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ITR VIDEO REVIEW    
King Kong Bundy:
The Missing Matches 

July 22, 2004

by the Canadian Bulldog    
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

The Missing Matches. The mere mention of the term makes you think: "Wow, finally, someone other than WWE has gone and tracked down for ME, the wrestling fan, some rare and obscure matches that will help me to better define the great history of this sport."

Either that, or "Hey, look at what some wannabe-wrestling promoter is trying to shill and pass it off with a title like 'missing matches'."
   

You'd probably be correct in assuming the latter. This videotape is one of four that were distributed by Kit Parker Films (who actually are behind those awesome SMW-era DVD's such as Night Of The 

Legends, which I can't say enough good things about) back in 1989. My brother and I came across this one, along with "Missing Matches" collections for Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Randy Savage, sometime around 1989 or 1990, all for the bargain-basement price of $20 American (or $6,742 Canadian).

Let me start off by saying that back in the day, Bundy was my absolute favorite wrestler. I'm not kidding. To me, he was the ULTIMATE heel. He wasn't just big, he was humongous. He rarely talked - he didn't NEED to talk to intimidate his opponents. And you just had to hate the guy. I was the one cheering for him to beat Hogan at WrestleMania 2.

My love for Bundy got to the degree that, when I was an indy show about five years ago, I waited in line to PAY for a picture with him. Hey, it's a good photo. He's strangling me in the middle of the ring, and my eyes are bugging out.

Anyways, we start off with our host, some unnamed goof who is clearly having a bad hair day, trying to tell us that Bundy was 460-plus pounds. Yeah, right. And all those mistakes I make in Inside The Ropes are intentional. The matches were about to see are from the early 1980's in Memphis. He introduces the first bout as a "special challenge match" (what is this, WCW Worldwide?) featuring:

King Kong Bundy Vs. Jerry The King Lawler

Bundy, who is with Jimmy Hart, attacks Lawler to start. He stands on top of The King and then tries for a quick pin. By the way, I should point out that the video quality for this entire series is, as they say in the industry, piss poor. But such were the production values around then. Awesome elbowsmash by Bundy, followed by some taunting. Another pinfall attempt gets a one-count.

Lance Russell, a very underrated announcer in my opinion, tells us that Lawler gets $1,000 for every minute he stays in the ring with Bundy. So I'll apologize and allow it to be called a "special challenge match" after all. Bundy slams Lawler to the mat with authority, and then tries for another pin. It's announced that one minute has elapsed ($1,000 for the King) and the crowd goes wild.

Bundy punishes Lawler with a series of punches and elbows. Lawler escapes to the floor, and gets smashed into the corner post. Two minutes have now passed; strangely, only about thirty seconds after one minute had elapsed. Hmmm… Bundy tosses Lawler back into the ring, busts out an elbow and another two count. Some general rest-hold-ishness and then Bundy traps Lawler in a bearhug. At the three-minute mark, Bundy misses an elbow and sells it big time. Lawler goes into the crowd and taunts Bundy to chase him. That round of stalling lasts until the four-minute mark. Four thousand bucks for Lawler. Geez, was Bundy even MAKING that much money wrestling in those days?

Lawler tries the same old trick, running in and out of the ring several times to escape a countout but still collect more dough. Funny stuff.

Five minutes pass (hey, wait; Lance Russell is also doing double-duty as the ring announcer!) and Bundy is livid. Crowd is legitimately going nuts here. The Bundster is getting all like "I'm not having any more of this shit" and brings Lawler back into the ring himself, the hard way. A few well-timed punches keep Lawler on the mat.

Six minutes pass, and a desperate Bundy tries for another pinfall. That gets two. Bundy tries for his patented big splash and nobody is home. Lawler drops his strap, and as anyone who knows Memphis wrestling knows, that's when business starts to pick up. Essentially, it's the Memphis version of Hulking Up.

Lawler starts firing away with closed fists. A clothesline is enough to send the (coughcough) 460-pounder to the mat. A young Rick Rude runs to ringside (I wouldn't have known who it was had Russell not identified him; the picture quality is THAT BAD), and Lawler starts brawling with him. Jimmy Hart throws Bundy a chain, and - get ready for this shocking swerve - he nails Lawler with it. Big splash is enough for a three count at an alleged 6:57 (seemed like less than five minutes to me, but I wasn't really timing it).

Rating: 3/5. A fun concept, and the crowd really got into it. Plus… it's King Kong Bundy! But nothing special otherwise.

Our goofy host is back on the screen, telling me that we're going to be treated to matches "kept in the vaults of private wrestling collectors." I try to picture some staunch, 70 year-old multimillionaire sitting on a stash of crappy wrestling videos, occasionally donating a match or two to his favorite charity. Anyways, this is what we get:

Ravishing Rick Rude and Jim The Anvil Neidhart Vs. Jerry Lawler and The PYT (Pretty Young Things) Express

So, uh, why would the first match be available to the general public and the second one, obviously around the same time frame, be in the hands of private wrestling collectors? My head hurts just thinking about it. The PYT's, by the way, were Koko "Hadn't Quite Inherited The Middle Initial B Yet" Ware and Norvell "Not Even Close To Resembling Stone Cold Steve" Austin.

Lawler and Rude lock up to start and Rude fires back some hard right hands that knock The King off his feet. One awesome thing about these matches is that the microphones under the ring are VERY sensitive, so every last blow sounds amazing.

Rude smashes Lawler's head to the ground and you can see at ringside, Neidhart and Rude's valet, Angel. WAIT A SECOND! This isn't a tag team match at all! What the hell? The stupid host told me it was a tag match, as does the videocassette box. Don't these private wrestling collectors even WATCH what they have in their vaults before selling them to the general public? My sincerest apologies…

Ravishing Rick Rude Vs. Jerry Lawler

Anvil, from ringside, hammers Lawler while the ref is arguing with Rude. Angel joins in on the fun. Rude with a suplex, followed by an elbow and a two-count. Russell tells us we're at the fourteen-minute mark. There must have been some clipping going on here, approximately 12 minutes worth. Maybe THAT was the part where this was a tag team match?

Nice reverse neckbreaker by Rude and a two-count (those Memphis folks sure love their near-falls). Yet ANOTHER pin attempt, while Lawler puts his foot on the rope. One more pin attempt (I mean come on, Rude! It's just not going to happen.) that only gets one. You'd think this was a special challenge match or something. Rude lays in to Lawler with some elbows and tries for (sigh) a pin again. The ref doesn't even bother this time. Some more punching, and Lawler drops the strap. Crowd goes nuts. It's funny how The King's punches are much more devastating AFTER he's dropped his strap. But the audience seems to love it…

Rude pushes Lawler into the referee (ref bump) and misses an elbow smash. Lawler goes for the cover, and now Neidhart comes in. This leads to some heel miscommunication between Rude and Neidhart, and Lawler capitalizes with a fist from the second rope onto Rude (one of his finishing moves at the time, I believe). Angel enters the ring now and gets caught by Lawler ("Woo hoo! Puppies, JR!"). Rude nails Lawler from behind and covers him, just in time for the ref to count to three. Rick Rude has captured the Southern title! Um… this is the first mention that this was a title match, or that Lawler was even a champion. The heel trio celebrate while Lawler stews in the corner. Hey, I'd be pissed, too, if I lost a title because of Jim Fucking Neidhart.

After watching a bit of the celebration, Lawler attacks everyone and then nails Angel with a punch to the face. Geez! Neidhart and Rude are incensed, and double-team Lawler unmercifully until he's saved by… you guessed correctly, Tommy Rich and Eddie Gilbert.

Huh? What about the PYT Express? Wasn't this a tag team match, you know, featuring them? Oh, wait… here comes the PYT Express! YES!!! Except, uh, they start attacking Lawler. WHAT? Can't these guys read the back of the video box? They're supposed to be partners, not foes! My head hurts.

Meanwhile, there's some brawling around the ring - who's on what side is anyone's guess. Inside the ring, PYT Express start nailing Lawler with a chair. Rich and Gilbert make the save. I guess.

Rating: 2/5. Not even a good match to begin with, but then everything got all confusing at the end.

Tommy Rich Vs. Massai Ito

No, that's not a typo (actually, it probably is a typo, knowing these guys), but it's not a typo on my part. I'm assuming this is former AWA champion Masa Saito battling former NWA champion Tommy Rich. Finally - the dream matchup we've all been waiting for.

We start joined in progress with Rich putting "Ito" in a side headlock. Oh, wait a second… Russell refers to this guy as Ito, so maybe that IS his name. Plus, he doesn't even look like Masa Saito. My bad.

The two slug it out, with Rich nailing Ito with a snapmare. "Judge" Ito busts out some karate moves, natch. Because he's from Japan, you see. And everyone there knows how to throw karate chops. Where's the ceremonial salt?

Rich gets a rollup off the ropes, followed by a hiptoss. Ito was trained by Memphis mainstay Tojo Yamamoto, Russell tells us. Ito then applies a nerve hold (think Meng) to Rich. Some more chops and a karate kick force Rich to the ground. Two count by Ito. Paul Morton, Ricky Morton's old man, is the referee here, by the way. Just another useless bit of trivia. Kind of like this videotape.

Rich mounts a comeback and peppers Ito with elbows. Ito employs a kick and then it's back to Resthold City (I actually vacationed there once. The Chinlock Café is fantastic.) with the Tongan Death Grip. For the next two minutes, we see the following exciting formula: Rich nails Ito with some punches, Ito fires back with some chops, and repeat. Ito with a slam, followed by a climb to the second rope, and the worst looking jump in the history of wrestling (Andre could have probably got better hang time), which Rich moves out of the way for. Tojo Yamamoto himself, and Jimmy Hart (not sure who's on what side here yet, but they're clearly in opposite corners). Ito gets a close two-count, and Rich begins Hulking Up (hey, that's Lawler's gimmick!). With the ref's back turned, Hart attacks Rich (I guess The Mouth Of The South is backing Ito here), and it's good enough for… a two count? Thought that would have been it.

Yamamoto (I think, the picture quality is just awful at this point) passes Rich some salt -- did I call it or what? -- which he tosses into Ito's eyes and follows up with a flying bodypress for the pinfall. New champion! (Again? What title this time?)

Rating: 1/5. Yuck! These private wrestling collectors ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Jerry The King Lawler Vs. Kamala The African Giant (or if you believe the video box, Komola The Ugandan Giant)

Wow, I'm sure glad I'm reviewing Jerry Lawler: The Missing Matches, because… wait; I'm not? Could have fooled me.

Interesting backstory here (which I got from reading Lawler's book): Kamala -- or if you prefer, Komola -- got his start in Memphis because of Lawler and co-owner Jerry Jarrett. He was wrestling in relative obscurity at the time as Sugar Bear Harris, and Lawler had been looking for someone to do a cannibal gimmick. The rest was history.

Kamala starts off attacking Lawler. He was a lot more mobile in his early days. A chokehold in the air by Kamala. Lawler is released and bails outside of the ring. When he returns, he's chopped again by his Ugandan foe. A version of the heart punch sends Lawler outside the ring again. Kamala follows him outside and slams his head onto a ringside table. Jimmy Hart is Kamala's manager, by the way (did he manage, like, every Lawler enemy in Memphis?) With the ref's back turned, Lawler hits Kamala with a chair and then runs back into the ring. The referee makes a quick ten count and… that's it? That was three minutes of action, tops! As soon as the bell rings, the video fades to black and ends. I am not joking. Way to give us a big finish, guys.

Rating: None. While it's always great to see Kamala in action, there was very little action to be had here.

Final analysis:
Was this worth the $5 I paid for it about 15 years ago? Well, I collect obscure wrestling tapes and DVD's; so for me, sure. But I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to find it (there are probably still copies in that same West Palm Beach toy store). And I'm fairly certain that a lot of those same matches (or ones of a similar era and caliber) are on the Wrestling Gold DVD series, so you might as well spend a few more bucks and hear the awesome Meltzer/Cornette 'insider' commentary tracks.

Oh, and there's the little matter of false advertising here. Was this video the crown jewel for the true King Kong Bundy completist, such as me or… uh… ummmm… Bundy's mother? Nah, not at all. Like the others in the "Missing Matches" series, it's more about Lawler than anyone else. So if you like The King, go nuts. But for Bundy? Give it a miss.

E-MAIL THE BULLDOG    
BROWSE THE ITR ARCHIVES

CANADIAN BULLDOG  is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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