-This is a home video release, part of the Wrestling Gold series. Look for it at online retailers.
-Stu Ganz introduces the program. They have compiled the most enjoyable matches from hours and hours of archived footage. Dave Meltzer and Jim Cornette are providing introductions for each match.
Sherri Martel vs. Judy Martin
Sherri is YOUNG in this one. Sherri dominates in the early going, nailing a drop-kick. Headlock takedown by Sherri. Martin powers out and the match restarts. Irish whip by Martin, who knocks down Sherri for stomps. Snapmare by Martin and a leg drop. Scoop slam by Martin, but she misses another leg drop. Punch to the chest by Sherri and a back drop. Sherri stomps the head. Judy counters a third attempt with a back drop. Judy kicks the head and clotheslines. Judy continues to target the head. Cover by Martin gets 1. Sherri fights back with a headlock and clothesline. Martin hooks the arms, but Sherri surprises her with a small package for the win at 4:34. The match was kind of just there, *. Winner: Sherri Martel
-Cornette and Meltzer introduce the next match, featuring a 20 year old Shawn Michaels.
Shawn Michaels vs. Ken Johnson
This is from Texas All-Star Wrestling. Johnson is aggressive but they cleanly break in the corner. They exchange armbars. Michaels quickens the pace, dropping Johnson with a hip toss and working a side headlock. Shoulder tackle by Michaels and a cross body gets 2. Shawn goes back to the side headlock. Michaels counters and nails a drop-kick. More headlock work by Michaels. Backdrop counter by Johnson and some elbow drops to the back. Scoop slam by Johnson and another elbow drop. They exchange blows. Johnson smashes the back and dishes out a back drop. Backbreaker by Johnson gets 1. Another exchange of strikes, with Johnson coming out on top. Johnson misses a head of steam into the corner, colliding with the post. Michaels mounts the turnbuckles for punches and flips off. Series of drop-kicks by Michaels and a power slam gets the win at 4:23. Michaels showed a lot of early potential here, *½. Winner: Shawn Michaels
-Meltzer puts over Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard as a great tag team. Cornette adds that along with The Grapplers, they were the finest tag team workers during that time.
After the break, Hernandez is struggling with #1, but #2 gets a top rope shot. Good thing the referee missed that, it would have been a DQ. The legal Grappler targets the throat. Grappler #1 tags and nails a clotheslien straight to the throat. Cover gets 2. Grappler #2 tags and targets the back. Cover by #2 gets 2. The Grapplers keep the tags coming, Blanchard has become the de facto face in peril. Hernandez gets a tag, but the referee didn’t see it, but The Grapplers make the old switcheroo thanks to the distraction. Hernandez gets a legit tag and elbows the head of Grappler #2. Drop kick gets 2 for Hernandez. Blanchard tags, and nails a backbreaker for 2. Hernandez tags and drives the legal Grappler into Blanchard and rolls him up for the win at 8:59 (shown). This felt a bit flat at the end, but featured some nice old school tag team action in the middle, **½. Winners and new Southwest Tag Team Champions: Tully Blanchard and Gino Hernandez
-Immediately after the match, Blanchard turns on Hernandez, beating the holy hell out of his newly crowned champion of a partner. The Grapplers aren’t happy and take advantage of the situation and attack the new champs. Blanchard escapes, leaving Hernandez to stay and fight off both Grapplers.
Gino Hernandez vs. Tully Blanchard
The special referee is famous boxer, Ernie Shavers. Blanchard is a coward and immediately stalls for time at ringside. Back to the ring, they finally lock up, with Hernandez getting the upper hand and sending Blanchard to ringside to recover. They lock up again with Blanchard kneeing the midsection and smashing Hernandez into the turnbuckle. Hernandez bounces back and smashes the head, Blanchard runs away yet again. Blanchard reluctantly returns but hides in the ropes, which doesn’t stop Hernandez from smashing him out of the ring again. The match restarts, this time with Blanchard purposefully throwing Blanchard through the ropes. Blanchard returns and gets overpowered for a bit before turning the tables on Hernandez. Blanchard ties up Gino’s arm in the ropes for some cheap shots. Vertical suplex by Blanchard and an elbow drop off the ropes for 2. Hard Irish whip sends Hernandez crashing to ringside. Tully drops an elbow off the apron and argues with Shavers. Somewhere along the way, Hernandez has been busted open too. Hernandez keeps trying to return, but Blanchard keeps knocking him back out. Blanchard smashes Gino’s head into a ringside table. Hernandez counters with a backdrop. Hernandez grabs the time keeper’s bell and clocks Blanchard in the head, busting him open too. The match continues anyway. Blanchard is sprawled out on the ringside table, with Hernandez attacking with the head set. Back to the ring, Hernandez keeps up the assault on the bloody forehead (including some biting). Forearm smash gets a slow 2 count for Gino. Suplex by Hernandez but he misses a top rope elbow drop. Shavers pushes down Blanchard (must have insulted him) and Hernandez gets the win with a cross body at 12:16. Fun grudge match, ended around the time it was really heating up though, ***. Winner: Gino Hernandez
-A replay shows that Blanchard had tried to assault Shavers, which lead to the lethal shove.
-When it comes to Adrian Adonis, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, so says Meltzer. Cornette says that both Adonis and Bob Orton Jr. had reputations as two of the finest grapplers in the game.
-Lou Thesz holds up the old NWA World Heavyweight Championship and plans to award it to the winner of this bout. The really old (75 years old) belt is also present. Shouldn’t that thing be in a museum somewhere?
World Heavyweight Championship:
Adrian Adonis vs. Bob Orton Jr.
They lock up with Adonis managing to work over the arm. Orton reverses after a struggle. Adonis slowly works his way to a reversal and they compete for a hold. The match is a complete stand still as they test each other’s strength. Adonis backs Orton into the corner and grounds him with a head scissor takedown. Orton tries to kick out but he’s stuck in the legs. Orton escapes and lunges at the head, but Adonis craftily transitions into an arm lock. Orton escapes and hits a snapmare, but Adonis counters into a cover for 2. Orton takes a breather at ringside. Drop toe hold by Orton, who goes back to the arm work. Adonis counters with an arm drag and rolls up Orton for 2. Hammerlock by Adonis. The pace quickens briefly before Orton locks back on to the arm. Adonis drives Orton into the turnbuckles, but Orton hangs on to the arm. After a long struggle, Adonis fights to his feet and the pace picks up with a series of knock-down attempts. Adonis gets the upper hand, nailing a scoop slam. Orton blocks an Adonis cross body off the ropes! Elbow drop to the freshly injured midsection by Orton, cover for 2. Orton attempts a victory roll, but gets 2 yet again. The bandaged wound on Adonis’ face has been busted open and Orton is capitalizing. Cover by Orton gets 2. Adonis counters a bulldog by thrusting Orton into the corner. Hard chops by Adonis but his whip is countered and he goes tumbling into the corner. Atomic drop by Orton, who then clumsily sets up Adonis on the top rope. Orton attempts a superplex, but he’s knocked off, and Adonis just kind of tumbles onto him. That looked messy. Adonis nails a shoulder tackle, but goes down himself as well. Orton misses a strike and gets caught in a sleeper. Orton counters by thrusting Adonis into the ropes. Orton responds with a sleeper of his own! Adonis escapes. Orton goes for an inside cradle, but Adonis counters and picks up the win at 14:47! This match walked a fine line between tedious and compelling, but was ultimately rewarding, ***¼. Winner and new World Heavyweight Champion: Adrian Adonis
-Adonis celebrates with his new title belt.
-Meltzer talks about how Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher battled all over the world, probably even in parts of the planet we don’t even know about!
Abdullah the Butcher vs. Bruiser Brody
We join the fight already in progress. They are brawling at ringside, using weapons. Brody gets into the ring and attacks Abby on his own way in. The Butcher misses a punch and knocks out the referee. Brody takes advantage, kicking the (enormous) gut. A fresh referee takes over and immediately asks for the bell. The ref tries to break up the fight but gets pushed to the side. They brawl back into the ringside area and into the crowd. The house lights come on so we can see what’s going on, as they battle to the wall. Brody grabs a board and tries to murder Abdullah with it. They go for each other’s throat. They struggle up some stairs, with Brody connecting with a shot with the board. Things get so real the police department cuts off the crowd, as the brawl continues inches away from the hard camera. Brody grabs a chair, which prompts Abdullah to take a hike. No rating, since this wasn’t really a match, but a truly wild brawl that felt real and was elevated by the mystique of both men.
-Meltzer talks about the interpromotional matches between San Antonio and Georgia. Cornette explains that Texans are proud and there was no way they would accept their guy losing.
Larry Zbyszko vs. Scott Casey
The match is already in progress and they are exchanging holds. They dodge some attacks, with Zybisco applying a headlock. The timekeeper informs us that ten minutes are gone. The hold appears to have transitioned into a chinlock and Casey might be out. Casey fights to his feet and counters with a backbreaker! Side suplex by Casey and a knee drop for 2. Leg drop by Casey, but Zybisco grabs the hair to smash Casey’s skull into the turnbuckles. Zybisco tosses Casey through the ropes to the ringside table. Casey stumbles onto the apron and gets knocked back onto the table. He makes it back while Zybisco was busy untying a turnbuckle pad. Scoop slam by Zybisco, who then rakes the eyes with his boots. What a bastard, eh? Casey reverses a suplex! Reverse neckbreaker by Casey gets 2. Casey locks in a sleeper! Zybisco escapes and scores a rope assisted pinfall at 16:35 (about six minutes were shown on the DVD). I didn’t see the whole match, so no rating, but what was included was very good. Winner: Larry Zbyszko
-Tully Blanchard runs in, outraged by the result. A wild brawl breaks out, with Stan Hansen getting involved. Zybisco is tossed from the ring.
Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Bob Sweetan
Lawler asks for crowd support, since he is a “network” star (this is in the midst of his feud with Andy Kaufman). Sweetan considers stomping on King’s crown, but wears it mockingly and wipes his boots with it. The match hasn’t started yet, mainly due to Lawler’s endless stalling. The ref pats down both men, but Lawler cheap shots Sweetan and runs to ringside. Lawler takes the microphone and brags about slapping Sweetan the same way he slapped Kaufman. I didn’t hear the bell ring, but the match finally begins, with Lawler running away again. Sweetan chases Lawler around, but Lawler takes the microphone again to accuse Sweetan of throwing closed fists. Lawler finally returns and gets backed into the corner during a lockup. Lawler blocks a shot and throws a punch. Sweetan is fuming as Lawler continues to shy away from contact. Side headlock by Lawler. Sweetan blocks a punch and connects with one of his own. Lawler retreats to ringside yet again. Lawler returns but is still reluctant to fight. Lawler cheap shots during a lock up, but Sweetan fights back, going for the piledriver, but the ropes get in the way. More ringside stalling by Lawler, who claims the piledriver is an illegal hold where he comes from. Lawler returns briefly, but ultimately decides to take a hike. Lawler returns, but wants a “real referee” for the match to continue. Lawler returns and targets the eyes to gain the upper hand. Snapmare by Lawler, but he misses a fist drop. Lawler blocks a piledriver. Sweetan goes to work on the arm. Lawler fires back with a series of shots. Knee drop and punch to the throat by Lawler. Sweetan counters the piledriver with a backdrop. Elbow drop by Sweetan gets 2. Sweetan tries again, but Lawler kicks out. Back suplex by Sweetan would have finished the match if not for a rope break. Another back suplex by Sweetan gets the win at 12:27. Lawler got into the ropes just a bit too late from my angle, but the referee was tricked and the match continues. Knee drop and a rope assisted cover gets Lawler the win at about 13 minutes. Ten minutes of stalling for that? ½*. Winner: Jerry Lawler
-Sweetan is rightfully pissed and delivers a vicious piledriver to Lawler.
-Meltzer and Cornette put Terry Funk and Ivan Putski as one of the toughest teams Hernandez and Blanchard ever faced.
-You want to see a cage match? Meltzer and Cornette do!
Dick Slater vs. Mongolian Stomper
Referee: Bob Sweetan
Once again, we join the match in progress. The Stomper is in control, slamming Slater’s head into the cage wall. Claw hold by The Stomper. Slater fights out with an elbow shot, but Stomper attacks the eyes and utilizes the cage wall to maintain control. More claw hold action. Slater escapes but gets his head rubbed into the steel. More claw goodness. A dazed Slater fights back with desperate shots. Slater kicks The Stomper into the corner. Slater throws Stomper into the cage. Big boot off the top rope by Slater. Stomper rebounds with some shots but Slater reverses the momentum with a series of smashes. Stomper attacks Slater with his removed boot. Slater gains possession of the boot and uses it to pick up the win at 9:15 (shown). Again, I didn’t see the whole match, so no rating, but this was pretty boring until Slater’s big comeback, *. Winner: Dick Slater
-Stomper and his manager lay a beating on Slater. El Santo Negro runs in for the save but gets dispatched.
-Meltzer and Cornette are excited because the next match features four of the all time greatest legends in the wrestling industry: Bruiser Brody, Nick Bockwinkel, Lou Thesz, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
Final Thoughts: As a time capsule, this is probably a worthwhile purchase to those old enough to remember watching these matches when they first aired. However, I don’t really think this will do much to convince those in the under-40 crowd that this was a superior era in wrestling history. The matches involving Blanchard, Hernandez, and Brody are all a blast, but some of the other choices included are weird. For example, that Lawler/Sweetan match is a waste of time, though you could probably pluck out hundreds of identical Lawler matches. Mainly, I was disappointed that so many of the bouts were clipped and I was really hoping that Meltzer and Cornette would provide some interesting insights, but they mainly just played up the hype.