Brian Pillman vs Tom Zenk (WCW Wrestle War 05/17/92)
“I'd rather watch Pillman-Zenk than Pillman-Liger….”
A. Wow, nice match….. I wish they could have upped the aggression a little more, but as far as match layout and execution, this was really, really good. One of those matches that's easy to get lost in the shuffle and shouldn't -- everyone should see it.
B. I think jdw made the comparison between this and Piper/Hart once, which is apt. Both are babyface matches that are really well-scripted. I think this is the better wrestling match, while Piper/Hart has more heat and emotion.
C. Yeah, that's pretty much the comparison I've made. Both smartly worked. This was probably technically and highspot better, while Piper-Bret had the drama/setting/emotion/young gun going over cha-ching. I like them as examples that you don't have to be Liger-Pillman (as a comp to Pillman-Zenk) or Bret-Davey (as a comp to Bret-Piper) to be a good, entertaining, satisfying match. I think in a yearbook setting where you get a vibe for good matches, solid matches, upper end matches... you also get a vibe for ones like these two where they're good-solid and hit a spot. John
D. I'd rather watch Pillman-Zenk than Pillman-Liger (US version) and Bret-Piper than Bret-Davey. But the snowflakes, fame and rep has always gone the other direction. So it's not an argument I worry about making.
E. I've always liked this match and I'm glad it held up. Ventura in disbelief that Pillman was a NT in college was great.
F. The best single Zenk match I've seen. They worked extra-hard to make it something special. Pillman coming off the top rope only to get a big boot in the face is a great spot I've never seen before. Good near falls down the stretch, some surprising reversal, good intensity built up. Really nice indeed.
G.They play nice with each other for a while but over time it gets testy. Fun to see them smacking each other around. Jesse was really trying to stir things up on commentary.
H. Zenk seems like a natural heel with the way he carries himself here. They tell a good story early on playing off each other as former partners. After working on Zenk's leg for a stretch we get a nice run of high spots with Pillman eating a kick as he comes off the top my favorite. ***1/4
I. This had some good stuff, although some of their ideas were questionable with the body part work being done, like Zenk's big boot when his leg had been worked over. But, that was counterbalanced with smart things like the powerslam counter, and the finish with Pillman outsmarting Zenk.
J. From the promo on Saturday Night, it seems like they were foreshadowing Zeman turning heel, but thankfully it would be Pillman trying heel and eventually forming the Hollywood Blonds with Steve Austin. I seem to like this match a little more than most, but happened to watch this one with my Dad. Whenever, I watch with someone I tend to be less critical and just have a more fun with it all. When your Dad is marking out for a crucifix pinfall attempt you can't help, but get more into it. Still, this is one of my favorite style of matches: the civil babyface wrestling at the beginning before tempers flare and it turns into a heated battle attacking injuries and going for the win.
At the beginning, they establish they are former partners and current buddies going for the same moves like dropkicks or a flying hammerlock at the same time. Pillman is one to finally let loose after Zenk gets a couple nearfalls with some wicked chops, which JR points out is legal, but Jesse says the tempers are starting to get best of them. Pillman executes his fluid drop toehold into some great leg work. He crashes and burns on a somersault intended for Zenk's knee. JR lets us know Pillman's back is previously injured. Zeman is pretty proficient at working the back over and the best he has ever looked in my opinion. We get some dueling psychology as Pillman is able get back on the knee, but Zenk hits an enziguiri for 2. The Boyd implores him to go back on the back, but Zeman misses a knee into the turnbuckles and Pillman takes him to school. They exchange a couple good slaps and my Dad has just been loving this action and finds Pillman really entertaining. I raised him so well.
After this, Pillman is ready to hit the finish stretch of big bombs and nearfalls. You can tell how much Pillman loved Puroresu because at this point in the US I would say he is the most Japanese-influenced. The Steiners are naturally Japanese-style wrestlers, but I don't feel like they went out there way to watch puro tapes where I think Pillman would watch them. This is speculation on my part feel free to confirm of deny. He definitely seems to wrestle in the mold of a New Japan Junior, matwork to start and high-octane finish. Pillman gives Zeman a ton of nearfalls with a powerslam, crucifix and a cross-body. Zenk is looking great from an athletic perspective. The leapfrog collision came off really bad and it seemed like they either were not committed to it or wires crossed. Like the intent with like minded partners thinking same thing, but poor execution. Then in the Holy Shit moment of the match that had my Dad and me going insane was Zenk caught Pillman coming off the rope with a big boot/savant kick. It was full extension of his leg and it looked wicked bitchin. After that badass move, Zeman feeling cocky goes for the missile dropkick to get the win, but Pillman side-steps him and jacknifes him for the win. …Overall, still I enjoyed the match as strong offensive performances from both that kept you engrossed in the match at all times. ****