Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time, we’ve got something weird- apparently when John Tenta was just starting out in wrestling, he was in ALL JAPAN of all places, teaming up with the Ace and weighing only 300-ish lbs., and fighting the legendary Road Warriors!
Also I found more of that bizarre Land of Giants team, as they take on… The Undertakers? Yes- it’s a pair of obese twins with a name the WWF actually bought off of them. Then wen see a “Battle of the Kings” as King Mabel decides to take out Ken Shamrock shortly after his King of the Ring victory- a shockingly good attempt at putting a guy over from MABEL of all people! And then, in a fantastically-terrible bout, come see the legendary POWER UTI, villain of Mick Foley’s first book and national hero of Nigeria, take on the worst wrestler in AEW- Doc “Super Festus” Gallows! And then we cap things off with WCW’s Wrath & Mortis vs. The Faces of Fear in a shockingly-good Hoss Brawl!
JUMBO TSURUTA & JOHN TENTA vs. THE ROAD WARRIORS (Hawk & Animal, w/ Paul Ellering):
(All Japan, 1987.6.8)
* Haha, oh Jesus- look at this! Baby John Tenta, fresh out of sumo and having lost a LOT of weight, is in the early stage of his pro wrestling career in All Japan as the Ace’s tag team partner, and they’re going up against the early form of the Road Warriors, in full black spike-vests and ’80s facepaint! Tenta, in his navy-blue singlet with a Canadian flag on it, is almost unrecognizable, being barely 300 lbs. and scarcely larger than Jumbo- he’s all straight lines! Even at 24 he’s lost almost all the hair on top of his head, though.
Animal blows minds by press-slamming Jumbo like he weighs nothing and drops an elbow, but Jumbo comes back with a big lariat, only to get launched off trying a pin. He goes into the railing and takes a big shoulderblock, but tags out to Tenta, who does a first-year sequence with Hawk. No-Sold Shoulderblocks pop the crowd, and Hawk does a dropkick, only for TENTA to fire back with one, drawing appreciation from the fans & Jumbo. Hawk slams him, but ends up in a bearhug into a belly-to-belly. Double-clothesline puts both guys down, but Hawk’s immediately up and tags out- Jumbo has to save Tenta. They slow it down with legholds, but Tenta’s back in and gets powerslammed by Animal, setting up the Rocket Launcher for the win at (4:40). Wow, that’s it?
Super quick, abridged match with a minute sitting in leglocks, so it’s not too much, but Tenta was super-green and these weren’t exactly the guys to teach him. They kept it simple and hit some good power stuff, though- this is back when slamming and tossing Tenta around wasn’t a big deal, obviously.
Rating: *3/4 (super-quick and basic, but fine)
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 1991:
THE LAND OF GIANTS (Butch Masters & Skywalker Nitron) vs. THE UNDERTAKERS (Henchman & Punisher):
(All Japan, Feb. 27th 1991)
* OH MY GOD!! Remember what I said about discovering weirdo matches opening up the floodgates? So here’s last week’s Land of Giants still in AJPW, and now they’re taking on a pair of fat guys named… the Undertakers? Yes, this is in fact wrestlers Val & Tony Puccio using their indie names in Japan. When the WWF gave Mark Calaway his new gimmick as “The Undertaker”, they actually bought the trademark from these guys, who as part of the deal got to appear on a bunch of house shows, this time as “Double Trouble”. So now I gotta find everything I can on THESE guys, too! Henchman is positively massive (his weight caused an early death), while Punisher is closer to Mo’s “too fat to move easily, but not enough to be scary” obesity level. Neither is very tall, making them look pretty weaksauce, especially in their plain “all black” gear. This match is so “Early 1990s American Indies” that every one of the four men have the Ultimate Warrior’s facepaint.
Sadly, we’re joined in progress with the Giants beating on Punisher, wowing the crowd with a double suplex. Punisher gets dumped and whipped into Butch’s clothesline on the outside. Dude almost stumbles getting whipped into the ropes, but eats a double-shoulderblock and the Giants do the “Warrior Rope-Shake”. God this is so indie. Butch clotheslines him for two, and Nitron’s elbow gets the same. Double-big boot gets two, and they double-clothesline him, but Punisher FINALLY gets a move via a schoolboy for two, then takes in Henchman and “whips” him into Nitron. Big Splash… misses! And the Giants finish him with the Assisted Legdrop at (3:35 of 5:37 shown).
Rating: 1/2* (actually better than the Baba/Andre match, but only because this was just an extended squash instead of lots of resting. Seriously, the fatter guy just came in and hit one move, then missed another and got pinned!)
Hard as it is to believe, Shamrock was once a legitimately very over wrestler.
KING OF KINGS Vol. 2:
KEN SHAMROCK vs. MABEL:
(WWF Monday Night RAW, June 3rd 1998)
* Okay, this was an AMAZING one-night angle and I’ve remembered it all these years later. See, Ken Shamrock (who was still doing his “goes insane and murders officials” thing) just won the King of the Ring and was going to get a big push out of it- very shortly thereafter, he’s wrestling Jeff Jarrett and suddenly KING MABEL of all people runs out and splashes him. Basically, Mabel (who hadn’t been seen in years) is annoyed and confrontational because he was a past King and missed a “King of Kings” match among former KOTR winners, and here’s your match. It’s beautifully simple and throws out a random face from the past for a one-night deal- just kind of a fun thing. Ken’s in red trunks and Mabel’s in a black shirt with big gold parachute pants. Shockingly, Ken has taken a splash from a 500-lb. man across his ribs and is NOT spitting blood.
Shamrock throws rights, but Mabel, literally a head taller than Ken, goes right to the ribs and hammers away. He drops an elbow and easily catches a cross-body, hitting a rib-breaker. Ken uses speed to dodge an avalanche and hits a back elbow off the second rope, then two running leg lariats, but charges in and gets clotheslined like a dumbass. Mabel hits a brutal falling front powerslam and goes up, but Ken catches him coming off the second rope with a Fujiwara armbar, segueing it right into the Anklelock! A screaming Mabel taps at (2:11), and of course Ken has SNAPPED and isn’t letting go of the hold. A sweaty Mabel is said to be “CRYING!” by Lawler as he wails in agony and the refs are out to break it up, and in a fantastic bit of business, they all bolt the second Ken relinquishes the hold, scattering like leaves in the wind, all “OH FUCK NOW HE’S GONNA HIT US!”. Haha, how was this dude not a main eventer? That was awesome.
So Ken was super-over and Mabel did his job VERY well, here- he’s an invincible wall, letting Ken bounce off of him, then hitting brutal comebacks that look like they do a ton of damage. And then after dominating most of the match he just takes a one-move counter and that Anklelock DESTROYS him, which goes a long way into putting over that finisher. Look at the crowd reacting to Ken losing his shit and just shredding that ankle to pieces, then jumping on to kick some more ass.
Rating: ** (MABEL RULES, THERE I SAID IT)
CWA TITLE & WHATEVER THAT OTHER BELT IS:
POWER UTI vs. SUPER FESTUS:
(Nigeria… sometime. Probably a few years ago?)
* Yes, this is the infamous POWER UTI, who was mentioned in Mick Foley’s autobiography as one of the worst ever, but a guy who had some kind of cult of personality built up around him in his native Nigeria, where he was able to get the cops to do what he wanted. Apparently this extended to him probably murdering his wife and leaving her corpse to rot and getting away with it, I dunno. That’s gotta put him in the top 20 worst people in wrestling, ever. Maybe Top 30. Super Festus is… aw goddamit, it’s Doc Gallows, the worst wrestler in AEW. Not that this was gonna be good either way. Apparently he tells a tale of this guy on a podcast something or other! Uti’s outfit is apparently traditional so I don’t wanna be culturally insensitive and say it looks like a green banana-hammock mixed with a loincloth. He also looks rather barrel-shaped, having that “Fat guy desperately sucking it in” look. He’s barefoot, going up against the black-clad Festus, with all of ten fans visible on the hard camera, all of whom have this “Hey, what’s going on here?” look to their body language.
Festus attacks right away, and soon we’re clipped to him still delicately “hitting” a hunched-over Uti. At one point, he actually slips on the ground doing a stomp. Uti just randomly decides to stop selling and “strikes” back, but Festus dumps him, Uti slowwwwllly rolling between the ropes and landing on his feet to throw more “boxing” punches at him. Festus goes into the post (I mean, sorta) and they trade more “shots” until Uti gets in the ring, whips Festus into the ropes, and hits him with a punch so utterly soft it’d shame Tiny Lister. He even kissed his fist beforehand! AND THAT’S THE FUCKING FINISH!! He punches Festus on the ground while the ref is already counting and that’s the pin at (2:52)! He follows it up with a headbutt that misses by a foot.
Rating: DUD (this looks almost exactly like what would happen if you had me and a seven-year old child get told to perform a wrestling match and had to improvise it on the spot)
No lie- this outfit fucking rules.
THE FACES OF FEAR (Meng & The Barbarian) vs. MORTIS & WRATH (w/ James Vandenberg):
(WCW Fall Brawl 1997)
* Here’s another request featuring a pretty rare Hoss Match between the “Blood Runs Cold” heels and the Faces of Fear. This is unique because I have no idea who will win- we’ve got two teams on roughly the same “tier”- that is, they’re credible until they’re not. WCW was FULL of acts like this when the nWo ran roughshod over the promotion- guys who would either win lots of matches until they suddenly start losing, or guys who won some and lost some. The massive roster of the company meant that a lot of guys got forgotten, but with 2-3 hour Nitros there was a lot of time to fill so dudes just kind of wrestled matches with no purpose or storyline sometimes. The FOF for example are beloved by fans today for being legit tough-guys and hosses, but back then were hated online for having “bad matches” (really just unpopular matches for the time), and were trapped in the vast midcard. Meanwhile, Mortis & Wrath (Kanyon & Bryan Clark) had just ended their feud with Glacier & The Cat months before and were also trapped in this zone where they weren’t really doing much.
The Faces of Fear are in shiny maroon tights, while Mortis is in his black/green/white Mortal Kombat gear and skull-mask, and Wrath is in black with a “loincloth” over his long tights to pretend he’s a martial artist (note: he did not wrestle like one).
Mortis goes to the eyes and works Barbarian over with side kicks, but he gets tossed into the corner by his neck and beaten down for two. Mortis bails from Meng’s Stinger Splash and tags out to Wrath, and we get an awesome brawl that neither guy sells for shit until Wrath is worn down from sheer attrition, but he gets his boot up in the corner then hits Meng with a clothesline off Bret’s Rope. Meng, my dude- stop charging into the corner! Mortis gets beaten up again, though, and they hit that insane finisher- backdrop into a Powerbomb- with Barbarian deadlifting Kanyon from WAIST-HIGH to the full height of the move! Holy shit! That wakes up the dead crowd, but Wrath breaks up the pin. Huge pumphandle slam by Barbarian, but Mortis has a foot on the ropes. TWO-MAN CLUBBERING~~ and Mortis is in a heap- his comeback only excites Meng and they chop him down like a tree, but Vandenberg shakes the ropes and crotches Barbarian in the corner. Barbarian tosses Mortis off of a superplex attempt, but steps back onto the top rope (… that’s actually very good agility, especially for a guy that big) and leaps off onto Mortis’s boot, then gets wasted by Wrath’s Scissor Kick! And when Meng chases the manager around, his boys hit the Sit-Out Powerbomb/Neckbreaker on Barbarian! Oh hey- Mortis was doing that before the hurt a Villano with it.
Meng breaks up that pin, so Wrath hits a backbreaker and a Vader Bomb elbowdrop for two- Barbarian grabs the rope to break. Mortis hits a leg-based facecrusher off the second rope for two, and Wrath hits a Flying Clothesline- Barbarian goes to the floor, where Mortis smashes his head into the post using the stairs, and then they hit a Doomsday SUPERDUPERPLEX. The commentators mark out as Mortis hilariously sells Wrath’s head hitting his balls to justify not going for the pin, and both guys are down. Hot tags to Wrath & Meng, who kicks some ass on both guys, dropping Mortis with the Kick of Fear (high kick to the face) and a powerslam on Wrath- Mortis breaks up the pin! He takes another Kick of Fear and I guess is now the legal man, and a flying splash looks to finish- now WRATH breaks it up. Barbarian wipes him out with a clothesline over the top, so Vandenberg comes in, and eats the Tongan Death Grip! He’s straight-up standing on the top rope and leaning over, and Mortis hits a superkick on Meng- No-Sold! So Meng hits a DOUBLE Tongan Death Grip and just roars, but finally Wrath comes back in and sneaks in with the Death Penalty (Rock Bottom) for the three (12:23).
Wow, this was actually a ton of effort from some guys who seemed like they wanted to impress people- they constructed a match out of wicked double-teams and some REALLY huge moves (a Powerbomb/Neckbreaker AND Backdrop/Powerbomb?), saving face by breaking up pins instead of kicking out of these MDKs. It did a lot of work to justify the guys being hurt quickly without a long match or weardown holds, because a dude would come in and just get killed immediately. So it was more or less a Hoss Match of thrown bombs left and right, but was great fun with everyone doing all their best stuff and not bothering with wimpy stuff like “heat sequences”. But the fans were only half into it because everyone was meaningless at the time, and Mortis & Wrath disappeared quickly, so this big PPV match didn’t really matter (WCW: The Story in a Nutshell).
Rating: ***1/2 (great fun and all big moves and power stuff- like a Spotfest but of MDKs instead of flippy moves)