UWF Beach Brawl
June 9th, 1991
Manatee Civic Center
Commentators: Bruno Sammartino & Craig DeGeorge
We get an amazingly dramatic black & white video package of how wrestling “used to be” as Herb is here to save wrestling by bringing back “the glory days.” Don Muraco is still in the intro despite not being here so yeah, it’s definitely how wrestling used to be.
After that we cut to this ominous shot of the nearly pitch-black arena. I’ve seen the crowd number listed as 550 but with WWF drawing 2,500 fans at the same place and making it look full, there’s no way that number is real because it looks as well-turned out as a paedophile’s funeral. I’m saying 300 fans and that’s because I like Herb. A brief reminder the area they chose to hold this event didn’t have SportsChannel, aka the station UWF has been airing on for nearly a year.
Herb talks to Brian Ricco and displays the “$100,000” UWF Sportschannel TV Title, the one he made sure had “F-U” on either side so he could hold it up and Vince McMahon would bed be like “oh no, Herb is telling me to fuck off in a convoluted way that doesn’t need explaining!”
Herb’s rather subdued during this segment as he was apparently wondering why the turn-out was so little despite picking an arena an hour away from any major city.
Both Williams and Bigelow are interviewed but little is said. Hell, very little is said in any of the post-match interviews through the show because no-one knows what’s happening in the company.
The Black Harts (w/Luna Vachon) vs Jim Cooper & The Firecat
The jobbers get no entrance so Black Harts make their beautiful intro with in-ring pyro and Luna carrying a snake around her shoulders but the lighting is so low you could develop film so you can’t tell if anyone’s reacting. This match wasn’t announced in advance and God knows why they’d put not-Battle Kat in the same match as The Black Harts after that horrible match a few weeks ago. Future WCW referee Scott Dickinson is officiating and doesn’t do a good job of preventing the double rolling lariat from The Black Harts despite not-Kat’s protests. Production misses Cooper’s spinning neckbreaker but Apocalypse shrugs it off and lands a Bull Buchanan-esque running top rope back elbow. Destruction lands a flying clothesline and everything about the Harts looks big league, from their physiques to how they execute moves. Cooper gets a back body drop to allow him to tag in not-Kat and land a Hart Attack double team. Kat shows off his agility with some leapfrogs and a jumping Frankensteiner and the crowd appreciates that. Devastation sends Cooper off the top with a hip-toss as they are busting the moves like two bubble dragons tonight. Firecat tags back in and continues to land on his feet after a backflip off the top. A rough outside cradle gets two as the Black Harts have enough of selling for Firecat and knock him out the air with a spinning wheel kick. Harts throw every move they know at Firecat and look a hundred leagues above the entire show. Firekat plays rip-off gimmick in peril until he counters a potential back body drop into a DDT and Jim Cooper gets the hot tag…and continues to take every move they hadn’t already done to Firekat and the match ends as Black Harts finish with an edge-o-matic and Luna choking the Kat at ringside. A ton of moves and far better than their previous mess.
Terry Gordy vs Johnny Ace (Street Fught)
Johnny Ace is full-time AJPW so it’s nice he’s using his weekend off to check out sunny Palmetto. Gordy gets a warm reaction but the crowd are indifferent to All American Ace, I don’t think they even remember him from being a Dynamic Dude. Ace holds onto a headlock as Gordy does his best to power out of it. DeGeorge reminds us Gordy and Williams are a tag team in Japan but here in UWF for some reason. Both men scrap in the corner and it looks fierce until Ace lands a crossbody off the second rope. Gordy in response simply punches him down. Crowd is popping for the big blows. Gordy gets a wonderful kneeling powerbomb but Ace braves out of the pin attempt. I love powerbombs where it looks like a struggle to execute. Ace uses his little arms to get crowd sympathy as Gordy runs right into a boot in the corner and crowd’s like YEAH DUDE. Ace dropkicks Gordy out the ring and attempts to follow with a dive over the top rope but sadly eats shit on the concrete.
Gordy and Ace wander into the invisible crowd and God knows why you’d highlight the lack of people there but Ace ain’t here next week so it’s not his problem. The bell rings to Bruno’s confusion as it turns out it’s a Double Count Out in a Street Fight. Ooof. Both men continue to brawl as kids swarm them as Gordy dares Ace to get back in the ring, before immediately leaving. Ace then does the same but decides to join him outside for more punching. The post-match brawl lasted as long as the match, this was a sweet little intense battle that was almost assuredly better than whatever minimum effort Don would have brought with him.
Mass Confusion (B. Brian Blair & Jim Brunzell) vs The Power Twins
Power Twins let the crowd know they’re not allowed to have John Tolos at ringside because he’s got to be in a cage later on as the crowd appreciates them remembering that plot-hole but can’t watch the show in the area so don’t care. Mass Confusion are now Mask Confusion. Or maybe they’re The Bees. Either way, they’re not wearing Masks and they’re not fat and they’re not fucking bees so any of those names stink. So it’s the battle of the two teams with switcharoo gimmicks but only one of them is doing that schtick tonight. Brunzell gets beaten on to begin but then recovers to immediately tag in Blair who does some dwarf wrestling stuff like going between the Twins’ legs. Crowd love it but what do they know, they don’t exist. DeGeorge points out that neither Twin wants to get hit in the head because their receding hair lines would make blows hurt more. Well after that temporary excitement, Bee-Team suck the fun out the room with a continued assault of ankle locks. Twin A tags out after several minutes of that only for Twin B to tag in for the exact same offence. Blair finally starts taking offence as both Twins ignore the half hour of ankle abuse to bust out the tilt a whirl backbreakers and double backdrops. Blair continues to get treated like a McDonalds window around hungry 80s WWF wrestlers until he ducks a double clothesline and lands outside. Both men decide to put on their masks and re-enter the ring with renewed strength so I assume the masks were kept in Herb’s dressing room. One of Masked Mass Confused Bees attempts a Sunset Flip but Twin A grabs the ropes, allowing the other Bee to jump over the ropes and pin Twin B despite not being legal to a big pop. Match was perfectly cromulent when the Twins were on offence and dull as ditch water when The Bees were Massing.
To decide the first UWF Ladies Champion: Rockin’ Robin vs Candi Divine
Former WWF Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin makes her debut as LPWA talent continue to feature in UWF with no build up, something AEW fans will be used to. Both women fly around with forearms and dropkicks early on until it settles down and Robin looks a bit lost after some misunderstanding and just stares at her opponent after a leapfrog. A terrible slingshot sets up a Boston Crab with such little torque, Robin is nearly a straight line. They exchange moves for no rhyme or reason until Robin misses a dropkick that I don’t think was supposed to miss. Devine then follows up with a flying something that again, didn’t look like it was supposed to miss. This drags on and on until Robin gets a quick roll-up after Divine misses the Patera charge in the corner to become the new Ladies Champion. Rougher than a badger’s arse.
Strap Match: Paul Orndorff vs Col. DeBeers
We get a recap of DeBeers attacking black referees from way back in September to apparently explain why this match is happening, but all we get is “DeBeers is a dirty diddler so Paul’s going to sort him out because he has nothing else to do” which isn’t exactly what PPV matches are made of. DeBeers grabs the Strap before Paul and whips him with it as I guess this is just a match involving a Strap rather than a tied-together gimmick. DeBeers gets to show off his wacky selling with whatever this is:
DeBeers takes a whipping from Paul before the racist flies off the top and into a throat-thrust. DeBeers recovers from that to attempt to back body drop Orndorff but he delivers a beautiful piledriver instead to win after an epic four minutes.
Then as Paul is celebrating with the Stars & Stripes, DeBeers takes a frigging stun gun to Paul who does a commendable job of selling it as DeGeorge yells “that’s what women use for self-defence!” A waste of Orndorff but about as good as you were going to get from DeBeers at this point.
Capt. Lou’s Corner w/The Black Harts & Luna Vachon
Oh God, no escape even on PPV. Lou invites The Black Harts to the ring so he can call them a bunch of names and then leaves seconds later. Huh. Well at least it was brief.
Legends Match: Bob Backlund vs Ivan Koloff (w/Mr. Red)
This is Bob’s first match since wrestling for the other UWF in Japan and apparently his first match in USA since wrestling in the AWA in 1985. I had no idea he simply left wrestling for such a long period of time. Koloff becomes the third UWF wrestler to make his way to the ring to Korobeiniki/Theme so Herb must have been loving Tetris. Backlund is introduced as the “undefeated champion of the world” which isn’t true but would probably make for a good gimmick in a few year’s time. Right now though his name is spelled BACKLAND and he exchanges wristlocks with Koloff to get warmed up. Koloff wrestles a more amateur style than usual and gets a hip-toss directly into an armbar. Backlund escapes this by simply picking up Koloff with just his arm before locking in the roll-up bridging pin that Zack Sabre Jr. does to end it after two minutes. Well what we got was pretty sweet but you could have fit it onto a TikTok. Post-match, Lou Albano wanders out to de-pants Mr. Red for the hell of it. Well don’t worry mate, no-one can see you and no-one ordered this. Backlund’s next match would see him get shoot-kicked in the dick by Nobuhiko Takada so no wonder he was taking it easy.
Wet N Wild vs Bob Orton & Cactus Jack (w/John Tolos)
We get clips from their previous matches and if you didn’t know they occurred months ago you’d think this was a heated feud because they had wild non-finishes and many surfboard shots. Tolos is suspended in a ring for this match to prevent interference. This would be his last appearance for the company so I’m wondering if they leave him there. Cactus flies off the apron to take out Sunny before a quick backbreaker sets up the Cactus Elbow off the second rope onto concrete because Foley
was is nuts.
“I’m surprised he didn’t break his hip!” Orton gets some of his endearingly wacky flailing stomps to keep Sunny down. Beach ain’t taking this and slams Cactus to tag in Steve Ray, which ends up with the referee getting bumped after like two minutes. Orton uses this opportunity to get Tolos to throw him brass knuckles, Orton misses a shot and accidentally KO’s Cactus and Ray pins Cactus. Even less of a match than Koloff vs. Backlund. Cactus doesn’t take it well and brawls with Orton all the way down the entrance way, with crafty dickhead Orton doing his best to take out security guards. Cactus decides to bleed impressively considering the lack of people there but Foley treated every match like it was Wrestlemania.
UWF SportsChannel TV Title Tournament Finals: Steve Williams vs Bam Bam Bigelow
DeGeorge repeats the fake Tournament results to keep that joke going. Herb brings the title belt into the ring and Bigelow tries to attack him which kickstarts this, with Williams trying a football charge and Bigelow clotheslining the shite out of him. Bigelow has his proper flame gear now and not that half-arsed stuff he had when he showed up to NWA early in the year. Both men slug away with Williams getting busted open, which doesn’t stop him from clotheslining Bigelow inside out. The hard shots continue as Bigelow is bleeding now. Williams tries to knock Bigelow over but it gets converted into an effortless Samoan Drop for two. Bigelow uses a rope-assisted splash over the ropes to get another near-fall. Bam Bam connects with a top rope splash but it isn’t enough as Williams kicks out and dumps Bigelow with a belly-to-belly with ease, like he’s landing it on Sky Low Low. Williams slams Bam Bam a few times but can’t put him away. Bigelow grabs the ropes to stop another powerslam so Williams kicks him in the head like he’s Joey Barton at a training ground. Steve whips Bigelow into the other set of ropes, the ones Bam Bam can’t grab so he can land another chunky powerslam to end it and win the coveted SportsChannel TV Title. That was seven minutes of big, bad stiff action and God love the pair of them for putting that much effort into it.
Steve challenges any other champion in wrestling as Herb informs us he’ll let Steve do it.
And then the show ends with Bruno summing up the show while the lights turn off.
Overall: Look, UWF is an amazing joke we all love pointing and laughing at, but this was not that bad of a show. Even with the terrible turn-out and very quick matches in the second half, all the wrestlers were busting their arses and only the Ladies match was laughably bad. So yeah, at least check out the main event and just lie and say it’s NJPW.
Well I think that was too positive so let’s balance things out by seeing what Dave’s readers thought!
BEACH BRAWL READER THOUGHTS
Thumbs up: 3 (8.6 percent)
Thumbs down: 22 (62.9 percent)
In between: 10 (28.6 percent)
Results of phone calls and fax messages to the Observer as of Monday afternoon. Margin of error: 1,000 percent (almost equal to the margin of error of those with the idea of trying to put this show together).
So the least successful pay-per-view show in pro wrestling history is now, well, history. While the show drew predominantly thumbs down responses to the poll, the general feeling was that the show wasn’t that bad. Many felt it was a lot better than they had expected, but then again, nobody really went in with any expectations. The show was scheduled to have a universe of 2.3 million homes, but in the final few days before the show, several companies who had scheduled the event cancelled with no reason given, although one would think lack of response would be that reason, so the total universe is probably less than two million homes. Certainly the buy rate had to be below an 0.2, and how much lower it was than that, we may never get an accurate count.
The live show at the Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto, FL drew 550 fans, although that number was said to have been sizably papered as well. As of the Wednesday before the show, fewer than 70 tickets had been sold.
The last three or four matches were originally scheduled to go about five minutes longer apiece, but the first half of the show went long and they had to rush the second half. It’s hard to fault a rookie organization for that problem, since the WWF had the same exact problem at its Wrestlemania and was rushing through matches even faster. There were several complaints about a $14.95 pay-per-view show only lasting two hours.
Marc Schultz, Chicago, Illinois
I give a definite thumbs down to the UWF’s Beach Brawl. I’d say the best match was Backlund-Koloff and the worst match was Orndorff-DeBeers. The show itself looked like a glorified television taping, but in a way the show was better than I thought it would be as my expectations for the show were very low. I never thought I’d see something worse than that WCW Clash from November, but this was. There were a few good wrestlers on the card and at least the matches followed each other without a delay, but the show was boring.
Don Smith, Mattoon, Illinois
Thumbs up for Beach Brawl. Best match was Williams vs. Bigelow and the worst was Power Twins vs. Blair & Brunzell, but it was still better than 75 percent of WWF matches. Gordy vs. Ace and the Cactus/Orton split up were both angles to build upon. There were no infuriating screw-job endings and eight of the nine matches had clean pinfalls. I was pleased to see an impressive Bob Backlund back in the ring. Lou Albano’s corner was a total waste, but on the whole it was what a pro wrestling show would be. I’d buy a second UWF PPV show in a minute.
I’ve been Maffew and this has been an Abrams Aproduction (while it lasts).