Monday, March 8, 2010

IWA Mid-South: Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show 1997

1) Tower of Doom v. Justin St. John- 1
2) Kip Morris v. Bull Pain- 3
3) Tracey Smothers/ Ace Madison v. Gator McAllister/ Rico Beatty- 1
4) Ricky Morton v. Tommy Rich- 3
5) Ian Rotten v. Mad Man Pondo v. Ox Harley (Four Corners of Pain)- 3
6) Debbie Combs v. Luna Vachon- 4
7) American Kickboxer v. Tarek the Great- 5
8) Vladimir Koloff v. Vampire Warrior- 1
9) Dory Funk jr v. Tommy Gilbert- 6
10) Terry Funk v. Doug Gilbert (Chain Match)- 5

This isn't quite what you would think of when imagining a heartfelt tribute show for a passing wrestler, the arena small and taped together (although lighted well), about 150 fans, dressed in various hunting, NASCAR, and Bud t shirts and a ragtag group of performers who all cut promos in a row about Eddie, telling old stories, anecdotes, etc., one of the more puzzling ones was Ian Rotten himself, the owner of Mid South, talking about how it honors him to put on this show even though he "didn't know Eddie, per se," and how it took him 2 years to put this show together- which is a little hard to swallow as you watch the tape and look around the arena, looks like it could have came together in a moment's notice, there's nothing special about the show in any way, but oh well, onto the matches.

Our first bout features perennial slob Tower of Doom (who used to put on shows near our hometown, to which a few of us once provided the barb wire for their main event, as Tower himself proclaimed, "wow this is 3 pronged, we don't even use that!") working St. John, a John Tatum wannabe with short, cropped hair and a beer gut. The announcers put over St. John as an "indy darling" but I couldn't even imagine his mother calling him "darling." He looked completely lost inside the ring ropes and worse yet, he had Doom pounding away on him, giving absolutely nothing back at all, Doom disregarded all attempts at having an even contest. I did get a chuckle when St. John's dome got split by a ridiculously hard chair shot that quite possibly could have instantly Benoit'd him.

Next up one of my old buddies from Global, Bull Pain, who i have to say looked quite decent here. He took huge bumps, especially one to the outside, bouncing off the apron like a rock skipping across a creek. Morris was supposedly a rookie, only in the business for 3 years, but he was def. upwards of 40 years in age, guess he got that DDP start, as I'm sure he's back filing paperwork at a Chevy dealer again. Pain also had a good looking vaunted punch and he gave a competitive match out of pud Morris, only marred by an ongoing angle with Tommy Rich I gave no credence to.

This was a joke, very unfunny, George Lopez level. Smothers actually looked spry and hit a few good sequences, but his weathered opponent Gator (who was also doing commentary for the whole show) was stiff and unpliable. Their partners were two non-wrestlers, i'm sure working some kind of authority person angle, but it just all sucked to the 10th degree. This had nothing to do with memorializing anyone, just giving 4 shitheels a measley paycheck to waste at the local watering hole that night.

This was an interesting match where you had two old school NWA guys trying to match what they saw on ECW the week before, this started out with a crowd brawl, and if you're not there live, they blow on tape, this was no exception, Rich nearly couldn't get down a row of chairs because of his overhanging gut. In the ring, i found more to dig, besides Morton's ability to keep the same hair style for over 2 decades, he also sold stuff well, with kicking the mat a lot, and writhing in pain and grasping his face. Rich was slow in everything he did, but all his stuff to a fallen Morton was cool, hard knee drops, accurate fist drops, both guys did the blade but the finish was as uncreative and flaccid as the last Van Halen album.

A famous indy match staple in the late 90's was the Four Corners of Pain Match, basically a knock off of a Japanese hardcore match where painful objects are waiting for you on the ground outside each of the 4 sides of the ring. Here we had the usual ones: barb wire, thumbtacks (never shown), glass bulbs, and mouse traps. Harley kind of interjects himself into the match and he's working a better than hardcore gimmick which has been done to death, but despite his Harley Davidson repairman look, he sells with charisma and injects some character into this match. Pondo could still somewhat get his body up for a full on hiptoss at this point and Rotten brings the meanness with punches but was he really ever that good? Not seeing it here. Harley gets sucked into the spirit of Eddie Gilbert by doing a plancha outside onto his two opponents laying in the Wire pit, but his legs get caught up by the top rope and he eats concrete floor like a bowl of Ramen noodles and goes down on Al Snow's old girlfriend "Barbie Wire" like she's a $50 Thai hooker, guarantee he got dysentery after that. You know how most announcers try to cover up botched spots to preserve the illusion? not these two, Hahahaha, they lose their fucking marbles and laugh their asses off at the idiotic move. The rest of this goes down like any other match you've seen just like it, wash, rinse, repeat.

The 2nd half of this show picks up with a women's match, now mind you, you'd be hard pressed to hit on either of these ladies even wearing the foggiest pair of beer goggles but that didn't take away from their performances. Combs worked snug, lots of real sharp forearms, even a tight headlock sequence was used (which Luna used a cool rollup out of). Luna scored big at one point with a splash directly to Comb's already mashed face in a cool spot, this was a good use of 10 minutes.

This battle is of two old Southern Ohio indy stalwarts before Kickboxer became Izzy High and Tarek looked 100% toothless redneck. They showed off some mat wrestling in the beginning, where the announcers kept teasing their aerial ability while totally ignoring calling the match. A couple illconceived intricate spots crept in, but for the most part this all came together very succintly. The dives were spot on, the big moves built up accordingly and Kickboxer broke out a finish off the top rope that was pretty devastating which we don't see anyone do currently although i imagine Shelton Benjamin may try it off the top of a 25 ft ladder at this years' Wrestlemania in yet another attempt to be noticed. Daddy issues?

Vladimir (whom i met in a Walmart as a teenage) is apparently the older uncle of Nikita who only occasionally wrestles while mostly watching soccer on TV and consuming Cheetos by the bagfull; he barely fit into his XXL singlet. Vampire Warrior was the beloved Gangrel in matching blacksweatshirt and pants. What could actually be seen of this match was more rancid than the odor eminating from Luna's lower half after a day of riding roller coasters at a Six Flags in the middle of summer, but for the most part the absolutely abysmal camera work (during an extended crowd brawl that wouldn't end) did us the favor of missing nearly the entire match. Maybe we're better off for it.

As old school as Ovaltine, this match was where it's at! Dory still showed why he was a top champion for years and years, having a certain poise in the ring and moving with a viscosity that was a little reminiscent of prime Kurt Angle. And he hit hard too. Gilbert was a little lower on the pole of workmanship but was holding his own, executing some nice suplexes, trading rough forearms and all the intricate rollups Dory was using. Tommy, though, would sometimes just lay in moves, and you could see his chest rising up and down, desperately trying to regain some breath while Dory was constantly working, whether on defense or offense. The ending was satisfying and the match got a standing ovation, really fun stuff.

Our main event was going the way of the earlier match where it was all fighting through the fans, with no clean shots of what was going on, all you could see was Terry bleeding and wobbling to and fro like a kid's goofy toy. The stipulation of the chain was worked identical to a strap match where you had to touch all 4 corners, but in a funny notion to me, they only used it when they got near the end. Gilbert was sloppy though, not showing any of the charisma or ring saavy his brother had and Terry wasn't in full blown psycho mode, nor did he really have his working boots on. I did love the agonizing expression on Terry's face as Gilbert tried to reach his 4th corner while the chain was wrapped around the hardcore legend's mouth. Cool Memphis piledriver on a chair that was more Lawler than Gilbert was another highlight, but whatever tickles your turtle.

Overall this show picked up some steam as it neared the end, but I wouldn't call it a success anymore than I would of the ongoing 2010 census or idea to feature 10 films for a Best Picture award. But i still had fun viewing the show, for it's absurdity in some parts, it's wide array of characters and workers and just the fact that pro wrestling people don't know any other way to honor someone who was passed than putting on spandex tights and punching someone else in the face, I mean, is there anything more touching than that?

No comments: