The height difference here is nuts. Like, Fred Ottman must always fight dudes of equal height because I completely forget sometimes that he DWARFS even men as big as Hawk.
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time, I found an AMAZINGLY fun Hoss Match from Japan as the Natural Disasters go up against the Legion of Doom… with their “Iron Man” theme and incredible overness in Japan! That and Earthquake’s sumo credibility make for an incredibly fun bout.
And I found a great grab-bag of weird stuff for the column today: Did you know that when the Truth Commission split up, Bull Buchanan and the other guy were paired up for a couple of weeks as a team before being sent away and repackaged? Yup- come see “Armageddon” take on The Quebecers! Also my “Best of Roadblock” series continues as he’s set up against a pissed-off, lethal Giant! More of Jimmy Del Ray’s weird run as “Jimmy Graffiti” as he takes on Eddie Guerrero during Eddie’s early babyface push! And we cap off with Al Snow and a very young, green Kane as “Unabom” up against… Matt Hardy and Joey Abs? God SMW was weird.
WWF TAG TEAM TITLES:
THE LEGION OF DOOM (Hawk & Animal) vs. THE NATURAL DISASTERS (Earthquake & Typhoon, w/ Jimmy Hart):
(SWS/WWF in Japan, 12/12/1991)
* Okay, this is a fantastic one I saw split up in two on YouTube. The Road Warriors are of course famous in Japan and here come out to their old-school theme, “Iron Man”, and HOLY SHIT is that a massive game-changer to their act. Even with the cartoon WWF red & black spikes it’s a totally different effect, as awesome as their WWF music was- this was BORN to be a wrestling theme. Earthquake is of course known and respected in Japan as a former sumo (undefeated but quit over injuries and cultural rules and such)- he’s billed “Earthquake” John Tenta here. Right away I’m astounded as the two teams square up and even Typhoon is MUCH larger than either man. Like, Hawk & Animal ain’t small but Ottman has a couple inches on either one. This is in two parts on YouTube.
There’s a shoving match before the bell, so Hebner just calls for the start and everyone brawls outside. Animal pastes Quake with chairshots, so a furious Tenta just shreds a table in rage and takes a swing with a chair of his own- he misses and Animal clobbers him again. They finally lock up in the ring with Typhoon/Hawk, but grapples go nowhere and then Animal press-slams Hawk INTO Typhoon, who just catches him to the blown minds of the crowd (what’s Japanese for “HOLY FUCK!”?)- Animal dropkicks them over to be awesome. Earthquake comes in to clobber Animal, but he shouldertackles Typhoon instead (inadvertent FAT MAN STAND-OFF!) and Hawk knocks the Disasters over with a Flying Double-Shoulderblock! And then, in the greatest spot in recorded history, Tenta comes in and goes into a SUMO STANCE (complete with stomps!), demanding Animal come at him. So Animal looks around and friggin’ MIRRORS HIM- crowd marks the fuck out as they collide. And again! Animal is stunned after the second, and goes down to a running tackle, but ducks a clothesline and hits a jumping one of his own to bring the big man down! Double-clothesline spot and they’re both down!
They tag out and Typhoon choke-lifts Hawk, impressing the crowd (you do NOT see the Road Warriors getting manhandled on their Japanese tours like this), then he catches him on a cross-body and hits his backbreaker. Quake hits one of his own, then dumps Hawk like a sack of shit through a ringside table. Typhoon keeps up the punishment, but finally eats a boot trying an avalanche and Hawk plasters him down. Animal gets the hot tag but the Disasters double-team him to boos, leading to a BIG pop for a double-clothesline comeback! Quake still won’t leave, angering the fans, but Animal dodges an avalanche so TYPHOON takes the blow, then LOD charge in for a double-bodyslam on Quake, press-slam Jimmy out onto him on the floor, and hit Typhoon with a HUGE Double Backdrop Suplex. And then- oh, this is beautiful- Animal hoists Typhoon up in “Hart Attack” position instead of on his shoulders- DOOMSDAY DEVICE!!! That gets the pin at (9:13). Quake tosses a chair into the ring and a victorious Hawk just one-hands it- hee.
Fantastic Hoss Match, as everyone had their working boots on. The “meat” of the match was just headlocks and clubbering blows, but frequent tags by the heels kept the action seeming more wild than it really was, and they threw in all kinds of crowd-pleasing spots. Doing power shit on the LOD popped the fans big-time, and that sumo spot was a thing of beauty. The improvised Doomsday Device was awesome, since like… nobody in the world is getting FRED OTTMAN up on their shoulders right? So they do a more minor version after a big double-team, thus getting the pin.
Rating: ***1/4 (simple, fun Hoss Match with a ton of great spots)
EDDIE GUERRERO vs. JIMMY GRAFFITI:
(WCW Saturday Night, Nov. 2nd1996)
* Here’s that weird era of “Bland Babyface Eddie Guerrero”, as WCW uses him as a generic mulletted guy in a white & red singlet- it’s so odd seeing him smiling politely and slapping hands with the fans knowing how his entertainly-dishonest jerkwad character was what got him over. And of course here’s Jimmy Del Ray, with his hat turned around backwards in the ultimate “Greetings, Fellow Kids” fashion. Eddie’s in the midst of a feud with DDP over the SuperBrawl ring.
Graffiti wins a grapple and hits a front suplex, working the ribs that were injured by DDP (holy shit that is some serious irony right there). Backdrop suplex gets two and he throws shots to Eddie’s side in methodical fashion until Eddie reverses a whip and hits nine punches in the corner and a European uppercut. But the ribs are still killing him, so Graffiti shoulderblocks him there and throws him up for the “Eddie Bump”, which, naturally, ALSO targets them! Abdominal stretch keeps on the punishment, but Eddie hits a tilt-a-whirl headscissors to give himself a brief respite. Graffiti hits a legdrop for two, just coming right back, but goes up too early and misses a Flying Splash. And so Eddie just struggles to the top and hits the Frog Splash for the pin at (4:23). Real “gut-check” win as Dusty Rhodes says on commentary. Kinda disappointing in that both guys are great, but this was more about telling the story that Eddie’s hurt but has fighting spirit and such, as he does the borderline “Randy Savage Template” and hits a couple of moves after eating offense all match.
Rating: ** (okay match, I guess- just short and pretty one-sided without showing much from either guy)
Little did I realize that “The two guys on the Truth Commission who weren’t Kurrgan” briefly got repackaged as a tag team. Against two MORE guys you forgot were in the WWF at this point!
THE QUEBECERS (Jacques Rougeau & Pierre Carl Oulette) vs. ARMAGEDDON (Buchanan & Poirier):
(WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, April 25th 1998)
* Okay now this is a double-whammy of weirdness. So when Kurrgan was split off from the Truth Commission to be a solo wrestler, Jackal went with him, but Recon & Sniper stuck around for two appearances as “Armageddon”, now decked out in stereotypical indie wrestler gear (black & white gear with crosses on them) using their real surnames! So one is Bull Buchanan, 2-3 years into the business and still being pretty shitty before they repackaged him into like four different stables desperately trying to make anyone give a shit about him before they gave up (hilariously, he eventually left WWE for All Japan, where he went on to hold the same Tag Titles won by legends like Misawa, Kobashi & Kawada), while the other is Luc Poirier, who had been wrestling for like 14 years without a real shot outside of Memphis. And they’re taking on the Quebecers during their short time back with the WWF’s Attitude Era, wrestling in light blue singlets. They spent most of their time in house shows, but lasted a whole year almost- I only remember a couple appearances because they rarely made RAW.
Poirier starts with PCO, quickly getting driven into the corner and hit with a clothesline off Bret’s Rope. Poirier ducks a clothesline and hits two of his own- powerslam gets two, and Armageddon hit some weak double-teams for two. PCO’s out quickly and Jacques gets knocked down by Buchanan, but kips up (… Jacques can do a kip-up?). He does two more to show off and eats a clothesline for it, and Bull hits his awful standing side-kick, but crotches himself on the top rope trying another. The Quebecers drop him neck-first on the top rope- during a commercial break, they actually hit the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers’ finisher (a flying body attack into a guy being held in the air), but Bull reverses to a pin and ends up clotheslining both guys. Armageddon wrecks house and dumps Jacques, and hit a backdrop into a powerbomb of all things on PCO, getting two. Okay that’s a heck of a move- kinda weird it can’t even put away a Quebecer. But Jacques the veteran trips Bull and lures Poirier in, setting up the distraction for his team’s finisher- the Boston Crab/Quebec Jam for the win (5:27).
Some pretty decent moves and okay flow to the match, though Buchanan needed a LOT of seasoning- he was dumped to OVW to learn and came back only having one decent move (the run-up clothesline thing), and was a career “helper” to other wrestlers before he was gone. This marks Armageddon as nobodies, and they were gone after this.
Rating: **1/4 (good enough quick tag match)
Roadblock: When you’re 400 lbs. and still nobody wants to use you for real.
THE GIANT vs. ROADBLOCK:
(WCW Saturday Night, Sept. 2nd 1997)
* Oh man, poor Roadblock. This is part of why he was always in the “Rick Fuller Division”, despite being a total monster- WCW knew he was the shits, so they always trotted him out here to die against better monsters than he. The Giant is in his Andre single-strap singlet, while Roadblock’s all in black.
Roadblock attacks as soon as Giant stands on the apron, but the big guy just ignores him completely, beats his ass, and throws him into the corner. Big bodyslam (impressive on a 400-ish lb. guy) and Chokeslam finishes at (1:01). An absolute massacre, with the Giant no-selling his 6’7″ opponent like he was X-Pac.
Rating: DUD (though THIS is how you push your Monster Babyface guys- WCW was oddly always better at this than the WWF)
I love how it’s the guy on the bottom who was on the receiving end of a huge bidding war between the Big Two.
THE DYNAMIC DUO (Al Snow & Unabom) vs. MATT HARDY & JASON ARNDT:
(Smoky Mountain Wrestling, 06.07.1995)
* Here’s a wild and wacky tag match from the gym where SMW was held- A young Matt Hardy & Joey Abs vs. Al Snow and… that’s gotta be- that’s gotta be KANE! Yes, this is Glen “Kane” Jacobs, a green-ass rookie in the “farm league” of SMW, getting some experience until he’s ready for the WWF. And Booking 101: you have a big, shitty rookie and you desperately need him to get better, super-fast? You pair him up with a “Good Hand” veteran known for having good matches with anyone. This is back when Al Snow of all people was a highly-touted prospect, and one of the “Best wrestlers to have never made the big-time” until he finally hit the WWF and disappointed everyone again. Hardy & Arndt (supposed to be spelled Arhndt) were just jobbers here, both with the OMEGA company (run by Matt & Jeff)- a bit of an indie darling company that produced some good workers for the time. Arndt is better known as “Joey Abs”- the “actual wrestler” of the Mean Street Posse, which turned out to be his career peak. Al is just a goofy-looking mulleted guy in generic blue trunks, “Unabom” in black, Arndt in a black singlet, and Matt in white & black tights.
Al takes Arndt down and hits a wheelbarrow German suplex and an Uranage (hit like Sakie Hasegawa’s overhead version), showing you why he was such a prospect immediately- he was one of the few indie dudes at the time watching Japan tapes for stuff to swipe. Unabom awkwardly throws shots and hits a powerslam off the ropes and holds Arndt for a superkick from Al. Anrndt gets a body-press on Al and tags out. A short-haired Matt gets a dropkick, but tries the same thing on Unabom and gets slingshotted into the corner. Al comes in, has to call Unabom back, and they hit a Clothesline/German Suplex on Matt for the pin (1:57). Pretty basic tag match, with Kane being awkward and stuff and having issues with his timing, clearly being led around by Al. But it was super-short and the jobbers got next to nothing.
Rating: 1/2* (barely two minutes of basic stuff, though Al was showing off moves unusual for the West in 1995)