The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 05.30.19
Hmm, well no real life stuff for them to cash in on this week, so instead we get some ultra-rare 1950s matches!
And yeah, I know I’m skipping the Georgia show with Flair v. Tommy Rich from last week. I’m adding to the list along with the AWA Christmas shows I still need to catch up on.
The Legend of the Sheik
The Sheik v. Juan Humberto (12.14.54)
Yup, more from the goddamn treasure trove that is Texas Rasslin at the Sportatorium. I just find this era endlessly fascinating and no matter how much stupid shit they do, I’m so grateful to WWE for preserving history like this. We get a running gag to start where the ref tries to give the Sheik instructions and check him for weapons, but he doesn’t understand English and just ignores the guy. Sheik is damn young here, looking like a thinner Steve Lombardi more than anything, and he wins a lockup to take Humberto down for a cheapshot already. Humberto gets a headscissors with a hairpull in retaliation, but the ref catches him and the fans are already outraged because the Sheik of course never gets caught. Sheik works a leglock while Humberto kicks him off and then goes to a headlock. And then Sheik cheats again to gain the advantage and claws the eyes behind the ref’s back before finally getting caught. Humberto takes him down and uses illegal knees to the ribs, and he gets caught as well. The announcer notes that fans kind of hate both guys but Sheik is worse so they’re cheering for Humberto. Sheik takes him down with a facelock for two as the film transfer REALLY starts to break up, looking like an art project or a-ha video. The guys fight to the floor and try to prevent each other from getting back in, but Sheik fights his way in and Humberto takes him down with a half-crab on the way in. And then grabs the ropes for leverage and gets caught. So Sheik takes him down with his own leglock, and Humberto has to give up at 7:58. Quality of the film was so bad here that it was nearly unwatchable, but bless them for at least getting it into digital form before it disappeared for good. You generally knew exactly what you were getting with the Sheik. 0 for 1.
The Bull is Loose
Wild Bull Curry v. Danny Savich (02.22.55)
More Texas Rasslin’, with a 2 out of 3 falls match. Curry was the guy frequently credited with inventing the whole hardcore brawling style. Quality here looks like someone filming a TV feed of the original show, but it’s at least more watchable. Curry works the arm to start, but Duke Keomuka distracts the ref and allows Savich to choke Curry out on the ropes. Savich holds a chinlock against the ropes and uses the ropes for leverage, but finally gets caught and allows Curry to make a comeback. Curry slugs away and gets two, but Keomuka distracts the ref again and Savich reverses out. Savich throws him out and gets some cheap shots to the ribs on the way back in, but Curry slugs him down to make a comeback. Savich uses a neck twist, called the Diamond Drill Neck Twist, for the pin at 9:00 to win the first fall.
Second fall and Curry is still selling the neck, so Savich goes after it again with forearms, but Curry runs him into the corner and out to the floor. Duke Keomuka protects his man and Curry brawls with him out in the front row and lays out both heels. Curry beats on Savich on the apron and runs him into the ringpost, and that gets the pin at 12:44 to even it up.
Third fall and Savich goes for the neck again, but Curry fights him off and they slug it out on the ropes, which allows Savich to stomp him down again. Curry keeps punching him down, because Savich has a glass jaw according to the announcer. Savich chokes him out in the corner, but Curry punches him to the apron and they fight on the floor again, where Keomuka gets some abuse on Curry and injures his arm. Back in, and Savich gets the pin at 19:00 off that. You see, Keomuka used a NERVE HOLD and paralyzed the man’s arm, so he couldn’t kick out. This was pretty dull stuff for a hardcore pioneering brawler. 0 for 2.
Becoming a Mad Dog
“Mad” Maurice Vachon v. The Amazing Zuma (03.19.57)
Hard to ever think of Mad Dog as a young man, but here we are. Vachon was something like 28 at this point. Thankfully the video quality is very nice here. Vachon gets some forearms off a lockup, but Zuma (doing the standard South American fiery babyface act of the time) takes him down with a wristlock. Zuma looks like a shorter version of Argentina Rocca if I had to try to pin it down. He works a headlock on Vachon, using some pretty damn impressive power to take him over a few times before Vachon breaks free. Vachon goes to the eyes on the ropes and uses the string from his tights to choke him out, which the announcer notes is a special one he keeps in there for just such an occasion. Zuma takes him down again with a leglock and works on that. Maurice makes the ropes, but Zuma pulls him off by the leg and holds onto it. Vachon flips him and over and drops a knee, but misses by a mile and hurts himself further, allowing Zuma to go back to the leg again. Vachon gets to the ropes again, and this time goes after Zuma’s bare feet. The ref pulls Vachon off and Vachon take a swing at him, so the ref punches Vachon out! Zuma comes back with a dropkick to put Maurice on the floor off that. Back in, Vachon fish-hooks him and slugs away with forearms on the ropes. I should note that the ref’s name is “Rocky Columbo”, which is a bad-ass wrestler name. Vachon takes Zuma down and works the arm, and it gets so heated that they PULL EACH OTHER’S EARS. Zuma gets all fired up off that and Vachon runs away in a funny spot. Back in, Vachon tries a slam and Zuma reverses to a rollup for two, so a frustrated Vachon tosses him out. He goes for a cheapshot on the way in, so the ref actually runs interference and blocks him, which allows Zuma to come back and go after the arm again. Vachon headlocks him and runs his head into the turnbuckles, but Zuma reverses and slugs away in the corner, then backflips off him and uses a trio of HURRICANRANAS for the pin at 12:21! Holy crap! Well this was clearly the highlight of the collection this week. 1 for 3.
Well, the last match was kind of bananas for 1957, but the other two are more about historical curiosity than anything. Definitely check out the wild finish to the Amazing Zuma match, though!