Olde Timey #1
So, here I am, the intrepid Phoebus Apollo, good friend of Xavier Von Erck who you all know and love (read: despise), and I'm about to go to sleep. Then, in the last flick of the channel, I find a diamond of wrestling history, Big Time Wrestling, a old ESPN supported broadcast. It was a conglomeration of old NWA and World Wide Wrestling footage and stars, and I knew what I had to do... suffer the rotted and expired wrestling feed to satiate you, the average modern-day mark. You need more history in your bones anyways, most of you don't remember a day before a big yellow bastard named Hogan ruinated the world and thousands of McMahonistic gimps ran wild. I'll bring to you the record of a purer time, a time where the "nerve grip" was a legitimate hold and bear hugs where abundant. A time when headscissors where used for more than "takeovers", immobilizing the opponent on the mat, and a day where you could see Dory Funk Jr. beat the pants off "some guy", a day where the crowd might throw car batteries at you for whipping foreign objects out your drawers. Old crows would swear their mouths off and white trash would settle trailers in the aftermath of these old age wrestling tourneys. It was the end of an age, back then our current wrestling icons and personalities where just plain old marks, just like we are now.
It was a better time. (Or so they tell me.)
I've decided to bring this to you play by play, with little to no real editing, calling it as I see it. Unlike Xavier, I'm not good at this at all, so don't expect marvelous results. Anyways, no time to yap, here goes...
The show starts out with classic wrestling, Dory Funk Jr. versus Teddy Albert. The match starts off with some vigorous holds, a few armbars and side headlocks. Dory breaks out with a scoop slam and Albert gets rolled over for a two count. There is a ten minute time limit for this match, which should say to you just how old-school we're talking here. Dory Funk Jr. has Albert in a headscissors headlock on the mat, Albert breaks out only to be flipped out on his back. The commentator mentions that Harley Race is the current champion, and that Funk Jr. is up for the next title shot. Dory Funk Jr. applies a great armbar, holding it for a while, while the ref walks in to check to see if Albert wants to concede. ... Ouch! And a massive butterfly suplex from Funk Jr... and the win for Dory Funk Jr.! And now commercial.
Now, this gives me a breather here to catch up and reflect on what I just saw. For one, I have no clue if the guy's name was "Teddy" Albert, the announcing is horribly muffled under the age of the tape. I don't understand what audiences really expected back in the hayday, but hey... can't even finish the thought, here we come back to the show.
The Iron Sheik is making a vicious attack on the "Sailor" Arn Thomas. The Sheik's manager hands him a foreign object, and the Sailor is beat out the ring. Right into the throat while the ref is getting distracted. And here comes a fan rushing out to attack the manager! The crowds sure did love their wrestling, enough to get mugged by some police officers for their attempt to beat back those evil managers. The Sailor has been beat by the Sheik, and has the match totally under control, it's only a issue of the academic count now. What I find more stunning about this is that the fans are going crazy over this interference of the manager distracting the ref so often. We've got those golden age shots of old trailer park residents getting up and screaming... damn, can't finish that thought either, the Sailor mounts a comeback and... Sheik whipped a big fireball into the face of Arn Thomas! Yeoch! The pin happens, and the crowd screams as they move on to the next clip.
Commercial break. I'm perpetually stopped mid-sentence in this recap, I guess I don't have the play-by-play commentary skills of my good friend Xavier. However, I gotta say, that last match had the crowd ready to riot. The fireball at the end of the match, which came out of nowhere, really surprised me. Sailor's comeback got a huge pop the likes a WWF crowd couldn't put out, with about a tenth as many people, and the cheat victory has them seething at the teeth. For those of you who have it, Big Time Wrestling replays are on ESPN Classics every Saturday morning, 7 EST, try to catch your own glimpse of it.
And we return to, Blacky Gooseman? Vs. Big Ox Bakeard? They really need to display these names, I can't figure out what the heck their names are. Blacky is a small guy, for the most part, and the Ox is the obvious winner here. The commentator fills us in that the Ox is fueding with the Sheik at this moment in wrestling history. Blacky gets in some headlocks on the incredibly slow Ox, but it doesn't phase Ox much. "You can be assured that any hold that Ox Bakeard applies is a hold you're going to feel" - says the announcer. The Ox is trying to hold Blacky down, but Blacky is finding his way up. Never have I seen a wrestler move slower than the Ox, good lord. Imagine the Big Show, only wading through 9 feet of water. That's the speed of the Ox. Ox pounds Blacky down, and holds him down with this "nerve grip", basically holding Blacky's shoulders and passing it off as a "hold". And the crowds is half dead. Oh good lord, the commentary reveal's the Ox's finishing maneuver, the forever dull "Heart Punch". And there he goes, the lamest Heart Punch I've ever seen. The crowd boos, and with good reason! A lamer match I've seen naught.
Now, to commercial break. This tape is poorly put together, it's more a highlight reel from the days of old. It doesn't really follow one central theme of a show. Hopefully these matches aren't as horrible as the last one, good god. Ox has a lower workrate than Hogan for god's sakes! He makes Sid Vicious look like a nimble cruiserweight! The guy is the epitome of the large sloth character who obviously deserves not a damn thing he'll ever earn in life. Not that he earned anything other than a spot on a really old Big Time Wrestling reel. Heh.
We return to a six man tag. I'm not going to try to name names here, can't make head or toe of them. Kent (afterthought edit: I think the actual name was "Bulldog George Cantor", with Cantor being enunciated "Ken:tor", which lead me to think "Kent"... or maybe not) and "Royal", from what I can surmise from the mumbled tape, and John Davis comes in against Royal who tags out to Louis Martinez. Martinez knocks Davis a couple times, and now the Captain is in! Blue tights and all! And he takes a turn smacking around Davis while Royal comes back in. And Martinez comes in to beat up Davis some more. Zulu gets tagged in by Davis, and puts Martinez in a vicious bear hug. Zulu's a pretty decent sized guy. So it's Zulu, Davis and some other party vs. Nelson Royal, Martinez and the Captain! Stars and stripes, baby! Zulu gets the third bear hug on his opposition already. Each time the whole team of Royal/Martinez/Captain had to break it up. A few more tags and it's Royal and Zulu in. Wait, Kent and Royal are in the ring, as Royal brings Kent down and keeps him there with a headscissors takedown. Why the headscissors need to be used for anything other than a "takeover", I have no idea. Kent makes a comeback against Royal, drops him on the top rope, and Royal tags in the Captain! The Captain! A name like that deserves an exclamation point. The Captain gets a headlock on Kent, and Davis got in somewhere, and Martinez is in, and Martinez goes out and it's now Royal and Davis. Dropkick from Nelson Royal, Davis goes out of the ring. And the announcer plugs the address to "bring Big Time Wrestling to your city".
Zulu comes in versus Martinez, and gets another bear hug. This is the fifth bear hug, thus far. The Captain comes in, Zulu tags out, and Davis comes to meet the Captain. Davis keeps a side headlock on the Captain, Kent grabs the Captain, and now everyone jumps in. Royal is being double teamed in the corner while others try to make sense of it all. Again, Zulu gets another bear hug on Royal. Everyone is preoccupied, but someone breaks up the bear hug, and it's still chaotic. They've got all back in their corners, Royal bulldogs Davis, and the match is over.
I mangled the names, and it wasn't half as exciting as the description must've sounded. However, in terms of six man tags, I've seen far worse. WCW, before the coming of Vince Russo, those where the days of worst six man tags. Hogan/Luger/Sting/Savage/DDP/fellaneous other, over and over again. Ugh.
Commercial break, and back. The world's strongest wrestler? Calgary, Alberta Canada? The Big Crusher and Franky Lynn? I can't figure out who the hell these people are. The Crusher is beating the creative "other" guy. Franky Lee, I think. Franky is dubbed the cruiserweight and is being mangled by the bigger Crusher, who he drop kicks and jumps back, regaining his composure. Crusher crabs a foreign object from his trunks, and beats it over Franky's head. What the foreign object is - I'll leave you to wonder. Crusher whips out the foreign object again, and wacks it over Franky's poor head. Franky finds his way back into the ring after a moment of dispute between the ref and the Crusher. The Crusher Berdue and the Cowboy Franky Lee, as best as I can decipher these names. Another whap with the foreign object. The ref pads down the Crusher, missing all points where the foreign object might be, and denies it's existence. The Crusher whips it out again, smacks it on Franky's head, and the Cowboy is whipped off the ropes, dropped on the mat hard. Franky makes a big comeback, goes for the headscissors takeover, but is stopped by the Crusher who gets a bear hug on Franky, driving him into the corner. Another bear hug, another back-first wack into the corner, the Crusher pulls him down and pins him. My only thought during all of this... what the hell was the foreign object, what's up with all these bear hugs, and when was getting slammed into a padded turnbuckle considered a finisher? These answers all lie in the world of yesteryear as we go to commercial.
260 pounds, Dick the Bruiser! The main event! Against some little guy in red tights. One last flash of the Big Time Wrestling logo, and here we go. Ernie Lad, is the little guy in red tights. Ernie Lad. What a name. He just deserves to get mauled, for having that name. "The world's most dangerous wrestler", Dick the Brusier, goes after Ernie and beats him to a pulp. I'm surprised he hasn't already won. Ernie is already bleeding, and we aren't more than a minute into the match. Wait... the name of the opponent is Jerry Fargo, I think. Lad was somewhere else in the scheme of things. I am hopelessly lost trying to transcribe the names of these ancient beings. Either way, Lil-Red-Riding-Hood, tights and all, after being literally whipped out of the ring by Dick the Bruiser, comes back to continue the mauling. Brusier stomps him before he's even made his way back in, and gouges the eye. Drags him in the ring like a rag doll, Bruiser climbs up to the top, does a little dance, and jumps on top of Red-Tights-Boy, whatever his name is. He puts the foot on his chest, and the bell rings. The announcer puts over the superiority of Dick the Bruiser, and Big Time Wrestling comes to a close.
All in all, I never seen the Dick the Bruiser or Dory Funk Jr. in action, and only via this program have I been able to. It's a wealth of wrestling history... it's also a pit of smoldering crap, reminding us how far we've come from our caveman ancestry. If the Ox isn't classified as a Neanderthal, then in humanity lies a boon of genetics I've never witnessed before. Imagine Kevin Nash, knowing 2 less moves, having a broken leg, roughly 50 pounds heavier with 35% less muscle mass, with the facial hair of a bald retired woodsman and the "heart punch" as his finishing maneuver! Imagine such a beast and you've got the Ox, my friend.
Now, if I can only talk Xavier into posting this at the Oratory...
I'll try to get Xavier to post the feedback from this commentary along with his normal mailbag post. Don't be shocked if I try to do another recap of some more Big-Time action in the coming weeks... then again, don't be shocked if I don't, because it's 8 AM and I haven't slept and thus far nothing I've seen justifies screwing up my sleep schedule any more than it already is. Well old-timers, that's all. See ya next time.