The YouTube channel Bryan Turner’s VHS Rehab has become one of the best channels for independent wrestling footage on the internet. Specifically, the channel has been able to bring Tennessee independent wrestling to light that was previously lost or forgotten. Bryan has tackled the task of digitizing hundreds of VHS tapes and the number continues to grow. In this expansive series, I’ll be reviewing some interesting matches that catch my eye. There’s really no shortage of them. Lets get it started.
Match #1: The Fabulous Ones (Lane & Keirn ) vs. Bill Dundee & Jerry Lawler – NWA Wrestling – 5/1/1999
Reason For Reviewing: Whenever I think about Tennessee wrestling Jerry Lawler quickly comes to mind. For my Memphis viewing habits, I’ve been watching from 1986 onwards, so Lawler is the top guy and his partner, Dundee, is typically his foil. I’ve always liked Stan Lane and whenever Keirn isn’t Skinner, he’s fun in the ring, too. So, seeing this match on the channel was a no brainer for me to check out. Sure, the match is 1999 and they are all past their primes, but there could still be some entertainment somewhere during the match.
Keirn and Dundee kickoff the match with Keirn decking Dundee with a right hand out of the corner. Dundee retreats back to his corner. Keirn gets wrist control on Dundee and gets a rollup for a near fall. Dundee wants a test of strength, but Keirn isn’t interested. Keirn decks Lawler with a right hand and the same to Dundee. Lawler legally enters the match to try his luck against Keirn. Keirn forearms Lawler and hits a hip toss out of the corner. Lawler backs Keirn into a corner to deliver a strike. Lawler tries for a hip toss, but is met with a clothesline and Keirn struts before tagging in Lane. Lane wants to shake hands with Lawler, but the fans don’t want him to offer a hand. Lane knee lifts Lawler in the corner followed by a backdrop off the ropes and taunts Lawler. Lane kicks Dundee to the mat, but Dundee quickly gets up and backs off in the corner. Lane gets a wrist lock on Lawler to maintain control of the contest. Lawler decks Lane to the mat with a right hand. Lane kicks Lawler on the butt and Lawler goes to the corner to regroup.
Lane continues to have the crowd behind him and Lawler backs off into the corner. Lawler gets wrist control on Lane, but is taken down to the mat and has his face rubbed on the mat before being stomped by Lane. Lawler is backed into a corner and is met with a double right hand before crawling to his corner and tagging in Dundee. Dundee sends Lane into the corner, but Lane struts around and taunts Dundee. Dundee struts, but is kicked by Lane to drop to the mat. Lane stomps on Dundee’s fingers while Lawler has gottena. Chain from his boot. Lawler decks Lane while the referee is distracted. Lawler delivers a standing fist drop with th echain around his fist. Dundee tags in Lawler and rams Lane into the corner. Cat chokes Lane from the floor over the middle rope. Lawler decks Lane with a right hand. Lawler delivers an overhand strike off the middle rope and Dundee chokes Lane from the floor with Cat.
Lawler hip tosses Lane and does another strut to get some heat from the crowd. A fan tries to get involved and is escorted out by security quickly. Lane tries to fight back with strikes, but is beaten down and Dundee gets a two count. Lawler elbows Lane to the mat and goes for a piledriver spiking Lane to the mat. Dundee is eye raked by Lane. Dundee delivers a strike, but Lane drops Dundee with another punch. Lawler returns to the match and drops Lane with a right hand. Lawler goes for a cover, but Lane kicks out at two. Lawler sends Lane into the ropes, but Lane gets a sunset flip. The referee isn’t paying attention and Lane is beaten down some more by Dundee. Lawler continues to work over Lane with strikes, but Lane sneaks a low blow to stop Lawler. Lane crawls away from Lawler a few times and decks Lawler with a right hand. Lawler stomps Lane to the floor. Dundee cheap shots Lane with a chair shot to the midsection from the floor. Dundee holds a chair on the floor and Lawler is rammed face first into the chair. Lane decks Lawler and tags in Keirn. Keirn cleans house with strikes and rams Dundee into the corner.
All four men are in the ring fighting when Cat gets on the apron and has her music play. Cat begins to take her clothing off to distract the referee and the audience. Keirn knocks Lawler down and Lane gets the cover on Lawler to win the match. (*1/2. Action wise there wasn’t much going on here, but considering this took place in 1999 and all these guys are well past their primes it shouldn’t come to a surprise. They knew what worked for the crowd and they were able to generate consistent crowd reaction and hold interest despite the lack of exciting action. Cat stripping her clothing off was not something I was expecting, but at least there was still an actual finish, too.)
Match #2: NWA World Champion Sabu vs. Mike Rapada – NWA World Championship – 12/22/2000
Reason For Reviewing: Growing up, I was a big time reader of the PWI magazines and still am since I have an unhealthy amount of magazines. Mike Rapada is a guy that would also go by the name of Colorado Kid and at one point was the NWA World Champion. I’ve never watched a match of his and considering Sabu can either be real bad or real good, I thought this was a good choice.
They start off trading right hands in the middle of the ring until Sabu sends Rapada through the ropes to the floor. Sabu follows and continues to hammer away on Rapada. Sabu smashes Rapada with a chair shot to the face. Rapada sends Sabu face first into the post and rolls Sabu into the ring to deliver an elbow drop. Sabu focuses his offense on the arm with an arm bar. Sabu wrenches on the arm, but Rapada doesn’t give in. Rapada sends Sabu into the corner after a commercial, but misses an elbow. Sabu has a chair in the ring and leaps off the chair to splash Rapada in the corner. Sabu hits a triple jump moonsault and both men are down. Sabu goes for the cover, but Rapada kicks out at two. Rapada runs into an elbow and is backdropped to the floor in the corner.
Sabu follows to the floor and trade strikes until Sabu rolls Rapada into the ring to deliver more strikes. Sabu stomps on Rapada, but Rapada rams Sabu into the corner back first to gain control. Sabu sends Rapada chest first into the corner and hits a springboard heel kick and an Arabian moonsault. Sabu covers after an elbow drop for a two count. Rapada hits a bulldog out of the corner. Rapada goes to the top rope missing a moonsault. Sabu slides a chair into the ring and leg drops the chair onto Rapada’s face for a near fall. Sabu sets a table up and grabs a step ladder from the floor. Sabu tries to set the table up, but Rapada cuts Sabu off with strikes. Rapada is laid onto the table and Sabu hits a top rope leg drop through the table, but Rapada got his boot on the bottom rope. Sabu tosses a chair onto Rapada and goes to the top again. Sabu has a chair with him and misses an Arabian facebuster. Rapada tries for a cover, but Sabu kicks out. Rapada plants Sabu with a sit down over the shoulder driver and pins Sabu to win the title. (**. It’s a less than ten minute match shown on their local TV, but it was a fine match. I didn’t think Rapada looked awful in there and Sabu managed to hit all his trademark spots with no issue it seemed like. I do like that Rapada uses the Rikishi Driver finish as it’s a devastating move.)
Match #3: Tracy Smothers vs. Chris Harris – USA Championship Wrestling – 2004
Reason For Reviewing: Two of my favorite wrestlers to watch especially around this time. Smothers has become one of my favorites from seeing his SMW run and Harris as a singles wrestler in 2004 was someone I was heavily behind. Smothers was in the midst of a pretty good tag team run with Chris Hamrick and Harris is in his prime. I’m hoping for this one to be a lot of quality action.
They lockup with Smothers getting wrist control, but Harris counters. Smothers regains wrist control on the mat and gets a headlock on Smothers. Smothers knee lifts free and takes Harris down with a headlock, but Harris head scissors free and is shoved. They get in each others face with Smothers slapping Harris and Harris responds with slaps. Harris and Smothers trade strikes until Smothers eye rakes Harris. Harris powerslams Smothers for a two count. Smothers connects with a leaping shoulder block and taunts the crowd. Smothers backhands Harris a couple of times in the corner. Harris avoids Smothers in the corner and delivers a few strikes and a bulldog out of the corner. Harris clotheslines Smothers over the top to the floor. Harris takes Smothers out with a slingshot crossbody to the floor. Harris continues with left hands on the floor before returning to the ring. Harris hits a top rope crossbody, but Smothers dumps Harris through the ropes to the floor.
Smothers baseball slides Harris on the floor and continues to taunt the fans at ringside. Smothers rams Harris into the apron back first and into the ring steps face first. Smothers continues with ramming Harris on the steps face first. Harris misses a left hand and hits the post instead. Smothers gets a two count in the ring. Harris fights back with left hands, but Smothers plants Harris with a DDT for a two count. Smothers takes Harris down with snapmare and keeps control with a sleeper while using the ropes for leverage. The referee sees Smothers cheating to break the hold. Harris gets a rollup for a two count. Smothers dropkicks Harris to regain control of the contest. Smothers covers managing a near fall. Smothers keeps a sleeper on Harris for a few moments. Harris responds with a DDT of his own and both men are down. Smothers chops Harris in the corner a few times. Harris fights back with chops and an atomic drop. Harris connects with a leaping clothesline and pummels Smothers with left hands in the corner. Harris connects with a full nelson slam for a two count. Harris tries for Catatonic, but Smothers breaks free and hits a flatliner. Smothers hits a leaping kick to the back of the head and then to the face for a near fall. Smothers sends Harris into the corner and Harris comes out to hit a neckbreaker and a spear! Harris goes to the top rope hitting an elbow drop. Harris hits the Catatonic, but Chase Stevens comes out to pull the referee out and decks Harris with a chain. The referee recovers and counts the fall to give Smothers the victory. (***. A solid match and a hot crowd for it. I was a bit surprised that Smothers won even with the assist, but that’s the crazy thing about Indies is you never know what will happen. It was also a little bizarre that Smothers wrestled the match without wearing his usual boots. Anyway, this didn’t disappoint and was a good match.)
Match #4: The Naturals vs. Risky Business – Xpolsion – 6/10/2003
Reason For Reviewing: Over at the TNA Cross The Line podcast, the team of Vaughn and Santel has become a legendary team. They were security for TNA and we joked about Santel ever wrestling let alone win a match. It’s clear that these two teams had some lengthy feuds throughout Tennessee that I’ll likely cover another time. But, lets see this action from a rarely seen episode of TNA Xpolsion!
All four men are in the ring brawling. Business backdrop and dropkick the Naturals to the floor. Santel atomic drops Stevens and Vaughn hits a neckbreaker leading to a near fall by Santel. Santel decks Steens with a kick to the face. Vaughn delivers an axe handle to Stevens and misses a right hand. Douglas yanks Vaughn to the mat and is beaten down. Douglas hits a tilt a whirl backbreaker for a two count on Vaughn. Douglas stomps on Vaughn, but Vaughn fights back with strikes. Stevens returns to the match and punches Vaughn in the midsection. Vaughn is worked over by Stevens with forearms to the back. Douglas chokes Vaughn in the corner while the referee is distracted. Stevens takes Vaughn over with a snap suplex for a near fall. Stevens delivers a backbreaker to Vaughn for a two count. Douglas headbutts Vaughn on the lower midsection. Douglas keeps a front face lock on Vaughn. The referee doesn’t see the tag to Santel and Vaughn continues to be double teamed. Stevens uppercuts Vaughn to the mat. Vaughn hits a float over DDT and both men are down. Vaughn kicks Stevens and Stevens goes to deck Santel off the apron, but Vaughn gets a rollup and pins Stevens for the win! (**. There was a noticeable crowd energy to this match. Tenay and West promoted their indie feud fairly well on commentary to make sure the history is known between the two teams. I thought this was actually very effective in making the viewer want to see more. The Naturals are a great team and Vaughn did very well in his babyface in peril. Santel didn’t have much involvement, but his brief offense was fine for what it was.)
That wraps up the first installment of the series. If you check out Bryan Turner’s VHS Rehab feel free to pass along suggestions to be covered in this series. He uploads matches and segments Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Saturday’s he posts a full show from his collection thus far.
Thanks for reading.