BARON VON RASCHKE AND THE CLAW!!! (And the Minneapolis Street Fight)

Prior to watching the Minneapolis Street Fight, my longtime friend (and fellow lifelong wrestling fan) and I had not spoken in about a week. I wasn’t even sure if he was watching AEW’s Full Gear live. We both watched the event unfold without making any comments to one another, until one glorious moment of the show caused us both to text “YES” simultaneously.

What was this moment?

AEW

FUCKING BARON VON RASCHKE, THE MASTER OF THE IRON CLAW!!!!!!!!

Baron Von Raschke is not unlike Dick the Bruiser or George “the Animal” Steele: wrestlers who were always exactly 60-years-old for the entirety of their careers. I am sure he was exactly 60 in this match against Giant Baba from 1975, which would make him 106 now. He is wrestling’s Dracula, he may as well be 1006.

So, imagine our surprise when Baron Von Raschke, who looks exactly the same, popped up on AEW television. Perhaps he is a “Marvel’s Eternal,” which would explain the power of his Iron Claw after all these years. Look at it’s effect it has while throwing out a first pitch:

The psychotic German got a good pop in the arena, but I don’t think it was just very vocal AWA fans. Perhaps it was not dissimilar to Mad Dog Vachon popping University of Phoenix Stadium by growling like a maniac from his wheelchair. It’s just weird, in a way that everyone can enjoy and appreciate.

WWE

I suppose I can also speak about the match that followed.

Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle battled wrestling superfan Dan Lambert and his UFC-dominating American Top Team, along with the Men of the Year—the men of the year—in a MINNEAPOLIS STREET FIGHT. What are they gonna do, use hockey sticks and bundt cakes lol?

I am admittedly unfamiliar with the successful careers of Junior Dos Santos and Andrei Arlovsky, but I like “bad ass” guys who legitimately “kick ass” in a wrestling context and can forgive any blandness on the lack of Von Raschkes shrieking at them as children on television screens in their native Brazil and Belarus.

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I previously sorta-enjoyed Lambert from his many appearances in Impact and MLW as a red-faced lunatic manscreaming about Jerry Jarrett and Rip Hawk, while displaying his personal collection of old territory title belts, but I like the iteration that throws in tired lines about “triggered millenials” and “cancel culture” a lot less. (It’s better than Joe Gacy, at least.)

A lifelong wrestling fan, Lambert made his fortune with the F-grade Caribbean Cruise Lines, who allegedly have a history of ripping off old people in Florida. He used that money to purchase a respected gym and later form MMA star-factory American Top Team, which seems like a long con to get to this very moment…a match on a pro wrestling pay-per-view.

AEW

A velour-suit-and-headband-clad Lambert, 51, entered with his fighter guys and wrestlers Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky to their “Men of the Year” theme, which is, regrettably, a bop. I highly suggest doing Ethan Page arm dance while watching their entrance video, which features the team modeling menswear while generic fashion captions that might as well be lorem ipsum flash on the screen.

“Fashion is something we deal with everyday…Movies also have a big impact on what people wear. Ray-Ban sold more sunglasses after the movie Men in Black.”

Chris Jericho, also 51, and a fatigue-clad Inner Circle entered. Speaking of fatigue, they came out to “Judas” by Fozzy, which I am very tired of, but kinda like watching see who’s got a patient partner, supportive of their weird hobby.

 

Santana & Ortiz are doing the Dead Presidents thing forever now, which is cool, but Ortiz is doing a weird Paul Stanley version, so points are deducted. Hager’s only positive is doing fighting with real fighter guys, so we got a little of that. At the start, Sky and Guevara did a bunch of flashy spots, but I was admittedly still mostly thinking of the Baron.

Excalibur on commentary explained the “plunder” at ringside was all Minnesota-based inventions, and suddenly I was INVESTED in this match. This included:

  • Hockey sticks
  • A water ski
  • A bundt cake pan (!)
  • Prince’s symbol (!) (causing a “Purple Rain” chant)
  • A toaster (!) (causing a “toaster” chant)

Next, Santana and Ortiz channeled their inner Edith Surreal and made a beautiful “accidental renaissance” which was interrupted by Sammy throwing a football, because he hates art I guess.

As the match continued, Santana and Ortiz gave Junior Dos Santos his career-first superplex, Sammy channeled his inner Jeff Hardy and did a Swanton Bomb, and Ethan Page started yelling at Hager’s wife Catalina.

And then…the best thing in the world happened. Chekhov’s Von Raschke got its payoff!

Minneapolis legend Baron Von Raschke locked on THE DREADED IRON CLAW (and really made a meal out of it). And despite not even doing it for a few seconds, Page felt the skull-crushing effects that took down the likes of Verne Gagne and Bruno Sammartino. I almost hoped they’d put a red X over the screen for younger fans who may be traumatized by it.

A security guard was used as a boost for Ortiz to splash into a bunch of young wrestlers (I hope) before Chris Jericho attacked Dan Lambert with a kendo stick (presumably invented in St. Paul), a stapler (hmm a Philly invention), and an always-nice Eddie Guerrero tribute frog splash (El Paso) for the victory after a very dumb fun match.

It did its job as a fun palette cleanser after a long night of good wrestling. And while we quickly moved into a rushed announcement of a Tomohiro Ishii AEW debut and the main event, my mind, and my friend’s mind…stayed on…THE CLAW.

AEW

THE CLAW.

AEW

THE CLAW!

AEW

THE CLAW!!!

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Brett Davis

Brett Davis is an Andy Kaufman Award-winning comedian best known for a series of misguided projects like The Podcast For Laundry, The Special Without Brett Davis, and currently hosting WFMU’s Wrestling Club with Darren & Brett, a podcast about the thing.

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