Andre the Giant, Giant Baba & Dory Funk Jr. vs. Kenta Kobashi, Toshiaki Kawada & Kikuchi (and other Dream Matches)

And we’re back with more of wrestling’s oddest Dream Matches! Two in one week, no less! Tonight we’ll see a “WTF?” Old-Timers vs. Rookies match as two of the Four Pillars face some washed-up megastars, and some WWF hossery from various giant dudes based off of historical & mythological figures! More Berzerker- challenging his counterpart, the Barbarian! Also the Warlord versus Hercules!

Once again, WWF-owned YouTube clips get the Blog into trouble, but they’re not hard to find with a simple search.

ANDRE THE GIANT, GIANT BABA & DORY FUNK, JR. vs. TOSHIYAKI KAWADA, KENTA KOBASHI & TSUYOSHI KIKUCHI:

* Okay, now this is just strange. I figured Baba was only in the “comedy matches” at this point, as he looks about as unintimidating as you can possibly look while being nearly as tall as Andre is, but there you go. He’s got his standard “broad and wide torso that nonetheless has all the ribs exposed like he’s a starvation victim” physique, with the lil’ tiny bird arms, and red trunks. Andre’s in a blue version of his regular gear, while Dory’s in blue- he’s a HUGE legend in Japan and deeply respected for his work with Baba and others. Kawada’s the Grumpy Kicking Asshole (ignoring Dory’s handshake attempt), Kobashi’s a young up & comer not quite into his big push, and Kikuchi’s his tag partner- a guy with a GREAT wrestling physique (Dynamite/Savage-style size & body), but who never got a serious push after that tag team. He’s instantly recognized as the “polite Young Boy wrestler” by him gleefully shaking Dory’s hand.

Dory & Kikuchi start us off, Dory giving up a lot in amateur-wrestling stuff, but pasting him with a couple of elbows to a great reaction. Kikuchi tries a hiptoss and gets hauled into a cradle for several short counts. Kawada throws stiff chops and kicks, but Dory keeps doing elbows to knock him around (weird cadence, too- like he slaps their chest THEN throws a short jabbing arm shot). Baba uses his “technical expertise” and “speed” to put Kawada on the ground, but Kawada does a dirty kick from a break and Kobashi eats some chops before putting the boss on his ass with a jumping tackle, then hits a ROLLING CRADLE of all things for two- crowd marks out even though it’s the ugliest one I’ve ever seen, lol. Baba pushes him into the corner and tags ANDRE, resulting in the bloated giant throwing weak chops and a choke- headbutt puts him down but Kobashi now tackles HIM and Andre sells. Kikuchi flies in with a ton of shots but Andre just swats him out of the air like a friggin’ biplane- lil’ fucker just keeps coming until Andre forces a tag with Kawada!

Andre sells like NUTS for Kawada’s kicks, straight up howling in pain, but Kawada tries a slam like a crazy person and Andre’s back on him. Kawada blasts the knee and Andre actually stumbles away to escape, and Dory eats a spinkick. Sleeper, but the limpest kick in history from Baba breaks it up. Kobashi with a chinlock, but Dory fights out and hits a butterfly suplex for two. Kikuchi comes in and trades shots, and he has this GREAT “fired up rookie” energy that I’m totally digging in this match, and Kawada hits a lariat and a chop series for two counts. Kobashi with chops, a lariat and a DDT, then a legdrop and a rope-assisted one misses, and Baba does weak knees until Kikuchi flies in with a roundhouse kick- MOONSAULT!! That gets a close two- Kawada in! Kick beamspam! Step kick! Flying Back Elbow! Dory saves the pin, so the upstarts run in and throw down with everybody, leading to Kikuchi hitting a Flying Headbutt… for two!

Kawada saves Kikuchi from a boot when Baba “fights” his way up, but he eats one anyways, then Dory comes in and takes a backslide & Perfect Plex for twos, but Andre chops Kobashi and Kikuchi misses the missile dropkick, so Dory hits the Spinning Toe Hold (which I’ve never seen before- it looks hilarious to me- like something Bugs Bunny would use on a lumpy doofus in one of his cartoons). Andre runs in and just pushes Kobashi into the corner and leans on him, which is actually great tag team psychology (I mean… the fuck’s he gonna do now?). Kikuchi rolls him up once, Dory rolls back, and then reverses a second roundhouse kick to the Spinning Toe Hold again while Baba grabs Kawada, and Kikuchi’s forced to give up at (14:49).

Kind of a funny version of a styles clash here, as it’s mostly three fired-up would-be stars up against a wily old vet and two immobile walls, but the offense was so good from the kids, and the timing good enough from the elders, that it was still pretty fun. Andre & Baba couldn’t do ANYTHING in the ring here, but Andre’s physical credibility was beyond reproach (Kawada, with THOSE KICKS, and it still looks unrealistic for Andre to sell them), and him swatting around Kikuchi was great. The kids had to fight uphill the entire time, and if Baba didn’t have “Bookerman Power” and kicked out of all that flying shit, they might have had them.

Rating: *** (actually kind of a fun match in terms of psychology and execution- great “Big vs. Little” stuff even if the oldsters were years beyond their prime)

Icons of Wrestling #37 – The Warlord | Ring the Damn Bell

Top Ten all-time wrestling look, and THIS is the gear they give him.

THE WARLORD (w/ Dr. Harvey Whippleman) vs. THE MIGHTY HERCULES:
(WWF TV, Jan. 1992)
* This is from VERY early in 1992, as both guys were gone by WrestleMania, and they’re advertising a SNME with Hogan/Justice vs. Flair/Taker, while Flair is the champ but Hogan & Justice were still allies and were “making up” after the Rumble- this era has Herc as a JTTS despite being like 275 lbs. This could be interesting, as both guys are better workers than you probably remember, but if Herc didn’t give a shit… oh boy. Both are in black, with the Warlord sporting his IMMENSE physique, as always (top ten bodybuilder look, right there), and Herc (in his Power & Glory tights) is still in great shape, looking less bloated than he sometimes did on his roid-monster diet. This is a very rare “Heel vs. Heel” match, almost unheard of on WWF TV.

“Don’t look for any flying armscissors or short-arm scissors in THIS one!” quips Monsoon to start. Almost a minute of stalling at first, then Warlord shoves Herc back from some grapples. He resists getting his head slammed into the turnbuckle (a babyface spot) then cranks on a headlock, which Herc actually sells as dizzying, wobbling around and falling to his knees- haven’t seen that before. He then takes a Shawn Michaels-level bump off a shoulderblock (!!) and bails, then they tease a test of strength spot for like a MINUTE. The ref gets distracted by Harvey, so Herc just WALLOPS the Warlord in the junk, which is pretty funny considering Harvey’s the WARLORD’s manager.

Heenan misses the ballshot, so Gorilla comments that it was a “left hook to the… QUADRUCEPS”. “Cheapshotted him, huh?” “HEH-heh- he certainly did.” “… Good”. The lock up, but Warlord not only fights up, he no-sells several kicks and just launches Herc into the corner. He misses a charge and takes two lariats (doing the “wobbling monster” sell), but actually pops back with a big boot to the face! Then he just hoists Hercules up for a Davey-Boy style Running Powerslam at (5:35). “Didn’t even break a SWEAT!” says Monsoon, just burying Hercules on the way out. No wonder he pulled that shit in his last match, lol.

Actually a pretty solid use of “character stuff” while nobody actually did much real WORK- they milked locking up for like a minute twice in a five-minute match! They kinda alternated babyface spots and comebacks, mostly doing power stuff, but Hercules was game to sell and got launched around like he was hoping to keep his job. It didn’t work, in any case- both guys were gone within months.

Rating: ** (actually just fine for a TV match, with a clean finish)

THE BERZERKER (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. THE BARBARIAN:
(WWF, Prime Time Wrestling, USA TV, 1991)
* This is from pretty late in the Barbarian’s WWF run, and is heel vs. heel. Barbarian also used to be managed by Fuji until the Powers of Pain split. John Nord is actually a bit taller than Barbarian is, but seems less solid.

The Berzerker keeps swinging his belt around at the Barbarian, who swings his big furry vest the same way until the ref finally creates some order. The two slug it out, slamming into each other on criss-crosses until Berzerker suckers him with a big boot… but then Barbarian does the same thing! Berzerker flails around while Barbarian just looks like a grumpy ol’ fucker, then Berzerker hits his failed shoulder charge into the corner. Barbarian hits a shoulder charge, but misses his second one, taking a basic bump but practically collapsing on the sell. Jumping shoulderblock gets two as Mooney notices they “both came in here with the same strategy”. They slug it out and Barbarian clotheslines him, but Fuji pulls down the top rope with his cane, sending Barbarian to the apron. Furious, Barbarian chases him outside AND into the ring, and the ref counts Barbarian out at lightning speed (3:59).

This had the potential for a fun Hoss Match, as the Barbarian is this immovable wall, while Berzerker has all this fire and speed, bumping like a maniac, but it wasn’t to be- just a short match of two freight trains running into each other until the fuck finish. Ah well- fun while it lasted.

Rating: *3/4 (not bad for a quick power match)

And that’s all for now- next week, I’ll have some of the matches people have suggested. What can a ****+ worker do with the worst professionally-trained worker to ever wrestle? Come see!