Review – The Best of IWA Wrestling – Vol. 2
Well, after much delay, I’ve decided to continue with my wrestling recaps and reviews. This won’t be as in depth as my Wrestlemania reviews, and won’t be done as regularly. Nonetheless, I’m gonna give this a try. First up is The Best of IWA Wrestling Vol. 2. As a slight note, this promotion is not the IWA promotion that’s currently active in Puerto Rico and Japan, nor IWA Mid-South. This is a separate promotion that was active in the Ohio area from the 1970s to some undetermined point.
Dates for the matches are not provided, though they’re all from TV tapings. Our commentary team is Lee Marshall and Diamond Dallas Page (from some point in his career between going from managing to actively wrestling).
Match 1: “Hitman” Tommy Stetson vs. “Lil’ Cricket” David Isley.
This is from the first round of the tournament to determine the first IWA Junior Heavyweight Champion. We get some chained standing switches before Stetson reaches the ropes. Isley locks Stetson in a rest hold (a standing headlock), which he chains into a hip toss to ground Stetson. Stetson gets out and tries to build momentum and gets an arm-drag and then a headlock for his trouble. Isley cradles for 2. Stetson and Isley get in the corner and exchange blows before Isley takes the worst of a turnbuckle splash. Rather, it was meant to be a turnbuckle splash but Isley started to come out of the corner before he got hit. Not sure if that’s deliberate or mis-communication.
Anyway, Stetson is in control again. 2-Count off a back elbow. Stetson rakes Isley across the ropes and applies a reverse chinlock. Big flying high knee for 2. Stetson goes up top but gets caught and thrown by Isley. Isley gets a 2-count off a drop kick. Isley hits a back drop. Stetson is staggered but has the sense to roll up Isley and pull the tights for the pin.
Winner: “Hitman” Terry Stetson by pinfall at 6:38.
Rating: **1/2 – This match had a few blown spots and the finish was rather poor.
Match 2: “Dirty” Dick Flannigan vs. Preston Steele (w/ Noelle)
Apparently Preston’s entrance music is “Funky Co-Medina” by Tone-Loc, and is billed as “The Ultimate Male”. Basically, he’s Randy Savage in his face mode, and his manager provides some feedback. Dick jumps steel before the bell and works Steel over in the corner a bit before Steele takes complete control. Huh, Flannigan is masked. Steele locks on an armlock and continues to work Flannigan’s arm. Flannigan regains control with a thumb to the eyes. Steele gets worked over in the corner and neck jacked off the top rope. Belly-to-back suplex by Flannigan for 2. Both men trade blows, until Steele hits a backbreaker and missile dropkick, before finally hitting a corner slingshot splash for the pin.
Winner: Preston Steele by pinfall at 3:29
Rating: **1/2 – For a short match had some decent psychology to it, though it did have its faults – Flannigan botched a spot, and this match was really short.
Match 3: Ivan Koloff vs. Cousin Luke (aka Hillbilly Luke)
Once again, the heel, Koloff jumps Luke before the bell. I wonder if Koloff’s chain he brought to the ring is going to be brought into play. Luke regains control as we get USA chants. So, early 90s? Koloff. Yep, sounds like it. Koloff gets hit with a body slam and rolls out of the ring. Koloff applies a full nelson but Luke gets out. Koloff applies a rest hold before Luke regains control with a shoulder block, leading to some stalling Both men fight in the corner. Koloff drapes the chain over the turnbuckle pads and then rams Luke into it. That’s different. Koloff continues to work the head, with boots, the ropes, etc. I wonder if Luke will get bust open?
Nope, apparently not. Luke regains control, but not before Koloff dumps him over the top rope, getting the DQ. Koloff continues the beating after the match for a bit.
Winner: Cousin Luke by DQ at 4:37
Rating: * – Stalling, a bullshit non-finish, and a lack of blood that could have actually used it (and, for the record, I’m not a fan of the crimson mask).
Match 4: Frank “The Heavenly” Angel & Mitch Rhyder vs. the Samoan Swat Team (Afa & Samu w/ Kokina Maximus)
Just to make it clear, Kokina Maximus is Rodney Anoa’i, who would later wrestle in the WWF as Yokozuna.
Whoever though putting Frank’s nickname in the middle was a good idea needs a dope slap. Angel & Rhyder, who apparently are the heels, jump the bell. Noticing a trend? Anyway, DDP observes that this is quite possibly the dumbest thing you can do against the Samoans. Well, second dumbest thing. The dumbest thing is to head-butt the guys. Anyway, the Samoans clean house. Rhyder gets sent outside, and Angel gets his ass beat. Finally, the Samoans get bored with Angel and they send him into Rhyder so he’s tagged in. Rhyder gets beat down next, finally getting hit with a belly-to-back super-plex, but surprisingly only for 2. Finaly, they hit the Samoan drop and put Rhyder out of his misery.
Winner: The Samoan Swat Team by pinfall at 3:39
Rating: ** – This was a squash match, but an entertaining one.
Match #5: Al “The Sledge” Hammer (w/ Dr. Mark Curtis) vs. “Starfire” Derek Dukes
Al jumps Dukes before the bell, leading into chain wrestling until Dukes hits a drop kick. They almost do the Puro Shoulder Block Spot until Dukes decides to do a side kick instead and continue with the strikes. Al regains control with a rest hold. Somehow, Dukes got bust open on his side, though I’m not sure how that happened. Dukes runs into a big clothesline. Bodyslam and missed elbow drop by Al. Al gets whipped into the ropes and runs into his manager and knocks himself out. Dukes covers and gets the pin.
Winner: Derek Dukes at 2:11
Rating: ** – The psychology was good and Dukes was very good, even though he kind of had to carry the match, as short as it was, but the finish didn’t seem right for a match this short. It’s a blowoff match finish without a feud attached to it, and with a filler match length.
Match 6: Kokina Maximus vs. Big Hoss w/ (Doc Diamond)
Hoss gets a shot in before the bell. Hoss tries to move Kokina and fails, including trying a few head-butts. Hoss gets manhandled by Kokina, until Kokina throws him out of the ring and follows, ultimately leading to both parties getting counted out.
Winner: Double Count-Out at 4:17
Match 7: Junkyard Dog vs. Mad Mountain Mike Moore.
JYD takes control early on, knocking Mike prone and putting the head-butts to him, and Mike rolls out of the ring to re-group. After Mike quits stalling, he takes a Russian leg-sweep for 2. Mike rams JYD’s head into the turnbuckle and JYD no-sells. JYD is sent for the ride, and the top rope snaps leaving JYD hurtling to the concrete floor! Whoops! However, the show must go on, and JYD is able to return to the ring, while DDP goes ape-shit over the rope brake to try and cover. JYD is able to recover and hits a series of head-butts for the pin.
Winner: Junkyard Dog by pinfall at 4:03
Rating: DUD – Between the broke rope, and the lack of agility or work rate on the part of both participants, leading to the bad rating.
Match 8: Kerry Von Erich vs. Larry Cameron.
Cameron jumps the bell, and he takes control early on. Kerry responds with a power-slam and some arm-drags. Cameron rolls to the outside to get a breather. After rolling back in both men fight in the corner. Cameron applies a sleeper but Kerry powers out. Cameron goes to the second rope and hits an axe handle. Cameron goes to the top rope and misses a flying axe handle, leaving an opening for the Iron Claw. Cameron reaches the ropes but gets pulled away. Cameron tries to escape to the outside but Kerry keeps the hold applied for a double Count-Out.
Winner: Double Count-Out at 5:10
Rating: DUD – If this was part of a larger feud, not just in terms of matches to come but also matches coming before this, then it’d work better – and if the match was also longer.
Match 9: Chief Jules Strongbow vs. Afa (with Samu & Kokina Maximus)
Afa’s entrance music is John Carpenter’s theme from Halloween. Doesn’t really mesh in my opinion. Strongbow is distracted by Kokina & Samu, allowing Afa to get some hits in. While Afa dominates Jules, Lee gets some cheap shots in at WCW and at The Ultimate Warrior. Anyway, Afa applies a trapezius hold, Jules powers out and applies a sleeper, leading to Samu and Kokina coming in to break up the hold, leading to the DQ
Winner: Jules Strongbow by DQ at 4:08.
Rating: * – Ultra short match with some good psychology but no opportunity to do anything with it, combined with a non-finish! This could have been better with 10 minutes and a clean finish.
Match 10: Cousin Luke vs. “The New Jersey Nightmare”
Luke shrugs off a post bell assault (for a change) and rallies quickly. The Nightmare rolls to the outside for a breather, then comes back in. Both men fight in the corner, and the Nightmare gets the upper hand until Luke reaches the ropes, breaking it up. Luke regains control via a reversed Irish whip, and he hits a big corner splash, then a running verticla splash for the pin.
Winner: Cousin Luke by pinfall at 3:17
Rating: * – Squash match, though one in the Col. DeBeers variety, and with a clean finish.
Match 11: Ray Odyssey & Chris “The Edge” Evans vs. The Pitbull Express (w/ “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe)
Yep, this is The Pitbulls of ECW fame – Gary Wolfe and Anthony Durante. However, at this point in their careers, they’ve got mullets and are clean shaven. Sharpe’s got a semi-Fonzie gimmick.
Ray, sporting a wet suit starts for his team, Gary Wolfe starts for The Pitbulls. Ray & Gary go back and forth, with Ray landing a drop kick and some arm drags. Gary gets dominated. Gary reaches for the tag but his hand is kicked away, provoking Anthony. Anthony gets back-dropped by Ray, while he’s got a headlock on Gary! Ray then takes down Anthony in a head-scissors, while still holding the headlock, turning it into a hip-toss! I’ve never seen that before.
The Pitbulls regroup outside, with Anthony being the legal man when they come back in. Unfortunately, Ray’s a casa en fuego right now. Evens gets the tag, and Anthony gets control. Anthony puts Evans in the tree of woe, and they put the boots to him. Evans continues to play face in peril. Evans nearly tags Joe in, but the ref doesn’t see the tag. FGinally, the Pitbulls hit a shoulder breaker and knee drop for the pin.
Winner: The Pitbulls by pinfall at 11:21
Rating: ***1/2 – That was good. I’d say it’s the first good match of the DVD.
Match 12: Ivan Koloff vs. Derek Dukes
Koloff and Dukes get some chain wrestling in, with Koloff going to the ropes. FInally, they move to the corner for a bit, and then to the middle of the ring. Dueks than takes control and works the leg. Koloff reverses into a Fujiwara armbar. Dukes regians control again and goes back to the leg. This is also good. Koloff regins control and applies a choke followed by a sleeper. Atomic drop and dropkick by dukes, followed by a backdrop for 1. Ivan regains control and rakes the face and back, and hits a neck breaker and leg drop for 2. Dukes gets a mounted 10 in the corner but Ivan regians control. Dukes gets worked over and Koloff gets 2 off a lariat. Dukes gets 2 off a sunset flip. Neither guy can get the upper hand until Dukes manages a pin-fall off a cross body.
Winner: Derek Dukes by pinfall at 11:19
Rating: ***1/2 – Koloff’s still got it.
Match 13: Larry Cameron vs. the Montana Mauler
Cameron’s entrance music is “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc. In short – Mauler is a masked jobber who gets his ass beat.
Winner: Cameron by pinfall at 3:42.
Match 14: Preston Steele (w/ Noelle) vs. “Hot” Bobby Salsa
This, is, to a certain degree, another squash match, except, as Salsa gets a moderate amount of offense in, it’s probably more like a Col. DeBeers squash instead of a standard squash. Either that or Salsa is just debuting and he’s getting beat in a squash match before squaring off with other midcarders – though with a name like “Hot” Bobby Salsa, you’re not going to go very far. Anyway, Preston gets the pin again with a Russian legsweep, a missile dropkick, and the corner slingshot splash.
Winner: Preston Steele by pinfall at 4:29.
Rating: *1/2 – It’s a squash match, but with decent ring work. If this match hadn’t been a squash match, it probably would have gotten that next half a star. If it had made it 10 minutes, it might have even gotten 3 stars, depending on the ring work.
Match 15: Junkyard Dog vs. Titan Taz Apollo
Titan Taz Apollo is of no relation to the Tazmanic (aka Peter Senerca). JYD is coming out to “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. JYD shuts down Apollo, manhandling him. (sings) Once… twice… three bodyslams a Jobber. Sucks to be you. (stops singing). Apollo tries to get some offense in but JYD no-sells all of it. Powerslam and we’re done.
Winner: JYD by pinfall at 3:16
Rating: * – An amusing squash.
Match 16: Mike Moore vs. Kerry Von Erich
Kerry’s entrance music is “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” by Elton John, which is probably the only Elton John song that works for Entrance Music. Mike taunts Kerry, and they do a test of strength, which is inconclusive. They lock up, and Kerry gets control. Mike is very wary, but Kerry gets the upper hand of every exchange. Finally, they lock up in the corner, the ref breaks it up, and Mike hits a second rope flying lariat. Mike gets another Lariat before Kerry regains control. Kerry’s pissed. Discus punch and a pin.
Winner: Kerry Von Erich by pinfall at 6:05
Rating: **1/2 – Decent and enjoyable but too one-sided.
Match 17: The Wild Samoans (Samu & Kokina Maximus) vs. The Pitbulls (w/ Larry Sharpe)
This turns into a brawl quickly, which the Pitbulls get the worst of. The Pitbulls get thrown outside and regroup. Finally, the ref restores some semblance of of order. Samu takes control quickly and tags in Kokina, with Gary the legal man for the pitbulls. Gary bounces off Kokina when he tries a shoulder block. Both Pitbulls come in and try a similtaneous shoulder block, and they bounce off too. Once again, the Pitbulls go outside and re-group. When they come back in, Samu is the legal man. Samu ends up being face in peril for a bit (complete with tags that the ref didn’t see) until finally Kokina gets tagged in. Sharpe grabs Kokina’s leg by the ropes, causing the ref to call for the bell.
Winner: The Wild Samoans by DQ at 9:22
Rating: **1/2 – Great start, lousy finish.
After the match, Afa comes out and the Samoans clean house.
Match 18: Larry Winters vs. David Isley
Both men shake hands and lock up, leading into a lot of really, really fast chain technical wrestling, with a lot of near falls too. How fast? Think the first 5 minutes of a Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn match in ECW. Ultimately one of the near-falls becomes a pinfall.
Winner: David Isley by pinfall at 3:06
Rating: *** – This had the potential, with a little more length to it, to be an amazing match. I’m positively shocked that I’ve never heard of David Isley before. Had Isley been hired by ECW, I’d probably have heard of him, instead of his languishing in obscurity. I hearby declare David Isley the 90s best wrestler that nobody heard of.
Match 19: Ivan Koloff vs. Cousin Luke
This is match #3 all over again. Just read that description.
Winner: Cousin Luke by DQ at 5:50.
Rating: DUD – Some people can do more or less the same match over and over again and still make it interesting (Flair & Steamboat, Malenko & Guerrero, RVD & Lynn). Such situations require two wrestlers who are actually good. Not one carrying the other. Koloff is still good at this point in his career. Luke was never good.
The Verdict: There are four good matches on here, total. However, if you combine all their lengths, they don’t break half an hour. Basically, whoever put this DVD together just mashed together two TV tapings and called it a day. There aren’t any matches on here from the kind of monthly card that would, you, know, have a blowoff match for a feud, or for that matter, any matches that break 20 minutes. Skip this DVD.