This week, we look at some truly bizarre one-off matches. The first is another “When You Hit Random in FirePro” match between washed-up WWF & Lucha guys, plus a rookie Luchadore and an ECW tag team. Then it’s the British Bulldogs in their forgotten All Japan run against a future legendary tag team. Then… did you know there was a THIRD Islander? And he fought future WWF superstar Steve Blackman back when he was a WWF jobber in 1987? True story! Also watch the Hardy Boyz job to the most 1996 of tag teams!
BOB BACKLUND, JIMMY SNUKA & MIL MASCARAS vs. HECTOR GARZA & THE ELIMINATORS (Perry Saturn & John Kronus):
(Wrestle Association R- I mean, who else?- 07.07.1995)
* Maffew alerted me to this one: here comes another one of my favorite things- completely insane matches of unrelated guys! So here we see the WWF’s Ace of the 1970s & early ’80s teaming with megastar high-flyer Snuka and Mexican legend Mil Mascaras, up against then-newbie Hector Garza… and ECW’s Eliminators, the embodiment of “We got some Japan comps, so…”. Garza was briefly in both WWF AND WCW, but failed in both before becoming successful as a Handsome Dad Wrestler in Mexico, but sadly died of lung cancer in 2013. Here he is clean-shaven and with bad hair. Saturn had hair at this point, and John Kronus was still relevant- he faded away from the biz QUICKLY and never returned. But the Eliminators have facepaint and reverse-colored gear that looks like powder-blue & black garters over long tights. Adding to the fun here is that the veteran team is preposterously washed-up. Like, you think CHRIS JERICHO is past his prime these days? Anyone who saw Snuka wrestle after 1989 will have WORDS with you, young man! But man, their theme is amazing- I love it.
Saturn & Backlund are up first and I love this already, but Bob does his “dorky dad” act with a big handshake attempt, but Saturn draws boos by STONING him. Backlund responds with ’80s offense and sends Saturn fleeing while he does his “duck-ass” walk like a goof. Bob trips up Kronus & Garza, then Mil does some stretching to Garza- Kronus breaks it up, but Mil goes right back to simple stuff and knocks Garza over with a limp-noodle jumping attack. Mil’s gear is great- I’ll give him that. Even with the trunks pulled all the way up to his nips like that. Kronus tries next, and does his specialty- Flippy Shit that a chubby, tall white guy shouldn’t be able to do! In this case, a Cartwheel into a Standing Moonsault for two. The crowd is definitely impressed, but Bob runs in to break up the pin and that lets Mil hit another jumping thing- the Eliminators catch him with a slam/Flying Elbow combo for two. Now leathery handbag Snuka’s in there. He licks cocaine off his fingertips (I mean, probably) and leapfrogs Saturn a couple of times, then chops him, sending Perry spiraling away! Chops for Kronus & Garza, too!
Saturn eats a cross-body and falling headbutt for two-counts, but pushes Bob into his corner for a triple-beatdown- Cartwheel Handspring Elbow from Kronus! Garza hits the only thing commentators would EVER talk about with him- a Corkscrew Dive to the outside! Well it wasn’t a Moonsault yet, I guess. Alas, it hits Kronus instead of Bob, robbing me of the opportunity to write “Bob Backlund takes a Corkscrew Plancha” for the only time in human history, and the oldsters are beaten up outside. Bob gets out of the laziest armhold in history from Saturn, but eats an Assisted Standing Moonsault, rolling over before Kronus’s lazy cover can even get “1”. The heels try to run interference, but the old men brawl with them, hit bodyslams… and it’s the Superfly Splash on Kronus and Mil Flying Cross-Body on Garza while Saturn ties up Bob on the mat, and the veterans win at (11:32)!
The match was largely the veterans having fun with the rookies, deftly avoiding their stuff despite age, but then things settled into the Eliminators doing their state-of-the-art stuff with double-teaming and flips- this is actually very “AEW Tag Match”-y, with rookies doing flashy things because their basics aren’t as great yet. Funny seeing Kronus just hit two shots and a bodyslam and that’s enough to stun Mil for the time it takes to do a pose, cartwheel AND standing moonsault, but it was alright enough. Amazing just to see a top ECW team fighting BOB BACKLUND, never mind washed-up Snuka, but Snuka & Garza were barely in the ring, so it was mostly the Eliminators supplying the flash while the babyfaces wrestled to the standard victory, and nobody really exposed themselves.
Rating: **1/2 (actually not bad! Matches like this are a good use of rookies who are more sizzle than steak, as you can more easily cycle guys in and out)
THE BRITISH BULLDOGS (Davey-Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) vs. THE CAN-AM CONNECTION (Doug Furnas & Dan Kroffat):
(All Japan, Real World Tag League, 06.12.1989)
* This is a weird Dream Match, hailing from late in Dynamite Kid’s relevancy, when the Bulldogs got scooped up by All Japan for a run after they’d quit the WWF. Davey-Boy would leave Dynamite high and dry not long after this, resulting in Johnny Smith taking his place- Kid’s career only lasted a few more years. Furnas & Kroffat were on their way to an impressive AJPW run at this point, and would soon get a LOT of respect for a series of great tag matches. The Bulldogs are in their WWF gear, though Dynamite’s had his hair shaved by Johnny Smith earlier, and has lost a LOT of muscle definition (Davey appears to have added it to himself). And this is gonna shock you, but Kid looks miserable. The Can-Ams are in blue trunks and coming down to “Welcome To The Jungle”, and Furnas looks like he might be on even more steroids than Davey-Boy.
Simple stuff leads to Kroffat eating the Kid’s Snap Suplex, and the crowd pops BIG for that. And now the Roid-Monsters are already in against each other! There’s a BIG to-do about Furnas maybe powering out of Smith’s full nelson, Davey with some GREAT facial expressions… but he breaks the fans’ hearts by getting his foot in the ropes instead. They repeat the spot with Davey in the hold, teasing the fans yet again. And now it’s a test of strength! This is so 1980s WWF, I love it. That goes back and forth, but Davey knees him. NO-SOLD SHOULDER CHARGES! Kroffat’s in and hits a back elbow and a tope suicida on Kid, but tries a suplex on the floor and gets snap suplexed. Kid hits a clothesline at light speed, but Kroffat lands on his feet from Davey’s back body drop, hits a back-leg-front-kick and flips Davey… who lands on HIS feet! Furnas & Davey criss-cross into a dropkick from Furnas- Press Slam! He does a backflip into a three-point stance, but charges right into DAVEY’s Press Slam! And now Davey flips and flexes!
After that, Dyno comes in and hits a missile dropkick for two. Davey’s back right away, but he runs into Kroffat’s leg lariat. Davey catches another and hits a kneecrusher- Kid tries a crab but Furnas immediately clotheslines him and he tags out- yeah, he’s DEFINITELY hurt- he’s only hitting a single move at a time before leaving the ring again. Furnas backflip dropkick gets two. Kroffat’s cross-body is rolled through, and Kid hits a Superplex, but is too hurt to capitalize! Furnas hauls Davey Boy down into a Texas Cloverleaf, and Kroffat’s German gets two- Kid saves. Davey’s crucifix gets two, and Kid hits a legdrop- Kroffat hits him with a lariat and a belly-to-belly for two- great technique. Kid escapes, and Davey takes a suplex & Flying Splash for two. Double-shoulderblock, but Kroffat puts his head down and gets caught- Kid’s falling headbutt misses and Kroffat hits a TIGER DRIVER for two! Kid recovers quick, but is backdropped out and sidekicked, so Kroffat goes for a suplex to bring him in- Kid lands behind him, they switch a couple times, and Kid hits a very soft Backdrop Suplex Hold for the pin (17:50).
This had a lot of fun “Can You Top This?” power spots with Davey & Furnas to start, with both guys looking great, and making the most of spreading a few simple moves out over several minutes. Kid threw off the match dynamic thanks to his injuries, though, as it was clear he was just hitting a single move and then escaping most of the time, leaving Davey to do EVERYTHING right until the end. The finish came pretty well out of nowhere, though fit the “Stampede Style”, as the Harts kinda did stuff like that, too- the “switches from the suplex back into the ring” is classic stuff for them.
Rating: ***1/2 (solid match with some good counters and fun spots, but Kid’s weirdness held it back a bit. Even he was taking bumps by the end, however)
THE ISLANDERS (Haku, Tama & “High Chief” Afi) vs. OUTBACK JACK, BRADY BOONE & STEVE BLACKMAN:
* Yes, STEVE BLACKMAN. Way in his early days as a WWF jobber, despite being ripped and built even back then. Boone is similarly-built by a dwarf so he’s a high-quality jobber from this period, and Outback Jack is the famously-failed Midcarder swiftly turned into a jobber once it was clear he sucked. And in something I missed entirely (I wasn’t watching at this point), Bobby Heenan announces a THIRD Islander, with jobber Siva Afi turned into “High Chief” Afi. The fans in the comments seem to indicate that he was clearly a jobber only weeks ago, so this probably failed quickly. Haku & Tama are in black, while Afi’s in Jimmy Snuka’s undies with tattoos all over his legs and abdomen- talk about committing to the gimmick! Jack’s in his Aussie jeans and yellow boots, Boone’s in green, and Blackman’s in black.
Shockingly, this parade of jobbers actually FIGHTS OFF the Islanders, slugging them to the outside of the ring. Jack does okay against Tama, but Tama & Afi double-chop Blackman. Boone hits some big offense at great speeds, flying into the corner with a missed charge. Haku destroys him with an elbow, Tama uses a flying axehandle, and a double-headbutt keeps on him. Heenan responds to the “Weasel!” chants by covering his ears like a good heel, and Boone takes a further beating- Haku forces a tag to Blackman and chops & dropkicks him, then Jack gets crushed with double-teams. Tama misses an elbow and Boone flies in with a back elbow, but Tama smartly stuffs him in the corner to “extinguish the house of fire”- Ventura marks out for that. Haku beats on him and they hit the big Backdrop Suplex/Flying Splash for the easy three at (5:52).
Pretty high-tempo jobber match, with Boone taking the lion’s share since he’s clearly the best and fastest of the guys- the other two only did green brawling. Despite Afi getting all that ink, this run failed- fans recognized him as a jobber and Tama soon left the WWF, leaving Haku to be repackaged as “King Haku” and a singles midcarder- Afi was done very quickly after that. He wrestled a bit more, then did 11 years for kidnapping & being a getaway driver.
Rating: *3/4 (not bad by Jobber match standards)
THE NEW ROCKERS (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy) vs. THE HARDY BOYS (Matt & Jeff Hardy):
* YES THIS HAPPENED. So it’s Marty getting re-hired for one of his ten WWF runs, now paired with Al Snow (a guy they tried repeatedly with for ages) as a team that is meant to evoke a great tag team from the Hogan Era… but is inexplicably just a pair of heel dorks who are obsessed with the ’70s. In their neon ’80s gear. The New Generation was lame, okay? And this is Matt & Jeff Hardy, still WWF Jobbers. Matt’s in blue trunks and Jeff’s in flared pink pants, while the Rockers are in black singlets with neon yellow “X” symbols on them.
Leif, “the dorkier of the two” according to Vince, shakes hands to start along with Marty, but boots down Matt and they New Rockers bring in Jeff with a double-suplex from the apron, then toss him into Matt, who backdrops him out the ring! Okay that was a hell of a bump (and why the Hardys always seemed to have jobs and an inevitable push waiting for them), even if it makes no sense (like, what the hell was Matt doing with that move?). Jeff just gets back on the apron, however, and Matt tags him in. Marty punches away then pulls his headband over the eyes and makes fun of him fighting blind. Assisted slingshot legdrop by Leif, then a belly-to-belly suplex. Punch/kneelift combo gets two, and they finish him with a weird Overthrow Powerbomb/Flying Facecrusher combo (1:34). Kinda looked mistimed and I dunno if they used that again.
Standard squash, but it was kinda sad watching once-great Marty reduced to “punchankick” style wrestling, and Leif kinda doing the same, then both doing comedy dances and goofy expressions. Like, I assume Vince was just amusing himself by depicting the two as total dorks (and knew Marty would flake out anyhow), but why put THAT in your struggling tag ranks? The Hardys got zero offense and were punched around and took a few good bumps.
Rating: 1/2* (standard squash that was 100% one-sided- good bump by Jeff there)