Mike Reviews – California Championship Wrestling (3rd August 1986)

Wow, I think even the SEGA Saturn had a more successful launch over here in the West than the European Super League did!

Brother brocore suggested this one in the comments a couple of weeks back so I decided to give it a go. I’m not sure on the exact date of this show, and I’m not sure the uploader even is either, with 3rd of August being a guess on their part. Dave Newman has already had a bash at reviewing a show from this company, and you can read what he thought of a show from June 1986 by clicking right HERE

I’m not entirely sure on the backstory of CCW, but this features Rocky Johnson and Jimmy Snuka, so it at least has some star power if nothing else.

Anyway, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling

You can watch along with me if you like by clicking right HERE

Taped from somewhere (California I’m guessing?)

Calling the action is Barry Richards

Following a reasonably swank intro, we join Barry Richards for the show run-down. All the CCW stars are here today!

Opening Match
Junior Maivia Vs The Golden Star

I have no idea who Golden Star is, but he’s announced as being from Mexico, so I think that rules out him being Kota Ibushi. Maivia was trained by Mando Guerrero, Toru Tanaka and Peter Maivia Sr (Hence why this Maivia is known as Junior I guess). He gets the music from the climactic boxing scene from Rocky IV as his entrance theme.

Golden Star jumps Maivia before he even gets in the ring, which leads to Maivia making a comeback with arm drags, which is something you often see in bar brawls all over the country. Maivia is doing a Snuka styled gimmick, complete with bare feet, and Richards says that he is a Superfly protégé on commentary.

Golden Star actually gets his share of offence in at points here, and it’s not a terrible match or anything but you can tell that neither guy is especially polished. Considering that Maivia was five years into his career at this stage it’s a bit troubling to see just how “meh” he really is here. Don’t get me wrong, he knows what he’s doing in there and can bump/sell as required, but his work lacks any real kind of snap, which you’d think he would have developed by this stage.

Golden Star sells well and his offence isn’t bad, but he’s not especially exciting either. It’s quite a scrappy affair in general actually, which works to some degree as it looks like they are actually trying to fight with one another, but it doesn’t really tell much of a story as a match either. They’re kind of just sloppily trying to put holds on one another, and having so much trouble to beat a scrub like this doesn’t really playing into the idea that Maivia is this superstar in the making like Richards is making out. He eventually gets a less than impressive second rope cross body block for the win.

WINNER: PETER MAIVIA
RATING: *1/2

Both men looked like they had just graduated from wrestling school that week, having a super scrappy match on the mat before ending it with the first “high risk” move you’re ever taught. Not bad, but not much to it either

We get a slow-motion recap of the devastating second rope cross body, as Maivia probably could have gotten more height just doing a normal one for all the good that second rope boost did.

Match Two
Billy Anderson Vs Rocky Johnson

There are two Billy Anderson’s on CageMatch (Not unlike Andy Goram) and I’m not sure either of them are this particular Billy Anderson so I’ll refrain from commenting. Johnson is the father of The Rock and was also one of the first African American to hold a major Title in the WWF I believe when he and Tony Atlas defeated The Samoans for the tag belts. He enters to “Soul Man” and looks like a star even though he was probably past his peak at this stage in his career.

Joe Palumbo (No relation to Chuck I believe) came out with Rocky during his entrance and is a former boxer according to Richards. He leaves once the match starts though. Rocky has plenty of charisma and has a far better idea of how to make himself look good than Maivia did in the opener, so this is more of an entertaining match as a result. Anderson bumps around pretty well for Rocky too and is happy to stooge around to make Rocky look good.

Rocky does some comedy spots to pop the crowd, and Anderson does a good job playing the foil for him. There’s an air of Eddie Guerrero’s cheating babyface act to Rocky actually, as he’s supposed to be a good guy but he isn’t above stomping on Anderson’s hands and giving him a few sly punches here and there when the opportunity presents itself. Anderson doesn’t really get much in the way of offence, with even things like hair pulling getting him very little. Rocky gets a lovely pair of dropkicks and then finishes Anderson off with a sunset flip.

WINNER: ROCKY JOHNSON
RATING: SQUASH

This was a fun squash, as Rocky was entertaining in his role of wily babyface veteran and Anderson knew exactly how to sell and bump for his offence to make him look good

We get some promo time from Johnson and Jimmy Snuka, and they’re both happy to be in CCW and will be teaming up down the line. They’ll take on anybody, even if they’re 400 pounds. Billy Graham has apparently challenged Snuka to a match, and Snuka is up for that. This was a pretty generic promo, but it was decent enough.

Match Three
Victor Rivera and Jay Strongbow Jr Vs Professor Tanaka and Steve Strong w/ John Tolos

The ring announcer has had time to change into a different outfit during the advert break it seems. Rivera is a guy from Puerto Rico who apparently retired in 1984 according to CageMatch, so either I’ve got the wrong Rivera or their website needs updating! Strongbow is a pretty famous name in the wrestling world, with Jr’s dad being one of the most prominent Native American wrestling characters.

I’m not sure if the Strongbow’s were actually Indigenous People or if it was a work, as there have been instances of people faking their ethnicity when playing that role. If you know the answer then please feel free to share in the comments. I don’t mean to cast aspersions, but you can never be too sure in a business like wrestling.

Tanaka worked in movies and TV as well as wrestling, and was starting to wind down his career at this stage. Strong worked mostly in Stampede and WWC, but also had a brief run in WCW as The Minotaur. Tolos managed Mr. Perfect in the WWF for a bit but he had actually been a huge star prior to that, doing a famous angle where he blinded Freddie Blassie with powder.

The arena now seems to have completely changed, which makes me think they taped this from another venue. It’s a bit bigger than the one the other two matches were in. This breaks down right form the off, with Tolos even getting in some cheap shots for good measure. Rivera is soon bleeding as a result of Tolos’ closed fist punches, as the referee doesn’t seem remotely bothered that the manager is in the ring throwing punches. The ref takes a stray punch for good measure and I guess we don’t get a match.

NO CONEST
RATING: N/A

This was more of an angle than a match, but it was effective in making the heel group look dangerous at least

The babyfaces rebound following that and fight back. In a funny moment Strongbow tries to suplex Tolos but Tolos clearly doesn’t want to take it and dead weights him, so Strongbow has to just give him a knee lift instead. Strongbow has also started bleeding at some point. Strong and Rivera are eventually left standing tall. That was good anarchic fun actually.

Match Four
Destroyin’ Samoan Vs Beartrap Smith

I sadly don’t have a clue who either of these guys are and can’t find any help via Mr. Google or Master. CageMatch, so answers on a postcard. We’re back in the previous venue now. Samoan is a big Samoan with face paint whilst Beartrap Smith is a big dude who looks like Hillbilly Jim and Giant Haystacks had their genes spliced together in some kind of bizarre experiment.

Smith gets taken down almost instantly with ease from the Samoan, which seems like a completely arse backward way of structuring a match with a big dude. You chop the tree down; you don’t just take them down with a single leg right at the bell. That’s Wrestling 101 stuff! Anyway, this allows Smith to lie around “selling” like a Snorlax lying in the road for a bit, sometimes not even registering Samoan’s attacks.

Eventually Samoan misses a head butt off the second rope, which allows Smith to heave himself up to his feet before following with a splash that even Big Daddy would have been ashamed of to pick up the three account. I mean, if you’re a big dude who doesn’t understand how to work as a big guy and can’t even do a splash properly, then what even is the point of you?

WINNER:
RATING: DUD

This was absolutely honking. I’d like to go the whole hog and rename the loser Apallin’ Samoan, but to be fair he had NOTHING to work with there and he could possibly be capable of having an okay match if he was in there with someone whose wrestling style didn’t mirror that of an overturned giant tortoise

Samoan attacks Smith post-match to get his heat back, even though he took ALL of the match before slipping up at the end, so I think he’s going to be okay. They smartly show the missed head butt as the replay instead of the terrible splash.

Main Event
The Steel Gladiator Vs Jimmy Snuka

Not a clue who Steel Gladiator is, but he looks a bit like if comedian Bill Bailey decided to take up a pro wrestling career and things went drastically wrong. Snuka will likely be known by all reading this, being that he was a huge star for the WWF in the early 80’s and was actually part of the first WrestleMania Main Event as a second for the team of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.

This one is all arm drags and pretty boring, with Gladiator getting a little bit of offence in when he gets to work over Snuka’s leg. Snuka shrugs that off though and goes to the trademark offence of chop, back breaker and top rope head butt for the three count.

WINNER: JIMMY SNUKA
RATING: SQUASH

Pretty boring by the numbers squash there

Gladiator actually gets straight up following that, which I’m surprised didn’t lead to Snuka putting a real beat down on him. You took some of his bigger moves lar, you need to actually sell that for a bit.

We get promo time from Joe Palumbo, who was apparently Welterweight Champ for four years. He targets manager Tux Newman, saying he’ll become a manager himself to offset him. He makes sure to get a plug in for his restaurant as well. Not much of a promo considering he was supposed to be talking for other guys in his role.

Snuka cuts another promo to close us out, where he thanks the fans.

Richards then interviews a kid in the crowd who has a Snuka doll. He doesn’t seem very happy to be interviewed. That was like pulling teeth for Richards and was so awkward it almost became funny.

In Conclusion

I enjoyed the Rocky Johnson match and liked the wild brawl in the tag match, but aside from that this was a pretty slapdash and dull show if I’m honest. I was hoping it would at least fall into the “so bad it becomes entertaining” category, but that didn’t happen.

If you’d like to get in touch to suggest shows to review, ask questions, share your love of those wonderful Royal Blue Toffees, or just generally chat the grapple game, then feel free to hit me up at [email protected]