While LOD ruled tag team wrestling during the 80s and 90s, the WWE had their own version in Demolition. Unfortunately for fans of tag team wrestling, their paths only briefly crossed. That’s the focus of today’s post as we return with a ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities‘ piece today
During the 80s the Road Warriors rode roughshod across every team that got in their way across the territories. But in New York, as Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation was on the road to become a global phenomenon, it was another duo clad in face paint that dominated the scene.
Bill Eadie and Barry Darsow, Ax and Smash respectively, were one of the WWF’s most popular acts as it went from a north east promotion to an organisation known across the world.
The duo’s act wasn’t too dissimilar to that of Road Warrior Hawk and Animal. Hard rock greeted their arrival as the two face painted heavyweight superstars made their way to the ring en route to destroying whatever unfortunate duo stood in their path.
Together they amassed three title reigns during the time including a 478 stint from March 1988 through to July of the following year. The pair took on all-comers from fellow heavyweights such as the Powers of Pain (Warlord & Barbarian) and the British Bulldogs through to smaller pairings like the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) and Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana).
In the summer of 1990 Hawk and Animal, after dominating wrestling territories the length and breadth of the USA, arrived in Vince McMahon’s WWE. Finally, it gave the promotion a chance to present the dream tag team match that wrestling fans had spent years hoping for. However, unfortunately, Hawk and Animal’s arrival coincided with a downturn in Demolition’s fortunes.
Shortly after WrestleMania VI Demolition turned heel for the first time since 1988. In addition Brian Adams was added to the team as Crush. Storyline wise it was explained away as a way to gain a three-on-two advantage over opponents. But, in reality, Eadie had developed an allergic reaction to shellfish – as discussed as recently as their interview on Jim Ross’ “Ross Report” podcast.
McMahon added the younger Crush in case Eadie wasn’t able to recover from an illness that had hospitalised him in the summer of 1990. The new three-strong Demolition, once again under the management of Mr. Fuji, adopted the Freebird rule when defending the gold that the pairing of Ax and Smash had won from the Colossal Connection (Andre the Giant & Haku) at that year’s WrestleMania.
Unsurprisingly, Ax was phased out of the picture more and more as it was Smash and Crush that defended the gold. It was that pairing that lost the gold to the Hart Foundation at the 1990 edition of SummerSlam, although Ax did briefly compete in the bout.
At the end of the bout Hawk and Animal came out and confronted Demolition, setting up a programme between the two teams.
However, even with the addition of the then WWE Champion the Ultimate Warrior joining Hawk and Animal to take on Demolition, the feud arguably occurred several years too late.
After dropping the gold, and with the arrival of LOD, the WWE lost interest in Ax and Smash. Some believe that the team of Demolition was created by Vince due to the fact he couldn’t get hold of LOD. But with Hawk and Animal on board, Demolition were no longer required and the following year were phased out together with both remaining Demolition going on to have singles careers in the WWE as Ax wrestled on the independent scene.
While Ric Flair versus Hulk Hogan was the dream match for the majority of wrestling fans in the 80s. Many of those that are a fan of tag team wrestling longed for a match between Demolition and LOD.
Unfortunately, it was only a fleeting programme that fans got – largely of a six or eight man tag variety – rather than one pitting Hawk and Animal against the classic Demolition pairing of Ax and Smash.
A few years before the feud would have been big money. A battle between the two sets of behemoths would have made for scintillating viewing for fans of their brand of smash mouth, no-nonsense brawling that the two teams brought to the table. Instead, we have to make do with the few fleeting encounters and the thoughts of ‘what if?’
You can read all previous ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities’ pieces here.