/1 July 2000
|Pro Wrestling Classics by Miguelito Fierro||
PRO WRESTLING CLASSICS RECAP - JULY 1, 2000
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the Classic Pro Wrestling recap! I hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. I personally just got back from the wonderful Colorado Rocky Mountains. I had a great weekend, though I am sore as hell from taking a horseride up into the mountains. Why does communing with nature need to be so rough on the muscles? (Besides the fact, of course, that I am horribly out of shape.)
Anyway, since I am a couple of days late with this recap already, I won't add anything about today's wrestling world to this recap. Other than to say that throwing Chris Benoit into main event status is a brilliant move by the WWF, bringing Tazz back as a heel is another great move, ECW can only grow stronger by leaving TNN, and the braintrust at WCW would have to be insane to give the title to Hogan this Sunday.
All right! All aboard for a magic carpet ride! We are heading back in time to 1961 (thank you, ESPN Classic! Now if you can just show the month and day these matches are from, you'll have a sincerely grateful recapper here) courtesy of Classic Pro Wrestling on ESPN Classic!
ESPN Classic throws another swerve at us this week. Instead of having the original introduction for whatever wrestling show we are going to see today, they have a voiceover talking about what is needed to become a champion in pro wrestling. The match being show in the background is a true classic, one every person who follows pro wrestling history should know: "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers -vs- NWA World Champion Pat O'Connor. And this is the first match we are going to see!!!!
We are live on tape from Comiskey Park in Chicago, somewhere in 1961, and we are about to see NWA US Champion "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers -vs- NWA World Champion Pat O'Connor for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The back story to this match is a great one. Both men are respected by the fans. Both are faces in their respective territories. And both are widely accepted as the two best wrestlers in the sport at that time.
This feud has been slowly simmering for around three years or so. (That's right, three YEARS!) During this time, O'Connor has been the top dog, and the Nature Boy has been working his way to the top.
The feud heated up recently, as the Nature Boy has been chasing O'Connor around in a very hot, very competitive feud. While O'Connor has held onto the belt, it has become obvious that the Nature Boy is ready to wear the gold. All eyes in the wrestling world are on this match. This is the most important match of 1961, and we get to see it here today. Okay, enough hype, let's get to the match.
As if I didn't hype it enough, the commentator describes this match as "The Wrestling Match of the Century!" This match will be a best-of-three falls match, which was how major feuds were settled back in 1961. The referee is introduced and gets resoundingly booed! (HA!) It's confusing to see the champions in the ring without belts around their waists. The ring announcer says Chicago and the fans pop (of course). And now we are finally ready to get underway.
As the referee gives final instructions to the wrestlers, our (unnamed) commentator let's us know that 50,000 fans are in attendance to see this match. He also puts over both men, noting how determined the Nature Boy is, and how popular a champ O'Connor is. As the wrestlers head to their corners, we head to the commercial that Burger King stole from Chick-Fil-A.
We come back from commercials and the match is on. Feeling out period (which may last for five or ten minutes). The commentator points out that neither man is a favorite to win this match. Nature Boy tries a cheap shot in the ropes, and gets nailed with a right to the jaw from O'Connor. And the crowd pops for that shot!
Upper wrist lock by the Nature Boy. O'Connor fighting out of it to the cheers of the crowd, until Rogers pulls O'Connor down by the hair! O'Connor back to his feet, tries the upper wrist lock, but gets taken down by the hair again. Rogers obviously will be playing the heel.
O'Connor, apparently not very bright, goes for the wristlock again. This time, he powers Rogers to the mat. Nature Boy back up, shoots him into the ropes. Tacke. Arm drag takedown. Spinning arm bar by O'Connor! Referee asking if the Nature Boy wants to give... Not yet. O'Connor is twisting around again. Nature Boy tries to get to the ropes, but gets pulled back to the center of the ring.
And we go to a commercial? Hmmm.... Apparently ESPN Classic is hoping to make some money off of this show. Either that, or they just hate me. It's hard to say. That match, while slow, really had me. O'Connor is showing why he is the champ, Rogers is showing that he is willing to do anything to win the title. O'Connor has the upper hand so far, which probably means that Rogers will have to do a lot of rule-breaking to stay in the match. If these commercials ever end, we'll find out!
Finally, we are back. Into the ropes, Rogers with a bodyslam. Off the ropes again, O'Connor with an answering bodyslam! O'Connor with an armdrag takedown, then back to the armbar. O'Connor working the armbar (and doing a good job of stalling). Rogers trying to get back to his feet, but O'Connor has a hammerlock. O'Connor into the ropes, forearm takes him down! ROGERS TRIES FOR THE FIGURE FOUR! But O' Connor nails Rogers three times in the head to keep Rogers from securing the move. O'Connor tries for a piledriver, but they are in the corner.
The Nature Boy uses the trunks to help take O'Connor down with a snap mare. Rear chinlock by Rogers. Hey, the commentator just mentioned Vince McMahon! (Though he probably was talking about Vince Sr.) McMahon is apparently in the audience tonight. And his son is probably sitting at home, wondering just how long he'll have to wait before he can use the phrase "genetic jackhammer" in public.
O'Connor takes Rogers to the corner. Right to the body! Chop (WHOOO)! O'Connor takes him down with a right! Into the ropes, O'Connor comes off with a tackle off the ropes... NO! Rogers hits a HIGH KNEE! Rogers covers the champ, the referee is down to count. 1-2- **3**!!!! The Nature Boy shocks the crowd by actually pinning the champ! (8:30) Nature Boy is up 1-0 in this best-of-three match.
ESPN Classic can do me a huge favor and dump their voice-over guy RIGHT NOW! He is incredibly annoying, and really doesn't need to be there. Let's stick to the original shows, and not fuck them up by adding super-campy voiceovers. Okay? Thank you!
Now that I have gotten that off of my chest, let me just say how much that first fall ruled. These two wrestlers are masters of telling a story in the ring. There's the strong, popular champion, and the scrappy, crafty challenger. The champ has the upper hand, but the challenger finds a way to sneak in a blow. It's great stuff!
We are finally back from commercial, and ready to start the second fall. The crowd is much quieter this time around, realizing that the Nature Boy just might be for real. O'Connor looks like he has new respect for Rogers, too. Of course, Rogers is playing the heel, so he immediately comes out and does something dastardly to make sure the fans won't cheer for him. Rogers clips O'Connor in the ear, then gets reprimanded by the referee. Rogers nails O'Connor again, and pisses off everyone in the building. Collar-and-elbow into the corner. O'Connor thinks about a cheap shot, but he's the face here, so he backs off.
Rogers locks up with O'Connor, then starts to choke him! Rogers backs off the choke and takes O'Connor down with a hammerlock. O'Connor trying to get up, but gets taken down again. Commentator tries to convince us that O'Connor is still injured from the high knee in the first fall. Rogers keeping control of O'Connor with the hammerlock.
O'Connor back up to his feet, takes Rogers into the ropes, but Rogers takes him back down. And back to the hammerlock. O'Connor thinks of throwing a punch, but that would be heelish. Rogers puts more pressure on the hammerlock, and O'Connor goes back down.
It's interesting to note that not just the picture is in black and white here. Wrestling was, too. A person was either a face or a heel. The heel never did honorable things; the face never cheated. There were no tweeners. There were no bad-ass faces. You were one or the other, black or white. And even though the Nature Boy was loved and cheered throughout the country coming into this match, he is now playing the heel role, so he now can do nothing that might earn respect from the fans.
The commentator lets us know that O'Connor has been World Champion since 1959. Can you imagine a two-year title reign in today's wrestling?
O'Connor slides out of the hammerlock and grabs Rogers in a leg bar! O'Connor is twisting the leg. The referee asks Rogers if he wants to give, but the Nature Boy isn't a wuss. Rogers kicks to get out of the move. Rogers back up, but O'Connor nails a single-leg takedown, then back to the leg twist.
Off the ropes, Rogers nails a dropkick. Rogers goes to followup, but gets caught in a single-leg again. Back to the resthold, er, leg twist. Rogers tries rolling it around, but gets nailed by the champ. Rogers is down in the corner. O'Connor over, but is showing mercy. O'Connor nails Rogers again. And again! Rogers is in trouble. Hiplock takedown, into the ropes, sunset flip with a bridge, that'll do it! Rogers gets the pin, and ties up the match at 1-1. (6:00)
ID4 is out on a special two-disc collector's set. Pity the move isn't worth owning. Still, Will Smith's line "...to kick ET's ass" is a great line. Oh, and there's that stolen Burger King commercial again. Couldn't they hire their own advertising agency?
That second fall wasn't as good as the first fall, but was still enthralling. The champ took control, and kept it for the whole fall. The pinfall was academic. The champ looked strong, and the challenger looks like he just doesn't have what it takes to beat the champ. Can he come up with that missing quality in this next fall? Only one way to tell...
Rogers is begging off this time. The Nature Boy looks concerned, though the commentator says he looks "confident". O'Connor with a headlock. Criss-cross, but Rogers puts on the brakes, then plays to the crowd! Rogers strutting, just to piss of the fans. Lockup, O'Connor grabs an armbar. Into the corner, the Nature Boy with a cheapshot. They lock up in the corner again. Both men trading punches. Collision in the center of the ring! No screwjobs here, so let's see who is up first.
O'Connor up, grabs Rogers, and they both tumble out of the ring! O'Connor back in first, and pulls Rogers in. Lockup in the corner, O'Connor off the ropes with a devastating bodyslam! Another one! Rogers is in pain! Pinfall, but Rogers gets a foot on the ropes. That was a great series!
Rogers taking his time getting up. O'Connor is starting to nail some cheapshots in the corner. Do we have a double-switch going on here? Rogers tossed into the corner. ANOTHER bodyslam! O'Connor covers, but again Rogers gets a foot on the ropes.
Rogers getting up slowly, begging off. Rogers backs up to the corner. Cheapshot by the champ! Another one! Rogers looks out on his feet. The referee is checking on him... O'Connor back into the corner. Stall. Cheapshot. Slamming the back of Rogers' head into the turnbuckle! Slams him into the other turnbuckles! ARRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I don't mind so much going to a commercial. But the ESPN Classic voice over SETS MY TEETH ON EDGE!!!!!!
We are back, and Rogers gets thrown one more time into the turnbuckle! Rogers is in bad shape, the ref checks on him. O'Connor back over, but Rogers tries to fight back. Left. Right. O'Connor with a right to the chin which sets Rogers down. Pinfall attempt, but Rogers again gets his foot on the ropes.
O'Connor tries a dropkick, right in the side of the face. Goes for another, but MISSES! O'Connor actually got his legs tied up in the ropes, and comes down VERY awkwardly! O'Connor is still down! Rogers tries to cover him, but O'Connor rolls out of the way. Rogers finally grabs him, and he covers. 1-2-3!!!!! Nature Boy Buddy Rogers has just won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship! (total time: 21:30)
WOW! What a match that was. The two wrestlers unfolded the story in a wonderful way. During the whole match, Rogers was the heel, and was just trying to stay in the match. O'Connor, the fighting champion, was taking everything the challenger could throw at him, then kicking the crap out of the champ. However, one mistake by O'Connor was all it took for the Nature Boy to sneak in, get the pin, end O'Connor's two-year long title reign, and become the new Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Buddy Rogers is presented the NWA World Title belt (where'd that come from?), and then congratulated by an NWA big-wig. The Nature Boy thanks him, then gets one parting shot at the crowd: "There's one thing I want everyone to know: To a nicer guy, it couldn't happen!" Rogers proudly shows off the belt to the boos of the crowd. Gotta love the original Nature Boy!
We go to more boring commercials (plus one stolen commercial) and come back for a match that can only disappoint: Baron Von Hess -vs- Argentina Rocca. Not that I have anything against these two wrestlers. But the championship bout was one hell of a match; there isn't much that could follow it up!
Both men lock up. Von Hess gets the advantage, until Rocca kicks him in the face (OUCH!). Von Hess with a headlock, but gets wrapped up by Rocca. Rocca is using his bare feet as deadly weapons, continually kicking Von Hess in the face. Worse, Von Hess has to smell those suckers!
Rocca has a leg pretzel-type maneuver on Von Hess, but Von Hess goes to the eyes to break it up. Rocca slingshots Von Hess into the ropes, then again starts kicking him in the face! Test of strength, broken up. Another? No, Von Hess with a top wrist lock. The commentator notes that this match is a bit of a letdown compared to the championship match.
Rocca does have a huge fanbase, though, and they are all for their boy. Rocca with some interesting offense. Leglock... VON HESS IS BITING ROCCA'S TOE! OUCH! But before anything can come of that, we go to the ANNOYING ESPN Classic Voiceover, then to commercials. New sponsors this week include Crest, Coors (Joe Montana!) and that stolen Burger King commercial.
Rocca up on Von Hess' shoulders as we come back. Rocca takes him down with a rana (!!). Legscissors on Von Hess. Apparently, Rocca is supposed to have the strongest legs in America. This explains all of the footwork, apparently. This leg scissors lasts for about five minutes (or, at least, it feels like it does). Von Hess finally up, but gets monkey flipped! Rocca twisting Von Hess' head using nothing but Rocca's feet. I think I'd rather watch a Lex Luger match at this point. (That's not a compliment to Lex, dontcha know).
Tie up in the corner. Von Hess goes to the eyes, then comes out with a front facelock. Von Hess with a knee to the head. Snap mare, into a rear chinlock. Rocca kicks out of it, though. Single-leg takedown. Again! Test of strength, Von Hess pulls Rocca into the corner. Rocca out, now slapping at Von Hess. Von Hess has enough of this crap, and takes him down with Hands of Stone! Front facelock. Punch. Rake of the eyes, but Rocca puts him back into the corner. Low leg-scissors. Rocca rolling around the ring (...the Hell?).
Von Hess grabs a front chinlock, then sits down with it. And we go to commercial, but, thankfully, no voiceover! One more new sponsor this week: Samuel Adams beer. Hey, where'd the Hair Restoration place's ads go to?
Von Hess is back to the front facelock. Into the corner, punches traded. Rocca gently places his foot into Von Hess' stomach; Von Hess doesn't sell the move (good for him!). Von Hess trying some offense, but Rocca's feet are too much for him. Rocca with a very stupid looking bicycle submission move (Which does not involve a bicycle, nor a submission). Rocca with a modified surfboard. Von Hess goes to sleep from boredom. Oh, no, wait, that was ME! Sorry about that.
Von Hess back up with a (you guessed it) front facelock. Into the ropes, Von Hess with a knee to the head! Forearm! But Rocca's on fire! Headlock. Into the ropes, Von Hess with a cheap knee. Bodyslam! Another! Two count, but Von Hess thought it was three. Rocca with a dropkick! Two! Three! And ROCCA GRABS VON HESS IN THE TORTURE RACK!!!! Von Hess submits (13:00), and then asks why only untalented wastes of wrestling roster space use the Torture Rack (okay, he didn't say that). We are out (finally!)
Okay, so that second match sucked eggs. It almost literally physically hurt to watch that second match. (I don't think that the horse ride yesterday had anything to do with this, but I could be wrong.) But that first match is a keeper. Rogers -vs- O'Connor has to go down as one of the greatest world championship matches ever. And it was a true pleasure to recap it!
That's all for me, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful week! I'll be back sometime next weekend. Until then... WWWWAAAAASSSSSUUUUPPPPP!!!!!!!