Each of the last four years, members of the VOW staff have participated in our very own version of Secret Santa. VOW Secret Santa sees our writers, reviews, podcasters and contributors giving a gift to one another… the gift of a wrestling match. Learn more about the history and purpose behind this project in this introduction piece.

VOW SECRET SANTA 2019 ARCHIVE


Hulk Hogan & Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Andre The Giant & WWF Champion Ted DiBiase
WWF
February 6, 1988

Reviewed by Suit Williams (@SuitWilliams
Gifted by Barry Hess (@BFHess171)

I have a match from the Philadelphia Spectrum in early 1988. When doing research on this match, I had some trouble even finding this match on the Cagematch database because I thought this was a house show. This was a house show, but it turns out that this was televised in the Philadelphia area on the Prism Network, a premium cable channel only offered in the Philadelphia area. I wonder why WWE doesn’t just put up a single cam feed of their house shows now on the Network. I’m fairly sure they have some type of cameras at these shows anyway, plus it would be another few hours of precious content. Actually, I just remembered that they just did that Starrcade house show, and it sucked. Never mind.

To the match, and Ted DiBiase is…walking out with the WWF Championship? It was here where I figured out what this was. This match took place the day after the infamous Hogan/Andre rematch at The Main Event, where Andre won the title on a bogus count and then immediately sold it to DiBiase. So to all the people wondering what The Million Dollar Man would look like with the Gold Eagle belt around his waist, here you go. He’s even announced as the new WWF Champion to boot. Oh, uh, maybe I shouldn’t mention boots while Mel Phillips is on screen.

Hogan and Bam Bam hit the ring, and for the next eight minutes, the crowd is absolutely NUCLEAR. The noise never relents as Hogan brings the fight to both heels. And speaking of Hogan, he was fantastic in this match. The babyface fire he showed was second-to-none, and you could feel his energy coming through the screen. Bam Bam and Andre were bit players here, and in the end Hogan hit the leg drop on DiBiase for the win.

This wasn’t a great match by any means, but I would recommend watching this fun house show match. The crowd heat is insane compared to 2019 WWE, and seeing Ted DiBiase with the WWF Title is a sight to behold. As far as who sent it, I’ll guess Joe Gagne. He’s a Northeast guy if memory serves me correctly.


Owen Hart vs 1-2-3 Kid
WWF
June 19, 1994

Reviewed by Paul Völsch (@Darth_Dragon)
Gifted by Rich Kraetsch (@VoicesWrestling)

Ok, so we’ve got a WWF New Generation era match, which is not what I am most familiar with. But I do know that these two are known as two of the best workers of that time period so this should be good. This was post-Owen Hart heel turn and now he wants to outdo his brother Brett, who had won the last two iterations of this tournament in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Kid had already beaten Razor Ramon and earned his still, in my opinion, a bit stupid moniker 1-2-3 Kid.

Art Donovan on commentary, which is really the only thing that I am familiar with from this show. He immediately makes his presence felt by asking for Owen’s weight and that would be just about his only notable contribution to this match. One thing I did notice was what looked like the Hardy’s standing next to the entrance. I know that they were extras on a King of the Ring show but I’m not sure if it was this one or next year’s show.

Starting off hot as Owen just annihilates Kid with a sliding dropkick as he attempts to enter the ring. Relentless pace with no downtime as these two are going a million miles an hour. This is only a bit more than a year removed from Hulk Hogan main eventing in glacially paced matches and this crowd is not used to this at all. They are going crazy for this though. There is a Tope Suicida in 1994 and Owen catching Kid on a spin kick into a beautiful German suplex. Owen catches Kid into a nice powerbomb and then gets the instant tap out with the sharpshooter. In fact, he would go on to win the entire tournament, though he would ultimately come up short in his WWF title challenge against his Brother Brett at Summerslam. 

Someone backstage probably complained that these youngsters need to slow down and grab a hold. Not me though, as I found this match tremendously entertaining. While it is not my favorite sprint match, which will remain KENTA vs Ricky Marvin, it is not that far behind. I commend my secret Santa and I am two-for-two now on great matches for Secret Santa. As for who it is, there are quite a few Owen Hart fans among the VOW staff so I will pick one at random and say the captain Rich Kraetsch.





Great Space War: Great Sasuke, Ultraman Robin, Brahman Brothers, & Master E.T. vs. C-3PO-1, R2D2-2, Yoda Taro, Darth Vader GAINA, & Superman Kinya
Michinoku Pro
December 10, 2015

Reviewed by Andrew Rich (@AndrewTRich)
Gifted by Kelly Harrass (@ComicGeekelly)

Great Space War 2015 is the perfect encapsulation of childhood. When you were a kid, you didn’t have the burdens of being an adult. Life wasn’t about paying taxes or buying groceries or screaming your head off in rush hour traffic or kissing your boss’ ass so you could get the big promotion at work. Life was about playing. You would play with your friends, make up silly games, pretend to be your favorite movie characters, and just have fun. Don’t worry about the rules, just play.

That is this match to a tee. It’s a bunch of guys dressing up in costumes and making a big mess while acting like goofballs. C-3PO shuffles around the ring like a robot, Superman no-sells a man’s ass getting shoved into his face, Great Sasuke rams a go-kart into a ringpost, the Brahman Brothers spray everybody with water, a giant inanimate dolphin gets thrown into the mix, and a million other wacky things happen that make me laugh very hard. Don’t worry about taking things seriously, just play.

Some spots take a little too long to set up, while others simply don’t work. There’s one moment in particular where Sasuke and E.T. get on a bike and try to jump off a little table ramp to hit Superman. Instead of riding up the ramp, they simply hit the base of it, causing the whole contraption to slide forward while Sasuke and E.T. collapse off the bike. Don’t worry about messing up, just play.

Of course, there’s always the one kid that takes things a little too far during playtime; that’s the Great Sasuke’s role every year. He loves taking the most horrifying-looking bumps in the world. Towards the end of the match, the wrestlers literally deconstruct half the ring down to the metal support beams underneath the wooden boards. Darth Vader then powerbombs Sasuke directly onto one of the beams. It’s the kind of spot that would make the others kids immediately run to get a parent. The match ends soon afterward. Playtime’s over.

There are a lot of wrestling matches that tell intricate, beautifully crafted stories. They use the space of a pro wrestling ring as their canvas to craft rich, emotional works of art that reverberate throughout the viewer’s soul and stand the test of time. They even inspire deep articles written about them, with such titles as “The Tragedy of Tetsuya Naito” or “60 Perfect Seconds: The Beautiful Ending of Okada/Omega IV.”

Great Space War is not one of those matches, nor is it trying to be. It just wants to evoke the openness of childhood, a time when you did things just because you wanted to do them. In that aspect, it wholeheartedly succeeds. You have your whole life to be a serious grown-up who watches serious grown-up wrestling, so why not take 45 minutes to watch this match and let your inner kid run free.

As for who gifted me this wonderful chaos, this has Kelly Harrass written all over it. Thank you “Death Tart.”


Hiromu Takahashi vs. Lucky Kid
Defiant Wrestling
August 23, 2017

Reviewed by Neil David (@chubby_cthulhu)
Gifted by Sarah Flannery (@SarahFlann)

Christmas is mired in lies and deceit.  Families pretend they like each other, partners feign happiness with their awful gifts and town centers are pregnant with officemates temporarily forgetting they hate each other’s guts.  Therefore, I feel it’s important that I start this review with a sprinkle of yuletide honesty that this season desperately needs.

I hate Lucky Kid.

As a European wrestling fan, that hatred festers into the dirtiest emotion imaginable because it has to remain buried.  Everybody loves him. He’s revered and beloved by the community to a degree that leaves me cold. His “ooh aren’t just cerraaazzyyy” persona reminds me of a BTEC drama student who thinks wackiness is a suitable replacement for an actual personality.

Hiromu is his perfect foil.  He can portray the unpredictability with a conviction that Lucky Kid can only dream of.  My journalistic integrity forced me to skip the entrances so my opinion of the match is left untainted by these horrendous, guilt-ridden biases that should be beneath me.

The theme of this match is, obviously, madness.  However, the implementation is much more effective than cuddly toys and teenage wackiness.  The match meanders through slow powders and muffled maneuvers into sudden slaps and stunning shoulder barges.  It’s a mid card match that’s not going to set the world on fire, but they manage to keep it interesting throughout.

The dancing around turnbuckles shows that both of these men refuse to adhere to the traditional, literal boundaries of a wrestling match and it makes this better than it should have been.  Of course, there’s the occasional teddy bear blow and creepy face stroke, but you don’t complain that there’s turkey at the Christmas dinner table. It’s what these guys do.

This match is a great example of the occasional, subtle twist making an exchange more interesting.  Hiromu catching Kid in a German suplex after a rolling elbow takes a standard spot and gives it a little twist of interest.

This isn’t quite the gentleman’s three, but I don’t think it’ll cross my mind again.

As for who has gifted this match, I really have no idea.  I assumed it would have been one of the wXw pilgrims but they don’t seem to have taken part this year.  Everyone else seems to be guessing the smooth, liquid Andrew Rich so I’ll say him to be part of the cool clique.