Welcome back to more of wrestling’s most unexpected Dream Matches! This week: it’s 1992 SMW, as Brian Lee the would-be Southern babyface star takes on a green-ass Adam Bomb/Wrath/Brian Clarke in his “Nightstalker” identity! And remember Blitzkrieg in WCW? The skinny white guy who copied all the cool shit he saw from puro/lucha tapes (wait… does that make him the most influential wrestler in history?)? Well here he is against Psychosis! And last week I showed you PCO as “X” in NWA TNA, as he won an X Division Battle Royal in a big debut- here’s his follow-up match against Chris Sabin! And finally, we end things with a sequel to that RINGS match from two weeks ago- this is one of the most beloved “Shoot Style” matches of all time, as Volk Han takes on Kiyoshi Tamura! Puro mat-wrestling fans LOVE this one!
BRIAN LEE vs. THE NIGHTSTALKER:
(Smoky Mountain Wrestling, 1992 sometime?)
* Yes, it’s the ultimate Dream Match of CHAINZ vs. WRATH, bitches! This is from way, WAY early in the careers of both men, with Lee having 4 years to Brian Clarke’s 2. The Nightstalker was infamously bad at this point, to the extent that he looks like THAT and Vince McMahon still waited four years to bring him in. Dude was at least 6’4″ legit and incredibly jacked here, wearing black trunks and gloves. Lee looks pretty hilarious- he has big “Southern wrestler” vibe with the GIGANTIC mullet (even ’92 Crush would be embarrassed), plain black trunks, and bleach-blond hair. He has long, skinny arms & legs with a jobbery physique, so with his huge height he just looks like someone made a jobber version of one of those “growing dinosaurs” that gets bigger in water.
Lee jumps Nightstalker before the bell, beating his ass, clotheslining him over the top, and hitting a powerslam in the ring. The commentator gives a heaping pile of B.S. claiming both guys are 6’8″ and mentions Nightstalker weighing 307-370 lbs. over and over. Okay so every promotion does that, but still. Lee just eats the guy alive- Nightstalker only gets a single kick and some punches before he misses an elbowdrop and Lee takes over again. But some dude in a Grim Reaper hood (Rob Mayze, apparently- some nobody without a Wikipedia article) shows up and throws something into Lee’s eyes while the ref isn’t paying attention and that sets up the comeback. Nightstalker hits a really good dropkick (catching the 6’4″ Lee right in the face) for two, then a clothesline off the ropes, and starts beating him down at a slowly. Lee’s dumped, hits the post, and is suplexed back in, then takes the Bret Corner Bump and eats a BIG backdrop suplex, thrashing and bouncing around on the sell-job. Nightstalker goes up and hits the Flying Clothesline that’d be part of his moveset for years, but nails the ref in the process. He goes up again and Lee catches him with a Superplex- the Reaper grabs Lee from behind, but a quickly-recovered Nightstalker charges in and hits Reaper by accident, getting schoolboyed for the pin (5:54).
Okay I came here to snark, but Lee did a legitimately good job carrying the match and acting like a typical “Southern Wrassler” with his dropkicks and big selling, acting like a taser hit him off of some of these shots. Clarke didn’t come off so badly, but was clearly limited. He wisely kept to the basic shit that he knew how to do and didn’t go above his own speed or ability, which is important when you’re new and not very good- the only clue that he sucked here was that he tended to just stand around doing nothing in between moves, failing to draw in the fans.
Rating: ** (perfectly fine TV match, but pretty plodding at points- Clarke was very limited at this time)
X vs. CHRIS SABIN:
(NWA TNA, 26.11.03)
* And more of the fascinatingly-short history of “X”, as Carl Oulett’s two-month run in TNA continues, now in a solo match against the X Division’s rising star. X has apparently just lost an upset in a triangle match with Sonjay Dutt & Christopher Daniels, despite the Battle Royal win- given that was his second match in TNA, it’s a bit funny that Mike Tenay here has called him “dominant” until then. TNA has a dancing girl above their “Titantron” now, apparently. Because it’s 2003, both guys are in black.
X handily tosses and clobbers Sabin around, but he brutally misses with Jumping Demolition Axehandles, looking super-fake. Sabin uses speed to avoid attacks, hitting a dropkick and rana from the apron into the ring, but X cartwheels out of a monkey flip and hits a chokeslam into a sit-out powerbomb. The crowd is dead as he hits a clothesline after ignoring some corner whips, then hangs Sabin over the top rope for that phony-looking “the guy clearly holds himself up so he can dangle” move, hitting a flying legdrop to the back of Sabin’s head from there. Sabin fights up from being stretched out, then kicks X off the apron and hits a Tope Con Hilo! Springboard wheel kick back in the ring gets two. Sabin avoids the Package Piledriver that finished him in the battle royal, but gets powerbombed, and X shows his identity by going up and hitting the Flying Cannonball. But instead of going for the pin, he makes a total moronic mistake by tossing Sabin to set him up for a SUICIDE version- and misses! That was a HUGE fucking bump by X, just flat-backing onto the ramp off the top rope! X is just DONE at this point, and Sabin rolls him back in for the fireman’s carry to Michinoku Driver for the finish (6:20).
This was a very “WWF Superstars Feature Match” kind of bout, where the heel gets some shine, but it’s still a short match with a quick come-from-behind win for the babyface. But still, that was a MONSTER bump from X- that looked great. His “All Big Moves” style showed its flaws here, as there was little holding the match together, but it was solid enough. This ended up being X’s second-last match in TNA, as he defeats Ron Harris and then vanishes as quickly as he came in. It’s super, super weird, really- he got all that hype in the battle royal and is now “Mantaur”ed out? Did he just up and quit or something? Unless that cannonball hurt as bad as it looked.
Rating: **1/2 (solid TV match with plenty of big offense)
PSYCHOSIS vs. BLITZKRIEG:
(WCW Saturday Night, 05.08.1999)
* Blitzkrieg was much talked about at this point in time- a guy who came in, raised a bunch of eyebrows, then left the business forever before we could ever see what became of him. I hear he went into I.T. and figured that was better than getting concussions every month, I dunno- I guess it was actually nursing. In retrospect he was a lot of flash without much meaning behind it, but in 1999 we liked our flippy stuff and he was one of the best at flipping around. He’s in a black bodysuit with silver & red bits like lightning bolts and a “Power Rangers” chestpiece. Psychosis is in black, white & red.
Psychosis leads Blitzkrieg through an armbar sequence but gets put on the floor, then Blitz snapmares him over after another one. He flips off the middle rope and misses a spinkick, eating the spinning wheel kick from Psychosis on the follow-through. Long chinlock leads to a rana from Blitzkrieg for two (veteran Psychosis flips over even though the legs are on the same side of his head, so Blitz doesn’t look stupid) , but he gets bowled over. Blitzkrieg backflips off the top this time, but eats a hiptoss- finally, he dropkicks Psychosis to the floor and hits an AMAZING Tope Con Hilo, sailing all the way past the floor mats! But back in, he takes WCW’s favorite counter- the dropkick-to-a-flying-opponent. That gets two, but Blitzkrieg gets a running backflip off Psychosis’s chest into a dropkick, then a handspring back elbow! But he goes for a superplex, and Psychosis just front suplexes him right off the top, and the kid spins into position while selling… Guillotine Legdrop! That’s the finish at (6:06)- Psychosis wins.
I came out of this with a lot of respect for Psychosis as a “match leader”, as you can see him very clearly giving instructions, feeding the rookie limbs, and setting himself up for counters. As Blitz was so, SO new at this point, he needed that. Though the match itself was very “Spot-stall-spot” because of that same effect- Blitz had the flash, but nothing to put it all together just yet. That kind of fit the story, though, as Blitz only really had those kinds of moves, and going for one too many (the superplex) cost him the win.
Rating: **1/2 (some good flashy stuff for a six-minute match, but not a lot of meat to it)
MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 1996:
VOLK HAN vs. KIYOSHI TAMURA:
(Fighting Network RINGS, 22.01.1997)
* This is one of the more famous RINGS matches, with blue-clad Volk Han now super-popular and credible (we see clips here of him defeating a ton of guys by tap-out). Tamura was one of the big homegrown Japanese stars of UWF-I, and joined RINGS once that promotion had closed- he was trained by Lou Thesz, Billy Robinson & Akira Maeda, and went on to MMA for Pride. Judging by his record, he beats everyone I’ve never heard of, and loses to anybody I have. Contrasting Han’s blue tights, Tamura’s in red trunks with kickpads. Man, this dude has some really prominent, puffy lips. Between that and his hairless, muscular physique, he looks like something out of gay porn. I mean, I bet! Again, the RINGS scoring system is weird, but it’s different again here- if you use the ropes to break, your opponent gets a point. And if they knock you down, you have till the count of ten to get up (standard pre-UFC rules in fake MMA), which will give them two points. Ten points here and you win.
Tamura does a dramatic forward roll to get out of having his wrists crossed, and Volk takes him to the ground in an armlock, then sorta cloverleafs the legs when Tamura spins out of it. Tamura keeps rolling outta stuff and goes for a cross-armbreaker, but Volk stands up and fishes for a leghook. He slowly falls back and Tamura takes control, but they’re in the ropes and are stood up. They switch to strikes, Tamura throwing some good shoot-style kicks but getting his foot caught, trying a spinning reverse enzuigiri in a funny bit considering these were matches billed as “real”, at which point Volk grabs him from behind but Tamura tries the forward-roll-to-head & leg-hold thing that Goldberg used to do in WCW- but Volk just skips right out of it… and Tamura kips up! Hah! Tamura gets a mount, but can’t get anything going and Volk ties his legs up in a deathlock-style position (but with his own legs tied around it), leading to a dramatic struggle, and Tamura grabs a free leg and ties him up with the Heel Hook Ankle Lock until Volk spins out! He ties up Tamura’s own ankle while his free leg actually pushes Tamura back and keeps him from breaking it up (you see Tamura desperately try to sit up but his own leg is in his way because of Volk’s hold), but Tamura gets up into a standing position and they’re in a knot.
Neither can get anything going- Volk’s cross-armbreaker and kimura attempts are stuffed, and Tamura fights for his own cross-armbreaker… and gets it! He breaks Volk’s hand-clutch block! Volk uses a ropebreak (Tamura: 1/10) to get free, and they regroup to stand-up- Tamura flies in with a knee, but Volk blocks and gets a light ax kick. Tamura staggers him with leg kicks until Volk has to stuff him in the ropes to halt it. Volk looks slowed as he wildly misses an uraken, and Tamura takes him down, only for both to work leg stuff until Volk grabs the cloverleaf again! Tamura uses a ropebreak (Volk: 1/10) but comes back with a BIG surge of kicks and slaps until Volk takes him down with an armhold. He nearly gets a kimura again but Tamura rolls free. A tired-looking Volk takes three more kicks and they tumble to the mat again, nothing much of note happening until Tamura octopuses his way into another cross-armbreaker! Volk uses the ropes (Tamura: 2/10), but snaps on a choke with bodyscissors until Tamura does the same (Volk: 2/10). Tamura looks tired, but scores a weak kick that Volk is like “…” to, and a front boot to the chest puts him down! Crowd freaks out as Volk fights up at “8” (Tamura: 4/10), but makes his patented “late-game comeback” and cloverleafs Tamura again- ropebreak! (Volk: 3/10). Volk comes at him again, and actually weathers several powerful Tamura kicks, using them to work his way in and take him down with a leglock, wrapping his legs around Tamura’s thigh for… the tap-out (12:36)!! Volk Han wins!!
Very good “shoot-style” match- this is apparently considered one of the best of that style, and for good reason- Volk is like a lamprey in there, just attaching himself and wrapping around limbs every time he gets a chance. Tamura came off as flashy and athletic- in real life, you can’t just beat judo by randomly spinning around but here you can, so it works! It’s interesting how they fake shoot fights- you see guys go for these big submissions and it’s a dramatic struggle, but all you need is a big side-roll and the other dude loses his grip. There’s stuff like Volk nearly getting a kimura but Tamura just kinda “leans upwards” and Volk’s grip magically breaks- stuff like that.
I think I got some of the tactics & psychology, as Tamura had the athleticism and strikes, while Volk got worn down and had to weather the storm and dive in, picking his spots- he did things like stuffing Tamura in the ropes to stop strikes, or just eating a bunch to get his final leglock. You could see them kinda “rest”, but not in the typical “you sit on them and wait a minute” thing, but like… both would get tired and find themselves in a tangle they couldn’t get out of. Save for a couple of slow bits, the match was almost constant movement- since these bouts rarely go long, guys can go all-out a lot more.
Rating: ***1/2 (I… I mean, I liked it! It was very good for that style! But I also have no conception of this style, really, and the scoring system isn’t quite my thing- though it seems largely there just to feed comebacks from a fighter who’s “behind”)