The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – 06.06.19
No real theme to this week’s additions, but some darn fine material from the NWA and AWA.
Battle of the Horsemen (01.11.87)
Barry Windham v. Arn Anderson
This looks to be a dark match from a Worldwide taping in Charlotte, because the match has graphics and multiple cameras but no commentary. Which is kind of weird because you don’t see much dark match stuff from Crockett. Arn immediately attacks, but Barry puts him down with dropkicks and AA retreats to the floor to get his jacket off. Back in, Barry goes for a hammerlock and Arn hides in the ropes to escape and tries a sunset flip. Which also goes badly for him. Arn bails to think it over and we get the test of strength this time, but of course Arn gives him a cheapshot and goes after the arm. So Barry reverses and gets his own armbar, but Arn tosses him into the railing outside. And then that backfires on him as well, as Barry posts him and goes back to the armbar in the ring again. Arn fights out and Barry elbows him down and stays on the arm. Finally Arn suckers him into a charge and drops him on the top rope with a stungun to take over, then pounds Barry with knees on the apron before suplexing him back in for two. To the chinlock, which gives Arn the chance to share some discourse with the front row, and Barry fights out for the comeback, only to walk into the spinebuster. Arn celebrates like it’s a touchdown, but it only gets two, and we get the Arn spot where he jumps in the air and lands on his nuts. The crowd goes CRAZY for it and Barry makes the comeback with a back elbow for two. They slug it out in the corner and Arn gets a powerslam, but he stops to yell at Tommy Young and Barry rolls him up for the pin at 12:54. Good solid action that would be a TV main event anywhere in the country. 1 for 1.
Snake Charmer (04.07.84)
(Georgia) World TV title: Jake Roberts v. Ronnie Garvin
Oh yes, it’s GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING, in this case from a show in Baltimore. Ronnie Garvin with a normal shaggy haircut always weirds me out. He looks like Greg Valentine! Garvin chases him immediately, so Jake regroups and takes him down off the test of strength, which gives us an awesome bridge by Garvin to show his power. Jake remains on top, so Ronnie puts him in a bodyscissors from underneath and uses his leg strength to torture Jake. Garvin finally lets him go and then chases him outside again for some advice from Paul Ellering. That advice? “If you’re playing Blackjack, 21 is the most you can have. If you have 22, you’ve lost.” Hopefully Jake heeds that advice should the situation ever arise. Back in the ring and Jake works the arm and then pounds the back with elbows, but Ronnie threatens a comeback so Ellering takes the ref and Jake chokes Garvin down for two. Garvin throws him off for a hope spot, but Jake cuts him off with a front facelock and of course uses the string from his pants to further choke Ronnie out. Garvin goes for the single leg, but Jake just punches him in the face until he lets go, and then puts him down with the kneelift. Garvin blocks the DDT, so Jake hits him with another kneelift and tosses him for a brawl outside. And Jake wins that as well, so Ronnie has finally had enough and grabs a chair, at which point big scary Jake promptly runs for his life. Garvin WALLOPS him in the face with the chair, however, drawing blood, and bites the cut as the crowd goes batshit. Garvin makes the comeback and now Jake gets all the payback for his 15:00 of offense, as Garvin slugs him down and out and then follows with the Garvin Stomp and an elbow for two. Jake runs again and gets tied into the ropes as a result, and Garvin beats on him there as the ref is bumped. Ellering gets involved again, but Garvin hits Jake with the knockout punch for the pin and the title at 17:20 and PANDEMONIUM HAS ERUPTED in the arena. Average match most of the way but Garvin’s comeback and the heat for it has to be seen to be believed. 2 for 2.
Mr. Rhodes Goes to Minnesota (06.10.84)
Dusty Rhodes v. Larry Zbyszko
Off to St. Paul for an AWA show in 1984, complete with Dusty doing the pre-match promo from his pool in Florida, which itself contains extra starting and ending footage of Dusty prepping for the shot. Dusty goes after the arm to start, but Larry slugs him down in the corner and Dusty fires away with his own to send Larry to the floor. Back in, Larry takes him down for the facelock, but Dusty inconspicuously kicks him in the nuts to escape and for once Larry has a valid reason to stall. Dusty puts him down with the elbow and drops another one for the pin at 5:12, and that’s that. I think that was seriously the shortest Larry Z match I’ve ever seen, and that’s counting his TV squashes! Usually he hasn’t even finished telling the front row his golf stories by 5:00 into the match. That’s worth a point to me. 3 for 3.
And…we’ll wrap it up there this week. I know I had hinted at doing the BOSJ co-mains here, but it’s really late as I’m writing this and the two matches everyone wants are an hour and a half by themselves, so that’ll be tomorrow night’s project.