I've been lax in updating this wrestleblog, mostly because I've been sick for a while. In fact, I've got surgery scheduled this week and, if I die on the table, I would like this review of Texas Championship Wrestling to be my legacy.
Like every other wrestling dork, I read Gary Hart's book (recommended) and became curious about some of the smaller promotions that he mentioned. As a shot in the dark, I checked YouTube for video of the promotion that he personally ran, Texas Championship Wrestling. And there it was! Magic everywhere in this bitch!
Even before any wrestling happens, this thing wins my heart with its creative, last-of-the-80s graphics. And guess who's on commentary, Bill Mercer of World Class renown! The memories are flooding back.
Steve Austin & California Stud vs. Matt Borne & Iceman King Parsons
California Stud is Rod Price, who would go on to ECW as part of the Baldies. Steve Austin would also go on to ECW and baldness. Even at this baby stage of his career, Austin is the highlight of this match. He's so energetic, hurling himself across the ring, stumbling a few steps to really drive home the intensity of shoulderblocks. At one point, he gets a little too enthusiastic and almost flies out of the ring when he should have dived into an armbar. He scoots back into it, but that's okay. The match wasn't any great shakes, Austin bombast aside, and ends in a draw finish. This is followed by a fracas, which sets up a rematch down the line. Good planning, good thinking.
That is wrestling clap clap clap clap clap! Watching this made me mourn for the smarkification of the devoted wrestling fan. The crowd in these videos is as fun to watch as the matches! Sometimes, more fun, such as...
Cowboy Terry vs. Terry Garvin
The referee looks like the grandpa from Troll II, but I'm afraid that's all the good you can say for this match. Only lovers of lazy armwork will delight in this, as Cowboy Terry and Garvin Terry sit around in holds for lengthy stretches. This is especially jarring because it follows Steve Austin's fireballing in the last match. But maybe it's better this way—at one point, they try to do an elbow drop and Cowboy Terry blows it, so it's back to armbars and chinlocks. "Get mad!" a sad fan at ringside demands. But the only one who gets mad is the viewer who watches this.
Terry Garvin does an interview and sounds like Channing the butler from Pink Flamingos.
Then there's another interview, one with the Dragon Master, and oh my fucking god
Believe me when I tell you that this minute or so makes the entire video worth watching.
I guess this was a midway stop between WCW and WAR for Kendo Nagasaki. But at least he got to have a pretty fun encounter in Texas:
Dragon Master vs. Terry Gordy
Texas Championship Wrestling signed all the Terrys it could and sometimes it really worked out. Dragon Master looks way less menacing without the fright wig, but is pretty savvy at the wrestling. Lots of mat work in this, of which I approve, and Gordy's leg becomes a big target throughout the match. This isn't because they're keeping it simple or in danger of going off the rails, like the prior match. This is basically wrestling as storytelling, wrestling as it should be. Give Gordy tons of credit for knowing exactly how long to languish in pain before popping up and brawling and exciting the crowd. The match also has a really clever finish which is foreshadowed well and leads easily to a rematch, much like the tag match earlier. The only knock I'd have against this is that Dragon Master is prone to being stonefaced while he's doing mat work, to the point that the announcers actually mention it. Gordy compensates with lots of grimaces and grunting, but it still takes you out of the moment when you're looking at a guy who seems bored to tears by the leglock he's applying. Otherwise, super fun and worth seeing!
And, thanks to Internet, you can watch it now: