It’s time for more Dream Matches! Some of which are unironically good! We start off with one of the most infamous combinations of poor workers in history, and go from there.
Note: I skip YouTube links for the WWF-owned stuff, since I believe it demonetizes the blog.
EL GIGANTE vs. NAILZ:
(New Japan Pro Wrestling, 1994 G-1 Climax)
* Wearing black shorts and with a curly mullet, the 7’7″ Jorge Gonzalez was given a “Freak Show” match or two in New Japan, and here his opponent is a real shocker- NAILZ, fresh from being fired by the WWF for attacking Vince McMahon in a dispute over money (told hilariously here by Bret Hart). This is, quite literally, the worst match I can imagine putting together- Nailz was an absolutely horrendous worker whose offense consisted of choking with one hand and choking with two, and he’s up against probably the worst professionally-trained wrestler in the world. A guy as big as Nailz not even coming up to a guy’s collarbone is a pretty astounding sight, I will admit.
Nailz attacks before the bell, but Gigante doesn’t even give him the dignity of reacting two it, and the two throw shitty overhand strikes that do nothing and mostly clearly miss until Gigante throws a two-hand choke. Nailz rakes the eyes and bites the face, then keeps going to a choke in the corner… until Gigante counters with his own. Nailz goes to the eyes… and Gigante does a choke. They throw more strikes and chokes to a silent arena, then whips him into the corner and hits a lariat. He whips him off the ropes again, and hits the IRON CLAW for the three count at (2:48).
An absolutely embarrassing affair, but at least it was short! I mean, it’s hard to pile negative stars onto a bout under three minutes, and largely treated as a Jobber Squash by Gigante. Neither guy had any business doing holds and counter-holds, so they didn’t do any, but doing only whips, eyerakes and choking pretty well exposed both guys as rank amateurs to the crowd, so it’s no wonder neither made a name for themselves.
Rating: DUD (even if I gave negative stars, I wouldn’t- I mean, it’s just a squash! But holy god these guys are not good wrestlers)
DEMOLITION (Ax, Smash & Crush) vs. JIM BRUNZELL, JIM EVANS & GEORGE ANDERSON:
* This is a fairly rare match, as it’s one of the only times Demolition was seen wrestling with all three members… and it’s one of their only matches in the “Masked Demolition” gimmick! This went over so poorly it was almost immediately dropped, as Ax & Smash made a lot of stuff work through facial expressions- it was just a bad idea, never mind wrecking the LOD “facepainted power guys” feud. They’re also no longer using the classic “Demolition” theme, instead using something like Giant Gonzalez or the Faces of Fear would- ominous droning stuff. The drop-off between Demolition’s big win at WrestleMania VI and suddenly turning heel and then looking like wimps at every turn until they were done was just so incredibly bizarre (and sad to me, as a huge Demo fan). Anderson is looking pasty as hell, but Brunzell’s a big dude and still looks in “wrestling shape”. Evans is just jobber city- small and soft.
Vince on commentary immediately declares the masks make them harder to tell apart (on a team where one guy has a tattoo and another is way taller than the other two). Their inset promo is simply “Just when you thought you had all the answers…” “We change the questions!” which amuses Roddy Piper with its familiarity. Ax beats on Brunzell, then Smash takes on Evans with the “Jumping Demolition Axehandles”. Crush press-slams the poor bastard from the floor into the ring, launching him over the top rope. Anderson is repeatedly double-teamed and Crush hits a belly-to-belly. Demolition Decapitation finishes at (2:49).
Rating: 1/2* (standard-issue Jobber Squash, with Demolition not selling a single move and easily beating the guys)
THE DESTROYER vs. VICTOR THE BEAR (w/ Tuffy Truesdell):
* So the Destroyer here is a huge legend in wrestling, and popularized the masked wrestler in the West and in Japan, where he wrestled Rikidozan in 1963 (watched by 70 million people!) and became an icon, being respected well into the ’90s. Victor the Bear has an interesting story of his own, and was adopted as a youth in Ontario during the 1970s and trained to wrestle. Curiously, Victor has a moon-shaped mark on his chest- something usually only found on bears native to Asia (Sun, Sloth & Asiatic Black Bears). However, those species are notoriously aggressive owing to being sympatric with tigers and other large predators, and so would make poor wrestling bears, as everyone knows. The psychology here will be interesting, as the Destroyer has an experience edge, technical wrestling expertise, and has wrestled all over the world, so is quite versatile. Victor’s key advantage is that he is a bear.
They start with a collar-and-elbow tie-up, and Victor offers a clean break, but soon goes for the mask. The Destroyer argues with the ref over this obvious violation, and tries a double-leg, but Victor just stuffs him and does a rear mount. Destroyer fights his way free, but after a struggle, ends up in a bear hug (well you had to see that one coming), but Victor makes a rookie mistake and lets go too soon, taking Destroyer down and fails to get a pin- good psychology, there. Destroyer hits a forearm and Victor’s manager leaps into the ring and attacks him from behind, causing a DQ (2:41). Victor doesn’t really sell the DQ finish at all, instead drinking a Coke in the ring.
Interesting match- Victor has a great look, but is a pretty selfish worker- he doesn’t go up for anything and doesn’t sell very much. Not hard to see why nobody put the belt on him. He had no follow-through with his submissions, either, and the Fuck Finish just wrecked any chance of what could have been a good Big vs. Little match.
Rating: DUD (too short to be anything; Victor needs more seasoning)
THE PUBLIC ENEMY (“Flyboy” Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. HIGH VOLTAGE (Rage & Kaos):
(WCW Nitro, 14.04.1997)
* This is one of 9,000 TPE/Voltage matches taking place on WCW TV over the next two years (apparently the rookies beat them in two straight prior to this), but this one is special- it takes place IN Philadelphia (the home of ECW), with TPE in full kiss-ass mode wearing Flyers jerseys in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, drawing a HUGE reaction from the Phillie crowd, who waves along to their “Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!” theme song and goes crazy. High Voltage are somewhat infamous as being among the most roided-up and pushed of the Power Plant rookies, but I was all-in on them as a kid, just fascinated by their Steiner-level physiques (I never realized till later that both were way shorter) and cool wrestling gear. I mean, 1997 Jab 100% figured these guys would be tag champs within a couple years. I mean, I was half-right, I guess, but boy did they not end up being stars.
It’s a “Street Fight”, but it’s just TPE with trash cans and a pair of tables.
Grunge beats on Rage with a trash-can lid, but he fights back while Rocco blasts Kaos with a metal sheet. Rage smokes Grunge with a can and everyone throws lid shots while this gets more heat than you’d ever think from a High Voltage match. Rage actually does well with can shots, but Grunge hits him with a transparent blue disc (the hell is that? A food tray?) and Rocco sandwiches lids over Kaos, and both smash Rage with their stuff. Hah- Heenan calls them “High Energy” by mistake. Voltage give as good as they get as the crowd unites in “LET’S GO FLYERS!” chants, then Grunge piledrives Kaos on a can (more or less flattening it using only his ass). Kaos then gets a “commode lid” (per Tony) wrapped around his head and hammered with repeated lid shots. TPE take the advantage, but Voltage actually out-brawl them, Rage hitting a weird gutwrench powerbomb on Rocco, who goes up like a sack of shit.
High Voltage actually prep the DOOMSDAY DEVICE of all things, but in a great spot, Grunge sneakily tosses Rocco a can lid, Rocco hiding it behind his back until the perfect moment, and BLAMMO! Rocco rolls Kaos over in a victory roll (“We’ve got a WRESTLING MOVE!” cries Tony), then piledrives him on another can while Rage sells death, and the boys stack two tables on top of each other, hoist Rage’s corpse onto the top, and hit the DRIVE-BY through the stack of tables! The pinfall on the floor is academic at (4:36).
Haha, holy shit- a hot tag team in their hometown turf, kissing maximum ass with home-team jerseys during the playoffs, beating the shit out of a couple of roid-monkeys, getting one great spot and then a huge finish. Crowd loved the absolute shit out of it. What’s not to love?
Rating: **1/2 (Just a wild brawl that went back and forth until they hit the finish, which is a perfect use for these rookies- and a limited worker in Grunge)
THE GIANT vs. BIG AL:
(WCW Nitro, 14.04.1997)
* This is a somewhat infamous match to me, as the hot act 911 gets hired away from ECW following a dispute with Paul Heyman, and ends up in WCW… where he’s fed to a much larger wrestler in The Giant. Then still a hot act, Paul Wight had been given a huge push and an early WCW World Title. Al is literally already in the ring with no announcement, and wearing track pants and a baggy shirt, to let you know of his chances.
Haha, Big Al slaps the Giant to start, so Giant just piefaces him, hits a big boot, bodyslam & big elbow, then drops the strap- he roars the roar that’s been ruined for me ever since Scott Hall parodied it on Nitro all those years ago, and the Chokeslam finishes at (1:01). Al looked like a total jobber, and disappeared into WCW Saturday Night as “Tombstone”, while the Giant did… Giant stuff, being screwed around with for the entire rest of his wrestling career, as everyone wanted to push him, but not like… PUSH him push him, you know?
Rating: DUD (literally barely a match)