Wrestler of the Day – November 29: Manny Fernandez

Here’s a guy I’ve always liked that you mostly likely haven’t heard of: the Raging Bull Manny Fernandez.

Manny got started sometime in the late 1970s and we’ll pick things up in Southwest Championship Wrestling out of San Antonio at some point between August 15, 1981 and December 1982.

Nick Bockwinkel vs. Manny Fernandez

Nick is AWA World Champion but this is non-title. He thinks this organization is trying to embarrass him with such low level competition. However, the jobber he’s supposed to be facing (some guy named Terry Allen, later named Magnum TA) has been swapped in for the red hot Manny Fernandez (the same thing happened to Roddy Piper a year or so later when Jack Brisco replaced a jobber).

Bockwinkel hides in the corner to start before slamming Manny down, only to get kicked off a few seconds later. Fernandez takes him down with a headlock before Nick backdrops him out of a criss cross. Right back to the headlock from Manny as the announcer explains Tully Blanchard vs. Terry Funk, which was set up by Tully hitting Terry in the head with a hammer. Back up and Nick kicks Manny away but gets small packaged for two.

Back to the headlock for a bit before Bockwinkel rolls him up for some near falls. The champ starts hammering away before driving a knee into Manny’s ribs. A shot into the buckle busts Manny open and Nick actually puts on a bearhug. Bockwinkel hammers at the cut but it just fires Manny up as he pounds on Nick’s head. A suplex gets two as the blood is flowing from Fernandez’s head. There’s a sleeper to Nick but the time limit runs out as Bockwinkel is going out.

Rating: C+. I liked this a lot better than I was expecting to. It’s a standard finish for this era as you have the World Champion head to various territories and make guys like Fernandez look good in something like this. It’s not a great match or anything but the fans were into Manny here.

Same promotion from around the same time.

Manny Fernandez vs. El Bronco

Bronco is a masked man who can’t take Manny’s leg out. They collide against the ropes with Bronco knocking Manny down, only to have Fernandez pop back up and hammer away to take over. Manny goes after the mask as we go look at an interview with the local sheriff. After that drive by of randomness, Manny’s Flying Burrito (flying forearm) is good for the pin. Squash.

It’s off to the NWA now, starting at Starrcade 1984.

Brass Knuckles Title: Black Bart vs. Manny Fernandez

This is a kind of Hardcore Title for lack of a better description but falls have to be in the ring. Fernandez is defending and comes out to Beat It by Michael Jackson. We go to the overhead camera like last year which is still hard to get used to. All four fists are taped up and it’s a slugout to start. Manny punches him down to start but Bart goes to the eyes. Bull (Fernandez, who was nicknamed Raging Bull) chops him back but Bart pounds him in the head.

Bart keeps pounding away on the forehead and the champion is in trouble. Actually scratch that as Manny fights up and pounds away, knocking Bart out to the floor. Back in and Manny punches Bart down, busting him open in the process. Bart goes to the ribs for a change to take over and the punching continues. Bull is knocked down and we see him from the overhead camera again. Bart can still only get two so he drops Manny throat first over the top rope. Bart tries to bring in a bullrope but gets rolled up and Manny retains his title.

Rating: C-. Is it good? Not really. Is it really even wrestling? Again, barely. However, it’s BY FAR the best match of the night so far as it was at least intense and entertaining which nothing so far has been. Also it helps to have a clear face and heel, which we’ve been completely lacking so far. Not a good match or anything but this was water in the desert by comparison to everything else.

From the next Starrcade in 1985.

Abdullah the Butcher vs. Manny Fernandez

This is a Mexican Death Match, but in reality you win by climbing a pole and grabbing a sombrero. Butcher knocks him down to start and stabs him in the head with a fork (a signature move of Butcher’s) to bust him open. The commentary is odd here as there are long gaps in between the announcers saying anything at all. Manny fights back with right hands and actually monkey flips Butcher down.

A boot (not on Manny’s foot) to Abdullah’s head puts the big man down but Manny misses a charge, allowing Butcher to take over again. Abdullah goes for the hat which he can reach while still on the middle rope, but Manny makes the save. Now Manny takes the boot to the head but he comes back with some belt shots to the back. Butcher knocks Fernandez down and stands in the corner, only to miss an elbow drop.

Fernandez pounds away with the belt around his hand before suplexing Butcher down. Not bad for a man in socks. Manny goes for the hat but gets hit low with the fork. Butcher chokes away a bit but Manny fires off the Flying Burrito (forearm) and a second one drops Abdullah. A top rope splash misses Abdullah but the Butcher misses a charge into the corner, allowing Fernandez to get up the ropes and grab the hat for the win.

Rating: C+. This was a pretty fun brawl and the more I see of Fernandez the more I like him. They didn’t try to have a wrestling match here and that was the right move all around. Butcher was a good brawler and Manny was able to hang in there with him, which made for a fun match. Good stuff here.

Manny would primarily wrestle in tag matches around this time, including the 1986 Crockett Cup.

Crockett Cup First Round: Jimmy Valiant/Manny Fernandez vs. Baron Von Raschke/Barbarian

We open with Jimmy dancing around like an idiot with the big beard against Baron’s evil paleness. Baron looks old and slow here in 1986. Off to Manny and we’re clipped to Barbarian hitting him in the back but missing a dropkick. Back off to Baron who can’t even throw very convincing forearms. Valiant gets a hot tag which Manny could make due to Baron being old and slow. Sleeper goes on Baron but things break down quickly. Some heel managers get involved but Manny hooks a sunset flip on Barbarian for the pin. About 2-3 minutes out of 11.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Ivan Koloff/Nikita Koloff vs. Manny Fernandez/Jimmy Valiant

The first thing we see is Nikita in a leg lock. This is getting really boring because there’s not enough to gather anything from at all. We’re on the 12th match and I’ve watched about 35 minutes of this tape. Think about that for a minute. Wrestlemania 17 had 11 matches. Ivan gets a tag in and gets caught in the wrong corner. How was he a former world champion? Off to Valiant as Ivan’t crotch takes a beating.

Clipped to the five minute mark with Fernandez missing a dropkick to bring in Nikita again. Clipped to Manny in a bearhug as Ivan comes in again. Hot tag brings in Jimmy who cleans house and hooks a sleeper. Everything breaks down (that should be the name of this show) and Nikita gets a Sickle for the pin. WOW IT WAS OVER THREE MINUTES SHOWN!!!

Rating: D+. This was just ok as the Koloffs who were usually a good heel team came off looking like clowns here who hit one big move to win the match. I wasn’t huge on this one but a lot of that is probably due to Valiant. He had no room on a show outside of Memphis as he was just a crowd favorite rather than anyone talented in the ring. That being said, his pops were huge and I get why he’s in this. I just don’t like him.

One of Manny’s major tag teams was with Rick Rude. Here they are in May 1987 in Florida.

NWA World Tag Team Titles: Manny Fernandez/Rick Rude vs. Road Warriors

Manny and Rick are defending. Rude takes too much time posing though and gets nailed from Hawk to get things going. Hawk will have none of this being whipped across the ring and man alive are the fans nuts for the Warriors. We take a break and come back with Hawk taking Rude down in a test of strength as everything breaks down. The champs are both gorilla pressed and manager Paul Jones is losing his mind.

We settle back down to Animal vs. Fernandez with Manny being knocked out to the floor. He charges back in to a backdrop as the champions are in major trouble early. Rude comes back in to try the Rude Awakening but Hawk easily shoves him off. Back to Fernandez for an elbow to the jaw but Rude eats a big clothesline. A double tag brings in Animal and Manny with a big shoulder dropping Fernandez for two. Everything breaks down and the managers come in to throw the match out.

Rating: D+. Not much here but good grief the Road Warriors were over. They’re easily the most popular tag team in the world at this point and probably the most popular of all time. Manny and Rude were an awesome team in their own right but they were just in way over their heads here.

Off to the 1987 Crockett Cup.

Crockett Cup Quarterfinals: Super Powers vs. Manny Fernandez/Rick Rude

Rude and Fernandez are tag champions. Clipped (duh) to Dusty hammering on Manny and trying to fire the crowd up. Manny takes over and chokes away on Dusty while Nikita comes in to try to help out. He’s in a neck brace which would cost him the US Title soon to a young guy named Luger. An elbow gets two. Off to Rude who was flamboyant even back in the day.

Rude’s top rope fist gets two. Manny comes back in and Dusty hammers away on the Raging Bull until we’re into a chinlock. Yeah Dusty needs a rest already. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Dusty comes back with a clothesline and everything breaks down. He rolls through something like a cross body and the tag champions are out to Dusty and Nikita after winning a single match.

Rating: D-. Yeah expect Dusty and Nikita to do really well in this. Dusty had a habit of pushing himself really strong and insisting he was what the fans wanted to see. He also had a habit of booking the company into the ground and causing Crockett to go out of business, but hey, Dusty was the US Champion baby! About five minutes were clipped here if you were curious.

From the 1987 Great American Bash.

Freebirds vs. Paul Jones/Manny Fernandez/Ivan Koloff

The Birds are faces here which takes some getting used to. This is the original lineup too with Hayes, Gordy and Roberts. Hayes and Fernandez start us off and Fernandez looks like an idiot after that exchange. Roberts comes in and gets double teamed by a cheating Jones (normally a manager) and Koloff. Koloff comes in to beat on Roberts and its hard to believe he was WWF Champion at one point. Jones comes in and isnt very good. Heres Terry Gordy and this would be like Sheamus vs. Runjin Singh. Things break down and an elbow drop ends Jones quickly.

Rating: D+. Just a quick match here that didnt mean much. Gordy was a monster though and ran through everybody at the end. He would team with Williams in 1992 in one of the most successful yet boring tag teams of the period. Anyway, nothing match and Paul Jones is one of the worst characters and managers of all time. This was from Atlanta as well.

Off to Puerto Rico on May 11, 1988.

Invader #3 vs. Manny Fernandez

Manny hammers on Invader to start but takes a backdrop and dropkick to the face to send Fernandez outside. Back in and Invader cranks on a headlock to slow things down. The hold stays on long enough to slow us down to glacial levels until Manny shoves him off and avoids a middle rope cross body. Fernandez drops a top rope knee and Invader spits up the most over the top blood you’ll ever see to end the match. Manny drops two more knees to the ribs as Invader is COVERED in blood.

Rating: D. Dull match here until the WAY over the top ending. I mean it looked like when WWE has people vomit in modern times but with blood instead. This was right before a very shaky time for the promotion as Brusier Brody would be dead just a few months later to change everything.

Off to the AWA at SuperClash III.

Manny Fernandez vs. Wahoo McDaniel

No idea why this is here or where they’re from. AWA I think. This is an Indian Strap Match which is all four corners. Tatsumi Fujinami is here for no apparent reason and Fernandez yells at him. Fujinami holds him for a bit and Wahoo hits him. Fernandez stalls of course as we need to get this over with. The bell rings twice here and Wahoo uses the strap to start. No idea why these two are fighting.

Fernandez takes him down and goes for some corners which doesn’t work of course. Wahoo is busted open and Manny tries again. The idea is that Wahoo has never lost one of these. They chop it out and Wahoo of course wins that. Manny is bleeding a bit. Wahoo gets three buckles but gets hit in the little Indians to break the streak. Manny gets three but then goes up top for no logical reason. Wahoo pulls him down and gets the win a bit after that.

Rating: D-. Weak match here as this match tended to be. Wahoo was old and fat at this point but apparently this was the best thing that he could do. No idea why this warranted 8 minutes on this show but Wahoo was still a name I guess. Weak and boring match here though that was totally paint by the numbers.

Fernandez is one of those guys that isn’t remembered too well but he was a solid midcard hand in his time. He was a tough guy who could move around the ring and is still kicking around the indies today in his 60s. He’s one of the insane number of wrestlers from west Texas, which could rival Minnesota for most high level wrestlers. Check him out if you want to see a decent brawler.

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1 comment

  1. Killjoy says:

    Lulz. El Bronco. He headlines WWC’S 41st anniversary show last month against Invadwr