From the WWE Network: The WWF’s Most Unusual Matches

Giants, fat farmers, violent stipulation matches, bloody brawls, battle royals and more fun!

This is courtesy of the WWE Network.

It only took 10-seconds into this show starting up on the WWE Network for me to feel a bit of the nostalgia factor is gone. The much beloved music that went over the “gladiators” intro explaining the history of man-on-man combat has been switched out to something somewhat grand yet generic. This is not surprising, as I believe the original music was traced a few years ago to NFL films, so the ownership rights have long since expired.

Jesse Ventura hosts this tape. He is wearing a plume of blue feathers fashioned into a hat to really push home the “unusual” gimmick this tape promises.

I’ve already covered the first match, Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana in a “lumberjack” match. You can read that here. The match is hard hitting, entertaining and worth your watch.

Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Greg “the Hammer” Valentine

This is from July of 1979 and Ventura plays up how this is the first time Madison Square Garden had ever sanctioned an “Indian strap match”. The match stems from Valentine breaking Strongbow’s leg on TV.

Ventura dubs over whoever called this originally (I’d assume solo Vince McMahon). Strongbow is jumped before the match and quickly blooded. Strongbow fights back. Valentine attempts to escape, but fails, in order to put over the gimmick. We skip ahead to Strongbow being rocked by an elbow and trying to walk off in a daze down the aisle.

Strongbow drags the Hammer to the floor and chucks Valentine into the railing. He then plows into Valentine’s head with a chair. Valentine retaliates by choking Strongbow with the strap, which creates a cool visual of Strongbow’s blood and hair draping over his face as the camera zooms in. The ref is bumped and a bunch of babyfaces come out to separate the men. A fan tries to stop Valentine from grabbing a chair, so Valentine punches him twice. The fan doesn’t sell this as the arena security break them up. Valentine tries to go after the fan again, but a number of security come in and keep them apart. I loved the bit with the fan. He was a big fat dude, so standing up to the Hammer didn’t make Valentine look too good here. Strongbow did alright for himself here. This was an enjoyable gimmick match.

JYD and Jimmy Snuka against Bob Orton and Roddy Piper is up next. I covered this one recently too as you can read here. You can feel lucky that the WWF chose to edit out the overly long rest holds that marred this match for this VHS release.

We see clips of a 10-woman battle royal. There are no ladies being thrown over the top rope, as the only way to be eliminated is via pinfall. Gorilla Monsoon does the commentary. They impressed me by actually bothering to look up all the ladies names. I suppose Monsoon may have known a bunch of them from working in that era though. With the Women’s Royal Rumble taking place only a short time ago, I guess this clip can serve as a reminder of the womenfolk’s advancement from side show to headliner.

Next up is the 20-man battle royal from the night of the “Brawl to Settle it All”. I’ve covered this one in the past as well, so check it out here. This one may only be notable because a jobber makes it to the end, ahead of many stars and legends who are also in the match.

The Network edits off the ending of the battle royal due to issues with the original tape, and suddenly we are in the middle of a Jimmy Snuka/Arnold Skaaland vs. Don Muraco/Lou Albano match. I’m afraid I already reviewed this one too. The highlight for me was Albano no selling a lot of the offense from one of the WWF’s top babyfaces. This goes along with his clownish selling when he does bother to show pain.

Author’s note- It was pointed out to me after I posted this that the battle royal is in fact shown in full, so I must have had one hell of a glitch when I reviewed this last weekend. Sorry!

Peter Maivia, Larry Zbyszko, Haystacks Calhoun vs. Butcher Vachon, Moose Monroe and Strong Kobayashi

I’m surprised the WWF released a tape with Zbyszko on it considering the heat he had with the promotion at the time this was first released. They bill Calhoun as 601 pounds, but he looks to be significantly less. They only show  maybe two minutes of this match, with Calhoun locking in a bearhug and then hitting the weakest looking splash possible. It’s impressive that someone that big could make such a move look so unconvincing.

Pedro Morales, Rocky Johnson, Salvatore Bellomo, Andre the Giant and Jimmy Snuka  vs. Ray Stevens, Superstar Billy Graham, Buddy Rose, Mr. Fuji, and Don Muraco

This match is absolutely charming, with Andre doing some of his vintage spots with heels willing to stooge for him. It has a lot of good action from the others as well. I covered this bout here. Monsoon’s redubbed commentary largely cuts out the crowd noise, much to my dismay.

Final thoughts: Well, I didn’t mean for this review to become a hodgepodge of links of my past efforts, but here we are. The editing done to the matches for this release probably improved the overall product, as we were left with a lot of action and high spots and little down time. This is a fine collection of fun for someone who doesn’t have access to the original house show tapes.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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