What the World Was Watching: SMW Thanksgiving Thunder ’95 (Johnson City)

This show took place at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee on November 25, 1995.  It drew a crowd of 550 fans, a decline from the 800 fans who attended the Halloween Scream card there on October 28.  Footage of the show is provided by a fan recording.

Ring announcer Tommy Noe tells fans that Terry Gordy has a concussion and cannot compete, covering up for Gordy’s inability to show due to a prior commitment in Japan.

Buddy Landel walks into the ring and tells fans that Jos LeDuc has no showed because of a family issue.  Landel says that he is willing to face Tommy Rich and the Punisher in a handicap match until Commissioner Bob Armstrong comes out and says he will help Landel find a partner.

Opening Contest:  Flash Flanagan (4-0) beats Thrasher (w/Mosh) (0-2) with a backslide at 15:41:

These two faced off earlier in the day on Smoky Mountain Television.  It takes ten minutes before there is sustained action between the two, with Thrasher using a distraction from Mosh to seize the advantage.  A powerslam gets a near-fall and then Thrasher makes the mistake of pulling Flanagan off the canvas following a super hurricanrana.  Flanagan makes a fiery comeback, flattening Mosh with a pescado and ending the match by springboarding off the ropes and trapping his opponent with a backslide to remain undefeated.  The lack of sustained action hurt the match, but the right guy went over.  Rating:  *

Sergeant Rock (w/Jim Cornette) (1-0) pins the Wolfman (1-7) after a DDT at 3:02:

To maintain the illusion that Rock can beat up a man three times her size several gimmicks are employed.  Cornette distracts the Wolfman before the opening bell, allowing Rock to seize the advantage, and then powder is tossed in the longtime jobber’s eyes.  A blind charge sparks a Wolfman rally, which includes him being Rock over his knee and spanking her.  Cornette hops on the apron after that, allowing Rock to hit the Wolfman with a low blow and pin him after a DDT.  Like the opener, this one lacked action.  Rating:  ½*

Brad Armstrong is announced as the new SMW Champion, having won the title from Terry Gordy in Knoxville two nights ago.  Armstrong is brought out to announce him as a forfeit winner over Gordy, but Cornette and Tommy Rich crash the segment.  Rich offers to take Gordy’s spot in the title match, which Armstrong accepts.

SMW Championship Match:  Tommy Rich (w/Jim Cornette) (6-5) beats Brad Armstrong (Champion) (15-1) after using a foreign object to win the title at 19:28 shown:

Rich and Armstrong kill a lot of time with armbars and other submission moves, giving the impression that the match is headed for a time limit draw.  Just when it seems the match might have some life in it after Armstrong surprises Rich with a sunset flip with a near-fall, the challenger applies a long bearhug.  Armstrong makes the token babyface comeback moments later, only to have Rich get a chain from Cornette, use it, and return the SMW Championship to Cornette’s Militia.  The outcome ends a four-match losing streak for Rich in singles competition.  This could have been a much better match but was ruined by Rich regularly stalling things out.  Rating:  *

Butch Cassidy defeats Jim Cornette (w/Sergeant Rock) (1-1) via disqualification after Rock interferes at 16:45:

Cassidy was a veteran talent in the mini wrestler ranks, working for the WWF in the 1970s and 1980s in a jobber capacity Madison Square Garden shows.  According to Cornette, he booked this feud because SMW fans had seen him in all kinds of angles except for one involving a smaller wrestler.  In a nice touch, Cornette comes out to Randy Newman’s “Short People.”  Since Cornette is more than willing to make himself look foolish the first half of the match works, utilizing traditional mini spots like Cornette kicking out of pinfalls only to send Cassidy into referee Mark Curtis’ lap, who in turn throws Cassidy back onto Cornette for another pin spot.  The highlight of the bout is Cornette pushing Curtis to the canvas, so Curtis has enough and dropkicks Cornette to the floor.  Everything slows down after that, with Rock interfering and Cornette getting a long heat segment.  Cassidy rallies and plants Cornette with a suplex, but Rock charges into the ring for a disqualification.  Sixteen minutes for THAT finish?  If this match was booked to go seven minutes it would have been better, but fans enjoyed most of it and it speaks to how sad this show has been that it has match of the night honors so far.  Rating:  *½

After the bell, the Wolfman charges into the ring to make the save after Rock and Cornette beat up Cassidy and Curtis.

Brad Armstrong Serves as Special Lumberjack Match:  Buddy Landel & Bob Armstrong defeat Tommy Rich & the Punisher (1-1) (w/Jim Cornette & Sergeant Rock) when Landel pins the Punisher after a corkscrew elbow drop at 16:32 shown:

Armstrong wrestles under a mask as “the Bullet” for the match and his son, Brad, takes his spot as the special lumberjack, walking around ringside with a baseball bat.  The heels are on the defensive of the first nine minutes, unable to figure out how to handle Landel or Bob until Landel misses a blind charge into the corner.  Landel scores some fluke pins but the referee is always distracted and out of position.  There is a great tease for the hot tag where Landel appears to have tossed the Punisher to the floor, only to have the Punisher skin the cat back into the ring and stop Landel a few feet from the babyface corner.  Bob does receive the hot tag and the babyfaces clear the ring, allowing Landel to hit a corkscrew elbow drop for the finish.  The match sustained good heat and was a good run through the usual tag team formula.  Rating:  **½

Following the match, Rich and the Punisher beat up their foes, spiking Bob with a piledriver.  Eventually, Brad is able to make the save and Rich ends up going through the ringside announce table after the effort.

The THUGS come to the ring with their mystery partner, who is covered by a black sheet.  Cornette nails the man with his tennis racquet, who is revealed as Flash Flanagan.  However, that is not who the THUGS are choosing as their partner as Ricky Morton charges the ring to join the THUGS for the main event.

The THUGS & Ricky Morton wrestle the Heavenly Bodies & Robert Gibson (w/Jim Cornette) to a double disqualification:

Morton and Tracy Smothers play up their real-life dissension a few minutes into the match when they miscommunicate on a spot and tease fighting each other, only to turn their heat back on the Bodies and drive them from the ring.  Tracy Smothers is placed in peril by the heels and then my copy of the fan cam footage goes out.  According to arena reports, the heels worked Smothers over for a good while until the hot tag, after which the two teams got into a wild brawl that resulted in a double disqualification.  Due to the recording issues, I cannot give this a rating.  The crowd was into it, though, and loved the Morton reveal.

The Last Word:  Running a double disqualification in the main event is ridiculous.  Either allow the THUGS to go over the Bodies in a non-title match to set up a bigger blowoff later or allow Robert Gibson to score a cheap pin over Ricky Morton to heat that feud up.  All of that assumes the company was going to continue, though.  And since the company was only going to last for one more show there would not have been a harm in anyone losing.  The last two matches were on a good track to save the show after a disastrous undercard and make up for several no-shows.  The fact that the SMW Championship was booked in the middle of the card also shows how little that title has been valued by the promotion during the calendar year.

Up Next:  Thanksgiving Thunder 1995 from Cookeville, Tennessee!