The collection of matches and segments I am watching for this series come from a 1992 Yearbook created by Goodhelmet, a longtime poster at the Death Valley Driver Forum and other wrestling places. A cross-section of the best (and worst of wrestling within a certain year), it is a great snapshot of everything of importance. The footage is taken from the June 27-July 3.
Having battled against each other on the 21st, Toshiyo Yamada and Manami Toyota teamed up on the 27th June to take on a team that split up two opposing duos from that show – Akira Hokuto and Kyoko Inoue. Things started off at a fast lick with Yamada and Toyota hitting successive crossbodies before the action spilled to the floor and had the crowd running away in fear. Hokuto has a stuffed piledriver-esque move that I have never seen before that she used early in both matches, heavy on the impact and had her pulling Inoue up twice at a two count. With no-one physically dominant in the manner of an Aja Kong or Bull Nakano, the match saw neither team sustain control for long periods of time.
The camera managed to miss what appeared to be an Inoue dive to ringside, though did catch a top rope dropkick by Hokuto on Toyota for a nearfall. A neat touch saw Inoue assisted Hokuto in getting a giant swing started, highlighting the importance of teamwork within the tag contest. Admittedly, Inoue than put Hokuto to shame with her own version of the move, one that went on for about four times as long. Unfortunately, Hokuto crumpled on a powerbomb attempt that was still enough to pin Toyota, made worse by it being shown on replay. This was the moment I realized this was two out of three falls, which is always helpful (it wasn’t clearly noted as such in the menu).
In the second, Yamada absolutely destroyed Hokuto with six back suplexes in a row, before Toyota landed a dropkick into a seventh. This was all to set up for a Yamada second rope kick to the head, though somehow wasn’t enough. What was enough was Yamada’s Vertebreaker into a pin, which legitimately had me wincing at how much it crumpled up Hokuto. This was a great, short fall, with Yamada just blitzing Hokuto.
Things slowed down a little in the third fall, but not by a lot as a succession of nearfalls saw bodies flying around the ring. There were another couple of spots were Toyota and Hokuto weren’t on the same page, yet that can be attributed primarily to the quick pace of the action I feel. For the most part, it was Toyota who was in trouble as Inoue and Hokuto both unleased bombs on here, including a double superplex. There was still time for some dives to the outside, though Toyota almost came up short with her moonsault press. Having struggled at points in the third fall, it was Toyota who picked up the win after pinning Inoue with the Japanese Ocean Bomb. Aside from some sloppier moments, this was electric fun.
The nature of the WWF stuff at this time is often interesting as it is pretty much only character work and vignettes, considering Superstars was still pretty much just squashes. When compared to what Saturday Night was offering, it isn’t surprising that the WWF has relatively few matches on the set so far.
Still, there are good vignettes and bad vignettes. On this Superstars, we saw Tatanka going back to his culture as a way of promoting the importance of his bloodline, as well as the feathers that were stolen by Rick Martel. Whilst not known for his interviews, Tatanka does a good job here of selling the significance of Martel’s actions, and the kids surrounding him and hanging on his every word is a neat touch to promote a key babyface character.
Less effective are the continued Razor Ramon vignettes, primarily because they are just too much of a parody of that Tony Montana-type character to be taken seriously. In this one, Ramon sent a woman away who he’d ‘scarred her heart for life’ and that he would scar the soul of any wrestlers that crossed him in the WWF. I’m so glad they eventually toned this down as it is very hard viewing seen through the eyes of 2020.
The good, the bad – now the ugly. This was the Superstars in which the Legion of Doom and Paul Ellering returned to their roots, and in doing so found Rocco the Puppet. In a segment filmed in a house that had pretty much fallen down, Ellering unearthed Rocco from the rubble. Animal and Hawk tried their best to sell this, talking about how he had helped them keep on the straight and narrow and acted as their ‘wrestling buddy’, but this is just awful for a team of this importance.
Heading over to Memphis, the best/most important action also came from vignettes and promos. The first piece of footage had Brian Christopher introduce a new music video all about him. Within it, he picked up a hitchhiker, only to then set the poor guy up in his house doing menial tasks. This was simple heel stuff, but Christopher is a great smarmy heel so it worked.
What upset me about the next Memphis clip was how little of the match they included as Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Lawler faced off against Pat Rose and Bob Cook. I say this primarily as a fan of Rose as a jobber – random, but he is hard not to like. Still, instead of the match, this was all about rekindling the Moondog feud that had been so hot earlier in the year. The Moondogs hit the ring, yet Jackie Fargo was soon in to even up the numbers, swinging a trash can and some wooden boards to run the heels off. In the interview afterward, Fargo was blowing hard, a further indication that, as much as Memphis liked to benefit from the cache certain territorial legends had, Fargo shouldn’t have been involved in the angle.
Heading over to Smoky Mountain Wrestling and one show gave a very clear indication of how and how not to do a promo. Ron Garvin was many things as a wrestler but a talker wasn’t one of them. He was coming into the promotion and specifically called out Paul Orndorff and Dirty White Boy, However, in the process, he stumbled over his words and also revealed himself to be 41 years of age – not exactly what you want to be doing, I feel, as you try and promote new talent.
What followed from Jim Cornette was much more in keeping with a good promo. Love him or hate him, the guy could talk. On an episode of ‘Down and Dirty with Dutch’ alongside the Heavenly Bodies, Tom Prichard initially decried an attack by The Fantastics that put both their in-ring career and their advertising opportunities at risk. It was Cornette who upped the ante though, as he talked about being in a position of wondering whether to wait for the next attack or go on the offensive. This was no longer about the title belts and they were willing to break an arm or a leg if necessary. This was a great promo – one of the best of the year so far.
Speaking of good talkers, Buddy Landell joined the Dirty White Boy for what appeared to be a local promo more than anything. What we, as fans, learned was that Landell and the DWB went to the same high school, though they didn’t always get on. That has changed and they are finally on the same page. What I love about Landell at this time was how little he gave a shit. He talked about how they both weren’t in Madison Square Garden as they had bad attitudes, whilst he could have been the world champion is he was willing to kiss some ass. He wasn’t backward in coming forwards, that’s for sure.
(14.43 for Garvin, 28.26 for Heavenly Bodies)
On paper, a potentially great way to finish off this week’s article was the CMLL meeting of Negro Casas and El Dandy. What I’ve seen of Casas in 1992 has been great, so I started this contest looking forward to what was in store. Things started on the mat for the most part, though I loved the amount of struggle each man put up to apply or halt the holds. Each hold was accompanied by a strike or a gouge or a rake across the face. Even simple things like trips had a certain amount of authority and impact to them. It appeared that Dandy was having the better of the exchanges standing up, only for two uranage-style throws, a spinebuster and a sharpshooter to end the primera caida in favour of Casas.
Casas cemented his control in the segunda with a low blow that caught the referee unsighted, yet Dandy soon had his opponent struggling after a dragon sleeper variation. A spinebuster of his own and a leglock into a bridge suddenly had things all tied up. In the transition between the primera and the segunda, Casas had nailed Dandy with a spinning heel kick; Dandy hadn’t forgotten, starting the tercera with two dropkicks. Still, it was soon Casas who was pushing for victory with a second rope belly to belly and a top rope elbowdrop. Even through the distance of time, I was hoping that Dandy had enough to pull out the victory and he managed just that, rolling Casas up with a La Majistral cradle for the win. In doing so, he won the CMLL World Middleweight Championship and played his part in one of the best matches of the year. Your mileage may vary depending on what you think about Lucha, but this was epic and enjoyable all at once.
In terms of in-ring action, the two matches were excellent and well worth seeking out/watching on YouTube. As for the rest, there was some good, some bad and some ugly. I’m feeling that things such as Cornette and Landell’s promos at least offset the crap coming from the Rocco angle and lesser talent when it comes to talking like Garvin. Join me next week as I continue to watch the action from 1992 in That Was The Year That Was.