells “He’s cheating!” because he’s great. Man, Eddie Gilbert died way too soon and should have been a huge star in the Attitude Era. At the very least he would have been ECW World champion as many times as he wanted to be. Jarrett comes back with armdrags (and watching Eddie feed him with perfect timing is amazing) and take a break, returning with Eddie working on a toehold. Jarrett, however, grabs the bad arm to break the hold (and Gilbert, cowardly Memphis heel, immediately screams in pain and takes a bump) but Jarrett misses a kneedrop and hurts the knee again. Gilbert goes to a figure-four, but Jarrett fights out and makes the comeback with a crucifix and sunset flip for near-falls. Gilbert is selling like crazy here and it’s awesome because his timing is just impeccable. Both guys collide and they’re out as the crowd buys every attempt by Jeff to win the title, but of course the ref is bumped when Jarrett is finally on top after a missile dropkick. Gilbert finds a chain in the corner, but misses with it and Jarrett grabs it, knocks him out, and rolls him up for the apparent title win at 13:34, then wisely hides the chain in his tights just in case. Eddie Gilbert immediately yells at the ref to check his tights, however, and Joe Pedicino is like “We know where the chain came from!” Yeah, but poetic justice is not an enforceable rule in wrestling. Jarrett used the chain and hid it in his tights! Thankfully Gilbert walks out with his rightful title again as we thankfully avoid a huge miscarriage of justice that would have haunted Eddie to his dying day. Also, Eddie Gilbert is a FUCKING GREAT professional wrestler and this match was tremendous. ***3/4
Steve Austin, Rod Price & Dog of War v. Jeff Jarrett, Matt Borne & Billy Travis
No idea who Dog of War is, but he looks like a low rent John Nord who just got out of jail for spousal abuse, and he apparently died in 2007 according to cagematch.net. He helpfully still has “Buster” on his tights, which refers to his other alias in the sport, Buster Blackheart. Borne holds off all the heels to start and we go through the usual babyface spots as the faces control in their corner with elbows and knees and such. Travis misses a blind charge and Price takes over, threatening to literally explode from steroid use right there in the ring. On the bright side, he’s still alive, at least. Austin and Price, with matching day-glo tights, double-team Travis and Dog goes to a chinlock while the announcers just ignore kayfabe and start calling him Buster Blackheart. Travis fights off Dog and makes the hot tag to JJ, who pins Dog with a flying bodypress at 9:46. Good action all around here. **1/2
Steve Austin & Rod Price v. Ed Robinson & Khris Germany
Boring squash that should have ended with the press-slam into facebuster combo that the heels used on Robinson, but Austin picks him up at two and brings in the other geek for more punishment. And then we take a BREAK? Back with more boring punishment on Germany, and the big problem is there’s no point to any of this. The announcer never gives us any idea of who they’re feuding with or if there’s tag team titles for them to chase or any motivation whatsoever. Price slowly beats on Germany and picks him up at two, apparently trying to stretch this thing out as long as possible. Finally they put him away with a double shoulderblock at 10:35. A TEN MINUTE squash match!
Awesome Kong v. Frogman LaBlanc & Tommy Knight
Jamie “JC Ice” Dundee is acting as manager for Awesome Kong at this point, as Jamie was learning the ropes as a worker at this point. His heel stable is apparently JC’s Iceberg. The jobbers quickly get tossed and worked over on the floor while JC runs around the ring trying to draw heat. I should note that this was the brief pop culture window where calling someone “JC the Ice Baby” would be considered a current reference. Kong DDTs both jobbers at the same time and slams one guy on top of the other in really dangerous fashion, then splashes both and gets the pin at 3:30. Kong was just a generic big fat masked guy and never amounted to anything outside of a cup of coffee in WCW two years later.
Unified World title: Terry Funk v. Jerry Lawler
Even Lawler has day-glo colors all over his tights. It’s like it’s the early 90s or something! Funk quickly bails, and oddly he looks younger than he did during his big 89 run against Flair. Lawler heads out to challenge Funk, but Terry wins the brawl out there and DDTs Jerry on the floor. They fight into the crowd as you really get a good glimpse of how shitty the Sportatorium looks when the lights are up, but they head back in and Lawler comes back with his own DDT on a chair. Funk runs away again and we take a brea. Back with Lawler slugging away on the floor, and at this point they finally mention that FUNK is the champion and Lawler is chasing him. Back to the floor and Lawler chokes him out with a TV cable while Funk continues flinging his body all over. Lawler hits him with what appears to be an art canvas, and that gets two. Thank god Funk wasn’t wearing a baseball cap, or it would have RUINED the suspension of disbelief for that spot. Funk comes back with a sleeper and cuts off Lawler’s comeback attempt by pulling the tights, but Lawler fights out and hits the piledriver, which is legal in Texas. That only gets one because Lawler pulls him up and piledrives him again for two. Funk comes back and chokes him out with wrist tape, then goes nuts and beats the shit out of the poor referee as well. Lawler rolls him up with no ref present, but it’s a DQ at 11:16. I thought that titles changed hands by DQ in Texas, but that seemed to change depending on the situation anyway. As per usual, Funk and Lawler are masters at getting something watchable out of literally NOTHING. ***
Definitely check out Eddie Gilbert v. Jeff Jarrett having a crazy good Memphis showdown, but in Texas. The rest is pretty forgettable filler, though.