From the historic Sportatorium in Dallas it’s a random episode of World Class Championship Wrestling from 1982. This is the earliest WCCW offering on the WWE Network and it’s being presented in its most complete format available. Oh god, it’s going to be Eastern Championship Wrestling levels of bad in terms of audio-visual quality isn’t it?
We get an opening video with some funky as fuck disco synth music as wrestling happens. This is not the World Class theme song I’m accustomed to. It is not as grand as the later theme song. It makes me think of scumbags in leisure suits doing blow and not fierce gladiatorial combat.
To the Sportatorium!
Our announcer for the evening is Gene Goodson. He’s got that 1980s “local sportscaster who has been hired to call wrestling matches” vibe about him. He enunciates things clearly and is pretty easy to listen to. The same cannot be said of his expert commentator for the evening, Jose Lothario, who trips all over his words and mumbles like he’s got a mouthful of marbles.
Gene gives us a rundown of the card for the evening and then sends us down to the ring for our first match of the evening.
Match 1: Tom Shaft vs. Carlos Zapata
Tom “Boogaloo” Shaft apparently competes in toughman contests when he’s not wrestling. He recently won $10,000 in such a competition in Detroit and has won 48 competitions overall. It looks like he has a tiny butterfly on the ass of his tights. Carlos Zapata is apparently from Cuba and is ridiculously hairy.
This was your basic TV match. Zapata does some heel stuff to get the heat. He clubbers Shaft with closed fists and goes to the eyes from time to time. Eventually Shaft makes his comeback and nails Zapata with a flying ass attack that Goodson refers to as a “reverse tackle,” to pick up the win.
Winner: Tom Shaft
This was an okay television between two undercard guys. It was fine for an opening bout but nothing to write home about. [*]
Match 2: Big Daddy Bundy vs. The Monk
Big Daddy Bundy is King Kong Bundy with hair, a rope belt, and a quasi-mountain man from Alaska gimmick I guess. The Monk has a hipster beard and is billed from Parts Unknown. I have no idea why this guy is The Monk. He has no robes or a Friar Tuck haircut.
They have a generic clubbering match. Bundy dominates the bulk of the match. He, at one point drops a leg on The Monk’s arm. Bundy picks up the win with a bear hug/falling onto a dude combo.
Winner: Big Daddy Bundy
Pretty much a squash match. From the sound of it, Bundy hadn’t been in the territory all that long. He wrecked The Monk’s shit and looks like a force to be reckoned with. It’s weird and kind of cool to see Bundy so young and as a babyface, but otherwise a pretty nothing match. [*]
Meanwhile With Gene Goodson…
Gene interviews Tom “Boogaloo” Shaft about toughman competitions on other things. Shaft, channeling Mohammad Ali, puts over the great talent at World Class and then calls out Kabuki before we go to commercial.
Meanwhile With Gene Goodson…
We return from commercials to find Gene with two of the Von Erich Boys: Kevin and Kerry. They’ll be taking on the United States Tag Team champs in a non-title match later this evening, but now down to the ring for more action!
Kevin has just returned from Georgia apparently. He mumbles that they had good TV coverage there, but Texas was his home and where the best wrestling was.
Kerry seems to be stoned out of his goddamn mind and mumbles some stuff about wanting to get revenge on Kabuki for blinding their dad.
Match 3: The Great Kabuki (w/ Gary Hart) vs. Jesse Relampago Leon
Kabuki does some nunchuck shit before the match begins to intimidate Leon and then blows mist on his own hands as the bell rings.
Kabuki does kicks and karate chops and a weird armpit submission hold that Goodson takes time to warn kids watching not to try it at home, “unless they have training.”
Leon makes a comeback and hits some head scissors and actually gets a couple near falls before Kabuki goes back to the armpit submission thing. After awhile Kabuki picks up the win after doing a ropewalk on the middle rope and then doing a fist drop into Leon’s heart.
After the match Kabuki takes a swing at the ref and then proceeds to beat down Leon some more. A bunch of geeks come out to attempt to make the save, but Kabuki wrecks house on them too. This brings out Kerry Von Erich. He dances in the ring and Kabuki bails. Kerry tries to go after him, but he gets held back. The fans chant “We want Kabuki!” Not tonight fans…not tonight.
Winner: The Great Kabuki
This was a fine wrestling match. Kabuki had a great gimmick and a unique in-ring style and Leon was doing old school lucha libre shit like head scissors takedowns. The post match angle was pretty decent to and will clearly lead to a match between Kabuki and one or more of the Von Erich boys down the line. [**]
Match 4: The Von Erichs vs. Arman Hussein & Tim Brooks
Hussein is a Muslim and does some weird bunny hop thing around the ring that the announcers refer to as his “camel walk,” before the match can get underway. This is apparently a religious ceremony that all Muslims do before competition.
There are two refs in the ring for this match. Apparently this is the rule in WCCW that all tag team encounters are officiated by two referees in order to keep things under control.
Early on, human He-Man action figure, Kerry Von Erich plays the face in peril as Hussein and “Killer” Tim Brooks work him over. Eventually Kevin gets the HOT TAG and comes in and punches the fuck out of dudes.
The heels cut off Kevin but he gets a stomach claw on Tim Brooks to make a comeback. Hussein comes in to break the hold which brings in Kerry. All four men are clubbering but one of the refs sends Kerry back out.
Hussein tags back in and chucks Kevin out to the floor. Kerry goes and checks on him. Kevin goes back in but the heels dominate him in their corner, so Kerry comes back in and punches Tim Brooks in the face.
The heels then dump Kevin back outside and hit Kerry with a double body slam. From there Tim Brooks catapults Kerry into a shitty looking forearm from Hussein.
Tim Brooks looks for another catapult, but Kevin recovers and comes off the top rope over his brother to nail Tim Brooks with a sunset flip to pick up the win.
The heels beat up the Von Erichs for a bit and then leave. Goodson tells us whenever we have a chance to watch rasslin’ live we should do it because it’s “the world’s greatest spectator sport where people watch people participating.” Okay Gene, whatever you say man.
Winners: The Von Erichs
This wasn’t a particularly great match but you can kind of already see that the Von Erich boys would become huge stars. Kevin, though he’s not shoeless yet, was particularly ahead of the times in terms of his wrestling style, doing stuff that at the time was really only done by luchadors.
Tim Brooks and Arman Hussein were fine low level heels but nowhere near as good as the people the Von Erichs would face in the feuds that made them famous. [**]
Meanwhile With Gene Goodson & Jose Lothario…
Jose promises that next time he’ll probably do a better job. Gene then gives us a rundown of next week’s card. Jose Lothario will be in action and Kerry Von Erich will take on the Great Kabuki. Gene thanks us for watching and then the credits roll.
I was kind of impressed at how good the production values were for this show. The camera work was pretty outstanding and for a show that the Network warned me was the best version available, there were very few instances of any technical mishaps.
I thought Goodson was a serviceable announcer, not one of the all time greats or anything but far better than guys like Rob Bartlett. Jose Lothario was nowhere near as good as Goodson, but at least he more or less kept quiet for long stretches of time so he wasn’t as bad as he could have been.
The wrestling was more or less fine for an episode of early 80s televised wrestling. It was kind of cool seeing dudes like King Kong Bundy before he was super famous, and there were a few guys here (mainly Kabuki and Kevin Von Erich who were kind of ahead of their time). All in all it was a fine 40 minutes of wrestling.
That being said it was not particularly new user friendly. Even though this is apparently the second episode of World Class Championship Wrestling, the company existed in some form all the way back to 1966. Guys competing here are already in feuds and in the midst of angles that the announcers only briefly mention in passing. There are no video packages or replays of things that happened before the show started airing, though I’m sure that within a couple weeks the various feuds will either make sense or have been resolved so it’s not a huge hurdle to overcome.