Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Bad Asses
Your panel is Jim Ross, Michael Hayes, Mick Foley, Tazz and Pat Patterson
Ross explains the two categories of Bad Asses, either the guys you just didn’t want to mess with at a bar or the guys with a strong amateur fighting background that could put you to sleep. And of course there are guys, and they mention Mad Dog Vachon, as guys who combined both.
Patterson said he’s never seen a guy tougher than Vachon in or out of the ring. Hayes said people that messed with him did so because he was just 5-foot-8, which allows Tazz to chime in on behalf of short people. Foley talks about how the old school wrestlers were much tougher and were chose based on their real fighting ability and were almost pushed to fight out in the streets to prove it. Ross said the flip side was if you lost a bar fight, you were generally pushed out of the territory. Hayes said that the local bar people who thought they were hot shit didn’t have the same mentality as the wrestlers, who would do anything to win a fight even if it meant gauging an eye out.
Speaking of which Patterson brings up Haku, whose bad assed-ness is legendary among fans and workers (there are a million YouTube snippets of guys talking about him. Even the tough guys like “Dr. D” David Schultz didn’t want to get on his bad side. Tama has a hilarious story about Haku beating up Brutus Beefcake and Hogan having to come in and beg him to stop). Patterson also said that Kurt Angle could put a hurting on someone if necessary (Well he was a fucking Olympic gold medal wrestler). Tazz says that a bad ass can also be a guy that can take a beating and mentions Foley, who sadly isn’t on the list. Tazz talks about Gpysy Joe as says he was one of the toughest wrestlers he ever knew. Hayes then mentions how big of a stooge he is which brings laughter.
Back to Haku and Ross says that the Samoan guys in general are all extremely tough going from Afa and Sika forward. Ross said back when the fans were rabid and brought weapons to the cards in those houses in the deep south territories the Samoans still had no fear. Patterson said the Samoans were great guys but once they got into a fight good luck at pulling them off. Foley said the Samoans guys all had legendary stories including the Barbarian and Foley said the only guy he feared was his wife. They talk about Peter Maivia too and Patterson said he was nothing compared to his wife. He relayed a story of the couple getting arrested in San Francisco and within no time the station was surrounded by Samoans that stayed there until the couple was released without incident.
Foley talks about Mr. Saito throwing policemen around and Ross makes a crack of how many cigarettes and Ken Patera used to smoke while in jail cells. Tazz tells the story about the McDonald’s incident. Foley amends it to say that he heard Patera and Saito were nice at first but the worker denied them service and overplayed his hand so Patera allegedly threw a rock thru the window and the fracas begin with Patera and Saito generally beating the fuck out of the cops for a while under order was restored and both guys spent a year and a half in the slammer.
Next the fellas talk about Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen and their great history of beating the hell random folks in bars. Tazz said his character was booked to be a bad ass in ECW and because of it he basically wrestled and went straight back to the hotel to avoid confrontation (I’ve met Tazz a few times and he seems like an extremely nice guy so I understand his point. You never know what you could get into). Hayes said Brody was a bad ass in the ring and you knew you were going to get potatoed a few times if you were booked on a card with him.
They show clips of Bruiser Brody kicking the crap out of Abdullah the Butcher from World Class. (His death is still one of the most disgusting things in history. Not just wrestling history but human history. I can’t believe the guy that killed him just continued to wrestle and book without incident. Even worse workers that knew Brody and were cool with him still worked under this guy. Invader #1 can burn in hell. It was Invader #1 right? If not all apologies to Invader #1).
Ross says there are three levels of bad asses, the guys that work and go home, the ones that go to the bars and hope for trouble and the amateur studs that want to be left alone and will respect you if you respect them. Foley has a story about Angle from when he fought Tazz at the Royal Rumble and he goes to Foley and said “hey, what do I do if Tazz tries to test me?” and they all start laughing. Foley explains to Angle that he seriously doubts that would happen and Tazz is just thankful Angle didn’t have a flashback from the Olympics or something. Foley said that Angle was still new and innocent to the business and even though he could obviously handle himself he wasn’t sure what was proper protocol if such a situation came about. They talk about the Lesnar-Angle Ironman while Tazz talks about their competitiveness between the two when the three of them rode together.
Back to Brody, Hayes says that the bottom line was when you wrestled Brody bitching about him being stiff was a pointless exercise. Hayes says that one night when World Class and Joe Blanchard’s southwest wrestling indy ran in San Antonio the same night Brody suggested they meet Blanchard’s group at a location and kick their ass. Now of course Buzz Sawyer and The Road Warriors are with the Mid-Atlantic group working with Blanchard that night and Hayes is like…”ummmm, maybe that’s not the best idea and convinces them to go drinking instead.”(Hayes was definitely not a bad ass and proud to admit it in this discussion but imagine Sawyer and the Warriors randomly running into Brody and like Terry Gordy, that shit would get ugly).
Ross talks about Harley Race and how he was brought up on beating people up legitimately. When asked who was tougher between Race and Brody, Ross says it’s like choosing to die by a handgun or a rifle (great line). Foley talks about the legend of Race’s left hand and Harley’s quote that “if I hit anyone with my left and they don’t go down, I will walk around them to see what’s holding them up.” Foley said Harley’s way of talking was bad ass in itself and relays a story about how he intimidated a physician in Maryland to make sure Foley’s injury during a match was handled by the commission.They show clips of a Race interview and yeah he definitely sounds like he will fuck you up bad.
Time for a match review.
Haku vs. Harley Race
Royal Rumble 1989 from The Summit in Houston, Texas
Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Nothing like killing two bad asses with one stone. This is the battle for the King crown from the first PPV Royal Rumble.
Race attacks Haku by tipping over his chair and sending him into the post. Into the ring we go and Race with a knee lift, a clothesline and a suplex for two. Race’s left-handed clothesline looks pretty bad here. Back to the floor and Haku sends Race into the post and drops him with a reverse knife edge. Back in the ring and Race with a headbutt low and an inverted atomic drop. Two elbow drops from Race get two but Haku is back with a reverse thrust kick and he roughs Race up in the corner. He gives Race a corner whip that sends him over the top rope. Race back up and Haku clothesline him back in the ring. Haku with some stiff shots and a headbutt. He pounds away but Race retaliates with a few headbutts and both guys start no selling them. Race with another clothesline and a piledriver but that only gets two. Wow. They knock heads, slowly, and Race oversells another tumble to the floor.
Haku suplexes Race back in the ring and gets two but misses a big elbow drop. Race with one of those left hands and a delayed vertical suplex for two. Race sends Haku to the floor and goes for a piledriver but Haku backdrops him to escape. Haku bangs Race head on the mat and then rams his back into the side of the ring. Race rallies and gets his piledriver on the floor but it was a little weak. Back in the ring, reverse neckbreaker from Race gets two. Race continues laying in the shots and his clothesline looks much better. Knee drop gets a two count. Slugfest that Haku wins and he beats up on Race in the corner for a bit. Scoop slam and he climbs to the top but misses the diving head butt. Race goes to the middle rope and he misses the swan dive headbutt. Both men back up and Race with a knee lift but he misses a rope move and Haku his sweet Tonga chin music for the pin.
(Haku def. Harley Race, pinfall, **3/4, a little slow but a good match and probably Harley’s last good one before he retired.)
Tazz said that perception is reality and one of the things about Brody and Race is they looked the part. Tazz brings up Vader and says that even before he knew him he looked like a bad ass. They promise to get to Vader after a break but they don’t (probably because Shawn Michael made him cry after a match one time). Patterson talks about the Samoans again and says that every time he beat up Peter Maivia at the Cow Palace the Samoans would jump on him. One time Sika got hit over the head with a Billy club and basically no sold it.
Ross goes to Stu Hart and talks about Hart putting a hold on him and he was happy it was waist up because he was pissing on himself after a few minutes. Ross does a funny impression of Stu warning him before applying the hold. They talk about how Stu is always tries to grab guys when he talks to them and Patterson always had to keep himself away (yep even Patterson isn’t letting just any man grab him). Ross says he was arguably the baddest mofo in Canada and they go into the dungeon and Stu torturing the guys. They mention how much Stu enjoyed fucking up Superstar Billy Graham and they go through the great lineage of guys that came through the dungeon (WWE DVD idea! Best of the Dungeon! I know they did the Hart Foundation thing but the best of the dungeon graduates gives many more options. Unless they already have released one, in which case nevermind!).
Patterson randomly mentions some of the tough guys getting beat up in the bars because they started drinking and it’s hard to beat up someone when you’re drunk. Tazz asks about Angelo Mosca and asked Patterson if he was a bad as he looked. Patterson said he never saw it but he would never mess with him. Out of the ring Patterson said Mosca was a big teddy bear.
Foley mentions Exotic Adrian Street and they crack on his gimmick for a bit before Ross mentions that he’s actually married to his valet, Miss Linda. Ross talks about the great tough guys that come from England like Billy Robinson, William Regal and Hooker Heath. Foley shares a story of Street, or tries too, before going off track and talking about Downtown Bruno going through dirty clothes to get a pair of underwear. He gets back on track when talking about Street showing him the different levels of pain and he experienced a “10”. They talk about Fit Finlay and Regal both idolizing Street and Hayes adds that Miss Linda was tough as hell too.
Foley shares a story about a fight breaking out in Alabama and Miss Linda was the first wrestler in the ring. Foley is upset that the many times he talked to Street (and I believe he still has a wrestling school in northwest Florida) that he didn’t ask him to teach him some of those defense techniques. Ross mentions Luther Lindsey being a tough guy and Patterson talks about how difficult it was to escape his stretch holds.
Match Review Time
Billy Robinson vs. Abdullah The Butcher
From All Japan Pro Wrestling on Dec. 9, 1976
Announcers is a guy speaking in Japanese
Abby isn’t mentioned in the show but I don’t think there are people lining up to meet him in a dark alley either, unless they ordered take out from his Ribs and Chinese food joint in Atlanta. Right away Abby jumps on Robinson and takes the match to the floor where he roughs him up in a variety of ways, mostly dumping him on a ring table or sending him into the post. He doesn’t let Robinson get in the ring, hitting him with a headbutt every time he tries to enter. Back to the floor and Abby continues to send him into furniture. Finally Robinson is in the ring where Abby headbutts him…and sends him right back out of the ring. I love the fact that Abby has carved out like a 50-year career with maybe two or three wrestling moves of note. Robinson crawls back in the ring and Abby headbutts him again to send him out. Robinson tries to fight back, or at least defend himself, and he lands a couple of forearms. Abby drops him again with a headbutt. Robinson goes downstairs a few times and they trade forearms with Robinson getting the best of the exchange. Two drop kicks sends Abby to the floor. He grabs a chair but Robinson takes it away and hits Abby with it. He gives him a second chair shot and roughs him up on the floor. Abby tries to get back in the ring but Robinson hits a dropkick and follows him to the floor. They fight up the entrance way or rather Robinson fights and the bell rings as I’m guessing they chose to throw this one away.
(Robinson & Butcher fight to no contest. Not really worth rating as it was just a brawl to set up a longer match down the road.)
Ross says the toughest guy he saw was, of course, Danny Hodge. Patterson said Hodge didn’t have the reputation but Ross said he didn’t need it. Ross shares a story of Hodge baiting a Louisiana hardware salesman into challenging his toughness. Hodge breaks a series a pliers and apples until the point of when the guy brings in the local arm wrestling champion (Hayes’ comment about did either one of them have any place to be is pretty funny). He tries to put a grip on Hodge and Hodge takes his best shot then Hodge returns the favor and turns the guy to tears. Hodge was both an Olympic wrestler and a champion boxer. Hodge has the amateur equivalent of the Heisman named after him. Patterson said Hodge still respected professional wrestling despite his shoot fighting background.
They talk about an amazing story about Hodge escaping a submerged car with some form of a broken neck and walking up the embankment to safety while holding his neck in place (huh? we have a winner folks!).
Patterson said that a lot of amateur guys tried pro wrestling but only a handful made it like Hodge, Jack Brisco, Kurt Angle, Pat O’Connor, etc.
Time for a match that I’ve never seen before.
Iron Man Match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
Smackdown from September 18, 2003
Announcers are Michael Cole and Tazz.
This is the third in their set of classic encounters. Lesnar is the heel and Angle is something between a face and a non-heel. Angle sort of became the ultimate tweener about 2001 or so and just fought whoever was in the way. Funny thing about theme music, Kurt Angle’s music was giving to The Patriot back in 1997 and it seemed goofy for him, maybe a little overboard, but for Angle is was a perfect fit. Strange how those things work.
Lesnar jumps on Angle to start and chokes away in the corner. Corner whip from Lesnar and he follows in with a shoulder. Brock beals Angle from one corner to the another, Angle tries to rally by catching Brock coming in on a charge. Angle with a dropkick to the knee and a clothesline to take control. Angle with the belly to belly overhead suplex and Brock decides to take a breather. Brock fakes a knee injury to take control again and uses more power stuff on Angle but Angle comes back with three armdrags and Brock heads back to the floor. Brock grabs the steel steps but nothing comes from it. Lesnar doing some serious stalling right now and the crowd doesn’t appreciate it. Literally he’s wasted about four minutes here. Finally he baits Angle and gets a hangman. Brock jumps back in the ring and goes to the power stuff and the choking but Angle with another belly to belly and his clotheslines Lesnar back over the top. Lesnar grabs the knee again and does a better acting job this time. Angle follows Lesnar out and fights him on the floor. Angle sends Lesnar to the steel steps but Lesnar rallies and sends Angle into the side of the ring and a spinebuster into the post. Lesnar sends Angle into the ring and he grabs a chair. He absolutely DESTROYS Angle with the chair, giving Angle the first fall via disqualification.
After the 15 seconds rest, Angle is still in bad shape and Lesnar toys with the champion a little bit before hitting the F5 and evening the match at 1-1. After the 15 second rest Lesnar continues to toy with Angle and slaps on the angle lock with forces Angle to tap out take a 2-1 advantage with the falls. After a commercial break we’re back and Lesnar gives Angle a kitchen sink knee for a two count. During the break Lesnar hit an Angle slam but couldn’t get a pin. Lesnar whips Angle into the corner and follows in with a shoulder tackle. More ruff stuff in the corner, including a couple of headbutts. Brock tries another shoulder charge but Angle moves and tries to battle back. Flying forearm and three german suplexes from Angle, with him releasing on the third one. Lesnar uses leverage to send Angle to the floor, however. Lesnar sends Angle into the ring barricade and hits an F5 on the floor. Lesnar makes his way back in the ring but Angle is counted out and down 3-1.
After a commercial break we are back and Lesnar sends Angle to the floor with a back elbow. Back in the ring and Lesnar roughs up Angle in the corner before dropping a couple of elbows and getting a two count. Lesnar stays in control until Angle hits an Angle slam out of nowhere and closes the gap to 3-2 with a little more than 30 minutes remaining on the clock. Angle jumps on Lesnar right after the 15 second period and lands a leg drop. Snap suplex by Angle into a float over cover for two. Lesnar tries to rally but Angle dumps him on his head with a belly to back suplex. Angle pulls down the straps and goes for another angle slam but Lesnar counters into the F5 but Angle escapes that and slaps on the ankle lock. Lesnar rolls through and tries to send Angle into the official but Angle puts on the brakes, but Lesnar goes for the clothesline which Angle ducks and Brian Hebner takes FULL ON. Wow. Angle slam hits but there’s no ref so Brock goes low. He goes to the floor, grabs the title belt and absolutely wallops Angle with it. He awesomely tosses the ref into the position and gets his fourth fall. That was a great sequence. Commercial break.
We’re back with 25 minutes left and Angle pulls Lesnar to the floor and sends him to the steel steps. Time for a sense of urgency from the champion. He climbs to the top and hits an axe handle on Lensar to the floor (OH YEAH!). Back in the ring and Angle gets a near fall. Angle to the top again and he hits a beautiful missile drop kick for another near fall. Angle with a scoop slam and he goes for the moonsault which looks great but misses when Lesnar casually scoots out of the ring. Both men struggle to their feet, Lesnar misses a clothesline and Angle gets a rollup for two but Lesnar nails the clothesline on the second try. Ridiculous belly to belly suplex from Lesnar sends Angle across the ring and gets a near fall. Lesnar goes for a second belly to belly but Angle knocks him down and slaps on the ankle lock, Lesnar rolls through and sends Angle to the floor. Lesnar joins him on the floor and sends the champion into the steel steps. Back in the ring and Angle escapes the pinfall at two at we are down to 20 minutes. Lesnar grabs the steel steps but Angle hits a baseball slide and the move backfires on the challenge. Angle quickly rolls Brock into the ring and gets two near falls. Angle gets nasty with Lesnar in the corner, choking away. Running back elbow from Angle gets two. Commercial break.
During the break Brock hits a massive top-rope superplex and goes up 5 falls to 2 with just 14 minutes remaining. Both men on the floor and Lesnar sends Angle into the announce table. Lesnar tries to give Angle the F5 into the post but Angle escapes and gives Lesnar the move instead. Lesnar is banged up in both knees. Angle rolls Lesnar back in the ring. Texas cloverleaf from Angle and Lesnar fights to the ropes so Angle switches to the ankle lock and pulls Lesnar back to the center of the ring. Lesnar fights to the ropes again. Lesnar somehow pulls another F5 out of his ass but he can’t capitalize due to his bad knee and just gets a two count. Lesnar slowly climbs to the top but Angle springs up and meets him there with a top rope belly to belly for a three count with less than 10 minutes left. After the 15 second rest, Angle stomps a mudhole into Lesnar and walks it dry. Suplex by Angle and he pulls up his straps just to pull them down again, Angle slam attempt is thwarted and Brock hits a DDT for a super near fall. Seven minutes remaining. Slugfest and Angle wins but Lesnar with the belly to back suplex and a second one that’s even better as we approach the six minute mark. Third belly to back suplex takes us under six minutes. Lesnar goes for a fourth and Angle hits the suplex instead and a second one from the champion! Lesnar blocks another suplex attempt and tries to reverse but Angle rolls through and slaps on the ankle lock right in the center of the ring. Lesnar gets to the ropes twice but Angle pulls him off and gets the submission with four minutes left.
Angle down 5-4 with three and a half minutes left and Angle goes right back to the Angle lock but Lesnar escapes but Angle comes right back with an sort of an STF type of hold. Tazz says it’s a freestyle bow & arrow so I will defer to him. Lesnar rolls out of the ring and tries to escape so Angle slaps on the ankle lock on the outside as we are under two minutes. Lesnar escapes the ring again but Angle sends him into the steps. Back in the ring and Angle hits the triple…make that the quadruple german suplex and Lesnar hits a low blow with 30 seconds left as the crowd gets rabid but Angle with another ankle lock and the grapevine. We’re down to 10 seconds….5 seconds and Lesnar holds on as the bell rings and Lesnar wins the championship!
(Lesnar def. Angle, 5 falls to 4, ****1/4, they had to protect Lesnar for the first 35 minutes of the match and once they got past that point it was very good stuff with tons of high impact suplexes and submissions. Lesnar tried and using the heel tactics was a good way to tell the story but the fact is he didn’t have enough in his arsenal to go sixty minutes.)
Tazz says that one of the difficulties of the transformation for shooters to pro wrestling is because it goes against everything they are taught as amateurs from giving up the body to showing no emotion. Ross said Shelton Benjamin is one of today’s bad asses; he was a national champion as a wrestler and a sprinter (which is off the charts in terms of athleticism. I ran track in college at a Division 1 program and there aren’t too many people that could sprint and then wrestle heavyweight or much less carry the sort of weight needed to wrestle heavyweight and still competitively sprint.). Ross said if Benjamin was brought up in the territory days he’d be much more polished and hungrier than he was perceived. They talked about the amateur guys who struggled with the performance part of the business like Brad Rheingans, who was a terrific shoot wrestler and a great trainer but didn’t have the charisma to make it big. (Of course I thought Shelton had much more charisma than he was giving credit for. And it’s sad that guys like the Miz, who can’t work for shit, get pushed and guys like Benjamin, who can work and have the look, are working indys for scraps.)
Ross talks about one of the current guys on the roster (at least when this was taped) that is a bad ass, The Undertaker. Ross says he’s as mentally tough as anyone around. Foley says he guarantees there aren’t many conversations in the dressing room wondering how tough the Undertaker is. Same with Stone Cold (Debra might disagree). Ross said both guys started in World Class as low-card guys and developed that toughness, developed the ability to withstand injuries. Patterson and Tazz talk about their love for the business and how long it took for them to get to the main card and all the shit they had to go through to get there. They all agree that anyone that spends any considerable time in the business has to have a real level of toughness. Hayes also says that beyond mental and physical toughness Undertaker had to deal with a lot of shit workers.
Foley said once Undertaker got in the ring with great workers people finally saw how good he was, Hayes mentions how good Undertaker-Batista was at Wrestlemania (I had it at ****, fabulous power match). They show highlights of that match. Ross said there’s no doubt that the Undertaker is a Hall of Famer and he had good matches with guys that were limited. Ross closes with saying that one of the great things about the business is being surrounded by so many talented workers with diverse levels of toughness.
The Bottom Line: Fun discussion here and well worth seeking out. They were starting to get into a flow here with the storytelling.