Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Last Match: British Legends

With the recent retirement of British Wrestling Legend Johnny Kidd at Chikara's Aniversario: The Chamber of Secrets event I thought I would be fitting to take a look at some of the finest wrestlers to come out of the United Kingdom.

Johnny Kidd

May 28, 2016 Chikara Pro Manchester, UK
World of Sports Rules 8 three minutes rounds drew Mike Quackenbush 1 - 1

Johnny Kidd began wrestling in 1978 becoming a star on the famous World Of Sport program on channel ITV.  Kidd made his debut in the United States for Chikara in 2011 against Johnny Saint in a  World of Sports rules match.  Kidd, who has won multiple championships in his 38 year career, decided to retire and requested to face Mike Quackenbush in his final match.  Quack himself had not wrestled since April 2013 but accepted the honor training vigorously for months leading up to the encounter.

Robbie Brookside

May 12, 2013 W3L: World Wide Wrestling League,  Fife, Scotland
defeated Nathan Black

Robbie Brookside is a world traveled professional wrestler who began his career in 1984 wrestling in Blackpool Bobby Barren and later Brian Dixon.  If you've read either William Regal or Chris Jericho's first book they both spoke highly of Brookside.  Robbie did make a few appearances for WWE and WCW sadly essentially as enhancement talent.   Currently Brookside works for the WWE in the performance center as a trainer and talent scout.

"Big Daddy" Shirley Crabtree

October 26, 1988 Joint Promotions, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England
teaming with Kashmire Singh & Tom Thumb defeated Bulldog Brown, John Wilkie, & Sid Cooper

Second generation wrestler Shirley Crabtree Jr. began his wrestling career in 1952 has a baby face or blue-eye for Joint Promotions winning their version of the European Heavyweight Championship.  He stopped wrestling for six years in 1966 returning as a villain in 1972.  He debuted the Big Daddy gimmick in 1974 as a bad guy before becoming a baby face in 1977 and becoming the top draw for Joint Promotions until he retired in 1993.  He had a legendary feud with Giant Haystacks that lasted for 15 years.  Crabtree passed away December 2, 1997 from a stroke at the age of 67.

Mark "Rollerball" Rocco
April 6, 1990 Reslo, Carnavon, Wales
wrestled Danny Collins to a double count-out

Rollerball Rocco was a top light heavyweight wrestler for his all of his near 20 year career.  He was star in the UK and Japan where he wrestled as the original Black Tiger.  Through his career he feuded with the likes of Marty Jones, Dynamite Kid, and a legendary feud with Tiger Mask in NJPW.  Rocco wrestled as Black Tiger from 1982 until 1990 including having a match with The Cobra at Madison Square Garden for the WWE December 28, 1984.  He was forced to retire because of a heart condition.

Johnny Saint

June 13, 2015 ICW L'Ora Dei Campioni 2015, Brogosatollo, Brescia, Italy
teaming with Manuel Majoli defeated Mr. Excellent & Psycho Mike

Trained by Billy Robinson, Saint debuted in 1958 becoming a huge star in the United Kingdom during the World of Sport era.  Saint initially retired in 1996 after defeating Naohiro Hoshikawa at Michinoku Pro.  Over 11 years later Saint stepped back in the ring in 2007 finally making his American debut in 2009 for Chikara's King of Trios tournament.  Saint has the distinction of being one of only a handful of competitors to compete in 7 different decades.

The Dynamite Kid

October 10, 1996 Michinoki Pro 3rd Anniversary, Tokyo, Japan
teaming with Dos Caras & Kuniaki Kobayashi defeated Mil Mascaras, The Great Sasuke, & Tiger Mask

The Dynamite Kid has the distinction of being one of the greatest and most controversial wrestlers of all time.  Beginning his career in 1975 after training with Ted Betley Kid cut his teeth for Max Crabtree the brother of Big Daddy.  Kid debuted in Stampede Wrestling in 1979 changing what the world thought of light heavyweight competitors.  He would reach super stardom with a series of matches against Tiger Mask that are still talked about to this day.  I first recall Dynamite as one half of the British Bulldogs one of my all time favorite tag teams.  Kid was forced to retire because of numerous health problems.

He published an autobiography entitled "Pure Dynamite" in 1999, which is excellent, and was the feature in a documentary by wrestler Jake Manning and Highspots entitled "Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride".  Both items are available at www.highspots.com

A Still from Dynamite Kid's final match

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Favorite Match

For over 20 years whenever I was asked what my favorite wrestling match is my response has always been Starrcade 1985 Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA I Quit Steel Cage Match for the United States Championship.

I mean what's not to love about it?  For almost 15 of the most intense minutes I've ever seen in a wrestling match these two beat the tar out of each other with stiff shots and high impact moves.  Both men where quickly busted open with Tully bleeding from his head and arm.  The visual of the finishing sequence just stays with you.  Tully on his knees, Magnum standing behind him driving the stake from the broken wooded chair into Tully's forehead while he screamed yes repeatedly.

The crowd was screaming from the moment the two locked up and never stopped.  The crowd was amazing all night, but they really kicked it up for this match.

I legitimately have no idea how many times I've watched the match but it's in the hundreds easily.

And incidentally, Tully never said "I quit!"

However, a match has occurred that is poised to kick the "I Quit" match out of that top position.  April 1, 2016 at NXT Takeover Dallas Shinsuke Nakamura made his WWE/NXT debut against Sami Zayn in the no doubt match of the year.

Sincerely this is the finest match I have seen in many years, I have watched it no less than 30 times since and it just gets better.  What really significant was after the fact Sami Zayn was on Talk is Jericho and revealed that prior to that match he and Nakamura had met a couple times but had never touched before that night in the ring.

The crowd was amazing, very lively chanting through the entire match for both competitors but clearly leaning towards Nakamura.  At one point they literally brought the crowd to their feet as the entire audience was taken away with what they were witnessing.  A chant that I had never heard before, "fight forever" and I couldn't have agreed more.

After 20:07 of action Nakamura nailed the kinshasa picking up the win and ushering in the era of strong style in the WWE.

Nakamura had two Wrestling Observer 5 star matches in 2015 for NJPW, I wonder if any of his matches in the WWE in 2016 with Rate the same. WWE has only ever had five matches rate 5 stars, the last in 2011.

Also Nakamura's entrance music is pretty amazing!

As of now for the longevity of it I will still have to give the nod to Magnum vs. Tully however I could see that changing in the very near future.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Last Match: Classic WWE Television Shows

Over the years the WWWF, WWF, now WWE have had many televisions shows to bring their matches to the masses.  Once upon a time these shows were there to simply bring us to the house shows where the real matches were contested.  Now the television shows bring us the big matches each and every week.  

In this edition of The Last Match I am bringing to you the final matches of top WWE wrestling shows for the 80's and 90's.  I thought of expanding more, but sadly most of those shows were just re-cap shows that featured maybe one exclusive jobber squash match, so I decided not to.  

Championship Wrestling
The original flagship show of the WWWF and later WWF before being replaced by Superstars of Wrestling, taped at the Philadelphia Arena, then Allentown Agricultural Hall before ending its run at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center.  Ran 1972 – August 30, 1986

Aired August 30, 1986 Taped August 5, 1986
Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY
US Express: Mike Rotundo & Danny Spivey defeated Steve Lombardi & Gino Carabello at 4:35 when Spivey pinned Carabello with a bulldog

All-Star Wrestling
This was the B show of the WWWF and later WWF before being replaced by Wrestling Challenge, taped at the Hamburg Fieldhouse in Pennsylvania until mid-1984 before moving to various Ontario venues eventually settling in Brantford.  Ran 1972 – August 30, 1986

Aired August 30, 1986 Taped July 28, 1986
Civic Centre, Brantford, Ontario
Tito Santana pinned “Iron” Mike Sharpe with a flying forearm in 9 minutes

All American Wrestling
This was the first non-syndicated show for the WWF as it ran on the USA Network replacing Soutwest Championship Wrestling when it was cancelled.  Originally featured a multiple matches but by the end of its run featured just one match and the rest recapping other shows.  It was replaced by WWF Action Zone.  I cannot find the final match that was aired.  Ran September 4, 1983 – October 16, 1994

Tuesday Night Titans
A WWF variety show that aired on the USA Network in the format of a late night talk show and was hosted by Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes, “Mean” Gene Okerlund took over has host near the end of the run.  Each episode featured kayfabe interviews and skits like “Fuji Vice” and pre-taped matches.  Ran from May 29, 1984 – May 21, 1986

Taped April 21, 1986 Poughkeepsie, NY
Commentary: Gorilla Monsoon & “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd
SD Jones & Paul Roma defeated Joe Mirto & Mike Angelo with roman pinned Angelo with a powerslam

Saturday Night’s Main Event
Aired on NBC in place of re-runs of SNL.  I remember staying up late to watch this show and being amazed by it.  Every match was a star vs star instead of the jobber matches we got on the weekend morning shows.  I recently re-watched them what I didn’t realize before was that they ran long term storylines from one episode to another.  Ran original May 11, 1985 – November 14, 1992 revival March 16, 2006 – August 2, 2008.

Aired November 14, 1992 Taped October 27, 1992
Hulman Center, Terre Haute, IN
World Heavyweight Champion: Bret “Hitman” Hart submitted Papa Shango with the Sharpshooter

Aired August 2, 2008 Taped July 28, 2008
Verizon Center, Washington DC
Edge pinned Jeff Hardy with a spear

Prime Time Wrestling
The first WWF Monday night wrestling show airing for two hours on the USA Network originally hosted by Jesse Ventura and Jack Reynolds.  Later Reynolds was replaced by Gorilla Monsoon and in 1986 Bobby Heenan replaced Ventura.  The show is most remembered for the Monsoon & Heenan five year run hosting the studio show that aired pre-taped matches from Madison Square Garden, Maple Leaf Gardens, Spectrum, and Boston Garden.  The final two years featured a multi-person panel in front of a live studio audience and pre-taped matches.  Ran January 1, 1985 – January 4, 1993

Aired January 4, 1993 Taped December 15, 1992 Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI
The Steiner Brothers: Rick & Scott defeated WT Jones & Red Tyler when Scott pinned Tyler

Superstars of Wrestling
For many years prior to the launch of Raw this was the flagship show for the WWF airing in syndication from its launch until late 1996 when it began airing on the USA Network in place of WWF Action Zone.  In early 1997 the format changed from airing exclusive matches to being a recap show airing segments from Raw.  Ran September 6, 1986 – 2001

Aired March 9, 1997 Taped February 26, 1997 Berlin, Germany
Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon defeated Aldo Montoya & Bob Holly when LaFon pinned Montoya w/ a German suplex

Wrestling Challenge
WWF’s B show debuting in 1986 in syndication.  We never got Wrestling Challenge in my area growing up it was always listed on WVII 7 out of Bangor, a channel we didn’t get.  I did however attend a Wrestling Challenge taping on August 15, 1995 in Portland, Maine and an interview by Dok Hendrix with Bret Hart was featured on that final episode. Ran September 7, 1986 - August 27, 1995

Aired August 27, 1995 Taped August 14, 1995 Worcester, MA
Razor Ramon pinned Tony Devito with the Razors Edge at 3:18

Shotgun Saturday Night
A syndicated show that started out being taped at New York City Night Clubs featuring an edgier product that the rest of their television shows.  The ring and a very small club right with all yellow ropes.  I remember watching this and thinking they were trying to compete with ECW while making it a unique experience.  Sadly this format only last a few weeks before the show started being taped the same night as Raw.  The show primarily became a recap show with squash matches sprinkled in.  Ran January 4, 1997 – August 21, 1999

Aired August 21, 1999 taped August 9, 1999 Chicago, IL
Intercontinental & European Champion: D-Lo Brown defeated Albert with the Low Down at 7:16

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Pro Wrestling Society: Addicted To Chaos Results 5/7/2016

Alex and I made the journey to Thatcher's in South Portland for the latest PWS event featuring Adam Booker vs. Ace Romero.  I was a huge Booker fan back in the old EWA days and I haven't seen him wrestle since and New Wrestling Horizons show back on April 2, 2005 in Gray, ME.  He had moved out of state for a few years but moved back to Maine and a couple years back started wrestling again.  He doesn't work many Maine dates mostly just for Chaotic in Massachusetts.

 The venue was interesting in that it was an uninsulated and unheated small electrical room on the building.  I can't imagine what it was built for initially.  The floor has a slight incline in it so the ring sloops at a slight angle. I liked it.

Mr. Vip Slick Sully vs. Amigo Ultra
Never heard of either of these guys, they are both green but put on a really good basic match.  Nothing fancy or too flashy with Sully working the arm most of the match and getting the submission win with the crossface.

The Horror w/ Rob Marsh vs. Troy Garbo w/ Rain
Again two guys I've never heard of.  The Horror was doing a deranged serial killer gimmick complete with white jumpsuit and "blood" stains on the chest.  Garbo is doing an American cowboy dressed head to toe in the flag.  The Horror dominated while Garbo bumped around before losing to an awkward looking neckbreaker or reverse bulldog, not sure.

Rob Marsh w/ The Horror vs. Rain w/ Troy Garbo
Last time I saw Marsh was in a deathmatch in Fairfield.  I read that he wasn't doing them anymore because he wants to showcase that he can wrestle with the best of them.  I really would  like to see him against someone where he could show that more.  Never heard of Rain, but it was obvious that he is green as grass.  Marsh looked good and was trying to carry a good match, Rain, he needs more work.  His finish is an elbow off the top rope, it shouldn't be.

brief intermission

Six Man Tag: BA Tatum, Nick "Flash" McKenna, & Blade Bandit vs. Owen Brody, Murdock, & Gene Geroux
Geroux was the mystery partner of Brody and Murdock.  Every time Tatum got in the ring the other team jumped to the floor.  This happened for the duration of the match until Tatum, with no known reason, turned on McKenna and Bandit causing the ref to throw the match out.

I liked that the match was thrown out and not a DQ win for McKenna and Bandit because that happened all too often in these scenarios.  It is not illegal for Tatum to attack his own partners so there should be no DQ called.  Also I hate it when you have a match like this when the good guy turns on his partners and joins the bad guys, but they just spent 15 minutes beating each other up first.  In this case they didn't touch it was great.

Xavier Bell vs. "Rugged" Rick Daniels
This was a throwback match to a style gone by and I really enjoyed it.  Bell clearly was controlling the flow of the match which saw him work and arm bar or side headlock for several minutes with some spots in between.  Rick picked up the win on a botched pin finished all thanks to the ref.  I really enjoyed the match otherwise.

PWS Champion: "Cocky" Kyle Andrews vs. Cousin Larry
Larry chopped Kyle so many times that it swelled his hand.  I've seen them wrestle so many times and yet this one was different.  The finish came when Kyle grabbed his belt and walked to the back taking the count out loss.

"Remarkable" Adam Booker vs Ace Romero
This was a fantastic match!  It started in the ring with a lock up but quickly spilled to the floor and around the ringside area.  Ace hit a a suicide dive through the ropes right in front of me.  It is so impressive to see a man the size of Romero fly out of the ring like that.  During the ringside brawl some glasses from the restaurant were knocked the the floor breaking adding and element of danger to the proceedings.  Booker got the pin with a roll up and a handful of tights.

It was really good seeing Booker in the ring again, and it was a great match.

Pro Wrestling Society returns June 3rd at Thatchers for an outdoor show featuring a Tag Team Tournament.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Last Match: WWE Women's Champions

Women's wrestling has never been as popular as it is right now for the casual and mainstream fans.  Both on the independents and on the big stage of the WWE they have finally moved past the gimmicky bra & panties, mud bowl, evening gown, and lingerie matches for highly competitive matches that have been main eventing and at times stealing the show.

Over the years there have been some very talented women wrestlers that have given us their all in the ring.  This list is going to highlight some of the best women wrestlers that have had their last match.

Wendi Richter
August 27, 2005 Wrestle Reunion 2, King of Prussia, PA
teaming with George South Jr. & The Patriot defeated DC Drake, Gary Royal, & Amy Love

Trained by The Fabulous Moolahm, Richter debuted in 1979 eventually forming a tag team with Joyce Grable capturing the NWA Women's Tag Team Championship.  She is best known for ushering in the Rock n' Wrestling connection with Cyndi Lauper as her manager defeating the Fabulous Moolah for the WWE Women's Championship.  After leaving the WWE she would go on to win the AWA & WWC Women's Championships before quietly retiring from wrestling in mid 90's.  Richter made two appearances for Wrestle Reunion in 2005.  She was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

Sherri Martel
January 29, 2005 Wrestle Reunion Tampa, FL
teaming with Amber O'Neal, Krissy Vaine,  & Peggy Lee Leather was defeated by Bambi, Jenny Taylor, Malia Hosaka & Wendi Richter

Sherri Martel has an illustrious in and out of the ring as a manager and wrestler.  Sherri began her training the with Fabulous Moolah in 1980 touring around the southern territories and Japan.  In 1985 she joined the AWA winning the Women's World Championship and managing "Playboy" Buddy Rose & "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers.  She arrived in the WWE in 1987 and defeated the Fabulous Moolah for the Women's Championship in her debut match holding the title for 15 months.  After the women's division was phased out Sherri managed Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, and Ted Dibiase.  She has a brief run in ECW in 1993 - 1994 before going to WCW where she managed Ric Flair before becoming Sister Sherri managing the Harlem Heat.  She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.  Sherri Martel passed away June 15, 2007.

Madusa aka Alundra Blayze
September 17, 2000 WCW Fall Brawl 2000 Buffalo, NY
teaming with Billy Kidman lost to "Franchise" Shane Douglas & Torrie Wilson in a Pittsburgh Plunge Scaffold Match.

Madusa debuted in 1984 after being trained by Eddie Sharkey.  She started with the AWA in 1986 as a manager and wrestler winning the AWA Women's Championship December 27, 1987.  In 1989 she became the first gaijin to sign a contract with All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling.  Madusa signed with WCW in 1991 in a managerial role however did have a match with Paul E. Dangerously at Clash of the Champions XXI.  Changing her name to Alundra Blayze she spent two years in the WWE becoming the face of the Women's division winning the Championship three times.  Of course everyone knows about her throwing the belt in the trash can when she returned to Nitro in December of 1995.  At this time it appeared as though WCW was going to build a women's division around her much like WWE did, however they never did.  They established a Women's Championship with Akira Hokuto winning the belt in the tournament final at Starrcade 1996 by June of 1997 the title was vacated and then later the division was dissolved.  Madusa would eventually win a title in WCW the Cruiserweight Championship from Evan Karagias at Starrcade 1999 losing it to Oklahoma 28 days later at Souled Out.  Madusa retired from wrestling in 2001.  She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.  In September 2015 she was made the comissioner of World Wonder Ring Stardom in Japan.  Since 1999 she has driven the monster truck Madusa on the USHRA circuit.

Rockin' Robin
February 23, 1992 LPWA Super Ladies Showdown Rochester, MN
lost to Black Venus

Rockin' Robin is a second generation wrestler, the daughter of Grizzly Smith and the sister of Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Sam Houston.  She was trained by Nelson Royal debuting in 1987 in the WWE she was a member of the Fabulous Moolah's team at the first Survivor Series.  On October 7, 1988 in Paris, France Robin defeated Sherri Martel for the Women's Championship.  She held the title until February 21, 1990 when it was deactivated.  The only major defense of record was at the 1989 Royal Rumble against Judy Martin. After leaving the WWE she worked the independent scene and toured All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling.  She won the UWF Women's Championship at Beach Brawl from Candi Devine on June 9, 1991.

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