I’m back with the second set of entries on my list of 30 (and then some) Unheralded Wrestling Gems. If you missed the first portion of the list, which was released last week, go check it out HERE.
Onto the new stuff!
24) Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (WWF Survivor Series 1992 – November 25, 1992)
Five years before The Montreal Screwjob, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart main evented the 1992 Survivor Series in a Champion vs. Champion match as brand new Intercontinental Champ Michaels challenged Hart for his WWF World Heavyweight Title. This match gets lost in the shuffle amongst the Iron Man Match at WrestleMania 12 and, definitely, Montreal at Survivor Series 1997, but is a great match in its own right. Michaels was on his way to bigger and better things from here.
AND THEN SOME: Michaels won the IC title on Oct. 27 from Hart’s brother-in-law, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith in a good match that aired as part of the Nov. 14 Saturday Night’s Main Event show. It was actually the final SNME before WWE revived it in 2006.
23) Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles vs. Low-Ki (NWA TNA Weekly Pay-Per-View 11 – August 28, 2002)
Ah, TNA. I’ll be as nice as possible and say that TNA has long had some of the most awful stuff you’d ever wanna see on a so-called wrestling show. The early shows were a special kind of doo doo (Anyone remember Cheex? I SURE DO!), but the X Division was a true bright spot for the company at that point. Low-Ki, having won the title three weeks prior in a triple threat match involving Lynn and then-champ Styles, put the strap on the line in this triple ladder match. Solid match from these three guys with Lynn winning the title and becoming the third champion in two months.
AND THEN SOME: These three and Psicosis were involved in a weird match to crown the first X Division champion at the second weekly pay-per-view, which was taped on June 19 and aired June 26. Good match with a really stupid gimmick. Only two guys in the ring at one time and a wrestler had to be pinned twice to be eliminated from the match. Yep, sounds like it was pulled straight out of someone’s ass. On one hand, it helps keep a multi-person match from turning into a complete mess (like often happens), but on the other, meh, it’s just dumb. Ricky Steamboat even made an appearance as a referee for the match, which was won by Styles.
22) Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho (WCW Fall Brawl 1996 – September 15, 1996)
Whether as partners or opponents, these two guys were in the ring together tons of times and put on great matches across the world. This match was Jericho’s first pay-per-view appearance for WCW against Benoit, who was a member of the Four Horsemen at the time. With North Carolina being Horsemen Country, the crowd was solidly behind Benoit as he ruined Jericho’s pay-per-view debut with a victory. Damn good match.
AND THEN SOME: The smaller guys got a lot of play on this show as Juventud Guerrera (also making his WCW pay-per-view debut) challenged Konnan for the AAA Heavyweight Title before this match and Rey Mysterio Jr. defended the WCW Cruiserweight Title against Super Calo (ALSO making his WCW pay-per-view debut) following the Benoit/Jericho bout.
21) Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega (WWF In Your House 8: Beware of Dog 2 – May 28, 1996)
One month before the world first heard Austin 3:16 at King of the Ring, Steve Austin, with the “Stone Cold” name still in its infancy and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase still by his side, tangled with Savio Vega in a Caribbean Strap Match. These two originally met in a Caribbean Strap Match two days prior, but spent the match in the dark following a power outage. WWF then did a do-over pay-per-view, airing the only two matches that were shown on the original pay-per-view, along with three live matches. A hard-hitting, back-and-forth match with both guys bringing the heat with that strap.
AND THEN SOME: Speaking of King of the Ring 1996, Austin and Marc Mero opened the show in a really underrated match. “Stone Cold” ended up with a busted mouth en route to becoming the 1996 King of the Ring.
20) Atsushi Onita and Masa Fuchi vs. Eddie Gilbert and Ricky Morton (CWA/Memphis in Tupelo, Mississippi – September 4, 1981)
This entry isn’t as much about the match as it is the aftermath. You’ll see the finish of the match below (which is all I’ve ever seen of it) followed by one of the infamous Tupelo concession stand brawls. While the original concession stand brawl involving Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee and The Blond Bombers (Larry Latham aka Moondog Spot and Wayne Farris aka The Honky Tonk Man) took place a couple of years prior, this one is just awesome. Gilbert and Morton were early in their careers and had yet to become stars, while Fuchi and a pre-FMW/deathmatch king Onita were touring the Memphis territory. After manager Tojo Yamamoto helped Fuchi and Onita pick up the victory, things got crazy as Morton grabbed Tojo’s kendo stick and went to work. The ensuing brawl was one for the ages. At one point, Fuchi got hit with a mustard jar, which cut his ear open. You can hear him scream in the video as the mustard was likely burning like hell in the open wound. Eddie Marlin and referee Paul Morton (Ricky’s father) were also involved in the brawl as they tried to restore some order. Tojo (who took an ass stomping in the concession stand) even slapped a WOMAN who wandered in there! TREMENDOUS brawl.
19) Big Van Vader and Mr. Hughes vs. The Steiner Brothers (WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII – January 21, 1992)
You wanna know how to open a show? Turn Rick and Scott Steiner loose against a couple of guys in the 400-plus-pound weight range and stand back. They threw those big MFs all OVER the ring and a rabid crowd in Topeka, Kansas, ate it up. In their prime, The Steiners were just incredible and this is one of my favorite matches of theirs. Power vs. Power, Strength vs. Size. Vader was on his way to great things in 1992, as he defeated Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Title in July at The Great American Bash, but he and Hughes were on the losing end of this one.
AND THEN SOME: I’ve often told my friends exactly what made Mick Foley so great – he was able to get some decent performances out of the awful Van Hammer. Foley, as Cactus Jack, and Hammer met in a Falls County Anywhere match on this show that is absolutely worth a look. Cactus bounced himself off the concrete and ramp like a pinball multiple times in an effort to make something of the match, which even featured Abdullah the Butcher, dressed as a cowboy, attacking Jack and tossing Missy Hyatt in a watering trough.