BEST OF BILLY ROBINSON
By Pete Fusco
Billy Robinson vs. Strong Kobayashi, 5/14/70. Black-and-white film clips from IWE…the earliest Robinson match on tape? This is the finals of IWE’s annual World League round-robin tournament. VG-EX for old black-and-white film.
Billy Robinson vs. Karl Gotch, 4/2/71. Short, slow-motion film clips from IWE. VG for old film, and in color.
Billy Robinson vs. The Big K (Stan Kowalski), 7/17/71. Robinson made his AWA debut around this time as a surprise opponent for Strong Kobayashi, much to the chagrin of Strong and his manager, The Big K. This 1-minute film clip is a match borne out of that surprise debut. FR
Billy Robinson vs. Ivan Koloff, 12/16/72
Billy Robinson vs. Wilbur Snyder, 5/5/73. More Bob Luce film highlights from the Chicago Amphitheatre. FR
Billy Robinson & Don Muraco vs. Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch, 10/6/73. From AWA television. Rhodes is still a heel and the silent half of The Texas Outlaws. Muraco is still a rookie and in the second fall is taken out by Rhodes and Murdoch, forcing Robinson to go it alone for the third fall. EX
Billy Robinson & Red Bastien vs. Nick Bockwinkel & Ray Stevens, 10/20/73. From AWA television. The AWA Tag Team Champions have signed an open contract, only for promoter Wally Karbo to stun them with their assigned opponents. A fantastic bout, with Bastien impressing just as much as Robinson. EX-
Billy Robinson & Geoff Portz vs. Baron Von Raschke & Horst Hoffmann, 1974. Silent film clips of a 2/3 fall tag match--the only available footage of Hoffmann wrestling in the U.S. EX-
IWE Heavyweight Title: Rusher Kimura (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 6/3/74. About 13 minutes of film highlights, as Robinson captures his first major singles title outside of Europe. G+
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Verne Gagne (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 9/7/74. In front of a stadium crowd at Chicago's Comiskey Park, this was one of the biggest main events in AWA history to this point. This is a film clip of the last several minutes of a 45-minute match. G
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Verne Gagne (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 11/20/74. This took place in Japan as part of the AWA’s talent-exchange agreement with IWE; a complete 45-minute match-up just recently unearthed, in pristine condition as it was originally televised! Possibly the best Gagne match that exists on tape. EX
NWF Heavyweight Title: Antonio Inoki (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 12/11/75. Robinson’s only major match in New Japan, as he would last for only the last portion of one tour for that company. After winning the first fall, Robinson appears to stop cooperating at points, and while the match never delves into a true shoot, there is legitimate concern on the part of Inoki and ringside officials that Robinson is pulling a double-cross. This is a spectacular match aside from that (or perhaps because of that), and was the Match of 1975 as voted on by Tokyo Sports. EX-
Billy Robinson vs. Bob Orton, Jr.
Billy Robinson vs. Nick Bockwinkel
Billy Robinson vs. Dick Murdoch. All silent film highlights from St. Louis, 1976-77.
PWF Heavyweight Title: Giant Baba (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 7/24/76. After one partial tour with New Japan, Robinson promptly jumps to that promotion’s biggest rival and challenges for All-Japan’s top title. Arguably tops the match with Inoki, as Baba and Robinson are on the same page throughout. Inoki supposedly shorted Robinson on his pay for his NJPW tour, which may have led to this match’s result…EX-
Billy Robinson vs. Abdullah the Butcher, 12/9/76. The mat-wrestling technical wizard finds himself in a bloody brawl with the Madman from Sudan. The renewal of a rivalry that began in the Stampede promotion and would continue in All-Japan for the next two years. G+
United National Heavyweight Title: Jumbo Tsuruta (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 3/5/77. For AJPW's secondary title and another future part of the Triple Crown. EX
United National Heavyweight Title: Billy Robinson (c) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, 3/11/77. Six days later, Jumbo has a chance to win his title back. Includes a post-match locker room interview with Robinson. EX
United National Heavyweight Title: Billy Robinson (c) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, 3/23/77. The third and final match to settle this rivalry, but this time it's Robinson who's closer to "home turf," as this was taped for AJPW television from Miami Beach. A familiar face interjects himself to ruin things at the end...
Billy Robinson & Horst Hoffmann vs. Terry & Dory Funk, Jr., 12/6/77. From the Real World Tag League, All-Japan’s annual round-robin tag tournament. A classic mat-based contest VG-...stupid G+ (the TV channel, not the quality) sheared this down to 20 minutes when this aired on their version of AJPW Classics so this doesn't look as good as I hoped. Complete match > pristine quality.
Billy Robinson & Horst Hoffmann vs. Abdullah the Butcher & The Sheik, 12/9/77. Another Real World Tag League match. This is not a classic mat-based contest. Robinson turns in one of the most fiery performances of his career. VG-
Billy Robinson & Frank Hill vs. Pat Patterson & Ray Stevens, 5/20/78. Due to travel problems, AWA undercarder Frank Hill’s partner is unable to appear. Patterson and Stevens are less than pleased with his substitute, and show their displeasure after the match. EX
The ending of Tor Kamata vs. Giant Baba for the PWF Heavyweight Title, 6/1/78. The Poor-Man’s-Abdullah Tor Kamata stuns the Japanese wrestling world with a countout victory, ending Baba’s six-year reign as PWF Heavyweight Champion. He is immediately confronted by an angry Robinson after the match, who issues a challenge. EX
PWF Heavyweight Title: Tor Kamata (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 6/12/78. Robinson, wrestling with a bandaged shoulder that Kamata zeroes in on, captures All-Japan's top championship, as Tor’s shock title reign ends almost as soon as it begins. Robinson is interviewed after the bout and promises to defend against all comers in any country in the world. EX
Billy Robinson vs. Lee Bronson, 7/26/78. Robinson makes his return to England and to television coverage on ITV’s World of Sport program. Robinson was a fixture in the UK for years, but this is very likely his only surviving television match. He quickly wows the crowd with a series of his nasty trademark suplexes—high-impact moves being a rarity in England at the time. Bronson is a rather overmatched opponent, but as WoS was a squash-free affair, Robinson is in for a fight. VG+
PWF Heavyweight Title: Billy Robinson (c) vs. Abdullah the Butcher, 10/18/78. Back to All-Japan for a title defense. In a 2/3 fall match, the issue here is whether Robinson can keep it a wrestling-based bout, as he won’t be able to outbrawl Abdullah. VG
Billy Robinson & Wild Angus vs. Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta, 12/1/78. Robinson teams with the bizarre-looking Scottish strongman Angus Campbell in the 1978 Real World Tag League.
#1 Contenders' Match: Billy Robinson vs. Baron Von Raschke, AWA 1978. The last few minutes of a bout from All-Star Wrestling to determine the #1 contender to the World Heavyweight title.Another great performance by Robinson, bumping and selling his tail off to get Von Raschke over as a monster. FR-
Billy Robinson & Doug Gilbert vs. Stan Hansen & Bobby Duncum. Those darn flight delays affect another AWA tag match, as this time it’s Robinson’s scheduled partner Wilbur Snyder who’s a no-show. Robinson has to go it alone for the first few minutes before Doug Gilbert (“Gashouse” Gilbert, no relation to Eddie) comes out as a substitute. FR-PR, the worst VQ match of the set. Watchable but not always easy to tell who's who.
Billy Robinson interview re: the death of former Olympian-turned-pro Chris Taylor. Robinson had a hand in training Taylor and is rather shaken by his death—at one point snapping at someone off-camera when they attempt to get Robinson to wrap things up. FR+
In 1980, with Jerry Lawler knocked out of action with a broken leg, Jerry Jarrett brought Robinson into Memphis to fill in as the territory’s top star. The classically-trained mat wizard Robinson was an odd fit for the territory, to say the least. As a “tweener” Heavyweight champion, Robinson would start to show the first vestiges of his later heel turn. The Memphis run, which went from February 1980 to March of ’81, is all grouped together and is not necessarily in chronological order with the rest of the set
Billy Robinson vs. Guy Mitchell. After winning the CWA “World” Title, Robinson is scheduled for a television match against the former Jerry Valiant, after a Mid-South Coliseum bout in which Robinson was disqualified for tossing Mitchell over the top rope. Mitchell, as a result, comes out for the match with his arm in a sling. Robinson has a verbal and physical confrontation with Mitchell and Jimmy Hart…VG-
Billy Robinson & Paul Ellering vs. The Assassins. Highlights from the Mid-South Coliseum, as well as an angle that takes place during a Robinson squash in the WMC studio. G+
Billy Robinson vs. Tony Charles. Highlights from the Mid-South Coliseum. Robinson was booked as a tweener for much of his time in Memphis, feuding with the First Family as well as other babyfaces like Bill Dundee--the idea, also pushed in AJPW, was he was an honorable and scientific wrestler who had a short temper and a big ego. An odd but cool sight to see a World of Sport-style contest in Memphis, and the crowd loves it. An interview with Charles follows. EX
Billy Robinson & Ken Lucas vs. Paul Ellering & Ali Hassan. Highlights from the Louisville Gardens. After a year in Memphis, a fireball to the face knocks Robinson out of the territory. FR
PWF Heavyweight Title: Giant Baba (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 10/13/80. A very rare second bout over the PWF title between Robinson and Baba, four years after their 1976 classic. This is missing the first fall and part of the second, but is included for historical purposes. FR-
Billy Robinson & Les Thornton vs. Terry & Dory Funk, Jr., 12/3/80. Clipped match from the 1980 Real World Tag League. As in the 1977 match, a big confrontation between Billy and Terry Funk is teased, but apparently no singles match ever came out of it. G
Billy Robinson & Les Thornton vs. Nick Bockwinkel & Jim Brunzell, 12/5/80. 1980 Real World Tag League, as Robinson takes on a third partner to take on the odd pairing of Bockwinkel and Brunzell, representing the AWA. Another great technical bout. EX
Billy Robinson vs. Nick Bockwinkel, 12/11/80. From All-Japan, the same tour as the above two matches. The best Robinson-Bockwinkel match on tape. VG+
Two AWA interviews from October 1981, hyping a match in Chicago between Robinson and Bobby Heenan, with Robinson getting a World title shot at Nick Bockwinkel if(?!) he wins. Heenan, having no-showed their previous scheduled bout, laments having to put up an appearance bond for the make-up match, and promises to take his frustrations out on Robinson. Billy responds and is rather nonplussed by this threat. G+
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Nick Bockwinkel (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 12/25/81. Match is JIP from St. Paul. What’s seen is very good, and an interesting contrast in how these two worked in Japan and how they worked in the U.S. FR+
Billy Robinson vs. Bruiser Brody, 4/82. A rare match from the 1982 AJPW Champions Carnival--Robinson again shows what an underrated brawler he was. VG
Billy Robinson vs. Tito Santana. JIP from Winnipeg. As the '80s dawned, Robinson's clean-but-short-fused-babyface act would start to morph into full-blown heeldom. VG
Billy Robinson vs. Rick Martel. JIP from Winnipeg, and this time Robinson is being “advised” by former enemy Lord Alfred Hayes. Robinson’s heel turn is cemented by the finish to this match. VG
An interview from International Wrestling in Montreal with Robinson & Lord Alfred Hayes, regarding an upcoming Canadian Heavyweight title match with Dino Bravo. VG
Billy Robinson vs. Steve O. JIP from St. Paul. Billy pulls a win out of nowhere with one of my favorite British wrestling spots. G
Billy Robinson vs. Blackjack Lanza. JIP from Winnipeg, and Robinson is being advised this time by Bobby Heenan, and again his “advisor” plays a role in the finish. VG
Billy Robinson vs. T-Bone Brown. A squash match from AWA television—Robinson ties Brown in knots, even busting out an octopus hold. G-
Billy Robinson & Nick Bockwinkel vs. Curt Hennig & Blackjack Lanza. A rare bout of Robinson and Bockwinkel as a heel team--makes you wish they'd have stuck together. VG-
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Jumbo Tsuruta (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 3/11/84. An AJPW-televised bout from Green Bay, Wisconsin, seven years after their rivalry over the UN title. Robinson is starting to break down at this point and AWA fans have begun to realize that if he couldn’t win the World title before, he’s not likely to start now. A very good bout nevertheless and a late capper to the Robinson/Tsuruta rivalry. EX
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Rick Martel (c) vs. Billy Robinson, 11/22/84. A very rare, clipped dark match from St. Paul. Some excellent work here gets the crowd into it despite Robinson’s descent to the mid-card. VG
Billy Robinson vs. Kevin Von Erich, 12/84. A match from St. Louis televised on World Pro Wrestling in Japan. Fun, unique little bout.
After 1984, Robinson’s weight was becoming an issue and fans in the AWA and Japan had started adapting a “seen it already” attitude to his work. He would work opening-match bouts with the likes of Brad Rheingans and Bob Backlund in the AWA, with an occasional top bout such as his Rosemont Horizon title shot at Ric Flair. He would retire in 1986, but continue to train wrestlers, professional and amateur, in Japan, as well as branching into MMA training and students such as Josh Barnett. He was a fixture at big UWFI cards along with Lou Thesz and Danny Hodge, and would have a one-shot return to the ring with that company.
Billy Robinson vs. Nick Bockwinkel, 5/8/92. From one of the best cards in UWFI history comes an “exhibition match” against his old rival. No attempt is made at a true UWFI shoot-style, but this is an enjoyable technical match with a rather famous flare-up: Bockwinkel catches Robinson with a hard knee to the face, and is heard saying, “It’s a knee, Robinson!” as Billy almost loses his temper. Billy responds with an “I’ll give you one of these [fists] right in the f---ing jaw!” Things settle down after that. EX
ANY QUESTIONS? JUST ME. IT'S THAT SIMPLE.
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