The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 02.21.19
Black History Month continues with some REALLY hidden gems! They’re digging deep into the vault and I love it!
I also picked up the new Tim Hornbaker book about the death of the territories and I’m looking forward to giving that a read this weekend.
The Mighty Monroe
Jack Pesek v. Sputnik Monroe (03.03.66)
Down to Florida, and this is cool because the Peseks are not really remembered or featured much these days. Jack’s dad John was a legendary “policeman”, the dude like JBL or Undertaker who you would call if you need someone to be taught a lesson. John was the more famous one but Jack was pretty tough in his own right and had a lengthy career, as I understand it. Monroe was a Memphis legend, one of the names before even the Jarretts and Fargos, who carried the territory as a top heel. But what was really legendary about Monroe is that he had a huge black fanbase in Memphis who were constantly prevented from attending his matches due to segregation laws at the time, and so eventually he refused to work unless fans of all colors were allowed to attend together. It turns out that the colored people had money that spent just the same as the white people money. Pesek works the arm and holds Sputnik on the mat for an extended period, and slugs him down for two. Pesek grinds a headlock and holds Monroe on the mat with it, but Monroe fights out and dodges a charging Pesek, then hits him with a flying knee out of nowhere for the pin at 10:20. Nothing to this one, but awesome to see Sputnik Monroe footage, so he gets a point for desegregating wrestling. 1 for 1.
Bobo, Bobby & Bruiser
Bobby Heenan & The Sheik v. Bobo Brazil & Dick the Bruiser (09.07.74)
Damn, I was only a week old when this was filmed. I love that they keep finding new AWA footage, and in this case it’s from Comiskey Park, shot on film without sound. Bruiser still looks like he’s 50 years old, even though he was…let’s check Wikipedia…45. Well, OK, that explains it then. Bruiser chases the heels out of the ring, and Bobo starts with Bobby and grabs a headlock on him and then slaps him around while Bobby bumps like a clown. Bobby tags out to the Sheik, so Bruiser comes over and stomps on Bobby’s hands and the heels regroup outside. Sheik doing all the taunts we now associate with Sabu is kind of surreal. Back in, Bobby begs for mercy and gets beat up by the Bruiser as a result. Well, I mean, it’s right there in his name! Bruiser with a stomach claw on poor Bobby, who retreats to the floor again and is just having no luck tonight. Sheik comes in and uses an international object on Bobo to take over, followed by the usual Sheik biting and choking. Bruiser makes the save because he’s got ZERO chill and chases the heels out, and back in it’s poor Bobby Heenan just getting destroyed and ragdolling all over the ring. The heels run away again and then Bruiser just hurls the Brain out of the ring like a sack of garbage and he flails to the floor, but Sheik sneaks in behind his back, hits Bobo with the object, and pins him at 8:00. The camera then follows them to the back, where Sheik licks the blood off of Bobby’s face in a disgusting moment. I just love Bobby Heenan getting destroyed, even though he basically wrecked his neck for the business. 2 for 2.
Every Dog Has Its Day
Junkyard Dog v. Buzz Sawyer (09.03.83)
Over to the Houston Coliseum via Mid South again, the gift that keeps on giving. Mad Dog charges in and Dog tosses him away and hits him with headbutts to send him to the floor. Back in, they do the test of strength and Dog stomps on his hands to win that. Sawyer tries to go for the cheapshot on the ropes, but Dog punches him in the nose and Mad Dog goes flying off that. Another try is successful and Buzz rakes the eyes, so Dog bites his head in retaliation and Buzz is bleeding now. JYD goes to work on the cut and as usual for Sawyer, he’s bleeding a gusher. They fight on the mat and Dog bites the cut again and works on it with headbutts while Sawyer sells like Terry Funk, but finally chokes Dog out to gain control. Dog makes a comeback and slugs him into the ropes to tie him up, then headbutts him in the crotch and tosses the referee out of the ring for good measure, which draws a DQ at 8:31. And they just keep beating on each other for the wild brawl while referees get in the way and get thrown around. And then they finally get them apart and calmed down, at which point Buzz dives in again and attacks JYD one more time before retreating. A pretty crazy brawl. 3 for 3.
Tangling in Tampa
Florida tag team titles: Ivan Koloff & Mr. Saito v. Pedro Morales & Rocky Johnson (02.14.78)
Nice to see them hitting the Black History Month and Pedro Morales beats in one match. We’re clipped to Ivan holding a full nelson on Pedro and the heels trapping him in the corner, but Rocky gets a hot tag and destroys them with headbutts. Clipped again to misfortune befalling him, as Ivan sends him into the post to take over. Over to the Russian Bearhug, and Saito adds his own while Ivan stomps the shit out of Pedro on the apron. Rocky makes his own comeback, but Pedro is down and out, so the heels bring him back to the corner for more abuse. Finally it’s hot tag Pedro and he’s good and fired up, ramming the heels together and tossing Ivan to the floor and adding some punishment for Saito out there. Back in, we’re clipped to a backdrop on Ivan for two, but he misses a charge and goes flying shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Rocky sneaks in, however, while Koloff is trying a slam, and dropkicks Pedro onto Ivan to give them the pin and the titles at 5:55 aired. Ivan and Saito have an epic meltdown and go after the ref, but Ivan Putski comes out to save, resulting in a heel beatdown that lasts about 10 seconds before Andre the Giant comes out and absolutely lays waste to them, press slamming Saito onto the floor before Putski chases Koloff away as well. The usual good action from Florida here. 4 for 4.
So yeah, a really fun set of stuff this week! I think that the JYD v. Mad Dog match is the gem of the bunch, but mad respect to Bobby Heenan for destroying his own body with disregard for his future well-being as well. I just love seeing all these guys we don’t often get a chance to check out.