Tuesday, June 30, 2020

God Bless You Tito Santana

Strike Force (c) VS The Islanders -WWF Tag Team Championships Prime Time 12/21/1987

CJD: It's hard for me to find joy in pro wrestling right now, but the art of building a great feud is something that always brings a smile to my face. Great feuds captured my imagination from a very young age and are one of the aspects of pro wrestling that keeps me coming back as a fan. John it's no wonder that Perfect/Santana stands out in your childhood memories so vividly. As I watched more and more Santana it was obvious he was a master of building and sustaining great feuds throughout his career. He's the type of wrestler that you can watch wrestle the same match 10 times over but his genuine intensity and fire will make it feel fresh each time. Case in point, I am going to actively seek out every match Strike Force had with the Islanders that made tape after this, because these two teams clearly tore up the later half of 1987 and I need more. This match is like listening to a great Benny Goodman song, where the tempo starts out blistering fast, never lets up, and still manages to build and build as it goes on. They play loose with feeling while still executing with skill and precision. Martel is graceful, bubbling with energy while Santana is so long and physical and aggressive. Meanwhile the Islanders were a total revelation to me here, perfect dance partners keeping up every step of the way, sometimes even outshining their opponents. The chemistry is made all that more perfect by Heenan on the outside, Prichard doing a surprisingly great job on play by play, and the cherry on top, Nick Bockwinkel on color, always standing up for his beloved Weasel. When even the bit players are eager to play along you know you're making beautiful music.

JJZ: Fucking A. This is an interesting commentator pairing. I honestly have seen Tama wrestle more in the movie Bodyslam than in actual matches. The Islanders are a scary team. Legit tough which makes them very believable heels. Strike Force is a team I've always really liked and have wanted to find that vault of hidden great matches. Seems like you've found something here my friend. The crowd is losing their minds during this match. The heel/babyface dynamic is so good. I loved hearing Heenan telling Haku and Tama the gameplan. I was left wanting more but not in a bad way. And I thought the finish was fantastic for a story building match.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

No Update This Week

For a variety of reasons we'll be taking a week off from sharing a match. Please go listen to those #SpeakingOut and let's all continue to be a part of this conversation as fans moving forward. Be good to each other out there. This world can be an evil place.


The FanCam Connection

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Arrive, Spit Gum, Perfect-Plex, Leave

Mr Perfect VS Tito Santana - WWF Intercontinental Championship Tournament Finals 4/23/1990

JJZ: So when I was a kid the first live wrestling show I went to was WWF at the Spectrum in Philadelphia 1990. The main event of that show was Mr Perfect VS Tito Santana for the Intercontinental title. I loved that match. Perfect VS Tito was the first real feud I was ever fully invested in as a fan. I'm so in love when these two work each other that my opinion is honestly biased. So I tried not to play this match forward but everything else I watched from Perfect wasn't even close to this for me. Watching this match is like reliving my childhood. Jesse Ventura calling Tito Chico is so wrong but so familiar. Even for the early 90s cartoony WWF this match could wow the crowd in any promotion. You said that you're not super familiar with Mr Perfect in early WWF but you owe it to yourself to find out what you've been missing.

CJD: Chico trying to turn this match into a Tijuana Brawl! I love hearing about your childhood experiences with this feud. RIP the Spectrum, one of the greatest venues ever. And RIP Curt Hennig, one of the only wrestlers who could consistently work from under as a heel and still make me enjoy it. You can take the boy out of AWA but you can't take AWA out of the boy. It's weird, I remember watching the Mr Perfect vignettes as a kid, but you're right that I don't remember his matches until around '91. This was the best version of that cartoony WWF you mentioned, still featuring great action, strong characters, and an antagonist who believes in his motivation. Mix in Ventura on commentary and a little dash of Heenan (spoiler alert) and more than a great match, this is a great moment in time for pro wrestling. I never knew this is what happened to the Intercontinental title (well one of the tag belts here, but you get the drift) after Warrior vacated it, it was cool to learn that little bit of history. And I can't wait to dive into more Tito, he's another childhood favorite I've never gotten very deep into. One last thing John. I've gotta say, 7 year old JJZ had great taste in wrestling. You were destined to be a curator right from the start!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

I've Been To The Hitman School

Bret Hart VS Mr Perfect - WWF Toronto 4/23/1989

CJD: I know you love the way these two work with each other. But I don't know if you've ever seen this early match from their rivalry?? This had a lot of the elements that would build their future matches, including the little bit of post match shenanigans. But where things fit and how they played out felt different, like a demo recording of what would go on to be a classic song. As such there's a rough around the edges quality to this match that I find endearing. I wish we had 10 more matches from these two that made tape, I'd love to see them wrestle once with the roles reversed. Bret's a better heel than he often gets credit for and young Hennig in particular was a great babyface. If only.

JJZ: I could watch these two for days. I would love to have all their house show matches on tape also. I'm sure they changed it up so much. Watching this match you get quickly reminded how amazing of a bumper Perfect was. I still don't understand why he never got a world title run. Bret brings the psychology while Curt sells his ass off. Classic heel VS face here, Perfect not being able to out-wrestle Bret so he does a few underhanded things to gain some offense. And I'm totally not trying to undersell Bret's bumping btw. Everyone loves that sterum first turnbuckle spot. I'd imagine since this is in Canada and the time it was given that this was the main event. I would have loved to have been there for it. Great pick baby cakes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

He Came In Like A Wrecking Ball

Bret Hart/British Bulldog VS Owen Hart/Bob Backlund - WWF Action Zone 2/26/1995

JJZ: As A kid I had Survior Series '94 on VHS and I must have watched Bret Hart VS Bob Blacklund 100 times. I loved that match. I loved the throw in the towel stipulation. This match is a build to their Mania match though. And I hated that match. But all four of these guys worked a fucking hell of a match here. They built to a hot tag that blew the goddamn roof of the place. Bret sold like a beast. Bret is one of my all time favorites and I'm always so happy when I get to see new to me matches of his. Davey Boy played his role perfectly. Great showing of power to start and came in like a wrecking ball on that hot tag. Hope you enjoy baby cakes. Owen and Backlund play some great heels. I always found myself getting so annoyed at Owen during his heel runs.

CJD: Todd Pettengill calling Davey Boy a role model and a True Hero given some of the allegations against him since is one I'm sure he'd like back. Man does he suck on commentary. What a shill. This was a fun house show main event style match. Good aggressive heat from the Owen and Backlund team. I thought for the talent in this one it was a little paint by numbers. But like you said it jumps out on paper as a match you want to see if you haven't. And there's something about Action Zone matches that pop me the same way I think SNME does for you. Plus you've given me countless possibilities for next week!

JJZ: I loved that Davey Boy was getting the shine. You never saw Bret getting owned liked that. Especially leading into a Mania match. It didn't hurt Bret at all but made the Bulldog look like a fucking beast. He is a brick shit house and this match made him look unstoppable.

CJD: That's a good point about Bret, it made the heels look really strong too. I had no problem with Davey Boy's role in the match, I just wish it was fleshed out more. He gets a reputation for being a lunkhead stiff which when motivated and not bursting at the gills with steroids I think was not the case at all. Like you pointed out last week, you can't have a career as storied and successful as his on physique alone. So I was a little disappointed this match did nothing to prove that reputation wrong even though he did his job well. I liked this match, I just didn't love it. I'll use a JJZ metaphor you dropped on one of my matches previously. I saw the names, I saw the auspicious Action Zone format, and I thought I was getting an Iron Chef meal. Instead I got Iron Chefs hosting an episode of Diners, Drive Ins & Dives. They kept it light and breezy and entertaining without putting too much thought into it. And I'll gladly take their take on a diner dash, especially when so many of these careers were cut short.

[editor's note - This match has been taken down since we originally shared it. We'll check back periodically to see if we can find a new link. We apologize for the inconvenience!]