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The Forgotten Files: WWF Shotgun – January 1998
by Scrooge McSuck
Short-winded introduction for once: As a fan who has watched way too much wrestling content through my life, I'm always looking for something new, whether it be new or old. One source for the latter is the B-shows taped for syndication or for late-night consumption on the weekends. Whether it's Shotgun, Metal/Jakked, Sunday Night Heat, or Velocity, I've not only enjoyed looking for lost gems, but enjoying the work of some lesser-used talent. Since most shows quickly turned into part new content/part recaps, it almost feels wasteful to recap individual episodes where I spend multiple sections going "this happened from Raw" or something along those lines, so instead I'll just mash together a given month of content for whatever show I'm rummaging through. Even the most hardcore of fans probably don't know most of what was featured on these shows (except for the occasional stand-out that surfaced over time, like A.J. Styles working as enhancement talent in 2001-02). I won't do star ratings unless something really stands out either postively (minimum **½) or negatively (zero stars or minus scale).
Vader vs. Julio Sanchez:
From the January 3rd episode of Shotgun (all following matches will be from the same show unless noted), taped on December 29th, 1997 from the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY. Immediately, I should call attention to the announced "20-minute time limit." As if ANY matches on WWF TV would ever come close to that mark. This shouldn't be more than a squash. After all, Mr. Julio is still a solid 21-months away from making his marquee appearance on the Heroes of Wrestling PPV. Vader is due for a match with "The Artist Formula Known as Goldust" at the Royal Rumble. Talk about a feud no one remembers. Lockup and Sanchez takes a ridiculously bad tumble into the corner to sell a shove. Vader works the body with "Mike Tyson-like" right hands. Vader with a gut-wrench powerbomb, followed by a splash. He plants Julio in the corner with a forward slam and finishes with a Vader Bomb and MOONSAULT at 2:35. I didn't think Vader did a moonsault at this point of his WWF run. Watching this you wouldn't think Vader was in a feud with a guy who dressed up as an S&M freak reading "Green Eggs and Ham." For the record, I'm sure I've heard "The Mastodon" 5-times as much as "The Man They Call Vader" (Mastodon was the name Vince wanted to use, but was talked out of, hence the weird "Man They Call" part).
Steve Blackman vs. Jimmy Cicero:
I wish I had something to say about Cicero, but he had an unremarkable career and nothing that sparks my interest. Blackman may or may not be the Lethal Weapon at this point, but since The Fink didn't say it, I'm not listing it. Blackman debuted about 2-months earlier as a "fan" that ended up being physically prepared for a career in the WWF (yet was lamely counted-out in his first match at the Survivor Series, citing that he didn't know the rules). Cicero taunts Blackman with faux-fu. Kevin Kelly condemns hopping the rail but is OK with Blackman doing it. Crisscross and Blackman with a double chop. Lockup to the ropes and Cicero plants a kick to the chest. Whip is reversed and Blackman cuts him off with a back breaker. Blackman with an inverted atomic drop as Kevin Kelly shills the WWF Superstar Line and the "inside scoop on Chainsaw Charlie." WHO IS THIS MAN?! SCAM BAIT. Cicero with a cross body press for two. Whip and Blackman with a bicycle kick. Blackman connects with a push-off dropkick. He rakes the eyes for some reason. Cicero takes control for about 5-seconds. Blackman shrugs off a dropkick and plants Cicero with a slam. Cicero avoids an elbow drop but gets sent to the corner and Blackman hits a German Suplex. I don't know if that was supposed to be the finish, but they can't quite get the shoulders down, so Blackman rolls through and hooks an arm bar for the submission at 3:04. Blackman was all over the place here, and no enhancement talent can make someone shine that executes a lot of stuff awkwardly.
D'Lo Brown (w/ Faarooq & Kama Mustafa) vs. Mark Henry:
For those tracking Henry's WWF career at this point, he was written off TV in the weeks leading up to the ‘96 Survivor Series, and after a year of seasoning was quietly brought back at the end of 1997. We're still in "terrible green" period of Henry's career too, so I'm hoping this is short and not too painful to witness. WrestleMania XIV is only 12 weeks away! Lockup and Henry shoves D'Lo into the corner. The Rock doesn't waste any time making his way to ringside as they've sowed the seeds of the Rock/Faarooq storyline. D'Lo throws some right hands and grabs a headlock. Whip to the ropes, Henry with a shoulder tackle, followed by a slam. He works the back with forearms. Whip to the corner with D'Lo taking it chest first. D'Lo counters a second whip, spinning off the second rope with a clothesline. D'Lo keeps throwing punches, taking us back to Mid 80's Memphis. Heck, probably Mid-90's Memphis, too. Crisscross and Henry drops D'Lo with a body press. Whip to the corner and Henry follows in with a clothesline. Whip is reversed in SUPER SLOW-MOTION. Henry grabs a bearhug but Kama and Faarooq run in for the DQ at 3:30. Post-match, Rock joins them on the assault until Ken Shamrock comes in and cleans house. Oh, and VLADIMIR THE SUPERFAN IS FRONT ROW. I didn't expect to see him on these flashbacks. Henry looked as green as I remembered. I'm surprised we got the f*ck finish considering D'Lo was the bottom man of the Nation at this point and Henry was being re-introduce-pushed.
The New Blackjacks vs. The Truth Commission (w/ The Jackyl):
Here's something I can sink my teeth into. Not much new can be said about the Bradshaw and Windham version of the Blackjacks, but at this point, THEY WERE BABYFACES with very little explanation (and even less crowd reactions). Meanwhile, the Truth Commission is represented by Sniper and Recon, the bottom men of a stable designed solely to push a new monster in Kurrgan/The Interrogator. The Jackyl is everyone's favorite weasel, Don Callis, a.k.a. the "David Koresh of the WWF", and he sits in on commentary for the match. Bradshaw and Recon start. Bradshaw grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Crisscross and Bradshaw with a hip toss, followed by a boot to the face. Jackyl breaks the news that Kurrgan will be in the 30-Man Royal Rumble. Bradshaw gets the better of a slugfest in the corner and takes Recon down with an arm bar. Whip and Windham throws a dropkick for a one-count. Suplex and float over into the cover for two. Whip and the Blackjacks with a double shoulder block for two. Windham with a gut-wrench suplex for two. Recon FINALLY fights to his corner to tag in Sniper. Windham ducks an elbow and bounces off the ropes with a diving clothesline for two. Kevin Kelly acknowledges the Blackjacks working a tour of Japan recently. Double clothesline (sandwich style) from Recon and Sniper to take control. Recon misses a charge and Bradshaw comes in with a clothesline. Whip and BRADSHAW throws a dropkick. Recon gets sent from corner to corner and Bradshaw hits the Lariat, but Sniper saves. Combo back suplex and neck breaker on Recon, but Jackyl runs in for the DQ at 5:42. Meanwhile, Kurrgan makes his way to the ring and assists in dominating both Bradshaw and Windham. Yes, a crap finish to protect a team that was being destroyed by the babyface team probably 3rd or 4th on the depth chart (at best).
The WWF is coming to the Corestates Center on January 25th. Cactus Jack and Steve Austin vs The Rock and Faarooq! Owen and Shamrock vs. Shawn and Helmsley! The Outlaws vs LOD! Kane vs Vader!
Scott Taylor vs. Jeff Jarrett:
This is Jarrett's "Shotgun Debut", during the weird phase where he was trying to be anything but the Country music "Double J" gimmick. Taylor is just a prelim Light-Heavyweight at this point. Before the match, Jarrett complains about the WWF dropping the ball, putting him in the ring with someone he considers below his talents. Taylor interrupts Jarrett's promo with a baseball slide, so he walks back his refusal and accepts the match. Taylor unloads with rights and connects with a diving back elbow. Whip and Taylor with a dropkick, sending Jarrett to the floor for a powder. Jarrett picks the ankles to take Taylor down and hops back in the ring to put the boots to him. Jarrett with a choke across the ropes and a seated splash across the back. We come back from commercial (including the ad for WWF The Music Vol. 2, and yes, I had that CD) with Taylor missing a cross body press. Taylor counters a whip to the guardrail, nailing Jarrett with a short clothesline. He comes off the guardrail with a missile dropkick and follows with a flying sunset flip for a near-fall. Whip and Jarrett counters a back body-drop with a swinging neck breaker. Jarrett meets an elbow charging into the corner. Taylor goes high risk again and gets straddled across the turnbuckle. Jarrett climbs up with him and connects with a super-plex. Taylor's knee buckles on a flip out of the corner and the Figure-Four finishes at 5:38 (shown). Best match of the episode, and probably didn't top 2-stars. Why does Taylor need protection jobbing to someone at Jarrett's level?
Scott Taylor vs. The Jackyl (w/ Kurrgan):
From the January 10th episode of Shotgun, taped on December 30th, 1997 from New Haven, CT. That taping hosted dark matches with a Mr. Paul Roma, but he wasn't signed. WHERE'S HIDDEN GEMS WHEN YOU NEED THEM?! You aren't reading that wrong, this indeed is THE JACKYL in action. Lockup and the Jackyl controls early, chain wrestling until taking Taylor over with a snap mare. Lockup to the ropes and Jackyl gives a clean break. Taylor gets triggered from a slap across the face. He blocks a second slap and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block for two. Taylor with a second shoulder block, followed by a side headlock takeover. Taylor flips out of a side headlock and catches Jackyl off the ropes with a hip toss. They fight for a waist-lock, with Jackyl being sent to the floor. Taylor follows, missing a baseball slide. He has a stare-down with Kurrgan, allowing Jackyl to surprise him with a clothesline. Back inside, Taylor unloads with right hands and connects with a diving back elbow. Whip to the corner and Taylor charges in with a clothesline. Somersault heel kick to the back of the head and a clothesline sends Jackyl out of the ring. Kurrgan catches Taylor diving off the apron and sends him into the post. Kurrgan tosses Taylor back in like a "sack of flour" and Jackyl casually covers for three at 5:09. Post-match, Kurrgan applies the claw (or "The Paralyzer" in this case) on Taylor until Jackyl gives him the order to release.
Non-Title Match: TAKA Michinoku vs. Pablo Marquez (w/ Brian Christopher):
TAKA is the reigning Light-Heavyweight Champion, and the first under the new lineage. Pablo is enhancement talent, introduced from "Ecuador". Why is Brian Christopher in his corner? Christopher is the top nemesis to TAKA, of course. Yes, A MEMPHIS CHICKEN-SH*T HEEL is the answer to WCW's Cruiserweight Division. At the time of this taping, TAKA has only held the belt for about 3-weeks. Marquez attacks from behind. They go through a series of counters until TAKA connects with a hip toss and dropkick. Marquez bails out and TAKA follows with a moonsault from the top rope. Marquez counters a suplex from the apron but walks into a spinning heel kick. TAKA with a snap mare and a pair of basement dropkicks. Christopher pulls the ropes down on TAKA and Marquez follows with a tope con hilo. Back inside, Marquez sends TAKA to the corner and follows in close with a clothesline. TAKA counters a second charge, dumping Marquez to the apron. Marquez recovers, coming off the top with a missile dropkick. Marquez snaps TAKA off the top turnbuckle with a hurricanrana and follows with a tornado DDT. Whip to the ropes and TAKA hangs back to avoid a dropkick. Michinoku with a deep slam but a trip to the top rope is interrupted by Christopher. Marquez climbs up for another hurricanrana but TAKA blocks and finishes with the (Michinoku) Driver at 4:42. Post-match, Christopher lays Marquez out with a short clothesline ("Like Father, Like Son"). Decent for what it was, TAKA working around a green opponent.
Mosh (w/ Thrasher) vs. Phineas Godwinn (w/ Henry Godwinn):
I don't think we've discovered a lost classic here, either. The Headbangers/Godwinns feud was on-and-off for what felt like forever and produced zero good matches. Kevin Kelly uses this time to shill the Outlaws vs LOD for the Tag Team Titles at the Royal Rumble. Lockup and Phineas pounds away. Whip to the corner and Mosh catches Phineas with a head-scissors, using it to send Phineas to the outside. Mosh follows with a baseball slide and dives over the top rope, taking Phineas off the apron with a clothesline. Back inside, Mosh comes off the top with a double axe-handle. Now we talk about the introduction of the NWA North American Title and Jim Cornette's obsession with turning back the clock. PREACH. Whip to the corner and Phineas counters a dive with a Hot Shot onto the turnbuckle. Phineas with a suplex and knee drop for two. Henry chokes Mosh from ringside while the referee is distracted. Mosh brings up a boot in the corner and lays Phineas out with a clothesline. Whip and Mosh with a glancing dropkick. Whip is reversed, with Henry lashing Mosh with a strap. He climbs onto the apron and nails Mosh again in full view of the referee and we've got a DISQUALIFICATION at 4:39. Post-match, the Godwinns and Headbangers brawl and no one cares.
Non-Title Match: The Rock (w/ Kama Mustafa & D'Lo Brown) vs. Chainz (w/ Skull & 8-Ball):
The Rock is the reigning Intercontinental Champion and is surprisingly without the belt. The WWF really had a serious lack of roster depth, ESPECIALLY on the babyface side of things. As soon as Brian Adams (Crush) left for WCW, the Disciples of Apocalypse were toast. Loud "Rocky Sucks" chant. The bell rings and then Chainz decides to get on the microphone. Rock starts with a low kick and right hands. Chainz fights back with rights of his own, followed by a big boot that sends the Rock out of the ring. Back inside, Rock surprises Chainz with a clothesline and pounds away in the corner. Whip across the ring and Chainz pops out with a clothesline of his own. Whip is reversed, with D'Lo tripping Chainz up. Rock from behind with a clothesline, sending Chainz over the top rope. D'Lo and Kama work him over with the referee distracted. We come back from commercial with Rock hitting the People's Elbow for a two-count (the move wasn't a big deal at this point, just obnoxious). Chainz avoids a charge and hits the move of the match (the clothesline). Whip and a big boot, followed by a swinging neck breaker. D'Lo hops on the apron and gets knocked back down. The DOA and Nation brawl at ringside while Rock boots Chainz low and hits a DDT for three at 5:03 (shown). Post-match, the DOA clear Kama and D'Lo from the ring. People forget about awful Chainz/Brian Lee could be.
Owen Hart vs "Too Sexy" Brian Christopher (w/ Jerry Lawler):
From the January 17th episode of Shotgun, taped on January 12th from State College, PA. Owen returned from a brief hiatus at IYH: D-Generation X, kicking off a program with Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Even though it was obvious, Lawler and Christopher continue to deny being related. Somehow, watching Owen get babyface reactions at this point of his career feels weird. Owen doesn't fall for a sneak attack, sending Christopher into the corner for repeated introductions to the turnbuckle. Whip across the ring, Christopher leaps over a back body-drop but gets wiped out with a pair of clotheslines. Owen does his counter out of a wristlock, only to have the eyes raked. Christopher with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Owen with a monkey flip, followed by a charging clothesline that sends Christopher out. Owen hits the ropes and Lawler pulls them down. Instead of calling for a DQ, Earl Hebner ejects Lawler. Meanwhile, Christopher nails Owen with a double axe-handle. Back inside, Owen with a surprise roll-up for two. Christopher recovers and hits a clothesline as we take a break. We come back with highlights of Too Sexy hitting a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Christopher with a back suplex and jumping fist drop. "Jerry's kid" chants get under his skin. Owen fights out of the corner with right hands. Whip across the ring and Owen meets the post. Christopher hits a running bulldog for two. Owen counters a second try, straddling Christopher on the turnbuckle. Whip and Owen with a BAAACK body-drop, followed by an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two. Owen plants Christopher with a slam and hits his own missile dropkick (complete with nip up). Crisscross, Owen counters a leapfrog and finishes with the Sharpshooter at 6:53 (shown). Nothing outstanding, but the best match on the collection (so far). Worth rating? No, so that should solidify things without giving a definitive answer.
Max Mini vs. El Torito:
From the January 24th episode of Shotgun, taped on January 19th from Fresno, CA. Who doesn't love the Mini Madness? Max Mini worked a lot of 1997 as "Mascarita Sagrada Jr." They open with the usual counters and head-scissors spots. Mini sends Torito to the floor and follows him out with a tope con hilo between the middle and top ropes. Back inside, Torito decks Mini with a forearm and drops him face-first across the ring steps. Torito continues to show off a display of power before hooking the rocking chair surfboard. Mini survives and somehow takes Torito over with a sunset flip for two. Whip and Torito regains control with a clothesline. Torito with a Vader-like body block, sending Mini to the floor. Back inside, Mini fires off a series of chops and springs off the top rope with a wrist-lock arm drag. Torito bails and Mini follows with an Asai Moonsault. Torito with another slam and a senton. Mini cuts off a high-risk attempt and brings Torito down with a super-sized arm drag. Mini with a series of flips and counters until hooking a victory roll for three at 5:47. A little clunky at times, but the usual from Max Mini that gets WWF audiences to take notice.
Steve Blackman vs. Bob Bradley:
If you're a fan of the late 80's/early 90's, you would recognize the name of Bob Bradley. The guy spent years in and out of the WWF as enhancement talent, including the infamous duty of being the replacement Battle Kat, doing slow-motion handsprings and being generally terrible in the ring despite years of experience. In 1998, he's showing his age, with a receding hairline and ponytail, and whatever he was using for his physique during the 80's wasn't in his system any longer. Bradley grabs a side headlock. A shoulder block has no effect and Blackman nails him on the chest with a double chop. Whip to the corner and Bradley hangs on to the ropes to block a monkey flip. Blackman avoids an elbow drop and connects with a dropkick. Bradley whiffs a spinning heel kick and gets nailed with a standing side kick. Blackman with strikes in the corner, followed by a double under-hook suplex. Whip and Blackman with a hook clothesline. Bradley brings up the knees to counter a splash from the middle rope. Whip is reversed, Blackman hits a bicycle kick and hooks the arm bar for the submission at 2:50. OK, that was his finisher. If you've seen one match of Bradley working as an underneath talent, you've seen them all.
El Pantera vs. Chilango:
Uh... I might have to pause the flashback to Google some names. Coming back from that interruption, I shouldn't have wasted my time, as I have very little worth talking about. Pantera (the wrestler, not the band) is masked and in gear that is cat-like, I suppose. Weird match to feature, but with such a poor Light-Heavyweight Division (we've got TAKA, Too Sexy and Scott Taylor!) I guess they were trying to find talent from anywhere that could be shoehorned into the immediate plans. Pantera opens with a running dropkick, leg drop and senton. Pantera repeatedly avoids Chilango's springboard attempts. Whip to the ropes and Pantera with a tilt-o-whirl back breaker. Michael Cole can't help but simply call him "The Panther." I said the last match was clunky... These guys are in different worlds right now. Chilango sends Pantera to the floor and springs off the top with a corkscrew plancha. Back inside and Chilango just looks lost. Pantera gives him a slam and takes Chilango off the top turnbuckle with a head-scissors. Whip and Pantera with a body press to send Chilango crashing to the arena floor. El Pantera with a wrecking ball dropkick and a tope con hilo as Chilango is spread out at ringside. Back inside, Chilango surprises Pantera with a sunset flip for two. Victory roll for two. Pantera with a suplex for two. Pantera ties up the arms doing a roll around the ring and a terrible cradle gets three at 4:46. Post-match, Brian Christopher attacks Pantera and plants him with a Powerbomb. I don't know much about Chilango, but he looked awful here, lost in some spots. Pantera tried, but that only goes so far.
The Legion of Doom vs. The Rock ‘n' Roll Express (w/ Jeff Jarrett & Barry Windham):
Yes, LOD vs. The RNR Express happened. In the WWF. ON THE SHOW NOBODY WATCHED. OK, so it's the 1998 version of both teams, but even as a 13-year-old I would've appreciated the idea of these classic teams meeting (even if the match might blow chunks). Since we last saw the New Blackjacks, Barry Windham turned heel on Bradshaw and joined Jim Cornette and his rag-tag stable of NWA representatives. The LOD haven't had much success lately, being embarrassed by the New Age Outlaws at every turn. Hawk and Gibson start. Lockup and Hawk throws Gibson into the corner. Gibson with a small package, but Hawk quickly pops up and fights off both Gibson and Morton. Animal throws Morton into the corner and the LOD double-team with boots to the body. Gibson can't help his partner out and Morton gets whipped into the referee, who casually no-sells it. Animal with repeated back breakers on Morton, then catches Gibson coming in with a hip toss. Whip and Cornette smacks Animal with the tennis racket to take control. RNR Express with a double suplex for two. Whip and a double clothesline. Animal fights back from his hands and knees, only for Morton to cut him off. Whip to the corner and Animal pops out with a clothesline. Hawk with wild right hands on both members of the RNR Express. Even Windham and Jarrett aren't safe. Doomsday Device to Morton (with ugly landing) but Windham runs in for the DQ at 3:29. Post-match, Hawk and Animal clear the ring. This was NOT good, with the LOD trying to recreate 1984 by squashing guys half their size and STILL not giving us an actual finish. ZERO STARS
Blackjack Bradshaw vs. Donovan Morgan:
From the January 31st episode of Shotgun, taped on January 20th from Davis, CA. Bradshaw is no longer a Blackjack with Windham turning heel on him, but he's still working in the Blackjacks gear and introduced as such, so who's the idiot now? Morgan is a name I read a lot in PWI results but have little to say and looks like he wrapped up his career in 2006. Bradshaw muscles Morgan into the corner and unloads with forearms. Whip across the ring and he charges in with a clothesline, followed by a big boot. Barry Windham shows up to watch Bradshaw dump Morgan on his head with a release butterfly suplex. Whip to the ropes and Bradshaw with another huge boot to the face. Bradshaw eyeballs Windham as he plants Morgan with a Powerbomb. Lariat (with an AWESOME sell) finishes the massacre at 2:05. You know, pissed-off Bradshaw working snug isn't the worst thing in the world to watch.
Kurrgan vs. Michael Modest:
The singles push of Kurrgan continues. FUN FACT: Kurrgan never wrestled a singles match on WWF PPV. Modest is one of those names hardcore fans might've recognized, but didn't have much national success, unless you count being involved in that awful "Exposed! Pro Wrestling's Greatest Secrets" NBC special that was taped later this year (1998). No Jackyl at ringside this week. Modest offers a collar-elbow lock-up and gets thrown down with ease. Another lockup and Kurrgan with a fireman's lift and throw. Cole and Kelly shill some Tough-women PPV, with BUTTERBEAN as a guest commentator! ORDER NOW! Whip and Kurrgan with a big boot. Sidewalk Slam and THE PARALYZER finishes at 2:20. You don't need me to tell you how limited Kurrgan is in the ring. Post-match, Kurrgan drags Modest out of the ring and up the ramp with the hold still applied. WHERE IS THE JACKYL TO CALL HIM OFF?!?!
Nova & Mosaic vs. Tarantula & Battalion:
More Mini Madness! In the "Dark Side of Wrestling" files, Tarantula (real name Alejando Jimenez) and his twin-brother Alberto were murdered in 2009 by a pair of prostitutes in Mexico City. The mini's changed personas so often, sometimes it's hard to remember who was under which masks. Mosaic and Battalion start with the usual lightning quick counters. Crisscross with Battalion running the ropes even when Mosiac stops. He's even ignoring his partner, and eventually collapses to the canvas from fatigue. Tarantula sends Nova to the corner but misses a dive. Nova springs off the middle rope with a dropkick and we get the midget spot where the referee catches the wrestler on the kickout and throws him back on top of the heel. When the heels try, the spot backfires, and Nova counts the fall on Mike Chioda. Nova with a springboard hurricanrana, sending Battalion to the floor. Now the timekeeper gets involved, catching Nova and tossing him into the ring with annoyance. Tarantula misses another corner avalanche. Nova hits a flying cross body press, and we get heel miscommunication. Mosiac nails Tarantula with a low tope suicida and Nova finishes off Battalion with a crucifix cradle at 3:35 (despite his shoulders rocking off the canvas several times). I don't think I've ever seen the timekeeper get involved in a spot before (you know who it is, short dark hair and mustache).
WWF Light-Heavyweight Championship Match:
TAKA Michinoku (c) vs. Jesus Castillo (w/ Los Boricuas):
Sunny is our special guest ring announcer. Yes, Sunny did very little throughout 1997 and 1998 other than these token appearances. Los Boricuas rap themselves to the ring and dance with Sunny. No dancing from TAKA, but he does get a kiss on the cheek (from Sunny, not the Boricuas). The winner here defends against El Pantera at No Way Out (OF TEXAS!). Lockup, TAKA grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Castillo traps TAKA with a drop toe hold but misses an elbow drop. Crisscross and Savio picks the ankle, causing the ejection of all three Boricuas instead of the usual DQ. TAKA with a hurricanrana and deep arm drag into the armbar. Whip to the corner, Castillo drops low with an elbow to the midsection and comes off the ropes with a leg drop across the back of the head. Whip and Castillo with a clothesline. We come back from commercial with Castillo working TAKA over in the corner. Whip across the ring and Castillo charges in with a dropkick. TAKA counters a slam with a small package for two. Castillo quickly pops up and hits another clothesline for two. Castillo misses a charge to the corner. TAKA with a snap mare and basement dropkicks as the Boricuas return, hanging out at the top of the ramp. WHAT ABOUT EJECTIONS DON'T THEY UNDERSTAND? Castillo uses the opportunity to attack from behind. TAKA ducks a clothesline and hooks the legs following a hurricanrana to retain at 7:22 (including break). The Boricuas rush the ring, but TAKA wisely bails out. Wow, a clean finish. Considering who we've seen protected on these shows, it's a mild surprise. Typical "Light-Heavyweight" action with a bit of TAKA sprinkled in.
NWA North American Championship Match:
Jeff Jarrett (c) (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Chainz:
Jarrett also has Windham and the RNR Express in his corner, while Chainz comes out solo. How many matches has Chainz won in the last 2-months to earn this title shot? Jarrett is listed as "NWA Champion", but that won't be a reality for another 4 ½ years. Lockup and Jarrett snaps Chainz over with an arm drag. Whip to the ropes and Jarrett with a hip toss. JARRETT CAN WRESTLE. Chainz fights back with right hands and a press slam. Whip is reversed and the Express pick the ankles of Chainz. Jarrett sends him out of the ring, but Morton and Gibson can't even double-team Chainz properly. Back inside, Jarrett with a snap mare and fist drop. For some dumb reason we cut to a bunch of crowd shots and come back with Jarrett choking Chainz across the rope. Jarrett with a slam in the corner but he meets a boot coming off the middle rope. Chainz nails Jarrett coming off the ropes with a big boot and throws more right hands. Chainz with the Death Valley Driver but Morton and Gibson run in for the DQ at 3:27. Post-match, Chainz plants Cornette with a slam, but that allows Windham to nail Chainz from behind with the racket. What is with all these DQ finishes with low-level talent?! Jarrett may as well have wrestled a mop or broomstick, would've been the same quality of work.
Final Thoughts: That wraps up the first part of this series, and there were more misses here than I was hoping for. If you were one of the 7 fans of the Light-Heavyweight Division, I guess you could look forward to seeing TAKA Michinoku in action. The quality of his opponents wasn't top notch, but there were flashes of what he was capable of despite the limitations of who he shared the ring with. The best match probably goes to Owen Hart vs. Brian Christopher, falling around the 2-star neighborhood. You can see they had hopes for Kurrgan to develop, but we'll see that doesn't happen in due time. It's almost unbelievable they would use Bob Bradley for a syndication squash this late into the 90's. I think the earliest match I've covered of his in the WWF was way back in 1984, so this would be like watching Jim Powers still doing his shtick. Biggest gem is easily the "first-ever meeting" of the Legion of Doom and the Rock ‘n' Roll Express, with the LOD treating them like Tanaka and Kato of the Orient Express in a bad match.
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