In part tribute to deceased All Star Promotions promoter Brian Dixon, I thought I’d review a few British wrestling matches I’ve been thinking about recently. Apologies if there are any repeats from a few years ago, but think it’s mostly fresh material.
Spiros Arion vs. Colin Joynson
Thus just got a fantastic look at on Wrestle Me, so let’s have a look. Joynson has been on a tour of Japan based on his sweatshirt. Arion finishes out a career that saw him draw the biggest house of Bruno Sammartino’s career at MSG as a vague American world champion to be knocked over by Big Daddy or someone on that level in the future. For the uninitiated, he looks like a scarier version of Ted Bundy and has a very New York style of wrestling, with over the top selling and moves. Imagine Roddy Piper if he didn’t bump as much. Brian Crabtree mispronounces his name before he takes the mic and cuts a rare British in-ring promo, using some of the lines he honed with Fred Blassie as his manager and then running down the British wrestlers and putting himself over, then predicting how many rounds it’ll take to beat Joynson. Big boos from the start. Kent Walton gives us a mini-profile of him, although he claims his heavyweight championship is that of the NWA, which it clearly isn’t. Hip toss and stomps to start, with no time given for Joynson to come back up, which is very different from the UK style, bringing about his first public warning. Slam and stomps, then kicks in the corner. Arion dumps Joynson to the outside over the top rope. Joynson is caught coming back in and pretty much hasn’t got a shot in yet, bleeding from the nose.
Fans start coming to the ring, so Arion kicks the ropes to warn them off. He exposes the turnbuckle and rams Joynson’s face into it. The stewards keep trying to get the spectators to go back to their seats as Kent starts to get really agitated. The referee stops the bout and disqualifies Spiros, just as Joynson begins to get some shots in, probably to calm the crowd. A fan comes up and Joynson even forearms him down to get them to quit. Arion can’t escape and is throwing shoes back at people when they throw them at him. Big Daddy comes out in his workout gear to run him off with a free shot. Arion breaks a chair to arm himself with on the way back to the dressing room. Not much as a match, but Arion riled them up and it’s got to be seen to be believed.
Greg Valentine vs. Jimmy Ocean
Not that Greg Valentine, instead it’s Max Crabtree’s son Steve under an American name. Younger brother Scott went as Scott Valentine and wrestled a few matches in a tag team with uncle Shirley. Jimmy Ocean is the far superior tag team partner of Ricky Knight, Saraya’s dad. A generally nasty bastard in the ring and a fantastic worker. Ring announcer is Gordon Pryor, one of my favourites, who looks like Postman Pat. Kent describes Ocean’s half-pink tights as “cerise”, which is a touch of class only he would show. Ocean attacks from behind before the bell, but Valentine tosses him all over the ring to force him to take a powder. Atomic drop, called as a spine drop, to the outside again, so Ocean comes in and asks for a shake of the hands, on his knees, before taking a headlock and throwing in a punch out of sight, then drops an elbow. Valentine gets riled up and whips Ocean into the corner, resulting in a Shawn Michaels/Ray Stevens bump. Ocean gets another punch as the round ends, which he swears again was an open hand.
Round two, Valentine hoists up Ocean into a fireman’s carry, then up into a press and down onto the knee. Ocean gets his own shot to the gut and goes to the top. Flying double kneedrop misses, but he goes low and locks Valentine into the ropes. Valentine escapes and moves to avoid a charge, then slams Jimmy off the top as he comes back in. Back body drop out of the corner for the win. Not a long match, but all action and a stick of dynamite compared to what Big Daddy would be doing. Obvious influence from the likes of Rollerball Rocco and the Dynamite Kid.
Contestants are, in order of announcement, Drew McDonald (with manageress/wife Monika Kaiser, who gives the crowd the finger), Colonel Brody, Marty Jones, Rasputin, Giant Haystacks, Rory Campbell, King Kendo (a fat Kendo Nagasaki impersonator), and Steve Regal (William Regal, barely out of his teens, with a mullet). The introductions eat up five minutes, and it’s given a twenty-minute time limit, which I’m not sure how you do that. A lot of pairing up, with the bizarre bit of Rasputin getting a cannonball headbutt on Campbell at one point. Peter Szakacs stays in the ring as a referee, which is pointless because it’s over-the-top rules. King Kendo is first out after a missed charge at Jones. Brody almost gets Jones out, but he drops an elbow from the top to stay in. Campbell is next courtesy of McDonald. Pretty ponderous stuff as the British wrestlers aren’t as accustomed to working this style of match. McDonald is out third after fellow heels Rasputin and Brody turn on him. Regal dropkicks Brody out in the second flashy bit of the match, so it becomes a bit of a faces versus heels match with Regal and Jones slingshotting Rasputin to leave Haystacks open for dropkicks. Steve charges Haystacks and gets put out, leaving Jones to be double-teamed by occasional tag team Haystacks and Rasputin. Jones goes for a leap at Haystacks, who drops him out.
At this point, Rasputin gets it in mind that they’re going to split the winnings, but the referee overrules that. While Rasputin protests, Haystacks shoves him out to get the victory. Rasputin is livid and turns face against him. Haystacks reminds us “No more Mr. Nice Guy!” and blows off Rasputin’s idea of them being buddies, leading to an upcoming match between them. Crap match, good finish.
Giant Haystacks vs. Kendo Nagasaki
Wrestling is off TV in the UK now, but this was recorded and was partially included in the awesome Arena show on Kendo, Masters of the Canvas. I love the introduction of Stacks as “the man-monster of European wrestling”. This is for a vacant world heavyweight championship. The first few minutes are taken up with Kendo’s new manager Lloyd Ryan (replacing the deceased Gorgeous George) complaining about special guest referee Pat Roach because he perceives a bias. Pat gives no fucks, so politely asks for him to leave, leading to Ryan threatening to withdraw Kendo so that nobody gets a main event. Haystacks starts getting pissed off and wants to get it going, so Golden Boy Steve Grey is pulled from backstage in his tracksuit to referee in Roach’s place while Roach stays ringside. Ryan realises he’s got no more power plays up his sleeve, so has to relent.
Almost ten minutes in, we get the salt ceremony before the match. Once it starts, Haystacks catches Kendo right in a choke and kneelifts him. An attempt at taking the mask off goes nowhere and it’s all Stacks in the first round.
Second round, Stacks misses a charge and Kendo gets some chops and forearms in, even biting the ear. Not able to take him down, Kendo just kicks him between the legs to a big “Ooh!” for his first public warning. Haystacks halts a charge with an elbow and goes to a nervehold and sleeper. He actually puts him out, but won’t break, leading to his own public warning, which is pretty stupid on his part.
Round three, Kendo is back up and goes to his own nervehold/choke. The cameraman zooms in way too close to see what’s going on, but zooms out to show Haystacks going for his elbowdrop and missing. Kendo removes a turnbuckle cover to busy Grey, then goes to the outside and rams Haystacks into the timekeeper’s table and hits him with the bell as we go to a second, different camera angle. Second public warning. Kendo gets back inside and Grey scalds him as Haystacks comes back up to the apron. Kendo won’t allow him back in, so Grey climbs the ropes to separate them and falls into Kendo’s clutches. Kamikaze Crash to Grey to put him out!
Pat Roach comes in to defend Grey, with Kendo lurching towards him. Haystacks comes from behind, rips his mask off, and Kendo goes running to the back! Crowd goes bananas, Roach demands that Kendo returns while Ryan goes ballistic himself. Haystacks snatches the mic off him and calls him an arsehole as Kendo forfeits the match by his non-appearance. Again, not a good match by any means, but the ending was great, even though the championship being awarded on a disqualification was not considered helpful at the time.
The British Bulldog, Harry Smith and Zack Merc vs. Robby Royce, Axe and TJ Bratt
Finishing with Davey Boy Smith’s last match before he died. He’s back in the old tights, not jeans, and comes out to Rule Britannia. The heels all look different, but are all in black with nothing to indicate who’s who. Merc looks like a baby Edge crossed with Steve Corino. Harry hasn’t gotten on the juice yet, so wears jeans and a t-shirt. He whiffs on a dropkick worse than Erik Watts early on. The bit we really care about is Davey getting the hot tag and doing his stomping punches, then whipping the big heel into the referee before slam aplenty. Ref gets replaced.
Later, a table comes into the ring and stays in the corner for way too long. Davey comes back in with clotheslines, then struggles to get the big guy up for a suplex. He catches the small heel with the powerslam for the win. I only really focused on his bits for lack of any commentary, but it seemed alright. If Davey hadn’t, well, died, he might’ve had a second wind career teaming with his son in the WWF, letting Harry do the hard work and just doing the greatest hits, but…