What Is He Thinking?! Volume 3: The Brooklyn Brawler
by Scrooge McSuck
- I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Wrestling, at least for the television market, needs to bring enhancement talent back to keep from wasting potential money matches on free television, and instead preserving such things for live event tours or Pay-Per-Views. Growing up, unhancement talent was mostly scrubs that looked like bums off the street, but you also had your guys like Barry Horowitz, Iron Mike Sharpe, Jim Powers, and a host of others who regularly were featured in such a role, but also toured with the company, mostly as an opening card act for live shows. Most of the time, a long-tenured jobber would eventually get a mild push. Jim Powers got his as half of the Young Stallions, Barry Horowitz waited through 1995 before his mild push, defeating established stars, but one has no only gone from jobber, to lower card push, and back to jobber like all the rest, but also has remained employed for the company four nearly THREE DECADES. The one, the only... Steve Lombardi.
Oh, poor Steve Lombardi. The butt of pretty much every Pat Patterson joke for the last two decades, and lately, as one of the random talking heads on every WWE produced DVD documentary, even for things he wasn't even around for. Trust me: Pop in ANY DVD, and I swear to God, he has at least one sound bite featured somewhere on it. Anyway, Lombardi started his WWF tenure looking up at the lights in 1983, putting over anyone that he dared to get in the ring with. Finally after over 5 years in that role, he was given a glimmer of attention, paired up with the Brain, Bobby Heenan, renamed "the Brooklyn Brawler" (as a play against Heenan's ex-protege, The Red Rooster), and given victories over such talent as Terry Taylor and... Terry Taylor. OK, so he didn't win much, but he did get to wrestle people other than Paul Roma and Jose Luis Rivera on a more regular basis, like the Blue Blazer (Owen Hart) and... uh... Terry Taylor. Oh, don't forget his brief partnership with Bad News Brown!
Anyway, I'm rambling. By the close of 1989, Brawler's push faded, and he was back to working as weekend show enhancement talent, as well as doing live event tours. Brawler continued this through 1992, when he suddenly started moonlighting as Kimchee, the handler of the Ugandan Giant, Kamala. Also rumored to be one of many men to play the role of Doink (the Clown) from 1993-95, he also was given one more gimmick, that of Abe Knuckleball Schwartz, a.k.a The MVP, a baseball player who was on strike... OK? Anyway, the home audience was rapidly seeing less and less of the Brawler, but he would pop up occasionally over the years, working a show here or there for old times sake, which is where we come in for today... what has the Brawler been up to for the past 20-years? I swear, I'll refrain from the obvious jokes.
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the December 26th, 1994 episode of Monday Night Raw. For those with a short attention span, or a habit of keeping their mental sanity, this was right around the time the Undertaker was kicking off what seemed like a year long feud with the Corporation, a stable of heels that never accomplished a god damn thing. It's been said a lot, but damn, did the Undertaker have to suffer through horrible program after horrible program from the spring of 1992 through 1996. That's a company man, for you. I guess Vince and Shawn are so bored, they have to talk about Andre Agassi shaving his head. Brawler tries a sneak attack, but Undertaker casually boots him in the face. Whip to the ropes, and Brawler desperately grabs a headlock. Undertaker quickly escapes with a tear-drop suplex. Undertaker grabs the arm, and it's time for some old school. I really wish that move had a name, but alas, it never did. Odd, since he did it EVERY MATCH. Undertaker claws away at the face, and wow, I'm surprised this one isn't over already. Whip to the ropes, and Undertaker connects with the diving clothesline. Whip to the corner, and Brawler has his shoulder rammed into the post. Why? It adds nothing to the match. Undertaker signals for the end, and yep the Tombstone finishes it off at 3:13. I'm surprised, this went longer than the length of the Undertaker's entrance.
Man Mountain Rock vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the March 5th, 1995 episode of the Action Zone. Poor Jim Ross, having to call the "action" with Todd Pettengill. We make sure to plug the 1-900 Hotline while M.M.R. plays his guitar. For those with good ears, they recycled his music a few years later for Droz and Prince Albert. Brawler attacks from behind and drives a series of shoulders into the midsection. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Brawler rams his shoulder into the post. I guess that was a spot of his. Rock with a charging clothesline, followed by an elbow drop. MMR with a suplex as J.R. criticizes his choice of wardrobe. Whip to the corner, and he misses a charge. Brawler to the top rope, and he suffers from Ric Flair Syndrome, being slammed off. MMR with the armbar... and THAT WINS AT 1:30!?! Wait, didn't they end up calling that move the Whammy Bar? That's an even worse finisher than Crush's head vice thing.
Sycho Sid vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the July 27th, 1996 episode of Superstars, and one of Sid's first television matches since going down with an injury to open the year. He's already scheduled to meet the British Bulldog at SummerSlam. The Brawler is scheduled for a DVD commentary session. Oh wait, sorry, that's not for another 7-8 years. Brawler comes off the ropes, and quickly takes a boot to the face. Sid with choking across the middle rope, as well as clawing at the face. Sid takes it to the corner and unloads with rights. We get an inset promo from Davey Boy Smith, in the mean time. Whip to the corner, and Sid follows with an avalanche. Sid with a chokeslam, and the Powerbomb finishes things off at 1:35. To my surprise, the match ended up being longer than Sid's entrance.
"Double J" Jesse Jammes vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the June 28th, 1997 episode of Shotgun Saturday Night. You remember, the show that tried to be edgy and cool, except it wasn't and the good wrestlers on the roster were typically unavailable, so we got a bunch of matches from the Godwinns instead. This was right before Jammes was paired up with Billy Gunn, saving both from pink-slip city. A lot of people make fun of the Diesel and Razor rehashes, but this was the exact same thing, considerinf Jarrett was in WCW. Had both been employed, it would be OK, but it's just another "oh look, he can be Double J, too" scenario. Brawler's graphic reads "Still Misses the Dodgers." Lockup, and Brawler takes James over with an arm drag. Lockup, and this time with a slam. Jammes no-sells some chops, so Brawler goes to biting. Shoulders to the midsection, and whip across the ring. Wow, Jesse Jammes is looking bad for the Brooklyn Brawler?! Whip to the ropes is reversed, and Jammes takes him over with a hip toss. Jammes with a slam and dropkick. The pump-handle slam follows, and that's enough for the three count at 2:21. Well, that didn't make Jesse Jammes look good. He barely got by the Brawler.
Hanidcap Match: Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley) vs. The Brooklyn Brawler & Kaientai:
From the July 6th, 2000 episode of WWF Smackdown. This is Elimination Rules, but come on, it's Triple H, in 2000, against three Jobbers. He could have his hands tied behind his back and still win with no effort. The Jobbers bum-rush and triple team Hunter in the corner, and celebrate prematurely. Whip to the ropes, and Funaki takes him over with a head scissors, followed by a Brawler swinging neckbreaker for one. TAKA with a missile dropkick for two. Whip to the ropes, Hunter fights off Kaientai, but takes a clothesline over the top rope. TAKA with an Asai Moonsault, but Hunter moves, and Funaki takes the brunt of the blow. Back inside, Brawler with chops. Irish whip, and HHH with a face buster for two. TAKA with rights, but a charge sees him tossed to the floor. Funaki goes for a Tornado DDT, but Hunter counters, and it's Kick Wham Pedigree to eliminate Funaki at 2:15. TAKA misses a top rope body press, and it's Kick Wham Pedigree to eliminate TAKA at 2:32. Brawler pounds away, but Hunter turns the tide and stomps a water hole in him. Hebner gets involved physically and gets shoved down for his troubles. Kick Wham Pedigree is interrupted by Chris Jericho, who takes HHH down with a bulldog. He hits the Lionsault, and Brawler covers for the three count at 3:25... WHAT?! The Brooklyn Brawler pinned Triple H? Well, he's not going to take that lying down, and beats the ever-loving piss out of the Brawler and Kaientai, finishing Brawler off with the Pedigree. If Jericho's mission was to piss off Triple H, mission accomplished.
Brooklyn Strap Match: Tazz vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the September 17th, 2000 episode of Sunday Night Heat. Damn, did the Brawler get quite a few gigs on television in 2000. "Earlier today", Just Joe starts shit between the Brawler and Tazz about who's the King of Brooklyn. Lombardi responds "why do you think I wear this Yankee shirt", to which Joe replies "Aren't they technically from the Bronx?". THANK YOU! This was during Tazz's short-lived push as a midcard heel asshole, after flaming out for being too small/not working WWF style/whatever excuse you can think of. Tazz quickly lays the Brawler out with a short-arm clothesline, and whips him with the strap. Looks no different than a regular strap... what makes it Brooklyn style? Tazz with choking and more whipping. He's hardcore! He's hardcore! Brawler goes low with the strap, and plants Tazz with a slam. Brawler returns the strap action (... resist), then starts choking, too. Brawler uses the strap to clothesline Tazz, then goes back to whipping. Brawler with a snapmare, but a clothesline misses, and the Tazzmission finishes Brawler off at 2:33. Wait, so Brooklyn style means that you don't have to touch the four corners, just win by pinfall or submission? Eh, who cares.
Big Show vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the December 30th, 2001 episode of Sunday Night Heat. Big Show was practically an oversized JTTS at this point, before finding a new push as a member of the WWF version of the New World Order. I really hate how the Smackdown set is so obviously the stage set up for Heat tapings (back when Heat was taped at Smackdown, and Metal/Jakked was taped before Raw). Brawler attacks before the Big Show's big goozle demonstration, but Show no-sells and sends Brawler to the floor with a headbutt. Big Show follows and continues pounding away. Back inside, Brawler crotches Show across the top rope. Brawler with random punchy-kicky until Show decides he's not selling anymore, and lays Brawler out with a lunging clothesline. Whip to the corner, and Show follows in with another. The strap comes down, and the Chokeslam finishes at 1:43. Wasn't there a special name for that... the Show Stopper, or something equally lame? Well, either way, he's a former WWF Champion squashing the Brawler on Heat in 2001.
APA Invitational Battle Royale:
From the 2003 edition of Vengeance, and the first PPV to exclusively feature matches from the Smackdown Brand. Participants include the APA (duh), Nunzio, Johnny Stamboli, Chuck Palumbo, Sean O'Haire, Spanky, Matt Hardy, Shannon Moore, Doug & Danny Basham, Orlando Jordan, Kanyon, Funaki, "The Conquistadors", Tough Enough Winners John(ny Nitro) and Matt (Hardcore Holly's bitch?), Doink The Clown, Brother Love, THE EASTER BUNNY, and, of course, the Brooklyn Brawler. Basically, the way to be eliminated is to be knocked out of competition by... well, someone else? I don't know, I question the authenticity of a barroom brawl without Haku and Bill Watts present. Anyway, everyone gets KO'ed in rapid fire fashion. The Brooklyn Brawler ends up being one of the last bodies standing, before being knocked out. The finish has Funaki passing out from drinking, having somehow avoided all the action. Bradshaw ends things by knocking Brother Love out with a beer bottle at 4:29. Wow, an APA member won the APA Invitational? That's like Vince McMahon having himself win the WWF Championship... oh, wait...
Kurt Angle vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
From the August 1st, 2006 episode of ECW on Sci-Fi, from the Hammerstein Ballroom. That episode is more famous for the turd of a main event between Big Show and Batista that was boo'ed out of the building. Even the Brawler gets better reactions than either of those two. This was during Angle's short-lived rebirth as the wrestling machine, or whatever gimmick he was working in ECW, before suddenly being given his release. Angle sweeps the legs and quickly goes for the Ankle Lock, but Brawler hooks the bottom rope like it's Pat Patterson's leg... sorry, I had to work that in once. Brawler with a shove, so Angle headbutts him and locks the Ankle Lock on for the submission victory at 1:12. Well, that was pretty quick. Did they change Angle's music at the time? Seems different, and I never noticed before.
Ezekiel Jackson vs. The Brooklyn Brawler (w/ Harvey Wippleman):
From the Raw Old School episode, broadcasted on November 15th, 2010. I pretty much stopped watching wrestling a bit before this, so I have no clue who Jackson is. I think he was hired muscle for Christian on WW-ECW, or something. I did watch this as this happened, and while it was OK, it could've been way more nostalgic. Fink's introduction of Harvey Wippleman is classic. Cole mentions Brawler's rivalry with the Red Rooster, then starts making clucking noises... wow, someone REALLY likes making fun of Terry Taylor. Brawler comes off the ropes, and a shoulder tackle doesn't do much for him. He goes for a slam, but Jackson goes Hardcore Holly on him, and lays Brawler out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner, and Jackson follows in with an even stiffer clothesline. The lamest Rock Bottom finishes it at the 50-second mark. Wow, I guess I didn't miss much with Jackson, cause just from that one minute, I could tell he sucked.
Final Thoughts: Considering almost everything was a squash match, it wasn't too difficult to get through this collection of matches. As a nostalgic act, trotting the Brawler out isn't a bad choice, as long as he's being destroyed, and since he hasn't been regularly working in the ring since 1994, it's always interesting to see the choices for who he's put in the ring with... Undertaker, The Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle... Man Mountain Rock... Double J Jesse Jammes... OK, so it's hit and miss, but after a career spanning 30 years, Lombardi sure does have a hell of a list of people he's been in the ring with, even if you find his work to be typically subpar.
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