The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems (and Other Stuff) – 11.29.18
Only one addition to the Hidden Gems, so we’ll have to see what we can find elsewhere to fill out this week’s entry.
But first, we journey back to Houston in 1983…
The Common Man’s Best Friend
Dusty Rhodes & Junkyard Dog v. Ted Dibiase & Matt Borne (02.11.83)
This is from the Houston coliseum in 1983, and it’s interesting because all the footage WWE pulled from Micah Watts was well after this, so this is pretty damn rare. The babyfaces clear the ring to start and Matt starts with Dusty and takes the elbow as a result. Dibiase comes in to help and he gets pinballed in the corner and gets nowhere. Dibiase comes in and bumps all over the place as the Rat Pack look like complete clowns (well, I mean, in Borne’s case…) while Dusty & JYD double-team them and Dusty goes to work on Ted’s leg. And then we actually get the rowboat spot and Dibiase continues to fly all over the ring thanks to the might of Stardust. The heels regroup outside and then we get a bunch of stalling from Dusty and then Dibiase has to take even MORE bumps for him. Finally Dusty charges and hits knee in the corner, and the heels are allowed to get some offense nearly 10:00 into the match. Borne gets a chinlock and they double team Dusty, but he makes the hot tag to JYD and Dog runs wild for a bit. JYD’s idea of “running wild” is going a chinlock on Borne, but Dibiase breaks it up and then beats on Dog for a bit. Borne misses a kneedrop and it’s back to Dusty with another hot tag and he slugs both heels down. Dibiase hits him with a knee to the back from behind and Borne tries the Bombs Away, but it misses and JYD finishes him with the Thump at 14:20. Ballistic crowd heat for this, but the match SUCKED. 0 for 1.
And that’s all the gems this week! Well, back to Collections again to see if there’s more rare stuff I haven’t seen yet.
Let’s check out some Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels rarities!
Rocking the Foundation
The Hart Foundation v. The Rockers (12.11.89)
From Hamilton, ON, and this is one I haven’t seen before! Bret and Marty fight for the lockup while Gorilla discusses his experiences meeting Stu Hart in the Dungeon and listening to the pained screams of his victims. Bret and Marty trade wristlocks on the mat and we get a nice little reversal sequence that leads to Marty getting a hiptoss and then everyone backing off and talking it over. Marty counters a hiptoss into one of his own and goes to work on the arm, and the Rockers do some slick double-teaming before Anvil comes in and just kills both of them with a clothesline. Big pop for that one. Neidhart comes in and overpowers Shawn, but he tries a slam and Shawn reverses into a cradle for two. Anvil with the headlock, but Shawn slips behind with a rollup for two and brings him back to the Rocker corner for some double-teaming. Double superkick gets two and the Rockers switch off behind the ref’s back for extra two-counts. So Anvil wants a test of strength and they milk that for a while before Neidhart shoulderblocks him to the floor. Back in, Marty with the facelock, but Neidhart puts him on the top rope for the break. Shawn comes in and they trade leapfrogs before Bret puts him down with a clothesline and then hits him with a cheapshot from the apron to go heel. The Harts make sure to switch off without a tag and Bret gets a backbreaker for two. Bret slugs away, but Shawn reverses to a backslide for two. Anvil with a bearhug while Gorilla discusses the difference between “wise” and “smart”: “I’ve known a lot of smart guys who aren’t wise, and a lot of wiseguys who aren’t smart!” That one feels meme-worthy. Shawn fights back with a slam on Bret, but Bret beats on him in the corner and Shawn does some quality selling, “accidentally” falling into the heel corner while falling down. So of course the Harts double-team him some more and Anvil gets a brief chinlock. They hit a Demolition elbow for two, but Bret goes up for another elbow and Shawn moves and makes the hot tag to Marty. Powerslam for Bret and he goes up with the flying fist for two. Sunset flip out of the corner gets two. Bret blocks a rollup and Marty flies over the top rope on a second try. Marty quickly evades Anvil and brings Shawn back in, and Anvil quickly clobbers him with a shoulderblock for two. Shawn gets his own elbow for two and tries a cross body, but Anvil catches him. Shawn falls over on him for two, but Anvil tosses him and then Bret comes in and Shawn gets a sunset flip on him for two. Bret gets a suplex for two and a rollup for two, but Shawn reverses for two. They fight for an abdominal stretch and Anvil breaks it up, but the bell rings at 21:20 for what I assume is a draw. The teams keep brawling until the jobber corps runs in to break them up. A perfectly cromulent tag team match that never quite got to second gear. 1 for 2.
Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels (02.12.90)
This is from an episode of Prime Time Wrestling, which hasn’t yet made it to the Network. Both partners are at ringside so clearly this is going to be some kind of schmoz. They trade hammerlocks to start and Bret catches him with an inverted atomic drop and clothesline, but misses an elbow. Shawn gets a headlock and hangs tight, but Bret escapes and slams Shawn off the top rope to slow him down. Bret throws forearms, but Shawn reverses to a backslide for two and they trade slams before colliding for a double down. They fight for a suplex and it turns into a shoving match, but now the troops run in for the DQ at 4:22. Nothing much to this one. 1 for 3.
Stricken from the Record
WWF World tag team titles: The Hart Foundation v. The Rockers
(I’ll just add this one from my Shawn Michaels DVD review a couple of years ago because I don’t know how many people read that one.)
Dear lord, I thought I’d be dead in the ground before I ever got to see this. The DVD era is truly a wonderful thing. From October 1990, this is a truly legendary 2/3 falls match that was taped for Saturday Night’s Main Event and then buried in a shoebox behind Titan Tower never to see the light of day again. Post production was never finished, so there’s no commentary, which is weird these days. The lack of crowd sweetening is really evident, too. Kind of neat to see and hear what a half-polished product looks like, as it has all the production cues from the live broadcast but none of the niceties that get added on afterwards, like bringing the ring mic down and bringing the crowd up. Bret starts with Marty and they work off a headlock, which Bret turns into an armbar. Over to Shawn for a double-team backbreaker, and the Rockers superkick the Anvil. Ah, but Bret rams their heads together and Anvil clobbers them with a double clothesline, which gets a notably bigger reaction than the Rockers’ double-team stuff. So Neidhart comes in and sends Shawn into the corner off the lockup, then clobbers him down off a headlock before missing an elbow. The Rockers start working on the arm, but Anvil overpowers Marty and then clotheslines him to the floor, as well as Shawn. The heel fans in the audience really dig that. Mart comes back in with an atomic drop and the Rockers add a double-dropkick for two, then go to work on the arm again. Back to Bret, as he elbows Marty down, but walks into a sunset flip for two. Bret gets involved with the ref and the Rockers double-team Anvil and go up with the stereo fistdrops, but Bret breaks it up. Anvil catches Shawn with a powerslam out of the corner for two, and Bret whips him into the corner and into a backbreaker for two. Legsweep gets two. Legdrop gets two. Piledriver gets two. Bret argues with the ref about that one, and that allows the tag to Marty, who blocks Bret’s sunset flip for the pin at 9:38 to win the first fall. OK, here’s a question: Up until then the match wasn’t terrible or anything, why didn’t they just air it like that and cut to the celebration as if it was a one fall match? I mean, they’ve finessed bigger pieces of crap than that into watchable matches, and even though it was really tentative and messy it was only like ** bad, not the abomination that Bret makes it out to be now.
Second fall sees Bret hitting Marty with an atomic drop, and Anvil pounds him down with a forearm. Bret tries a suplex, but Shawn makes the blind tag and breaks it up, only to get rolled up by Bret for two. And then, DISASTER, as the top rope breaks and you can hear Bret swearing about it. They go into a facelock and Bret has an extended conversation with the ref about how they should just stop the match and edit it later, but the ref freezes up and they keep going. So now they can’t run the ropes. It’s pretty funny because Shawn backdrops out and Bret is “selling”, but you can see and hear him beaking at the ref the whole time about the situation. So Bret goes back to the chinlock and his disgusted looks at the ref who keeps saying “Keep it going” are great, better than anything this match has to offer. Shawn sends him into the turnbuckles to escape, and Bret’s bump without resistance is pretty ugly, and it’s hot tag Marty. Superkick gets two. Bret comes back with a neckbreaker and brings Anvil back in, and it’s chinlock time again as they have no gameplan here. Bret slams Anvil onto Marty for two, and the Demo elbow gets two. Bret goes up, but Shawn dropkicks him off the top and gets the tag, but Bret hits him with a backdrop suplex as they all look totally lost out there. Shawn walks into a Hart Attack to even up the match at 19:23. The ref goes to raise Bret’s hand and Bret just unloads on him with a bitch session and sulks around the ring.
So they finally get the ring crew to fix the damn rope, and we begin the third fall with Bret hitting Shawn with a cheapshot and dropping an elbow, and Anvil comes in with a backdrop as you can see the ropes are nice and springy again. Bret pounds Shawn with forearms, clearly in a pissy mood now, and then ties him up in the ropes before missing a charge to allow Shawn to tag Marty back in. Powerslam gets two. Marty blocks a blind charge and bulldogs Bret out of the corner for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and they get rid of Neidhart, but Bret is still irate and crossfaces Marty during a criss-cross. God, get over it. Back to Anvil and he pounds Marty down with forearms, then the Harts do some cheating in the corner and Anvil gets two. Anvil powerslams Bret on Marty, but it backfires when Marty gets his knees up. Still, they dump Shawn just in case and set up for another Hart Attack, but Shawn dropkicks Marty onto Neidhart for the pin and the titles at 25:00. That’s actually a finish no one ever used before, oddly enough. And that was supposed to be the end of the Anvil’s WWF career, but then this match never happened and the Harts were suddenly champions again. You know, I’m gonna be That Guy and say that this match wasn’t that bad, all things considered. The second fall was pretty draggy while Bret was all “Wah wah wah” to the ref, but they pulled it together and had a pretty nice little match out of it. It wasn’t a classic to kick off the Rocker Era or anything like that, but it was totally usable and the Rockers were robbed out of a title reign. 2 for 4.
There’s a few more Bret/Shawn matches from the 90s, but it’s very late and I’m done for the evening, so we’ll pick this up again at a later date.