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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. Two expiration of time matches on the same show? I take it one of the dates is off, but I’ll still go with 1/1 for both until or unless I’m corrected. Eaton and Ware are a heel workrate machine as a tag team, although I think part of it is the overall sense of urgency. This is rushed since it seemed like they wanted to get in the body of the match before the show went off the air, but it’s very good all the same, and the benefit is that they do get in opening shine, heat on Taylor and a hot tag to Rougeau, so the match doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything. I’d love to see these teams in a longer arena match. ***1/4
  5. 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!
  6. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs Austin Idol - Memphis 4/27/87 Steel Cage, Hair vs Hair Let’s get the funny part out of the way, which is Lance Russell continually calling Paul E., Paul Dangerly. Ton of fun bullshit to start with the ref ejecting Paul E. and Idol stating he will give a refund to every fan in attendance if he loses. Ok, now I am very intrigued about the finish and how they are going themselves out of this one. Idol is all flummoxed that Paul E. has been ejected and has really thrown if off his game. Idol tries to get out of the cage and after all this ballyhoo Lawler slams him into the cage to get this started. Repeated slams into the cage. The cage is Hell In A Cell style just with no top so there is an area outside the ring to brawl, which I prefer. Most steel cage matches are a bit too claustrophobic it feels even though I have been really digging AWA steel cage tags recently. Lawler has kicked so much ass; he wants to put a nail in the coffin with a piledriver, but Idol scurries away. Lawler has to settle for his bread and butter, punches and gnawing on head. Idol sells overwhelmed heel really well. Idol goes the chain route and nails Lawler. The selling of this is fantastic. It really is the selling that makes this match. This is not an energetic brawl, but one where they are taking the time to make each punch really mean something. Now Idol is giving The King a taste of his own medicine: using the cage and punches to dominate. He crashes down on Lawler. He goes up again and misses knee drop and great selling by Idol flopping around on the mat with his hurt knee. Lawler tries to take advantage, but eats chain again great selling. Now both wrestlers are selling their asses off. Idol tries coming down on him and misses the elbow. Top rope moves used to mean so much more. Lawler hits a diving headbutt, cool shit. The selling of this by both men is incredible and makes each moment 10000000x better. It feels like a war of attrition. Idol staggering and Lawler dazed. Idol right hook that sends Lawler over the top rope in a tremendous bump. Wow! Idol comes drown form apron on Lawler great sound from fist to face and yelp from King. Those soundbytes were great. I am really intrigued about the finish at this point. King no sells and fires away on Idol. So Idol throws him into the ref. They do multiple visual pinfalls for Lawler including a piledriver. I know Lawler is losing, but how. Tommy Rich pops out from under the ring! Oh fuck yeah! He comes out and nails Lawler with a piledriver. Spike piledriver! Double post on Lalwer’s family jewels and Idol wins! Wow! That was insane. The post-match is glorious heel heat –seeking bullshit and the promo with Dangerly, Idol and Rich is fan-fucking-tastic. Idol drops a knee on Lawler while Rich and Dangerously celebrate! A female fan scales the cage and here come the cops! Chair into gut. My one complaint is that Idol and Rich should have done the shaving to get all the heat one them Proclaim themselves the new kings of Memphis! An absolutely beautiful exhibition of the art of selling. I could see this being a ***** match, but I think another rewatch. It just did not feel at that really tippy-top level, but yes one of the all-time greatest matches in any country at any time. ****3/4
  7. Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee - Memphis 7/14/86 Loser Leaves Town I don't know the buildup to this one other than it is the rubber match of Loser Leaves Town matches. It is No DQ and not for the Southern Championship. It is the two best gunslingers in Memphis wrestling history have one last shootout at the Mid-South Coliseum. I love how this one starts out brimming with energy and so scrappy. They claim this in its entirety, but it is also clipped missing about 8 minutes. That's what makes all these Loser Leaves Town matches hard to rank. Dundee gains control by hitting Lawler in the Royal Family Jewels with his fist. This match really strikes a chord early how much these two have grown to hate each other. Dundee clobbers Lawler and gouges the eyes. They really like going after the eyes in these matches. There are a couple more holds than other matches, which were all bang-bang, but the holds were short lived and it mostly punches. Dundee drops the legs on the Royal Family Jewels and when Lawler powders he throws the King into all sort of hard objects. Lawler gets an early piledriver! But Dundee ends up too close to the ropes. For shame! Now Lawler is throwing Dundee's head into hard objects, the shot of the jaw onto the standard looked like it hurt. He bounces Dundee's head off the table. He goes for it again, but this time Lawler is sent crashing into it sending us into the heat segment proper. Dundee wants Lawler counted out. Dundee starts working the newly formed cut over the right eye, jabbing at it and he comes off the top with a hard punch, but foot on the rope. You can believe in this match Lawler has a chance of losing. Dundee PILEDRIVER! Foot on the ropes again. Dundee needs better ring awareness. Dundee is working on the arm now and I can see why people have this a bit lower than the other Loser Leaves Town because this one is not as Bang-Bang-Bang. Here is the cut! Dundee throwing those punches but Lawler begins to no sell, the crowd percolates and Lance says watch the strap. STRAP DOWN~! AWESOME SLUGFEST BREAKS OUT! DOWN GOES DUNDEE! 1-2-NO! PILEDRIVER! KICK OUT! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?! A series of simultaneous punches and thats not my favorite spot, honestly. Dundee takes off his boot and clobbers the King. Cover. 1-2-NO! Nice pop for that! Lawler definitely feels in a lot more danger than the 83 match. He kicks him in the balls! Lawler crotches him on the top rope and then Piledrives his ass into oblivion for the win! According to Russell, we are missing 8 minutes again, making it hard to give this the full monty. This match was slower in parts than '83 & '85, but I liked it as a combination of the positives of '83 (feel good ending) and '85 (a sense of danger for Lawler). This one really feels like an epic clash. I like 85 a lot for its gimmickery and its constant action. This is tough. I don't think anyone match is perfect. I think '85-'86 work really well together. They all end up with the same rating and I will have to decide their ranking later. For now, Lawler vs Dutch Mantell stands a top the Mempho heap! ****3/4
  8. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee - Memphis TV 10/19/85 Title vs Hair This is right up there with Flair/Lawler and Lawler/Mantell as awesome Memphis TV angles. I highly recommend this as a gripping episode arc. Bill Dundee has recently returned and he is back in the fold as Lawler's partner, but he is out there making contentious claims that the Lawler/Dundee team is the greatest team in the world better than the Road Warriors, better than Freebirds and even better than the Fabulous Ones. Nows that's fighting words. The Fabs have no problem putting their belts up against Lawler/Dundee. Dundee being the instigator runs out all keyed up and is hollering for Lawler to come out and accept the match. Lawler is not as keen on fighting his friends. Dundee is ripshit and throws a wicked temper tantrum hauling off and hitting all of them. Dundee has goldlust bad baby! He comes back out and is willing to put his brand new sports car up against Lawler's title. Lawler does not think his car is worth 25 cents. Dundee agrees to put up his hair and Lawler likes the idea of humiliating Dundee and agrees to for a Title vs Hair match right here on TV. They have a really fun six minute sprint filled with great punches. Dundee starts off red hot as he has been all revved up this episode. Lawler takes his licks, but starts to fire back with his own punches. Lawler teased piledriver, but Dundee back dropped out of it. Dundee is more cowardly and heelish in this match. I liked the buildup in this one a lot more than in '83. There feels like there is more hate and that Dundee is a real little shit in this. They did the bulldog/put him on the top rope sequence that is fun. STRAP DOWN~! Lawler takes him up for a back suplex, but Dundee punches Lawler with a chain. Back from commerical, Dundee reveals his diabolical plan. You see the NWA World's Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair is coming to Mempho on November 18th and guess who he is facing the Southern Heavyweight Champion and thats Dundee!!! It gets even better. Lawler wants a rematch. Dundee says he does not have to defend his belt for one month and one month from now is November 19th. So he is guaranteed the World Title match and once he is the World Champ, Lawler can have the Southern Title back. That's awesome. Lawler reckons in order to get his rematch he needs to make Dundee mad so he threatens to destroy his car. Finally Dundee gives way. Holy shit awesome angle. The match is a fun TV match, but watch this angle! I cant wait for Loser Leaves Town Part II!
  9. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel vs Jerry Lawler - Mid-South Coliseum 11/8/82 Title vs Hair No DQ match Nick Bockwinkel is at his sadistic best in this No Disqualification bout where Lawler has put his hair on the line against Nick Bockwinkel's Southern Heavyweight Championship. Lance Russell always lets us know that Lawler is a slow starter, but he picked one helluva night to have an ultra slow start. Bockwinkel absolutely creamed him in the first five minutes. It all began with Bock using the hair to maneuver Lawler into the and hitting him with a huge forearm sledge. After that, he just teed off at will and was getting in some great shots. One palm strike really messed up Lawler's vision and had him rolling to the outside. Bockwinkel was so relentless the ref had to pull him off. It is No DQ, but within reason and the ref needs to ensure the safety of both men. Just when you think, Lawler is going to lose his hair, he comes back with a headbutt that may have been a bit south of the border. Lawler does what he does best punch himself out of trouble. When he goes for some more testicular violence, the ref won't allow it. Lawler has to settle for the piledriver, but Bock puts his foot on the rope. Bockwinkel retaliates with his own punch to the netheregions. Bockwinkel works one helluva heat segment. He busts Lawler open underneath the eye according to Lance and his punches look great. He throws Lawler to the outside and bounces his head off the table and punches him so hard it sends him back into the third row. Everybody deserves a front row seat. Bock is the man! He tosses Lawler over the top rope on the other side. He sends Lawler face first into the metal post, which draws an audible gasp. It has to be mentioned Lawler is giving one of helluva selling performance. Bock wants the piledriver now that would be something. Lawler reverses and sends Bock into the ref. That weasel, Jimmy Hart, blasts Lawler with a foreign object, but no ref. Lawler kicks out at two. Lawler is absorbing Bock's punches and Lawler pulls the strap down. The crowd goes wild as Lawler starts rocking. Bock takes some huge bumps and Lawler looks great. It takes three flying fist drops for Lawler to get his first pinfall victory over the World Champion in five attempts! A little abrupt on the finish, but this an awesome fight. Bockwinkel checks the holds at the door and matches Lawler blow for blow. Lawler is a great seller and when it comes time to make that comeback, I am thinking there may be few better. ****1/2
  10. Jerry Lawler vs. Kimala No Disqualification Match June 7 1982 Memphis, TN I believe this is the correct date but I could be wrong. This showed up on Rick Crane's "Jerry Lawler: Revamped and Expanded" 4 disc set. We get about 8 minutes of action and oh boy is it wild and woolly. These two had a match a few weeks prior that ended in the DQ so with the stip they can go balls out. Lawler makes his superman comeback pretty early in the game, but he can't keep the beast down long enough to win inside the ring, so the fight spills to the floor where they find lots of plunder. The finish is a callback to the Lawler-Funk match, with Jerry slowly becoming the king of the No DQ dogfight. Highly enjoyable.
  11. Southern Heavyweight Champion “Dirty” Dutch Mantell vs Jerry “The King” Lawler March 27, 1982 TV Studio Memphis, TN Loser Leaves Town 80S wrestling TV was filled with squashes and promos that were used to set up the big house shows later in the week. Memphis liked to fuck with this mold every once in a while to whet the appetite of the fans. The newly crowned Southern Heavyweight Champion is out with Lance Russel to conduct an interview. He is still hot under collar about Lawler’s disrespectful last week. He has beaten David Price a 100x and if Lawler thinks Dutch is not in his league then he will have no problem accepting a Loser Leaves Town match for the title right now. Russel display indignation to the statement that Dutch’s emotions are out of control and that a match of that caliber should not happen on TV. Cut to commercial. Here comes Lawler, he tells Dutch he is on and Russel is just flustered. Great, great segment resulting in the following match. Russel was rightfully flustered that his program schedule was being messed with and the inmates were running the asylum. Dutch wanted to use his leverage with the belt to exact the ultimate revenge force the King of Memphis to leave for good. Lawler, who is pissed off a Dutch, was chomping at the bit to get a piece of Dutch and send him out of the territory for good. Lawler storms the ring and it is on. They tussle for control in very heated fashion. Mantell grabs a couple wrist control holds to slow down Lawler, but Jerry is able to use the jab to force the Dirty Dutchman out of the ring. Russell informs us that Lawler gets retribution for Mantell running a fist into him while he was prone on the apron by doing the same thing to Mantell. The overzealous Lawler finally makes that critical mistake as he charges Mantell, who is able to back body drop him to the outside. Mantell, promptly, sends him head first into the post and smacks him across the back with a steel chair whipping the studio audience into a frenzy. They do a countout false finish as the crowd urges him on. I know when I am in a blood feud and just want to whip someone’s ass I always grab an abdominal stretch. Pilderiver attempt on the floor now that’s more like it, Mantell. Lawler blocks it with a back body drop. I smell a comeback. Lawler hits Dutch with a chair in the back. Lawler’s beautiful punches have Dutch reeling. He gives it one last ditch charge and eats a boot. More punches and Dutch runs for the hills and grabs the mic. He says this is all stupid because they are beatin the piss out of each other and for what. He starts preachin Mutually Assured Destruction and this is stupid because the First Family and Midnight Express are laughing all the way to the bank as Dutch and Lawler are killing each other. Dutch is willing to concede the belt and team up with Lawler against those teams. Lawler is easily convinced by Dutch’s argument and the crowd is popping like mad for thought of that super team. Just as Lawler turns around, BANG~! Dutch pops him from behind and now wraps a steel chair around his head. He adds a PILEDRIVER and a elbow good for measure. He counts his own pin and then grabs his belt. Hahahahahahah SUCKA!!! THIS ANGLE WAS FUCKIN BITCHIN!!!! One of the best 15 minute angles I have ever seen. You could complain about bait and switch, but you would be missing the point. The build-up promos were excellent. The wrestling was hot and intense with great transitions. Lawler and Mantell he really sold this as a fight. The post-match promo had the crowd whipped into frenzy with the thought of that super team. The other shoe drops and Mantell pulverizes Lawler. Money, money angle that was brilliant. I have watched that three times and each time, I immediately want to watch the Barbed Wire Match that takes place just two days later in the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN. ****1/4
  12. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel vs Jerry Lawler - Mid-South Coliseum 1/1/84 Watch this match for Lawler comeback! Like right now! Fast forward past the nine minute top wristlock! Watch Lawler unload a feverish can of whoop ass like I have never seen before! I was infected with his energy and was cheering as wildly as if I was in Mempho on New Year's Day 1984. Unfortunately, a 30 second spurt of unadulterated awesomeness is not enough to make a match excellent. The one knock you hear murmured about Bock is he will sit in a hold. It is hard to describe his nine minute top wristlock as him sitting idly, but it was not exactly exciting either. You can only do so many test of strengths and failed armdrag escapes in nine minutes before even the most old school fan will become bored. Thank God for Lance Russell! Who was just stupendous on this. Let me just digress into the modern product and apply lessons of the past on the modern product. Bockwinkel trash talks Lawler in the top wristlock saying he can't wrestle. Russell says that is a lie that Lawler is a perfectly fine scientific wrestler, maybe not at the level, but he does not possess in technical acumen he makes up for in determination, heart and one helluva right. Where the hell is this presentation with Cena?!!?!?!? Lawler is literally on commentary! Why does he not extol Cena's virtues stronger? When HHH was cutting his knees out from under him and encouraging the fans to chant "You cant wrestle" at the top babyface. Where was the entire company to say this is a boldface lie and even if it is true, Cena makes up for it with hustle and fight! Jesus! It did not have to be this way, WWE! Eventually, Lawler uses quick repeated armdrag attempts to escape the interminable top wristlock. Of course they cut to commercial and we miss Lawler kicking Bock's ass. In total, we get about 20 minutes of a 32 minute and 9 minutes of it was top wristlock. Who the hell produced this match? Bockwinkel and Lawler are giving a master class of selling in the last 10 minutes of this match. Bock is staggering using the ref to recover and finally crowds Lawler to get a kneelift. Bock is hitting these kneelifts just to keep Lawler at bay. Lawler hits a cross body and Bock presses him out to the floor. Bock is dazed and just tosses Lawler into every hard object and now both men are worse for wear. Lawler is about ready to make his comeback, but it is just a tease he knocks Bock on his ass, but he is so out of it that he falls on his. Damnit, all this selling is making up for that top wristlock. Bock sends Lawler into the ref hard. Jerry Calhoun took some serious punishment in this match and throughout his career. Bock gets a wicked eye gouge and looks to capitalize, but Lawler is pissed! What ensues is just one of the most awesome punch combinations in the history of the pro wrestling! Watch it! Bock punches the ref in a daze. Lawler floors Bock and counts his own pin. The ref calls for the bell and raises The King's hand and it is a massive pop. I hated that finish in Kevin Von Erich and hate it here! What is worst they don't reverse it immediately! Watch it for the comeback and the selling, but this is not a great match. ***1/2
  13. Jerry Lawler vs Bam Bam Bigelow - Memphis 9/8/86 Texas Death Match I knew I was watching something special once Bigelow starting working the ribs and Lawler’s selling really kicked in. It was during Lawler’s comeback I realized the greatest David vs Goliath match may be happening before my eyes. I was rooting for the Lawler piledriver to end it so badly. I think this maybe Jerry Lawler’s masterpiece. The Mantell/Funk/Dundee matches he had a great dance partner and are amazing brawls. Here he weaves an amazing story with a green as grass, fresh out the kitchen, Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow came here to play and he never once had a mis-step. It is probably depressing that this the greatest match of his career and he never even came close to replicating it. That’s why Jerry Lawler is the King because he could make people look like a million bucks. The match is so fucking good that I don’t want to bring this up, but God it was just too funny. The first image of this match is Bam Bam Bigelow doing decent cartwheels. When I think of Texas Death Matches, I think of cartwheels. I get it the cartwheels are supposed to show the Bigelow is not your typical lumbering giant he is also aigle, but c’mon cartwheels and not even very good ones at that. They were like his moonsault a little bit off to side. This is the case with Bigelow in a lot of ways he was decent at lot of stuff, but not excellent at any way and he gets lumped in with the greatest big men, but for me he is definitely a level down. Jerry Lawler brought out some disc jockey to counteract Larry Sharpe (Bigelow’s trainer turned manager) the DJ does a cartwheel into a back handspring into a split. Yep, shown up by a chump. Don’t let the lame start fool this, this match is fucking bitchin! The layout of this match is so perfect that is a bit of a shame the finish was not definitive. Bam Bam is the monster and Lawler is the undersized hero that just has his fists and his wits to level the playing field. It is a story as old as time and I don’t know if it was ever told better than during this match. Bam Bam establishes power game with biels out of the corner. Lawler’s methodical, stand up style plays right into Bigelow’s strategy. Let’s see how Lawler can combat the Beast from the East. When he gets the monster angry with some quick crosses and Bigelow started to charge allowing The King to side step him. However, Lawler cannot create that movement on his own and ends up getting trapped into a corner. I would love to see Lawler against a high flyer, who could create that movement for him and see how Lawler would react. Amazing selling of those punches by Lawler. Wrestlers should be trained on how to throw and sell punches by watching tapes of Jerry Lawler. On the outside, Bigelow punches the post and this creates an opening for the King. Great selling of the hand by Bigelow by putting his good hand forward. I loved the stand up battle and Lawler luring him into a test of strength only pop him one. Bigelow chokes Lawler and uses headbutts to ribs to win first fall. Lawler is up holding the ribs and Bigelow buries his hands deep into the ribs and another falling headbutt scores the fall. After two straight falls, Bigelow is cocky; Lawler comes over and punches Bigelow right square in the mouth, what a great punch. Bigelow buries hands deep into the midsection again, but misses headbutt! Lawler covers and scores a fall. Russell says it a morale victory and I say it is 20 extra seconds of rest for Lawler. Lawler presses the advantage with big punches. Bigelow is very dazed from his own headbutt. Bigelow is bumping and selling ala Brock Lesnar of today. Really good shit! Flying fist drop gets Lawler his second fall and more rest and more momentum. Lawler is staggered but buoyed with recent success looks to punch himself out of trouble but is falling over himself. He misses a fist drop and Bigelow immediately falls on him with a headbutt on the midsection. Perfect responseby Bigelow. Bigelow punches Lawler so hard he falls forward. Bigelow lays with all his weight on Lawler and hooks in a sleeper. This is such smart wrestling by Bam Bam. Bigelow is wrestling like a ten year vet right here, wow! Gnaws at Lawlers head and busts him open. Bigelow sleeper puts Lawler out and he looks in real danger. Larry Sharpe screams is “There a Doctor in the house” Bigelow is surprised he got up and gouges at cut and the eyes. Lawler gets a sleeper of his own and Lance’s call of it is amazing. Listen to it. He slowly becomes more and more encouraged until you can hear the elation that Lawler has sunk it in. Bigelow gets up and snapmares him off. Bigelow elbow gets the three. It was Pyrrhic Victory. Lawler strap down! Lawler’s comeback is phenomenal. Bigelows bumps are incredible! Huge bump over the top rope. Lawler slams him to railing. Piston punches. Bigelows kicks him in midsection. Tries to turn tide and Irish Whips him into ref. Bigelow pin with a dazed ref. Kinda lame. Larry Sharpe horse collars Bam Bam with chair by accident. Ref counts both men down. First man up wins. Lawler wins. After the match, Sharpe berates Bam Bam so he gives chase and turns face. Up until the finish, this looked to be the greatest David vs Goliath match I have ever seen. However since there was a need to protect Bam Bam since he was turning face they finish was a bit off. It was not so much the fact they went with the first man gets up to his feet wins. It was that Lawler was knocked out via the bump with the ref that seemed kinda lame. Enough complaining, this match fucking rules. Easily one of the best of the 80s, check it and see! Lawler's masterpiece! Bigelow's best match of his career! One of the best of Memphis! One of the Best Texas Death Matches Ever! ****3/4
  14. Southern Heavyweight Champion Jerry “The King” Lawler vs “Dirty” Dutch Mantell March 22, 1982 Mid-South Coliseum Memphis, TN No Disqualification I first watched this days after Jerry Lawler's heart attack and the blog can be found here: http://ridingspacemountain.blogspot.com/2012/09/hey-yo-one-of-unique-facets-of-weekly.html I blamed poor video quality for being a bit more lukewarm on the match. I would say my real issue was a lack of familiarity with the style. I find that I need to watch a handful of matches of a particular wrestler or style before I can really sink my teeth into the match. So I tend to underrate the first matches I watch of a wrestler and style. This was definitely the case here as I absolutely loved this match on this go around. Background: Lawler was entangled in his interminable feud with Jimmy Hart and his First Family. He had recruited the Dirty Dutchman to help him wrestle these men in tag team matches. Then one night, the Mantell walks out on Lawler as he is being battered by the First Family. Next week on TV, Lawler calls Dutch yellow and wants to know why he walked out. Dutch noted that it was Lawler’s mouth that got him in trouble and he was tired of fighting Lawler’s battles. Dutch also feels as though Lawler disrespected him by not acknowledging his prowess in the ring. All in all, it is not most unreasonable thing someone has said. Lawler, is pissed because someone he trusted to have his back left him to the jackals. This is when wrestling is at its best, two men who in their own mind have merit to their grounds, but at the same time it is a very contentious issue. Most of the crowd sides with Lawler as he instigates the first brawl. So after a month or so of matches, Lawler and Mantell were contracted to square off in Memphis, TN for the Southern Heavyweight Title in a No Disqualification Match. This was about as close you would get to face vs face in the early 80s. Lawler was positioned as the babyface, but the Dutchman definitely had his supporters. Lawler starts off hot with some beautiful punches and has Mantell rocking. Lawler has some of the prettiest, worked punches ever thrown. They even work in a spot where Dutch whiffs on a kick when Lawler telepgraphs the back body drop, which is a neat little spot I have never seen before. Lance Russell, the Voice of Memphis, even notes how peculiar this fast start is for Lawler given that he is normally slow-starter. He reasons out that it must due to the nature of this heated feud that Lawler just wants to beat the ever-lovin piss out of Dutch and there is no time like the present. I paraphrased that, but you get the gist. Lawler even busts out an enziguri much to the delight of the crowd!!! Dutch takes a powder as he attempts to adjust his strategy. Well when in a No DQ, might as well as grab a steel chair. Lawler ends up with the chair and throws outside the ring and hits Dutch in the shoulder. I am a total sucker for chair throws because they always look so damn violent. Then Dutch totally ups him with the Mother of All Chair Throws: hurling the chair across the ring into the King’s knee with pinpoint accuracy and brutality. Mantell takes over and lays Lawler to waste with punches before applying the Spinning Toehold. Lawler punches Mantell's knee to break free and comes back with his own punches. Mantell dives on the knee and then switches gears to open a cut above the eye of Lawler. He makes up for his lack of creative offense by keeping Lawler on the outside and busting him over the eye. Lawler’s selling is elicits sympathy from the raucous crowd that try to urge him. A great spot is Lawler whiffing on the desperation right and you feel the end is near for our hero. Loved that spot on the second go-around. Dutch gets a two off a vertical suplex and there is all like “Lets quit fuckin around” and pulverizes Lalwer with a chair, BUT Lawler gets his foot on the ropes. Mantell is really hot after Jerry breaks pinfalls off of a knee drop, a PILEDRIVER (Memphis Death Move), and a splash. Great heat segement sequence. Lawler Up and Strap Down and Full Steam Ahead. Rights and lefts leave the Dirty Dutchman reeling and then he sends him into the post for retribution. The crowd is feeling it, but Lawler gets greedy and Dutch catches him with knees on his second splash attempt. Into the finish, we go as they are trading rights and lefts. Their heads collide off a Irish whip spot sending Mantell out onto the floor. Lawler has Dutch at his mercy as he punches repeatedly with Mantell using the ropes to hold him from crashing off the apron. Lawler gets greedy again, playing to the crowd for one more punch, Dutch capitalizes with a gut shot and then slingshots over for a sunset flip and the victory. Your Winner and New Southern Heavyweight Champion “Dirty” Dutch Mantell. Several fans celebrate Dutch's victory showing that King did not have unanimous support in Memphis. I liked that they didn’t run the ropes at all sticking to that real-fight feel that these are two guys that just want to fuck each other up. I like that it was Lawler’s desire to inflict more punishment on Dutch that cost him the match, whereas Dutch was more concerned about winning and thus proving he was the better wrestler. Lawler’s selling was really well done, theatrical enough for the live audience to see it, but not so cheesy that it takes you out of the competition (love that header he took on missing that right). The match had memorable spots like the chair throws. The heat segment was one of the best I have seen in Memphis with Dutch really pouring it on. I think what I really gained on this second watch after having watched over two dozen Lawler matches now was how special this finish was. Lawler's comebacks were a death knell for his opponent and only something crazy like interference would save them from imminent doom. So for someone to actually beat Lawler in the midst of THE VAUNTED LAWLER COMEBACK is a HOLY SHIT momment! Like I said it is because Lawler was being cocky playing to the crowd and wanting to get one more lick in when he had the match won. This was a really interesting dynamic. The finish puts this one over the top for me as the best Memphis match so far and the first Lawler match I am giving *****.
  15. Randy Savage & Lanny Poffo vs Rock N Roll Express - Mid-South Coliseum 6/25/84 SAVAGE PILEDRIVES MORTON THROUGH THE TABLE! When I was a kid, we rented some video or found some TV show that had this angle on the tape. I literally remember nothing else on the video just Savage piledriving Ricky Morton through the table at ringside. Eat it, ECW! Talk about a hot and I mean double hot angle! Absolutely tremendous! For what we got, this was on pace to be one of my favorite Memphis Wrestling matches of the 80s and on pace to be better than both Savage vs Lawler matches I have watched so far, but a premature DQ ending makes for a fun match rather than a classic. Wow, were these two teams made for each other! Savage and Poffo were perfect heel stooges for the Rock n Rolls and of course RnRs excel at giving the early crowd pleasing spots. I am such a mark for high-octane movement in the ring that ends with the heel either on his ass or falling on his face. There are plenty of those with Poffo and Savage trying to get one up on RnRs and failing spectacularly. My favorite spot was RnR did their normal spot of rolling through a banana split and decked Savage on the apron. They go to do it again, but Savage has learned his lesson so he jumps off the apron. He gets back on the apron and showboats only to be decked again. Popped huge for that! The transition to the heat segment was awesome with Gibson running into the top turnbuckle, but it was a fake out. In the ensuing fracas, Morton gets rammed into the post by Angelo and the short heat segment is worked perfectly. Savage and Poffo's control feels tenuous at best, which gives a really exciting feeling of when Gibson will make a tag, but Morton is out of it that it is hard for him to make a tag even when he gets a hope spot in. I know this is stating the obvious, but Morton sold perfectly in this match just enough to get sympathy, but was still active in trying to tag out. Great stuff! Savage is great at working a nasty heat segment with his wicked punches and full court press offense. Gibson finally gets in, but before he can do any really damage, Angelo pulls down the top rope and he goes tumbling out for the premature DQ. At a scant nine minutes of awesomeness, I am definitely left wanting more to the point where the finish is frustrating. I am of the opinion that I rather get twenty minutes with this finish than just ten with this finish leaving the match feel underdeveloped. A brawl develops at ringside and this is where Savage piledrives Ricky Morton through the table. These two teams absolutely rocked it and I look forward to the rematch. ***3/4
  16. After finishing up the 2000s Japan project, I wanted a departure from puroresu and the 2000s so I decided it was a high time for me to go through 1980s in America. I have been reading about these matches for a decade plus in some cases and in others I only learned of their existence through this enriching and wonderful project. In either case, I was ready to watch some bitchin wrestling featuring my some of my favorite wrestlers from my favorite decade for entertainment, the 1980s! In my mind America, there was a power six at the start of the decade: WWF, Jim Crockett, AWA, Mid-South, WCCW and Memphis. I am starting with the last four. The one nice thing about doing this after everyone else is that I can use the results as a guide to focus on the best of the best. My current aim is to bring myself up to speed on any every era and every promotion by focusing on the classics before doing any deep dives into any on particular one. Another goal of mine since about 2012 is to determine what I believe to the greatest match of all time is. Now, of course, I can't resist a fun *** or **** match when they come up thus detours into WWF tag team scene and late 90s WCW during this time. It is not my sole focus to find the OMG GREATEST MATCH ever, but I do want to familiarize myself with the classics first so I will not be watching all 150 matches from all the sets. Instead, I will focus on 40-50 from each set that appeal to me either because of the combatants involved or the critiques given, I am about halfway through this project and have posted the match reviews in the 1980s subforum and on my blog with links provided. I though post my general thoughts on each territory thus far. Memphis Wrestling Watched: Lawler vs AWA World Champions, Lawler vs Savage, Lawler vs Idol, Rich and Bam Bam, a total of 22 matches Need to watch: Lawler vs Dundee, Lawler vs Mantell, Lawler vs Funks, Fabulous Ones, Miscellaneous Non-Lawler Classics Match Rankings Thus Far (only >=****1/4): 1. Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs Ronnie Garvin - ICW 1982/1983 Steel Cage Match ****3/4 Violent. Perfect build to piledriver finish. What an awesome finish it was! 2. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs Austin Idol - Memphis 4/27/87 Steel Cage Hair vs Hair Match ****3/4 Awesome selling of punches. Great heel finish. 3. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs Bam Bam Bigelow - Memphis 9/7/86 Texas Death Match ****3/4 Masterpiece. Great David vs Goliath story 4. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel vs Jerry "The King" Lawler - Memphis 11/8/82 ****1/2 Lawler's big victory over Bock. 5. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Jerry "The King" Lawler - Memphis 10/12/85 ****1/2 Heel Martel! 6. AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs Jerry "The King" Lawler - Memphis 6/3/85 ****1/4 Anit-workrate classic Findings: I think moreso than any other territory I have watched I feel like this is the worst way to watch this territory. This is probably pretty obvious statement for most people. but I think it needs to be stated. I really ought to watch the Memphis TV surrounding each of the matches to better appreciate the context of the matches. That being said I have done my reading and I understand the gravity of the ICW vs CWA war and how much Lawler vs Savage was a blood feud. I understand the ardent desire and journey of Jerry Lawler in facing the AWA World Champions. It is the story of your high school classmate that is the best ball player on your team and you believe he can be a major league ball player. Jerry was the King of Memphis, but when Bock or Martel or whoever it may be strolled into town, That's what made the Bock victory in '82 so special even though it was just for Southern Title, it was a victory over the AWA Champ and it was cool to see him finally get it. it was your local hero getting that crack at playing major league ball. It is a great story no doubt. Even though, I am not watching Memphis correctly per se, I feel I understand the context well enough to make my observations on match style. Jerry Lawler may be the greatest limited wrestler in history. He has right hand and his left hand he is going to ball them up and give you everything he has got. He does not create much movement on his own, but he will bump big. He is great at selling and his comeback is perhaps the greatest in the history of wrestling. There is one comeback against Nick Bockwinkel that is just so fantastic. I think his best matches are these main event style, long build through selling matches. I have liked the Memphis brawls I have seen, but none of there are really any better than great. I think the AWA and Mid-South are much better brawling territories from what I have seen. The only Lawler match ranked above, I would consider a brawl maybe the Idol one, but I ranked that mostly for the amazing selling of each individual and the awesome finish. The Lawler vs Bigelow Texas Death Match, which I think is Lawler's masterpiece so far, is rooted in David vs Goliath storytelling more than anything else. I love how committed Lawler is to his style. Styles make for matches. The homogenization of wrestling has ruined this as so many workers can't tell a story no longer of a contrast of styles. Here we can see how Lawler the puncher works against a giant like Bigelow, frustrates a technical wizard like Martel and controls a wildman like Savage. There is no adaption necessary because his style is universal and he melds it with his opponent. There is no plug n play into his spots. He responds to a wrestler's character and his opponent responds accordingly to his. I am always surprised when people say AA is Cena's road agent. Nothing about Cena matches feel very Arn Anderson to me. Cena's character is very Backlund-esque and he has power in common with Backlund, but in terms of match structure he is deeply rooted in the Lawler dynamic. He likes very short shines and likes to get that heat quickly. They both sell fantastically. Lawler was better at the comeback, but they both transition to the comeback through no selling. Lawler has the strap down. Cena has the shoulder tackles. Cena is at his best when adds the wrinkle of cutoffs ala an extended Misawa comeback because the modern style necessitates longer finish runs. Lawler had the advantage of quick finish bursts so that incredible burst of energy would quickly followed by a finish of some sort. Overall, I have enjoyed watching Memphis and think that Lawler is tons of fun to watch when he is selling his ass off and gets you amped for that comeback. There is something lacking in his pure brawls like the tags against Rude/Bundy and Idol/Rich. I don't think he is great at sprints because he is not great at movement. He has quick bursts of energy, but a 10 minute sprint is not his forte. Granted I have only watched 20 of his matches so may be I will see him rock out a good sprint brawl. Quick word on Randy Savage, dude was a fucking rockstar in Memphis. Dude would run up and down the apron and gets a huge pop when he was a babyface and mega-heat as a heel. He is one of the best character wrestlers of all time. If we were not missing a huge chunk of Lawler/Savage Loser Leaves Town I would have that much higher that is the anti-workrate classic. Awesome character work by both men. In addition, I wish we had more of his ICW stuff. He rocked it against Garvin. That was a great violent steel cage match that built and built to the piledriver finish. What a fantastic finish it was! Look forward to more Memphis and to watch some Memphis matches without The King to see what others were up to.
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