So WWE recently uploaded some new Hidden Gems on the Network so I thought I’d take a look at them all and write about each one.
A Killer Challenge 29/4/1952: Killer Kowalski vs Mr. Moto/Duke Keomuka
So this is the first full Killer Kowalski match I’ve ever seen and I have never heard of the other two wrestlers, though it turns out Keomuka is actually the father of Pat Tanaka, which interesting. So the match itself is handicap match that has no time limit and there are falls but they don’t matter, as the only way to win is for the wrestlers on either side to give up, its a little odd and confusing, as Mr. Moto actually taps out from a hammerlock for Kowalski to win a fall but doesn’t show up after the intermission, leaving just Keomuka to fight which even the commentator seems a little surprised by. The match also features another wrestler named George Bollas who was the first to wrestle under the Zebra Kid gimmick but was apparently named Zebra kid cause of the stretch marks on his body..Jeez. Anyway Bollas attacks Kowalski before the match starts and interferes again at the end leading to a DQ finish. Half way through Kowalski also gets hit in the eye with a projectile thrown by a ‘spectator’, which I’m guessing was a ‘work’ but was still an odd moment overall. A few other highlights include Kowalski hitting a few nice knee drops and little dropkicks, Mr. Moto doing some drunk style selling and Kowalski hitting a scoop slam which the commentator calls a ‘piledriver smash’. Its quite a fascinating watch overall and I enjoyed it, so I’d recommend it.
Legends of Texas Wrasslin’ 8/11/66: Joe Blanchard/Bob Ellis/Duke Keomuka vs Bob Geigel/Gary Hart/Waldo Von Erich
Slice of 60’s Southern graps here, Duke Keomuka is also in this and I’m not familiar with anyone else besides Gary Hart. The match has been cut a little and it does a weird skip forward at the end, so it not really clear how the match ends. Two refs are in the ring to help keep order, as everyone wants a piece of each other and it lors of big punches going on and very little in the way of maneuvers. I honestly found this to be largely forgettable, it was ok but I didn’t get much from it and the lack of clear ending didn’t help much. Oh well, I’m sure it still pretty cool to see for some people.
Bruno Battles a Caged Animal 29/7/1970: Bruno Sammartino vs George ‘the animal’ Steele in a Steel Cage match
No commentary on this one but the crowd are certainly noisy and fired up. this was a rough and fun cage match with Sammartino being relentless trying to beat on George from the get go. All George could do was try and escape to no avail and use dirty tactics to try and slow Sammartino down, these tactics work and he takes control of the match towards the end, only for Sammartino to make a big comeback and win. Good stuff overall.
A moving demonstration 15/6/1972
This is an interesting little video that has various wrestlers showcasing different maneuvers with Gordon Solie and a couple wrestlers commentating over it. The wrestlers it showcase include Danny Hodge, Harley Race and Chavo Guerrero Sr etc. And it features lots of ‘suplays'(suplexes) in slow motion and it’s very cool thing to watch overall.
The Cowboy and a Texas Bronco 27/11/75: Bill Watts vs Terry Funk
So this is a short 4 minute match that’s pretty good but nothing particularly special. Just a small enjoyable helping of old school wrasslin’ action, featuring two legends. ***
Inoki faces the Lariat 17/8/1979 – Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen
Another short match that runs less than 10 minutes, but this was action packed and a really solid back and forth contest. They certainly made the most of the time they were given and I’d say it’s worth a look. ***1/2
Battle of the nature boys: Buddy Rogers vs Ric Flair
So this is the current only known existing footage of this match that happened between the two nature boys. its 4 minutes of clips of it which includes lots of pummeling. It looks like the whole thing was a damn good contest, so it’s a shame that this is all there is of it, still a pretty cool watch though.
Big Cat vs Modern Day Warrior 7/6/81 – Ernie Ladd vs Kerry Von Erich
This was a solid match between these two. You had Ladd’s size and power as well a his use of dirty tactics like choking and using foreign, against Kerry’s speed and agility which lead to a good back and forth contest. ***1/2
The Size of a Giant 9/9/83
Short vid of Bill Watts interviewing Andre the Giant about his size and stuff. Its a nice little thing if nothing particularly special.
Cruiserweight Pioneers 6/1/92: Lightning Kid vs Jerry Lynn
This is a match that took place in GWF for the light-heavyweight championship belt. This was one year before Kid would join the WWF and of course in years to come be best known as X-Pac, while Jerry Lynn would go on to be most famous for his work in ECW. Its a 2 out of 3 falls match however a fall can only be obtained by getting the win with one specific move that each wrestler is assigned. So the Lightning kid can only win by using a Lightning Strike(Tombstone Piledriver) and Lynn can only win using a sleeper hold. This added a nice dynamic to the match as there were times when each wrestler had an opportunity to get a fall from something but were unable to. This was really solid overall, they kept a good pace and filled it with some nice action. It does also feature interference at the end from Scott Anthony(AKA Raven) as he tries to help Kid but instead accidentally costs him the match. Bot Lynn and Kid apparently wrestled each other a lot around this time and it’s really interesting to see them in their early days. Good Stuff. ***1/2
The Funks make Bad Company 15/12/95: The Funks vs Brian Pillman/Bruce Hart
So this match happened at the ’95 Stu hart tribute show and it’s pretty entertaining. You have Pillman/Hart staying relatively in control to begin before the Funk start using more dirty tactics including help from Makhan Singh (best known as Bastion Booger in WWF) at ringside. Things then get a bit wild in typical Funk fashion leading to Terry getting disqualified by using a chair. Pillman also gets suplexed onto a table and back body dropped on concrete which is fun and aside a few bits that are a little draggy this was pretty darn good. ***1/4
Festival De Lucha 27/1/99: Rey Mysterio Jr/Konnan/Hector Garza/Silver King vs Chris Jericho/Norman Smiley/Johnny Swinger/Lenny Lane.
This is taken from an WCW pilot, that was to be a show focused on Luchadores but it never ended up airing on TV. It features no commentary as it wasn’t recorded at the time and it’s a little odd watching a WCW match without. Anyway this is a pretty fun watch, very standard stuff really with nothing of particular note. Offer a nice little glimpse into what they taped but doesn’t offer much else. **3/4
An Ultimate Encounter 25/4/01: Edge and Christian vs Nova/Frankie Kazarian
This match was from a UPW show, UPW being a promotion that helped launch the careers of some major wrestlers like John Cena, as well as being used as a developmental territory by WWE. Nova/Kazarians tag team name here is actually Evolution preceding Triple H’s faction by two years. This was alright, its a formulaic tag match with a bit of an overbooked finish. It’s interesting seeing these four guys wrestle in this environment, but that’s about all it offers, seems the ol’ E & C were on autopilot, their opening promo was pretty good though. **3/4
The Beast meets Leviathan 28/7/01: Leviathan vs Brock Lesnar
It’s Batista vs Lesnar all the way back in their OVW days, it’s a standard short TV match which batista wins with a shit spear (I know his spears have never been the best but this one was particularly bad). Lesnar also hits a samoan driver, which I guess was his precursor to the F5. Overall not bad.
Gold Before Justice 5/2/12 – Seth Rollins vs Leakee(Roman Reigns) vs Dean Ambrose
Another dive into developmental territory, this time in FCW with Rollins, Reign and Ambrose facing in off in a triple threat, before the days of them being The Shield. I remember this match making the rounds on social media a couple years back and I did watch it back then. It’s a pretty decent match, nothing particularly great. It was around this time that Regal and Ambrose had a little kind of feud going on, so it was implemented a little here, especially with Ambrose locking in a regal stretch at one point. Also Reigns wins with some kind of jumping spinning bulldog, which I don’t think suits him at all so I’m glad he stopped doing it. I think the most interesting thing here is just to see the comparisons to how they are now and how they’ve developed since then. ***1/4
The main thing with these gems has been showing things that have rarely or never been seen, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all gonna be great, it’s more about engaging peoples curiosity and intrigue. Now there’s certainly nothing here that’s bad and all of it makes for an intriguing watch, but I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly great here either. The things I’d most recommend checking out though are the Kowalski match, the Lynn/Kidd match, The Inoki/Hansen match and the Ernie Ladd/Kerry Von Erich match. I think anything else comes down to your own personal curiosity and all of it is quite entertaining in it’s own way, so it’s whatever peaks your interest really. I look forward to more Gems being add in the future.
Thank you for reading