Before The Camera Rolls: Volume #1
When it comes to professional wrestling television shows, fans are often provided television content ranging from one hour to three hours. Sometimes it is good programming and other times it’s dreadfully awful. Often times, fans in attendance are given dark matches that aren’t aired on television. Sometimes the matches are just a way to get the crowd riled up for the TV product for a better presentation.
There’s also times when the dark match is used as a tryout match for potential new wrestlers joining a company. That’s exactly what this series is all about. I’ll be looking at dark matches that have been uploaded onto YouTube. There will be several editions of this, similar to my WCW Worldwide 2000 series. Lets get this started.
Match #1: Justin Credible vs. Kid Kash
Date: September 18th, 2001
Reason Reviewed: It had been nine months since ECW closed its doors. Justin Credible already had a job in the WWE as a lower mid card jobber, for the most part. He’d maintain that spot for another year or so. However, Kid Kash wasn’t signed after demise of ECW. He had a very brief run in WCW. This was a tryout match for Kash, but apparently WWE had no interest in signing him and the tryout was a favor to Paul Heyman. I’m curious to see how Kash did in a major tryout and WWE was just jerks about not signing him.
Kash got a little bit a pop from the crowd showing that he’s at least known by some in the audience. There’s a small ECW chant that has continued on for sixteen years now. Credible has the early advantage wrenching on Kid’s arm. Kash counters but Credible quickly reaches the ropes to break the hold. Credible fakes Kash out and controls him with strikes. Kash takes Credible over with a head scissors followed by a dropkick and arm drag that sends Credible to the floor. Kash hits a springboard somersault dive to the floor!
Back in the ring, Kash goes for a cover but Credible kicks out at two. Credible stops Kash with a twisting DDT and taunts the fans. Credible stomps on Kash in the corner before hitting a sit down power bomb out of the corner. Credible chokes Kash over the top rope before going to a sleeper hold. Credible stops Kash with a snap power slam for a near fall. Kash fights back with right hands but Credible stops him. Credible kicks Kash away and Kash falls head first onto the groin on Credible! Kash drops Credible after a few right hands followed by a tornado DDT. Kash takes Credible down with an impressive double jump hurricanrana out of the corner. Kash attempts a top rope moonsault but misses. Credible takes care of business with a superkick for the win. (***. For a dark match, this was really a lot of fun. Kash would have been great for the eventual Cruiserweight division that happened in 2002. Credible worked well for his ECW buddy and gave him quite a bit. I understand that the roster was really bloated at the time, but Kash probably should have been signed prior to his eventual signing in 2005.)
Match #2: Steve Bradley vs. Scott Vick
Date: September 18th, 2001
Reason Reviewed: Originally, I thought Scott Vick was going to be Sick Boy from WCW fame, Instead, it’s a guy who looks like Dolph Ziggler time traveled to 2001. Steve Bradley is a guy I remember reading about in the PWI magazines and was often highlighted as a big deal on the independents. So, at least that has my interest. (After doing more research, it might actually be the same Scott Vick that I thought it was, but he sure looks different.)
Vick goes for a quick rollup but only manages a two count. Bradley misses a cheap shot in the corner and Vick delivers more right hands. Vick runs into a big boot but backdrops Bradley followed by a right hand. Vick hits a twisting vertical suplex for a near fall. Bradley stuns Vick with a jaw breaker and an atomic drop. Bradley continues with a clothesline and right hands. Bradley continues with a knee lift for a two count. They trade right hands until Bradley connects with a swinging neck breaker. Bradley drives Vick down with a vertical suplex for another two count. Vick fights back with right hands but Bradley comes back with a middle rope dropkick for a two count. Bradley keeps Vick on the canvas with a chin lock. Vick runs into a back elbow and Bradley nearly won the match. Bradley misses a spear hitting the ring post shoulder first. Vick plants Bradley with a DDT. Vick springboards off the middle rope to hit a back elbow and drives Bradley face first down to the canvas from the middle rope. Vick drives Bradley down with a back suplex but can’t put him away. Bradley finishes Vick off with the Roll of the Dice, which caused Charles Robinson to do a cartwheel before beginning the count. (**. A perfectly fine match but neither man was overly impressive here. Bradley came across as having a lot more experience. The finish cracked me up due to Charles Robinson awkwardly going for the count after a cartwheel.)
Match #3: The Dupps (Bo & Jack) vs. Christian York & Joey Matthews
Date: May 1st, 2000
Reason Reviewed: The Dupps had recently left ECW looking to get into one of the bigger companies. York and Matthews hadn’t quite made it to ECW, but were a popular team on the independents. Apparently, after this match the young team were sent down to ECW to learn their craft better.
Now, even in a dark match York and Matthews don’t get an entrance. Three guys in the front row chant ECW because they are hip and know stuff. Matthews and Jack start the match with Matthews getting tossed across the ring. Jack pummels Matthews in the corner and plays to the crowd. Matthews takes Jack down with a tilt a whirl head scissors and an arm drag to keep control of the match. Jack decks Matthews down and doesn’t see York get tagged in. Jack is taken down with a double suplex. Both Dupps are dropkicked to the floor by the young duo. York takes Jack down with a head scissors on the floor. Matthews comes off the top to take the Dupps out with a cross body on the floor! Matthews knocks Jack off the apron but gets ran over by Bo in the ring. Bo nails Matthews with a forearm shot for a two count. Matthews continues to be double teamed with a double shoulder block.
Matthews fights back with right hands on Jack and gets a boot up in the corner but Jack stops him with a big power slam. Bo slams Matthews and gets a two count after an elbow drop. Matthews gets yanked down by his hair and Bo taunts York. Matthews is double teamed while the referee is distracted. Jack drops Matthews with a quick clothesline and drives his elbow down onto Matthews for a two count. Jack locks in an abdominal stretch but Matthews gets loose and ducks a clothesline to hit a German suplex! York gets the hot tag as does Bo and York cleans house with super kicks. York backdrops Jack and plants Bo with a tornado DDT. All four men are in the ring with York and Matthews pummeling the Dupps. Matthews gets dumped to the floor and York is finished off with a double spine buster. (*1/2. Not anything really to go nuts about. I’ve never been a fan of the Dupp Brothers. Matthews and York did a fine job here and York actually came across as a more impressive talent when it was usually Matthews getting that kind of praise, if I recall correctly.)
Match #4: Nick Dinsmore vs. Rico Constantino
Date: April 16th, 2001
Reason Reviewed: Dinsmore and Rico are two mainstays in OVW at the time. I’m sure this was a way for WWE officials to see what they had going on down in their developmental system. Dinsmore was a huge deal in OVW and was thought of as a huge star for the WWE in the future. Of course, he did become a star for a short period of time, but with a drastically different persona.
Rico backs Dinsmore into the corner and delivers a few knee lifts and chops to get the early advantage. Dinsmore reverses and does the same to Rico. Rico goes for a hip toss but Dinsmore counters with a bulldog for a two count. Dinsmore comes off the ropes with a cross body for a two count. Dinsmore yanks down on Rico’s arm after lifting him into the air a couple of times. Dinsmore has a rollup but Rico counters by driving Dinsmore gut first onto the canvas. Dinsmore battles back with a dropkick and a nice bridging suplex for a near fall. Rico drops Dinsmore across the top rope and knee lifts Nick to the floor. Rico baseball slides Dinsmore and continues with a scoop slam on the floor. They get back into the ring where Rico hits a front slam three times for a two count. Dinsmore nearly wins with a rollup. Rico nails Dinsmore with a standing spin kick and hammers away on Dinsmore some more. Dinsmore gets a sleeper hold and drops down for a slam. Rico scoop slams Dinsmore and goes to the top rope where Rico misses a moonsault. Dinsmore drops Rico after a few jabs and a backdrop. Dinsmore tries to get the crowd behind him but that doesn’t really work. Dinsmore hits a missile dropkick for a near fall. Dinsmore attempts a German suplex but Rico counters with a backdrop slam and wins the match. (*1/2. They didn’t really the crowd into the match which hurt. Rico showed his charisma and came across as if he was far more ready than Dinsmore.)
Match #5: Taka Michinoku vs. Chris Chetti
Date: March 19th, 2001
Reason Reviewed: I’ve always enjoyed Taka’s work in the WWE. But, this is another example of a favor for Paul Heyman. Chetti is another former ECW wrestler who gets a tryout to possibly work for the company. Chetti was usually very inconsistent in ECW when it came to in-ring talent. How would he fare with a contract with the WWE possibly within reach?
Chetti is sporting bleach blonde hair. Taka takes Chetti down to the canvas at the start of the match but neither man has long lasting offense. Chetti takes Taka down to the canvas for a near fall. Chetti has a front face lock but Taka gets out of that quickly. Chetti shoulder blocks Taka and hits a hip toss and an arm drag. Chetti drop toe holds Taka followed by a leg drop. Chetti super kicks Taka off the apron and takes both Taka and Funaki out with a slingshot cross body to the floor. Chetti chops Taka and gets distracted by Funaki allowing Taka to hit a spinning heel kick. Taka delivers a kick to the back of Chetti and dropkicks Chetti in the seated position. Taka scoop slams Chetti and goes to middle rope missing a senton splash. Chetti comes back with a reverse DDT. Chetti backdrops Taka and a standing heel kick for a two count. Chetti hits a twisting Death Valley Driver for a two count. Funaki distracts Chetti and soon Taka hit the Michinonku Driver for the win! (**. Chetti had a few shining moments and didn’t come across sloppy like he often did in ECW. This might be a random observation, but Chetti throws a good looking punch.)
What are your thoughts or reactions to these dark matches? Do any of them surprise you? On the next edition of the series, the following matches will be highlighted
– Chris Chetti gets another tryout match against his former tag team partner in ECW, Nova.
– Billy Kidman teams with Tommy Dreamer to battle Bobby Roode before he got glorious and his partner Kingman.
– Brock Lesnar & Shelton Benjamin team up to take on BJ Payne & Shooter.
– Rico Constantino takes on Randy Orton in singles action.
– Brock Lesnar & Shelton Benjamin team again to take on the Disciples of Synn.
Thanks for reading.