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UWF Beach Brawl - June 9, 1991
by Scrooge McSuck
- Honest question: How did I not cover this one already? Look at the history of weird, bottom of the barrel PPV’s I’ve subjected myself to over the years. Heroes of Wrestling. TWICE. The UWF Blackjack Brawl from the Fall of 1994 that “entertained” about 250 people in a 20,000 seater (and boy do I need to go back and edit that one to be a bit more coherent). An entire seasons worth of AWF: Warriors of Wrestling. The I-Generation Superstars of Wrestling, headlined by Dennis Rodman. Juggalo Championship Wrestling’s Legends and Icons. The 6:05 Legends Reunion PPV… wait, that isn’t in the DWS archives? I guess I’ll have to suffer through that one again, too. This doesn’t even include the awful, sanity breaking PPV’s from WCW and WWE.
Another history lesson, since we’re 20 years removed from the last activity of the UWF (not the Bill Watts version… that would be almost 30 years): Herb Abrams was an odd fellow. Probably the definition of eccentric. Not much is really known about his life other than being a money-mark for wrestling, being a pathological liar, and at times being bat-shit crazy. The fact his life ended on a naked cocaine-binge chasing after hookers shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Still, with all the faults of his lifestyle, he still managed to keep afloat a wrestling promotion that he suggested would rival the WWF and WCW, with such names as Bruiser Brody (who had already been dead for at least 2 years before the UWF finally came to fruition).
The UWF somehow secured a television deal on SportsChannel America with the weekly program “Fury Hour” (there’s a compilation review to be done some day), and in an even bigger miracle, managed to be picked up for a PPV event to be held in the Summer of 1991. I say this is a big surprise because SportsChannel America wasn’t exactly basic TV or even ESPN. I guess you could call it an obscure FSN-like channel before those exploded into every market. While they didn’t have many attractive names to sell the brand on, it did have familiar faces, some of which were actually paid to work more than one taping. Guys like Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, and Steve Williams were among the more heavily used names to draw viewers. Even after all these years, you might find re-runs being shown on ESPN Classic, along with old episodes of GWF. After months of hype and suggestions of a sell-out for the live event, we present…
- UWF Beach Brawl, held in front of about 500 people in the 4,000 seat Manatee Civic Center (now the Bradenton Area Convention Center) in Palmetto, FL. The original broadcast date being June 9th, 1991. According to Dave Meltzer, the actual attendance was mostly freebies, as ticket sales were even poorer than the idea that only an 8th of the venue's tickets had sold. On top of that, the PPV buys were almost non-existent, as most cable companies opted not to carry it based on a lack of interest and very few advanced orders (back when you could actually order PPV’s a week or two ahead of time instead of simply clicking the order button), so we got a buyrate number somewhere in the realms of worst numbers for a wrestling PPV (until later year stuff like the weekly TNA shows or cobbled together “classic” wrestling PPVs became a thing).
- We open the show with pre-recorded promos from Bam Bam Bigelow and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, the finalists of the UWF Heavyweight Title Tournament… wait, what? Oh sorry, it’s the SportsChannel TV Championship. Williams notes he’s going to “wear the gold around his belt.” Oh-kay? Brian Ricco is hanging by backstage interviewing the man of the hour… Herb Abrams, flashing the Heavyweight Championship belt. That is one odd looking belt. Calling the action at ringside: Craig DeGeorge and Bruno Sammartino. How the HELL did they get Bruno? After 10-minutes of wasting time, we FINALLY go to ringside for the opening match.
[Side Note: I have the unfortunate task of breaking the news that there was a dark match held between Boris Zhukov and Paul Samson. The idea of a dark match is to warm up the crowd before cameras start rolling. When I think of excitement and getting the crowd fired up, I sure as hell think of a guy like BORIS ZHUKOV.]
The Fire Cat & Jim Cooper vs. The Black Hearts (w/ Luna Vachon):
The original lineup listed Tony Atlas and Larry Cameron as the Black Hearts' opponents, and then it was changed to S.D. Jones and Tyree Pride before we settled on this bizarre JTTS squadron. The Black Hearts (Dave Heath, a.k.a Vampire Warrior/Gangrel, and Tom Nash, a.k.a “Luna’s Husband Before Heath”) are introduced from “Your Worst Nightmare”. Luna’s got a snake wrapped around her and seems a bit thicker than I recall her being on WWF television throughout the rest of the 90’s. Fire Cat is (allegedly) Brady Boone, but maybe it’s really Bob Bradley, since it’s clearly a toned-down version of WWF’s Battle Kat. The Black Hearts quickly hit Cooper with a double clothesline, but he pops right up and works over one of them as if nothing happened. Fire Cat comes off the ropes with a weak-ass elbow for a near fall. He makes up for it with a Franken-Steiner, but the referee chooses not to count because reasons. BH #2 takes control on Cooper and takes him off the top turnbuckle with a gut-wrench suplex, but misses a follow-up elbow drop. Fire Cat with a series of kicks and a sloppy cradle for two. BH #1 with a whip to the ropes and spinning heel kick. Fire Cat comes back with a crucifix for another near fall. Black Hearts with a double team clothesline, followed by a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Fire Cat comes back with an elbow and DDT (which creates an argument between DeGeorge and Bruno over whether or not it was a piledriver), and Cooper gets the coldest hot tag possible. The Black Hearts quickly take-over, hit him with a Stun Gun, and finish with a Guillotine Leg Drop at 6:50. Meanwhile, Luna is giving Fire Cat a beating at ringside for the sake of wearing a dumb cat costume. *1/2 The Black Hearts looked fine, but Fire Cat’s offense was either sloppy or pathetic, and Cooper just sucked. Still a better match than either of the two previous possibilities would’ve been.
Street Fight: Johnny Ace vs. Terry Gordy:
Ace is a late-replacement for Don Muraco, who no-showed probably based on the idea he was likely not going to get paid that night. Ace is introduced from Malibu, CA, but the graphic on the screen says Clearwater, FL. MAKE UP YOUR MIND! Lockup into the corner. Ace grabs a side headlock and takes Gordy to the ground with it. Whip to the ropes and Ace with a shoulder tackle for two. He grabs another headlock as I anticipate when we get some hardcore brawling. Ace with a springboard body press for two. Gordy lays him out with a hard right, followed by boots to the face. Whip to the corner and Gordy with a hard clothesline for two. Snap-mare and elbow drop for two. Ace throws some chops and punches, but Gordy shrugs them off and takes him down with a back suplex. Gordy with a Powerbomb for two. DeGeorge actually called it correctly! Gordy with another clothesline into the corner for a near fall. Ace gets a boot up on the third try and hits his own clothesline. They trade rights until Ace knocks Gordy through the ropes with a dropkick. He goes for a plancha, but misses and lands on his fucking face on the concrete. Why is the referee counting them out when there’s No DQ’s or Count-Outs? They brawl into the crowd… and that’s something you don’t do when there’s nothing but empty sections surrounding the dozen or so fans in view of the camera. Bell rings at 6:27, and it’s a Double Count-Out in a No DQ, No Count-Out STREET FIGHT. ** Half-a-Star off the rating for the insulting lack of continuity in a simple gimmick. Why call it a Street Fight when nothing took place that suggested something more than “standard wrestling”?
Masked Confusion vs. The Power Twins:
(Jim Brunzell & B. Brian Blair vs. Larry & David Power)
The Power Twins are introduced from Power City, NY, but it’s really Long Island. No, I don’t know anything about them. Masked Confusion is the former Killer Bees, Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair. Brunzell and “David” (based on my own assignment of names) start. Whip to the ropes and Larry with a cheap shot from the apron. Brunzell escapes the double-team effort and tags out. Blair escapes a bear-hug with the bee ear-smack, sweeps the legs, and slingshots Larry into David. Blair with a takedown and the Bees with a double spinning toe hold. Whoops, I meant “Masked Confusion.” They take turns working the leg, doing little of note. David finally tags back in and finds himself in the same predicament. Blair gets kicked back into the corner, allowing Larry to cheap shot him. Whip to the ropes and the Power Twins with a double clothesline. We have a BEAR-HUG. We change it up with a sleeper hold. Larry (or David, who cares) with a tilt-o-whirl back breaker. Whip to the ropes and double-team back drop. DeGeorge calling this a “lively crowd” is more of a lie than suggesting this is a Main Event caliber match. Who gave the greenlight for this match to go this long?! Brunzell gets a false tag and Blair continues to get worked over. He comes off the ropes with a double clothesline, but can’t tag, despite being in his own corner and the Power Twin SHOVING HIM INTO HIS CORNER! Brunzell has to stand there and find a way to act stupid. They dump both Former Bees, and it’s time for them to put the Masks on and pull the switch. Brunzell cleans house and hits his signature dropkick for two. Sunset flip is blocked, so Blair sunset flips in illegally for three at 13:05. -1/2* Started off OK, but quickly went off the rails and just dragged on.
UWF Women’s Championship Match (Vacant):
Rockin’ Robin vs. Candi Devine:
For once, Devine’s announced hometown matches up with what it says on the screen. Rockin’ Robin was at the time the last WWF Women’s Champion before that belt was thrown in the trash (not literally). They shake hands and Devine attacks from behind, to get over the fact she’s the heel of the match. Whip to the ropes and... something connects. That looked bad. It always looks bad when the person taking the back drop is clearly doing all the work on the spot. Robin barely connects with a dropkick and drops an elbow for two. Robin grabs a front face-lock and comes off the second turnbuckle with a sunset flip for two. Devine with a snap-mare and slingshot that gives Robin ZERO launch. She turns over a “Boston Crab”, if it were applied like the Rock attempting a Sharpshooter. Awful looking. Whip to the ropes and Devine with an ugly dropkick. Robin comes back, ramming Devine to the buckle. Whip to the ropes and Robin with a diving clothesline for two. Robin “misses” a dropkick, even though it made the same amount of contact as Devine’s last attempt. Whip to the ropes and what the flying fuck was that? How can I call anything when they don’t even know what they’re doing?! Robin ducks a clothesline and hits her own. Whip to the corner, Devine misses a charge, and Robin rolls her up at 6:18 to become the 1st UWF Women’s Champion. -** This was one of the worst women’s matches I’ve ever seen. Sammartino dares calling this a great match. Nevermind, -**1/2 for insulting my intelligence further, Bruno.
Strap Match: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs. Col. DeBeers:
You got to love that handlebar Mustache on DeBeers. That alone is worth half-a-star. Hopefully this match won’t end in a DQ or Count-Out like the Street Fight earlier in the card. Orndorff comes out to MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”! That is worth another half-a-star. DeBeers works over Orndorff with the strap at the bell. So they aren’t actually strapped together, it’s just a weapon to use? Orndorff avoids a charge to the corner and does a goofy leg-press spot. Orndorff with the strap, and its DeBeers’ turn to get whipped. Orndorff with choking and a fist-drop. DeBeers with a slam. He goes to the top rope and gets clotheslined with the strap on the way down. Orndorff with a running knee lift and elbow drop for two. Orndorff with the Piledriver and it’s good for the three count at 3:15. That was quick. *1/4 That includes the pre-match ratings for the mustache and awful theme music. Orndorff waves the US Flag until DeBeers attacks from behind with a Taser.
Bob Backlund vs. Ivan Koloff (w/ Mr. Red):
This is a LEGENDS Match, and one of the most prominently hyped matches in the weeks leading into the show. Backlund had mostly been inactive since leaving the WWF in 1984, so this was a real boon to have him on the show. Lockup and Koloff quickly grabs a Full Nelson. Backlund with a goofy escape. Backlund with an armbar, but Koloff counters with a drop toe hold. Backlund slips out and goes for it again, but this time Koloff grabs the ropes to escape. Koloff works the arm and takes Backlund over with a hip throw. Backlund rolls through a short-arm scissors and power lifts Koloff. He sets him up on the top turnbuckle and slaps the Russian Bear across the face. Whip to the corner, Koloff misses a clothesline, and Backlund with a roll up into a bridge for the three count at 2:36. Wow, that was even shorter! ½* Backlund looked good for someone who was mostly out of wrestling for more than half-a-decade, but this was way too short.
- Captain Lou Albano shows up to lay out Mr. Red, then strip him of his pants, giving us the unpleasant view of an over-weight guy in his white underpants, running around the ring like a buffoon.
Wet N’ Wild vs. Cactus Jack & Bob Orton Jr. (w/ John Tolos):
45-Minute Time Limit!? Hah! Orton and Cactus come out to the theme from Bonanza. Wet N’ Wild are Steve “Wild Thing” Ray and Sunny Beach, and they come out to the Beach Boys’ “Surfin USA.” I doubt they cleared the rights to release it on video. Tolos (a week or so away from showing up in the WWF as “Coach”) is forced into a cage to prevent interference. In what bizarre world does this guy manage the unlikely duo of Cactus and Orton? Cactus hammers away on Beach and tosses him to the floor. Cactus hits the second-rope elbow drop to the floor. And people wonder why Foley first retired at the age of 34. Orton with a short-arm clothesline and elbow drop. Cactus with a Russian leg sweep for two. Beach catches Cactus off the ropes with a fall-away slam. Steve Ray (not Stevie Ray of Harlem Heat) comes in to clean house. The referee gets bumped and things get (wet ‘n’) wild. Tolos tosses a foreign object, but we get heel miscommunication and Ray covers Cactus for three at 4:43. Cactus Jack actually bladed for this show?! Post-match, Cactus and Orton brawl. ¾* Another rushed match in a series of them since that abomination of a tag match with the “Not Killer Bees” and Power Twins.
SportsChannel Television Championship Match:
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams:
Finally, it’s time for the Main Event! Tournaments usually rule, but the brackets for this one aren’t very coherent. According to DeGeorge, Williams defeated a “Samoan”, Steve Ray, and got a Bye thanks to a DDQ between Muraco and Gordy, while Bigelow beat Ivan Koloff, Col. DeBeers, and got a Bye via Forfeit from Cactus Jack. Williams comes out to “Bad to the Bone”, and again, I doubt they cleared the rights for that for home video release. They have the balls to suggest that the UWF belt is worth $100 K. Yeah, no way. Bigelow tries to assault Abrams (yay!), Williams attacks, but gets laid out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner and Bigelow with an avalanche. Williams with a shoulder tackle, but Bigelow continues to pound away. Bigelow meets boot on a charge and gets turned inside out with a clothesline. Williams with knees to the face, and now both men are bleeding. Williams with another hard clothesline, followed by a dropkick. Bigelow goes for a suplex, but Williams cradles him for a near fall. Williams gets a boot up on a charge and hits a running knee lift. He goes for another, but Bigelow counters with a Samoan Drop for two. Bigelow with a slam and slingshot splash for two. Bigelow with a DDT. He goes to the top rope and hits a splash for another two count. Williams ducks under a clothesline and takes down Bam Bam with a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Williams with a clothesline and running shoulder tackle. Whip to the ropes and a Power-Slam gets two. Williams tries to pick Bigelow up, but Bam Bam hooks the ropes. Williams tries it again, and this time the Power-Slam connects, and it’s good for three at 7:35. *** Really short, but nothing but hard hitting, Heavyweight action. Too bad the crowd had little heat.
- We finish up with a pair of interviews with the NEW SportsChannel Television Heavyweight Champion. Isn’t it funny that a title named after a sports network is decided on a show that isn’t featured on the actual network?
Final Thoughts: I expected worse. Much worse. In fact, this wasn’t even the worst PPV of 1991. WCW’s Great American Bash easily keeps that honor. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a bad show. The production values are low-rent. The lack of a crowd means dim lighting, which added to the lack of any crowd heat, makes it feel like the show is being held in an empty, dark, room. The booking choices were rather poor. Why waste so much time on an opening match squash and worthless midcard tag match and then be forced to pull the rug out of the two matches the PPV advertised more than anything else? For a bottom of the barrel show, it could’ve been worse, but the UWF would remain on life support for the next few years, sporadically holding TV tapings and live shows, and featuring less known stars due to obvious reasons (not paying them). Heck, this PPV’s other known infamy is the fact that Abrams skipped out on paying the bill for renting the arena and for local advertisements. No recommendation here, either you want to know of and watch the trainwreck that was Herb Abrams UWF, or you don’t. Happy Halloween.
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