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WWE Network Hidden Gems Review: A Tribute to Harley Race

WWE Network Hidden Gems Review: A Tribute to Harley Race

Following the sad passing of Harley Race just a little beneath 2 weeks ago, the pro wrestling world was in mourning. And for all the sort phrases and fitting tributes that poured in, perhaps there was no higher strategy to honor the man than to relive a few of his biggest moments. Nevertheless, the newest hidden gems took issues a step further and rifled by way of WWE’s immense video library at brief notice to deliver us half a dozen curiosities which have either never previously seen the light of day or gone principally unseen since their unique airing. Please word that I gained’t be including any type of grades on this occasion as it wouldn’t really feel applicable considering the circumstances. With that stated, let’s check out some rarities from the career of the Eight-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion!


Identify: Harley Race & Bill Watts vs The Brisco Brothers
Description: Harley Race groups with “Cowboy” Bill Watts to face the staff of Jack and Gerald Brisco in this bout from Florida.
Date: 10/08/1974
Location: Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa, Florida

Ideas: While I’m going to say this for this primary video, you possibly can just about class it as a press release attaining to most every little thing else (bar the final bout) reviewed here too. This is not a full match and is as an alternative enormously decreased highlights. That could be egregious for the completionists among us however it turns into more acceptable to me when you contemplate that until Hidden Gems began really opening the vault, the Championship Wrestling From Florida library was recognized to be fragmented and little of it was floating around (in addition to low-quality YouTube uploads) in comparison with other territories. So any morsel must be cherished.

This specific snapshot from history could be very fascinating because it takes place whereas Harley was still solidifying his position as a foremost event participant within the NWA. He had only held the World Championship once at this level, reigning for simply 2 months the yr prior and must wait almost 4 extra years for his second run on the prime.

As I alluded to above, the condensed nature of the video doesn’t permit for a real narrative to develop. In large part, these Eight minutes boil right down to signature spots and the more frenetic exchanges between the 4 men. While that does make it all somewhat more partaking on a superficial degree, it doesn’t function the most effective instance of the 1970s type consequently. Still, I’ll never flip my nostril up at the probability to see legends in their prime (particularly Gerald Brisco pre-stooge) and even a fleeting glimpse like this nonetheless gives a terrific environment.


Identify: Harley Race vs “Celebrity” Billy Graham
Description: Harley Race and “Celebrity” Billy Graham put their respective championships on the road as they face off at the Superbowl of Wrestling.
Date: Numerous (the match date is 01/25/1978)
Location: Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

Ideas: This is one other event where the Hidden Gems curator deserves credit score. The footage from the bout itself is taken immediately from CWF TV and has a runtime of 7 minutes. They might have launched that on its own and most would have been glad. As an alternative, we get to see a few of the hype for what was a legitimately big deal on the time. This consists of a number of minutes of the contract signing/press conference and a face-to-face interview between the 2 champions mediated by Gordon Solie. These additions go a great distance in conveying the importance of events to the fashionable viewer and add significantly to the overall experience.

Unfortunately, the match footage itself is significantly hampered by its brevity. Once you start with a 2 out of 3 falls match that led to a 60-minute draw, only to strip it right down to 7 minutes, you’re only going to get the bullet points. On this case, meaning the homestretches of the primary 2 falls and the closing moments earlier than a draw was declared. That’s not to say that what we get isn’t superior to see. The gang is raucous and it’s pretty obvious that the followers in attendance have been handled to a true conflict of attrition as both champions finish the bout flat out exhausted. Plus we get a glimpse of Gorilla Monsoon as co-referee (the two officers from the NWA and the WWWF cut up their time in the ring as a gesture of equity). The package deal as an entire is value awaiting fans of the era, simply don’t go into this anticipating an uncompromised broadway as we saw with Valentine and Backlund’s ’79 basic from this past February.


Identify: Harley Race vs Jack Brisco For Heavyweight Title
Description: The World Heavyweight Championship is up for grabs as Harley Race defends the title towards former champion Jack Brisco.
Date: 08/12/1978
Location: Bayfront Area, St Petersburg, Florida

Thoughts: We nudge along by slightly beneath 7 months now and Harley has just celebrated a full yr in his second reign as NWA World Champion. Moreover, he’s defending his title right here towards the man who ended his first run so abruptly – Jack Brisco.

In a humorous little second to start out issues out, Jack Brisco immediately goes on the offensive, throwing the champion over the top rope. Faced with an prompt disqualification, the referee says “screw it!” and has the ring announcer declare that the bout is now a ‘no DQ’ affair. Seems fairly biased toward the challenger to me, however I assume the viewers didn’t pay to see a 30-second important occasion.

While the modifying fairies have been at it again, we do a minimum of get longer unclipped stretches throughout the 12-minute runtime. This helps to reveal the slower type I mentioned earlier, as we especially get to see Jack tie his opponent in knots. Maybe extra essential seeing as we’re here to honor Harley Race, we’re handled to an uninterrupted last 5 minutes. Which means we see Race in all his glory as of the incumbent heel titleholder, doing all he can to only keep his grasp on the gold as the challenger hits him with every little thing they have. It’s terrific promoting and pushes the story that the champ barely held on for the draw. It’s masterful work that builds up the gang to the frustrating stalemate.


Identify: Ric Aptitude vs Harley Race
Description: Witness movie highlights of Ric Flair going to struggle with the legendary Harley Race in front of a rabid audience.
Date: 11/14/1980
Location: Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, West Virginia

Ideas: November 1980. A time when Ric Flair was still a rising star and 10 months away from his first World Championship victory. At this level, Flair was within the midst of his 4th reign as NWA United States Champion, making him the default prime contender to Race. What we get here isn’t quite “The Nature Boy” firing on all cylinders although. However it is a fascinating take a look at Ric simply earlier than he reached the mountaintop.

With around 8 minutes of movie highlights and a soundtrack that’s barely holding itself collectively, that is the type of launch that WWE wouldn’t even think about releasing on DVD or Blu Ray. Up to now, it will have been relegated to a B-roll cameo in a documentary. I’m grateful to see it made public now though as the edits are careful sufficient to permit for a coherent story to be advised. The wiley veteran Harly takes control early, just for Aptitude to begin to rally as he edges nearer and nearer to victory. As the official description says, the gang are white-hot right here, which is amplified as the intensity grows and the challenger’s frustrations boil over. Whereas not THE night time for Aptitude (data present that he suffered a count-out loss) it wouldn’t surprise me if this was one of many reactions that sealed Aptitude’s destiny as the subsequent longterm prime man. It’s properly well worth the watch, if only as a prelude to what would develop into the Starrcade major occasion three years later,


Identify: Superstars visit Napoleon’s tomb in Paris
Description: See unique outtakes of Andre the Big, Harley Race and Frenchy Martin visiting Napoleon’s tomb in Paris.
Date: 10/01/1987
Location: Paris, France

Thoughts: There’s not a lot to say about this one, It’s 2 and a half minutes lengthy and does precisely what it says on the tin. We get a number of takes of Harley Race, Andre the Big and Frenchy Martin discussing Napoleon’s tomb. The skit was presumably filmed for TV or a Coliseum residence video. It’s innocent fluff but I did no less than get a chuckle out of Andre initially defaulting to fluent French and realizing halfway by way of. Not important viewing however you’ll be able to’t go mistaken with one thing so temporary.


Identify: Harley Race and Junkyard Canine battle in Paris
Description: Harley Race faces the Junkyard Canine with Andre the Big as the special guest referee on this match from Paris.
Date: 10/23/1987
Location: Bercy de Paris, Ile-de-France, Paris, France

Ideas: Lastly, we come to our ‘essential event’ for the week. Not simply because it’s the last in this batch of 6 but as a result of it’s the only full match provided. Oddly, we start with the “introduced in as full a type as potential” disclaimer but the 23-minute video appears to be utterly intact with zero dubbing. Though this comes from a TV taping, there isn’t any commentary.

The match itself is way from a basic however that’s to be anticipated if you put an getting older Harley with JYD, who was never often known as an excellent in-ring expertise, to begin with. However the actual story here is the particular visitor referee. Andre and Harley have been stablemates of the Heenan Household at the time and the enormous plays favorites in probably the most superb and blatant of the way. He has no issues with chastising Canine for even probably the most normal of strikes and doesn’t assume twice about throwing his ally’s opponent to the ground, The truth is, the outcome comes after Andre kicks JYD within the stomach (and out of the ring) for daring to hit his signature headbutts after which awards the match by way of DQ to his fellow member of the family. Astonishingly, the French crowd ferociously boo their iconic countryman for this conduct all through, which might be practically exceptional at present.

While this match is probably not a “gem” in the best way that some use the time period, it does put the highlight on a primary heel Andre in front of a loud, receptive crowd that elevates the whole thing up a couple of notches and makes 20+ minutes fly by.


General Ideas: Make no mistake, this isn’t a number of full, epic matches with reliable historical significance that have been misplaced to time. These 6 videos will not be on the identical degree as other weeks where we have now been blessed with 5 hours of uncooked footage from the 1986 Crockett Cup or 2 full Great American Bash tour occasions. However these are 6 snippets of historical past that give a quick cross-section of a storied profession by way of footage that isn’t just the identical previous repeats. Typically that’s sufficient when pro wrestling fans need to look back at a beloved icon.


I need to make it clear that I’m conscious of the Sunday Night time Slam TV special add from August 1994. Nevertheless, its look was extraordinarily subdued and not officially promoted as a “hidden gem” by WWE.com. So, I’ve elected to keep it in my again pocket as a bonus for a dry week sooner or later or next yr’s SummerSlam season. Thanks for understanding. As all the time, it’s been fun to see what the WWE archivist has seen fit to release. I sit up for happening the journey with you once more next week!


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