As the old adage states, "you have to start somewhere". Well, these wrestlers who went on to achieve such incredible heights in their profession started out at the low end of the totem pole just like anyone else. For some, their potential was apparent even in their early years, for others, it took some polishing before they could reach the big time. So, without further adieu, here is a look at some big-time wrestlers when they were only small-time.
Video 1: Sterling Golden (Hulk Hogan) vs. Chick Donovan
This match takes place in Georgia Championship Wrestling and is from 1980, I believe. Before the match starts, Golden gets on the mic and stumbles through telling the crowd how bad-ass he is before stating that he will put up 1,000 dollars if anyone can get out of the Golden Squeeze. Donovan tries to tie up with Golden three times, but each time he gets thrown to the ground by the much larger Golden. Donovan changes tactics and sends Golden against the ropes after a dropkick, but gets caught with a big boot while charging into Golden. Golden uses his power to his advantage, using the backbreaker to get a two count. Donovan hits another dropkick that stunned Golden, but after taking a thrust to the throat, Donovan is whipped in and caught with the Golden Squeeze, which is a bear hug. Donovan sells it like death and gives it up, giving Sterling Golden a victory. Nothing more than a squash here, and not much of one either. I'll give it a 1.1 out of 5.
Video 2: Rob Zakowski in USWA Week 3
This video from 1992 features a match with Rob Zakowski (Rob Van Dam) taking on USWA enhancement talent Bill Rush. Rush has the build of a young Mark Curtis, while Zakowski/RVD has a blond mullet and is wearing plain blue trunks. Zakowski backflips into the ring, than starts the match with a couple of hip tosses before back flipping over a ducking Rush and hitting a dropkick on his opponent. Irish whip to Rush, Zakowski does a split and then monkey flips Rush on the rebound in a spot he would go on to do hundreds of times in his career. Zakwoski does a series of basic wrestling holds, like the armbar and side-headlock takedown, while the announcers compliment Zakowski not just for his speed but for knowing the basics as well. An eye gouge gives Rush the advantage for a few seconds, until Zakowski counters an arm-wringer with a series of quick kicks finishing with a leaping heel kick to the head. A backbreaker from Zakowski sets up his finisher, the split-legged moonsault. Zakowski nearly lands on his head, but does a last-second rotation to land the move perfectly and get the victory. Another squash, but this match had Zakowski showing off some skills and moves that weren't so commonplace in 1992. I'll give it a 2 out of 5.
Video 3: Jake Roberts vs. Shawn Michaels (UWF 1984)
It's the Heartbreak Kid as a kid taking on the veteran Jake "the Snake" Roberts, who also would go on to bigger and better things not long after this match. The video features no commentary, which is probably for the best. Michaels looks somewhat similar to Rob Zakowski in the last video, with a blond mullet and blue trunks. Tie up to start, and Roberts backs Michaels up against the ropes before making a clean break. Michaels surprises the veteran with a pair of hip tosses. Jake regains control with a headlock takedown. Back up, Michaels reverses an Irish Whip and ducks down, but Roberts stops himself and catches Michaels with a right hand. Another headlock takedown from Roberts grounds the youngster. Michaels is able to get up and whips Roberts into the rope, Jake leapfrogs Michaels, but takes a right hand for his efforts. This makes Roberts mad, and he backs Michaels into the corner and knees him in the gut. Big scoop slam from Roberts, who follows that up with a series of hair pulls. Roberts remains in control with brawling tactics, before Michaels starts firing back with some rights of his own. Michaels staggers Jake with a dropkick, than whips him in the corner to continue brawling with the Snake. Michaels tries to whip Jake out of the corner, but gets a kick to the gut and a brutal short-arm clothesline instead. Roberts hits his patented DDT, and the match is over. Short match, but not too bad, and Michaels got in more offense than I would have expected him to, making this a competitive battle. I'll give it a 2.35 out of 5.
Video 4: Leviathan (batista) vs. Brock Lesnar (OVW)
Two future world champions and MMA fighters (although I doubt Batista will have the success of Lesnar) square off in this Ohio Valley Wrestling match from 2000 or so. Batista is accompanied by his manager Synn and her slave, whose name I didn't quite catch, while Lesnar comes out on his own. After a couple of tie-ups, the match remains a stalematie until Leviathan catches Lesnar with a back suplex. The two brawl for a while before Lesnar slams Leviathan to the ground. Lesnar bounces off the rope, but a spinebuster from Leviathan stops him cold. Leviathan stays in control with a series of shoulder blocks in the corner and clubbing blows to the back. Leviathan whips Lesnar in the corner, but Lesnar rebounds with a cross body block that drew a two count. Leviathan takes back control with a kick to the gut, and uses more brawling tactics. A side salto slam from Leviathan gets a two count, and Leviathan than grounds Lesnar with a chinlock. Back up, Lesnar fires some elbows to the gut and bounces off the rope, only to get caught with a DDT from Leviathan. Leviathan keeps control until Lesnar reverses an Irish Whip into the corner and delivers an overhead belly-to-belly on his opponent. Clothesline from Lesnar, and another overhead belly-to-belly from Brock. Synn's subordinate gets on the apron to distract the ref while Lesnar plants Leviathan with a body slam from the Fireman's Carry position. But the ref is distracted, and Synn sprays a substance into Lesnar's eyes, giving Leviathan a chance to finish his opponent with the spear. That's what Leviathan does, as he gets the tainted victory. Post match, Lesnar clotheslines Leviathan and the back, slams Synn down to the mat, than grabs the other woman before Leviathan makes the save with a blow to the back. Leviathan stomps away on Lesnar while the referees and another wrestler unsuccessfully try to pull him off. The match wasn't terrible, but both men were awfully green here. I'll give it a 1.6 out of 5.
Well, I think I'll stop here for now. I hope that you have enjoyed this look back at some wrestlers back in the day before they hit the big time. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts on The Canon Review, or thoughts about this post, than let me know about them either by leaving a comment or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.