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Torch DVD Review: UWF with DeBeers, Muraco, Koloff, Bruno

May 31, 2003 - 3:53:00 PM
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By Tony Batalla, Torch Media Reviewer

DVD Review
UWF Grudge Matches
Studio: Payless Entertainment (Australia)
Released: ?


My thirst for wrestling DVDs has brought me this gem: UWF Grudge Matches. Now, when I came across "Universal Wrestling Federation" in an Australian online site no less, I thought to myself "Holy Hot Piss, Batman! UWF DVDs?!" There were no match listings and no hype whatsoever, just "UWF Wrestling." But, I felt I could do no wrong at $9.95 Australian, which equals to about $5.50 U.S.

But my bliss was not to be. Alas, as I finally got them in my mail box, I was suddenly deflated to find out they were not Bill Watts' Mid-South UWF, which was considered among the best shows around before being sold to JCP and subsequently ruined by Dusty Rhodes's booking of them as an inferior promotion to the NWA in what should have been a dream inter-promotional feud (sound familiar?).

Nope. This is from the very short lived UWF promoted by the late Herb Abrams based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes, that UWF. The same UWF Mick Foley takes a crap on in "Have a Nice Day!" Well, for those not familiar, some background, shall we. In the early 90s, Abrams was able to score a cable deal on Sports Channel (which was later bought out by Fox and became the regional Fox Sports Network). Backed with surprisingly decent names like: Steve Williams, Nikita Koloff, Paul Orndorff, Bob Orton, Jimmy Snuka, Lou Albano, Cactus Jack, and even Andre the Giant for a very short stint, Abrams was able to attract enough curiosity-factor interest to even put together a PPV in 1991. Those shows have become somewhat of collector's cult classics due to how utterly horrible they were.

Anyway, it's not totally understood how he was able to use the name "Universal Wrestling Federation" but, by the time he was promoting, Bill Watts's had either stopped giving a damn about wrestling entirely or was already on his way to WCW. So it didn't really matter. Like most other flash in the pan con-men, Abrams ended up owing a lot of people money with nothing to show for his endeavors but a video collection at the time of his death, reportedly from a drug overdose in 1996 at age 41.

Somehow, Payless Entertainment was licensed the rights to the old Abrams's UWF footage and that video collection has spawned these demon-seed DVDs. They were released solely in Australia, so I guess I have to consider myself lucky to have even found them. Lucky, or really, seriously demented.

Without further useful wrestling trivia(l) information, the first DVD up for review is UWF "Grudge Matches."

Now, don't expect any extras or any fancy menus or anything. Just a straight video with a few chapters. Right off the bat, the picture quality is poor, kind of resembling an Internet bootleg download. The correct term would be "pixelated," but for normal purposes, we'll just say "all fuzzy and stuff."

From Los Angeles, Herb Abrams intro's the show from ringside. He's like an eccentric little Jewish dude. (Hey, eat da soup, but where's da spoon? Ah-ha, ah-ha!) Sorry, that's a bad reference to Eddie Murphy's hilarious portrayal of the old Jewish guy in the barbershop from "Coming to America." Say what you want about Murphy now (like "he's gay and all," not that there's anything wrong with that!) but in the 80s, he absolutely RULED the comic world, mixing in aspects of the stand-up greats, most notably everyone's Lord, Richard Prior (Murphy's impression of him is so awesome) and Billy Crystal (whom he worked with on SNL and the Jewish character referenced above was based on.) Of course, in "Raw," those purple skin tight leather pants sure do tell you something about Murphy's, er, preference. Anyway, that character is how Abrams sounds. That, or Jackie Mason. Who? You know, the guy from "Caddyshack II." Oh. Him.

Moving on, your commentators for the show are Craig DeGeorge and Bruno Sammartino on color. At this point, there was no love lost between Bruno and Vince so I'm sure he didn't mind "lowering" himself to do these shows. Plus, the pay was probably good while it lasted.

In a pre-taped interview, Colonel DeBeers cut a racist promo about not wanting a black ref in his matches or something. Very pathetic. DeBeers played a racist South African character all throughout the 80s and, while managing to get over as a heel, never actually drew a dime. An abrupt cut led to the first match.

(1) Ivan Koloff pinned Matt Star in a squash. Matt Star, get it? He's a star of the mat! Don't tell me Terry Taylor is booking this crap. Koloff hit a terrible snapmare and a leg drop then went to the devastating hammer lock for a rest. Drop toe hold into a chin lock. Should be pointed out that the crowd heater box was OVER THE TOP pathetic. I mean, it was all young girls screaming as if Jeff Hardy was in there against Edge or something. But, in this case it's two overweight guys, both past their prime, resting it up, one of whom is an ugly Russian. Koloff got a knee drop for 2, followed up with a low blow and a swinging neckbreaker. Second rope diving punch ended it around 8:00. (DUD)

After the match, Herb berated Koloff at ringside, screaming and stuff. Koloff was mad. But don't take my work for it. "Im'ma very, very mad," he says enlightening UWF's viewer. Yes, I missed that "s" on purpose. In a pre-taped promo, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams is tired of beggars. Like that stinkin' Paul Orndorff, always beggin' for mercy. Clips roll from 11/19/90 to give you an idea of the time frame. In the clips, Williams ran in on Orndorff and hit the Oklahoma Stampede, but Orndorff escaped a second attempt and came back with rights. Williams ducked out, grabbed a chair, and whacked Orndorff who came up juiced. A bunch of unknowns ran out from the back for the save. Another completely abrupt cut brings us the second match.

(2) Don "The Rock" Muraco defeated The Intern. Intern, who I believe was Johnny Rich under a mask, which translated to "jobber" in Abrams-ese. They exchanged arm drags and hip tosses until Muraco frustrated Intern by taking him down on consecutive shoulder blocks. Intern got an eye rake and some corner punches, but Rock came back with an elbow to the head and a Tombstone piledriver for the duke. Rock was way past his prime but the Tombstone saved the match from being a complete DUD. (1/4*)

An abrupt cut (yes, it's the most shoddy production ever) showed B. Brian Blair cutting an in-ring promo about how his girl, Honey, was in the hospital after suffering an attack from "Cowboy" Bob Orton. Blair vowed revenge.

(3) B. Brian Blair beat Hitaki via submission. Hitaki jumped Blair after his promo, earning my immediate respect. I hate it when guys just stand around and waste a perfect opportunity to jump start some offense. It's just not believable, at least from a heels point of view. A body slam and a knee drop led to a chin lock. Some legit crowd heat sneaked in, supporting Blair. Blair nailed Hitaki off the ropes, when Hitaki ducked his head, and that gave Blair some offense with a face rake across the top rope. A second rope elbow was on target, and that friends, was called "the buzzer" by the announcer. A powerslam set up the Scorpion Death Lock and Hitaki tapped just as Bob Orton ran down and jumped Blair. (1/2*) Orton locked on a sleeper and his manager, John Tolos, after his WWF stint as "Coach," hit a second rope ax-handle on Blair. Delayed vertical suplex and Tolos took off his belt and began whipping the fallen Blair. But from the back, Lou Albano ever---so---slowly maneuvered to the ring and nailed Tolos with a nut shot with a golf club, chasing them off.

In a pre-taped promo dubbed "Cap. Lou's Corner," Lou followed up the angle by introducing "Wild Thing" Stevie Raye. So much for continuity. Raye is the standard "cool, beach dude." Think Van Hammer in the late 90s here. Lou says Albano is "stinkin' like a Lincoln." To Lou, it's the deepest of compliments. Seriously. Pretty pointless interview, just to establish Raye as a "ladies man" because he had some panties on his head or something. Oh yeah, that guys a SEX MACHINE, man! Look out.

The most dependable feature, the abrupt cut, showed some kick-boxing clips with the graphic "Feet, Fists, & Fury." Not sure what the hell that was all about.

In an segment called "Ask the Wrestlers," a question to Nikita Koloff was intercepted by Ivan Koloff. Doesn't he know in America reading other people's mail is a Federal offense?! Somebody call Cliff Claven, dammit. Ivan was pissed because Nikita considers himself American now. Everything is pretty much unintelligible. "Come back, like you think you have, at one point, you nearly have." And so on. Remember, you too could have "Asked the Wrestlers" back in the day!

"Wild Thing" came out to "Wild Thing." It makes sense.

(4) Stevie Raye beat The Blue Knight. Just in case you're wondering, this was NOT Stevie Raye "suckaz gotsta know, Tony!" This was the white surfer dude gimmick. The camera panned to show, Holy Batfoot!, actual women in the crowd with "Wild Thing" signs. Must have cost about $50 each, plus the old "You'll be on TV!" line. Blue Knight attacked first and Bruno spoke out with the most insight of the night, incidentally taking a crap all over the show. "That was not a tough blow he delivered. If you jump a guy, you come up with a stiff knee in the back or something." Kayfabe? Never hoid of it. Raye came back with a Stinger Splash as the other announcer, that DeGeorge fella, brought on the irony! "Blue Knight sure is seeing a lot of the blue canvas, there." A knee-slapper! DeGeorge attempted to put over Raye by saying he was an amateur for several years, as Raye got an arm drag into an arm bar. "Amateur? Not competitively, I don't think-a," said Bruno. Ya gotta love him. Blue Knight escaped and gave Raye a "gentle push" as called by Bruno. Stop it! An atomic drop and Raye followed with an actual decent move, a belly to belly take down. Whip into the corner and Knight did a Flair Flip. Clothesline got 2 and a falling powerbomb ended it around 10:00. (1/2*)

(5) Col. DeBeers defeated a Mystery Opponent. Before the match, Sammartino said "Hey. I know who dat is, dat's Louie Spicolli." He just isn't into it. Can't say I blame him, though. Sure enough, Spicolli was the mystery opponent, dubbed "Cutie Pie." Spicolli whipped DeBeers into the corner and got in some clubs to the back. Rights and nice dropkick. But DeBeers came back with a big boot and Spicolli sold it like a champ. Piledriver, no, Spicolli countered with a backdrop. Back elbow got 2 but DeBeers hit a head scissors clap after the nearfall to take over. In the corner, DeBeers side stepped a charge and Spicolli met the turnbuckle, selling huge off the bump bouncing off the bottom rope. Now, DeBeers hit the face first piledriver but pulled Spicolli up at 2. He's insulting him, see? Legit "you suck" chants can be faintly heard. Suplex for another nearfall that DeBeers pulled up. Bruno: "He's a saddist." I guess, that would mean he's sad a lot? Nice looking running stomp set up a DDT, called "The State of Emergency" for the win. So much for building drama to the surprise upset. (*)

After the match, DeBeers choked out Spicolli until the ref, Sanders, the same black dude DeBeers complained about in the opening promo, had enough. He pulled DeBeers off while "Iceman" Parsons ran down and started delivering JYD style rights to DeBeers.

DeGeorge announced that "due to time constraints" the big debut of "Barry O" had been cut off. Yet, he's still advertised on the back of the DVD. Whatever. A montage aired, same as the opening which is longer than half the matches. At the end, the graphic said "The Ultimate in Sports Entertainment."

Final Analysis: (1.0) Very bad. Very, very bad. I don't understand the "Grudge Matches" title when everything was a squash, but the show isn't really worth analyzing too much. If you're 1) a completist, 2) just want to hear Bruno crap all over "sports entertainers" after having to endure this for an hour or so, or 3) have fond memories of a time gone by, I guess this rare oddity is worth picking up. But, I'd seriously be shocked if this thing netted more than $1,000. And that's in Australian, too.

Well, I'm still depressed.

Tony Batalla writes reviews for PWTorch.com and the Torch Newsletter. Contact him at tbatalla@pwtorch.com


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