Classic Championship Wrestling From Florida

An interesting find here, courtesy of uploader Liam Savage, with some post-WCW compilation of interviews, angles and matches from Eddie Graham’s promotion, presented in an interesting retrospective way, because, well, just look…

Presented circa 2001/02 by Mike Graham and RANDY “MACHO MAN” SAVAGE! Seeing as Mach, in his pimp era, pretty much became a recluse after leaving WCW, this is quite the favour job for his fellow Floridian.

I’ll likely present much of this in bullet point form unless it doesn’t lend itself to it.

Episode 1:

  • Old clips and overlay, with a from the vault theme, although the music screams late nineties head banging.
  • Eighties Gordon Solie throws to footage of an always brilliant Barry Windham/Ric Flair match from Battle of the Belts II, which ended in a double count out. Interesting variation on the float over suplex from BW, landing straddling Flair instead of in a lateral cover.
  • Buddy Colt prepares to interviews Blackjack Mulligan at ringside in lieu of Kevin Sullivan, who has instead sent in a tape..
  • In the locker room, Sullivan and his gang speak. Luna emerges from a locker, while King Curtis sits like a statue in a chair, practically drooling. The Purple Haze a towel on his head like a kid playing Batman with a coat button around their neck. Sullivan promises to slit Superstar Billy Graham from this throat to his gut and feast on his innards in a pleasant image. I’m more distracted by the plaster next to his nipple. Curtis comes to life then and bellows.
  • Back to Buddy and Blackjack, positioning himself as an American role model and sweating like a pig.
  • Billy Graham narrates the famous picture of himself crucified in the desert with his eye bandaged, wearing the gi that would be discarded before his reinvention. Graham outdoes Blackjack’s pretensions by likening himself to Christ with his resurrection.
  • Back to Blackjack again, who will team with Graham against Sullivan and one of his followers and promises a surprise.
  • Gordon Solie eulogizes wrestler and referee Bubba Douglas, who died of a heart attack at the matches the previous week, the unofficial mayor of Lakeland, Florida.
  • Mike Graham and Randy Savage in the then-present preview a match including Dick Slater, running down the people he beat up (John Matuszak, Sting and the Ultimate Warrior) in real life. Bill Watts is in the match too, and Randy recalls him giving him his break under a mask as the Spider.
  • Joined in progress, Dick Slater stomps on the Great Malenko, with Bill Watts on retrospective commentary. He runs in to break up a Slater pinfall, so Slater’s partner Stan Vachon dumps him. Slater channels Dusty Rhodes with his elbowdrops. Watts dumps him off the top and runs him into Vachon, then places Malenko on top of Vachon for the win. Nothing really to review.
  • Eddie Graham and Paul Jones face Buddy Colt and Chris Markoff. Randy recalls his dad and Markoff being the Devil’s Duo beforehand. No commentary as it’s film footage, with a line right down the middle that comes and goes. Jones works over Markoff and teases the Indian deathlock until Colt comes in. Hammerlock slam for him. Graham comes in with fists. Dick Murdoch comes out to call stuff out as Buddy bleeds a good one. A collision between Graham and Markoff allows the partners to get their shots in from both sides. Graham joins in the bleeding. Jones gets into it with Murdoch on the outside as the heels beat on Graham. Murdoch tries to hit Eddie with a wooden chair but nails Markoff, then brains himself with it several times in frustration. Jones dropkicks everyone out and gets the pin for his team.
  • Mike and Randy wrap up the first edition, followed by archival Gordon’s “So long from the Sunshine State!”.

Episode 2:

  • Back with Mike and Randy, who Graham talks about being in Spider-Man recently.
  • Classic footage of Dusty Rhodes and the Haiti Kid (a midget) against Gary Hart (manager) and one of his men, Bobby Duncum. Dusty talks about Gary being a flatfooted wino from Chicago and Duncum being a perennial loser, then that he only had to pay the Kid in tickets to Disney Land and a rack of ribs. Bionic Elbow for Hart with a Haiti pin, but Hart presses the Kid off through the ropes as Dusty yucks it up. One more and a foot on top to get him this time. No ego on Hart. The heels beat up the midget after the fact to regain their heat. “There was nothing else for me to do except put the black dude in my white arms” is the Dream’s questionable conclusion.
  • King Curtis gives a promo while sat like a baby in the locker room, passing on a message he got from Abudadein while bathing in the Ganges. He rolls the bones, which say Kevin Sullivan will soon be mentoring… LEX LUGER! Huge if true!
  • Tony D’Amata, Jim Backlund (Jimmy Del Ray) and Mike Allen face Maya Singh, Kevin Sullivan and the Purple Haze. Singh beats up the jobbers, with Gordon consistently calling him Bob Roop. Sullivan, in his tracksuit bottoms and cowboy boots look, holds up Backlund for shots. Buddy Colt reckons the jobbers should’ve come out with bricks and boards to even up the odds and regrets previously bringing King Curtis to Florida. Massive clothesline with a flip finishes the Gigolo.
  • Eddie Graham and Dusty Rhodes face Bob Roop and Bob Orton Jr. , who apparently now has a son who’s a rookie wrestler. Roop his in his more traditional form in this earlier match and does the after-the-fact commentary. Orton joins him, flying all over the place with his selling, then gets taken down with four rolling front chancery holds (“A ch-ch-chokehold!” stutters Orton). Roop gets a stiff flying kneedrop on Graham that almost finishes, but Dusty tags in with elbows. Graham back in with his own stiff knees on Orton and the figure four, but Roop drags him out of bounds. A big collision takes out the referee, so Orton hits a big piledriver and applies a sleeper to make it look like that knocked him out for the win. I love that rat bastard level of cheating.
  • Mike and Randy preview a match with the White Ninja, AKA the Great Muta, with discussion of how he was the first guy to do a moonsault, even though it was Tiger Mask and also not mentioning that Randy’s brother Lanny was doing them in the US beforehand. It’s actually Rocky Iaukea, King Curtis’ son, wrestling the Ninja. He misses a falling headbutt, allowing Ninja to get a handspring elbow followed by a plancha, backbreaker and moonsault for the win, which is sensational for the mid-eighties and it’s no surprise he got over like gangbusters.

Episode 3:

  • Introduction from Randy, who looks like a cross between a cowboy and a biker, and Mike, who scratches his balls.
  • Ron Bass talks over footage of a match he had with Barry Windham. Bob Roop is a studio commentator at this point. Windham gets a piledriver, but Bass throws powder to cut him off. They then bang heads and Windham falls on top for the win.
  • A young Scott Hall faces Jerry Grey. He’s big, but there’s nothing remarkable about Hall at all at this point, with white trunks and cowboy boots, plus moustache and shorter brown hair. I think history proves that DDP getting him to change his facial hair and hair colour did the trick for him nicely. Hall is able to do stuff but has no idea why he’s doing it or how to follow up at this point. Awkward torture rack finishes, followed by adjusting himself in another Lex-like move. After the match at the desk, Gordon and Buddy show Hall footage of the Sheik, who he’ll be wrestling. Bet it was a mess, but would love to see that match!
  • The Sheik, in archive footage, throws fire at Sailor Art Thomas. Sam Menacker is confused as to how it happened, but the big piece of flash paper and lighter in his hands is probably the answer.
  • Tim Woods wrestles Johnny Valentine in the seventies, with Valentine bizarrely animated for a change. Trapped in a sleeper, Gordon manages to include the word ‘surcease’ and describes Valentine having “darkness closing in on his mind”… Gordon really was the greatest. Valentine breaks by punching Woods in the eye. Slugfest on the apron, with Woods knocking Valentine back in with a last shot, but getting counted out at the same time. Not taking it well, Woods beats up Valentine after the match.
  • The Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong) face the New Breed. Pretty even and energetic, even though everyone is green. Steve looks just like Brad at this point, although wears a t-shirt with Tracy to hide his bacne. Sean Royal was on a podcast a few years ago and was a wildman in his discussion of getting drunk, getting high and getting laid. Gordon calls the show American Championship Wrestling at this late point. Everyone is in and the time runs out on the show.

Episode 3:

  • Randy and Mike are joined by a blonde Steve Keirn this week.
  • From a recent show, Lex Luger wins a fall in a multi-fall match with Ric Flair, who takes a powder. Some masked guys run in to attack Luger and his coach Bob Roop, who looks like Percy Pringle at this point. They manage to hold them off, but the Shock Troops and the Black Ninja and Kendo Nagasaki turn the tide. An incapacitated Barry Windham tries to help, so Ron Bass takes his leg out. Pretty big heat for this, even more when Flair returns and insists on the match continuing. He wins by forfeit.
  • Coach’s Corner, with Coach John Heath (moaning about a cold), featuring Kevin Sullivan and Sir Oliver Humperdink. Humpy gets a great dad joke in and then talks about his displeasure regarding Bruiser Brody returning as an enemy. Sullivan, who also sounds like he has a blocked nose but not from a cold, adds his words, alluding to a BDSM relationship with Nancy. He then suggests Heath got the cold from too much rolling around with Adrian Street.
  • The team of Mike Graham and Steve Keirn face Sato and Saito in a US tag team title victory. Tiger Hattori tries to speak for the Japanese heels, badly. Saito is wrestling with one sock on for some reason. He gets his suplex, but Graham kicks out. Another one, almost Taz-like in the delivery. Sato in this case is actually the guy who would go on to be the Great Kabuki. Steve Keirn gets a small package out of nowhere on Sato for the win and the belts. Hattori tries to protest that Sato was the “long guy in the ling”.
  • Footage of the Fabulous Ones pulling the small package out of the bag to beat the Sheepherders, followed by the Sheepherders claiming they’re still the champions with counterfeit belts (not even a plate on the front, just cards with CHUMP #1 and CHUMP #2 on them).

Episode 4:

  • Steve Keirn returns to team up with Randy and Mike again, with Keirn teasing a heel turn.
  • Billy Jack Haynes makes his Florida debut to a jazzy version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Wild Bill Snyder attacks and walks right into a slam, dropkick, press slam and submits quickly to the full nelson. Haynes looked awesome at this point, although he was already flaking out here and there. Dusty Rhodes gives him the stamp of approval after the match. Billy Jack gives a dry interview after the fact, barely looking at the camera, although I believe guys like Raven have said that it kinda added to his everyman appeal.
  • Kendo Nagasaki faces Kendall Windham in a boxing match, gloves on. The said, Kendo kicks and stomps and slams, everything but punches. Kendall does fight back with lefts and rights, but they look lame and give away it’s not proper boxing at all. Ten years later and you could probably do a mixed martial arts match and save some face, but this isn’t then. Kendo grabs his kendo stick to hit Kendall with for the DQ to be called. Kendall offers comments after the fact and cannot string together one coherent sentence, as big brother got the talent in that generation.
  • Back in the studio, vis a vis the Windhams not taking their dad’s stage surname, Keirn says Randy didn’t go by Poffo because Angelo didn’t want him to sully the name. Randy claims in return that Savage is the real family name and it’s pronounced Sah-vahj in a good comeback.
  • Dusty Rhodes sends in a tape to the show about being the world champion, then throws to footage after his world title victory in the locker room, getting a dig in at Terry Funk as always and getting the beers poured over him.
  • Six man tag action including the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Killer Karl Kox, Larry Hamilton, Mr. Uganda and Pak Song Nam. Dusty gets a dropkick at one point. Uganda (actually a masked Cyclone Negro) gets multiples headbutts in until Dusty tires of taking them and gets the flip, flop and fly. Not sure who the other man in the match is as there’s no commentary, but he takes the beating while Dusty gets the hero moments. Kox comes in with a chair on Pak Song for the DQ. Nothing much to this one, although Randy got to tell a few cool stories about different guys in it during the preview.
  • Mike and the guys close the show, with Mike justifying that he chooses matches without commentary to make you feel like you’re there in the Armory too. Just high up, with a single view. Randy says Mike won’t sell out and sell the tape library, so you get to see it. Spoiler: he did.

Melting it down: Pretty fun shows that were very quick, in and out jobs, with Randy bringing the star presence with his part in the presentation and drawing the kayfabe curtain back with his comments on his friends and enemies. Not extensive or definitive, but definitely worth a watch and would’ve been big twenty years ago even in a weekend afternoon half hour slot.