Another bit of a companion piece to Maffew’s UWF reviews, as 1991 was the year I got into wrestling and it’s a weird time for promotions trying and dying. Don Owen’s Pacific Northwest Wrestling had lasted for over sixty years in some form or another before the money dried up and they closed the doors at the end of ’91. It definitely had a legacy, with stars like Roddy Piper cutting their teeth there, but this is the beginning of the end. I’ve not watched a lot but was becoming aware of the PNW name at this point, so it’s worth a look and I’ve picked an episode from the same time period as Maffew is working through.
Dated but surprisingly cool intro, mixing up footage of wrestlers working out and fans turning up for the show against an increasing heartbeat before music kicks in and we get clips of action from matches. And don’t forget, it’s sponsored by Tom Peterson’s, which apparently was just one big superstore in Portland.
Hosted by Don Coss from the Portland Sports Arena, the house of action, announcing in a pre-recorded bit that the Bruise Brothers are the new tag team champions after being Steve Doll and Rex King, the latter being injured and Doll needing a new partner. Self-defeating sell of the matches you WON’T see on TV, which just seems to me to be counter-intuitive.
Tom turns up in person after an advert to sell a TV, which looks like it’s out 1978, and some flowers for Mother’s Day.
Pretty Boy Doug Masters vs. Larry Oliver
And Don Owen is YOUR senile ring announcer. Masters is doing the knockoff of a knockoff Ric Flair gimmick, with blonde hair, robe, plastic shades and comb. Larry Oliver is the son of Rip Oliver and is a fairly solid kid. Stall show from Masters, who actually looks like he could have something if he wasn’t doing such a dated gimmick. Oliver riles him up by using his comb and then wiping his arse with it, then hip tosses Masters out after some chops. Back in, Masters gets an elbow and kicks away. Don Coss works through the adverts for shows over the coming week, with some names of places you couldn’t spell if you had five attempts, then Masters uses the comb as a foreign object to the throat behind referee Sandy Barr’s back. Now, was it the sharpness of the plastic or the whiff off Oliver’s arse that did the damage? THEN he combs his hair with it! Swinging neckbreaker out of a suplex starting point, but Masters picks Oliver up on two. Oliver just about gets a sunset flip with a last minute tuck of the head for two. Clothesline to Oliver with four minutes of the ten remaining. Coss compares Masters’ arrogance to Karl Malone, of all the people. That’d get him a Diamond Cutter in future years. Oliver regains the advantage as Judy Martin, Masters’ mixed tag team partner, comes out to distract, and Masters rolls up Oliver with an assist for the pinfall. However, Barr orders Masters back in after the crowd get on his case, so when he doesn’t it’s a reversed decision. What a crock, much like this match.
Interview with Southern Rocker Steve Doll, baby, who’s without Rex King, baby, but he’s gonna take on the Bruise Brothers ANY TIME, ANYWHERE. Looks like Shawn Michaels, sounds like Ricky Morton, baby. The Bruise Brothers, with Ron and Don Harris still rocking mullets and moustaches instead of the wild hair they grew out later, come out to pick on him, so he attacks first and gets beaten up. Well, he asked for it, baby.
Mike Winner vs. The Grappler
In one of those weird turns of fortune, Winner, pretty much a career enhancement guy, ended up in WCW at the end of the nineties as a trainer at the Power Plant, explaining the quality of some of the guys coming out of there. He gets booed here more than the heel Grappler. Grappler at this point had lost his mask, but painted his face like the pattern on it to cover himself, which looks as stupid as it sounds. Coss confirms that Winner is from Louisiana and that Grappler is from “who knows and who cares?”. Grappler is substantially chubbier than he was in the eighties and must’ve slimmed down for when he did WCW jobs later in the nineties. Doug Masters joins Coss on commentary, sounding just like Buddy Landel, but without the sense of humour or eloquence. Winner is a babyface on par with Jim Powers, with his main offensive move being clapping, although the most that inspires is a “Let’s go Grappler, let’s go!” chant. He whiffs on a dropkick, so Grappler chops away and gets a Bob Orton-like neckbreaker, driving the back of the neck into his knee as he drops. Abdominal stretch with a pull of the tights. Backbreaker for two. I will give it to these guys, they’re going through some perfunctory stuff, but the crowd is hot for it and just about coming round to Winner, who gets an O’Connor roll for two. He walks into a boot and Grappler pins him with his feet on the rope. Even Coss is complaining about the cheating wins in both matches! So, Sandy Barr reverses the decision and gives Winner a chance to roll up Grappler for the win. Well, that kinda sucks! Decent match, but I’m wondering whether the babyface refereeing favouritism is going somewhere.
Interview with Bart Sawyer, who ended up being the Rock’s first tag team partner, fresh off an autograph signing at then-WWF announcer Roddy Piper’s Pit Stop auto-transmission shop. He managed to get a picture of the Grappler (Piper’s business partner) cleaning the floors. Grappler comes out to object and run him off and targets him for a battle royal, then introduces his partner, the Dirty White Boy, who is not Tony Anthony. Not sure who it is, actually, but Grappler obviously gifted his old gimmick to him, and he’s a big, tall guy, not entirely unlike the Angel of Death, but with hair.
Bart Sawyer vs. Al Madril
Bart was using The Bartman as both his nickname and entrance music, just to show this is from 1991. That could lead to some deep, deep trouble. Madril places some phantom foreign objects around the ring and on his person. The jeer of choice for him is “baldy” given the back of the hair is starting to thin out, leading to him complaining about what’s remaining of it being pulled on the mic. So, he retrieves one of the imaginary weapons and hits Sawyer in the throat with it and chucks him out. Sawyer just about springboards back in with a a clothesline and gets a butt-butt for two. Another sign it’s the nineties – Sawyer’s neon pink trunks. Dropkick, but Madril almost finishes him off in the crooked way that Grappler almost won. Sawyer tries that himself, but Barr is smart to the cheating on either side. Madril gets a sunset flip and almost goes x-rated with how much he’s pulling Sawyer’s tights up and down. Sawyer reverses the flip into a sitting position with a pull of the tights himself for the win. Best match of the show so far.
The Fiesta Garden, Madril’s interview spot. He just advertises the next week of shows while perving on the girls being in the battle royals with the men. This leads to him bringing out Rip and Larry Oliver for an interview. In something that wouldn’t fly today, Rip says he might backhand the women if they try anything. Larry doesn’t touch that and just says hi to his friends who’ll be there and walks off as they fade out.
Here’s where the show goes odd, because they had two more matches to show, but some technical difficulties mean they can’t show them, so they repeat matches two and three. Well, I wonder why this territory didn’t survive the year(!).
Melting it down: If you wanted to watch some outdated wrestling production in 1991 then Portland was the place for you. Just a dinosaur at this point, with all of the talent being good to decent, but the booking and production values being holdovers from the glory days.