For over a year, I’ve heard the same complaints about us never inducting something from that “other” promotion. Some have claimed we never will due to some errant notion that we don’t ever see anything wrong there, or that we are on someone’s payroll behind the scenes.
I think today’s induction will show that we’re listening to your pleas.
Believe it or not, we are doing our first-ever induction from Stampede Wrestling!
That’s called a swerve, kids. Since I do a weekly show with Vince Russo you should expect such things.
(Oh and before you get too mad, let it be known AEW inductions will be forthcoming too. The very first of those should be hitting the site next week.)
Our match today comes from all the way back in 1981. How we’ve not covered this in the past truly is worthy of a good old fashioned conspiracy theory as this thing is well and truly WrestleCrap in every sense of the word. Better yet, it features at least one man with whom many of you are acquainted, a multi-time WWF tag team champion:
Yes, this guy.
Don’t recognize him? I can’t say I blame you as that photo screams less “publicity shot” and more “mug shot.”
So let’s fast forward a few years, let him grow out a crazy goatee, pick up some sunglasses, and throw on some garish pink and black garb:
Yep! It is indeed THIS Jim Neidhart.
For those of you unfamiliar with his past, Neidhart got his start in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling, which would have been in the late 1970’s. He learned his craft under the guidance of Stu Hart, and Stu, attempting to garner recognition for his promotion as well as Neidhart himself, offered Jim $500 to take part in an anvil throwing competition at the area’s largest annual event, the Calgary Stampede. Neidhart not only won the competition, but won a new nickname in the process, becoming “The Anvil” we would all know and love.
His opponent you may ALSO know, and I’ll forgo the early shot of him and head straight to the payday:
“Iron” Mike Sharpe was a mainstay on WWF television when I began as a fan in the mid 1980’s. Not only did he make an impact on me, but he also was near and dear to the heart of our friend, the late Blade Braxton, who wrote this incredible article detailing Sharpe’s career in his passing. I strongly urge you to read that entire article, but for our purpose here today I’ll steal just this line: “Any wrestling fan who grew up in the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s will never forget Iron Mike’s penchant for losing matches, his loud bellowing of “NONONONONO” when he got into trouble or that pesky injured forearm of his which never properly healed in over four decades.”
The “bellowing” was what I personally will always remember about Sharpe, and it wasn’t just the “NONONONONO” as Blade noted, but also the never-ending hollering throughout his bouts. To this day, I have zero idea what language he was speaking. I don’t believe it to be English, not even some carny derivative. I will say I sure the heck didn’t understand a word of it, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to. I can only refer to it as Sharpese, and if you ever saw one of his frequent encounters on old Prime Time Wrestlings, you’ll hear it echoing in your head as well.
But the match we’re reviewing today was about a half decade before either man was making waves in the WWF.
In the winter of 1981, Sharpe was managed by a gentleman by the name of JR Foley, and neither of the two much like Neidhart at all. It is here we learn how poor Mike first injured his arm – apparently it happened during a weight lifting contest. That particular battle was not against Neidhart, but as it was in Canada one can only assume his opponent was Dino Bravo. I hope one of your fine Crappers edits his Wikipedia and reports that as a fact. You can even attribute it to me if you’d like.
We learn during this interview segment that Sharpe was an All-American in football, well known throughout the states as the “Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech”. So there’s a double dip for us, as we not only get the backstory on his arm, but also that he was babbling incoherently long before he got in the squared circle. I can just imagine him pre-snap making oddball guttural noises in an attempt to confuse opposing quarterbacks. Hopefully someone unearths footage of one of those games.
Foley notes they’ll take a match with Neidhart under one condition – he needs to put some money on the line. Neidhart offers $3,000, and the heel manager quickly counters and makes it $5,000. I know we have legalized betting on wrestling these days (which is still baffling to me), but Draft Kings really wants that to take off they should do more promos like this where guys put “their own” cash on the line. Regardless, the bout is on but it’s not just any fight, but a helmet match in which both competitors are to don actual football protective headgear.
If you think this sounds like a stupid idea, you’d be right. Prime evidence is thankfully provided in the very first move of the bout in which Sharpe “headbutts” Neidhart and then staggers backwards.
Wait, if the helmet is supposed to protect from injuries, shouldn’t they both just stand back up and say, “Huh…guess these things really do work”?
Sharpe grabs him by the face mask and drags him around a bit before hitting in the stomach with a few well-placed rights. Not gonna lie, every time I see such a move I swear to the Good Lord Above I hear “Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker in my head talking about getting hit “right in the boiler”. I rented that WrestleMania VHS way too many times back in my youth.
I’m not the only one, right?
Eventually, Neidhart takes over, grabbing Sharpe and waylaying him with a series of nonstop headbutts.
Why I can almost picture a young (??) Jos LeDuc watching on and thinking…by golly, there’s an idea I could steal!
Neidhart bulls his foe into the corner, attacking him with shoulder blocks. Dude, I have never been more disappointed in you. You have a HELMET ON. Come on and give us what we want!
Cannonball headbutt…RIGHT TO THE BOILER!
I mean, it’s not quite Technos Tag Team Wrestling but that wouldn’t even hit arcades for another couple years (and the NES version was still over a half decade away!) so I will cut you some slack.
Sensing his man in trouble, Foley hops up on the apron and throws some kind of liquid in Neidhart’s face. Considering the stories of Stu using his spatula to clean out the kitty litter then use it to cook breakfast without washing it, I don’t even want to know what was in the bottle.
With the referee distracted, Sharpe yanks off The Anvil’s helmet and clocks him with a massive head butt for the win. I’d question why the ref didn’t notice Neidhart no longer had a helmet on, but seeing as he was pretty much looking Foley in the eyes when he threw the sulfuric acid (add that to Wikipedia too please) in Neidhart’s face I can only surmise he was on the take.
And thus ends the legendary HELMET MATCH, which was as far as I know a Stampede exclusive (because for good reason, Bret decided to take the Ladder Match to the WWF but not this fiasco).
So join me in saying welcome to WrestleCrap, Stampede Wrestling.
Somewhere in the whispering winds of the great white north I can almost hear a “You Deserve It” chant.
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