WWE Unreleased: Never Before Seen Matches 1986-1995
by Scrooge McSuck
- I've been looking forward to this DVD set coming out since the first time they announced it's upcoming release, even before any details were available. When I first got into tape trading (remember tapes?), way back in the day (I want to say 2002), I first discovered shows that were recorded by someone in the audience. Call them hand-held or fan-cam shows, but I loved the idea of watching something that wasn't readily available, especially when it featured matches that we'd never seen on television or pay-per-view. It was around the same time I discovered the old taping pattern, and was in amazement how much content was produced, and how much may (or may not) have been recorded that's never seen the light of day.
- Hosted by Sean Mooney (Who?) and Charly Caruso. I don't know if we've all grown soft over time, but I'm marking out for SEAN F'N MOONEY. For newer fans, he was a regular host of the Event Center, where he promoted upcoming live events, as well as occasional commentary work on Prime-Time Wrestling and on Coliseum Video exclusives. I already have one gripe: One side of the DVD case says 1986-1995, and the other side says 1985-1996... that's not nearly as dumb as the "Fake Sting" on the Sting box cover, but still, proof reading is your friend (thank you, Dave Meltzer, for the inspiration for that joke). I'm getting it out of the way right now: How can you NOT put the fabled Bret Hart vs. Tom Magee match on the set?! There better be an Unreleased Vol. 2!
The Machines (Big, Super, and Hulk) vs. King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd, and Bobby Heenan
Taped on September 16th, 1986 from Baltimore, MD. The mysterious Hulk Machine is anyone's guess, but Big and Super are Blackjack Mulligan and Bill Eadie (Masked Superstar/Ax). The quality of the footage is slightly damaged, but still good looking. The Machines come out to "Real American" for some reason. "Hulk" Machine wastes no time slamming Studd. Super Machine drops Studd after three clotheslines while "Hulk" Machine scares the bejesus out of Heenan at ringside. Bundy comes in, misses a splash, and gets the legs taken out from under him. "Hulk" Machine reverses a whip and takes Bundy over with a slam. Studd comes in and gets slammed a second time. Heenan comes in and quickly runs away. "Hulk" Machine's idea of martial arts is a thumb to the eyes. The Heenan Family finally get some heat at the expense of Super Machine, mostly punching and kicking. Bundy squashes him with an Avalanche. Heenan wants to tag back in, but doesn't realize "Hulk" Machine pulled the switcheroo on him. He struts around confidently until he picks the Machine up, only to get leveled with a big boot for three at 9:38. Post-match, "Hulk" Machine poses, flashing the audience a glimpse of who's under the mask. 17 years later, and he'd do the same routine as Mr. America. * The wrestling wasn't good, but the shenanigans with "Hulk" Machine and Heenan is worth a look.
Pedro Morales vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth)
Taped on October 29th, 1986, from Glens Falls, NY. Savage is the reigning Intercontinental Champion. He spends the early part of the match stalling and yelling at fans. Morales with a side headlock and shoulder tackle, but Savage quickly bails. Morales escapes a full nelson and palm strikes Savage into the corner. Savage starts messing with his tights to tease a potential foreign object. Whip to the ropes and Morales with another shoulder tackle. Savage loads up his fist with the imaginary weapon and rakes Morales across the face. He grabs a bouquet of flowers, but Morales turns the table and shreds them in his face. Morales goes back to his routine before Savage casually throws him over the top rope. Savage to the top rope and comes crashing down with a double axe-handle. Back inside, Savage goes to the top again, but this time takes a fist to the midsection. Morales with rights in the corner until Savage sweeps the leg and covers, with feet on the ropes, for three at 7:49. ¾* Washed-up, thy name is Pedro Morales. At least it wasn't the 646th match between Savage and The Animal.
Hulk Hogan & "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff & "King" Harley Race (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Taped on December 10th, 1986 from Tucson, AZ. Race is simply introduced as "The King." We get a slugfest between all four before the bell, with Hogan and Piper clearing the ring. Piper pounds away on Orndorff and gives him a cheap shot to the throat before ramming him into Hulk's boot. Race tags in to suffer the same fate. They take turns working the King's arm, including Hulk coming off the middle rope with an axe-handle. Race rockers Piper with headbutts while Orndorff chokes him with the tag rope. Race with a belly-to-belly suplex and Orndorff with an elbow drop from the top rope. Whip and Piper with a sunset flip, but Orndorff remains in control, sending him into the corner with an atomic drop. Race hangs him up across the top and Orndorff drops another elbow. Whip and Race with a clothesline, but a headbutt from the middle rope misses. Piper makes an exaggerated dive into the corner to hot tag the Hulkster, who unloads on both opponents with rights and a double noggin' knocker. Big boot to Race, but the referee is distracted. Hulk with a slam and leg drop, but Heenan runs in for the Disqualification at 6:25. Post-match, Piper throws Heenan into Hogan, who then tosses him over the top rope. **1/2 Fine action with the predictable cheap finish. Get used to them on this set.
The Dingo Warrior vs. Jose Estrada
Taped on June 23rd, 1987, from Indianapolis, IN, and one of the first appearances of Warrior, having only worked two C-tour shows in Texas leading up to the taping. Lockup and Estrada with a knee to the midsection. Warrior stands tall on a shoulder tackle, takes Estrada over with an arm drag, and transitions into the arm-bar. Warrior SHOULD NOT BE DOING THAT. Estrada rakes the eyes and takes control with a nerve hold. Where's Steve Lombardi to properly put someone over?! Estrada transitions into a chin-lock as the entire crowd decides to not give a crap. Warrior escapes and drops Estrada with a press slam, then goes back to the arm-bar. Estrada regains control doing little worth noting. Warrior decides to stop selling (thank you!) and takes Estrada over with a back drop. Warrior with an atomic drop and an awkward diving clothesline for three at 6:13. Felt more like 20-minutes. Post-production adds his entrance music that wasn't created yet. DUD Bad wrestling, but watching Warrior try to do a wrestling match without his usual bells and whistles is a visual you must witness.
- Sean Mooney and Charly Caruso swoon over the formation of the Mega Powers. Charly even talks about watching the episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, despite being THREE MONTHS OLD at the time. Sorry, I have fond memories of wrestling when I was three years old, but not three months old.
Hulk Hogan & "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. The Honkytonk Man & The Hart Foundation (w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue)
Taped on January 5th, 1988, from Huntsville, AL. Introductions are cut out, and we're slightly joined in progress. Neidhart is too lazy to put his shoulder straps on for this one. Lockup and Hogan shoves him into the ropes. Neidhart with weak knee strikes, but misses a charge to the corner. Whip across the ring, and Hogan follows in with a clothesline. Savage and Hogan take turns working the arm. Honky tags in and is met with an elbow. Bret in, and he's victim of the arm drag into an arm-bar spot. Whip and the Powers with a double big boot. Hogan with a pair of elbow drops, cheap shots to the apron, and a forced knuckle-lock on the Hitman. Savage gets caught in the wrong side of town and Honky takes advantage of it from the apron. Bret with a back breaker for two. Savage rallies on Honky, but misses a charge to the corner. Hogan with the hot tag, mocking Honky and running wild with slams for everyone. Hulk with a back breaker and leg drop to finish Honky off at 5:23. Post-match, Jimmy Hart takes a double atomic drop for a bump over the top rope. *1/2 Decent, but I expected more. Savage sold a little for Bret and Honky, but it was mostly one-sided.
Owen Hart vs. Barry Horowitz
Taped on March 8th, 1988 from Bristol, TN. I'm assuming this was a tryout for Owen, who wouldn't start working regularly until the beginning of August. Lockup and they trade wrist-locks, with Owen doing his signature sequence to do a counter. That got some "wow's" from the crowd. He springs off the ropes into another reversal and takes Horowitz over with a hip toss. Horowitz asks for more, then hides in the ropes. Owen with a springboard flip onto his feet to avoid a charge. Whip to the corner and Owen with a dropkick, followed by a suplex and flying knee drop for two. Owen with another big flip and arm drag into the arm-bar. Crisscross and Horowitz surprises him with a super-kick. Horowitz with a double under-hook suplex and leg drop for two. Owen comes back with ANOTHER spectacular flip and dropkick, sending Horowitz to the floor, and a tope suicida! IN 1988! He adds a snap suplex on the floor, just to be a show-off. Back inside, and a springboard twisting body press gets two. Whip to the ropes and over-head belly-to-belly suplex, and Owen finally finishes with a diving headbutt from one side of the ring across the other at 5:46. ***1/2 Too bad the WWF wasn't about in-ring skill, because Owen would be a star based on in-ring work alone. I can only imagine someone doing a Lou Brown (from Major League) backstage, telling Owen "nice match, don't ever f*cking do it again."
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Taped on April 21st, 1988, from New Haven, CT, and the first taping after WrestleMania IV (yes, they taped so far in advance that it was nearly four weeks later where they taped again). Savage wastes little time chasing Heenan away from Elizabeth. Lockup and we should all know how well that goes. Andre grabs a choke with the most menacing look possible and slaps the skin off Savage's chest. Andre with choking, dropping Savage out of the ring. Back inside, Andre continues the assault, using his large posterior to crush Savage in the corner. Andre with a double chicken-wing and headbutt to the back. Elizabeth hops on the apron for a distraction, and Savage finally has enough and clears the ring with a chair, drawing a Disqualification at 3:20. ½* This was all Andre on offense, making the new WWF Champion look incapable of holding his own.
The Powers of Pain (w/ Tito Santana) vs. Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Taped on June 21st, 1988, from Glens Falls, NY. They sure loved taping there, didn't they? Santana being with the Powers of Pain is probably to get the "right" crowd response, with this being their first appearance at a TV taping. The POP quickly clear the ring, twice. The audio drops out for a little while, our first production imperfection since the first match. Lots of stalling thus far. THREE MINUTES LATER and we finally get contact. Ax with a side headlock, but Warlord doesn't budge on a shoulder tackle. Warlord reverses a whip and drops Ax with a single clothesline. Barbarian and Smash have the next standoff. Barbarian no-sells some punches, sends Smash to the corner, and drops him with a big boot. He hits a diving headbutt, but Ax runs in to break the cover. The POP clear the ring again and take a shot at Fuji. Demolition had enough of not trying and take the Count-Out at 7:16. -**1/2 What the hell was this?! Other than being one of the first appearances of the POP, it holds no value.
- Mooney desperately wants to view some COLISEUM VIDEO EXCLUSIVES from WrestleMania V, but Charly has a tape from two days later, and they somehow try to spin the "Days after Mania" appeal was a thing, even back then...
Big John Studd vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Taped on April 4th, 1989, from Glens Falls, NY. The look on Andre's face doesn't give me much hope, and is always a sad reminder of his deteriorating health. Andre takes control early with choking. Studd's offense consists mostly of body blows and forearms across the back, some looking better than others, but still not very good looking. Andre grabs Studd from behind with a nerve hold that he quickly transitions into a choke with the strap of his singlet. I love how some shots blur out the Superstars banner, and others don't. Studd rallies with more of the usual and teases a slam, but Heenan runs in for the Disqualification at 4:46, and quickly sprints back to the locker room. -* Both looked absolutely washed up. This is a "lost gem" that could stay lost.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Sensational Sherri)
Also taped on April 4th, 1989. Both men lost their Championships at WrestleMania V, to Rick Rude and Hulk Hogan respectively. The Savage/Sherri relationship wasn't made official yet in TV time. Savage attacks before the bell, but Warrior sends him flying with the shoulder spear and press slams him back in the ring. Savage's flying body press is countered and gets trapped in a tree of woe for some mud-hole stomping. Warrior misses a charge to the corner and gets sent through the ropes with a high knee. Warrior escapes a chin-lock and grabs a bear-hug, then the two trade eye rakes. Whip and Savage with his hooking clothesline, followed by a double axe-handle for two. Rick Rude arrives at ringside, flaunting his newly won Championship. Warrior with a face-buster, but the splash meets knees. He starts going into no-sell mode, laying Savage out with rights, then detours to the floor, hitting Rude with an axe-handle. He continues to beat him up in the aisle, and takes the Count-Out at 7:10. Post-match, Warrior returns with the belt and clears the ring. *** Cheap finish to a good match.
Dusty Rhodes vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil)
Taped on June 6th, 1989, from Madison, WI, and the first syndication taping with Rhodes on the roster. He comes out without entrance music and declines a payoff by knocking Dibiase out of the ring and handing money out to fans in the front row. We play a game of Dibiase finding new ways of being knocked out of the ring, and Rhodes even adds a double noggin knocker. Dibiase finally gets some offense with a knee lift and series of rights. Virgil trips up Rhodes, allowing Dibiase to level him from behind. Back inside, Dibiase with a pair of fist drops for a two-count. Rhodes teases a comeback, but a rake of the eyes slows him down and Dibiase hooks a chin-lock. Dusty with the true comeback, catching Dibiase off the ropes with a fist to the midsection. Dibiase bails after a series of mounted corner punches. Rhodes tries to slam him back in from the apron, but Virgil hooks the leg, and Dibiase lands on top for three at 10:00. ** Entertaining nonsense to start and a decent match, overall. I guess the finish was done to show Rhodes was willing to play ball, coming in with a reputation that didn't hold himself in high esteem with the "boys".
Hillbilly Jim & King Jim Duggan vs. Andre The Giant & Haku (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Taped on July 19th, 1989, from Utica, NY. Studd's departure over his pay means Hillbilly Jim got to step in to fill the dates remaining on that wonderful rivalry with Andre. Haku still has his King tights, but he's the King of Nothing. Jim and Jim are forced to relinquish their respective props to Mike McGuirk and the timekeeper to get the match started. Brawl to start. Andre traps Duggan in the corner, and Haku helps out with the tag rope. Haku misses a charge, but Andre lays Duggan out with a headbutt. Duggan hangs back to avoid a dropkick and pounds away with rights and lefts. Double noggin knocker to Andre and Haku, and they both go down, with Andre crashing on his much smaller partner. Hillbilly Jim with a slam on Haku for two. Big boot for another two-count. Haku with a questionably low strike to Hillbilly Jim, and Andre comes in to work him over. Hillbilly gets the knee up to counter a shoulder thrust. Duggan tags in and immediately runs into a fist. Haku nearly rips Duggan's trunks off, taking him to the canvas. Duggan with a small package for two. Hillbilly with a side headlock and shoulder tackle, followed by a splash for two. Andre from behind with headbutts, but Haku's super-kick misses the target, knocking Andre out of the ring. Duggan with the big clothesline to Haku, and that's good for three at 9:10. *1/2 Nothing pretty, but it was entertaining once the action got underway.
- Next up... it's time to talk about Tryouts, and we even get footage of Sean Mooney's audition tape from the spring of 1988. I agree with Mooney, even after that performance, it's amazing he got hired in the first place.
Brian Adams vs. Barry Horowitz
Taped on August 9th, 1989, from Fresno, CA. Adams is introduced from Portland, OR... you mean he isn't hailing from Hawaii?! Horowitz easily outmaneuvers him on a lockup attempt, but gets caught in a double choke lift and thrown into the corner. Lockup to the ropes and Horowitz with an elbow to the midsection. Crisscross and Adams with a hip toss, followed by a dropkick. Adams with a leap frog and slam, but misses an elbow drop. Horowitz hits the ropes, but goes down trying a shoulder tackle. Whip and Adams with a bear-hug. Horowitz escapes by raking the eyes and chokes him in the corner. Gut-wrench suplex for a two-count. Adams blocks a suplex and counters with his own delayed version, and finishes with a Tombstone Piledriver at 5:36. ¼* This almost put me to sleep, but Adams eventually got signed about 10 months later, so he must've had something that impressed Vince.
Earthquake Evans (w/ Slick) vs. Paul Roma
Taped on September 20th, 1989, from Louisville, KY. Yes, John Tenta is dressed like a Lumberjack from "the Northern Yukon Territory", and he has Slick as his manager! Talk about strange. Lockup and Earthquake shoves Roma across the ring. Roma avoids an overhead strike in the corner and unloads with rights. Whip reversed and Earthquake with a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Roma takes him over with an arm drag. Roma works the arm. Whip to the ropes, Earthquake catches a body press and counters with a back breaker. Earthquake with clubbering blows across the back. Whip to the corner, with Roma taking an exaggerated bump. Earthquake continues working the back with nondescript offense. Roma avoids a charge to the corner and comes off the middle rope with a sledge. He does it twice more, only rocking the big man. Dropkick to the FACE gets a two-count. Roma with another dropkick, but Earthquake ducks a flying body press, and finishes with the big elbow drop at 6:58. ¾* Earthquake was on TV about a month later, so anything above being a complete mess in the ring would've gotten him the contract.
The Rockers vs. The Powers of Pain (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Taped on January 22nd, 1990, from Miami, FL. These teams had a short-lived rivalry and a shockingly good match at MSG a week earlier, so we'll see if they have the same magic again. Michaels and Barbarian start. Lockup and Barbarian easily throws him into the corner. Michaels with a side headlock, but runs into a brick wall going for a shoulder tackle. Jannetty with the blind tag for a double-team body press for two. Double Super-Kicks and clothesline clear the ring of their much larger opponents. Warlord catches Jannetty with a boot to the midsection and clubs him across the back. Whip, Jannetty ducks under a clothesline, and a school boy trip only gets a one count. He goes for a flying head scissors, but Warlord counters with a powerbomb. Whip and a back drop launches Jannetty literally off screen. Barbarian with a jumping headbutt across the back. Whip to the corner and Barbarian comes off the ropes with a boot, knocking Jannetty clear across the top rope. Fuji gets his cane shot in, even when the match isn't going to be on television. Back inside, Barbarian turns Jannetty inside out with a clothesline. Jannetty tries to mount a comeback, but Warlord is too powerful. He fights out of a bear-hug, but gets planted with a power-slam. Barbarian misses the second rope elbow, allowing Michaels to get the hot tag. He runs wild with rights and dives onto the Warlord with more of the same. Jannetty assists with a sunset flip for a near fall. Rockers with synchronized corner punches, but a whip back fires. Fuji trips up Michaels... and the referee saw it, calling for the bell at 7:54. Post-match, the Powers of Pain work them over until HULK HOGAN makes the save (it was to tease the return show in Miami, where Hogan teamed with the newly turned Boss Man against the POP). *** The Rockers seemed to be the only team to get anything out of the Powers of Pain.
Demolition vs. The Colossal Connection (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Taped on January 23rd, 1990, from Orlando, FL. Andre and Haku were the reigning Tag Team Champions at this point, and no, I won't bother listing title matches since no title changes occur on any of these matches. Smash and Haku start. Haku with chops and kicks in the corner. Haku misses a splash, allowing Smash to pound on him with axe-handles. Ax tags in to chop Haku down. Smash with a snap mare into a chin-lock. Demolition make illegal switches without tagging, all while Andre complains to referee Joey Marella. MARELLA IS ALWAYS SCREWING ANDRE! First WrestleMania III, now this. Andre distracts Smash, allowing Haku to nail him with a super-kick. Andre comes in to stand on Smash, but misses the butt drop. Ax tags in to pound away on the fallen giant. Haku tries to save, but gets laid out with a clothesline. Andre fights back from his back, but Demolition keep making quick tags to put the pressure on him. Andre gooks Ax with a face-lock and rolls into the corner to tag in Haku, then drops ass on Ax to make sure he doesn't go anywhere. Andre with choking and shoulder thrusts in the corner. Haku misses a dive, but Andre's still in the ring to keep Ax in trouble. Whip to the corner and Haku runs into the elbow. Smash with a whip and back drop, followed by a slam. Haku gets dumped out while Demolition lay Andre out with a double clothesline. Smash randomly grabs the tag title belts, and they beat on Andre with them for the Disqualification at 8:03. That's a rather pointless action to take when you're in control. *1/2 Not much flash, but this was watchable.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage (w/ Queen Sherri)
Also taped on January 23rd, but unlike the previous match, this is footage has a far-less polished feel, shot only with the hard camera, and has the production time running at the bottom of the screen. Warrior's the reigning IC Champion, but he's not losing the belt. Sherri with a distraction, allowing Savage to knock Warrior out of the ring with a running high knee. Back inside, Warrior catches a flying body press and puts the boots to him in the corner. Sherri helps him out from his predicament, but Warrior continues to pound away. They do a double whip reversal, with Warrior missing a charge and Savage rolling him up for two. Warrior with a back slide for two. Sherri trips him up, but this time he catches Savage sneaking up and dumps him over the top rope. Sherri flagrantly interferes some more to give Savage the advantage. Warrior comes back with a face-buster, but meets the knees going for a splash. Savage with a double axe-handle from the top rope for two. Whip to the ropes and Warrior with a diving shoulder spear that sends Savage out of the ring. Savage regains his composure first, though, and hits the flying elbow drop... for a two count. Sherri distracts the referee, allowing Savage to hit Warrior with the loaded purse, but that only gets two. Warrior goes into no-sell mode and runs wild on Savage with rights and clotheslines. Sherri helps free Savage from being trapped in the ropes, causing the Warrior to fall out of the ring. Savage to the top again, but he's greeted on the way down with a fist to the midsection. Warrior ends up chasing Sherri into the ring, winning the match by Count-Out at 8:24 in the process. Warrior gives them a double noggin knocker, and drops Savage with a press slam for good measure. **3/4 Felt like the same match from earlier, but with way more Sherri involvement.
Final Thoughts: A good collection of hits (and misses) on Disc 1, covering the late 80's and leaving off at the dawn of a new decade. There's a handful of quality matches, but for the most part, it's really about seeing unseen footage. One of the more interesting choices to be featured were tryout matches, and to be honest, they were pretty bad. Typically, I know the wrestlers in question are told to not be too flashy, but Adams seemed like he had trouble just stringing a match together, while Earthquake was just another large guy doing very little. I'd say, without much doubt, my favorite matches on the first disc were the two with Savage and Warrior, the Machines Six-Man, the Rockers vs. Powers of Pain, and Owen vs. Horowitz. Part 2 coming... eventually.
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