I’m breaking the back and forth through the eighties and nineties rule already five reviews in because there’s not a lot of nineties episodes out there to peruse, so the later episodes might be confined to a once-a-month specials, or maybe I might mix things up by putting the SPOTLIGHT on some other CHAMPIONSHIP contenders with ALL STAR rosters. We’ll see!
Hosted by Vincent “Cosell” McMahon.
Awful Alfred, in a tone closer to his original heel guise, shills Victory Magazine – eight issues for $14.47!
Penny Mitchell vs. The Fabulous Moolah
Joe McHugh calls the challenger Penny Marshall in a Laverne and Shirley slip-up. Moolah attacks before Penny has her jacket off and does the customary mares. Penny dropkicks her out when her back is turned. “She’s shaking the cobwebs out!”, says Gorilla. “She’s probably had a few of those over the years.” Pat Patterson sounds like he wants to reply “In her box!” Moolah gets the cheap shot back in as Gorilla calls Penny Marshall as well. This match is going nowhere solidly, with so many stops and starts that there’s zero momentum. Funny bit where Moolah misses a stomp and hurts her own foot, so Penny tries to drop her ass on it and misses, leading to the unflattering shot of her rubbing down the crack of her ass right in front of the camera like she was planning on a sniff test. Both ladies (I was going to say girls, but come on!) miss dropkicks and splashes, then incongruously go to a standing leg grapevine reversal sequence. Weird spot where Moolah goes for a back body drop, but Penny doesn’t rotate, so she just drops her face-first. Finish is Moolah sitting Penny on top as if for a superplex, then just flinging her across the ring by her hair and dropping on top for the pin. Terrible, terrible match; there’s a reason not many people clamour for the matches of Moolah and her stable.
Pat speaks to Moolah after the match, which luckily is her strong point, because she could care less about the fans, it’s about the moolah! The myth of her being champion for almost thirty years is brought up, which Moolah almost sells like she’s giving an obvious stream of bullshit. They finish by talking about how Moolah is also afraid of no man, with her and Patterson talking about how they’d “enjoy” wrestling each other. I’ll let the comments section create their own punchline for that one.
Barry Windham vs. Tony Diamato
This is a sign of the original concept for the show, with Vince wanting to showcase stars he planned on bringing in from other territories, meaning this is from Championship Wrestling from Florida, with Gordon Solie and Buddy Colt on the call. Tony is just a jobber, so takes his chances and throws some forearms in until BW takes him down into a form of sugarhold on the mat. Back up, then down again with a classic Windham suplex. I imagine that is Barry could’ve packed more muscle on his frame and not been a flake then Vince would’ve pushed him to the moon. As I type that, he hits the lariat for the win.
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Ken Jugan
Vince makes sure to mention before the match that this was recorded before the death of the Grand Wizard. Jugan is known more for being indie gimmick Lord Zoltan. Sarge is relatively hirsute up top at this point before it started slipping away as he became a Joe. Leapfrogs over a charging Jugan and into an Indian deathlock, which he then switches into a bow and arrow. Real fuck up on a reversed Irish whip spot, which Slaughter keeps his cool through. Vince blames it on Don Muraco spilling his dinner on the mat earlier in the show. Slaughter cannon and cobra clutch finish for the Sarge.
Pretty funny commercial for Victory Magazine, with a guy watching Sgt. Slaughter boasting about being on the cover and calling him Gomer, which Sarge hears and then bursts out of the TV to confront him about. Didn’t see that coming!
Iron Mike Sharpe vs. Tony Garea
Sharpe holds up a card from his one fan: “Iron Mike Sharpe is not a wimp. He is #1!” A friend and I were talking about how British star Doug Williams has never had a bad match but never knowingly had an exciting one either. I think the latter could be said for Tony. Sharpe attacks with the loaded forearm to start, but Garea almost wins with a sunset flip and armdrags Mike out. Back in, a criss-cross leads to a Garea bodypress and Sharpe goes back out. I’m already having to renege on knocking the boredom of Garea, this is pretty good. Gorilla brings up Sharpe’s legendary workout regimen, but doesn’t go into the other aspects of his OCD. Sharpe grabs and grinds a headlock until Tony reverses to a wristlock and armbar. Sharpe breaks with an elbow, but misses an elbowdrop, leading Tony to get his own as the bell rings for the time limit draw at ten minutes. That’s a shame, and the crowd boo as well, because the match was far better than it had any right to be and would be even better with a finish. Garea runs off Sharpe with a chair the latter brought into the ring.
Special workout with Eddie Gilbert and Bob Backlund. Eddie received a neck injury in a car crash, which would plague him for the rest of his life. This was then exacerbated by kayfabe injuries at the hands of the Masked Superstar. Eddie as the young protege was a natural fit, which is why he’s lauded so much for his subsequent run as a heel, which he was just as natural at. Bob of course is a physical maniac, so bounces back and forth on the top of his head, but Eddie struggles to keep up with him. Not sure if there was a long-term direction for this, like an Eddie turn, but it didn’t really come.
Hulk Hogan vs. Adrian Adonis
From the AWA, with Vince definitely having interest in one of these guys. The other would come along too, but they don’t call it Adonismania. Joined in progress, with Adrian coming out of a headlock with a clothesline that he does three spins on himself, then a battering ram headbutt. Adrian isn’t as well remembered in this mode as he is as the big, fat, effeminate heel, but he was a very interesting and unique worker with his own body language and style. He’s comparatively ripped here for him. Adonis gets a chairshot on the outside for two back in, then a reverse atomic drop. Always interesting to watch someone like him or Matt Borne, with stuff done on the left instead of the right. Hulk hulks up as Rodger Kent declares it “Katie, bar the door!”, and at that point we cut it off, as seemingly Vince doesn’t want to expose too much of his future star. A shame, because it looked like a really good match.
Vince signs off with a promise of Tito Santana vs. Samoan #2 (Sika), the Iron Sheik on a buying spree in New York. Presumably in Harlem.
The red, the white and the blue: Worst bit was the women’s championship match at the start. Best bit was the shockingly good Garea/Sharpe match. Strangest bit was the realisation, with the constant push for Victory Magazine, of how into merchandising the company was by the time Vince Jr. was taking control.