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WCW Classics


Guest columnist: Erick Stragand


ESPN Wrestling Classics

In the middle of the NFL playoffs, it's nice to sit down and watch some good, old-fashioned competition without a pre-determined outcome. Before you condemn me, how else could you explain the Tom Brady fumble call in this weekend's Raiders/Patriots snow game? And they say football isn't fixed. Not like wrestling...nope. Anyways, this is one random show of ESPN Classic's "Wrestling Classics" series. It airs 5am Saturdays, MST. They're not run in order, as ESPN seems to run about 1 of 16 shows continually. So, if you like this particular show, just wait a few months, and it will be on, again.

This week's show features Mid-South action from 1980. Flloyd Pierson (SP?) and Bill Watts welcome us to their rasslin soundstage o love. But with so much going on in Mid-South, let's get right to the ring!

In-ring Interview: North American Heavyweight Champion Paul Orndorff.
Orndorff has his left arm in a sling, and is out to address his issues with Ted DiBiase. From what I gather, Ted's responsible for the arm. Orndorff informs us that there's been a misunderstanding, he did NOT put a $1,000 bounty on Ted DiBiase.. he merely offered a reward (pronounced "RE-ward") for injuring Ted. So, any wrestler in Mid-South can go after DiBiase and make a cool grand. Or, a crafty wrestler could wait 7 years until Ted becomes the "Million Dollar Man", when his net worth is substantially higher.

Match 1- Bob Orton, Jr vs. Jesse Barr
Non-title match for Orton's Mississippi Heavyweight strap. Match sequence to begin, with Orton hitting some nice hiptoss/armdrags, and Barr reversing. Orton performs a fireman's carry into a takedown and Barr mixes in two body scissors holds. Back up, and the two guys do the manly knuckle-lock challenge, Orton whips Barr to the ropes, hits a monkeyflip and Barr counters with another body scissor. Orton escapes, drops some fists, hiptosses and works Barr's neck. Watts keeps calling Barr "Terry Barr". Orton tosses him to the corner, then hits an underhook suplex on the future Jimmy Jack Funk. Flips Barr with a backdrop, but Barr recovers, throws a dropkick and punches Orton. Rope slingshots, Orton hits a charging knee, a piledriver, then covers for the pin. Well, that was certainly better than ANY Orton match I've seen. And before you start bugging me about how decent Orton was, remember that I've only previously seen him as Piper's bodyguard and as Magnificent Muraco's chubby partner.

In-ring Interview: The Iron Sheik
Sheik mentions that Iran is known for two things- oil and wrestling! Of course. He then goes off on a tirade about how strong he is, and challenges any wrestler in Mid-South to a weight lifting competition. But Sheik is better, because "I am from Iran, and you are not..I am Sheik, and you are not..." Before he can steal any more of Chevy Chase's old Weekend Update material, he whips out the Indian clubs and swings 'em around. Sheik offers that unattainable figure of $1,000 to anyone who can beat him in weightlifting reps. Wow.. a savvy wrestler could've made 2,000 bucks back then! Punk out DiBiase, then do one more rep than the Sheik. No wonder Mid-South was the happenin' place. Watts mentions that Sheik's been feuding with the Junkyard Dog. JYD was the SHIT back then.

Match 2- Iron Sheik vs. Buddy Landell
Landell's not looking neither natural or boyish, here, and he still has dark hair. Two lockups get the match rolling. Sheik sneaks behind and hits a takedown. Mat sequence, with Sheik working the headlock. Landell with a head scissors to break. Landell then works the headlock. Shit, they're WRESTLING! Both guys criss-cross the ropes and Landell hits a powerslam. Landell works the headlock, while Watts goes on about the JYD. Landell bounces off the ropes again, but Sheik drops to a knee and spears him in the stomach with his head-bone. Sheik drops an elbow and pulls his man up for a sloppy belly-to-back suplex for the pin. Landell makes his leg quiver to sell the suplex.

Match 3- Mid-South Tag Team Championship: Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika, w/Ernie Ladd) vs. Ted DiBiase and Bob Roop
We know him as "Sika", but here he's "Sica". Before you ask, yes, these guys are related to Rikishi and the Rock. Rule of thumb: If he's a wrestler and of Samoan heritage, then he's probably related to these dudes, somehow. Even boxer David Tua is part of the family. Ten bucks to anyone who can prove Steelers runningback Chris Fuamatu Ma'afalla is tied in, too. The Samoans are billed as either: "The Wild Samoans", "The Samoans" or "The Samoan Warriors", depending on who was working the marquee that night. The announcers make no effort to distinguish between Afa or Sika. I think Sika's the chubbier one, but don't quote me on that. Ladd is on hand as their "Financial Advisor", and is decked out in a typical polyester suit, but with a Polynesian bathtowel wrapped around his waist. Roop and DiBiase work quickly on Sika's arm, to start. Roop shoulderblocks, then applies the headlock. DiBiase thinks the headlock looks like fun, so he tags in and does the same. Ted whips Sika to the ropes, leapfrogs, dropkicks and works the headlock, again. Afa works in 5 punches and a headbutt. tag to Afa, and they whip Ted to the ropes for a double team chop. Afa with a headbutt and several kicks. Both Samoans are in for the doubleteam elbow off the ropes. Afa with a diving headbutt on DiBiase. Kick and elbows from DiBiase as he tries to comeback. Afa comes in for a powerslam, but misses the diving headbutt. DiBiase tags Roop, just as Afa tags Sika. Roop punches and sets up Sika for the shoulderbreaker. Ernie Ladd and his towel jump up on the apron to distract referee Jack Holie. Afa comes off the top turnbuckle and smacks Roop. Legal tag to Afa, then for more kicks a doubleteam headbutt. Roop manages to tag DiBiase, but the ref misses it. Doubleteam Samoan clothesline on Roop and the beatings continue. DiBiase comes in and starts dishing it out. Ref loses control and things go into "PANDEMONIUM!" (tm, Gorilla Monsoon). Roop manages a shoulderbreaker on Afa and gets a 3 count! Place goes HAPPY as new champs are announced. Ref then realizes that DiBiase was fighting with Ladd, as then announces it as a DQ, Samoans retain. Well, if ya KNEW it was a DQ, why didja count the pin and award the titles?? Roop and DiBiase argue a little bit as the commercial sneaks up.

Match 4- Mike George vs. Crazy Luke Graham
Announcers mention that this is a bonus, stand-by match Brawl to start and Luke is knocked out through the second and third ropes. He immediately hops back in, and George smashes his head into the turnbuckle. Graham shrugs him off and enjoys thumping his own head into the buckle. He's crazy, I tells ya. Geroge hits a backdrop and an atomic drop. More whompings betwixt the two. George goes for a grapevine/legsweep suplex to get the 3 count pin. Quick match.

Match 5- Vinnie Romeo vs. The Great Kabuki (w/Playboy Gary Hart)
I have no idea who Vinnie Romeo is, but I 'm left to wonder: is Kid Romeo his bastard child? Vinnie looks like more like Vinny Barbarino, and Kid Romeo looks Cuban, but who knows? Kabuki performs with his numchuks, which Watts calls "martial arts sticks". Vinnie attacks right away and whips Kabuki to the corner. Vinnie connects with 2 hiptosses, followed up with two head scissors. Kabuki gets a thrust kick to take over and chops away. See, you can tell Kabuki's from Singapore, cuz he's using CHOPS. Chop, kick, repeat. Kabuki comes off the second rope for a flying version of the....chop. Vinnie gets a few punches, but lands on his booty while missing a dropkick. Kabuki lifts Romeo for a duck-under suplex, the lethal double-step move to the tummy and gets the pin. Kabuki then swirls around as we go to commercial.

Ringside interview- Ted DiBiase
DiBiase aplogizes for the mix-up with Roop. But wait, what's this? Gary Hart and Kabui are still in the ring. Hart grabs the mike and calls DiBiase and his pals a buncha "overpaid, overpublicized primadonnas!", obviously spurred on by Orndorff's RE-ward. Oooo...them's fighting words! DiBiase gets in the ring and we suddenly have:

Match 6- Ted DiBiase vs. The Great Kabuki (w/ Playboy Gary Hart)
DiBiase punches while Kabuki kicks away. The chop returns and Kabuki hits a spinny kick to the breadbasket. Kabuki then closes in for the nerve hold and forces DiBiase to the mat. The fans are chanting "go Ted, go!". Ya know it's some good old-timey rasslin when you have the "go (name of face), go!" chant. DiBiase makes the Popeye Spianch comeback, punches Kabuki and irish whips into the corner. Kabuki gets the superkick as Ted charges. Kabuki charges, but Ted quickly recovers and lifts him into a bitchin powerslam for the pin! Go Ted, go!

Match 7- Kerry Von Erich and Jim Garvin vs. Carl Fergie and Bob Orton, Jr.
The graphics actually say "Kerry Von Erik". Garvin's not "Gorgeous", either, just plain old "Jim Garvin". As Kerry comes in, we hear Rush's "Tom Sawyer" blasting. BUT... I think the song was dubbed over this show a few years later. Consider, it's 1980, and Rush's Moving Pictures (the album which contained "Tom Sawyer") didn't come out until 1981. No crowd noise is played while the song is going, so I'm sticking by my "dubbed/added-in later" theory. They mention Kerry is the American Champion (Which was World Class's belt), but Watts calls him the "USA champion". Kerry stalks Fergie and takes him down by grabbing the leg. Von Erich drops an elbow and works the armbar. Garvin tags in, powerslams Fergie, then goes back to working the leg. Kerry's back in and goes gor a headlock takeover on Orton. Four way brawl, and Kerry cinches in a fireman's carry into the iron claw on Fergie's stomach. Well it's tough to tell, but it looks like Kerry's applying the claw. Kerry pins Fergie, while Garvin comes in to apply a sleeper on Bob Orton. Announcers tell us that Garvin/Orton is scheduled for next week.

Match 8- Ken Mantell vs. Bill Irwin
Announcers tell us that Mantell is a very successful business man, having several chicken ranches back home in Texas. And they say wrestlers aren't smart.... Criss cross/rope fun and Irwin tries a sunset flip. Mantell resists, punches Irwin and delivers a powerslam. Irwin punches back and connects with a high knee off the ropes. Irwin goes to the headlock, but Mantell gets a Shemp Stooge eye boink and drags Irwin's eyes on his bootlaces. Armdrag takeover gets a quick 1 count for Mantell. Mantell switches to the chinlock, sends Irwin to the ropes, but misses a kick. Irwin hiptosses him, and Mantell bails to the floor. Knucklelock face-off which Iwrin works into an armbar. Mantell with another Shemp Stooge eye boink, then chops Irwin's arm. Both guys go into a mat sequence. Mantell works the chinlock, while Irwin stretches him with his legs. Irwin connects to Mantell's neck, irish whips Mantell, but puts his head down for a backdrop attempt. Mantell hits an elbowsmash, then a grapevine suplex for the 3 count pin.

Why'd you tape this??
8 matches in an hour!? 7 with 3 count pins??! This was some great stuff! Someone might look at all the headlock and armbars and think "ehhhh, a buncha restholds, lame!" But these guys were really cinching them in and working the holds. Everything was crisply executed. The mat wrestling was cool and is something that's sorely missed in modern pro wrestling. I mean, crap..I had to dive into my seldom-used arsenal of actually NAMING wrestling holds/moves! Look at the names on the card: DiBiase, Landell, Von Erich, Orton, Iron Sheik, Samoans, Mike George, Great Kabuki. Plus, cameos by Paul Orndorff and Ernie Ladd. As you can probably tell, the WWF scooped up most of these guys, as Orndorff, the Samoans, The Iron Sheik, and JYD all had very successful runs up North. DiBiase went later, and Kerry even ended up in the WWF in 1990. My only complaint is that ESPN doesn't show more of this stuff! I believe they only have this single show for Mid-South. So I'll never get to see that Jim Garvin-Bob Orton title match! All in all, GREAT pro wrestling and I strongly recommend catching this particular show.

Erick Stragand

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