The Furious Flashbacks – Classic St Louis Wrestling Vol. 1
Posted by Arnold Furious on 12.16.2007
Highlights from the TV show Wrestling at the Chase featuring the likes of Bruiser Brody, Dick the Bruiser, Dick Murdoch, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Gene Kiniski and Pat O’Connor
The Furious Flashbacks – Classic St Louis Wrestling Vol. 1
Highlights from the TV show Wrestling at the Chase featuring the likes of Bruiser Brody, Dick the Bruiser, Dick Murdoch, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Gene Kiniski and Pat O’Connor
When discussing territories and great episodic TV wrestling there’s one territory and TV show that tend to pop up as much as any other; St Louis and Wrestling at the Chase. The St Louis territory was founded by Sam Mushnick. The legendary promoter was instrumental in the formation of NWA and during its early years St Louis Wrestling Club was the flagship promotion of the NWA. Wrestling at the Chase began in 1959 and continued until the early 1980’s when Mushnick sold the promotion to Bob Geigel. It was eventually then sold to Jim Crockett and became part of WCW when that started up. Muchnick was unlike Vince McMahon and believed in fair play and honesty. When he retired from wrestling in 1982 it opened the door of opportunity to allow for the expansionist attitude of Vince McMahon and Jim Crockett. They never would have had that opportunity with a strong and united NWA. And it was united by Sam Mushnick. This series follows the antics of the Wrestling at the Chase TV show filmed at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel in St Louis for nearly 25 years. Enjoy.
Host is Larry Matysik, a former St Louis commentator. He talks about Sam Mushnick and how exciting it was to work in St Louis. He takes us back to 1979. Host back then is also Larry Matysik. Only with terrible hair.
Gene Stevens v David Von Erich
Gene is working heel. David has been wrestling for about 2 years here and looks skinny as hell. He’s never really piled on muscle but he’s really thin back then. David was the one that died out in Japan and began the destruction of the Von Erich family. It was rumoured at the time that David was in line to defeat Ric Flair for the NWA title a few months after he died. That win eventually went to his brother Kerry as a tribute to the fallen David. Not much of that greatness showing here as Gene isn’t much competition. David has moves Gene simply isn’t prepared for. Like dropkicks. Gene works a really loose leglock showing his inability to tell a story in the ring. David, to be fair, should get out a lot easier than he does with a headscissors. Geez, he looks scrawny. Stevens doesn’t look like he belongs in there as he botches a neckbreaker. David tries desperately to control the pace and use the ropes to good effect. He eventually gets a splash off the top Vaderbomb style for the win at 6.51. Yeah, that must be at least 110lbs coming crashing down there. Devastating. ¼*.
Billy Starr/Bryan St John v Bob Sweetan/King Kong Brody
Brody is Bruiser Brody and David Von Erich joins the commentary to single him out as the star in this match. Sweetan is quite good too and had some success around Kansas City in the late 70’s. He’s fast and can mat wrestle. Despite claims from Larry Matysik that St John is a “rising star” he gets manhandled with ease by Brody. Sweetan gets caught in a sunset flip called a “jack knife cradle” by Matysik. Interesting to see the different terminology in a different territory. Brody comes back in to beat up St John some more. The better duo have managed to keep St John isolated to the point where it takes him 5 minutes to get a tag. Starr comes in with a dropkick on Sweetan but Brody interferes and now Starr gets a beating. They’re simply not in the same league. Brody is a little inexperienced here mainly using his size to dominate rather than his patented brawling. David is talking smack about Dick Murdoch on commentary, which is just ASKING for trouble. Oddly enough I’d love to see Murdoch kick him around the ring for a few minutes. Brody starts wailing on Starr and he doesn’t look thrilled about Starr’s underselling. Innovation from St Louis as there’s a second referee on the floor to come in and stop cheating behind the other ref’s back. The surprising thing about this match is how the Brody and Sweetan team just don’t seem to be going for the win. They’re just dominating and making frequent tags. Starr gets a hot tag and St John seems to be a real crowd favourite. He’s looking for the win. No doubt about that as he slams Sweetan for 2. Starr back in but Brody tags in blind and just destroys him. Big powerslam and the kneedrop finishes at 13.01. **1/2. Fun formula tag although it was a little too one sided and Brody should have wrapped it up earlier.
POST MATCH Brody is asked about him missing a match with Andre the Giant and he claims it was car trouble and he’s not scared of anybody. Brody gets asked about Dick Murdoch, who’s a heel, and doesn’t care for him either. Brody says Andre is living a dangerous life and taking on too much. Brody points out he beat Pat O’Connor, Jack Brisco and Terry Funk here in St Louis. So he won’t sweat Andre and he issues a challenge to the winner of Murdoch v Andre.
King Kong Brody v Pierre Bonnett/Randy Alls
This is thanks to Brody saying he could beat any two guys let alone any one. Ted DiBiase joins commentary. Alls gets schooled on the mat so he tries for an Irish whip and gets that but Brody boots him in the face when he attempts to follow up. Bonnett comes in and he gets similar treatment just bouncing off the big man. Brody continues the abuse until he kneedrops Bonnett for the win at 5.10. ¼*. Just an absolute squash. Two squashes really.
POST MATCH Brody tells us Harley Race has it easy as world champion. Every one who challenges him gets beaten up by Brody calling Ric Flair “pretty” in the process. Harley had called him stupid the previous week but Brody says it doesn’t matter how bright he is because he’s the best. Brody calls Race the best world champion the NWA has ever seen but he’s never faced someone with Brody’s array of skills. He sure likes challenging folks, huh?
Bryan St John v Dick Murdoch
Murdoch’s pre-match fucking around brings out Dick the Bruiser. He asks Bryan St John to step back. Murdoch gobs off at the Bruiser some more as Sam Mushnick tries to make peace. The Bruiser cuts a throaty interview challenging Murdoch to a match tonight for the Missouri title right now.
Missouri State title – Dick the Bruiser (c) v Dick Murdoch
Murdoch complains that this match is on free TV and the fans don’t deserve it. He calls Sam Mushnick a crook and reluctantly gets in the ring. The Missouri State title dates back to 1934 although it was vacant between 1934 and 1947. Mushnick brought it back for historical reasons. It’s also been inactive for many years in between. The Bruiser beat Murdoch for the title the previous summer. This really is old-timey wrestling as its two guys with beer guts, white hair and gravely voices wailing on each other. The Bruiser breaks out the stomach claw and he has plenty of target area to work on. Murdoch uses the tights to get out of the situation. Murdoch pounds away but Bruiser gets his foot on the ropes. Bruiser comes back with a series of speedy punches, impressive speed for his age, and the fight heads outside. Murdoch gets his head bounced off the “press table” that Matysik was sitting at. HE’S HARDCORE! Bruiser with a slam but this time Murdoch is too close to the ropes for a pin. Bruiser slams him again but refuses the pin this time because he’s so pissed off with Murdoch’s shit over the past few months. Bruiser is slammed again but the ropes save, again. Murdoch with a slam and Bruiser gets the rope but Murdoch sweeps it off and the ref misses it! Oooooooh, controversial! Murdoch gets the pin and the title at 8.18. **. Fun psychology with the slams. Bruiser only has himself to blame for the loss pulling Murdoch up when he was beat and making the challenge in the first place.
Missouri State title – Dick Murdoch (c) v Pat O’Connor
O’Connor is pretty old at this point in his career but he was NWA world champion between 1959 and 1961. He won that title in St Louis and remains a popular figure here as a result. When he lost the title to Buddy Rogers in Chicago it was in front of 38,000 fans and that was a record for a wrestling event for nearly 20 years. The wrestling here is much better than in the previous match with O’Connor’s mat skills being significantly better than the Bruiser’s. Murdoch is, interestingly enough, a match for him on the canvas. I’ve always found Murdoch was able to adapt to his opponents making him one of the most consistent performers of this era. Murdoch controls much of this match with some nice headlocks that keep O’Connor grounded. O’Connnor starts breaking out enormous hip tosses wowing the crowd. He works a spinning armlock, which is a new one on me but probably not on this audience. O’Connor has some weird looking armdrags too where he slides underneath in the process to make it more a leverage move and it’s weird because it looks that much more realistic. Murdoch doesn’t look like he’s cooperating. Armdrags and hip tosses follow and the crowd seem to be enjoying them. It’s taking a bit of getting used to. Murdoch pounds away with some forearms, which doesn’t sit well with O’Connor who retorts with punches in the corner. All this looks realistic too. Murdoch positions the ref and chokes O’Connor without him noticing. Smooth. The distraction being the odd tug at O’Connor’s tights to cover for the more obvious infringement. Murdoch’s cheating leaves O’Connor struggling but he’s also angry and uses that anger when he stamps on Murdoch’s face. Murdoch tries for a shoulderblock but O’Connor sidesteps it and hooks a sleeper. Murdoch is almost out but he hauls O’Connor up and runs him head first into the buckle. O’Connor is bleeding slightly from that so Murdoch starts punching him in the cut. Dick the Bruiser runs in for the DQ because he’s so offended by Murdoch’s behaviour. That’s strange booking there Pat. ***1/2. Great match. Just a pity there was no finish.
Sidenote – Pat was booking the St Louis territory in the late 70’s for Sam Mushnick. Chances are that was his finish. Odd one.
POST MATCH Murdoch talks about how he’s destined to be the NWA world champion. He points he beat Ted DiBiase with a brainbuster “right in the middle of the ring”. “It was on the floor, Dick” – Matysik. “Someone moved the ring” – Murdoch. HAHAHA. Genius! Murdoch points out he’s the Missouri State Champ and tells us Dick the Bruiser attacked him from behind like a low down cheat. He calls the Bruiser a stooge and says he’ll defend the title against anyone ending the interview saying he’ll piledrive Sam Mushnick in an alleyway after the show.
Mike Bowyer v Dick the Bruiser
Bowyer is one weird looking dude. He has a scouser perm and moustache, which means I cannot take him seriously at all. He’s from out in California where he started out as ex-navy clean cut guy but then developed a hippy gimmick. He’s better known as Mike Boyette. Here he just gets pounded around the ring and outside of it. Bruiser runs him in the ring post, drops a stomp off the top to the stomach (called an “atomic drop”) by Matysik and that’s enough for the pin at 4.40. ½*. Energetic squash.
King Kong Brody v Frankie Lane
JIP with Brody just taking Lane apart. As per usual he doesn’t seem to care about winning the match and instead focuses on punishing his opponent. He even bites Lane in lieu of pinning him. Lane would be named after the successful jazz singer Frankie Laine. Lane manages to knock Brody over with a dropkick but that just pisses him off. Brody with a spinning slam and the Boston crab finishes Lane off.
Terry Funk v Tank Patton
JIP again with 10 minutes already passed by. Patton is a tough guy and wails on Funk allowing Terry to do some of his patented selling. Funk slingshots back over him with the sunset flip for the win.
Dick Murdoch v Steve Hall
JIP with Murdoch beating up Hall at ringside. It’s clear that Hall isn’t anywhere near Murdoch’s league and is overpowered and outwrestled. Hall tries to fight back so Murdoch punches him in the face, STIFF, three or four times. You don’t fuck with Captain Redneck! Brainbuster finishes in short order.
Leilani Kai v Joyce Grable
JIP again. Kai is quite famous and has since competed for the WWF and WCW. This is right at the start of her career maybe 3 years in so she looks young for a change. Kai takes a couple of big bumps and she’s wrestling barefoot. Grable breaks out a few hairmares into a rolling pin that goes over the top of the referee. One of the fans enthusiastically counts 3 in the ref’s absence. The ref berates both girls despite the fact it was his fault for getting in the fucking way like the stupid old git he is. Kai stops having fun and starts kicking Grable in the legs. Grable misses a dropkick and nearly gets pinned. Leapfrog into a roll up sees Grable gets the popular win. That was fun stuff. Shame the ref couldn’t keep up.
Pat O’Connor/Joyce Grable v Bob Brown/Suzette Ferrara
JIP. This would be the first ever mixed tag in St Louis history and quite possibly the first mixed tag anywhere. Actually forget that, I found one older on YouTube after a little research. Grable does a great spot where she jumps on O’Connor’s back while he’s being headlocked and slaps Brown in the mouth. This is 20 minutes in according to the ring announcer Mickey Garagiola. O’Connor is his usual reliable self grounding Bob Brown. Fans of Stampede probably know Brown who worked there as a colour commentator. They go for a reverse spot of the back jump slap but Suzette jumps on Bob but O’Connor moves and Brown just falls over. Haha. Joyce jumps in there quickly and hits a neckbreaker on Suzette for the pin.
Dick the Bruiser v Armando Rodriguez
JIP with the Bruiser mangling Armando around ringside and disrupting the announce table. The Bruiser hits his usual stomp off the ropes but doesn’t want to pin. He’s a real jerk, isn’t he? Dick with a piledriver that the producers somehow manage to miss. It’s not rocket science fuckheads. The Bruiser gets the pin. That was terrible. At least it was only a few minutes of clips.
Harley Race v Pierre Lefevre
Dick the Bruiser is out here to eye up Race. Harley is having a tune up before defending the NWA title against Dick the Bruiser next week. Dick, again acting like a total jerk, decides to try on the NWA title. Race nearly gets upset by Lefevre. Dick the Bruiser isn’t happy because he doesn’t want anyone else to beat Race until he does. This guy is a complete asshole. Race hits a back suplex with a bridge for the win.
POST MATCH Dick the Bruiser can’t even remove the title he just stole. Race tries to piledrive and the Bruiser just about backdrops out without losing his wrestling trunks. He then stands with one foot on Race’s chest like the complete jerk he is. How was this asshole ever a babyface? He’s worse than Hogan!
Ted DiBiase v Mike Bowyer
Hey, need a jobber? Hire Mike Bowyer! He bounces off DiBiase generally making him look good. DiBiase with a powerslam into the Figure Four for the win.
Ric Flair v Pat O’Connor
DiBiase on commentary. O’Connor is bleeding again here but it doesn’t suit Dick the Bruiser to run in and act like a jerk in this one. Maybe he was too busy felating himself. They pronounce DiBiase differently here. They’re calling him “DeeBeeAss”. Flair takes O’Connor’s knee and just dismantles it before slapping on the Figure Four. Pat turns himself over showing his flexibility. Eventually he turns the hold over and they roll into the ropes. They get back up and spill over the top. O’Connor takes a header into the ring post. Flair styles and profiles. He stops off to tell Ted that “your old man was nothing, you’re nothing” and slaps him. Ted jumps in the ring and for a brawl and you’d better believe that’s a DQ. I bet the whole match is pretty good and DiBiase-Flair was probably something too. Flair looked a class apart to everyone else on this tape during his few minutes here. A few undercard heels run in to hold DiBiase for Flair but babyface jobbers run in to break it up. Oh, it’s a pull apart pier sixer.
Ted DiBiase v King Kong Brody
Rocky Johnson, The Rock’s father, is on commentary. DiBiase is still young at this point around a 4-year pro and a fixture in Mid-South. Brody beats the crap out of him but DiBiase takes everything Brody has to dish out. DiBiase with a sunset flip for 2. He starts punching at Brody and catches him with a dropkick. Ted tries for the Figure Four but Brody is too strong and holds him off. Ted manages to get a spinning toehold so Brody kicks him off over the top rope. The brawl continues on the floor destroying the announce position and wiping out everything that isn’t nailed down. Unfortunately they’re both counted out because that was an intense brawl.
Ted DiBiase/Paul Orndorff v Harley Race/Bob Brown
This is to show how Ted was getting up to the level of world champion Harley Race. Matysik runs through Race’s versatility and how many finishing holds he has. We clip ahead to the heels working Ted over. Harley tries for a piledriver on the floor but Ted backdrops out. Clip ahead again to Ted and Race going toe to toe. Orndorff gets a tag and cleans house. Orndorff gets a near fall with a kneedrop as the time limit approaches. Race goes for a piledriver on Orndorff but he backdrops out of it too. Orndorff is picked off for more tag formula. Ted gets the hot tag and backdrops Brown. Race tags in blind and forearms Ted in the neck. They switch standing and Ted hits a German suplex for the pin on the NWA champ. This looked really energetic albeit formula in the clips shown.
Harley Race v Gary Young
Race is in the midst of his 2nd title reign. After this he made a point of dropping the title to other guys in the territories to give them short runs (Dusty Rhodes, Giant Baba, Tommy Rich) to pop the local crowds. Young isn’t much of a challenge for him. Sadly this isn’t clipped. It’s the entire match and it’s effectively a squash to show how good a champion Harley Race was to big up Ted DiBiase’s victory in the previous match. I’d have put these two matches in a different order. Young nearly gets beaten by a neckbreaker and his sliding kickout is really nice. Apparently he was trained by Pat O’Connor. Stalling suplex finishes Young off though. ¼*. El Squisheroo.
To order Classic St Louis Wrestling call 618-286-4848. You know it’s an old school style of promoting when you have to telephone someone to get the DVD’s. Or you could email firstname.lastname@example.org as technology marches on.
Roger Kirby v Kevin Von Erich
Kirby is a weightlifter and powerhouse. Kevin is the one Von Erich who didn’t die. He just retired in 1995 instead, leaving behind a fine legacy sadly overshadowed by his tragic family. After all when I’ve asked wrestlers “who’s your favourite Von Erich?” the most common response is Kevin. Because I drink heavily the only one I can clearly remember stating this opinion is the Amazing Red but that has to count for something. Here they run a nice power v skill thing. Kevin outwrestles Kirby but Kirby uses his power to drive Kevin into the corner. While this is entirely illegal Kirby is a heel so he doesn’t care. Kevin keeps working at the basics though with armdrags and headlocks. Kevin also has more guts and goes toe to toe with punches before breaking out a dropkick and a flying headscissors. OLD SCHOOL LUCHA~~! Matysik compares Kevin to Joe Stecher because of his leg power. Stecher used to finish people with the bodyscissors although that was during a time when wrestling wasn’t worked. Kevin seems to have a far greater range of stuff than Kirby can deal with and he gets thrown by an assortment of elbow drops and striking. Kirby blocks the Iron Claw though because that’s one thing you always watch out for when wrestling a Von Erich. So Kevin goes for the stomach claw instead, which I’ve always thought looked stupid but if the fans bought it then why not? While they roll around in that the time limit expires. **1/4. That was fun. Kevin was a great wrestler. Way ahead of his time.
King Kong Brody v Bill Nixon
Nixon is a pretty big guy. Stout. But Brody makes him look small by comparison with his 6’ 6’’ frame and 302lbs. His knee is taped up here but Brody is totally dominant without worrying about it. Nixon is not only outsized but also outmatched by Brody’s wrestling skill. Brody continues to dominate taking out his frustrations on Nixon. The idea is that Brody is frustrated with his lack of opportunities at Harley Race so he’s challenged Andre the Giant to prove himself. Brody manhandles Nixon around the ring just imposing his will whenever he feels like it. Nixon’s selling leaves a lot to be desired due to his enhancement talent tag. You’d think they’d get someone who could at least sell. He has the nerve to strike at Brody, which gets him mangled and kneedropped. Brody doesn’t even want the pin. He adds a further beating and another kneedrop finishes at 5.46. ½*. Total squash but it was fun watching Brody just decimate a jobber.
Larry Wright v Gene Kiniski
This is the earliest work I’ve seen from the legendary Kiniski. He was world champ from 1966-1969 so this is some time after his prime. Wright is in horrible shape and has an attempted comb over. Kiniski isn’t in any mood to let him get anything. Kiniski stomps on his face and controls with an armbar. Kiniski decides to take Wright to school with one fast mat hold after another. Even with Wright blowing practically every bump he takes Kiniski still makes this watchable. Kiniski continues to control tying up Wright whenever he feels like it. Wright’s bumbling selling gets worse as Kiniski threatens to remove his arm. Wright has the temerity to strike at Kiniski. Awww, he thinks it’s a contest! Kiniski gets slightly more violent by wailing on him and taking the leg. Wright looks like a wounded bird while Kiniski is a cat toying with him. This is just total domination. And a carry job to boot. Kiniski looks like he’s having fun jogging around to work on his cardio. Wright manages a headlock for a few seconds. Kiniski is laughing in there I think. He doesn’t even try to escape. He just stops cooperating. Come on Gene, finish him off! Wright finds himself face down with his arms tied up and Kiniski legdrops his face into the mat repeatedly. Kiniski is forced to break it and jogs around the ring twice before kneeing Wright in the head. Kiniski decides to show Wright he can bump too by taking an armdrag. That’s all Wright is getting as Kiniski pops back up and hits a backbreaker for the pin at 11.08. *. Amazing how Kiniski just let it go that long because he wanted it to. Wright was more like a bag of potatoes than an opponent. Kiniski totally, and I mean totally, dominated the entire match.
The 411: Shame the second half is all clips. I really enjoyed the story with Dick Murdoch and the Missouri State title. All the stuff with him, Dick the Bruiser and Pat O’Connor was entertaining. Although I sided more with the heel Dick Murdoch. Wrestling at the Chase had a great atmosphere and if you’ve never seen anything from there it’s the kind of thing you have to check out as a wrestling fan. Great to see such legends in action as Bruiser Brody, Dick Murdoch, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Gene Kiniski and Pat O’Connor. Thumbs just about up.