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  1. Michael Hayes vs Buddy Roberts - WCCW 5/16/88 Holy shit! Was Michael Hayes over! I know he was coming off a house show run with Flair in Crockett in early 88, I think a lot more could have been done with him as a singles babyface. I think they had the right idea by turning Hayes face against the Birds to freshen things up. I would go one step further and I acknowledge that would NEVER happen, but they should have turned Kevin heel against Kerry. Kerry & Hayes vs Kevin, Bam Bam & Buddy Jack would have probably given them business for at least another year. Then they could have used Lawler like they used Flair before. This was an absolute blast. Hayes was awesome playing to the crowd was actually a pretty damn good asskicking babyface. He was just drilling Buddy who could not find refuge anywhere. I loved the moonwalk away from the corner just come flying back with more punches. He even landed a stiff chop. He looks to end it with a bulldog on the concrete, but goes flying into the post. Buddy choked him with a rope that Hayes sold really well. It becomes one of the better ECW brawls you have ever seen with each slamming the other into the table. Then Hayes cracked Roberts in the back of the head with a chair. Heyman was an incredible promoter. He took a style totally prevalent in the South and just repackaged it for Northern audiences and sold it as completely original. Hayes kicks some more ass, but ref gets bumped and Roberts nails him with a foreign object to win. The crowd heat was off the charts for this. They LOVED Michael Hayes. Another option would be to run face vs face Hayes vs Kerry, which I think could have been electric. Wicked fun match. ***1/2
  2. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich - Christmas Star Wars 12/25/82 Steel Cage match, Michael Hayes Special Guest Referee They had two different gimmicks to establish in this match plus they needed to get Kerry's revenge in, needed to have a championship style match and run the one of the biggest angles in the history of pro wrestling. I think that was the biggest hindrance to this match was they were trying to accomplish so much in one match. With three lesser men, this would have been a clusterfuck. In the hands of Flair, Kerry and Hayes, they still manage to present an excellent match even if it is at the level of the first Kerry vs Flair bout. Unlike David, Kerry does not have to worry about disqualifications and he goes after Flair's leg immediately in retribution. Flair establishes he has nowhere to run due to the cage. Something I have noticed in watching five Flair vs Von Erich matches already is that he does not take many walks to break rhythm. He does beg off or back into a corner, but is not powdering as much as I remember from him. He definitely fight back more at this point with more hair pulls, tight-pulling and eye-raking to set up his chops and short knees. The other gimmick gets established early and often that is even if there is no disqualifications, Michael Hayes will not let one wrestler beat the other senseless in the match to the point where they can defend himself. So Hayes is very forceful in pulling the men off. This is a more logical and better approach than the fucking Kinski performance a year later. Hayes was introduced to the territory in mid-October as a friend of the Von Erich, but he has been even in actions. Kerry Von Erich grabs the sleeper and a huge pop happens because they remember that was the move that should have won him the first fall. Flair becomes incensed at getting his ass kicked, but Kerry is looking CLAW. They did a good job establishing the cage as nowhere for Flair to hide, they did not tease going into the cage. Regardless, when Kerry sends Flair head first into the cage and grates his forehead it gets a huge pop. This is Flair in his element bleeding and hollering. The verbal selling here is just top notch. Hayes throws Kerry off, but he still signals for The Claw and the crowd is pumped! Flair goes to his best weapon kicking Kerry in his bad leg and he takes Kerry to school. Kerry is pushing Flair off as a last ditch effort and throws him into the cage. It is around this time that it feels haphazard. They want to get Kerry's revenge in on Flair because he is not going to win the title tonight, but at least he will get his licks in. Yet, Flair is still trying to work in a championship style and perpetual motion. Again, trying to accomplish too much. Flair finally applies the figure-4 and when it is reversed we get some really classic Flair selling. He is so great at selling the struggle and then upon reversing it, just wow! Kerry Von Erich is just beating Flair senseless now and it does not look like the champ has a chance to survive. Hayes is trying to keep thing somewhat safe by pulling Kerry off. CLAW! Flair drapes his leg over the rope and Hayes pulls him off to big BOOOS! That was lame. One thing to keep Flair safe another to force a rope break. While Hayes and Kerry get into it, Flair hits a high knee sending Kerry into Hayes. Flair and Hayes go at it and Hayes decks Flair. Kerry won't take the pin and Hayes pulls him by the hair on top of Flair, but Kerry won't take it. Again Flair gets a high knee that makes it seem like Kerry shoved Hayes out of the cage. So the "Guardian of the Gate" (TM HHH), Freebird Terry Gordy has had enough of Kerry's shit and blasts him with the steel cage door! With that shot the Freebirds vs Von Erichs begins! Flair covers Kerry and Hayes comes back in counts a quick three even though Kerry had kicked out. The match actually continues, which I think is all for the better because we get some amazing staggering Kerry selling. You really get a sense of how much Kerry is hurt. I am not sure you would get the same feeling if it was Kerry knocked out, Flair pin and then Von Erich brothers swear revenge. Here you get to see Kerry's injury plus how sadistic Flair is in this situation. I love Kerry flailing around in the cage trying to get away from Flair and try to mount a comeback, but he is just too injured. Kerry is able to get a last resort Discus Punch, but he collapses and David Manning has not choice, but to call it. The announcer is worried about a concussion and the Von Erich brothers are worried and pissed. It was a great finish to keep Kerry looking strong and really show how much the Freebirds cost him the match. The world famous angle and the finish stretch ensures this match's place in history. There is never a boring moment in this match, but early on there is just too many things going on for this to be considered on the level of the first Flair vs Kerry match. I still think it was an excellent heated championship match. I have just slightly below the Flair/David match. ****1/2
  3. Fabulous Freebirds vs Von Erichs - WCCW 11/21/83 Elimination Match This match is three days before the big Kerry Von Erich vs Michael Hayes Cage Loser Leaves Town match so this serves as the tag team blowoff to the 1983 war between Georgia vs. Texas. JIP. We see Gordy and Kerry in the midst of an awesome stand up slugfest. I am really looking forward to their Championship match. Gordy wins the battle and here becomes Buddy Jack. Kevin and David have enough and attack. Assholes! Kevin is incensed tries to pull Kerry to his corner, but loses battle. Hayes in and Kerry no sells perfectly. He bashes Hayes head into turnbuckles and Hayes is busted and they brawl, Ref loses controls DQs both of them perfect way to save them for their big blowoff in a few nights. Kerry is pissed and takes it out on Hayes so runs to the back. It is down to 2 v2, Kevin & David vs Gordy & Buddy Jack. Kevin and David beat up on Buddy. Buddy turns the tide with the loaded Headbutt on Kevin. Gordy bodyslam, but Kevin pops up to press slam him. This is a common Gordy spot and cant say I like it. Kevin applies the claw on Gordys midsection. Broken up when everyone comes in and they both tag out. David hits a high knee on Buddy, which is probably his best move. Buddy kicks David and Gordy with a big heabutt dazes himself. David reaches Kevin with fingertips and Kevin is a house of fire from time call missed first four minutes of action. Melee and Gordy presses Kevin onto Buddy Jacks knee for a gutbuster and elimination! David is down 2 versus against the Freebirds. Based on the typical Texas booking pattern, it does seem likely David was in line for shots against Flair. David employs an interesting strategy try to use Buddys helmet to his advantage by repeatedly slamming Gordys Head into it, but only gets two! Sleeper! Buddy in and saves. Buddy comes crashing down on Gordy by accident. Still two! Oriental Sleeper! David gets the claw at the same time. Thats awesome, just a really cool moment. Buddy interferes. High knee by David sends Buddy over top top rope and eliminating him according to the ring announcer. Gordy grabs a high vertical suplex. Gordy goes spike, but David intercepts with the claw and throws him over the top rope. It was a bit too stop-start with all the eliminations. They never really got into a good flow. It was a disappointing blowoff for this chapter of the war. The finish stretch with David was pitch perfect and really did set him up for big things in 1984 before tragedy struck. ***1/2
  4. Kerry Von Erich vs Michael Hayes - 11/24/83 Loser Leaves Town Steel Cage Match Off the top of my head, I can't think of a better sub-ten minute match! Absolutely electric match that pays off the entire angle in one incredibly climax! They met in the very structure that caused this blood feud a steel cage and after a year it is time for the ultimate blowoff, a Loser Leaves Town match. Kerry and Michael play their roles to perfection and cut a terrific pace. Michael never once backs down from Kerry and this makes for one helluva fight, Those fists were flying early and love the early attempt at the Claw. Hayes throwing Kerry into cage and choking him with the bandage was perfect heel wrestling, Even better was Kerry using these tactics against Hayes and Hayes is busted wide open. I love the Sleeper in the 80s it is such a BIG move in the sense of a titanic struggle. Hayes applies it first to break Kerry's momentum only to see Kerry power up and apply his own. I love this tit for tat, taste of your own medicine wrestling. Here comes the big Hayes push for victory, suplex, bulldog and piledriver in succession, but Kerry gets foot on ropes. I think thats lame in a cage match. It is Loser Leaves Town just hotshot everything BABY and kick out of the piledriver BABY! Kerry nails a suplex out of a suplex struggle. Here comes BAM BAM! The very man that slammed the door into Kerry's head in shot heard round the world. Head collision and both are out. Buddy Roberts scales the cage and tosses in knux. Hayes catches them, but Kerry nails a discus punch and the knux go flying. Fritz slams Gordy into the table. Kerry obliterates Michael Hayes. Buddy climbs to the top to save Michael, but crotches himself on the cage and falls pathetically to the ring. Love it! Kerry 1-2-3! Banishing Michael from Texas! Fritz slams the door on Gordy to tie up that loose end and finally Von Erich vengeance is achieved! The match is a little too short and there are a couple details I did not like that keep this from being absolutely perfect like DiBiase/Duggan. In terms of blowoffs and paying off multiple elements of a blood feud, this is hard to beat and it is like the DiBiase/Duggan of World Class! Really fucking awesome and not talked about enough! ****3/4
  5. Fabulous Freebirds/Jimmy Garvin vs Von Erichs/Iceman Parsons - WCCW 5/27/83 Elimination Match This match is not worked Survivor Series style, but basically as a 4 vs. 4 battle royale where eliminations can happen by pinfall, submission or being thrown over the top rope. This match is wicked chaotic and I actually liked that feel a lot. The Faces start off hot. They shoot all four Birds into the center for a 4 way collision. Gordy goes for piledriver. Kevin hits a crossbody and they pig pile on top for him for three. Loved the pig pile! I did not expect Gordy to be the first eliminated. That’s a huge coup for the Von Erichs. The eliminations are rapid fire. Parsons gets pig piled by Hayes/Roberts. Garvin tosses David out. Kevin dropckicks Garvin out when he turns around. DAVID/Jimmy fight to set up their wager match in about a month. Thus it is down to Hayes & Roberts vs Kerry & Kevin. This stretch is just fucking awesome. It starts with double Von Erich sleepers. The theme is that Hayes has to keep saving Roberts lest he go down 2-1 to the Von Erichs and be at there mercy. Kevin nails his finish, a big flying bodypress, but Hayes saves. He sends Kevin out but through middle rope. Kevin is able to recover to save Kerry from double teams. Roberts accidentally strikes Hayes and I bit on that as a finish. The Iron claw is applied on Roberts, but Hayes saves again. Hayes sleeper on Kerry! Roberts tries to throw Kevin out, but Kevin skins the cat to a big pop. Kerry reverses into his own sleeper. Double Claw! Kevin misses big splash. Buddy tries neckbreaker or backbreaker to win. Hayes tries bulldog. Nothing doing for the Birds. Von Erich double dropkick sends Hayes outside. They try to do the same to Roberts, but Hayes trips Roberts up. Cool spot with both Von Erichs crashing and burning. Hayes comes crashing down on Kerry and 1-2-3. WOW! Kerry basically did a clean job for Hayes right there! This leaves Kevin alone. Hayes tees off on Kevin. Pig pile kickout by Kevin to a big pop! They both try to put Kevin out over the top rope, but Kevin skins the cat. They try to push him over, but Kevin uses legs to send them both over and skins the cat to win the match. I was surprised they went with Kevin in this role, but then it clicked when I remembered the commentary stating he was getting the title shot against Flair. Really great booking to get him over and ready to face Flair in a month or so. Once this got down to 2 on 2 this was an awesome action-packed sprint. ****1/4
  6. Fabulous Freebirds vs Von Erichs - WCCW 2/18/83 Lumberjack Match Go home Freebirds! Now we get into the meat of the feud by watching some badass six man tag action. There is a great struggle between these two teams throughout the match. They did not make much use of lumberjack stipulation, but I do not hold that against them. The match starts with Kerry fighting off all three when Gordy is trying to get him in that corner. Kerry unloads on Hayes, who bumps out and thrown back in. David/Gordy is up next, Gordy has a really cool bump off top rope basically Vaderbombs himself and needs to be seen. Gordy was a massive bumper in this early on. OH HELL YEAH! Here comes Kevin with dropkicks galore. Roberts jumping knee to Kevin’s back, fucking asshole. Good heat segment by the Birds. Kevin always trying to get tag compliments it nicely. He tags in Kerry. Kerry gets in his licks with fire. Gordy drives him into the corner. Again, Roberts attacks illegally. They target Kerry’s arm. Hayes really nice arm work on Kerry using ropes and hammerlock backbreaker (that move should be cribbed). Gordy throws him through ropes. Robert/Kerry collision sets up the finish as they both tag out. David applies a sleeper on Gordy. Katie bar the door, there is a pier-six brawl a brewin! David apllies claw, Hayes hits from behind. Freebirds looks like they will win by hook and crook. I totally bite on this finish, but Gordy wants the piledriver first, but Kevin hits from behind. He puts David on top. 1-2-3! Love how the babyface fought fire with fire there. A good start to the six man tag wars definitely not a blowoff, but a damn solids double FIP tag with an innovative finish. ****
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