Stan Hansen & Vader vs. The Headhunters (and other Dream Matches!)
By Jabroniville on 4th October 2023
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! I have an extremely bizarre assortment for you tonight- headlined by a FAT MAN STAND-OFF, as Vader teams up with Stan Hansen in All Japan… against the Headhunters! Yes, the obese twins of the bloodbath wrestling companies head to All Japan to face the biggest potato-merchants in all of wrestling!
Next up, it’s the culmination of my Shinya Hashimoto watchthrough (though I’ll probably find more) in his famously stiff chest-chopping masterpiece with Genichiro Tenryu in the G1 Semi-Finals! Next up it’s close to the debut of Power & Glory on WWF TV as they take on Jim Powers (Paul Roma’s old tag partner) & Jumping Jim Brunzell! Shed tears as a soon-to-be-retiring Blitzkrieg gets fed to VAN HAMMER to set up another push for one of wrestling’s worst big guys! And finally, it’s another “Jumping” guy, as Joey Maggs and his manager Teddy Long are faced with the threat of late-1995-era comedy jobber Disco Inferno!
STAN HANSEN & VADER vs. THE HEADHUNTERS (Headhunter A & B):
(All Japan, 12/04/1998)
* OH HELL YES!!! A wild “WTF?” tag team match of insanity AND it’s a Fat Man Stand-Off! It’s Vader & Stan Hansen, the Potato-Force of wrestling, up against the obese Puerto Rican brawlers in the least likely place to see them- All Japan Pro Wrestling! The problem with the Headhunters in other promotions is immediately apparent as their deal is that they’re mega-obese (Headhunter A is noticeably fatter) but both are dwarfed by Vader in height and weight, and Stan is even taller than that.
Literally the second the announcer is done Hansen barges in and the beatdown is on- a double-shoulderblock leads to a splash & elbow from Potato Force. Vader clotheslines Headhunter A straight over the guardrail while Hansen backdrop suplexes the other in the ring. Vader adds bear-paws in the corner and a short-arm clothesline gets two on “B”, then a bodyslam & running elbowdrop- Headhunter A comes in to break it up and hits an avalanche for their first offensive move of the match, but in a great bit, Vader just charges forward with the Vader attack and splatters him. They eventually knock him out of the ring and work over “B” again, but when Stan readies the Lariat, “A” grabs him from the apron and they sandwich him. Vader massacres “B” while “A” misses a 2nd-rope senton in the ring, and Stan immediately crushes him with the Lariat at (3:58), completing the massacre.
Aw, I was kinda hoping it’d be semi-competitive. I mean there was no way these two yokels were anywhere near the tier of two such huge Gaijin monsters in All Japan, but still. They got all of one move each before getting no-sold and completely killed like they were jobbers. They at least did a decent job selling and flat-backing off of everything, and reining in all their usual blood & guts stuff to get eaten alive by these big dudes.
Rating: * (meh- fine squash but still just a squash comprised of a minimum of spots)
G1 CLIMAX 1998 SEMI-FINAL MATCH:
GENICHIRO TENRYU vs. SHINYA HASHIMOTO:
(New Japan, Aug. 2nd 1998)
* Yes, it’s one of the most beloved matches of Shinya Hashimoto, as recommended by Rob a couple weeks ago! I’ve seen assorted Tenryu matches from across the era, as he was a huge Main Event Upstart in the late ’80s, quit All Japan when it was clear he wasn’t gonna be The Guy over Jumbo Tsuruta, formed some companies backed by money marks that were iffy (SWS was a disaster, as was written by Maffew in his excellent recaps, but people seemed to dig WAR… which lasted about six years). By 1998, he’s this respected Elder Statesman of Puro at 48 years old, but has his Grumpy Old Man credibility (ironically mimicking his old rival Jumbo) and is still a credible powerhouse and top name. Shinya is New Japan’s big star of the era, with fire in his eyes and a lethal kicking style that belies his Fat Japanese Elvis appearance. So this is kind of the biggest match New Japan could run at the time, I think.
Shinya immediately shows off that death glare Rob was talking about, and it’s great because Tenryu is just giving him this “yeah, okay kid” look, but like… not dissing him, just like he’s seen it all and is trying to figure him out. And Shinya gets a great reaction from the fans, and SWEEP KICKS Tenryu down and fires kicks in the corner! Great bit as Tenryu immediately heads to the corner to earn a break and then punches Hash right in the face when he comes back in for more, haha. Good veteran shit! And when the referee is like “WTF?!” about the closed fist he just shoves him down and it’s FAT GUY TIT-CHOPPING HELL YEAH!! I love how they just keep reeling back and throwing them full-blast, not trading them like modern styles but just getting them in when they can, being shoved back, etc. Oh shit some of those are going right into Shinya’s damn face, and he fights up to the crowd’s delight only to flat-back off another. But Hashimoto comes up with THAT FACE and batters the old man to the mat with overhands and a spinning chop! That earns him a respite, and he’s struggling but okay… so Tenryu throws three punches to his face as the fans boo the shit out of him, haha.
Hashimoto is floored by the punches, but cleverly uses the momentum of being chopped to come off the ropes to drop Tenry with his own. But the old man keeps relying on his dishonorable fists and hits an enzuigiri, but Hashimoto still has fire in him and roundhouse kicks him down. The two are clearly wiped out and fire chops from the ground at each other, but Shinya overtakes him and does his triangle choke (oh, so that’s a regular thing). It’s just a resthold, though (you can tell because it’s exactly 1:00 long, haha). Tenryu looks like he’s fading as Shinya roars at him- he fires more chops but reels back himself after every one, like every one is taking more and more out of him. They knock the absolute piss out of each other and rest it out on the ropes for a sec, then Shinya finally counters those punches with slaps, only to get the sweat chopped off his tits by Tenryu. Tenryu is completely bagged and can’t manage anything big, so cleverly walks to the apron and uses the ropes to leverage a big enzuigiri. Smart fucking wrestling.
So Tenryu is finally up again, egging Shinya to come at him, spitting on his hands so he can get more choppage in, but Hash has THAT FACE and fires back and it’s on! Tenryu goes for more punches but Shinya stuffs him and hits his DDT. Back up, Tenryu falls to his knees but manages a rolling kick and enzuigiri to set up the Powerbomb for two. Flying back elbow- two. The fans don’t bite on that, but Tenryu has Hashimoto where he wants him- he fires off chops mixed in with punches, and goes up for a flying thing, but Shinya ROUNDHOUSES him in mid-air! Right in the damn head! Fat Elvis comeback! He beats the shit out of Tenryu with kicks and tries to finish with a DDT off the second rope, getting two! It’s a sweaty chop-fight but Tenryu stuffs the DDT, so Shinya knees him repeatedly and fires off a kick to set it up- Floatover DDT gets the win at (13:13)! Aw, it’s over!
This was AWESOME! A testament to both guy’s durability and endurance, and the best possible way to do a “Chop-Off” and not have it look stupid and “hit me while I stand here” like you get today. Instead it’s guys trying for every bit of ground they can get, firing off repeatedly every chance they can get, and only their exhaustion or recoil letting the other guy get a shot in. I loved Tenryu selling exhaustion and falling over on himself, but cleverly using the ropes to hold himself up, get leverage, etc.- it matched Hashimoto’s fire with ring smarts. And those dishonorable punches~~! The ref was all in on them and the fans sold it like it was totally a shitass thing to do, which was excellent- a big shortcut with illegal shots. I liked how they constructed almost an entire match out of JUST chops (Shinya’s overhands and Tenryu’s knife-edges), but once it came time to get pinfalls it was all their signature moves and slams, with the chops as set-ups for that.
Rating: ****1/2 (one of the best showcases of how you don’t need sheer MOVEZ to make a match great- you just need timing, fire in your guts, and stiffness uncommon even today)
Power & Glory end up with such a “what could have been” reputation in wrestling history- two JTTS guys suddenly becoming a great team together, but a minimum of great matches or even high-profile ones because of bad luck, injuries and false pushes. And STILL nobody else can do the Power Plex right.
POWER & GLORY (Paul Roma & Hercules, w/ Slick) vs. JIM POWERS & JUMPIN’ JIM BRUNZELL:
(WWF Prime Time, Aug. 6th 1990)
* It’s very close to the debut of Power & Glory, with the Doctor of Style announcing that jobber Roma and the midcard Hercules have been formed into a duo- the commentary here makes it seem like this is their debut, but that was around March. The SUPER ’80s shades with the spiky red bits coming off the side make them look like the the Neutrinos from from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Of course this is the Young Stallions EXPLODE: the match, as Powers is the former partner of Roma. Powers is in the usual red trunks & Brunzell in goofy white animal print.
Power & Glory jump the Jims to start, but get rammed into each other and the Jims are all “YEAH WOOOOOO!” to almost no reaction, haha. Roma manages to slug away on his ex-partner, but gets cocky and thinks he has it won, resulting in him eating a big clothesline. Both Jims work the arm lightly, and a punch/small package gets two. Roma keeps getting worked over and this is far less of a big debut than you’d think, but Hercules nails Powers from the apron and takes over. A clothesline and cheating work on Powers, and Herc throws a lot of shots, but Powers & Roma clothesline each other. The crowd actually gets into Powers’ comeback and Brunzell comes in with European uppercuts & a clothesline, battering Hercules too, but Herc pulls Powers out of the ring when he joins in. Brunzell hits his high dropkick on Roma, but leaps off to fight Hercules, who hits him with a big powerslam off the ropes, leaving Roma to polish him off with a Flying Splash (missed by the camera) for three at (6:47).
Actually a pretty weak showing for the new team in kayfabe, as they struggle and struggle against POWERS AND BRUNZELL of all people. Granted those are the tippy-top of the jobber world but man, P&G ate most of the offense in the match and had to fight dishonestly to take every lead. Obviously the Power Plex hadn’t been invented yet, either.
Rating: *3/4 (perfectly fine match, but a weird non-squash with pedestrian offense for the most part, and extended quite a ways)
You know you watch too much wrestling when you type “Blitzkrieg” into Google for an image search and forget to specify you mean THE WRESTLER.
VAN HAMMER vs. BLITZKRIEG:
(WCW Thunder, Sept. 6th 1999)
* Oh yes, it’s the wonderful, short-lived Blitzkrieg and his opponent is the definitive “Shitty Juicer” of the era, the talentless VAN HAMMER. WCW, everyone! Post-Flock, Van Hammer is now wearing a singlet but has dark John Lennon shades. Blitzkrieg’s red & black outfit is some pretty good “Masked Guy” gear- this is no Mr. JL here. But yeah, Hammer is like a foot taller and looks like a behemoth next to him.
Hammer starts pushing the little guy around as the canned heat here is IMMENSE- like they’re constantly loud for stuff like “shove him out of a lockup”- Blitzkrieg uses his speed but gets clotheslined attempting a backslide, and Hammer actually does a pretty decent job as a “bullying heel”, casually throwing Blitzkrieg around and taking his time between spots while also staying on him. Blitzkrieg uses speed again, but his roundhouse kick is caught via a backdrop suplex. Hammer suplexes him onto the top rope, then hits a regular one, followed by stomps, but a somersault off Bret’s rope eats mat. Blitzkrieg hits his rolling senton but a standing moonsault also misses. Hammer biels him, but Blitzkrieg lands on his feet from a second one and pops Hammer with a boomerang dropkick to the face, only to get launched off on the pin attempt. Hammer tosses him to the apron but Blitz leaps up and moonsaults him off it, earning himself a reprieve, but a springboard nothing gets him caught and spinebustered down and Hammer finishes him with the Cobra Clutch Slam at (6:13). Aw, biscuits.
Actually a pretty solid Big vs. Little match here, as heartbreaking as it is to see this amazing flippy guy be handled so easily by a huge juicer who turned out to be nothing in wrestling. Like, Hammer controlled the whole thing and actually looked solid with his movements, and being methodical and cocky actually works in this situation. Blitzkrieg’s lightning-fast reversals were ideal, but it looked like Hammer was also OUTSMARTING him, dodging stuff and handily countering. This “Van Hammer Push” obviously went nowhere, but Blitzkrieg retired for good to be a computer programmer the month after this so obviously he wasn’t gonna win, either.
Rating: ** (actually not bad! I mean, ** for Van Hammer is like a **** match by his standards!)
DISCO INFERNO vs. JUMPIN’ JOEY MAGGS (w/ Teddy Long):
(WCW Saturday Night, Dec. 16th 1995)
* It’s a very early Disco Inferno match, as the goofy comedy JTTS faces OH MY GOD JOEY MAGGS HAS A FUCKING MANAGER. I LOVE that whole “Teddy is a babyface manager, but only selects guys from the bottom of the card” thing- it’s so delightfully weird. Like a stable with Jim Powers, Joey Maggs, and Ice Train. Maggs is in plain black trunks and looks like Generic Wrestler #3670 with a dumpy figure and ’80s hair while Disco’s in the white flared pants with “Saturday Night Fever” written on his ass. The crowd’s into his schtick already, which is why this was such an ideal comedy gimmick.
Disco gets his arm worked a while, but pounds Joey down, dumps him, and does some filler stuff and OH MY GOD, a fan has a Jumpin’ Joey Maggs sign!! I refuse to believe that isn’t a plant. Maggs gets a stunner out of a chinlock, but Disco gets a completely awful clothesline (literally skipping on the light impact). Maggs fires back with punches and kicks, Disco doing some cartoonish “dizzy” selling, and a dropkick sets up a corner whip, but Disco hangs onto the ropes and Joey crashes trying a monkey flip. Disco gets his Swinging Neckbreaker finisher (again looking terrible) but then acts like a heel moron and poses and cheers himself on to the fans for like 30 seconds, so when he lies back for the casual pin, Maggs slaps on a crucifix and rolls back for the pin (4:46)- Disco loses!
Dusty Rhodes on commentary loves it, and it’s a great way to punish your bottom-tier comedy heels and give the jobbers something to do. Teddy gives a very solid “old-fashioned good guy” interview with Mean Gene about working for the Boys & Girls Clubs and wanting to make a difference in lives like he is with Joey, who does this great “aw shucks” promo in a high-pitched voice about how he’s only lacked belief in himself and Teddy has given him that. It’s fine enough “dorky babyface rookie” stuff, and then Disco comes in… and instead of complaining about his loss tries to shill his CD to show how clueless he is. But by 1996 Maggs was just a regular jobber and Disco would carry this gimmick to way more success than you’d think.
The match was your usual generic WCW Saturday Night piffle- lots of loose punches and kicks, a slow heel heat sequence, lots of posing, etc.- it all was in service to the “arrogant but sucks” Disco character and thus was effective at that- even his horrible offense (all super-loose execution, especially with his finisher and that clothesline, where he practically bounces off of Maggs) doesn’t really hold him back because of his persona.
Rating: 1/2* (generic jobber match with a surprise ending- nobody really looked good but the character stuff is fine)