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411 Video Review: Terry Funk’s WrestleFest (1997)

September 23, 2002 | Posted by Sydney Brown

Terry Funk’s WrestleFest (1997)

It was five years ago, damn, I can’t believe it’s been that long, but it was five years ago that a friend of mine and myself took a little road trip to Amarillo, Texas to see what was supposed to be “Terry Funk’s Last Match in Amarillo.” Now I was no idiot, I knew that this wouldn’t be IT, but the thought of seeing an ultra-rare legitimate cross promotion between the WWF and ECW, and the fact that I hadn’t attended a wrestling show in almost five years prior, well, I couldn’t say no to going.

The odd thing is, I never had a video of the event. I’m thinking maybe the $40 price tag from a certain video distributor caused that, but either way, I have a copy now. And with that, I’ll briefly give a nod to wrestletapes.net, my new sponsor so to speak, who was gracious enough to comp me this in exchange for saying how wonderful their product is if in fact I felt it was a wonderful product. Read on to find out.

As I was saying, this was a show where Vince shockingly allowed Bret Hart and Mick Foley to wrestle on this show, even letting Terry Funk wrestle for the title in one of the few instances I can ever recall the WWF title being defended on a non-WWF show. And for the few that are asking, “Hey, Sydney, you on camera during this?” the answer is no, I doubt it. I was first row, upper level, directly over the ring on the same side of the camera, which meant no people in front of me, and I was literally about fifty feet away from the ring, one of the best seats I’ve ever had to a wrestling show. (The best would be fourth row Smackdown! when I spent the whole show watching myself and my signs on the giant screen, rather than watching the actual show.)

This show is best remembered for its appearance in “Beyond the Mat” in the scene where Terry gets that whiny wrestler to ref his match. And if I’d known there was gonna be a camera crew there that day, I certainly would have gotten there a lot earlier. Enough about that, here we go.

First, a moment of silence for the passing of Fritz Von Erich. Seems odd that that would be on here. Kind of a downer way to start things.

Match #1

Roadkill vs. WING Kanemura

Roadkill wasn’t Amish just yet, and what a great way to start the show, two guys I had never heard of. Roadkill shoves WING, so he responds with a kick to the back and several dropkicks. He clotheslines Roadkill to the floor and hits a tope. Joey Styles tells us that Roadkill is very green at this point. Back in, and WING gets a legdrop. Roadkill lowblows him to gain the advantage. Out to the floor, and Roadkill hits him twice with a chair. Sideslam gets two. Rock Bottom gets two. Roadkill gets an awesome clothesline for two. Big slam and Roadkill goes to the top and totally blows a splash. WING gets a spinning heel kick and more kicks to send Roadkill down. A ridiculous “USA” chant starts considering WING is the face. WING hits the senton splash for the pin. Nothing bad, nothing worth writing home about either.

Match #2

Taz vs. Chris Candido

Taz was TV champ at the time. Candido gets a hammerlock which Taz reverses. Candido tries again but Taz just throws him off. Taz gets a takedown, rides him, turns it into a half nelson, then stiffs him right in the face. He stiffs him even harder a second time, and Candido bails. You know, if McMahon had had the balls to let Taz do that, wrestle in that ass-kicking style, he could have been huge. But no, the whole height factor ruined it. Candido gets the upperhand briefly with some kicks and an eyerake, but Taz hiptosses him out and goes to work on the leg. Candido slides out and gets a powerbomb off, then mocks Taz. Snap-suplex and a legdrop only get one. Candido goes to the top but Taz catches him in an overhead belly-to-belly. Candido misses an enziguri by a mile, but Taz sells it anyway, and the fans are on to them. Taz quickly gets a T-bone tazplex to make the crowd happy. Another Tazplex, but he blows a blind charge. Candido hits a top rope hurricarana for two. He goes for a suplex, but the announcer says there are only three minutes left in the match. Taz says “F This S” and it’s KATIHAJIME!!!!!!! It’s ECW so Candido taps like a mofo inside of two seconds.

Match #3

Shark Ashuka (?) vs. Lady Cougar

Japanese women’s wrestlers who I don’t know but probably should. Shark is the Bull Nakano looking one, so that makes her the heel by default. She strangles away at Cougar, before the ref tries to break it up. Shark shoves the ref as well. Shark applies a bodyscissors, so Cougar bends over on top of Shark for a two, exciting the Amarillo crowd in a way neither was expecting. Shark wants a test of strength. And, I realize I don’t have a huge number of readers, but if there’s anybody who reads this that actually wrestles for a living, for God’s sake, NEVER do the test of strength. It is the single most boring, repetitive, timekiller I know of. At least do a side-headlock so you guys can chat or something. Shark assaults Lady when she tries the test, ultimately stepping on her throat. Shark stomps on Lady’s hands. Shark misses a blind charge and Cougar finally hits something, a tornado DDT. Shark catches a flying bodypress though, and drops her. Sideslam gets two. She tries another but Cougar turns it into a flying headscissors. She celebrates so Shark clotheslines her. Cougar responds with a legkick that pretty much misses the target. She hits a DDT, and hits a top rope knee to the back of the head for two. She misses a dropkick, and Shark gets a belly-to-back for two. She hits three clotheslines before hitting a Vader-like clothesline for the pin. Shark pretty much dominated for a rather weak finish.

Match #4

The Youngbloods vs. The Bushwhackers

All the music used in this show was copyrighted, so generic music is used in its place. The new Bushwacker music is some of the weirdest, most annoying music I’ve ever heard. Needless to say, it fits them perfectly. The Youngbloods had a superbrief NWA stay as the Renegade Warriors where they had an even briefer feud with the Freebirds. The Youngbloods bring the US flag with them, which makes them the faces, but no one bothered to tell the Bushwhackers that. The funniest thing at the show was seeing how legitimately pissed off Luke looked because he was doing the Bushwhacker dance and people were booing him. Anyways, so their feelings are hurt, so they attack the Youngbloods when their backs are turned. Luke attacks them with the flag, cementing the fact they are the heels. Youngbloods gain control and dropkick them out of the ring. While the ‘whackers regroup, some fan reaches out and keeps poking them until he gets their attention so he can say whatever drunken comment he has to make. Luke screams “Woooooo, Yeahhhhh!!!!” but the crowd isn’t buying it. Chris kicks both men’s asses, so Luke brings a chair in. He thinks better of it, and Mark tags in. Butch clotheslines Mark to a pop, and Luke milks it for all he can. The Youngbloods regroup and toss the Bushwhackers. Chris gets cheapshotted and the ‘whackers pounce. Backelbow from Butch gets two. Both ‘whackers in but Chris hits a double clothesline. He makes the tag and Mark destroys them both. All four men in and Mark gets a kneelift for two. The ‘whackers get the stomachbreaker, but Chris breaks it up. Butch picks up Mark for a slam but Chris dropkicks him for the pin. Brutal, absolutely brutal. *.

Match #5

The Sandman vs. Balls Mahoney

“Enter Sandman” has been replaced by techno music. He goes through his pre-match ritual which goes the usual ten minutes. Buh Buh Ray Dudley gets tired of it so he jumps him. He canes him, and then crotches him with the cane. Balls runs out and Buh Buh says “He’s all yours.” The ref tells the announcer that the match is no contest, so the announcer says “This match is NO DISQUALIFICATION!” So the ref yells, “No, it’s NO CONTEST.” Balls grabs the mike and challenges Buh Buh to a no DQ match. Let me add, I’ve seen Sandman no-sell a million moves, from tables to steel posts to barbed wire, but a cane shot eliminates him from a match? I was never a fan of ECW’s bizarre injury logic. I do like how the ECW tag title is a direct rip-off of the greatest looking WWF belt ever, the late 80’s version of the I-C title. Buh Buh reluctantly accepts, screaming “I don’t HAVE to wrestle.” Balls pounds away, but Dudley gets a bulldog. He kicks away and gets a backdrop. Buh Buh starts dancing, so Balls gets a quick elbow. He hits a second rope clothesline, but he blows a spinning heel kick and falls out of the ring. Buh Buh hits him with a chair and then throws a fan’s beer at him. A second fan offers his, so Buh Buh obliges. That pisses Balls off and he throws Buh Buh in and gets a superkick. Balls grabs the chair and climbs to the top rope. He jumps but Buh Buh tries to dropkick the chair into his face, and doesn’t even come close. Buh Buh jumps way too soon, and both men look absolutely stupid. Sandman throws his cane into the ring, but Buh Buh grabs the chair and bashes Balls in the face for two. Balls grabs the cane, hits Buh Buh three times and gets the pin. Except Buh Buh kicks out, confusing everybody, but the ref calls it three anyways. More blown spots than your typical Sabu match. *1/2.

Match #6

Shane Douglas vs. Tommy Dreamer

Tommy is seconded by the future Ms. Dreamer, Beulah. Shane is seconded by Francine. You know what that means. Shane’s the current ECW champ here. He makes his usual profanity-laced speech saying this is a “non-title” match. Beulah makes reference to Shane’s lack of manhood and we’re off. Dreamer tosses Shane, and more beer throwing occurs. Tommy rams Shane’s head into the mat ten times. He hits Shane in the face with a chair. Shane returns the favor by dropkicking the chair back into Tommy’s face. He gets a top rope clothesline and goes after Beulah. Shane dropkicks the knee and applauds himself. Shane distracts the ref and Francine jumps the knee as well. Shane grabs a chair and whacks Tommy with it. He then drops Tommy’s knee on the chair. Shane does a variation of the Benoit snot rocket, except he manages to shoot his wad into the crowd. Douglas gets the figure-four. Beulah comes in and eyerakes Shane, letting Tommy roll him up for two. Shane gets a quick tackle and goes to the top rope. Beulah distracts him and Tommy throws him off. Backdrop and bulldog get two. He goes for the DDT, but Francine breaks it up. Beulah runs in, and oh yeah, CATFIGHT! Tommy grabs Francine for a DDT, but Shane attacks. People start throwing things into the ring as Shane yanks Beulah to the mat. He then belly-to-bellys her. Tommy gets the DVD for two. He gets his own belly-to-belly for two. DDT gets two, but Francine interferes. So Tommy piledrives her. Shane gets the belly-to-belly for the three. The lamest ECW finisher ever. Shane scrapes up Francine as Tommy and Beulah are left laying. An off-camera incident occurs as some guy pitches an entire beer at Shane, except he misses and hits all the ringside officials including the ring announcer. You can see the beer getting tossed but not where it lands. To say the ringsiders are pissed is an understatement. Good match though.

Match #7

Dory Funk, Jr. vs. Rob Van Dam

I had a brush with greatness earlier in the show as I made my way to the concession stand, and literally ran into RVD, as in, I was looking at my watch and kept walking and ran into him. I forgave myself, not even bothering to look up, until I heard that whiny “That’s okay.” Then I felt like a complete idiot.

Dory brings his grandson to the ring with him. RVD is accompanied by Bill Alfonso. Joey points out that there’s a 30 year age difference between Rob and Dory. Alfonso trashes Funk’s kid, but I have no idea what he’s saying. Lots of stalling to start. Dory gets a side headlock and a wicked forearm to RVD’s head. Rob bails. Back in and RVD gingerly gets a legsweep and drops a leg. He misses a second rope kick and Funk gets more lethal uppercuts in. Dory mocks RVD’s hand gestures “DFJ?” Bill wittily replies: “You’re not him!” Funk tosses RVD to the floor. RVD brings him out with him, and pummels him. He tries a somersault plancha to the floor, but pretty much misses it, nicking Dory’s head with his boot. RVD dropkicks Dory in the head. RVD pounds away and looks for approval. RVD drops a top rope legdrop for two. Blind charge leads to a Dory elbow. Another forearm from Dory stuns RVD. Dory hits a nice double underhook, and he applies the spinning toehold. But Alfonso throws a chair in the ring and RVD quickly hits the Van Daminator. Funk rolls to the apron. RVD goes for a legdrop, but changes his mind and instead stomps on Dory’s face. He then hits Dory with a chair. Tumbling splash gets two. He gets the ***** but Dory kicks out. Bill’s so sure it’s over, he jumps in the ring to celebrate, but quickly leaves. Funk fights back with forearms and a backdrop. Funk goes for the spinning toehold again, but RVD rolls him up for two. Funk hits a belly to back and he rolls him up in a half cradle for the pin. Dory celebrates with the crowd, and RVD’s promo gets cut out where he says he doesn’t count this as a loss because he “let Dory win.” RVD was moving at half speed just so Dory could keep up. Okay match.

Match #8

Sabu vs. Mankind

This is the only time Foley wrestled Sabu as Mankind. Some guy tries to start a Dude Love chant. Unsuccessfully I might add. Collar and elbow tieup leads to a punch in the face by Sabu. Sabu gets a spinning heel kick to Foley’s face, and Mick goes to the floor. Sabu lands a slingshot somersault plancha. Foley lands on his ankle funny, and he’s noticeably limping. Sabu dropkicks the ankle as Foley reenters the ring. Bill slides a chair in and Sabu drops the knee on the chair. Sabu sets the chair up and hits a leaping kick to the corner for two. He tries again and Foley elbows him in the face. Foley goes to the second rope but Sabu intercepts and hits a hurricarana for two. Sabu sets Foley on the top rope again and climbs up there with him, so Foley shoves him and Sabu crotches himself on the top rope. He rams Sabu’s face into a chair. He grabs the chair and charges but Sabu sticks his feet up and smashes Foley. Foley falls to the floor. Sabu follows and he sets up a table between the apron and guardrail. He tries to put Foley through it, but Foley blocks it. Foley tries to suplex Sabu through it, but Alfonso interferes. Foley grabs Bill, giving Sabu a chance to hit a bodypress on Foley sending both men crashing through the table. That manages to knock Foley’s mask off. Sabu rolls Foley in for a two. Sabu sets the chair up and moonsaults himself onto Foley’s ankle for two. Sabu leaps off the second rope with a chair. That apparently awakens Foley who pounds away at Sabu. He hits the double-arm DDT. He gives the “bang bang” gesture. He also gives the sign for the Mandible Claw. Alfonso charges so Foley gives it to him instead. The ref calls for the bell, so Foley gives the ref the claw with the other hand. Sabu hits Foley in the head with a chair. And the two men fight in the crowd and to the dressing room. Mankind wins on a DQ. Oddly, the crowd was really dead for this match. Pretty good, but neither man seemed to be on all cylinders.

Match #9

The Headhunters & Jake Roberts vs. Hayabusa, Masato Tanaka, and Hakushi

This has almost nothing to do with the match, but I want to briefly mention a friend of mine who can be seen in the walkway while the faces enter. To show what a small world this really is, neither one of us knew each other then, but we both drove hundreds of miles out of our way to see the Funk show, and we never actually met until two years later when we ended up getting the same job for the same company. It turned out, we both had an unhealthy love for this sport, especially after I found out we were both at this show. Since then we have become best of friends, have discussed going into business together, and now this weekend I’m taking part in his wedding. He’s the guy in the blue shirt taking pictures if you must know. I’ve actually considered giving this to him as a wedding present, but I can’t imagine his wife would be too terribly thrilled. I only bring this up because it’s just so weird how people’s lives intersect, and how the small coincidences sometimes make the biggest differences later in life.

Anyways, I’ll get back on track here. Jake’s in complete Beyond the Mat mode here. I remember when I saw this show live, how shocked I was to see how big of a gut Jake had. Jake flips off all the Japanese. I loved Hakushi back in the day. He had a match with Bret Hart that ranks as one of the best RAW matches ever. Tanaka starts with Headhunter A, I guess. HH clotheslines the hell out of Tanaka, and he goes to chopping away at Masato in the corner. Jake tags in to a huge pop. Tanaka tags in Hakushi and Jake shoulderblocks him down. Hakushi gets a crescent kick to knock Jake down. Jake offers a handshake and cheapshots Hakushi when he goes for it. HH B comes in as does Hayabusa. It takes Hayabusa a dropkick and two spinning heel kicks to knock the Headhunter down. HH B comes back but Hayabusa hits a savate kick and a springboard forearm to send HH B to the floor. HH B comes back in and all three Japanese attack. Tanaka with a chair, Hakushi with a high knee and Hayabusa with a splash. Tanaka and Hakushi hit a snap suplex and Hayabusa gets a top rope kneedrop. HH B no sells it and tags in HH A. HH A hits a massive elbowdrop and pounds Tanaka with a chair. He then trips Tanaka to fall face first on the chair. Jake comes back in, takes off his boot, and bashes Tanaka in the head with it. Tanaka falls to the floor and gets dropped on his throat on the guardrail. HH B back in with a slam. HH A tags in with a top rope splash but Hayabusa breaks up the pin. HH B tags in and hits a top rope dropkick. Double underhook powerbomb gets two. Jake comes back in with a short arm clothesline and gives the sign for the DDT, and the fans go nuts. He goes for it, but Hakushi and Hayabusa come off the top with an axehandle each, turning them heel to the crowd instantly. All six men are in and they all spill out to the floor. A Head Hunter knocks Hayabusa down and goes for a splash but he misses. Hayabusa gets a 450 splash in return for the pin.

Match #10

Bret Hart vs. Terry Funk

Two of wrestling’s greatest families collide in what I believe is the first time these two men ever wrestled each other. The Funk family is pretty lucky, all things considered in the wrestling world. I don’t think anything bad ever happened to them. Terry comes to the ring with Dory, screaming “Funk You!” to the fans. Bret comes out with brother Bruce. Refereeing this match is the trampoline guy from Beyond the Mat. Before the match begins, the Funk family and the entire lockerroom come out. Paul Heyman takes the mike and says how he owes all his success in ECW to the support of Terry Funk. Tommy Dreamer presents Funk with a “Lifetime ECW Championship” belt. Everyone leaves the ring, but Bret has something to say too. He says that he’s honored to be the one chosen to wrestle Funk tonight, but that he’s sorry that he’s going to be the last one to kick Terry’s ass. That said, we’re under way.

Lock-up leads nowhere. Funk side headlock, but Bret rolls him up for one. Funk back to the headlock, but Bret pulls at Terry’s head to gain position. But Terry won’t let go. Bret escapes and shakes off the effect. Another lock-up, as Funk fireman carries Hart back into a side headlock. Hart rolls him up again for two. Hart grabs Funk’s neck and yanks. Hart turns it into his own front facelock. Funk grabs Hart’s leg and takes him down. He goes for the spinning toehold and Bret bails to the floor. Funk follows and Hart runs back into the ring. Another lock-up and Hart pounds away at Funk in the corner. Hart kicks away at Terry’s left knee. He chokes Terry. He starts thumbing Terry in the throat. Terry slides to the apron, and grabs the second rope, trying the see-saw motion, he rocks up, Bret hits him, but his hands slip off the rope, and he crashes to the concrete floor. Bruce Hart high fives Bret as Funk slowly recuperates. Funk wobbles around on the apron, and Hart punches him off. Hart somehow headbutts Funk back in the ring. Hart suplexes Terry, and he goes back to the left knee, trying to wear it down. Stomping and pulling on the knee, Funk is left a hobbling wreck. Funk knuckles up and takes some shots, but Bret blocks them, and kicks the knee, sending Funk to the floor. Hart goes after him and bashes Funk’s knee with a chair. He then rams his face twice into the timekeeper’s table. Back in and Funk “Hulks up,” but Hart kicks the knee again. He applies the figure-four. Funk grabs the ropes, but Hart points out that the match is no-DQ, he doesn’t have to, which is an excellent point. So the ref breaks the hold himself. While he’s doing it though, Bruce Hart hits Funk in the face with a chair. They trade shots, but this time Funk wins. He pounds away at Hart, dropping him with a right. He gets a neckbreaker for two. Funk gets a DDT for two. Piledriver gets two. They fall to the floor, and Funk continues the onslaught. Hart gets thrown into the first row.

Hart’s slow to recover, but he trips up Funk, pulls him to the post and applies the figure-four around the post. The ref breaks the hold again, so Bret shoves him. Bret goes back to the knee. Bruce grabs the mike, screaming encouragement to Bret. Bret gets the backbreaker, and goes to the floor for a chair. He again rams the chair into Terry’s knee before legdropping it. Funk tries to retaliate by hitting Bret’s knee, and he hits a desperation legdrop on Bret’s knee. Funk grabs a chair and smashes it over Bret’s right knee. He calls for a chair from the audience and smashes another one over his knee. Bret bails, but Funk follows, bashing a chair over Bret’s back. He set up a table, and lays Bret on it. He grabs the second rope and leaps onto Bret. But Bret has moved, and Funk smashes through. Funk blades for no good reason, since his knees went through the table, not his face. Bret rams Funk’s bloody face into the table remnants.

Bret drags Funk into the ring, and headbutts Terry’s crotch. He goes for the sharpshooter, but Funk cradles him for two. Funk won’t let go of Bret’s leg as Bret punches Terry to get him to let go. Bret trips and falls, so Terry puts on the spinning toehold. Bret taps, but he screams to the ref that he’s not quitting. He small packages Funk for two. Bret clotheslines Terry in desperation. They hit head to head after an Irish whip, and Terry lays a hand on Bret for two. Funk gets the belly to back, and holds on for the pin, but of course Terry’s shoulders are down, and Bret gets his up, so Terry ends up pinning himself at about the 25:00 mark. Bret and Terry shake hands after the match, and Funk says goodbye to the crowd as blood drips down his face. ****1/4, taken down a small peg by the ending. Absolute old school match done by two of the masters.

End of tape.

For the most part, the Funk show is pretty much a glorified house show. The matches for the most part were pretty much slightly above average to slightly below average with the six-man being more towards the former, but the main event absolutely rocked. I have to admit I enjoyed the show more live than I did watching it on tape. One thing on the plus side though was that all the matches except the last three had 10 minute time limits, so there was never really any time for the guys to screw around. But still, the Hart / Funk match is a definite recommendation if you haven’t seen it.

Thumb slightly leaning up, mild recommendation, B-.

Now for a quick word about wrestletapes.net because to be honest with you, the quality of the tape was excellent. I don’t shill just to shill, those who know me know I won’t BS something just to please others (actually, not having that trait has lost me a few friends) so if I say I’m impressed with a certain tape dealer, I’ll mean it. I’m reviewing other stuff from these people, so if the trend continues, I’ll let you all know.

-Sydney Brown


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