Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

PWF 5/22/98

ER: PWF was a Carolinas based 90s indy operated by Italian Stallion (probably). PWF stood for Pro Wrestling Federation which is almost impossibly adorable. This was a handheld of a show they ran in West Virginia, with Eddie and Hector Guerrero inexplicably working a tag match, while Eddie was still very much employed by WCW and to my knowledge not suspended. 1994-2000 indy wrestling is kind of a fascinating thing, as once the change to DVD happened a lot of these cards never got transferred, so there's an absence of this era online. It was also a time when main federations were far more innovative than indys, and indy feds were still trying to be more like territory feds from years before instead of figuring out what the next big thing was going to be. So you have crowds with mullets watching wrestlers with mullets, wrestlers who all kind of wrestle like bad body WWF and Crockett jobbers, while actual bad body WWF and Crockett jobbers were working the main events.

1. Russian Assassin vs. The Breeze

ER: One immediate thing of note is entrance music hadn't gone through that terrible period of change, with the change happening just a year after later. Here we have the crowd getting excited listening to Assassin (who has nothing whatsoever Russian about him) coming out to late period Alice Cooper and Breeze (looking like Opie from Sons of Anarchy, but wearing a tie dye shirt) coming out to Skynyrd's cover of JJ Cale's "Call Me the Breeze". A year later nu metal would hit and half the workers of every southern indy would enter the ring to "Down With the Sickness" for the next 16 years. It's like that song immediately replaced "When the Levee Breaks" for all of the lamest reasons possible. And let's be honest, this guy is only called The Breeze because he really likes that Skynyrd song. I'm sure he's been a part of a tag team called The Street Survivors (which, isn't a terrible tag team name). This match is 3 minutes long and starts with an alarmingly bad punch exchange, and a missed clothesline where Assassin looks like he's miming throwing a football, poorly. It was the kind  of exchange where neither punch lands and The Breeze holds up his arm to block Assassin's punches long before the punches are thrown. And then, somehow, Breeze has really good corner 10 count punches, a shockingly good delayed powerslam, and drops two legdrops, with at least 50% of those legdrops looking good! Then he hits a kind of cool diamond cutter with him coming off opposite ropes like he was setting up The Pounce. 

ER: There's something really wonderful about the simplicity of indy names 20 years ago. I mean, The Bodyguard? Plenty of men have worked a bodyguard gimmick, but nobody has just said "you know what? My name ain't important. Just my duty." He comes out to Bad to the Bone, because someone had to. Ted Dibiase is his manager. Or client? We don't know because we're too busy being disappointed he could not choose one of the multiple smash hits from the eponymous soundtrack as his entrance theme. Gibson is coming off his ill-fated WWF run, still rocking his NWA duster. Oddly I recently (within the month) sought out Gibson vs. D-Lo Brown from Shotgun Saturday Night, as one night I got curious and wondered if Ricky/Robert had an singles matches during their few month late 90s WWF run. Turns out Gibson worked D-Lo Brown, Ricky worked Marc Mero. Just one singles match apiece. Couldn't find Ricky/Mero, but the Gibson/Brown match was plenty fun. Anyway. I'm not sure who the Bodyguard is but he has height and a workably decent build, the kind of guy who you'd think get a shot at some point. But Gibson was really great in this. He found a bunch of cool ways to work around Bodyguard's limitations. Bodyguard did not have a great shoulderblock, but Gibson sure made it look good. First one he takes a standard back bump, next one he does a great sell I've never seen where he runs into The stationary Bodyguard and just drops straight down to his knees, just hitting that brick wall and crumpling. Another shoulderblock sees him take a great bump through the ropes to the apron and floor. We get a couple bearhug spots (which I love) with Gibson escaping them first by boxing the ears and second by biting Bodyguard's forehead. Seriously Gibson was awesome here. Bodyguard has one surprisingly decent punch, some silly overhand tomahawk chops (I don't think I'd personally employ a Bodyguard who used overhand chops in a fight situation, but I am just one man). Dibiase grabs Gibson's leg and holds onto it for the finish, so that's his payday. And now I want more late 90s indy Gibson.

ER: What a weird little match. Meng was still in WCW at this point, but apparently has bills to pay. The Overlord looks nothing like what you'd expect any kind of Overlord to look like. For starters, he's wearing a singlet. He has that late 90s gassed Power Plant look, but also kind of lean around the waist. Think James Earl Wright. And the Overlord is not as good as your average gassed Power Plant guy. Gassed Power Plant guys always had at least one thing they did shockingly well, like a nice press slam or nice elbow drop. The Overlord had nothing that looked good. Early on he botches an arm drag and tosses Meng into the ropes, the type of thing that Finlay would have wrecked him for in front of a Universal Studios audience. But Meng plays along and even sells for this guy. Meng is really fun in his parts, throwing an axe kick to the downed Overlord's balls, and hitting a brutal overhand chop that sounded like it had Lucha Underground sound sweetening. And then, suddenly, 6 minutes in, The Overlord reveals his gift: He can bump really great on the floor!! I mean, really, really great. So I had him pegged as gassed Power Plant grad, but really he was a gassed UPW grad this whole time! Meng casually tosses him through the ropes to the floor, and Overlord decides to just wildly fly through the ropes and onto concrete. Meng follows and chucks Overlord into the announce table and he flies violently into that! Overlord tries to get back in the ring and Meng punches him on the apron.....and Overlord does an awesome Harley Race "feet catching the bottom rope" bump landing back first on the concrete. Who the hell is this Overlord!? Once he gets back in he continues to suck, but damn, we'll always have that minute of awesome bumping.

4. Jimmy Snuka vs. American GI

ER: American GI doesn't seem like your typical indy heel gimmick. The guy has an Army shirt, a crew cut, doesn't bark orders at the crowd like a drill sergeant, is just a standard issue army guy wrestler. One who is clearly booked as a heel because the crowd isn't going to boo Snuka. Is West Virginia against the troops? Is this a smart local gimmick playing off of Virginia's world renowned Antimilitarism? This feels like a pretty standard 90s Jimmy Snuka indy match. It goes about 4 minutes, GI takes most of it. GI didn't look that good. I'm not sure who GI's manager was, but HE was good. He violently choked Snuka in the ropes, and later took a vicious bump off the apron from a big clothesline from GI. So Snuka took some middling offense, and then decided to go home: Hit a backbreaker, then went up to plaster him with the Superfly Splash, totally unprotected because his knees were shot at this point, brudda.

5. Eddie & Hector Guerrero vs. Black Angel & Super Ninja

ER: Holy cow. You guys. Eddie. Eddie Guerrero wrestled so damn well on a strange Virginia indy show. Also, Hector! Man what a killer match with essentially just 2.5 out of 4 wrestlers. I have no clue who Super Ninja or Black Angel are/were, but Black Angel gets a real nice reaction coming out. He gets kind of mobbed by fans, truthfully. Why? I do not know. He takes a snapmare nicely? Super Ninja is a guy who is at least workable. He has better timing than Angel, has better ring awareness (seems like every move Angel did would either wind up with he or his opponent lying in the ropes), and did a couple decent spin kicks. But you guys. Eddie. Holy cow. He was so damned good here. Fans are on him right away with the Eddy Sucks chants that were all the rage at the time, and he feeds them great. This match was a wonderful example of his stooging ability, showing genuine frustration (watch the intensity as he slams his hands on the apron after getting armdragged out of the ring), his comedy (watch him get excited and slap Hector after getting too fired up, then immediately beg off), and just his incredible wrestling ability. The way he took offense, the way he would slyly get into position for stuff, the way he would work the crowd from the apron, the big bumps he took to the concrete, the snap he would deliver his own offense with, the way he would feed the offense of people with pretty bad offense. Eddie was just really special. I'm not sure what circumstances lead to him working this show, but I'm glad those circumstances happened. And in all this Eddie talk it would be easy to forget about Hector, but Hector busted ass in this too! Hector was doing all sorts of cool suplexes, trying to set up complex roll ups that Black Angel would botch, and playing a great toned down second to Eddie. Eddie is a marvel down the stretch, taking increasingly impressive bumps to the floor while Ninja/Angel try to finish Hector, with Eddie's best bump coming as he takes a superkick on the apron and bumps backwards from the apron to the guardrail. Seeing kids leap in shock as Eddie flies into the rail in front of them was glorious. No clue why the Guerreros worked this show, no clue why they won the tag titles which I would guess were never ever defended by them, but I'm so glad that some guy sitting in a balcony decided to record this.

6. George South vs. Italian Stallion

ER: Man, I love George South. I watched a current George South match within the last 6 months and I still love super old even more Jesus-y George South. I love that he's a God fearing man, but also a bad guy. Like Jesus loves him, and he loves Jesus, but he's a bad guy. George South was one of those guys you could slot into a suddenly empty spot on the 500. "We have Black Buffalo on there twice? I guess put George South at 205." Italian Stallion gets a stunningly loud reaction coming out to the ring. Everybody wants to slap him five. He and South have two of the most incredible faded glory mullets you have ever seen. And I really liked this. It doesn't take much for me to like a South match, but Stallion was surprisingly game too, and I always love a couple of old dudes fighting. South is so good at the little things, he throws a couple of different great punches (really like his short uppercut), bumps big on armdrags and clotheslines, and can brawl. Stallion threw a shockingly good overhand right, cut really low on a missed lariat, had a big press slam and nice powerslam. And this was good! We get some amusing wandering brawling on the outside, as South would punch Stallion, Stallion would wander halfway around the ring, Stallion would punch South and South would wander back around a couple lengths of ring. But man I dig this kind of stuff. If I could be guaranteed a match as decent as South/Stallion on every indy card I went to, I'd be a happy live wrestling fan.

What a neat little time capsule of late 90s indy wrestling. I could watch stuff like this all day.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home