/2 September 2000
|Pro Wrestling Classics by Miguelito Fierro
THE GOLDEN AGE OF WRESTLING - SEPTEMBER 2, 2000
(Original date sometime in 1963)
Hi, everybody! It is me. No, not Dr. Nick. It is I, Miguelito, here to lead you through yet another installment of The Golden Age of Wrestling (ESPN Classic's apparently official name for this show.) This is apparently the show that ESPN Classic doesn't want you to see, or at least doesn't want to air. This is the first episode that ESPN Classic has shown in three weeks. [sigh] ESPN Classic makes it so hard to be a recapper!
So of course there have been major changes in the world of wrestling since I last wrote a recap. The biggest: WCW's apparent self-destruction. WCW has gone from looking like it could conceivably rise above the garbage we had been subjected to on Nitro recently. But then Nash apparently was able to argue the title off of Booker T. Vince Russo has gone power-crazy and wants to get himself over as much as possible on WCW TV. The nWo has been reformed, but with a different name.
I've heard a lot of different possible reasons for why things at WCW seem to have bottomed out. I have my own personal theory: Vince Russo is not the genious that everyone thought he was. I think that we've seen enough of Vince Russo's solo work to be able to make an objective critique of what Russo can do. And it seems obvious that Russo is far too undisciplined, far too anti- pro wrestling to be able to consistently write compelling pro wrestling. Vince's best work was with the WWF, where Vince McMahon provided the discipline and boundaries to best use Russo's talents. Without this direction and discipline, Russo is shown for what he is: a mediocre television writer who specializes in high-school level sexual innuendo.
What we are seeing now is Russo realizing that he doesn't have the vision or the talent to lead a wrestling company. In his desperation, he is now grasping at previous storylines that have been proven to work. Russo knows that the nWo was a money storyline. Russo knows that the Austin/McMahon storyline single-handedly saved the WWF, and spelled the end of WCW's dominance. So Russo is latching onto these storylines, hoping that reviving these storylines will somehow be the magic ingredient that is needed to get fans flooding back to WCW. Unfortunately, that simply isn't going to happen.
Don't get me wrong. I am definitely not trying to say that I could do a better job as booker than Russo. I know I would suck as a booker in today's pro wrestling world. I'd be trying to bring back the 45 minute two-out-of-three falls match every week. I know that I wouldn't be good in the position. But I can tell when someone is doing a good or bad job in this position. And I can tell that Russo should not be heading WCW. He has proven that he doesn't have what it takes. Someone should have sympathy for Russo and pull the plug on him. Now.
But I digress! This isn't the "What's wrong with WCW" recap. This is the Golden Age of Pro Wrestling recap! It's time to grab a Magic Carpet Ride into the past, and see just what wrestling was like 30 to 40 years ago!
Bill Cardell is our play-by-play AND color commentator today. He is nice enough to welcome us to Marigold Arena in Chicago, Illinois. We don't know what year we are in yet, but I am starting to have a little faith in ESPN Classic. If they actually air the show, then somewhere in the hour they will let us know what year the matches took place.
Instead of running down the card, we go straight to the ring to see Johnny Kace battle Bobo Brazil. These matches are sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance, which allows us a nice bit of consistency from the last show, three weeks ago. It also sounds like a match we've seen recently, but I'll just hope that I am imagining things.
Both men get mixed cheers and boos. Brazil gets a little more positive reaction, but not by much. Cardell says the fans are ready for some action; god knows I am! Lockup, Kace proves himself to be the heel by getting in some cheap shots while the wrestlers are tied up in the ropes. This only pisses Brazil off, however. Bobo goes nuts, nailing Kace with various rights and lefts. The referee finally manages to separate the wrestlers.
Headlock by Brazil, reversed by Kace. Kace pulls Brazil into the corner, then sneaks in some shots to the head. Kace didn't learn from last time, so Brazil tries to teach him the lesson again; "Cheap shot me and I'll kick your ass, sucka!" Kace takes advantage of the referee trying to pull Brazil off, but that's quickly turned into a head scissors by Brazil.
Kace trying to bridge out of the headscissors, but Brazil breaks this up with a forearm smash. Cardell is being uncharacteristically quiet today. He apparently doesn't want to call play-by-play for this match. Who does he think he is, CRZ? (Hey! *I* call PBP! Sometimes, anyway! - CRZ)
Brazil pulls Kace up, then locks in a reverse armbar. Brazil puts an elbow into Kace's shoulder blade, then starts digging it in. Kace selling this like it's the most painful thing possible, as he should. Brazil locks in the hammerlock, and Kace is thinking about submitting. Or, at least, he is making us think he is thinking about submitting.
Kace tries for the rope with his free arm, so Brazil ties up this one, too. Bobo has him in a modified surfboard. Kace trying to power out... I don't think that's going to work. Brazil seems far too strong for that. Brazil pulls back the arm, and now he has Kace in a modified chicken wing! But Kace manages to roll Brazil over to the ropes, and the referee is forced to break the hold.
Kace backs off, Bozo charges right into a knee to the stomach. Kace is now starting to work a rear chinlock/possible chokehold spot. Kace with punches to the back of Brazil's head, and Bobo ain't having none of that! Left! Right! Abdominal stretch! But Kace grabs the ropes. Into the ropes, Bobo somehow catches Kace coming off the ropes and wraps him up into an Abdominal stretch! Kace makes it to the ropes, but the referee doesn't see it! Kace has no choice but to submit to the hold. (5:00)
Kace arguing with the referee, trying to point out that he was in the ropes. (And he was, the heel actually WAS screwed by the referee.) Kace tries complaining to the ring announcer, but no one is listening to him. That's what happens when you are a heel!
1-800-PROVE-IT for a free sample of Old Spice anti-perspirant... If I didn't love Speed Stick so much, I might take them up on it! I still think it is just plain wrong for a Denver company like Coors to get Joe Montana as a pitchman. Does Coors NOT remember that Superbowl blowout?
We are back, and ESPN Classic still has not told us what year these matches were taped in. Maybe my faith is going to be broken? On the plus side, I am positive that I have never seen the match we just saw. At least we know that ESPN Classic isn't re-running episodes from a couple of weeks ago.
We now have The Mongol, who is heading out into the crowd trying to take a sign (!) away from a fan, -vs- Danny Ferrara (who?). Mongol has this really bizarre trunks made out of bear hide... it almost looks like he is wearing furry diapers! Mongol also wrestles barefoot, to help keep his equilibrium (according to Cardell). Lockup, a lot of pushing and pulling, not much going on here until Mongol hits some cheap forearms while the two men are tied up in the ropes. Referee is using the relaxed disqualification philosophy, choosing not to warn the Mongol about breaking holds while in the ropes. Hmmm... Fortunately, a "Men's Health" commercial gives us time to ponder this lack of adherence to the rules...
As we wait for the Adjustable Bed commercial to end, I cannot help but think once again about how satisfying Colorado State's victory over CU was... But once again, I digress.
Mongol hits a low beal out of the corner. Hip toss, and Ferrara is once again on his back. Cardell doing a good job of getting the Mongol over. Mongol with a headlock, locks it on tight, and somehow it seems that Ferrara has been knocked unconscious by this hold. Mongol wins (5:15) with the silliest finish to a match I've ever seen. I mean, that just plain sucked! Not as badly as a WCW cluster, of course, but pretty damned close. We go to commercial so we can get the taste of that match out of our mouths. ICK!
We still don't know when these matches took place... We do know that Johnny Gates and Paul Christy are up next. Christy is the crowd favorite, Gates is Canadian. Even in the (50s? 60s?), Canadian wrestlers were considered evil! EVIL! Christy ties up with Gates, who immediately throws Christy over the top rope (!) and out to the floor! Apparently, this was before the NWA made this an instant DQ. Or we are still under relaxed disqualification rules. One or the other. Christy shakes off the damage, comes back into the ring, and gets tossed right back over the top rope!!
Christy uses his speed this time, however. While Gates is celebrating, Christy slips around the ring and comes in behind Gates. Gates turns around and catches a dropkick to the puss. Another one! And another. Christy gets up and locks a sleeper on! Referee down to check... And it's over! Are you joking? Christy gets the win at (1:05), which might be too short for Nitro! Why the fast finish?
Oh, I see, it's so Christy can work a promo in! I should point out that promos in the Golden Era were assisted by the play-by-play announcer. The announcer would ask questions of the wrestler, who would then direct his answers to the audience. Christy says he was shocked to be tossed over the top rope. The sleeper hold is "his baby," and has been very successful. "I'm just trying to take each hurdle as it comes." Cardell christens Christy the "Golden Boy," and Christy somehow manages to not laugh. Cardell then refers to Christy only as "Golden Boy" for the rest of the interview. He's Vince McMahon!!! Cardell works in a mention of NWA World Champion Buddy Rogers, which helps set the timeframe for this match (let's say... 1963). And that's just about everything there is to this interview.
MMMmmm... Folgers individual coffee bags. If I didn't need some serious sleep tonight, I would be all over that. Coffee = good. Dogs running in an insurance office = silly. CSU -vs- CU = another victory by Colorado State.
We are back just in time to here introductions for Gary Hart -vs- Larry Chene. Wow! The Playboy has hair!!! It is so weird seeing a blond-haired Gary Hart, when my fondest memories of Gary Hart are when he had lost all of his hair. This truly is the Golden Age!
Lockup, into the ropes, and Hart offers a handshake. (HA!) The Playboy is definitely the heel here, and does a great job of selling for Chene. However, the crowd isn't really buying Chene as a credible opponent, and just won't rally behind him.
Lockup, Chene tries a top wrist lock, but Hart pulls him down by the hair. Break, another lockup, same result. Chene manages to grab the Playboy in a head scissors, however. And now we break. Back to their feet, Hart breaks out a BEAUTIFUL flying snap mare! Tries for a second, but Chene is ready. Chene jumps up onto Hart's shoulders and locks him in the scissors. Hart carries Chene around on his shoulders, and both men go over the top rope! Chene manages to keep on the head scissors (!) through the fall. Hart back to his feet, back up on the apron, and back into the ring, all with Chene on his shoulders! That was pretty impressive. But let's go to commercial before anything can come from it.
Back from commercial, and Hart manages to slip out of the head scissors. But he just catches a mean right hand to the jaw for his troubles. Cover, but only a two count. Both men back up, and Hart with a flurry of lefts and rights. Hart with a rear chinlock, trying to use Chene's hair to keep the hold. Chene slips out, however. Hart with a headlock, into the ropes, dropkick by Chene! But no follow up.
Test of strength, and the Playboy goes straight down. Chene with a headlock, clamping it on tight. Into the ropes, dropkick! Hart did not like that one bit. Hart trying to back off... but Chene keeps coming. Lockup, Hart with an armbar, but Chene flips out of it. Lockup, and Hart sneaks in a knee to the midsection. Front facelock, and hart sneaks in a choke. But then catches a European uppercut which puts him down. Hart set up on the top turnbuckle, Chene runs, jumps from the mat and catches Hart with a flying headscissors! That was a great looking spot!
Hart getting upset by Chene's speed and agility. Hart manages a right, then starts laying the stomps onto Chene. Reverse rear chinlock, but Chene flips out of that and rolls up Hart. Cover... 1-2-3! Chene surprises Hart and the crowd by getting the pin in (8:10). That was a pretty damned good match!
Men's Health is spending a lot of money on this show. You'd think that ESPN Classic would be nice enough to actually air the show every week or something. Oh, yeah, and let us know what year these matches were recorded.
This is probably our last match for this week. Killer Kowalski (and a chorus of boos) taking on European Champion Eduard Carpentier (try typing that three times fast). Cardell with a not-very-promising statement: "Kowalski is more of a stomper than a wrestler." Great. How do I get all of the Lex Luger-caliber athletes?
The match is on as Kowalski attacks before the bell. Kowalski stomping and mauling Carpentier in the ropes. The referee is trying to pull Killer off, but that just ain't happening. The referee is really laying into Kowalski; he'd better be careful himself! Question: What do Kowalski and Vader have in common? Answer: They've both torn an opponents ear off in the ring.
Carpentier finally gets some offense in, stunning Kowalski with a series of rights and lefts. Kowalski does not like this at all, and begs off into the corner. Carpentier charges the corner, and almost loses his tights because of it! As Carpentier tries to pull up his trunks, Kowalski takes advantage of the distraction and regains the advantage with a series of punches, forearms, elbows (or, if you are Cardell, "Brain Buster"), and knees.
Both men finally out of the corner, and Carpentier nails Kowalski with a headbutt to the stomach! Beal into the corner, and Kowalski comes out MUCH more cautiously.
Lockup, and Kowalski grabs an arm bar. Kowalski tries to leg drop the arm, but Carpentier moves. Kowalski decides to sit on the top turnbuckle and re-think his strategy for this match. Carpentier isn't having any of this, and dropkicks Kowalski off the turnbuckle and out to the floor!!!
Kowalski back in, trying to punch Carpentier, but Carpentier is too fast. Duck, duck, duck, and Carpentier puts Kowalski down with a right! Kowalski tries a flurry of rights... duck, duck, duck, European uppercut! Carpentier tries a cover, but they are in the ropes.
Lockup, Kowalski back down. Carpentier jumps up and lands on Kowalski's midsection! OUCH! Carpentier is single-handedly carrying this match, and has the crowd (and me) at the edge of our seats! Kowalski now does not want to lock up with the much smaller European champion. He won't have to for three minutes, either, as we watch a bunch of commercials.
We are back, and Carpentier has just secured an arm bar on Kowalski. Kowalski tries to bodyslam Carpentier, but Carpentier hangs on and pulls Kowalski through. Kowalski picks up Carpentier again, and places him on the top turnbuckle. Forearm, forearm, but Carpentier ducks the next. European uppercut! Head to the turnbuckle. Again! And Kowalski is down!
Kowalski again doesn't want to lock up, and looks a little unsteady on his feet. (Great selling job by the Killer.) Lockup, and somehow Kowalski manages to lock on a standing backbreaker! Kowalski dumps Carpentier into the corner, then begins choking him! Kowalski with a kneedrop to the chest. Cover... 1-2-NO! Carpentier manages to get a shoulder up.
Kowalski now slowing down the match, and taking control. Rights to the face. Kick to the chest. Knee to the back. Carpentier now is the one who is unsteady on his feet. Double leg sweep into an airplane spin. But Kowalski is also effected by the airplane spin, and actually falls out of the ring to the floor! Referee counting on both men, both men back up at 8! Kowalski tries a bodyslam, but Carpentier falls through! 1-2-NO! Kowalski somehow kicks out at two. THAT is how you do a near-pinfall. It is MUCH more effective at the twelve minute mark in a match than it is at the 90 second mark.
Carpentier with another abdominal stomp! Kowalski is in the ropes, and is having trouble standing up. Carpentier with a cheap kick to the ribs! That's not appropriate for a face to do! Carpentier with a running slam(!) and a cover! 1-2-NO!!! Kowalski cannot stay on his feet!
Lockup, into the corner. Carpentier with another cheap shot to the ribs. Are we seeing the beginning of a heel turn? Kowalski with a desperation punch which almost hits the referee. Another lockup, and Kowalski manages to pick up Carpentier. And he ties Carpentier to the tree of woe! Kowalski stomping him, and the bell rings? The hell? Oh, we have a time limit draw!
That match was THE SHIT!!! I don't even have a problem with the no-finish. Carpentier had the crowd so into the match that a time limit draw could do nothing but add to the excitement. The crowd is now dying to see these two wrestlers lock up once again. And so am I, now that I think about it. That was an incredible match!
Cardell manages to catch up to Killer Kowalski. "This boy helpless! I tougher wrestler! I know that the referee deliberately called time on this match just to save Carpentier." What a perfect heel interview, since the draw actually saved Kowalski, who was in the process of having his ass handed to him by Carpentier. Both the match and that interview absolutely reeked of PSYCHOLOGY!
And that is our show for this week! Have a great week, everyone. I'll be back next week, assuming ESPN Classic decides to air the show again.