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Found 8 results

  1. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA Winnipeg 9/20/84 WOW! Until the finish, I think this was the best match I have seen so far as part of my 80s watching and is definitely neck and neck with Flair vs Kerry from August of 1982. It featured some of the best selling I have ever witnessed in pro wrestling. It was not just from Martel. It was from both Martel and Bockwinkel. It felt like a war of attrition between the two best wrestlers in the world. It was a game of inches and they were both so good that it was just going to be the details the decided the winner. The small detail was Bockwinkel's nasty little short jab to the ribs. It was his great equalizer. Martel was so focused on his kneework that he would leave himself exposed to these quick punches and that eventually took their toll on Martel physically. The story really became who could overcome their injuries Bockwinkel with his knee and Martel with his midsection. Bockwinkel wrestled most of the match on his knees and he proves why he is one of the all-time best by selling his pain and desperation throughout the match. In this match, Bockwinkel tries to start the match hot and heavy, but he gets overzealous and hits a high knee to the turnbuckle. Martel just pounces on this mistake like in the Lawler match with toeholds and strikes relentlessly. Bockwinkel sells the agony of the holds in such an engaging way that you never lose interest. Bock and Martel trade blows within the toehold and when that does not go well for Bock; he hits a quick jab to Martel's midsection, which forces him off his body. Bock with JYD heabutts to Martel's midsection. Oh shit, this is my kinda match! He pounds Martel's side as best he can with his good knee. This is just dripping with struggle and urgency. Bockwinkel collapses in the middle of the ring while Martel writhes in pain in the corner. Holy shit! Bock uses the wrong knee on a knee lift and can't capitalize soon enough. Martel hits a kneecrusher! Martel is back to work with seatdrops so Bockwinkel just grabs him by his hair and punches him in the head. He forces Martel out of the ring and is basically working a King of the Mountain from his ass and it is awesome! Martel picks the leg and wraps it around the post. Have I gone to Heaven? Bock saves his knee by trying to claw Martel's eyes out. This was no normal eye gouge, he was getting in there. He puts Martel in a stretch where he can constantly maneuver him to expose the ribs to his rabbit punches without the ref seeing. Martel punches to the knee to get out of it and kicks the leg out from under him. Yep, I died and have gone to Heaven. Martel rides high and Bock applies a body scissors, but his leg is so fucked up he can't hold him. They knock heads in the middle of the ring and it is time to hit the finish. Martel goes for the kill first, but misses the reverse cross body from the middle rope. Martel fires through Bock's offense and it looks like he has more gas in his tank. Slingshot splash EATS KNEES! THOSE RIBS! OW! The selling is tres magnifique. They work through a barrage of nearfalls with neither having enough to put the other way. However, the ref gets bumped, Mr. Saito is able to throw salt in the eyes of Martel who has Bockwinkel dead to rites in the Boston Crab. 1-2-3!?!?!?!?!? Bock wins??? After much deliberation, the belt is returned to Martel. I fucking hate that finish. I don't care if it is babyface or heel, it is just stupid bullshit. It is definitely worse when a babyface wins, you get the pop and then rob people. Still even letting the people see Martel get pinned and not lose only hurts the moment when he will actually loses the title. The finish is the only thing that keeps this from *****, but fuck if this is the tenth best match of the AWA in the 80s, I am in for quite treat! This was fucking tremendous. Small critique would be that they just had one or two more highspots down the stretch to take the drama level to the next level. I am thinking a Bockwinkel sleeper and maybe a piledriver or two. It does not have to be an AWA Jumbo match with a ton of highspots, but a couple more would have been enough to overcome my least favorite finish ever. Enough negativity because this is my favorite match so far. It is a master's class in selling and should be absolutely mandatory to be watched by all wrestlers young and old in the industry today. ****3/4
  2. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Mr. Saito - AWA Winnipeg 4/24/85 Oh how I have missed RICKY MARTEL TIME~! BABY! WOOOOOOOOOO! While this is indeed a great match, we do not get to see that classic Martel fired up comeback, but what we do see is top notch. Mr. Saito is somehow I greatly enjoyed when I was watching AWA footage randomly like two years ago especially his tag team with Bock. I remember really liking this match and nothing has changed. This is probably the best execution of a fundamental wrestling match you will ever see. The beauty is in how basic it is and how they are taking their time to really put over the moves. The story of the match is power vs speed and they stick to it from beginning to end. Martel establishes the speed game early with armdrags, but Mr. Torture wraps him in a side headlock and uses the hair at will to keep him locked in. Martel is trying to his best to create movement to gain advantage and with a monkey flip and armdrag he finds his opening working the arm. They do two great things to keep us hooked in this match. Martel is constantly struggling and when he does get out of the headlock there is a ton of movement before Saito is able to wrap him back up in a headlock or Martel gets the armbar applied. Saito transitions to the middle of the match with an eyerake and looks for the sleeper. I believe Ron Trongard lets us know that Saito learned this from Bockwinkel, but has not perfected it yet giving Martel a chance. Way to protect the move, Mr. Announcer man! Martel sold the eye-rake great and he is awesome at the glassy eyed selling here in the sleeper. Martel finally forces Saito to take a header and it is partial Ricky Martel Time, but we do get a piledriver and when Saito is a pussy about it and puts his foot on the ropes Martel gives that knee a seat drop, which is my all-time favorite AWA spot. Martel hits a suplex and backbreaker to set up his slingshot splash (won him the World Championship), but he crashes and burns! Has his speed cost him the match? Saito is such a great offensive powerhouse rattling off the backdrop driver, Russian Legsweep and Scorpion Deathlock and just looks so fucking boss. In the moment of the match, Martel literally claws into the mat and pulls himself to the ropes. DAMN! That is commitment! Saito having beaten him down with power plays right into Martel's hand with a whip, which allows Martel to use his movement to quickly turn defense into offense with a springboard reverse cross body with the flash pin. I loved how that played into the power vs. speed dynamic with Martel turning the match at the snap of the fingers. It was a basic story, but everyone was totally 100% committed. Mr. Saito brought the badass offense, Martel crushed it in the selling department, they established a narrative early and followed it through to the end, great match! ****1/4
  3. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA Winnipeg 3/28/84 This series of matches really speaks to the praise given to Bock about having a different match everytime he goes out. In the first match of this Winnipeg series, it felt like Martel really kicked some ass and established him as champion, which was critical in his nascent going up against The Man. In the second match, you get the classic. Martel starts on fire, but Bock works himself out of a jam and both men are left gasping for the finish line. Now in the third match, which must feel like Bockwinkel's last shot, Bock is fired up and extra no-nonsense. He starts the match on fire, there is really no shine and he immediately goes into King of the Mountain, which is an interesting tact. It establishes the tone of the match that Bock feels like his back is up against the wall and he is here to win. At this point, Martel is going on a year as champion so everyone buys into him so he does not need to start off red hot. In fact that change of pace really differentiates the match from the standard shine->heat->comeback->finish. Of course, Martel eventually does gets his licks in once he backdrops out of the piledriver and we get what looks like a shine with Bock falling prey to armdrags and Martel's quickness. Bock shows why he is a wrestling god by picking the ankle and turning it into this awesome 1/2 deathlock, 1/2 chinlock submission. When Martel powers out, Bock immediately finds a way to apply the figure-4. Again, it all plays into Bockwinkel will not denied tonight and Martel needs to elevate his game. He does in the form of wicked punches to fight off the figure-4 and a piledriver to level the playing field. Bock just keeps coming now with back drops and knee lifts, but he can't keep Martel down. The finish is actually pretty anticlimatic as it is just a Martel back body drop, but Bock was in the ropes, but ref still counted. Bock blasts Martel and sends him over the top rope, weird finish and oddly protective of Bock. I liked this because we got to see Bockwinkel on offense for the majority of the match, which is different from the other Martel matches. However, I don't think it was as good as the others in the series. There was just no real strong hook that kept me invested throughout the match and then finish really did nothing for me. Most people would dream of having a match this good, but for two legends like Bock and Martel this just another day in the office. ***3/4
  4. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA 8/16/84 Martel versus Bockwinkel has all the makings of a classic championship series that has been overlooked due to AWA not being a sexy territory until a resurgence of interest from the AWA DVDVR project. I have watched a couple of their matches in the past, but I can't remember which ones so I am basically starting fresh. Six matches made the AWA set, but I will be starting with the three highest ranked ones and when I have more time, I will go back and watch the other three. The first match we see is the first match to make the set since Martel has won the title from Jumbo Tsuruta and is being contested in AWA hotbed, Winnipeg, which seems to be a popular place for where we get a lot of AWA footage from. At first watch, I was a bit underwhelmed by this match, but upon watching the rematch the next month also from Winnipeg, I realized this was intended to be a first match in a series match and in that context this is excellent. It whets your appetite, but leaves you very hungry for more. That's why I was underwhlemed, because I was left hungry and did not realize they would feeding me a heaping helping of double bitchiness with a side of fantastic selling in the rematch. The most important thing about this match is that it established Bockwinkel's most effective counterpunching strategy: the quick jab to the midsection. He uses this to great effectiveness in the rematch and it serves him well here. They start the match off with a bang with a wicked double cross body collision that Martel wins. Martel decides to focus on Bock's arm and Bock tries to cheat as best he can to turn the tide, but Martel is relentless. During one of his tries, Bock rams the bad shoulder into the turnbuckles, OW! When Martel goes for a kneedrop to the arm, Bock gets a quick fist to the ribs and throws him out. They are just teasing king of the mountain as Martel fires up. I love how he gets back in the ring by rolling around to avoid Bock and then nailing him. I love how they treat getting back into the ring as a disadvantage and Martel has to use his speed and intelligence to avoid being attacked upon re-entering. Again, Bock gets that short jab, but can't consolidate with the piledriver instead Martel gets his own. Bockwinkel goes back to the short jab to the ribs and this time it sets up his sleeper. He takes a header into the top turnbuckle. Martel looks to set up for his dive by working the back, Heenan gets up on the apron, but Bockwinkel ends up running into him. Martel tries to take advantage to hit slingshot bodypress, but eats knees. Bock immediately tries a pin, but only gets two. I love the idea! Bock hooks on his patented sleeper, but the Survivor Series 1996 finish does him in. As a standalone match this is very good, but as a place setter for the awesome rematch, this match is a great one. Martel looks awesome here using a combination of technique, speed and intelligence to get the best of Bockwinkel at every turn. Bockwinkel has to rely on cheating, experience and his short jab to set up his big bomb, the sleeper. It really made for a cool story that they really escalated to the next level in the September 1984 Winnipeg match. ****
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