Sunday, February 14, 2010

On DVD: "The Glory Days of Wrestling" (2009)

This independently released DVD set has no extras, just 8 matches culled from the 50's to the early 80's. To wit:

1. Gorgeous George def. Jesse James, 2 falls to 1. Site: Hollywood.

George was a heel, but he also gave the ringsiders something to take home by tossing some gold "Georgie pins" (Bobby pins) to them before the match. The man was way ahead of his time. Seeing George's side profile as he walked to the ring, I had a flashback to the latter days of Adrian Adonis' career in the late 80's. Adonis, better remembered as a NYC street tough and as a tag partner of future Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, was repackaged as a gruesomely obese parody of George, a gimmick Adonis took with him from the WWE to the AWA at the end of his career. That should absolve Vince K. McMahon of all blame for Adonis' loss of respect, in this writer's opinion.

2. Killer Kowalski and Eduard Carpentier battled to a time limit draw. Site: Chicago.

My earliest memory of Kowalski was when he used a mask, but kept the familiar ring name, as 1/2 of a heel tag team in the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation in the mid-70's. Here, Kowalski had already gained his rep, and the infamous match with Yukon Eric is referenced in commentary.

3. NWA title: Buddy Rogers def. Pat O'Connor, 2-1, to win the title. Site: Chicago (Comiskey Park).

Today's generation remembers Rogers more for his tenure with WWE in the 80's, as a talk show host and mentor to "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. I am not sure if this match is included on WWE's World title DVD compilation, and if it isn't, shame on McMahon. This is proof positive that a heel doesn't need to cheat to win a championship, which unfortunately is now the exception rather than the rule.

4. Jerry Lawler def. Randy Savage, DQ, in a steel cage match. Site: Memphis (naturally).

These things we know are true. 1) This took place before Savage went to WWE and became a national star, 2) it was after Lawler had his famous feud with actor Andy Kaufman (ex-Taxi), and 3) it was contested in the weakest looking cage in wrestling history. Joe LeDuc, who'd have a cup of coffee with WWE himself a few years later, ran in and climbed into the cage for the cheap DQ.

5. Bobo Brazil won a 2-ring battle royal. Site-Detroit.

Aside from Brazil, the only other names known to most of us in this match were the undisputed king of battle royals, Andre the Giant, long-time WWF mainstay Dominic DeNucci, and 1972 US Olympian Chris Taylor. Taylor made the mistake of eliminating himself in the course of pursuing a enemy of his during the match. The Brute, one of the top heels of the territory at the time (1980), was the first man sent into the 2nd ring, then dismissed each succeeding opponent until it came down to Andre & Brazil in the 1st ring. Andre then withdrew, allowing Brazil to go after the Brute, who then fled. A future match was promised between Brute & Brazil, ostensibly at the next show......

6. Princess Little Dove def. Diamond Lil. Site: Unknown.

This match was in a TV studio somewhere, around 1978. That's all I can tell you, aside from the fact that these are female midgets. Way too short, and treated the same as a regular TV squash. Pun not intended, of course.

7. Killer Tim Brooks def. Haystacks Calhoun-countout. Site: Cincinnati.

Brooks, who would work for Jim Crockett in Georgia and for the Von Erich family in Texas in the 80's, was known simply as Killer Brooks here, but he does have the familiar skull & crossbones on the back of his tights. Brooks was working a injured elbow gimmick at the time, which meant the prospect was there of a "loaded elbow pad", only in this case, Brooks' elbow was loaded with gauze under the pad. Calhoun is known around these parts from his frequent junkets into the then-WWF in the 70's. Disappointing, and should've been flipped with the Rogers-O'Connor match on the disc.

8. Crusher, Dick the Bruiser, & Little Bruiser def. Bobby Heenan & the Blackjacks. Site: Unknown, perhaps Milwaukee.

Long before he was The Brain (or the Weasel to his detractors), Heenan was "Pretty Boy". Naturally, he ends up with the proverbial crimson mask before this match was over. In today's wrestling this would probably be DX and their current sidekick, Hornswoggle, vs. the Straight Edge Society, who have a female accomplice. Anyway, Crusher & Bruiser were in a feud with the Blackjacks, former WWWF champs under Capt. Lou Albano's management, and this was one of the matches in this feud, with the midget Little Bruiser brought in to offset Heenan.

There is no narrator or documentary footage to set up any of the matches, as they're thrown together with no regard to history. Wait. Isn't that how TNA is booked? Grade: C.

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