The WWE Network’s "Hidden Gems" Are Fantastic

May 26, 2018 - WWE

Greg Valentine corners Roddy Piper during a Charlotte Coliseum on Jul 8, 1983.
Screenshot: WWE Network

One of my favorite things about covering and following pro wrestling is that it’s fundamentally infinite. There has customarily been so much pro wrestling all over a universe for so many decades that there will always be some-more engaging stories and chunks of bizarre story uncovered, some-more footage found that nobody had ever seen before. Case in indicate is a WWE Network’s “Hidden Gems” section, that had formerly been updated spasmodic on no set schedule, nonetheless that was retooled as a weekly Thursday calm dump this week. Devoted to singular and formerly unreleased matches and segments, it was prolonged a sold favorite of hardcore fans, generally those who used to trade videotapes and DVDs. That was, in vast part, interjection to how WWE kicked it off. The initial Hidden Gem to drop, in Sep 2016, enclosed a compare that had turn a ultimate holy grail for collectors: “The Last Battle of Atlanta.”

The 1983 hitch during a Omni in during Atlanta with a showy name was perfection of Tommy Rich and Buzz Sawyer’s blood feud; fans opposite a nation got to watch on Superstation WTBS. It was pushed tough by a newsstand wrestling magazines as a epic of epics, adorning during slightest one cover, and was quite eye-catching since it was a initial time that a enclosure compare scrupulously trapped a wrestlers by putting a roof on tip of a sequence couple fence; naturally, a best print from a eventuality shows Rich overhanging into Sawyer with a dropkick while holding onto a roof. The Wargames matches in WCW built on a roof thought and Shawn Michaels after cited a Last Battle as a outrageous impulse for WWE’s Hell in a Cell gimmick, that gave a 1983 compare special chronological stress to newer fans as well. It was certainly a vital impulse in a sport, solely for one thing that astonished fans for 33 years: There was no explanation that any footage existed.

No clips seemed anywhere on TV, including a Sunday “Best of Championship Wrestling” uncover that aired matches from a Omni on a semi-regular basis. Urban fable also suggested that Ole Anderson, who was using a Georgia graduation during a time, had thrown out boxes of (possibly damaged, presumably salvageable) master tapes during some indicate in a 1980s or ’90s since they were holding adult space in his integument or garage. No fans in a locus that night had shot any film or video as distant as anyone knew, either.’s Bobby Melok even wrote an verbal story of a compare in 2013 that remarkable a miss of footage—only to update it in 2016 when a footage, from a “very unorganized” WCW library, was released.

“In 2016, a organisation of reels from a WCW library, simply labeled ‘Omni Live Events’ were digitally eliminated and logged,” a improvement reads. “During a process, Eric Stefanowicz, Producer and Researcher/Historian for WWE’s Legacy Content team, detected what many have referred to as a holy grail of wrestling video: The Last Battle of Atlanta. The video was in primitive condition. No replacement was compulsory before it was uploaded to WWE Network, fulfilling a dreams of a epoch of fans.”

The initial weekly drop shows outrageous guarantee for a future, covering bases that should prove a hardest of a hardcores as good as some-more complicated fans. If you’re not meddlesome in a comparison stuff, there’s still Chris Jericho’s ECW debut, Triple H vs. Road Dogg when they were rookies in WCW, and The Undertaker vs. Jerry Lawler in Memphis customarily a few weeks before a former done his WWE debut, and Dean Ambrose vs. William Regal from 2012 in then-WWE developmental graduation Florida Championship Wrestling. The hardcores and comparison fans, though, have an even some-more considerable selection: A finish part of Championship Wrestling from Florida from 1971 clinging to a career of Jack Brisco, Harley Race vs. David Von Erich from when a latter was a rookie in Aug 1977, a non-televised Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine compare from Charlotte in 1983, Vader’s WCW pretension win over Ron Simmons from Dec 1992, and more.

All of that is to contend that Hidden Gems got off to a quite considerable start. Previously secret finish radio episodes from a territorial epoch are always fun, nonetheless it’s a nuts and bolts of a finds that unequivocally reveals how most guarantee is in this initial collection and, by association, in a portions of a repository that have nonetheless to be tapped. The Race-Von Erich match, for example, is finish though blurb breaks from a radio taping in Fort Worth, Texas. Other than what got steady nationally in prominence form once a Texas graduation started airing in syndication in 1982, it was believed that all from a Fort Worth shows, that aired on informal superstation KTVT, had been taped over. The really existence of this compare opens adult possibilities that not even a biggest fasten collectors knew existed. The same goes for Piper vs. Valentine: It’s not as if this sold compare was famous, or on a label that was famous to exist on video. If WWE has this match—which happens to be a fantastically exhilarated square of old-school categorical eventuality wrestling, by a way—they substantially have a good bit more, despite on tapes that might not have been indexed and/or digitized yet. Vader vs. Simmons was famous to exist, as a finish aired on TV, nonetheless meaningful that WWE has the whole thing opens adult a probability that WWE has a full versions of all of a live eventuality matches from that period, when customarily a finish was aired on TV. A series of those matches validate for holy grail status, too.


Thanks to a arise standalone DVD recorders, YouTube, and record pity all augmenting a accessibility and palliate of pity videos, many collectors were disturbed that there were never going to be new finds—that what we have now was all we were expected ever to get. WWE Network is entrance to a rescue on that front, and while a graduation is distant from ideal and a network had a bit of a severe start, Hidden Gems suggests that someone there know what creates wrestling fans tick. Hidden Gems is an astonishing adore letter—and gift—to a hardcores. As private collectors continue to find some-more as well—camcorders used to be entire during Japanese cards, nonetheless a videos didn’t customarily find their approach to a west until some started digging into Japanese websites recently—there’s a clarity that there might never be a necessity of new aged footage to investigate and enjoy. If you’re a right form of wrestling geek, this is about a best news we could wish to receive.

David Bixenspan is a freelance author from Brooklyn, NY who co-hosts a Between The Sheets podcast each Monday during and everywhere else that podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter during @davidbix and perspective his portfolio during

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