Hello readers! And welcome to my second article for Culture Crossfire!
Ken Reedy welcomes us to the show and Week Two of our three week run of “Classic” Episodes of NWA On Fire. Not to be confused with NWA On Fire Classics, which airs on Tuff TV, a digital subchannel that’s syndicated across the country for you saps who can’t afford cable. Mr. Reedy throws us to the action right away with “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas facing off against “The Arriba Man” Tito Santana.
Tony Atlas Vs Tito Santana
This is is an IWCCW World Title Tournament match. The announcer mentions Greg Valentine and “Raging Bull” Manny Fernandez as other participants in the tourney. Atlas stalls and does a Fargo Strut but Santana gets fed up and eventually pummels him. This is during Atlas’ “Black Superman” arrogant heel phase, where he cut promos telling kids to take steroids. I’m not even joking. You can also tell he’s an arrogant heel because he’s grown a shitty goatee. A quick Google search tells me this match is from early ’94. I had the damnedest time trying to figure that out though because Tito has his Strike Force era mullet but is wearing the tights he wore during his Intercontinental title run circa ’85-’86 but it obviously not from those days. They’re using a really, really old WWF ring with the fattest turnbuckles I’ve seen. Tito grabs a headlock and we cut to commercial.
A young…well, less old version of NWA On Fire geezer in resident/co owner Tommy Savoldi is reffing this match. The announcer sounds like a young Joey Styles but I’m not sure if he ever worked for IWCCW. Tony sucker punches Tito and pummels him and throws him out of the ring. Atlas showboats and teases the eight year olds in the front row. Chico finally makes it back in the ring and Atlas kills time with a bearhug. Tito finally makes a comeback with some punches. Tito opens a house of fire on Atlas and hits the Flying Jalapeno to get the win to advance in the tournament. and we immediately cut to commercial. Winner: Tito Santana via pinfall with flying forearm. This was fun to watch for nostalgia purposes but not great workrate wise. Tito was not too far past his prime and still could go but he was obviously in “When is my check going to clear?” mode. Atlas’ heel antics were entertaining but ring-wise, he was the drizzling shits after the mid ’80s (and even in his prime, sort of sucked).
Ken Reedy tells us Bill Apter’s Alley is back this week by “popular demand” and this week, Bill is with WWE Hall of Famer Ivan Putski at the Legends of the Ring wrestling convention. Apter asks Putski how he keeps in shape and Putski says yard-work. So keep raking those leaves, reader and you’ll look like the Polish Hammer when you’re in your ’70s. Putski says his most memorable opponents are “Superstar” Billy Graham and “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd. Apter asks Putski to recall how he came up with the Polish Hammer moniker and he recalls the story of how he came up with it during a match in Texas against Bobby Duncum Sr. Putski says he has no interest in the current product and seems to have no idea that “Cowboy” Bob Orton’s kid is a wrestler. Speaking of second generation wrestlers, Bill asks Putski about what his son, former WWF/WCW also ran, Scott Putski is up to. Ivan says Scott is working as a police officer in Forth Worth, Texas. Good to know! Putski gives us a “Polish Power” to close. Ivan Putski was cordial but seemed like he was rushing through so he could get back to shilling photos and autographs to his surviving fans.
Ivan Putski Vs Verne Henderson.
Appropriate enough. I’ve never heard of of Verne Henderson but he looks like the type of dude that wrestling promoters would go for in the late ’80s (IE tall and juiced to the gills). This is from the mid ’80s. Putski is absurdly jacked for a dude in his mid-late 40s. Former WWF job guy Rusty Brooks (best known for getting squashed by The Hulkster during a rare free TV appearance by Hogan) is on commentary, trash talking Putski and building up a feud between the two. Man, I don’t think even the sites resident “Old School Wrestling” fanatic, Brody would want to watch an Ivan Putski-Rusty Brooks match. Tommy Savoldi is refereeing this match as well. Brooks commentary is entertaining enough to distract me from a boring, boring power match. He bitches about Tommy Savoldi’s refereeing and at one point, says he should be taken out back and shot. He rambles about nepotism in IWCCW and says Joe Savoldi is only champ because his uncle owns the promotion. LOL. This turns into a rant against all family owned businesses which the babyface announcer is aghast over. Brooks’ whining continues for the rest of the match and he sounds like a guy who just found a parking ticket on his car when complaining about how Putski’s finisher The Polish Hammer is an illegal maneuver. Winner: Ivan Putski via pinfall after a Polish Hammer.
Ken Reedy bids us farewell for the morning and tells us to tune in next week for another Classics episode. This show was a lot more entertaining than last week’s even if both of the matches sucked workrate wise. It’s always fun to see Tony Atlas and Tito Santana and Rusty Brooks’ whiny as hell commentary amused me for some reason.
I love these Classics shows but I think they do a slight disservice to the current product. I know the Savoldis have a pretty damn decent video library, maybe the best in North America outside of Vince McMahon (and whichever mystery person owns the rights to classic Memphis footage) and I’m not going to knock them for milking it for all of they can. However, after seeing these classic IWCCW matches that take place in front of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people, it’s going to look kind of lame to go back to clips from shows at their current venues where there are 40-50 people in the gym. In independent wrestling, presentation sometimes just isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Work-rate and production wise, these Classic Shows aren’t that much better (if at all) than the new episodes but since the crowds are a lot bigger and livelier, the current product suffers.
Anyway, like I mentioned last week, I think these Classic shows are a necessary evil since NWA On Fire only does shows about once or twice every other month (and don’t have another one scheduled until late June) and don’t have that much new footage (even for a half hour show). This is hardly anything new for the Savoldis because I’ve heard a lot of people on the old timers boards joke about how IWCCW showed the same Tony Atlas-Vic Steamboat match dozens and dozens of time.
Well, I hope we don’t see THAT next week! I’ll see you guys next weekend with a recap of another “Classics” Edition of NWA On Fire!
Photo credit NWA On Fire