Heroes of Wrestling - Independent PPV; October 10, 1999
by Scrooge McSuck
- Time goes by so quickly. Eight years ago, I did a video review of a PPV entitled Heroes of Wrestling, quite possibly the worst wrestling show ever produced, let alone charged money to view. For those who are unfamiliar with Heroes of Wrestling, a company called Fosstone Productions wanted to put together a series of Nostalgic PPV's, highlighting stars of the past (who weren't under contract to either WWF or WCW). Heroes of Wrestling's final numbers were far below their expectations, and thankfully, any future shows were immediately canned, but Heroes of Wrestling may have made the biggest one-and-done impact of any wrestling "promotion" to ever see the light of a PPV deal. Sure, I-Generation/Rodman Down Under blew, but who remembers that? No one. Heroes of Wrestling? Everyone who watched wrestling at the time knows of it and it's infamous circling drainage of the toilet bowl.
Anyway, I'm getting off topic, as I tend to do. I've long regarded Heroes of Wrestling one of, if not my favorite reviews ever written, done a couple of years before the official launch of Da' Site. Due to the out-dated references and clashes of my current and most consistent writing style, I never felt adding that piece to Da' Site as new content was a fair move. On the other hand, I don't think I could ever recapture the enjoyment of hating a show so much, so I'm going to take my original review, clean up the grammar, clean up the jokes and dated references, and try and make sense of everything all over again. Forgiveness please from anyone who still finds this a lazy tactic, but I feel this show is long over-due to be featured on Da' Site, and I can't stand the thought of having to make someone else suffer with it. Without further delay, I present... Heroes of Wrestling.
- Originally broadcasted live, on Pay-Per-View, on October 10th, 1999 from the Casino Magic Hotel in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Listed attendance is 2,300, but I have a hard time even believing that. To be fair, the camera work is terrible and the lighting is even worse, so maybe there's several hundreds of people scattered around that I can't see. In my original review, I think I noted that a horrible accident should happen to the place, and unfortunately, it suffered quite a bit of damage from Hurricane Katrina. Sometimes it's best to leave that much unnecessary hatred under the table instead of looking like an insensitive asshole.
Commentary is handled by "Dirty" Dutch Mantel and some unknown going by the name of Randy Rosenbloom. Apparently, Gordon Solie was a last minute no-show/cancelation, but that still doesn't excuse hyping his appearance in the opening video. Words cannot describe how atrocious Rosenbloom is as the lead announcer. Mantel does a valiant job trying to carry things as the color commentator, but Rosenbloom is unforgivably bad, calling every move by the wrong name and generally coming across as uneducated in what he's watching. If you can spring for a wrestling veteran like Mantel, then why not have an extra body around JUST IN CASE something happens? If that's not bad enough, the ring announcer is equally bad, sounding like a green-horn ripping off Michael Buffer. I hope someone's lawyer was watching.
Opening Match: "Rocker" Marty Jannetty & "Fantastic" Tommy Rogers vs. The Samoan Swat Team:
You know, I can't believe I didn't mention this, but why not call up the Rock n' Roll Express if you're going for a tag team match? They weren't working for WCW and were still doing Independent bookings, and they are in the southern states where the Express' style usually excelled. Just an odd curiosity. I'm surprised someone didn't come up with a cute name for the mismatched baby-faces. Maybe the Fantastic Rockers? I'm sure I've read Jannetty and Rogers briefly teamed in the Early 80's, but who the hell knows that? The casual fans Heroes was trying to trick into buying this show? The SST are indeed Samu and Fatu, with Fatu looking to be about 400 pounds and a few weeks away from signing with WWF as Rikishi Phatu. It looks like amateur hour here, with Samu wearing sweat pants and Jannetty wearing cut-off jeans. Jesus Jannetty, you were in WCW no less than a year ago. You couldn't have sold all your tights for drug money that quickly!
Jannetty and Samu start, working the "pose to cheers and boos" spot to get the crowd into it. Samu quickly shows he has the strength advantage, not just knocking Jannetty down, but the little advertisement resting on the canvas, listing the Casino's number. You know what WWF/WWE never does that almost everyone else did? Show pointless close-ups of the roob fans on a way-too-regular basis. I swear, every 20-seconds, we see ugly marks mugging for the cameras. Jannetty brushes off a slugfest and starts working the arm. Fatu tags in, only to be sent to the floor with a dropkick. Jannetty continues to work over Samu's arm, and now Rogers joins in for some double-team excitement. Fatu tags in, and quickly starts getting worked over, too. Jannetty comes back in with a body press for two. The SST stall, and hey, there's Sika at ringside. Way to advertise that appearance. Jannetty ends up playing the face-in-peril, since taking a beating is what he does best. Fatu sneaks in a chair shot, desperately trying to appeal to the ECW fans who accidentally ordered the show because of the advertised Abdullah the Butcher appearance. Jannetty avoids a splash, and here's the "Hot tag" to Tommy Rogers! He connects with a dropkick on Fatu, followed by a powerslam on Samu. He goes for the double noggin-knocker, but the SST no-sell. Chaos erupts with everyone getting in on the action. Jannetty sends Fatu to the floor and follows with a plancha, but Samu manages to plant Rogers with a TKO for the three count at 9:59. Tame action and a higher priority on working the crowd. As an opener, that's all fine and dandy, but the SST controlling most of the match with slow offense didn't do them any favors, and that finish came out of nowhere. Also note that Rogers worked maybe a minute of that match. I never understood something like that, with these one-and-done shows. Why show up and have one guy barely work any of the match?
George "The Animal" Steele (w/ Sensuous Sherri) vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:
Before we get to the match, we see footage recorded earlier in the day showing that the Animal and Sherri are an item. Even with an idea of having multiple shows, why try and inject senseless storylines into a show that should be sold purely on Nostalgia?! I hate to insult people for their age, but Steele and Valentine both look like they belong in rocking chairs playing checkers. Greg even cuts a promo on behalf of his father, Johnny Valentine, who had retired from in-ring competition in the Mid 70's due to severe injuries suffered in an infamous plane crash that also involved Ric Flair and Mr. Wrestling II, among others. Note Sherri is listed as "Sensuous". I guess the crack team working on this PPV thought WCW wouldn't bother slapping them with a lawsuit, but then again, we'll see them infringing on WWF trademarks, too, so why not just go with Sensational Sherri instead?
Almost immediately after the bell, Sherri joins Valentine in beating up on a blinded Steele, breaking the record for quickest heel turn in an official match. Steele comes back by bopping Valentine with what looks like a spoon, then passes it off to Sherri, who in turn passes it to Valentine, because in case we haven't gotten the point, she's turned heel on The Animal. They sleepwalk through a match, where absolutely zero wrestling moves are performed. The foreign object is used in clear view of the referee, and Sherri interferes yet again on behalf of Valentine, whacking Steele with a chair, also in front of the referee, allowing Valentine to get the three count at 6:35. I originally gave this a negative star rating, and stand by it. Sadly, this would only be the THIRD Worst Match of the Night. Think about that for a second, cry for another, then get yourself together, because this show is far, far from over. Steele cheers himself up by eating a Turnbuckle pad. Glad to see they still make them with that goofy shredded stuffing.
Too Cold Scorpio vs. Julio Fantastico:
Okay, I understand they have to try and present matches that appeal to people not residing in nursing homes, but seriously, when the combined age of the two performers equals less years than George "The Animal" Steele, they have no business being on this show. Scorpio I can kind of understand, but Julio was barely a 5-year veteran at this point, and I don't think had any name recognition among a national audience. If Rosenbloom wasn't bad enough calling the action, Captain Lou fucking Albano shows up to add commentary for this match, acting as the promotion's Commissioner/President/Whatever. He mostly spouts unintelligible nonsense, which makes Rosenbloom look competent for merely being coherent.
They start with both men jockeying for position, going for wristlocks and armbars, but easily countering. Fantastico with a sloppy dropkick and arm drag, but Scorpio holds on with a hammerlock. Scorpio with the same formula, and this time Fantastico battles out. Rest-hold, escape, celebrate. Lather, rinse, repeat. Albano's rambling gets so out of control, I wish I could record a bit of audio to add to this review, but sadly, I cannot. They take the action to the floor, where Scorpio hits a plancha. Unfortunately the camera missed most of it. Back inside, Julio takes over, send Scorpio back to the floor, and fucks up a somersault. In classic tradition of a seasoned veteran, he repeats the spot. Julio charges and gets back dropped into the crowd, knocking over a kid in the process. Way to fuckin' go. Maybe try and do a pointless spot where you won't hit CHILDREN. That shit might work at ECW where getting kicked in the face is a pleasure, but not among a crowd populated by women and children. This match is just dragging to the point the camera man falls asleep. It's a good 30-40 seconds before we catch up to their action. Fantastico with a T-Bone suplex for two. Elbow drop gets two. He barely connects with a dropkick, but Scorpio sells it like he's been shot. More stuff happens, Scorpio hits him with an enziguri, and finishes with a sloppy Corkscrew Leg Drop at 9:37. Seriously, the thing missed by a mile. I can't believe it, but I almost thought this match might be negative stars bad. They went out there, worked the definition of shitty (by late 90's standards) Independent show spot-fest, where there was little story telling and pointless spots that were constantly blown. I'd rather watch two old guys performing boring wrestling than two guys around 30 years old putting on a half-hearted, shitty spot-fest.
The "Former" Bushwhackers vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff:
... The FORMER Bushwhackers? Like that's really going to stop someone from slapping a lawsuit on you for trademark infringement. Did someone honestly think calling them The Bushwhackers would draw more buys than "The Sheepherders" or just "Luke and Butch"? The Iron Sheik looks incredibly out of shape, as if he's about to give birth to a litter of puppies or something. Nikolai Volkoff looks the same, despite his advanced age of 125. I'm not saying he belongs anywhere near a ring, but compared to the Sheik, he looks like an Adonis. Volkoff sings the Russian National Anthem for (really) old times sake, and Sheik does his Persian Club swinging, except instead of large weights, he's swinging what looks like T-Ball Stands. This is so sad to watch, but like a car wreck, you just can't look away, either. I'm not trying to rip on everyone, but it looks like Butch is wearing spray-on-hair, because his bald spot is noticeably larger than it was during the FORMER Bushwhackers entrance.
To quote Gorilla Monsoon, the heels do a Pearl Harbor job on the Sheepwhackers to start. I can easily make a joke about how that wouldn't have been a dated joke during each of their primes, but... well, I guess I just did. Everyone is working incredibly light here, like, there's noticeable room between intended contact. Luke takes a weak bump to the floor as Butch gets double teamed. The FORMER Bushwhackers come back with double clotheslines to clear the ring, which means we get some good old fashion stalling! YAY! Back inside, Volkoff chokes and puts the boots to Luke, barely making any contact. The action pathetically moves to the corner, where Luke continues taking a... very... slow... beating. It's like watching a pair of 100 year old men beating up a 95 year old man. You could probably go and make a sandwich in between the time it takes for them to transition from "move" to "move". Sheik loads up the boot and kicks Luke, but he only tapped it ONCE! IT NEEDS TO BE THREE! Luke takes the hardest bump you can for a 60 year old, over-selling a whip to the corner. Volkoff gently rests him across the knee with what looked to be a back breaker, but Rosenbloom calls a fucking BEARHUG. Sheik slaps on the Camel Clutch to make Luke humble, but Butch comes in and cleans house. Butch and Volkoff awkwardly stagger around before we get heel miscommunication. Volkoff whacks Sheik with an imaginary foreign object, and Butch covers for three at 8:44. My original recap had this listed as NEGATIVE three stars... and I stand by that too. Yet, this is just the SECOND WORST Match of the night. Yes, something else is still to come that's actually worse than this pathetic exhibition of four men staggering around trying to perform and failing at everything possible other than walking back and forth, to and from the ring.
Tully Blanchard vs. "Sweet" Stan Lane:
What an odd match, not just because both men were usually at the top of their game as heels, but because both men quietly retired from wrestling years earlier. Stan Lane was last seen as a color commentator and Live Event Updates host for the WWF, and Blanchard went and found religion after failing to find a home in the WWF or WCW as the 90's came around. In another pointless angle set-up "before" the show, despite not running other shows or having a TV deal, Stan Lane attacked Blanchard and locked him in the trunk of a car. That dastardly beast! Incase the live audience wasn't aware, Lane cuts a very heel-ish promo to really drive the point home.
Blanchard bum rushes the ring (or as fast as a practically out of shape 50 year old can move), chasing Lane into his new role of COWARDLY Heel. It's like an onion with all these layers. Despite playing the baby-face, Blanchard barely gets any face reactions thanks to working as a heel 99% of his national career. Lane puts him down with a clothesline, followed by a reverse crescent kick. Whip to the ropes, Blanchard comes back with an arm drag and a dropkick. They take it to the floor and exchange blows. Lane sends Blanchard to the post with an atomic drop, then chokes him with the microphone wire. Lane with a swinging neck breaker for two. Whip to the ropes and Blanchard surprises Lane with a knee lift. Lane continues to control though, with his "karate" offense. Lane drops Blanchard throat-first across the top rope and continues to choke him. Russian leg sweep gets two. Blanchard blocks being sent to the post and pounds away. Lane gets thrown to the floor in an ugly spot, and both men trade blows, sucking wind the entire time. Blanchard randomly starts working the leg and slaps on a Figure-Four on the arena floor! Back inside, and it's Sleeper Hold time! Lane escapes and goes for a Piledriver, but Blanchard counters with a back drop. Lane ducks under a clothesline and takes Blanchard down with a back suplex. It's a double pin spot, but Blanchard gets the shoulder up as the referee counts three at 7:06. We should ignore Blanchard lifted the arm resting on Lane, which technically should've broken the count. Post-match, Lane wants so more, but gets chased after a suplex. I was hoping for the Slingshot suplex, but I'm disappointed yet again. Probably the best match of the night, which isn't saying much. Despite being short, both men were sucking wind halfway through, and there was some sloppy work. Add in that both men were working like heels, and you have a confused crowd, too.
The One Man Gang vs. Abdullah The Butcher:
How is there still "four" matches left on this nightmare?! Considering the participants, this should be a Hardcore Match, what with Abdullah being incapable of working a match without blading every 20-seconds or so, but the ratings at the top of the broadcast were PG, so this should be fun. Gang attacks Butcher before the bell with clubbering blows. He quickly starts using his chain as a weapon, and Abdullah blades. What a fucking surprise. Gang continues to use the chain as Abdullah's face looks very un-PG right about now. OMG's shirt reads "Join the Chain Gang." You think he has a case against WWE? Abby no-sells a chair shot and attacks Gang with the power of his Jiggling Man-Boobs. The Gang and Butcher continue trading shots with the chain and fork, and now both men are bleeding. WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!? This is literally the entire match, as the take turns wandering around ringside and wandering inside the ring. They finally take it to the floor for good and get Counted-Out at 7:28. Considering they worked in ZERO wrestling moves and all weapon shots, and mostly brawled on the floor, the Count-Out makes a lot of sense. I stand corrected: This is worse than Steele vs. Animal, bumping it to the fourth worst or fifth best match on the card. Scary thought. They continue to brawl and beat up some Rent-a-Security Guys for the hell of it.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka (w/ Lou Albano) vs. "Cowboy" Bob Orton Jr.:
Talk about a Main Event in any arena in the Country... in 1985. Here's another match that was set up with "earlier in the day" shenanigans, which included Bob Orton cheating at cards. Wow, you would think by how Jimmy Snuka reacted, Orton had finked him out to the police for an unsolved murder. OK, maybe that wasn't in the best of taste. Feeling out process, which is code word for "really slow start." Unfortunately, they never kick it out of first gear. Snuka pounds away and comes off the ropes with a body press, but Orton rolls through for two. Snuka with a small package for a two count. Orton with a clothesline, sending Snuka to the floor. Orton brings him back in with a suplex, and Snuka apparently has a hard time deciding whether he's selling anything or not tonight. Scoop slam and a knee drop from Orton gets two. Whip and Orton with a back drop for two. Orton goes to work on the arm, and that eats up a lot of time. Snuka's selling like his life depends on it. He's just hurting your arm, not ripping your head off your shoulders! Snuka fights free, but Orton has a game plan and he's sticking to it: working the arm! Snuka fights free again, this time with a headbutt. He connects with chops, and sends Orton hard to the corner. Orton grabs a headlock, and a collision puts both men down, with Orton landing on top... for three? Well, the referee counted three, but the match MUST CONTINUE! Snuka must save face by not doing the job! Snuka blocks a Super-Plex and finishes the Cowboy with a cross body press at 11:46. How did these two get that much time? It doesn't look like a lot, but it felt like half an hour. The work was competent, but boring as hell.
- In one of the more infamous moments on the entire PPV, we get a very special interview from Jake "The Snake" Roberts. I've mostly ignored the ECW production values inspired backstage interviews, but this should've been a HUGE red alert for whoever was in charge. Jake Roberts stumbles into the view of the camera and starts cutting a promo that is mostly incoherent nonsense. What follows is some of the key bits of his rambling that was actually something that could be transcribed:
"Let me tell you something Anvil, you don't want to play cards with me, because I cheat. You want to play 21, I've got 22. You want to play Blackjack? I got two of those, too. You do not gamble with me. When you want to gamble, the main thing you must do is you must accept losing. I don't accept losing and neither does Damien. My friend Damien is right here! You don't want tos ee this, let me show you something. Anvil, go ahead and roll the dice, Mr. Camera Man, get your ass back up here. Get the camera back up here. That's what you should worry about, Anvil. When the DDT comes, the snake comes out. Worry about the DDT! DDT! DDT! DDT!"
Anyone with half a brain could tell that Jake Roberts had no business getting in a ring at that point, clearly wasted off of his ass. Not only is his own safety at risk, but so is his opponent, the referee, and anyone else within striking distance of a man who clearly didn't know where he was... but of course, the show must go on, and the fun has only just begun with our old friend, Jake The Snake...
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart:
And so the fun continues. Roberts staggers down the aisle for the match, wanders around a bit, LEAVES, then comes back again, this time without his shirt. Then he starts flirting with a woman in the front row and proceeds to have her rub up his chest. Any respect I had for Jake Roberts has been flushed down the toilet in the last few minutes. He almost seems unaware that he's supposed to be wrestling, playing to the crowd and generally doing whatever he feels like. The "match" begins, and Jake stumbles around with his boots unlaced. Neidhart unloads with rights in the corner, and I couldn't blame him if he's a little stiff with them. Neidhart with a wristlock, and Roberts falls down like a disgusting drunk. Roberts "fights" back and goes for the DDT, chasing Anvil to the floor. He grabs the bag, whips out Damien, then tucks him between his legs and starts stroking the length of the snake's body. The crowd watches on, apparently laughing at the whole thing. Are they unaware of his condition, or do they seriously think this is part of the script? Jake passes out with the snake in arms as King Kong Bundy shows up for no real reason, other than to maybe drag Roberts' pathetic carcass back to the locker room. Anvil and Bundy have a chat, probably calling an audible, and Anvil quickly goes to work with a 5-minute chinlock.
Roberts eventually mounts a comeback, hitting the short-arm clothesline. He flicks off Bundy, who charges the ring and starts putting the boots to him. The match continues though, despite the illegal involvement of the Walking Condominium. Suddenly THE FORMER Yokozuna waddles to the ring, and holy shit, he looks like he's close to 1,000 pounds here. He can barely walk to the ring without looking as if he's going to pass out. His ass literally sticks out like an air conditioner. Yokozuna starts hammering away on Bundy until Neidhart saves, so now I guess that Yokozuna/Bundy match is turned into a Yoko/Roberts vs. Bundy/Anvil Tag Match. FALSE ADVERTISEMENT! I DEMAND A REFUND! Roberts staggers around on the arena floor, looking as if he's going to puke on a "lucky" fan. We get heel miscommunication as a Mini-Bundy (as Mini as a 6'0" bald guy can be compared to King Kong Bundy) shows up to talk strategy. The three of them have another lengthy chatter, while Yokozuna sucks the wind from the first 15 rows and Roberts continues to spit on his legacy. The "match" continues, Yokozuna gets a "Hot" tag, but Bundy still splashes Roberts and covers him for the merciful three count at 16:37. Wow. Just... wow. Was this The WORST Match I've ever seen? No. Just because it was barely a match. It was the worst match presented on this show, for obvious reasons: Three separate instances of mid-match breaks to try and get things under control because of someone's personal problems, a clearly inebriated man causing havoc and risking injuries to himself and his co-workers, and just a complete disgrace to professional wrestling. Roberts should never have been allowed out there to begin with. They could've just canned that match and did Yokozuna vs. Bundy, but no, they shoved Roberts out there to make an ass out of himself, and we got this horrible fucking train wreck.
Final Thoughts: I really don't think there's anything more to say that hasn't already been said. This is without a shadow of a doubt, the worst wrestling show I've ever seen. Other than the unprofessional and bush league tactics of false advertisement (the lack of Solie and we never got to see Yoko/Bundy in more than 5-seconds of action), the best matches would barely pass as "decent". In several matches, you can see genuine effort, which makes it even more sad. Then, you get to the bottom of the barrel, which is just a collection of rotting garbage. Four matches, FOUR MATCHES, could be rated in the infamous negative star scale, with the staggering mess of Jake Roberts stealing the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Roberts was always one of my favorite performers and a hell of a promo guy, but after this show, I could never look at him the same. Jake the master of in-ring psychology was no longer alive, but replaced by Jake, the man who let his personal demons get the better of him, and was allowed to show this form of himself in front of thousands of people in attendance and on live Pay-Per-View. I could only recommend this show as a curiosity, because it's a very disappointing show as a fan of wrestling, as well as depressing. I would much rather think of Jake Roberts cutting a promo on Ted Dibiase at WrestleMania VI, or Stan Lane working masterfully crafted tag matches with Bobby Eaton, than stars of the past either plucked from obscurity or hanging on far past the point that they should be allowed to perform in a ring.
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