Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Dave Meltzer, Chris Hero, and Rob Naylor Talk Wrasslin’

Over at f4wonline.com, Dave Meltzer does 3-4 podcasts a week dealing with modern pro wrestling and MMA. At the end of most of these we are teased with a ten minute Q&A segment usually covering random things from wrestling history. Dave will rifle off his knowledge and his co-host Bryan Alvarez will usually not divulge further into a given subject for the sake of keeping the show within a reasonable timeframe. Once every few months, Meltzer will team up with Mike Sempervive for a special show called “Sin Limite” where the two men will delve into the history of our favorite quasi-sport and spend several hours sharing memories, interesting stories and factoids about each subject. This shoot is angling to capture the spirit of Sin Limite as Meltzer partners with Chris Hero and former WWE employee and all-around super fan Rob Naylor for 90 minutes of vintage wrestling talk.

Presented by Highspots
Shinjiro Otani, WCW’s first cruiserweight champion, is discussed. Naylor questions his drop off from being a star to obscurity. Meltzer explains how Otani became a heavyweight and remained devoted to Zero-One instead of a bigger Japanese promotion.

They compare Otani to Barry Windham, in that both were great workers who gained a ton of mass.

Fred Ottman aka Tugboat is next on the list of randomness. They talk about Ottman breaking in as “Siegfried” and how just unsafe and terrible he was as a worker in his early days. He vanished abruptly before showing up elsewhere as Big Bubba.

Ricky Steamboat sending Meltzer T-shirts leads to Ken Patera jokes.

Manny Fernandez was a hell of a worker right away in the business. Fernandez was an outstanding high school athlete and Meltz knew of him before he ever stepped in the ring.

Fernandez tried to teach Vader a lot of secrets of how to work as a big man in Japan but Vader shunned him and pissed Manny off.

The guys lament that Manny and Rick Rude didn’t last long as a team.

They talk over how some big men can be surprisingly graceful and yet others can barely run across the ring.

Randy Savage’s big elbow wowed Meltz. He thought that it made Ray Stevens’ high spots look average.

Terry Funk told Dave that he had to study Japanese women’s wrestling during the 80’s because they were creating a new level of amazing workrate that would set the standard for the next decade.

In 1983 Adrian Adonis won a Joe Blanchard sponsored “World title” in Texas. Paul Boesch was in a promotional war with Blanchard, so he brought in AWA World Champ Nick Bockwinkel to face Dusty Rhodes and WWWF champ Bob Backlund to face Afa. Meltz went to both shows and he describes how horrible the WWWF match was. Blanchard also brought in Abby the Butcher, Bob Orton and Terry Funk. Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard were stars for Blanchard at the time.

Mickey Rourke did press for his movie “The Wrestler” and thanked “Hoffa, the Wild Samoan” for training him.

The boys suggest young workers need to watch obscure wrestlers to learn different promo styles since everyone watches Flair and Rhodes to learn how to do it.

Wrestlers are often credited with doing innovative moves that are actually just taken from a previous generation’s stars. They cover some examples like how Buddy Landell used a Jack Brisco figure-four instead of a Ric Flair style.

Jack Brisco would be considered bland now, but he had “it” for his time.

Meltz loves Dick Murdoch’s New Japan work. This leads to talk about how future Japan headliners like Takada, Muta and others had good matches underneath cards headlined by New Japan’s legends until they could finally break out as stars in their own right.

Tommy Dreamer is a huge wrestling fan and knows endless amount of obscure workers from the past.

This leads to them talking about goofy gimmicks like Kamalamala (that’s not a typo) and other little known undercard guys from the 80’s.

They start to talk about Roller Derby because Meltz is a historian of sorts on that “sport” as well. Meltz talks about how it used to be fake like wrestling, but after attendance dipped they tried to have a shoot competition. Things got worse then as blow outs started to take the place of close games.

Naylor loses me by naming more Roller Derby stars from the 80’s. This abruptly switches to Terry Gordy talk…

Gordy was a big bumping awesome worker for a ten year period before he fell apart. He broke in as teenager and was awesome by the time he was 19.

The powerbomb was used all the way back when Lou Thesz was champion. Hillbilly Jim used it in Memphis when he was doing a biker gimmick, and that’s where Sid Vicious first saw it and that eventually led to him using it once he broke in the biz himself. Meltz then figures out it was a John Davidson who actually used the move while teaming with Jim.

The Brits called the powerbomb the “sugar bag”.

Scott Steiner collapsed Sid’s lung by doing a leaping backwards powerslam on him.

Naylor credits Steiner with creating the 450 splash.

John Tatum had great facials but a car wreck ruined his progress as a worker.

The long road trips in Mid-South made for a quick training and improvement as the green guys gobbled up info from the vets.

Jim Ross wanted to implement a program in the WWF where all the young guys had to travel with a vet to learn the ins and outs of wrestling.

In Japan the rookies wash the veterans clothes and do other errands in exchange for learning how the business operates.

Pro wrestling and MMA legend Nobuhiko Takada was the “young boy” for Hulk Hogan. This led to a funny moment a decade later as Hogan returned to Japan and saw Takada on the cover of Japan magazines. He assumed that business was way down because this nobody was on top, when in fact Takada was headlining stadium shows.

Kenta Kobashi was Terry Funk’s protege and Funk told Meltz before he ever debuted that Kobashi was going to be a star.

Doug Furnas was once facing off with Misawa and ended up hurting Misawa’s neck. Since Misawa was the biggest star in the promotion, this ruined All-Japan’s plans for their annual singles tournament. Stan Hansen and others went nuts on Furnas for knocking off the top guy. Furnas was called into a private meeting where Misawa revealed he faked the neck injury because Giant Baba didn’t want him to win the tournament he was involved in, but also didn’t want to have Misawa lose, so they came up with the injury to take him out. The rest of the crew wasn’t told and Furnas still got heat for injuring the company ace.

They debate if Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray were better than the Midnight Express.

Rob Naylor goes over 1980’s jobbers. Meltz says some of the enhancement workers were making 700 bucks a week during the 80’s boom period.

Meltz talks about a double jointed jobber who could pop his shoulder out of his socket. They used him to put over George Steele’s flying hammerlock.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage was great as jobber Randy Poffo in the WWWF during the 70’s.

Mad Man Pondo could twist his foot all the way around. The WWF offered him 5 grand to come in and let Ken Shamrock “break” his ankle. The deal would include that Pondo had to take several months off to sell his broken limb. Pondo refused.

Sam Houston was a teenager when he started being booked by Dusty Rhodes. Dave and Rob loved his work.

They debate who invented the 360 clothesline bump. Pat Tanaka, Sam Houston, Paul Diamond, Billy Travis, The Rockers and others are mentioned.

The Samoan SWAT Team were rough on jobbers who didn’t sell well. One named Jerry Price took a particularly nasty bump during a TV taping:

Yokozuna smashed a jobber on Raw with an unprotected Banzai drop. The jobber apparently was rude to Fuji beforehand.

Meltzer knew wrestling was fake as a kid after a midget match exposed the business pretty badly. Chris Hero saw Big Bossman and Nailz throwing terrible blows live and that killed it for him. Naylor’s was when Scott Hall bladed on camera during an AWA match.

Meltz’ first house show main event he saw was Pat Patterson, Superstar Billy Graham and Paul DeMarco vs. Rocky Johnson, Ray Stevens and Peter Maivia.  Naylor got to see Heenan, Studd, and Bundy face Andre, Windham and Mike Rotondo.

Muhammad Ali took his promos from Gorgeous George. He later said it was from Fred Blaisse. Dave investigated and found out that Blaisse vs. George headlined a card Ali was in town for during the late 50’s. Meltzer assumes he learned from both.

They discuss random muscle heads who got cups of coffee in the big leagues.

Luke Harper has a “Super Destroyer” Scott Irwin tattoo.

Promoters trying to replace stars with guys who use the same gimmicks is gone over. Sgt. Slaughter being replaced by Cpl. Kirchner, The Fantastics replacing the Rock and Roll Express, and multiple black guys getting the JYD push in Mid-South are touched on.

Bobby Heenan being fantastic in the ring is briefly mentioned.

They compare the Midnight Express’ innovative moves to the Young Bucks today. I want to vomit. They then make fun of old timers who can’t accept change. Point taken.

Meltz talks about how Flair vs. Steamboat in the 70’s got shit on by the vets because they were too fast paced.

Naylor talks about how NXT guys cut good promos without being scripted or produced. Then WWE got a hold of them and suddenly things went to shit for them.

Bill Demott wanted NXT guys to train hard in the ring. Tom Pritchard felt watching tape and studying was more important than tearing your body up.

They make fun of wrestlers who still whine about “dirt sheets” in the business.

Naylor explains how reading the Wrestling Observer made him realize who was actually a good worker or not.

The Headhunters WWF run ended almost as soon as it started because Vince thought they were too short. (They were a pair of 400 pounders who did crazy flying high spots.)

Final Thoughts: Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, this was a fast paced blast to watch. Fun and informative, random as can be and never a dull moment. When you see guys on screen having so much fun, you can’t help but smile and laugh along with them.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin’ and true crimes.

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