Wrestler of the Day – June 15: Brad Armstrong

Here’s a guy you’ve probably never heard that much about but could wrestle circles around a lot of people: Brad Armstrong.

Armstrong would get his start in Alabama in 1980. We’ll pick things up in Georgia in March of 1984.

Tim Horner vs. Brad Armstrong

Brad is National Heavyweight Champion. These two would become regular partners and the winner faces Jack Brisco and the winner of that gets a World Title shot against Ric Flair. They head to the mat for a nice amateur sequence with Brad getting caught in a front facelock. Horner grabs a headlock on the mat but gets armdragged down into an armbar. Another headlock has Brad in trouble but he comes back with more technical stuff, only to get caught in a headscissors. Road Warrior Hawk, who had recently lost to Horner in a huge upset, comes in to go after Tim but nails Armstrong by mistake for the DQ.

Rating: D+. The fans make this a lot better but this was eight minutes of headlocks and armbars. Both guys are capable of having a more entertaining match than this but instead it was all basic stuff. I’m not sure why they went this route but the ending likely has a lot to do with it.

We’ll move to the promotion where the Armstrong Family got famous: Continental Championship Wrestling, with this one coming from January 4, 1986.

TV Title: Robert Fuller vs. Brad Armstrong

Fuller is champion and is more famous as Colonel Robert Parker. The title hadn’t been around for about five years but Fuller reactivated it for all of a month. Fuller is your standard “I’m pretty” character. Armstrong knocks him to the floor quickly and Fuller stalls a lot. Back into the ring and it’s off to an armbar by Armstrong. Fuller comes back and uses a variety of slams as I look for blunt instruments to hit myself with. Armstrong dropkicks him down and out to the floor. Some of Fuller’s friends come out and apparently TV time is up and the title is held up until next week.

Rating: F. The biggest move in a 4 minute match was a dropkick. You figure out the rest.

On to bigger things now, including Starrcade 1986.

Jimmy Garvin vs. Brad Armstrong

Garvin is billed as Gorgeous Jimmy here and comes out to Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top. He also has a good looking blonde named Precious with him. The first match here is in Atlanta and we’ll be alternating back and forth. Schiavone and Stewart are the commentators here in Atlanta as well. They fight up against the ropes to start before heading into the corner with neither guy being able to get an advantage.

They go to the mat with neither guy being able to get any extended advantage. Back up and they fight over a top wristlock until Brad finally takes over with an armbar. Off to a headlock instead but Jimmy rolls Brad up for two. Now Jimmy grabs an armbar of his own but they roll into the ropes. Garvin grabs a leg lock and bends the knee back, only to have Armstrong reach his arm around into a chinlock to escape.

Off to an armbar by Brad and Jimmy taps, but that wouldn’t mean anything in American wrestling for about seven years. Garvin counters into a headscissors as the back and forth mat work continues. Armstrong nips out of it and puts on another headlock, only to be countered into another headscissors. By this point you should be able to figure out what happens next on your own: Armstrong counters into a headlock.

Garvin tries to pick Armstrong up to slam him down, only to be dragged into another headlock to keep the match at a very slow clip. Back up and Jimmy suplexes out of the hold but can’t immediately follow up. Armstrong gets sent out to the floor where Precious talks trash as we have three minutes left in the time limit. Back in and Garvin gets two after dropping Armstrong throat first onto the top rope.

A backbreaker gets the same and Jimmy is getting frustrated. They start running the ropes, only to crack heads and put both guys down again. Back up and Brad charges into a knee in the corner but even that only gets two. They trade rollups but Garvin puts on a chinlock of all things with fifteen seconds to go. He releases the hold and goes up, only to miss a top rope splash as the bell rings for the time limit draw.

Rating: D+. This was one of those matches where you could see the time limit draw coming a mile away. As is the Starrcade custom, the good guy can’t win the opener and the opener is pretty dull stuff. Why they’re so afraid to allow a good match to open the show is beyond me, but this was nothing of note at all. Neither guy would ever do much of note either.

Post match Garvin tries to jump Armstrong, only to get knocked to the floor by some right hands.

Brad would have a run in the UWF, including a TV Title shot in the summer of 1987.

TV Title: Brad Armstrong vs. Eddie Gilbert

Armstrong grabs a headlock to start as Jim Ross talks about something bad happening to Chris Adams recently. The champion grabs a hammerlock but gets reversed into the same hold from Brad. We take a break and come back with Brad getting two off a cross body. Now they trade wristlocks with Armstrong grabbing an armbar for a bit. A big right hand drops Gilbert to the floor and we take another break.

Back with Armstrong cranking on another armbar before running the ropes a few times, only to be sent out to the floor. Eddie sends him face first into a table but Brad counters a suplex back inside for two. We have two minutes left in the match and Armstrong gets two off a dropkick. Eddie’s running knee hits the buckle and Brad slaps on a Figure Four but Terry Taylor runs in to attack Armstrong for the DQ.

Rating: C. Better match that the Horner match as there was more stuff besides all the holds. The ending was a nice surprise as you would have guessed it was ending off the time but it advances an angle instead. That’s a good idea as the predictable is usually not the best way to go.

Armstrong would get a shot at a different title at Clash of the Champions III.

TV Title: Mike Rotunda vs. Brad Armstrong

Mike is defending and the announcers emphasize that it’s a twenty minute time limit. Brad is talented but this is a BIG challenge for him. Rotunda takes him down to the mat a few times before slugging away at Brad in the corner. Armstrong rolls through a middle rope cross body for two and the champion bails to the floor. Back in and Mike hides in the corner and walks into a dropkick as he comes back to the middle of the ring. The fans are going crazy when the local boy Armstrong is in control. Rotunda gets back in again and walks into a headlock takeover to the mat. It’s all Armstrong so far.

The champion rolls Brad back for a few two counts before finally shoving him off, only to get caught by a cross body for two on him. Mike bails outside again before getting caught in an armbar to slow things down. Brad cranks on it a bit too long though and gets sent into the ropes for a knee to the ribs followed by a hot shot as Mike takes over for the first time. Armstrong is tossed outside and Sullivan gets in some stomps before Rotunda pounds him back down to the floor.

A big suplex over the ropes gets two for the champion and we hit the chinlock. Mike gets caught with his feet on the ropes to break the hold so he hammers away on Brad in the corner instead. Back to a chinlock thanks to a pull of Armstrong’s hair as Mike is working the clock. Armstrong gets back up but Rotunda takes his head off with a clothesline. The champion drops an elbow for two as the fans go NUTS on the kickout. Another chinlock actually gets a two count on Brad and a backbreaker gets the same.

Mike sends him outside for a few seconds but Brad comes back in with a sunset flip attempt. Rotunda drops to his knees and grabs the ropes but referee Teddy Long kicks the champ’s hands to put him down for two. Rotunda comes back with an elbow and a legdrop for another near fall. We go to the fourth chinlock as Steve Williams comes out to cheer for Armstrong.

Brad fights up but gets caught in an airplane spin of all things. Mike makes himself dizzy and can’t follow up but does grab a gutwrench suplex for two. A small package gets two for the champion as we have a minute left. Despite being a heel Mike tries to get pinfalls until the end of the match but just can’t put Brad down as the time limit expires, earning a huge moral victory.

Rating: C+. As usual, Brad Armstrong puts on a far better performance than would have been expected. The ending of the match told a good story with Rotunda getting more and more frustrated but not being able to put the plucky kid down. I would have liked a few more near falls from Armstrong but the idea of him just wanting to survive was an easy idea to get behind.

We’ll jump ahead a bit to Wrestlewar 1991.

Brad Armstrong vs. Bobby Eaton

We hear about Armstrong’s brother fighting Desert Storm, which would be Road Dogg. Eaton gets a good reaction and the fans chant for him on his way out. Bobby jumps him during the opening and takes over for a little bit. A flying headscissors and dropkick by Armstrong set up an armbar to slow things down. They get back up and a monkey flip sets up the same armbar by Brad.

Bobby gets back up and we head out to the floor. That goes nowhere so let’s hit that armbar again. Off to a test of strength with Bobby taking over. Brad climbs up Eaton and goes to the corner for a spinning crossbody….and back into the armbar. Eaton finally gets tired of it and pops Brad in the face, but his slingshot suplex is countered into a regular suplex by Armstrong for two.

We hit the fifth armbar in five minutes as we see Jason Hervey here again. A backbreaker puts Armstrong down and he drops an elbow to the face. We hit the chinlock and Great Muta is here watching as well. Eaton hits a slingshot backbreaker for two. Off to a modified camel clutch to keep the pressure on Armstrong’s back. Back up and Armstrong tries to hit the ropes but Eaton elbows him in the face and out to the floor.

After a beating on the floor we head back into the ring for an abdominal stretch. Eaton holds the ropes because that’s just the kind of a guy he is. Anderson dives through Armstrong’s legs to see the cheating in a nice touch. Eaton misses a charge in the corner and Brad hits that perfect dropkick to take over. Bobby grabs a ducked head and hits a neckbreaker followed by the Alabama Jam (top rope legdrop) for the pin.

Rating: C. This wasn’t as bad as the opener but it wasn’t that great either. Eaton would get a decent run as an upper midcard heel before turning into a jobber to the stars for most of the 90s. He was still popular after being part of the Midnight Express so it was good to see WCW capitalizing on that here. Also as usual, get Brad Armstrong if you need someone to look good, which is what Eaton would become later on.

Next up is Clash of the Champions XVI for another solid match with Brad as Badstreet, a masked member of the Freebirds.

Light Heavyweight Title Tournament Semifinals: Badstreet vs. Brian Pillman

Pillman is back in WCW after the Loser Leaves WCW match last time. Right after he had left there was a newcomer named the Yellow Dog who wrestled in a mask but was the same size as Pillman and used the same moves. I’m sure you can connect the dots on your own. The Freebirds are ejected before the match starts to make things fair. Pillman gets in Badstreet’s masked face to start and runs him over with a shoulder block.

A quick victory roll gets two for Brian and it’s off to the armbar. Badstreet sends him to the apron but gets caught by a springboard sunset flip for two. Pillman tries to suplex him to the floor but they switch places and it’s Brian being suplexed out to the floor. Badstreet kicks him into the barricade but gets caught in a sunset flip for two more.

The masked man goes up top but gets dropkicked out to the floor, setting up a HUGE suicide dive to take him down again. Back in and Pillman tries a missile dropkick but Badstreet dropkicks him out of the air. A spinwheel kick gets two for Brian but he walks into a DDT. Pillman’s crucifix is countered into a fall away slam for a close near fall. Badstreet takes him to the top for a superplex but Brian knocks him away and Air Pillman is good for the pin.

Rating: B-. Really solid fast paced match here with Pillman being ahead of almost everyone else in America at this point. Badstreet was more than skilled enough to keep up with him for about seven minutes and the result was very fun stuff. Factor in that this was 1991 and this is mind blowing stuff.

Then he was a Spider-Man ripoff that was so realistic that Marvel said cut it out. From Starrcade 1991.

Scott Steiner/Firebreaker Chip vs. Johnny B. Badd/Arachnaman

Chip is the shorter partner of Todd Champion in the Patriots. As his music says, Badd looks just like Little Richard. Arachnaman is a purple and yellow Spider-Man. The resemblance was so strong that Marvel Comics threatened to sue WCW if they didn’t drop the character, which WCW did. It’s Brad Armstrong under the mask. Badd and Chip start things off with Chip hitting some quick Japanese armdrags to take over. Johnny, a legit Golden Gloves champion, fires off a left hand and drops an elbow for two.

Badd fires off some more punches but Chip comes off the top with a cross body for two before it’s off to Arachnaman. Chip grabs his arm and brings in Scott for an armbar of his own. Things speed up with some leapfrogs from Arachnaman but he gets caught in a powerslam and clotheslined out to the floor. It’s off to Badd for a quick left hand and a right to take him down. Steiner isn’t pleased and easily takes Badd down with a leg trip before lifting him into the air and ramming Badd ribs first into the buckle.

Back to Chip for a chinlock for a few seconds before Badd rolls out and tags in the Spider guy. That goes nowhere so it’s back to Badd vs. Scott, with Steiner hitting a big Steiner Line and a double underhook powerbomb. Back to Chip as the match slows down all over again. Chip stands around and lets Arachnaman come back in before missing a charge into the corner. Back to a chinlock by Arachnaman as this match is dying without Badd and Steiner in there. The cameramen are bored too so we look at the crowd a bit.

Chip puts on a Boston Crab but the far smaller Arachnaman is able to power out of it with relative ease. Back to Badd for the chinlock as a Scott chant breaks out. Arachnaman comes back in and gets caught in a crisscross with Badd. Chip thankfully makes a blind tag to Scott and things pick WAY up. Arachnaman tries going up but jumps into an overhead belly to belly suplex from Scott for the pin.

Rating: D+. Scott is good, Chip is not. That’s more or less the entire match in a nutshell here. Chip was boring everyone out there and the crowd just wanted to see Scott. Arachnaman was a horribly dumb gimmick who barely even flew around at all and Badd was nowhere near ready yet, so this was pretty much the Scott Steiner show.

Here’s a solid opponent from Clash XXII.

Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong

Feeling out process to start with Benoit grabbing a headlock before trying a powerbomb but Brad counters with an armdrag, leading to an incredibly fast pinfall reversal sequence and a stalemate. They earn a nice ovation as Brad takes him down with another armdrag and slapping on an armbar. Benoit tries to nip up but Brad takes him back to the mat to maintain control. Chris finally gets up and they try a test of strength with both guys going to the mat and bridging off the mat with pure neck strength. That always looks cool.

They stick with the arm motif by trading hammerlocks until Brad sends him to the floor by the arm. Back in and Benoit is taken down by the arm again before going with forearms to the back to take over. Chris lifts him up and drapes Brad over the top rope before knocking him to the floor with a springboard clothesline.

Back in and Benoit takes his head off with a clothesline followed by chops and headbutts. A backbreaker has Armstrong in trouble and Chris bends him over the knee for a submission attempt. Benoit misses the swan dive but Brad misses an elbow drop, allowing Chris to snap off the dragon (full nelson) suplex for the pin.

Rating: B-. This was a nice way to wake up the crowd a little bit after some decent at best matches earlier. Benoit would get a job soon after this if not from this match alone. Armstrong continues to be as good a hand as anyone else and can have a good match with almost anyone you put out him out there against.

Something from WCW Pro, April 29, 1995.

Brad Armstrong vs. Dino Cassanova

Dino is a very tall guy. Brad cranks on his arm to start but Dino counters into a hammerlock of his own. Armstrong wises up and takes the big man to the mat to drive some knees into the arm. Back up and Brad grabs a great looking armdrag to take him back down. Cassanova comes back with a clothesline to the back of the head before snapping Brad’s neck across the top rope. An elbow drop misses though and Brad’s Russian legsweep gets the pin.

Rating: D+. Not much to see here but Cassnova had a good look to him. The match didn’t do much as it was on WCW Pro in 1995 and I can’t say I blame them for not giving their best efforts. The announcers talked about the same thing they always talked about when Armstrong was in the ring: how close he was to winning a major title.

Armstrong was good enough to get a title shot at Dean Malenko’s Cruiserweight Championship at Slamboree 1996.

Cruiserweight Championship: Dean Malenko vs. Brad Armstrong

So Malenko is the second champion as Otani of all people won it at an NJPW show. Yeah it made no sense but it’s WCW so there you are. There allegedly was a tournament, but only the finals were ever seen. It was also double elimination apparently, but no one other than these three have ever been mentioned. I hear it was in Rio. Apparently the Cloverleaf is a standing Figure Four. And so begins Tony being an idiot.

Armstrong is a guy that was pretty good back in his day but never really was given anything past a glorified jobber role. He hooks the Cloverleaf. Wow I do not care about this match at all. Dean hits his gutbuster from the top to end it. Somehow this was almost ten minutes long. Wow.

Rating: D+. Nothing special at all but considering what we’ve had to watch otherwise, this was GREAT. Like I said Armstrong was good but the title was brand new and nothing was told to us about this. This show needs to die when a basic and dull match like this is one of the most entertaining things all show.

We’ll jump ahead a bit to Nitro, January 5, 1998.

Brad Armstrong vs. Rick Martel

This is Martel’s debut and his first national match in years. A quick rollup gets two for Martel as I think Armstrong is the heel here. Brad grabs a headlock as Tony is SURE there are problems in the NWO. Armstrong charges into a knee in the corner and gets caught by a middle rope clothesline for no cover. Brad gets in a forearm out of the corner and chokes away, only to get caught in the Quebec Crab for the win for Martel. Another short match.

Here’s a match from Worldwide on March 7, 1998 against a pretty famous name.

Brad Armstrong vs. Ric Flair

Flair takes him down with a headlock before cranking on the leg. Brad puts on a chinlock and Flair clearly taps but the match keeps going. They trade arm holds until Armstrong gets suplexed down. Flair rakes Brad’s eyes over the ropes as Tony tells a story of seeing these two wrestle to an hour time limit draw at the Omni.

Brad charges into an elbow in the corner but is still able to slam Ric down from the top. A dropkick misses though and Flair falls head first onto Armstrong’s “abdomen” and now it’s time for the pinfall reversal sequence but they don’t do the backslide bridge. Brad gets two off a clothesline but a suplex puts him down, setting up the Figure Four for the win.

Rating: C-. There’s something fun about watching a basic Ric Flair match. You know exactly what you’re getting but it’s still entertaining enough to work. It’s such a basic wrestling match but well done enough to work. I’d like to see that hour long match though, especially in Georgia.

Time for another new gimmick, this time as part of a hip hop stable. From Bash at the Beach 1999.

West Texas Rednecks vs. No Limit Soldiers

It’s Curt Hennig, Barry and Kendall Windham and Bobby Duncum Jr. vs. Konnan, Rey, Brad Armstrong (don’t ask why he’s in a rap team) and Swoll (huge guy that never did anything) and this is an elimination match. Oh and Rey is Cruiserweight Champion. Konnan speaks some weird language and talks about peeling potatoes. I’m sure there’s some other meaning in there somewhere, especially since tossing salads is mentioned.

Rey vs. Barry to start us off with Rey using his speed and splashes/moonsaults to take over. Off to Hennig who does better for about a second. Off to Armstrong who is there in gimmick number 387 for him, none of which worked that well. Duncum, who would be dead in like a six months, comes in and doesn’t do well either. Swoll comes in and it’s very obvious why he needed Master P to get him a job in WCW.

He can’t do much other than clotheslines which he sells for WAY too long. Barry gets a low blow to him and it’s off to Kendall. Rey comes in and takes both Bobby and Kendall to the floor at once. Konnan, the unofficial captain of the team is in now. He gets a bulldog to take Hennig down and things stay fast. Everything breaks down and slows down as well. The referee messes something up badly as he signals kickout before it happens. Not that it matters as Duncum is pinned a few seconds later. Messy spot there.

The rest of the Soldiers beat up Duncum as he leaves. Things grind to a halt now until we get to Armstrong vs. Hennig. Heel cheating results in a Perfectplex getting rid of Armstrong. Off to the captains again (Hennig vs. Konnan) and that lasts about a second as Kendall is in again. Konnan gets the rolling lariat and things get awkward again. Konnan gets what I guess you would call a rollup to get rid of Kendall.

If you need a scorecard it’s Barry/Hennig vs. Konnan/Rey/Swoll. Barry gets a DDT on Konnan as the Soldiers are fighting with Kendall now. Konnan vs. Barry now as this needs to end quickly. Nicely timed as they fight to the floor with one of the Soldiers named Chase carrying Barry off and it’s a double countout. I guess Soldiers are immune to disqualifications. It’s Rey/Swoll vs. Hennig now.

Swoll proves why it shouldn’t be him in there because he just isn’t that good. Barry comes back in so Swoll beats on him too until Chase gets rid of him. Thankfully Swoll would retire by the end of the year. Another of those far too long clotheslines sets up a tag to Rey who climbs on Swoll’s shoulders and dives off to pin Hennig with a splash.

Rating: D+. Well when they only had a few people in there this was good but after that, it turned into a huge mess. Swoll has zero business being in a ring at this point but hey, his cousin managed to not help the ratings at all and cost the company a few hundred grand so everything is cool right? Let the wrestlers wrestle and stop having the faces be jerks while the heels are just out there doing their thing.

After not doing anything of note in a major promotion for years, we’ll wrap up Armstrong’s career at a reunion show in 2006 called World Wrestling Legends 6:05: The Reunion.

Midnight Express vs. Bob Armstrong/Scott Armstrong/Brad Armstrong

is the manager of the Express (Lane, Condrey and Eaton) and the more famous Armstrong (Brian, as in Road Dogg) isn’t here so who really cares? Cornette says the Armstrongs have been a thorn in his side for years and tonight he can get rid of them. When was that? Well Condrey looks like crap.

BOBBY HEENAN IS MANAGING THE ARMSTONGS!!! HOLY FREAKING SMOKES!!! Heenan looks a bit bad here but not too bad. Wow this is awesome to see. Bob Armstrong is in a mask for absolutely no apparent reason. You can see through the face part of it though so there’s zero point to it at all. Condrey vs. Brad, who is very underrated, to start us off.

Eaton comes in and doesn’t look that great. Off to Scott who is the referee that was in WWE that had the hitch in his count. We get the Heenan vs. Cornette showdown which is the main point of this match. And they just look at each other and now back to the match. Off to Lane vs. Scott now with the crowd kind of dead for this for some reason. Here’s Bob who is old as all goodness and in the mask and never really was anything special but who cares?

Stan kicks Brad in the back to give the Midnights the advantage. Bob was in there maybe four seconds. Stan dances a bit as Cornette chokes Brad. This is awesome to see them together again which is the idea here. Heenan gets a chair. When would Bobby EVER do that? Brad gets a pretty ugly looking suplex to break Eaton’s momentum.

Everything goes nuts and Cornette pops Bob with the tennis racket which does nothing at all. Heenan takes out Cornette so that Bob can pop Bob to pin Eaton. In other words Bob Armstrong pinned Bobby Eaton after Bobby Heenan got him the tennis racket. Wow these were unoriginal parents.

Rating: D. Boring match of course as Bob Armstrong looked horrible in there and for the life of me I still don’t get the mask but whatever. This was just for the managers which the announcers point out which is fine. This wasn’t anything of note but seeing the Midnights was awesome all over again. Bad match, cool moment.

Brad Armstrong was a good hand to have in the lower card. Yeah he got stuck with a lot of horrible names and gimmicks, but he would always put on a passable match and make the other guy look good. That’s a really hard thing to be able to do but he pulled it off very well. I would have liked to see him get a token TV Title reign. It would have been better than Prince Iaukea at least.

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1 comment

  1. Hubcap Dave says:

    I remember when he came in from the UWF back in ’87. I was such a mark for this guy…too bad he never made past being a “jobber to the stars”. The dude could flat out wrestle!