Down With The Brown: Steve Austin & Mick Foley - The Early Years
Posted by Sydney Brown on 08.22.2004
The Wal-Mart $5 DVD bin strikes again.
Couple of movie items before we hit today’s review.
First, After Hours has been released on DVD, and you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of what is flat-out Martin Scorsese’s most underrated film (I think King of Comedy has reached enough cult status that it can’t be considered underrated.) A remarkable black comedy and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t care much for black comedy. And if you think movie trailers today reveal too much plot, check out the trailer for After Hours (AFTER you’ve seen it). Not only does the film reveal every plot twist, they spell it out for you.
Pick it up at your neighborhood video store (If you can find it at Best Buy, more power to you, as for some insane reason, there are currently offering Before Sunrise for $5.99. Sometimes it’s good to be fans of movies the mainstream has never heard of.)
And while we are discussing great movies:
I’d like to think I know my audience pretty well, and I dare say my audience likes movies, and they like lists. Imdb may be the authority on movies, but for movie lists, check out Ymdb.com for the opportunity to speak your mind about any movie you want as well as listing your top 20 movies and even your top 20 hated films. Yours truly has his lists up (under sydneybrown, naturally), feel free to check and either love me or hate me.
Courtesy of the Wal-Mart discount bin, I came across a couple of two-packers of wrestling matches, the other being a Booker T & Misc comp. And a whopping $5.50 for two DVDs was a price pretty much in my alley, especially considering blanks DVDs were costing about that much about two years ago.
This isn’t to be confused with the Steve Austin VHS tape I reviewed a long, long time ago. This one has a few different matches on it.
These are only an hour long, and most of them are JIP, so I’m gonna return to the match-by-match review, though not in the detail that you may once have been accustomed to.
Your hosts are Brian Webster and Tony Atlas, doing his best “I don’t want to be here and I’m making no effort to show otherwise” impression. I can’t help but feel sorry for ol’ Tony. As great as Beyond the Mat was, MTV’s True Life profile on Atlas (check the archives) may have been the best document of a former wrestling star sinking to the bottom. In all honesty, why does it seem like people never learn their lesson, until after it’s all gone? And why do I feel if by some stroke of luck they became stars again, they’d just fall into the same habits? The studio set appears to be Mr. Webster’s den.
-Steve Austin vs. The Punisher.
You smart fans may know the Punisher better as Mean Mark Callous. Or maybe his later stint in that goofy WWF gimmick called The Undertaker. This I think is either UT’s rookie year or not far removed from it, and man, he’s much more put together here. What would be a main event six years later is a squash match for The Punisher. BTW, it should be noted that Steve Austin is known by his real name of Steve Williams. That worked for about two months, until another Steve Williams seemed to take offense. Probably because this Steve Williams got his ass kicked 99 times out of 100. It should also be noted that The Punisher is wearing a mask, no doubt a tribute (or a mocking) to his scarred brother Kane.
Just play along, okay?
-Steve Williams vs. Chris Youngblood.
On commentary is Steve’s trainer Chris Adams who notes how Steve has only been training for six months. Austin is built like a mother, btw. Youngblood is a future Renegade Warrior, and the fact that Youngblood had virtually no push in Dallas, and he STILL kicked Austin’s ass showed you how low on the totem pole Austin was. Thankfully Austin didn’t have to see if he was beneath Frogman LeBlanc.
-Steve Austin vs. Chris Adams.
Austin had turned on Adams at this point, and it’s really kinda smart to take a guy with the raw talent Austin had and feud him with the one man who can make him look like a million bucks. And man, did it work. Maybe the last gasp in the Dallas legacy was this feud, though once WCW gobbled up Austin and Kerry split, that was pretty much the end. This is how bad the Dallas area was. They had two guys who would rule professional wrestling in a few short years (Austin and UT), and the Sportatorium STILL couldn’t draw. We get to see the legendary “old ladies with cigars” who heckled the heels and blew smoke in their faces. You know, really, sometimes that’s the worst part about wrestling not being taken seriously anymore: Sometimes it’s really the most fun when you’re allowed to believe. Let me tell you a brief story:
About three years ago I did some freelance work with an independent wrestling organization where I taped the matches in the hopes that they could get a TV deal (which they didn’t.) The one thing I remember most about the experience (aside from a few small talents who I hope are still working) was the handful of people who always sat in the same area, and who the bookers warned me to be careful of, because they believed everything they saw, to the point that the talent actually thought they might attack the guys or even me. One particular female got SO into it, her face would turn red from all the screaming at the heels. Two things I thought back then: 1) She’s insane and 2) I missed the days when I treated it as real. It just seemed more fun back then, and in a small way I envied her for getting so excited. But I digress.........
Actually in a way, with the whole teacher vs. student, there was an element of reality, especially when you consider the student not only married the teacher’s ex-wife, he became about a million times more famous. These guys had about a million matches and I have no idea how early in the feud we are here. Though it must be really early because Skandor Akbar is accompanying Austin. It was thankfully short lived as Austin always sucked when he had a male manager. Always. Austin knocks the ref down and tries to use brass knuckles (or the classic taped brass knucks) but Adams swipes them, but good ol’ referee Tony Falk (a part time wrestler, and it’s hard to take his ref bumps seriously because of it) catches Adams and takes them away. Adams uses the knucks anyway and Austin gets the win. And rightfully so. That’s like me playing chess with a professor and catching my professor cheating.
-Steve Austin, Gary Young, Jeff Gaylord & Skandor Akbar vs. Eric Embry, Jeff Jarrett, Bill Dundee & Percy Pringle
See if you can follow this. This is an eight man-Texas Death match. When one team pins somebody, all four men can beat on any one man for one minute. If they can make the ten count, the match continues. If they can’t, the other team wins. Basically, it’s a Texas Death-War Games big glob of crap. Dallas was REALLY good at creating those kinds of matches. Embry’s at the tail end of his mind-boggling run of head of the promotion (I know people trash the Embry days, but that was when I was watching World Class, wondering where the hell the Von Erichs went, and I always thought the Akbar-Embry stuff was pretty well booked. At least until Killer Brooks came along.) Dundee’s with his girlfriend Tessa, who’s not bad looking as far as the Texas chicks go. I never did understand what was so hot about Baby Doll or Precious or Sunshine.....
It’s never a good idea to have Tony Falk ref a Bill Dundee match. Actually the only ref I’d have for a Dundee match would be Gilberto Roman. I always liked Gary Young. I mean, he had the look of a small time guy, so you knew he’d never go anywhere, but he had the mannerisms down, and I always thought he was fun to watch. In the time it took you to read that. Embry pins Young and the faces get to beat on Jeff Gaylord only because Gaylord attacks the faces. Logically speaking, you’d beat up the manager, but since Akbar was notorious for not selling any abuse for more than eight seconds, Gaylord may have been a wiser choice. And really, there’s something less than thrilling about seeing four faces beat up a heel. Barring an entire roster demolition of HHH or Bradshaw, there’s just something not really right about it.
Anyway, Gaylord survives the pummeling, and in a cute bit, starts posing as if he wasn’t hurt at all. Austin locks up with Jarrett and Jarrett refuses to wrestle him because Austin is beneath him. (Well, he doesn’t, but if he knew then.......) Gary Young defies the laws of physics by falling forward after getting hit with a dropkick. Somewhere in all of this Percy Pringle gets pinned and the heels get to beat on Jeff Jarrett. Funny as the camera sneaks up on the heels’ huddle and it isn’t until one of them notice the camera that they start talking. Jarrett gets destroyed but makes the 10 count. Akbar gets pinned about thirty seconds later and the faces pick Akbar, but the heels attack anyway. Gaylord comes in with a chair but Jarrett nabs it and smack Akbar with it. Akbar can’t make the 10 (though it takes all of his strength to actually sell the chair shot) and the faces win. Eh match.
-Steve Austin vs. Chris Adams. Well, here’s what made the feud famous as the women get involved. You don’t see booking like this anymore. Chris Adams’ wife made a few appearances in the USWA around 1989 or so, and she was, oh how you say......quite the hottie. So Steve Austin combats that by hooking up with Chris’s EX wife Jeannie, and suddenly the teacher vs. student angle has the ex-wife vs. current wife angle thrown in, and you’ve got this weird hybrid that helped get Austin the gig in WCW. (And somewhere in all of this Austin married Adams’ ex-wife, a woman who, along with Debra, bore a striking resemblance to Austin’s mother.) Jeannie makes the brilliant choice of wearing a strapless dress so her breasts almost pop out every five seconds. The women can’t stop fighting, so the promoter throws the women out. And see if you can figure this out, we get to watch five minutes of the women not leaving the ring, and we cut to the match JIP.
Adams gets a clean pin, but Jeannie attacks and Austin destroys Adams with a chair. Toni comes out with a kendo stick and wallops Jeannie (who kindly destroys the kendo gimmick by not selling ANY of the shots.) Austin attacks Toni and Jeannie beats Toni with the stick. Austin adds insult to injury by throwing a chair AT Adams who clearly isn’t prepared for it.
-Steve Austin & Jeannie vs. Chris Adams & Toni. The faces destroy the heels but the ref gets mad because they attacked before the bell. Isn’t that always the way? When the heels are killing people, the refs don’t say anything. Ah, Toni Adams in spandex was THE bright spot of Dallas wrestling........
Toni gets a little aggressive in her fighting as she legit pulls some of Jeannie’s hair out. The match ends as a freshly turned Percy Pringle helps Jeannie assault Toni only to be saved by Chris Von Erich. Chris attacks Percy, about the only guy he could legit beat up (and that includes the women) and it turns into a free-for-all as Jeff Jarrett and Iceman Parsons get involved. Sadly, this volume does not involve the six man involving Chris and Percy.
End of disc.
Harmless stuff, and considering I paid $2.75 for it, I’d say I got my money’s worth. Moving on....
Cactus Jack: The Early Years
I’m no prophet, but when I saw “Cactus Jack Manson” first drop that elbow to the concrete, I knew the guy was going somewhere. And I was not surprised at all to see him pop up in WCW soon after. Though I was shocked to see him headline a PPV in 1992. “Who the hell thinks Cactus has a chance against Sting?”
This should be interesting as the matches on the box and on the sleeve are completely different.
We’ve moved from the den to the cellar with this one. Tony Atlas seems to be clueless as to who Cactus is: “Oh, he jumps off of houses, out of trees, out of airplanes!!!” I guess Atlas is prepared for a retrospective of Cpl. Kirchner.
-Cactus Jack vs. The Patriot. This would be from that glorious month when the Global Wrestling Federation seemed like a good idea. Then all the talent left, and it became World Class II. This is from the early days of Global as Cactus takes on the champion, The Patriot, better known as the guy who admitted on HBO to taking hundreds of pain pills to get by everyday, and when asked about it Vince McMahon said “Well, maybe he shouldn’t be wrestling then” without batting an eye.
Foley hits a somersault sentan bomb to the floor causing the announcers to literally spew all over themselves. And as an encore, he hits the elbow to the floor. Patriot just brushes it off and wipes the floor with Cactus until a who’s who of future stars (Raven) and never will-bes (Makhan Singh and Rip Rogers) attack. Handsome Stranger (Buff Bagwell), Terry Garvin, and Steve Simpson make the save. Match was nothing.
-Cactus Jack & Gary Young vs. Chris Adams & Jeff Jarrett. Some odd math by host Brian Webster as he lists the guys and tells Tony “All three men are familiar to you, eh, Tony?” We’re back in World Class now, and you can almost tell what year it is by the definition on Jeff Jarrett’s body. There ain’t much, but there’s a little, so it must be 1989. Gary Young dares to imitate Ric Flair, and Jarrett watches, thinking “Hmmm..........” BTW, for those who have read Foley’s book, do you ever watch a Cactus Jack match from World Class and wonder which one in the audience is the stalker? Man, Foley is skinny here, I’d say he’s at least 100 lbs lighter. Nothing much here as Akbar’s interference backfires and Parsons gets involved, but Brickhouse Brown makes the save before we get any kind of decent beatdown.
-Cactus Jack & Gary Young vs. DeWayne Medors and Mickey Finn Jr. Oh, come on. A World Class squash and you can’t give me Frogman LeBlanc? Finn is so uncoordinated he has difficulty with an Irish whip. I’m gonna guess it’s Finn, the commentators can’t be bothered to tell us which is which. Frank Dusek is on commentary here, and as such Mark Lowrance gets in about as many words as Bruno. And then just as I write that, AKBAR actually walks over and tells the two about the two jobbers, rubbing it in their faces that they aren’t even doing their jobs properly. Dusek: “Well, if you’d get out of my face, I could call the match properly.” Remember that three week period back in 2001 when Tazz’s gimmick was to not only tell Michael Cole but SHOW him what a horrible commentator he was? God, I wish they’d bring that back for Ross and Lawler. Cactus and Gary win with a backdrop into a piledriver finish. Nothing much to see here but Akbar abusing the announcers is a riot.
-Cactus Jack, Gary Young, & Iceman Parsons vs. Brickhouse Brown, Tony Falk, & Bill Iwin. Boy, I don’t remember Bill Irwin being in World Class as a face. Rule of thumb: If Tony Falk is your partner in a match, you’re gonna lose. Did they ever explain why Falk got to referee AND wrestle? Parsons as you may know was a man who The Rock stole a lot of his catchphrases from, so in a sense, you got a beta version of the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection here. Oh dear Lord, if you buy this DVD, the Hansen brothers from Slap Shot are in the front row! Insane! (Let me add my two cents as well. The Hansen brothers may be the single greatest characters in any movie. You find me ONE person who can’t identify with them, three cool ass-kicking nerds.) Accompanying the heels is Super Black Ninja, aka The Great Muta aka Keiji Mutoh. How the hell did Keiji Mutoh start his U.S. career in Dallas? It boggles the mind how many main-eventers of today started in Dallas. But then when you consider the most talented man is the one standing outside the ring, that may answer my question. (Mutoh or Foley? That’s a tough call......) Referee is Harold T. Harris who was a part of a great piece of booking during the Embry days. Harris was scheduled to referee a match between Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich, but Eric Embry wanted to, but Harris wouldn’t let him, so Embry piledrove him. The next week Harris turned heel on Embry, and the beauty part was, it was completely justified. Foley has said it himself, the best heels are the ones who are right.
Did I mention there was a match going on? Some sloppy work from Foley and Brown as they miscommunicate two spots in a row, but they play it off pretty well. Irwin tosses Foley over the top rope but the ref misses it, and Cactus cries foul. Man, the crowd is going crazy for this, especially when really none of these guys are THAT over. Parsons is going off like a man possessed too, jerking around all over the place. This is a nice long TV main event which of course means the heels will cause a DQ. Proving my Falk theory wrong.
-Cactus Jack vs. Doug Masters. We get back to one-on-one action as Cactus drops the elbow to the floor about twenty seconds in. He gets the pin ten seconds later. Oh come on, the only reason this match made the disc was so they could brag about having eight matches in an hour. What’s next? The nine-second loss to Eric Embry?
-Cactus Jack vs. Tony Falk. Let’s see if we can break the one minute mark for this one. Gary Young and the Botswana Beast (aka Fake Kamala) come out to watch. Kinda funny how similar Ugandans and Botswanans dress. A “U.S.A” chant breaks out, because DAMN those Botswanans. In a bizarre twist, even though Cactus is destroying Falk, he motions the other heels to come in, and they triple-team Falk. Basically it’s the Beast just splashing Falk. So why not make it a Beast/ Falk match?
-Cactus Jack vs. Brickhouse Brown. Tony Atlas proves he has no idea what the hell is going on. “Brickhouse? Like the three little pigs? I don’t think Cactus is gonna blow this house down.” Of course, then again.....it’s more insightful than Lawler. Brickhouse had about a two month stint in the WWF where he got murdered constantly, so it’s kind of hard to take him seriously now. So when a guy that can’t make it in the big leagues is pushed as a major threat, it kinda makes the whole organization a tad bush league. (World Class truly died when they put the World title on mid-carder Black Bart. And before we get into the Bradshaw comparisons, as much as I hate to admit it, they are doing a decent job with him. Namely by hiding his weaknesses by having him wrestle as little as possible.) Okay match, but they’re working at half speed so you kinda know where it’s headed. Yeah, time limit draw.
-A ten second Cactus Jack promo that may rank as Foley’s worst. Because it’s ten seconds.
-Eric Embry vs. Cactus Jack. Oh dear Lord, I was kidding, It IS the twelve second match as Embry sends Cactus packing in a loser-leaves-town match as covered in Foley’s book. According to Mick, everyone knew he was leaving because his car was in the parking lot all packed up. Though I could have sworn that Cactus came back under a mask as the Zodiac. Maybe that was somebody else.
End of disc.
Considering the subject, that was a major letdown. The two matches I cared the least about were the ones that went on and on. Worth $2.75? Maybe $2.
Well, there are a few gems on here, so I can’t give it a negative. Especially if you got $6 on you. (And these are being shilled on eBay for much more, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $10 for the two tops.) There are just too many meaningless matches that don’t really showcase Foley’s talent. The Austin DVD is better, if only for showing Austin at his rookiest, getting his ass handed to him like he was being paid by the sell. And the Adams’ matches are pretty entertaining.
Thumb in the middle leaning slightly up, slightly recommended, B-.