It doesn’t get more JERSEY than this classic WWF match-up! Asbury Park vs. Atlantic City! The Beast from the East vs. The Walking Condominium! Listen for Jesse “The Body” Ventura on commentary talking about how both of these guys hail from New Jersey early on in the match. It’s amazing that The Garden State is responsible for two of the most popular big men the business has ever seen. I remember watching this on TV when I was a kid and thinking it should’ve been on a Pay Per View. Even then I was a critic! I remember being excited for Bam Bam stealing the win even though it might have been the fastest count ever. Thanks to YouTube user VinceThePinch for posting the match!
Sundays depress me. I know Sunday is a religious day and it’s supposedly reserved for rest and relaxation (lazy Sunday Mr. Pibb & Red Vines=crazy delicious). But, ever since I was a kid, I was never a fan of Sundays because I knew I had to go to school the next day. Even now, Sunday signals the end of an all too short weekend. Of course, I preferred going to wrestling events on a Saturday if possible, but if completely unavoidable, I was game for driving up to the Meadowlands for a WWE event. Oh, who am I kidding? I called in sick to school so I could go with my cousin and our moms to the Wrestlemania 11 press conference in New York City. Every day is a good wrestling day. Today we’ll take a look at the event card from the WWE event that took place on Sunday December 12, 1993 at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, NJ.
After his stint as “The Narcissist,” an injury forced Luger to get a metal plate implanted in his forearm. Surgery lead to Luger’s return to the ring, touting a new finisher – the running forearm smash. The WWF shaped Luger into an All-American hero, even slamming the 600 lb Yokozuna on the USS Intrepid. From then on Luger seemed to have been strictly pitted against “foreign” opponents. Much like Smackdown’s Russian monster Vladimir Koslov, Ludvig Borga was a Finnish powerhouse. What do they both have in common? They’re both boring as hell in the ring and lack versatility. Not to say that big, boring guys like them don’t serve a purpose, because they do. There’s always a need for heels, especially international ones!
The Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Crush feud was still raging since Crush’s heel turn. Savage and Crush were to mend their differences on MNR but it lead to Crush turning on Savage and then pressing him over his head and dropping the Macho Man’s face onto the steel barricade. Savage supposedly lacerated his tongue which sparked their heat up big time. Crush joined Mr. Fuji’s stable which also consisted of the late Yokozuna. Crush was also under the tutelage of Fuji during his time as the 3rd member of Demolition. Savage and the late Crush were actually good friends outside of the ring which translated into their great ring chemistry.
R.I.P Bam Bam
Believe it or not, I always liked Adam Bomb even though his “nuclear” gimmick was fairly droll. (Can you tell that I was a member of the “Bomb Squad?”) Bomb was better as a powerful heel, and when compared to guys like Borga, Adam Bomb was a ring impresario (not saying much). You’ll probably kill me for writing it, but I enjoyed NJ native Scott Levy’s work as Johnny Polo more than his persona as Raven. Presently, I yearn for the days of managers with a big personality and Polo was one that recalled the ’80s state of manager greatness. Polo was also funny on the mic when commentating matches. Nowadays, WWE lacks colorful personalities and Polo was exactly that. Ramon (Scott Hall) was unstoppable at the time. Even though he was a veteran in the business, he was basically new to the WWF except for a short run in the ’80s. After the 1-2-3 Kid beat Razor Ramon in a fluke on MNR, they teamed up a few times foreshadowing “The Clique.” It may have seemed like an odd tag team match but at the time, I remember this being really exciting match. The Kid matched up well with Polo while Razor and Bomb was even a decent matchup on it’s own.
A serviceable match, Jannetty vs. IRS held the crowd’s attention. IRS was a master at generating heat with the crowd. He grabbed the mic and started ripping into New Jersey, the swamps the Meadowlands were built on, and how we all evade our taxes. After a career in Michaels’ shadow, it was almost impossible for Jannetty to rise above his former partner. Jannetty was always an excellent performer with superior skills and awesome charisma. It’s a shame that his career didn’t take off like Michaels’ did. It’s also good to see Mike Rotunda making occasional appearances as I.R.S in the last few years since he’s working as a road agent for the WWE.
When M.O.M promos were being shown each week during WWF programming I doubt viewers had any clue they’d show up wearing glittery purple outfits. In video montages, Men on a Mission seemed liked they would have way more of an edge, sort of in the same vein as Cryme Tyme. Prior to their WWF stint they worked as heels, but M.O.M wound up debuting in the WWF as a far different team. With their rapping manager Oscar, Mable, and Mo were a consistent part of WWF TV for a few years. Mabel returned to the WWE and eventually became Viscera and subsequently, Big Daddy V before being released.
Virgil vs. Rick the Model Martel. Not much to say about this one, but I still maintain that Virgil needs to get his ass back into a WWE ring to take revenge on DiBiase by beating his son.
Overall, the WWF was far from experiencing a renaissance, but it remained entertaining. I have so many fond memories of the years prior to the “attitude” era. In the mid to late ‘90s, WWF house shows in NJ had low attendance and on this night, the Meadowlands was only a little more than half filled.
For the 2nd installment of Classic WWF Cards we go back to July 7th, 1988. I didn’t expect much this time since the event took place at a local high school. For those of you not from around here, Perth Amboy isn’t necessarily the ritziest town, but then again it’s not that much better than the swamp the Meadowlands is built on.
Nearly one year later from our last installment of Classic WWF cards, Dangerous Danny Davis is still feuding with George “The Animal” Steele. It goes to show how long feuds used to last and how the WWF would squeeze every drop of excitement out of them that they could. I believe George Steele consumed 433 lbs. of turnbuckle padding during this feud.
Our local son Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Haku is one of those matches that doesn’t sound spectacular at first, but turned out to be one of the more exciting on the card. Those two wrestlers always managed to exceed expectations. When Haku went out on his own I thought, “O h g r e a t h e’ll t a k e t h e w r e stling w o r l d b y st o rm for s u r e.” in my most dry, sarcastic inner tone. I didn’t care much about Haku unless he was tag-teaming with Tama in The Islanders. On the other hand, the late Bam Bam always intrigued me since he carried a lot of weight, but was super quick and agile. Seeing him come down to the ring, menacing, with flames on his outfit and his bald head all tattooed up was quite a sight. His cartwheels and diving headbutts made for an entertaining attraction, although he remained underrated throughout his career.
I never caught one of Leaping Lanny Poffo’s frisbees, and as gay as it sounds, I always wanted to. I don’t know if it was because I just wanted to catch something thrown from a wrestler in the ring, or if it was really because I thought it was a cool concept. Printing a poem he wrote on a frisbee and throwing it out to the crowd: cool or uncool? Nowadays it seems like an insanely silly idea, but at the time it was fun for the kids. Poffo’s later turn as The Genius seemed to have been more successful, but nowhere near the caliber of success that his brother “Macho Man” Randy Savage attained.
The card is finalized with a statement that throws salt in the wound: All NON-Title Matches! Regardless of the lack of headlining WWF superstars, I fondly recall my dad taking me to this event and having an awesome time. We sat only a few rows from the ring with a seat near the entrance, so I got to slap some of the wrestler’s hands. Be quiet…it’s thrilling for a young wrestling fan.