Concluding part of a look at the Hulkster in Japan, now after the glory days in the WWF have ended but before his resurgence in WCW, plus a guest appearance from his bionic buddy, brother!
I just fancied watching this pay-per-view, which was the first In Your House event to be shown live in the UK, so a review follows. This was from the mature peak of my fandom as a fully-fledged Bret Hart and Hart Foundation fan, although the rising Steve Austin was a big favourite too.
Held on April 20th, 1997, at the Rochester Community War Memorial in Rochester, New York, with Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary.
Based off a suggestion in a previous column, this week I’ll be looking at some NJPW matches featuring Hulk Hogan in the eighties and next week I’ll look at his return in the nineties. I’ve always liked the Hulkster going back to when I was a kid, but even then I could recognise that he had a formula and was only going to do what he always did except for on big occasions like against the Ultimate Warrior, so it was hard to argue with the point of him being limited. However, there was a legend of “Hulk wrestles a lot more in Japan, he does drop toe holds and everything!”, so those matches always had that mythical aura, even if him doing a lot was still a lot less than his peers did. Let’s have a look and see.
Continuing to look at the history of gaijin in New Japan with a man who based his character off foreign origins and had massive success in Japan for decades, the Madman from the Sudan, Abdullah the Butcher. Abby, or Larry to his friends, even married a Japanese lady, the daughter of a promoter, and brought her back to the States with him, where they opened up Abdullah the Butcher’s House of Ribs and Chinese Food, with head chef Harry Fujiwara… OK, maybe not.
Three of the big things I’ve enjoyed in my life are wrestling, cartoons and toy collecting, and it’s nice when the three interconnect. Recently I received Super7’s new figure of Andre the Giant, representing his tour of Japan in 1971. Japanese wrestling has never been something I paid a lot of attention to, so I decided to sign up for a membership to New Japan World to see some of his big matches over there.
This will be an ongoing column where I predominantly focus on the gaijin like Andre who wrestled in NJPW during the seventies, eighties and nineties, maybe even reaching into the new millennium. My rating system will be ICHIBAN! or BUST!, with the former being a pass and the latter being a fail.
Some more cases of wrestlers appearing on different shows. Calling an audible and going to skip doing the World Championship Wrestling episodes in-depth so that I can do an overall review of the Midnight Express/Horsemen feud on Monday seeing as the episodes themselves aren’t actively bad, but are dry as toast.
As 1988 WCW is a relatively untapped source for reviews, I figured I’d watch and review daily the run of episodes encapsulating the feud between world tag team champions Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson and US tag team champions the Midnight Express. Rest in peace Bobby Eaton.
For context, this episode is the first one after the Great American Bash PPV.
A few years ago, Brian Bayless was reviewing shoot interviews, including the first four episodes of Brickhouse TV with the hilarious Brickhouse Brown, God rest his soul. Well, Highspots has uploaded the full run to YouTube, so I’ll bring you the final two from the first season.
And now, the show continues!
A two-for-one here, a tribute to Del Wilkes, the Patriot, who died a few days ago of a heart attack, as well as a themed Independence Day review. Wilkes started off as the Trooper in the AWA’s dying days before becoming THE star of the nascent GWF, subsequently leaving when the money dried up and having a decent career wrestling in WCW, Japan and the WWF. In 1991, as a fan aged 9, I didn’t get to see the GWF in the UK but the magazines we got had me believing he could be as big as Sting and Hulk Hogan. Not quite, but still a star that could’ve really shone.
Starting off with a demolition derby!
Although I’m not American, here’s my contribution to Independence Day in the USA, a review of some episodes of an old series called Icons of Wrestling, produced by a fellow Brit called Dale Barnes and featuring the likes of Yukon Eric, Abdullah the Butcher and first up Mr. America, Gene Stanlee.
Seeing as it’s a repost from Scott and I fancy checking out some new/old content I thought I’d give the LPWA another shot, on VHS with the theme of ‘The Good Girls’. Rule of thumb used to be with wrestling on video tapes that it would often promise gold and deliver shit, as anyone who’s watched the likes of Koko B. Ware and the Brooklyn Brawler or Jim Neidhart and Skinner do battle on Coliseum Video, but let’s see.
Great intro with some CGI leopards turning into multi-coloured line art female wrestlers who splash off the top rope into an empty ring.
Well, Scott couldn’t get GLOW over and Mike Fitzgerald is holding out on reviewing the Super Ladies Showdown, so let me see what I can do with an episode of the LPWA. For the uninitiated, this was a Tor Berg promotion that very close links to the dying AWA and even got a bit of a free advert on a Clash of the Champions show one time. They tried to promote it far straighter than GLOW, as you’ll see from the talent featured. It’s a bit of a cult classic and there’s a sad lack of info out there on it, even episode listings, so today’s review features a bit of a random choice of episode.
I doubt people will be queuing up to review this one, so I figured I’d take it.
For a bit of context, as a kid I didn’t know that Jake Roberts, Sam Houston and Rockin’ Robin were related, nor did I know that their father was Grizzly Smith, the fairly benign, friendly-looking old man who would come out and break up fights in WCW in the early nineties. I obviously became aware that the children were brothers and sisters at some point, either via the nascent internet or wrestling magazines, then in the late nineties I watched Beyond the Mat, where Jake was a featured wrestler in possibly the least flattering way possible and under the influence of crack cocaine he shared the details of his birth and some of the personal tragedies he’d experienced in his family life. That seems light in contrast with this episode.
Seeing as all the talk is about this, let’s have a look.
Just to state my position from the start, I think Pillman is one of those guys who had it all. Looks, body, distinctive voice, could talk, a brain in his head, charisma, interesting life story, could wrestle, could brawl, legitimately tough, respected by the right people, pretty boy babyface, sadistic heel, believable… In an ideal world after the Hart Foundation had left town and disbanded he would’ve been the man that Mr. McMahon hired to destroy Steve Austin, because who knew him better and had more reason to want to take him down? Then, after ingratiating himself he would’ve run his own schemes for his greater overall gain, causing havoc throughout the WWF. But, it’s not an ideal world…
A little May Day bonus today, a WCW show from Oberhausen, Germany on June 21st, 1997, during the peak period of the company. This aired on DSF (Deutsches Sportfernsehen [German Sports TV[), which was the preeminent way to watch World Championship Wrestling in Europe. We had Worldwide on ITV for a few years and then Nitro (and later Thunder) on TNT after Cartoon Network had closed down for the day, but DSF had pretty much every WCW from the big ones to Pro and Main Event plus the pay-per-views, on a little bit of a delay and with German commentary, but when you’re a teenager and you love it you’ll sit through anything under any circumstances, plus the dating and chatline commercials were a pleasure in more way than one while breaking up the action!