The Best of Johnny Polo on Coliseum Video!

Well, after the disappointing showing of the WWF Mania tape, I thought I’d review some Coliseum Video matches with the unlikely pairing of Johnny Polo and Gorilla Monsoon on commentary, which you would think would be a disaster but actually made for some comedy gold. Dual purpose here is to review the matches and recap some of the gems between Scott Levy, channeling Bobby Heenan as best as he can in absentia, and a checked out but amused Gino.

From German Fan Favorites…

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

A dark match from December 2nd, 1993, in a cage. Shawn has lost the big belly he worked up in 1993, which is one of my favourite Shawn periods for how little of a f--- he was giving, but still one of the best wrestlers in the business. Johnny Polo segues from the word ‘sudden’ to baseball player Don Sutton while kayfabing his Philadelphia origins. Shawn attacks straight away, but gets caught in a slingshot into the cage, which he of course does a brilliant spinning bump off, then staggers around off a headbutt and punch. Johnny argues that the exit through the door manner of victory is the “weenie” way, then ends up talking himself into a circle about whether he likes Canada or not (“I hate Canada! Well, I love Quebec, but that’s because the Quebecers are from there!”). Bret tries climbing out, but Shawn catches his leg and brings him down, ramming the back of his head into the cage, prompting Gorilla to quote his medical dictionary as always. Shawn goes for the door, but gets caught and dragged back in, which you know in a less PC era would’ve meant we would’ve seen his arse. Both men leap over one another to escape until Shawn gets the bottom rope guillotine move. Shawn then goes for escape over the top, but gets caught by the hair and dangles in a manner with his feet swinging while obscuring the one arm he’s using to hold on.

Both men back in, Johnny makes the mistake of asking Gorilla about how many cage matches he was in and then says gorillas would be bad climbers, which goes against all conventional wisdom that Monsoon calls him on it. “They can hang with one hand and beat you with the other three…”, which has Johnny laughing about how he came up with “the other three”. Bret gets to the top rope, so Shawn pendulum swings one leg to crotch him on it. He goes for the door, with Gorilla critiquing him going through the ropes rather than under them, which is of course the opening for Bret to crotch Shawn in revenge. “A bit of turnabout is fair play there you’re gonna say, Monsoon boy! They’re both out, Uncle Gorilla.” Gorilla totally no-sells that bit of affection. Shawn gets a bit of chin music before it was chin music. A discussion of rules has Polo mispronouncing the rules the Quebecers won under as “Providence of Quebec” rather than “Province of Quebec”, which he blames the Steiners for due to them always calling it that. Gorilla reverts to his “Who cares?!” response. Both men get to the top rope again, with Bret kicking Shawn off but hurting his knee in the process. Shawn uses that to catch him and goes to the sleeper.

Gorilla says it’s been “a top, knock down, drag out affair here”, so Johnny tries to one-up him by saying “it’s a knock down, drag out, rock and roll party in the streets”. Gorilla actually works out that it’s a song reference, so Johnny sings the line from the Axe song for him to nil points. Bret uses leverage to run Shawn into the cage to break the sleeper and goes for the climb over the top. Shawn creeps up behind him and rakes the eyes to overtake him, but gets his head rammed into the cage and slips his leg through the cage to get caught in the bars and the ropes in a bit of an obvious bit for Bret to win, although obviously they reused that finish for the Summerslam ’94 main event finish. Good match, not one of their greatest, but far more watchable than the Iron Man match. Three asterisks for this one.

Next, from The Undertaker…

Crush vs. The Undertaker

Crush is in that weird period where he has no music. Gorilla brings up how Johnny and Crush are friends, which was an actual real life thing from their days back in Portland. Johnny’s trying to coin “the Underwear Taker” as a thing and claims he’s the toughest manager in the WWF and that he’s going to beat up “that pasty-faced, tub of goo” Paul Bearer. Gorilla says Paul’s a real manager, which Johnny says to quit it with. Ironically, Bill Moody was doing real manager stuff, like booking hotels and cars and taking care of Mark Calaway’s business at home, to bump up his own wages, while Scott Levy had tension with Adam Bomb because Bryan Clark was green and thought that managers really did do that stuff for you. Johnny gets confused by the concept of someone holding up a place mat with the Undertaker’s face on it. When Gorilla prompts him to answer what’s in the urn he says “It’s none of your business!”, then says he’s “omnipotent” when it comes to wrestling, which Gorilla twists into him admitting he’s “impotent”.

Stare down to start, then Crush attacks from behind. Undertaker gets a DDT off the ropes straight away in response. Elbowdrop is a miss, so Crush clotheslines him out. ‘Taker lands on his feet and menaces Fuji, but gets caught by the hair, so breaks that with a guillotine drop over the rope. Back in, Undertaker goes old school when it was still school age while Gorilla hurts Johnny’s feelings by saying Fuj has been talking badly about him (“He said a lot of derogatory things about you… they were all true, though!”). Crush ducks a clothesline and superkicks ‘Taker out. Gorilla almost falls into the trap of explaining the difference between a reverse thrust kick and a reverse crescent kick, but thinks better of it. A couple of shots with a purple chair with blue cushions on it that looks straight out of the Royal Rumble game while Mr. Fuji distracts Bill Alfonso. Gorilla reckons he got his license from a Crackerjack box (Johnny, excitedly: “You can get them from a Crackerjack box?!”). Johnny reckons he’s the second worst referee in the WWF other than “that Joey Marella guy” (Gorilla, deadpan: “Don’t start.”). Well, there’s one for Scott to discuss.

Back in, a minute or so after being on the floor. Crush gets his dubious martial arts kicks. Johnny reckons the way to beat the Undertaker is to take advantage of him taking a few seconds to sit up, aided by a referee who’ll give you a quick count. Crush gets a backbreaker and Johnny tries to prove his own timing hypothesis unsuccessfully. Military press slam and legdrop. ‘Taker is back up and gets the flying clothesline. Crush actually catches Undertaker out of nowhere and goes for his own Tombstone, but ‘Taker reverses it and gets the win. Ah, it didn’t drag and it was two buddies who knew what to do with one another, so let’s call it two asterisks.

From the 1994 Razor Ramon tape…

Crush vs. Razor Ramon

I guess Johnny either had a fondness for or was the only one willing to bite the bullet for Crush matches. Johnny does his own interpretation of Razor’s music and claims he can sing all kinds of songs, but Jeff Jarrett can only sing two: country and western. Just for shits and giggles, Johnny feeds Gorilla the line to reveal the title of his favourite country song title: I’ve Got Hair All Over My Ears and My Glasses Keep Slipping Down, But I Can Still See Through You, Baby! Gorilla credits to Slim Pickens, but Johnny says it’s Conway Twitty, then contrives a relationship between him and Kitty Carlisle that would render her Kitty Twitty, which has Gino groaning. Johnny actually recalls Crush being one third of Demolition, managed by Fuji, which is an incredibly obscure reference for this era and something you’d normally be asked not to throw in. Crush overpowers Razor initially and pounds away. Johnny identifies Razor’s game plan: get beat up. Five minutes in, he gets a punch in as his first shot, but gets superkicked into the ropes for more shots. Bodyscissors applied to slow down the match even more. Gorilla gets on about Fuji’s pointless advice from ringside. Backbreaker into a pendulum submission move, which Razor knees out of. Some weak shots and a call for the Razor’s Edge, but Crush gets a thumb to the eye and backbreaker to set up his kneedrop off the top. Three is almost counted, but Razor gets his foot on the ropes to break, then scoots behind to roll up Crush for the pinfall. Pretty shitty one here, that’s our crush. Half an asterisk.

Finally, a non-Polo bonus match from Undertaker: He Buries Them Alive!

Jerry Lawler vs. The Undertaker

This is a casket match as well for some reason, so I don’t know if he’s a substitute for Yokozuna or someone. Jerry goes for Paul Bearer, so Bearer shines the flashlight from the Summerslam ’94 urn in his face, which he’s good enough to sell and walks into a shot from the Undertaker. He goes into his tights for an invisible weapon, then argues with ringside about whether he’s just holding his hand like there’s something in it. A couple of shots with that, but ‘Taker no-sells it after half a dozen, prompting a brilliant shocked expression from Lawler. That not working, the King scarpers away. The camera catches a brilliant shot in the reflection of the urn of Paul gurning in character. Lawler tries again and throws a few more shots with the weapon, even going up to the second rope a few times to finally knock ‘Taker down. A go at getting him in the casket, but no luck. One chance shot does actually knock him in, but Lawler can’t get the lid down. ‘Taker catches the hand when he tries for the third time with the air weapon and slams Lawler back inside while Stan Lane, on commentary for this one with Gorilla, takes shots at Lawler’s weight and always eating from fast food restaurants, with the latter definitely having some legitimacy. The King goes low without repercussion, but can’t get ‘Taker in the casket. Tombstone out of nowhere, and Undertaker rolls him Lawler into the casket for the victory. This was fine with Jerry knowing his role and stretching out the inevitable with theatrics to keep everyone engaged. One asterisk.

Melting it down: One of the old rules was that you could sit through a s--- match if the commentary was entertaining enough, and these matches proved that. A shame in a way that Scott Levy saw his future down a route that took him away from the big companies because he could’ve lasted for years as Bobby Heenan 2.0 if he’d found a new Gorilla.