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    Thursday, July 14, 2016

    #ThrowbackThursday (7/14/16): When Stone Cold Met Dude Love

    Daniel Bryan and Kane. Mankind and The Rock. Booker T and Goldust. Pro wrestling history is rife with these incredibly odd pairings that on the surface seemed to make zero sense, but rose above diversity (and that's a good thing, children) to claim tag team glory in the form of championships galore.

    But there's one particularly odd pairing that's close to our hearts: the match made in heaven between the beer-swilling Texas Rattlesnake "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and the oddball tie-dyed hippie alter ego of Mick Foley known as Dude Love.

    And coincidentally, today, July 14, just happens to be the exact same day that these two overcame their philosophical and identity differences nineteen years ago on a 1997 edition of Monday Night RAW.

    So let's crack open the official Smark Henry office TARDIS and take a journey back to when this weirdness went down.

    The context

    It was a month before Steve Austin would get his neck infamously broken by Owen Hart off a botched piledriver.

    The two were embroiled in a bitter feud over the Intercontinental Championship at this time, so in a fortuitous twist, the two would meet in the finals for the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament—a tournament that happened to exist only because Shawn Michaels, who was co-champions with Austin, had been knocked out with an injury, thus causing the team to forfeit the straps. 

    Hart had fellow Hart Foundation member The British Bulldog as his partner against the Texas Rattlesnake. Austin was in lone wolf mode, having refused to take on a tag team partner throughout the tourney. Mankind had been making overtures to be Austin's partner to no avail, getting cock-blocked every time. Poor Mick. 

    The match

    (0:26) The Hart Foundation always made their way to the ring with such swag. Owen was reigning Intercontinental Champion at this point, with the Bulldog as European Champion. These guys made a better anti-American faction than the League of Nations.

    (1:30) Austin was a house on fire right off the bat, stomping a mudhole on "The King of Harts" and mauling him with a vertical suplex.

    (1:57) Austin's advantage doesn't last long though, as Owen damn near takes his head off with a spinning heel kick. Nobody quite did that move the way Owen did, even as he supposedly had almost no ligaments left in both knees at this point of his career.

    (3:28) The heels continue with their chicanery, with the Bulldog sending Austin to the outside then distracting the referee so Owen could drop Austin throat-first on the steel barricade outside with a completely unironic Stun Gun, Austin's WCW finisher.

    (3:52) Bulldog gets some monster heel heat by waving the Canadian flag to mock the crowd. Man, American audiences can be so sensitive.

    (3:57) WAIT. WHAT'S THIS. The Titan Tron cuts to... some MYSTERIOUS TOE-TAPPING~ 

    Whose toes could those be? And now the toes are walking. Well, at least now we know where Tyler Breeze got his entrance shtick from.

    (4:17) Owen recovers from the distraction to toss Austin with a beautiful rebound belly-to-belly suplex, followed by a hangman's neckbreaker. It was always such a joy seeing him in the ring. The dude was a mechanic.

    (6:19) Austin overcomes the two-on-one odds, dumping both Foundation members to the outside.

    (6:33) The TitanTron flashes back on to reveal Foley decked out in tie-dye and vintage sunnies, introducing himself as Dude Love, “the hippest cat in the land. OWW HAVE MERCY!"

    (6:41) Austin's WTF face is priceless. He's clearly not happy, but has no idea how to react. 

    Dude Love makes his way to ring to join him as a surprise tag team partner.

    (7:43) The announcers give some quick backstory about Foley growing up wanting to be a heartthrob like Shawn Michaels, but never quite coming close until he became Dude Love. Right. He tries to get Austin to bust a move with him in the ring, but Austin just morphed into a giant facepalm emoji.

    (7:59) Dude Love finally tags in, dismantling both members of the Hart Foundation with punches and kicks. Side note: He's actually wrestling with shades on.

    (8:28) Love tries to tag out to Austin, but Steve is just all bruh. Ouch.

    (8:54) The Bulldog tries to get the 300-pound Dude Love up into his vaunted running powerslam, which gets reversed into a pre-Socko mandible claw. Sensing defeat, Owen leaps in with a missile dropkick to save his partner.

    (9:02) Buuuuuuut here's comes Austin with a sneak-attack Stunner on an out-of-it Bulldog, knocking him out to eat the pin. Hart, oblivious to what happened, realizes too late he needs to break up the cover, giving the Austin-Love pairing the victory and Tag Championship.

    Just check out the match here. It's no technical masterpiece, but great fun to see, especially considering that up to this point, we had only known Mick Foley in his Mankind gimmick. Seeing him evolve this way was pretty magical at the time.

    What's your favorite oddball pairing, Henrinites? Do you have any other great unlikely pairs you want us to see? Hit us up in the comments below!


    Mark De Joya (@MDJSuperstaris an advertising professional and brand strategist by day, but dreams of being the Vince McMahon of the Philippines by night. He writes anything to do with numbers for Smark Henry: People Power (our weekly fan survey), Best For Business (our regular financial report), and Basic Smarkometrics (our PWR Power Rankings). With 18" arms and a 400-pound deadlift, he is also the official bouncer of the Smark Henry offices.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThrowbackThursday (7/14/16): When Stone Cold Met Dude Love Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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