Meltzer’s Classics: Cactus Jack vs Eddie Gilbert in a Two out of Three Falls Match, 3/8/91

There is a slightly complex stipulation for this one. It’s Two out of Three Falls, but it’s actually what WWE would call a Three Stages Of Hell. They start off with a Falls Count Anywhere, then have a Stretcher and finally a Cage. I can’t find if it was a particular section that got five stars or not, so I’m going to watch all three. Also, it’s worth noting that it would be giving these recordings too much credit to say they were terrible quality, which is going to affect the review.

Right, enough talking, let’s go hang out with Cactus Jack and Eddie Gilbert.

Coming into the show, the two of them have been feuding for months, raising the ante with each outing. They’ve previously had a barbed wire match, and Gilbert has now promised that he’ll retire if he loses.

Annoyingly, the lousy quality I mentioned makes the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation particularly frustrating. We spend a lot of the action looking at the back of fan’s heads as Jack and Gilbert brawl through the crowd. I’m sure it’s enjoyable for those lucky punters, but watching on grainy footage years later it’s a bit of a drag.

I can tell that they’re beating the crap out of each other. Gilbert is bleeding within minutes and we see Cactus’s legs appear as Gilbert Piledrives him through a table. At least I assume he went through a table. He could have bounced off it for all I know.

In the end, Cactus got the win with the Cactus Elbow. Maybe it is a five-star classic (although I doubt it, it seemed like a pretty standard brawl) but it’s impossible to tell when you can’t see half of it.

Up next is the Stretcher stipulation and Cactus starts hot as he takes advantage of Gilbert being beaten up in the first match. They stay in the ring for a little bit and then we’re off again. We get hints of what’s going on, Cactus carrying a trash can above his head and presumably driving it into Gilbert, we also see him climb to the second rope and drop to the floor with an elbow onto Eddie. Although again, I can only assume it’s onto Gilbert because I can’t see him.

The problem with that Cactus Elbow is that it often hurt old Mick more than it did his opponent. It ended up giving Gilbert a chance to get back into the action. He drags Cactus into the ring and starts beating him with the aforementioned bin. Then, in the rubbish that falls out of it, he spots a glass bottle. Unsurprisingly, said glass bottle then gets smashed right over Mr Jack’s head. The poor bugger. Gilbert adds injury to injury by dragging the broken neck of the bottle over Cactus’s forehead.

Jack is placed on the stretcher and fights against being wheeled out, but Gilbert is having none of it. He grabs the mic and proclaims that he’s going to kill Cactus before hitting a Piledriver and a DDT on the floor. That’s all for Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy.

This was better than the first match and, even on the poor quality recording, the bottle shot looked great. While I’m still nowhere near five-stars, we’re beginning to see some magic.

Our final section is in a cage, and by this point, both these men are beaten up. So beaten up that for a while it doesn’t look like Cactus Jack is going to make it to the ring. They play his music several times with no sign of the big man. Gilbert, meanwhile, continues to run Jack down, saying that he’s retired him. Eventually, a doctor comes out and declares Cactus unable to fight.

Except, we all know Mick Foley, and we all know wrestling. Of course, he’s going to fight. He drags himself down to the ring, and we’re off. The crowd is clearly knackered and a lot of them have gone home. It leads to a slightly eerie atmosphere as these two men swing at each other.

Quite early on, Cactus falls from the top of the cage to the floor. I can’t tell if it was deliberate or not because it looks like he was trying to grab on but he was set up for the drop. Either way, the commentator covers by saying that you have to be pinned inside the cage for the match to end. It’s also a sick bump. While it might not compare to Hell In A Cell, it must have rattled a few bones.

Moments like that aside, this is plodding. While I have all the respect in the world for these two as they battle on, they are blown-up, and the final fall feels like one fall too many. It’s become a battle of who can keep getting up and I’m not entirely sure selling has anything to do with it.

In the end, there’s a ref bump which leads to Doug Gilbert coming to his brother’s aid. They continue to destroy Cactus for a while before Bam Bam Bigelow makes the save. As that is going on the match is, for some reason, abandoned. Which considering it’s all been No DQ feels like a bit of a cop-out.

The best part was the beginning where Cactus dragged his broken body to the ring one last time. It’s a staple of wrestling, but when you’ve got someone as good as Mick Foley doing it, it works. Sadly, after that, it loses its way, and the ending feels cheap.

I feel bad for running this down. Most of the issues are not the fault of the competitors. It’s the fault of old footage with crappy production values. Both Gilbert and Cactus work their arses off and destroy each other for the fan’s entertainment. It might just be for the best that new fans don’t try to go back to capture a bit of that magic.

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