The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems–06.20.18

The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 06.20.18

Yay! More Hidden Gems on the Network!

The Road to Perfection (04.21.85)

AWA World tag team title: The Road Warriors v. Larry Hennig & Curt Hennig

Animal works a headlock on Larry and Axe just punches him in the FACE. Animal seems taken aback by that and Hawk comes in and immediately walks into a bearhug, but he fights out and beats Axe down, and Larry seems to be showing very little interest in selling here. Larry wins a test of strength and Curt comes in with his own headlock on Hawk, and dropkicks Animal into an armbar. I’m assuming this was after the semi-famous match where Larry got sick of the Warriors stiffing him all night and made sure they started selling from that point onwards. That was 84, I think. Curt with a few dropkicks on Hawk and a sunset flip, but Hawk slugs him down to block that and Curt is YOUR face in peril. Warriors go to work on him, but Curt escapes a press slam from Hawk and rolls him up for two. Hawk cuts him off again and hauls him back to the corner, and Animal hits a clothesline with a 0.85 Jannetty sell from Curt that gets two. Hawk with the chinlock as Larry keeps trying to come in and the ref keeps sending him out, but finally Animal misses a splash and hits Curt’s knees and it’s hot tag Larry. He drops an elbow on Animal and Curt comes in with a missile dropkick, but Ellering breaks up the pin. Larry hauls him in and beats on him and that’s a DQ at 12:35. Nothing special, but a decent tag match. 1 for 1. Apparently the DQ stemmed from either coming off the top rope, or throwing a Road Warrior over the top, or beating up Ellering. Rod Trongard isn’t actually sure which one it is, but someone sure did get DQ’d.

The Armstrongs & The Horsemen (04.11.87)

Bob & Brad Armstrong v. Lex Luger & Tully Blanchard

This is the opening match in day 2 of the 87 Crockett Cup. The fact that they HAVE a full version of this show in their possession and don’t just immediately dump the entire thing on the Network kind of makes me incredibly sad and angry. #JusticeForCrockett. Blanchard and Luger is actually a hell of a tag team dynamic that never got explored enough, I think. Tully fights for a lockup with Brad and then resorts to fisticuffs in the corner, but Brad hiptosses him and sends him to the floor with a flying headscissors. Back in, Brad grabs a headlock and hangs on tenaciously until Tully gets an atomic drop, but Brad no-sells it and gets his own. To the armdrags as the Armstrongs double-team Tully and Bob lays some quality sass Luger’s way. The crowd is actually chanting for Luger to tag in, so I imagine they’ll keep Tully in there as long as possible. Funny spot as Tully desperately tries to tag Luger with his foot, and while the ref is disallowing that, the Armstrongs switch off. Dillon yelling “THEY NEVER TAGGED!” is just great old school wrestling stuff. Babyfaces cheating because the heels deserve it never gets old. The Armstrongs keep trading off on Tully’s arm while he desperately wriggles for the tag, but Bob cuts it off by chopping Luger to bring him in early, then switching off with Brad behind the ref’s back while Dillon gets madder and madder. Finally Luger gets help from JJ and makes the tag by the tips of his fingers, but the ref sees Dillon helping and waves it off. The heel fans getting hotter and hotter to see Luger gives this match a bizarre reverse dynamic and it’s fascinating. Tully again gets trapped by Brad in an armbar, and they do this wonderful bit where Tully is swinging wildly for a tag and JUST missing by a centimeter each time, before the Armstrongs haul him back to the corner for more punishment. Finally he fights his way out and makes the HOT HEEL TAG to Luger as the crowd goes crazy. Lex overpowers Brad and this is a STAR. Lex stops to pose, because there’s always time for flexing, but Brad wisely hits him with a series of dropkicks to outsmart him and the Horsemen bail and regroup. Back in, Lex decides to keep it simple and beats on Brad, but Brad gets a bodypress for two. Finally the Horsemen just cheat and go to work on Brad, but Tully misses a charge and Brad gets a dropkick for two. Dillon’s had enough of this and pulls down the top rope, and kicks Brad in the ribs himself. Hey, if you want a job done right. Back in, Tully with a backdrop suplex for two and Luger comes in for a back elbow that gets two. Suplex gets two. Brad with a backslide on Tully for two and he sends the Horsemen into each other with an atomic drop on Tully, and it’s HOT TAG Bullet. He fires away on Lex as they’ve managed to completely shut up the heel fans, and JJ quickly trips him up to put out that fire, and it’s BONZO GONZO. Bob goes to finish off Tully, but JJ clotheslines him from the apron and Tully pins him to advance at 17:49. I LOVED THE FUCK OUT OF THIS MATCH. This was everything good and right with the world. 2 for 2.

Xavier Woods v. Michael Tarver

From FCW TV in 2011. Tarver runs Woods into the corner, but misses a charge and Woods gets a sloppy bulldog and neither can guy figure out who needs to sell it. Xavier with a headscissors and he pounds on him in the corner, but misses a baseball slide and Tarver sends him into the apron. Which is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, Woods tries to work the arm, but gets fancy and Tarner clubs him down and holds a bearhug on the mat. Woods fights free from this deadly predicament but Tarver goes back to it again. Woods with a sunset flip for two and a crucifix for two. Tarver dumps him, but charges and gets backdropped onto the stairs. Back in, that gets two for Woods. Xavier goes up for his diving DDT, but Tarver catches him and drops him on the top rope. He tries a suplex, but they manage to fuck even THAT simple move up and they both collapse. So they repeat the spot, with Tarver trying a suplex again, but Xavier reverses into a DDT for the pin at 8:11. Even the FCW announcers call it “bowling shoe ugly”. Not sure why they included this, unless it’s a rib on Xavier, which I wouldn’t put past them. This was TURRIBLE. 2 for 3.

The Real Omega Man

Kenny Omega v. Cru Jones

A very young Kenny cuts a promo on Jones before this match from Deep South Wrestling in 2006. Cru Jones is some kind of generic roid freak and Omega looks like any indy geek with a white man afro back then. Kenny works an armbar on Jones, but gets stungunned for two. Jones goes to the chinlock as the announcers note that both guys are gunning for Roughhouse O’Reilly’s title. This could not BE any more low rent developmental. Omega makes a comeback on Jones with generic stuff and a dropkick to the knees for two. Jones hits him with a Michinoku Driver for two. Kenny escapes a pumphandle and hits Sliced Bread #2 for the pin at 5:01. That was a whole lot of nothing. This Omega guy probably won’t amount to anything. 2 for 4.

I think that’s all that was added this week? That was what the auto-playlist offered me, at any rate. Mixed bag for sure, but go well out of your way to watch that Crockett Cup tag match, it’s GREAT.