Inducted by Maverick
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“Here comes the Ax! And here comes the Smasher! We’re Demolition, walking disaster! Flagrant destruction is heading your way!”
Announced by their brilliant glam metal entrance music, bedecked in Mad Max biker fetish gear, faces luridly painted like extras from KISS, accompanied by the bowler hatted Mr Fuji, Demolition were a larger than life staple of the WWF’s first boom period in the late 80s and early 90s, tag team champions first as heels, and later as babyfaces. Ax and Smash were underrated workers who tore it up in the tag division’s most iconic and important era, battling fellow face painted bruisers The Powers of Pain, the technical excellence of the Hart Foundation, the high flying Strike Force, and the Heenan sponsored Colossal Connection.
Demolition came about as the WWF’s answer to the NWA’s wildly popular Road Warriors, who were similarly inspired by the Mad Max series of movies.Veteran grappler Bill Eadie had wrestled for Vince and his father on and off for years, as well as spending some time down in Atlanta. Accounts differ over whether he pitched the Demolition gimmick to Vince or vice versa, but nevertheless, Eadie was paired with Randy Colley (most famously known by his Moondog Rex gimmick) and the pair were named Ax and Smash. However, during tapings of Superstars, fans almost immediately began chanting “Moondog” at Colley (in days when the kayfabe integrity of a character’s gimmick was very important), forcing Vince to replace him. Barry Darsow, who became Smash from March 14th 1987 onwards, was hand picked for the gig by Eadie because he thought that WWF fans would be unlikely to recognise Darsow, who had worked almost exclusively down south for Jim Crockett.
Rise to the Top
With those teething problems over, Demolition were booked incredibly dominantly, running through all of the established babyface teams of the time, including The Killer Bees and The Young Stallions. At Survivor Series ‘88 they made their debut in one of those insane ten team matches with twenty wrestlers standing on the apron at once, but they were subject to a double disqualification for shoving referee Dave Hebner. However, their number one contendership for the WWF Tag Team championships was soon established and they went over Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) in one of my absolute favourite tag team matches at Wrestlemania IV – seriously, seek that one out, it’s tremendously put together. If you want to know where some of the inspiration for those Revival vs American Alpha matches came from, look no further. The climax of the match came when Martel had Smash in his Boston Crab finisher, but a distracted referee missed Ax walloping him with Fuji’s cane.
By now, Demolition’s charismatic act was getting cheered by the fans, and they turned face in the summer of 1988 when Mr Fuji double crossed them in favour of the Powers of Pain (The Warlord and The Barbarian). The resulting feud would go on for almost a year, until Wrestlemania V, when Demolition retained their tag titles in a handicap match against Fuji and the Powers. In the process, they eclipsed the record for the longest run with the tag team championships, going past the 370 day reign of the Valiant Brothers and eventually going all the way to 478 days with the belts, finally dropping them to the Brain Busters amidst interference from Andre The Giant, but regained them in October 1989.
Demolition as Triad
Andre The Giant would loom large as an obstacle to Demolition, as he and Haku (The Colossal Connection) took the tag belts off them in December 1989, leading to a Wrestlemania VI match where Demolition isolated Haku and finished him off before Andre could even tag in (in reality, Andre’s physical condition was so bad by that time that he was unable to wrestle). Following the addition of Crush (Brian Adams) to the team a month later, Demolition would turn heel and use the Freebird rule when defending their titles. Adams was added to the team because Bill Eadie developed a severe allergy to shellfish that took a toll on his health and Vince was worried that he might have to take time out. At Summerslam 1990, Smash and Crush started the classic two out of three falls match with The Hart Foundation, with Ax later subbing in illegally, only for the Legion of Doom (formally the very Road Warriors that Demolition were patterned after) to interfere and allow Bret and The Anvil to triumph.
End of Demolition & Brief Look at Crush
Following that Summerslam loss, Demolition were never really the same. All three members participated in Survivor Series 1990 as a part of Mr Perfect’s team, but they were wiped out by The Ultimate Warrior and Texas Tornado. Eadie left the WWF soon after, and by 1991, Darsow and Adams were quietly disbanded and repackaged as The Repo Man and Kona Crush respectively. Although Brian Adams was heavily pushed between Wrestlemania IX and X, he never quite made it to the top level, and after participating in the Gang Wars storyline, first as part of the Nation of Domination, and then as part of The Disciples of the Apocalypse, he went to WCW and formed Kronik with Brian Clark (formerly Adam Bomb in WWF), which was an eerily similar big man apocalyptically styled tag team to Demolition. Infamously, Kronik were brought into the InVasion storyline in 2001 for a single pay-per-view match at Unforgiven and then future endeavoured immediately afterwards.
While Eadie and Darsow made a living on the convention circuit, Adams sadly died in 2007 aged just 43. Like so many wrestlers from that first boom period, he accidentally overdosed on strong painkillers and muscle relaxants. Since then, Eadie and Darsow have made themselves persona non grata with Vince by twice suing him, once for the rights to the Demolition trademark (they lost) and later as part of a class action lawsuit brought by former employees of the WWF/E regarding head trauma. In a typically cynical and petty act of revenge, New Day were booked to eclipse Demolition’s 478 day title record, and of course, it seems unlikely that Demolition will be heading into the actual WWE Hall of Fame any time soon, which is a massive pity.
When you look back at the history of tag team wrestling, there really aren’t many teams at all that have the CV that Demolition do. Record holders for almost 30 years, three time tag champs, prominent matches at the big four from 1988 to 1990. They may have started out as a copycat project, but they became so much more than that. We remember them for their intensity in the ring, their larger than life look, and of course, that utterly iconic theme. It is my pleasure and my honour to induct Demolition into the LOP/WH Hall of Fame, class of 2020!
- 3-time WWE Tag Team Champions
- 2nd longest Tag Team Title Reign in WWE history