Sabu vs. Al Snow in an Indie Ladder Match (And other Dream Matches!)

Another Dream Matches column this week, mostly because I FINALLY got to this match, and it’s pretty long so could be its own review… but I figured I’d toss some of the weirder “Dumpster Fire” Saturday Night matches onto it just for the hell of it. And also because I’ve had them finished for ages but couldn’t think of a column that needed room to fit a match as huge as Jim Neidhart vs. Roadblock or a superteam like Mike Enos/Chris Adams on it.

(Indie Fancam, July 23rd 1994)
* This is another in the endless Snow/Sabu Indie Tape Trader series, with them ripping off the Ladder Match concept only months after WrestleMania X. This is back when a shot from a CHAIR was a game-changer, so ladder shots were like nuclear weapons in the Shawn/Razor bout, mind you. I can only assume that every indie on Earth started using “Ladder Matches” to sell tickets around this point, but I wasn’t a tape trader so I’m not sure. Anyone familiar with that era?

Al comes down to the song they always play at sports arenas- it’s literally on YouTube as “The Hey Song” but is I guess “Rock & Roll Part 2” by noted kiddy-diddler Gary Glitter. Al’s in blue trunks looking like a total goober again, and Sabu’s in shiny silver pants. The belt up for grabs is the NWA Independent “World” Title- a belt invented solely for Sabu to defend on his travelling indie tours- a pretty smart gimmick, really. It looks like they just use half a hockey rink as their “arena” here, cutting it in half with curtains. This match looks excruciatingly long going by YouTube, but I’ve had this on my docket for like six months, so let’s finally get to it!

They start slow with punches, and Sabu does maybe the worst backflip I’ve ever seen and runs into a boot. Superkick, suplex & martial arts slowly work Sabu over, but he trips Al up and misses a pescado- Al then hits a few chairshots, a slingshot enzuigiri & then uses the ringbell. Both fight near the ladder, selling going into the rink’s boards as devastating, and the ladder nearly hits some fat guy (Sabu’s manager?) when Sabu gets dropkicked into it. They trade baby ladder shots in the ring and Al weakly back-bumps into it, but knocks Sabu off when he climbs. The thing is so big and unwieldly it takes forever just to set up! Sabu does the Shawn “Falling With the Ladder” spot, but Al dodges, Sabu uncharacteristically taking a safe bump (he lands feet first because he rode it instead of dying for his art like Shawn did)- Al gourdbusts him on it then hits a shitty 2nd-rope legdrop, but gets tossed off from six feet up the ladder.

Sabu tries a Guillotine Legdrop off the ladder but misses in a good bump, but Al fails a DDT and Sabu hits his “rope-flip” moonsault and both are down- Al backdrops Sabu from the second rung, then hits a Springboard Kneedrop all the way across the ring! But a springboard legdrop misses, and both guys fight atop the ladder, doing the “mutual fall into the ropes” spot. Both sell for a while, then Sabu hits a slingshot tope con hilo & Asai Moonsault- Al DDTs him on a chair to come back and climbs, but gets chaired in the ass (he takes the Flair Flop once he stumbles down each step one at a time, lol). Sabu hits Air Sabu (chair-assisted vaulting roundhouse kick), but misses the Arabian Facecrusher (chair-assisted double-legdrop), and Al chairs him a bunch then makes a ridonkulous Chair Mountain in the ring… but the big spot seems to be just shoving Sabu into it, and Al puts him on the top rope and jumps off the ladder to knock him off, and they clear the ring out. That’s it for the chairs?

Al gets punched off the ladder and Sabu does a cool spot dragging the ladder till it sticks out a bit, draping Al over it, and hitting a legdrop off the apron… then tries a pescado, but Al moves and Sabu eats s---, sliding to the floor! After about a minute, Al drapes Sabu over the ladder in the ring, but moonsaults off the second rope onto knees- Sabu spears him with the ladder and hits their usual “Sunset Flip Powerbomb on on the Floor” spot. Sabu then sets up Jenga with tables & ladders for like a fuckin’ minute before putting Al on a table, then comes off for the Shawn Move off the top… but AGAIN misses, going ass-first through the table! Another minute later, Al hits a tombstone in the ring, but covers until the ref reminds him it won’t count. Two full minutes later, they fight REALLY high up the ladder until Al hangs off and then falls down (a baby-bump- he’s only two feet off the ground when he drops), Sabu grabbing the title and pulling it off as Al shoves the ladder down (19:56). And that’s it! That’s how Sabu wins!

Al, a sore loser, grabs the belt for a bit, and Sabu responds by slapping the ref around, bringing the table in, and putting him through it in maybe the wimpiest table bump I’ve ever seen- hahahaha, the ref went through it with the force of a terrier falling off a stepladder but the thing still folded on “impact”! He then moonsaults an empty table to be suicidal, but that one DOESN’T break, even though it’s in a “U” shape already!

This had to have been pretty wild to see live at the time, being probably the second ladder match any of these people had ever seen. To a fan looking back, it’s got “Indie” tendencies a mile wide and clearly goes for ladder shots way too early, resulting in them babying all the spots. The ladder was also WAY too tall, which made all the “drop it on them” spots look bad as it’d hit the ropes every time and bounce off. The chair-pile spot was awful, too, with like a flying shove putting Sabu onto it- if this were modern wrestling they’d have made that a crazy match-ender with a superplex or ladder-suplex onto the pile or something crazy- not some disappointing mid-match spot.

What’s somewhat funny is watching the time between spots- in modern AEW you see guys recover from dives to the floor in like two seconds, so it’s weird to see the old “Spotfest” style where each move hits and is allowed to breathe for at least 30 seconds before both guys recover for the next thing, and were taking 1-2 MINUTES by the end. Neither sold remotely as well as Shawn or Razor, though, so the spots fall much flatter. Watch Shawn writhe in agony after a ladder hits his spine and it’s better than anything either guy did here. Those guys would EARN their long breaks between moves, ya know?

Rating: **1/4 (some good bumps eventually, but indie-riffic as hell, with shockingly babied bumps and stalling throughout)

Chris Adams (wrestler) - Wikiwand

I’ve seen dozens of Chris Adams matches and couldn’t pick him out of a lineup if I tried. He’s just got one of those faces.

* Wait, what? Enos & Adams? So Adams at this point was a pasty, doughy British chap mostly known for being Steve Austin’s senior partner before a huge feud broke out over Austin marrying Adams’s wife Jeannie Clark (in kayfabe AND storyline!), and for bringing the Superkick out as a major finish. In WCW he was mostly just “card filler”- one of dozens and dozens of guys padding Goldberg or Wrath’s records and trading wins with other dinks on the undercard. Him teaming with Enos (another guy in a similar role, but with even less credibility) is a weird one. Adams is in blue trunks & Enos in black short tights.

Adams wins a basic criss-cross with Tough Tom, bringing in Enos with an F-U (no, really). Enos hoists Tom up and spins him around in Perfect Plex position before hitting the MUSCLE BUSTER (the kneeling version from the Kinnikuman manga where the guy’s supposed to be hurt by jarring down on your shoulder), Tom barely getting his foot on the ropes. Enos prepares a running shot, but Mike boots him from the apron and Tom clotheslines him down- flying axehandle & double backdrop suplex get two, but Enos launches Tom off and hits a lariat. Drop toehold/elbow from Enos & Adams, and Adams hits a backdrop hold for two. DC hit him with a double clothesline, but he manages one of his own, taking them both out- Enos is in with a powerslam to one and an overhead belly-to-belly to the other. Mean Mike breaks up the pin, so Adams Superkicks him out of the ring, and Enos hits a Powerslam off the second rope to finish Tough Tom at (5:26).

Enos looked like he was fishing for that one big push that never came, hitting some great stuff in the early bit of the match. Poor Adams had seen better days, as his stuff was very loose and ineffectual-looking.

Rating: *1/2 (mostly good because of Enos and his crazy power moves)

(WCW Saturday Night, July 28th 1998)
* So we’re in the ultra-sad era where Neidhart & Bulldog followed Bret Hart to WCW, but the company had clearly not been expecting to have any of them, so they had nothing for them to do. But at least the bookers knew they had to do SOMETHING with Bret, hence all the dumb “referee at Starrcade/feud with Flair/nWo stuff” where he was horribly misused but at least PROMINENTLY misused… unlike his brothers-in-law. Neidhart in particular was less than an afterthought, both guys ending up threaded into the hordes of un-used WCW interchangeable midcarders. So here’s Neidhart against the GOD of that division, Road Block (his name is now two separate words!).

The two trade punches, neither one selling, but Road Block misses an avalanche and ends up in a… BEARHUG? Neidhart is bearhugging ROADBLOCK? RB apparently realizes the absurdity and headbutts his much smaller opponent, then hoists him into his OWN bearhug. Neidhart goes to the eyes and the balls to come back, choking and biting as well, as both guys are just working heel. RB goes to the eyes and hits a clothesline in the corner, but Jim just kinda heads out and tries to double-leg him, Road Block looking like he’s resisting him in a shoot, so they mess about in a grapple and try eyerakes and biting. Road Block bites to get out of another bearhug. Both dudes are clearly blown up as RB throws him to the corner and hits the wimpiest clothesline ever, with even Tenay calling out Neidhart’s “not having much gas left in the tank!”. But then Road Block GOES UP (!), missing a Flying Splash for his trademark “flat-face” bump (he usually does that off the second rope), so Neidhart hits his Running Shoulderblock finisher (lol) at (4:06) with his feet on the ropes.

MAN, these guys were just not on the same page. Neidhart for some reason was doing only power stuff against a dude with four inches and 100 lbs. on him, and Roadblock had this “WTF?” reaction and both guys were just throwing eyepokes and biting. Poor selling and worse cardio made for a pretty bad one.

Rating: DUD (not a good Hoss Match at all- it just turned into bearhugs, cheating and brawling)