Eric’s Blog: One of my top 5 favorite matches, Ric Flair vs. Vader, 20 years ago today

Once upon a time, World Championship Wrestling, and Jim Crockett Promotions before it, promoted Starrcade as its most prominent and preeminent event of the year. Originally held Thanksgiving night, pressure from the WWF in 1988 forced WCW to move its flagship event to the week of Christmas, which means if the event were being held today, well, it might be held today.

In fact, 20 years ago today, the 11th Starrcade was held in Charlotte, N.C., with the original plans pitting WCW Champion Big Van Vader against Sid Vicious in a bitter battle of former tag team partners who were, well, thrown together about six months earlier, um, because they were both big and, uh, they both used a power bomb as their finisher.

In December 1993, Vader was 18 months into a spectacular run as a monster heel champion, and Sid was, you know, Sid, the underachieving heel whose babyface turn was predicated on a fumbled, accidental double-cross by his comedic manager, Col. Rob Parker, and who could never connect with a crowd at-large beyond the pop he received on his entrance. (Never mind the fact that Dusty and I think he’s, as Sid himself used to say, “the man.”)

And then came the little issue of the night Sid stabbed Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors 20 times in a hotel in England that October, effectively removing himself from the main event of WCW’s biggest show of the year. This put Eric Bischoff’s team of bookers in quite a pinch, and what did WCW pretty much always do when they were in a pinch?

Paging Ric Flair.

Flair was programmed with Vader beginning at Battlebowl, a half-crocked concept launched by Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade 1991 that, somehow, got its own pay-per-view in November 1993. During the ceremonious final battle royal, Vader attacked Flair outside of the ring, eliminating Flair from the match.

Continue reading

Stunt Granny Audio #167: Nostalgia Special

(Click here to see Jim Duggan on the WHO-13 News in Des Moines! HOOOO!)

Inspired by the nostalgia of Hacksaw Jim Duggan coming to town and the litany of garbagosity that is the crop of champions in TNA, Eric and Dusty bring you a look back at wrestling history and ask the question that has plagued us for about 80 minutes: Could the King of the Ring work, if done right, in today’s WWE? Listen as the guys recount the days when Duggan, Randy Savage, Harley Race and Owen Hart wore the crown. (And then there was Mabel, and Billy Gunn, and William Regal, and…) Who wore it proudly? Who wore it stinkily? Who never really wore it at all? And who would benefit from the royal crown today? Well, listen and find out!

Stunt Granny Audio #167

Second Annual Akeem Memorial Hall of Fame: Serious Wrestlers

Every year, starting in 2010, we here at Stunt Granny will go through a rigorous, dangerous, possibly illegal set of votes to induct people into our own Akeem Memorial Hall of Fame. The voting is broken up into four categories: Serious Wrestlers, Fun Wrestlers, Angles, and Matches. This post is for the Serious Wrestlers. Here are last year’s inductees:

Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Roddy Piper, Rick Steamboat, The Rock, Curt Hennig

And now, without any further ado, here are this year’s inductees!

Hulk Hogan

Randy Savage

Chris Jericho

Jerry Lawler

Terry Funk

The Midnight Express

Harley Race

Nick Bockwinkel

Andre the Giant

The Freebirds

RIP Mickey Garagiola

Pictured above: Mickey Garagiola with Cowboy Bob Orton.

Mickey Gargiola passed away today at the age of 88 after a bout with cancer.  Mickey was best known as his role as Larry Matysik’s co-host and the ring announcer on Wrestling at the Chase on KPLR Channel 11 for many years.  His more famous brother Joe was the original host of Wrestling at the Chase.  Mickey was best considered “the voice of the fan” on the show as he would sit at the announce desk with Larry Matysik and occasionally make a comment about the action taking place in front of him or how he wanted to see a certain wrestler win an upcoming bout.

The Wrestling at the Chase show was tremendously successful until Sam Muchnick sold his interest in the St. Louis Wrestling club to a group of promoters headed by Bob Geigel and Harley Race.  Muchnick retired on January 1, 1982 and less than eighteen months later Gargiola was announcing on Channel 30 along with Matysik who was running opposition to the St. Louis Wrestling Club.  Unfortunately for all fans of the traditional St. Louis style of wrestling Vince McMahon Jr. convinced Ted Koplar who was the Program Director at KPLR to go with WWF programming instead of Matysik’s new venture which had canceled plans to stay on Channel 30 in order to move back to Channel 11.

From all accounts I have ever seen Mickey Garagiola was one of the most genuinely nice people ever involved in the wrestling business.  He was a long time waiter at Ruggeri’s on the Hill (if you ever go to St. Louis you must go to the Hill to eat Italian food!) and was very generous with his time particularly with those who were shut ins or disabled.  I may have to resubscribe to the Observer just to read Dave’s comments on this.  Mickey was one of the few remaining links to what was truly the golden era of wrestling in St. Louis.  As I mentioned on the nostalgia audio if you get the chance to listen to Larry Matysik’s interviews on 57 Gold you really should do so.  I think everything from 1981 on is extremely interesting. – Stunt Granny Nostalgia Expert Dan Kuester

Live results: WLW hall of fame show from Waterloo, Iowa

Has the patience of a female Job.

Has the patience of a female Job.

Jordan and Eric attended tonight’s (Friday’s) World League Wrestling show, held at Young Arena in Waterloo, Iowa, held in conjunction with the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum‘s pro wrestling hall of fame tomorrow (Saturday) at noon. Approximately 300 people were in attendance, as were some of the legends of professional wrestling, including Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, Larry Hennig, Mad Dog Vachon, Baron Von Raschke, Bob Roop, Danny Hodge, Sir Oliver Humperdink and many others. Most of the legends were selling merchandise, including Harley Race, who no-sold Eric’s handshake attempt after he purchased Race’s book.

(1) Jason Jones wrestled “The King of the 450” Steve Anthony to a time limit draw (15:00). Anthony played the arrogant heel — entering the ring to the Donna Summer disco hit “Hot Stuff” — and made reference to last year’s floods that affected the induction weekend, saying he wanted the “ladies to keep their drooling to a minimum.” The match started slowly with good chain wrestling and some heel shenanigans by Anthony, but never really got going (the reason would be evident later). After the 15-minute time limit elapsed, the wrestlers teased a 5-minute overtime; Anthony shrugged it off, bringing Harley Race over to have a talk with him. Strangely, that talk did not lead to the “five more minutes,” and it’s not clear whether the talk was a pep talk, a planned talk or a “talking-to.”

(2) Full Metal Americas (Montoya X & Nicky Free) def. Foreign Objects (AJ Smooth & Tony Sly) (approx. 8:00). A standard tag team match with obvious face/heel lines drawn. Eric’s note: Knowing these guys like I do, it would have been nice to see Free work/sell the bulk of the match in order to get more in-ring experience. FMA won after the Samoa Joe-built Montoya hit an impactful frogsplash.

(3) Ryan Drago def. Trent Stone (11:00). Spot of the night: Imagine, if you will, a minor-league hockey arena with a 7-foot-high curtain down the middle width-wise, held up by a succession of metal poles. Drago exploded through the first curtain, and one of his arms hit the first pole. Like slooow-moving dominos, each pole fell to the ground, taking the entire curtain set-up with it. Words cannot describe how fucking hilarious this was. Drago slapped hands around ringside, and apologized profusely when he got to legends’ row. As for the match, Drago was corny in a good way as a face and showed off all of his Bryan Danielsen-like maneuvers. Stone showed surprisingly few power moves for as stout as he was. Again, the action was standard and ended with a Pearl River Plunge by Drago for the pin. Hopefully he did this on purpose, but as Drago was soaking in the crowd’s reaction, he backed into a trash can, knocking it over to etch his final memory.

20-Minute Intermission (55:00). Ugh.

(4) Amy Hennig (c) def. Becca and Lucy (9:00) for the WLW Women’s Championship. Becca was announced as the world’s strongest woman, claiming a 600-pound bench press. Believable, once you see her. “Once,” not “if,” because it wouldn’t surprise either of us if she made it to the big time. Same with Hennig; Amy has the timing and bumping ability of her late father, Curt. Lucy was OK in her “third wheel” role. Hennig and Lucy worked Becca over individually to no avail, then together with some success, but Becca played the monster well, hitting some great power moves. By the end of the match, Hennig hit Lucy with her dad’s neck snap and Perfectplex for the win.

(5) “Still King of the 450” Steve Anthony & Bao Nguyen def. Darrin Wade & Jason Jones (c) to win the WLW Tag Team Championships (22:00). Before the match got going, a old, fat, bald man in the front row jawed with Anthony, getting pretty belligerent, until Wade came down and put his arm around the man in a “don’t worry, I’ll get him for you” gesture. Anthony must have done something right in the opening match, because he got more heat than the other three, even when standing on the apron. Wade took enough pages out of Homicide’s book to be guilty of plagiarism, from his hands-behind-the-head ref check to his top rope Ace Crusher and his attempted Cop Killer; and lest we forget his “homages” to AJ Styles and Petey Williams: after no one sold Wade’s dive to the outside, including himself, Wade hit Anthony with one Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall and *immediately* followed it up with — you guessed it — a Canadian Destroyer. For a nearfall. Oh, Anthony did hit the 450 (it was closer to a 427, but that explained why he didn’t try it earlier). The match ended with Nguyen hitting a frogsplash (yep, two in one night) on Wade for the pin. Meanwhile, Jones, who actually tried to get his partner’s comebacks over all night, writhed in pain on the floor after a semi-botched suplex attempt. Time for Wade to do some Hindu squats.

Shorter Intermission (Not much:shorter). Jordan said he’s glad he didn’t buy any raffle tickets, since they never announced a raffle winner (at least not while we were there).

(6) Superstar Steve (c) def. Ricky Steamboat, Jr., and Ryan Breaker to retain the WLW Heavyweight Championship (14:00). By this point in the night, the crowd was dead; two intermissions and five matches’ worth of babyface clapping had taken it out of them, and they reacted to few things besides “WOOO”ing for chops. Steamboat looked good, especially for only having about one year under his belt. Steve is just as good as or better than he was nine years ago, the first time Eric saw him wrestle. Breaker needed to get out of the way more often; he nearly cracked skulls with Steve on a miscommunicated duck-under/leapfrog move, and on a Randy Savage-style “deliberate clothesline” attempt caught his feet on the top rope and nearly killed himself in the scariest spot of the night. Overall, your typical three-way match, with one guy sitting out while the other two wrestled. The finish saw Steamboat on the top rope going for a Doomsday Cross Body onto Steve, who instead gave Breaker a victory roll for the pin.

Overall thoughts: Best babyface reactions went to Harley Race for confronting Anthony in the first match, Amy Hennig for the whole night (and Larry Hennig reacting to the douchebags who wanted pictures with Amy), and Drago for the curtain fall… Best heel reaction went to Anthony, more in the second match than the first… Two intermissions absolutely killed the crowd… Hopefully a storm that knocked out power for almost 10,000 people in this 100,000-person community didn’t affect the turnout too badly, and hopefully a good crowd comes to the museum for the hall of fame inductions in the morning.

%d bloggers like this: