Andre & Baba versus two 6’7″ guys so bad even Vince didn’t want them. I’m in love. So how bad do you have to be to have neither Vince nor Eric want you when you’re that big? Read on!
Time for more Dream Matches! This time, I’ve found one of those things that opens up the floodgates- wrestlers I’ve never heard of before who send me on a YouTube-fest that bring sup all sorts of weirdo matches! Come see two 6’7″+ guys even VINCE didn’t want as the “Land of Giants” take on Andre the Giant & Giant Baba in 1990!
Also, we have two bouts from the same episode of Prime Time Wrestling, as Jake Roberts takes on Typhoon and Paul Roma goes up against The Dragon! And then a match recommended to me a week ago- Dean Malenko vs. SURFER-era Sting from Nitro! And we’ll cap things off with the WCW Saturday Night debut of one Bill Goldberg, as the “Best of Roadblock” series continues! Can Bill defeat the 6’7″ guy who almost never wins? Who knows?!?
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 1990:
ANDRE THE GIANT & GIANT BABA vs. THE LAND OF GIANTS (Butch Masters & Skywalker Nitron):
(All Japan, 25.11.1990)
* Oh my god you GUYS. This is Andre & Giant Baba in their retirement tour as crippled old men, and they’re taking on two gigantic dudes I’ve never heard of! I have to know everything about these guys now. Looks like they’re two never-was acts (Nitron sniffed WCW for a second as “Big Sky” and that’s all the Big Two has for them), both about 6’7″ or so but with physiques like the Young Bucks and knock-off Ultimate Warrior facepaint. Oh wait… Big Sky/Skywalker Nitron was Sabretooth in the first “X-Men” movie! It’s Tyler Mane! And he has a goddamn bleached RAT TAIL haircut! Butch has more fashion with a regular brown mullet. I love this match already.
Butch pushes Baba into the corner on a lockup and they do “shoulderblocks” to each other, then Butch charges and Baba does the single worst drop toehold I’ve ever seen in my life, just kinda flopping over and “tripping” Butch with one leg, then lightly placing his legs around Butch’s. Butch fights out and Nitron throws shots at Baba’s arm, but gets dishonorable about it and Andre is tagged in- poor Nitron does this awful “jumping yelp” sell of the “arm slammed across the shoulder” move from both giants. Andre throws shots, leans on him, and more from his usual “90s Andre” arsenal. Butch has a go and a lockup reveals the size of Andre’s hands- Butch is almost as tall as he is but Andre’s hand is at least twice as big. This is why people always talk about the magnitude of Andre’s features- even among other big dudes he seemed enormous. Andre actually punches Nitron’s hand (don’t see that very often), but the heels double-team Baba with light stuff. Baba eventually just starts arbitrarily no-selling and hits a weak karate chop to Nitron, who comes back with even MORE dull arm stuff that Baba won’t sell. Andre hits two shots before tagging out again, looking tired. Nitron finally hits a real move, bodyslamming Baba, and in comes Butch for their finisher, an Assisted Legdrop (like a backdrop-lift of the other guy to drop him down)… for two! Baba ducks under a clothesline and escapes, so Andre hits a double-noggin-knocker on the heels, pushing Nitron out. Butch gets whipped into Baba’s boot, and Andre finishes by lightly falling onto him with the Elbowdrop at (10:37).
Ohhhhhhhh man, THIS is how bad you have to be to not get a look from Vince when you’re that big. Both guys had unimpressive looks (despite being Andre-tier in height) and didn’t do a single interesting thing. Hard to blame them, though- there’s not a lot you can do with Andre or Baba at this point, they obviously didn’t want to get too stiff, and both guys were too new to be any good. Ax of Demolition is a great match-runner and even he couldn’t get ** out of them.
Rating: DUD (awful, awful match. Not only poorly-wrestled, but way too long, because they had to do big heat sequences on Baba)
STING vs. DEAN MALENKO:
(WCW Nitro, 11-13-95)
* Oh man, it’s SURFER Sting! I had no idea these two overlapped like this! Dean was then a new hire (he hadn’t won the Cruiserweight Title yet), so it’s weird that they’d “expose” his tier by putting him out there against a top-level guy, but Nitro was big on mismatches and weirdo bouts that I just adore reviewing… and they tended to throw all their new hires out there in random matches to put some workrate out there on the show. Sting is in full lime green tights at this point, with green & black facepaint, while Dean is in his basic black trunks and looks to be a full foot shorter than Sting. Holy cow is his height exposed here.
Dean uses speed and technique as Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan put over how good Dean is, while Steve McMichael COMPLETELY writes him off- Dean hits a shoulderblock and doesn’t move Sting an inch to emphasize that point. Sting manages a press-slam as Dean can’t get anything going, but he manages to dropkick the knee and work on it. Back from commercial we see Dean rapidly escape the Scorpion Deathlock, and Dean’s back on the leg, McMichael admitting “I’ve gotta eat my words!”- Dean HAS a chance! They lie in one kneebar for a minute, but when they’re up, Sting goes running- he tries a powerslam from a catch in the corner, but Dean hits a perfect Bridging German for two. Dean misses a dropkick, but Sting’s limping comeback sees him miss the Stinger Splash, and a Missile Dropkick puts him down! Dean goes for the Texas Cloverleaf, but Sting reaches over and small packages him… for the three (5:04)!
Very quick, efficient match- Dean’s stuff looked good, if very simple, Sting doing the “Randy Savage Template” and pulling out a smart win, if a weak one, since he didn’t even hit a big move. It’s funny to see Dean go down in five minutes when they’d put a belt on him only months later, but that’s kinda how Nitro was at this point- most matches were under ten and wins and losses were all over the place.
Rating: **1/2 (short but fine- Dean’s stuff all looked good)
Mere months later, they were supposed to be a team at the Survivor Series!
JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS vs. TYPHOON (w/ Jimmy Hart):
(WWF Prime Time Wrestling, 8/8/1991)
* So this hails from a very weird time in Earthquake’s career- it was like the WWF had a bunch of good ideas where to go with him, but like… wrote every single one to go off at the same time. Bayless’s recaps illustrated this pretty clearly: you had Earthquake, in rapid succession, injure Andre the Giant (to justify him wearing crutches to the ring), kill Damien in front of a pleading Jake (in one of the most evil heel acts in WWF history), and then get a “Clone Buddy” tag partner in Typhoon and form the Natural Disasters. It was really weird- any one of those is a fine idea, but doing ALL THREE? At nearly the same time? It was a mess and largely meant each individual thing meant a lot less. I mean, you can run Snake/Quake for months on the house show circuit, but instead Quake is also a tag guy. And ultimately most of this fizzled out, and Jake promptly turned heel and Quake face. So here is one of Typhoon’s first matches as a heel, having dropped the “Tugboat” name to join his former enemy.
Jake & Typhoon are about the same height here- having met Jake (a legit 6’4″ or so even as an old dude), this makes me horrified at just how huge Typhoon actually was. He easily overpowers Jake from some grapples, Jake tumbling out of the ring backwards. Jake catches him napping and lights him up with fists, but actually sells it as hurting his hands while Typhoon tries to shake the cobwebs out. Typhoon puts his head down and eats a knee, taking a big back bump off it, but Jake gets launched off trying for a pin. Jake sells the shock of that, but tries to use his speed and eats an avalanche in the corner. Elbow, backbreaker and the “step on them” trick work Jake over, but his next avalanche runs into a foot and it’s the short-arm clothesline! Jake signals the DDT but here comes Earthquake, and the Disasters double-team Jake for the DQ (3:59). It’s terrifying how quickly Quake rolled into the ring considering he’s over 450 lbs. They tease squashing Lucifer (Damien’s big brother), but now here’s ANDRE, struggling on crutches. The Disasters have to sell this as scary, so they desperately run past him and bail, avoiding both swinging crutches and Lucifer.
Rating: * (Funny how Jake can wrestle methodically in a bout that’s only 4 minutes long- dude just takes his time on EVERYTHING! It makes his bouts hard to rate highly but WWF crowds sure did dig it)
I mean, as gear goes, it’s not THE WORST, but he looks more ready for WMAC Masters.
THE DRAGON vs. PAUL ROMA:
(WWF Prime Time Wrestling, 8/8/1991)
* WWF 101: throw a midcard act against a tag team wrestler, and you have an instant “Feature Match” with the loser not overly hurt by taking a clean pin. Though Roma is already demoted to “already in the ring”. Ricky Steamboat’s in red tights and Roma in black, and they are almost exactly the same size with the same physique.
Roma attacks from behind, but gets dumped and runs into a HUGE armdrag, Monsoon & Heenan marking out on commentary over it (screw everyone who hates Monsoon trashing guys- the guy was a mark for good technique and it MATTERED when he did it because he shat all over bad technique). Dragon stays on the arm while Monsoon starts digging on Roma being “lethargic” and making mistakes (haha, so yeah, he’s trashing guys already), but after a lot of lying around Roma comes back and hits a clothesline Monsoon declares “a beauty!”. Bodyslams & an elbow follow- he does an arrogant cover but hits a really nice flying shot between the eyes (stepping up backwards onto the top rope is not something you see very often, for good reason- that takes skill).
Roma keeps showboating, but all three commentators mark out for his dropkick, Lord Alfred declaring it the best in the business. Again he takes too long to cover, but he hits a repeating-backbreaker that Monsoon points out “takes tremendous power to do this, folks- that’s dead weight he’s lifting there”. Dragon bails and gets rammed into the apron, and brought in with a hanging vertical suplex as his selling is terrific, just flopping over or writhing in pain on everything. Roma keeps working the pin here, but Dragon fires back with shots and goes up for a flying chop, but a splash hits knees- desperation backdrop suplex from the Dragon and both guys are down. Dragon finally gets two, but Roma hammers him with a running elbow in the corner, but takes the Bret Bump trying a second and Dragon comes off with the Flying Cross-Body for the three (10:57) with a LIGHTNING-fast count by the ref.
Very solid, slow-paced match, with Roma having some of the smoothest offense around at this point (lacking only charisma- just a bit too “showy” without any of it meaning anything) and Dragon having great selling. Since neither guy had a major finisher at the time (edit: Okay they DID have finishers, but they both seemed like moves that other guys used as basic offense. Not that Hogan or Warrior didn’t, I suppose), it was sort of a match constructed out of “baseline offense”, if that makes sense- all suplexes & atomic drops as the core of the bout instead of leading to some huge thing. It was interesting seeing the three commentators debate strategy and rag on Roma’s showboating, but also talk about the beating each guy was taking.
Rating: **3/4 (good, basic match)
BILL GOLDBERG vs. ROADBLOCK:
(WCW Saturday Night, Oct. 11th 1997)
* This is Goldberg’s Saturday Night debut- he beat Hugh Morrus in his first TV match only a couple weeks before, and is just some random former Atlanta Falcon here! Roadblock is in a more professional set of gear, now- his black singlet actualy FITS, and has his name and some road lines on it. Goldberg has no pyro, and just comes out chewing gum, with a smirk on his face.
Roadblock, clearly the larger man, throws some shots at Goldberg and hits a clothesline, which is COMPLETELY no-sold with a big “THAT ALL YOU GOT?!” from Goldberg, immediately indicating this isn’t just some Mike Tolbert-level guy from the Power Plant. Goldberg takes him down into a pin, but actually just kinda pulls Roadblock’s legs apart with his body spread sideways, which looks weird and was quickly dropped from his offense. Roadblock tries a comeback, but goes down to a jumping shoulderblock. He still gets an uppercut and hits Goldberg with his Dead End Drop (falling front powerslam) for two, taking his time on the cover. Goldberg comes off the ropes with a leg lariat (??), then throws some knees to the gut and picks him up- JACKHAMMER! And that gets the three at (3:49)- no Spear or anything.
Wow, so weird. Goldberg’s offense was still in utero at this point, with weird stuff like that leg submission, jumping shoulderblocks, leg lariats and more mixed in there- eventually he’d add the rolling head & leg thing and of course, the SPEAR. Without it he just feels so weird. You could see some hesitation from him at this point (once he nearly throws a punch and Roadblock has to kind of stand there because Goldberg stopped the motion partway and didn’t follow through), and all his shit comes from “crouch down after selling for a bit, or coming off a whip”, but he’d learn. A bit.
Rating: * (good old Goldberg destruction, but the template wasn’t set down yet)