Called “Wrestling’s Most Influential Match Ever”… and that just might be true. For better or worse.
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This one has an amazing match to start us off- “The Flair/Steamboat of MOVEZ Matches” as I’ve heard it described, as two Dragon Gate teams face off at Ring of Honor Supercard of Honor 2006! Come watch the match the U.S. indie/AEW style has been chasing for the last 17 years, and come listen to me ramble about just WHY they can’t quite seem to catch it!
And of course I follow it up with matches featuring the Beverly Brothers and Well Dunn! This time, it’s the Beverly Brothers versus BABYFACE Nasty Boys, during Knobs & Sags’ latter period in the WWF. After that, it’s Well Dunn being fed to the new babyface duo of the Allied Powers- Lex Luger & The British Bulldog! And finally we end with a request from my “Wrestlers Slaughtering Jobbers” column, as it’s Rob Van Dam accidentally splattering Kurt Angle’s mouth all over the place, leading to Kurt being out on his feet and bleeding buckets.
DRAGON GATE RULES (no tags necessary)
DO FIXER (Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi & Dragon Kid) vs. BLOOD GENERATION (CIMA, Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi):
(Ring of Honor, Supercard of Honor 2006)
* Okay, so here’s another request, and it’s said to be a MOVEZ match from Dragon Gate (the former Toryumon)- you have been warned!! I know jack shit about any of these people but one so bear with me- I’m on the Pro Wrestling Wiki copying movesets so I at least know what’s what (jesus CIMA’s moveset is like a mile long). Saito’s a pretty “typical puro heel” with the dyed hair, toned body and bisected shorts. Genki’s got long tights in black & yellow and wears a shirt in the ring. Dragon Kid looks like Ultimo Dragon shrank in the wash, and was the “flippy guy du jour” in the business for a while. He’s in lime green and is skinny with no definition whatsoever. Yoshino’s got a ridiculously toned body with a weirdly skinny waist, like he’s sucking it in so he’s all ribcage- he’s in long black shorts. Doi’s just like Saito, but with black trunks. CIMA’s a pretty famous dude, having wrestled all over (even as a jobber in WCW)- his black shorts have tons of tassels and he gets by far the biggest reaction.
Genki/Yoshino do a quick routine into two “pause for applause” moments, then Dragon Kid flips around the slower power-guy Doi. CIMA does well against Genki, and Yoshino immediately lives up to his rep by BLITZING through the ring at unreal sprinting speeds but gets slammed down by Saito. They slowly work over Yoshino and do a facecrusher/mat slam/dropkick combo to end it, but he manages to push Dragon Kid over to the BG corner and now he gets worked over. CIMA impresses with a toss from atomic drop position and sentons him. Saito & Doi chop each other, then Kid sorta 619s himself around Saito to nail Doi and he backflips to fling his partners in for a double-dropkick on the momentum (SCIENCE!). Everyone throws Genki around by his hair, then Doi flings himself cannonball-style into Genki’s face in the corner, and they hoist him up for Doi’s senton for two. Genki’s head’s shoved in the corner and CIMA dropkicks him in the ass to keep it up, and they drape him on the top rope to hit a series of Beverly Bros. leaps and then CIMA flying stomps him from there for two. And after the big high-spot, they cool it down with slow work until Genki finally fights out of it and tags.
Re-set time! Doi/Saito do a thing, then Dragon Kid hits Déjà Vu (Multiple revolution headscissors), Genki somersault dives Doi hits Excalibur’s favorite move, the Orihara Moonsault! CIMA eats Saito’s powerbomb from a rana attempt and it’s Rolling Perfect Plexes into a buster variant for two. BG triple-charge CIMA in the corner and bulldog Dragon Kid off his shoulders for two. Crazy hangtime missile kick gets two for Yoshino- dude just hung in mid-air there. Dragon Kid stunners out of a suplex but tries Déjà Vu on big Doi and eats an Inverted Ligerbomb! Kid bails and Genki tries a 2nd-rope moonsault but eats knees, but inverted DDTs Doi out of a fireman’s for two. Genki charges into a fireman’s mat slam for two, but Doi climbs and gets caught- Saito hoists him onto his shoulders (the whole crowd stands up here) and Dragon Kid hits a Super Frankensteiner off of THERE… and a flying splash gets 2.9! The crowd’s sold, now.
Dragon Kid tries another rana but gets caught upside-down and Yoshino slide-kicks him, but gets missile kicked by Genki, who’s superkicked by CIMA, but tries his Backslide From Heaven (his finisher is a BACKSLIDE? In a MOVEZ federation? My hero!), but has to settle for a DDT. Doi hits him with the Lo Down, but takes Saito’s rana, then Saito catches a spinning Yoshino with a Bridging German for two! Springboard Ultra Hurricanrana by Dragon Kid to Yoshino- Blood Generation saves! DK climbs, but CIMA tries his Iconoclasm, but is caught by Saito, whom DK flying sunset flips to enable a German from his partner! And Genki comes in with his Beach Break (cross-legged back to belly piledriver- yes, Orange Cassidy got it from him), but he’s too hurt to capitalize- two! Blood Generation charge in and kick everyone’s asses, setting up Saito for a triple-team I’ve remembered for years- picking him up in assisted DDT position, but spinning around so he’s draped across their shoulders as they’re back-to-back, and CIMA hits a FLYING STOMP to him from there! Genki gets his back destroyed by a kick and Dragon Kid is the last one standing, by tries another Ultra Rana and CIMA catches him with an Air Raid Crash (over-the-shoulder cradle inverted DDT)- 2.8! Doi dropkicks DK for two, then sets him up on his shoulders on the top, but DK reverses to a Super Diamond Cutter, and hits his physics-defying finisher, the Dragon Rana (flying somersault rana) for the three at (20:33). Sheer mayhem and we’re done at last!
See, now THIS is why this is one of the all-time MOVEZ matches and others get forgotten. They start slow, then BUILD to the big moves, giving you random blitzes here and there (notice how the first minute is rapid-fire) before settling back down. Notice the long, slow heat sequence on Genki- they slow it RIGHT down to make the later stuff stick more- something wrestling has lost (just check AEW’s Trios stuff where they’re doing powerbombs and super DDTs in the opening 5 minutes). Like they hit a great triple-team on Genki (with two leapfrog slams and a flying stomp) and then it’s an abdominal stretch and SUPLEX REVERSAL as the next moves, not more giant moves. They let it BREATHE. I like how not every guy’s flippy, too- Doi & Saito appear to be more powerhouse-style wrestlers, even in the Junior style, so their stuff feels and hits different. And then, gloriously, it’s MOVEZ MOVEZ AND MORE MOVEZ as each guy trades off and does insane stuff- they keep you guessing so an “each guy hits a move then gets killed” sequence leads to Doi hitting two in a row for a near-fall, then it’s Dragon Kid with an all-timer nearfall with the Rey-style Springboard Rana (the old-school, “flip so fast you can’t even see it” variant).
Part of what makes this excellent, too, is that every move is SOLD. Nobody just goes “…” and moves on to the next thing or eats an MDK and is fine 30 seconds later (the Young Bucks & PAC both do this), though to be fair you do see stuff like CIMA eating a German into the Beach Break yet manages a running attack as soon as his partner runs in (there’s so much movement you have to look carefully to find this, though). I kinda wish the ending had been a triple-team or something like that instead of just a “regular” Dragon Kid finisher, but in 2006 the Dragon Rana was the “Holy SHIT!” move of Holy Shit moves, so I can dig it. But overall, it’s a quick start, slow heat-building, then breathless non-stop motion until the end, with guys doing stuff like mad and swinging in more tags and pin-breaks to keep up the motion. And they aren’t doing multiple things at once or ultra-convoluted set-ups using 5 different guys- the longest thing was the rana off the shoulders and that was given proper focus and led to a huge near-fall.
And yet part of me always wonders if we’re just agog over this because we’d never seen the style and the guys were just running through their usual routine stuff, albeit with more effort because it’s a different crowd in a big show. Like how Rey/Ultimo and Rey/Psychosis did the same match in multiple companies?
Rating: ****3/4 (I feel like wrestling has been chasing this high for 17 years and hasn’t quite figured out how to make it stick yet)
Of all the weird things about 1993 WWF, “Babyface Nasty Boys” might be the strangest.
THE NASTY BOYS (Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags) vs. THE BEVERLY BROTHERS (Beau & Blake Beverly, w/ The Genius):
(WWF Wrestling Challenge, April 18th 1993)
* An important midcard tag team match hits 1993, as the babyface (!!!) Nasty Boys take on the low-tier heel team. Yeah, the Nasties had turned in fall 1992 to feud with Money Inc., and the Natural Disasters were split up in early ’93 so there was some empty space up top. Not that they used it.
Funny bit to start as Beau fakes that Sags was pulling his hair, so Sags just does it for real- Beau uses the ref-break to cheapshot him, but Sags soon clotheslines him down, then whips him into Knobs’s clothesline for two. Blake comes in off an eyepoke but gets spun around with a clothesline and lit up by Knobs after a handshake attempt. Sags back elbow gets two, and Blake goes flying into the corner. Knobs only barely sells a cheapshot but Beau finally just launches at him with a flying axehandle to finally turn the tide- back from break with them keeping on double-teams, hitting the leapfrog to the back when the ref’s distracted by Sags.
Knobs tries a slam after eating a bearhug, but his back hurts too much (PSYCHOLOGY!? in a NASTY BOYS match?), but blocks a suplex and gets his own. But he can’t recover in time, and Beau beats his ass outside the ring. Heenan armchair-heels by suggesting they ram Knobs into the post (which actually would have been great) but instead Blake drops him face-first on the guardrail. The canned heat and piped in “Nasty! Nasty!” chants get egregious repeatedly (SOME fans are into it, but c’mon), but Beau puts his head down early and that lets Knobs make the hot tag- Sags lights him up and does the pit-stop, but both Beverlies are in and… Sags hits a double DDT! Huge move for 1993! But they recover super-fast and dump Knobs when he comes in, and the Beverlies look to finish, but Beau runs into Blake and gets rolled up at (10:09) for the Nasty Boy win. Heenan decalres he wasn’t legal, but he was!
Actually a pretty good war of strikes, here- everyone here is a big, burly dude, so they threw out a ton of clotheslines & back elbows- even the work on Knobs was good, as he sold well in a flailing way and they stayed on him, often working the back (Heenan does correctly guess the best way to do that with cheating, though). The hot tag was over a bit too soon but at least led directly to the finish after a wild brawl. The only real issue is the Beverlies almost immediately being fine after a Double DDT like that- was that move already being devalued by this point?
Rating: **1/2 (shockingly good for a match I was kinda dreading)
These guys formed a team and I was like “oh, that’s it. No one’s beating them”. And then they never won anything big!
THE ALLIED POWERS (Lex Luger & “British Bulldog” Davey-Boy Smith) vs. WELL DUNN (Timothy Well & Steven Dunn):
(WWF RAW, April 3rd 1995)
* Wonder of wonders, Well Dunn are STILL in the WWF in mid-1995, and they’re being fed to the new Allied Powers team. Well Dunn are in purple thong-singlets over pink shorts, while the others are in their trademark flag trunks.
Well starts with Bulldog and quickly gets press-slammed, then Luger runs in and does the shittiest press-slam in history to Dunn, nearly murdering him on the drop. Man he looked like a total weenie there (didn’t help that Dunn didn’t press off his shoulder like you’re supposed to). A pair of clotheslines have the heels in trouble, and a double-elbow gets two. Dunn grabs Luger, finally distracting him for Well’s running roundhouse kick in the corner. They get the Beverlies’ leapfrog double-team on the ropes, and Well’s flying elbow smash gets two. He puts his head down and Luger thumps him- Davey gets the hot tag and powerslams Dunn for two (Well breaks). Well gets Flair-Flipped over the top by Luger and the Powers finish with a Hart Attack with Luger’s steel Forearm Smash at (3:43).
A very basic tag match in the abridged amount- quick babyface stuff, a minute or so of heel heat, then the hot tag into the victory. As simple a TV formula as you’re gonna get.
Rating: * (doesn’t have much of a chance to become anything)
ROB VAN DAM vs. KURT ANGLE:
(WWF SmackDown, Oct. 4th 2001)
* From the InVasion era comes a match that ends up high on the list of “matches where Rob is way too fucking stiff”, because… well, you’ll see. Rob is Hardcore Champion and in a yellow singlet, Angle is WWF Champion and in US flag gear. I guess it’s non-title?
They do a short wrestling sequence to start and miss their strikes to Pause for Applause, Angle dodging more kicks and they swap flash-pins until Angle hits a Bridging German for two. RVD takes an overhead belly-to-belly and clothesline, then gets tossed pretty hard to the floor (Angle wrenching on the singlet). But then Kurt goes into the steps and is front suplexed on the table, leading to a big spinning legdrop off the apron, just SPLATTERING Kurt’s mouth into the side of the table as his head bounces from the impact. Oh yeah, that’s bad. The ref immediately drops down and makes the “X” sign with his hands (this was right around when the fans were starting to pick up on that), letting RVD know something’s up, and RVD rolls Angle in, leaving blood all over the mats and circling around Kurt’s upper body.
Angle fires back (giving no receipt near as I can tell) but RVD hits the side kick off Bret’s Rope. Kurt’s repeatedly saying things to the ref (probably affirmatives that he’s okay) and dodges Rolling Thunder, but RVD kicks his way out of the Ankle Lock and keeps decking him, even doing his corner shoulderblocks, one cracking Kurt in the mouth. Kurt fights out of a chinlock and hits the flipover German and a belly-to-belly, then plants RVD with a DDT (Rob does the “stands up straight on his head” sell). RVD counters the Angle Slam to the roundhouse kick, but misses the Five-Star Frog Splash. Angle Slam! But Nick Patrick, WCW ref, hits the ring and pulls out Earl Hebner and kicks his ass, leading to Shane McMahon flying in for the most hilarious chairshot ever (literally kicking his feet out in different directions mid-swing) while Angle holds the Ankle Lock, and that scores the pin for RVD at (8:59).
Classic Attitude Era Fuckery, though they hit some good stuff in there. Rob’s stiff shots bludgeon the hell out of Angle, who throws suplexes in turn, and the blood adds a bit. Kurt was actually more intense BEFORE the blood, though- he appears a bit stunned and out of it at points. Not that RVD is any more careful with him. The actual blood-inducing spot is kinda both their faults, as RVD was always gonna come in hard with that, but Angle was way too close to the table edge and should’ve taken the bump by the shoulder-blades by sticking himself out a bit more. I do believe this and other incidents led to Karen Angle publicly complaining about Rob stiffing everyone in WWF matches. Thankfully this was the last time she spouted off in public regarding stuff happening on the shows, I bet!
Rating: **3/4 (pretty basic AE-era match, but with the more modified style thanks to the Angle types and high-fliers- high speed, big moves, trading their finisher attempts, then a fuck finish)