Two hours with Demolition discussing their best matches sounds like two hours well spent. That’s what we get on Ringside With Demolition, the latest from Kayfabe Commentaries.
Like the Vader volume from this series that SLAM! Wrestling reviewed recently, Ax (Bill Eadie) and Smash (Barry Darsow) sit down with KC’s Sean Oliver to reflect on some of their greatest bouts, while watching them, albeit with no audio or video to the viewer.
The former WWF tag champs start the shoot discussing how the team was formed, including how Randy Colley was the first Smash, all while applying their face paint. Some pretty normal stuff starts, with Ax talking about his time as the Masked Superstar and Smash as Krusher Kruschev.
Matches don’t start until the 45-minute mark, but when they do, some real dandies here.
The WrestleMania IV match that saw Demolition win the straps for the first time over Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana), friends of theirs, is the first match and Ax and Smash really give high praise to Martel and Santana, saying both were great workers and great people. The ref for this match, Joey Marella, passed away in 1994 and when his name gets mentioned, Ax and Smash recall how they found out and call his passing a tragedy.
Ax also calls WrestleMania the biggest show of the year and says nowadays, it’s just another pay-per-view. Agreed.
An outdoor show in Milwaukee, Wrestlefest ’88, is the second match and it’s a tag title defense against the British Bulldogs (The Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith). Much of this segment is devoted to talking about the stadium, Milwaukee County Stadium, and the pros and cons of working an outdoor show. Some good stuff here, though, even when the Bulldogs’ pooch, Matilda, gets talked about. Smash notes the reaction from the crowd when Demolition wins.
The inaugural SummerSlam in 1988 was a solid show and Demolition faced The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) at the event inside Madison Square Garden. This bout elicits good commentary between Ax and Smash as they say wrestling at MSG means you’ve made it in the business. Ax adds that due to the increased popularity of the sport back then, this pay-per-view was needed.
Now, with a new PPV each month, it’s watered down and bad for business, something Ax alludes to. He says a PPV might be a PPV, but (now) they are not "events."
The 1989 Royal Rumble where Ax and Smash drew Nos. 1 and 2 was Smash’s hardest match, as he says, but it fit their gimmick. The crowd down in Houston popped like crazy and like Smash adds, Vince (McMahon) knew what he was doing. This match was also the start of the Demos turning face.
Andre the Giant came in at No. 3 and he’s just another in a long line of wrestlers that Demolition says is/was a great person. Big John Studd won the Rumble, but the opening two minutes are what most remember most from this match.
Demolition’s feud with the Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbardian) is hit on and their match at The Main Event in February 1989 in Milwaukee is part of this portion of the DVD. Both Ax and Smash said seeing Mr. Fuji with Warlord and Barbarian was tough because they missed being around him and traveling with him. This match for the tag belts wasn’t on the live telecast and Demolition doesn’t know why.
Oliver asks if there was "violation of territory" when POP came in due to the face paint and muscular builds, and Ax and Smash say there wasn’t. Smash also calls Warlord the nicest guy you could ever meet.
By turning face, Ax notes that the team never changed its style, yet the fans got behind them. They also hype Earl Hebner and compare him to Tommy Young as a referee.
Ax and Smash’s second WWF tag title reign started with a win over the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) on a Superstars of Wrestling taping and this is the first part in the interview where Smash admits to not liking a certain wrestler -- Blanchard. When Blanchard and Arn Anderson beat Demolition in the summer of 1989 for the belts, Smash said that the chair shot he took from Blanchard legitimately knocked him out, chipped a few teeth and hurt his neck.
Dropping the tag belts to Arn and Tully wasn’t an issue as Demolition knew it would be good for business. This is a topic Ax delves into. Even when the ‘Busters dropped the belts back to the Demos, Smash calls Arn and Tully "true pros."
The final match on the DVD is one I wish I had in my collection. It’s Demolition against Andre and Giant Baba in Tokyo at the U.S./Japan Wrestling Summit at the Egg Dome. The event was a major coup as it had all the Japanese promotions together -- unheard of at the time -- and Baba and Antonio Inoki under one roof was a minor miracle. Vince and Shane McMahon were at this show, Smash notes.
Ax and Smash discuss wrestling in Japan and Oliver says that if you fast-forward this match, it looked normal. Baba started the match for his team and Ax says that was a rarity as he always let his partner start and he’d clean up later.
This disc, much like the Vader edition, is truly dynamite. As a fan and a child of the 1980s wrestling when it was actual wrestling and not crud, seeing two of the biggest stars of their day talking about the business and recounting some of their best matches, it was truly a special two-plus hours.
Ax and Smash seem very genuine and while they never really slam anyone, that’s fine. They make mention of their kids and wives on numerous occasions and that’s a refreshing breath of fresh air.
This is a must-have for anyone with a special place for ‘80s wrestling. If you’re under the age of 25, though, you most likely have no idea who Demolition is, so don’t bother.
Kayfabe Commentaries hasn’t announced their next Ringside guest, but regardless of who it is, it’s a safe bet it will be a solid interview for sure.
Match listing for Ringside With Demolition
Demolition vs. Strike Force – March 27, 1988 – Atlantic City, NJ
Demolition vs. The British Bulldogs – July 31, 1988 – Milwaukee, Wis.
Demolition vs. The Hart Foundation – Aug. 29, 1988 – New York City
The Royal Rumble – Jan. 15, 1989 – Houston, Tex.
Demolition vs. The Powers of Pain – Feb. 3, 1989 – Milwaukee, Wis.
Demolition vs. The Brain Busters – Oct. 2, 1989 – Wheeling, W.Va.
Demolition vs. Andre the Giant & Giant Baba – Apr. 13, 1990 - Tokyo
April 26, 2007: Fan fests bring Demolition back together
Apr. 5, 2001: Barry Darsow: Happy to be done wrestling
Reflecting on a long list of characters
Previous SLAM! Wrestling DVD reviews
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Ringside with Demolition DVD-R
Matt Mackinder still rocks out to the Demolition theme song from time to time. Email Matt your musical memories at email@example.com.