Kamala vs. Bastian Booger (and other Dream Matches!)
By Jabroniville on 25th October 2023
The Warlord! One of the weird “goofy look; doesn’t get pushed” guys of the early ’90s. Come see part of why!
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This week, I have some incredibly weird, disparate stuff from the depths of hell for you, starting off with a FAT MAN STAND-OFF of epic proportions, as someone actually allowed KAMALA vs. BASTIAN BOOGER to happen, giving the two guys five minutes on a syndicated show with Jim Ross & Gorilla Monsoon at their snarkiest, completely burying both guys! Following that, it’s TUGBOAT vs. THE WARLORD, pitting two of the WWF’s two worst singles workers against each other at a time when neither one could afford to eat a loss!
Following that, it’s a No Ropes Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch from Japan, as Shinya Hashimoto and Kintaro “W*ING* Kanemura pay tribute to a deceased wrestler in the craziest way I’ve ever seen in wrestling! You have to see it to believe it!
Then it’s over to 2003-era NWA-TNA, as AJ Styles talks smack and has to deal with the Living Legend himself… Larry Zbyszko! How can an indie super-worker deal with such an aged opponent and still make it entertaining? Finally, it’s another “Mike Awesome in All Japan” match, as he faces John “Earthquake” Tenta himself!
KAMALA vs. BASTIAN BOOGER:
(WWF Mania, June 27th 1993)
* … there is no god. They stuck this on WWF Mania with Monsoon & Jim Ross on commentary (both are in a “man this is shit” burying mood, which as you’ll see will save the whole segment). Kamala’s in his babyface run, post being saved by Reverend Slick. Booger is actually NOTICEABLY larger, being super-rotund compared to his merely porcine opponent. Even so, this is my favorite kind of match and yours- a FAT MAN STAND-OFF!
Booger does his patented “kill 2 minutes by stalling” with the Disingenuous Handshake while Kamala contemplates it and Gorilla wonders who referee Danny Davis made mad, having to call this one. Booger finally catches Kamala not looking and pounds away, hitting a wimpy avalanche with Kamala just out of the corner as Ross gives one of his patented backhanded compliments (“these guys are rather METHODICAL in their approach to wrestling…”). But Booger attempts another and takes a clothesline (doing a wimpy “roll to the side” bump), then gets his ass whupped by a Kamala strike flurry but Kamala tries to pin him on his front. “Look, even the referee is trying to help!” as Davis tries to get Kamala to roll him over, and Monsoon makes Ross chuckle by confessing “To be honest, with him both ends kind of look the same”. Booger goes to the eyes repeatedly to take over as Monsoon suggests this is a good ad “Don’t let this happen to YOUR boy- send your boy to camp!” as the commentary is just increasingly burying this. Booger waffles him into the corner but Kamala headbutts him into Andre position and sends him flat-faced to the mat, only to get clotheslined down. Kamala rolls to the floor and pulls Booger out and OH MY GOD THEY’RE DOING A COUNT-OUT? Yes, Kamala shoves Booger into the post and it’s a Double Count-Out at (5:05), in a desperate attempt to protect all the money both men draw.
You gotta love it when Monsoon & Ross just don’t give a shit and start burying the guys on commentary, haha. Ross is the master of the backhanded compliment while Monsoon is just “LOL they’re both stupid- look at how fat that guy is, too” like your overly blunt uncle and I love it.
Rating: *1/4 (I mean Kamala took a couple bumps and Booger landed on his face- that’s good for SOMETHING)
Someone on YouTube about the above match: “This is better than anything on WWE today”. I love wrestling fans.
TUGBOAT vs. THE WARLORD (w/ Slick)
(WWF, Dec. 17th 1990)
* Oh man how have I never reviewed THIS before? One of the last big “Hogan Buddies” of the WWF up against the Warlord, who they were briefly attempting to do stuff with and hadn’t given up on yet. I’m thinking Fuck Finish because of how both are being protected at this point (Tugboat has a single loss against Earthquake thanks to cheating). Both men are absolutely titanic- Warlord with his monstrous physique but he’s not really much taller than Tugboat, who is round as hell.
Both men are equally matched in terms of power, and it’s FAT GUY NO-SHOULD SHOULDERBLOCKS, but only from one as Warlord can’t knock over Tugboat. He tries some slams and can’t manage that either, so just slugs away until Tugboat uses his famous technical skills and hiptosses & armdrags him. However Tugger runs into a boot (though it was so badly done it looked like they missed) and gets waffled by a clothesline. Warlord drops elbows and chokes Tugboat on the ropes, but quickly exhausts his moveset and is stuck doing the “stomp & walk” and forearms. This goes on FOREVER as he just throws a ton of nothing shots and poses, until he finally whispers to Tugboat to make the comeback and Tugger just arbitrarily starts firing off kicks and clubbing shots and clotheslines Warlord down. Warlord recovers enough to throw shots in return as this just goes ON, and Tugboat clotheslines him down again but misses an elbowdrop and Warlord actually manages an incredible bodyslam on his huge opponent. But the follow-up sees him reversed into the corner and Tugboat hits an avalanche to set up his Running Splash finisher (albeit with Warlord out of place)- he comes off the ropes but Slick grabs him around the neck to prevent the move and gets dragged in, causing the Disqualification at (7:38), ruining this all-time classic.
Haha OH MY GOD. This is such a showcase of the limitations of both men. Given a featured match on TV and all they can do is boots to the gut, forearms and clotheslines, then the “walk and stomp” because they just have nothing in their holsters but that basic stuff. Now, smarter workers with similar limitations (Stan Hansen was anything but a MOVEZ guy) could actually make a match out of that kind of stuff, but neither of these two has the creativity for it so even the comebacks are garbage- just arbitrarily throwing a shot to go on offense themselves. This is why “transitions” were held as such a big sign of good workers for a long while- stuff like reversing moves, missing shots, etc. was part of the toolkit to make matches flow better and have at least a bit of a story beyond “punch them until they punch you back”. I’m almost impressed I didn’t see either guy huffing and puffing, but with that methodical style I can see why.
Rating: 1/2* (“Just Punching- The Match”)
NO ROPES EXPLODING BARBED WIRE DEATHMATCH:
SHINYA HASHIMOTO vs. KINTARO KANEMURA:
(WEW, May 5th 2003)
* Okay, here’s a wild one- SHINYA HASHIMOTO of all people in a No-Ropes Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. This was actually set up as him vs. Kodo Fuyuki, the owner and booker of WEW, but Fuyuki unfortunately died of cancer before the match could take place. Instead, we have Kintaro Kanemura, a similarly dumpy, rotund guy but with plenty of tattoos (a Japanese dude with tattoos? Okay THAT’S unusual in the wrestling ring), with a box of Fuyuki’s ashes present. Kanemaru is… oh wait, research reveals this is W*ING Kanemura, a hardcore wrestler! Him, I’ve heard of. Only in PWI, though. I think he was a top star of W*ING or something. He’s dismissed as a midcarder in this match but was actually WEW’s top star and Champion at this point (common when legit top guys meet “Deathmatch” dudes, in my recollection). Shinya had quit New Japan years before and formed his own promotion (Zero-One).
The start of the match is one of the fuckingest things I’ve ever seen in wrestling- Hashimoto asks for the box of ashes from Fuyuki’s widow, takes it in his arms, and FLINGS HIMSELF INTO THE BARBED WIRE, celebrating Fuyuki by taking the man’s last bump for him in a huge explosion. BOOM!! And then, seething with agony as the smiling crowd chants his name, he beseeches Kanemaru to do the same thing, and the guy complies. Alas, he’s not manly enough to doff his giant white ring jacket, and babies into the bump a couple times. Finally, he just rears up and speeds up into it, and THAT’S the explosion the fans wanted. BOOM!!
Kanemaru charges Hashimoto to start us off, but the big guy barely moves and just knocks him to the ground with a variety of violently stiff shots. Hashimoto knocks him down and kicks him in the face a few more times, ripping his jacket off and beseeching the fans to cheer Kanemura to get up and chop him, then blasting him back down. Kanemaru resorts to a punch to the jaw, but grumpy Hash just KOs him with the same. Kanemaru keeps getting kicked down, looking like he’s dying, so finally just nails Shinya in the balls and bullrushes him into the wire- BOOM!! The ref, with Hashimoto, goes flying to put over the impact and is dead, and has to be carted out. Kanemaru grabs a barbed wire bat and fires off shots on Hashimoto, then just grinds it into his throat- they actually use this as a RESTHOLD of all things, Kanemaru eventually getting up and taking Shinya down with four straight lariats for barely two. He then bodyslams Hash ON the bat (okay, that looks like it hurt) and does a standing moonsault (I mean, sorta) for two. But Hashimoto kicks him in the ass to stop a bat-swing and just annihilates his neck and chest with repeater kicks before shoving him into the last side of wire… but it’s a dud! Annoyed, he tosses Kanemaru down a few times, hits an STO, and shoves him again- BOOM!! This time it works! Floatover DDT… gets two! Yeah the explosion does NOT lead to the finish. Kanemaru kicks out after a big chest-kick, so Shinya has to actually unlock his big finish- the Brainbuster, hitting a monster one for the pin at (8:41). lol, the fucker kicks out at 3.0, too.
A pretty standard Barbed Wire Deathmatch, but of a different sort- the guys set off two sections of wire immediately, then don’t really sell any kind of fear of it thereafter, meaning it doesn’t have the manic terror of the best one (Megumi Kudo/Combat Toyoda). And it’s so one-sided it’s more or less Hashimoto serving last rites to the poor fucker he’s killing, treating him like a midcarder with zero chance. But the guy eventually uses “deathmatch style” to counter his physical superior and takes the lead, then gets an impressive kick-out or two.
Rating: **1/4 (incredibly one-sided and Kanemaru had to use the stips to his advantage to even have a chance, but it’s a FORM of psychology, I guess- good finish)
Larry Zbyszko with his shirt off. You’re welcome.
AJ STYLES vs. LARRY ZBYSZKO:
(NWA TNA PPV #28, Jan. 22nd 2003)
* Yes, it’s STYLES vs. ZBYSZKO, because TNA. This stems from AJ doing a whiny heel sit-down interview last week, proclaiming he deserves to be a Heavyweight Champion. Larry Z comes out and tells him a pretty good line about how “Russo says there’s two schools- an old school and a new school- but there’s only ONE school- the school of hard knocks!” and how AJ needs to learn that. But AJ just paintbrushes him and they get into a scrap. So now it’s saggy ol’ Larry Z (52 years old or so at this point) out there in his black “Z” trunks and he’s up against Styles himself. AJ’s in black shorts.
Guys, this is gonna shock you, but a full minute goes by before they even lock up. Larry keeps doing the old-school hand motions to lock up and AJ smirks and goes in, getting wristlocked and headscissored immediately. AJ’s all “HEY WTF?” about this, god bless him, and finally scrambles for the ropes. Then Styles does a go-behind to play Larry at his own game, but gets countered AGAIN. I love all of Larry’s little old-school rolls with the arm locked, haha- you don’t see that shit after 1990. AJ finally gets some shit going by drilling Zbyszko off a whip, then beats him down and superkicks him to the floor. Larry comes back out there and teases GOING UP, AJ taking advantage of the ref distraction to come back, but he just gets backdropped. Styles reverses a suplex but goes up and gets crotched, but when Larry goes to capitalize, AJ trips him up and puts his feet all the way on the top rope to get the cheap pin at (5:49). Lol, Styles cheats to beat a billion-year old man- now THAT’s a heel! Commentary suggests Larry’s just cursing himself for falling for one of his own tricks.
Perfectly fine little joke match, with AJ being somewhat embarrassed by a wily veteran, but then using one of those same dirty tricks veterans have to win. And what says “heel” more than being a flashy, flippy guy with incredible offense… and pinning an old man with your feet on the ropes in the most unspectacular manner possible?
Rating: *1/4 (nothingburger match but some funny bits and good down-home cheating)
(about 1:52:00 in)
BIG JOHN TENTA vs. THE GLADIATOR:
(All Japan, March 22nd 2003)
* Yes it’s EARTHQUAKE vs. MIKE AWESOME, but in Japan and when both were on the way down. Tenta looks super-unusual here, with the short-cropped hair and “Dante Hicks” goatee making him look like “Just Someone’s Dad”, and he’s lost a lot of girth. He’s still in the “Earthquake” gear but is just under his real name, while Awesome is using his Japan name.
We’re JIP with Gladiator working Tenta over in the corner and choking him using the ropes, but Tenta catches him trying a bodyslam and dumps him. Gladiator stalls out there and comes back for Tenta to outwrestle him via a go-behind trip & headlock. Lol Tenta with the NWA style over here! Tenta misses a slow-moving avalanche and writhes around on the floor after Gladiator plasters him with a chair to the back and chokes him with it repeatedly. Tenta goes into the guardrail to the horror of some fans nearby (he’s a BIG dude) and Gladiator hits a flying clothesline in the ring for two. A lazy camel clutch follows, and Tenta fights up from some soft-looking punches with overhands and the world’s most dramatic elbowdrop ever for two. Tenta walks across him for two (good “oh FUCK!” selling from Gladiator), then hits a LONG-ass chinlock leading to a corner-reverse, but he uses raw agility to avoid Gladiator and hits his powerslam and a big legdrop both for two. Tenta gears up for the finish (complete with leaping up and down around Gladiator), but MISSES his Running Vertical Splash and Gladiator hits a bodyslam & vertical suplex for two-counts, then a Flying Splash for the same. But then he tries an AWESOME BOMB of all things and the universe is like “lol, really?” as he gets backdropped and immediately hit with a running splash for the pin (10:33 of 13:40 shown). Gladiator is pissed after the match and Tenta cuts one of his patented “shouting at the camera promos” after.
Man this was LAZY and clunky, lol. Stuff like the go-behind is funny to see from two 6’5″+ guys but it was mostly them lumbering around, Tenta rolling about, and doing softer, light offense in what was probably not the biggest show for either guy. Gladiator had to carry everything and poor Tenta just looked OLD, clumsily and awkwardly rolling around and having to sell. But once they hit the end-game part it’s fine, as he impressively goes up for things like a suplex, misses his finisher, but pulls one out after Gladiator goes for his reliable powerbomb finish.
Rating: *3/4 (NOT GOOD and very lazy and clunky for a while, but ends okay)