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/24 June 2000
Pro Wrestling Classics by Miguelito Fierro





Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the weekly Classic Pro Wrestling recap. I am Miguelito, your daring recapper braving the early morning once again to let you know what you missed by either sleeping in, or not subscribing to ESPN Classic. It is EARLY Saturday morning, and we are ready to go. (On a sidenote, ESPN might actually show another episode of Classic Pro Wrestling tomorrow morning, so you may end up with TWO recaps from me this weekend!)

Before we get to the recap, I'd like to give a quick take on pro wrestling in the year 2000. And, specifically, the week of June 18-June 25. This has been another big week in wrestling; the biggest news being Vince Russo's decision to walk out on WCW.

I am still unsure what to think of this situation. Vince Russo is obviously a very talented writer. He also obviously sucks as a booker. Russo has proven that he should never be given full creative control of a company. He works much better matched with a strong booker, someone who can temper the "sports entertainment" side, making sure Russo doesn't do some of his really stupid ideas (like having Booker T become GI Bro, or bringing actors in and making them champions). He also needs someone to add actual wrestling to the mix, since Russo obviously doesn't think much of the actual wrestling part of pro wrestling.

Russo has done some good things in WCW. Giving Flair his 15th world championship was an excellent move. Attempting to de-emphasize Hogan was an excellent move. Letting Scott Steiner evolve into a superstar was an excellent move. But all of these accomplishments were overshadowed by very questionable moves, like giving David Arquette the world champion, having eight world title changes in nine weeks, turning Goldberg heel (when the fans obviously are going to cheer for Goldberg, whether he is supposed to be heel or face), pushing people who aren't ready, such as Stasiak and Palumbo. The balance sheet stacks up many more cons than pros against Russo.

So where does Russo leaving (if he chooses not to come back) leave WCW? Everyone remembers (and shudders at) what happened to WCW the first time that Russo was deposed. WCW sunk to its lowest point ever. It actually drove fans, both new and old, away. Will that happen this time?

Well, if last week's tv shows are any indication, WCW will actually be BETTER because of this. The ad hoc booking comittee that WCW put together to write shows last week did an excellent job, especially considering that they needed to try to stick to the storylines that Russo has in place. The booking comittee mixed in more wrestling (I think I smell Terry Taylor's handiwork there) and downplayed some of the sillier angles (is that Ferrerra's work?). The result was a more balanced, more enjoyable four hours of wrestling. All because Russo was out of the mix.

If Russo stays out and the ad hoc comittee becomes the official booking comittee, WCW could start to make a dramatic comeback. And if they start building moment now, the WWF might find itself in SERIOUS trouble when it jumps networks later this year. The wrestling wars might've just become interesting again!

But enough about the year 2000. Let's jump back onto the Magic Carpet Ride and take a trip back to the past. This is ESPN Classic. This is Saturday morning (in the Mountain time zone; I whole-heartedly agree with CRZ' rant regarding time zones and their effect on ratings. There is more to the country than the east coast, everyone!). This is Classic Pro Wrestling!!!!

OH MY GOD!!! I took the Magic Carpet too far into the past. We are now in Black & White world!!! From the dapper haircut and suit that our commentator, Mel Avertil, is wearing, I'd say we are smack dab in either the late 1950's or early 1960's. This, my friends, out to be one hell of a ride today. We are going to see headlocks and wristlocks and punches and kicks, but not a whole hell of a lot more. Don't expect to see any high-flying moves. Don't expect to see any low-flying moves. Hell, don't expect to see many "moves" at all. This is going to be pure ring psychology, my friends. It's either going to be okay, or it's going to really suck. Let's get to the show and find out!

Mel welcomes us to another edition of Top Wrestling from Marigold. Is he making this up? That can't really be the name, can it? I feel like I am slipping into an episode of MST3k! If I see a 'bot or Torgo on the screen, I'm outta here! Mel is nice enough to announce our card for today:

    Jose Bentancourt y Santiago Acosta -vs- Mark Lewin & Don Curtis
    "Sweet Daddy" Siki -vs- Fred Atkins
    "Seaman" Art Thomas -vs- Ray Zills
    Johnny Gilbert -vs- Nikolai Volkoff
Hmmm.... Volkoff is ancient, but I don't think he's that ancient. So we are probably watching something from the mid- to late-1960s. It'll be interesting to see Volkoff, and to see Johnny Gilbert in action. I've always wanted to see how Johnny's style influenced Eddie Gilbert.

We head to our first match, a tag team battle featuring Jose Bentancourt y Santiago Acosta -vs- Mark Lewin & Don Curtis. The ring announcer is nice enough to let us know that these matches are sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance, the federation doomed to become WCW in about twenty years (give or take a few). ESPN Classic provides a graphic letting us know that we are watching "The Golden Age of Wrestling", and that these matches were taped at Marigold Arena in Chicago. (Ah, that makes more sense now.) Unfortunately, they are not nice enough to let us know what year the matches were taped. [Sigh]

The Ring Announcer introduces our referee (Stan Sarmanak), the ring doctor (ha!) and the timekeeper! This is an Australian tag team match, meaning two out of three falls. I hope that I can stay awake through this thing! :-) The Buffalo boys are introduced first, and are resoundingly booed by the fans. (Nice to know who the heels are in a match.) The Latinos are then introduced to a chorus of cheers. As they should be! (On a side note, I wonder if we'll see Luis Martinez today. He's been in the last two week's shows, even though the shows were from different wrestling federations. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed!)

Our commentator, Mel, continually mumbles over people's names, making it difficult for me to figure out who the hell he is talking about. The Buffalo team (Lewin and Curtis) have a manager, apparently named Minneapolis Assistant, who looks a whole lot like Lou Costello. I'll keep my eye out for Abbot for you.

Acosta and Curtis start out by stalling. Curtis doesn't want to lock up with Acosta (gotta milk that heel roll), and continues to juke and jive all over the ring. The fans aren't hip enough to chant "Boring," so I won't either. All four men are tall, lanky, have dark hair and dark trunks (remember, this is in B&W). I'm going to be relying on Mel to let me know who is in the ring at any given time. Please forgive me if I screw up the names!

Curtis consults with Lewin in his corner, then tries to sucker Acosta into the corner. Acosta takes a swing at Lewin, turning his back on Curtis. Curtis rightly starts laying into Acosta with punches and forearms. Curtis says loudly, "What's the matter with you! Turning your back on me!" (I kid you not!) I instantly begin to like the Buffalo team just a little bit because of this.

Double-team beatdown in the heel's corner. Bentancourt tries to come in and help his partner, but the referee duly pulls him out of the ring. This allows the heels to get in some more double teaming. (I should note that all of this beatdown consists of either kicks, punches or forearms. They obviously went to the Rock School of Wrestling!) Acosta knocked out of the ring, to a "Look out! Man overboard!" comment from Mel. Apparently, going outside the ring is an exciting move.

Acosta finally up on the ring apron, and starts to come back! Punch! Punch! Over the top rope with a side kick!!! (WOW!) Acosta chooses to go on the offensive instead of making the hot tag, and immediately gets tagged by Lewin. Curtis with a less-impressive sidekick off the top rope! Acosta flies to the other side of the ring, however, and makes the tag.

Bentancourt in. Lewin offers a handshake, but Bentancourt slaps it away and then starts punching Lewin. Pier Six Brawl! Lewin gets the upper hand, and secures a front facelock. Drops him to the ground. Modified surfboard stretch, and Bentancourt submits. Buffalo team wins the first fall at (4:38).

We take a commercial break, then come back to action. The same two men who finished the last fall start the next fall. ESPN Classic puts up a helpful graphic showing the spelling of everyone's names. I have to go back and correct both Lewin and Bentancourt's names. PAUSE..... Okay, I'm back. It's Lewin and Bentancourt starting off the second fall for us. Lewin tries pulling Bentancourt into the heel's corner, Acosta comes in and pulls Bentancourt out. Smart move! That'd be that Ring Psychology thing we keep hearing about! :-)

Lewin again tries to get Bentancourt into the bad corner, but Luis isn't falling for it. Lewin finally grabs a front facelock, nails Bentancourt with an uppercut, then pulls him into the heel corner anyway! Tag to Curtis, who grabs a front facelock, then tags into Lewin, who comes off of the ropes with a knee drop to Bentancourt's shoulder! Again, the momentum propels Bentancourt into his corner, where he makes the hot tag to Acosta.

Well, maybe hot tag isn't the right word. Acosta is being very methodical. Feeling out stage. Curtis with a nice go behind into a full nelson. Curtis pulls Acosta into the corner, then starts slamming Acosta's head into the turnbuckle (while he is in the full nelson)! Double-team again. Bentancourt comes in to give aid, but this just allows the heels to get some legal doubleteaming in. (If the ref doesn't see it, it is legal.)

Acosta makes the tag. Bentancourt in with a quarter-nelson. Lewin acting like he is being choked, but the ref isn't falling for it. Curtis comes streaking into the picture from the top rope, nailing Bentancourt with another high knee! Acosta tags in, but isn't having much luck against Lewin.

Lewin and Curtis are actually a pretty good tag team. They have great timing for their double-teams, and good wrestling skills. Both heels come in and pick Acosta up into a High Times, but drop him across their knees! Lewin grabs the modified surfboard again, and Acosta has no chocie but to submit. (5:14) The Buffalo boys win the match 2-0. Lewin and Curtis get in a few more shots after the bell, then start working on Bentancourt. They dump him out o the ring, then toss Acosta over the top rope!!!

Bentancourt is stupid enough to get back in the ring, so the heels toss him out of the ring, too. Curtis up to the top rope! Is he going to come off onto Acosta (who is on the floor)? We'll never know, because we head to a commercial. [Sigh]

We come back from commercial and the Buffalo boys are still in the ring. Mighty Atlas is the manager of Curtis & Lewin. Atlas asks to be referred to as "Your Excellency." Atlas gives a great heel promo, explaining why he deserves respect and the title Excellency. Curtis apparently did not come off the top rope to the floor, by the way. Atlas now heaps praise on Curtis and Lewin, but won't let his team speak. Atlas plugs Buffalo University! Mel is able to get a "Hello" from Don Curtis and an "Evening" from Mark Lewin. (HA!)

Atlas' enteres into an almost homo-erotic portion of the promo, talking about how nicely shaped his team is, and how attractive they are. What the hell is this? Atlas then gets less surrealistic, saying that his team deserves a shot at the tag-team titles. I'd transcribe Atlas' speech, but it is just about over, so I won't bother. Maybe next week.

We are back in the ring to see Fred Atkins -vs- "Sweet Daddy" Siki (from Jamaica, man!) ESPN Classic is nice enough to provide a graphic showing the spelling of both wrestler's names, not that it is too difficult. To prove that pro wrestling fans are not necessarily racist, the fans give a nice welcome to Sweet Daddy.

Both men lockup, into the ropes, clean break (though Atkins was hinting at a cheapshot). Back into the ropes, and Atkins hits a cheapshot. Atkins with a front facelock (that'd be our most popular move of the day). Sweet Daddy gets to the ring ropes, but Atkins isn't ready to break. We learn that Siki is also a singer, recording a "45rpm record" called "Rock'n'Roll shimmy shimmy shonga". Siki is in trouble, though. Wristlock, Siki reverses it and takes Atkins into the ropes! Siki thinks about taking a cheap shot, and the fans cheer him on to do so, but Sweet Daddy is a face, so he has to back off.

Siki with the top wristlock. Atkins gets out with a punch to the gut. Kick. Atkins with a cover, but only a one count. Siki coming back with punches, actually sends him out of the ring! Atkins hand gets stuck in the ring ropes (OUCH!). Siki does get in a cheap shot here, with a headbutt while Atkins is trying to free his hand.

Both men lockup, but Atkins gets the advantage with a chokehold. Referee Rocky Dempsey trying to get them to break. Front facelock on Sweet Daddy. Into the ropes, punch to the face. Knee to the face! Siki is collapsing in the corner. Atkins driving a ton of knees into Sweet Daddy.

Siki trying a comeback! Punch! Right to the jaw! Atkins is down, and doesn't want to get up. Siki trying to pull him up by the arm, but Atkins is STALLING! (Ring Psychology!) Atkins gets a sucker punch. Into the corner. Punches him to one knee. Siki back, but runs into a knee right in the cheek! Into the ropes, Siki with a dropkick! Second! Headbutt off the ropes, cover, that'll do it! Siki gets the pin and a HUGE pop from the crowd at (5:14).

We are back from commercial break and ready for our next match, "Seaman" Art Thomas -vs- Ray Zills. This crowd is popping for all of the non-white wrestlers tonight, which I think is very cool. Seaman Thomas is African American; Zills is definitely not. Can you guess who the heel is?

Seaman Thomas actually looks a whole lot like Booker T. He has the same build, is approximately the same height, and carries himself around in the same manner. I wonder if the Seaman influenced Booker T at all? Zills starts off with a top wrist lock. But he is giving a way a good six inches and 50 pounds to Thomas; that isn't going to work. Zills with a rear hammerlock. Thomas brushes Zills away, then flexes for the crowd!

Zills tries a single-leg takedown, Thomas laughs it off. Zills tries a bearhug, Thomas powers out. I get the feeling that Thomas is just playing with this guy. Thomas with his own bearhug! Thomas walking around with Zills like Zills weighs nothing. Zills submits! That was a quick one (2:28). (I think I've forgotten to mention that the ring announcer actually says what the time of the match was when he announces the winner. Remember, this is old school, baby!)

It's now time for the infamous Wrestler Soundoff feature!Promos in the 60s. This oughtta be great! Up today are our first matches losers, Acosta and Bentancourt. They put over their opponents tonight (they should've been shooting all over them!) Acosta doesn't understand english, so Bentancourt translates both ways for us. He is bi! :-)

Bentancourt switches to Spanish for a long part of his promo. He then translates to english: "I hope that I don't feel bad, because I know that when my partner and I go up to get them, they are going to face whatever they have right here and I hope they take everything they do to us, they punish and they may suffer the same thing we suffer here tonight."It probably made more sense in Spanish; I still think it is a great promo. Or, at least, it would've been if we hadn't seen them get their asses kicked by Curtis & Lewin earlier in the show.

Instead of going to a commercial, we go straight to another match! I guess ESPN Classic doesn't have too many bills to pay. Anyway, here are a couple of names that today's wrestling fans may just recognize: Johnny Gilbert -vs- Nikolai Volkoff. The ring announcer informs us that this is a best-of-three falls match, which explains how this match is going to take up the remaining 18 minutes of showtime.

Look at Nikolai! He has a buzzcut and a long, bushy beard. He looks so young! I want to see him sing the Russian national anthem, but we are about 10 years too early for that. As you can guess, Volkoff is the heel; Gilbert is the face. Both men have their tag-team partners with them; their partners will be in the wrestler's corners. (Can you see the clusterfuck coming?) Rocky Dempsey is our referee once again.

Both men trade blows to start, with Gilbert gaining the advantage. Gilbert with a couple of hiplock takedowns, but catches a right in the chest. Volkoff with a front facelock, eyerake. And we go to commercial???? I think that someone at ESPN Classic screwed up. Why show 2:00 of a match, then go to 3:00 of commercials, then go back to the rest of the match? This isn't ECW on TNN, after all!

ESPN is targeting this show towards balding men who are bad drivers, need antipersperant, and like hi-tech toys like flat-screen tvs. Hmmm.... except for the bad driving part, that's me! And I was in an accident this month (though that wasn't my fault). Scary; ESPN Classic has the demographic for this show down pat!

We come back to see Volkoff laying knees into a prone Gilbert. Gilbert starts a comeback, though, knocking Volkoff over the top rope with a forearm. Gilbert with a kneelift for a two-count. Both men up, collar-and-elbow. Volkoff gets the better, then starts biting Gilbert!! Gilbert breaks it up, then grabs a headlock. Takdown. Volkoff tries a belly-to-back suplex, but gilbert turns it into a takedown. Volkoff tries again, and nails a suplex. Looks like they broke the ring there! Volkoff with a snapmare for a takedown.

Gilbert coming back with punches... ABDOMINAL STRETCH! (called the Cobra Twist by the ring announcer, who wouldn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch.) In the 60s, this was a devastating move. Volkoff submits, and Gilbert takes the first fall. (2:28).

The doctor is in to check on Volkoff. Everything looks okay, so it is safe to go to commercial. Where we see Burger King ripping off Chick Fila's advertising campaign, using Chicken Run chickens instead of cows.

We are back to the match, and Volkoff is a house of fire! Eyerake. Right! head to the turnbuckle. Back of the head to the turnbuckle! Snapmare! And now Volkoff is... massaging Gilbert's stomach? Mel calls it an abdominal claw, and says that it is illegal. The referee is counting to five when Volkoff puts it on. This is more surreal than Mighty Atlas' homoerotic interview. It looks like Volkoff is giving Gilbert a good rubdown out there. Shouldn't they keep this kinda stuff in the lockerroom?

Volkoff continues with the abdominal claw, then tries to pin him. Gilbert kicks out at two. Another cover, another two count. Volkoff back to the abdominal claw, and I am starting to get really annoyed with this match. Another cover, another two count. Gilbert is starting to Hulk up! But the Massage of Death stops that, and Volkoff gets a pin! OMG. (2:05)

So it is 1-1, and our deciding third fall is coming up. Mel shows me he does know his stuff by pointing this out as well. Volkoff is ready to go, Gilbert is still selling the massage of death. It appeared that Volkoff's partner handed him something, but we can't tell what. The referee wants to check the partner for illegal objects, but we won't know the result because we go to another three minutes worth of commecials. [Sigh] On the plus side, we learn that people are trying to break into our house RIGHT NOW! By this alarm system RIGHT NOW!!!!!

Fall three begins, with Volkoff stalling and Gilbert still selling the abdominal claw. Gilbert's partner bemoans the fact that Volkoff's partner was smart enough to bring out an oxygen tank. Crybaby! Koloff dumps Gilbert right out on top of the ring announcers! Cool! But the table does not break. Weird, the referee is in the ring. What the heck just happened? Oh, I see, our time limit just expired (0:59)! So we basically had a five minute No Decision. [Sigh]

Gilbert out to cry about the oxygen tank. Gilbert's a crybaby, but does say that he will give Volkoff a title shot somewhere down the line. What title? Your guess is as good as mine; nobody mentioned that Gilbert was a champion until just now, and they didn't bother telling us what championship he holds.


Okay, now that I can think. This show definitely didn't suck. It was more watchable than the average Russo-written Monday Nitro, for example. But the no-decision in the main event, and then the silly "he used oxygen and I didn't have any" angle, kinda soured me. I hope that either tomorrow's show (if there is one) or next week's episode will give me something sweet to make up for it.

I'm outta here!!! Have a wonderful weekend!

Miguelito Fierro
[slash] wrestling

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