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  1. KB8

    Wrestling At The Chase/St. Louis Wrestling Club

    There's a Murdoch/Andre match from '84 on the New Japan handheld stuff. Really fun seven minutes mostly built around shtick, as Andre was starting to break down by then. In '79 it probably would've been sensational.
  2. I basically remembered nothing about this. It's weird as well, because at least one new Fantastics v Dundee/Mantell match was unearthed during the great summer of NWA On Demand, yet my excitement for that wasn't through the roof. Clearly I was a fucking idiot and forgot what a good thing looks like because this ruled like a bastard and the fact there's another one out there is very awesome. It got lots of time, which meant we got LOTS of Dundee and Mentell Memphis horse-shittin' it up to a molten crowd. My favourite was the hide the foreign object shtick. Dundee hid it in his mouth, his trunks, his kneepad, a new place every time the ref' checked him. When they take over on Rogers - with a foreign object shot, of course - they largely beat the crap out of him while interspersing it with punches or karate thrusts or ACTUAL foreign object shots to the throat (Mantell's whip being the object of choice). It was an awesome heat segment and Rogers was at the peak of his powers selling it. There were a couple points where he was thiiiis close to tagging out, probably close enough where it would've been hard to suspend your disbelief if it was someone else milking it, but Rogers walks that line perfectly with his selling and you buy him as being totally out on his feet, just that half a second too slow to reach out before Dundee or Mantell can scramble to intercept. Tommy Gilbert takes another awesome ref' bump, pretty much having Fulton powerbombed straight into his face, then we get a great finish with Fulton turning a double team into his own advantage. The Mid-South set had some of the best US tags of the 80s and this felt like it could hang tough with the real high-enders.
  3. This was like the first half of an awesome arena match plugged into a TV setting, and where it would ordinarily be disappointing that the other half of that awesome arena match never materialised, you forgive it because it was presented within the package of an awesome Watts TV angle instead. It's for the North American title and before the bell Butch Reed gets in to say he's challenging the winner. "That's all I've got to say." Murdoch walks up to the mic: "Well if that's all you've got to say then walk on out and sit down." Babyface Murdoch rules because he retains more than a few traits of heel Murdoch, he just implements them a little more...loveably? The opening few minutes are based around both guys being tied together at the arm, taking each other over with armdrags, working the front chancery, both of them really grinding the forearm across the jaw, just all around surliness from two guys you expect that of. They go back and forth for a bit after that, then Tommy Gilbert takes a killer ref' bump and the shenanigans start. First Bob Sweetan interferes on Williams' behalf, so Reed jumps in from ringside to even the odds. During all of this Murdoch hasn't actually seen Reed OR Sweetan in there, as the latter blindsided him when Murdoch was going for the brainbuster. Eventually Reed gets caught and falls onto Murdoch, so when Murdoch comes to again he just assumes it was Reed who clocked him in the first place, not Sweetan. Murdoch throwing amazing punches on a redneck rampage is a truly beautiful sight and this was the sort of thing Watts excelled at throughout this period. Just super fun TV wrestling, and it adds some fire to the upcoming Reed/Murdoch match I thought was an absolute stone cold classic when I last watched it.
  4. This was what it was. I could count on one hand the amount of people I'd put ahead of Reed on a favourite wrestlers list and still have fingers left to spare, but I've seen these Flair matches before and I wasn't all that excited about revisiting any. Especially not the longest of them, and this one goes an hour. You know what you're getting with Flair. He'll either start out sporting and progressively unravel, or he'll be unravelled in the first place and just get worse. By this point him and Reed already had beef, so we got the latter and he was throwing cheapshots and begging off inside a minute. I liked the first third and final ten minutes well enough. That first twenty minutes is largely Reed working a headlock and...look, it was fine. Sometimes it was even really good because Reed has an awesome grinding headlock and it always looks like he's trying to wring a guy's head off. Flair will go for the shinbreaker and Reed will just grind the hell out of that headlock until Flair's equilibrium is shot to bits. They milk Flair grabbing the tights to try and roll him up, Reed gets annoyed and throws mounted punches, back to the headlock they go. Flair isn't all that interesting working holds from below but I can get by. They then transition into working a font facelock and I'll always like the spot where Flair tries to suplex his way out of it only for Reed to hold on, roll over and squeeze even harder. They lose me a bit in the middle though, and part of that isn't really their fault as there's a jump in the film and we miss about ten minutes. It's just that before long I'm kind of waiting for the bell to ring and that's never a good sign. Last twenty minutes are your Flair on the Ropes extended finishing run. Objectively it worked because the heat built and built, and they did some stuff I liked a lot. Reed has awesome punches and he threw many of them, great combos that were capped off with his big winding uppercut. Obviously he works the leg and applies the figure-four, but I liked the twist here with him refusing to let go even when Flair got to the ropes and the ref' being powerless to do anything about it. That no DQ stip came into play best of all when they started hucking each other over the top rope and we got a couple great splats to the concrete, including one of Flair's best off an uppercut. Flair just picking Reed up and crotching him on the ropes was another great spot, basically kicking off his only semi-extended run of offence the entire match. Reed's shoulder tackle off the top was absolutely top banana as well and maybe if he wasn't so fatigued he'd have hit the gorilla press slam in time. I guess I'd have liked Flair to work a bit more from above. I get the rationale behind him not doing that and I did think he looked like a hardy bastard for toughing it out, but like Sleaze I thought Reed needed to overcome a little more. Tommy Gilbert was also kind of annoying at points. I eventually got used to him going through the set the first time, but he has a touch of the Kiniskis about him where he wants to be super involved, and it stifled some of the stooging Flair would do in the corner. A few times you wished Reed would actually pull the trigger and put him on his arse.
  5. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) with Jim Cornette, defend the NWA World Tag Team Titles I can't tell you how much I loved this. My tastes have changed in some fairly substantial ways over the years, but I think your tried and true southern tag worked in front of a hot crowd will be one type of wrestling match I'll never tire of. It doesn't need to be complicated. A solid babyface shine, a solid heat segment, a nice little run to the finish...even that, the most basic play on the formula, will usually be enough to keep me halfway engaged. From a layout standpoint this was as simple as you could get. It had two actual transitions the entire match and it was barely ten minutes long and it was balls to the wall great. The crowd are batshit nuclear and the Road Warriors are just stupid over. They're one of those acts that basically anybody could get behind, that sort of larger-than-life presence that can mesmerize you, completely badass, yet talking about growing up on the streets of Chicago and having to fight for everything in life keeps them grounded just enough to be somewhat relatable. About eight tenths of this landed absolutely perfectly. I'm a sucker for wrestlers who are built like the side of a fire engine doing unexpected athletic shit and if Animal's leapfrog never had me on the floor then his fucking dropkick surely did. Condrey and Eaton's stooging during the shine was something to behold. They did all of the overt stuff to perfection - the temper tantrum by Condrey where he threatened to walk out, every one of Eaton's bumps - but the subtle stuff is what puts them on that GOAT pedestal. Eaton trying to point out that Hawk is behind Condrey without giving the game away, how Cornette confers with them to change strategy, how they position themselves in the ring as if they're actually trying to create separation between both Road Warriors, it's all awesome. There was one amazing sequence where Eaton tried to basically run away only to be gorilla press slammed - from the floor - over the top rope and back into the ring, just to get smashed back out and clotheslined on the concrete, while Condrey was busy getting knocked around inside the ring by Hawk. Hebner pretty clearly sees Cornette walloping Animal with the tennis racket for the big transition, but you forgive that seconds later when Hawk chases Cornette around and through the ring. This jacked up monster of a guy being mere centimeters from grabbing Cornette's coat as he escapes out the other side was like something from a horror movie (though in this movie you want the monster to actually succeed). Nobody drags referees and wrestlers out of position during a heat segment like the Midnights and Condrey's mean mugging to draw Hawk in was phenomenal. Everybody knows he has no chance if Hawk actually gets a hold of him, just like the Midnights have no chance to win if the match stays on the level, but Condrey's banking on wee Earl Hebner to play meat shield long enough for Cornette to jab Animal in the throat with that racket. You totally buy Hawk as the kind of lunatic who can't help but bite on everything as well. At one point he cleared the top rope and I'm not sure Condrey expected him to move quite like that. Someone in the crowd got so enraged they even threatened to throw a table! If I could've asked for one thing it would've been another Animal hope spot before the hot tag, but that hot tag was blistering all the same and Hawk annihilating folk was outstanding. I also don't think I've seen a crowd so annoyed by a Dusty Finish. This was before everybody and their granny expected it, so the jeers and outrage were directed at the Midnights escaping with the belts rather than whoever booked another finish like that. I need to see every match these teams ever had together.
  6. KB8

    What are you watching?

    I've been going through '86 Crockett on and off throughout this year, mostly on Will's Four Horsemen and Midnight Express comps. I've also been going through bits of World Championship Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic TV on the Network, and I picked up every episode of Worldwide recently. I haven't been watching EVERYTHING, only the stuff that interests me, but the year has so much awesome stuff going on that I end up watching about 90% of it anyway. Like the back half of '85, the booking is stellar. I'm up to the Crockett Cup (April 19th) and it's been built up extremely well. Basically everybody feels important for one reason or another, the top of the card is stacked, the tag division is stacked, the low-to-high midcard is super fun and even your borderline enhancement talents like Mike Jackson will often stand out and be great (often in tags against the MX or in singles against a Tully or Arn or Black Bart). Some guys will have one or two feuds going at the same time and they'll sometimes intertwine, but the booking never feels confused or haphazard. So Flair is feuding with Dusty, but he now has major beef with Morton and there's the lingering issue with Garvin that hasn't been settled. Dusty is chasing Flair's title, but he's still got the Tully beef. Tully had the Dusty and Magnum feuds running almost simultaneously at the end of '85, then focused more specifically on Dusty, and now he and Arn just broke Garvin's hand so that's about to kick off as well. As of mid-April Morton is at war with Flair, which we know is building towards the Bash, but him and Gibson are still feuding with the Midnights for the tag belts. The Midnights have the RnRs feud but are also feuding with the Road Warriors, while the Road Warriors have the Russians to contend with at the same time. While there'll be some crossover, each individual feud still feels unique and singular in a wholly positive sense. It's sort of astounding how well it's all booked and I can't praise it highly enough. The 1/4/86 episode of World Championship Wrestling might be the GOAT episode of TV for wrestling promos. There were like eleven absolute corkers on this. Baby Doll is OUT as Tully's perfect 10 and JJ Dillon is IN as executive director of Tully Blanchard Enterprises. Apparently JJ had given Baby Doll a ticket to go to Acapulco as a Christmas present from Tully, but Tully never knew about it and so Baby Doll had basically skipped without telling him. They recap the official split that happened on Worldwide as Baby Doll tries to explain the situation, JJ denies it and so Tully slaps her across the face for stepping out of line. She's been bought and paid for and she belongs to him. Of course Dusty comes out and saves her and says she doesn't belong to Tully any longer, "SHE'S MINE NOW, DADDY!" This feud is so fucked by modern standards. The first time around, back in mid-'85, Dusty came across as a way bigger prick than Tully despite Dusty being the babyface, now Tully naturally comes off worse as he physically struck her, but Dusty deciding she's now his doesn't play so great through modern eyes (or any eyes, but you know what I mean). Have to love Dusty saying that Tully broke the sacred rule by putting his hands on a woman and it's totally unforgivable when six months ago Dusty was making her shovel literal horse shit, dragging her around arenas by the hair and trying to rip her clothes off on TV. The 80s were wild, y'all. The Four Horsemen is very much a thing now btw, as Tully outright refers to them as that in his interview, then Arn and Flair do the same later. Ole is out injured as Dusty gets major payback for the broken ankle. Him and the Road Warriors basically do the same thing to Ole as Flair and the Andersons did to Dusty but of course Tully, Arn and Flair say it's totally reprehensible. It's okay though, because JJ and Tully know how to get back at Dusty and they'll take him down using the domino effect, starting with Dusty's long-time confidante Jimmy Valiant. Dusty has a couple promos on this episode that are incredible. He may not look like Ric Flair with all them muscles, but that's because he likes the night life just a little bit more than the gym and as long as he's still making half a million dollars a year he doesn't give a damn. He also took out Ole - "the head of the family" - and he's coming for Arn next. There was a cool bit on an episode of Worldwide where Baby Doll came out and threw a big leg cast at Arn, clearly a PORTENT of what's to come, and Arn about shit himself and refused to touch it like it was cursed. Flair is on another planet working THE STICK~ right now. This is easily the highest I've been on Flair in aaaaages. He's so much easier to digest when you're not watching a bunch of lengthy title matches on the spin. With the Horsemen set (or just watching the TV each week, interspersed with the arena footage) you get to see the angles, the interviews, the shorter studio matches where he's either outright squashing Rocky King or working semi-competitive with Sam Houston or having a total potatofest with Ronnie Garvin, the tag matches, and THEN the lengthier title defences. The lengthier matches are still generally my least favourite, but I even enjoyed one of the Dusty title defences from February when I didn't think I ever needed to see another Flair/Dusty match. He cuts three promos on the January 4th episode of WCW and all three are amazing. In the first one he addresses the Ole injury and loud Dusty chants in the crowd has him telling someone to keep their mouth shut or they'll be on the outside looking in. "Can you imagine this? My interview time and I gotta put up with these idiots." His cousin Ole can't compete in the greatest spot in the world, professional wrestling, because of a HEINOUS attack by Dusty Rhodes. He goes off on one about Dusty's earlier interview where he was talking about making half a milly in a year. "I spent more money on spilled booze with Leona Helmsley last Sunday night sitting on my lap than you've made in the last six months. You know why? Because I am legitimately a Big. Deal." He then goes off on Baby Doll who betrayed one of his best friends in the world, and now that she's on the other side of the tracks he doesn't have to worry about hurting Tully's feelings. "I never liked you to begin with! I've seen better on the backside of the worst days of my life!" Flair brings up a night in Philadelphia where she almost got to ride Space Mountain but Flair turned her down even after she repeatedly knocked on his hotel door. "God bless America and god bless Ric Flair. WOO!" Of course later in the show Baby Doll says it was HIM who was chasing HER that and she turned him down because of "a size issue." She then asks, "Why settle for one ride when I can have the whole park?" and I guess Flair has a wee pecker and Dusty doesn't? Either way Flair is fucking apoplectic and does that bit where he's like "next time you ride Space Mountain you'll be like this" and lies on the floor like he's in a sex come or something. Fuck if I know but it's great shit either way. The January TV title tournament from Greensboro is clipped up a bit by whoever recorded it but Arn/Garvin and Tully/Wahoo looked like fun matches. Tully is a tremendous worker and I guess I forgot that because I haven't paid attention to him in so long. He looks as good as anybody in the world around this period. Fans are chanting "I QUIT" at him all through the match and JJ gets on the mic and says "the next person who says I quit will be ejected." Folk naturally go full on apeshit and chant all the louder. We never got much of the final but hey, Arn came good on his promise and walked out the television champion of the world. There isn't an exact date on it, but the impromptu Flair/Tully v Dusty/Magnum match from one of the January arena shows looked absolutely great. Insane crowd, double juice from the babyfaces, pretty much all you could want in a heated southern tag. It had some unfortunate clipping but the twelve or minutes we got were awesome. I wish we got more of Flair working tags because he's an excellent tag wrestler. Like in the Flair/Arn v Dusty/Garvin tag from the 2/22 episode of Worldwide. It lasts about four minutes and in the running for best sub-five minute match ever. Flair/Garvin cage match from Greensboro (3/29) was also incredible and up there with anything those two have done together. The Tully/Arn v Dusty/Wahoo double strap match from the same show was a super awesome little brawl as well. Midnights won the tag titles in February and basically every Midnights/RnRs match is the bomb. Cornette might be the best promo guy in the company in '86 and that is a ridiculously high bar. He gets fined on TV for constantly interfering and he could not give less of a shit because momma can pay that in a second, or he could pay it in cash there and then. "I didn't bring my wallet out here because I figured Bob Caudle would try to get in my pocket." The following week Jim Crockett Jr. gives him another fine, but this time he's no longer allowed to bring the tennis racket to ringside and he goes ballistic. His chemistry with Caudle on Mid-Atlantic is great. One week Caudle brings up the Road Warriors and Cornette throws another rager. "I can get up in your face and get just as red as you, you old alcoholic!" Caudle visibly has to stifle a laugh at that because he's a good sport. He has another AMAZING line where he says, "If brains were gasoline, the Road Warriors couldn't propel a flea's motorcycle around a raindrop. You're STUPID!" He basically rips the Road Warriors and RnRs to bits every single time there's a microphone in front of his face. The match with the Road Warriors from 4/18 in Philly (from Cornette's rarities tape) is incredible. I actually think it's the only MX/Road Warriors match I've seen outside the scaffold match, and even then I remember nothing about that. It was ten minutes long, the crowd was surface of the sun level hot and everyone involved was amazing. Might be the best Road Warriors match ever. Speaking of the Road Warriors: they're a hoot every time they're on TV. I remember Legion of Doom promos as a kid where I was just mesmerised by these two maniacs in face paint and spikes shouting about whatever nonsense. "TELL EM', HAWK" was basically my catchphrase as a kid (yes I was a strange child, fuck off). I haven't seen any of the Road Warriors/Russians matches but I really want to see one of those chain matches they're hyping on TV. My favourite Road Warriors promo ever happens on the 2/1 episode of Worldwide. Hawk: "Ever since we were just little punks growing up in Chicago we got pushed around a lot. Then we did somethin' about it and ain't nobody pushin' us around no more, ESPECIALLY not Nikita Koloff, Ivan Koloff, or that stupid lookin' GERMAN. I've HAD IT!" The Flair/Morton feud properly kicks into gear at the end of March. Flair had been taking digs at the RnRs on interviews for weeks, calling them teeny boppers, talking about how he's the world champion and all about the REAL women while all the teenagers in their training bras go loopy for the RnRs. He started out with subtle little jibes but they got progressively more obvious each week, and because the RnRs never responded or even acknowledged it it made Flair sound like an insecure prick. Then on the 3/29 episode of World Championship Wrestling the RnRs have a match with a couple of your ham n eggers. Flair had been out hyping the Crockett Cup and decides to stay out to do commentary on the match. All through it he bigs up the Arn/Tully team, says the Midnight Express with his good friend James Cornette are the best tag team in the world because they have the belts, and of course slips in a jab at Morton and Gibson because they DON'T have those belts. So after the match the RnRs are heading to the back, and Flair obviously can't help himself and calls them over. He pulls a bra out his pocket and says a REAL woman told him to pass it on to Ricky Morton, because Flair likes the woman who are this tall (raises his hand about his own height) and Morton like them this tall (drops his hand to like knee height, which sort of intimates that Morton is a nonce but I don't think that was necessarily the intention). He drops the bra on Morton's head and at this point you can tell Morton has no time for Flair and his bullshit. They have some words, Morton says Flair would be nothing without the people, Flair basically calls him a moron because Ric Flair would be Ric Flair wherever the hell he wants to be, so Morton casually takes off Flair's shades and steps on them. Flair is obviously apoplectic at this and it leads to a quick brawl where Morton humiliates him, which kicks off what's probably my favourite Flair feud ever. Their interactions thereafter are molten hot. Morton strips him to the waist on TV the following week - after Flair came out during a Morton singles match and instigated the whole thing - and Flair of course is incenced afterwards. Says that's twice now Ricky Morton has sucker punched him and Dusty has come to Morton's aid, but now the Horsemen have HIS back and things will be different. Arn says, "That punk kid Ricky Morton is overstepping his boundaries. A wise man knows his limitations. I don't know if you qualify as even BEING a man Morton, but my friend, you've got involved with the Four Horsemen." On the 4/12 episode of WCW they have an impromptu match where Morton scores a "pinfall" on Flair before all hell breaks loose, and you know this is leading to Flair and the Horsemen being total bastards and exacting some hellish revenge. I'll watch the whole Crockett Cup show on the Network once I've caught up with some more TV from the first third of the year. I'm not really interested in seeing any more Flair v Dusty but with two guys so good on THE STICK~ I feel like I owe them my eyeballs for it. Flair's lead-in promo is obviously great. "I don't do jobs in front of 70, 000 people. I walk down that aisle and take care of business, like only Slick Ric can."
  7. If - or perhaps I should say WHEN - I start that Complete & Accurate Black Bart, this gets a stonewall EPIC. What a badass wee match in front of an awesome crowd; a real treat that I wasn't expecting when I flung on a random episode of what was probably Crockett's C-level TV show. I feel like I've barely seen any Black Bart, but every time I have he's great. Just a hulking big presence with an amazing grizzly bear look, super fun bumping and killer looking offence. Houston also should've wound up being a megastar, or at least a moderatestar, and he looked great here with his energy and selling. A perfect combo of two perfect midcarders, stepping up and delivering in a TV main event. I liked how Bart would try and use the ropes to his advantage early, backing Houston into them and wailing on him, throwing a headbutt to the chest, trying to keep Houston from using any of that speed advantage. Loved the bit where Houston snuck underneath one of those blows so it was Bart against the ropes, hit three punches that brought Bart a little closer to teetering over the top each time, then finally sent him out and into the barricade with a dropkick. It was a great bit of milking from Bart, the sort of thing you'd see from your all-time burly giants squeezing every bit of juice out of a pop. Houston works the arm for a little bit and Bart is fun again as a big wounded animal, then he takes over with a huge hotshot and goes TWO-PRONGED with his attack, working the throat and forehead of Houston. It ruled. He'd hotshot Houston across the barricade and choke him across the ropes (and blatantly with his bare hands), then he'd bite and claw at the forehead. Plus he'd sell the arm, my favourite instance being when he hit an AWESOME single-handed delayed backbreaker. It looked fucking spectacular, how he held Houston in the air, damn near vertically, with that one arm doing all the work, letting Houston and everybody watching know what was coming, before snapping him in two with a perfectly executed backbreaker. When Tommy Young took a ref' bump I expected some sort of schmozz finish, but instead we got Houston taking a lunatic bump through the ropes after his visual pinfall, followed by Bart guillotining his head off as he climbed back in (another hotshot-type move! Continuity, motherfucker!). I will now watch every Black Bart Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title defence.
  8. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) defend the NWA World Tag Team Titles Pretty awesome abbreviated version of the classic MX/RnR formula. A few of their spots didn't come off perfectly just yet, but they were clearly starting to mess around with the difficulty sliders and find ways of getting all four involved in sequences (all five if you count Cornette; six if you count the ref'). This happened in Philly and it's cool to see how batshit wild even your non-southern crowds would go for all of this. Someone in the crowd has a sign with Cornette slander on it and Cornette immediately gets heat for throwing a tantrum. In an awesome spot I don't think I've seen them do before, Morton dropkicks Condrey into Eaton on the apron, and Cornette tries and fails incrementally to use his shoulder to keep Eaton from falling off. As Cornette's legs slowly buckle the heat goes up and up and the pop for the house of cards crumbling is why you can imagine this match-up working pretty much anywhere in the world. Morton in peril rules, Condrey dropping knees on his throat rules, Eaton's missed rocket launcher splash rules, even the Dusty Finish rules. Pretty much the definition of "this is pro-wrestling, motherfucker."
  9. Not as good as the previous week's match but I pretty much loved this as well. If nothing else it highlights how Piper is the absolute king of the punch drunk comeback. He has so much energy no matter what he's doing and any time he starts wildly throwing himself into offensive flurries people are hooked. Everything looks frantic, often reckless, never half-baked. It doesn't hurt that he has absurd amounts of charisma. Just fucking lorry-loads of it, so even the most standard of in-ring actions elicits a response. He's also an awesome bumper and I'm not really sure it's talked about enough. His bumping has the same reckless quality his offence has and he about killed himself here with one of the best back drop bumps I've ever seen. It was like an Eddie Guerrero monkey flip bump where his legs would catch the ropes on landing, but it never had the grace of Eddie with the perfect rotation on the flip and instead looked like he was taking a Jerry Estrada bump all the way over the top rope. I have no idea whether he meant it or not and that's really what makes it so crazy. This was a super fun use of the lumberjack stipulation. Piper starts out by just punching Rose in the wrist off a lock-up and obviously that leads to some arm work, because sometimes the simplest course of action is the most effective. Rose takes a huge flat back bump off a kick to the arm and evidently some will hate that, but I loved it to death. His big bump into the corner later off a kneelift was also majestic and one that even the most miserable of the miserable can appreciate. Rose backing Piper into the corner over by Wiskowski so Ed can trip him is your first big transition and the first great use of the stip. The second is Rose continually booting Piper out the ring so Wiskowski can throw him back in as roughly as possible, clearly taking some cheapshots while he's at it. When it's Rose's turn you know he's going to milk it for all it's worth. He's one of the all-time great stooges and I love how he goes absolutely all in on ALL of it. None of this "I'll roll out and you can shove me back in there nice and easy" carry on, he actively tries to run and then leap away from danger and the lumberjacks must EARN THEIR KEEP by securing this projectile of a body and flinging it back in the ring. After about six attempts at this he sort of deflates in defeat, rolls over and looks up to notice Piper standing over him, at which point he about shits himself and everybody loses it. It's an easy comedy spot to throw out there, but the timing of it was impeccable, he played the goof to perfection and you ten thousand percent buy a pissed off Roddy Piper as the last guy you want standing over you in an inescapable situation. Finish is one of the most satisfying bullshit finishes ever as the pop for Brooks coming in through the crowd is monumental. Portland is the greatest and Brooks' post-match promo ("I haven't worn these boots since I came back from Vietnam, but I'm wearing them now because I'm here to FIGHT!") is also the greatest.
  10. KB8

    [1979-05-12-Portland-TV] Buddy Rose vs Roddy Piper

    I needed a change of pace from all the joshi I've been watching recently, so I started going through '79 Portland. Leading up to this Piper and Rose had been teaming together along with Tim Brooks and Wiskowski (like during the awesome 8-man tag from March), then they had the big falling out and spent the last few weeks taking shots at each other. I watched all of this stuff about ten years ago and I thought they turned Piper babyface in the traditional sense, where they had a specific moment that made you go "oh, he's one of the good guys now!" But apparently as this is Portland they just had him wrestle Buddy Rose. Piper was still Piper and mere days before this he was tossing women about the place in a battle royal, stating that their place was in the home doing menial chores, but he's not Buddy Rose and if you're AGAINST Buddy Rose then you will be cheered. Even Bonnema is stunned that people are actually behind Piper and ponders, "who would've thought two, three weeks ago that people would be cheering for Roddy Piper?" The first fall was badass. It picks up from their arena match a few days earlier that I assume wasn't taped, but Bonnema tells us it was a real barn-burner that went all over the place. Piper still has the plaster on his forehead so it doesn't take long for Rose to zero in on it. Some of the close-up camera work is gruesome as Rose just digs his knuckles into the wound and tries to peel it apart like a tangerine. At one point he has Piper in a sort of chinlock where Piper's neck is twisted and Rose is grinding away at that cut. Piper is all cross-eyed with his face contorted and turning purple, like the scene in Casino where Joe Pesci has the dude's head in a vice. There was lots of awesome limb/body part work in this match. It came in short spells as they'd transition out of it and move onto something else, but it was all focused and it made sense when they did move off whatever they'd been doing before. You get some working of THE CUT~, some neck work, some back work, and all of it came about inventively while still feeling organic. After Piper makes his comeback he jabs Rose in the throat - he's still the same Roddy Piper, after all - and starts working the neck. He clubbers the neck in really nasty ways, then we get an awesome end to the fall where he hits a big spinning neckbreaker, picks Rose up at 2 even though the fall is academic, and hits another just to put the exclamation on it. As the second fall starts he keeps up with the neck work, and I don't know if what happened next was entirely intentional but an Irish whip with some extra venom behind it results in the middle turnbuckle breaking off. Rose uses the turnbuckle bolt to choke Piper and that serves as our transition to him eventually working the back (after Roddy spills out to the floor and Rose slams him into the post). Rose was amazing during this, looking semi-crazed trying to stop anybody putting the ring back together, a man with his back truly up against the wall. Picking Piper up at 2 after the first Billy Robinson backbreaker almost leads to Piper making a comeback so I fucking love Rose immediately hitting it again and hooking the leg just to be sure. The third fall starts with Rose jumping Piper before the restart and staying on the back, and even if the finish is maybe a bit of an anticlimax it sure sets us up for the feud kicking into a higher gear. It wasn't just that the pacing, layout and execution all ruled. All those things can be great and a match can still fall flat because the wrestlers don't elevate it. These two were awesome and brought so many moments of individual brilliance to fill all the in-between stuff, to actually bring this thing to life. The selling of exhaustion, the hatred, the setups and payoffs, the way Rose went from begging for his life to immediately tasting blood in the water, the way Piper took his revenge, how they did all of it while leaving so much more on the table. A match-up made in heaven.
  11. This was edited to about half of its 27-minute runtime, although the editing was pretty damn good because it felt fairly complete as it was (I'd never have guessed so much was clipped out before seeing the runtime in the post-match graphic). You can't really judge the whole match (or maybe there's a full version somewhere in which case you can if you bloody well want to), but the 14 minutes we got were really good and Yoshida still looked fucking awesome in 2006. It started with some real Battlartsy grappling and Yoshida dropping punches from the mount, waiting for Tamura to cover up before grabbing a nasty key lock. Again, there may have been lots of dodgy no-selling going on during this and the editing did away with it, but for a match where one woman had their leg worked over and the other had their arm worked over I thought the long-term selling was totally on point, especially from Yoshida. Tamura worked it over initially with some cool fisherman busters where she dropped Yoshida face- and knee-first, and Yoshida never let you forget the knee was a problem the whole way through. Lots of times she'd hit a move and try to knock some feeling into that knee afterwards, or she'd attempt a move, fail, and slap the knee in frustration. The coolest example of it was when she went for a second air raid crash and just about muscled Tamura up, but then the leg buckled and she collapsed under the weight. She was also a machine going after Tamura's arm and I'll be fucked if I know where she got it from but there was one armbar that Han would've been proud of. Late in the match she wound up in the mount again and when Tamura wouldn't give up the arm Yoshida just started dropping Joe Riggs hammer fists on her face. I think this is the first Yoshiko Tamura match I've seen. She was clearly a compatible dance partner for Yoshida. Her grappling was strong, she threw mean forearms, and while her selling of the arm maybe wasn't as good on the whole as Yoshida's selling of the leg I sure bought her tapping on more than one occasion. I liked what was shown of this a lot. And I guess I should check out some more Tamura?
  12. This might be the first and only Cheerleader Melissa match I've ever seen. That seems unlikely considering she's been around forever, but other than her maybe showing up in ROH 12-15 years ago for a Shimmer showcase I can't think of any other reason I'd have been watching her. She'd just turned 20 here so you forgive her for not being great. She kind of worked like a slightly more spry Brian Lee, threw some clunky forearms to the chest, sort of lumbered around like you'd expect from someone who's only previous wrestling experience had been in a fairground. I don't know if it was the plan all along or Yoshida decided to take matters into her own hands but the match largely turned into Yoshida flinging her about the place with tricked out submissions. To Melissa's credit she actually grew into the match a bit and the last few minutes were pretty decent. It went 14 minutes all told and it never felt like that. So there you go.
  13. KB8

    ARSION (The Best Of)

    Michiko Ohmukai v Rie Tamada (ARSION, 8/9/98) Well this had some good Ohmukai and some not so good Ohmuaki. To begin with it was not so good as they did an extended parity stand-off bit and Ohmukai will always struggle with those because she can't really do them in a way that doesn't look obviously choreographed. And parity stand-off sequences usually suck anyway so she's chasing fool's gold even trying it. Thankfully we got way more good Ohmukai than not so good and almost immediately after the stand-off she went about punting Rie in the liver. She threw very many nasty kicks from very many angles. Just volleyed Tamada in the face at one point. They do a sort of duelling arm work match that maybe worked more in theory than in practice, but the back half got pretty damn good. The duelling part falls by the wayside a bit and Tamada's arm mostly gets forgotten about, but everything around Ohmukai's was good. I liked as well how Tamada went after it briefly in the first half without making it a major focus, almost as a bit of FORESHADOWING that we all love in the pro wrestling storytelling. Transitions and selling were kinda wonky at the end but ARSION continues to make great use of that 15 minute time limit. This was a hunner times better than their match from earlier in the year. Ayako Hamada v Candy Okutsu (ARSION, 8/9/98) Pretty cool that this is Ayako's first match in her entire career. It wasn't great, but it feels almost ridiculous to even say that because other than I guess Ronda Rousey who was having a great match in their first ever attempt? Even if they probably overreached a bit with the intricacy of some sequences her armdrags looked really nice. Candy worked pretty surly here and I liked how she'd often shut the door on this wee jumping bean by just cracking her in the jaw with a forearm. For seven minutes this was a perfectly fun debut match, and fro what you're watching it feels like Ayako is actually unique and something special.
  14. KB8

    ARSION (The Best Of)

    Aja Kong v Reggie Bennett (ARSION, 5/5/98) I can deal with wrestlers shrugging off offence early in bouts more than I can during the finishing stretch of a 25 minute match, so the early no-selling of suplexes here didn't bother me much. If anything it was maybe a positive considering these two are BIG, so a couple ass-kickers struggling to deal damage on one other actually feels noteworthy. Also it was like the very first thing they did so you know, whatever. They trade some shots, Reggie manages to avoid the spinning back fist, and with a nifty bit of trickery puts Aja to sleep, all inside three minutes. She might look like the sort who could simply overwhelm everyone else in the company, but she's clearly capable on the mat as well so who knows, maybe that'll be important later in the tournament... Candy Okutsu v Rie Tamada (ARSION, 5/5/98) This was a wee bit sloppy in points, a wee bit no-selly here and there, but the good stuff more than made up for that and by the end I thought it was fairly rockin'. The way they introduced the Tamada shoulder injury was certainly inventive and it worked pretty well for a minute there, leading to some neat dueling limbwork. It starts getting really good when they basically drop that limbwork, which maybe sounds ass backwards, but they drop it in favour of thumping each other in the face really hard so how loudly can we complain? Tamada was throwing absolute forearm cannons and then missile dropkicked Candy dead in the face a couple times for good measure. Last couple minutes feel appropriately frantic as well, with one of the best flash finishes like that I've seen in ages. Really fun match. Mariko Yoshida v Reggie Bennett (ARSION, 5/5/98) So earlier in the tournament it was established that Reggie Bennett is able to not only trade blows - albeit briefly - with Aja Kong, but even take her to the mat and put her to sleep. Yoshida is a different animal entirely, and while she can't throw bombs like Aja she can work the mat to an elite level. As you'd expect she goes right to that, so Reggie has to use every bit of grappling skill along with her clear weight advantage to stay above water. Yoshida is always shifting for position, riding Bennett and looking to grab stray limbs as Reggie tries to basically smother her at points. The story is pretty simple in that respect. Yoshida needs to win with her grappling while Reggie, who's competent on the mat from at least a defensive perspective, is looking to slam Yoshida through the mat. In the back half Yoshida has to do everything a little quicker because Reggie is finding openings and starting to unload. There's a great nearfall where Reggie locks in a similar choke to the one she put Aja away with, and Yoshida is just incredible at milking everything right up to the point she manages to finally grab the ropes. It's not Shawn Michaels flailing around in the ankle lock for five minutes, it's not big an exaggerated where she's playing to the back row of the Omni. It's much more subtle and I love that little moment before the break where she reaches the hand out, misses the rope by a millimetre, looks all but done for, but then with her one remaining bit of energy she weakly wraps her fingers around it before getting put out like a light. I've said it a few times on this dumb blog and it still rings true - she might be the very best ever at milking a submission nearfall. Of course this whole thing was badass. Reggie Bennett v Candy Okutsu (ARSION, 5/5/98) The final! I think I this was maybe alright, but it was a couple weeks ago now and I remember little. I apologise deeply for such an in-depth review. Candy Okutsu & Michiko Ohmukai v Rie Tamada & Yumi Fukawa (ARSION, 6/21/98) The first ten things Ohmukai did in this: one - sidestep a dropkick; literally the other nine - kick someone dead in the face. I wasn't huge on this as it was less ARSION and more garden variety midcard sprint you could find on most joshi cards. They were fairly liberal with the transitions and momentum shifts and never bothered too much with the selling, though at this point I suppose I can handle a 12-minute joshi sprint for what it is. Ohmukai booting people in the mouth was by far the highlight, but she's one of those women where the pendulum will swing from being pretty awesome to pretty bad on a match to match basis, or sometimes even within one match. Throwing dangerous spin kicks under the chin? That'll work. Trying all sorts of contrived sequences where she struggles with the setups? I'd rather not. We got both Ohmukais in this and unfortunately it was more of the latter. Mariko Yoshida v Aja Kong (ARSION, 6/21/98) I watched this last year so skipped over it this time, but my memory of it is that it was really good while leaving you feeling like they have something better in them. I still haven't seen their match from '99 so I'm pretty hyped for that. Michiko Ohmukai v Mikiko Futagami (ARSION, 7/21/98) The pendulum swings back! Ohmukai working as Battlarts crowbar is very much the best Ohmukai and this was badass as fuck. Just a gritty, nasty little scrap. Straight at the bell Ohmukai slaps away a handshake and everything they did from then on out had some malice behind it. Initially it was more tetchy, where you knew they WANTED to throttle each other but tried to keep a lid on it, but by the midpoint the lid had blown and potatoes were flying everywhere. Derisory little slaps to the head morphed into full on palm strikes under the nose. Ohmukai refused to break clean out the corner and threw about a dozen knees, so the first chance Futagami had to retaliate she Wanderlei punted her in the cheekbone. The matwork kept pace with the strikes and got progressively meaner the longer it went. During some of the chokes it looked like the recipient's tongue was turning purple and Futagami's chicken-wing was absolutely brutal. They end up on the top turnbuckle at one point, Ohmukai looking like she's on her last legs, and Futagami's "this one's for you, motherfucker" to a rabid middle-aged male Ohmukai fan was sensational (I imagine Ohmukai had a goodly number of those fans. You won't need more than one guess as to why). Loved the finish as well, with things getting really desperate as the 15 minute time limit approaches. Ohmukai throws a straight right to the jaw (amazing spot) and goes for the kill, but Futagami slaps her silly and grabs a choke in the middle of the ring. Either our crazy Ohmukai fan and his one-man percussion section can lend her enough strength to see out the time limit or Futagami can lock it in deep enough before the bell goes. They really worked the hell out of that time limit drama and other than a couple ropey fighting spiritish moments this was fantastic. Rie Tamada v Yumi Fukawa (ARSION, 7/21/98) This was a little hectic at times and they probably overreached a bit, but on the whole I thought they managed to tell a fairly coherent story with well-established roles. After teaming together on the last show I guess this was sort of Fukawa's coming of age tale against a slightly more established opponent. Tamada is more strikes and bombs while Fukawa is more sudden submissions and counters from everywhere. The dynamic worked pretty nicely. The best examples were Tamada hitting hitting a couple brutal missile dropkicks - one to the face followed by one to the back of the head - and Fukawa using the swanky rolling cross-armbreaker at the end, just when it looked like Tamada was going to finish her off. I'm looking forward to watching the Fukawa/Yoshida matches again from the following year and it's cool tracking Fukawa's progress over the course of 1998 as well. She's maybe the most fun blend of lucha and your Toryumon style junior heavyweight in the company at this point in time.
  15. These two motherfuckers. Two people doing this to each other is insane regardless, but I suppose it's been par for the course for these two going on a quarter century now so we can't really be surprised they're still at it in their fifties. Somehow they seem to add even more brutal wrinkles to every encounter, this one their first in nearly a decade. It was very much Ikeda v Ishikawa in all the ways Ikeda v Ishikawa is amazing, but at the same time this was maybe their most unique match together. Part of that is obviously the setting. Even though most if not all of the people in attendance would've been familiar with both guys and everything they're about, there was still a sense of "what in the fuck are these two old men doing to each other?" You could tell from the reactions that some in the crowd were mortified at what they were seeing. And then there was the referee, who had a few amusing interactions with both of them without it ever feeling like a planned comedy spot. He couldn't quite believe what he was happening either and it showed in how he winced at every headbutt or punch or kick. And good grief the headbutts and punches and kicks. They trade blows early, but not in your Okada/Tanahashi forearm exchange sort of way where it's all about the machismo and which good looking young gentleman is the most rugged. The entire history of Ishikawa and Ikeda is built on them being the toughest bastards in wrestling, both of them alone on top of that particular mountain, so their strike exchanges have a whole different level of not being a monkey show. And in very un-Okada/Tanahashi fashion they ditched the forearms and chops for straight punches and headbutts, every single one of them landing with a disgusting thud, leaving bloody smears on foreheads, Ikeda just about breaking his hand on Ishikawa's cranium. Their last singles match before this had a running thread of Ikeda throwing headbutts over and over despite Ishikawa being a Fujiwara trainee, thus having an indestructible head. Yet Ikeda would keep throwing those headbutts, even at great cost to his own brain cells, until he finally toppled Ishikawa. They carried that over to this and when Ikeda threw his first headbutt Ishikawa just came up smiling. Ikeda would keep trying it, keep clonking him with absurd headbutts, and Ishikawa would pretty much always come out on top. Through insane, disturbing persistence Ikeda eventually won out, just like he did in their last match, but the running headbutt he had to use to do so was truly vile. The roundhouse kick at the end was out of this world ridiculous and fully warranted the gasps of horror from our Oberhausen crowd.