GWF’s North American Title Tournament (all Dream Matches!)
By Jabroniville on 31st May 2023
oh dad-blast it- someone deleted the video before I could post the review XD. Well, uh, take my word for it! I found the last two matches on YouTube, at least.
GWF NORTH AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT (Part Two):
(GWF, Dallas, Aug. 1991)
* It’s time for more GWF’s North American Heavyweigth Title Tournament!! With THE PATRIOT vs. AXIS THE DEMOLISHER!!
Last Round: The Patriot d. Soultaker (Charles “Papa Shango/Godfather” Wright) by rollup, Axis the Demolisher d. Terry Garvin (not that one) w/ the Cobra Clutch, Steve Cox d. Rod Price, Stan Lane d. Action Jackson, Jeff Gaylord d. John Tatum, Brian Lee d. Bill Irwin (The Goon), Al Perez d. The Handsome Stranger (Buff Bagwell) by pulling the tights, Terry Gordy d. Randy Rhodes, Austin Idol d. Scott Anthony (Raven) with his feet on the ropes to mimic Scotty doing it before, Bad News Brown d. The Aztec w/ the Ghetto Blaster, Gary Young d. Cactus Jack by count-out, Steve Dane d. Chaz when his manager trips up Chaz.
They say during the first match that there will be three finalists- two wrestle to face the guy who receives a “bye” for the title. And for some reason Cactus is back in it despite losing last show- they even say he defeated Gary Young. Oh, and this entire show (save Patriot/Axis) takes place during one taping, which is a veritable recipe for restholds.
THE PATRIOT vs. AXIS THE DEMOLISHER:
* More of Bill Eadie slumming it with a bad knock-off of his WWF character as “Axis”, cutting a promo with a normal high-pitched voice instead of Ax’s gravelly deep one. The Patriot is apparently the current TV Champion. Patriot’s in his usual long American flag tights, while Axis is still in his Demolition gear with unique facepaint (not the “Ax silver”) with the most “someone’s ordinary-looking beer-bellied dad” appearance otherwise. Both of these men actually wrestled their first round matches earlier in the day, which means you’re gonna see some WORKRATE here.
The Patriot holds a never-ending headlock to start (4 minutes and 30 seconds off and on!), then Axis with a chinlock as the workrate here is just scintillating. Patriot moves to an armbar, but Axis FINALLY dumps him and slams his head into the stage to change up the offense 7 minutes in. Axis hits a clothesline into the Cobra Clutch (his finisher in GWF), but the Patriot holds his hand up before “3”, then goes down AGAIN, again holding his arm up before “3”- Axis tries to wipe him out with his falling clothesline but smashes his head into the mat on the miss, and the Patriot Missile (flying shoulderblock) finishes at (9:41) OH THANK GOD. This was four long restholds drawn out over almost ten minutes- given both already wrestled in competitive matches I kinda don’t blame them but HOLY CRAP. At least it had a clean, definitive finish.
Rating: DUD (I can’t imagine how mean late ’90s crowds would have been to four restholds making up an entire match)
Stan Lane, a few years later when he temporarily became a WWF commentator using Vince McMahon’s exact cadence.
“SWEET” STAN LANE (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. STEVE COX:
* haha WHAT? They skip all sortsa stuff and Steve Cox, a generic white dude in a purple amateur singlet vs. one half of the Midnight Express makes the cut? Cornette & Lane head down with faces like they just saw what their pay for this show was gonna be. Cox is apparently a big UWF stalwart from the late ’80s but never went anywhere in the business despite a good physique (he’s too short, really). Stan is wearing white trunks with purple stripes on them, while Cornette cuts a promo apologizing to Cox for any hard feelings and says they should be friends. Cox responds to an outstretched hand by Irish whipping Cornette into Lane to start off the match.
Cox throws clotheslines and an elbow as Stan bails repeatedly, taking lessons from Larry Z apparently- he hasn’t gotten a single bit of offense in the first four minutes just in case you were wondering who’s moving on in the tourney tonight and is saving their energy. Lane gets an armlock but is hiptossed after fleeing- the fans are at least into it enough to do a “Go! Go! Steve, go!” chant (is that a Texas-style chant? Last show had one, too) and Stan flees after a body slam, begging off from a knee injury. But like a good heel, he was just goldbricking to let Cox give him an opening and he headbutts the kid’s gut. His “martial arts” side kick puts Cox down as Stan shows off how un-injured he is, then works the gut and chokes with wrist-tape. Cornette also cheats repeatedly (barely sold by Cox), but Cox sunset flips in for two, then gets his boot up in the corner to have Stan doing the SmackDown! dazed sell, hits a clothesline, and a cross-body block gets two, but Stan maneuvers him into a racket-shot from Cornette, stealing the pin at (9:43).
This entire match was Stan Lane being the equivalent of the teenage worker at the mall sitting on their cellphone for their entire shift. I’m not above half-assing it when you gotta work twice but DAMN. At least his heel stuff later on was good, faking knee injuries to distract everyone and setting up Cornette’s cheating- work smarter, not harder.
Rating: * (just for Stan’s heel schtick)
Matches We Miss: Austin Idol d. Bad News Brown/Allen by DQ (yeah, that reads), Al Perez d. John Tatum, Terry Gordy d. Steve Dane & Cactus Jack d. Brian Lee
Thank goodness I found this one! It’s the GOOD match in the tournament! Thank ClearEyes for locating it as my own YouTube search proved fruitless.
CACTUS JACK vs. TERRY “BAM BAM” GORDY:
* This of course seems somewhat notable today, given Gordy’s respect in Japan and Cactus eventually becoming a big star, but at this point neither was that big a deal, especially in the US. Cactus is in all black this time, with Gordy in black trunks. “On paper, this one’s a classic, Scott Hudson!” sez one guy, evidently meaning the co-host is the future WCW D-show host!
The two promptly brawl all over the place, constantly moving about and making it look like they’re taking every shot they can rather than just trading stuff. Terry with some good, hard clotheslines and a scorpion deathlock as the commentators namedrop Sting “from the WCW organization”. Gordy with dropkick when Cactus escapes and throws more punches, but Cactus with an eyerake and his corner facecrusher for two. Gordy powers out of the piledriver and keeps brawling. Short clothesline gets two, but Cactus fires back with his own strikes- Gordy is such perpetual movement that he leaps to the apron immediately after getting dumped, being slammed into the post and Cactus follows with the Hip-Buster (his elbow off the apron). That gets two, and we’re back from break with Gordy responding to an elbow with another lunging clothesline (EXCELLENT follow-through- dude obviously learned some stuff in Japan), but hits a boot and Cactus works him over and they discuss things in a front facelock.
Terry does multiple duck-unders and rips his head off with ANOTHER clothesline and hits the Oriental Spike (thumb to the throat) and Cactus quickly makes the ropes. Terry won’t break, but Cactus uses the ref pulling him off to nail a piledriver- foot on the ropes. Terry hits the floor and Cactus tries the elbow to the floor off the second rope, eating shit on the bump and Gordy powerbombs him on the FLOOR and crawls in for the Count-Out victory at (11:00). Holy jesus, I would hope so.
Holy shit, a GREAT GWF match? Will wonders never cease! Both guys were fighting like hell, acting like this was gonna be a tape-trader darling match for ages, as they were non-stop movement. Given all the cardio-saving on this show, it’s incredible to watch dudes not milk ANYTHING and just dive in for more offense. They perfectly handled the brawl as if a guy would stop for even a second and immediately get counter-kicked. You know it’s crazy when Cactus hits his apron elbow halfway through and Gordy still manages to waffle the shit out of him with repeated clotheslines (that awesome Texas-sized one where they just bowl over the other guy and keep moving). Cactus was good to sell, but Gordy pretty well ate him alive and would fire right back. Granted there’s no psychology or much selling at all but hell, what a fight.
Rating: ***1/2 (tremendous brawl with great strikes and big bumps, never stopping save for two little 20-30 second parleys in holds)
Found another clip!
THE PATRIOT vs. “SWEET” STAN LANE (w/ Jim Cornette):
* Stan calls Cornette “Jeffrey Dahmer’s favorite manager” before the match, and Scott “Raven” Anthony is back on commentary, declaring the Patriot to be secretly a Russian spy named Vladimir Badenov, information gleaned from his friends at the Pentagon.
Stan gets slammed into the corner a bunch right away, but catches Patriot yelling at some fans (that’s a weird spot- what the hell is he doing?) and goes to work (yes, with his karate). Patriot fires back (bizarrely, he’s using his LEFT while Stan is using the universal right, meaning their punches are coming from the same side- wrestlers NEVER do that) and screams like a maniac while hitting running attacks, but Cornette shakes the ropes (missed by the camera) to send him tumbling off trying the Patriot Missile. Stan gets two off that, but Patriot Americans Up and no-sells until the ref gets his eye poked- Cornette puts his racket up in the corner to cheat like last match, but Patriot rams Stan into it and scores the pin at (3:57). Swell heel comeuppance there.
Rating: *1/2 (really, REALLY short match compared to the others, but all action. Patriot’s mannerisms are damn weird and off-kilter, though)
We Miss: Al Perez d. Austin Idol (Bad News came down with a foreign object and smashed Idol’s knee during a figure-four)
Oh good I found the last two matches.
FINAL PLAYOFF MATCH:
AL PEREZ vs. TERRY “BAM BAM” GORDY:
* So the rules are weird (translation: they had a weird number of guys and either forgot to add more of their jobbers or wanted to save the Patriot’s cardio) and now Perez & Gordy have to fight for the rights to meet the Patriot for the NA Belt. Gordy’s theme sounds like a bad Peter Gabriel song- both guys are in black trunks, though you’re not gonna mistake the super-cut Perez for the burly Gordy. Both guys are former solo champions of regional territories- Perez was WCCW Champion and Gordy was UWF Champion (and was two-time Triple Crown Champion in All Japan, but they don’t mention that here). The commentator actually makes a comment about there being three guys in this company with “Hearthrob” in their nicknames (Perez being “The Latin Hearthrob”), which makes this look so podunk, haha.
Gordy works a spinning toehold, and Perez a headlock, then Gordy a figure-four, reversed by Perez- Perez does basic heel stuff like choking, and counters a sleeper with a jawjacker. Gordy manages a comeback with kicks and clotheslines, but the ref gets between then and is thrown aside by Gordy, and that’s the DQ at (8:50), as Perez gets ANOTHER tainted win going to the finals. Yes, this was really nine minutes of mostly restholds.
Rating: *1/4 (Gordy’s comebacks always look good, but this was pretty well just restholds and a figure-four spot)
GWF NORTH AMERICAN TITLE:
THE PATRIOT vs. AL PEREZ:
* Entertainingly enough, the Patriot is an unusual case where the BABYFACE comes in with an unfair advantage, having not had to wrestle the “playoff” match while Perez did. But Perez has three tainted wins in a row. Patriot’s promo beforehand reveals him to be a Southerner, which I don’t remember. Both challengers do generic, lame promos beforehand (especially Perez) with the GWF interviewers, as I marvel at 300-lb. fattie Joe Pedocino apparently having married the “80s blonde bombshell”-looking Boni Blackstone.
They start with “dramatic lockups” and Perez bailing, and I marvel at how he actually has good effort and impact on all his moves (check the twist and seething on a mere headlock here) while still looking completely out of his depth as a top guy, with strange anti-charisma I just can’t place. Like, he’s TRYING, but it all comes off as disingenuous for some reason. Perez keeps getting lifted out of headlocks, bails, then takes his own headlock and is unable to escape. Headlockamania runs wild as he tries pins out of that, holding the tights until the ref catches him. He brawls away as I notice he moves almost EXACTLY like Val Venis at points- the same rapid snap to his movements and the way he locks up and maneuvers his hands. Patriot finally stops having his comebacks cut off and Perez bounces around for weak offense- both have to kick out after a backdrop suplex and Perez decks Patriot for arguing with the ref, but dumps him and gets his leg caught in the ropes as they fight on the apron- Patriot pins him at (9:36) but tries to wave it off to the ref… but just has his hand raised while Perez freaks out. haha, they ran THAT ending? Patriot is now dual GWF North American & TV Champion, but with a tainted win. I’d imagine this justifies a feud where Perez feels like he got screwed.
Just a pretty plain, basic match- both dudes had wrestled already so I can’t dog them TOO much, but it was all headlocks and Perez doing very basic 1980s offense and Patriot doing nothing of interest. Never mind how bad that finish came off- Patriot seemed like he was supposed to be waving off the pinfall out of honesty, but Perez ran at him too quickly and so it came off as this weird mess, and the fans didn’t pop for it.
Rating: *1/2 (another fine, but basic nothing match- almost ten minutes and nothing interesting happens, and the finish is bad)
And that’s it for my GWF North American Title Tournament reviews! There’s apparently a TV Title tournament I look into, and this is apparently the company where Sean Waltman & Jerry Lynn got noticed, so I’ll probably check out some more stuff.