Smart Marks 09.14.13: What Was Once Old is New Again
Posted by Dino Zucconi on 09.14.2013
Like Hulk Hogan said after beating Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach 1994, retro is in! Let's talk about AJ Styles getting title shots! Tag Team Turmoil! And our special guest... MID-SOUTH WRESTLING!!!
And we're back for your dose of the hottest jams from the 80s, 90s, 00s, and today, Smart Marks. I'm Dino, and this week we're gonna keep it light and easy. Part of that is due to nothing super pressing that I feel the need to talk about, part of it is due to a weekend getaway I've got planned, but most of it? Most of it is absolutely due to Legends of Mid-South Wrestling, my intergalactic superchunk funky bluray that arrived Thursday afternoon in the mail. I was a bit taken aback, having ordered it only on Tuesday, and with no rushed shipping options attached. Apparently, they realized how big of a deal that is. I'll get into Legends in a bit, but if you decide to stop reading me at the end of this sentence, then GO GET LEGENDS OF MID-SOUTH IMMEDIATELY.
If you've stuck around, well, let's get down to it, eh? The Bound For Glory Series wrapped up, Aces and Eights assassinated the Vice President, The Corporation continued to rule with an iron fist, and Tag Team Turmoil returns!
Well, let's just get it out there right away: I was wrong. I didn't buy into AJ Styles winning the BFG Series, and hitched my wagon to Magnus, which would then lead into a Main Event Mafia vs. Aces and Eights blowoff at the Step-Uncle of Them All, Bound For Glory. I kid, I kid.
Watching the No Surrender edition of Impact last night, I was happy to see that the final match indeed boiled down to AJ vs. Magnus, and I was at that point feeling pretty certain that I was gonna get my call verified. A good little match that had a bit too much shenanigans later, and AJ had done it, and will now take on Bully Ray at Bound For Glory.
Never a huge AJ Styles fan, I'm also not such a hater that I can't see what he brings to the table. The match with Bully Ray should be a fantastic outing, with Bully Ray looking to treat him like Chris Sabin, while AJ looks to unleash his entire arsenal to finally regain his place as the King of TNA Wrestling. The match is also somewhat fresh, and gives Bully someone not named Sting to wrestle. With the gang seemingly crumbling around him, I look for Bully to bring a new level of violent desperation to the table, and while again the smart money lies on AJ to win the belt, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bully scamper off with his belt. I'm not making that the official call (yet), but I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen.
I do, however, worry about Magnus. As I discussed with my Gentlemen's Wrestling Legion of Fanatical Viewers, TNA has seemingly given him the smoke-up-your-ass treatment of "He's really good! He's really popular! He's a rising star!" treatment, while nearly never having anything intriguing happen to or with him. He's just there, being hyped all the time. But where's his feud? Where's the fire he showed during the UK tour a while back? He's just there as a member of the Mafia, too. He's always gung-ho for the cause, but he's also usually in the background when it's time for the real guys to speak. Winning the BFG Series would have served as a nice platform, but I'm happy with what we have, and hope Magnus can find the spark to put him over the edge sooner than later.
I was born in 1981. I've watched wrestling as long as I can remember, never taking a break from it. From the beginning of Hulkamania to our current HHH Era, and everywhere in between, I've always enjoyed whatever wrestling I could come across. While the WWF was absolutely the most easily available stuff to watch where I grew up, I still watched the AWA, World Class, Crockett/NWA/WCW, Global, and so on and so forth. However, the one I never really had a chance to really watch was Mid-South Wrestling. I did see a few episodes of its later incarnation as the UWF, but I never watched the real deal, honest to goodness Mid-South Wrestling. Even in these later years, I've only watched a few matches, but with no context to it all, it's just kinda neat to see, but nothing that carries any real meaning.
The problem with this? Well, much like how today the coolest kids like to bust out the whole What, did you start watching wrestling in 1999? when they don't approve of your opinion, the biggest sticklers in my wrestling fan life have always been Mid-South Fans. Oh, you think Junk Yard Dog was cool? Vince stole him and made him a joke! He was way better in Mid-South! Hulk Hogan was trash! Hacksaw Butch Reed was better! Ted DiBiase was amazing! Vince ruined everything! You don't know anything!
I paraphrase, of course.
The point is, Mid-South Fans have always struck me as this super bitter group, always blaming Vince McMahon for kidnapping the family of every one of their beloved wrestlers until they signed their freedom away, stolen from Mid-South in the thick of the night.
So when I got my bluray in the mail, I was ready to roll. One four-hour disc later, and I'm all in. I haven't even finished it, which is why I hesitate to call this a full review, but I really think it's well done. I'm willing to bet a diehard Mid-South fan will find roughly a hundred things to pick on, but like I said, I sat and watched for four hours straight. I'm not bragging because it makes me cool, I'm bragging because holy crap, that's a long time to watch old wrestling that's not a pay per view. Hell, I'm usually ready to drown myself at the 2.5 hour mark of RAW!
Broken down nicely into sections featuring a specific wrestler or group, you are introduced to JYD, Reed, DiBiase, Magnum TA, the Rat Pack, and may others. This allows for certain wrestlers to speak about their favorites moments of the time, which is always a favorite part of any release for me. On top of that, there's a much more open "shooty" feel to the whole thing. Openly speaking about wanting to lose, looking forward to wrestle Flair so one would look good, and other examples are always nice for me because I just enjoy hearing guys talk about their job with a somewhat realistic story to it. I don't mind if they're still working me (as wrestlers always will), but it's also to not have total kayfabe thrown at me, either.
After giving a short description of the wrestler(s), you're hit with one or two matches featuring the star, and usually in a bigger feud from that era. Again, it's great if you're like me and only know the history you've read- to actually get to see these huge matches is just fantastic. There's even a 45-ish minute match between Ric Flair and Terry Taylor on there! And see- Terry Taylor is a guy Mid-South fans can be justifiably butthurt about. Holy shit, Vince.
It's not a perfect release, however. Most jarring is Jim Ross apparently having done commentary on old match videos, but pretending that he's there as it's happening, and calling it as such. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, if it wasn't really easy to tell the difference between Jim Ross in the 80s and early 90s and the later "Good Ol JR" we know and love today. I understand that the audio may have been garbage, but why not just have Ross call it while providing a historical perspective and calling it "now" instead of pretending he's there live in 1984?
It's also apparent pretty early on that while this is just being released, it's been in the works for quite a while. Both Doctor Death Steve Williams and Jim Cornette appear to speak in certain parts, and while I'm not complaining about either being included, it's still weird seeing a man who's been dead for nearly four years speaking about Mid-South. Not a complaint, just something I thought was a little jarring.
In the end, it's just a really nice way to see all of my childhood favorites in the days before Vince got to them. Butch Reed WAS a beast. That's a fact. Hacksaw Duggan got treated like Santino Marella, more or less. Too bad. And now we have a nice little capsule of the stars, the violence, and the mayhem that made Mid-South awesome to its devoted fans. Oh, and Mr. Wrestling. But he's a goof. I'm sorry, but I've never been able to get into that dude. Such a goof, ha.
As I said earlier, if you haven't yet, buy this release. It's phenomenal. Thanks, WWE. And thank you, Mid-South Wrestling.
Tag Team Tournament Tactical Turmoil Trouble!
Tag Team Turmoil is back! Nothing makes me happier that when no team is head and shoulders above the rest in deserving a shot at the champions, so they all get to go at it in a gauntlet match to determine supremacy! The Usos, 3MB, Prime Time Players, Real Americans and Tons of Funk will enter the same grounds that sharpened the steel of teams like Edge and Christian, the Acolytes, the Dudley Boys, the Hardyz, and Too Cool. Unlike those teams, however, the result of this needing to happen is the usual 50/50 booking that plagues any division WWE stops caring about. One could argue that they're all being elevated, but I'd argue that simply trading losses at all times, while everyone always loses to the Shield, only proves that none of these teams have a chance in hell of winning the title shot they'll earn.
All snark out of the way, I do enjoy these matches for the sheer chaos they usually entail. Since there will be four matches before this contest is over, you can look for a couple fast eliminations, and maybe even unexpectedly so. If you can not expect something you're looking for, that is.
My call to win? I'd love it to be the Real Americans since they're a team of guys that look like they should be the champs, but since this is WWE and good fights evil, I'll roll with the Prime Time Players to continue their winning ways overall. With the fans behind them, can they put it all together and topple Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins?
Nah, probably not.
Like Tag Team Turmoil? Think it's a stupid match? Wish for better treatment of all the teams in WWE? Any comments on the Mid-South release? What about Bound For Glory? You know the drill- hit me up in the comments!
That will do it for me this week. I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and as always, remember to enjoy your WWE, TNA, Lucha, Puro, Indies, and Old School Releases.
It's All Wrestling. It's All Stupid. We All Love It.