Arena Reports 4/8 Wrestle Birmingham: Jarrett vs. Road Dogg, Smothers, Adrian Street, Armstrongs, Fuller
Apr 9, 2005 - 7:59:00 PM
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April 8, 2005
Birmingham, Ala. at Zemora Templre
Report by Larry Goodman, PWTorch.com correspondent
Jeff Jarrett defeated "Road Dogg" Jesse James to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title last night at the Zemora Temple in Birmingham, Ala. But the big news is the imminent return of an honest-to-God homegrown NWA wrestling product to Birmingham television for the first time since the days of the Continental Wrestling Federation in the late-'80s.
Wrestle Birmingham is off to a flying start. It's actually a restart, as they did a Terry Gordy tribute show at Boutwell Auditorium in 2001 but never followed up. The West family is running the show with backing provided by Linda Keeble. They sure seem to have learned from their mistakes. It was a first class presentation. They laid out a lot of story to build on in future show. I believe the mix, heavy on nostalgia with a sprinkling of younger workers, can work just as well here as it is in for CCW in North Carolina.
Zamora Temple is a great venue. First time I've seen pro wrestling inside a structure topped with a geodesic dome. It's like Boutwell Auditorium in miniature. Close up balcony seating. The place holds 1,400 and with a crowd (1000-plus) as hot as this one was, the acoustics were killer.
A simple country style rendition of the national anthem was really well done. Sorry I didn't catch the singer's name.
The show got off to a surreal start. Dr. Johnny Peebles, a swarthy looking character wearing a suit made out of some unspeakable synthetic material entered the ring with the Great Kaiser, an ancient looking dude under a mask. Peebles said Kaiser was just back from Austria. Kaiser sang "Edelweiss." The crowd hated it. Ring announcer Brent West said this was a pro wrestling show, not a karaoke contest.
(1) Mike Jackson beat "Canadian Kid" Chris Lee in 11:55. Reed claimed he flew 6 hours to get there and called Jackson out. The accent sounded Canadian by way of Liverpool. Jackson opened with a clothesline over the top and a tope. Jackson has to be one of the most athletic 55 year old workers in the U.S. this side of Ric Flair. It's mind boggling to think he's doing this stuff in his 34th year in the business. Reed tried to slingshot back to the inside and Jackson nailed him with a dropkick. Reed speared the post and Jackson worked on the shoulder. Jackson did a knuckle lock ropes walk halfway around the ring, capped off with a flip arm drag. Reed brawled his way into control but unlike a typical seedy southern heel, he then showed some skills. A springboard twisting crossbody was good for a two count. Reed followed with a sequence of four vertical suplexes. Jackson had to use the ropes to avoid a pin. Reed posted Jackson's knee and applied the figure four. Crowd chanted "USA." Right on cue, Jackson reversed the hold, forcing Reed to the ropes. Jackson launched the comeback with a neckbreaker and an enzuigiri for near falls. Both men down. Reed slammed Jackson. Overconfidence was Reed's undoing, as Jackson caught him with a sunset flip for the pin. Crisp opener. Way better than anything I would have expected in this spot.
Brent West popped the big surprise. This was a television taping for a one hour show on Birmingham ABC 33/40 debuting at midnight on 4/15. West announced that Wrestle Birmingham would return to Zamora temple on 5/13 with Rick Steiner, Dr. Tom Prichard and Wendell Cooley.
Michael St. John (last seen in Music City Wrestling circa 1997) did the television opening. It was the TV atmosphere to die for, a crowd of 1000 popping huge. St. John introduced Roy Lee Welch as the NWA sheriff-in-residence/commish type. St. John said the NWA had "assigned" Welch to Birmingham, a move that surely blew the NWA's budget clean out of the water.
(2) Lee Thomas beat McNasty via DQ at 4:05. McNasty ran down the Crimson Tide for some easy heat. Said there wasn't a "jelly roll eatin' boy" in the house that could take him. McNasty said Thomas wouldn't last five minutes. Thomas opened with a flurry of armdrags. McNasty took a dropkick and bailed. McNasty brawled. McNasty got near falls with a vertical suplex and a sidewalk slam. Thomas wouldn't stay down, so McNasty strangled him for the DQ. It took all three refs to pull McNasty off Thomas, who sustained a small hardway cut.
West announced Friday the 13th Fright Fight, a blindfold battle royale for the return date on 5/13. They did a great job of building up the follow up show with a series of announcements throughout the evening, an old school touch that a lot of indies seem to have lost in the translation.
(3) Robert Gibson beat The Assassin in 5:45. Assassin (Tim Dickerson) said he was there to collect a $10,000 bounty that had been placed on Gibson's head. A cable snapped underneath the ring on the first spot. The match came to a halt while the wrestlers adjusted their game plan. Fans helped out by chanting "he's too fat" at Assassin. Gibson used a full nelson and a keylock. Assassin heeled. The masked man used the dreaded karate thrust to the throat. Gibson ducked a corner splash and got a roll up but Assassin was able to grab the ropes. Assassin reversed a whip and charged in for another mouthful of turnbuckle. This time, Gibson got the three count.
Postmatch, Assassin threw powder in Gibson's face and got in a couple of weak kicks. He must not need the money. Assassin said the masterminds behind the bounty were none other than the Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton). Assassin issued a challenge on their behalf. West asked Gibson if he thought he could get Ricky Morton. "I don't think so. I know so." So it's Midnights vs. Rock ‘n Roll on 5/13.
They went to intermission to repair the ring. West announced Tracy Brooks vs. ODB and an appearance by former Midnight Express member Randy Rose for 5/13.
(4) Adrian Street (with Miss Linda) beat Aeonn Flex (with McNasty) in 7:25. The crowd response made this an awesome comedy match. I never thought I would see Adrian Street do his full scale ring entrance in Birmingham again. Never ever say never. A guy that I assumed to be gay came to ringside and gave Street a hug. Street looks in phenomenal shape for a man his age. Hell, for a guy any age, especially a cancer survivor. Peebles and Kaiser came back out. Street did the only right thing and treated them with like jabronis. Street said he would need a rabies shot if he messed with Kaiser. Street sealed it with a kiss. Peebles and Kaiser exited. Street removed the blonde wig to proudly show off his shiny bald head. Street pinched Flexx's ass and blamed it on McNasty. "If you guys have got something going, I can come back later." Street wiggled his ass to break a waistlock. Flexx got all geeky. Street kissed Flexx and McNasty, and heels were in a full blown homosexual panic. Street did a bit of matwork. He threw in a monkey flip. Flexx went to the gutter. Miss Linda got upset about McNasty's outside interference. Linda smacked Flexx. When Flexx tried to retaliate, Street got him with a flying crucifix for the pin.
Street wanted to know what Flexx was doing with his European belt. After all, Flex was a Canadian, "an American wannabe," and Street had retired that belt in Europe. Street challenged Flexx to put the belt up. McNasty didn't give Street a straight (no pun intended) answer, but I'm guessing we will see that match somewhere down the line.
(5) Danny Roland (with Robert Fuller) beat Tracy Smothers in 11:12. Smothers, back in "Wild-Eyed Southern Boy" mode, was an unadvertised surprise. There were calls of "ECW" and "FBI" from the crowd. Robert Fuller asked for a moment. Robert said it was the proudest moment of his life. Robert revealed that Roland was his boy. Danny is built more like a youthful Dusty Rhodes than a Fuller. Robert joined Michael St. John at the desk. Danny claimed a hair pull. A series of Smothers armdrags sent Danny to the outside. Danny tried to overpower Smothers and had some success with it. Smothers came back with a flying shoulder block and a high crossbody for a near fall. Robert got involved. Smothers lingered near the ropes so Robert could give him a good choking. Danny's offense was dull. Sensing that precious life was being sucked out of the crowd, Robert came to ringside. The ref caught Danny cheating. Smothers swapped chops with Danny. Smothers scored with a Jake Roberts short arm clothesline. Smothers speared Danny, but Robert put sonny boy's foot on the ropes. Robert tripped up Smothers and held on for dear life, allowing Danny to get the cheap pin.
(6) "Bullet" Bob Armstrong & Scott Armstrong beat Robert Fuller & Jimmy Golden to win the NWA National Tag Team Titles. Roughly 12-13 minutes. Fuller and Golden used "Voodoo Chile" for their entrance music. Just like in Dothan, Bullet's entrance got the best pop of anyone. Robert's skullduggery didn't keep the Armstrongs at bay for long. They whipped Robert into a stinkface on Golden. Robert sold that he knee was blown out and said Danny was going to finish the match. Danny and Golden had their problems. Scott gave them a meeting of the minds. Golden accidentally hit Robert. The heels finally got heat on Scott. There aren't many places left where the ref not seeing a tag generates the massive heat it did here. A double down spot lead to the hot tag. Bullet cleaned house. Scott and Danny battled down the aisle. Robert's knee suddenly got better. He pulled out a taped stick to use on Bullet. Scott was there to block. The stick went flying. Scott tossed the stick to Bullet, who used it on Robert. 1..2..3. Big pop for the title change. The sore losers tried to pin the foreign object on the Armstrongs, but the ref upheld the decision.
Fuller and Golden called out Commissioner Welch. Hugs all around. Welch acknowledged that Fuller and Golden were kin, but this was a business decision and therefore, the belts would stay with the Armstrongs.
West announced that Road Warrior Animal would be in the house on 5/13 and that either he or Prichard would meet Steiner for the NWA National title. West added that the promotion was in contact with Mick Foley, Tommy Rich and Ken Wayne regarding future appearances. The crowd went wild for the Foley announcement.
(7) Jeff Jarrett (w/Tim Welch) beat Jesse James to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title in 10:02. Not much to the match but the finish worked. James had the crowd eating out of his hand with his shiznit doggie style mic work. It was a shame they did nothing on the mic to play off all the history between them. Jarrett would so not have made it as a touring champion back in the day. The charisma factor just isn't there. Stalling and grandstanding early on. James did the DX chop '05. Jarrett got all cocky after a simple armdrag and did the Memphis strut. James made the hot comeback with a shake, rattle & roll kneedrop. Jarrett slipped to the outside to confer with Welch. James gave them a noggin knocker. Jarrett took shots into the table and the rail. James went for a sleeper, but Jarrett got him low with a mule kick. Jarrett focused on cutting off the James' air supply. Jarrett got the sleeper. James' arm went down twice, but not the third time. James rallied. Back suplex and both men down. Welch tossed a chain to Jarrett. Referee Larry Brock got clocked with the chain. The chain was up for grabs. James used the chain on Jarrett, and Scott Armstrong hit the ring to make the three count. Scott raised James hand but no way that was going to stand. Jarrett brought a chair into the ring. Jarrett countered James' pumphandle move with a Stroke onto the chair. Brock was just conscious enough to make the three count. A bunch of heels started beating on James, so Bullet and Scott cleared the ring for a show closing babyface pop.
NOTES: The Jarrett-James match will NOT air on Birmingham television… The plan is to convert last night's show into 3 hours of television and to do a highlight show for the 4th week. By my calculations, that still leaves them one week short if they plan to air a show on 5/13…Wrestle Birmingham also has a show in Warrior, Al on 5/6 with Bullet, Jackson and Ultimate Dragon(?).
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