Alley Fight: Pat Patterson vs. Sgt. Slaughter (w/the Grand Wizard 5/4/81).
This was on the Hall of Fame 2004 DVD, but it's a worthy addition here. The DVD says it's 5/4, but most places have it listed as 5/21. Maybe that was the airdate? Leading up to this, Slaughter had been putting out the Cobra Clutch challenge, betting that no one could break his hold. Patterson was an announcer at the time, so he interviewed Slaughter. Slaughter suggested Patterson try, but Patterson good-naturedly said he wasn't ready. Slaughter started taunting Patterson for being "yellow" because he wouldn't take the challenge. One night, Slaughter's designated victim freaked out and ran away, so when Patterson went to interview him, Slaughter said he told the guy it would be the last time he set foot in a wrestling ring and the guy chickened out. Then, for no discernible reason other than he's a bully, Slaughter suckerpunched Patterson. This enraged Patterson, and he agreed to take the challenge right then and there. Despite not being ready, Patterson did better against the hold than anyone else had. Slaughter felt the hold start to slip, so he just threw Patterson down and stomped on him. Slaughter explained that he heard Patterson say, "I quit," so he let him go. That's what brings us here. Not much to recap because it's a straight-up slugfest with Patterson kicking Slaughter's ass all over the ring. He catapults Slaughter into the turnbuckle, drawing one of the most horrific bladejobs you'll ever see. These guys are just booting each other right in the face and stepping on each other's throats. I love it! Slaughter nails Patterson with brass knuckles, but Patterson recovers, takes his cowboy boot off, and beats Slaughter senseless until the Grand Wizard has to throw in the towel. (14:13). Just a case of two great workers trusting one another enough to let the other brutalize them for the sake of profit and entertainment. What wrestling should be. ****1/4
Atlanta Street Fight: The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively (w/Big Mama 11/28/85).
And now for something completely different it's Ronnie Garvin in drag? Why? Well, it's ostensibly to screw with the Midnights, but the boys at the Blue Oyster Bar tell a different story. Total comedy match, which is a good thing after all the super seriousness. Garvin shows ass literally but winds up knocking Eaton out of the sky with an uppercut for the win at 6:36. Short and inoffensive outside of seeing the moonrise. **1/2
NWA World Tag Titles, Street Fight: Doom (w/Teddy Long) vs. Arn Anderson & Barry Windham (12/16/90).
This was supposed to be Flair & Anderson in a reprise of their Halloween Havoc match, but Flair was "injured" in an attack by Doom. Donnybrook to start. Arn smashes Reed's knee with a chair and whips him with the strap. Barry Windham gets tossed into the post but comes back with a backdrop suplex on the outside. Arn clocks Reed with a chairshot, and the Horsemen take turns hitting chairshots and whipping Doom. Simmons reverses a whip. SPINEBUSTER! DAMN! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Simmons press slams Windham and goes up. Barry simply goes low harshly. SUPERPLEX! Big pop for that. Reed hits Arn with a shoulderblock, but Barry jumps him. Reed returns the favor and goes low on Barry. Simmons blocks a chairshot and hits his own. ONE, TWO, THR-Arn gets the shoulder up. Piledriver on Windham. The Horsemen try a doubleteam, but Reed saves Simmons. Simmons hits Arn with a clothesline and falls on top as Barry small packages Reed. That leads to a double pin at 7:18. Boo on the finish. That should have led to the match continuing. Instead, Doom retains in a draw. The replay shows Barry had Reed pinned quite a bit before Simmons crawled to cover Arn. This was stiff, brutal and intense much different than the watered-down brawls that would plague WCW in later years. Way too short or it could have been a MOTY. ****
Non-title, Falls Count Anyway: Sting vs. Cactus Jack (6/20/92).
The title is not on the line because Cactus is a psychopath who cares not for the titles of mortal men. Jack was recovering from whooping cough, which makes this all the more amazing. Jack waits for Sting in the aisle, and they brawl before the bell. Sting reverses a whip and backdrops Jack on the entrance ramp. He misses a Stinger Splash and tumbles into the ring, allowing Jack to take over on offense. The Cactus Elbow off the apron makes an appearance, as does the sunset flip from the apron to the concrete floor. That gets two. Jack was a sick, sick man. They brawl out into the crowd where Sting suplexes Jack for two. Back in, Jack takes it to the mat with a bodyscissors and slaps Sting around. The Cactus Clothesline sends both guys to the floor where Jack grabs a chair and tries to bash Sting's skull in. Sting hits a belly-to-back suplex, a spot that everyone does these days but was insane at the time. Jack hot shots him on the railing. He can't get in a good piledriver, though, so Sting is able to catch him coming off the second rope for an elbowdrop. Sting grabs the chair and chops Cactus down like a tree before going for the Scorpion Deathlock. Cactus blocks by falling off the ramp and hitting a Kobashi Driver for two. Sting fights back and hits a lariat to set up a flying clothesline from the top rope to the ramp to pick up the pin at 11:23. Great back-and-forth action in this one, and it serves the dual purpose of making Sting look like a badass babyface without burying Cactus Jack. It's amazing what a couple of pros can do. ****
Falls Count Anywhere: Randy Savage vs. Crush (w/Mr. Fuji - 3/20/94).
Different rules for this one. You beat your opponent and then the loser has sixty seconds to return to the ring. They should bring that back. Crush and Savage were "brahs" before Yokozuna brutalized Crush on an episode of Raw. While convalescing, Crush became bitter because Savage was not as supportive as he could have been. He joined with Fuji, and they attacked Savage upon Crush's return. Savage attacks Crush in the aisle but pays for it as Crush shrugs him off and drops him on the rail. That's enough for the pin. Savage makes it back in at :58, despite interference from Fuji. Savage comes back and avoids the ceremonial salt. He hits the elbowdrop but has to roll Crush to the floor to pin him. Fuji throws water in Crush's face to wake him up, and Crush makes it back in at :58. Savage charges so he can take his usual HUGE over-the-top bump off a backdrop. They brawl to the back where Savage tosses Crush into several doors along the way. He pins Crush in the production area and ties him up so he can't escape. Savage gets the win at 9:49. Smart booking lifted this above average. **1/2
Chicago Street Fight: The Road Warriors vs. Sting & Booker T (3/24/96).
They do split-screen for much of this match, so it's difficult to recap. Sting & Luger were feuding with Harlem Heat for the tag titles when the Roadies returned and insinuated themselves into the title scene. The Road Warriors no-sell A LOT. We're talking no-selling chairshots, armbars, a piledriver, a piledriver on the floor at one point. Hawk powerbombs Sting but then stomps him in the gut rather than covering him. There's just too much happening and nothing going on. Sting whiffs on a double ax-handle and looks like an idiot. Booker breaks up the Doomsday Device, and Animal finally sells something as Sting lands on his crotch. Match. So. Long. Sting gets pretty heelish, hitting the Roadies with a broom. For some reason, Booker throws his hands up in disgust and walks out. Animal follows him to the back where they run across Luger who is checking himself out in the mirror. Animal accidentally nails Luger, triggering a two-on-one as Stevie Ray joins in and puts the boots to Animal. They tie him up in the back and stomp on him. Back to the ring, Sting misses the Stinger Splash against the railing, but Booker returns and tosses Hawk back in. The Harlem Hangover misses, but Stevie hits Hawk with a chair to give Sting & Booker the win at 29:33. I've used the roller-coaster-with-no-ups-or-downs metaphor before, so imagine it like this: it's like inserting your penis into a woman's vagina and then neither of you moving and expecting something great to happen. There has to be a give and take, an up and down, a back and forth. I don't remember if I'm talking about wrestling or the simile at this point. Anyway, this got interesting right around the time Stevie and Luger got involved because it was about something then. It was about 25 minutes too late, though. **
Chicago Street Fight: Ahmed Johnson & The Road Warriors vs. The Nation of Domination (w/Clarence Mason & PG-13 3/23/87).
This, on the other hand, was much better, despite being the same clusterfuck that the WCW match was. This has no pretenses about being a wrestling match, though. It's just an ECWish brawl. Part of the difference may be clearly defined face/heel roles. In the previous match Hawk & Animal were babyfaces, and so was Sting, but Sting was teaming with a heel and starting to act kind of heelish. There's no doubt who the fans are behind here, though. When you have a couple of white boy rappers coming down and rapping about "liberty and justice for none," then you pretty much have the floor for heels. awk chases Crush off with a fire extinguisher. The Nation's lackeys (D-Lo Brown!) attack whenever possible, turning it into a handicap match. They even blatantly break up the Pearl River Plunge. The LOD fight them off and hit the Doomsday Device on Crush. That sets up a 2x4 shot from Ahmed for the win at 10:45. PG-13 and D-Lo get their asses kicked after the match. I appreciate the pure chaos on a Tyler Durdenesque level. ***
Street Fight: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (4/21/97).
Bret takes his sweet time getting to the ring, which allows Owen Hart and the British Bulldog to attack Austin from behind. Shawn Michaels ends the beatdown and chases Owen and Bulldog away. Austin is defenseless, so Bret stomps him down some more and delivers a piledriver. He goes up and tries to Pillmanize Austin's leg. Instead, Austin moves out of the way and strikes Bret's knee with the chair. The crowd ROARS as Austin goes medieval on Bret's knee with the chair. Now it's Bret who's defenseless, but Austin shows NO MERCY! He smashes Bret with the chair a few more times and applies his own version of the Sharpshooter. The officials come and try to reason him out of it, but it's Steve Austin, so he's all "FUCK OFF!" Finally, Evil Hebner, slightly less Evil Hebner, Tim White and some other refs manage to pry Austin off Bret's carcass. Later in the show, Bret is being loaded into the ambulance with help from Bulldog and Owen when Austin reveals himself to have hijacked the ambulance. Austin jumps in the back and beats on Bret's knee even more! Craziness. Not much of a match, but one of the great segments in Raw history that, like "jiminy jillikers" has lost its meaning through repetition. [N/R]
The 411: I'm not sure why they just didn't go with "Best Brawls" or some similarly appropriate title, but I'm glad they expanded the criteria beyond FCA. Started out really well, dipped as wrestling got more kid friendly, and picked up again during the Attitude Era. More to come.