The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 02.07.19
Yes, it’s Black History Month, so I’d expect WWE to respond with previously unseen matches from Tyler Black, Aleister Black and Black Bart.
Or these, whatever.
Magnum and the Big Cat
North American title: Ernie Ladd v. Magnum TA (11.09.84)
Off to Houston for this one, although they typically just file it under Mid-South for ease of understanding. Magnum just blitzes Ladd in the corner to start as the giant Ladd bumps like a clown for everything and sells it like he’s dead. Magnum chokes him out on the ropes, but Ladd goes into his trunks and the crowd goes BALLISTIC in the front row, with all these Latino grandmas SCREAMING at the ref while Ladd gains control via international object. That’s amazing. Ladd pounds on him with double sledges and chokes him out on the ropes as TA just has ungodly babyface heat, and he makes a comeback and slugs Ladd out of the ring. Ernie takes another cartoon bump over the top and actually lands on a chair, managing to get his head caught in it for an amazing spot. So he walks around ringside with the chair around his neck for a bit and milks the count. Back in, Ladd offers a truce, with scout’s honor AND he even crosses his heart for good measure, but TA wisely just punches him in the face and then yanks him out of the corner by the feet. Ernie Ladd is an incredible worker. Ladd headbutts TA suspiciously low with the ref distracted, and goes to work on him again with a facelock this time. Ladd is of course so astonishingly tall that he can hold the facelock in the middle of the ring and still stretch his feet back easily to put them on the ropes for leverage. TA fights out, so Ladd beats on him in the corner, and I’d like to offer kudos to the timekeeper because he’s EXACTLY on time with my own stopwatch app. Ladd slugs Magnum down and drops a leg for two. Ladd with the bearhug now and he fires away in the corner on the helpless Magnum, but TA fights back FOR AMERICA and by god Houston is 100% behind him on it. They do the epic slugfest and Ladd of course goes down, and then sells it further by walking around the ring on wobbly legs because TA hit him so goddamn hard. Magnum continues pounding on him while Ladd hides in the ropes, and then of course he goes back into the trunks again. This time Magnum catches him, and then uses Ladd’s own fist to knock him down in a hilarious spot that I’m shocked no one has stolen since then. That gets two. Magnum puts him down with a forearm and that timekeeper is DEAD ON. I hope Paul Boesch gave him a raise. TA slugs him down again for two and now he’s good and pissed off, but Ernie tosses him out of the ring in desperation and Magnum has had enough and throws him into the post. But that’s a DQ at 16:15. Ernie Ladd was amazing here and I’d easily call this ****.
Ron’s Bad News
Florida title: Ron Simmons v. Bad News Allen (12.16.86)
From Florida under the heading of “What, this really happened?”. Bad News talks his usual game to start, but Ron overpowers him and slams him to send him out of the ring. By the way, Bad News was the Bahamas heavyweight champion for the Florida promotion, an odd title that he retired. They do the test of strength and Ron stomps on his hands to win that one, and the announcers keep throwing me off by using Allen’s old nickname, “The Ultimate Warrior”. True story: Back when Ultimate Warrior debuted in the WWF and Vince was announcing his match on the “This week on Superstars…” portion of the show, I thought that Bad News Allen was debuting because he always called himself The Ultimate Warrior in Stampede. Unfortunately they never battled over that name. Ron goes to a chinlock and we take a break and return with Ron continuing to do power moves and suck wind. Ron was GREEN. Allen tries a couple of headbutts on Simmons, but both guys are black so according to the rules of wrestling, it has no effect. So Bad News slugs him down instead and follows with a legdrop for two. Ron evades a backdrop by using a KARATE CHOP and he’s just falling apart as the match progresses, missing spots all over the place as poor Bad News has to keep him on track by sheer force of willpower. Bad News tosses him and loads up the glove, but Simmons makes the comeback with an atomic drop before Bad News knocks him out with the POWER OF THE PUNCH and the feet on the ropes, for the pin and the title at 9:45 But then another ref comes out and the match must continue, so Ron cradles him for two and the refs call it a no contest while Allen steals the belt. This was NO ES BUENO. ½*
Stretching the Competition
Shelton Benjamin & Brock Lesnar v. Mr. Black & Mark Henry (12.16.00)
Shelton evades Black and gets a flying somersault senton out of the corner, but Henry breaks up the pin and allows the heels to take over. Black puts Shelton in a chinlock and Henry comes in with a legdrop on Shelton. Black blocks a sunset flip, but Shelton makes the hot tag to Brock and he’s throwing big fat guys around. Black grabs a nightstick, but Rob Conway steals it and lays him out behind the ref’s back, allowing Shelton to get the pin at 5:30. Interesting for the curiosity of extremely young and green Brock, I guess, but not much else. *
Well, two of those were pretty weak selections, but the Ladd match was GREAT.
And I guess we might as well check out HALFTIME HEAT while we’re at it.
Ricochet, Aleister Black & Velveteen Dream v. Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa & Adam Cole
But first, we get an NXT promo where HHH tells us that if you’re ALL IN as a fan, then NXT is for you. Wink wink. So this kind of cool, as they’ve actually got people in the Performance Center for this, with Vic Joseph and Shawn Michaels on commentary. Velveteen’s wacky gear of the week is of course a football uniform. Johnny works a headlock on Ricochet to start, but he pops up like a superhero and flips all over the ring to evade Gargano before hitting a dropkick into the corner. Gargano rolls him into a head kick and brings in Adam Cole after giving Ciampa some meaningful glares, and that brings in Black. They trade strikes and Cole loses that battle, as Black gets a knee strike for two. Ciampa comes in and Dream comes off the top with an armdrag and goes into three point stance. So Ciampa kicks him in the face. Well that works. Dream comes off the top with a double axehandle to put Ciampa on the floor and then nails Gargano with another one, as the babyfaces clear the ring and stop to pose. Dream goes after the heels and Ciampa runs him into the post outside and suplexes him on the railing to take over. Back in, Ciampa cranks on a chinlock and Gargano comes in with the slingshot spear for two. Cole stomps him down in the corner and goes up for a double axehandle, but Dream superkicks him on the way down and Ricochet gets the tag. He flies in with a rana on Ciampa and then hits Cole with a 619 and flying springboard elbow on Cole into a standing shooting star for two.
Black comes in and beats on Gargano, then hits DIY with a double inverted DDT for two, but bails to the floor on the rebound and everyone hits dives. Black with flying double knees on Gargano for two out of that craziness. Gargano and Ciampa decide to work together again and set up a draping DDT on Black, but then everyone suddenly hits DDTs on each other, leading to Dream getting his twisting DDT on Johnny for two. How do you even choreograph a sequence like that? Ricochet elbows Gargano and Johnny hits his own elbow on the rebound, but Ricochet keeps fighting on the heels and goes up for a moonsault on Cole, but he lands on a Cole superkick for two. Cole tries the Last Shot, but Ricochet rolls him up for two and everyone lines up and slugs it out. Tremendous. Then we get the car wreck segment with everyone hitting their finishers, leading to Cole going up and hitting a CANADIAN DESTROYER on Ricochet from the middle rope! HOLY SHIT. That gets two?!? Ricochet is left with Cole and Ciampa and Gargano in the ring and they set up a triple DIY superkick, but Black makes the save at two. Dream staggers back in and makes the comeback 1-on-3, but gets superkicked into oblivion, and it’s SUPERKICK PARTY until Adam Cole gets left alone with the babyfaces, setting up the 450 from Ricochet and Purple Rainmaker to finish at 16:17. So yeah, this was clearly the match of the week. Probably better than Maroon 5, too, although I didn’t watch that so I can’t really compare. But I’d assume. ****1/2 Just tons of fun and I really like that they kept saying “If you liked this, watch NXT”. Well I did and I do. This was a cool idea on all levels and I hope they do it again next year.