The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – Bonestorm II: The Bloodening!
Ok, that title has nothing to do with the content, but it’s Halloween night so I figured a scary subtitle would be appropriate. Anyway, since we’re done with the Unreleased DVD set, it’s back to the good ol’ WWE Network Hidden Gems collection, picking up where we left off with the third or fourth retirement match of Terry Funk’s career, with more to come…
Terry Funk v. Bret Hart (09.11.97)
This is the match featured on Beyond the Mat, where both Bret and Terry were arguing for days beforehand about who would lose, with both men wanting to be the one to do so. This is listed as “ECW” for some reason, perhaps because Joey Styles is doing commentary and a bunch of ECW guys pay tribute to him before the match. Paul Heyman awards Terry an honorary ECW World title belt, and then Bret Hart talks about what an honor it is to wrestle Terry in his last match in Amarillo…but he’s going to whip his ass anyway. That’s great! Regardless, all the accolades feel a bit hollow knowing that Funk would be half of the WWF tag team champions by Wrestlemania. They take it to the mat for the first few minutes, with Funk working a headlock, but Bret takes him to the corner, fakes a clean break, and then beats the hell out of him and goes after the knee. Bret immediately goes full heel, choking him down and hitting him with cheapshots to the throat and just cheating like crazy. He goes to work on the knee and chases Terry to the floor, where he goes to work on the leg with a chair. Bret with the figure-hour (while holding the ropes, since it’s a no DQ match) and the other Hart brothers taunt Terry by waving the WWF title in his face while he tries to fight out of the hold. Bret slugs away on him, but Terry makes the comeback with a DDT for two. Piledriver gets two. They fight into the crowd, as Ross and Bruce happily egg on the crowd, and Bret manages to get the ringpost figure-four. The ref forces the break, which is ridiculous because it’s no-DQ. No wonder they didn’t want to book Stamp. Bruce keeps beating on the leg while Ross yells at the fans on the house mic, but Terry comes back again and dumps Bret onto a table at ringside. Funk tries a moonsault and misses, putting himself through the table. Back in, Bret with a Sharpshooter, but Funk reverses to an inside cradle for two. Funk goes for the leg and Bret slugs at him, but Funk takes him down with the spinning toehold, and Bret reverses him to his own cradle for two. They collide for the double down and Funk falls on top for two. German suplex, but Bret gets his shoulder up first for the pin at 25:15. And the fans are pretty bummed about that. Match was OK, with Funk trying to work a style he couldn’t really work anymore at that point and Bret doing his best to carry him through it, but it was just too long and the finish felt weak. It was worth a point, but that’s about it. 1 for 1.
Konnan, Rey Mysterio, Hector Garza & Silver King v. Chris Jericho, Lenny Lane, Norman Smiley & Johnny Swinger (01.27.99)
So this is a match from the unaired pilot of Festival De Lucha, a 1999 WCW experiment that I didn’t even know existed. Even weirder because Jericho would have been gone soon after this, and he’s captaining the heel team here. It’s presented without commentary. They teams do some random back and forth stuff until the heel side gets the heat on Garza and Jericho drops Lane on him with a legdrop for two. Smiley gets the spinning slam on Silver King, and the heels all beat King down in the corner to cut off a comeback. Lane with a powerslam for two, and even with two referees in the ring, they’re still somehow unable to see King making a tag, allowing the heels to cut him off again. Lane with a bulldog for two. Lenny had a great look and he was a good worker, I’m pretty shocked he never made it after WCW died. I think the Lenny & Lodi thing was just too much of a career killer. Rey comes in and dumps Swinger for a flying headscissors on the floor, and Konnan tries the Tequila Sunrise on Smiley, but Jericho breaks it up and puts Garza in the Walls for the submission at 7:03. This was every geek-filled tag match on Thunder you’ve ever seen in your life. I don’t know what happened with the project, but there wasn’t much to distinguish it for the Mexican market that I could see here. 1 for 2.
Samoa Joe v. William Regal (10.11.00)
From UPW in 2000 (WWE’s feeder promotion for a while), this is of course super-early in Joe’s career. They list it as William Regal, but the announcers alternate between “Steven” and “William” while calling the match. Regal controls in the corner to start and goes to work on the arm and they fight for the knucklelock. Joe does a cool neck bridge that you don’t see him do anymore. Regal sends him into the post and forearms him down for two. Butterfly suplex and Regal works for a hammerlock submission, but Joe fights out with a belly to belly suplex for two. Enzugiri gets two. Joe with a spinebuster for two. They do an awkward irish whip reversal, where Regal looked like he just decided not to run anymore, and he clips Joe out of nowhere and finishes him with the Regal Stretch at 7:30. Was the ref like “Go home immediately!” or something? Regal is about to cut a promo, but Naked Mideon runs in and gives him a kiss, which gives us a primo Regal reaction shot. He insults the fans and calls Undertaker a chicken for not showing up, which brings out HHH (complete with “My Time” entrance music) and he beats up Regal and chases him off. He then cuts a promo about THIS BUSINESS and then beats up manager Big Schwag. I have no idea how this started out as a piece to put over Regal and then somehow turned into a 15 minute HHH wankfest where he beats up everyone and is the best wrestler at the wrestling, but here we are. 1 for 3.
Edge & Christian v. Nova & Frankie Kazarian (04.25.01)
Back to UPW with E&C at the height of their powers. Sadly, the crowd is not deserving of the promised 7.28 second pose for the benefit of those with flash photography. Nova works on the arm of Christian to start, but Edge gives him a cheapshot from the apron. Nova and Kazarian double-team him in response as they seem to be trying for the Hardy Boyz. Kazarian with a handspring back elbow for two and he slugs away in the corner, but a blind charge hits the post and E&C go to work on the arm. Kazarian escapes with an enzuigiri and Nova flies in with an elbow on Christian while the ref is busy tending to Edge. Edge still cuts off the tag anyway and pounds on Kaz in the corner, but Frankie comes back with a tornado DDT. Edge suckers Nova in so that they can beat on Kazarian some more behind the ref’s back, but Kazarian gets a jawbreaker on Christian and makes the hot tag to Nova. Rollup on Edge gets two, but Kazarian gets tossed. Meanwhile, the valet (Looney Lane?) comes in with a rana on Edge and Nova gets two from that, and Edge spears the ref in response. E&C miss the Conchairto and Edge knocks himself out as a result, but the ref is out. Christian sneaks in with the Unprettier on Nova and Edge gets the pin at 11:46. Fun little match from very early in the career of Kazarian. 2 for 4.
Brock Lesnar v. Leviathan (07.28.01)
Off to OVW now for a match that I believe was featured on the “Before They Were Stars” DVD from years ago. Brock tries a headlock and gets suplexed by Leviathan, and he stops a Lesnar comeback with a spinebuster. Leviathan chops him in the corner, but Brock comes out of the corner with a crossbody for two. The announcers note that “the people in New York have a close eye on these two”, which would be the understatement of the century. Leviathan with a chinlock off a slam, then cuts off Brock’s comeback with a DDT and goes back to the chinlock. Batista looks SOOOOOOOO green here, but Brock is a complete natural and looks like he should be on national TV at this point. Brock comes back with an overhead belly to belly, but Sinn comes in and sprays hairspray in his eyes, allowing Leviathan to finish with a spear at 6:25. Kind of fascinating to watch in hindsight. And really, we never did get a Lesnar v. Batista feud in WWE! 3 for 5.
Dean Ambrose v. Seth Rollins v. Leakee (02.05.12)
I think WWE featured this one on YouTube as well, but it’s from FCW as we enter the HD era now. Ambrose yells at commentator William Regal and gets tossed as a result, and Leakee (Roman Reigns) pounds on Rollins and then throws Ambrose around the ring. Regal has a whole run where he talks about his sons having more of a chance in life than he does because they don’t have the “dark twisted soul” of their father, and Ambrose reminds him of a son. I’m not really doing it justice, but Regal’s delivery is something else. We take a break and return with Rollins & Ambrose double-teaming Leakee, but Dean turns on Seth and cradles Leakee for two. Regal thinks that Leakee might be green, but he’s got star presence and family ties. Leakee tries the Checkmate bulldog (immortalized as his finisher in the WWE Champions mobile game, although he doesn’t do it in real life any longer) but Ambrose takes him down for a Regal Stretch. Rollins breaks that up, but Dean hits him with a faceplant for two. Ambrose bares his knee and dedicates it to Regal, but Rollins cuts him off and tries the Blackout, then hits Leakee with a dive instead. Regal apologizes for the sins he’s going to commit against Ambrose, and notes that only one of them will emerge from the fight and it’ll probably be Ambrose, and he’s OK with that. Meanwhile, Ambrose gets a knee strike on Rollins and sets up for the Midnight Special, but Leakee does an amazing double samoan drop on them to break that up and finishes Dean with Checkmate at 9:24. Regal is pretty sure we’re looking at a future World champion. Well, three of them, so he’s not wrong. I have to give a point for Regal’s storytelling here alone. 4 for 6.
FCW title: Seth Rollins v. Kassius Ohno
I’m kind of surprised they haven’t just put these FCW shows on the Network, since the production values and star power are basically equivalent to NXT anyway. Ohno works a headlock to start, but Rollins rolls him up with La Majastral for two. Side roll gets two. Rollins works a headlock and knees Ohno down for two and tries to powerbomb him off the apron, but Ohno wraps Seth’s head in the ring apron and stomps him in the face to break. Back in, Ohno with a sleeper as we take a break. Back with Ohno dumping Rollins, and getting a lariat out of the corner for two. They slug it out and Seth makes the comeback, but the side kick is blocked by Ohno and he necks Rollins on the top rope to block a rollup. Ohno with a drop suplex for two, like a suplex dropped into a neckbreaker in a neat spot. They fight for a backslide while standing on the apron, and Seth comes back in with an elbow off the top, and the side kick gets two. Ohno hits the rolling elbow out of nowhere for two, then hits him with an elbow to the back of the head for two. This is apparently the “Ohno Blade”, his deadly new finish that he’s been promising. Needs more work, I guess. Kassius ditches the elbow pads, but walks into an enzuigiri and the Blackout finishes at 14:35 to retain. Hell of a match here. 5 for 7. The FCW title would be retired and changed to the NXT title a few months later, with Seth winning it again at that point.
So yeah, nothing I’d consider bad, just a couple of matches that would be marginal at worst, so that makes for a fun night of wrestling while I’m giving out Halloween candy! And that wraps up the Hidden Gems collections on the Network, although I guess I can always do stuff like the individual wrestler collections they have on there if I’m really desperate for stuff.