Saturday, February 20, 2010

This book gives me a boner

A big shiny one that keeps me from standing in front of the class.

Featuring beautifully detailed full color photographs of every aspect of the NWA championship belt.
Includes rare photographs provided by former NWA World Champion Harley Race of the night in 1973 the belt was first presented in Houston.  Some of these photographs have never been published before.
Includes a detailed history of the belt, how it was made, when it first appeared, the different versions of the belt, and where it is today.
Features profiles of the eight legendary NWA world champions who wore this version of the belt.  

Um... yes plz!

You can pick up this book at

Someday if I ever find a goddamn job again, I'll certainly add it to my own to buy pile. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Original Title: Bad Guys
Year: 1986
Director: Joel Silberg
Writer: Joe Gillis (writer), Brady Westwater (writer)
Genre: Comedy, Wrestling

Two hotshot LAPD cops get in hot water after breaking up a fight at a local bar. They get suspended from the force and have to find a way to pay the rent. First they try construction work, then stripping, but newspaper reporter Janice Edwards has a really good idea...professional wrestling.

A contemporary of Body Slam, Bad Guys features a much, much lower budget cast but still manages to be a superior wrestling film. It's silly and not very good, but at least the story stays on the wrestlers themselves for the most part.

Adam Baldwin and Mike Jolly play Skip and Dave, our two rowdy heroes. And they loooove wrasslin! I suppose we can call them the stand out roles in the film, but honestly that is just not saying a lot. The acting here is just universally bad. Not only are the characters unbelievable, little pieces of overacting just made my skin crawl.

You - yes YOU! - will get a deuce chill right up your spine when you hear Baldwin's HEEEEYs and YEEEAAAHs dubbed in over the two of them stripping at a Chippendales type club and giving each other full nelsons on stage. I won't explain what a full nelson is if you don't know already, because it sounds funny this way.

I will never look at Animal Mother again quite the same.

Look how ashamed Jolly looks over there. Good acting? Or......

Not a lot of other faces in the film to go along with the sorry acting. Ruth Buzzi, who played Screech's mom in Saved By The Bell was Petal McGurk, the dirty trainer's wife. Apparently she was on Laugh In also, but really who likes that better than Saved By The Fucking Bell?

Professor Toru Tanaka and Sergeant Slaughter both show up near the end of the film, both in non-speaking roles, but it was cool to see some better known wrestlers in there regardless. Not that Tanaka is super well known, particularly by more recent fans of wrestling, but many people will just recognize him from various bit roles usually as some sort of body guard or Francis' butler in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Tanaka was at one time the tag team partner of the WWF legend Mr. Fuji.

The wrestling in Bad Guys isn't too bad, and it certainly helps the weakly written story along. I mean, when Petal tells Skip and Dave that as wrestlers they have to pick a gimmick, then stick with it... then proceeds to help them change their gimmick after they are chased out of a show. OK then! Anyway, I'm not sure Jolly performs his own stunts (his character seems to be the more talented of the team), but Baldwin threw a head scissor on a dude, and was taking a few bumps here and there.

He needed some bumps on his ass it seems, because that thing was just non-existent. This isn't necessarily something I would typically notice, but his concave bottom was an embarrassment to asses everywhere! His pants had to be tight because they would have just fallen off that barren cliff otherwise.

You know, I'm not really reviewing this movie so much as talking about little pieces of it. That's pretty much what it's good for. It is a low-budget mess that is pretty much a carbon copy in formula of so many other 80s movies. Good guys that are a little bad get held down by the man. Good guys that are bad excel in whatever they do. Good guys that are bad overcome huge obstacle. The end.

You even get a fucking musical montage during the training sequence! Yes!

Skip and Dave's montage is pretty boring, and maybe a little gay, but the Russian's training is so awesome and cliched that it makes my insides giggle: Strongman weight lifting and heavy drinking of vodka! Class.

Karate Kid eat your goddamn heart out.

Bad Guys is entertaining for what it was. Like Body Slam, it is like a bookmark for when professional wrestling was going through major changes and becoming more mainstream and flashy than ever before. But unlike Body Slam, this film stuck with the wrestling. Joel Silberg (director of Breakin'!) didn't construct this film all that well, but with a cast and set that probably cost a fraction of what Body Slam did, this one comes out as a better example of this sub-genre.

Sucks nuts, but not as bad as Body Slam

Score: 5.25 / 10

Rowdy Roddy Piper fun

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I felt it only fitting that I wrap up my overlong wrestling theme with films that reflect what professional wrestling eventually would become and still is - the sports entertainment style that they are today. Nothing shows this transformation better than the wrestling movies of the late 1980s!

And really the beginning of this change in professional wrestling...

Original Title: Body Slam
Year: 1986
Director: Hal Needham
Writer: Steve Burkow (writer), Shel Lytton (screenplay)
Genre: Comedy, Wrestling

M. Harry Smilac is a down-on-his-luck music manager who is having a hard time attracting talent and booking gigs for his band, Kicks (The most recent of the gigs is a Dairy Queen opening!!). When making arrangements for a campaign fund-raiser, he mistakes Rick Roberts, a professional wrestler, for a musician and hires him. At that moment he becomes a wrestling manager and starts to book matches for him and his teammate Tonga Tom.

Body Slam reflects well I think professional wrestling's transition from a specific, shady "sport" to what has been donned "sports entertainment" that occurred with Vince McMahon's WWF in the 1980s. Wrestling still had the illusion of reality and was broken into territories until McMahon took his father's business, created larger than life superstars, and went nationwide... for better or worse. And in Body Slam, we see a small team change wrestling from something just a physical confrontation to a complete entertainment show.

That said... too much fucking Smilac, not enough wrasslin! (and definitely not enough ROWDY RODDY!) In this way it reflects what WWF would become as well as we get management stories instead of stories being told in the ring as I like to see in my pro-wrestling of choice.

Dirk Benedict plays the super-shady music manager Harry Smilac who stumbles into managing a professional wrestling tag team Quick Rick Roberts (Roddy Piper) and Tonga Tom (Sam Fatu).

Fatu was best known as Tama, one half of the Islanders with partner Haku in the WWF. He never made it super big in the business, but his brothers Eddie and Solofa found a little more success as Umaga and Rikishi. Roddy Piper was quite a huge draw on the other hand. He lacked the wrestling skills of quite a few of his contemporaries, but more than made up for it with charisma to spare and for being very outspoken and just seeming completely batshit crazy. He was just a joy to hear on the mic and really sold his character first with his words and emotion.

And Mr. Hal Needham... a director who knows about actors with charisma to spare in one Mr. Burt Reynolds... totally dropped the ball on Piper here. Here was a perfect opportunity to have Piper shine on screen in a wrestling movie, but instead we get the Dirk Benedict show. Don't get me wrong... I like me some Dirk. But I like me some Dirk when he's on the A-Team or Battlestar Galactica or something of the sort. Put him up in competition for screen time with the likes of Piper, or even Tanya Roberts tits, and well I'm gonna take a pass.

Benedict is essentially acting the Face role from The A-Team, only a little shiestier. It would be fine, honestly, except that I wanted to watch a wrestling movie more than a comedy about this loser agent manager guy. He puts the moves on Candace Vandervagen played by a lovely Tanya Roberts with some lovely boobage and some lovelier feathered hair, and of course she falls for the whole thing after only putting up the smallest of fights. One minute she is disgusted by Smilac's advances but then a couple scenes later she has already given in and is getting plowed back at his seaside cottage that I'm sure a failing agent could afford.

I'm just assuming she is plowed because Tanya comes nowhere close to giving up the goods in this PG bore.

Piper is fine in his role despite being muted. And Needham made a good choice in keeping Sam Fatu's speaking roles to a minimum. We'll just say he's a much better dancer than an actor, and I think I saw my grandma with better moves at my wedding. And she had a cane.

There's appearances by the Wild Somoans Afa and Sika, which was pretty cool. They played the muscle of a loan collector and had no spoken lines. Their only job was to destroy cars apparently. The late great Capt. Lou Albano, playing the creatively named Capt. Lou Murano, manages the rival tag team The Cannibals, played by some guy I didn't recognize and The Barbarian who had a long career after this film and now lives in my stomping grounds, North Carolina!

Perhaps Needham was riding Burt Reynold's coattails in the successes of Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit. Dirk ain't no Burt, that's for sure. Or perhaps we can blame the writing for this boring overall story. Whatever it is, this film just does not work. It is interesting to see the development in the film of Rock'n'Wrestling given the time the film was released in relation to the WWF explosion, but not nearly enough time is given to the actual wrestling and wrestlers for my tastes. The jokes are rarely funny, and the only over the top wrestler acting comes from The Cannibals themselves who just snarled and delivered short, uninteresting threats.

At least Piper's shirt is funny!

This film is not available on DVD, and I cannot honestly recommend tracking it down on VHS. If you come across it on the internet (cough like I did cough) or showing on some random cable channel, it may be worth a look for history sake and to see a crazy Capt. Lou making not-funny gay jokes and picking up a midget out of his chair, but otherwise just don't and say you did.

No one will know the difference.

Score: 4 / 10


Original Title: Kayfabe
Year: 2007
Director: Michael Raven, Michael Scully
Writer: Michael Raven, Michael Scully
Genre: Mockumentary, Wrestling

The TCICWF is shutting down forever, and these colorful, eccentric, clueless, indie wrestlers have one last chance to show the world that they belong in the big leagues.

After the shit storm that was Grunt!, I was certainly hesitant to dive right into another wrestling mockumentary. But 2007's Kayfabe was a breath of fresh wrestling trunks in comparison. This is done right.

A Canadian production, Kayfabe follows a small local wrestling organization, humorously named Tri-Cities International Championship Wrestling Federation or TCICWF, in its last days. This is a much lighter portrayal of the lower rung wrestlers than something like The Wrestler. Each character seems to be a near-caricature of the different personalities of professional wrestlers. You have the talented leader, Rocket Randy Tyler (Pete Smith), most concerned with the business instead of personal glory. You have the not so talented co-leader Steve Justice (Michael Roselli), very full of himself and concerned with his image alone. There's the masked Mexican wrestler, the confused guy that can't get over with the crowd, the strange and cocky color commentator, the grisly owner, the ambiguously gay wrestler, the rookie, the Christian... it's a very funny collection of characters and all of them work well.

This film at first for me felt like something that only long-time wrestling fans would appreciate. But the more I think about it, it may just be more universal than that. Kayfabe is a term used in the wrestling business that describes the act of presenting something as real that is not real. It's the perfect name for this as we at the same time see the sad live shows and all the backstage interactions before and after these shows. It gives a real-life and humorous look at what life may be like for one of these tiny organizations.

The film opens with a conversation between Randy Tyler and TCICWF owner Al Thompson (Travis Watters) regarding the night's show. As they talk, terms they are using are defined on screen. While it's a little obvious, I still think it was a good decision especially those who may not know what a 'gimmick' or a 'mark' are.

Eventually it is revealed that the business is going under. This is obviously a plot point, but not the point of the film. Regardless of the state of the business, watching the guys perform for lackluster audiences, working out their gimmicks and matches beforehand, talking about the business of professional wrestling in general... this was the true meat and potatoes of Kayfabe. I don't want to get too much into the characters themselves and how they interact with one another because that is where the true humor and interested developments happen in the film. It's presented as a mix of Arrested Development and the Office, a reflection of real life with awkward humor injected throughout.

The acting was all entertaining. It's obvious these guys aren't masters of their craft by any means, but I really think it works. It makes a lot of it feel more realistic as they feel a little less than natural with a camera present. I'm not sure how many of the actors in the films are actual pro-wrestlers, but all of them at least seemed to know what they are doing. Rocket Randy Tyler vs. Steve Justice wasn't going to burn down the house, but the two of them wrestling was solid enough. For two non-wrestlers, if that's what they are, it was done quite well. And even though the wrestling was not technically as good as it was in Grunt!, it was most certainly filmed better.

This is another short review, but it's no reflection of my admiration of Kayfabe, it is just simply hard for me to fully discuss without just repeating funny moments. It's not perfect... some of the jokes fall a little flat or wear their welcome, but really this is only a minor, minor gripe.

This is a movie worth checking out and they deserve the attention. You can, and should, check out the website for the movie,

For wrestling fans especially, I'd definitely recommend Kayfabe. A great way to wrap up my reviews of wrestling docu/mocku flicks!

Score: 7.75 / 10

These pythons are sick!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Original Title: Grunt! The Wrestling Movie
Year: 1985
Director: Allan Holzman
Writer: Allan Holzman (story), Roger D. Manning (screenplay), Tony Randel (story), Jeff Scheftel (Narration), Lisa Tomei (story), Barry Zetlin (story)
Genre: Mockumentary, Wrestling

A documentary filmmaker tries to track down former wrestling star Mad Dog Joe DeCurso after the wrestler disappears following the events of a match where his opponents is inadvertently decapitated. A current masked star has come onto the scenes, and Mad Dog's fans believe it could be Mad Dog himself coming out of hiding.

Yeah..............not so much...........

Well, of all the things This Is Spinal Tap is great for, this is certainly not one of them. While I'm not saying that the two films are linked at all, Spinal Tap certainly put the mock documentary genre in the public eye. So what we get with Grunt is not only boring and not well written, but 1 year removed from being all that original.

I've said it before, with an army of writers, a movie is bound to be great, right??? While it would be nice to imagine a smoky room with creative types sitting around a table bouncing ideas off one another and chiseling away at the perfect script, with something like Grunt! The Wrestling Movie what we probably got was either several people giving up because they even bored the snot out of themselves, or we got some honorary writing credits when someone would toss in a genius idea like "You definitely should hit someone in the face with a frying pan!"

Yes... it happens... I was waiting for the Looney Tunes sound effect of the garbage crashing and the final tin can plunk as the recipient of said frying pan came tumbling down the stairs. The whole movie isn't like this. I'm just pointing it out because it was an easy target and I'm a poor writer. It is, however, boring boring boring.

Throughout the film, The Director (Jeff Dial) and a cab driver who is also the President of the Mad Dog fan club or some shit, are on a crappy little journey to figure out if this new Mask (Steve Strong - former tag team partner of Jessie "The Body" Ventura!) masked wrestler is Mad Dog who had disappeared after decapitating an opponent in 1979.

And that's it. They follow around people that Mad Dog knew, and at the same time the story follows the Mask even though the Director is not always at the matches. Isn't this supposed to be a goddamn documentary? No acting whatsoever stands out in any way, but there are some legitimate professional wrestlers that make appearances throughout, including a promo and match with Mr. Dick Murdoch who I posted some videos of before. Plus you get to see some tits as Mask's manager flashes Murdoch during their match so that was kinda sweet too.

There are loads of elements in the story that just seem to be filler. One in particular is an appearance by The Mask on a conservative television talk show. It makes no sense... especially since Mask never speaks. We get this shitty actor doing a shittier Rush Limbaugh or something... screaming about Commies and such, and my fast forward finger was trembling.

With all the professional wrestlers making appearances, I was at least hoping for some fun match footage. While the wrestling shown seemed sound, the style of filming all of it was fucking terrible. Weird camera angles that would block out some action, shakes and flashing lights at times, oversaturated colors at other times... it was a mess. I never thought something would make me miss the movie All The Marbles so soon.

I'm done talking about this. It stinks and I is dummer for wachin it.

This review may suck as bad as the movie itself, but hey, at least you don't have to track down the 16th generation rip of an old dusty VHS tape now!

Score: 2.75 / 10