Invasion of the Yanks!

If Mike Fitzgerald can drop a Big Jim Harris picture and video in a daily update here’s some from me and a bit more, with some North American wrestlers on tour in the UK and Europe, all courtesy of UK legend John Lister.

Jim Harris vs. Big Daddy (March 13th, 1982)

Harris is of course the man who would become Kamala. World of Sport presenter Dickie Davies in the studio voice-over identifies him as a black wrestler for those without eyes and a former world champion for those without brains. We start with a best of three arm wrestling match. Harris isn’t quite as chubby as he would be as the Ugandan Giant, but I do notice that he bothered to shave his chest as Kamala. Daddy wins the first round, then Harris pulls out of the second and gets on the mic and says he wants to get on with the match, unless Daddy wants to chicken out and go back.

Match on, with the crowd stupidly hot with the “EASY!” chants for a match that will be terrible. Harris gets pushed back and does some jumping temper tantrum stomps. Daddy whips him back and forth and back drops him, resulting in Harris rolling out for a break. The middle rope has slackened up, but they continue regardless while Kent Walton frets about it. Daddy slams Harris, but takes a punch to the sizable gut. He manages to get the falling backdrop and Harris can’t beat the count out while frothing and shaking, causing him to lose and having to fulfill his promise to leave the country and go back to America if he lost. Well, better times would be ahead. Typical Big Daddy crap with this one.

Texas Scott Hall vs. Rocky Las Vegas (December 12th, 1990)

Interesting one, as Hall is in his final days as a Magnum T.A. impersonator with the blonde hair and moustache and Rocky Las Vegas is a young Charles Wright, with a full head of hair, shaved at the sides, just one pec tattooed and his arms done, wearing gear like he should be teamed with Luke and Butch. The match is from Bremen, Germany, but is included in the Welsh Reslo programme. Hall is playing the heel. Rocky has a bit of a Kama stance to him. Hall’s body language isn’t quite how it would be, not exactly as smooth, but getting there. He goes for a choke, which seems strange without him transitioning it out of a hip toss and into a choke slam, just holding it until Rocky uses a lifted choke on him. After getting back to his feet he gets a rope-assisted abdominal stretch, but breaks on the seemingly arbitrary end of the round.

Back again, it’s some rope running that sees Hall walk into a superkick. Rocky gets a front facelock, but takes it down into a Fujiwara armbar. Out, Hall runs the ropes again but manages to avoid another superkick, but then gets kicked out anyway when he turns around. He manages to sweep the leg and takes a toe and ankle hold. Rocky kicks out of that but lands back in a leg grapevine. End of the round in that, but Hall stomps the ankle after the bell.

One more time, Hall pounds and kicks away. He goes for a flying cross body block, but Rocky rolls through it for the pinfall victory out of nowhere. Not a good match, partly down to the lack of experience and the round system breaking the flow, but interesting to see just before the Diamond Studd and Papa Shango were a thing.

Terry Funk vs. Otto Wanz (December 12th, 1990)

Hopefully this’ll be better, just via the Funker’s force of will. Terry, who I think had been filming Quantum Leap, looks weird with just the moustache. He flings his stetson off and mauls a photographer and climbs on the announce table to threaten and kick anyone within range. Just to serve him right, the table collapses under him as the crowd bursts into hysterics, as I do, so he beats the table up. As he comes in, picking on the referee, Wanz is doing the best thing by just standing there.

Off the initial lockup, Wanz backs Funk into the corner and belly-butts him to send him out. Back in with lefts to the head and massive gut. Wanz gets him back in the corner for one avalanche, which looks hilariously bad with how fat and winded he is as he runs like the chubby kid at school who couldn’t catch anyone during tig. Another one, at 1 mph, is met with a Funk clothesline. Funk punches away on the mat to the head and sternum. End of round saves him.

Funk attacks as Wanz drags himself back to his corner. Round two begins with Big Otto huffing and puffing and Terry dancing around, quickly getting him into the corner to stomp on. Otto, back up, gets a big standing clothesline, which Terry does a headstand sell of and then bounces backwards through the ropes to the floor off the same bump. Ring announcer and promoter Peter Williams just avoids a wild swing, which he no sells. Otto brings Funk back in, then follows him to the outside, realising that Funk will bump for anything to get the match over, a punch sending him over more ringside tables. He wanders back in and tumbles down just as the bell rings, but Otto keeps it up. Funk even does a Flair flip into the corner off an Irish whip, then landing on his fourth or fifth table of the match. Terry returns and fights on, but the bell rings again and they finally take a break as Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini by Timmy Mallett and Bombalurina plays over the mic.

Final round, Otto starts with a pretty decent avalanche and gets a suplex. Funk is clotheslined down and he knows who’s paying the bills, so jobs to the fat Austrian. Terry just put on a one man show to get that match over, to his credit. Otto confirms it was his retirement match in the post-match interview with Nic Parry.

Battle Royale (June 14th, 1992)

Finishing with a battle royale from Hanover, clipped down to the last six men, namely Bruiser Mastino (Mantaur), Rambo (Sniper from the Truth Commission), Dave ‘Fit’ Finlay, Tony St. Clair, Akibushi and Franz Schumann. Finlay is wearing quite an unflattering black vest. Schumann is an Austrian who tried to model some of his gear in the nineties on Bret Hart. He’d later have serious health problems (a part of me wonders if it’s caused by the obvious steroids he was on). Not sure who Akibushi is, but he’s a small Japanese wrestler doing the rookie seasoning tour. Mastino gets a powerslam on Franz that almost lands in the ropes. A lot of pairing off between heels and faces on the ropes. Don’t know what Finlay and St. Clair are thinking, but they actually go for a test of strength at one point. St. Clair and Schumann team up to eliminate Akibushi, leaving the match for a moment in the favour of the faces. Schumann almost gets Finlay out, but no luck. Instead, Mastino gets Rambo out and it’s left as almost a tornado tag team. The faces whip Mastino into Finlay to squash him in the corner, then get a nice double back body drop and double clotheslines the big guy out to a big pop.

Finlay feigns that he’s going to leave, but sticks around. Weird dynamic of two faces teaming up on a heel. St. Clair floors him with a nice uppercut forearm. Even granting that Finlay was one of the nastiest bastard heels in the world at this time, it’s weird to see him in the sympathy position. He manages to ram their heads into the mat, but gets caught with a bootleg Hart Attack. The faces throw him out, but he catches himself and attacks from behind to dispose of St. Clair. Schumann hoists him up, but can’t get him out. Slingshot tried instead, but Finlay catches himself again. Charge into the corner, which Schumann avoids once. He tries the jumping avoidance escape again and gets caught and Finlay throws him over the top to win. Bit of a rubbish match, got better as the ring cleared, but was too directionless.

Melting it down: Well, mostly rubbish, but fun to see Terry Funk up for a challenge and some big WWF stars in some before they were famous moments.