Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Showing posts with label Rock n Roll Express. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rock n Roll Express. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 August 2020

EVENT REVIEW: Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Event GraphicAugust 14th, 1993
Freedom Hall, Johnson City, Tennessee

Perhaps one of the strangest and most unique things about Smoky Mountain Wrestling is its origins.

This little-territory-that-could, so steeped in a tradition of southern-style wrestling that was becoming ever more unfashionable with the larger global community and so beloved by what many of the company's own stars called 'hillbillies' was bankrolled by none other than Rick Rubin, the famous music producer known for working many of the most popular and cutting edge artists for the better part of four decades.





Still, it was perhaps a testament to Rubin's hands-off approach that there was no sign  of anything particularly cutting edge on a hot summer's night in Johnson City when Smoky Mountain Wrestling Wrestling came to town.

Here's what went down at Fire on the Mountain 1993.

Welcome to Fire on the Mountain

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Les Thatcher and Dutch Mantel called the event
We began tonight with our announcers, Les Thatcher and Dr. Dutch Mantell standing center ring.

Apparently, Mantell had earned his Ph.D. since we last saw him back at Smoky Mountain Wrestling Bluegrass Brawl 1993, but that's beside the point.

The two announcers talked us through some of the main attractions on tonight's card, including Tracy Smothers defending his title against Brian Lee, and a main event 'Rage in the Cage' match between Cornette's Criminals and Armstrong's Army.

Speaking of Rage in the Cage, the winner of our opening contest would earn an advantage for his team in the said main event.

'Gigolo' Jimmy Del Ray (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Steve Armstrong

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Gigelo Jimmy Del Ray beat Steve Armstrong in the opening match
Before the bell, Jim Cornette got up on the mic to talk about how much he'd love to slap 'smart alecs' like the ones in attendance.

Man, say what you want about Corny, he sure knew how to get a crowd worked up. The Johnson City faithfull really hated this guy, and made more noise for him than they did for the actual match.

That's something of a shame because Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray and Steve Armstrong did put on a competent opening match which, while hardly spectacular, did at least entertain from bell to bell.

After a decent seven-minute outing, the dastardly Cornette wallopped Armstrong with his tennis racket behind the back of referee Mark Curtis. He then helped Del Ray get his foot on the ropes to ensure an ill-gotten victory.
Your Winner: Jimmy Del Ray

The fact that the winner of that match gained a 2-on-1 advantage in the upcoming Rage in the Cage match pretty much telegraphed a win for the heels right from the start, but it was still a fun effort despite the telegraphed finish.

You Fight, I Fight...

Out in the back, Brian Matthews interviewed Dirty White Boy about his upcoming match with The Mongolian Stomper.

Sounding incredibly excited about the impending battle, White Boy acknowledged The Stomper's legendary status but insisted that he'd learned everything he needed to know in order to defeat him from another legend, Ron Wright.

'Stomper,' said White Boy. 'You fight, I fight, and that's just the way I like it!'

That match was next.

'Battle of the Brutes'
Dirty White Boy vs. The Mongolian Stomper

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Dirty White Boy faced The Mongolian Stomper
The last time we saw Dirty White Boy in action, he was dropping his world title to Tracy Smothers back at Bluegrass Brawl.

That match was pretty awesome.

This one, not so much.

White Boy attacked Stomper as the legendary grappler came through the ropes and from that point on, neither man let up, giving us five, unrelenting minutes of clobbering blows, the occasional bit of biting and... well, not much else.

Though watching the two men wail on each other wasn't bad, it was a little underwhelming.

After five minutes, the two were so engrossed in punching each other that they both shoved Mark Curtis aside when he tried to break them up.

That led to the double disqualification and this one was over.
Double DQ

Post-match, Stomper and White Boy brawled all the way to the back.

Who Will Drink From a Baby Bottle?

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - White Lightning Tim Horner faced Chris Candido
Up next, 'White Lightning' Tim Horner was set to take on 'Suicide Blonde' Chris Candido in a bout that had one unique stipulation:

Yep, the loser would have to drink from a baby bottle.

Before the match, Brian Matthews interviewed both participants. I'm not sure if Tim Horner intentionally meant to be so funny, but as he ranted on about how Chris Candido would have no problem sucking from a baby bottle because that's what he did 'all night, all the time,' you couldn't help but laugh out loud.

Chris Candido was a little more put-together in his promo.

One of the most underrated heels ever, 'Suicide Blonde' protested the indignity that he, the so-called 'Real World's champion' had to compete in a baby bottle match when the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair would never have to go through such humiliation.

With that out of the way, it was down to ringside.

'Loser Must Suck From a Baby Bottle'
WWA Heavyweight Champion 'Suicide Blonde' Chris Candido vs. 'White Lightning' Tim Horner

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Chris Candido faced White Lightning Tim Horner
To be honest, I'm not quite sure where the WWA title that Chris Candido was wearing came from as I can't seem to find much information on it. If anybody reading this could fill me in, I'd be very grateful.

I'm also not sure whether Tim Horner knew that 'White Lightning' is a cheap brand of cider in the UK closely associated with alcoholics, but that's neither here nor there.

The match itself was pretty good stuff.

As with most Smoky Mountain bouts, you were never going to get a five-star classic here, but Candido and Horner did at least give us a solid see-saw battle with plenty of enjoyable moments.

Towards the finish, referee Mark Curtis tried to dive out of harm's way but got knocked to the outside by the two wrestlers.

Candido then tried charging at Horner, but White Lightning side-stepped, causing the Suicide Blonde to go crashing onto the outside.

Only seeing part of this, Curtis returned to the ring and called for the bell. Apparently thinking that Horner had deliberately thrown his opponent over the top, the referee awarded the match to Candido on the grounds that throwing someone over the top rope was illegal in SMW.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Chris Candido

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Tim Horner cut an angry promo after his match with Chris Candido
Ignoring the fact that this was the second match in a row to end on a DQ finish of some kind, Candido smashed Horner in the face with his WWA title belt, then pushed him into the ropes where he tried -and failed- to tie him up using wrist tape.

Though he couldn't get him tied up, Candido did at least force his rival to suck from a baby bottle, so there was that at least.

Backstage, Brian Matthews caught up with Horner, who vowed that in revenge for Candido squirting milk on him, he was going to -and I quote- "squirt something on you, and it's not going to be milk!"

The less said about that, the better.

We're Ready for the Coal Miner's Glove Match

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Brian Matthews interviews Tammy Fytch and Prime Time Brian Lee
Up next, we got pre-recorded comments from SMW Champion Prime Time Brian Lee and his manager, Tammy Fytch.

With Brian Matthews holding the microphone, Fytch expressed her disgust that her man Lee should have to compete in a coal miner's glove match before both of them went on about how much of a pervert Tracy Smothers was.

In one of the better promos of the evening, Lee promised that by the time he was done with his opponent, Smothers wouldn't be able to perv on Fytch any more.

We then went to more pre-recorded comments, this time from the challengers.

Pointing at himself, Smothers declared "the light's on but nobody's home." Surely that's up there with Sid Vicious' "I only have half the brain that you do" moment when it comes to inadvertently cutting a promo on yourself?

That dumb moment aside, The Wild-Eyed Southern Boy admitted that he was a hillbilly, a redneck, and all of the other terms that Lee had tried to use as an insult against him before vowing to dethrone his rival and become the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Champion for the third time.

Coal Miner's Glove Match for the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Heavyweight Title
SMW Heavyweight Champion Prime Time Brian Lee (w/ Tammy Fytch) vs. Tracy Smothers

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Tracy Smothers challenged Prime Time Brian Lee for the SMW title
Prior to the bell, Tammy Fyth got on the microphone to address the crowd. When the Tennessee faithful roundly booed her and Lee, the SMW Champion declared that if they carried on, he and Fyth would simply leave.

It was an effective move to get the crowd well pumped up, but it didn't see the champ and his manager leave. Instead, they were yelled at by Tracy Smothers who -for like the tenth time on the show so far- referred to the future Sunny as 'Tammy Witch with a Capital B.'

Later, Smothers interrupted the match to take the microphone again, this time calling Brian Lee a 'f*ggot' much to the delight of the crowd.

Ah, the early 1990s, when casual homophobia was still a reason to cheer.

That aside, this was another pretty solid effort. Nothing flashy, nothing altogether memorable, but decent old-school wrestling that kept the crowd -and this writer- suitably entertained.

Sure, it would have been better if the two had made more of an effort to reach for the coal miner's glove rather than applying rest holds, but that aside, it was a good showing.

After close to twenty minutes, the champion retrieved the glove, which turned out to be nothing more than a rubber washing-up glove painted silver. Before he could use it, Smother's attacked with a dropkick slipped on the rubber glove and smashed his foe in the mush.

It was that point that shenanigans came into play.

Tammy distracted the referee while Dirty White Boy ran in and walloped Smothers with a chair. He put the glove onto Lee, draped Lee's arm across Smother's chest, and left the ring.

One three count later and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still SMW Champion: Brian Lee

Post-match, Smothers sought revenge, attacking his rivals and bending Tammy over for a good old fashioned spanking. White Boy and Lee retaliated, attacking the fallen babyface until Mark Curtis got on the mic and threatened to have them permanently suspended if they laid another finger on The Wild Eyed Southern Boy.

I won't lie, Curtis' voice was surprisingly deep for such a small dude.

Dissension in the Ranks

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review -  Prime Time Brian Lee, Tammy Fytch and Dirty White Boy celebrate
Making their way backstage, White Boy, Lee, and Fytch stopped by for an interview with the ever-present Brian Matthews. After Tammy got done calling Smothers a 'woman beater,' Prime Time boasted that not only was he still the champion, but that he'd also now be able to collect a $20,000 bounty put on the head of The Wild Eyed Southern Boy by Ron Wright.

"Wait, what do you mean you'll get the $20,000?" asked Dirty White Boy. "I'm the one that took Smothers out."

The two began a little argument, but before it could escalate into anything, we were taken to the ring where Les Thatcher and Dutch Mantell introduced us to some pre-recorded comments from tonight's main event teams.

Ready for War

First up, Jim Cornette stood by in an empty dressing room with his team, Cornette's Criminals. Ever a convincing act on the microphone, Cornette promised that his team were ready for war, with The Bruise Brothers (Ron & Don Harris) serving as the big tanks that would mow everybody down before his 'Secret Service' of The Heavenly Bodies went in to finish the job.

Offering a retort, Bullet Bob Armstrong got insisted that his Armstrong's Army were all gunning directly for Cornette and that they would go through The Bruise Brothers and The Heavenly Bodies just to get their hands on the outspoken manager.

Rage in a Cage
Cornette's Criminals (SMW Tag Team Champions The Bruise Brothers, The Heavenly Bodies, and Jim Cornette) vs. Armstrong's Army (Bullet Bob Armstrong, Scott Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, and Rock N’ Roll Express)

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Armstrong's Army cut a backstage promo before facing Cornette's CriminalsSpecial Guest referee: The Big Boss Man

Let's get this out of the way right now, shall we?

This was just about the worst-looking cage in the history of pro wrestling. Cobbled together using timber and chicken wire, it looked like something some half-assed backyard wrestling fed would get laughed at for using.

Seriously, it could hardly contain a couple of chickens, let alone ten human beings.

Still, it did a good job of containing our special guest referee for this evening, The Big Boss Man.

Having left the WWF earlier in the year (though not without first appearing on Wrestlemania: The Album), the former Big Bubba Rogers had made his way to SMW for a conflict with Cornette, for whom he'd previously been a bodyguard way back in the day.

Before the match, Cornette lambasted Boss Man and questioned whether he really had 'changed his ways' as he'd claimed. Finally, Jimmy introduced us to his team before the opposition made their way out.

The match began, and from that point on, Big Boss Man might as well have not been there. He simply walked around aimlessly while the other men went at it.

In case you're wondering just what 'Rage in the Cage' was, it was basically a low-rent War Games with the added stipulation that along with submitting someone, you could also win by handcuffing all of the opposing team to the cage.

It was a novel concept, however, much like the nine-man mess from Bluegrass Brawl, this one was hard to watch at points.

Fortunately, at other points, it provided some genuinely engrossing moments.

Ricky Morton got busted open about ten seconds into the match and proceeded to gush like a fountain for the remainder. Bullet Bob went crazy when he finally made his way into the ring as the last man for Armstrong's Army, and the remaining contestants saw to it that this was a very lively brawl indeed.

In the end, Armstrong's Army had all of Cornette's Criminals handcuffed to the cage, allowing Bullet Bob to clamp Jim Cornette himself into a submission hold and win the match.
Your Winners: Armstrong's Army

Though not exactly this writer's favorite type of wrestling, I can certainly see the appeal of a match like Rage in the Cage.

Special Bonus Feature:
Lumberjack Match
Bullet Bob Armstrong (w/ Armstrong's Army) vs. Jim Cornette (w/ Cornette's Criminals)

Special Guest Referee: Big Boss Man

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Cornette's Criminals cut a backstage promo before facing  Armstrong's Army
This match didn't actually take place at SMW Fire on the Mountain 1993 but took place at some other event and was tacked onto this recording as a bonus.

This time, Boss Man was a little more involved, demanding Cornette get in the ring after the cowardly manager tried everything from feigning an injury to presenting a note from his mother to get out of the match.

Once things got underway, Boss Man continued to ensure law, order, and justice prevailed as he presided over a fun little contest in which Cornette used heel shenanigans (namely, interference) to get the upper hand.

All the while, The Bruise Brothers, The Heavenly Bodies, The Rock & Roll Express, and The Armstrong Brothers all hung around ringside in their role as lumberjacks, each man brandishing one of Cornette's trademark tennis rackets.

At the finish, Bullet Bob drilled James E. with not one but two piledrivers, one of which the announcer called an atomic drop.
Your Winner: Bullet Bob Armstrong

Post-match, a bloody Jim Cornette sold the piledrivers like he'd just been murdered and had to be stretchered out of the arena into a waiting ambulance. The whole thing played out as we listened to Bullet Bob Armstrong's theme song, Bad to the Bone by George Thoroughgood.

It was, admittedly, really cool, and probably the most unique end to a pro wrestling event this writer has seen in a long time.





All in all then, another good show from the southern promotion.

As I said last time, you're never going to get five-star quality from a promotion like Smoky Mountain Wrestling, but you will get plenty of entertaining, even if a lot of that entertainment seems incredibly dated (and, in the case of Smothers' slurs, pretty darn offensive) by today's standards.

Match of the night goes to Candido vs. Horner, if only because that terrible-looking cage made the main event look a bit ridiculous.

Other 1993 event reviews:

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Thursday, 23 July 2020

GAME REVIEW: Legends of Wrestling - PlayStation 2 (2001)

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Game Cover
Confession time: I've been meaning to write this review of Legends of Wrestling for at least three years, if not more. 

I picked up a second-hand copy of the game back in 2016, sold on the excitement of being able to play a game featuring a huge collection of wrestling heroes from multiple decades and promotions. I mean seriously, how cool is that, right?

It turns out, not very.

After spending a good, solid weekend playing characters such as Hulk Hogan, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Terry Funk and Ricky Steamboat I came away feeling so disappointed that I couldn't face playing it again -let alone writing about it- for years afterwards.

That's a shame too, because this really could have been one of the greatest games of all time.

Released in the wake of World Championship Wrestling's demise and featuring a roster of stars who weren't signed to the WWE at the time (Jerry Lawler gave his likeness to the game during his time away from the company in mid-2001), the game's premise is flawless:

Harkening back to the territory days, you go around the various pro wrestling hotbeds competing as -and against- some of the most recognizable names from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s. All this is presented in a unique visual style that really does look like the game is going to be a whole lot of fun.

Then you press the start button and...well...see for yourself.





First Impressions 

Turn on Legends of Wrestling and you'll see why I originally thought this was going to be one of the best wrestling games ever.


A music-hall version of Rookie by BoySetsFire kicks crackles over an old radio as polaroids of wrestling greats float onto a table where a championship title glistens. It's all sepia tones and nostalgic vibes until...Until the batteries on the radio die and the real Rookie kicks in, a raucous post-hardcore track that slams every bit as hard as the moves you see the game's stars performing in all their full-color, high-octane glory.

From there, you're taken to rich, colorful menus which, though basic, do continue to tease you that you're in for a good time.

Roster 

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Roster selection
Again, it's the cast of characters that really makes Legends of Wrestling so appealing. Not only is there a lot of them, but there's also a wrestler (or wrestlers) to suit the tastes of just about every wrestling fan.

Prefer the larger-than-life superstars of the 80s and 90s? Then along with Hogan and Hart, you've got The Road Warriors, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and Superstar Billy Graham. 

Prefer classic technical wrestlers and high-flyers? Do as I did and spend most of your time playing as Brian Pillman, Dynamite Kid, or Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.

Want to go back to the territory days? You've got the entire Von Erich family to play with, Terry and Dory Funk Jr, The Rock 'n' Roll Express and yes, the King of Memphis himself, Jerry Lawler.

Prefer the modern superstars (or at least modern as it was in 2001?) Rob Van Damn and Sabu are there for you.

Elsewhere, there's a veritable who's who of recognizable names from wrestling's past, with everyone from Iron Sheik and Ivan Koloff to Ted Dibiase, Tito Santana, and Rick Martel

All in all, there's a roster of 40 playable characters (including managers like Captain Lou Albano and Jimmy Hart), though some you have to unlock by playing tournaments and 'career' mode, more of which later.

Legends of Wrestling Create-a-Wrestler Mode 

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Create-a-Wrestler
Since the late 1990s, Create-a-Wrestler has become commonplace in pro wrestling games. Unfortunately, this is where this particular game starts to slowly fall apart.

Though it's not necessarily bad, it's certainly far from good. 

On the positive side, there are are plenty of attire options and recorded wrestler nicknames (announced during the ring introductions) that will help you create genuine wrestlers missing from the game like Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper

On the downside, however, there isn't an awful lot of flexibility in terms of what you can actually
Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Voodoo Cowboy Created Wrestler
customize, and even if you spend hours on this, your created wrestler is still going to look pretty crappy compared to the ones officially in the game.

Case in point, here's my created character, a pink-haired, green-bearded, zebra-print wearing, flamboyant pimp-like character that I called Voodoo Cowboy simply because the game gives "Cowboy" as one of the recorded entrance names you can use.

Again, it's OK, but plenty of other games do this kind of thing far, far better.

Match Types 

Back in the day, there was a rumour floating around that Legends of Wrestling was going to feature barbed wire and scaffold matches.

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Match types
Sadly, neither of those materialized, and what we're left with is a pretty limited match selection. 

As well as the obligatory singles and tag team options, you're can also choose either a three-way or four-way dance.

That's it. 

No special gimmick matches, no novelties, just standard one-fall-to-a-finish bouts with your choice of two to four competitors.

Arena Choices 

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Arena choices
To make up for the lack of match options, the game does at least offer multiple arena choices. 

In career and tournament modes, these are selected at random, but for exhibition matches you can pick your own.

Most of these arenas are styled to represent different territories (Mid-West, South-East etc), though at least one (FABER Gymnasium) has a decidely ECW feel to it -at least in terms of the logo- while the Iguana Hotel & Casino brings back haunting nightmares of the Heroes of Wrestling PPV.

It's a nice touch, admitteldy, but it doesn't exactly make or break your gaming experience.

Game Play



And right about here is where Legends of Wrestling completely falls apart. 

Make no mistake about it, this is just not a fun game to play. 

Sure, there's an impressive selection of moves and, when you pull them off, the animation makes them look just as impressive, but actually pulling them off is a frustrating experience.

Sometimes, you'll press a button and nothing happens, or it happens after a pause. Add up enough pauses and this becomes a slow, cumbersome game to play. Sometimes you'll hit a strike and your opponent doesn't even finch. Othertimes your opponent will throw an uppercut that goes nowhere near you and yet you fall down anyway.

Sometimes going to the top rope works and sometimes it doesn't. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to this. You can put your wrestler in one position and press the right controls and he goes up and hits a move. Other times, you can put him in exactly the same position and hit exactly the same moves and he just stands there like a goof.

With so much going for it otherwise, this frankly piss-poor gameplay really lets the whole thing down in dramatic fashion.

Career Mode and Tournaments 


If you get bored of playing in exhibition mode (and you will, pretty quickly), you can always try your luck at the career mode.

This sees you going from territory to territory competing in matches until you reach maximum popularity in that area. In between each match, your manager will give you some advice, and then it's on to another match. Once maximum popularity is hit, you simply go on to another territory and repeat the whole process.

If the game play was decent, this might be a decent way to get a lot of life out of a fun game, but since it's such a chore to play, career mode gets very tiresome very quickly. 

If you want to unlock all of the hidden characters then this is the only way to do it but, honestly, I really don't think it's worth it.

Elsewhere, there's a tournament mode, but again, this is just another way to give you something different to look at in between endless, repetitive singles matches.

A big thumbs down on this part.

Graphics and Appearance 

On this plus side, this is a cool looking game in its own way. Eschewing the realism of the WWF-branded games that were out around this time, Legends of Wrestling takes a cartoony approach with wrestlers looking more like over-the-top comic book characters than real human beings.

A lot of people said that the wrestlers look a lot like action figures and the more I look at it, the more I have to agree. In particular, they look a lot like those old rubber WCW figures you used to get back in the day.

While this does produce some funny results (King Kong Bundy, for example, looks how you'd imagine Bundy would look if he ate Yokozuna) it creates a fun aesthetic which, as I said at the beginning, lures you into the false sense of security that you're actually going to have a good time playing this game.

Sound and Commentary 

Unlike most wrestling games, this one has no commentary track even though I'm sure Akklaim could have roped in one or two notable names to yell out various soundbites.

Meanwhile, most of the music is Generic Stock Rock Music Track #1 - #150. Honestly, it's not very interesting and I only mention it here to follow the same formula as the rest of our Retro Pro Wrestling video game reviews.

Final Impressions 

If you've read this far, then you no doubt know my take on this game:

It isn't very good. 

However, the worst part about it isn't that it isn't good, it's that it had so much promise and yet failed to deliver on such a spectacular scale that it's almost heartbreaking.

The nostalgia trip works really well as a game concept. The fun, cartoony, action-figure-style graphics work really well too, but the lousy, frustrating gameplay, repetitiveness, and overall half-assed approach make Legends of Wrestling a total letdown.

Amazingly, two more games in this series were produced, Legends of Wrestling II and Showdown: Legends of Wrestling. 

After this experience, I'm vary wary to give even one a go.





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Thursday, 2 April 2020

EVENT REVIEW: Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Bluegrass Brawl 1993

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Blue Grass Brawl 1993
April 2nd, 1993
Pikesville College Gym, Pikeville, Kentucky

Confession time: Your writer has been a fan of professional wrestling for over 25 years and yet never once sat down to watch a Smoky Mountain Wrestling show. 

Sure, the promotion had always been on my radar.

Founded by Jim Cornette in 1991, the southern promotion served as the launchpad for a number of 1990s stars, with everyone from Chris Jericho and Lance Storm to Tammy 'Sunny' Sytch, Al Snow, Kane, Road Dogg and D'Lo Brown -among many others- all enjoying runs with the company early in their career.

Still, despite knowing all this, it wasn't until I discovered a bunch of their old shows on YouTube that I finally got to watch any of it.






Join me then, as I head to Pikeville, Kentucky in the year 1993 to watch my first Smoky Mountain Wrestling show.

Please Stand for 'My Old Kentucky Home'

You know how wrestling companies will occasionally have the national anthem performed at the start of the show to add some gravitas and sense of importance to the occasion?

Smoky Mountain Wrestling -Lance Russel and Les Thatcher hosted the eventYeah, well, Smoky Mountain Wrestling didn't do that, instead asking the crowd to stand for a recording of anti-slavery anthem and official Kentucky State Song, My Old Kentucky Home.

With that out of the way, Les Thatcher told us it was time to 'kick open the doors' on Bluegrass Brawl.

Standing center ring with his colleague, Lance Russel, Thatcher handed things over to Russel who gushed about being invited to participate in tonight's main event.

Running down tonight's card, Russel continually referred to the show as 'Bluegrass Ball.'

You have to forgive him, though, this guy was VERY EXCITED about being there.

Rob Morgan vs. The Mongolian Stomper

If you think Shane McMahon's punches look weak, I dare you to watch this match. Compared to Rob Morgan's offense, everything Shane O' Mac does looks stiff as hell.

Seriously. Morgan attacked The Mongolian Stomper as he climbed through the ropes, beating him with punches to the gut and clobbering forearms to the back.

Not a single thing he did looked like it would hurt in the slightest, so it was no surprise The Stomper turned around and beat the living daylights out of his terrible opponent.

Poor, feeble Morgan didn't stand a chance. The Stomper threw him to the outside, beat his ass there, then took him back to the ring and knocked him out with the cobra clutch.

After those first few seconds of horrible punches, Morgan didn't get in another lick of offense in this short and forgettable nothing match.
Your Winner: The Mongolian Stomper

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Prime Time Brian Lee is interviewed before his match
Out in the back, Prime Time Brian Lee stood around looking completely different than you may remember him if you only know him from his WWF run as Chainz and onwards.

Anyway, Lee told interviewer Brian Matthews that he was ready for his Russian Roulette match with the dastardly Kevin Sullivan and that, tonight, Sullivan was about to get a taste of his own medicine.

Roll the dice...Make the Erm...Deal

About six months earlier, World Championship Wrestling had famously done their big 'Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal' gimmick in which the stipulation for a match between Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and Sting would be decided by the spin of a roulette wheel.

Here, Smoky Mountain Wrestling were set to do the exact same thing for 'Russian Roulette' grudge match between arch-rivals 'Prime Time' Brian Lee and Kevin Sullivan.

The only difference, of course, was that SMW didn't have nearly the same budget as WCW.

So, instead of a fancy roulette wheel, they simply rolled dice in the middle of the ring to determine what kind of match Lee and Sullivan would have.

According to Lance Russell, each number of the dice was linked to a different type of match.

1: A 'Prince of Darkness' (blindfold) match
2: A Stretcher match
3: A Handicap match in which Lee would have to face Sullivan & The Nightstalker
4: A 'Ring of Fire' (inferno) match
5: A 'Singapore Spike' match in which four boxes would be attached to the corners of the ring. One box contained a Singapore spike which could be used by whoever found it.
6: Brian Lee's choice

Lee rolled the dice and, naturally, it landed on six. At least, it did if you take SMW's word for it. The cameras never actually showed you a close up of the dice.

After all that, Lee opted for a Singapore spike match despite the fact he could have had *literally* any match he wanted.

Tim Horner is Ready for The Nightstalker

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - White Lightning Tim Horner is interviewed before his match
Out in the back, 'White Lightning' Tim Horner had some harsh words for his opponent, The Nightstalker.

The two had been at war since getting involved in the Lee/Sullivan rivalry, with Horner helping out Brian Lee and Nightstalker serving as Sullivan's muscle.

Horner vowed to take care of his opponent in their upcoming match, then revealed that both of them would be handcuffed to different corners of the ring during the Lee/Sullivan.

"This means I might not be able to get at you, but I can definitely keep an eye on you," said Horner. It was the least menacing thing any wrestler had ever said in a promo.

Yep, you better watch out, Nightstalker. If you're not careful, Tim Horner is going to LOOK AT YOU.

'White Lightning' Tim Horner vs. The Nightstalker

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - White Lightning Tim Horner faces Night Stalker (Adam Bomb)
Yep, before he went to Three Mile Island to get tangled up in a nuclear disaster, Bryan Clarke was a man who stalked the night...or stalked by night, or something.

Here, the big man displayed plenty of charisma and a reasonable amount of athleticism as he locked up with Horner in what turned out to be a pretty fun match.

OK, so this was far from a five-star classic, but the crowd were solidly into this one and as a result, every single move, no matter how basic, seemed like a very, very big deal.

After taking a pounding at the hands of his larger opponent, babyface Horner had the crowds solidly behind him as he mounted a comeback, eventually leaping onto Nightstalker's back and slapping on a sleeper hold.

With nowhere to go, 'Stalker headed for the ropes and dumped his opponent over the top to the outside.

Since throwing your opponent over the top was illegal here in SMW, that gave the win to White Lighting.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Tim Horner

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Kevin Sullivan is interviewed before his match
Backstage, Brian Matthews stood by with a man he called 'Evil Kevin Sullivan.'

'I'm not evil,' claimed Sullivan, 'I'm just misunderstood.'

Despite his protest, Sullivan then cut a fun promo in which he insisted his upcoming Singapore spike match would be just as much fun as the time he went around clubbing baby seals.

Honestly.

Singapore Spike Match
Kevin Sullivan (w/ The Nightstalker) vs. 'Prime Time' Brian Lee (w/ Tim Horner)

Before the bell, the ring announcer reminded us of the rules:

Four boxes were placed on the corners of the ring, one containing a spike, the other three containing 'nothing but air.' The object was to find the spike and beat up your opponent with it.

Instead of running straight for the corners, both men instead laid into one another with a flurry of rights and lefts, building up what turned out to be a very enjoyable brawl.

We had steel chairs, we had Sullivan whacking Lee with a random sandbag, and we even had a hammer come into play.

Unfortunately, the one thing we didn't have was a solid ending.

Somehow, The Nightstalker ended up with the spike and gave it to Sullivan. The spike got dropped, 'Stalker picked it up again and this time refused to give it to his man.

The distraction allowed Horner to pull down Sullivan's tights and get the three count thanks to a roll-up.

Yes, this hotly-anticipated blood feud came to an end with a roll-up.
Your Winner: Tim Horner

Afterward, Sullivan got into it with The Nightstalker. It would have been more dramatic had there not been a problem with the handcuffs used on The Nightstalker.

For some reason, they couldn't get him free so they literally had to take down the second turnbuckle to free him. When he finally got free, 'Stalker saw off Sullivan, effectively turning babyface in the process.

Tracy Smothers is From the South

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Tracy Smothers is interviewed before his match
With the ring left in shambles, we next went backstage where Brian Matthews stood by for an interview with 'Wild-Eyed Southern Boy' Tracy Smothers.

A fired-up Smothers wasted no time laying into his opponent Dirty White Boy. The two would face later in a chain match for the world title in front of what Smothers over-optimistically called 'millions of people.'

Despite forgetting his lines a couple of times, the Wild-Eyed one did cut a mostly compelling promo as he promised to get revenge on White Boy for costing him the TV title and $5,000, and for doing something unsavory to his rebel flag.

This last heinous deed was a particularly sore point for Smothers because he took great pride in being a southerner from the south who liked southern things, and if you didn't know that already, the southern wrestler did at least take the time to tell you all about how southern he was in every other sentence.

Take my Chain...

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Ron Wright presents his famous chain to Dirty White Boy
Out at ringside, Dutch Mantell thrust a microphone in the face of a wheelchair-bound Ron Wright, a Tennessee legend who had enjoyed runs in promotions like the NWA and Mid-Atlantic.

With the world champion Dirty White Boy standing by, Wright lifted a big heavy chain from what was literally a plastic bag you'd get from the grocery store.

Telling us all about how he'd kept this chain in great condition ever since he'd been bound to a wheelchair, the retired star made out like this chain was his most prized possession, which makes you wonder why he kept it in a dirty plastic bag.

Anyway, the whole point of this was that Wright was now gifting this chain to Dirty White Boy in a weird and trashy passing-of-the-torch ceremony.

'I Won't Bring Shame to the Chain'

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Just Dirty White Boy with a deadly weapon
Up next, we cut to a pre-recorded promo in which Dirty White Boy pretended to be in New York City even though he was clearly in some random park in Tennessee.

The Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion gave smothers a verbal beat down, promising that he wouldn't 'bring shame to the chain' given to him by Ron Wright, but would instead use the chain to beat Smothers' brains out.

After taking some time to insult all the people of the Smoky Mountain region,  White Boy then proceeded to take the chain and whack it into a bag of flour, a pineapple, a melon and a bottle of beer, all of which were supposed to represent his opponent in some way.

Finally, after a brief catch-up with our announce team, it was on to the match itself.

Tennesee Chain Match for the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Heavyweight Championship
SMW Heavyweight Champion Dirty White Boy (w/ Ron Wright) vs. Tracy Smothers

I'll be honest with you, I wasn't expecting much from this, but man was I ever wrong.

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Dirty White Boy faced Tracy Smothers in a Strap match
Basically, this was your standard strap match with a really long chain in place of a leather strap, Smothers and Dirty White Boy were absolutely compelling as they engaged in a bloody, old-school brawl.

The challenger took the advantage early on, beating the champion from pillar to post and back again, all to the delight of the Tennesee faithful. Eventually, however, Dirty White Boy regained the upper hand, beating his rival to a bloody pulp and ramming the chain violently into the gash on Smother's forehead.

From there, we got a good, solid championship match that kept the crowd fully invested from start to finish.

After a really entertaining brawl, the match ended the same way that just about every strap match ever ended:

The heel took charge and touched the first three corners, dragging the face behind him. The face, naturally touched all three corners too, then beat his opponent to the fourth 'buckle, winning the match -and the title- in the process.

If that sounds familiar to you, it's because it was the exact same ending that Stone Cold Steve Austin and Savio Vega would eventually use three years later in their match at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog.
Your Winner and NEW SMW Champion: Tracy Smothers

After celebrating with the crowd, the new champion made his way backstage where he was interviewed by Lance Russel, who called the preceding contest the best match he'd seen in his life.

Smothers was inclined to agree and spent the next two minutes rambling on about how it was the greatest match of his life. Before he could say anything else, however, Dirty White Boy showed up, knocked him down with a block of wood and kicked him square in the bollocks.

Personally, I don't know what White Boy was so mad about.

After all, he had a lucrative career in plumbing waiting for him.

Fighting Words

Prior to our three-team, nine-man street fight main event, we got backstage promos from each team.

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Blue Grass Brawl 93 - The Stud Stable
First up, The Stud Stable of Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden, and Dutch Mantell cut a wild and intense southern heel promo in which they typically vowed to destroy their opponents.

Next, we heard from 'The Enforcer' An Anderson and his partners, Robert Gibson, Ricky Morton, and Ricky Morton's amazing mullet.

Anderson cut a ridiculous promo in which he likened the beatdown he was going to give his opponents to the feeling you get when you go without underwear or get a DUI and crash your car.

Apparently, those two things feel exactly the same as getting beaten up by The Enforcer.

I know Anderson is a legend and one of the greatest solid wrestlers of all time, but this promo was all kinds of stupid.

Finally, Jim Cornette and The Heavenly Bodies cut the most compelling promo of all, insisting that the Smoky Mountain tag team champions had never lost a street fight yet and weren't about to start today.

All the while, their partner, Beautiful Bobby Eaton stood in the background looking like he'd just randomly walked on set and didn't know why he was there.

Three-Team Street Fight
The Stud Stable (Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden & Dutch Mantell) vs. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) & Arn Anderson vs. SMW Tag Team Champions The Heavenly Bodies (Stan Lane & Tom Pritchard) & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Blue Grass Brawl 93 - Arn Anderson and The Rock 'n' Roll Express
A wild, out-of-control ECW-style garbage brawl which took place a full year before ECW officially became extreme, this looked like it was a lot of fun for the live crowd.

Unfortunately, any enjoyment didn't really translate when you watch this back on video.

With all nine-men competing at once, it was necessary to show the majority of the bout from the hard camera, which made it really hard to focus on anything at all. Instead, you just kind of sat back and looked at the screen as the combatants battered each other with trashcans, straps, and even a tyre.

At one point, Tom Pritchard got busted open. Admittedly, the resulting crimson mask looked pretty impressive, but the actual act of him getting his head caved in was lost amidst the rest of the carnage, severely limiting its impact.

At another point, Bobby Eaton's pants fell down. It was legitimately the most exciting thing in the match.

Eventually, The Stud Stable got taken out before Arn Anderson came in with a fire extinguisher. In the resulting mele, Tom Pritchard scaled the ropes and came down with a flying knee. True to their earlier word, The Heavenly Bodies ensured their run of success in street fights remained unbroken.
Your Winners: The Heavenly Bodies & Bobby Eaton

Afterward, the winning team were interviewed in the back by Brian Matthews, with Jim Cornette promising that The Heavenly Bodies would reign supreme over SMW for a long time to come.







You know, it's interesting. I've been a wrestling fan for over 25 years and yet this is the first time I've ever sat down to watch a Smoky Mountain Wrestling show. On the whole, I have to say that I did genuinely enjoy it. 

OK, so it wasn't a classic, but it was far from the worst wrestling show ever produced and gave us some genuinely enjoyable wrestling in the form of Smothers vs. Dirty White Boy and even Nightstalker vs. Tim Horner.

Seriously, who knew Adam Bomb was so good at working a crowd?

Though the main event did disappoint in this fan's eyes, I will say that Bluegrass Brawl '93 did at least get me intrigued enough to check out more SMW shows.




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New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.