The SmarK Rant for UWF Beach Brawl 91 – 06.09.91
In the brief discussion of UWF Blackjack Brawl yesterday, it was pointed out that THIS was actually their only PPV show, and then someone else of course e-mailed me with a YouTube link and pointed out that I’ve never actually reviewed it before. THANKS.
So this is of course the magnum opus of Herb Abrams and his batshit crazy dreams of making a third national promotion, all while being high on cocaine literally the entire time. They made a Dark Side of the Ring episode dedicated to him and I’ll probably have to watch it tonight after I finish with this.
There’s no official digital source for this show (the YouTube video is copied from a VHS dub, for example) and I don’t even know who owns the rights. Normally I’d be wary about reviewing stuff like that, but I doubt anyone will care in this case as it’s unlikely for WWE to suddenly buy them up.
Live from Palmetto, FL, drawing a whopping 550 people and a 0.1 buyrate, good for lowest of all time. Even that sounds like Herb cooked the numbers. I JUST WANT TO FIND ANOTHER 11,000 PPV BUYS! OK that joke won’t age well after January of 2021, I admit.
Your host is Brian Ricco and Herb Abrams, with Craig DeGeorge and Bruno Sammartino doing commentary. Herb has the UWF Sportschannel title belt with him for the winner of the main event, and the layout of the sideplates is that there are U, W, and F plates on either side of the main plate, which leaves “F” on the left and “U” on the right, so that when he holds up the belt he’s literally saying “F U” to the camera.
The intro for the show features a bunch of public domain clips of black and white wrestling, as the apparent goal of the promotion is to bring wrestling back to “the glory days”, in this case by literally using all the people from the glory days who are now very old.
I’m gonna be honest, the rundown of the card at the beginning of the show doesn’t sound too bad! Hey, I’m always open to be pleasantly surprised.
Meanwhile, Bam Bam Bigelow runs down all the things he’d been doing to prepare for Steve Williams in tonight’s main event. Training hard and studying hard! He’s got MO-BILITY and HO-BILITY. Also he’s just in it for the money. Well I’ve got bad news for him once it’s time for the payday. Oh, Bammer is giving zero fucks tonight.
Meanwhile, Steve Williams has no surprises in store and he’s not pulling anything out of his sleeve, but everyone knows that when he walks into a room, excitement happens. Isn’t that Herb Abrams’ gimmick?
The Black Hearts v. Jim Cooper & The Fire Cat
What an opener! I should point out that this was advertised as a completely different match in the opening video. I don’t know who Cooper is, but I’m assuming “Fire Cat” is Bob Bradley or Brady Boone trying desperately to avoid cease and desist orders from the WWF. Meanwhile the Black Hearts have been various people, but at this point it would be David “Gangrel” Heath and I believe a guy named Tom Nash as the masked Apocalypse and Destruction. They got a bit of a push at the end of the life of Stampede Wrestling and were actually the last tag team champions when the promotion shut down in 1989, and there was some weird pro wrestling drama as Nash was married to Luna at the time and actually was the father of future Hell’s Kitchen all star Van, but then Luna ended up with David Heath and that was probably pretty awkward for everyone. The Black Hearts double-team Cooper with some stuff, but Fire Cat comes in with a rana on whichever Black Heart, which is tough to tell because they literally have the arena so dark that you can’t see past the apron. A Black Heart takes Cooper to the top for a superplex and misses a flying elbow followup, but Fire Cat comes in and chases them to the floor with superkicks. Back in, Fire Cat takes one of them down with a rollup for two and a crucifix for two. The Black Hearts double-team with a shoulderblock for two and one of them gets a northern lights suplex for two, but Fire Cat fights back with a back elbow and a DDT. But then Cooper comes in and the Black Hearts finish him off with a Veg-O-Matic at 6:58. Honestly the backstory behind the masked team is far more interesting than anything in the paint-by-numbers match. **
And now, more talking! Huzzah! Luna complains about her team being put in the ring with a pair of scrubs.
Street Fight: Terry Gordy v. Johnny Ace
Johnny was still well into his mullet skateboarder look here, so maybe Gordy was drunk enough to confuse him with Michael Hayes. Ace works a headlock here in this STREET FIGHT and gets a bodypress for two, but Gordy takes him into the corner and they slug it out. Ace with a crossbody out of the corner for two, so Gordy just wallops him and puts the boots to him in the corner. Corner clothesline follows for two and Gordy drops an elbow for two and follows with a backdrop driver for two. Gordy gets a powerbomb for two and follows with another corner clothesline for two. Another clothesline is blocked by a foot out of the corner and Ace makes the comeback as they slug it out and Johnny puts him on the floor with the dropkick and then tries a dive, which goes HORRIBLY wrong. Like Gordy completely misses the catch and Ace lands on his head on the fucking concrete, at which point Gordy visibly freaks out and makes sure he’s OK before they go brawling into the crowd for a double countout, here in this street fight, with no rules, at 6:30. I have no idea what the street fight stipulation was supposed to signify. This was, dare I say, a pretty good match before the stupid bullshit finish. *** Did they not know they were on a Herb Abrams PPV and didn’t need to try? Anyway, they continue brawling after the bell for a while and have a pretty good fight before Gordy gets chased off.
Thankfully they turn up the lights a little bit at this point so that we can see the crowd, such as it is.
The Power Twins v. Mass Confusion (Brian Blair & Jim Brunzell)
The Power Twins are Larry and David Power, who only stuck around the business for a few years and didn’t do much of note. Blair & Brunzell are wearing yellow and black, BUT LEGALLY DISTINCTIVE I CAN’T STRESS THAT ENOUGH, gear that is reminiscent of Bee colors without ever claiming that they are any sort of insects. The Power Twins double-team Brunzell in the corner, but Blair comes in and slugs away on one of the Twins before catapulting him into his brother. The MC, as the kids called them at the time, take turns working on the leg of a Power Twin, because laying on the mat and selling the leg is about as much as you could ask these stiffs to do at this point. Unfortunately we have to get to the point when the Twins cut off Blair and go to work on him with bearhugs and CLUBBING FOREARMS. So anyway as this drags on, it occurs to me that they’re kind of blowing their own witty tag team name with the former Bees. Shouldn’t the name be “Mask Confusion” or “Masked Confusion” or something else that plays on the mask gimmick? Speaking of which, their gimmick is that they’re two guys who look vaguely similar switching off to fool their opponents, but there’s TWO OTHER TAG TEAMS on the same show with the same deal! The Power Twins continue beating on Blair with simple stuff like you’d see on a random shitty indy show with 550 people in Palmetto FL, and Blair finally comes back with a double clothesline but somehow can’t make it over to this own corner for a tag because the Power Twins move faster than him while also standing behind him. Finally, FINALLY, they’re stupid enough to throw Blair out of the ring, at which point they put on masks and switch for the big comeback. Dropkick from Brunzell (I think it’s him, it’s so hard to tell with the masks!) gets two. He tries a sunset flip, but the Twin grabs the ropes, so Blair comes in with his own sunset flip at 13:00 for the pin. This was right out of 1986 in the worst way. ½* I think the best move would have been to jettison the Power Twins completely and just do Bees v. Black Hearts, which would have been a good match and accomplished the same thing.
At this point they advertise their 1-900 line where you can call and listen to the PPV. You know, advertising to the people who have ALREADY BOUGHT THE PPV.
UWF Women’s title: Candi Divine v. Rockin’ Robin
Candi attacks with a clothesline to start and stomps her down, but a blind charge hits boot in the corner. Robin drops an elbow for two and slugs away before going to a facelock, and she holds onto that for a while. Robin with a sunset flip for two, but Candi catapults her and then gets a Boston crab. Robin reverses out of that for two, but Candi stomps her down again and follows with a dropkick. Robin fights back with chops and a clothesline for two, but she misses a dropkick in an ugly spot. Candi thankfully keeps it together, but then they blow ANOTHER spot as Candi tries something and Robin appears to forget to take the bump, and then she punches Candi down in a bizarre spot. Candi misses a blind charge and Robin rolls her up to win the title at 6:21. Holy shit this fell apart in a hurry at the end. ½* For those keeping track, Robin never actually defended the title or even had another match in the UWF.
Strap match: Col. DeBeers v. Paul Orndorff
They show some videos highlighting DeBeers which are supposed to explain the backstory for the match, but actually have nothing to do with the match and/or why Orndorff would want revenge on DeBeers for beating up black wrestlers. This immediately gets an extra two stars for Paul using “U Can’t Touch This” as his entrance music. It just does, that’s why. I should point out that they’re not joined with a strap, there’s just a strap and they can use it. DeBeers beats on him with the strap to start and pounds away in the corner, but misses a corner splash and Orndorff gets the strap and makes the comeback. DeBeers slams him and decides to the go to the top rope, but Orndorff hits him with the strap on the way down and drops an elbow for two. DeBeers tries for a backdrop and Paul gets the piledriver for the pin at 3:10. Well that was a match that happened. * Paul waves the American flag to celebrate, but DeBeers attacks him with a taser afterwards and lays him out. Pretty sure he got that wholly original idea after watching a Mountie squash.
Captain Lou Albano brings out the Black Hearts for a special interview, but then he gets scared of Luna’s snake and calls off the interview. What a great use of PPV time.
Bob Backlund v. Ivan Koloff
Backlund is actually introduced as “The undefeated champion of the World” in a Trump-level delusion. The scary thing is that he honestly believed it at the time, working that same con for years after dropping the title to Sheik. Bob takes Ivan down with a hammerlock, but Ivan reverses out and works the arm himself. So Bob does his usual crotchlift to escape and comes back with a rollup for the pin at 2:24. Not much of a match there. ½* And then we get Captain Lou fighting with Koloff’s generic manager and pulling his pants off because reasons.
Although I was thinking the show wasn’t bad during the first hour, we’re now 90 minutes into this thing and it’s all going nowhere and I’m feeling like it’s time to wrap it up.
Cactus Jack & Cowboy Bob Orton v. Sunny Beach & “Wild Thing” Stevie Ray
Beach and Ray are “Wet N Wild”, which sounds like a brand of sexual lubricant, and they’re doing the usual Rock N Roll Express ripoff gimmick that every one of these two-bit promotions must have. Never mind that Beach looks like a bouncer they found in a nightclub, wearing a wetsuit as gear. He’s so DREAMY! Orton and Jack put the boots to him on the floor right away and Jack launches off the top with a flying elbow onto the concrete that the fucking camera doesn’t even catch. If these guys are gonna kill themselves, at least get the damn shot. Back in, Orton drops elbows on Beach and runs him into Jack’s head while Coach John Tolos is suspended in a cage above the ring and blowing his whistle. And he got a JOB with the WWF out of that, managing Mr. Perfect! Stevie Ray gets a hot tag and the ref is bumped because reasons, which allows Tolos to throw knuckles to Orton, which backfires as Jack gets hit with them and Ray gets the pin at 4:40. I’m ready for this show to end now. DUD, unless we’re counting Jack killing himself with the elbow off-camera, in which case ½*. And then the heels turn on each other, which I’m sure went nowhere like everything else on this show. Also Jack is busted wide open for no particular reason.
UWF Sportschannel World TV Championship: Bam Bam Bigelow v. Steve Williams
Did they forget to also add a sponsor in the name of the belt? Maybe get a few bucks from Mountain Dew to throw their name in as well. So of course, we HAVE to have the introduction of Herb Abrams first to present the belt, as if he’s a real celebrity that anyone gives a shit about. Bigelow attacks before the bell and gets a corner splash before slugging Doc down and busting him open. Bigelow works on the cut in the corner, but Doc puts him down and hits him with knees in the head to bust HIM open. Doc beats on him in the corner and follows with a clothesline and dropkick, but Bigelow fights back with headbutts as they are working STIFF. Bigelow tries a suplex and Williams cradles him for two, but runs into an elbow off a blind charge. Doc fires off more knees, but charges into a samoan drop that gets two for Bigelow. Bam Bam slams him and follows with the slingshot splash for two. He goes up to finish with the flying splash, but that only gets two. So Doc comes back with a belly to belly for two and makes the big comeback with shoulderblocks and a powerslam for two. They slug it out in the corner and Doc tries for the Stampede, but Bigelow grabs the ropes, so Doc beats on him with forearms, then hits a second attempt for the pin and the title at 7:30. Short, hard-hitting, and to the point. This was, dare I say, a really good main event. ***1/2
And we wrap it up with an interview with Williams afterwards and thankfully take it home.
I think for me, the biggest disappointment is that given the reputation of the promotion and Herb specifically, I was expecting this spectacular trainwreck of epic Heroes of Wrestling proportions and got…an OK show. It even had two matches I would classify as “good” and “really good”. It definitely drags a bit because even at two hours they don’t have anyone that could properly pace a PPV show, but it’s totally watchable. As such I can’t recommend it at all. It’s not “so bad it’s good” and it’s definitely not “good”, it’s just there. For a guy booking while high, that’s a complete letdown.
I will, however, go watch Dark Side of the Ring now.