1. Terry Funk vs. Ric Flair – 7
2. Afa, Sika, and Ernie Ladd vs. Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, and Junkyard Dog – 3
3. “Stunning” Steve Austin vs. Brian Pillman – 4
4. Tatsumi Fujinami and Kimura vs. Dos Caras and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka – 4
5. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiasevs. Jake “the Snake” Roberts – 7
6. Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant vs. Heenan’s Family (Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Nick Bockwinkel, Ken Patera, and Bobby Duncam) – 4
7. Manami Toyota vs. Yamada – 5
8. Owen Hart vs. Savio Vega – 6
This was a DVD compilation made by Jessie to honor the first inaugural class of our Hall of Fame that we recently inducted – let’s see if our picks make us proud. Flair starts off showing besides technical prowess, he could brawl with the best of them, too. It’s a wild match, with a frenzied crowd, and great feel to it. Almost as fun as the match itself, is the aftermath, where Great Muta and Sting get involved, in a sprawling fight that takes place all over the arena. Andre’s six-man tag match was as fantastical as Lord of the Rings, that’s to say, it was completely unbelievable. It resembled a sideshow carnival attraction more than a fight; still, it was nice to see all this talent together at once. Ernie Ladd is an ugly dude, lookling like the African American equivalent of Sloth from The Goonies.
The next match was the first meeting between Pillman and Austin after their highly successful team The Hollywood Blondes fell apart. Sadly, Austin’s performance was benign and flaccid, like a neutered dog’s penis. Pillman carried this match, with his brutal chops and tireless work ethic, but it was ultimately a disappointment. The tag match, from Japan, was a treat to watch, even though it was filled with its own problems. The footage we saw was clipped, yet still, the structuring of the match left much to be desired, and the finish was about as climatic as having sex on the couch only to be interrupted by your visiting grandparents.
Debiase and Roberts worked an immaculate match, as old school as public executions, and a true joy to behold. DiBiaseworked over Jake’s arm, trying to prevent him from later using his signature move, the DDT; while Roberts was busy pulling the crowd into caring about the bout with his masterful selling and psychology. This appeared to be from a house show, so, they weren’t worried about running out of TV time, and gave themselves ample time to tell a satisfying story. Seeing Heenan and his boys, all adorned with yellow hair and embarrassing waistlines, bump all over the place for megastars Hogan and Andre wasn’t a bad way to kill a few minutes.
Manami Toyota was my first pick, personally, into our Hall of Fame. She’s a phenomenal talent, an amazing worker, and has more heart than most who’ve put on a pair of wrestling boots. Here, we were treated to highlights of three matches against Yamada; even though they just gave a taste of the matches themselves, it was enough to get one excited, with Toyota’s breathtaking moonsault on display, and her willingness to absolutely kill herself to get someone else over. The last match I ranked high, because, in its context, it was a throwaway match on a major pay-per-view, Summerslam ‘96. However, Savio and Owen worked hard, and delivered a great little match worthy of more recognition. Especially cool to me, was the finish, seeing the major heel Owen score a clean victory over the fan favorite via a submission, it’s something to this day that’s unquestionably rare.