This will be the last volume of Nightmare Matches for a little while as my job is about to get busy again. Some WCW Saturday Night reviews are in the bag across the next few weekends, but I may pop up with some old Work and Shoot as some YouTube channels are really delivering the goods.
- The many (pock-marked and grumpy) faces of Steve DiSalvo!
- Three cowboys in search of a conclusion!
- The battle of the full nelsons… in front of about 90 people, not 90,000!
- The final days of Andre the Giant!
- Intergender wrestling!
Billy Jack Strong vs. Rick Gantner
Steve DiSalvo was a bodybuilder who was taught in the same class as Sting and the Ultimate Warrior and had a smarmy heel charisma to him, big body and seemed to get it as far as working goes. Unfortunately, he hated wrestling, by his own admission, and was in it for the money until his body started breaking down on him. Possibly could’ve been a star, but not on showings like this. Here, in the AWA, he’s reinvented as a Native American prodigy of Wahoo McDaniel, with war bonnet, and he looks about as enthusiastic as if someone had said they’d have to chop his left knacker off. Gantner’s more enthusiastic and went on to be Bull Pain. Gantner bumps off him multiple times while Strong stands their stoically, almost yawning. Gantner gets some cheap shots in, leading to some almost registering. Reversal into a Steve Strong clothesline and a punt to the chest. DDT, called as a brainbuster by the commentators, and a back suplex into a bridge gets the pinfall. Steve and Wahoo get out of there quickly without a single bit of celebration or enjoyment.
How bad was it? A perfect example of someone who just didn’t want to be there at all.
Minotaur vs. Keith Hart
In a bit of trivia, WCW had a Minotaur before the WWF had a Minotaur/Mantaur. DiSalvo travelled around a bit, including big runs in Canada and Puerto Rico, before arriving in WCW for a cup of coffee. Paul E Dangerously, in voiceover, introduces the half-man/half-bull, on the Danger Zone. You’d think Paul was managing by the amount of effort he’s putting in. DiSalvo is full monster heel, with slicked back hair, white contact lenses and leather brace on his right arm, which I’m sure partly was to cover an injury as I can’t imagine he didn’t tear those biceps at some point. When it comes to his debut, he does without the growling and snarling and just looks at his feet and slithers in. Larry Zbyszko on commentary thinks he looks like the loser in an acid-throwing contest. Hart actually tries a missile dropkick to begin with, which Minotaur totally no-sells and gets a DDT in response. Flapjack that almost sees Hart get lost on the drop. To the outside and another one on the mats that looks and sounds brutal. Back in, some chops and a corner clothesline, followed by a legdrop. He finishes with a clothesline with the leather-bound arm and a short splash to finish.
How bad was it? Fair play to Keith Hart (not Bret’s brother), who went out of his way to put DiSalvo over in a big way, but it wasted on a guy who, again, didn’t want to be there. If they had a fully enthusiastic guy that was doing exactly the same thing with Paul E as his mouthpiece it would’ve gotten over, even if through Paul’s sheer willpower, but a man on his own who wasn’t willing to take it? No win.
The Search for Stan Hansen
So, Dutch Mantel and Randy “Moondog Rex” Colley were already bouncing around WCW and Black Bart had just come back, so they put them together as goofy cowboys the Desperados. Rex was repackaged, with dyed hair and his false teeth out, as one-eyed mute Dead Eye Dick. They get into a row about slighting the sheriff. Dutch’s lines are all exposition, while Bart does his ranting and raving routine. Dick wanders off from them and ends up in a saloon. While Dutch and Bart swat each other with their hats, somehow time evolves differently in the bar and Dick cheats in a card game, gets hit over the head with a bottle, stumbles out, and the search continues. Maybe if they’d gone to some wrestling matches, not an old Western town, that would’ve made the difference.
How bad was it? The worst kind of comedy, not a titter to be had.
Star Blazer vs. Big Train Bart
Bart left the company to go to Global and then had a brief return in 1995 as old style engineer Big Train Bart. Star Blazer is Tim Horner, having been fucked off by Jim Cornette from Smoky Mountain, returning as a jobber and using a Blue Blazer ripoff from 1990. He does a really weird little run to the ring holding his cape to his side. More entertaining is Dusty Rhodes in the interstitial doing a running gag with Crispy Cruiser about how it was supposed to be Johnny Boone and doing a moo for the moo match of the week. Bart is billed from the B&B Railroad, which Dusty joked on another show was the Bart and Bart Railroad to show off his lack of imagination. Bart, who’s massive at this point, gets some early shots in but misses a chop and Blazer flips him all around. Bart gets a fistdrop for one, then does the rope burn, which to me seems stupid given that Star Blazer has a mask on. Bart punches the arm a bit and bars it to try and get some psychology in. Dusty and Chris talk about anything but the match while Dusty acknowledges that they’re not doing Bart justice. Chris: “We’ve got a match coming up with Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto against Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki!” Dusty: “Yeah, well, your momma too!” Star Blazer makes a comeback and again tosses Bart around like he’s his size. Thesz press off the top for the pinfall victory, because seemingly Horner can’t do a huracanrana and Bart wouldn’t know how to take the dadgum move either.
How bad was it? The match was just background noise for Dusty and Chris to talk about whatever came to mind, but who thought it was good to book a Tim Horner and Black Bart match in the Nitro era?
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Ken Patera
From the UWF, with Herb Abrams, in full coked up mode, previewing the match with Bruno Sammartino between “Olympic man strongman Patera” and Billy Jack Haynes. When these two were last in the national picture they were both good guys, even though they’re two of the most real life heelish guys you could find, and were tag partners, so Patera in his promo creates a story of them having had a nasty split to become the heel. He’s also stopped shaving his back. Billy is missing teeth and has shaved the beard down to a beard to a moustache, so they both look really dilapidated. Bruno shits on the announced weight for Patera and says he’s far heavier. The fans chant “Jailbird!” at Patera, when in reality that could go for both guys. Lock up into a Patera headlock, with both guys seeing their muscle mass diminish and Patera particularly egg-shaped. As I recounted in a shoot interview review for Patera, the real heat was on Haynes taking their shared rental car several times in 1987 to head to the ghetto to get crack. Test of strength to “Boring!” jeers. Patera gets a knee to the gut and calls the fans turkeys. Billy comes up, so Ken goes into the ropes for a break. “Shame on you, Kenny!”, says Bruno. Top wristlock, which is a move where both guys can do as little as possible and just grunt and groan. Bruno tries to talk about the psychology of the move and the match, but the high points are whatever smart things Patera has to say, if they can actually be made out. Trades on seated reverse chinlocks. Neither guy is doing anything bad, but it’s just not interesting. Patera speeds up into his trademark finish setup, the blind charge into the corner, allowing Billy to go for the full nelson, but he can’t lock the fingers as the heat machine goes into overdrive, then switches off when Ken gets the rope. They get into trading shots in the corner, with Jesse Hernandez failing to break it up and taking a stiff shot off Billy, allowing Ken to win via DQ.
How bad was it? Glacial until they got to the last minute, but it was too late in the match and in their careers for anything good to be produced.
Torrie Wilson vs. Rene Dupree
Booked by then-Smackdown general manager Kurt Angle out of spite for Torrie blowing off his advances. Torrie has to act all nervous and sick in some particularly putrid “acting”. Kurt, even with the fake leg cast, wheelchair and plaster on the back of his head, looks and sounds bad, with hoarse voice and bloodshot eyes. Rene had stuck up for Angle previously and gotten into a slapping and wine throwing incident with Torrie on his interview segment to be the person put in the no-DQ match. He’s forceful with her without even getting robe off, including throwing her down. Torrie gets a sunset flip, so he sits down on her and teabags her. She reverses it for two, but he carries on the roughness until John Cena runs in for the no contest in the no-DQ match, with Michael Cole doing his worst to get a political allegory about Dupree representing the French army.
How bad was it? A rotten non-bit from a period where I had long since lost my patience with any rubbish.
Andre the Giant, El Canek and Villano III vs. Buffalo Allen, Kokina and Black Scorpio
From the UWA in Mexico, the heel team is Bad News Allen, Yokozuna and 2 Cold Scorpio (masked). Andre is in red singlet and boots and just stands there while the other five have a melee. He steps through, not over the ropes, to chop Kokina and never takes his hand off the ropes so as not to lose his balance. Kokina’s selling, which was one of his strong points when he was Yoko, is a bit more akin to Kamala at this point. The heels take a powder and drag Canek out, so Andre pulls Kokina up by the hair, headbutts him down, and Kokina does a brilliant blind stagger into the post, further knocking himself silly. He and Allen get a Irish whip/clothesline on Canek, but Canek will just not sell. So, they switch to Villano, who they post and attack the balls of. Scorpio grounds him. I actually would’ve loved to have seen a regular American tag team of Bad News and Scorpio, with Scorpio carrying the working load and Allen bringing the presence and history. After a break, Canek and Kokina engage in a test of strength. Canek gets a dropkick to take him down, but Kokina’s up before he is in an impressive bit of speed. Scorpio holds Canek for a clothesline, but gets hit with it himself and then is pressed. Andre comes in and surfboards Scorpio after his partners held him for something he declined to do. Scorpio with an impressive flipping mule kick out of it and Kokina is used as a battering ram to no effect, but Allen grazes Andre with the Ghetto Blaster, which ties him up in the ropes and allows the heels to use his partners against him too. Scorpio gets the 450 splash off the top for the first fall. Just as quickly, Kokina gets the big splash on Canek to secure it!
Andre is out of the ropes and beats on Bad News in the corner. Luckily, this isn’t the match where he accidentally shit on him. Scorpio gets caught in the corner with Bad News and Kokina accidentally squashes them. The good guys create a human pile of Kokina and Scorpio, with Andre sitting on top of them for the pinfall then Canek hitting a DDT on Allen to secure it.
Back from a break for the third fall, with Andre sitting in a painful position on Allen’s neck. Scorpio and Villano tag in. Scorpio just flips back and forth around different moves and dropkicks Villano out, so Canek comes in. He gets almost an enzuigiri. Kokina comes in and claws him. Allen gets a legdrop, so Andre walks in and pulls him off and does some weird deal of pulling the tights. All six are in, fighting in different corners. Kokina drops a headbutt on Villano’s balls, drawing a disqualification and resulting in a victory for Canek, Villano and Andre.
How bad was it? Not as bad as I’ve seen late in life Andre, but still a shame to see him almost hobbled. The real highlight was seeing Kokina and Scorpio before they hit the big time.
The meltdown: End of the road for now with this column, but could come back. If there are any nightmare matches you want to hear about in the future post them in the comments any time. Thanks for reading!