A 20th Anniversary Look Back in Horror: Heroes of Wrestling

Because why should Chris FB be the only one to suffer?

Anyway, with the WWE laying a massive egg on Sunday, I saw too many people on Twitter calling it the worst match they’d ever seen.  YOU FOOLS!  It’s not even the worst match in the history of October!  Of course, this day may well be cursed, considering the Immortal reveal was on 10/10 as well, but let’s look at the main offense to Pay-Per-View everywhere.

The concept was that the Stone family wanted to do a legends of wrestling circuit.  They figured if they got 50,000 buys — which in 1999 was ambitious but not out of the question — they could do a bunch of these shows for a profit.  They only made about 30,000 buys, and so much the better because the bad press from this show would’ve sunk them.  Read on.  IF YOU DARE.

The PG Era Look Back: Heroes of Wrestling.  Original airdate October 10, 1999.

Live from Bay St. Louis, MS.

Your hosts are Dutch Mantell and Gordon Sol… wait, no, Solie became deathly ill and couldn’t make this show.  Randy Rosenbloom takes his place.  Which is unfortunate, because Rosenbloom has never called wrestling before (I bet).

We open this YouTube with a King Kong Bundy promo interrupted by Yokozuna.

This show is dedicated to Gorilla Monsoon.

Rosenbloom and Mantell run down the lineup.  As this is relevant, I’ll be providing the ages of all involved in matches so you can see just how old we’re dealing with.

MATCH ONE: Samu (36) and “Fatu” (34 the next day) vs. Marty Jannetty (39) and Tommy Rogers (38)

Hey, this could pass for a match today!  Fatu is not the usual Fatu, as he’s in WWF developmental about to become Rikishi, so instead we have his younger brother Sam Fatu (aka Tama), but we can call him Fatu because that’s his name.  Jannetty and Rogers were in WCW and ECW respectively earlier in 1999, so they’re in good shape.  Paul Adams (a Wall Street manager) cuts a generic promo pre-match on behalf of the Samoans.  Samu shoves around Jannetty to start, but Jannetty slugs out and gets some armdrags and dropkicks to clear the ring.  The SST regroup and talk to Uncle Sika before returning.  Heel miscommunication gets Jannetty a hiptoss and armbar.  Rogers in, and the faces get a double chop with arm wringers.  Fatu tags in and offers a handshake.  Rogers sees the cheap kick coming and catches it, then brings in Jannetty for a double clothesline.  Jannetty with a snapmare, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK.  Marty calls some spots in the chinlock, so Fatu elbows out but is caught with a crossbody for two.  The Samoans again bail to regroup.  Jannetty is caught with a foot to the back by Samu to become face in peril.  Fatu adds a headbutt to the groin, and Rogers distracts the ref, allowing the Samoans a wishbone.  Samu in with a headbutt and hard chop before hammer throwing Jannetty across the ring.  Rogers distracts the ref again, so Fatu chokes Jannetty in the corner.  Jannetty rolls outside, only for Fatu to add a Greco-Roman chair to the back as the ref is pulling Samu and Rogers apart.  (Rosenbloom, proving he’s never seen wrestling before, is offended by this development.)  Jannetty rallies on the outside, but gets thrown into the ringpost before Rogers chases them off.  Back in, Fatu with a slam, but the Vader Bomb misses, hot tag Rogers.  Dropkick to Fatu, powerslam to Samu, but the double noggin-knocker is no-sold and Rogers gets a double headbutt.  Rogers recovers with a double DDT, and misdirection allows Jannetty a double bulldog.  Fatu is sent outside and Jannetty follows with a plancha, but Samu gets the better of Rogers, and a TKO finishes at 10:00.  Good selling by Marty, good story, good pacing… hey, maybe this show isn’t so bad after all!  **1/4

Earlier Today, George Steele and Sherri Martel checked into a single hotel room.  George is obviously enamored of Sherri, to the point where he’s practically ripping her dress off before they get to the hotel room.

Backstage, Martel says that Steele is the only true crazy man in wrestling while Steele stomps around screaming “Fight”.

MATCH TWO: Greg Valentine (48) vs. George Steele (62) (w/Sherri Martel (41))

I do NOT like the size of those numbers.  Valentine promises to embarrass Steele on behalf of his father, then go home with Sherri.  Valentine bails and goes after Sherri, who runs into the ring and poses with Steele.  Steele bites Valentine off a lockup.  Valentine and the referee insist Steele remove his shirt (for some reason), and as Steele pulls it off, Valentine delivers some elbows.  Then Sherri chokes Steele, but Steele doesn’t know that because (1) his shirt is over his head blinding him and (2) he’s an idiot.  That’s not just me editorializing, that’s Mantell’s official explanation.  Both of them choke away in turn on Steele while he’s still blinded.  More elbows by Valentine, but the ref finally lets Steele finish removing the shirt.  Steele finds… something… in his trunks and uses it, then hands it to Sherri.  Valentine works Steele over in the corner, but Steele goes low and throws Valentine across the ring.  Steele wants a snack, but Sherri uses the time to hand Valentine that thing Steele had earlier.  Valentine uses it liberally, hiding it when the ref checks.  Steele rallies and Valentine bails.  Back in, Steele intercepts the object and threatens Valentine, who bails again.  Sherri checks on Steele, then clocks him with a chair as Valentine pins him at 6:37.  Yeah, maybe the show IS that bad.  -***  Steele chases everyone off and eats a turnbuckle post-match.

Julio Fantastico says he is the only hero of wrestling and will prove it in the next match.

MATCH THREE: Julio Fantastico (27) vs. 2 Cold Scorpio (33)

Lou Albano joins us on commentary and does Lou Albano things.  Scorpio looks like Dave Chappelle’s Rick James character.  Not just that, but Scorpio was in the WWF earlier in 1999, and Fantastico would get signed by ECW later, so there’s a good chance this may be good.  Scorpio dances out of a lockup to start.  Some very good chain wrestling follows, leading to a flying snapmare and single-leg dropkick by Fantastico.  Scorpio reverses an armdrag into a chickenwing.  Fantastico gets back to standing, and Scorpio tries an O’Connor Roll.  Fantsatico blocks, so Scorpio back handsprings out into a dropkick and armdrag of his own.  Fantastico flips out of a snapmare and into a standoff.  Fantastico with a tackle and preening to the crowd.  Scorpio replies in kind before cartwheeling over a drop-down, missing a leg lariat, but getting a dropkick to take over.  Leg lariat sends Fantastico out, and Scorpio with a plancha.  Back in, Scorpio chops away but gets backdropped out.  Fantastico is ready to dive, but fakes it, skins the cat, and follows with a pescado.  I couldn’t tell if it was a blown/repeated spot or not.  Fantastico sends Scorpio into the guardrail, but Scorpio backdrops him to the floor off a charge and they fight in the crowd for a while.  Back in the ring, Fantastico with a mule kick and a pumphandle suplex for two.  Spinning elbowdrop gets two.  Dropkick follows, and Fantastico clotheslines Scorpio out.  Scorpio slugs out Fantastico and returns with a slingshot splash for two.  Slam and Scorpio goes up, but Fantastico shoves the ref into the ropes to trip him and follows with a diving facejam for two.  Scorpio recovers with a 540 kick off the ropes, then a slam.  He drops Da Bomb on Fantastico, then follows with a Tumbleweed (camera close-up reveals he missed) for the pin at 9:37.  Drop the last spot and this is match of the night.  **

We find out Lou Albano is the commissioner of Heroes of Wrestling.  Lou is choked up.

Another King Kong Bundy promo about the main event.

MATCH FOUR: Nikolai Volkoff (a few days shy of 52) and The Iron Sheik (56) vs. Luke Williams (52) and Butch Miller (54)

Those are some Crown Jewel Main Event numbers, bro.  A Russian military goof is in the heel corner.  We get the Soviet National Anthem plus the Persian club demonstration to burn time.  Rosenbloom accidentally calls the faces “Luke and Dutch”, causing Mantell to blow a gasket.  Oh, and they’re not the Bushwackers nor Sheepherders — they’re the Men From Down Under.  Yeah, I’m avoiding talking about this match.  Heels jump the Men to start, and Volkoff works over Butch as we get into tag mode.  Volkoff uses knees against the ropes, but the faces rally with some double clotheslines on Volkoff, Sheik, and the manager.  A “USA” chant breaks out, so the heels threaten to walk out.  I think that’s what he said — Sheik has a rather thick accent, so the ring announcer has to repeat it over the PA to get the louder “USA” chant.  Rosenbloom’s now indignant.  Luke faces off with Volkoff, who gets a cheap shot in off a headlock.  Choking follows.  Kick to a running Luke, and some stomps, which make very light contact.  Volkoff low-bridges Luke with a knee to make him face in peril.  Butch distracts the ref, so Sheik comes in and gets something off the ropes.  Sheik attracts the ref’s attention, so the manager chokes Luke.  Volkoff with a chinlock and knuckle grind, then a back elbow.  Sheik in, and a light kick keeps Luke down.  Sheik stalls some more, and Volkoff in with a stomp.  More stomping, then a hammer throw, and Volkoff adds a rib breaker for two.  He had to double clutch it.  Sheik back in, and the Camel Clutch is on.  Butch saves, but Volkoff with a knee to the wishbone of Luke.  Volkoff misses an elbow, hot tag Butch.  Noggin-knocker works, the manager goes flying, but Luke and Volkoff collide.  Heels double-team Butch and pick up a handheld weapon, but Sheik eats it by mistake and Luke gets the pin at 8:42.

I’m sorry, did that match sound passable?  Wasn’t my intention.  See, when you deliver strikes like this, your goal is to at least make them look and sound fierce.  Just about everything Volkoff and Sheik hit was blatantly soft.  There was no oomph to the stomps or to the swinging elbows, and way too much stalling.  Alvarez at the time said this was the worst match he’d ever seen, and it’s not hard to see why he’d think that.  However, it’s not even the worst match of the show.  -****

Volkoff and Sheik argue afterwards, but the manager makes peace.

Earlier Today, Stan Lane stuffed Tully Blanchard into the trunk of a car.  Tully caught up with the press and cut an AMAZING promo about how he was going to have some fun, see some old fans, meet some friends, but NO, Stan Lane wanted to make this personal.  That blood on his face reminded him of all his battles with the Rock and Rolls, Shawn Michaels, Dusty Rhodes, and more.  He’s had a lot of frustration in his 20-year career, and tonight, Stan Lane will feel all of it come out on him.  Great promo.  Highlight of the show.

In the ring, Lane talks about the greatness of the Midnight Express, does his own intro, and tells Blanchard how washed up the Horsemen are.  And here we go!

MATCH FIVE: Stan Lane (46) vs. Tully Blanchard (45)

These two have forgotten more about wrestling than I know, so this ought to be watchable.  Blanchard chases Lane out of the ring to start, and Lane is stalling on the outside.  The chase is on again, and Lane suckers Blanchard into the ring before attacking.  Clothesline — nearly an STO — by Lane, and martial arts.  Blanchard kicks away and gets a hiptoss before dropkicking him out of the ring.  We brawl on the outside, and Blanchard eats post.  Lane chokes Blanchard with an electrical cord.  He follows with an apron axhandle, and Lane adds the Eddie Shuffle before hitting a swinging neckbreaker for two.  The crowd, who didn’t get the memo from the pre-fight angles, chant “Horsemen Suck”.  Well, Mississippi, whaddya gonna do?  Blanchard with a haymaker to buy time, but Lane’s back at it with a double chop.  Cobra clutch by Lane, but Blanchard rakes the eyes to break.  Lane guillotines Blanchard on the top rope, then an Austin Straddle on the middle rope.  Rosenbloom tries to explain Lane’s face heat and the quieter crowd by saying the women are mesmerized by Lane’s physique.  Eh, points for effort.  Russian legsweep by Lane gets two.  Blanchard rallies and leverages Lane to the outside, where he throws Lane into the guardrail.  Blanchard gets the figure-four on the floor to pop the crowd.  Lane gets the eyes to break.  Back in, Blanchard gets a sleeper, who gets a mule kick to break.  Lane sends Blanchard into the turnbuckle (in theory) and tries a piledriver, but Blanchard backdrops out.  Lane with a big back suplex for the pin at 7:04.  His own, unfortunately, as Blanchard got a shoulder up.  Lane is upset and attacks, but Blanchard fights back and suplexes Lane to send him packing.  Disappointing match — the two were not on the same page.  *1/2

Another sign that something may not be right: Jim Neidhart cuts a promo on Jake Roberts next to King Kong Bundy, who gets his THIRD promo of the show.

MATCH SIX: One Man Gang (39) vs. Abdullah the Butcher (58)

This is labeled a No Mercy match, so I’m assuming weapons are legal.  It’s Abdullah, they’d better be.  Gang’s jacket has the words “Chain Gang” on it (word life).  Abdullah has a manager named Honest John Cheatum with him, who acts like Brother Love and sounds like Paul Bearer.  In Gang’s defense, he was an ECW midcarder in 1998, so he’s still got some life in him as a wrestler.  Gang jumps Abdullah as he enters, then gets his chain and slams it into Abdullah’s head.  Gang pounds away as Abdullah blades, then Gang chokes Abdullah with the chain.  Another chain to the head as the Butcher blades on camera, and Gang goes back to the chain choke, putting it practically in Abdullah’s mouth.  They tumble outside, where Gang smashes a chair into Abdullah’s head.  Abdullah eats post some and blades more.  Gang works over Abdullah some more back in the ring with his chain as Mantell reminds us this match had a violence warning.  Chair to the throat of Abby and more chain work as Mantell explains why the referee isn’t disqualifying anyone: he’s “not that stupid”.  Gang adds more rights, pounding on Abby against the ropes and adding a straddle.  Abby’s bleeding BADLY now, but he takes over with a throat thrust and it’s FORK TIME.  Gang blades as Honest John gets on the headset and cuts a promo.  In the ring, fork fork fork.  Abby gets Gang by the ropes and forks up his forehead.  Abby then rips at Gang’s mouth with the fork as Rosenbloom sounds uncomfortable.  Chairshot by Abby, and another fork, leads to another chair to the head.  Abby with the Sudanese Meat Cleaver elbow, but no cover.  Gang rolls outside, Abby follows, and that’s a double count-out as they brawl to the back and throw security everywhere at 7:34.  If you’ve seen one Abdullah the Butcher match, you’ve seen this one.  DUD

Earlier Today, Bob Orton Jr. and Lou Albano were playing cards.  Orton had an extra ace, and Albano ordered Snuka to start a fight.  Only in wrestling.

Albano promises that Snuka will tear Orton apart.

Orton pleads his innocence and says he’ll win tonight.

MATCH SEVEN: Bob Orton Jr. (48) vs. Jimmy Snuka (56) (w/Lou Albano (66))

Orton would later make a return to WWE to help put Randy over for his WrestleMania 21 match against the Undertaker.  Randy’s, not Bob’s.  Taker and Orton would continue feuding in late 2005 with Cowboy Bob in Randy’s corner.  For those wondering how the Commissioner of Heroes of Wrestling could manage one of the wrestlers, Albano is fulfilling contractual obligations before assuming the office.  Rosenbloom notes that Orton and Snuka have feuded off and on since 1984.  Snuka works Orton over in the corner, but gets caught in a crossbody reversal for two.  Orton lariats Snuka and stomps him to the outside.  Orton adds an elbow to Snuka on the apron, and brings him in with a beautiful stalling suplex.  Slam by Orton and a kneedrop for two.  Knees to the back of Snuka, and a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK body drop gets two.  Orton works the arm as Mantell says the older wrestlers hurt more with every shot, so they have to be smarter.  Orton adds a knee to the armbar.  Meanwhile, on commentary, Rosenbloom says they know each other like a book, but Mantell says there’s still a few tricks up each sleeve and the two argue.  More armbarring by Orton as the crowd chants for Superfly.  This is a very long armlock, but Orton switches up his grip and adds knees and elbows to keep it fresh.  That’s the key — do something.  Crowd tells Bob he sucks as Snuka powers up, but Orton wears him back down.  Orton switches to a chickenwing and drops a knee on it, then stomps away.  Orton with a top wristlock now as the crowd calls Orton by a sexual slur.  Mississippi: we make Arkansas seem sophisticated.  The announcers call it rude even by 1999 standards.  Orton’s had enough and yells at the crowd.  He goes back to working over Snuka with rights, but he puts his head down and Snuka comes back with a headbutt.  Fiji chops as the crowd goes wild.  Snuka hammer throws Orton so hard Orton gets crotched on the rope!  Snuka pulls him down and fires away, but the two men bang heads and the Orton falls on top for two.  Snuka recovers first and goes up top, but Orton stops him up there.  Orton goes for the brainbuster superplex, but Albano holds Snuka and Orton crashes.  Crossbody finishes Orton at 11:46 to a big pop.  Okay match improved by the hottest crowd of the night.  *3/4

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the Jake Roberts promo.  Roberts tells Neidhart that here in a casino you have to be aware of cheats, and Roberts is a cheat.  If you play 21, he has 22.  (Wouldn’t that be a losing hand?)  If you play blackjacks, he has two of them.  (That’s not how that works.)  If you play Aces and Eights (that’s not a card game), he’ll get two of them, too.  He cheats, he’s not afraid to cheat, and he and Damien are ready for Neidhart and will give him the DDT.  Now, take that promo and add about a fifth of Jack.  Roberts is so drunk it’s scary.  Seriously, he’s more impaired than Jeff Hardy.

MATCH EIGHT: Jim Neidhart (44) vs. Jake Roberts (44 and .21 BAC)

Jake’s entrance consists of coming to the ring, leaving Damien’s bag on the apron, going back, removing his shirt, coming back out, letting a female fan feel up his chest, and entering the ring.  Rosenbloom mentions that Jake got to the casino early to meet the fans, which sets off alarm bells in Mantell’s head.  Mantell then says that Roberts has led a tough life and has his demons.  Yeah, we can tell.  Poor Neidhart looks confused and starts to walk to the back, gathering his thoughts.  In the ring, he gets Jake’s arm, but Roberts reverses to an armdrag.  Neidhart pushes Jake into Damien’s corner and quickly backs off.  Roberts teases bringing Damien out, but instead goes back to the match.  Neidhart works over Roberts in the corner, adding some clubberin, they be clubberin Tony!  Neidhart works the arm of Roberts, making sure not to let go of him.  The two reverse wristlocks, with Roberts elbowing out, but the DDT is blocked.  And then all hell breaks loose as Damien escapes the bag.  Jake sees this and picks up Damien… holding it between his legs as though it’s a surrogate dong.  And then points it around.  Then he lies down and starts kissing Damien.  Ever seen someone hit Rock Bottom on live television?  You have now.

So they send King Kong Bundy (43) out to chat with Neidhart and as the ref chastises Bundy, Neidhart attacks Jake from behind.  Neidhart HITS THE CHINLOCK and desperately tries to get Jake back to reality.  Bundy coaches Neidhart some as the Anvil switches to a front facelock, but Roberts fights out.  Whip, reverse, and Neidhart’s blind charge misses.  Short clothesline as Bundy leaps onto the apron, so Roberts flips him off and attacks as Neidhart recovers.  A double-team breaks out, but suddenly — okay, “suddenly” is relative — Yokozuna (just turned 33) arrives to save Roberts.  Neidhart bails as Yokozuna and Bundy stare down.  Yoko and Bundy go at it, but Neidhart arrives for a double team as we find out this is now:

MATCH EIGHT: Neidhart and Bundy vs. Roberts and Yokozuna

Yokozuna ducks a double-team as the heels bail and begin to talk to Bundy’s handler (a production guy named Michael Henry who is trying to save the match).  The announcers call Henry Mini-Bundy, as there is a resemblance.  Roberts is so far gone he can barely stand.  Neidhart chokes and bites Roberts before adding some elbows.  Everyone goes to the outside as Neidhart slams a chair into Roberts’ head in an attempt to get him to sell like a wrestler.  That doesn’t work, but two stacked chairs seems to do the trick.  Roberts gets back up, so Bundy slams the chair into his head.  Mantell: “That’s not good for your mental capacities.”  The NFL knows not what you’re talking about.  Neidhart chokes Roberts back in the ring as Mantell tells them not to try this at home.  Now Henry chokes Roberts while trying to get him back to the show.  Bundy in with stomps and a kneedrop getting an eventual one count (Neidhart distracted the ref).  Elbowdrop gets two.  Neidhart back in with an axhandle.  They try the “grab the foot to stop a tag ” spot, but Roberts’ boot falls off.  Neidhart stops Roberts anyway, and he and Bundy use the boot as a weapon for two.  Roberts gets both men low before hot tagging Yokozuna.  Heels pinball for Yokozuna as we try to save the match.  But Roberts won’t leave the ring, so Bundy tries to Avalanche him.  Roberts reverses the whip, but he runs into Bundy’s knees and Bundy splashes him for the pin at 16:34, even though Roberts and Bundy aren’t legal.  After the match, Yokozuna catches Henry and calls for Roberts to do the DDT.  Roberts is too drunk to even do THAT, so Yokozuna gives Henry a Samoan Drop instead.  Damien goes on Henry, and Roberts teases pulling his pants off.  QUICK!  GO TO THE CREDITS!  Whew.

So for those who thought the Hell in a Cell ending was the worst ever, I give you this.  Jake Roberts sank TWO matches through being in no capacity to perform, plus the promotion sent him out anyway.  This is why Sting/Hardy was 90 seconds long.  Easily the most depressing and worst match you will ever see.  In fact, it’s technically the most depressing TWO matches, thus earning a full rating of -**********.  Minus TEN stars.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

You know, if Jake had been sober, this show would be remembered as bad but not a disaster.  Truth be told, there was some fun to be had here.  The opening tag was a match that would not have been out of place on Raw.  Scorpio and Fantastico had fun.  Tully and Lane looked like they could still go, even though they weren’t working together well.  And if you’re a CZW vampire, Abby/Gang was your cup of tea.  But three horrible matches (Valentine/Steele, Volkoff/Sheik//Luke/Butch, and the main) drag this one way, WAY down and show you why we still invoke it as the gold standard by which all stupid, stupid shows are measured.  If you’ve survived this, you can survive anything Vince throws at you.

STATS:

Number of matches: 8
Total Match Time: 77:54
Best Match: the opening tag
Worst Match — EVER: the main event
THREE STARS: 1. Tully Blanchard; 2. Marty Jannetty; 3. 2 Cold Scorpio

On the Scott Keith scale of Burn It / Avoid It / Skim It / Watch It / Binge It, I feel safe giving this a NUKE IT FROM ORBIT.  It’s available on YouTube if you wish to torture yourself for 2 1/2 hours.