Jordan and Eric attended tonight’s (Friday’s) World League Wrestling show, held at Young Arena in Waterloo, Iowa, held in conjunction with the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum‘s pro wrestling hall of fame tomorrow (Saturday) at noon. Approximately 300 people were in attendance, as were some of the legends of professional wrestling, including Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, Larry Hennig, Mad Dog Vachon, Baron Von Raschke, Bob Roop, Danny Hodge, Sir Oliver Humperdink and many others. Most of the legends were selling merchandise, including Harley Race, who no-sold Eric’s handshake attempt after he purchased Race’s book.
(1) Jason Jones wrestled “The King of the 450” Steve Anthony to a time limit draw (15:00). Anthony played the arrogant heel — entering the ring to the Donna Summer disco hit “Hot Stuff” — and made reference to last year’s floods that affected the induction weekend, saying he wanted the “ladies to keep their drooling to a minimum.” The match started slowly with good chain wrestling and some heel shenanigans by Anthony, but never really got going (the reason would be evident later). After the 15-minute time limit elapsed, the wrestlers teased a 5-minute overtime; Anthony shrugged it off, bringing Harley Race over to have a talk with him. Strangely, that talk did not lead to the “five more minutes,” and it’s not clear whether the talk was a pep talk, a planned talk or a “talking-to.”
(2) Full Metal Americas (Montoya X & Nicky Free) def. Foreign Objects (AJ Smooth & Tony Sly) (approx. 8:00). A standard tag team match with obvious face/heel lines drawn. Eric’s note: Knowing these guys like I do, it would have been nice to see Free work/sell the bulk of the match in order to get more in-ring experience. FMA won after the Samoa Joe-built Montoya hit an impactful frogsplash.
(3) Ryan Drago def. Trent Stone (11:00). Spot of the night: Imagine, if you will, a minor-league hockey arena with a 7-foot-high curtain down the middle width-wise, held up by a succession of metal poles. Drago exploded through the first curtain, and one of his arms hit the first pole. Like slooow-moving dominos, each pole fell to the ground, taking the entire curtain set-up with it. Words cannot describe how fucking hilarious this was. Drago slapped hands around ringside, and apologized profusely when he got to legends’ row. As for the match, Drago was corny in a good way as a face and showed off all of his Bryan Danielsen-like maneuvers. Stone showed surprisingly few power moves for as stout as he was. Again, the action was standard and ended with a Pearl River Plunge by Drago for the pin. Hopefully he did this on purpose, but as Drago was soaking in the crowd’s reaction, he backed into a trash can, knocking it over to etch his final memory.
20-Minute Intermission (55:00). Ugh.
(4) Amy Hennig (c) def. Becca and Lucy (9:00) for the WLW Women’s Championship. Becca was announced as the world’s strongest woman, claiming a 600-pound bench press. Believable, once you see her. “Once,” not “if,” because it wouldn’t surprise either of us if she made it to the big time. Same with Hennig; Amy has the timing and bumping ability of her late father, Curt. Lucy was OK in her “third wheel” role. Hennig and Lucy worked Becca over individually to no avail, then together with some success, but Becca played the monster well, hitting some great power moves. By the end of the match, Hennig hit Lucy with her dad’s neck snap and Perfectplex for the win.
(5) “Still King of the 450” Steve Anthony & Bao Nguyen def. Darrin Wade & Jason Jones (c) to win the WLW Tag Team Championships (22:00). Before the match got going, a old, fat, bald man in the front row jawed with Anthony, getting pretty belligerent, until Wade came down and put his arm around the man in a “don’t worry, I’ll get him for you” gesture. Anthony must have done something right in the opening match, because he got more heat than the other three, even when standing on the apron. Wade took enough pages out of Homicide’s book to be guilty of plagiarism, from his hands-behind-the-head ref check to his top rope Ace Crusher and his attempted Cop Killer; and lest we forget his “homages” to AJ Styles and Petey Williams: after no one sold Wade’s dive to the outside, including himself, Wade hit Anthony with one Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall and *immediately* followed it up with — you guessed it — a Canadian Destroyer. For a nearfall. Oh, Anthony did hit the 450 (it was closer to a 427, but that explained why he didn’t try it earlier). The match ended with Nguyen hitting a frogsplash (yep, two in one night) on Wade for the pin. Meanwhile, Jones, who actually tried to get his partner’s comebacks over all night, writhed in pain on the floor after a semi-botched suplex attempt. Time for Wade to do some Hindu squats.
Shorter Intermission (Not much:shorter). Jordan said he’s glad he didn’t buy any raffle tickets, since they never announced a raffle winner (at least not while we were there).
(6) Superstar Steve (c) def. Ricky Steamboat, Jr., and Ryan Breaker to retain the WLW Heavyweight Championship (14:00). By this point in the night, the crowd was dead; two intermissions and five matches’ worth of babyface clapping had taken it out of them, and they reacted to few things besides “WOOO”ing for chops. Steamboat looked good, especially for only having about one year under his belt. Steve is just as good as or better than he was nine years ago, the first time Eric saw him wrestle. Breaker needed to get out of the way more often; he nearly cracked skulls with Steve on a miscommunicated duck-under/leapfrog move, and on a Randy Savage-style “deliberate clothesline” attempt caught his feet on the top rope and nearly killed himself in the scariest spot of the night. Overall, your typical three-way match, with one guy sitting out while the other two wrestled. The finish saw Steamboat on the top rope going for a Doomsday Cross Body onto Steve, who instead gave Breaker a victory roll for the pin.
Overall thoughts: Best babyface reactions went to Harley Race for confronting Anthony in the first match, Amy Hennig for the whole night (and Larry Hennig reacting to the douchebags who wanted pictures with Amy), and Drago for the curtain fall… Best heel reaction went to Anthony, more in the second match than the first… Two intermissions absolutely killed the crowd… Hopefully a storm that knocked out power for almost 10,000 people in this 100,000-person community didn’t affect the turnout too badly, and hopefully a good crowd comes to the museum for the hall of fame inductions in the morning.