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  1. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Bill Dundee vs Jerry Lawler - Memphis 6/6/83 Loser Leaves Town The Little Aussie, Bill Dundee, sure did cause a big stink with his dyed jet black hair and his bad reputation. The King was trying to be diplomatic and amicably part ways with his former tag partner citing irreconcilable differences. Dundee wanted to make sure those differences were known and that was he tired of living in the shadow of the King and he was sick of everyone taking the King's side. So the King tells you all I am a nice guy so you like me and now that Lawler tells you I ain't you don't like me very much. Personally, I agree with Dundee that's a bit fucked up. You should like someone on their own merits not because someone else's opinion of that person. The way the Superstar went about it, well I can't condone. He name-called Lawler, he interfered in his matches, and he manhandled and took advantage of younger wrestlers (Tommy Rogers, Ricky Morton etc...) to prove a point. You got a problem with Lawler take it out on Lawler, you prick, mano y mano. He ends up winning the Southern Heavyweight Championship and this leads to a Loser Leaves Town match. Memphis TV devotes an entire TV show to build to this match and it is simply awesome. Covering so many different angles about what it means to have a Loser Leaves town match between the two biggest superstars of the promotion. I highly recommend watching it before this match. I just finished watching Lawler face Terry Funk and Dutch Mantell, two excellent punchers, but goddamn if Bill Dundee does not have the sweetest punch this side of Jerry "The King" Lawler. Hot Dog! Those were some beauties. The match was interesting to me because this did not feel like a blood feud battle. This was not Slaughter/Sheik or Magnum/Tully. It was a bit closer to Duggan/DiBiase. It was a classic feel-good match. Yes, it was a stand-up contest, but everything was built around feel good spots. Dundee missing moves early, bailing at the threat of a punch, and selling a punch like death. Then Dundee hits a pair of bulldogs, only on the third to be crotched on the top rope. These are great feel-good spots that bring a smile to my face, but this not visceral hatred that Slaughter/Sheik and Magnum/Tully provide. I am a-ok with that because I can appreciate Star Wars as much as I can appreciate Gangs of New York. I really like the touch of all the other wrestlers and managers watching the match from the front row adds to the gravity. Dundee looked nervous and skiddish at the start making mistakes, but when Lawler gets a little cocky by playing to the crowd with the face Dundee starts unloading some fists. The beginning shows the risk of movement and if Dundee can stand and punch with Lawler he may have a better chance. They knock heads and the playing field seems levelled. Dundee gets a nice straight right and Dundee sticks with his game plan of movement hitting a top rope headbutt. The smaller Dundee needs the momentum to cause more damage, but is trying to use the punch to set this up. He comes flying into the corner with a high knee and takes a nasty spill outside the ring. Lawler punches him right in the face, but misses the top rope legdrop. I like how high risk moves are portrayed in this match. They are home runs that both men desperately want to hit in this high stakes match, but miss at the outset because they have not damaged the other enough. Dundee hits a piledriver but his knee is fucked up from the previous high knee he tried in the corner. Awesome! It is a piledriver where he falls off to the right side. Dundee is limping and Lawler is grabbing his right hip. Memphis does such a great job selling these injuries and making every move and miss mean so much. Dundee loads the boot and hits a sliding dropkick. Dundee takes over on Lawler on the outside and hits some of the bets punches you will ever see. Memphis gets a ton of deserved credit for some of the best punches ever, but what needs to be mentioned is how well the wrestlers sell a punch. It makes those punches mean even more. Dundee works the King of Mountain ramming him into post and splitting Lawler open above the eye. Lawler takes his bump off the apron onto the table. Once Lawler gets back in the ring and Lawler does not seem to be as phased by Dundee's punches. Crowd perrks up. Is Dundee punching himself out? STRAP DOWN! Crowd explodes LAWLER COMEBACK! He tees off on Dundee and kicks the Little Aussie's ass. The crowd provides the sound effects for every heavy blow. Lawler gets a cocky ala the Dutch Mantell match and almost gets caught with a sunset flip. Dundee hits a series of chop blocks, but on the third one Lawler nails an upper cut and then a BIG PILEDRIVER~! to send his archrival packing out of Memphis. i love how Memphis treats high spots. In such a high stakes match, you want to leave it all out in the ring so it makes sense to go for broke. In Memphis, high spots are something you have to earn. You need to use your stand up game to set up high spots because if you dont, you will crash and burn. Lawler missing that top rope legdrop could have cost him the entire match as that was the big turning point that afforded Dundee the opportunity to really open up a big lead. "Don't count the King out so soon" is what Lance Russell is always fond of saying. Lawler made his vaunted comeback, but it was almost not enough. He was able to vanquish Bill Dundee with a well-timed uppercut and a wicked piledriver. Jerry Lawler definitely had a formula of taking a lot of heat and making that spectacular comeback. I think this was the Lawler formula executed to perfection. They probably could have one false finish in Dundee's favor to really sell the drama that Lawler was leaving that really would have put this over the top. This is every bit the classic people acclaimed. There is some controversy. This is usually the run away pick for best match in Memphis history. I am not sure I feel that way. I would say at this Dutch Mantell No DQ match is a bit superior for more memorable spots and even more drama. I never felt Lawler was in danger in this one and it was just a really fun match for that reason I cant go five stars. As a feel good match, this is hard to beat and at the end of day wrestling should leave you smiling and this one did just that. ****3/4
  2. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel vs Jerry Lawler - Mid-South Coliseum 10/18/82 Let's see if this Jerry Lawler is all he is cracked up to be. I have seen a handful of Lawler matches from the 80s and they have been very good to great and am looking forward to watching him in detail. I figure much like how I started the Von Erichs off against the best. I should start Lawler off against the best, Nick Bockwinkel. Bockwinkel is master chessman in the ring and understands the use of strategy in pro wrestler probably better than any pro wrestler in history. Everything he did in that ring was internally consistent with what happened previously and what he wanted to happen that was to ensure him retaining his belt. The previous week at the Mid-South Coliseum, Bockwinkel challenged for Lawler's Southern Title and won it! In the interim, he defeated Otto Wanz for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, quite a week for Bock. However, this match is just a rematch for the Southern Championship. Lance Russell informs us early that the piledriver is legal in this match because Bockwinkel being a world traveller is more accustomed to the piledriver being legal and he used one last week to win the Southern Title. He claimed he had forgotten it was illegal. So in this rematch, the piledriver is legal. Lawler teases the piledriver early sending Bock scurrying. Bock also had a trouble with Lawler's famous stinging right. I loved Bock's selling of it and Lawler does have one of the best punches in history. Bock grinds the match to a halt with various holds to try contain the fists of fury of Lawler. Lawler lets us know he ain't just a pretty punch. He had some neat reversals for Ol' Tricky Nick including reversing a bodyscissors into a Boston Crab. I will admit the beginning of the match was slow and surprisingly unheated. I was used to Texas where literally every Von Erich spot was cheered. Lawler is shoved into the ref and this gives Bock the opening he needs to hit a piledriver and finally mount some offense against Lawler. Lawler is a mighty foe and he pulls the strap down to the roar of the crowd and fires off some wicked punches that staggers Bock. The guy in the front row signals for the piledriver or for the old lady next to give him head it is hard to tell which. Lawler is happy to oblige on the former, but Bock tucks tail and crawls away. Bock gets an uppercut that sends Lawler tumbling over the top. KING OF THE MOUNTAIN! Bock ain't letting him back in and is finally kicking some ass. Bockwinkel preps for the piledriver, but Lawler backdrops and hits a PILEDRIVER of his own! Lawler can't capitalize. Bockwinkel is convulsing looking for the bottom rope and pulls himself out. They now do reverse king of the mountain where Bock is always trying to get out so Lawler comes up with some really inventive ways to keep him like a bodyslam from the apron and a running fist to the side of Bock's head on the outside. We of course get the patented Lawler fist drop. Just as Lawler looks to have this one sewn up, Bock headbutts him in the midsection, double legs and uses the ropes to pin Lawler! HIGHWAY ROBBERY I TELLS YA! The match started slow, but they built to a fever pitch. I loved Bock's strategy of keeping Lawler on the outside and then it reversing once Lawler was in charge. Great use of the piledriver to be the transition between those two segments, ****
  3. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Jerry Lawler - Memphis Wrestling 8/14/82 "You are not trying to put on any country jive on me" - Ric Flair, one of my favorite lines from the classic promos surrounding this match. Flair takes some time out of his busy schedule (Orlando the previous night against Dusty, Ohio for GCW against Dicky Slater that night, and the classic Kerry Von Erich match in Dallas the next night) to show this podunk, redneck town what big time pro wrestling looks like. Jerry Lawler, the master of persuasion, sees the champion's hubris as opportunity to exploit to wrangle a championship match on TV when Flair was scheduled to wrestle a jabroni. Flair actually does agree to a 10 minute TV match with the NWA World Championship on the line. This is an all-time great TV angle and everybody should watch it. I actually mentioned the schedule on purpose because it explains the match to a degree. When in seven days, you have to wrestle wrestlers as different as big bumping Harley Race, charismatic Dusty Rhodes, power wrestling Kerry Von Erich and technical wrestler Jack Brisco, party all night long with pretty women across the country, do 500 free squats a day, you don't have much time to come up with a totally unique match for every wrestler, brutha, Unfortunately, Lawler did get the short end of the stick in terms of match layout. It is clear when it came for the big time championship defenses against the Von Erichs, Flair made each match unique, but he simply did not have the time to do this for everyone. Instead what he did was bring one helluva template and 110% effort to every match. The big Flair vs Lawler match did not materialize, but if I was watching that on TV I would be hooked. Now having seen a ton of Flair especially recently, I could call the spots ahead of time, but we have to be cognizant that people in Mempho were not getting Dallas TV so this was not a real issue. This is one who is working smart not unnecessarily hard and taking a template that works. Now if I am Lawler, I would be disappointed that I was the proverbial broomstick in this match. He was stuck doing the hammerlock switches, working a headlock, and doing the sleeper reversal out of the suplex. I think his lack of effort showed selling for Flair, I may be reading too much in this, but I would imagine it was either because it was TV thus did not want to give too much away or he was not happy with Flair, which I swear I read. I have noticed this in some other matches, Lawler does deadfish on people. He just lets the moves happen to him rather than struggling. When Flair is on against Von Erichs, Flair is always struggling and forcing the Von Erichs to overcome his shortcuts. It is not too bad with Lawler because he does sell well, but in this match he was just taking moves and doing none. He barely flinched when the figure-4 was slapped on. The cool thing was we got to see a Ric Flair offense showcase, which seems rare, so we get the delayed vertical and the gutwrench. The ten minute time limit expires while Flair has him in the figure-4 and since he could submit him, Flair wants him for 5 more minutes to really show this punk up. Flair has not watch many Lawler matches and here comes that comeback. Flair tucks tail and takes the championship with him and is counted out to set up the Mid-South Coliseum match that was never to be. The match layout is basic Flair: babyface shine with babyface besting Flair on the mat, Flair kicking some ass and then guitar solo portion of the match where Flair lets you hit your 2-3 big spots before the finish. Your mileage will vary based on how much you like the layout. I love it and Flair's offense so I enjoyed the match even if it was not OMFG FLAIR VS LAWLER!!!! The post-match angle is straight cash money with Flair putting out a bounty on Lawler's head and delegating it to Jimmy Hart. Between this and Kerry Von Erich, Flair, you deserved what was coming to you pal in 1983 with Harley Race. Watch it for the angle and promos, the match is still pretty good. ***
  4. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee - Memphis 12/30/85 Lawler Leaves Town vs Hair of the Dundees So a shit ton has happened since the TV match where Dundee tricked Lawler into losing the Southern Championship so he could face Flair. Lawler ended up missing a bunch of bookings so Lance Russell went to his house and found him sloshed on the ground with empties all around him. Lawler claimed it was all Dundee's fault. I think this was a ruse to lure Dundee into a false sense of security. Then on Memphis TV we get the Hawaiian Flash, which is very clearly Jerry Jarrett to Dundee and Lance. Jarrett wants him to sign a match with the Hawaiian Flash and in return Dundee will get a shot at the tag titles. Dundee jumps at the offer figuring he can polish off the elderly, skinny Jarrett easily. However, he signed for a match with the Hawaiian Flash so when it comes bell time it is Lawler under the hood. Dundee & Co. bum rush the Flash and Jerry Jarrett until the Fabs save with chairs. At some point, Dundee makes an alliance with Dutch Mantell and they win the tag titles. Dundee wants the last belt, which Koko Ware has, but Ware wants Dundee to put his title shot on the line and Dundee loses his title shot to Koko Ware and Ware gets to face Flair. Dundee is pissed. Lawler vs Dundee happens on 12/21, I believe and this time it is Lawler's wife's hair on the line against the title and Lawler wins the belt back. So now in order to get a rematch, Bill Dundee has put up his hair and Beverly Dundee's hair against Lawler leaving Memphis and winning the championship. What a build! I fucking love it! Then before the match Dutch and Dundee did a number on Lawler's eye so now Lawler has a huge bandage over his right eye and is at a sincere disadvantage in this high stakes match. Lawler is pissed at Dutch early and takes his eye off Dundee and gets walloped. Dundee kicks Lawler's ass for the majority of the beginning of the match. I thought both wrestlers gave a tremendous performance especially Lawler in how he was selling. He looked vulnerable, he was trying his bet to fight back and he was very convincing in his debilitated vision causing him to be confused and missing the mark with his punches. Dundee was relentless in this match. He was more vicious in this match. He threw Calhoun down early on. Dundee felt like even more of a prick in this match. He was clawing at the eye. I love the part where Dundee is baiting Lawler and he is basically tripping over himself trying to desperately to punch this little shit while Dundee peppers him with shots and is gloating and taunting him and the fans. There is a kick to the bad eye and you can hear the yelps from Lawler. Nasty headbutt from Dundee right into the bad eye and then a double stomp. I love the constant pinfalls as Dundee is clearly trying to win the match and rid himself of the scourge of Jerry Lawler. There is a great spot where Dundee goes around to Lawler's blind spot and punching him. Lawler finally scores with a big punch. Dundee lashes out in shock and anger just bowling him over. I LOVED THAT REACTION! He comes crashing down on Lawler, but can only get two. Jabs back to the bad eye and now gnawing it. Awesome Dundee strike exchange and Lawler comes off the ropes blasting Dundee, who punches Lawler, but falls on his ass. Clip, NO! Lawler throws Dundee into a table and everyone counts along with Lawler and Calhoun. Dundee breaks the count and grabs his wife. Arena brawling in 1985! Lawler takes a crazy tumble over the railing on the raised stairs. Now that was a great countout false finish! Lawler feels like he is in so much more danger of losing in this match than in the '83 match. Lawler makes his way back to the ring only to eat a baseball slide. Dundee throws him into the post and end is nigh for the King of Memphis. Lawler pulls himself back into the ring and Dundee throws wicked punches, but Lawler wants more! STRAP DOWN~! Crowd gives that those big sound effects to every punch. Lawler blows Dundee away, but he falls down from that. THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME! FIST DROP! HUGE RIGHT! Some dude identified as Tony Falk hands Dundee something and he throws it into the eyes of Lawler and wins the match! LAWLER LOST??!?!?! WHAT THE FUCK! Holy shit, I had no idea. That was crazy. I loved this moreso than the 83 one. I thought this was way more Memphis. The 83 match is probably the best possible execution of the Lawler formula whereas this was probably the best possible Memphis match. You had the crazy soap opera back story, the Mrs. Dundee's involvement, Jerry going into the match half-blind, Dundee as a cocky shit, crazy bump out in the middle of the arena, a great bullshit ending to put the heel over. I think '83 match has the better ending and is a better feel good match. I think the Idol match had the crazier finish. I think Dutch match had the better work. The Bam Bam match still has the best story. For my money, this match is perfect confluence of soap opera and pro wrestling and high drama. This is also the only match you really feel like Lawler will lose. There have been surprises before like in the Idol and Dutch matches where he does lose, but you dont think it will happen. This is a match where you are like he is going to lose because how bad of a shit kicking he is taking so then you believe in him more than that his comeback will be all the more unstoppable only for him to still lose. I think we are missing too much of the match for me to go the full 5 stars. ****3/4 P.S. So we miss about 16 minutes of a 23 minute match and in the badass music set to "Burning Heart" we see nasty piledriver by both men and Dundee hitting the Whoopie Cushion from the top. Holy shit! This match is even better than I thought it was. Wish we had it in full!
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