Rick Martel didn’t have the best matches during his WWF career, but is often a fountain of surprisingly-good midcard bouts!
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This week I have an assortment of WWF & WCW stuff, headlined by Rick “The Model” Martel returning to the WWF to face rookie sensation the 1-2-3 Kid! Rick’s well-known renaissance in WCW a few years later actually has some precedent here, given Martel’s showing.
Also featured is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express showing up in early nWo-era WCW to take on Fire & Ice! It’s Jimmy Wang Yang’s debut in WCW, as Yun Yang faces off against the KISS Demon! A trios match from hell sees “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan & The Bushwhackers take on The Repo Man & The Beverly Brothers! And finally I find two matches featuring a name that’s intrigued me since I saw him like 30 years ago- The Intruder! Who is a masked jobber in a pair of squash tag matches four years apart, as he’s annihilated by both Demolition and the Nasty Boys!
RICK “THE MODEL” MARTEL vs. THE 1-2-3 KID:
(All-American Wrestling, Oct. 3rd 1993)
* Rick is freshly back in the company at this point “after modeling in Europe”, while the Kid is still a newbie in his blue singlet. Martel’s run at this point is seemingly just to put over some of the newer generation guys, but you gotta beat some dudes to regain credibility before you can do that, so this will be interesting!
Martel ignores the 19-year old’s handshake attempt like a good heel, then calls attention to the difference between their physiques and pulls some hair to assist a hammerlock. The Kid keeps kipping up but getting hauled down, so he uses the ref to boost a backflip, then monkey flips Rick off! Kid keeps getting up and pushing Rick down, though as Monsoon points out, hasn’t actually done anything to HURT him yet, and Martel sends a charging Kid to the floor. He brings him back in with a suplex that has Monsoon marking out, then smashes the back with some good strikes to set up the Boston Crab. He keeps up the assault, LAUNCHING the Kid into the corner, but keeps building his SmackDown! meter… then puts on an abdominal stretch THAT MONSOON COMPLIMENTS, putting over the agony on “the Kid’s kisser”. Though he of course mentions how Martel should hook the leg properly just as we go to break- they’re back with more work on the Kid’s back. Kid gets the occasional shot in, but Martel schools him repeatedly, hitting a camel clutch that nearly puts him out- but the Kid fights back, then dodges a punch off Bret’s rope and uses his lightning feet, bouncing Martel around and hitting his big roundhouse kick for two! He evades Martel’s offense a bit but misses a cross-body out of the corner and Martel points to his head to indicate intelligence, but DOESN’T SUFFER FOR IT, hitting the Boston Crab for the submission win at (7:15). Yup- just too smart for him in the end.
Hey, not bad! Martel was in a good workrate zone at this point, applying every move with perfection and laser-focusing on that back to set up his finisher. Good psychology with that, and putting over the Kid’s surprise attacks and speed being able to harry even a smart veteran. Rick had him down for several minutes, but the Kid gets the hot comeback with his second wind, only for Martel to outsmart him with the dodge and set up the finisher he’d been building to all match. Wrestling 101, which Monsoon & Ross point out on commentary repeatedly as good strategy.
Rating: **3/4 (good, old-fashioned TV match- minimal stalling, good psychology and a finish paid off by what both guys had been doing all match- Martel using his intelligence to counter the Kid’s speed)
Few acts looked more like relics in the mid-90s than the Dad Bod Express here, yet both companies tried to use them during the Monday Night Wars.
THE ROCK ‘n’ ROLL EXPRESS (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) vs. FIRE & ICE (Scott Norton & Ice Train):
(WCW Main Event, July 1996)
* Well this is crazy- the Express were already washed-up by this point (like, the nWo has debuted and Hogan’s about to be revealed as the third man, changing the biz forever, and these two shapeless mullet dudes are out there?), but taking up Main Event time against Fire & Ice in their midcard tag run? Norton’s in black, Ice Train’s in red, and the RnRs are in what look like burgundy velvet tights with white tassels.
Norton immediately gobbles up Morton like a jobber, hitting a Samoan drop- Ice Train adds taunts and an avalanche. Norton does a single chop and tags out, and Train does a slam and goes to the 2nd rope, but Norton just tags himself in again and goes for his Shoulderbreaker finisher- Morton’s legs clip Train’s head and knocks him out of the ring, and Gibson runs in and clips Norton’s leg… and Morton hits a BACKSLIDE and pins Norton at (2:07)! FIRE AND ICE LOSE IN TWO MINUTES!! Norton is enraged by this, telling Mean Gene about how annoyed he is by Train’s “stylin’ and profiling!”. This obviously sets up the “Fire & Ice EXPLODES” angle that runs through the next few months until Norton turns on him and joins the nWo one Nitro.
Rating: 1/4* (100% Fire & Ice treating Morton like a jobber until the banana peel finish)
REPO MAN & THE BEVERLY BROTHERS (Beau & Blake, w/ The Genius) vs. “HACKSAW” JIM DUGGAN & THE BUSHWHACKERS (Luke & Butch):
* Oh man, what a trios match. Some truly dire comedy babyface stuff on the one side (and shockingly, they come down to the Bushwhackers’ theme, not Duggan’s). The Beverlies are the lame-duck challengers for the Natural Disasters’ titles at SummerSlam in a week (while Repo is being fed to Crush), so they might actually be kept strong here.
The heels attack from behind to start, but a triple-reversal sees them all rammed together in the middle. The heels are stacked in the corner, and Duggan assists the Battering Ram into the pile! And again! And again! Repo eats a truly awful clothesline out of that, as does Blake, but Beau ducks, only for the ‘Whackers to double-clothesline him into a spinning sell. Nice choreography! Duggan, whose partners are from New Zealand while all his opponents are Americans, naturally starts up a “U.S.A.!” chant. Blake socks Butch, but gets bulldogged and Beau has to grab Butch from the apron to go on the lead. Butch gets triple-teamed as Luke keeps trying to get in. Another “U.S.A.!” chant (REALLY?) sees Butch hit a kneelift and escapes- Duggan beats up Repo Man in the corner, then tosses all three heels into the Battering Ram as this seems to be wrapping up… but Repo Man pulls out Duggan, then Butch, leaving Luke in the ring, where Beau smashes him with the metal scroll for the pin at (4:21). Yup- keeping the Beverlies “strong”- using a third guy and a weapon to beat the lowest team on the WWF totem pole.
Actually not nearly as bad as you might think- the faces were all limited brawlers but you can’t suck that much in 4 minutes, especially with a well-choreographed bit to start, and the heels controlling most of the rest of the match. Duggan’s a solid hot tag guy and the Bushwhackers got some shine before the heels cheated to win.
Rating: *3/4 (I mean, you go in expecting a near-DUD and you can be delightfully surprised by a 4-minute match that isn’t awful)
Yang was in a lot of stuff that I never saw- he was always joining companies I was losing interest in, haha.
THE DEMON vs. YUN YANG:
(WCW Saturday Night, Feb. 5th 2000)
* It’s a twofer- another Demon appearance, and the debut of YUN YANG, aka “Jimmy Wang Yang”, fresh from the Power Plant. Dismissed as “Who’s THIS kid?” by Scott Hudson, Mike Tenay thankfully explains his backstory. The Demon just doesn’t have the physical charisma for this act- his “scary stomping” and tongue-wiggling don’t look scary. It doesn’t help that only dorks like KISS.
Yang leaps onto the Demon from behind with a sleeper, emphasizing the huge size difference, which is good- Demon kinda “lumbers” more than sells, but snapmares him and twists him with a headlock- Yang elbows out but runs into a press slam, going right to the floor in a great bump. The Demon follows him out and slowly pounds on him, but Yang suddenly springs to life and spins out of a hiptoss, only to run into a clothesline, doing a backflip bump off it. oh yeah, I think I know why this kid got a push right away. Demon uses more slow pounding, then throws Yang into the Eddie Bump, but the kid does a sunset flip, headbutting him in the balls to complete the move (… okay, that’s a new one). Yang does a backflip and a dance into a big dropkick, but he runs into a boot and that’s that- the Demon finishes him with the Cobra Clutch/Uranage slam at (3:47).
huh- well, I mean, the kid went out to earn himself a push with THIS one, bouncing off of the Demon, selling everything huge (he does a backflip off a mere smash into the turnbuckle), backflipping on several moves, then every time he gets some offense he puts some “extra” on it, like a flourish or a dance. Yang was repackaged into one of the Jung Dragons, who feuded with Three Count after this, and no wonder. Guy actually has a very long career for an undersized wrestler with not a lot of **** matches, and it’s probably thanks to stuff like this. If I was a wrestler, I’d want THIS bump machine flying off my stuff.
Rating: *1/2 (mostly a showcase of Yang’s selling abilities, as the Demon really had nothing)
This is apparently the Intruder much later, in EWF.
DEMOLITION (Ax & Smash) vs. THE INTRUDER & TIM PATTERSON:
(WWF TV, March 9th 1989)
* Okay, so here’s a double-whammy, as I recall as a kid seeing “The Intruder” show up on WWF television. I was a bit struck, as gimmicky names typically didn’t go on jobbers, and yet this guy was most certainly a jobber. Turns out that’s veteran wrestler (already in his early 40s here) Jesse Hernandez under a mask, which he wore occasionally. He’s extremely short and hilariously rotund here, in a black singlet with a mask. Patterson, himself a semi-recurring WWF jobber, is REALLY tall and in grey tights. Demolition have just been screwed out of the Tag Titles by the Brain Busters and are looking to make a statement.
Smash absolutely eats Patterson alive, whupping him in the corner, then the Demos double-beat him while he’s laid on the top rope, then Smash CHEATS, assaulting from the apron as Ax puts a neck-vice on and calls out the Brain Busters. Smash punches him over to the Intruder, who is hilariously undersized- Smash simply ignores all his weak garbage and tosses him to the floor for an unnecessarily mean beating and I love it. Intruder gets tossed back into the ring and they repeatedly double-team him while Gorilla & Tony S. put over his guts for being so outmatched, haha. Ax slaughters him with a clothesline, Smash clubs him down, and Demolition Decapitation finishes at (3:01), Intruder doing a flipover bump onto his head off it.
Just a complete slaughter- the Demos giving NOTHING and brawling their opponents to death. As a kid, I loved them but was too young to have mastery of the remote or TV guide, so I missed their jobber squashes- they’re LOD-tier in just eating their opponents alive.
Rating: 1/2* (completely one-sided, but a fun squash)
THE NASTY BOYS (Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags) vs. THE INTRUDER & ED MORETTI:
(WWF Wrestling Challenge, 1993)
* And four years later, an increasingly-pregnant Intruder is trotted out there to die again, this time against the BABYFACE Nasty Boys! And man, now ol’ Jesse’s gear is exceptionally bad- like a baby-blue bodysuit meant for a 200-pounder stretched horribly across his 300-lb. frame, with little bitty legs in black sticking out underneath. Moretti’s no prize himself- a broad, balding fat guy.
Knobs takes down Moretti and throws those hilariously sloppy elbows of his (Moretti has to roll back in place when he realizes that Knobs is just gonna launch them whether he’s in position or not). Sags hits a big backdrop suplex (pretty tough given Moretti’s size) and they do the Pit Stop (shoving Moretti’s face into Knobs’s armpit), tossing Moretti to the Intruder, who is immediately nearly unmasked by Sags and dumped. Intruder fusses over his mask as Knobs bowls him down (somehow missing a clothesline and just running into him directly). Meanwhile, Monsoon & Heenan go on about the Nasties “graciously stepping aside” so that Hogan & Beefcake could challenge Money Inc. for the Tag Titles at WrestleManiaIX, which Bobby says makes them chumps- he’s not wrong, but the Nasties would be gone in short order anyways. Sags whips Knobs into Intruder in the corner, leading to their finisher- the Trip to Nastyville (Knobs powerslam/Sags flying elbow) at (2:36).
Gloriously-hideous match, with the Nasties hitting their ugly, sloppy stuff to just murder these chubby guys. Impressive power from both, as these are huge dudes they’re manhandling and casually picking up for suplexes & powerslams. Much as the Nasties weren’t star-machines their offense really fits what they are- big, ugly dudes.
Rating: 1/2* (perfectly fine squash, hefting around two big guys)