Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time around, we have a major NWA Title main event, as Harley Race defends the belt against ANDRE THE GIANT in Houston, Texas! It’s a good look at the way the NWA belt was defended in the U.S., and a good look at how the “NWA Style” was modified around a challenger like Andre, who wasn’t a technical marvel but was huge. Also, HARLEY SLAMS ANDRE!
Then it’s over to the AWA as Bruiser Brody & Nord the Barbarian (The Berzerker) team up against Verne Gagne’s son Greg and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka in a Steel Cage Match! Over to 1993 WWF for a very “1993 WWF” match as a newly-returned Marty Jannetty takes on fading heel Papa Shango! And finally, it’s one of the most horrifyingly stiff matches in WWF history, as Faarooq & Bradshaw decided to beat a lesson into The Public Enemy in what turns out to be their last WWF match.
NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
BEST TWO OF THREE FALLS:
HARLEY RACE vs. ANDRE THE GIANT:
(Houston, January 7th 1979)
* Oh yeah, it’s some old-school ANDRE THE GIANT content this time around. This is back when the Giant was still a guy travelling to different regions fighting everyone’s top guys, before Vince wanted him to stay put. Andre before he had a massive gut and could wear red trunks without looking horrifying, and Harley with his “Scary Uncle” facial hair and big beer belly. Andre has twice the body mass, though.
FALL ONE: Harley works a headlock of all things, which looks ludicrous given the size difference, but tries a shoulderblock and then gets back body dropped. Holy shit, the ring sounds like a filing cabinet- that must hurt like hell. Harley slinks away to milk it, then has his back worked (funny “delayed” sell of an overhead shot exposes the business)- he pulls hair out of a bearhug and Andre nearly slugs him, but Harley begs off successfully. Andre works a straightjacket hold (which looks great given how tiny Harley looks in it)- they spend a year in that but Harley nails him out of a corner break, but tries a suplex like a doofus and gets laid out by Andre’s reversal. Harley recovers first and does his falling headbutt, but makes a cartoon starfish pose selling the KO himself, making the crowd laugh. Andre works more holds as the pace snails out, Harley taking powders and having his arm worked. This isn’t the “1970s Japan” NWA stuff; it’s “stand there in a hold and act like it’s agonizing”, only barely moving. Harley eats a butterfly suplex but Andre misses a splash and is laid out. Harley bails from the ring and Andre gives chase, but Harley just drills him with a steel chair to the gut, then BODYSLAMS HIM ON THE CONCRETE- this musta been on the old “YouTube Andre Bodyslam Compilation”. Andre is totally dead from that as Harley sells, and Race takes the first fall by Count Out at (14:29).
FALL TWO: They just start on the floor, as Andre is still messed up, but Harley takes a headbutt and does a cartoon bump off that. Andre takes the moment to recover, but Harley mauls him with biting, punches and kicks. He tries to use the NWA Belt but the ref takes it away, then works a BEARHUG of all things (on Andre?), Andre leaning forward to sell that he’s fading, then collapsing as Harley works two-counts. Harley carefully positions himself so Andre can score the bodyscissors to comeback- he makes the ropes and Andre’s still holding his back in agony, but manages a headbutt to the spine and his “hold the head against his knee and slam the leg down” spot. Andre sells pretty well as he manages the big boot, and Harley starfishes out again and bails to the floor. Andre uses the ass-butt in the corner and whips Harley, who bounces off the other corner and bails AGAIN- Andre scores an overhand right and shoulder charge in the corner, but misses another ass-butt and has to chase Harley out- finally, in an impressive finish, he picks up Harley and LAUNCHES him over the top rope and into the ring, hitting a Running Splash to take the second fall at (7:34).
FALL THREE: Andre smashes him down in the corner, but Race fires back with headbutts and punches, but in a great bit, Andre just STARES at him with that evil grin and wallops him but good, sending Harley flailing around. The Andre Headbutt puts Harley down and the sit-out splash has Harley looking like he belongs in intensive care, and Andre slugs him in the face to send him doing the “spit sell” as he collapses and keeps sliding out of the ring, and that’s the finish- Andre tries to get back in to beat the count, but Harley grabs him by the ankles so he’s stuck on the apron, and the ref rapidly does the Count-Out at (2:25). Harley keeps the title through cowardice.
Wow, this was uh, NOT like the NWA Title defenses I’ve seen from Japan. This was straight up two guys milking basic holds for 2-3 minutes apiece and largely just sitting in them, then Harley bailing for a minute after every big move, so the fans were left thinking they’d seen a long match worth their money. Hell, they probably all walked out of there remembering the 3-4 good spots the match had- like “How ’bout that slam over the top rope!” and “WOW, did you catch that bodyslam on the concrete! WOO DOGGY!” or whatever they say in Texas. Well if the FANS dug it, who’s to call them wrong? Just thread a couple good spots and then hump each other for 10 minutes around each of them. Shorten this up a bit and it’s ***1/2 easy, as the selling was actually incredible by both guys (Andre’s back looked to be destroyed after the slam, while Harley was doing Shawn Michaels-esque bumps off of every strike as if Andre was a Sasquatch just ripping him apart), but they intersperse so much “fake grinding” in it that it’s nowhere close. And it’s hilarious to think of old-school southern wrasslers whining about WWF “exposing the business” when Harley’s out there starfishing out on bumps and flailing his arms around on sell-jobs.
Rating: ** (there’s actually a lot to like in the match- good selling of the back by Andre and Harley is a bumping MACHINE in there… but it’s just so slow for most of it and Harley keeps bailing. Fans would eat this match alive today)
Holy shit they sold toys of Nord the Barbarian!
STEEL CAGE MATCH:
VERNE GETS THE SHEIK FOR TEN MINUTES OF HIS GUYS WIN:
JIMMY SNUKA & GREG GAGNE (w/ Verne Gagne) vs. KING KONG BRODY & THE BARBARIAN (w/ Sheik Adnan al-Kaissie):
* Oh man, this is pretty wild. Jimmy Snuka, having left the WWF during the height of the Hogan Era, turns up in AWA teaming with the boss’s son (a half-decent wrestler who was a failed main eventer) against an aging Bruiser Brody and his “Player 2” version, Nord the Barbarian (the future Berzerker)! I don’t remember ever seeing Greg wrestle before and oh my god that’s him? He looks like… I mean he pretty much looks like me if I had more hair. Like he looks like some normal dude with a semi-gut and normal-dude arms, not a pro wrestler. Like holy cow did he not work out? He looks about like the Young Bucks or Chase Owens does today, but in the roided era of 1986 he looks so freaking bad. The yellow Hulk Hogan trunks don’t help- boy doesn’t even have an ass! Both guys are absolutely dwarfed by the giant musclemen- Nord has shorter hair and is more built. An absolute sea of empty seats is visible at times, as this is a BIG arena.
Teeny Greg gets a flurry against Brody but runs into a boot- he dodges a kneedrop from the Barbarian and the faces weakly do stuff- Brody runs in and then gets the tag, big booting Snuka down. They criss-cross into Snuka’s double-leapfrog & chop, and a fistdrop off Bret’s Rope gets two. Barbarian breaks up the pin and comes in with a vertical suplex, but Gagne climbs to the top and kicks him in the head and hits a flying knee to the back. Greg gets FIRED UP, sending Brody hilariously overselling with his wimpy punches, but the bigs team up on him- five minutes in and he finally goes into the cage, getting cut. They throw boots to his foreheard and Brody hits a big piledriver- Snuka saves at two.
Barbarian boots Greg into the cage but Greg uses the momentum to slug him and fires away with kicks to counter, then tosses him into the cage for a double-down. Snuka/Brody go, Brody eating the cage and blading, Snuka chopping him down and hitting a flying headbutt- Barbarian hauls him off the pin and rams him into two corners, and the double-team brings in Greg. The heels get reversed into each other (their selling is almost mirrored, as Nord is openly aping Brody’s entire act) and Brody eats a double suplex, selling his ass off on the mat, but the Barbarian moves and Snuka’s flying headbutt nails Greg. Barbarian wipes out Snuka with a clothesline and all four men are down, but the heels double-team Snuka… only for HIM to dodge a move, Brody dropkicking over the Barbarian and Snuka scoring the pin (11:29)! Crowd actually LEAPS to their feet for that one, after being mostly quiet and sitting on their hands all match. Wow that was a pop. The video doesn’t contain the aftermath with Verne.
As a match, it didn’t have much flow, and only barely used the catch (mostly to draw blood), but it was mostly okay. Lots of double-teams, pin-breaks and babyface comebacks, and a nice callback spot in the end with the faces actually doing the “nails their own partner” bit first, seeming to be doomed, but managing the same thing themselves to win.
Rating: **1/2 (mostly okay, half-decent brawl- not great offense but some okay spots and a callback spot at the end)
MARTY JANNETTY vs. PAPA SHANGO:
(WWF Wrestling Spotlight, Aug 21st 1993)
* An interesting Featured Match, as both guys are long done as singles acts by this point- Marty’s traded the IC Belt to Shawn Michaels a month ago, and Shango’s been on JTTS duty for a while. I didn’t even realize he was still in the company at this point! His last big thing was losing a KOTR Qualifying Match to Jim Duggan, and this is in fact his last TV appearance. Marty’s in black tights with neon ’90s decals on them.
Shango throws some shots to start, but runs into the corner and then he takes Jim Ross’s advice and brings this to a snail’s pace by insisting on a test of strength. This seriously goes on for A MINUTE AND A HALF, but Marty manages to trick him and keeps going to a wristlock by using his speed. He rolls over Shango’s back and crescent kicks him to the floor, but jumps off the apron and into the railing when Shango moves. Shango slowwwwwwwwllly beats him down and dumps him to waste MORE time, but Jannetty sunset flips in for two, only to take the 360 bump off the clothesline! Shango argues with the ref and gets rolled up for it, but goes back on offense. A dropkick of all things misses and Marty ducks a clothesline and rolls him up… for three (5:31)! THAT was the finish? Good lord.
A pretty pathetic match- Shango was way past giving a crap at this point and doing a weak TV job to a guy who was also being forgotten (Marty would be a tag guy with the 1-2-3 Kid soon enough) was not helping- he wasted at least 2 minutes of this 5.5 minute match stalling. The weird thing is how it’s this “sneaky comeback” win instead of Marty just hitting one of his finishers. Like, at least have Shango run into the post and set up a big move- this weak rollup makes it look fluke-ish.
Rating: 1/2* (awful, awful stall-filled contest)
lol only in pro wrestling could this be legal.
So, ya know, mature adults handling things in a mature, responsible manner! Ain’t wrestling grand?