The SmarK Rant for Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Lords of the Ring
So yeah, I was mentioning George Thorogood’s “Willie and the Hand Jive” in the Superstars review, which naturally leads to this tape, where George provided the music for it. You probably saw this advertised in PWI a million times if you were of that certain age group, or on Crockett TV, and this early 1985 VHS release is in fact credited as being the first wrestling videotape ever released. Which means that the WWE Network should be scheduled to add it sometime in 2031.
I don’t have a copy, but there’s a perfect dub on Facebook Watch that I’m using, because sometimes you gotta be a rebel. It also includes a promo for Ringmasters: The Great American Bash and I’m gonna have to track that one down too.
Hosted by Gordon Solie and Bill Apter, from Pro Wrestling Illustrated HQ.
Junkyard Dog v. The Missing Link
This is from the Parade of Champions in World Class, May 6 1984, which is of course notable for the main event with Kerry Von Erich winning his only World title from Ric Flair. JYD attacks Link and grabs a chair to chase him out of the ring, and back in they have a headbutt battle while the announcer claims that this is the biggest crowd ever to watch wrestling. That was a complete lie, although it was ONE of the biggest at 32,000. We’re clipped JYD going after Skandor Akbar, who trips him up, and Link drops a headbutt off the middle rope for the pin at 2:53. But then the ref sees the skullduggery and reverses the decision.
Greg Valentine v. Rowdy Roddy Piper
This is the famous dog collar match from Starrcade 83, as Piper slugs him down with the chain right away, but Valentine wraps it around his fist and beats on Piper’s injured ear in the corner before choking him out. Piper reverses out and uses the chain himself. We’re clipped to Valentine beating on a bloodied Piper in the corner. Clipped again to Valentine dropping an elbow on him and going to the middle rope, but Piper yanks him down with the chain, wraps him up, and pins him to win. Very heavily clipped but there was enough here to warrant a point if I was rating anything here.
Gorgeous George gets a segment as we get some vintage footage of him making his entrance for a TV match and going through the wacky disrobing procedure.
Exotic Adrian Street gets a segment next, with a promo from Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.
Next we discuss Wahoo McDaniel and get a clip from Starrcade 83 of him.
Carlos Colon v. Abdullah the Butcher
From Starrcade 83 again, as Colon gets the foreign object away from Abby and brutalizes him with it, and then drops an elbow for two. Abby tries his own elbow and hits the referee by mistake, and Carlos works on the leg and gets a figure-four with the ref out. But then someone runs in and knocks Colon out and Abdullah pins him at 2:00 shown. 1 for 3.
Loser Leave Town: Jerry Lawler v. Bill Dundee
I think this was on Lawler’s YouTube show actually. We’re apparently joined 12 minutes in here in Memphis and it’s a series of clips of the match with a bloody Lawler making a comeback and finishing with a piledriver at 2:10 shown.
Speaking of Jerry Lawler, we of course take a look at a match between Lawler and Andy Kauffman, with the Mid-South Coliseum coming unglued. And then we get a promo from Andy after the match, as apparently everyone in Tennessee is a bunch of hicks. Huge if true.
NWA World title: Dory Funk Jr. v. Harley Race
This is quite the random tape. We’re back in the 70s for this and Race wins a major upset at the time to capture his first NWA World title with a suplex.
Harley Race v. Ric Flair
The main event of Starrcade 83 of course as they use as much footage from that show as they can.
Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard
No commentary for this one as it appears to be some kind of TV match between them but I don’t know the context. Dusty starts out already bandaged up and bleeding, as Tully beats on the cut, and then we’re clipped to Dusty making the comeback and running him into the post outside. Back in for a figure-four, and that’s where we leave it.
World Class Six Man titles: The Fabulous Freebirds v. Fritz, Mike and Kevin Von Erich
From the Parade of Champions in 1984 again, as Fritz comes out of retirement to help his kids in a Badstreet match. Hayes gets whipped by the Von Erichs in their corner, but we’re clipped to Terry Gordy taking over on Kevin and slugging him down. Buddy Roberts thrusts his belt buckle into Kevin’s head in an oddly suggestive spot, but Fritz gets the hot tag and puts Hayes in the iron claw. Terry Gordy uses his boot to break that up, but the Von Erichs run the Freebirds into each other and Kevin pins Roberts with a flying bodypress to win the titles. Seemed like a hell of a brawl and I wish this show was on the WWE Network.
Of course, we get the performance of “Heaven Needed a Champion” to honor David Von Erich. That was quite the slice of cheese.
NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Kerry Von Erich
This was of course the main event of the Parade of Champions show, with Kerry challenging for the title in tribute to his dead brother. If it was in WWE today, he’d lose by DQ and then do the job to Bobby Lashley on RAW the next night. Kerry survives a figure-four attempt and then wins the belt with a backslide.
Ricky Steamboat v. Tully Blanchard
Another random TV match with no commentary. Steamboat hits a flying chop for two, but the ref is bumped and they fight to the floor, and back in for a superplex from Steamboat, with a second ref coming in to count the pin.
NWA World title: Kerry Von Erich v. Ric Flair
This is rare footage from Japan 19 days after Kerry won the belt, as Flair quickly regains it by reversing a rollup.
Jimmy Valiant v. The Assassin #2
Another match with no context, as Jimmy puts away the Assassin with an elbowdrop and unmasks him to reveal Hercules Hernandez. I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere before but I forget where.
The Fabulous Ones v. The Moondogs
Back to Memphis again for a Texas Tornado match, with tables already strewn in the ring as we pick things up. They slug it out and the Fabs make the comeback, but Rex piledrives Stan Lane while Spot chokes out Steve Keirn with a belt. They brutalize Keirn with the belt until Lane finds a bone and makes the save, and that’s where we leave it.
Also we get a clip of Macho Man piledriving Ricky Morton through a table in Memphis, because why not? Crazy that Savage wasn’t even in the WWF yet at the time when this was produced.
The Road Warriors v. The Fabulous Ones
Still in Memphis and the crowd is going nuts as we pick things up with the Fabs trying to make a comeback and getting cut off. We get a false tag and the Roadies double-team him in the corner before it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and that’s where we leave it.
And then we close with a compilation video of clips set to “Willie and the Hand Jive”. I have no idea what the song has to do with wrestling but it’s a great song anyway.
Man, 12 year old me would have been ALL OVER this tape and probably would have watched it until it fell apart. As it is, if these were the full matches it would be one of the most batshit crazy awesome compilation tapes ever, although here’s it edited down to an hour total. Still, it’s really fun for what it was and is well worth an hour of your time for the “Oooh, what’s coming up next?” spontaneity and historical nature of a lot of these matches. I’d call it an easy thumbs up.