The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 01.17.19
A random AWA battle royal, plus some TRULY rare stuff for the modern era this week!
Over the Top (07.15.84)
20 Man Battle Royal
So back to the AWA we go for a pretty star studded match, as the AWA tries to regroup after losing basically all their main event stars to Vince. Kind of an interesting introduction from the TV show, featuring Greg Gagne and Nick Bockwinkel breaking down some of the psychology of the match in general. So we pick it up with everyone fighting on the ropes and then trying to get Abdullah the Butcher over the top unsuccessfully. Someone does get thrown out by Larry Hennig but I can’t even tell. Roger Kirby and Wilbur Snyder get thrown out, both by the Ax I believe, and Dusty throws down with Jerry Blackwell and mostly stands there and makes sure the camera can follow him clearly. The Fabulous Ones double-team Bruiser Brody and that doesn’t last long. The Hennigs team up on Jerry Blackwell but can’t get him out, and Blackwell throws out Larry in retaliation. This whole thing is just shot with the hard camera so it’s kind of hard to follow anything due to the mass of people in the ring. Scott Irwin and Dick the Bruiser both get tossed by Blackwell, but the Fabs team up on him to stop that run. Dusty slugs it out with Bockwinkel, but Nick backdrops him over the top to get rid of him. Blackjack Lanza and Larry Zbyszko and Curt Hennig all get tossed in rapid succession by Brody and/or Abby. The Butcher sends the Crusher out, and the Fabs team up to throw Bockwinkel out. Blackwell accidentally splashes Butcher, which triggers a major HOSS FIGHT. The Butcher throws out the Fabs and Blackwell pushes the Butcher out, leading Brody and Blackwell, but we take a break and return to see Blackwell immediately throw out Brody to win at 9:30.
Then we get the bloody beatdown from Butcher and Brody, which I’m guessing was Blackwell’s big babyface turn that helped save the territory for a while. And then it’s a kind of reverse battle royal as everyone starts fighting back into the ring again while Brody grabs a chair and pretty much threatens to kill everyone with it. Finally the babyfaces all team up to get it away from him and chase Brody away, allowing people to tend to the injured Blackwell. But then Brody charges in AGAIN and decides to fight off a dozen babyfaces so he can continue putting the boots to the already-injured Jerry Blackwell. Now that is a man who is dedicated to his violent lifestyle. The ring announcer is desperately asking for paramedics over the PA, with no luck thus far, but Blackwell pulls himself up to his feet while Dusty gives him the rub by cheering him on. I’m pretty sure Dusty isn’t a doctor and you shouldn’t be following his medical advice, especially if it’s “YEAH! GET UP!” And then just when you think it’s wrapped up, Brody comes back like the second post-credits sequence in a Marvel movie and beats on Blackwell with a chair while the poor guy is trying to stand and using the ropes to keep from passing out. What an amazing heel that man was. The match was nothing, but all the extracurricular nonsense afterwards was classic mirthmaking from Brody. 1 for 1.
An Extreme Christmas Gift
ECW World title: Steve Corino v. Sandman v. Justin Credible (12.23.00)
I missed this one doing the Christmas gems, and it’s interesting because it’s the last ECW match at the Bingo Hall ever. Sandman clears the ring and then tosses chairs in there and a piece of railing, while Credible brawls with Corino into the crowd. I guess Corino was still champion at this point, although Sandman was wearing the belt for some reason and he actually won it a week after this. Anyway, Corino is bleeding already for no adequately explored reason, and Sandman gets a superplex onto the pile of chairs, 3:00 into the match mind you, for two. Sandman and Corino double-team Credible and eliminate him with a neckbreaker from Corino at 4:10. Sandman tosses Corino and he gently bumps through a table, and then the crowd all tosses their chairs into the ring one last time. Had they known this was the end, maybe they would have saved them for souvenirs? Sandman DDTs Corino on the giant pile of chairs, but that only gets two because of course it does. He goes up and misses a senton, splatting on the chairs, and Corino gets his neckbreaker onto the chairs for two. Jack Victory comes in and accidentally hits Corino with the belt, and that gets two. Finally Corino finds the cowbell and hits Sandman with it to finish and retain the title at 7:30. And yeah, that’s it for the ECW Arena, last one out of the promotion turn out the lights and pay the creditors. 1 for 2.
Before the Raid
Brian Black v. Todd Hanson (05.02.05)
So this is a dark opener from a RAW taping in Boston, complete with time count from the hard camera, and Hanson looks nothing like a Viking at this point. He’s just kind of a goofy babyface who looks a bit like a pudgy Baron Corbin. Hanson works a headlock on Black to start, but a backbreaker gets two. Black goes to a surfboard hold and Hansen fights out with a bodypress for two, but Black puts him down with a clothesline for two. Hanson comes back with a backdrop and goes a goofy fired up spinkick for two, but Black hits a wacky pumphandle powerbomb for two. Hanson finishes with a small package at 4:40. To call this nothing special would be insulting the good name of nothing special matches everywhere. 1 for 3.
Road to NXT Gold
Tomasso Ciampa v. Jamin Olivencia (03.10.07)
Off to OVW, back when Ciampa had hair on his head and none on his face. Ciampa gets a pair of rollups for two, but Jamin takes him down with a headlock. Tomasso catches him with a samoan drop for two and whips him into the corner for two and goes to a chinlock, but whips him into the corner again and misses a charge this time. Jamin goes up and misses a flying elbow, and Ciampa finishes him with an inverted DDT at 3:30. Nothing to this one. 1 for 4.
WWE Velocity (12.17.05)
So yeah, we close out with an entire episode of Velocity, which is pretty cool and something I wish they’d add more of. I’m assuming that because there’s matches featuring both Ciampa and Hanson on this one, they just decided to upload the whole thing. Lucky us!
Hosted by Steve Romero & Josh Matthews
William Regal v. Scotty 2 Hotty
Scotty was starting to look pretty old at this point, although he still looks essentially the same today so I guess he kind of plateaued. Scotty works a headlock and overpowers Regal, which has Regal doing overblown selling while getting consoled by Paul Burchill. Scotty goes back to the headlock, but Regal slugs him down in the corner while the announcers awkwardly try to explain the Batista-Melina sex angle in exceedingly G-rated fashion. Scotty superkicks Regal to set up the Worm, but Burchill runs in to break it up, and Regal finishes with a cheap knee strike from behind at 4:16. Totally watchable but Scotty was long in the tooth as a character. 2 for 5.
Meanwhile, on Smackdown, Rey Mysterio and Batista (an amazing face-in-peril and hot tag guy combo if there ever was one) face MNM for the tag titles and have a hell of a match that’s very much worth checking out on the Network. Batista gets the hot tag and it’s Armageddon, as he destroys both guys and powerbombs Mercury to win the tag titles.
Jamie Noble v. Tomasso Quimby
Ciampa is of course working under an assumed name while doing TV jobs, although the ring announcer said “Quimby” and the TV announcers say “Whitney”. Whatever. Noble completely destroys him, whatever his fake name might be, and hits a lungblower and finishes with a dragon sleeper at 2:24. 2 for 6.
Brian Kendrick & Paul London v. Scotty Charisma & Arch Kincaid
Scotty Charisma? He’s got “SCOTTY” down his leg in block letters, and three stars on the other leg, so you know he means business. Charisma gets double-teamed and hit with a variety of kicks by London and something apparently called the “Mushroom Stomp”. EXCUSE ME? Is that a veiled reference to the very rude “Mushroom stamp”, I wonder? Because if so, that’s pretty blue for the intended audience. London and Kendrick just destroy him with awesome double-team stuff and a double armdrag for two, then Kendrick gets a gourdbuster and London follows with a senton for two. Over to Kincaid, who gets a bit of offense before London & Kendrick just double-team them to death again and hit Kincaid with running elbows in the corner, and then a London enzuigiri into a Kendrick downward spiral finishes at 5:30. What a goddamn impressive squash that was! 3 for 7. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me want to see this show on the Network.
Doug Basham v. Todd Hanson
Basham as a single is something I don’t remember, and he’s got his hair back now, such as it is. Weird. Did Danny get fired or something? I can’t even remember. Basham works a headlock and overpowers Hanson, but Todd comes back with armdrags and slugs away on him, but Basham just wears him out with chops in the corner before adding a hammerlock suplex. He works the arm with a wristlock, but Hanson backdrops out of it before falling victim to a cross armbreaker at 3:25. Hey, this was a pretty good squash, too! 4 for 8.
Funaki v. Orlando Jordan
A main event if there ever was one. Josh gets to call Orlando “undoubtedly the best pure athlete on Smackdown” with a completely straight face. Sure, and Jinder Mahal was a totally deserving WWE champion. In fact he’s probably not even the best athlete in the ring if we’re counting the referee. I don’t even know who the referee IS, and I can safely say he’s a better pure athlete than Jordan. Funaki tries a crossbody and Jordan counters with a backbreaker and goes to a bearhug, demonstrating the pure athletics we’ve heard so much about, and keeps going back to it like Jinder Mahal with a chinlock, and Funaki fights back with an enzuigiri and bulldog. That ends quickly as Jordan hits a neckbreaker and finishes with a backstabber at 5:00. What a shitty way to end a pretty cool show. 4 for 9.
So this was quite the potpourri of stuff this week! As always, god bless the WWE Network.