A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog looking back at 10 instances where things got real inside of pro wrestling rings. The good news is that there are plenty more where that came from and I found 10 new matches where worked matches turned real in professional wrestling.
I had to dig a little deeper for the ten I highlight in today’s blog. The previous blog spotlighted the more famous shoots but there were plenty of others that you may have never even heard of or seen. I had to rattle the old Gargiulo brain to think back on shoots I have watched, heard about, or witnessed and it didn’t take long to come up with another ten.
Mick Foley vs. Big Van Vader: This match is legendary and has been discussed many times over the years but it certainly deserves to be included in the match. This isn’t a situation where someone decided they didn’t want to cooperate or there was heat between the two wrestlers. This was a case of a terrible oops. Foley was tied in the ropes and while slipping out losing his left ear due to the tight tension. Too Cold Scorpio wrestled earlier in the night and reportedly complained that the ropes were too loose. Foley’s ear eventually fell off and lucky for him the referee picked it up.
Big Van Vader vs Stan Hansen: Vader and Hansen were known for stiff wrestling in Japan but this one takes stiff to a whole new meaning. Hansen was known for being real stiff and many wrestlers have told me stories about Hansen being practically blind in the ring and just swinging. Vader and Hansen were trading punches when one of Hansen’s punches wound up taking Vader’s eye completely out of its socket. Vader was able to adjust the eye since it was underneath his swollen eyelid and continued the match.
New Jack vs. Gypsy Joe: A legendary match among hardcore wrestling fans is the Gyspy Joe vs. New Jack match. New Jack went absolutely nuts on Joe at the end of the match. Jack was angry because he was booked against an old man and felt it exposed the business but more importantly, Joe didn’t sell his moves. Jack also reportedly went to the promoter before the match and told him that he’d kill Joe and wasn’t going to lose value against a comedy act. Jack claims that Joe headbutted him for real in the nose which is what caused him to go off on Joe. Regardless, it is a bizarre match and easily accessible on YouTube for anyone interested in watching Jack beat up an 80-year old man.
William Regal vs. Bill Goldberg: This is an interesting one because it is not nearly as infamous as some of the others but fans who watched it remember it like it was yesterday. There is something about watching a shoot where even the most casual fan can immediately tell something was up. Anyone watching this one on Monday Nitro knew something was up immediately. Goldberg was expected to squash Regal but Regal instead toyed with him for a bit. Regal but him in all different kinds of moves making Goldberg work his way in and out of them. He never stretched him or punched him but this was certainly not the cooperative match that Goldberg was expecting. Goldberg won but he was embarrassed and made to look like fool. Fortunately for him the biggest fool turned out to be Regal who was fired over it. Regal has written about it in his book that this was not a shoot although Goldberg has said different.
Taz vs. Paul Varleans: Here is a match that I can give you some first-hand history on. I helped ECW book Varleans after I read in the Wrestling Observer that UFC fighter Paul Varleans was looking for pro wrestling gigs. A match with Taz seemed like a natural since Taz was being booked as an MMA killer at the time. Varleans was on board originally but had some reservations about losing as the match got closer. From what I knew at the time Varleans did eventually agree to lose the match, although Paul Heyman needed to be sure.The match itself is not much of a shoot as the two look like they are working fine together. It was the finish where things got crazy. To ensure that Varleans would do business, Heyman booked a finish where Perry Saturn came off of the top rope with a missile dropkick to the back of Varleans’ head. Did he ever? Saturn nailed Varleans with a full-force missile drop kick that KO’d Varleans, allowing Taz to go to the finish.
Lou Thesz vs Karl Gotch: I remember reading Thesz’s book and there was a story in there about Lou breaking his ribs in a match against Karl. It was so long ago that I figured I’d do a Google search and try and refresh my memory. The basic gist of the story here is that Lou wrestled Karl numerous times and let his guard down against Karl. He felt Karl double crossed him in a match which resulted in broken ribs and Lou immediately hooked him. Here is how Lou’s biographer recounted the story on the WrestlingClassics.com message board.
“Mostly, Lou said, he was pissed at himself for “going to sleep” (Lou’s words) that night against Karl. He always was alert to the possibility of a doublecross, but he trusted Karl enough, once they’d started working, to lower his guard. When Karl blocked him, it hit Lou immediately that something was up, and he ended things immediately. “I made him howl,” is how Lou put it.
So yes, Lou believed it was an attempted doublecross. And he was mad at himself for almost allowing it to happen. He once said to me, long after that initial conversation, that Karl was an excellent choice to do it, because he was a good wrestler and probably could have pulled it off if Lou hadn’t been so quick to snatch him and end the match.”
Steve Williams vs. Steve Ray: I completely forgot about this one until I came across some information on it while researching a different match. The moral of the story here is don’t sleep with a promoter’s wife when that promoter is booking Steve “Dr. Death” Williams. From wikipedia.org, “In 1991, Herb Abrams was owed money by Steve Ray and wrongly suspected that Ray was sleeping with his wife. On May 10, 1991 at a television taping in New York City, Abrams paid Steve Williams an extra $100 for the night to break Ray’s nose during their match. The ensuing shoot aired in its entirety on an episode of Fury Hour.” There is a weird scene after the match where Abrams comes into the ring and whispers something to Ray and Ray gets up and takes a swing at him.
Super Tiger (Satoru Sayama) vs. Akira Maeda: It should be of no surprise to Puro fans that Maeda makes the list for a second time in a row. Sayama, otherwise known as the original Tiger Mask originally embraced the work/shoot style of Pancrase and UWF and had some pretty decent worked/shoot matches. Unfortunately for him he ran into Maeda who had plans of his own. Maeda and Sayama were business partners who allegedly had several disagreements including one over the content of their match. The match is known for the finish where Maeda nails Sayama with a hard low blow. Maeda was disqualified for this and Sayama quickly left the company. According to several reports, this result led to the collapse of UWF.
The Blue Meanie vs. John Bradshaw Layfield: This infamous incident is one of a few that played itself out live on a World Wrestling Entertainment pay per view. The finale of the first ECW One Night Stand was a big brawl between the ECW guys and the WWE guys. Bradshaw immediately went after Meanie and wound up peppering him with punches until he was pulled off. JBL had taken offense to something Meanie said about him in an interview. Meanie needed 12 stitches after the attack but wound up getting a spot in a SmackDown angle the next week so it wasn’t so bad for the Blue Guy.
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