The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – The Road To Starrcade!
Another awesomely geeky set of additions to the Hidden Gems, this time featuring a pair of 1983 Starrcade preview matches from Mid-Atlantic!
Battling the Brisco Brothers
NWA World tag team titles: The Brisco Brothers v. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (07.09.83)
So these matches are from the same show that had the previous Roddy Piper v. Greg Valentine gem and GODDAMMIT JUST RELEASE THIS WHOLE THING ALREADY. The people demand it! You just know someday they’re gonna find Steamboat & Youngblood v. Slaughter & Kernodle in a drawer somewhere in Connecticut and then I can die happy. We get the brawl to start and Steamboat chases Gerry out of the ring while Youngblood immediately chops Jack down, but the ref is busy elsewhere and doesn’t see the pin attempt. The faces double on Gerry in the corner with a double chop and Gerry runs away, but Jay tosses him back in and Steamboat gets a suplex for two. He slingshots Jay in with a splash for two in a hot spot, but Youngblood grabs a headlock and Gerry suplexes him to escape and Jack drops knees on him to get the heat. Jack with a backbreaker and he goes to a chinlock and bends Youngblood on his knee at a very uncomfortable angle before switching him to a surfboard and then tossing him to the floor. Back in, Jay gets a quick small package on Jack for two, but Gerry cuts him off again and suplexes him backfirst onto the top rope as poor Jay is just bumping like a ragdoll physics demo. Gerry goads Steamboat in to distract the ref and then suplexes Youngblood and holds him down while Jack stomps on his head repeatedly to keep him down. Finally Jay hits Gerry with a double axehandle and Ricky Steamboat is RUNNING WILD and posts Gerry. There are literally little old ladies jumping out of their seats and screaming at this point. He drags Gerry to the other corner and posts him again, while chopping Jack out of the way at the same time, and then pulls him back in BY THE EARS and goes to work on the knee. Back to Youngblood with a bridging Indian deathlock, but Jack jumps on his stomach to break. Man, this kid is taking the BEATS. Jack misses a blind charge and Jay hits him with a lariat out of the corner, and Steamboat goes up with a flying chop for two. Gerry and Jay brawl to the floor while the ref is LOSING CONTROL and Steamboat destroys Jack with chops, but the ref is waylayed and Gerry comes off with the top with a double axehandle and puts Jack on top for the pin at 11:56 to retain the titles. Good old fashioned Jim Crockett tag team awesomeness! 1 for 1. Just insane heat from the North Carolina rednecks here, like the babyfaces were Trump and the Briscos were whatever made up enemy Trump was attacking on Twitter that week.
The Race to Starrcade
NWA World title: Harley Race v. Ric Flair (07.09.83)
Race tries a slam right away and Flair reverses for two and does some strutting while Race begs off. Flair takes him down with a headlock and grinds on that for a bit, then hits a forearm for two and goes to a facelock. He tries for a few pins off that and goes to a chinlock, and we get a funny spot where Ric goes WOOOOOO right in Race’s ear to piss him off. Flair chops away on him, but Race gets a questionable headbutt to the groin area to take over and stomps him down in the corner. Race with a press slam and a headbutt to keep Flair down, and he drops knees for two while the camera keeps cutting to a little girl at ringside. Was Buck Zumhofe shooting the show? They fight to the floor and Race gets a brainbuster on the concrete floor, which you’d think would be pretty serious, but Flair shakes it off and dodges a headbutt. He knocks Race out with a chair from the timekeeper’s table and this is still somehow not a DQ, then runs Race into the post for good measure. Back in, Flair tries a suplex, but his back gives out and Race pounds away on the mat while we get a cutaway to the girl again on Zumhofe-Cam™. Race goes up and ironically it is FLAIR who slams his opponent off in this case, and he makes the comeback. Backdrop gets two. Race goes to the eyes to slow him down, but Flair gets a sleeper and then puts him down with a backdrop suplex for two. It appears to be three, but Race gets his foot on the ropes and the ref waves it off. Flair with a delayed suplex, which actually hurts his back again, but he gets two. He fires away with chops and pounds him in the corner, but Race goes low again and we get a Flair Flip into a flying elbow that bumps the ref. Flair is of course triumphant if not for the unconscious ref, but Race recovers and tosses him. Flair sneaks back in with a german suplex for two and chops Race to the floor again, and they fight to the outside. Back in, Race with a flying bodypress that Flair rolls through for two, and that sets up the FIGURE-FOUR. Race is done like dinner and Flair is about to claim the title again, but Harley throws the ref out of the ring in an effort to get himself disqualified. Flair frantically begs him not to do it and the continues the beating, so this time Race just throws Flair over the top for the DQ to escape with his title at 17:46. Easy **** match here, and the DQ finish made sense with the desperate Race running out of ways to counter Flair. 2 for 2.
Well, we’re only at 1000 words, so let’s see what else we’ve got in the Collections section to review…
First up, I was browsing the Sting set and while there’s not much there I haven’t seen before, this is ONE wacky oddity…
European Cup Final
Sting v. Kevin Nash (11.16.00)
So yeah, this is from the German PPV “WCW Millennium Final”, which isn’t on the Network but probably could be. We are well into the dying days of WCW at this point, although it’s a pretty big crowd for this. Nash throws knees in the corner and I’m not 100% clear on what the situation with this tournament is, because they announce Sting as the champion and Nash as the challenger, but this is some kind of tournament final. Sting takes him down and works the knee, but Nash gets a corner clothesline and drops an elbow for two. Nash blocks a Stinger splash with a big boot and drops him with Snake Eyes for two. Sideslam gets two. Nash with a neck vice and Sting makes the comeback with the Stinger Splash and a DDT that sets up the Scorpion deathlock to end it at 5:45. Eh, depressingly Nash was trying pretty hard for 2000 WCW and this was a decent match that didn’t give me anything in particular to mock. I hate it when that happens. 3 for 3.
OK, let’s keep digging. Over in the Eddie Guerrero collection, we’ve got one from 1989 (!)
The Past Meets the Future
Terry Funk v. Eddie Guerrero (05.20.89)
From World Championship Wrestling on TBS during Funk’s run to the Great American Bash, with a VERY young Eddie. Funk bitches out the ring announcer for not waiting until his chaps are off before introducing him. Everyone knows that! It’s just common sense! Skinny little Eddie evades the chops of Funk and hits an enzuigiri that sends Funk to the floor. Back in, Funk finally gets his chops, but Eddie backflips out of the corner and then gets caught in a GIANT SWING. Funk chops him down, but misses a charge and gets all hung up in the ropes, and Eddie makes the comeback with a dropkick and flying headscissors. Funk swats him down on another dropkick attempt, however, and just hurls him right over the top in full view of the referee, which is apparently not a DQ for some reason. Jim Ross is OUTRAGED. Funk charges and clotheslines the post by mistake and Eddie hits him with a dive from the top, but tries a pescado to follow up and splats on the floor. Funk actually hits him with a baseball slide and then follows with the piledriver on the floor, and Eddie is DEAD. Back in, Funk drops a knee while smirking and gets the pin at 5:16. This was an AMAZING squash with Funk just giving him all the offense before destroying him in the end. 4 for 4. Funk could have just gone out there and beat the shit out of Mando Guerrero’s kid brother, but as usual he went above and beyond what he needed to.
All right, let’s head over to the Hardy Boyz section and finish up with a couple of early matches with them!
Taking Risks and Banging Heads
The Headbangers v. Matt & Jeff Hardy (07.06.95)
From Smoky Mountain Wrestling, as the Headbangers were more purely grunge than whatever stupidity they became in the WWF later on. Matt gets a moonsault press for two on Mosh, but Jeff comes in and runs into a boot in the corner. The Bangers hit a double front suplex on him and Thrasher dropkicks him to the floor, as even back then Jeff was taking stupid bumps in matches where he didn’t need to. Back in, Thrasher with a powerslam and they work Matt over next before finishing him with the Stage Dive at 2:40. I think they actually got worse with their own finisher as they went along. Nothing to this one. 4 for 5.
When the Smoke Clears
The Smoking Gunns v. The Hardy Boyz (06.15.96)
Over to WWF Superstars for this non-title one, with the Gunns newly heel and managed by Sunny. Bart overpowers Jeff and throws him around the ring with a press slam while we spend more time with a Godwinn cut-in as Sunny casts her womanly spell on Phineas while Hillbilly Jim yells at him to stop listening. Back to the match and Billy hits Matt with a clothesline before they finish him with the Sidewinder at 2:38. 4 for 6.
Well, this one didn’t really finish that strong, unfortunately, but you’ve GOTTA check out that Funk v. Eddie match if you get a chance. The WWE Network continues to surprise and delight me at every turn!