Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nov 19 Wrestle Birmingham Live Report by Larry Goodman

----Larry Goodman with a report from Wrestle Birmingham on Friday night.
Wrestle Birmingham brought “The Big Bang” to the famed Boutwell Auditorium Friday night. Although primarily a nostalgia show with a lineup packed with legends, it had a little bit of everything.

The best thing I can say about the event is that part of the proceeds went to a great cause, the UAB Center for Palliative & Supportive Care. The program holds a special place in the heart of promoter Linda Marx Keeble, because of the wonderful treatment her father, V. Hugo Marx, Jr, received there.

325 people in a 5000 seat arena does not make for a scintillating wrestling atmosphere.

As much as anything else, it was an endurance contest – 14 matches spanning a four hour time period. The key legends did not appear until the running time was past the three hour mark. Whoever was responsible for laying out this show deserves to be shot at sunrise.

It was a night that further confirmed how things have changed. Once upon a time, they were the stars that headlined shows across this territory. That time is now 25 years ago. Fans will no longer turn out in sizable numbers to see them wrestle, especially when being asked to pay WWE prices (tickets ranged from $25-55). The formerly ardent supporters of these legends have either died or moved on in their lives to where they are casual fans at best.

(1) El Mexicano (Antonia Garza) beat Anton LeVeigh in 12 minutes. LeVeigh has short hair now. Mexicano won it with a backflip off the top rope into a standing moonsault. It reads better than it looked.

(2) Deathrow won a battle royal. It was a way to get six more guys onto the show. No WB show would be complete without River D’Angelo and Bill Franklin. The other participants were Doink the Clown (Scott Warren), John Lawrence and DeJavu. Deathrow eliminated Franklin to win.

(3) Cedric Alexander beat “Manscout” Jake Manning in 5 minutes. Crowd appreciated their display of athleticism. Alexander got the pin with a slingshot split leg moonsault.

(4) Kid J beat Lil Devil in 10:50.
It started it out as an entertaining story of the little little guy (J) outwrestling and outsmarting the bigger Lil Devil. They did some cool spots, but they ended up going too long. Both were pretty blown up before it was over. Along the way, J did the Five Knuckle Shuffle, the Bronco Buster and a 619. A fan called for the Little People’s Elbow. J won it with a tadpole splash. The fans enjoyed this match as well. The night was still relatively young.

(5) Bushwhacker Luke beat Matt Riviera in 11:24. Luke was advertised for the six man main. At 63, Luke did a lot of the same stuff just in a lower gear. Riviera has a great ring robe. He was sufficiently obnoxious to get heat. Luke pulled his pants down and gave Riviera the stink face. Riviera got frustrated with not being able to put Luke away, so he knocked referee Roy George on his ass. Luke used George’s head to give Riviera the battering ram. Afterwards, they did the Bushwhacker walk and Luke licked George’s head.

(6) Mike Jackson beat Johnny Rage and Ultimate Dragon to retain the WB Junior Title in 10 minutes. Crowd was loving it when Jackson was making like a 60 year old superman. Rage and Dragon each got a chance to shine. Crowd was far less interested once Jackson was no longer the focus, because you had two guys with modest talent exposing their limitations. Dragon had a hell of time trying to apply a Mexican surfboard. Out of nowhere, Jackson pinned Rage with a stunner. I guess he decided enough was enough.

(7) Leva Bates beat Malia Hosaka (with Pat Rose) in 5:08.
Rose did a stellar job of getting the crowd riled up. He might have been the most effective heel on the show. He blatantly tripped Bates. Hosaka is in excellent wrestling condition for 40. A true professional. She did the flying double chop. Bates couldn’t do much of anything. Finish saw Rose screw up by hitting Hosaka. Bates then pinned her with a chestcracker.

First intermission – Jackson, Brutus Beefcake (after quickly wolfing down something from the concession stand) and Josh Magnum were at the tables in the lobby.

Roy Lee Welch presented Ron Fuller with a distinguished lifetime award on behalf of Wrestle Birmingham.

(8) Scott McGhee beat Dustin Brody in 8 minutes. Compelling story in this one. McGhee limped to the ring like his hip was hopelessly shot. I don’t know if that was a result of the stroke he suffered or what. Brody came out playing the Death March on the trumpet. He was a young smart ass with a freaky haircut. He openly mocked McGhee for being a gimp. McGhee sold huge for the entire match. No offense whatsoever. McGhee busted his forehead hardway taking a shot into the ringpost. It was the most brutal moment of the night. With McGee looking completely done, Brody charged. McGhee clotheslined him and George made a quick three count.

(9) Vordell Walker beat Nathan Crown in 6:54.
This was a change from the advertised card, which had Walker & Brickhouse Brown vs. Crown & Riviera. Crown had a core group of fans at ringside. The crowd was otherwise dead. They had zero chemistry. Walker superkicked Crown for the pin. Afterwards, Crown challenged Walker to do the match all over the South (what a treat that would be for Vordell) and said, “You ain’t heard the last of wrestling royalty.”

(10) Dogs of War (BJ Hancock & Derek Ryze) vs. Magnum 44s (Josh Magnum & Skyler) was ruled a double pin at 18:30.
The WB Tag Titles are still held up. This was a high energy, action packed tag match from start to finish. They clicked on all kinds of innovative moves. The crowd was up for it. Hancock (he’s so much better as a heel) was getting bigtime heat from a pack of black kids at ringside. Hancock came off the top onto Skyler, as Magnum simultaneously hit a 450 on Ryze to set up the double pin. They teased 5 more minutes, and Skyler suddenly pinned Hancock with Sliced Bread #2, however apparently the fall didn’t count.

(11) Adrian Street (with Miss Linda) beat Aeon Flexx in 8:23. Street is in amazing shape for someone that’s about to turn 70. He mainly stretched Flexx on the mat. Flexx looks like he swallowed a beach ball. Yikes. This match might have had a chance if it had gone on early. As it was, it got very little response.

(12) “The Honky Tonk Man” Wayne Ferris beat Ricky Roberts (with Marcel Pringle) in 2:30. Ferris was as well received as any of the legends with the possible exception of Jake Roberts. He looked in good shape for 57. The jet black hair and ridiculous sideburns are in tact. Not much to the match. Finish was a botched Shake, Rattle and Roll neckbreaker. And here that was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing. It looked like Ricky didn’t take the move correctly. Honky was not pleased.

(13) In a WB Heavyweight Title match, Jimmy Golden (with Robert Fuller) beat McNasty (with Bullet Bob Armstrong) in 2:30 with Jerry Stubbs as special referee. Armstrong was an unadvertised surprise. Golden and Robert cheated to win. When McNasty griped about it, Stubbs showed his true colors by joining forces with Golden. Armstrong and Robert got physically involved. Ron came down the aisle walking tall (what choice does he have?) and the heels cleared out.

Ring announcer Cowboy announced a second intermission before the main event. Thank God, at least it was short. I would say the crowd was down 100 at this point.

(14) Jake Roberts & Brutus Beefcake & Brickhouse Brown beat Buddy Landel & Greg Valentine & Cameron Valentine in 4:30. It was great seeing Brick. He holds a special place in my wrestling heart. He’s beefier but still looks like he works out. Landel wrestled in a t-shirt. Same bleach blonde hair. Landel was hilarious. He claimed to be the real Nature Boy because he still had a full head of hair and wasn’t on social security or Viagra. To another fan he said, “I take pills bigger than you.” Roberts also wore a t-shirt. His hair is down past his shoulders. He looks a lot older than 55. No surprise there. Beefcake was in good cosmetic shape. There’s something sad about seeing Greg in the ring at this stage. Cameron looks like a Valentine, but he is much smaller and is not a blood relative. They were all having a good time with the match, if you can call it that. All punches and no bumps. Roberts said they were in OT and it was time to get going. Cameron accidentally punched Greg. All six started going at it, and Roberts spiked Cameron with the DDT.

Jake took the snake out of the bag and threw it on top of Cameron. That got a pop.

NOTES: The show was taped with Michael St. John and Jimmy Powell on commentary for release on DVD and/or use on television…Peach State Wrestling promoter Shane Noles was in the house…Former WCW referee Johnny Boone officiated some of the matches.

Credit: Larry Goodman @