The SmarK Rant for the Best of Big Time Wrestling – Volume 1
So I was going down the rabbit hole on Amazon Prime looking for Memphis (which isn’t there in Canada, sadly) but there’s a buttload of Continental and then this one. Namely, an hour and a bit of 70s-era Big Time Wrestling out of Detroit, with the Sheik, which is absolutely something you don’t see every day.
The show is presented as “Best of” but it just appears to be three episodes of the show from the late 60s – late 70s stitched together. But it’s a really good quality videotape dub and in COLOR, which is pretty rare for TV wrestling in this time period. NERD ALERT: It’s of course in the original 4×3 aspect ratio, but Amazon actually scales it to fit the window on my computer so I don’t have bars on the top or bottom! HOLY SHIT! No other streaming service actually does that, especially not WWE Network where you get extra space on both the top, bottom and sides. For those who don’t know, I review shows by loading them in a window in Chrome and then “snapping” it to one side of the screen while I have Word open on the other side, so that I can type while I’m watching.
Hosted by Lord Layton (?), although Bob Finnegan is taking his place this week for some reason. Although it turns out that we proceed through about 3 different eras of the Big Time Wrestling show anyway.
The California Hell’s Angels v. Arnold Skaaland & Jim Dillon
Jim is a very young JJ Dillon, who appears be a cowboy with nice hair at this point in his career as this is already worth the $8 a month I pay for Prime. The Angels are apparently Ron and Paul Dupree, who were done as of 1968 according to Cagematch. Man, they’re pretty lucky that the real Hell’s Angels didn’t attend these shows because that conversation would not have gone well for the wrestling team I’m not familiar but they’re from California and are the World tag team champions of Detroit. I did a quick Google and they were legit brothers, one of whom died of a heart attack in the early 70s and the other one descended into drugs and gay porn and died of AIDS. Well that’s uplifting. The Angels switch off on an armbar on young Dillon and beat him down in their corner, but Skaaland gets a quick tag and comes in to clean house and chase them off. The Angels regroup and #1 complains about hair-pulling, which appears to be a valid concern, but #2 hits Skaaland from behind while the ref investigates. The Angels double-team him on the ropes and choke him down, but Dillon comes in again and gets hit with a flying knee and pinned at 6:51. Pretty standard tag team action here but worth watching. 1 for 1.
Thunderbolt Patterson v. Jim Pateralski
We know Patterson, a legendarily miserable son of a bitch, of course, and Pateralski appears to be an enhancement guy. Thunderbolt chokes him out and tosses him, then jumps on his neck with a boot from the apron, and back in with some eye-gouging and a double chop to the throat to put him down. Patterson just viciously beats him down and drops knees on him before punching him out for the pin at 2:52 and then stomping him down again for good measure. Energetic enough squash. 2 for 2.
Spiros Arion v. The Spoiler
I don’t know for sure if the Spoiler is young Don Jardine but he looks kind of like him. Arion gets a couple of hiptosses as the tape’s tracking breaks up for a bit, but Spoiler gets some cheapshots and pounds away with forearms when it returns. Arion goes with a facelock and they slug it out, with Arion putting him down with forearms and following with a backdrop and kneelift. Kneecrusher finishes at 3:00. I think this is the first match with Arion I’ve ever seen, although I’m certainly familiar with the name. 2 for 3.
Jess Ortega v. Blackjack Gordon
The crowd is pretty clear here, loudly cheering Ortega (who looks like an extra from the Sopranos) and booing Gordon, although both guys look like generic 60s wrestlers otherwise. Ortega quickly gets a bearhug but Gordon slugs out of it and throws ridiculously light forearms on the ropes. Ortega fires back with their own as they appear to be pillow-fighting out there. Ortega takes him down for a bodyscissors and we get some goofy stuff as he tweaks Gordon’s ears, but Gordon escapes and tries a full nelson. That does work, so he rakes the eyes and does various generic heel cheating before Ortega makes the comeback and throws him around. Gordon continues going after the eyes, but Ortega slams him and finishes with a big splash at 6:17. This was pretty bad. 2 for 4.
And that was the end of this week’s show, I guess, because we move ahead in time to a different TV studio now…
Danny Fargo v. Mark Lewin
So we switch to a different studio setup now with a bigger crowd, and must have jumped ahead to the 70s, because Terry Funk is now a thing and he shows up and bury Detroit and wants a match with Lewin himself. Apparently the only people who like Detroit are “people who are color blind”. Not sure what that one is inferring.
Mark Lewin v. Terry Funk
Lewin takes him down with a hammerlock immediately and Funk gets all flustered and retreats to the ropes, but Lewin pulls him back while holding the wrist. Funk bails to the floor, but Lewin keeps hold of the wrist and goes out there with him, then back into the ring while still holding it. Finally Funk gets into the ropes and forces the break, but then misses an elbow and Lewin goes back to the hammerlock. Meanwhile, the announcers discuss the legalities being violated here because competitors in the NWA must have a CONTRACT to wrestle or else they’re liable for damages and injuries! I bet they probably rebroadcast Major League Baseball without written permission, too. So they fight to the floor and the ref calls for the bell and throws it out at 4:32, at which point Lewin breaks a chair and stabs Funk in the head with the sharpened stick. And I bet Funk only prepared for a banana attack! Funk fights back with a sleeper, but Walter Johnson runs in and lays out Lewin with a blackjack to help out, allowing Funk to get revenge with the shard of wood, and they beat Lewin down and leave him bloody and laying. Yeah this was pretty awesome for a 70s TV show angle. I’m actually gonna give it 2 points, raising us back to 4 for 5.
So then Danny Fargo, who was originally supposed to be in the first match, apparently gets a new opponent.
Danny Fargo v. Big Red
Red looks like a big fat Ernie Ladd and dresses like Hillbilly Jim. Now, Big Red is a known commodity from a historical standpoint, only wrestling from 78-86, so that places this show around 1978. Big Red takes him down and appears to be trying to dry hump him, then headbutts him down and drops an elbow. He takes Fargo down with a headlock that has all the grace of a Weeble Wobble, and Red finishes with a headbutt and big splash at 4:46. Holy cow this guy was awful. 4 for 6.
Terry Funk returns for an interview with the host, all bloodied up still, and he challenges any of the bums and/or jerks in the territory to come into the ring and pin him for a three count. So some audience members get to come ask him any question they want, so some guy comes out of the audience and asks “If you’re such a great champion then how come you lost the title to Harley Race?” Funk cuts an AMAZING promo on him, threatening to backhand him for being fat and asking such a stupid and disrespectful question. Hot take: Terry Funk is the best. Funk continues to rage against Lewin and he’s going to tell his brother about it. Meanwhile, Walter Johnson is on leave from football due to a contract dispute and he’s apparently going to sit out this season and hit people with blackjacks. This was tremendous and I’m giving it ANOTHER two points. BREAKING MY OWN POINT SYSTEM! 6 for 7.
Walter Johnson v. Mike Wayne
Johnson overpowers this pudgy geek and throws him out of the ring, then hauls him back in and pins him at 1:30. 6 for 8.
Bobby Blaine v. The Sheik
Now we’re off to a Big Time Wrestling studio somewhere else, shot way darker than the 78 portion. Sheik immediately attacks and chokes him out on the ropes, then goes to his boot for an object, beats Blaine down, and finishes with the camel clutch at 1:00. 6 for 9.
Mike Thomas v. Bulldog Don Kent
Thomas works a series of headlocks and takes Kent down, holding onto that for a long time. Kent, pudgy and hairy old man by this time, is dubbed MURDER INC. by the announcer but tells the audience they should call him “Bulldog” and bark at him because he doesn’t like it. I’m getting some mixed signals there. Do you want the fans to be murdered? Kent goes to a neck vice, but Thomas makes the big comeback and hits him with forearms in the corner as the crowd goes pretty nuts for this. They trade more forearms as Thomas is a pretty good fired up babyface and Kent gets all pissed off at the job guy getting the best of him. So Thomas takes him down with another headlock and holds onto it, but Kent catches him with a cheap knee to the gut and drops an elbow to finish at 7:21. Pretty good little match! 7 for 10. Afterwards, Kent wants COMPETITION, not a punk like this guy. This would apparently be Kurt Von Brauner, even though Germans are less than human to him.
Two Ring Battle Royale:
There’s two rings and you go to the second ring when eliminated, where another battle royale starts, and we proceed with both of them until there’s two guys left, who fight at a later date. We’ve got guys like Andre the Giant, Bobo Brazil and a bunch of others who don’t matter. Of minor note, one of the guys in the ring is Chris Colt, who was half of the Hell’s Angels at the beginning of the show and by this point was falling deep into drugs and other bad stuff after the death of his brother. The strategy is actually a good one on the part of The Brute, the big heel who was eliminated from the first ring early in the match but then spent the rest of the match just throwing guys out of the second ring one by one as they moved over. So it comes down to Andre and Bobo in the first ring while the Brute waits in the second ring. Andre and Bobo are unable to get each other down and trade headbutts to no effect. Finally they get together and decide to fight the Brute instead, so Andre steps out of the ring to let Bobo win, at which point the Brute throws himself over the top rope and declines to fight at 6:13. 7 for 11. I believe that the Brute in this case was Brute Bernard, who would have died a couple of years after this show.
Overall, for an hour, this was worth a watch. Specifically the Hell’s Angels v. Dillon & Skaaland match, EVERYTHING with Terry Funk from the middle portion, and the surprising Don Kent match at the end. There’s only one episode of this on Prime, though, so this was a one-shot deal.