Wrestler of the Day – March 21: Chris Candido

Today is someone who left too early: Chris Candido.

Candido got started back in the mid 1980s but we’ll jump to 1991 for a small promotion called the AWF out of Massachusetts.

Chris Candido vs. Sabu

Candido is about 19 here and Sabu has the Original Sheik with him. There’s no commentary here so if there’s a story I’m unaware of it. Feeling out process to start with Candido being sent into the corner. Sabu grabs a chair and Chris wisely runs. Sheik takes the chair away and Candido nails a pair of suplexes. Sabu sends him to the floor a few times before catching Chris with a suicide dive. Back in and Sabu hits a quick springboard moonsault for the pin.

Rating: D. This was pretty horrible but that’s understandable as neither guy was anything more than a glorified rookie. Sabu would get, I guess you could say better, in a few years while Candido would actually improve. There’s nothing to the match but guys need ring time at this stage of their careers.

We’ll move on to 1993 and an NWA show called Grand Slam from Minneapolis. Candido is against a hometown favorite.

Chris Candido vs. Jerry Lynn

Jerry is a Gentleman here and seems to be the face. Before the match Candido rants about something but the mic doesn’t work. Feeling out process to start until Jerry armdrags Candido into the ropes. Chris complains about his teeth and gets on the mic to say something we still can’t hear. A rollup gets two on Candido and he bails to the floor for a meeting with his manager T.R. Shock. Lynn dives on both of them and the fans are WAY into him here.

Back in and Lynn snaps off some armdrags into an armbar before doing the same sequence again. Candido complains of a hair pull despite having a crew cut. Chris comes back by sending him to the apron, only to be taken down by a flying wristdrag into a fourth armbar. They botch a Jerry leapfrog into a powerbomb as Chris lands on his back but Lynn is hurt anyway. A suplex gets a delayed two for Candido and we hit the chinlock.

After spending awhile in the hold, Lynn is sent over the top and bangs his back on the apron. He’s still able to suplex Candido on the floor but Chris sends him into the steps. Back in and another suplex gets a delayed two on Lynn, followed by a gutwrench for the same. Lynn comes back with a side slam but misses a charge into the corner.

Candido nails a side slam of his own for two and they slug it out. Lynn takes over but gets crotched on the top, only to slam Chris down to block a superplex. A high cross body takes out both Candido and the referee, allowing Chris to hit Jerry low. Shock comes in with a chain but Lynn knocks him down. Chris picks up the chain and lays Jerry out for the pin.

Rating: C+. FAR better match here as both guys looked a lot more polished. Candido likes those suplexes a bit too much but that’s to be expected for someone still honing his skills. The ending was a lot more than I would have thought we would get in a match of this level which is a nice bonus.

It was then off to Smoky Mountain Wrestling, where Chris would first get noticed. Here’s one of his early efforts from September 26, 1993 against someone who might be Road Dogg under a mask.

Dark Secret vs. Chris Candido

Candido is the World Wrestling Association Jr. Heavyweight Champion and he’s feuding with SMW Jr. Heavyweight Champion Bobby Blaze. He’s also wearing a bonnet due to losing a match recently but he can take it off if he wins. Jim Cornette is guest referee for no apparent reason. Dutch Mantell, better known today as Zeb Colter, is on commentary. Candido takes him into the corner to start and there’s something up. Chris is hitting him as softly as possible and lays him down on a slam. A clothesline allows Dark Secret to lay down for the pin and the bonnet comes off. Funny idea if nothing else.

After some more successful years in SMW, Candido got a job in the WWF. His gimmick was a fitness nut named Skip, but his manager was real life girlfriend Tammy Sytch, now known as Sunny. Skip started against jobbers as you would expect, before being thrown into the deep end a few months later. From Superstars in August of 1995.

Skip vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn is Intercontinental Champion but it’s non-title. Sunny distracts Shawn to start and Chris takes over with forearms to the back. He stops for some exercising before failing on a superplex attempt. Shawn throws him down and nails a top rope ax handle for two before things speed WAY up. They trade leapfrogs and flips out of suplexes before Shawn skins the cat and nails Skip with a right hand.

Skip is able to snap Shawn’s throat over the top rope and gets two off a middle rope legdrop. We hit the double arm crank on Shawn but he fights up and backdrops Skip to the floor. Shawn actually grabs the mic and says Barry Horowitz (long time jobber who recently upset Skip) thinks Skip is a crybaby. Horowitz shows up in the aisle to distract Skip, allowing Shawn to speed things up and nail Chin Music for the pin.

Rating: C-. The match was your usual Saturday morning main event. Skip made Shawn sweat a little bit but at the end of the day there was no way Skip was going to get a win here. It wasn’t very good but looking at Sunny in her early 20s in skin tight workout gear is never a bad thing.

I mentioned Horowitz who would actually get a second win over Skip at Summerslam. This set up a Survivor Series match between their teams.

BodyDonnas vs. Underdogs

Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Prichard, 1-2-3 Kid

Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, Marty Jannetty, Bob Holly

The idea here is people that care about their looks vs. jobbers. Horowitz scored one of the biggest upsets ever over Skip. Jannetty needs no introduction as a jobber. The Kid is a mystery partner who is freshly heel here. By freshly I mean this is his first match as a heel. Razor comes out to go after the Kid who screwed him over on Raw on Monday. Yeah Raw is finally a big deal at this point too. Razor is IC Champion of course.

Prichard and Jannetty start things off and Marty has to fight out of the heel corner. The Kid holds him there but Prichard hits Kid with a knee by mistake. The BodyDonnas huddle on the floor until it’s off to Radford (Louie Spicolli) vs. Marty. Radford is called BodyDonna in training because he’s pretty fat. Here’s Holly to face Rad and he takes Radford over with a rana. Radford tries the same thing but gets powerbombed down.

Off to Hakushi who is pretty freshly face I believe. He gets behind Radford but walks into a spinebuster. Off to the Kid who hits a top rope splash on Hakushi for two and it’s off to Captain Skip. Hakushi escapes a belly to back superplex and it’s back to Holly who speeds things up. Prichard comes in as the fans want Barry. A powerbomb counters a rana from Holly but Tom misses a moonsault. Holly hits a top rope cross body for the elimination. Skip immediately comes in and rolls up Holly to tie it back up.

Hakushi comes in again and trips up Skip before elbowing him in the face. A Vader Bomb hits knees though and Skip gets control back. A shot to the chest takes Skip down so here’s the Kid again. The fans want Barry but it’s Hakushi taking over with a Muta Elbow in the corner. A top rope shoulder takes Kid down for two but Hakushi misses a springboard splash. Razor is watching in the back. Kid kicks Hakushi in the back of the head and Radford gets the easy pin.

Barry comes in and gets pounded down and the fans almost explode. Naturally this match would be the end of his push because that’s how it works in the WWF. Radford and the Kid double team Horowitz but he comes back with a jawbreaker to Radford. Skip tells Rad not to pin Barry yet because Skip wants to get the pin himself.

Radford hits a Hennig neck snap as Hennig is stunned at the reaction to Horowitz. Rad stops to exercise and gets cradled by Barry for the pin. It’s Skip/The Kid vs. Barry/Marty. Horowitz gets distracted by a double team and the Kid dropkicks him in the back, setting up a legdrop for the elimination. So it’s Marty down two on one but he avoids a charging Skip in the corner.

A sunset flip out of nowhere gets two for Marty and the Rocker Dropper (a fancy Fameasser) puts Skip down and Marty goes up. Sunny crotches him (it’s 1995 so I can still call Marty lucky for that) but Skip gets countered into a Superbomb (powerbomb off the top, which would be Skip’s finisher in ECW) for the elimination. It’s one on one now and a missile dropkick gets two for the Kid. A moonsault misses Marty though and they’re both down. Jannetty dropkicks him down for two and here comes Sid. A Rocker Dropper takes the Kid down for two but Sid guillotines Marty on the ropes and Kid steals the pin.

Rating: B. This was a good match to open things up with, especially since I don’t think anyone would have been able to buy Barry Horowitz captaining anything but an opening match team. Other than that though, the action here was good and it set the Kid up as a somewhat big time heel which is what he needed so soon after a turn. Good opener.

Pritchard would soon join Skip in the Body Donnas tag team under the name Zip. The team would make a tournament final against the Godwinns at Wrestlemania XII for the vacant World Tag Team Titles.

Tag Team Titles: Godwinns vs. BodyDonnas

This is from the pre-show. Henry quickly backdrops Zip to start and Skip gets a slam of his own. A wheelbarrow faceplant puts Skip down again and it’s off to Phineas for some arm work. Phineas goes nuts to clear the ring until Henry is able to calm him down. Henry comes in legally but the Donnas double team him to take over. A double slingshot suplex gets two for Zip and it’s back to Skip as the double teaming continues.

Skip actually wins a slugout in the corner before dropping Zip down into a legdrop for two. Henry comes back with a jawbreaker and the hot tag brings in Phineas to clean house. He loads up the Slop Drop (reverse DDT) on Skip but Sunny pulls up her skirt to flash Phineas, giving Skip a rollup pin.

Rating: D. This was pretty lame but the ending played up Sunny very well. She was the real star of the team and everyone pretty much knew it. The tag division was very shallow around this time with one note characters like these teams not being able to evolve or develop at all.

About a year later it was off to ECW where Candido probably reached his highest notoriety. He would face Sabu in the main event of Cyberslam 1997 in his first big match for the promotion.

Chris Candido vs. Sabu

Candido is 24 here, meaning that when he died he was about 32. This is a feud apparently. Don’t ask me why it is as I haven’t seen the previous 8 shows and five months of TV to explain it and since it’s Joey’s job to tell us every single move that we’re watching since apparently he thinks it’s radio, I have no idea why they’re feuding. And no, I don’t want some ECW guy to tell me why they’re feuding. I want ECW TO TELL ME.

Enziguri from Candido and a spinning cross body/clothesline by Sabu both miss so they slap each other a bit. Sabu sends him into the first row and puts a chair in the ring. Sabu tries a double jump something and Candido is nowhere in sight. I think he threw a chair at Sabu but it’s hard to say. Candido dives on Sabu into the crowd as we’re in for a long night here. That gets two back in the ring.

Piledriver by Candido gets no cover. Candido’s hair is hilarious here as it’s all over the place. Another Piledriver gets no cover still. Sabu was in the opener so he’s a bit tired here. Piledriver off the middle rope still doesn’t get a cover. I guess he’d rather be on top of Sunny. Candido leaves a table in the aisle for no apparent reason and they slug it out a bit.

Sabu gets a backdrop to send Candido out to the floor and a horrible looking suicide dive as Candido was way closer than he was supposed to be. I’ll blame Sabu anyway. The aforementioned table is set up at ringside and Candido winds up on it. The big dive/ass drop on it misses but Candido is on the table anyway. Thankfully he doesn’t sell it and hits some basic stuff in the ring.

Off to a crossface chickenwing for no apparent reason until Sabu fights out of it and gets a leg lariat to take him down. Candido gets a mic and asks the crowd what they think of their hero now. Sabu suplexes him to the floor and I’m bored again. It’s not a particularly bad match but it’s going very long here. Sabu gets a chair and uses it as a springboard to get a rana for two.

Candido counters a dropkick into a belly to back suplex and we’re both down. Sabu hits a front flip onto a standing Candido for two. Candido sets up a chair but gets caught by a leg lariat instead. Top rope powerbomb and triple jump moonsault both fail and the fans are split on Candido. Swan dive onto a chair onto Sabu misses badly so Candido gets a powerbomb for two, apparently being just fine after slamming into a chair. Sabu counters a second powerbomb and a triple jump leg drop ends this.

Rating: B-. This was ok but it’s nothing I’m ever going to want to watch again. It helps Sabu about a thousand percent to have someone out there that can run a match and also to have him do some actual in ring stuff. This was a wrestling match with weapon stuff thrown in rather than a weapon show with wrestling shown in. That’s a big difference and it shows off here.

Next up was a TV Title match against Taz to open up Hardcore Heaven 1997.

TV Title: Chris Candido vs. Taz

Something tells me I know the ending this already. Todd Gordon, the ECW Commissioner comes down and says Rude has to leave because he’s not a licensed manager. So let me get this straight. You can throw people through burning tables. You can have your arm split open and tape it back together. You can get tied together in barbed wire.

You can have a lesbian angle on nationally syndicated television. All of that’s ok. However, if you want to stand by the ring and cheer someone on, you need to have permission. I love making fun of wrestling. We go to the intro with the theme song, which I’ve never gotten why they do this after the show actually starts. It’s just odd to see. We get a wide shot of the arena and you can’t see ANYTHING.

Apparently this is a main event. Well ok then. The big match introductions never get old if nothing else. I have to give Taz this: he was perfect at what he did. It’s so odd to see him being goofy like he is now and then here see him be more or less a killing machine. We get a nice TAZ IS GONNA KILL YOU chant. I thought TNA and ROH were supposed to be an alternative.

They stole stuff from ECW too apparently so there we are. They mention Taz is 29 here. That’s just weird to hear for some reason. He seems older than that but the same age now if that makes sense. They do a great mat wrestling sequence and submission exchange that I’m into. You can see the shadows on the mat. That’s just pitiful. An issue I have with referees in ECW: SLOW DOWN THE COUNTS.

Watch an ECW match and they count as fast as they possibly can. It’s insane. Candido works the neck which makes sense here if nothing else as this is where Taz broke his neck a few years ago. That’s rather smart and some nice continuity which you hardly ever get from the big two today. We hit the floor for a bit but the only weapons use would be a few slams into the railing which I’d hardly classify as weapons use. I like that. A nice looking diving headbutt gets two as Candido is in control here. He sends Taz into the corner to set up the top rope powerbomb which was his finisher at this time.

I like the set up for it also as he whips him in and Taz stays there. That’s not entirely contrived. Actually yeah it is as any wrestler usually lands back first there and why would Taz do it differently, knowing what Candido finishes with? Eh, either way he counters with a nice suplex (shocking). After Taz goes suplex insane, he sits on the second rope with Candido in control somehow, but as Chris poses, the champ gives the throat slit and locks on the Tazmission for the tap out.

Rating: A-. NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT! If this was what ECW was like most of the time, I’d be a huge fan. This was hard hitting, fast paced, exciting stuff. Above all else though: THEY WRESTLED. This wasn’t about weapons and chairs and insanity. This was about two guys out there using their own talents and abilities to get something good doing and it worked to perfection. It would have been a higher grade with fewer powerbombs and more time, but still this was great.

Candido would soon join Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat stable and feud with Triple Threat prospect Lance Storm. However, the two would win the Tag Team Titles and hold them for six months. They finally lost the belts and were allowed to have their showdown at Heat Wave 1998.

Lance Storm vs. Chris Candido

Sunny looks freaking HOT. Joey thinks that maybe they’re getting along again and this will be a nice wrestling match. Naturally that doesn’t happen and Joey says he knew it wouldn’t. It’s funnier than it sounds. They chop the heck out of each other. DANG IT JOEY QUIT SAYING THE SAME THINGS I SAY!!! Candido gets a nice dive from the top rope to the floor. Freaking sweet looking.

Storm rolls Sunny in and then just lets her roll out again in a completely pointless sequence. This is a rather basic but intense match. Storm hits a SWEET springboard over the railing to crash into Candido. It’s a solid brawl but it’s really not that great. Storm gets another SWEET move with a spin kick off the middle rope.

We have our fifth Batista/Tiger Bomb (yes I know they’re different moves but Joey keeps saying it’s a Tiger Bomb so whatever) of the night. You don’t have to do the same move over and over again. Candido gets powder thrown in his own eyes but there goes the referee. Sunny crotches Storm on the top and the super powerbomb ends this. Oh and along the way Sunny got her top ripped off. Sunny needs to wear red more often. My freaking goodness!

Rating: C+. Not bad, but it felt like it ended all of a sudden. I mean there were some ok high spots here, but for the most part there just wasn’t a lot going on. It was about 11 minutes but it only felt like five. At the end of the day you need more than this for the blowoff to a six month feud.

Candido would get a World Heavyweight Title shot at Cyberslam 1999.

ECW World Title: Chris Candido vs. Taz

These two fought countless times in title matches so at least they know each other really well. Candido has Sunny in a bikini and a see-thru robe on. I can work with this. Also he has some unrecognizable guy you may have heard of named Steve Corino. He’s so young here it’s unreal. Candido says he’s never tapped out to anything and he’s not doing it here to Taz. Candido offers to make it falls count anywhere and Taz accepts.

Candido chops away and gets punched for his troubles. Out to the floor they go and Taz is in the crowd. Big dive into what might have been a clothesline takes Taz down and they go back to ringside. Uh scratch that as they’re in the crowd again. They brawl around for a bit with Taz mainly in control. Dang it as soon as I write that Candido takes over again. That gets really annoying.

They’re in the crowd for the third time in about five minutes. They fight past the fans into what looks like a merchandise stand. Thankfully the camera switches so you can see. Tazplex gets two. It’s very helpful that this is falls count anywhere because it keeps these parts from being pointless padding. Candido drops an elbow for two. They head back to the ring to a welcome back chant.

Delayed vertical suplex gets no cover for Chris. Diving headbutt gets a delayed cover for two. The fans want to see Sunny’s chest and I can’t blame them. She and Francine need to just flash the crowd and get it over with. Wheelbarrow suplex by Taz puts Candido down but Candido gets something resembling a slingshot belly to back suplex for two. Taz gets a big sitout powerbomb but can’t cover.

There’s a release Tazplex and the champion is in control again. And of course as soon as I say that a thumb to the eye sets up a Candido powerbomb for no cover again. Candido sets for the Blonde Bombshell (top rope powerbomb) but Taz counters into a head and arms super Tazplex. Candido pops up and grabs a chain which he blasts Taz with for two.

It’s Table Time and Taz is mostly back up. They slug it out somewhat which Candido wins with a thumb to the eye. Taz grabs a Tazmission but suplexes Candido through the table with it instead of going for the submission. The bell rings for no apparent reason and apparently Candido has hurt his neck.

Rating: C+. Pretty decent main event style brawl here as these two had some chemistry at times. The selling became an issue again here as a big move would hit and then they would be up five seconds later. Nothing great but for what it was this was totally fine. Taz would lose the title a few months later.

It was soon off to WCW where Candido would be treated as a veteran despite being 28 years old. He would be put in a six way Cruiserweight Title match at Spring Stampede 2000.

Cruiserweight Title: Artist vs. Chris Candido vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Shannon Moore vs. Lash Leroux vs. Crowbar

 

No Evan Karagis for 3 Count here. I think they would split soon after this. The two 3 Count guys do their thing before the match. It’s a Suicide Sixway. The other guys run out and the big fight is on. Shane is on the outside and not in the match. Candido vs. Moore at the moment and I don’t think tags are required. Ok so yes they are. Crowbar escapes a DDT and gets a northern lights suplex for two.

 

One fall to a finish here. If DQ rules have been relaxed why not allow everyone to run in all the time? Lash vs. Juvy now as this is going to be one of those insane matches. Juvy Driver gets two as Artist saves. Daffney accidently hits a Frankenscreamer on her man crowbar and then screams her way out of trouble. We bust out the dives by everyone and everybody is down.

 

David Flair comes in and beats up Helms and Candido is crotched by Artist. Candido misses a swan dive and Artist hits an Angle Slam (called a Samoan Drop) and Tammy debuts with a chair to give Candido the title. I can’t complain about her in a see through nightgown and a nice thong shot.

 

Rating: C. This was your usual insane Cruiserweight spot fest but I could have gone for it being longer than 5 minutes. The non-high flying power brawler as champion is the usual bit for them and that’s fine. The title hadn’t meant anything in years so throwing this together is fine. Nothing great but it did its job I guess and we have a new champion now and he’s New Blood.

Candido wouldn’t do much more in WCW as the promotion closed less than a year later. After heading to Japan for a few months and hitting the indy circuit, Candido would pop up in TNA in 2005. His first match was against AJ Styles on Impact, January 7, 2005.

AJ Styles vs. Chris Candido

Candido is looking bigger than he did in ECW. AJ snaps off some armdrags to start and sends Candido to the floor for a BIG plancha. Back in and Candido counters a superplex attempt into a middle rope atomic drop. A delayed suplex puts Styles down and a middle rope legdrop gets two. Styles makes a quick comeback and nails the dropkick, only to have his throat snapped across the top rope. AJ is able to slam Candido off the top though and hit the Styles Clash for the pin.

Rating: D+. This didn’t have a lot of time but it’s a TV match so that’s the most common case. Candido didn’t look to be in the best shape out there but he had the skills to make it through the match. AJ was really starting to hit his stride and would be World Champion by the summer.

Candido would wrestle his final match at Lockdown 2005 in a cage which was made the night of the show. Candido and Sonny Siaki were added to make it a tag match.

Apollo/Sonny Siaki vs. Chris Candido/Lance Hoyt

 

Sonny runs Candido over to start before nailing a dropkick, sending Chris down onto his mat breaking both his leg and ankle. This is a problem as Candido had a gimmick of faking injuries at the time so no one buys it. You can see his ankle all twisted around though so this is a lot more serious. Hoyt and Apollo slug it out as Candido is still down. The camera catches Chris being taken out of the cage, making this a handicap match.

 

Siaki isn’t sure what to do so Hoyt kicks him in the face for two. He hammers away on Sonny and nails a middle rope moonsault (not bad considing Hoyt is 6’9). A fall away slam sends Siaki into the cage and drives in elbows to the jaw. Hoyt climbs to the top but Siaki runs the corner and German suplexes him down. Back to Apollo who sends Hoyt into the cage for two and nails a superkick for the same. A TKO puts Lance down and Siaki adds a top rope splash for the pin.

Rating: C-. I have to be lenient here due to the injury changing things as soon as the match started. Hoyt looked good out there and I’ve always liked Apollo so the match wasn’t terrible all things considered. Injuries like that are always scary to see and this was no exception as Candido’s leg just turned.

Candido would die as a result of the broken leg as he developed a blood clot soon after surgery, killing him at 33. This is one of the wrestling deaths I truly do feel sorry for as he did nothing wrong to cause it.

Chris Candido was never a top guy but he was a good hand which is incredibly valuable. He could work well with any style wrestler and give you at least a passable match. Candido also never used many gimmicks, even at one point referring to himself as No Gimmicks Needed. There’s something refreshing about that and while I was never a big fan, he was one of the less annoying guys in wrestling.

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