Welcome back for more Dream Matches! This time, we take a look at the match that lit up the American Indies for a year or so and made Tape Traders a ton of money that was soon blown on other tapes: Sabu vs. Al Snow! One of a bunch of times they fought! Also, fans of Ice Train will revel in the fact that I just can’t get enough of his short WCW D-show matches, as he takes on MAXX!
Plus we’ll see the time the not at all petty WWE shared a match on Instagram where Britt Baker played a jobber against Nia Jax- COMPLETE COINCIDENTALLY showing it just as she was set to win the AEW Women’s Title! oh also, I’ve now become obsessed with the bizarre run Tracy Smothers had in 1996, playing “Aw Shucks” rookie Freddie Joe Floyd, wrestling two matches against Bradshaw that badly damaged BOTH guys!
NO RULES (I guess?):
SABU (w/ Damien 666) vs. AL SNOW:
(Some Indie Fancam)
* So I’ve always heard that Sabu was just THE SHIT if you were a 1994-96 Tape Trader- he was one of the most talked-about guys in the business, slowly building an indie legend through word of mouth and insane stuntshow matches. ECW hit on this and Paul E. naturally knew EXACTLY how to push the guy. And apparently a lot of those big matches of his that built the legend were against “Good Hand” worker Al Snow. They wrestled a bunch (CageMatch has 3-4 matches as far as I can tell), and this is undated on YouTube. Sabu’s in green shiny Prince of Persia pants and Al’s in plain blue trunks like a jobber goof. I dunno why Damien 666 is managing Sabu. And oh my god this mat is FILTHY. Like threadbare and with a giant black stain.
Al wins an exchange with a superkick knocking Sabu to the floor, Sabu returning the favor with another kick. They each run into boots in the corner and Sabu lands on his feet from a backdrop and hits a rana- pretty crazy for 1994 US wrestling. Al keeps going to a headscissors to slow Sabu down, but misses a slingshot legdrop so Sabu gets one for two. They chat in a headlock, and a criss-cross leads to noggins colliding and Sabu’s slingshot tope con hilo, then Damien sets Al in a chair so Sabu can hit a tope suicida to him on there! Al is dead for like 40 seconds, but when they try it on the other side of the ring, Al MOVES and Sabu wipes out. Al hits a Powerbomb on the floor (making sure to be ultra-safe with it- Sabu drops maybe two feet), milks the count, then hits a backbreaker & Superduperplex and both guys are out. They’re pained on their feet, but when Al tries another superplex, Sabu hits him with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb for two- another mega-rarity in ’94 (Manami Toyota did it regularly, but joshi was pretty obscure to Western fans).
Al’s right up from that monster bump and gets brained by a chair to the head and hit with the chair-assisted roundhouse kick in the corner, but Sabu misses a second one and Al hits a cannonball off the chair and a slingshot legdrop, and they lie in a resthold- Sabu tries a sunset bomb to the floor but Al hangs on and Sabu takes a vicious hips-first bump, and Al hits a Ligerbomb in the ring and lies back to recover. Wrestling’s fakest spot, the “hang them on the top rope and guillotine legdrop them”, follows, and Damien gets hit by Sabu by mistake so Al hits a backdrop driver for two. They fight on the floor, Sabu slipping while trying an Asai moonsault through a table, getting it on the second try. The table is clearly from Japan, as it doesn’t job. Al checks if Sabu’s alive, then powerbombs DAMIEN through it, but Sabu rifles a chair at the back of his head (jesus!), then hits an Arabian Facecrusher in the ring for two. Finally, he hits a slingshot legdrop to Al face-first on an open chair (!!), getting three at (15:50). Haha I was just gonna bitch about that getting two because I saw the video length goes on a while longer.
So now Terry Funk comes out, beating the shit out of all three guys so they bump all over the place for him (Sabu SAILING over some chairs and Al going through another table because of Sabu). Then Terry talks shit to the cameraman and Sabu moonsaults a table for no reason. I’m less sympathetic to his injuries in modern times, now. Terry ends up shirtless underneath a motorhome for some reason after another scrap with Al leads to them going outside.
You can see right away why fans loved to trade these tapes around- a tope suicida into a seated opponent in 1994? That’s insane for the time, and would fit right in with today’s wrestling. A lot of the early part of the match was kind of awkward, with guys simply hitting restholds before the next big spot- the kinks hadn’t been worked out yet, and Sabu was always eager to “just get started with the real match”. Since it was still early in the style, though, every dive MEANT something, as guys would sell on the floor for ages and really act like it’s, y’know, painful to go sailing over the ropes onto another guy. Of course then we get a Sunset Bomb 9 minutes in and both guys are right up doing highspots, so yeah I dunno. After that, it was just non-stop big moves and deathblows, with the slingshot legdrop being used repeatedly to set up that one with Al’s head shoved through the seat and backing of the chair.
Rating: ***1/4 (kinda disjointed and with bad selling after a point, but with some really cool moves)
Tracy Smothers in green undies with a hillbilly name. 1996 WWF, EVERYONE!
JUSTIN “HAWK” BRADSHAW (w/ Uncle Zebekiah) vs. FREDDIE JOE FLOYD:
(WWF Superstars, June 29th 1996)
* So here’s the nascent JBL still in the midcard as a rookie ass-kicker, and he’s up against Tracy Smothers as part of the “Sal Sincere Division”- the “Jobbers But Not Jobbers” who all debuted around the same time in 1996. They were meant to get a few TV wins and then become jobbers, thus “tricking” the fans into thinking they were getting Featured Matches when they were really 3-minute squashes. As a concept, it’s actually a bit brilliant… but that they debuted every one of them at the same time, gave them the stupidest gimmicks possible, and then jobbed them out way too quickly made it all not really work. Floyd here is an “aw shucks” humble Southern boy in green trunks, and is making his debut.
Bradshaw, hyperactive and energetic as always at this point, keeps shoving Freddie down, but Freddie keeps popping back and outwrestling him with go-behinds and drop toeholds, then a fireman’s & armdrag. This dude is so NWA, haha. Bradshaw PLASTERS him with a big boot, leaving Ross, McMahon & Perfect on commentary to mark out simultaneously, and launches Freddie into the corner. However, he puts his head down and Freddie does his “forearm combo into the Bow-Legs Sidekick” spot, hitting it to the back and front. He gets so excited he forgets to cover, and can only get two- then he’s caught on a cross-body and slammed. Zebekiah commands Bradshaw slam him again and again, but on the fourth time, Freddie rolls him over, and there’s a weird bit as they kinda jostle on the mat in a pinning combination for two two-counts before it’s finally three at (5:58) and Freddie gets the shocker win!
Actually not a bad little match, but I imagine the rollup was supposed to be finishing right away and they were just too squirmy to “count”, so the ref had to tell them to keep going for it. And since Bradshaw had bad advice from his manager, he had a bit of an “out” for losing. Though it’s a good debut for Floyd, getting a big win right away before he’s cycled down the card, it killed Bradshaw’s push DEAD. Jobbing to both Jake Roberts (KOTR Quarterfinals) and Floyd in quick succession was the sign we shouldn’t get too far behind him, even though he ended up getting revenge shortly. His character floundered until he was put into the New Blackjacks, floundering AGAIN until later.
Rating: **1/4 (not a bad NWA-style match until the weird ending)
JUSTIN “HAWK” BRADSHAW (w/ Uncle Zebekiah) vs. FREDDIE JOE FLOYD:
(WWF Superstars, July 7th 1996)
* And now we have the rematch, continuing a quick mini-story. Not the worst way to spend TV time on the lesser shows, really… though checking Cagematch, this is apparently the SAME TAPING.
Bradshaw attacks before the bell and we’re off- he gets too aggressive and is dropkicked out, but immediately bursts back in and stuffs Freddie. Freddie manages a rollup out of the corner but Bradshaw just fires back and hits a release pumphandle slam. Freddie’s suplexed on the top rope and booted to the floor. Freddie manages a small package to try and repeat last week, but Bradshaw’s out at two. He stomps on Freddie’s hands and even hits a running senton- Freddie gets all fighty but ends up pounded down and abdominally stretched for a bit, but manages a big back elbow. Bradshaw keeps gobbling him up, coming back after every potential bit of offense, and we’re back from break with Bradshaw missing a big boot as Freddie bails, but back in Bradshaw just mows him down with a Lariat. He does an arrogant one-handed cover… then PICKS HIM UP at 2, which everyone on commentary shits on him for, but Bradshaw just hauls him up and destroys him with another Lariat at (6:04). Well that was easy.
Well that’s a weird finish- Freddie got the lucky comeback win a week prior, but here it’s like “PSYCHE! Actually Bradshaw is way better” as he easily counters everything Freddie does, gobbles him up after every offensive move Floyd can hit, and then gets the “pulls him up at 2, but still wins” finish for emphasis. Except his mystique was already kinda badly damaged by the loss anyhow, and now Floyd is just marked as a pure JTTS who can be easily beaten by midcarders. So nobody wins! The match was okay, if a bit too one-sided and slower than their previous one because Bradshaw had it so well in hand. And also probably because they’d already wrestled earlier that night. After this, Floyd manages to beat Zebekiah himself in 11 seconds, but spends the entire rest of the year jobbing on TV and trading wins with *TL Hopper* on house shows.
Rating: **1/2 (not a bad NWA-style match until the weird ending)
When you look like this, but neither of the Big Two wants to push you, you suuuuuuuuuuuuck!
ICE TRAIN (w/ Teddy Long) vs. MAXX:
(WCW Pro, Feb. 6th 1997)
* So Ice Train was mostly relegated to nothing matches by this point, and good lord- MAX MUSCLE is still around. This dude was just invisible to me by the time I started watching WCW in ’97. He’s unbelievably roided and with “90s D-Bag” tats, with a mohawk MULLET of all things. Plain black trunks complete the… well, sort of a “Proto-Goldberg” image, minus all the charisma and credibility. Train is now managed by Long, and wears red & white.
Train wins a wristlock battle with a fireman’s, then hits a powerslam off a criss-cross for two. Saito Suplex gets two. Maxx gets a jawjacker to come back, hitting a Vader Bomb elbow, but Train reverses a slam with his own. Maxx goes to the eyes and gets his own slam, but misses an elbow, letting Train hit his Train Wreck (leaping splash)… for three (2:25)? Hahahaha, that’s it? This schmuck only takes a missed elbow drop and a splash to pin?
Rating: 1/4* (nothing to the match, really)
“My philosophy is help yourself; don’t hurt the other guy”: Vince McMahon.
NIA JAX vs. BRITT BAKER:
(WWF RAW, June 25th 2016)
* So very shortly before Britt Baker was set to become the AEW Women’s Champion, WWE JUST SO HAPPENED to post up this particular Jobber squash match on their Instagram page. This is pretty much “Petty Wrestling Promotions 101”, but it’s more likely someone just getting a giggle out of it in their social media section. Like “LOL, this person is now a big star, so here’s a match when she meant nothing!”. Britt was only around a year into the business at this point, and looks like every other nervous, skinny, terrified rookie. Nia was solidly built at this point but not nearly as big as she’d get later, and wearing actually pretty decent gear- some blue & black complex outfit- not like the big garbage bags they’d toss her in later.
We start with Jax just slamming Britt to the mat face-first, then hitting an avalanche. Britt charges Nia but getting caught and slammed in the corner. Ass avalanche and legdrop look to finish, but Nia pulls her up, revealing Britt’s bleeding from the face (Britt bleeding hardway during a match? Nia accidentally hurting someone? What an unlikely turn of events!)- headbutt and running legdrop finish at (1:18) and my god- they even use the “putting the Women’s division on notice” line.
Rating: DUD (just a total squash with no offense for Baker)