WrestleReunion’s Saturday Night Event
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Tampa, FL at the Airport Doubletree Hotel
Before I do my recap of Saturday night's events, I should let it be known that on Sunday the promoters of the show obviously learned from the mistakes they had made the previous days. The autograph lines moved faster and I think with some tweaking this concept is going to be great in Atlanta or wherever else WrestleReunion ends up. I'll be sure to suggest to one of the organizers of the event, Rob Russen, that they steal a page out of the successful comic book conventions and separate the really big names from everyone else. For example: Roddy Piper, Bruno Sammartino, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Terry Funk and Jim Cornette should have had their own separate lines. EVERYONE wanted to meet these guys. Have one line for EACH of the big names and then a separate line for everyone else, and I bet there would be absolutely ZERO problems at any future autograph session.
On to the show!
***Mark Nulty was ring announcer for the night and roundly booed by the audience. This would be a recurring theme and I’ll give my thoughts on the reason why later on. It should be noted that Joey Styles, the voice of ECW, was scheduled to be the ring announcer but arrived late. Lance Russell and Jimmy "the Mouth of the South" Hart were on commentary for the eventual DVD release. The hard camera was actually planted on a ladder high above one corner of the ring and, I swear to God, it is going to look like that one episode of Married…with Children when they were wrestling. You remember, the GLOW one where Al has to last a few minutes with one of the girls and does but she hit him with a BIG SPLASH~! Very interesting way to do things. Also, due to some sort of deal with the promoters, only one ringside photographer was allowed. This meant the entire “press corps” had to find their own place to take pictures. Now I had brought my own Jimmy Olsen to snap pics for you, GumGod readers, and now he was about to earn his money to find usable shots!
***Bill Apter and DDP came out to award plaques to Pam and Bob Allyn in tribute of her father Gordon Solie. The Allyns also had a booth set up all weekend to promote their book Gordon Solie: Something Left Behind. I personally saw Mick Foley and several others buy the book and all were impressed. We’ll have more on this tome in the coming weeks. The Allyns also had a girl working their booth, the lovely Amy , who just might have been the best looking girl in Florida this weekend. And that’s a shoot.
Awards were also given to Mike Graham for his father Eddie Graham and “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant for being, well, for being incredibly old I guess. I swear to God Jimmy Valiant could play the Cryptkeeper, without any make-up . Roddy Piper then came out to award a plaque to Bill Apter. As nuts and incoherent as Piper is at times, he can also be one of the most charismatic men in the world, and that’s the role he played tonight. Piper said Apter’s award was for lasting “107 years” in the business. The two had a lot of fun with each other including one sequence in which Piper bagged on Apter’s baldness by saying he could eat a bowl of soup off his head. Apter said, “You did last night and it wasn’t bowls off my head.” Wow, written down this doesn’t look nearly as funny as it was to hear live. I think this is where Wade Keller would take a shot at “edgy gay humor,” but I was laughing.
***Apter’s Alley was next which is apparently Apter interviewing someone. Surprise, it was Roddy Piper. Apter brought up one of the greatest wrestling angles in the last 25 years, Piper smashing the coconut over the head of Jimmy Snuka. Well, this brought out Snuka. The next several minutes were all about Roddy “apologizing” for the coconut shot 20 years ago but he would always say, “absolutely not.” I’m positive I already saw this EXACT SAME THING on SmackDown and TNA in the past two years.
When it looked like Piper actually might apologize, out came Col. Debeers, Playboy Buddy Rose, Cowboy Bob Orton and Sensational Sherri. They had a few words with Piper and eventually began to beat down both Piper and Snuka. Jimmy Valiant came running in for the save and we had our first match.
(1) Roddy Piper & Jimmy Superfly Snuka & Jimmy “The Boogie Woogie Man” Valiant beat Col. DeBeers & Playboy Buddy Rose & Cowboy Bob Orton (w/Sherri Martel). This was billed as, “Win, Lose or Draw This is the Last Match of Jimmy Valiant’s Career.” Write that one down. The Rock’s dad, Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, was scheduled to be the partner for Piper and Valiant. There was no explanation for the no-show, but my “inside sources” tell me that Johnson did show up, but Playboy Buddy Rose ate him. Sherri, who seemed almost incoherent earlier in the day when I had her sign my Shoot Interview was in fine form during the event. This match was total old school and the crowd ate it up. The biggest bump was Rose somehow being dumped out of the ring, and living. Later, during the melee during the finish Rose very audibly told Snuka to “head butt me!” Superfly obliged. I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to hate Playboy Buddy Rose. The finish came when Rose accidentally splashed Bob Orton in the corner, leading “Cowboy” to be taken down by Piper.
After the match the heels started to beat down Orton but Piper and the rest came back for the save. God damn, Piper and Orton and Snuka, this is straight out of WrestleMania I. Piper also forcibly kissed Sherri as well as wore her black cowboy hat.
***We saw former WCW announcer Dave Penzer sitting in the crowd.
(2) The Genius Lanny Poffo beat The Royal Stud Adam Windsor (w/Dory Funk). Oh my. Poffo seemed to get blown up walking to the ring, so I think his Gazelle from Tony Little must be broken. Poffo then did a religious themed poem that seemed to last forever. Lanny’s trunks were about two sizes too small and he kept having to adjust them all the time. I’ll leave that to your own imagination because I’m trying to burn it out from my memory. Poffo was sucking wind big time in the match but the kid Windsor was doing alright. It was at this point that one of the guys I was sitting next to, Between the Ropes’ own Brian Fritz, asked me, “Doesn’t Wade like you to time the matches?” Oh God no. Luckily, my watch had broken earlier in the week.
“Don’t worry, I got a watch.”
”Don’t worry, I got a watch.”
”Don’t worry, I got a watch.”
THANK YOU FRITZ!!! (&%$#@) For God’s sake, I’m 3,000 miles farther away from Wade Keller than usual and he still haunts me. Well, now I had my boy, Jimmy Olsen, as my photographer and Fritz as my official timekeeper. I think I’ve officially put more effort into doing a review of this show than 80% of indie promoters do putting together their shows. The storyline of the match was that Windsor was a jerk and trying to get Dory Funk to turn heel on Poffo, but Funk wouldn’t. Windsor kept trying to get Dory to take a cheap shot at Poffo outside the ring, but Dory wouldn’t. Windsor then pushed Dory aside. OH! After a ref bump, Dory came in the ring as Windsor was holding Poffo. Windsor wanted Dory to take a shot at Lanny, but Dory refused. Lanny then reversed the hold and sent Windsor into Dory and Funk delivered a clothesline. Crowd marked out for this. Poffo then slammed Windsor and “ran” to the turnbuckles. After stepping onto the first turnbuckle he “flipped” back and pinned Windsor. Crowd chanted, “DORY! DORY!” This was fun.
(3) The Missing Link beat George South. Holy shit, the Missing Link is still JAKKED! Wait a second….I saw him earlier in the day at the crowd signing and he was bald. He has fake hair?! Who knew? Link has his signature painted face and also came to the ring with a steel chair with “Link” written on it. South grabbed Link’s chair and delivered two shots to the head, but Link no sold both of them. On the third attempt Link knocked away the chair and went on offense. I can’t remember what happened, but Link won the match not long after that. (2:30)
***I sent my official timekeeper, Fritz, on a beer run so there will be no time for the next match. (Editor’s Note: DUD)
(4) Wendi Richter & Bambi & Malia Hosaka & Jenny Taylor beat Sherri Martel & Peggy Lee Leather & Team Blondage (Amber & Krissy). Sherri’s team came down with another, much older, woman who had a name like “Joyce something or other.” It’s official, I’m in love with Jenny Taylor. I just found out she’s on her way to OVW so once she breaks down and gets a boob job SHE DOESN’T NEED, they might call her up to the WWE to interact with the other 55 unknown and untalented Divas. I’ll try to tear my eyes off Jenny for a minute. WTF?! Is that Wendi Richter? She looks like Stifler’s mom from the American Pie movies now. Oh man, Team Blondage is in this match as well. In full leather gear. MOVE ASIDE WRESTLEMANIA XX.
Richter started off the match kicking the ass of all the heels. Oh man, I didn’t take many notes of this match even though I paid more attention to the ring during this match than all others COMBINED. The greatest part of ANY match in this or ANY other year came when Team Blondage worked over Jenny Taylor. The finish came after Wendi Richter POWERBOMBED one member of Team Blondage and got the pin. As the girls were celebrating in the ring I didn’t see my Jimmy Olsen anywhere to make sure he was getting the hot pics so I quickly sketched the doodle below.
(5) Jim Duggan beat Kamala. Duggan came out waving an American flag and the crowd went nuts chanting “USA!” and “HOOOOOOOOOOO!” In a fantastic moment, Kamala tried to get the crowd to chant his name. A lot of comedy to start the match but Kamala finally went down courtesy of a Duggan clothesline. In another great moment the crowd chanted “U-Gan-Da!” and Kamala was shaking his fist in triumph. Just hilarious. The two did a bear hug spot to kill time, this is old school wrestling baby! Duggan got the win after hitting his three point stance shoulderblock. Fun time. (5:14)
(6) Ron Bass & Larry Zybsko beat the U.S. Express (Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo). Before the match Zybsko told Windham he still had the Western States Heritage Championship and in one of those you-had-to-be-there moments, everyone knew what he was talking about. Rotundo was wearing a sharp looking Michael Vick jersey and the most God awful, yellow based, camouflage pants. If New Jack ever came out of the closet, this is what he would wear. Windham was in a black t-shirt and jeans. He had a knee pad on the outside of the jeans and I still think that looks stupid. In a nice spot early in the match Ron Bass was aggravated after Larry missed a tag because he was busy encouraging the crowd to chant “Larry!” Windham said, “It has been 15 years out of the ring. I can tell”, as a slam towards Bass.
The match went outside the ring as all four men fought on the floor and me and Fritz figured out there must be an oxygen tank under the ring they were fighting over. Okay, the finish came after Rotundo hit Bass with a DDT and Windham nailed Larry with an elbow drop. But, GET THIS, the ref overturned the ruling by saying Windham wasn’t the legal man and instead gave the win to Bass. This was the WTF-moment of all WTF-moments. The time is also a guess as we found out Fritz wasn’t reading his watch correctly. Only in wrestling kids. (6:50)
***Jimmy Hart asked the fans to give a standing ovation for Sabu. Hart than introduced Joey Styles. “OH MY GOD” chant. Joey said he was here to do color commentary with Lance Russell and apologize for being late as he was “iced in” back in Atlanta. The effects of the Red Sox winning the World Series and subsequent act of Hell freezing over are still being felt today.
(7) The Masked Superstar beat The Grappler in a Mask vs. Mask match. I know I’ve told this story a thousand times, but it was a Masked Superstar match against Sgt. Slaughter that got me hooked on wrestling, so I’ll always have a soft spot for him. The finish to this match was insane as Superstar untied one of Grappler’s boots and tried to pull it off and the BOOT RIPPED IN HALF. True story, the bottom part of the boot just came off, completely separated from the top. Never seen that before. Superstar then hit Grappler with the boot and then ripped off his mask. The guy didn’t even try to hide his face afterwards, which is a first for me after watching a mask vs. mask match. (5:50)
***The line “I can’t believe that’s Alex Marvez” is referring to the fact that Alex Marvez, writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Wrestling Observer website, among other places, was in front of me for most of this match. He must know one of the refs because there was a lot of interaction between the two of them. I just didn’t expect Marvez to be there and certainly didn’t recognize him. I would undoubtedly have said “I can’t believe that’s Pat McNeill” if I watched this event from Hooters.
(8) America’s Most Wanted beat Terry & Dory Funk by DQ to retain the TNA Tag Team Titles. Okay, here’s one of the reasons the crowd was on ring announcer Mark Nulty’s case all night. Throughout the event Nulty would seemingly read off every belt a wrestler had won when doing introductions. This got old, fast. Especially old to a crowd that already knew the histories of all the wrestlers. So, in this case, Nulty read off God knows how many belts the Funks had one, and honestly who gives a shit, but DID NOT announce they were from the DoubleCross Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. That’s just absurd. I don’t know if it’s his gimmick or his true personality, but Nulty comes across as an aloof, know-it-all type of guy and it comes across to the crowd. I will admit that Nulty is doing much better in his commentating for Ring of Honor.
Terry Funk shot a promo to start the match saying he was pissed off at promoter Sal Cornette because AMW was making more than the Funks. This was because Sal apparently has “his nose up Dusty Rhodes’ fat, sweaty ass.” They are nowhere near my favorite team, but AMW looked really good before the match. Like night and day when comparing the wrestlers of the past to today’s grapplers. One of the AMW guys did a fantastic impersonation of a stumbling Terry Funk. Good match that came to a finish after Terry grabbed a belt and clocked both members of AMW and the ref, for good measure. Dory pinned one member of AMW and Terry counted the pin. That was great. (10:10)
***Nulty pointed out Harley Race, Ted DiBiase, Hector Guerrero, Nick Bockwinkle and Buddy Colt in the crowd. Nulty then asked for Dr. Death Steve Williams to come to the ring and he got a standing ovation. Dr. Death talked about his love for wrestling and the fans and in an emotionally strong moment said, “You put your mind to it, you can do anything and I will be back in this ring.”
(9) Marty Jannetty beat Gary Royal. I thought Gary Royal was wearing a dress, but apparently it was just some flashy gold ring gear. I think I was also the only one in the crowd who didn’t know who the hell Gary Royal was. This match had winners from WrestleReunion contests as guest timekeeper, ring announcer and manager for Jannetty. The manager was a kid whose name was “T squared.” Like I could make that up. The ring announcer was better than Nulty. SCANDALOUS! This match was GREAT because about four minutes in Tom Pritchard, the agent for all the matches tonight, was sending his message to “go home” by putting his pen in his mouth. Neither wrestler or the ref ever looked over. By the way, the ref looked just like a young Adam Sandler .
Anyhoo, Pritchard would make a point to take his pen out and quickly put it back in when he thought someone in the match would look over at him but they never did. This was truly hilarious. There was a ref standing behind Pritchard doing the throat-slash motion to get the ref inside the ring to end the match and that was ignored too. This was possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen in wrestling. Jannetty finally won with a superkick. (9:00)
(10) Greg Valentine won a 17 man Battle Royal to win the IWA Heavyweight Chamption. Who has 17 men in a battle royal? Here’s the order of eliminations. 1) Norman Smiley 2) The Bullet Bob Armstrong 3) Hands of Stone Ronnie Garvin 4) Brad Armstrong 5) Jake “The Snake” Roberts 6) Shane Douglas 7) Virgil 8)Thunderfoot #2 9) Thunderfoot #1 10) Hack Myers 11) Samu 12) Scott Armstrong 13) Adrian Street 14) Chavo Guerrero Sr. 15) Warlord 16) Bugsy Magraw
Bugsy Magraw looks like A-Train’s dad in that he is old, out of shape and has a TON of back hair. I was convinced Warlord would win before the match as he is still HUMONGOUS and reminded me of Nathan Jones in the WWE. The crowd cheered just about everyone and even did the “SHAW!” chants when Hack Myers was on offense. (8:15)
(11) Rock & Roll Express & The Fantastics (w/Bobby Heenan) beat The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey & Stan Lane w/Jim Cornette). Heenan basically threw the microphone at Cornette to start the match and Jim responded by shooting a promo saying Heenan was big before electricity but now it was his turn to shine. This was a really fun match to watch even though Stan Lane looked to be the only one anywhere close to being in shape. Can you imagine what this match would have done in business 20 years ago? Outside the ring at one point all the babyfaces got a shot in on Cornette, including Heenan. HOLY SHIT, Cornette actually body slammed one of the Fantastics! I can’t believe I just saw that. Finish came after Cornette was given a double clothesline and pinned by three men. (15:00)
Immediately after the pin Heenan threw Cornette’s racket into the ring and it hit ref Mickey Jay right on the head. Heenan then had the microphone and put over the Fantastics and the Rock & Roll Express as the best teams in the 70’s and 80’s.
***Nulty announced that A.J. Styles could not make the show tonight as he was held up in Atlanta. They said Styles would be booked at a future card.
(12) The Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels beat Pat Tanaka. Daniels got the biggest reaction of the night and he looked great. Four minutes into the match Tom Pritchard had his pen in his mouth. A minute later Daniels hit the Last Rites for the win. (6:25)
Wait a second, for years I’ve been reading in the Torch and the Observer that when a replacement wrestler is brought in he always goes over to make the fans happy. This was a blatant breach in the “unwritten” rules of wrestling!
(13) Jeff Jarrett (w/Baby Doll) beat Tully Blanchard (w/J.J. Dillon) to retain the TNA championship. Kevin Von Erich was the guest referee. Jeff Jarrett shot a promo from Planet Jarrett and said he had an equalizer for Dillon by bringing out Baby Doll. At this point it was 11:30, the time listed in the program that the show would be over. Obviously the booker of the show was Frank Goodman of USAPro.
Tully looked in GREAT shape here. I was impressed and the two guys had a good match. Seven minutes into the match Dillon handed an item to Blanchard, but it was knocked out. Baby Doll ran over and Von Erich went outside the ring as well. Inside the ring Tully clocked Jarrett and made the pin. Von Erich got back in the ring, pulled Blanchard off Jarret, and applied the CLAW! I always mark out for that one. Jarrett then hit a back suplex and made the pin. 1..2..3. (7:45)
***It was announced that due to “logistics of the building” that the low ceiling would prevent the scheduled cage match from taking place. Instead each team would be given a “mystery” partner.
(14) Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes & Mike Graham beat C.M. Punk & Abdullah the Butcher & Kevin Sullivan (w/Sir Oliver Humperdink & Harley Race & Honest John) with Mick Foley as the special guest ref. Foley said before the match that the promoters of the show wanted a ref who was the greatest, most hardcore wrestler today…”but Triple H wasn’t available.” Crowd loved that. Punk was a bump machine throughout the match and looked great. At one point Abdullah grabbed a beer bottle and broke it on the ring post. I told Fritz, “that sound you just heard was the manager of the Double Tree Hotel having a heart attack.” Abdullah used the bottle on Dustin Rhodes and soon the artist formally known as GoldDust was bleeding like a stuck pig. The finish came after Punk turned around to be on the receiving end of SOCKO, courtesy of Mick Foley, and given an elbow drop by Dusty Rhodes before the pin. (7:30)
Overall thoughts: Obviously the matches on this card weren’t of ROH quality, but I think that most of the fans had a great time as the charisma of the wrestlers was off the charts. I know the woman next to Fritz, whose voice was so loud it was almost deafening, had one hell of a time. The only downside was all the delays to change the tapes in the cameras, but obviously that will be eliminated once the show comes to DVD.
***Okay, now let me clear up a little confusion from an earlier WrestleReunion report. I wrote that the name “Dr. Mike Lano” brings my blood to a boil, and it does, but – to throw in an insider term here - I actually don’t have any heat with the guy whatsoever. Here’s the story. I had heard than name Mike Lano here and there for seemingly the last 10 years. Usually every year he popped up as “Fanboy Oddity Mike Lano” in Bruce Mitchell’s annual quiz on the Torch and I had also seen his name appear on various wrestling sites. As most of you know, I had also seen his pictures in several wrestling books. Well, it all came to a head when I read Dave Meltzer’s Tributes II.
You see, I loved that book. How could you not? Dave Meltzer, wrestling’s unofficial historian, giving in-depth obituaries that were just fascinating to read. The book was also littered with pictures, something which I think just about all wrestling books could use more of. Only this book had a “photo courtesy of Dr. Mike Lano” on EVERY F---ING PAGE. At first I was like, “WTF? This has to be a rib.” But it kept going. Then I literally starting laughing when I turned the page and say one of those credits. Finally I began to become irritated and despise the name. It became my trigger word, something like a wrestling version of the Manchurian Candidate. It was not the person I hated, but the very name itself. Yes, I know it sounds insane.
I was actually looking forward to meeting Lano because in my mind I had already created what I “knew” he would be like. Actually I figured it was one of two things. The first was that he would be some gigantic pompous ass, totally full of himself. The other was a mentally handicapped man, who I pictured to be a doppelganger of Roland Alexander in Beyond the Mat. But when I met Lano, he wasn’t any of those things. He wasn’t a jerk. He wasn’t retarded. He didn’t look like that fat oaf Roland Alexander. Lano was just a wrestling fan. One with an obvious passion for photography. So I actually think the man Mike Lano is a decent enough guy. However, the printed name 'Mike Lano', thanks to Tributes II, will always drive me nuts.
Check out WrestleReunion.com for future event information.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.