wrestling / Video Reviews

YouTubular: Phantasio

March 5, 2011 | Posted by Leonard Hayhurst
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YouTubular: Phantasio  

Lately for YouTubular we’ve been looking at the hard working, utility man, day in and day out jobber. The ham and eggers as Bobby Heenan would call them. This has ignored another focus of the column, lame short-lived gimmicks. To get back to that we look at one of the most notorious one-hit wonders in WWE history.

Phantasio only had one televised match, but it’s a name that will live in infamy like Gengis Khan, Typhoid Mary or Carrot Top. According to Wikipedia, Phantasio was played by Harry Del Rios, 37, who is also known as the similar character Spellbinder.

Del Rios debuted for the USWA in 1993 and wrestled in WWE as Phantasio in 1995. Del Rios has been a staple of the Memphis wrestling scene and had some success in regional promotions in the later nineties. He was one half of the NWA North American Tag Team champions with Brian Christopher and was heavyweight champion for the XWF, USWA and PPW, plus the Southern Heavyweight Champion for Memphis Wrestling. He wrestled as Del Rios on TNA’s first broadcast in 2002. In 2003 he was Shock to Ian Harrison’s Awe in a tag team.

Phantasio vs. Tony DeVito
Video Length: 5:57


The version of the match appeared on WWE OnDemand as part of a Halloween special. The match is introduced by Mickie James dressed as a French maid. You’re welcome. She’s a big fan of the French, such as their kissing and fries. The match itself is from July 16, 1995, as aired on “Wrestling Challenge.” Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross are on commentary. Listening to them trying to get the character over while you just know they think it’s ridiculous testifies to their talent and professionalism.

Phantasio looks like Papa Shango’s third cousin. He turns a candle into a walking stick as he enters. He then blows smoke out of his hat, better than coming from somewhere else. Phantasio takes off his mask to reveal similar face paint underneath. He then pulls a long ribbon of silver foil out of his mouth, better than coming from somewhere else. The crowd is booing him already. Phantasio leaves the ring and gives the mask and string to a child at ringside. The kid wears the mask. Dude, that stuff was in his mouth. Monsoon makes sure to mention that DeVito is no relation to Danny DeVito, but Ross says he does resemble Rhea Perlman.

They lock up to start. Phantasio throws DeVito off and poses. They lock up again. DeVito shoves out of a headlock and Phantasio comes off the ropes with a shoulderblock. DeVito misses a clothesline. Phantasio pulls up short, turns and fires out some sort of webbing. They go back to the ropes and Phantasio scores a hip toss. He hits a couple arm drags and DeVito goes to the floor. Back in the ring, they trade off on a wristlock. DeVito takes over, but misses a couple clotheslines and eats a flying shoulderblock. Phantasio hits two body slams and an atomic drop. He then reaches into DeVito’s trunks and removes a pair of underwear. This leads to a schoolboy rollup for the win. Yes, his finisher was basically a super-wedgie. I would LOVE to have seen Phantasio wrestle the Undertaker and try some of this junk. He would have needed a real undertaker after that bout. Phantasio then goes into referee Earl Hebner’s pants and removes a black and white striped pair of boxers. God love Hebner and DeVito for selling everything. DUD. Phantasio himself wasn’t bad, but the match was a bit too slowly paced and all the gimmicks were ridiculous and distracting.

Spellbinder vs. Brian Christopher
Video Length: 6:11


This is from the USWA in 1997. Spellbinder looks a bit more jacked up than he does in the above video, but at least he cutback on the makeup. Spellbinder is billed as being part of the Nation of Domination. Christopher is the USWA Heavyweight Champion. Christopher is the son of Jerry Lawler and was known as Grand Master Sexay in WWE.

Spellbinder grabs the microphone before the match and says he’s going to pay Christopher back for what he did to his arm. Christopher says he’s been waiting a long time too, to shove his fist down his throat. Christopher attacks Spellbinder before the bell. Christopher hits a dropkick and Spellbinder bails to the floor. Christopher follows and introduces Spellbinder to the ring post. Christopher hits a pildedriver on the concrete, because the promotion is too cheap to afford floor mats. There’s no guardrail either. Christopher rolls Spellbinder back into the ring and heads up top. He tries a double axe handle, but Spellbinder nails him in the gut.

Spellbinder hits a nice press slam. He chokes Christopher out on the mat. Christopher rolls to the apron and Spellbinder hangs him out to dry. Spellbinder works Brian over in the corner and follows with a body slam. He follows with a somersault splash, but misses a second try at it. Christopher wins a slug fest and scores the mounted punches in the corner. Christopher hits a body slam and signals for the superkick. Bloody Ox Brody then runs out with a chain. The heels choke Christopher out until some mullet wearing faces make the save. Brody then goes to announcer Lance Russell and announces his plans to end Christopher’s career. Brody was Cousin Junior in WWE and replacement Moondog, Cujo. The match actually cooked with Christopher on offense, but the non-finish was a bit underwhelming. Maybe it worked within the framework of the overall storyline, hard to say without knowing all the background. ¼*

Spellbinder vs. Kevin White’s Agent
Video Length: 1:26


This is from Memphis Wrestling in June 2007. Again, I don’t know all the background, so what’s going on is a bit lacking. Apparently Spellbinder has some beef with Kevin White and in lieu of facing him, Spellbinder is facing one of White’s sports agents. The agent charges at the bell, but eats a couple clotheslines. Spellbinder whips him into the corner and pummels him. Spellbinder hits a hip toss. A second agent runs in and attacks Spellbinder from behind. That leads to a disqualification. Spellbinder uses the dreaded webbing blast to avoid the double team beat down. Obviously this was for the purpose of story line advancement only. DUD.

Easter Eggs!
As a bonus I give you the other two matches I found on YouTube hosted by Mickie James for WWE OnDemand’s Halloween special.

The Ding Dongs vs. Cougar Jay and George South
Video Length: 5:54


Mickie James is dressed like an evil fairy this time. No, she’s not impersonating Pat Patterson. This is from Clash of the Champion VII on July 14, 1989. The Ding Dongs were Jim Evans and Richard Sartain. They wore bright orange body suits with bells on them and rang a bell while standing on the apron. This is their debut match and they didn’t last long. As the story goes, former WCW executive Jim Herd came up with the idea of having hunchback wrestlers who would bring a giant bell out with them and ring it like Quasimodo. Herd said the idea was they couldn’t be pinned, because of the hunch. Ole Anderson countered that he would just knock them over and hook in an armbar until they submitted. So the hunchback idea was shelved, but Herd still thought the bells were money. This is the same guy who reportedly wanted to give Ric Flair a Roman gladiator gimmick.

Jim Ross and Bob Caudle are on commentary. Ross has no idea who is who on the Ding Dongs, so he just numbers them. Jay and One start. Jay pushes out of a side headlock and One comes off the ropes with a shoulderblock. Jay leapfrogs One and points to his noggin because he’s so smart. He turns around into, what else, a bell ringer. Jay throws One in the corner and charges. One rolls over the top of Jay and completely botches a sunset flip try. Jay fires back and tags South. South walks into an arm drag. Tag to Two, who slingshots in from the apron to hit South’s arm with his feet. He works the arm, until South thumbs the eye. South gets a couple headlock takedowns, but Two breaks with a head scissors. The crowd is just getting hostile. They do a crisscross and One enters for a double team hip toss. Jay runs in to take the same. South takes a Thesz Press for two. Two hits a body slam and tags One. Two kind of slings One onto South for a near fall. One works the arm. One ducks under a clothesline to go between South’s legs. He comes up with a dropkick. One tries a backdrop, but is kneed in the face. South hits a body slam, but misses a forearm drop. One hits a belly to belly suplex off the ropes and tags Two. One almost falls getting on the second rope. He hits a leg drop. Two follows with an elbow drop off the second rope. That gets the win. It wasn’t actively bad, just the gimmick made you want to drink a bottle of Drano. DUD.

Arachniman vs. Cactus Jack
Video Length: 9:07

James is a sexy baseball player this time. And no, it’s not an impersonation of Alex Rodriguez. You would think this would lead to an Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz match, but no. Arachniman was a ripoff of Spiderman and played by Brad Armstrong. We covered him when we did the many faces of Brad Armstrong column. This is from “WCW Main Event” on Jan. 9, 1992. Commentary is by Eric Bischoff.
Cactus Jack breaks a hammerlock by going to the ropes. They lock up again and Archniman goes back to the hammerlock. Jack to the ropes again to break. Arachniman shoves out of a headlock, but Jack hits a shoulderblock off the ropes. Bang, Bang! Arachniman surprises Jack with a rollup for two. He then nails a dropkick. This is actually one of the best commentary jobs I’ve ever heard Bischoff do as he points out how Arachniman keeps a low center of gravity and wide base and how this helps him to control the distance between himself and Jack.

Jack takes over and whips Arachniman into the ropes. Jack catches Arachniman for a bearhug. Well, it’s more of a butthug, because Jack has him hooked too high. Arachniman crawls over Jack for a sunset flip for two. Arachniman hits a dropkick and Jack comes up with fists ready. Arachniman works the arm. Jack backs Arachniman into the corner and rips at the mask. In a great spot, Jack goes for the Cactus Clothesline, but Arachniman ducks. Jack lands on his feet on the floor. He drags Arachniman out and scores a headbutt. Arachniman moves and Jack strikes his shoulder on the ring post. Arachniman works Jack over in the corner. He whips Jack to the opposite corner and runs into an elbow. A leg drop gets two. Jack chokes Arachniman out on the ropes and hits the Bossman Straddle. Jack works a rear chinlock. Arachniman fights out, but is kicked on a backdrop try. Jack throws him to the floor and follows. Arachniman flips out of a suplex and runs Jack into the ring post. He follows with a backdrop. Back in the ring, Arachniman hits a knee lift and goes up top. Bischoff calls it a headbutt, but it looks like Arachniman hit Jack with both hands. He follows with an abdominal stretch roll for a near fall, but Jack gets his foot on the ropes. Arachniman thinks he won. This allows Jack to get an open hand bulldog from behind for the win. Jack half heartedly hooks the tights for good measure. ½* The match itself was ok and Armstrong worked the gimmick well. It just seemed like the two didn’t mesh and Cactus Jack was kind of dogging it.

The 411: I would have liked to have seen some more of Spellbinder and know more of the storylines going on. Del Rios himself seems like a decent enough worker who at least commits himself to his gimmick. However, Phantasio is one of the worst, dumbest gimmicks in WWE history that seems to really go to the extreme of what the basic Spellbinder character was. I can’t really blame Del Rios for how Phantasio comes off, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck any less.
Final Score:  3.0   [ Bad ]  legend

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Leonard Hayhurst

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