Wrestling Grab Bag #1 – Don Muraco vs Cactus Jack

As strange as wrestling is, what with logic-defying Irish Whips and the enduring legacy of Glenn Jacobs, there are moments when you stumble upon something and just think ‘…..abuh?!’ Due to life’s rich tapestry being represented across the wrestling world, some of the matches that get booked do cause eyebrows to be raised, and that isn’t only by Genichiro Tenryu. In this column, I’ll be looking to explore some of the weirder and more wonderful aspects of professional wrestling. Random wrestlers showing up in far-off promotions? Check. Odd tag team partnerships? Check. Rochester Roadblock? Check. What more can a wrestling fan ask for?

Before heading to today’s match, many thanks to DVDVR, where most of these matches have been sourced from based on recommendations for some of the more random wrestling matches floating about on the internet.

I used a random number generator to make the process truly random – I don’t want to be guided by my own personal opinions or desire to watch one specific match. I will take whatever it tells me to, no ifs, ands or buts. With this in mind, this match isn’t exactly one of the weirder potential options I could have watched. Don Muraco and Cactus Jack have spent time in the wrestling that overlapped by over a decade, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that they ended up wrestling at some point – yet it just feels…off. Muraco’s heyday was in the 80s, and he was already starting to circle the drain in terms of his in-ring ability – staggeringly, he went on to wrestle on and off until 2006 (at least according to Wikipedia, the font of all wrestling knowledge). This was a young Cactus Jack, although he had also been wrestling for seven years by this point. The promotion who housed this battle of two men whose paths were going in completely different directions? Herb Abrams’ UWF.

My knowledge of Herb Abrams’ UWF is limited. My knowledge of Herb Abrams is only slightly better, although this primarily revolves around the drug-fuelled orgyfied nature of his death. With Muraco now no longer seen as worth a spot in the WWF and Cactus Jack trying to find a spot in a bigger promotion, UWF seemed to work as a place for waifs and strays – a spot below the top table that kept veterans active and offered younger, hungrier wrestlers a chance for that little bit more exposure.

The idea of a Don Muraco match in 2006 is a scary idea, considering the lack of mobility on offer in this match. At least at this point, he seems to look less like his muscles are trying to escape out of his skin. This match feels like a perfect showcase for what Mick Foley was willing to do, even on a small time TV match, to try and get both himself and his opponent over. The match? Pretty average, unsurprisingly. Yet… it tells a decent little story of Muraco not wanting to enter Foley’s world at ringside, helped by Foley’s belief in sacrificing his body to work around the rest of the fairly limited action otherwise.

The match sees Muraco send Foley to the outside twice, refusing to follow him to ringside both times. The third time saw Muraco head to ringside and initially lose out in the brawl that ensues. What follows is one of the more ridiculous spots I’ve seen (and that included Jack hitting himself with a wooden chair and knocking himself down earlier in the match), as Muraco tombstones Jack on the concrete floor! Such a major potential spot used in such a throwaway manner is surprising, although it does open up a big cut on Jack’s head for some good colour. Not content to be dropped on his head on the concrete floor, Jack also ends up with his head caught in the ropes in the Hangman. Falling out of this move sees Jack counted-out and Muraco awarded the victory, though the ‘real victor’ of the match is Cactus. In hindsight, his willingness to go above and beyond in this match (and most matches at this time) is difficult to stomach when you consider his physical condition today. However, you can definitely see why the years that followed saw increasing success on his move to WCW and WWE – the man appeared to be truly ‘Unpredictable’.

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