Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tag Team Tuesday: The Brain Busters

Today's Tag Team Tuesday chose, compared to many, is about as low key as possible. They did not have a flashy gimmick, did not wear gaudy ring attire, and weren't the biggest of fellas in a Fed that was increasing in height and size literally by the week. Ladies and Gentlemen of the internet, I give you...

The Brain Busters!

Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were founding members of The Four Horsemen, only the greatest stable of all time! That alone makes them tag team royalty. They fact that they were able, in 1988, to jump ship from Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA to the WWF and succeed makes them even more worthy for the Tag Team Tuesday title.

Not flashy dudes.
You see, in 1988 the WWF pushed flashy stars. 1988 saw the union of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage as the Mega-Powers. To combat them WWF put Ted DiBiase in a sequined tuxedo and paired him with Andre the Giant as the Mega Bucks. As stated, The Brain Busters were not the biggest guys on the block. Arn was listed at 6'1" and Tully was actually listed at 5'10"... we all know that these heights are usually bumped 2". Their combined weight was 475, with Arn at 250 and Tully at 225. Not really huge compared to the Mega Powers at 533 and Mega Bucks topping the scales at 780. It was not a time for two old school wrestlers like Arn and Tully to enter and make a splash. Considering that Vince McMahon hates wrestlers that he did not create, it is surprising that these two guys got a push at all. But they did get a push and won tag team gold in the WWF.

The team made their debut in October at the 1988 Survivor Series and they lasted less than a year. On the day of the 1989 Survivor Series Tully failed a drug test and was replaced. Since Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was their manager, it was decided that he would replace Blanchard. After this fiasco Arn left the WWF in December and returned to the NWA.

During their brief stay in the WWF the Brain Busters obviously made a name for themselves. Perhaps it was the rub that Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard brought with them as former members of the Four Horsemen, perhaps not. It is likely that many of the younger viewers at the time were not aware of the Four Horsemen or even the NWA for that matter. I would like to believe that the Brain Busters made it in the WWF on their own merit.

The Spike Piledriver in action!
Using their signature finishing move, the Spike Piledriver (which seemed incredibly brutal for the time), they were able to defeat notable tag teams like The Rockers, Strike Force, the Hart Foundation, and Demolition. Their matches with the Rockers were extremely hot. Pro Wrestling Illustrated placed one of their battles on their 50 Great Matches list during PWI's 10th anniversary issue. They defeated Demolition, ending a 478 day title run, and took the belts from them. The Brain Busters were the first team to win both NWA and WWF tag team gold.

As a kid, I absolutely loved the Brain Busters. They were old school class defined in a Federation that was dominated by garbage men, matadors, witch doctors, and other growing silliness. The fact that they were coupled with one of the best managers in the history of all time... well, that really made me a mark. When the duo simply vanished I was kinda sad. At the time I was a causal  fan who had no idea there were dirt sheets. I was as in the dark as anyone. Still a almost believer that a man could really take that kind of punishment and live. Arn, Tully, a year is a long time for a kid. Thanks for the memories.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Asking people to make lists used to be a good way to kill time while traveling. Got three more hours ‘til Memphis? Name five CD's you couldn’t live without on an island. Despite what Survivor would have us think islands are blasé. Everyone who is anyone obviously looks to the zombie apocalypse as the new cool tool of isolation.

Modern technology has ruined the fun of these lists. It is possible for me to carry 10,000 songs, 10,000 books, and a combination of 1,000 movies and television shows on a device the size of a pack of cards. Of course one has to worry about energy to power this device… but oddly that never came up when you needed to play your CD’s on that island.

Today’s list requires no energy except the Sun’s light. During the first stage of the impending zombie apocalypse you are lucky enough to manage to make it to your stash of comic books. Knowing that individual comics are too flimsy to stand up to the punishment of your fight to the roof (where you plan on eating pigeons and your hippie neighbor’s small garden) instead you decide to grab some graphic novels. What 10 books would you grab?

Check out my list and then bash me in the comments!

The Authority Vol. 1: Relentless

Authority Vol. 2: Under New Management

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Kingdom Come

Preacher Vol. 1: Gone to Texas

Thor by Walter Simsonson Vol. 1

Thor by Walter Simsonson Vol. 2

Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 3

Batman Year One
THUNDER Agents Classics Vol. 1
The only non-superhero book, Blankets, is a great coming of age book that really touched me. I’m sure it would come in handy when trying to convince the girl from two doors down, the one going to school on the soccer scholarship, that I am a sensitive guy and worthy of helping repopulate the world.

I just realized that I am supposed to say trade paperback (TPB) instead of graphic novel. I am old and feeble in the mind. You young whippersnappers and your trade paperbacks!

If you are a comic reader what graphic novels would you grab to keep yourself occupied?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's been a while. I hope I remember how to do this.

Today's Sucky Cinema Saturday movie is a 1964 film titled The Horror of Party Beach.

I found out too late that this movie had been parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997. In addition it was included in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. This movie is so popular that the Horror has it's own sculpted toy! Man, I really thought I was on to something when I sat down to watch this flick. Guess I was about 30 years too late, give or take 5. I would normally not review (or whatever it is I do) a movie that had received such notoriety and treatment. However, since I spent my valuable time watching this crap I damn well intend to talk about it.

The Horror of Party Beach was directed by Del Tenney. It is hard to say if Tenney was a fan of the genre or just trying to make money like so many of the shock schlockers of the era. Tenney was once quoted appropraiting the phrase: "My friends used to come up to me and gasp, 'How could you DO all these terrible films?' I told them, 'Listen, I cry all the way to the bank.'"

Personally, I think Tenney enjoyed making this type of movie. His library of films is basically the top 3 cult films from the 60s: I Eat Your Skin, Violent Midnight, and The Curse of the Living Corpse (which was double billed with The Horror of Party Beach). If you could keep this type of movie under budget they made money on the drive-in circuit and for Saturday shockers. Roger Corman built a studio on such fare. I mention Corman because of the talent he "discovered" as actors and then allowed them to direct their own feature film(s). Many of these actor directors were very talented and went on to become big either as actors and/or directors. Del Tenney, while he made low budget films, often with terrible actors, and quite often with horrible creature effects, he is actually quite competent. Well, it's possible (like Corman) he surrounded himself with good people. The framing and other camerawork in The Horror of Party Beach is not bad and occasionally striking.

I mentioned above that the Horror has a toy. Trust me, that toy is much better than the full length suit used in the film. The Horror is a laughable, google-eyed freak who, instead of using its claws to rip young bikini'd girls to shreds, would rather choke them off screen. Limits of the times I suppose but laughable by today's murder porn standards.

I would talk a bit about the plot but there really isn't much of a reason to go into detail. It is rather typical for the era. A radioactive creature comes from the ocean and kills young girls and whatever gets in it's way. As stated the camerawork is above par and the music is actually quit good if you are a fan of the era.Gary Robert Jones and Ronnie Linares, members of the Del Aires, perform in the movie as a beach band. They sing music written for the movie including "The Zombie Stomp".

Would I recommend this movie? Yes. It is definitely NOT one of the worst movies - even by 1978 standards. It does get boring about 1/3 into the movie but just remember that you are watching crap movie royalty and tough it out.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

One day, many moons ago, I was in the East Village with one of my roommates. We were visiting his girlfriend in her apartment. During the visit I decided to make myself scare. I went outside and considered getting a slice from one of many Ray's pizzas but I decided to get a candy bar and a drink instead.

I walked into the market right next door, grabbed a Snickers, and then went to the drink section. I was about to grab a Dr. Pepper when several brightly colored liquids caught my eye. I am a fan of certain things: 1) drinking pretty colored things and 2) beverages in bottles, 3) cool spooky shit.

I was stunned by the pretty colored liquids in the glass bottles with spooky shit labels. I was looking at something brilliant. Something years ahead of Jones Soda. Something destined to be boycotted.

Yes, somehow I had found the perfect beverage. Skeleteens Counter Culture Soda! I had a difficult choice. Should I pick because of the wicked name? What about the one with the coolest label? Or color?

I think the Skeleteens were 2 dollars a bottle. At that time a fella could grab a 2 liter of Coke for 79 cents. Most of my money had gone towards rent so I had very little to spend on designer drinks, but still... I had to at least try one of these sodas. I tossed the Snickers back in the box and counted my dimes and nickles out on the counter. The counter guy was indifferent to my joy but readily took my coins.

I finally decided that I would use the bottle as decoration in my tiny room. That way I could look at the two dollars as entertainment and an investment. Using this flawed logic I went with the coolest label. Dusk till Dawn. Sure, it was the least colorful, but once the beverage was gone the undead rocker would live on forever in my window. The bugs and vermin that would be attracted to the sugary sweet residue would be like pets. In the picture, and in real life, the soda appears black, like any cola. However, if you were to hold Dusk till Dawn up to the light, or poor the contents into a glass, you would notice that this stuff is dark red, like blood red.

I walked outside, proud to be the only one standing around with a Skeleteen bottle. I twisted the extremely tight lid from the top and took a drink of the surely to be sweet nector.

It was Godawful. The kind of thing that makes you instantly look at the ingredients list to make certain you hadn't ingested some sort of drain cleaner by mistake.

While the below ingredients are not from the Dusk till Dawn flavor they are representative of the Skeleteen brand.

If you can't read the ingredients I will sum it up.... Skeleteens has labels featuring spooky shit... but they basically make crazy club kid energy drinks out of Siberian ginseng, Brazilian guarana, Ginkgo Biloba and other monkey food. Very odd mixture if you ask me.

But here's the thing... That Godawful taste grew on me. I found myself craving another Skeleteen. Maybe it was the wicked amounts of caffeine, maybe it was the crazy, Amazon monkey berries, who knows?

The next night I contacted a friend and we went out on the prowl. I mentioned the Skeleteens brand and he was eager to try one. We decided to each get a different flavor and go halfsers. I don't know who chose what but one of us got something called Brainwash (the next coolest label) and one of us purchased Black (Death) Lemonade.

I don't remember much about the Brain Wash but I do remember the Black Lemonade. It was one of the most sour things I had ever put in my mouth. It also turned my lips and tongue blackish blue for about two days.

I was hooked.

Every time I thought I could spare 2 bucks I went into the village and bought a Skeleteen.

Oddly, the village was the only place I could find them. I looked in the stores in my neighborhood of Chelsea but never spotted a Skeleteen. Odd, considering the amount of goth chicks that went to the Fashion Institute of Technology less than half a block from my apartment.

When I left Manhattan, I was in a rush and didn't really have time to consider packing a twelve pack of empty bottles... but I wish now that I had. I never saw this brand again. It is my understanding that it might be possible to hook up with a nice Black Lemonade thanks to BevMo.com, but I've never tried.

If anyone remembers Skeleteens or if you have bought some from BevMo - please leave a comment below.

If you know more about Skeleteens... they are infamous, but it is incredibly difficult to find any information on the brand... please, leave a comment or send me an email.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I knew I wanted the Moondogs to launch the first Tag Team Tuesday, but which tag team would come next? Based on their amazing pictures alone - I decided today's Tag Team Tuesday should be...

The Fabulous Ones!

Stan Lane and Steve Kerin were united by Jerry Lawler in 1982 as a "pretty boy" tag team. I think you will agree that Lawler might have stepped over the boundaries of good judgement when he decided to push the two by showing the public increasingly homoerotic pictures.

Then again, these pictures are just too classic not to appreciate. The tag team was active from '82 until '87 with brief reunions during the 90s. I think their Don Johnson 5 o'clock shadow and mullets probably had the ladies swooning.

Lawler shot a music video of Stan and Steve playing Z.Z. Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" while the boys gyrated and tried to act studly. I must point out that The Fabulous Ones wrestled mostly in the south for territories like Continental Wrestling Association, Florida Championship Wrestling, and the United States Wrestling Association. The south, traditionally is not known for forward thinking. It is interesting that grown men, who by all rights should have thought of Stan and Steve as "sissies" and/or worse, instead cheered loudly when the two strutted their "stuff" in tiny bikinis.

As disturbing as these photos are one cannot deny that Stan and Steve had something at the time. A glance at Wiki informs me that these guys were one of the first teams to use the Playboy Pretty Boy gimmick. Later teams like The Rock 'n' Roll Express, The Fantastics, and the Rockers, would all borrow or outright steal the gimmick. You can't argue with success.

While I am not the most fanatic fan of The Fabulous Ones, how could I turn down the chance to feature their amazing photographs? Nothing says tag team champions like Speedos and bow-ties.

Or just outright nudity barely contained by a tiny dish towel. Pretty classy with the bulldozer in back. I suspect this photograph was shot somewhere in Memphis and the building behind them is actually an outhouse.

While I give Stan and Steve grief for these photos - you gotta admit - 30 years later and someone is still talking about them (me) and someone is still looking at them (us). That's pretty impressive.

Also, the boys were decent workers and willing to both bump and bleed if necessary. They had legendary battles with some of the most notorious tough guys in the business at the time... The Sheepherders and the Moondogs.

I could not resist just one more picture.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Eleven days ago one of the icons of the late 80s and early 90s passed away. If you are a fan of current or old school wrestling then you are probably aware that The Ultimate Warrior collapsed on April 8th and died of a heart attack.

I believe it is fortunate that Warrior was recognized for his contributions to the WWF and the world of wrestling while he was alive. Three days before his collapse, on April 5, 2014, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Previously, the WWE had tried to alienate fans to the power of the Warrior and discredit his name. While Jim Hellwig was obviously insane, there can be no denying that his inability to work a mic without crazed inane ramblings did not hurt his ability to draw a crowd.

Warrior hurt his career in a power struggle with WWE owner Vince McMahon. Demanding more money, and subsequently being denied, forced the Warrior to walk out on the WWF and thus lose some of his initial heat with the fans. These power struggles would later cause McMahon to use his ownership of the Ultimate Warrior name and library of wrestling matches to produce a DVD titled The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior. The DVD featured contracted WWE personalities discussing the Warrior's unprofessional nature. It was a bit of low class on the part of McMahon.

I was unaware of Jim teaming with Steve "Sting" Borden as the Blade Runners during their run with Continental Wrestling Association. While I am from Tennessee, it was difficult to get programming from that Memphis until the United States Wrestling Association appeared in 1989.

However, I do remember tuning in to ESPN one afternoon and catching some of the Texas WCCW boys on the Global Wrestling Federation ticket. One of the boys was a huge, muscle bound dude that went by the moniker of DINGO WARRIOR! This guy was pumped and pumped up! He was no joke. Incidentally, it was the GWF that introduced me to Cactus Jake.

When the Ultimate Warrior was introduced to the WWF I was thrilled. I was so sick of Hulk Hogan. I still enjoyed Macho Man but didn't care too much for the Mega-Powers or his announcing duties. Warrior was just what the Fed needed. A mighty kick of ultimate adrenaline!

I am deeply saddened by the Warrior's passing. It is definitely another part of my childhood dead and buried. It was very touching that he brought his daughters onstage with him when he accepted his Hall of Fame status. I am glad that they got to see their daddy receive the glory he deserved. I know they would trade anything for one more day.

I will finish this by re-printing the speech he gave during his RAW appearance... RIP Warrior (1959-2014).

"No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of The Ultimate Warrior will run forever!"
—The Ultimate Warrior

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I have been away from the internet and I apologize for the lack of updates.

Please continue to support Geexplosion and we'll be back on track shortly!