Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This week, I have a hell of a find- a 1951 Gorgeous George match! Come watch the ORIGINAL wrestling gimmick perform with some stuff you still find today! Also up: more of the infamous KISS Demon as he faces Rick Fuller! Bill Goldberg takes on roided jobber Chase Tatum! And finally it’s more Papi Chulo, as he teams up with El Merenguero (Jesus Castillo of Los Boriquas) against the pre-fame Hardy Boyz on WWF Super Astros! Also I threw in Yuji Nagata vs. Psychosis from an old Nitro, cuz I didn’t want only four matches.
BEST TWO OF THREE FALLS:
GORGEOUS GEORGE (w/ Thomas Ross) vs. JESSE JAMES:
(April 9th 1951)
* Oh yes, it’s time to review a GORGEOUS GEORGE match! So for those unaware, George is essentially the first “Gimmick Wrestler” of importance, doing a character performance as opposed to just being some tough guy. He’s got curly bleach-blonde hair, an imperious manner, and a fussy, pain in the ass character, insisting his valet use an atomizer to scent the “filthy” ring with perfume, “Because all the dirty wrestlers that have been in there”. George comes down to some flouncy theme music (he may have even invented the concept of wrestlers using theme music), throwing flowered leis into the crowd, and you get the perfect shot to realize that people back then “got it” about George- every man and woman there either has a look of disgust or the biggest “Can you believe this f*ckin’ guy?” grin on their face.
George has an amazing snobbish expression, Regal-tier, wearing a flowery robe the commentator describes as “one of the most BEAUTIFUL ones we’ve seen” with a great dry, sarcastic demeanor, describing the peacocks that adorn it. George tosses out golden “Georgie Pins” pulled from his golden locks out to the crowd, bowing formally to them. He wipes imaginary sweat off his brow as he’s BUFFETTED with boos during the announcement of “The HUMAN ORCHID… Gorgeous George!”, all “oh WELL!” about it.
James I’m unfamiliar with- Cagematch shows matches going from 1937-1976, and says he died at 83 years old in 2000. He’s mostly got tag titles and Junior Heavyweight belts. George of course starts checking him over as the ref does, then refuses to let the ref’s filthy hands touch his robe, making a big stink of the frickin’ pre-match routine. He finally agrees to let his valet open the robe, coolly ignoring the fans’ wolf-whistles as he shows his body, but getting provoked by one guy and going “Oh SHUT UP, you peasant!” and setting off the entire crowd. The commentator is having a field day with this, imagining the dialogue and saying “George always puts on a show”, but going “But don’t sell him short- he’s a great wrestler”. George checks his nails while the ref is giving pre-match instructions, and of course just looks disdainfully at James when he holds out his hand for the ceremonial handshake.
George FINALLY takes his robe off after six minutes of this, doing a dainty hop in the ring while he stretches, his back stiff as a board.
FALL ONE: George skips and runs around for a solid minute, always going out of bounds or leaning back as fans scream “PULL HIS HAIR!” (“aw, SHUT UP!” cries George again). George comes out of a grapple with a top wristlock, but James then MESSES UP THE HAIR, sending George into a tizzy! He does a full 360 missing a punch and throws a fit to the referee and pouts for half a minute while the crowd gives him the business. James scruffs up the hair in a headlock and George frickin’ tries to DRAGON PUNCH him, but misses and just stamps his feet in a tantrum (“He LITERALLY stamps his feet, haha!”). James does another wristlock but George does a single-leg while the ref breaks them up in the ropes, then puts his foot on the rope while leglocking him, sending the front row into a frenzy (one guy jumping up to shake the ropes)- the ref finally notices and breaks, and George is shoved into the crowd, then forearmed and James makes like Fabulous Moolah and just hairtosses him all over the place!
George finally nails James in the breadbasket to take over, doing his “Flying Hiplock” (headlock takeover with some torque), the commentator marking out like Gorilla Monsoon for the execution, then does a butterfly lock, rolling backwards for the pin (3:46). An infuriated George pops him one on the break and there’s a big to-do, complete with announcers coming into the ring to announce the fall. And now George has a MOTHERF*CKING OXYGEN MACHINE WITH “FLORIDA AIR” WRITTEN ON IT, breathing THAT air instead of the smoky California arena stuff. “The valet is working over him- there is some smelling salts, a bit of water, and I do believe a CUP OF TEA, ha ha ha!”. “I’ve been following wrestling for twenty years up and down this coast and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a wrestler taking OXYGEN between falls!”.
FALL TWO: George shockingly pounces, busting James a few times during headlocks, snapmaring him and just punching away with the ref just sitting there not doing anything. But he does another Flying Hiplock and James pops up- headbutt! Another headbutt! George is dropkicked and I love his bumping style- an extra “flail” of his arms as he flings them up while he spins onto his front. James dropkicks him, kips up, then hits ANOTHER dropkick, kipping up and pinning him (0:46) to take the second fall!
FALL THREE: We’re clipped right to the third fall- George busts James in the kidneys and the ref admonishes him while George pantomimes doing a big “open-hand” shot (with a ludicrously comedic flourish), then shouts “Oh, you’re a dirty liar!” when James tells on him. He does the move again, again claiming it was an open hand, and AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, James does the same thing to him! Complete with the same “No, it was an open-hand shot, SEE?” flourish to the ref. The crowd completely loses it at this (you can see guys cracking up on the hard camera) and both guys alternate doing the movements to indicate it was a punch or an open hand. Finally, George chokes him out on the ropes and does snapmares and pulls the hair to work a pin, then holy shit- he does the “stick the shin over the guy’s throat while arguing with the ref” thing! Ric Flair was doing that forty years later!
The ref finally breaks that as George desperately tries to drop it and do other moves, then settles for working the eyes over via a headlock with a knuckle-twist. James finally gets sick of that and spins George around with a right hand, then goes into his headbutt & dropkick series again! But this time George yanks on his hair to pull him off, but James ends up slapping on the Indian Deathlock (here just tying up George’s feet around James’s leg and standing up), repeatedly working a count by shoving George’s shoulders down. They work this a solid couple of minutes, James occasionally busting him one, but George actually manages to hammerlock the arm and pull James upside-down with their legs interlocked, “And by golly- George PINNED him!” (5:56)! The ref and the seconds all have to pull a confused James off of George and untangle them, George unable to really celebrate his victory.
This match was a fantastic piece of business, entirely due to George’s antics. Taking eight minutes of in-ring stuff to get to the bell, breathing oxygen between falls, insisting on everything being deodorized, the whole bit- this guy was an S-Tier character and that he was so good in the FIFTIES is just crazy. He was doing stuff Flair was using 30-40 years later (the shin-choke thing). Both him & James were perfectly acting for the cheap-seats with that whole “kidney punch” deal (I loved George getting a taste of his own medicine). The crowd kinda died down while James was working that Indian deathlock, though, as George just writhed around and moaned- he didn’t quite have Ric Flair’s penchant for “shaking the head dramatically” at this point.
Rating: **3/4 (barely twelve minutes of action in a 23-minute video, maintained almost entirely by George’s classic mannerisms)
Not the most shameless thing KISS ever did for money.
THE DEMON vs. RICK FULLER:
(WCW Saturday Night, March 25th 2000)
* Oh yeah, that’s right- it’s time for some DALE TORBORG action. So I’ll do a fuller bio this time- the dude was trained by THE WARLORD AND JIM NEIDHART, then got shipped to the Power Plant, to give you an idea of his pedigree. He got a “push” of sorts because Eric Bischoff made a deal with KISS to deck a wrestler out in Gene Simmons look-alike gear and push him to a PPV “Main Event”, but Brian Adams, the initial nominee, rejected the role without wrestling a match and rookie Torborg got it. The KISS concert drew crap ratings and Bischoff was fired anyways, so WCW couldn’t ignore this stupid gimmick fast enough, resulting in a quick de-push for “The Demon” (who later got a “Special Main Event” in the middle of the card on one PPV). This remains yet another sign of WCW’s impending death and a great capstone to the company, all in all- a rookie performing as a failed major character because a washed up guy didn’t want it, all because a washed-up band made a deal with a washed-up executive. It’s basically the most WCW thing ever.
So here’s the Demon, long after he’d been ruined, thrown out on Saturday Night against Fuller, who’s in black with white today, with “The Fuller Effect” written on his back. THAT’S his catchphrase? Fuller gets a big boot right away, but runs into a foot and takes a clothesline & suplex for two. Fuller goes to the eyes and then beats on the Demon for like two solid minutes, barely giving him anything and just pushing him around, even hitting a HUGE standing roundhouse kick that has Larry Z marking out on commentary. But he puts his head down and Demon gets some lame strikes, then the wimpiest dropkick since Erik Watts, practically pushing Fuller over with his feet, but Fuller puts him up top and biels him off from there. But he doesn’t go for the cover, and gets whipped to the corner for it- the Demon hits him with The Destroyer (chickenwing uranage) for the pin at (4:32).
God, that was dreadful- Demon eats move after move as Fuller runs through the basics on him, then gets some lame strikes and hits a two-move comeback for the win. Hitting clotheslines and stuff early on he looked somewhat okay, but by the end nearly every move was loosely-applied and terrible, worse than even regular Power Plant guys.
Rating: 1/2* (just Fuller doing basics on a pretty useless guy)
Seriously, explain to me why Vince never even sniffed this dude again?
BILL GOLDBERG vs. CHASE TATUM:
(WCW Saturday Night, March 14th 1998)
* WCW’s roster was truly ridiculous- bloated, overrun with same-y dudes and washed-up acts, and a place where talented guys got ignored because there were so many names out there. But one advantage of it was stuff like this, where you could put the mega-over Goldberg out there and have him slaughter some doofus in two minutes and it didn’t matter because you had 90 more guys like this in the back. And fans liked it! Chase is of course the no-necked roided kid constantly doing the default “SmackDown!” taunt by adjusting his wrist tape pathologically. Both dudes are about the same size, which shows you how effective WCW’s pushing of Goldberg was that this could seem so one-sided.
Funny bit as they lock up and immediately botch Goldberg’s rolling leghold move, Chase not rolling over far enough, so Goldberg improvises a half-pin/half-armhold, then throws knees as they get up, whips him to the ropes, and SPEAR SNAP JACKHAMMER!! Tatum is done at (1:00). Well that didn’t take long! The botch here was kind of interesting, as Goldberg going right to a grapple actually covered very well for it- I don’t think he exactly had many instincts as a pro at this point, but his manic twitchiness kind of gave off a sense of “I meant to do that” even when it’s not right. It actually kind of looks MMA-ish. I mean, if I hadn’t known that was a Goldberg move, I wouldn’t have known he screwed it up! Amazingly, the monstrous Chase didn’t even brace his hand against Goldberg’s hip for the suplex lift, so that’s pure strength on Goldberg’s part.
Rating: 1/4* (all Goldberg squashes at least earn a quarter star)
THE HARDY BOYZ (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs. PAPI CHULO & EL MERENGUERO
(WWF Super Astros, 05 02 1999)
* Yeah, I have no idea who El Merenguero is either. TO GOOGLE! Oh, it’s Jesús Castillo Jr. from Los Boriquas. Chulo’s in red, Merenguero’s in what looks like Disco Inferno cosplay, with shades, slicked-back black hair and loose white pants and a shiny shirt (which he keeps on for the match!), and the Hardy Boyz are in wild multicolor pants and “Omega” (their wrestling promotion) shirts. This is WELL before they hit huge.
Jeff starts with Chulo, but yanks Merenguero off the apron, and both dodge Chulo’s twisting somersault pescado- Matt pescados the heels and is caught, but JEFF flies out with a tope con hilo to knock down the pile! They score a double-shot on Chulo for two, but he escapes- Merenguero is easily avoided by Matt, who hits a moonsault press for two. Jeff scores the Sabu-esque rope-assisted moonsault for two, but Chulo hangs him on the top rope- all Merenguero adds is a weird clothesline where it looks like their wires got crossed. There’s a double-kick and double-suplex and the heels barely seem on the same page at all, and Jeff is missile kicked to the floor and then hit by Chulo’s over-the-corner Tope Con Hilo. Merenguero ends up charging into the post, though, and Matt beats up Chulo in the ring- Merenguero leapfrogs Chulo to dropkick Jeff to the floor, and dives out onto him to follow-up, leaving Matt & Chulo alone- Chulo slams Matt on his face catching him on a headscissors attempt, and finishes with the Shooting Star Press at (5:14). Pretty funny to see the Hardyz job to a random thrown-together duo, but the WWF was just getting used to them.
Rating: *3/4 (another “All The Spots” match, comprised of almost nothing but, with Merenguero holding things back with his generic “clotheslines & dives” style and kind of being out of position a bunch)
YUJI NAGATA (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. PSYCHOSIS:
(WCW Nitro, Nov. 3rd 1997)
* Nagata’s heel run continues as Psychosis is set up against him- he had recently been dumped by Onoo. The luchadore’s in his black with white gear, while Nagata’s in black & gold.
Nagata does a kick series in the corner, but Psychosis nails chops and a slingshot dropkick- Nagata bails, but Psychosis hits the ugliest over-the-corner Tope Con Hilo ever (like, he had to use the second rope and then bump his knee on the top turnbuckle- Essa Rios he was NOT), catching him napping. Great running legdrop off the apron to the floor, though! Psychosis follows up with a running dropkick in the corner and tries a Super Rana, but Yuji just holds on (though his body language is weird, as he simply doesn’t budge or emote so it looks like a botch). Nagata slowly works him over, then throws the shittiest powerbomb ever, actually falling over backwards after doing it. Psychosis lands on his feet from a German and hits his wheel kick, though- Onoo proceeds to distract him AND kicks him in the head while the ref is arguing with him (like, how’d the ref miss THAT?), knocking Psychosis back into a backdrop driver and the Nagata Lock for the win (3:53).
Mostly a quick throwaway Nitro match- Psychosis threw out mostly excellent stuff while Nagata was slow and plodding and hit an ugly powerbomb. You’d hardly think one of these dudes would be Main Eventing in a few years.
Rating: *3/4 (fine enough short TV bout)