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 July 4.
This week’s article looks at the action from a stacked Fourth of July. The set first took us to the upstart AAA promotion via a fancam as El Hijo Del Santo, Perro Aguayo and Misterioso teamed together to take on Fishman, Espanto Jr. and Cien Caras. My lucha libre knowledge isn’t great as I’ve owned up to in the past, yet this sounds like a pretty stacked six-man match. This was another lucha libre card ran in Los Angeles in front of what looked like a capacity crowd. I’ll be honest that I watched the television version rather than the one on the set because my deficit in knowledge was already big enough to not add a further challenge.
In the primera caida, the first thing really worth noting was how over El Hijo del Santo and his offense were with the crowd. A simple head scissor takedown had the fans in raptures as he took the fight to all three rudos. To give him his due, Perro Aguayo received a similar response upon his first (legal) involvement in the match, though his offense looked a little on the tired side from the start. Who I believe is Espanto Jr. (I struggled with the video quality) took a Chris Hamrick-esque bump as things began to heat up a notch, though the camera missed the pinfall as Santo channeled his inner Hogan with a legdrop on Fishman after initially taking him out with a top rope headbutt that didn’t look the most aesthetically pleasing.
Between caidas, there possibly was some clipping of the action if times of the two videos are compared, but we returned to Aguayo and Santo still largely having their way with the rudo trio. I actually ended up feeling a little sorry for Misterioso as he didn’t even join in the in-ring celebrations between the two legends. His role seemed to be the guy to get beaten up, which does lead to a fun Southern tag-style spot where the ref missed the tag to Santo, though everyone just got into the ring anyway to fight instead of listening to the official’s instructions. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Santo who dropped the seguna caida as Espanto Jr. nailed him with a top rope splash as Fishman and Caras had their opponent lifted slightly off of the canvas.
What had been threatening to break down pretty much did at this point as we head immediately into the tercera as the rudos continue to attack. Misterioso was carried backstage after a chairshot to leave the two legends short a man and the tercera with the narrative of whether they can overcome the rudos’ cheating ways. Any sense that this was a match has flown out of the window as all five men are in the ring as an extended heel beatdown took place. They had multiple opportunities to pin Aguayo, especially after Santo mistakenly hit his partner with a top rope headbutt, but decided to pick him up each time. Konnan then made the slowest run-in – it took around three minutes – to finally even the odds, but cause a disqualification in doing so. This was a decent match, though it left me a little bit cold until the tercera. I’m sure lucha fans might find something more in it than I did.
I then am witness to something I didn’t realize existed: Doug Furnas and Phillip Lafon in masks. Wrestling as ‘Can-Am Express 1’ and ‘Can-Am Express 2’, they were up against El Texano and Silver King in UWA. I have loved what I have seen of both teams so was hopeful for a rip-roaring contest. The masked Americans are always at their best when they are bullying the teams they are against and that is exactly how the primera caida began. It is worth mentioning the camerawork here as they constantly break the 180 degrees plane, meaning the wrestlers in the corner switch around depending on what shot is being shown. This was very disorientating and something I don’t think I’ve seen before. A dominant Can-Am Express took the primera caida with an assisted second rope clothesline on King and a sitout powerbomb on Texano.
The segunda was all about whether King could make the tag or not to a busted open Texano. The dominance of the Express makes the tag all the better as the Mexican team finally took over. Some miscommunication between the masked men saw a clothesline hit the wrong man, leading to a Texano top rope dropkick and a King northern lights suplex to finish a fun segunda.
Now that the Mexican team have fought their way into the match, the tercera was much more even as it became more about who was going to make the significant move or mistake. If anything, it was Texano and King who were taking control, the masked rudos having shot their load so to speak in the opening falls. What I liked about the match was that it never seemed clear as to who was going to win with both teams scoring nearfall as the finish drew near. Even better was how the finish played out, as a victory roll and huracanrana attempt by the home favourites saw the resulting pinfalls reversed to give the masked Americans the victory. Outside of the camera work, a really good match.
After the action in Mexico, we return to the USA, starting with the WWF Update. Mean Gene was the host and the focus this week was on the beatdown by Nailz on the Big Boss Man. I mentioned it before, but this Update served to highlight it: that was a really long beatdown with no-one coming to Boss Man’s aid. After airing some clips, Gene went to a pre-recorded phone conversation where Boss Man talks about being on the road to recovery, whilst Okerlund continued to dwell heavily on the potential mental scars of the attack. This was effective, though we know where everything Nailz-related goes so it is hard to buy-in.
Not watching WWF at the time, I hadn’t realized how many Razor Ramon vignettes they decided to air. This time, it was Ramon talking about kids wanting to grow up like him, so they should forget about school and just take whatever they want. Preceding Carlito by a good decade and more, Ramon took what appeared to be a plum, spat at the trader on the stall and then at the camera. This was at least better than the one where they had him playing a lothario.
Over to Memphis and we are now fully back into the Jerry Lawler/Jeff Jarrett versus the Moondogs feud. It speaks to how much was going on initially between these two teams that I didn’t realise the Moondogs had never lost the USWA Tag Team Titles during the initial feud. Sure, they lost matches, but never when the titles were on the line. That all changed in a steel cage match (one that went just over five minutes, no less) at the Mid-South Coliseum. The finish was shown in the studio as Jackie Fargo, the acting referee, tried to stop the Moondogs using their bone as a weapon. In the altercation, a Moondog ended up blasting a Moondog with it instead, leading to the decisive pinfall and the title switch. The post-match saw Fargo fight off a beatdown by Richard Lee and the Moondogs with some assistance from Lawler and Jarrett.
Not content with a match at the Coliseum, the two then meet in the studio on Saturday as Lee was willing to put $5000 on the line in order to get an immediate rematch. The match comes to post a celebratory interview, notable for Jarrett talking highly of winning the gold with Lawler and Fargo by his side before Lawler promises to celebrate by winning again.
The match that followed barely went three minutes as the face duo were thrown some weapons by Billy Joe Travis to even the odds (the Moondogs had come down brandishing a golf club and a chair), before a Jarrett trip allowed Lawler to get the pin. Between two matches in a week that don’t even make the ten-minute mark, it felt like this should have been over and done with as the Moondogs were decisively beaten…
…yet the kicking and screaming Lee managed to draw an offer out of Lawler. A match in which the titles would be on the line, but if the Moondogs lose, Lee would have his hair shaved off. The hair match in Memphis was always a huge deal, but I can’t help but feel like this should have run its course by now. The one bit I did particularly like during all the post-match negotiations was the Moondogs threatening to attack Lee if he didn’t accept the offer. It really sold them as guys who didn’t care about Lee that much, they just wanted the gold back.
Never knowingly overselling things, there was time for one more interview with Lawler and Jarrett as they came back out to sell the embarrassment Lee was going to feel when he had his hair shaved off in the middle of the ring.
Later on in the same show, Eddie Gilbert joined Dave Brown. Not only was he out there to show off the crowd that I assume he has won off of Jerry Lawler, whilst he also chastised everyone for not announcing him with his full title: ‘The King Of Wrestling, Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert. As a heel, it was odd to hear Gilbert talking up the man who was coming into the territory to face him for the Universal Heavyweight Title, suggesting that the man was similar to ‘Hot Stuff’ – arrogant, conceited, handsome, and left the territory to travel and make his own way.
He was speaking about Ricky Morton, his ex-tag team partner, and this was all to set up Morton coming out and defending the people of Memphis. I’ve never thought much of Morton as a talker, but he did do a good job selling the idea of the people of Memphis helping him when he was down. It wasn’t surprising when the war of words eventually turned into a fight in the ring, one that soon had Gilbert running backstage like a scalded dog. I was a bit skeptical at the start, but I eventually liked how the angle turned out.
The penulatimate promotion this week was Smoky Mountain Wrestling and Buddy Landell joining Dutch Mantell for ‘Down and Dirty With Dutch’. Landell, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, was still a great man on the microphone and he lorded over a beatdown he gave to Tim Horner the previous week, leading to ‘White Lightning’ hitting the ring to run him off. The best part of the segment was how quickly Dutch turned his opinion to supporting Horner in order to ensure he didn’t get his ass kicked.
(26.03 for Down and Dirty with Dutch)
The final stop on a busy day was WCW as Cactus Jack joined Jim Ross for an interview. Footage was shown of Jack attacking Ricky Steamboat at WCW Beach Blast, as well as early hints at how good Jack could be on the microphone as he talked about how the thrill of the hunt drove him on.
Another man that was able to showcase some of his skills on the microphone was Steve Austin as he proclaimed that he could destroy Barry Windham in five minutes, a claim that brought Windham out to take up that challenge. With Bill Watts and Ole Anderson allowing the two men a chance to fight but with no referee, you had the odd sight of Windham counting his own pinfall attempts, whilst several wrestlers acted as impromptu lumberjacks. The two men were due to meet in the Omni the following night, so whilst this felt a little bit odd, it was designed to sell the upcoming show. The segment finished when Windham wiped Austin out with a lariat and Dustin Rhodes counted the pinfall – an odd ‘clean’ win considering this was to sell the match the next night.
There was still enough time for a couple of notable interviews. Bill Watts joined Jim Ross to make another sweeping change as he talked about getting rid of the United States Tag Team Titles. In order to sell the prestige of retiring with those belts, Dick Slater and the Barbarian came out to challenge the Freebirds. Finally, Sting had a minute to chat about a matches again Arn Anderson at the Omni (non-title) and against Vader at the Great American Bash. Nothing exciting here – a fired up Sting does his (admittedly cringey) best to sell the two matches and that’s all you can hope for.
An admittedly long article this week as Independence Day was packed with wrestling north and south of the border. Join me in two weeks’ time as I continue to watch the best and worst 1992 has to offer in That Was The Year That Was.