Macho Man Squashing Steve Austin (and other Dream Matches!)

Jimmy Del Ray (Graffiti) last TV match: vs Dean Malenko, WCW Monday Nitro  09.12.1996 - video Dailymotion

The legendary Jimmy Graffiti, the finest gimmick of “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray.

This week in the “Dream Matches”, here’s the most disappointing match between two all-time great workers possible! Plus Shawn Michaels trying to crawl up the WWF card in 1992 against the Texas Tornado! One of those matches only WCW could have, featuring Jimmy Del Ray as a rebellious young street tagger and Prince Nakamaki in a cheap Tiger Mask outfit! Oh, and New Japan legendary asshole Shinjiro Otani fights Jerry Lynn in his Luchadore/Power Rangers ripoff gear!

(WCW Saturday Night, 27.05.1995)
* Yes, an ultra-rare meeting between two of the greatest stars in the history of the business… passing like two ships in the night because Austin’s about to get dumped. “Stunning Steve” has a terrible receding hairline, wispy blond hair, black trunks & leather jacket, and no goatee, while Savage is in full Mega Powers colors, but with Slim Jim décor on his cowboy outfit. The winner of the match will face the winner of Ric Flair & Alex Wright. And before you get too excited and search this out, the YouTube video is only 7 minutes long and half of it’s pre-match bullshit.

Austin pokes the bear with a slap to start, and eats a back elbow and gets choked over the ropes for it. Austin goes to the eyes and brawls, but misses a flying splash (?!?) and Savage rams him into the Slim Jim post coverings (those don’t look painful at all) and the guardrail, then finishes with the Flying Elbow in the ring at (2:19). Haha, jesus christ.

Rating: * (TWO MINUTES. That’s all it got. Nice moves, as Austin was very smooth back in the day, but TWO MINUTES)

(July 17th 1992)
* It’s hard for me to equate even early “HBK” Shawn with the Tornado, but they indeed overlapped for a good chunk of time, as Kerry floundered in early 1992 while Shawn was getting his footing as a new cocky heel. Shawn’s in his white & red (which he kept for a long time), and Kerry’s in white. Gorilla hilariously gets all worked up over Sherri’s tattoo “right on the BREAST”, insisting the handheld camera guy get a closer look at it while Lord Alfred Hayes suggest “I don’t look at her quite the same way YOU do” (“Obviously NOT”). Shawn gets off looking at his own reflection in the mirror to a few whistles, and Kerry just gives that big handsome dumb-guy grin and doffs his own jacket to an even bigger reaction, which is terrific. Gorilla suggests Sherri is a “wench” and asks Hayes if that’s the proper term in his homeland, to which Hayes describes the categories- “There’s TARTS… there’s TROLLOPS… there’s maidens and there’s young maidens”, but cops to Sherri being the last one. These guys are fucking amazing, lol.

Shawn throws punches to start, but Kerry smashes him into the turnbuckles, setting Shawn off for the mirror to check his face- okay, that’s pretty good. Shawn gets cocky after a simple sequence and gets clotheslined way over the top. Kerry gets sick of Shawn AGAIN stalling and chases him out there, then gets into a tug of war with Sherri, letting Shawn go and knocking her on her ass as a result. Shawn takes some more punishment but gets his foot up in the corner and chokes away, Sherri adding a choke of her own, then ducks- Kerry leapfrogs him (barely), but turns around right into the “reverse thrust kick” (the early model of Sweet Chin Music). Shawn poses too much and gets slugged for it, then Tornado grabs Sherri and catches Shawn sneaking up behind him- THE CLAW~~!! Shawn actually goes over the ropes and is dragged back in, but Sherri grabs his tights and bareasses him over the second rope and to the outside, breaking the mirror, but sending Kerry into the post and to the outside as well! So Shawn is hurt, but Sherri is big & strong enough to throw him back in, and Shawn wins by Count-Out at (6:44).

Pretty funny comedy match, largely based around Shawn’s buffoonery and Kerry one-upping him. Like, the majority of it was stalling, and Kerry’s stuff was suuuuuper simple. But Shawn bumped like a man trying to prove his worth (and hey, it worked- he’s IC Champ within a few months of this). Kind of curious to see Kerry so close to being gone, but Shawn still unable to get a clean win over him.

Rating: ** (not much to it, but solid comedy)

* Haha, oh my god it’s… wait, I clicked on this thinking it was indie legend “ANY DAY NOW he’s hitting the big time” legend Cheetah Master, but nope- it’s Prince Iaukea in a Tiger Mask-ripoff getup. Okay that’s pretty awesome as an idea for a gimmick, though. But it’s still “Charisma is My Dump Stat” Iaukea out there. I mean, he sucked as a character when he could use his FACE to connect with the crowd- what chance does he have with the mask on? Oh yeah, and that’s an old name Rocco Rock used to have. And yes, and this is a dual “guy better known by another name” match, as Jimmy Graffiti is of course “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray, in the only gimmick more unbelievable from him than a man people pay for sex- a rebellious street tagger.

Also I can’t help but point out that the “Cheetah” Kid is CLEARLY WEARING STRIPES.

And Jimmy Graffiti is wearing gear that says his surname all over it… but Graffiti is SPELLED WRONG. It just says “GRAFITI” over and over again!

Graffiti throws punches to start, but Cheetah Kid manages to clumsily jump into the corner off a whip and hit a flying bodypress for two. I mean, he made it, but that was slow-motion. But then, I watch Joshi- Manami Toyota makes him look like King Kong Bundy out there. Cheetah Kid reverses a backslide by flipping onto his feet but eats a clothesline. Back elbow and slingshot punchy-thing to the apron keep up the punishment, but Cheetah Kid reverses a whip and hits a dropkick. He tries it a second time and Graffiti grabs the ropes to avoid it, hits a vertical suplex, then finishes with a Flying Cannonball at (2:40). Yup- standard Jobber Match, save a tiny bit of offense for the Kid to pretend like it was competitive. As it was Graffiti’s second match in WCW and he was a JTTS, this was a match to pretend that he was really a featured guy so it’d mean more when he jobs to all the top  Cruiserweights.

Rating: 1/2* (basic, short Jobber Match pretending to be competitive)

SHINJIRO OTANI (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. MR. JL:
(WCW Pro Wrestling, Dec. 30th 1995)
* Called “Sheer Otani” by the announcer and “Ootani” by the match graphic, it’s the first-ever WCW Cruiserweight Champion and Japanese legend Otani fighting Jerry Lynn in a doofy Power Rangers costume! I believe the story here is that Lynn saw “Power Rangers” and was like “Hey WCW, here’s me in a Power Rangers costume” and they were like “Hey, a weak-ass gimmick that’s a Copywrite Infringement Case waiting to happen- you sure do know what we like!” and so he was now a Cruiserweight in the company… but they forgot to ever push him so any crossover appeal was lost. So he looks like a Purple Ranger (ooh, clever! There WAS no such thing at that time!), but with kind of a Rey Mysterio mask, but his eyes are blacked out. I dunno, it’s actually kinda cool. Except his name is “Mr. JL”, as if to say “we in no way want anyone to cheer for this guy. Otani is in his black undies, as always.

ugh, oh god- Larry Zbyszko is on commentary and OF COURSE he has to make sure he dives in on how much these high-fliers fucking suck because mat technicians can always catch them. FUCK YOU, Larry Zbyszko! I’m sooooo happy your lasting legacy in this business was Chris Jericho taking a chunk out of his Autobiography to make sure every fan knew that the wrestlers considered you a selfish prick who tried to get himself over at the expense of the talent! Okay so he gives Otani props since “anyone from Japan” is gonna be good at that. But then he goes and buries another wrestler, saying JL’s high-flying “might work on a guy like JOEY MAGGS, but…”. WHO DISSES JOEY MAGGS?!?

Otani & JL trade shots, but Otani soon controls and smugly stands on JL’s head in between yanking on the mask- dude is a DICK. JL uses corner kicks to come back, runs into a boot, but then hits a dropkick in the corner to stagger Otani. Front suplex gets two. Otani manages a spinkick to put JL on the floor, then follows with a springboard plancha (not a great one, but still). Back in, a Springboard Missile Dropkick (one of his higher-end moves) gets two, shocking him, and he climbs again, getting dropkicked off so JL can hit a plancha. Back in, a stumbly Ligerbomb gets two for JL. He takes an eternity going up, actually slipping and falling off (he sells it as being dazed, and he’s been off-balance for a bit), before leaping off right into a powerbomb. Otani does a taunt and hits a Dragon Suplex for the pin (5:20).

Haha, so what they did here was an “All the big moves” version of Cruiserweight wrestling- the kind of stuff that was mind-blowing for the time, but now just seems like a collection of big moves all strung together without much of a “beginning” portion to the match. Like a guy would hit a move, then get caught by another big move, then THAT guy would get caught, etc. But hey, it’s WCW Pro. Jerry Lynn seemed fairly unpracticed in this role, like he knew some big moves, but wasn’t quite athletic enough to pull them off- he ended up being a lot better as a match-planner and power move hitter than with some of this flashier stuff- he was the glue for all the stuntmen he wrestled. And… I can’t quite tell if the stumbling was deliberate or not- maybe JL bonked his head on the plancha or something.

Rating: **1/4 (okay enough TV match, but just a bunch of stuff strung together as every move became a big one)