Reviews from Across the Pond - Cactus Jack: The Early Years
Posted by Jack Stevenson on 09.02.2011
In which Cactus faces a veritable cavalcade of legends over the course of eight matches squeezed into fifty-five minutes- Doug Masters, Dwayne Medors, Mickey Finn, they're all here!
CACTUS JACK: THE EARLY YEARS
This is part of the Classic Superstars of Wrestling series. The title of the DVD is the entire summary this needs though. Our hosts are Brian Webster and Tony Atlas, who speak for an entire DVD without saying anything of consequence. These matches are from World Class Championship Wrestling and the Global Wrestling Federation, from the late eighties and early nineties.
MATCH 1- CACTUS JACK VS THE PATRIOT
The commentator for this endears himself to my love of goofy alliteration by referring to Cactus as a “dastardly dude.” Production values are pretty good. A little on the dark side, but perfectly serviceable
Jack attacks the Patriot right from the start, knocking him out to the floor and flying onto him off the apron. Back in, a knee drop gets two. He sends the Real Real American back to the outside and removes the ring mats. Slam onto the hardwood floor, and then his trademark elbow off the apron! Finally the Patriot comes back with a back suplex to the floor. Lots of intense screaming follows. Clothesline, (AAAAAAAARRRGGH!) back body drop, (AAAAAAAAARRRGGH!) slam, (AAAAAAAAAAARRRGGHH!) and to finish off the offensive flurry, the Patriot Missile! (AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGHH!) Various rule-breakers hit the ring to assault the Patriot though, causing a DQ. The fan-favourites even the odds, and we have a wild brawl. The heels win that and try to remove the mask of the Patriot, which the commentators try to sell as the ultimate symbol of America. The good guys rally though, and are able to send the various fiends scurrying from the ring.
Rating- * ½- Far too short to go much higher, but it was a great brawl while it lasted, and the finish, while a little clichéd and forced, entertained nonetheless.
MATCH 2- CACTUS JACK & GARY YOUNG VS JEFF JARRETT & CHRIS ADAMS
Skandar Akbar is in the corner of the rulebreakers for this one. Young gets a hiptoss on Double J and takes the opportunity to strut. The feisty Jarrett comes back with a shoulder block, hip toss, slam, and a pair of flying headscissors! Dropkicks for all! Jeff’s certainly changed his style. Chris Adams tags in and wrenches on an armbar. He then teams up with JJ for a double elbow. Cactus Jack tags in and is equally as hapless as his partner, the fan favourites continuing to work the arm. Eventually Cactus nails a running knee in the corner. Double clothesline. Foley misses a charge and spills to the floor, but Gary Young rescues the situation against Adams in the ring. That’s until he takes an enzuiguri, and it’s hot tag to Jarrett! Right hand! Right hand! Adams joins in, and they whip Cactus and Gary into each other. Skandar Akbar is taken out, but here come Iceman King Parsons to interfere for the DQ. Brickhouse Brown makes the save and helps clean house.
Rating- ** ¼- Fun tag match with a hot crowd, but I question the wisdom of putting two DQ finishes in a row. If this match proves anything, it’s what a fantastic wrestler Jeff Jarrett used to be. He still is, and that would be widely recognised if it wasn’t for the way he’s been booked since about 1996, but here he was just rattling off crisp offence with tons of fire.
MATCH 3- CACTUS JACK & GARY YOUNG VS DWAYNE MEDORS & MICKEY FINN JR.
Mickey Finn is of course famous for being the only wrestler named after the act of drugging someone’s drink.
Why did they put this on here? The heels hammer the hapless jobbers. That’s all that happens. In fact, I was quite capable of keeping track on this out of the corner of my eye while reading a book. Eventually Finn and Medors get pummelled on the floor. You know, just to liven things up. Eventually the action re-enters the ring, and the match just goes on and on and on. It wouldn’t be so bad if Jack and Young would look in jeopardy at any time. Eventually the rule-breakers finish with a double powerbomb. And…that’s it? I was waiting for some sort of interference, leading to a crazy brawl that would justify putting this on here. It didn’t come.
MATCH 4- CACTUS JACK, GARY YOUNG & ICEMAN KING PARSONS VS BRICKHOUSE BROWN, COWBOY TONY WILD & BILL IRWIN
Nothing like a good old fashioned cowboy gimmick. Pre match, Brickhouse Brown demands Iceman King Parsons in the ring, and soon the punches are flying! Parsons is sent to the floor with the strikes, and tags in Cactus. He actually does a pretty decent wresting sequence with Brown. BB (not Barbara Bush) is consistently in control though. Jack gets a sunset flip, so he responds with a dropkick, and one for Gary Young as well! The rulebreakers bail to the floor.
Back in the ring, it’s Jack taking on Bill Irwin, and promptly getting sent to the floor again, where Skandar Akbar tends to him. Tony Wild gets himself some as well, but gets caught with a back elbow. Gary Young tries to follow up but misses an elbow drop. Inverted atomic drop, and Young stumbles into the wrong part of town, where he gets battered from pillar to post with punches. Time for an evil team talk. Sign in the crowd- “Iceman is a big rootie poot.” Maybe it’s because I’m British, but I have no idea what that means.
Tony Wild dishes out slams. Brickhouse Brown doles out the punishment to Gary Young. Finally the heels start to gain some momentum, Wild isolated in the corner with Parsons on the attack. Snap suplex, and Iceman goads Brown into entering the ring. The referee holds him off, allowing Cactus to stomp away. Legal tag to Jack, and a big elbow, but Wild is able to stumble over and make the tag to Irwin! The match breaks down, and the Ninja comes out for the attack on Brickhouse Brown and the DQ. Typical big brawl post match, with Jimmy Jack Funk makes the save.
Rating- ** ½- Hot tag match while it lasted, but out of the four matches so far, one has been a squash, and the other three have ended in DQ’s. It smacks of lazy match selection.
MATCH 5- CACTUS JACK VS DOUG MASTERS
And I don’t see this one bucking the trend and being worthwhile. Masters is immediately dumped to the floor and suplexed down hard. Cactus drops his famous elbow off the apron, and that gets the immediate victory. The only rating this one gets is that of the most pointless match on the DVD so far.
MATCH 6- CACTUS JACK VS TONY FALK
This is joined in progress, but since they’re still going through some mat wrestling I don’t think we’ve missed too much. Falk gets a back body drop but misses… something. The camera decides to take a lingering look at Skandar Akbar instead. Other members of Akbar’s Devastation Inc. stable make their way down to ringside, including Kamala. Meanwhile, Jack nails a clothesline and wears down Tony. Devastation Inc. come in for a triple team. Guess what? It’s a DQ and a squash. And no rating.
MATCH 7- CACTUS JACK VS BRICKHOUSE BROWN
Here’s the thing- they’ve hyped Cactus up as some sort of insane wild man who’ll punch you in the face and put your children through a table if you’re not careful, but we’ve seen very little of that so far, probably because he’s been involved so far in one competitive singles match that was about five minutes long. This musing was brought about by Jack calling for a test of strength and getting it to start this one off. Anyway, the match goes back and forth for a couple of moments until Cactus hits a clothesline. He then controls with some basic offence, connecting with a nice back elbow. Brown rallies and flips into a pin for two. They battle over a suplex, which the fan favourite gets. Flying elbow misses, cover gets two for Cactus. Brick battles out of a chinlock but gets cut back down t size. Side Russian leg sweep for two. Clothesline for two, and a simultaneous version brings about a stalemate. Jack is up first as the time limit peters out and misses a dive from the top rope. Swinging neckbreaker by Brown! 15 seconds remaining! Flurries of punches, and a flying clothesline by Double B, but it’s too little too late. Time limit draw.
Rating- **- Methodical match with another non-finish, but this was entertaining and well put together. Brickhouse Brown looked good enough for the WWF in my eyes.
Short promo from Cactus, in which he references trying to please ‘the Boss.’
MATCH 8- LOSER LEAVES TOWN- CACTUS JACK VS ERIC EMBRY
Cactus attacks right from the bell but gets caught in a pinning combination for the defeat. What an epic. Post match, he attacks himself with a chair at the behest of Skandar Akbar.
And that’s it for the DVD.
The 411: Despite my sniping throughout the DVD and the low rating I've given it, this actually isn't that bad a look at the dying days of WCCW, and if you're interested in the time period and can find it for a reasonable price, I'd say it's worth a pick up. If you don't fall into that particular demographic and just want a good slice of classic pro wrestling, then there's no point in buying this. The fact that they've squeezed eight matches into fifty five minutes should tell you something- even if it was just one match after another with no interludes from the host whatsoever, each man could only go for about seven minutes. The match selection itself is weird as well, with not one clean finish outside of the random squash matches and the sentence-long match to conclude. In short then, it has it's moments, but it's distinctly missable.