More Manager Matches!
By Dave Newman on 27th February 2021
Back with some more manager matches.
Before the break, here’s the greatest of all time with his regular sparring partner, trying to weasel his way out of trouble as usual.
Bobby Heenan vs. Mad Dog Vachon
Skipping back a few years to the AWA, Mean Gene gleefully informs the Brain (flanked by his charge Nick Bockwinkel) that the person that has signed Heenan’s open contract is Maurice Mad Dog Vachon. I always love when they include his Christian name too, which is the opposite of a name you’d give a Mad Dog. Heenan hits the roof. With a rebuttal, Mad Dog lists off all the different bones he’s going to break on Heenan.
During the announcements, Bobby poses slightly less confidently than normal knowing that he’s going to get torn apart, trying to hide behind the ref on the checks. He immediately claims a bad arm upon taking his shirt off, then runs away when the bell rings and takes about three goes to get back in the ring before scarpering again. The picture quality doesn’t really pick it up well, but Bobby has got a brace on his arm, doubtless loaded and a cover. Mad Dog finally has enough and rams Bobby’s head into the turnbuckle. He takes a break to quite audibly feign some retching noises next to Gene. Back in, Vachon chokes and punches him between the constant trips to the outside. Bobby adjusts the brace to give Mad Dog a sharp blow to the kidneys, then throws a few more in for good measure on the top of the head. Vachon finally blocks a shot and back body drops Heenan for a big bump and scratches the back. He looks like he just flicks Bobby at one point and Bobby sells it like he’s been hit with a bazooka. One more back scratch with the strap pulled down and Bobby runs off and forfeits the match via count out. Pretty much your standard “Bobby bites off more than he can chew and shits himself” match, which isn’t ever going to be a classic for the ages but always give you Bobby working like a maniac to get it over.
Jose Lothario vs. Black Gordman
When I reviewed the Buddy Rogers matches the other day I didn’t find out until after the fact that handsome jobber Joe Garcia was a young Jose Lothario. This is him in action as a scarred up veteran against Mexican great Black Gordman, the former partner of Great Goliath, who was the only impressive and professional part of the California Championship Wrestling episode I looked at recently.
From Houston, Paul Boesch interviews Jose before the match and we get the old deal, akin to Pedro Morales, where he cuts a humble interview in broken English before Paul just interrupts him and tells him to tell the audience in Spanish, at which point he speaks like a Hispanic Jim Cornette. The English segment does give us this gem:
Paul – “How about this big newcomer, Hacksaw (Butch) Reed?”
Jose – “Yes, you got a lot of people coming in, and there’s also a guy called Reed…”
Black Gordman was the tag team partner of the Great Goliath, who was the only good worker on that CCW episode I looked at a few weeks ago. He offers a full rebuttal in Spanish. To the match, Gordman attacks before Jose has the poncho off and kicks him to the outside and won’t let him back in. Jose manages to grab the hand on a punch and returns with an armdrag from the top rope, and then they do some proper avoidance moves with proper leapfrogs and dropdowns, sending Gordman to the outside. He tries to flip back in, but misses, so Lothario just socks him in the jaw. Gordman feigns getting hit before Jose has even fully pulled back. He slips a knee in and takes the wrist, then downs him with a knee and pancakes him by grabbing the back of the tights and hair and picking him up and slamming him down. Jose makes a comeback and seats Gordman on the top rope before whipping him off. Gordman thumbs the eye and gets a loose sleeper. He runs into a punch on a break and gets atomic dropped, then turns around and walks into a left hook and Jose gets the win at about six minutes in. Not a stunner of a match, but cool to see two old geezers doing the lucha stuff with some psychology.
Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden vs. Ed Franks and Dave Spearman
From Continental in ’87, with Gordon Solie and Dutch Mantel on the call. Fuller, he of the gutwrench, found international fame as Col. Rob Parker in WCW and his clean-shaven cousin Golden would be his henchman (and future father of Jack Swagger) Bunkhouse Buck. Very different look for both Stud Stable members at this point. Fuller and Golden dump the impressive-looking Franks and then double-team Spearman, working on the arm in Anderson style, while Dutch goes on a motormouth rant on their behalf. Lots of empty green seats in the arena. The Anderson wristlock/flying knee combo puts Spearman down one more time and Jimmy finishes with the hammerlock. Very much out of the book, but they could do everything with smoothness and precision, so can’t complain. Franks didn’t even make it back to his corner! Golden gives him a piledriver for his trouble while estranged brother Ron Fuller comes out from the back to get in a fight with Robert. Dutch jumps in to help triple-team him before the rescue force of the Bullet, the Midnight Rockers (!), Nightmare Danny Davis and Doug Furnas make the save. All action, much like the USA episodes I’ve been watching and will have to return to.
Gentleman Chris Adams and Chris Von Erich vs. Stunning Steve Austin and Percy Pringle III
The Chrises come out to I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty, which is one of the cooler songs for a babyface to come out to. I’d imagine that Adams picked that for himself while booking himself on top. The story here is that Austin was Adams’ best protege, but he ran off with Adams’ (ex) wife and made an enemy out of him. I may review Gentleman’s Choice later, which is extremely low budget but an absolute scandal bucket. Secondary to the main feud is Austin’s manager, Percy Pringle (Paul Bearer), feuding with Baby Von Erich because he was the only person that the kid could feasibly feud with because he was so small.
Chris charges in before the bell and throws out Austin. Percy looks for as many people to shout at in the crowd as possible while Steve does a “Hi mom!” to the camera. Announcer is Craig Johnson, who I’m always shocked isn’t brought up more as one of the worst announcers at all time. Percy comes in and walks into a drop toehold for CVE twice. Chris has the instincts, but it would be impossible to take him seriously. That said, the crowd is chanting for him. They do a rope running bit with the wrong number of steps. God, everything looks terrible in these bits, even though they have decent stuff in mind to do. Percy tags in Steve, who accidentally hits him, bringing Adams in. Big bump off a clothesline from Steve. Bizarre belly-to-belly by Chris for two. In comparison with CVE, Austin just has everything from the beginning, including presence and working ability. Adams lets Von Erich come in to try for a pin after his cool moves, including an enzigiri and kneedrop, but it looks like a mouse trying to cover a cat. Eventually Austin catches Chris before he can escape and holds him for Percy to get his licks in.
Steve goes for a suplex, which Chris has no power to help get up for. Same with a snapmare for Percy, which he just rolls over the top for. No bounce on his bumps either. Eventually he jumps over a slam and gets Adams in. Adams slingshots Austin into Percy, which suffices as a tag. Superkick to the gut, and Adams holds Percy for Chris to get a sunset flip off the top rope on him for the pin. I’m shocked he didn’t drive his head into the mat going down. After the match, Percy throttles Von Erich while calling out to Fritz about it. Pretty awful when Chris Von Erich and Percy were in, decent when Austin, who had it from the start, was in.
John Tolos vs. Jerry Lawler
It’s hard to replace Bobby Heenan in any situation, but when he retired in ’91 the decision was to move IC champ Mr. Perfect from him to John Tolos. Tolos might’ve gotten over if they’d actually let him speak and had people be able to see his eyes, but instead they just called him Coach and stuck a whistle in his mouth and dressed him in a tracksuit, baseball cap and sunglasses. Doomed from the start. Didn’t help with the Nasty Boys ribbing him backstage and him consequently threatening to cut everyone’s throats if he didn’t find out who did it. It was as much a “FU” back to Herb Abrams, who was using him as his main manager and heel commentator prior.
Weird one here, as it’s LA star Tolos against Memphis star Lawler wrestling under the auspices of the AWA with Mean Gene as ring announcer. Gene makes sure to hype the upcoming repeat of Lawler’s famous appearance on Letterman. Steve O is the ref as well. Tolos attacks straight after instructions and dominates for a few minutes, even though he’s in his fifties and has lot a lot of size, looking like how Steve Keirn does now. Jerry gets a shot to the ear in to break the attack while Rod Trongard talks about everything else going on, seeing as these are two guys in from out of town for the night. Lawler gets a side headlock that he grinds on about 25 times, with the crowd counting along, then knocks Tolos down with a light punch after he’s more than dizzied. Fistdrop follows. Tolos drops his head for a sunset flip from Lawler for two, then they clash heads at five minutes in. Big windup punch from Tolos when they get back to their feet, which the King takes a big bump over the top for. Back in, Tolos gets a nice backbreaker and kneedrop for two, which Lawler breaks with a knee to the head. Piston punches on the mat from the King, followed by a fistdrop from the second, which Tolos sells like he’s had an electric shock. John reverses an Irish whip into the corner but hits the ear again on a charge, then runs himself into another corner on the rebound in a funny bit. Lawler misses his own charge and hits the corner post with his shoulder. Tolos misses a kneedrop off the rope, and the King finishes him with the piledriver (and a big one!) for the win. Good match, with neither wanting to do themselves an injury in front of an unfamiliar crowd, but having enough tricks to pull out of the bag to keep them entertained.
The Bottom Line: Some decent matches, nothing too embarrassing, other than seeing the shocking Chris Von Erich in action.