The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 08.29.19
This is quite the eclectic mix this week, with Adrian Street matches and international title defenses as the theme(s). Oh, wait, Street is from WALES, now I get the tie-in. Duh.
NXT title: Finn Balor v. Samoa Joe v. Sami Zayn (12.15.15)
This is basically heldheld footage from a house show in Cardiff, which I guess ties into Saturday’s NXT show. Man, that older NXT belt looks so ghetto compared to the redone one we have today. That was definitely a welcome redesign. Joe hides in the ropes to start as the graphic helpfully informs us that “this event was originally recorded without television commentary”. It’s so weird to live in a world filled with fans who never experienced tape trading. Joe hides out on the floor and encourages the other two to start without him and he’ll just go have a snack or something. And then he jumps in, attacks Balor from behind, and runs out again. So Finn hits him with a baseball slide and they all fight on the floor. Back in, Sami STEALS THE LEATHER JACKET and has a heated showdown with Balor where they yell “IS THAT HOW IT’S GONNA BE?” and then do each other’s poses in a funny sideline. Finn crosses the line and wears the hat, then does Sami’s dance, and finally Joe just attacks both guys to end the bit. Joe with the enzuigiri on Finn in the corner and Sami gets tossed, allowing Joe to use the Vulcan nerve pinch for a bit. Sami tries to get back in and Joe keeps cutting him off, but Balor rolls Joe up for two. Joe goes back to the nerve hold, but Sami fights his way back in and the babyfaces double-team Joe and take turns trying to suplex him. Neither one can pull it off alone and they finally team up for a double suplex…and then Sami rolls up Balor for two. Shouldn’t have stolen the hat. Joe heads to the floor and Sami hits him with a dive, and back in he heads to the top but then changes his mind and gets the powerbomb on Finn for two instead. Joe comes back with the big boot and senton on Balor for two. That sets up a clever spot where Joe tries a suplex on Sami, but Balor hits Joe with a dropkick and Joe falls down with a DDT instead as all three guys are down. Balor comes back with chops in the corner on both guys, but Joe gets elbows on the other guys, and then Sami gets the running boots on both guys. Joe and Finn slug it out and that goes badly for Balor, but he comes back with the sling blade and shotgun dropkick to set up the Coup De Grace. Joe cuts him off with the muscle buster, but Sami cuts THAT off and tries a superplex, which Joe then turns into the Kokina clutch on Sami. But then Balor breaks that up by hitting the Coup De Grace on Sami after all, and that gets the pin at 18:10 to retain. Just a fun and easy house show main event. *** The crowd does the “Ole” chant for Sami afterwards, but Sami stops them and tells them to chant for Finn instead in a classy move. So they do.
WWF title: Undertaker v. British Bulldog (11.30.91)
We are in London, ON, and this would be one of the only title defenses by Undertaker before he dropped it back to Hogan on the Tuesday in Texas show. Apparently this aired on WWF Superstars in France or something like that. The crowd goes CRAZY for Undertaker’s entrance, especially the announcement that he’s the “new WWF champion”, so clearly the babyface turn was inevitable. Oddly, the ref has to hold the urn while the ring attendant takes the belt. I presume Bulldog got this shot because they were doing the house show circuit anyway and the match was already advertised before Taker won the title. I actually remember PWI Weekly making snarky remarks about Taker’s worthiness as a challenger at the time, quipping that he must have earned the title shot from fighting Bulldog 18 times in a row at house shows. Taker attacks at the bell and chokes him out in the corner, but Bulldog fights back and clotheslines him to the floor. Taker necks him on the way in, however, and chokes Bulldog on the ropes. Elbow misses and Bulldog comes back with forearms and tries the delayed suplex, but Taker falls on top for two. I guess you say he went DEAD weight? HOW ABOUT IT? Taker with the smother claw and Bulldog powers him into the corner to escape and then gets his delayed suplex for two. Powerslam also gets two, but Paul Bearer distracts him and Undertaker hits Bulldog with the urn behind the ref’s back for the pin at 5:50. This was a whole lot of nothing. ½*
Terry Taylor v. Exotic Adrian Street (12.02.84)
Off to Mid-South now, and I’ve never really seen Street work before so this is an interesting detour for me. Apparently he started in the 50s, which is pretty crazy, and would have been about 44 years old at this point. Street does some prancing and primping to start, but Taylor rolls him up off the lockup and gets two. Street stomps him down, but Taylor fights back so he runs away. Back in, Miss Linda trips Terry up in the corner and Adrian goes to work on the arm and then takes the ref so Linda can get more cheapshots in. Street with a slam for two and the tape cuts out for a bit and we return with Street holding a facelock on the mat. He sits on Taylor in the corner so Linda can dish out more abuse, but Terry rolls him up for two. Street with a rear chinlock and that goes on for a bit, but Taylor makes the comeback and drops a knee on Street. The flying forearm gets the pin at 8:48 and the crowd goes NUTS. This was just a match. *
Bobby Fulton v. Exotic Adrian Street (10.01.84)
Back to Mid-South in New Orleans, and it’s taken from Power Pro Wrestling this time so we’ve got an introduction from Jim Ross and commentary from the Cowboy. Street again prances around to start, which Cowboy is mildly disgusted about, but he acknowledges that it’s probably just Street trying to lull people into thinking he’s a “puff” as a tactic. In fact, Bill harkens back to the days of Ricky Starr in the 60s, who would wrestle in ballet shoes and then kick your ass. We take a break and return with more prancing, but Bobby goes to the arm and Street rolls out of it and then does more somersaults for artistic flourish. So Fulton dropkicks him to the floor and Street regroups. Back in, Street grabs Fulton’s cheek and uses what appears to be a grandma pinch to take over, which is a unique submission hold. I guess there’s nothing against it in the rules? Fulton fights out, so Street backs off and then immediately tackles him again and goes back to the hold, and we take another damn break. Back with Street working on that cheek pinch and hitting Fulton with a cheapshot before going back to the hold again. He tosses Fulton over the top behind the ref’s back and won’t let him back in, but then hauls him in and goes back to the face claw again. Bill Watts is also unsure of the legality of the hold because no one else has ever thought to try it before. Bill is impressed that Street is viciously beating on Fulton and is no longer “all la-de-da and tiptoe through the tulips” now. Linda takes the ref and Street throws Fulton over the top again for more easy heat, and back in Fulton gets all fired up for the comeback. Fulton slugs him down for two, but misses a dropkick and Street drops an elbow on him and finishes with a big splash at 11:51. This was mostly Street doing his claw deal but it told a good story. *1/2
Exotic Adrian Street v. Davey Boy Smith (10.30.81)
From Stampede Wrestling, early in the career of Davey Boy when he was just a “fine young scrapper” in the words of Ed Whalen, dressed like one of the Hart brothers. Watching him here and then seeing him a decade later in the Undertaker match you would seriously never guess it’s the same guy. Street is looking more like Michael Hayes or Rip Rogers at this point in his career, and he stomps Davey down to start and gets a fireman’s carry into a slam for two. Street with a splash for one, but Smith fights up and gets a headbutt for two. Small package gets two. Adrian fires back with forearms, but Smith slams him and goes up with a flying splash for the pin at 3:14. Much better showing for Street here with a quick match without the histrionics. **
WWE title: Randy Orton v. HHH (04.13.08)
Over to England in 2008, and HAHAHAHAHA fuck off, like I’m watching another 30 minute HHH match against Randy Orton. Let’s go to OTT instead.
Marty Scurll v. Matt Riddle (03.27.17)
Now this is more like it. But if they don’t build to a spot where Scurll breaks the toes, it’s all for nothing. Apparently Scurll was a mystery opponent for Riddle as a replacement for Pete Dunne, and his entrance blows the roof off the place. “Shit just got real!” declare the announcers. They take it to the mat to start and Riddle gives him some slaps down there, but Marty immediately goes for the fingers and Riddle counters by taking him into an armlock. So Scurll spins out of it and takes Riddle down with a headlock, and it’s a stalemate. Riddle jumps on him and tries for the choke, but Scurll makes the ropes, so Riddle goes for the armbar instead. And then Scurll reverses out of that into his own and tries for a bow and arrow hold, but Riddle grabs the ropes to block. So the crowd does some dueling chants, but Scurll silences them and then welcomes Riddle to OTT with a chop. So Riddle gets his own, but Scurll sends him to the floor and teases a dive. Riddle blocks that and teases his own, but then slides out and chops him instead. Back in, Riddle deadlifts him with the gut wrench suplexes, and that gets two. Matt silences the crowd again and then throws kicks, but Scurll snaps him back into the turnbuckles for two. They fight in the crowd for a bit while the crowd sings them 80s mega-hits, and then back in Scurll takes over with SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION. Does the nose count as a joint? People talk about “getting your nose out of joint” so I’m gonna say it does. Backbreaker gets two. The crowd moves onto 90s mega-hits to show support for Riddle, but Scurll puts him down with a kneelift. Riddle fires back with a deadlift german and an exploder to set up a senton for two. Scurll with a small package for two, but Riddle somehow rolls through while hanging on, and turns that into a fisherman’s buster for two. This bro has some freakish super strength. However, Scurll threatens the fingers again, so Riddle chops him down and follows with a knee strike. Scurll gets a suplex and both guys are down, but Scurll comes back and calls for the chicken wing, at which point Riddle kicks him in the face. Scurll is JUST KIDDING and hits a lariat for two, and then breaks the fingers, which draws “You sick fuck” chants. Riddle tries for the choke, but Scurll reverses into the chickenwing and Riddle has to roll into the ropes quickly. The crowd declare Scurll to be “King of the Chicken Wing” to the strains of classical music this time and they trade kicks out to the floor. Back in, Riddle comes back with high kicks, and indeed, Scurll catches the foot and BREAKS THE TOE! There’s an extra star right there. Piledriver gets one and Riddle’s BRO-ING UP! Go 2 Sleep and the leaping tombstone get two. Riddle lays in the strikes and tries for another choke, but Scurll reverses him into a powerbomb for two. And then he just freaks the fuck out and stomps Riddle in the head a bunch of times before locking in the chicken wing, and Riddle taps at 19:16. They just meshed perfectly here. ****1/4
Kind of disappointed with the Adrian Street stuff after years of not knowing him outside of the Apter mags (who LOVED the guy) but I always like the opportunity to check out new stuff. And OTT delivers as always!