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Terry Funk’s WrestleFest 9/11/1997

Written by: Arnold Furious

We’re in Amarillo, Texas. September 11th 1997. Host is Joey Styles.

TRIBUTE – Fritz Von Erich. We have a moment of silence and the 10 bell salute.

W*ING Kanemura v Roadkill

Kanemura is being the happy babyface tonight. Roadkill hails from “the streets of New York” and has yet to graduate from the House of Hardcore. Roadkill overpowers so Kanemura gets all motivated and hits a TOPE. Some of the old time Texans in the front row look suitably impressed. Everyone hoots and hollers. I need to see more wrestling from Texas. Drop toehold and a legdrop to the back of the head gets 2. Roadkill goes low twice. Outside Roadkill gets a chair and bashes Kanemura with it twice. Sideslam gets 2. Urinage gets 2. Kanemura tries for some sort of splash but Roadkill cuts him down with a clothesline for 2. Roadkill goes up top but misses and gets killed with a spinning heel kick. Kanemura sweeps the legs for 2. Kanemura avoids a powerbomb and dropkicks the knee. Crowd chants “USA”. Oh dear. Jingoism is a fine thing. Kanemura drops the senton for the pin at 5.59. *1/4. The crowd kept cheering for the wrong stuff and their match was too short to adapt. Ah well. Decent start. Crowd generally made a lot of noise.

ECW TV title – Taz (c) v Chris Candido

Apparently Taz didn’t have to defend his title here but he insisted. Taz has already beaten Candido in defence of the belt once (at Hardcore Heaven ’97). These two switch a lot and Taz owns Candido with judo moves. Both guys are getting booed here. Candido complains of a pull on the tights so Taz goes to the crossface punches. Candido tries a bunch of flipping to try and get somewhere but Taz hooks his ankle. Candido gets into the ropes. POWERBOMB from Candido and he taunts Taz with his own arms folding pose. That only gets 1. Snap suplex and Candido stamps on the neck. Candido tries something off the ropes but he’s caught in a belly to belly Tazplex. Candido with an Ensiguri for 2. Taz gets up a head of speed before ducking into a T-BONE TAZPLEX. Candido gets suplexed again but blocks in the corner into a super rana for 2. TAZMISSION! That was out of nowhere and finishes at 7.22. **. There was nothing with this other than the fact they tended to leave out transitions and just keep hitting spots.

Shark Tsuchiya v Lady Cooga

Shark with power while Cooga looks to out wrestle her opponent. She nearly gets a half crab in the early going. Cooga gets suckered into a test of strength and then gets her arm stretched. Tornado DDT from Cooga though. Crowd enjoys that but she’s caught on a crossbody and slammed. Flying headscissors impresses the crowd again only for her celebration to cost her a clothesline. Rolling kick from Cooga and another DDT. Diving knee strike gets 2. They switch avoiding some really big moves. Shark hits a back suplex for 2. Shark looks to have had enough and hits a bunch of clotheslines until Cooga doesn’t get up anymore at 6.53. *. Nowhere near good. I blame Shark for her plodding offence that didn’t seem to go anywhere.

The Youngbloods v The Bushwackers
I’m sure I had a rule about not reviewing Bushwackers matches. As per usual they absolutely suck. Chris suggests that the Bushwackers walk like they do because they take it in the ass. I’m actually beginning to doubt that Butch can take a back bump. Luke considers getting a chair. Nothing happening. More “USA” chants. Chris gets beaten down for a heat segment. His comeback is ugly as sin. Everyone piles in and Mark gets some heat on him too with a double gutbuster. Chris dropkicks Mark onto Butch and that’s it at 10.18. HEY! That was supposed to be 10 minutes on the time limit. You filthy whores. DUD. I should have fast-forwarded it.

The Sandman v Balls Mahoney
Sandman takes 5 minutes getting out here. Buh Buh Ray Dudley jumps Sandman prior to his match with Balls Mahoney before caning the hell out of him and hitting him in the nuts. Balls takes exception and comes out here with his chair. Buh Buh claims to have softened Sandman up for Balls. But Balls doesn’t want it that way.

Buh Buh Ray Dudley v Balls Mahoney

So we get this instead with Mahoney making it no DQ. How? If the ref didn’t sanction it Balls threatened to chair shot him. Balls hits the wind up eye poke. Flying forearm gets 2. Dudley comes back with a bulldog. He’s not popular here. Sandman is still out here. I’m guessing he was either too drunk to wrestle or injured. Buh Buh breaks out the dancing. I loved that. Balls climbs and hits a diving clothesline for 2. Balls misses the spin kick and falls outside bashing his coccyx on the apron in the process. Buh Buh uses the chair and pastes Balls with a couple of beers. I’m guessing they don’t do that in Texas often because that gets a big reaction. It wakes Balls up though and he superkicks Buh Buh. Balls has the chair and sets up the hardest chair shot in wrestling. Buh Buh tries to dropkick it and misses. By a mile. Oh dear. Sandman hands his cane over to Balls as Mahoney absorbs a chair shot. That gets 2. Balls ducks the chair and canes Buh Buh for the win at 6.00. Ѕ*. Mostly garbage with one really badly blown spot. This show isn’t shaping up too well.

ECW title – Shane Douglas (c) w/Francine v Tommy Dreamer w/Beulah
Douglas gets on the mic to cut a promo on Texas, which doesn’t endear himself to the crowd. He also makes it not for the title because he’s not paying homage to a “53 year old piece of shit”. That REALLY gets him some serious heat. Dreamer uses the mic to bash Douglas in the head and groin before clotheslining him outside. Douglas gets bashed with a beer as well. Dreamer bounces Douglas’ head off the apron 10 times and hits him with another beer. Chair shot follows and Douglas is out on the floor. Back inside Douglas dropkicks the chair back at Dreamer. Some fan calls Douglas a “Lex Luger wannabe”. Man, I can hear Shane Douglas forcing himself to hold back on that one. Back inside Douglas hits a clothesline off the top. Stalling suplex gets 2. Douglas dropkicks the knee leaving Dreamer down. Francine gets in to drop herself on Dreamer’s knee. Dreamer takes exception and chases her but Douglas cuts him off. That guy is on Douglas’ case again so the Franchise takes it out on Dreamer with a chair shot. Shinbreaker onto the chair and Douglas dropkicks it for good measure. Douglas with the Figure Four and Dreamer has to fight out. The girls come in and both rake the eyes. Dreamer gets a roll up for a long 2 count. Douglas climbs but gets distracted and thrown off. Dreamer with a bulldog for 2. Dreamer calls for the DDT but Francine is in to stop it. Beulah in – CATFIGHT! Francine wins but Dreamer grabs her for the DDT. Douglas clips the knee and works Beulah over for extra added heat. Belly to belly leaves Beulah lying. Dreamer gets a roll up for 2. DVD gets 2. BELLY TO BELLY gets 2. DDT and Francine has to save. Now she’s going to get an ass kicking. PILEDRIVER! Crowd goes nuts. Douglas is back up though and the BELLY TO BELLY finishes at 10.11. ***. That was tremendous fun. Kind of an ‘ECW in a nutshell’ kind of match. Plus Douglas got himself some SERIOUS goddamn heat.

Dory Funk Jr v Rob Van Dam

This strikes me as somewhat of a mismatch. Dory is like 60 years old. Fonzie irritates everyone pre-match. RVD swings a few kicks more showing off than aiming. RVD sells a headlock like death and then gets elbowed out of the ring. Fonzie has a few words for Dory, which gets him to follow while RVD continues to stall. He sweeps the legs going back in but Dory moves out of the corner and hits some European uppercuts. Dory points at himself. Heh. Outside and RVD does a somersault plancha. Dory gets hit by it but takes his sweet time falling over. RVD hits a few more kicks but he’s working really soft on the old man and you can see him slapping his legs and stuff to make some more noise (more so than usual). Legdrop off the top gets 2. Dory comes back with a hard forearm. Butterfly suplex! FUNK SPINNING TOEHOLD. RVD gets the ropes. Fonzie slips him a chair. VAN DAMINATOR. Slingshot stomp of sorts. This is the softest I’ve ever seen RVD work and it’s completely exposing him. Rolling splash gets 2. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH gets 2. RVD’s cover was lax on that. More kicks from RVD but Dory starts ducking them. Funk Spinning Toehold is blocked into a roll up for 2. Dory dumps him on his head off a back suplex. Dory shoots the half and hooks a leg for the pin at 11.31. *3/4. I’m torn because I love the whole old guy v new style approach they took. Dory was completely flustered by anything flashy but found it easy to ground RVD with basics. Having said that RVD looked completely exposed and missed half of the stuff he did because he was trying too hard to protect Dory. As a spectacle it’s great fun but as a match it’s sloppy as hell. Too bad they couldn’t find some middle ground.

Mankind v Sabu

This is just weird with Foley using his WWF gimmick against Sabu. Mankind is in his first WWF babyface run. I think timeline wise this is just after the first appearance of Dude Love. Sabu starts quicker and hits a spinning heel kick. Mankind bails and Sabu wipes him out with a slingshot hilo. Mick stays down holding his knee. Sabu goes for another dive but Mankind hasn’t move. Sabu dropkicks the leg away as he comes back in. Fonzie slides a chair in and Sabu rams the knee into it. AIR SABU! That gets 2. He tries for another but Mankind greets him with an elbow to the face. Super rana scores for Sabu though and he pins for 2. Sabu tries for a springboard super rana to cap it off but Mankind catches him and crotches him. Mankind charges with a chair but gets boots into it. They fuck up a spot on the ropes. Sabu moves on the ropes and Mankind hits the middle rope and drops down. Sabu sets up a table. Mankind is dumped on it. Sabu goes up but Mankind gets up and clotheslines him back inside. He calls for a suplex but it’s blocked. Fonzie is in the way and Mankind grabs him allowing Sabu to dive into him. They both fall through the table. That was excessively violent and totally unnecessary. I loved it. Sledge Hammer, motherfucker. Back inside Sabu hits a TRIPLE JUMP MOONSAULT TO THE KNEE! That gets 2. Mankind fires up and pounds Sabu in the corner. RUNNING KNEE! With the bad leg and he pulls out some of his hair. DOUBLE ARM DDT! He’s hobbling around and the mask is off. MANDIBLE CLAW! Fonzie in and he gets the MANDIBLE CLAW as well. And the ref gets one as well. Sabu breaks it up with a chair shot but somewhere in there we had a DQ. Time is 9.06 with Sabu getting disqualified. **1/2. Solid match until the silly DQ finish. The psychology stuff was interesting to watch and a lot of it was just nuts but compare that to Foley’s WWF stuff at the same time (the Triple H feud – the first time) and you’ll notice a world of difference in quality.

Headhunters/Jake Roberts v Hayabusa/Jinsei Shinzaki/Masato Tanaka
Jesus Christ. Who thought that was a good mix? The ring announcer continues his amazing incompetence here (Joey has started picking up on how bad it is). Here comes some more fine xenophobia no doubt! Jake appears to be drunk. Or worse. Tanaka kicks off taking a HUGE clothesline off one of the Headhunters. He tries to fight back but it’s pretty clear where the bumping is going to be coming from in this one. Tanaka hits a few elbow smashes but the Headhunter isn’t going to sell those either. Jake in to jab at Tanaka. Shinzaki tags in and Jake kills some time pretending he’s still over. Christ, he looks rough. Shinzaki avoids him and kicks him over. Jake heels on a handshake. Still no reaction for him. Hayabusa in to face the other Headhunter. Hayabusa hits a spinning heel kick and a dropkick and another spinning heel kick and now the Headhunter finally goes over. Hayabusa looking very graceful today. Springboard elbow smash scores and the Headhunter is over again. Tanaka uses a chair and the Japanese triple team in contrived fashion. The Headhunter gets double suplexed. Tanaka still gets himself isolated. The Headhunters use the chair openly and steal Raven’s chair drop toehold for 2. Jake takes his boot off and bashes Tanaka with it. Lay off the drugs, Jake. Tanaka gets dropped on his nuts and he sure sells that. Headhunters team up and one of them splashes off the top for 2. Hayabusa makes the save. Missile dropkick from the other Headhunter. TIGER DRIVER gets 2. Shinzaki saves Tanaka this time. Jake back in with a short arm clothesline. He signals for the DDT but the others dive in to break it up. One Headhunter gets eliminated to the floor with dropkicks. The other considers a moonsault but misses with a splash. Hayabusa kicks at him until he falls. 450 SPLASH and Hayabusa gets the pin at 11.11. *1/2. Lots of standard tag stuff. It never really got going as any sort of a contest. It kind of felt like a showcase for the guys the fans weren’t familiar with but they were in absolutely no mood to cheer foreigners so that didn’t really work.

Bret Hart v Terry Funk
So this is Terry’s retirement match. People should know better than that! It’s wrestling. People retire when they die. Crowd is obviously very Pro-Funk. The locker room empties out before the match to congratulate Terry and present him with a lifetime heavyweight title belt. Crowd mindlessly chants “USA”. Heyman gets the mic and talks about ECW. SHOCK! He puts over Funk for helping to put ECW on the map. Referee is Dennis Stamp. This is no DQ.

Funk takes it back into the corner. Bret turns him around and we get a clean break to show the respect. Bret bails to establish that he’s controlling the pace of this one whether Funk likes it or not. Funk controls with a headlock and they go to the mat while he works at it. Bret gets out showing he’s on a par with Funk technically. Funk gets a leg and goes after the Spinning Toehold but Bret is smart to that and gets the ropes. He bails and Funk chooses to pursue this time. Bret gets back in quickly and wants none of Funk on the floor. Into the corner and Bret refuses a clean break before wailing on Funk’s knee. Bret turns the ref and jabs Funk in the throat. Now Terry can’t breathe or walk. He’s in a world of trouble. Snap suplex from Bret and he keeps working at that knee. Funk comes back with jabs but Bret covers up and kicks at the knee again. Outside and Bret uses a chair into the knee joint. Funk looks to be finished at this juncture. Bret hammers at his head to show dominance and Funk swings at him missing. Bret kicks his knee away and slaps on the Figure Four. Bret uses the ropes for leverage but this is no DQ so he can do that. Bret refuses to break when they hit the ropes as well. There are Harts at ringside and one of them chairs Terry in the head. Funk fires back with punches and brawling is all he has here. Bret sells like a champ. Neckbreaker from Funk gets 2. DDT gets 2. Piledriver gets 2. Terry has thrown everything at Bret so he takes it outside to wear him down some more. That backfires as Bret hooks him into the RINGPOST FIGURE FOUR! Bret keeps working the knee and adds in a backbreaker. He’s doing everything with that Sharpshooter in mind. Bret gets a chair and smacks Terry in the knee joint again. Chair on the knee and a legdrop from Bret. Terry punches at Bret’s knee to keep him at distance. Funk picks the leg off and legdrops into the knee. Someone in the crowd throws Terry a chair and he uses it on Bret’s knee. This nearly turns into ECW as chairs fly towards the ring. They’re just so eager to help Terry! Bret gets set up on a table at ringside. Funk goes up and drops through it but Bret’s already moved. That was a KNEES first bump. Smart one, Terry! Back inside Bret calls for the Sharpshooter. Funk rolls him up for 2. Funk picks a leg again and goes after the Spinning Toehold. It’s on! Bret rolls him up out of that for 2. Now both men sell the legs. Bret deliberately walks across the ring to demonstrate his injury. Gotta love that. Funk hits a back suplex but pins himself in the process. Bret kicks out and Funk is left pinned at 25.07. ***3/4. Great way for Terry to say goodbye. I don’t think he’s had a match that good since (bar perhaps the one against Foley on RAW). Note the fact that they told a story. That kind of gets them one up on most of the rest of the show without the length of the match or the story that developed.

Sidenote – Terry Funk retired originally in 1983 billing his final match as being in Tokyo for All Japan in August 1983. That lasted just over a year with many fans feeling cheated and irritated by Funk’s decision to return. However it’s probably for the best that he did come back then as he still had a classic feud with Ric Flair for the NWA in 1989 and throughout the 90’s he had a series of punishing hardcore bouts re-establishing himself at another level of respect amongst fans. He helped make ECW and FMW become major companies in the process. This was the retirement that should have stuck. Tonight and no more. He had nothing left, his knees were shot and his body was completely broken down. His performances inside of the ring have gotten increasingly worse. The last time I saw him was last year competing for the FWA. He was a shell of his former self. It’s sad to see. Oddly enough the 1997 retirement lasted all of a few months before he re-joined the WWF and competed in the Royal Rumble just 4 months on from this as Chainsaw Charlie. Yeah, protect that legacy!

Overall show thoughts – C

Thumbs down here. The Bret-Terry main event is really good and some of the undercard is solid as well (Douglas-Dreamer in particular) but ultimately most of the undercard is rushed and a lot of it strikes me as somewhat unplanned. The 6 man tag before the main event is disappointing and the Bushwackers match is hideous. ECW, Funk and Bret completists should probably be tracking this down. There’s nothing here for Puro fans though despite a large amount of puro presence. My biggest beef with this show is that it comes off like a really cheap Indy show. They just happen to have some big names. The ring announcer and the timekeeper, for example, are bush league at best. Too much crap, not enough good stuff and although the main event is worth a gander it’s not enough to sell the whole tape on you.

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