July 3, 2011
The Powerdriver Review
The Greatest Cage Matches of All Time
Released: June 28, 2011
Josh Mathews is our host for the program. He thinks this is the first collection of cage matches on one DVD set, but then makes up for that comment by actually telling us when the first cage match was held unlike on the Bloodbath DVD set when Jonathan Coachman said that nobody knew when the first cage match took place. Well, Josh tells us that it happened on June 25, 1937 in Atlanta Georgia between Jack Bloomfield and Count Petro Rossi in what was described at the time as a Ďchicken wireí match, simply meaning that the first cage was made from chicken wire instead of the cold unforgiving steel that is used today. Itís amazing what you can do by taking at the most of ten seconds to see what Google can find for you, Coach.
WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Pat Patterson Ė Cage Match (9/24/79, Madison Square Garden)
This was on the Bloodbath set, but almost four minutes was cut. Now we get this match in full. Backlund goes right to work on Patterson to start and throws him into the cage a couple times. Thereís loads of dramatic near-escape attempts through the door and over the cage wall. In between attempts, they brawl to the point of Backlund getting busted open. Backlund makes his comeback and starts throwing Patterson into the cage a few times, but ends up throwing him one time too many as Backlund eats the steel. Patterson starts to climb out, but Backlund intercepts and hits the RUNNING ATOMIC DROP. That wonít be enough though as Patterson meets Backlund at the top of the cage with his taped knux. Backlund ducks the shot and elbows Patterson back into the ring as they both tumble back inside. Backlund lucks out with an easy opening to make it through the door. He crawls towards the door, but Patterson of course tries to stop him. Backlund kicks him back and uses the kick to launch himself outside the door for the win. (16:43) My original rating still stands. I just donít get why people seemed to flip out for this match. Itís pretty good, but just lots of standard cage stuff. I mean, itís not a MOTYC by any means. BLOOD COUNT: Bob Backlund, Pat Patterson. **Ĺ
WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka Ė Cage Match (6/28/82, Madison Square Garden)
Once again, they give us the wrong date. Itís always shown as May 19 1980 on these sets, but thatís the date of the awesome Backlund-Patera Texas Death match. Snuka sells the importance of this match as he makes Backlund play the waiting game from ringside. Backlund has to pull Snuka inside to get this thing going and starts punching away on him. Snuka goes to the throat and takes over with fist drops and such. Backlund stops Snuka from walking out the door, so Snuka throws him into the cage as he falls down in between the ropes. Snuka punishes Backlund with a fist drop from the second ropes and tries to leave again. Once more, Backlund prevents him from walking out and sends Snuka into the cage to bust him open. A catapult into the cage just makes matters worse for Snuka. Backlund heads for the door, but Snuka grabs him by the leg and mule kicks Backlund back inside. Knee drop connects. Snuka hits a suplex and starts to climb out the cage. Oh, but he canít resist! He tries to finish off Backlund for good with a SUPERFLY SPLASH FROM THE TOP OF THE CAGE. Sucks for Snuka because Backlund rolls away and crawls out the door just in time to win the match. (11:19) Much like Snukaís match with Muraco a year later, they are just known for that one spot. However, what a SPOT it was. No one had jumped off the top of a cage before. These famous Snuka dives were a big influence on a lot of New Yorkers at the time. BLOOD COUNT: Jimmy Snuka. ***
Bruno Sammartino (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Larry Zbyszko Ė Cage Match (8/9/80, Shea Stadium)
We finally get this one in full as well. Since there was no original commentary, Josh Mathews and Matt Striker join us in the booth. They donít really say a whole lot that you probably donít already know. This is the blowoff to the angle where Zbyszko turned on his mentor Bruno Sammartino in order to carve his own legacy in the WWF. Itís also pretty much the final hurrah for either man in the WWF, but only the beginning for Larry Z. Bruno beats the holy heck out of Zbyszko to start. Larry Z resorts to a low blow to get him to quit it. He tries to leave on several occasions, but keeps having to come back and dish out more cage violence on Sammartino. Larry Z punches Bruno in the left arm a whole bunch, which Iím sure has some meaning that alludes me right now. Iím assuming he just wants to avoid the bearhug. Sammartino comes back again and slams Zbyszko off the top turnbuckle when he tries to climb out. Larry Z goes back to pounding the arm. You donít normally see someone beating an arm as much as wrenching it. Eventually it gets so bad that Bruno blades his deltoid. He makes one last comeback and throws Larry Z into the cage a whole bunch, which gets him busted open as he sells each toss like death every time. The door opens and Bruno easily walks out with his back towards Zbyszko. Afterwards, Sammartino punches Zbyszko until he raises Brunoís hand in victory. YOU WILL RESPECT ME! Awesome. (13:59) Not the greatest match, but it was all about the angle here. This was Sammartino getting Larry Zbyszko alone and getting revenge for disrespecting him. BLOOD COUNT: Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko.**
Josh Mathews makes a big deal out of Sammartino-Zbyszko following Hogan-Andre, but doesnít seem to realize its 1980 when nobody knew who Hogan was and not 1987 when it was completely different. Mathews brings up how Texas wrestling was always filled with chaos and that World Class promoter Fritz Von Erich was well aware of cage matches as he competed in an Indian death match inside a cage in Ohio against Don Eagle back in 1960. Whoa, thereís no way that Vince Russo was booking back then, could he? An Indian death match inside a cage! Now twenty years later, one of his boys looks to take the NWA world title in a cage match of their own.
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich Ė Cage Match (Special Referee: Michael Hayes) (Dallas, TX 12/25/82)
Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich had met back in August in a CLASSIC 2/3 falls match to set this cage match up. The Freebirds were clearly fan favorites going into this match since Michael Hayes was ďvoted by the fansĒ to be the special referee. He appoints fellow Freebird Terry Gordy to stand outside the door as the gatekeeper. However, thereís your standard World Class referee David Manning and then thereís Michael Hayes, which is kind of odd. Flair plays the mind games to start, but Kerry has no mind, so they have no effect. He goes right for the knee of the champ. Flair escapes and chops Von Erich in the corner, but he fights out with right hands as Flair Flops to the mat. Flair goes low and snapmares Kerry for the Rolling Knee Drop. Flair ties Von Erich up in the ropes to get in some open shots, but Michael Hayes steps in and enforces the rules. Once Von Erich corners Flair, Hayes pushes Kerry back to confuse the crowd. Next up, Von Erich flips out of a suplex and grabs a sleeper. Real smooth transition there. Flair escapes with a back suplex, but Kerry maintains control with a fist drop off the top rope. He knee drops Flair, which gets him RILED up. A couple wild swings and Von Erich trips Flair up for a series of punches to the head to set up for the CLAW, but Flair knees him away. He starts choking Kerry in the ropes, which causes Hayes to get physically involved. They trade advantages on an ab stretch and when Flair hiptosses out, he misses an elbow drop. HERE COMES KERRY! He sends Flair face-first into the cage a couple times and then grates his forehead on the mesh. Flair is a bloody mess, but he kicks at the knee and begins to take Von Erich to school. Hayes pulls Flair off Kerry by his hair, which of course Flair doesnít like too much. Von Erich kicks away the FIGURE-FOUR a few times and then tosses Flair into the cage. He tries a knee drop of course using the worked-over knee, but misses. NOW~! Flair hooks on the FIGURE-FOUR with no problem. Eventually, Von Erich reverses the hold and wrenches on Flairís knee. He finds the cage is much more effective as Kerry grates Flairís face on the mesh some more. Flair goes low again and heads up top, but flies down into the CLAW! Once Von Erich has Flair down on the mat, he counts 1-2-NO! Hayes notices that Flair reached the bottom rope with his foot, but thatís enough to satisfy a break of the three-count. Since he canít reason with David Manning, Hayes physically has to break the CLAW himself. As Kerry gets all up in his face, Hayes tries to explain that Flair got his foot on the bottom rope to cause a break of the hold. Thatís a key moment in any great feud: the fans should be able to easily defend both sides of the angle for both parties involved. With Kerryís back turned, Flair runs up and knees him into Hayes. When Hayes tries to get Flair off Von Erich when heís stuck in the corner and canít, Hayes ends up cleaning Flairís clock with a right hand. With Flair down and out, he tells Von Erich to cover the world champ. Being a competitor and not wanting to win fair and square, Kerry refuses to take the win like that. YOU IDIOT! Hayes says screw you and walks out on this match. As Hayes starts to come out the door with Von Erich right behind him, Flair runs over and knees Von Erich into Hayes to knock him down to the floor. Oops! Since it appeared to Gordy that Von Erich shoved Hayes out, Gordy slams the cage door on Von Erich! Gordy helps Hayes back inside the cage. Hayes throws David Manning away and counts the pinfall on Von Erich even though he kicked out at two. Now heís just being a prick, but at least now it appears he has just cause. Again, thatís a KEY element in any great feud. The Freebirds give up on the match for good this time as they walk out and head to the locker room to a chorus of boos. The match continues. Flair stalks Von Erich all over the ring beating him senseless. That is until Kerry fights back and uses the last of his energy to KO Flair with a DISCUS PUNCH. Von Erich collapses and apparently canít continue, so David Manning calls for the bell to award Flair the victory while he remains flat on his back. (24:03) After the match, David and Kevin Von Erich check on their brother Kerry and vow revenge on the Freebirds. Dang, that was AWESOME drama near the end. While I liked the 2/3 falls match better, this is still really good overall and a truly important match in the history of World Class as the Von Erichs-Freebirds feud begins and completely turns the promotion around. BLOOD COUNT: Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich. ****
NWA World Tag Team Champions Ivan & Nikita Koloff (w/Khrusher Khrushchev) vs. The Rock N Roll Express (w/Don Kernodle) Ė Cage Match (NWA Starrcade 1985)
From my original Starrcade review. Nikita starts off naturally over-powering Morton. Once Morton uses his speed, he catches Nikita off-guard with a dropkick. Nikita wisely slows the pace down and hammers Morton to the mat. Ivan tags in, but he lets Morton run around. Morton nails him with a crossbody for a close near-fall. Morton grabs a headlock, but then Ivan crotches him on the top rope. Morton blocks a cage shot, and pounds Ivan back to his corner so he can tag in Gibson. The Express make frequent tags dominating the weaker and smaller Ivan Koloff, gaining several near-falls in the process. They also make sure Ivan tastes plenty of steel and busts him open. Ivan finally seizes the moment and tags in Nikita. Gibson tries to control Nikita by using his speed, but he runs right into a bearhug. Nikita takes full advantage of the cage and drives Gibsonís face right into it, several times. Morton has had enough and comes in to try and save, but that just causes a double-team on Gibson from the Koloffs. Yep, Gibson is bleeding now. Ivan tags in and takes Gibson to the steel for two. Gibson catches Ivan ducking low off a whip, but he canít make the tag. Nikita tags in and rules Gibson and then taunts at Morton to bring him in to cause another double-team on Gibson for two as Morton makes the save. Ivan goes for the Russian Straddle, but Gibson moves out of the way! Ivan gets right back on top and backs Gibson into his corner for a double-team beatdown. Ivan hits a leg drop for two. He tries another one, but Gibson avoids it. He still canít seem to make the tag as Nikita comes in and hooks on a chinlock. Gibson pounds and knees out of it, but Ivan tags in and cuts Gibson off from Morton. Ivan pounds Gibson to the mat and covers for two, as Gibson gets his foot on the bottom rope. Gibson fires back, but Nikita tags in and runs Gibson face-first into the cage. Nikita covers for two, but Morton comes in for the save. Ivan tags in and misses a clothesline, allowing Gibson to dropkick Ivan into the ref. Gibson covers and as Morton comes in, he gets blasted with a RUSSIAN SICKLE! Gibson stands back up and he takes a RUSSIAN SICKLE. Nikita places Ivan on top of Gibson, but referee Earl Hebner takes too long to make the count. Gibson makes a blind tag to Morton, who comes in and rolls up Ivan for the win to regain their NWA World tag titles as the crowd freakiní EXPLODES! (12:22) Afterwards, Nikita pushes Morton over the cage wall when he tries to escape another severe beating. That leaves Gibson to take a DOUBLE RUSSIAN SICKLE. Ivan whips Gibson with his chain until Sam Houston and Ron Bass finally head out for the save. Pretty decent match, which ends their feud and sets the stage perfectly to continue the RnR Express/Midnight Express feud in 1986. ***ľ
The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) vs. The Freebirds Ė Cage Match (AWA WrestleRock, 4/20/86)
The Freebirds ended up costing the Road Warriors the AWA world tag titles back in September 1985, and they are just now getting them in a cage in the Road Warriors final appearance for the AWA before working strictly for the NWA. Hayes struts and goes for a piledriver on Hawk right off the bat, but YOU CANíT GIVE HAWK A PILEDRIVER. He of course stands right back up and sends Hayes into the cage before giving him a press slam. Hayes wants to tag out, but Garvin doesnít want anything to do with the Road Warriors. Since Garvin wonít tag, Hayes tries to climb out the cage which means nothing outside the WWF. Hayes sneaks over and tags Garvin when he isnít looking. Hawk gives Garvin a Canadian backbreaker and drops to his knees. OUCH. Tag to Animal, he delivers his beautiful powerslam on Garvin for two. Garvin takes a gorilla press slam and tries to tag out, but this time Hayes walks away from the tag. Garvin has to resort to a low blow to slow down Animal. Now thereís an easy tag to Hayes. Animal catches Hayes with a back elbow and tags in Hawk. He gets cornered and worked over by the Freebirds. Hayes applies a figure-four, which seems ill-advised. Hawk reverses the hold and reverses a suplex into one of his own. Tag to Animal, he stomps a mudhole in Garvin. Garvin punches out of the corner as Hayes brings out some taped knux. He comes off the top turnbuckle, but Hayes nails Garvin by mistake. Animal covers Garvin for the 1-2-3. (7:19) Afterwards, Hawk has a little added fun with the taped knux. Not a great match by any means, but I guess it served its purpose of the Road Warriors getting some revenge. **
Josh Mathews credits Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher as the main inspiration for the hardcore style we would see popularized in the 1990s.
Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher (w/Gary Hart) Ė Cage Match (Special Referee: Fritz Von Erich) (Cotton Bowl Extravaganza, 10/12/86)
Well this looks like itíll be a mess. Fritz checks all over Abdullahís massive body for foreign objects. Everything short of a full body scan, which would regrettably have been the only effective measure here. Lots of headbutts. Lots of choking. Lots of kicks. Abdullah blades. You know the drill. Abdullah pulls out a fork and jabs Brody. Fritz takes the object away and when Abdullah tries to take it back, Fritz starts JABBING HIM WITH IT! Yeah, Abdullah is finished. Fritz helps Bruiser over to cover Abdullah for the 1-2-3. (8:03) Simply a short attraction match. This was during a tough time for World Class as these Cotton Bowl shows just kept drawing less and less people every time out until Fritz Von Erich sold out to Jerry Jarrett in 1988. ĺ*
AWA World Tag Team Champions Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (w/Sherri Martel) vs. The Midnight Rockers Ė Cage Match (Brawl in St. Paul, 12/25/86)
Apparently this is non-title. Youíll see why at the end. Like any good cage match, it starts out with the faces bouncing the heels off the cage. Thanks to the STEEL mesh, Rose and Somers get to bleeding real quick fast and in a hurry. This is ALL Rockers for the first ten minutes as they hardly break a sweat making these two bleed. Somers goes low on Michaels to FINALLY turn the tide as commentator Rod Trongard takes fifteen seconds to describe what Somers just did. Itís just what the Rod does. Rose tags in and catapults Shawn into the cage to bust him WIDE open. After he sends Shawn into the cage a bunch, Rose DDTs Shawn for 1-2-NO! We look to the audience to see one person wearing a Nixon mask and another is wearing a Reagan mask. Why hasnít their been a Nixon mask -Reagan mask tag team? Seems like a CHIKARA thing. Call them the Ruthless Republicans or something. I donít know. That was just off the top of my head. The name has to use alliteration though. It just does. Moving on. Rose and Somers continue to use the cage against Shawn Michaels. Meanwhile, a fan apparently has thrown a drink all over Sherri. Haha, why not. Even after being in total control, Somers and Rose canít keep Shawnís shoulders down for three. Shawn finally fires back and knee lifts Somers to set up a HOT TAG TO JANNETTY! The tag is just too hot though as Rose gives up and tries to climb out. Jannetty pulls Rose back up onto the rim of the cage before punching him down to the mat. As Jannetty climbs down onto the top turnbuckle, Shawn superkicks Somers into a Flying Bodypress from Jannetty for the 1-2-3! (17:48) Like I said, this must have been non-title because this is before the Rockers tag titles switch and after Rose and Somers won the straps. After the match, Rose and Somers see that Jannetty isnít busted open, so Shawn gets kicked out the cage while Sherri keeps the door shut. Rose and Somers get their wish though as they grate Jannettyís forehead across the cage. Shawn eventually overpowers Sherri and breaks inside to clean house. Dang, Jannetty looks BAD. Just a brutal fight with tons of blood. Theyíve had better matches before this one, but this is definitely worth a look. BLOOD COUNT: Buddy Rose, Doug Somers, Shawn Michaels, and Marty Jannetty. ***Ĺ
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan) Ė Cage Match (WrestleFest, 7/31/88)
From my original WrestleFest review. This needs no introduction. Lots of choking with Hulkís shirt to start. Andre ties Hoganís neck to the cage using the shirt and starts to walk out, but ripping shirts is Hulkís specialty. Hulk breaks free and prevents Andre from escaping the cage. Andre stops Hogan from climbing out and drops an elbow for good measure. Hogan keeps Andre from walking out the cage door, but canít keep Andre from pulling off the turnbuckle pad. Superstar Graham asks a perfectly logical question: why do you need to expose the turnbuckle to hurt your opponent when youíre surrounded by steel already? Andre finally gets it off while fighting off Hogan at the same time. Hogan gets his head rammed into the exposed buckle, thus calling for a blade job. Andre headbutts and smashes Hulkís cut forehead on the steel bars. Hulk stops Andre from walking out the door again and easily sidesteps a big boot to come back with a clothesline. Hogan beats the Giant down and hits a LEGDROP. Meanwhile on the floor, Bobby Heenan KOís the ref and gets inside the cage to keep Hulk from climbing out, but itís no use. Heenan gets nailed, Hogan grabs Heenanís taped knux from his jacket, KOís Andre, tosses Heenan into the cage wall, and climbs out because climbing out is the spectacular way to win a cage match as opposed to just walking through the door. Yeah, Hulkís all about the RAZZLE DAZZLE! He wakes up the ref Joey Marella to signal for the bell. (10:03) Aside from the SummerSlam main event, this was the end as far as big time matches go with Hogan vs. Andre headlining the card. After SummerSlam, Andre went on to feud with Jake Roberts and turned face at WrestleMania 6 before wrapping up his career. BLOOD COUNT: Hulk Hogan. Ĺ*
Final Thoughts: They tried to avoid repeats where possible and gave us a varied mix of some of the major territories of the 1980s that they now own the video libraries to. What we didnít get in full length on the Bloodbath DVD, we got it here. With disc one, whatís bad is pretty short and the good is worth seeing like the historic Flair-Von Erich match, the bloody Rockers match, and the dramatic to the end RNR Express-Koloffs match. The WWF stuff was pretty fun too. On with discs two and three!