The Earthquake Appreciation Society – The Sequel!

With much love, Jabroniville scored about a 6.9 on the Richter Scale, but I think I can get us past the 7.0, so HEEERE’S EARTHQUAKE!

John Tenta & Giant Baba vs. Rusher Kimura and Goro Tsurumi

This is Tenta’s debut from AJPW in early 1987, weighing a lot less than he would in the WWF, with light blue boots and dark blue singlet, both with the Canadian Maple Leaf on them. Tsurumi has a sweet afro and waxed moustache. Tenta starts with Tsurumi, getting a smooth armdrag and powering out of a front facelock. Baba and Kimura tag in, with Baba getting a pretty smooth heel hook. Amazing he can move fairly well for a guy with a chest like a chalkboard and arms like pipe cleaners. Tenta back in to get worked over by the heels. Tsurumi gets an impressive slam on Tenta, falling back like he’s a super-heavyweight in No Mercy. Tenta gets a belly-to-belly and then a backbreaker over the shoulder, broken up by Kimura. Same again, then a third try gets it for the submission win, and Kimura headbutts the ref after. Match was going OK, then fell apart and Tenta was too green to know how to fix it. Kimura gets on the mic afterwards and mouths off at the faces, getting some laughs from the crowd.

Bret Hart on Earthquake

Bret appeared on the Steve Austin podcast a few years ago and recalls how while many regarded Haku as the toughest man in wrestling, Stu would always say “I’d like to see the man that could take Earthquake off his feet!”. Bret goes down Quake’s credentials and finds it hard to disagree, calling him a potential Olympic gold medallist if he’d wanted to go for it. He was fat, but his legs were massive. “I don’t know if an elephant could push him that far!”

Earthquake vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Skip forward three years, with Earthquake much heavier and the monster heel of 1990. This is from the Summerslam Fever show to promote Summerslam. Dino Bravo is ejected from ringside immediately to stop this match from being THE WORST. Quake shoves off Duggan and does the Hulk Hogan posing routine, with about a twentieth of the definition. Duggan gets a clothesline and punches to daze Quake, but gets tossed outside and to the post. Back in, Duggan dodges an ass drop in the corner but fails on a slam and we clip to a bearhug.  Duggan breaks and gets some shoulderblocks to set up for the three point stance, but dastardly Dino returns out of nowhere for the DQ. The Hulkster runs in with 2×4 shots to save Duggan from the ass splash. S--- SNME-style match, but the crowd were into it. The heels cut an angry promo in the locker room over their bruises from the board, a practice run for the one at Summerslam where Earthquake was sliced open with a stepladder by Big Boss Man.

Earthquake attacks Andre the Giant

Earthquake had squashed Damien, Jake Roberts’ python, and was in the middle of a feud with him. At the same time, Jimmy Hart was after a “blocker” tag team to stop anyone taking the tag team belts off the Nasty Boys. Andre the Giant had left the Heenan Family and rode off into the sunset at WrestleMania VI, but had come back to cause trouble and seemingly court, and then f--- off, the other managers. Jimmy Hart was the last to try him on for size.

At this point, he’s brought Andre out after a Quake squash match and Mean Gene comes out to verify if Andre will team with him. Andre says no and Jimmy gets in his face about him having broken a deal with him. Andre grabs him by the wrist, causing him to drop the megaphone. Earthquake picks it up in the background and clips Andre, sending him down in a pile with Jimmy’s assistance as Gene flees like coward, as usual. Quake drops elbows and splashes onto his knee to write him off as a regular performer forever. I don’t know if they had tag team matches in mind, but Andre had nothing left at this point other than guest appearances.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Earthquake

From July at MSG, Quake had already formed the Natural Disasters by this point, but the match was signed ahead of time. Andre, on crutches, is backing up Jake for the match. I love Jimmy Hart’s airbrushed jacket with a giant Earthquake crushing his own logo and as many colours as he can get on it. Andre has apparently just had surgery, and cuts a promo on the house mic that sounds like he’s still on sedatives. Jake controls early with punches and a headlock, then even takes Quake down with a kneelift and short clothesline. Quake blocks the DDT with a reverse atomic drop. Irish whip into the corner, followed by a big elbow, which Jake sells like he’s near death as usual. Jake comes back with kicks and punches, but misses a big kneelift and eats elbow again. Quake sets up for the butt drop, but Andre stands up to distract him. Jake sneaks a punch to the gut in, followed by a mega DDT that Quake flips over on. Slow crawl over for the pinfall victory. Jake was great at doing almost nothing but then timing his comebacks and getting a big pop when he got his licks in. Quake is up first and goes for Andre, but Jake runs him off with Lucifer. Fun match from the Garden, with the right man winning for a feelgood victory.

Jake Roberts on Earthquake

Jake discusses their angle, which Vince came up with, but he improved by making sure he was tied in the ropes rather than knocked outside, so he was made to watch the snake getting killed and unable to do anything. They had to prove to animal protection people that the snake was unharmed by switching bags under the ring. The substitute bag was full of hamburger meat stuffed into pantyhose so that it would seep out a reddish colour like blood when squashed.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Earthquake

From February, but released on video later in the year as I recall. Quake attacks early off a Jimmy Hart distraction, but Warrior dodges some clothesline and gets the flying shoulderblock., but makes the mistake of going for Jimmy again and gets pounded down again before we get a bearhug for a few minutes. Hart is putting more effort in on the outside on the megaphone. Out of nowhere, Earthquake drops an elbow and follows with the butt splash, but Warrior powers out, does his comeback, clotheslines Quake into the ropes and slams him off the rebound, before finishing with the splash for the pin. Warrior looks funny on top of Quake, with his legs floating off the top of his belly. Jimmy continues to earn his paycheck by getting pressed onto Quake post-match. Nothing to the match, just the fun of seeing two guys wrestling that weren’t paired up on TV. Coliseum Video was a weird alternate universe for wrestling, with no acknowledgement of certain matches happening.

Tank Meloche vs. Earthquake

This is from 2001 or so, a dark match tryout before Smackdown. Meloche was an Earthquake trainee, I believe, a big guy dressed like Luke and Butch with a mullet. Quake had lost a lot of weight by this point and had already had his Golga run. Meloche gets a shoulderblock for two and control Earthquake early, plus a hip toss, which is always impressive to see Quake taking, and a slam. Clothesline takes him down again. Quake comes back with a dropkick and an avalanche, with good speed, but not the same impact as he used to have. Shark Attack clothesline out of the corner for two. He misses a splash and Meloche gets a Russian leg sweep and then a suplex. Meloche goes up to finish but gets slammed off. Legdrop follows, then the butt splash, but again the lack of weight makes it looks less impressive. The fans were glad to see Quake out there as an old favourite, but neither guy got anything from the match. It was just designed to show that Meloche could lift some cooperative weight and Quake could still move.

Stevie Ray on Earthquake

From his podcast, Stevie Ray recalls the angle with Roddy Piper recruiting guys to be his partners, including Earthquake. Stevie Ray loved him and does a good impression of him going “I’m not a shark! I’m a man!”. The only time he got mad was when they bumped him from the match with Roddy during a Club La Vela Nitro without telling him, Arn Anderson being the guy who cut the promo to substitute the Horsemen for the PPV. Stevie and Booker tried to calm him down as he ripped the room up, bright red with rage. Quake was ready to kill Arn, then all of a sudden Arn walked in, blissfully unaware, then walked out when he saw him wrecking the place.

Arn Anderson on Earthquake

Arn gets a rebuttal on his podcast. Arn barely remembers the interview but has gone back and looked at it. He believes he was given direction from Eric that the angle was changing and meant no disrespect. It was never his intention to tear anyone down and he regrets if he hurt Earthquake’s feelings because they were always friendly.

WCW Monday Nitro – March 10th, 1997

  • Roddy Piper and his guys, including John Tenta, arrive at the start of the show, dressed in traditional Scottish attire. Tenta looks like a monk in it.
  • After the first match, Mean Gene brings out Roddy and his merry men. Roddy’s segment where he recruited these guys was disastrous, so Roddy takes it out on Howard Stern, of all people, who is “hung like a pimple”. Next, Dennis Rodman, who needs to stop trying to squeeze his arse. Then, the WWF, who said they have no “one hip wrestlers”, so he reminds them he had a metal hip when he beat Goldust and the WWF does indeed have “no-one hip”. These guys are his family, he’s not going to walk away from them just because of some critics. Cue the Nature Boy’s music.
  • Flair, Anderson, Mongo, Debra and Jarrett come out, sans Benoit. Arn says they’ve got a lot heart, but the Horsemen are professionals and not amateurs, so he offers their services. Naitch adds the pressure and Roddy folds, as Tenta and the other members of the “family” feign enthusiasm in the background.

The Bottom Line: Earthquake was a great wrestler and a great guy, so it’s always worth giving him a bit of appreciation, as opposed to the old days of writing him off as a big fat guy.