The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 03.28.19
It’s a whole BUTTLOAD of Hall of Fame related gems this week. Too bad, I was really digging the March to Wrestlemania theme thus far.
WWE.com also has new merch up to commemorate the Hall of Fame inductees, including new Hart Foundation shirts that are pretty cool.
Up North to Down South (02.04.83)
Honky Tonk Wayne & David Schultz & Davey Boy Smith v. Kerry Brown, Duke Myers & Mike Miller
From Stampede Wrestling, and we pick it up with Davey getting worked over by the heels, back when Duke Myers had hair. It’s funny because Wayne Ferris was actually a pretty effective babyface in this role, so it actually wasn’t ENTIRELY nuts that Vince would think he could work in that role. Miller gets an elbow on Smith for two while Brown & Myers take turns choking him out from the apron, but Davey gets a hope spot with a sunset flip for two. Finally it’s hot tag Dr. D and he slugs away on the heels and brings Honky Tonk in for more abuse. Back to Smith, who gets a bodypress on Brown for two, but Miller pulls down the top rope and Smith splats on the floor, allowing Myers to add a piledriver on the concrete and he ain’t getting up from that at 5:03 aired. Afterwards, Ed Whalen chats with Dr. D, who has little sympathy for Smith because he wants to move up and run with the heavyweights. And now Dave is inconvenienced because they need a replacement partner for the six-man rematch next week. Honky then does a famous promo where he talks about how much he loves “six”, like the six women he was with last night and the six eggs over easy for breakfast this morning. So he specializes in six-man matches! 1 for 1 just for that goofy line and Whalen’s bemused reaction to it.
Experience the Heat (08.11.92)
GWF tag team titles: The Ebony Experience v. Rod Price & John Tatum
From Global, of course, with Manny Fernandez on color commentary so no one’s getting a word in edgewise. Price beats on Booker to start, but gets hiptossed as a result. Gary Hart has hair here, which I’m assuming is a toupee. Booker works a headlock on Tatum and the heels back off as we take a break. Back with Price working the arm, but the Ebonys trap Tatum in their corner and Stevie works an extended armbar. Manny’s whole bit on commentary is offering compliments to Booker and Stevie and then adding “NOT!” Good lord. Booker gets double-teamed by the heels and tossed. “Chiropractic wrestling technology!” notes Manny. How much coke was this guy on at the time? Back in, Booker gets double-teamed while the announcers talk about all the people “pouring into the Sportatorium” every week. Tatum with a rear chinlock, called a rear chinlock by David Webb, and Manny corrects him that it’s a “Front facelock”. “Read your wrestling novels!” he notes. We take another break and return with the heels continuing their boring heat segment on Booker, and Price gets a forearm off the middle rope for two and goes back to the chinlock. Price drops elbows for two as this drags on, and finally Booker fights back with a DDT on Tatum and makes the hot tag to Stevie Ray. It’s a PIER SIX BRAWL, called as such by Manny because he understands inside wrestling technology, and Gary Hart accidentally hits Tatum with a loaded towel and Stevie pins him to retain at 12:40. Not terrible, just dull, and the hot tag portion was pretty good. 2 for 2.
A Stone Cold Heartbreak (03.10.96)
Steve Austin v. Shawn Michaels
Jumping ahead to a Superstars taping in Texas in 1996, this is a really weird in-between period where it was Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Million Dollar Champion. I didn’t think those things ever crossed over! Austin works a headlock and Shawn takes him down to work the arm for a while. Shawn works off a headlock and Steve gets a pair of near-falls off that but can’t shake him off. Austin finally escapes with the Thesz Press and they do a series of pinfall reversals off that before Austin retreats to the floor for some advice from Ted Dibiase. That advice? “If your former bodyguard asks you to float him a loan to fund his autograph-signing business, SAY NO!” Back in the ring, Austin offers a handshake and seems really sincere about it, even kneeling down and putting one hand behind his back, but Lothario yells “No! No! Don’t do that!” and Shawn declines. No wonder he was able to guide HBK to the World title! Like, did he hang around with Shawn offering strategy on ice cream sprinkle choices when he went out for a snack? “No! Not the jimmies! That’s how they get you!”
Austin gets a cheapshot and works the back, and a back elbow gets two before he goes to a chinlock. Shawn fights out, but Austin gets a quickly nut kick behind the ref’s back and cuts off that comeback. They fight to the floor and Austin beats on him out there and drops him on the railing. Where’s your Supersock NOW, Shawn? Back in, Austin drops an elbow for two and goes back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out again, so Austin tosses him and tries a piledriver on the concrete, which Shawn escapes. Back in, Shawn reverses a slam for two and comes back with a sleeper, but Austin turns it into the proto-version of the Stunner to escape. Austin chokes away on the ropes, but misses a charge and Shawn makes the comeback. Flying forearm and he slugs away on the mat before tossing Austin. Shouldn’t Lothario teach him that two wrongs don’t make a right? Austin runs away and Shawn cuts him off with a clothesline and drops him on the railing, and back in with a double axehandle. Austin runs away from the superkick and comes back with a stungun for two. But then he walks into a superkick for the pin at 18:33. This match was good and I would recommend watching it, but they clearly had it in a lower gear. And that’s OK. 3 for 3.
The Pedigree of Degenerates (11.14.94)
Jean Paul Levesque v. Brian Armstrong
These portmanteau titles are getting pretty strained even by their low standards. So you may recall that young Terra Ryzin faced Armstrong on an earlier Hidden Gems set, but now he’s become aristocrat Jean Paul Levesque. This is from WCW Pro, just before both guys jumped to the WWF. Brian’s pasty dad bod here reveals why he wore a shirt for the rest of his career. Even Larry is scoring off him. Levesque takes him down a couple of times and offers a format bow, so Armstrong gets offended and slugs away. Levesque USES THE KNEE to take over and follows with a leg lariat, but Armstrong makes the comeback before walking into an elbow. The debut of the PEDIGREE finishes at 3:11. The call from Gordon Solie is epic. “Um…sort of a shortened piledriver?” Oh man, Solie just made HHH’s enemies list. Nothing to this one. 3 for 4.
Blessed be the Road (08.16.94)
Brian Armstrong v. Barry Hardy
So yeah, back in time again as we get a dark match hard camera tryout for Armstrong from Wrestling Challenge and the quality is shit. The sound quality is like 3rd generation VHS dub with annoying tape hiss, but the video is OK. Hardy works a headlock, but gets dropkicked and hiptossed. Armstrong with a gut wrench and he works the arm before rolling him up for two. Hardy gets some token offense, but Armstrong gets a sunset flip for two and a small package for two. Cross body gets two and Brian slugs him down with the funky punches and goes up to finish with a missile dropkick at 4:00. To this day I have no idea how the shittiest of all Armstrongs was the one to get a job and get himself over. 3 for 5.
The One in OVW (05.24.03)
Billy Gunn v. Mark Jindrak
Oh man, it’s THE ONE Billy Gunn. They just never gave up repackaging him even after it was apparent that it was long past his due date. This is from a stint in OVW, where Gunn probably should have just stayed. Jindrak gets a headlock to start, but Gunn dropkicks him for two. Gunn escapes a hiptoss but Jindrak clotheslines him and stomps away to take over. Gunn gets tossed and Jindrak beats him down on the floor and back in for two. Jindrak with a standing dropkick, but he misses a second one and Gunn comes back with a fameasser before Lance Cade runs in for the DQ at 5:17. 3 for 6.
Lightning in a Bottle (04.06.93)
The Lightning Kid v. Louie Spicoli
Yup, one last Superstars dark match from Superstars to wrap it up. As usual, the guy getting the tryout uses “Crank it Up” as entrance music. I thought Tatanka using that music for his tryout was the most hilarious example of it. Louie tries a headlock and Kid immediately blasts onto him with the springboard dropkick and leg lariat, then dropkicks him in the corner before missing a charge and landing on his head. Spicoli gets two off that. Kid then takes him down with a spinning headscissors and Spicoli bails, so Kid follows with an insane diving elbow up the aisle. Back in, Kid misses a top rope senton and Spicoli hits him with a backdrop driver, but Kid superkicks him and finishes with a victory roll at 3:48. Now THAT is how you impress with a tryout! 4 for 7.
Quite the eclectic mix of stuff this week, to say the least. The 1-2-3 Kid tryout is the clear standout but most of it is worth watching, at least.