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/30 September 2000
Pro Wrestling Classics by Miguelito Fierro




(Original date sometime in 1963)

Okay, my new gimmick is "will there be a recap or won't there?" [grin] There's a damned good reason that this recap hasn't appeared for the last two weeks. And I fully intend to tell you what that reason is. But let's not get ahead of ourselves!

Hello, I am Miguelito! Today, we are watching ESPN Classic's Golden Age of Pro Wrestling, presented in black & white Grain-o-Vision, on September 30, 2000. Amazingly, the stars have aligned just perfectly, allowing both me to set my VCR for the correct time, and for ESPN Classic to actually air the show at the correct time. That means we will have a recap today. WOOHOO!

As you probably know, I like to start out these recaps with a brief rundown about what is happening in the world of pro wrestling. Recently, I've been concentrating on WCW, because WCW is the wrestling organization with the most problems, which means it is the easiest to make fun of.

But it is far TOO easy to make fun of WCW now. Vince Russo is doing a magnificent job of running WCW into the ground. WCW's booking has gone from bad to pathetically illogical and idiotic. From the non-existent live crowds to the non-existent pay per view audience to the fact that WCW was not able to pick up any viewers when the WWF moved to TNN, it is becoming obvious that more and more fans are turning away from WCW.

And it is becoming painfully obvious that Vince Russo has no idea how to turn this around. Painful, because in Russo's desperation to throw something, ANYTHING, on the screen that people will want to watch, we have to suffer through things like David Flair invading a cameraman's house (why else would there already be a camera there?) or Russo winning the world championship. It is sad that we have to sit and watch Russo shit on what was once a great wrestling promotion. We can only hope that somehow, someway, WCW will survive until Russo is shown the door. It'll take decades, however, for WCW to recover from what Russo has done to it.


But enough of the horrible past. Let's hop onto the rug and take a Magic Carpet Ride back to when the NWA was the hottest wrestling promotion anywhere. Back to the days when a different Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers, was showing the world what a true World Champion should be like. A time when men were men and women sold beer at the concession stands. In other words, it is time to go back to the Golden Age of Pro Wrestling.

In an ironic twist, tonight's matches are sanctioned by the International Wrestling Association (IWA). We start out the night with a two-out-of-three falls match pitting Gary Hart and Count Wallenski -vs- the Bavarian Boys.

This is something of a strange twist, too. The Bavarian Boys (reigning European tag-team champions) were heels the last time that I recapped a show. They are faces here, though there is a fair amount of booing going on when the Boys are introduced. The Bavarian Boys have really horrible "authentic German" outfits, complete with a huge feather in their fedoras.

We have Wallenski and Jacob starting for the match. Wallenski starts with a headlock, and keeps it on for a while. Jacob trying to fight away from it, but Wallenski isn't going to let him go. Tag in to Hart, who nails Jacob with a high knee. Hart tags back out to Wallenski, who takes Jacob all the way down to the mat with a headlock.

The heels are doing a great job of double-teaming Jacob. But Jacob makes a comeback. Right, left, and Jacob finds a way to tag to his partner, . European uppercut! Snap mare! Nose spin! Wallenski is in a lot of trouble, and is on the wrong side of the ring! Snap mare. And another nose spin! Tag to Jacob, who comes in with another nose spin! Wallenski makes it to the corner, however, and tags in Gary Hart.

Hart comes in, and starts to work on Perry. Snap mare (I love that move). Perry moves a little too close to the corner, and gets pulled back by Wallenski. Wallenski works over Perry, but somehow gets trapped in a spinning toe hold! Wallenski will not submit, so Perry tags in Jacob.

I have a funny feeling that I've already seen this match. The reason there was no recap last week is because ESPN Classic re-aired an episode they had shown earlier this summer. I hope they aren't doing the same thing again this week...

Hart is in, and he is in trouble. Hart is hit with a series of dropkicks, and we have a cover! That can't be enough to get the pin, can it? Apparently it can! (6:48) That was a pretty weak way to get a pin, if you ask me. Actually, you don't even need to ask me; I get to tell you whatever the hell I want!

ESPN Classic is pulling in some more-wrestling-worthy advertisers as this show goes on. There's Fosters and "Red Planet," for example. What's next, 1-800-CAL-LATT?

We are back, and Hart is starting on Perry. Perry makes the tag, and Jacob is in. Gary Hart decides that now would be a good time to tag in Wallenski. Wallenski immediately runs into trouble, as Perry takes control. Jacob in with a toss on Wallenski. Collar-and-elbow, and Wallenski manages to sink in a full nelson. Wallenski pulls him over towards the corner, and Hart nails a series of rights to Jacob's ribs!

Wallenski takes Jacob down with a kick, but Jacob reverses this into an arm bar. Wallenski fights back by collecting Morgan silver dollars for $19.90 each. Umm... I think we went to commercial somewhere in here, actually.

We are back in time to see Wallenski make the tag to get out of the arm bar. Hart comes in, but Jacob begins to bite his fingers! Jacob with an amazing knee lift which almost knocks Hart out. Tag, Perry in and slingshots Hart into the ropes. Tag, and Jacob is in. Rear chin lock. Wallenski has had enough of this, however, and comes in with a sweet elbow drop to the top of Jacob's head. Tag, and Wallenski is in.

Knee lift by Wallenski. Another one! Bodyslam. Cover, but he only gets a one count. Another body slam, but this time he catches a kick to the chin. Perry covers, but Gary Hart breaks up the fall.

Jacob in, and secures a rear chinlock on Wallenski. Jacob puts a knee into Wallenski's back to make the move even more painful. (PSYCHOLOGY!) Hart tries to come in and break the hold, but Jacob continues to hold on. Jacob then breaks the hold to deliver a jumping thigh stretch. Tag to Perry, who does the same. One more time! Both men are in, and both hit a thigh stretch! Jacob with a rollup on Wallenski, and he gets the pin! (12:58) The Bavarian Boys make relatively short work out of Hart and Wallenski. That wasn't expected. And the last couple of minutes of that fall were pretty exciting. I've gotta give that match a thumbs up!

When we get back from commercial, our next match is already in the middle of introductions. We are up for Paul Christy -vs- Kurt Von Stroheim. Von Stroheim looks sorta like an older Goldberg. Christy, we are told, only has 15 months wrestling experience. That means this match will either be a squash, or that the youngster will make an impressive standing against the 10-year veteran.

Lockup, into the ropes, and Von Stroheim nails Christy with a knee drop. Von Stroheim with a bear hug, Christy is trying to combat it with a headlock. Von Stroheim physically lifting Christy off of his feet, but Christy uses this momentum to flip Von Stroheim out of the move. Into the ropes, referee saking for a clean break, but CHRISTY gets a cheap shot, sweeping Von Stroheim's feet out from under him. Von Stroheim is pissed! But the refere keeps him away from Christy. And we go to a commercial.

So, in this Norelco commercial, why would that one chick feel the face of a complete stranger? And why does the guy look surprised when his girlfriend hits him with the big inflatable bat? It just doesn't make any type of sense to me! Even less so than this stupid Sprint commercial, which apparently links calling long distance with being a peeping tom. [sigh]

We are back, and Von Stroheim is applying a really cool headlock. Into a beautiful snap mare. Von Stroheim rests his leg across Christy's throat, which draws the referee's attention and the fan's irk. Break, and Christy manages a single-leg takedown. Christy is trying to be the all-american good guy, but Von Stroheim is being much more effective as a dominant heel. Von Stroheim is definitely carrying this match.

Christy has Von Stroheim on the mat, and is working over Von Stroheim's legs. Leg drop to the knee, step over toehold, but Von Stroheim grabs him in a choke and pulls himself free. Von Stroheim with a European uppercut! Rear chinlock, but Christy bridges all the way over Von Stroheim (!) and takes him down with a sunset flip. Both men up, and Christy manages to grab Von Stroheim in a hammerlock. And we go to commercial again. Just when the match was getting interesting...

Okay, so last week's recap was scrapped because ESPN Classic accidentally re-played an episode they had aired less than two months ago. The week before that, I had problems with my VCR (in that I forgot to set up the program to record the show weekly). I only say this as a way to pass the time while this Zap 2000 commercial plays out. I can't believe that people actually watch 30-minute infomercials on products like this...

We are back, and Christy walks right into a front face suplex. Von Stroheim takes advantage of the prone Christy with a blatant chokehold. Both men up after the break, Von Stroheim with a hammerlock. Christy hits a snap mare, but Von Stroheim doesn't break the hold! Now that was pretty cool.

Christy trying to get up, but Von Stroheim pulls Christy back to the mat with the hammerlock. [sniff, sniff] I smell some PSYCHOLOGY as Von Stroheim continues working that hammerlock, and Christy tries every move he knows (which is 10 more moves than Lex Luger knows) to get out of the hammerlock. Both men to their feet, Christy with a float over, and manages to break the hold.

Christy then hits a dropkick! Another one! Christy jumps onto Von Stroheim and nails a sweet monkey flip. Christy goes for another, then almost gets KILLED when Von Stroheim drops him right on his face. That was SICK! Christy was on Von Stroheim's shoulders, and fell all the way down to the mat, landing squarely on his forehead, then his left cheek, then the rest of his body. Von Stroheim covers, asking Christy if he is okay while he does so. The referee counts an easy three-count (8:30). Christy must be okay, because Von Stroheim picks him up and nails a European uppercut to put Christy back to the mat. More cheap heat, more great psychology.

Talking about psychology, Von Stroheim waves politely to the booing fans as he makes his way over to the (unnamed) interviewer. It's a nice touch, and gets the fans seriously pissed at him.

Von Stroheim definitely looks like Goldberg from this camera angle. I half-expect him to say "WHO'S NEXT?" But, instead, he says, "Listen, I have been here 11 months in this country." He talks about how he can't speak English well, and that he doesn't like anyone here. It's hard to hear him, because he keeps taunting the fans around him. Ah, hell, it's easier to figure out what Scott Steiner is saying than to figure out what Von Stroheim is saying. Basically, he is saying that people should boo for him because he is a bad guy.

After another commercial break, we get to our last match. With TV time remaining, we have the Mongol -vs- Hank Lane. Lane, being from California, is automatically the face, which means I must make fun of him throughout this match. The Mongol needs a lot of ridicule, too, if for nothing else than his fur trunks. Put George "the Animal" Steele in a fur loincloth and you have the Mongol.

Lockup, and the Mongol nails Lane with a forearm smash. Lane uses his quickness, however, to get a headlock. This doesn't last long, however, as the Mongol powers out of it. Back to the center of the ring, and Lane tries another headlock. Mongol simply tosses Lane away, and then starts pounding away with forearm smashes.

Mongol grabs a headlock, but Lane is starting to come back. Left, right, but Lane goes down with one shot from the Mongol. Mongol with an airplane spin, then, with Lane still on his shoulders, rams Lane into the turnbuckle. Lane finishes the airplane spin, then dumps Lane to the mat.

Lane trying to come back again, but Mongol is far too strong. Mongol takes him to the mat, and starts choking him! The referee, of course, breaks the hold.

Back to the center of the ring, into a top wristlock. Mongol takes Lane down, but Lane trips him up. Mongol is still too strong, though, and gets out of the hold.

Both men out to the center of the ring now, because we have more time to waste. Mongol knocks Lane down, then goes to talk to his manager. Lane can't gain an advantage from this, though. Mongol with a hiptoss, and now a side headlock. This match may be the longest squash match I've ever seen! Mongol locks on his dreaded nerve hold (think a Vulcan Nerve Pinch), and Lane is out. (6:10) Mongol with the win, but a pretty silly-looking one.

Wow, that match was so fast, we have one more match to fill the time! The crowd all seems to be saying "Who?" at the same time, which makes me think that this is not A list talent here. Our last match is Larry Chene -vs- Red Kelly. It would appear that Chene is our face, and he is also the reigning United States champion. Kelly has a standard Texan look going, with cowboy boots and a nice big cowboy hat.

Kelly attacks before the bell rings, but only gains a momentary advantage. Into the ropes, leapfrog, flying headscissors! This match is already the best match of the show! Unfortunately, the ring announcer lets us know that there are only three minutes left in the show, and Chene doesn't seem to be in a hurry to break the leg scissors.

Finally broken, as Kelly roughs up Chene's eyes. Both men back up, and Chene places Kelly on the top rope. Chene takes two steps back, runs towards the corner, jumps, and actually catches Kelly with a flying headscissors!!! That was damned impressive, since Chene isn't built like a cruiserweight. Kelly getting back to his feet, Chene charges and ... is he dropkicking the referee? No. HOLY SHIT! Chene actually kicked over the referee's head and nailed Kelly right in the face! Kelly stays down for the three count (4:20), and the US champion just impressed the hell out of me!

The commentators want to interview Chene, but it is just a normal face interview, with Chene talking about how nice it is to be recognized in his own home town, and that he'd like a title shot somewhere down the road. The only thing interesting about this interview is that Chene actually mentions Buddy Rogers.

And that's our show for tonight. (You mean, that's it?) Before I put a feather in my fedora, let's pull a couple of messages out of the mailbox. First, Arthur is nice enough to quote a full three paragraphs from a previous recap to let me know that I made a bit of a mistake:

    Christy uses his speed this time, however. While Gates is
    celebrating, Christy slips around the ring ...

    Around? He went UNDER the ring!
Thank you, Arthur. You are exactly right; Christy (who got his ass kicked and very nearly had his neck snapped in this week's show) actually did go under the ring. Good catch!

And our second letter for this week, from Cary:

    You're right man, the classic matches on ESPN Classic kinda sucked last Saturday, but maybe I can shed some light on the spelling of the last name of the IWA champion way back then. Unless I'm mistaken, I believe it was Golden Moose Cholak. I became familiar with Mr. Cholak when I was a kid and Cholak wrestled with Dick the Bruiser's promotion around the Indianapolis area. By then Cholak called himself Yukon Moose Cholak and he was quite a bit more rotund than he was when those matches were televised from Chicago. I don't know why the people choosing the classic matches won't show the Bruiser's feuds with The Shiek or Ernie Ladd or Bruiser Brody. Those matches were wild, unpredictable, and bloody as hell; I guarantee you wouldn't be falling asleep if they were shown!
Thanks for your letter, Cary. And thanks for providing a little background for the matches that I recapped. There's only so much that we can gather from tapes of these classic matches. It is personal experiences like yours which helps re-create the atmosphere of that era.

Okay, it is now FAR too late for me to be awake. Until next weekend, everyone, ciao! Let's all pray that Vince Russo gains some insight and doesn't screw up having Booker T once again be champion.

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