This week’s reviews are inspired by Scott’s review of an awful Raw episode with a heel who looks like they paint his face on doing a posing segment and Vince McMahon’s fascination with bodybuilders who look like they’re ready for a night out on the town!
A quick editorial on that Raw segment, as I’m not a regular watcher but read Scott’s review out of curiosity and watched that segment. The obvious post-1984 reference for pose downs is Rude/Warrior, which was generally not a good segment, but had the bit at the end where Heenan sprayed Warrior in the eyes with the baby oil and Rude wore him out with a flexing bar to set up a damn good feud that was nothing but money. This has a guy, (Austin) Theory (why not just call him Hypothesis at this point?), who I’m guessing is pushed because he’s “a good promo” but actually is on par with Billy Gunn as a heel in 1996 with the “SHUT UP!” stuff, looks weird, posy, and after this “savage attack” on Bobby Lashley, who I guess changes disposition based on which way the wind blows, ends it with a… dropkick? I won’t get this right, but Scott was pretty on point with the “flaming garbage pail full of manure” review.
Enough about current sucky wrestling, let’s get back to some great awful wrestling from the classic era! These muscle men definitely wouldn’t have talked about the hush money!
Brakus vs. Jesus
The WWF signed German bodybuilder Achim Albrecht to a contract in 1996 and after two years, including an extended stay being trained by the Harts in Calgary, they nervously gave him a go. This was also a year after vignettes where he randomly targeted Vader and the like in German with no context given. Bad sign that they recycled Mark Henry’s initial terrible babyface debut music for him as well as crappy chain mail. Jesus was the bottom guy of bottom group Los Boricuas, a capable second generation wrestler with zero charisma but willing to bump for anyone, including off the lockup. Powerslam with lots of shouting and an elbowdrop, then more shouting and another. “He’s thick, this guy!”, says JR, in a shoot comment that wasn’t meant to be one. Irish whip with Jesus being lifted up by the legs and not really being sure what he’s being set up for, with it turning out to be a spinebuster into a cradle for the win. Then more shouting.
How bad was it? Well, he wasn’t invited back, let’s put it that way.
The Magnificent Zulu vs. Tony Boyles
Also known as the Mighty Zulu, Ron Pope, who’s more famous for a story where he bludgeoned Frankie Lane in the head after either a racial epithet or an argument about trans. Tony Boyles is a Memphis jobber, which is where this is from. Zulu has a bodybuilder’s stance and physique, but isn’t really cut or anything and has bizarrely long limbs and low shoulders as well as being tall. ZERO fire when it comes to catching the jobber and being evaded. Eventually he can’t get past him and gets hit with some really bad blows. He does run with an Irish whip, which is the way it’s supposed to be done, but he’s like a black Tex McKenzie with muscles. Even Dave Brown, whose daily job is trying to convince you that the weather is worth paying attention to, is burying him subtly alongside Lance Russell. The bearhug, the finisher of all supposed strongmen, finishes. Popeye lookalike Paul Morton gets him to break, then he picks Zulu picks a shit angle to pose to.
How bad was it? Zulu’s limited manager Sonny King looked like Ricky Steamboat by comparison.
Tony Atlas vs. Ted Arcidi
I became a fan in 1991, so I only really knew Arcidi for a while from WrestleMania 2 and took him as a babyface, but it feels like it’s unclear on what he actually was. What is clear as day is the acne on his back. Gorilla and Lord Alfred on commentary, from Boston. Both guys are juiced to the gills and wearing workout belts. Tony has aged twenty years in two since his tag title reign and was getting fucked up. As they hug each other for a bit Gorilla starts picking nits with them wearing the belts, with Alfred confirming the buckles could be “injurious”. Another sign of Tony losing it – he’s switched from trunks to long tights as we go to a “Grecian knuckle grip” per Alfred, which Gorilla takes the piss out of. Back shot of Tony, also pretty spotty, as the dance continues. On the break, Tony with a shove and Ted with a weak forearm for Gorilla to pour scorn on, then a headbutt from Tony that he actually bumps for. Then slams from either side, with no struggle or attempt to struggle and slowness on a snail’s pace as Gorilla just lets rip that they’re moving round the ring “like they’re on death’s door, Alfred!” and starts talking like there’s a shoot reason for them not working well together without there actually being one. One-footed dropkick, of course, from Tony. The commentators are just openly laughing at and mocking the match. Ted signals for the bearhug after going aerial. Alfred: “A lackluster performance!” Gorilla: “You’re being very liberal!” They tumble out in one another’s arms and then fall over the barricade and are both counted out, landing on some fat dad’s lap and hurting a kid in the second row by crushing him between chairs. Freddy Sparta says that’s it but they act like they both want to go, even though if one went for the other it would kill them both. Gorilla: “Neither one really strained themselves!” The only bit of heat is on them continuing the fight, but they shake hands to boos. Gorilla: “Thank you very much for not going home with my share of the purse(!). I believe they were scared to death of one another!”
How bad was it? Gorilla and Alfred buried it worse that I ever could, one of of the worst matches you’ll ever see.
The Dingo Warrior vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
The still-reigning bearskin rug champion, Jim Hellwig, someone I’ll defend most matches of between 1988 and 1992. Before then and after… not so much. This is actually the first ever match these two guys had, in World Class, and while they later developed phenomenal chemistry through hard work three years later, I’m not so sure at this point. Both men actually heels, with Warrior managed by Gary Hart and Rude managed by Percy Pringle. Warrior is going for a weird yin and yang paint job on his face. Rude is fairly muted in his dress, wearing his red robe and black tights with white boots. As the wrestlers face off, the managers do more work than they do, with Percy brandishing his cane at Hart. Rude actually gets an early slam on Dingo, which he bellows about. Tries another one, so of course Warrior presses and slams him to reverse. No real way they could do that in their more famous feud, but it was a cool spot. Gary throws out a challenge out for some arm wrestling, which Rude agrees to for five grand, but then Warrior bumps it up to ten. Everyone kinda wanders around for lack of a table, so they take it to the mat, which isn’t as great a visual. Pringle pulls the leg on Warrior, ending that, then Warrior presses Rude out to the outside off a pinfall attempt, which is absolutely what they could’ve recycled.
Back in, full nelson on Warrior, which he obviously and visually powers out of. The crowd starts chanting for Dingo, as he’s just getting over in front of everyone’s eyes as a star. Rude tries the punches and Irish whip, but a strong reversal that Rude of course sells like he’s been hit with a shotgun. Weak chops, then Rude ducks a clothesline and gets his own flying one and dropkick. He tries a piledriver, called an atomic drop by Bill Mercer, but no way was Dingo going up for that and he backdrops out of it. Rude gets a chinlock mixed with a choke. Warrior breaks and gets another press slam, with all of his paint now sweated off. He’s still trying with those chops, which at least sound good. Rude gets his stiff forearms, then the managers get into it and as Percy is dragged in it goes to a disqualification for both men.
How bad was it? Despite a very green and gassed Warrior, it wasn’t that bad at all, even though they had far better ahead of them.
David Nelson vs. Rob Conway
A guy that I guess Vince just never knew existed! David Nelson was a football player apparently, with awful commentator (as bad or worse than Joey Styles) Jim Cornette crafting a story about him having such a temper that his fellow players called him “Rage”, which is on the back of his trunks. Awesome podcaster Jim Cornette did an OVW deep dive and revealed that while he was a nice guy, he was a bit weird and someone found out he’d been a porn star in videos where the focus was more on him and his muscles and his big dong than the women. Obviously kicking around trying anything until something stuck or was sticky. Conway is one of his boys like Flash Flanagan that only he saw something in. Good look, but nothing special about him. Nelson had terrible hair extensions earlier in his run and a ponytail, but he’s realised that’s not working and has a short haircut by this point. The commentary and camera focuses more on Kenny Bolin ranting. Nelson has a bit where he drags his hands up his body like Goldust then does a double bicep before doing a weak legdrop. He then almost loses himself on a powerslam, getting Conway over JUST about but tripping over and ramming his own head into the mat almost. Rob obviously has a death wish because he jumps into his arm for another slam. Nelson misses a moonsault from the second rope, then they almost lose each other again on a collision. Conway does the double axehandle into a boot on the ground. Nelson with a weak shoulder block, then he stumbles around waiting for Conway to put on a loaded glove, which he hits him with for the pin.
How bad was it? I don’t know which I like least, ECW or OVW. The amateur hour stuff with high expectations and unlistenable commentary probably edges it for OVW. Nelson looked like someone who should be a star while having nothing that made him a star. I imagine it was bodyguarding next for him.
Melting it down: If this was a night out on the town, it rained from place to place and it was burnt steak instead of prime beef.