Monday, June 15, 2009

Kerry Von Erich vs. Jumbo Tsuruta 5/22/1984

Quick backstory: The more I watch Jumbo Tsuruta the more I fall in love him. Kerry Von Erich has become a slight fascination to me. He's just one of those guys that has everything going for him in terms of body and charisma. He's not particularly good in the ring but the crowd eats it up. So when I look back at his matches, it's not just to watch him work, but to see how other people try to make him look good. 16 days prior to this, Kerry won the NWA World's Heavyweight Title from Flair in Texas.

Best of Three Falls
Champion: Kerry Von Erich vs. Challenger: Jumbo Tsuruta

From the onset, Jumbo seems to revel in the challenge of reigning Kerry in. Kerry looks pretty focused (for Kerry) so things are looking up. There's plenty of Kerry matches where he's just all over, which can be good and bad. Hopefully with Jumbo we get more good.

Their "getting to know you" stuff is fun. Kerry gets to show off a nice drop kick, Jumbo gets to show off some technical prowess and even a little bit of power. They stay pretty even, with neither man getting a lengthy advantage over the other. At one point, Jumbo teases a double-underhook suplex, and just the tease gets a hot reaction. After a couple attempts he finally gets it over and the crowd loves it. I love it. Making moves seem difficult to pull off really adds to the mystique of a match. I mean how many matches have you watched where I guy just pops off a suplex out of the gate without batting an eye. Usually in a match it's just the guy's finishes that are met with resistance. But here it feels like everything is important.

Jumbo locks on the abdominal stretch and rolls it over for a pin but Kerry kicks out. The crows is already counting along. They tease The IRON CLAW early but Jumbo keeps it out of the face, so Kerry settles for an Iron Ab-Claw. No dice on a sub, but I'm sure it's uncomfortable. I mean it's The Von Erich Claw but on your intestines. One time my brothers and cousins were having a big battle royal and I put The Iron Claw on my brother. For whatever reason his nose started to bleed (honestly I think it's because he was an awful nose picker) and when I pulled my hand away it was covered in blood. No one wanted any part of that move on that day, I assure you.

Twelve minutes in and Jumbo decides to be a dick. It happens when Kerry puts him on the ropes and gives a clean break but Jumbo shoves him to the floor. Kerry gets up ready to throw down. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Jumbo rams Kerry with a couple of big jumping knees sending him to the outside. Kerry responds with a big sunset flip from the apron that fetches him a two-count. Jumbo shocks him with an enzigiri and a back drop for the three. Stunnah.

Scorecard: Jumbo - 1 Kerry - 0
So far we're 14 minutes in and the match has been pretty back and forth. That first fall was really a surprise, as no one had been in control very long and to eat a pin at this point seems kinda weird.

After a reprieve, Jumbo starts taking over, busting open the Modern Day Warrior with some big punches. Seriously, I LOVE JUMBO. Every time he punches Kerry, he looks at the crowd like an excited child going "Look at what I've DONE!" Kerry is equally great flopping around all bloodied up. Eventually he comes back with a sleeper and it works for a little while, until Jumbo runs the guy's head into a turnbuckle to escape. Kerry answers that with a dropkick, but Jumbo is like whatever and starts knocking the kid around with those big time rights again. After a big double bump, Jumbo nails Kerry with a pile-driver for a two count. The crowd was so excited to see a pile-driver. It was a damn good one too, but only a two count.

22 minutes in and Kerry hits a discuss punch that sends Jumbo rebounding off the ropes into THE CLAW!!! THE CLAW!!!! By gahd it's the Iron Claw! Kerry gets him down for a pin, but Jumbo BRIDGES OUT! He actually bridges up on his feet, but Kerry keeps the pressure on and Jumbo is back on the mat for a three count. Coolest spot of the match, and totally unexpected. I've never seen anyone do that to the Claw.

Scorecard: Jumbo -1 Kerry - 1
The ref has to pull Kerry off of Jumbo so they can get another break before the the third fall. Jumbo's ring boys work over his face trying to get the muscles and bones back in order. Wow, what a cool way to put over a move.

Out of the gate Kerry looks cocky and goes for the Claw again. Jumbo narrowly escapes, rolling to the outside. Take a powder big man, you deserve it. Jumbo comes back with a new game plan and starts smashing Kerry's Claw-Hand on the turnbuckle. He then stands on his arm and begins to stomp it. Glorious, glorious. The crowd eats it up and so do I. Oh no, he rakes the hand across the ropes! Kerry tries to come back but his hand is too damaged. Jumbo grabs it and slams it on the metal thing in between the post and the turn buckle. I love it. Every freaking bit of it, this is really so fun to watch. He then pulls Kerry outside and slams it into the post like a wild man.

A Jumbo suplex back in the ring leads to a two count. Jumbo tries to break the guy's arm over his shoulder and the crowd is going nuts for it. He then goes for an armbard and I'm actually shocked. It's kind of weird seeing Kerry getting put in what I see as a very "puro" move. Kerry doesn't sell the armbar very wekk but it's okay. Eventually he gets out of it and hits a pildedriver of his own. He then goes up top but misses a crucial elbow drop. Jumbo responds with a jumping knee and a Boston Crab. TSU-RU-TA! TSU-RU-TA! Kerry reverses it and rolls up Jumbo for a two, Jumbo reverses that into his own roll up for a two and they're trading near falls like Lynn and Van Dam. But it just feels....cooler. They trade some punches and Jumbo goes over the top and pulls Kerry with him. They fight to beat the count out and Kerry locks on The Claw. Jumbo grabs him and hits a back drop suplex, but Kerry won't let go. Jumbo brushes him off and rolls in just after ref counts them out. Jumbo thinks he's won but the ref calls it a double count out. DRAW.

Winner: DRAW and Kerry Von Erich is still your NWA World's Heavyweight Champion.

I don't mind the double count out, but Jumbo acted a little strange - brushing away The Claw so he could roll in as the ten count finished. Looked like he wanted to look like the winner despite the draw. Which is fine by me. Lord knows Kerry has had enough draws where he came out still looking like a world beater down in Texas. The bulk of the match was fun and pretty equal for both guys. Neither spent too much time getting hammered on by the others. Jumbo was really creative throughout, whether it was the bridging up in the claw or the working of the hand, he was truly kickin' ass. Kerry was Kerry, which depending on your opinion, is either okay or not okay. He's a little awkward, as per usual, but he's got so much natural fire and charisma about him that it makes up for a lot of it. If you can find it, watch it. It's good.

A little trivia: As I mentioned, Kerry won the title 16 days before this match. 2 days later he would lose it back to Ric Flair in Yokosuka, Japan, giving him the 12th shortest reign in NWA history.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Review: Halloween Havoc 1989

Why this show: So I was not a big NWA/WCW fan growing up. I just didn't have access to the shows. I was pretty much into WWE and USWA as a kid. Anyway, I love Terry Funk and I think The Great Muta is awesome and them together in a Thunderdome Cage Match against Flair and Sting sound great. Real Quick card rundown:
  1. Mike Rotunda vs. The Z-Man
  2. 6-MAN TAG: Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane & Steve Williams vs. The Samoan Swat Team (Samu/Fatu/Samoan Savage)
  3. Tommy Rich vs. The Cuban Assassin
  4. TAG TITLE MATCH: The Freebirds (Garvin/Hayes) vs. Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas/Johnny Ace)
  5. Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Doom (Butch Reed & Ron Simmons)
  6. UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Brian Pillman vs. Lex Luger(champion)
  7. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey)
  8. THUNDERDOME MATCH: Ric Flair & Sting w/Ole Anderson vs. Terry Funk & The Great Muta w/Gary Hart
So let's do this:

October, 28 1989
Philadelphia Civic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 7,300
Announcers: Jim Ross and Bob Caudle

The Z-Man(Tom Zenk) vs. Captain Mike Rotunda

You may remember Captain Mike Rotunda as Irwin R. Schyster in the WWE. The Turner Home Video basically ripped out the middle of this, so we only get a little opening and a little ending. Rotunda rocks the abdominal stretch with a little added leverage via hand on the rope. Oddly enough, the ref is standing right in front of them focused so hard at Zenk that he doesn't notice. FACT: Professional wrestling referees are a sub-species of human beings who's main distinction is a lack of peripherial vision. Finish comes when Rotunda gets whipped to the corner and springs from the middle rope with a crossbody. Zenk rolls it through to get a flash pin. Audible boos at Zenk for winning. But he's THE Z-MAN. Complete with Tim Burton's Batman theme music. F- the haters, I'll back Zenk. Go, Z-Man! Go!

Midnight Express and Steve "Dr. Death" Williams /w Jim Cornette vs. Samoan Swat Team and The Samoan Savage /w The Big Kahuna Sir Oliver Humperdink

Jim Cornette does the intros for his team and says this about the Midnight Express "They've wrecked more homes than Hurricane Hugo." Classy. The beginning is clipped out so we jump to Bobby Eaton getting beat up. Bobby Eaton slams Fatu's face into the ground in an attempt to make a comeback, but Fatu no sells it. Because he's Samoan and that's his head. Dr. Death eventually gets the hot tag and springs in off the top rope(not kidding) and proceeds to toss around every opponent that comes at him. Crowd goes nuts. Stan Lane comes in and attempts a neck breaker, changes his mind and goes for a DDT, but which ever Samoan was taking it tried to spin like it was a neck breaker. Awkward. Finish comes when Cornette gets on the apron to drop a sneaky Humperdink. Then Samoan Savage pushes Stan Lane into Cornette conveniently causing the Sweet One to hit his head on Corny's racket. FACT: Cornette's Racket is made of adamantium. The Samoan makes the cover on a now completely incapacitated Lane for the win. Wikipedia lists this one has having gone over 18 minutes. Part of me wishes I had a full copy. A small part.

Tommy "Wildfire" Rich vs. The Cuban Assassin.

Another clip job. Thankfully they clip directly to the Cuban raking the eyes which causes Good Ole Jim Ross to say: "That seems to be a popular short cut for people of his ilk" Take that country of Cuba and people of Cuban descent. Ross was touting Wildfire as one of the comeback athletes of 1989. And by comeback, he means slightly credible veteran who will job out to Lex Luger soon. The Cuban hits a big knee to Rich's chin and begins to stomp his face, which leads to another gem from Ross: "That's not scientific at all, I guess the amateur program in Cuba leaves much to be desired." FACT: Jim Ross can't find Cuba on a map and will swear to you that the "dang thang moves when you ain't lookin'". Crowd was pretty restless and bored. Finish was a variation on the Z-Man match, with Cuban doing the cross body from the middle rope just like Rotunda, but Rich isn't any where near him. When the weary Cuban gets up he's met by Rich's Thesz Press for the pin. A big, ugly Thesz Press. The ref raises his hand to a lot of boos and Rich just bolts. Man that must have been a rough 8 minutes.

-Tag Title Match-
The Dyanmic Dudes (Shane Dougles and Johnny Ace) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Ronnie Garvin and Micheal P.S. Hayes)

Man did the man fans crap on some Dynamic Dudes. If you get a chance watch this match, and you will see some similarity between the Dynamic Dudes and John Cena. The Freebirds play up some heel stuff, but it doesn't matter, too many guys in the crowd love them. Hayes was hitting cheap shots to some big time cheers. Huge Freebirds chants. Hayes misses the DDT and Douglas gets the hot tag to massive boos. Finish comes when they go for The Wipeout, but Hayes pulls Ace's leg and Ronnie reverses it into a pin on Douglas. It actually looked pretty cool. A "moment of the night" contender comes when the Freebirds roll to the outside and Gravin looks at the camera, clutching the belt and goes "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." And Hayes leans in and makes a super-model kiss face, and just walks off. You have to see it, because it is so funny and cool as hell at the same time. Hayes is a smooth mahta fahkin criminal.

The Steiner Bros. Vs. Doom w/ Woman

Quick Backstory. Woman was orginally a fan that had a huge crush on Rick Steiner. Scott Steiner finally told her off because she was kinda creepin' him out. She got pissed and took on the moniker "Woman" and told them they would meet there "doom" at Halloween Havoc. The "doom" she was referring to was Doom, a monstrous masked tandem consisting of Butch Reed and Ron "DAMN" Simmons. Of course we wouldn't "know" it was them until they would be unmasked a few months later, and go one to have a pretty neat run as tag champs. So this is the debut of Doom.

Right off the bat the Steiners shine with a stereo German Suplex. Steiners are crazy strong. It kind of takes away from the mystique of Doom and whether or not these"big imposing" will be too much for the Steiners. Ross and Caudle debate whether or not Doom will be too much for the Steiners even though we just saw Rick and Scott toss them around like ragdolls. Jim Ross provides a fun fact: Scott was going to be a SCHOOL TEACHER until Rick convinced him to become a wrestler..... A school teacher...... Scott Steiner..... Mull that one over. The Steiners pretty much give Doom little offense in the first half, but eventually they overcome Scotty and work him over for a while. Pretty pedestrian stuff here. Rick gets the hot tag and all hell breaks loose. Finish comes when Woman loads up "Doom 2"'s mask and he knocks out Rick Steiner with a headbutt. It's not particularly good, and Doom looked pretty weak despite getting the win. It really makes me want to reevaluate The Steiners as a team.

-United States Heavyweight Championship Match- Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Champion: "The Total Package" Lex Luger

Pillman gets an entrance with a bunch of cheerleaders. Lex Luger comes out like a damn super star, and I wonder why I was one of those people who thought he was crap. The reason: Lex Express. NWA\WCW Lex Luger is hot as hell and an awesome heel. I'm debating goinf back to the 90's WWE Luger and seeing if I was just wearing my Bret Hart colored shades when he was on. The match is immediately more fun than anything else that's been on so far. Which isn't saying much, but depending on the main event this will probably be the best match. Pillman is quick and agile and unlike anybody that's been on so that gets the crowd excited. Lex Luger lets Pillman get over him a lot and makes him look really strong for the first half. Sadly that high risk offense comes with a price and Pillman belly flops off the top rope splash, transitioning to Lex having an extended take over. Luger keeps taunting the crowd through out it all. I mean Luger is sizzling hot and ready to the moon. As I'm watching this, I realize that the US title is just a token appreciation for being crazy hot but not being Ric Flair or Sting or Terry Funk. The whole time you watch him in this match, all you can think is World Champ material. Pillman is a great opponent for Luger here too. His offense is flashy and exciting for the crowd and Luger really doesn't have to do anything overly athletic but fall backwards. The finish comes when Brian leaps on Luger from an irish whip but Luger falls back hot-shotting the kid on the ropes, which is enough for a three count. A surprise of a finish but it actually looked more brutal than any finish on the card so far. Luger looks really strong and Pillman looks like a guy to watch. Ross and Caudle blame the Pillman loss on the missed dropkick, which I love. I love it when high risk wrestlers lose because a risk they take doesn't pay off, not because of underhanded tactics of the heel. It makes those big moves mean something whether they connect or not.

The Road Warriors /w Paul Ellering vs. The Skyscrapers(Dan Spivey and Sid Vicious) /w Teddy Long.

The Skyscrapers are billed from "Metropolis". Nice. I'm looking forward to this and it was actually a big reason why I got the show. They show a shot of a kid at ringside wearing a big Hawk mask but neither announcer knows what the hell he's supposed to be. Ross actually thinks he's The Great Muta. You decide:Hawk and Animal run rampant all over the 'scrapers early on. Unlike crazy suplexes like in the Steiner match, it's running body blocks and clotheslines over the top, which I like better. It's a momentum thing and doesn't totally kill off the size of Spivey and Vicious. These guys actually look like they're having fun, though. At one point Sid Vicious has his head caught in Hawk's head scissors and he KIPS UP to escape it. Sid Vicious kipping up like he was one of the Rockers is a sight to behold. Directly after that he lifts Hawk up on his shoulder and spins him off like a helicopter. That's the Master and Ruler of the World, folks. Hawk plays face in peril, which I like. He sells being battered and weary much better than Animal, and the Skyscrapers need that, especially if they don't go over, which I suspect, since Doom took out the Steiners earlier. They actually do a similar "ref misses the face tag" that the Steiners did earlier. Really a repetition of spots has been pretty rampant through out the night.

Animal finally gets the hot tag and takes out Spivey but comes face to face with Sid. The crowd goes nuts here and so do I. It just looks cool. All hell breaks loose and Teddy tosses in some big ass metal key to Spivey. Spivey uses it in front of the ref and we get a disqualification. Warriors win, but the Skyscrapers looked really good and didn't have to drop a fall. Even though the finish was disappointing, it was still way better than any of the other tag matches.

Thunderdome Cage Match /w Bruno Sanmartino as Special Referee: Terry Funk and The Great Muta /w Gary Hart vs. Sting and Ric Flair /w Ole Anderson
The deal here is that Gary Hart and Ole Anderson act as "terminators" and the match ends when said "terminators" throw in the towel because they believe their team has had enough. Oh and there's a big ass cage with and electrified top surrounding the ring. Jim Ross drops some knowledge and tells us that Bruno won his first World's Title in 47 sec. and held it from '63-'71. A feat that I will probably never happen again. Before the match starts some fabric on the dome catches fire due to some gimmicky sparks as the cage was lowered and some dudes have to put it out. Whether that was planned or not, it was awesome because it added that little hint of realism, to something really hokey. Muta in his infinite wisdom climbs the cage towards the fabric and sprays it with the dreaded Green Mist. FACT: The Great Muta is the National Wildfire Prevention Representative in Japan.

I'm a little surprised this was worked as a regular tag match, I figured it would have just been Texas Tornado style. Ric and Terry start it off and it looks great with Terry just bumping for Flair. Sting comes in and so does Muta and eventually Sting gets overwhelmed by the heels. Eventually it just becomes a brawl with the heels trying to climb out of the cage and the faces pulling them down. None of it makes any sense. It's electrified. At one point Terry Funk is swinging from a bar in the corner and Flair starts chopping his chest. Funk gets hung up in the cage and Flair swings from some random rope hanging down from one part of the cage to the other. Funny stuff. Eventually the switch off, and Sting is doing a swinging drop kick into a hung up Funk. Eventually Funk moves and Stinger gets caught up in the cage. Funk ties him down with the rope and they start working over the Nature Boy. Sting comes untied and leaps from the corner of the cage into the ring nailing Funk. It actually looked kinda neat. Muta high tails it out and starts climbing up the cage. Apparently in this one spot no electricity is running. While Sting tries to bring him back Flair works Funk's leg for the figure four. Eventually he gets it and Stinger starts going up top and begins to splash the prone Funker. Once. Twice. Muta comes in and chops Bruno for whatever reason and Bruno punches him out. Before Sting can go for third, Gary Hart comes in to interfere but Ole clocks him, causing him to accidentally toss his towl up on the shoulder of Bruno. Bruno of course had his back turned on all this and only sees that Hart's towel has been "thrown in". Flair and Sting win.

This was a total disappointment. The problem with the electrified top is that there is no reason for Terry and Muta to climb up there. It's electrified. But they have to in order to make it gimmick, and it looks stupid. One of those instances where the gimmicky stuff got in the way of four very competent workers who could have had a classic without it. The finish was pretty lame as well. Not satisfying at all if you were cheering the faces.

There were some vocal fans in the crowd who were also not happy with the match, and you could hear some of them chanting "boring". They're probably the same people booing the Dynamic Dudes. And most likely these same Philadelphia Rasslin' Fans would go on to fill in the ECW Arena in hopes of something better. Terry Funk would go with them.

Overall Show: Not very good. Pillman and Luger was the match of the night, and it wasn't an all out classic either. The Steiners seem like real dicks in terms of helping a brand new team look good. Hell, they seem like they would be awful at helping anybody look good.

From Judgment Day to Dragon Gate

I went to WWE Judgment Day and had a blast. I meant to write a report and failed on that. I wrote up everything and then my computer went crazy and I lost it all. But it was fun, and apparently my wife and I were on TV, clapping after Rey pinned Jericho. We're standing above the kid with the "619" sign.
To make up for it I wrote a review of Halloween Havoc 1989 which I'm about to clean up and post directly after this. I should be updating more often, now that things have settled down and we're back from our excursion to the Blue Grass State.
Oh, and great news: Dragon Gate USA will be doing their 2nd show in that states at a venue a couple blocks from my house, and I bought a third row seat for it. So I'll be there. Hopefully there will be pictures of me and some of the cool cats from DG.