Portland Wrestling has some really high-quality matches, especially featuring these two. But even the best of us have off nights.
July 3, 1982
Pacific Northwest Wrestling
Buddy Rose. More than Nick Bockwinkel, Jerry Lawler, or even Ric Flair, it's hard to think of a single wrestler who made a career out of doing so much with so little on the opposite side of the ring. All three of these wrestlers are considered shining examples of wrestlers who can get a good match out of the proverbial broomstick, and rightfully so. Still, Flair had Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, and Jumbo Tsuruta. Lawler had Bill Dundee and Austin Idol. Bockwinkel had Rick Martel and Billy Robinson. Who did Buddy Rose have?
The Pro Wrestling Only forums was home to a renewed love for Buddy Rose a few years back, a love that only seemed to strengthen the more that everyone involved watched more matches. I remember an offline conversation where I asked one of the most prominent members of that discussion, "Who's his [Jerry Lawler career rival Bill] Dundee?"
"He doesn't have one," this person replied.
Looking at match lists, that seems to be true. It's not that Rose never had quality opposition. He faced Rick Martel, Roddy Piper, Matt Borne, and Dynamite Kid. The problem he ran into, however, was one of timing. We usually refer to great wrestlers as mechanics. Buddy Rose was more of a gardener.
Curt Hennig became an excellent wrestler, and quickly so at that. When this match happened, Hennig was probably only six months away from being a really great performer. He was so great at a young age that Ric Flair once opined that as great of a worker as Hennig was, he was never as good as he was when he was young. Hennig also idolized Rose and grew to see him as his own compass. When dismissing booking or match ideas, Hennig argued many times that "Buddy Rose would never do that" when providing his reasoning.
When this match happened, Hennig still didn't quite understand what it was that Buddy Rose would never do. The match is focused on knee injuries that both men have suffered in pre-match angles and it's an explicit storyline point that both men are expected to target each other's knees. At one point, babyface Hennig goes after Rose with a chair in a moment of retribution and just completely obliterates him, but he uses so many chairshots that they quickly lose meaning? There's no logic underpining the weapon shots. Instead of hitting a guy with a chair ten times in a row, why not get him with one shot and make it count? It makes the rest of the match a bit preposterous, especially in an environment where wrestling holds are put over as devastating and are legal and weapons shots are considered beyond the pale and are illegal.
In most cases, a no-disqualification match between two well-regarded wrestlers with both coming in with knee injuries, one where the crowd is so excited that they're specifically chanting for Curt to break Buddy's leg, would be great before it even begins. This match never came close to being something at that level, but for those of us who enjoy following patterns over time, we got something even better. The great matches would come with time. For the better part of a half hour, we saw Curt Hennig sit under the learning tree.