Segunda Caida

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

Friday, February 01, 2019

New Footage Friday: Rude, Blonds, Scorpio, Steamboat, Sting, Destroyer, Baba, Razor, Tito

The Destroyer/Bill Dromo/Kurt von Stroheim vs. Giant Baba/Michiaki Yoshimura/Toyonobori JWA 12/1/64

MD: Everyone who's seen any amount of Destroyer matches think that he's great, just a perfect marriage of credibility and comedy, able to provide far more of the latter than you'd expect, especially in Japan, while never, ever losing the former. The reason why we can never quite rank him higher against his peers is that we just don't have enough varied footage. Here, though, he was in his mid 30s, and he feels undeniably like one of the best I've ever seen. Baba's amazing too, with this electric alacrity that I'm not sure I've ever seen out of him. He's got this lightning throat chop that feels like Sangre Chicana's comeback punch. It's that good.

This goes forty minutes but it feels like a breezy fifteen. It tells a half dozen narratives, narratives that maybe never add up to a greater whole, but still never feels disjointed or ambling. The other four guys in the ring hold their own, with Destroyer, Dromo, and Von Stroheim amazingly on the same page for three guys who seem completely different. The finish is the best thing too, Destroyer, who stooged and gooned and grumbled the whole match, expertly escaping a rolling bodyscissors and locking in a laser-fast 1964 figure-four leglock, basically earning two falls in one. It was this great Buddy Rose moment where a guy who fed and fed transcends the normal scorn of the crowd by showing that he's an absolute killer.

PAS: This is some of the earliest Destroyer footage we have, he is an all time great who we don't have a full view of. There isn't a ton of new tricks a new Flair match will show us, but we don't know all of the Destroyers tunes. Structure of the match was interesting, they would alternate between the heels controlling with quick tags, and the native trios getting off big moves with the heels stooging and bumping. Nifty bits of stooge work by the heels, I loved Destroyer flying all around the ring for Yoshimura's drop kicks, and Baba is treated like a total monster. The match really kicks into gear in the last section with Destroyer slamming Baba on the floor, and Baba coming back like a maniac wrecking everyone.

The finish itself was totally awesome, with Yoshimura ripping off a rolling bodyscissors, and Destroyer spinning out super fast into a figure four, it was a crazy bit of athleticism, which you don't really see in later Destroyer matches. They do the super old school thing where the refs and other wrestlers need to untangle the legs to break the hold and Yoshimura lays slumped in the corner selling like he tore his patella. Destroyer struts around like a cocky dick as Yoshimura can't answer the bell for the third fall. Destroyer comes off like such a legend, a badass who can end a match in an instant. If I was a fan in the 60s I would totally would buy a ticket to see Baba or Toyonbouri try to take him down, but I would be terrified that he could break one of my hero's in the snap of his fingers.

Tito Santana vs. Razor Ramon 6/29/92

MD: I know 84-94 WWF as much as anything, with 90-92 WWF that sweet spot of nostalgia from when I was 10. So while this wasn't great, I still wanted to talk about it. Obviously, Hall had honed the Ramon gimmick as the Diamond Studd (and if I'm not mistaken, a bit in PR before that), but there's an element to his work here that is really interesting.

He feigned apathy in a way that no WWF heel ever had before him. Basically, he worked this match as a dismissive cool heel and it was something the crowd had never really seen. There's been a lot written about how cool heels swallow their opponents on the mic, but look at what he does here (and how he turns it on a dime to effect later in the match). When Tito gets him in an armbar early, he just casually walks to the ropes, putting his foot through to break it. He feigns that it's not even worth the effort to try to escape. By the second or third time he does this, the fans are irate at him because it goes against everything they know. Some heels (like a Dibiase sort) might have tried to get to the ropes, but only because they couldn't escape any other way. To Ramon, it wasn't even worth trying. Later on, while feeding for Tito a bit, he'd just sidestep him and use his side to redirect him over the top rope. He'd sell the arm, would jaw with the ref, but he was in absolutely no rush to go back after Tito. It was this 90s mentality which went against everything the fans were trained to think about wrestling. There was also an element of visual dissonance. Ramon was big, bigger than Tito, but he was just so purposefully laconic and taking shortcuts, not because he had to or because he liked to but because he didn't see any point in not taking them.

Here, because it was one wrestler in one match, and because Ramon, once he was outwrestled by Tito (who cares as much as anyone) later on, showed cracks in the facade, it worked. The fans barely reacted to him at the start and by the time he won (after lazily getting a leg up on a flying forearm and rolling through a flying body press with a tights grab), they hated his guts. Extrapolated forwards, however, especially as he continued to rack up wins, there was a real danger that he would have torpedoed the credibility of everyone he was in the ring with, making them all look like fools for caring so much when he didn't care at all.

ER: Matt's early wrestling nostalgia lines up almost exactly with my childhood wrestling experience, so the most notable thing about this to me was that Razor *was wearing pants*. And they weren't just generic tights, they were clearly Razor Ramon tights. I have never seen a picture of him wearing tights, although I'm sure there must be one out there, so right away this felt weird. Matt did an impossibly great job of running down a match that was essentially worked like a Young Lions match (it felt like Razor went out there specifically showing what he could do in a match with zero offense, with I think his biggest highspot being a legdrop to Tito's balls), and for fans looking back I bet this came off as memorable if only because the match actually goes about 10 minutes, and this being a Superstars taping, after this they were going to be seeing 15-20 different 2 minute matches. But it's pretty impressive to me just how fully formed the Razor Ramon character was. He has a lot of mannerisms down that he would go on to use for the rest of his career, like he has it all figured out. Again, Matt does a great job of running down the subtle psychology, that cocky foot on the ropes that Razor employs throughout, but I also liked him calling his shot before the bell, indicating he was going to toss Santana the hell over the ropes. He later does so and turns to the crowd without even having to tell them "Told ya so". I wrongly assume this is because they're debuting a bunch of guys before the Rumble, which it seemed like they did, but checking the date and that's likely not the case. I appreciate guys getting mileage out of no offense, and most of this is Ramon and Santana trading holds and reacting, with the only real offense being Santana hitting a nice dropkick and the flashy flying forearm and a crossbody (which is reversed), and Razor eating knees on a Vader bomb spot. The rest is mannerisms and machismo, a cool snapshot of the next several years.

Rick Rude/Steve Austin/Brian Pillman vs. 2 Cold Scorpio/Ricky Steamboat/Sting WCW 5/6/93

MD: Looking at the Observer results on this match, it was in front of ~300 people in Terre Haute, Indiana. On a Thursday. WWE was elsewhere drawing 2500 with Giant Gonzales vs Taker and Money Inc. vs the Steiners on top. Right before this match the crowd had to sit through Orndorff vs Eric Watts and Bagwell vs Wrecking Crew Rage (they did get Rip Rogers vs RVD and Benoit vs Regal).

So here you have six guys who are stars, who were on magazine covers and in video games and had toys made of them. Rude and Steamboat wrestled in front of massive houses. Austin and Pillman and Scorpio less so, maybe. Sting was Sting. And in front of 300 people in Terre Haute, Indiana, they put on a hell of a match.

Scorpio was glad to be there, felt like such a star, and was hugely helped by all the heels begging off from him. The Blonds act was perfect for a match like this, pretending to want to scuffle with the rowdy crowd, pairing with Rude really well, feeding endlessly for the faces. Rude was at the height of his power. He was one of the best in the world in this period and he could do more with his hips alone than most wrestlers could do with six or seven full body rotations (you know what I mean).

It was an elimination match, which was fun in some ways but it meant we lost Scorpio a little earlier than I would have liked. It did mean Pillman got to shine a bit in the back half though, and meant that the finish (which was great, maybe one of the best finishes in 93 WCW) was entirely between Sting and Pillman. This was the perfect combination of star power, house show goofing, and guys actually working hard when there was no reason in the world for them to do so. Were they really putting on matches like this every night?

ER: What a special little gem of a match, the perfect mix of all six stars' abilities and terrific house show stooging and shenanigans. There's no way fans went home feeling they got ripped off after this one. This would have been a great and well remembered match on PPV, but I like the in the crowd feeling we get for this one, as while Matt pointed out there were 300 people there, those 300 people were excited for this match. Rick Rude was clearly one of the best wrestlers in the world during this era. You rarely get to see a man stalk the ring and work the match with this kind of unabashed, deserved confidence. Dude knew where he was at every step of the way, knew what would work and did it better than anyone could have. He milks the atomic drops from Scorpio like you hoped he would, pretends to be occupied on the apron so he wouldn't have to take Pillman's tag when Sting was going wild, throws a full Rude hip swivel in while holding Scorpio before hitting a spinebuster (this really popped off fans around our camera man), and there was a tremendous moment where he started headbutting Sting, then lost control and started throwing a ton of headbutts....before realizing how much his own head was now throbbing; we get great Rude stumbling around while he's selling his own forehead, with him wandering perfectly into place for Steamboat to throw a lonnnnnnnnng windup punch from the apron. If I saw a spot like that on a house show I genuinely wouldn't care what else was on the show, my spent money would be deemed worth it. Rude was an absolute force during this era, really a guy I want to go back and just watch every ounce of his WWF/WCW work.

Everyone else was great here, too; this was far from a one man performance. Blonds - like Rude - were great doofs and total badasses. We get an incredible shot before the match, total luck really, of Austin going after a fan and Pillman having to hold him back. Austin is going after a guy literally right next to our camera man, so we get to see the incensed hate in Austin's eyes and how much of his body he's really throwing into Pillman's stoppage. Obviously there was no chance Austin was going to lay his hands on some Terra Haute hillbilly, but he commits to the act and these same fans are riled up the entire match. Stone Cold is what brought me back full bore into wrestling fandom in high school after I had abandoned it a few years prior, and when I got back into wrestling I had never seen one second of WCW Steve Austin. Everything I loved about Stone Cold was right here already, 4 years earlier. Babyface team was fantastic, every bit of wild energy you could want from a babyface house show trios team (look at that big Sting press slam!!), and it was awesome seeing Scorpio treated like a star. This is a real gem, something you desperately hope there is more of, out there, somewhere.

PAS: I love house show handhelds especially from the 20th century. You are going to a get a much more interactive performance in a small Indiana gym, they aren't working to the back of the arena, because they aren't in an arena. You get to see guys work shtick to the crowd, and it is just incredible to watch all time performers interact like this. Absolutely loved Rude here, we got a ton of variations of his hurt butt sell, took several atomic drops, missed a sunset flip, nothing says wrestling like Rude clenching his ass cheeks and tip toeing around the ring. Scorpio is always a treat to watch, he is constantly mixing in unique bits of offense and selling, here he broke out a flying back Super Astro tope, which has got to be the only time that spot was ever done in Indiana. Such a treat, and it is pretty great that this is just available to watch on your computer 25 years later.


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