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Found 52 results

  1. AWA World Tag Team Champions Buddy Rose & Doug Somers vs Midnight Rockers - AWA TV 8/30/86 I really don't know how much I can say about the famous Bloodbath match that has not already been said, but I will try my best to explain why this may be the greatest American tag team match ever. Shawn Michaels quick pinfall attempts. Superkick. Rose slams his head into the post and Michaels outside and taps a gusher. Awesome, awesome staggered selling and wild punches. Somers is nasty as fuck gnaw at cut spitting blood. Every hope spot is met with a jab to the cut. Jannetty tries to help, but no avail. The drama is ridiculous for Michaels to get to Jannetty. Jannetty gets in and nails everything that moves. He sends Somers into post twice to bust him open. Sherri distracts and Buddy buries the knee in the back. Buddy busts Marty open with pistons rights. It is a bloodbath. Buddy gnaws. Somers is fucked up. War of attrition. Michaels hanging from ropes on the arpon and just great selling. Somers with a seated dropklick finally gets Jannetty down, but kick out at 2. Jannetty taeks a swing at Buddy. Jannetty tumbles after missing to hit Somers. Somers great selling. Jannetty weird spurts spastic spurts of energy. Jannetty bits Rose. Shawn in and he is incensed from his own blood and Buddy is such a great chickenshit. Shawn fires off and full court press. It is a fracas. The ref is knocked down. Somers and Jannetty knock head.s Rose drops Jannetty onto a chair. OW!!! Two refs throw it out. Rose and Somers look to beat Michaels down, but AWA faces save. Michaels jumps Buddy on the outside in the classic moment. If you have not watched this, you must. Pitch perfect selling from the Rockers especially Michaels and great heel work from Rose & Somers working the cut. The epitome of drama! *****
  2. I felt like watching some stuff from the 80's after watching 80's wrestling commercials on YouTube. I've got tons of stuff so I went through and cherry picked a disc from my AJPW collection. Only one match actually is an AJ match which is nice since that smattering of wrestling was what I wanted. Jack and Jerry Brisco vs Bob Orton Jr/Jimmy Valiant (06/12/83 in Savannah, GA): This was a high energy tag match but there wasn't a lot to it. That and three of the guys had red trunks on! It was very good stuff but not much than I can recall. Orton does a great back breaker. Jumbo Tsuruta vs Brad Rheingans (08/30/83): This was a fantastic technical match that AJPW isn't always known for at this time. This is more like what I've seen in NJ at this time. It makes sense since both are former Greco-Roman Olympians. There were plenty of reversals and escapes and I don't recall one rope break. This is really my favorite type of stuff to watch. Great match Harley Race vs Kevin Von Erich (NWA Title on 06/17/83 in Dallas, TX): This was a great title match. I've only seen Kerry Von Erich so it was nice to finally see Kevin. This is especially true after watching the Von Erich Dark Side episode a few weeks ago and as the only living brother, I guess I feel for him. So he's a true babyface in this case if that makes any sense. He's up against Harley Race which I think is a good match up since Harley has a more deliberate orthodox style that transfers well regardless of his opponent. Kevin is more like a Ricky Steamboat heavy weight and his awesome dropkicks look devastating against the champ. Mixed with his body scissors hold (something we don't ever see anymore) and the Iron Claw, he's got Race reeling. Eventually Harley gets Kevin to the floor where he crashes into TV equipment (I think) and hurts his shoulder. There's blood in the water for the shark. The champion is a great white in his attack - ax handle smashes and viscous knee drops are the best. The ref wants to stop the fight but Kevin refuses. He still has his big weapons and won't be told to quit...not even when big brother David comes out. What a great match to introduce the Von Erich clan and a great bout overall.
  3. 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
  4. The thread for Darknyt's AWA
  5. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Jumbo Tsuruta vs Rick Martel - AWA 5/13/84 Than God for the Japanese without them we would have such little footage. This is an AWA World Title defense taped for Japanese TV because Jumbo is the World Champion even though Jumbo will be dropping the belt in this bout. Basically, Jumbo was utilized like a gaijin would be in All Japan as a transitional champion to bridge between two major stars. Conventional American booking wisdom would have Martel take the title from the longstanding heel champion, Nick Bockwinkel,. but I liked the wrinkle of using Jumbo. I think it adds a little spice to the Bock/Martel series that Martel never beat Bock for the title and thus has to prove himself over the course of a series of matches. Of course, it helps Jumbo & All Japan shed the choker label in their home country where Flair and Bock kept coming in and escaping with the title. As expected this wrestled mostly as a straight face vs face championship match with subtle heel actions from Jumbo Tsuruta to make sure the pro-Martel crowd is really hot for his coronation. The story in the match seemed to be dueling limb work, but I will admit this match was a bit all over the place. It was very entertaining from action standpoint because there was always something going on, but it did feel like a hodgepodge of spots rather than a clear narrative. We started with Martel working the arm out of the initial chain wrestling and Jumbo in turn working the leg with Jumbo getting the best of it early with spinning toe holds and his trademark Boston Crab. Martel is clearly the better seller so the match tends to be better when Jumbo is on offense and Jumbo is a great offensive wrestler so that helps too. There is some nice storytelling early like Martel using movement (leapfrog, dropkick) to create opportunities, but with his bum wheel he can't follow up and Jumbo is afforded the time to regroup on the outside. Martel is able to get a drop toehold and transitions back to the arm. We get out first high spot with Martel hitting a reverse crossbody for two. At this point, they depart from the original limb work behind. I don't think you necessarily have to stay on the same body part, but it felt pretty random and it did not play into finish so it just rendered it all moot. Martel misses an elbow and then Jumbo starts working on Martel's arm. I like the spot when a wrestler rolls up on an armstretcher and we see that from Martel. Jumbo hits a kneecrusher out of a side headlock and wicked high knee. Now they go all New Japan Juniors on us and go into bomb throwing. European uppercuts by Jumbo sets up his piledriver, which only gets two and now we get his abdominal stretch (I know it is a standard Jumbo spot, but it reeked of getting your shit in). Martel switches the ab stretch and works the back to set up for his dive, but he eats knees. They collide in the middle of the ring to reset the match. Jumbo dropkicks Martel into the ref and hits a Back Drop Driver, but no ref to get his highway robbery finish to protect him for the Japanese TV audience. Jumbo is ripshit. He is emotionally compromised when he goes for the Thesz Press, which ends with a hotshot and cross body for Martel to win the championship. I feel like I was harsher than I should have been on that match, which I did enjoy. I thought the finish stretch was really excellent in a vacuum. The Jumbo falling prey to the hotshot is classic and Martel gets a really pure babyface win. I liked the dueling psychology early and don't understand why they deviated it in the middle only to go the bomb throwing route later. Both have better matches on their resume, but this is a fine Martel championship victory. ***3/4
  6. G. Badger

    Best Match Watched - 2019

    It is that time of year where everyone compiles all of the best and worst stuff of the year. In this case, I'm talking about wrestling and I am no different from every other wrestle dork on the inter-web. I take a slightly different approach than most because more often than not, I don't keep up with current wrestling. So, I can't provide a match of the year (MOTY) or anything like that...even though I saw a couple of ROH matches that I thought were great. I'm pretty sure those aren't ending up on folks lists though Anyhow, I'm doing my Best Match Watched list for 2019 which are the best matches of any year that I've watched in the past 365 days. This probably won't be the longest list since I started the blog since we were moving this year and had to sell our house BUT I've got some matches that I haven't blogged about that I think are worthy contenders so, I might surprise myself. So, to start let's go back to the half way point of the year and recap from my June post: -Hans Schmidt vs Yukon Eric - Chicago Wrestling (circa 1958): Simple, brutal wrestling - the ropes break, part of the ring breaks. Classic shit. -Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine - JCP (1977): Near classic hard-hitting bout and angle. -Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA (1984): The in-ring work, the story, this is a classic. -AKIRA vs Kenny Omega - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Another 'not a classic but great match.' -Prince Devitt vs Gedo - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Simple match layout but, the swearing/intensity of this match was lights out awesome. -Finlay vs TAJIRI - Smash - Final Show (2012): A near-classic emotional and physically punishing bout. Fans of either guys need to watch this! -Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk - Money in the Bank (2012): Great -Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong - ROH Summer Heat Tour (Cincinnati 2014): Classic ROH title fight. -Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet - PWG Battle of Los Angeles (2016): Great match! 12-14 minute barn burner -Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii - Wrestle Kingdom 13 (2019): Inoki Strong Style lives! Great match at least but, a near-classic to me. Not a bad list so far...let's see what the 2nd half of 2019 has for us...Starting with Starrcade matches... Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983): A great action-packed match. Maybe people don't think that can happen in 1983 here we have it! There were tons of double team moves from both sides. Angelo Mosca is the ref and played his role perfectly. This felt like a real battle in the unreal realm of pro-wrestling! Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983): A madhouse type of match where they're just wailing away on each other with abandon. So many visually remarkable moments involving the chain...man they just did it right. A brutal and bloody affair. A classic match. Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985): This was violent from the very start... Visceral barbaric wrestling...this did not disappoint. An all-time classic without a doubt. If this is your thing, go see this match. Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987): This is perhaps the best Warriors match I've seen. I loved this match- it was all about selling and timing and it comes off beautifully! Near classic match. Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988): This is a classic match with a simple story and layout. They never go too complicated in the moves department and therefore never mess anything up. Then, you're riding on charisma and selling in order to get the match over with the fans. Here they truly excel. Flair is a given but, Luger at this time seemed to have even God on his side. Never was I a Lex fan until I saw him from this era. And, man! Did he have "it" for a few years? The physique and the power are on full display and it really seems like Ric is facing his replacement for the 90's in this match. Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Masa Chono & Shinya Hashimoto (WAR 10/01/93): Ten minutes of solid ass-kicking. Hash (IWGP champ) gets on the mic before the bell and talks some trash that kicks off this intense sprint-fight. As much as I love a smooth wrestling match (like above), I love a rough non-cooperative slobber knocker just the same. All four guys use their simple offense and great selling to put on a near-classic match. Don't believe me? Watch for Tenryu's chops on Chono...that should get you going... Tanaka, Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa vs Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka (FMW - Exploding Barbwire match - 09/01/96): Fourteen plus minutes of brutal, dramatic deathmatch wrestling. The fighting was top notch and the barbwire and bomb spots were extremely meaningful in terms of the drama. Seriously, this was one of the best FMW matches and the best deathmatches that I've seen. Classic match and a must-see for Masato Tanaka fans. Hayabusa vs TAKA Michinoku (FMW 11/16/96): Dives, counters, springboard moves, and big signature offense - it wasn't a classic but, dang! It was a great match. Right up there with the Joshi match. Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (FMW 12/11/96): Kandori submission attempts and Kudome heart and head drops make this a good match just on paper. Here they throw in all kinds of teases & fake-outs. It made for a really exciting Joshi match (which I haven't seen in ages). Plus their timing and chemistry were fantastic. I would have to say this fits right alongside AJW stuff from '96 and probably better than many of the overlong bouts that Toyota had that year. Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya) (AJPW 11/29/2011): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here. Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20-minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me. Bennett & Taven vs Ciampa & Hanson (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This all kinds of chaos! I love this type of stuff A simple story of the bearded babyfaces getting revenge on the shit-talking, good looking heels, and babe. The energy was there, the pacing was there, and everything just clicked. Great match and a fantastic segment if you count the match before. Alberto El Patron vs Roderick Strong (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This was a fantastic physical match between two veteran wrestlers. Alberto was going after Roddy's injured arm; hoping to secure the cross armbreaker. Roderick was trying to break down El Patron's body as only he can. The fans were psyched to see this match up and so was I. Alberto, Regal, and Danielson were two guys I would watch in the WWE so, it was great to see the former Dos Caras Jr. in a ring where he could show US fans what he's about. It was a shame they couldn't bring him in for more shows but, I'm glad we got this one. A great match, maybe a near-classic that was everything it needed to be. From ROH - Conquest Tour 2015 - Hopkins MN Roderick Strong vs Silas Young - This is a good match just on paper. You know they're going to hit hard and keep the pace up so, I was confident this bout would get things back on track. And I was not disappointed. This bout felt like a genuine struggle which is much appreciated in 2019. They had answers for each other's tricks & traps and I think that helped make this a great match. In fact, I wouldn't sneeze at anyone who would rate this **** 1/4. Great finish and MOTN thus far. Briscoes vs War Machine - The tag team equivalent of the above match. Physical and surprisingly quick match. Now its not like the Young Bucks were facing off against Jay & Mark but, War Machine hustled like a couple of Young Vaders. Another great match where **** 1/4 would totally be acceptable. Now for some that weren't covered on the blog: Jun Akiyama vs Katsuyori Shibata (Wrestle -1 (not Mutoh) 08/04/05): A very stiff BattlARTS type of match. It was great although its no surprise that Shibata, who based his career on these types of bouts, is now retired. If you're a fan of either, really go watch this now... Sabu vs Rob Van Dam (ECW Guilty as Charged 2000): A controversial choice since most folks on the PWO match discussion archive thought this was just "good" at best. It was perhaps their best single match with one another to me. In that regard, this match was superior to many similar move centric hardcore matches a few years later in ROH and certainly beyond. They did not go for overkill & empty their tanks and that IS why this is a great match. It felt like an athletic competition (in the ECW world) and not moves for moves sake. Now for some I'd only written in my notebook but are ABSOLUTELY worth talking about now: Miracle Violence Connection (Williams and Gordy) vs Misawa & Kawada (AJPW 12/06/91 RWTL Final Match): Holy crap is Gordy intense! The MVC gameplan is to divide and conquer. The Japanese team knows this and make frequent tags and hit the Americans high & low. The trick is to endure Miracle Violence's onslaught though...and what an onslaught it is! Near classic encounter with those little unexpected moments that make this era of AJPW so great. Kurt Angle vs Yuji Nagata (TNA/NJPW Wrestle Kingdom II): Saw this around when it happened and thought it was great but not classic stuff. I re-watched this a couple of months ago and damn was I wrong! This was a freaking intense wrestling match. If you're down for guys working submissions and escapes and selling through facial expressions - this is a match for you. I will go on to say this was an extension of Inoki Strong Style and belongs in that upper echelon. I know more about Nagata now than 11 years ago and understand the nuances of this bout so, I really can appreciate this as puro as a combat sport. Classic match Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008): I remember the hype for this match and the clips from Impact and the DVD ads and I thought this looked amazing. I was right...took me more than a decade to see it but, it was worth the wait. Like the above Nagata match, this was puro as combat sport. Perhaps even more so as this was during Angle's MMA training/Frank Trigg period, we have a hexagonal cage, and this was around UFC's break-through period of mainstream acceptance with their Ultimate Fighter show also on SPIKE. Anyhow, these two agreed to go stiff where it reminded me of Joe vs Kobashi for a moment or two. Seriously that lariat! Are you kidding me? Add that in with excellent build and pacing and we end up with a true classic and perhaps an all-time must-see classic encounter when you take into consideration their history and the build-up to this battle. This is certainly top tier for TNA and "puro" in America type matches as well as Inoki Strong Style in the 2000's. Samoa Joe vs Austin Aries (TNA Slammiversary X - 2012): Well, hot damn! These guys still have it 8 years after their Final Battle classic. In fact, the similarities are uncanny...is this the same match just 8 years later? No...can't be...regardless they still brought the intensity and I cannot find any fault here. I loved this match and thought it was a classic especially for TNA fans. Magnus (Nick Aldis) vs KAI (TNA/Wrestle-1 Global Impact 2014): This is for the TNA World title and I certainly had my reservations going into this. Thankfully, we get 15 minutes of simple snug wrestling. It felt very similar to WCW vs NJPW stuff in Japan. This was excellently paced, well worked with some stiffer than expected moves, and an emphatic finish. I truly can't find a fault with this match, great stuff. Rush & Dragon Lee vs Briscoe Brothers (ROH TV Summer 2019): This was a PPV level match for free. Jay and Mark still have that crazy streak so this was all action - blood, chair assisted moves, double teams. Plus both teams have a personality which is something I think ROH does lack at this time. (I like Taven but, don't get what they're doing with him btw).A few more minutes and this would have been a classic but, this was a great match nonetheless. Look for this one somehow! SO LET'S ORGANIZE THIS! What is the cream of the crop? I think I'm going to go with an emotional pick and choose Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008) as the Best Match Watched. The other top 5 matches are classic matches with timeless moments etched into my brain and it took me a long time to rule them out as the top of the top. The Joe vs Angle match plays off my nostalgia from 2008 and watching TNA Impact every week. In that regard, I can legitimately say they are two of my favorites of the 2000's and to see them truly have the all-out war that they only showed hints of in 2006 was an unbelievable pay-off to me. The Nagata match with Kurt was a precursor to the Lockdown match and although that was a classic in its own right, it helped bolster the drama of the Joe match. I don't know if this was intentional or what but, it totally worked on me. I think Tully vs Magnum is a known all-time classic and I don't know what one more person agreeing with that sentiment is going to do for its prestige. You know what I mean? It is required viewing without me saying so I think Piper vs Valentine is a precursor to that match and for that reason should be on your must-watch list. I don't think it gets the love it deserves perhaps because people think of the WWF versions of the guys and think it can't be as intense as people say. I would leave it from the top spot just because its finish cannot match the Tully vs Magnum finish...not much can though! The Schmidt vs Yukon and Martel vs Bockwinkel bouts are ones that I had never really heard of but, certainly deserve more recognition. I understand folks not wanting to go back to 1958 but, I really recommend watching pre-1970s wrestling at least a couple times every year. It gets harder and harder since we get further and further away from it...trust me. The AWA title match with Rick & Nick was one of those things I found online that I just wanted to explore as I'm always trying to find more good "wrestling" from them. I've seen damn near 80% of their ESPN show but, always want to see more of the era before they went out of business. Martel and Bock are two in particular that I was looking for and to see this title match was great...little did I know it would be a masterpiece. All that being said, I go back to my emotional bias for the Joe vs Angle Lockdown fight being the reason I say it’s the Best Match I watched in 2019. I also think it’s probably an arguable match to consider a classic and an objective "better match" than those mentioned above. Thing is I'm not going to argue against that...The point is that the Lockdown match was ticked off every box for me...I was invested in the outcome, I was surprised and entertained, my 11-year-long expectations were exceeded, and I'm a fan of both wrestlers. So, I'm much happier giving some love for a match that many might overlook because of when it was and who it was wrestled for (TNA) than telling you something you already know like with the I Quit or Dog Collar match. OK explanation over Let's do the rest of the year award type things next post. Thanks for reading!
  7. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel vs Jumbo Tsuruta - AJPW Budokan 2/23/84 Special Guest Referee Terry Funk It had been almost four years since Giant Baba had won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Harley Race. While Jumbo had been challenging for the NWA World Title since the mid-70s, the pressure must have been mounting for him to follow in Baba's foot steps and finally win the big one. All Japan, NWA and AWA were booked in a tough position where the American promotions did not want to a Japanese wrestler representing them, but All Japan needed to prove to their fan base their ace was a legitimate world class pro wrestler. In 1984, it was high time for Jumbo Tsuruta to avoid the choker label and he did just that by pinning Nick Bockwinkel to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. He did Baba one better by actually finishing the tour with his reign intact and actually defending the championship in America. You see Baba spent a ton of money to cement Jumbo's status as the man by buying him this reign. In return, Verne got actually what he needed a gaijin transitional champion to go from ace heel Nick Bockwinkel to his prospective new hot babyface act, Rick Martel. Baba would use a similar model of gaijin (Hansen, Doc and Gordy) to transition titles among the natives. It was a win-win for everyone involved and of course the big winners were the Japanese faithful that were able to see their hero win the World Heavyweight Championship from Bockwinkel after being thwarted repeatedly by cheap finishes. The match starts with Bockwinkel trying to end the match early with a surprise cross body, but only gets two. Bockwinkel works an extensive arm work segment that is just awesome. Bockwinkel is wrenching Jumbo's arm in all directions, applying pressure with his head and knees (THAT IS A LEGAL KNEE TO THE HEAD, Terry Funk yells, which makes me chuckle). Jumbo is always struggling, teasing escapes, but Bock uses a multitude of nefarious tactics to keep him down. One of my favorite spots of the match was Bock's super slick double wristlock takedown into a rolling short arm scissors just really strong work there. Another fun spot was Jumbo trying to show Funk that he keeps getting pulled down by the hair only to be pulled down by the hair again. Jumbo finally is able to string some offense together in the form of an enziguiri into a high knee, but only gets one. Bock retreats and tries to go back to the arm, but Jumbo is rolling now with two piledrivers and a Thesz Press. The action is so hot and heavy that it spills to the outside. Bock unloads with heavy blows on the outside. Hey there is the 80s spot the head to head collision, but really does not lead anywhere in this match. I can't say I am a fan of that spot. Jumbo is throwing closed fists and ignoring Funk's admonishments. Jumbo will not be denied tonight and the crowd is pumped. Bockwinkel goes back to a top wristlock to get a nearfall, but Jumbo counters with a Russian Legsweep. Nice! It is bombs away from Jumbo with a variety of suplexes and he has the champion on the ropes literally as he has to use the ropes to break Jumbo's Boston Crab. The Japanese fans have seen this story before and usually it does not end well for their boy. Bockwinkel shoves Jumbo into Funk and if I was a fan I would be smelling screwjob and Bockwinkel hits two piledrivers and a bodyslam, but nothing doing. As usual, Bockwinkel chucks his opponent to the outside to buy himself some time. When it comes time to bring him in the hardway, Jumbo floats over and BACK DROP DRIVER! 1-2-3! Jumbo wins the World Title! This was an interesting story as you get the sense that Bockwinkel clearly sees Jumbo as a massive threat to his title reign. He tries to win quickly with a cross body from there he dictates the pace and tries to take Jumbo out via arm work. He is keeping Jumbo grounded and we find out why later in the match. Bockwinkel does not have a prayer in a bomb throwing match. Once Jumbo is able to break free of the arm work and establish himself, he just starts throwing everything at Bockwinkel to finally win the championship. The tease all the usual screwjob finishes (double countout, ref bump), but this time the fans get to home happy with Jumbo Tsuruta winning the AWA World Title. Jumbo's long term selling could have been better. Bockwinkel was awesome in this, cocky in control and desperate on defense. The feel good ending elevates the great work in this to a classic match in my eyes. ****1/2
  8. It is June and by gawd it's the half way point of the year!?? Really? It was snowflakes and salt stains just yesterday! That being said, I want to do my Best Match Watched and other assorted superlatives for the first part of 2019. It helps you but, more importantly, it helps me! Best Match Watched: -Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk - Money In the Bank (2012): This not a classic match but, one of the handful of WWE matches that I've watched this year that I thought was great. -Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong - ROH Summer Heat Tour (Cincinnati 2014): The full show review is coming up here soon (I watched it over Winter - sue me!) but, this was a classic ROH title fight. -Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii - Wrestle Kingdom 13 (2019): Inoki Strong Style lives! Loved it! Great match at least but, a near classic to me. -Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet - PWG Battle of Los Angeles (2016): Not a classic but, a great match! 12-14 minute barn burner and a match lost in an ill fated winter watching project. Ricochet vs a big dude is always gold. He can let loose with his strikes, can bump like a super ball, and his crazy death-defying moves really, truly look like Hail Mary spots. -AKIRA vs Kenny Omega - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Another 'not a classic but great match.' AKIRA decided to go all limb work psychologist here and it was friggin' brilliant. -Prince Devitt vs Gedo - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Simple match layout but, the swearing/intensity of this match was lights out awesome. -Finlay vs TAJIRI - Smash - Final Show (2012): A near classic emotional and physically punishing bout. Fans of either guys need to watch this! -Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine - JCP (1977): Near classic hard hitting bout and angle. -Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA (1984): The in-ring work, the story, this is a classic. **Frankly, everything from the Wahoo, Martel and more blog post could be on here but, those are the top two to me!** -Hans Schmidt vs Yukon Eric - Chicago Wrestling (circa 1958): Simple, brutal wrestling - the ropes break, part of the ring breaks. Classic shit. Best Wrestler: Wahoo or Martel at this point. Different opponents and different situations and both brought intensity and passion to every encounter. Biggest Surprise: Right now it's that I'm watching US wrestling more than Japanese wrestling That's not to say the drama and intensity is that much different than puro but, it's probably been a decade since my US wrestling has outweighed my Japanese wrestling. Biggest Disappointment: Ha! Probably the fact that I can't get big projects started and can't seem to finish up ones that are 85% done. But damn, I'm amped that I've gotten the good wrestling in that I have! Thanks for reading! More good stuff to come!
  9. Many of these matches I have commented on in the Everything Else match archives or the Yearbooks, if you will. I wanted to make a record of them all in one place here on my blog though. If you have similar wrestling tastes or just like to read what I have to say, I thought I would make one entry of my recent wrestling habits. It's pretty 1970's and 80's heavy but, we dip our toes into the 60's and 90's as you'll read shortly. Let's start with a doozy! Johnny Valentine vs Bull Curry (06/20/69 Houston Wrestling):This really is an awesome match and the first time I've seen a full Johnny Valentine bout. He and Bull Curry beat each other senseless here...and I loved it! It was really great, simple yet violent pro wrestling. The quality of the footage is excellent as well. So very glad I watched this! In writing this, I did not put a rating but, at the very least it is a great match. The same goes for Johnny Valentine vs Bill Frazier '62. Ric Flair vs Wahoo McDaniel (1976 Mid Altlantic): This is probably one of the few 70's Wahoo matches vs Flair on YouTube. Like Cornette mentions, his physique, stamina, and agility are much greater than in 1980's. He looks like an absolute beast here. There's no finish unfortunately but, the 8+ minutes are great. Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine (09/07/77 JCP): Just a fantastic match where Greg takes the place of his dad. And Wahoo is cool with that since he beats the crap outta him. Gregster is no bum as he can take a shot as good as he can dish it out. This is just hard hitting no nonsense wrestling and it's hard not to love it. This was a near classic match. Plus look for promo of Wahoo at home, in a cast, calling out Greg Valentine & Ric Flair. Harley Race vs Wahoo McDaniel (02/10/78 Houston Wrestling):This was great 2/3 falls match.I waited a while to watch this since I'm lukewarm on Harley but, this was a doozy. Wahoo just tees off on the champion and Race's bumps are fantastic. Of course his headbutts and knee drops look vicious as ever. Do watch for the fan wildin' out in the front row on the camera side of the ring. He's the guy the fuzz have to grab in fall #3. It's pretty awesome. If you like to people watch the crowd during matches then, you gotta watch this one. It is a bit of a distraction since it takes like 5 officers get escort the dude but, Wahoo and Race don't let it phase them. Loved the finish! The Chief almost had it!! So close! Great stuff Wahoo McDaniel vs Tully Blanchard - Indian Strap Match (05/14/82 Houston Wrestling): This wasn't a long drawn out match. It was simple and vicious. I especially loved the finish (no pins or submissions, one man must drag his opponent to all 4 corners of the ring and touch the turnbuckle). We really need more matches like this in contemporary wrestling. It emphasizes the rough and tumble violence that I think is lacking in wrestling nowadays. Sure there are street fight and other gimmick matches but, there's too much emphasis on spots and not enough on the intensity. The violence of these type of fights should be at the forefront. We certainly have that here. Very good stuff! Bruiser Brody vs Mongolian Stomper (06/04/82 Houston Wrestling): Pure pandemonium with both guys trying to clobber each other. Brody vs the Stomper truly delivered despite not being very long. This was very much in the same vein as the 1990 FMW stuff. Walloping the heck outta each other but, never backing down...Houston looked like Korakuen Hall. Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel 09/20/84 AWA): I thought the match up looked good but, no idea that there was such praise from the PWO community. I was just thinking "damn this is really good. They've got plans of attack, they're selling the specific damages as well as the overall fatigue. Still, its a heated fight with guys trading great blows and kicking out because the belt is on the line." I think for '84, you could call this a work-rate match but, its deeper than that. The in ring story is so solid and to have it almost spoiled at the end..oh man. Martel whipping the AWA strap around like a wild man at the end just capped off this beauty of a match. Classic stuff! Masa Saito vs Curt Hennig (03/28/85 AWA): What a simple but great match. Curt was very young here but, he and Saito had a little program going. It was pretty basic in that Saito roughed up Hennig and he made a energetic come back only to get shutdown. Maybe its just me but, I prefer 80's AWA Curt to Mr. Perfect. Anyhow, Curt does a fucking tope to the concrete instead of the leaping shoulder miss to ring post spot. That's to say he missed 85% of the ringpost and went thru the ropes to free fall and cement! Awesome!! The best was the finish were Saito and Hennig were just smashing each other with punches. More importantly, Masa Saito was punching Hennig...because there were some nice "punches" earlier but, Saito was like, " let's do this proper! " Yes, please, thank you! Rick Martel vs Mr Saito (04/24/85 AWA): Oh boy, this is a great match. Saito is an absolute beast and Rick Martel is just trying to survive. The part where he is clawing his way to the ropes to escape the Scorpion Deathlock is a new iconic wrestling moment for me. Just brilliant! I think this would be an awesome place to start if you only remember Martel as "The Model" from WWF. Rick Martel vs Terry Gordy (10/03/85 Pro Wrestling USA): Rick Martel is certainly a fighting champion and this fast paced challenge from Gordy is proof. This just checked all of the right boxes in the move and storytelling department for me. The other Freebirds are sent to the back and Terry is OK with that. He's going to beat the champion fair and square. Gordy is matching Martel all throughout but, then brings the power based offense to the table. It looks to be too much with the champ taking some hard slams. Don't count Martel out of the match yet! I just loved this 15 minute match. It truly felt like a title fight. Great stuff Ric Flair vs Ron Garvin (02/07/86-JCP-Superstars on the Superstation): Well, these two really beat each other from pillar to post! So many hard chops that it really is a wonder that their chests weren't red. Oh and the punches and slams...man, this was a heck of an intense TV televised match. 15 minutes of fighting, I loved it. People have said Garvin wasn't selling but, in his role, I think he should have been ferocious. He was taking the fight to Flair. A very good to great match in my eyes. Quite glad that I stumbled upon it. Rick Martel vs Riki Choshu (12/03/86 AJPW): This started out with a lightning pace. Then, they settled down into working over each others legs which was ferocious. I so wish they sold this after the fact since it appeared they were really going to town but, it was a 10 min. match. Evenly fought but a little to soon to finish for me. Very good, intense match. Totally worth watching! Just not the heavenly dream battle I hoped for. But the first few minutes had me believing it was real! Wahoo McDaniel vs Manny Fernandez (09/18/88 AWA):Just two big dudes punching and chopping the crap outta each other for 10 minutes. If you dig Tenryu - Choshu - Hashimoto type stuff check this out. It'd be right at home in '88 AJ or NJ. Wahoo McDaniel vs Manny Fernandez - Indian Strap Match (12/13/88 Superclash III): I think most folk remember the Kerry vs King match but, I think this bout deserves a bit of recognition. Stiff chops, punches and blood abound! The big surprise was that Tatsumi Fujinami was there! Fernandez was working in NJ in '88 I believe so, I think he was there to keep Manny in check or something. Well, he certainly DOES both at the start and finish...yes! Awesome little interview at the end from Wahoo where he says he wants to literally kill Fernandez. Larry Zbyszko vs Masa Saito (02/10/90 NJPW) I could tell that this was going to be a fantastic encounter from the very first collar-and-elbow! Oh man! Take note current wrestlers, THIS is how you tie up! The match was a fine example of how to create drama and excitement without running through moves. The holds were credible and meaningful towards the outcome of the fight. Their strikes were stiff yet, measured. Larry & Mr. Saito used their body language (and actual language in Lar's case) to convey athleticism, desperation, and that killer instinct. This was a great match. Nick Bockwinkel vs Masa Saito (12/26/90 NJPW): If you like headlock work then this is a match for you brother! I truly dug the simple focus on the headlock and leg locks becuase you felt the struggle was genuine. Man, two masters going at it for the NJ crowd. The finish came a little too quick but, dang this was a pretty good bout. QUICKIE BONUS: Rick Martel vs Naoki Sano (08/09/91 SWS): Roughly 5 minutes of pedal to the metal 80s technical junior offense. I loved it, it was short and to the point and put over the power of a technical pinning predicament. Thanks for reading!!! If I can get my act together, I should have a few posts ready to go in the next few days
  10. 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
  11. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel vs Jeff Jarrett - Mid-South Coliseum 5/4/87 One of my favorite genre of matches is the veteran champion up against the overmatched, but zealous young lion. It is a match when done correctly that everyone wins. The young lion will look strong in a competitive loss and the champion reminds us why he is indeed the champion. I can't think two better people to really excel in this match type. Due to footage limitations, Bockwinkel is the veteran champion. That's the lens we see Bockwinkel through. Yes, we have 70s footage with him & Ray Stevens as the tag champions, but the majority comes from his excellent 80s run in the AWA as the elder champion wrestling youngsters like Martel and Hennig. Now for the modern fan, it may seem a little strange why Jeff Jarrett would be perfect in the role of plucky, young babyface. Early on his career, Jarrett actually had a shit load of babyface charisma. Where it all went, I have not a clue. At 1987, we are very early on in his career. If we got 1987 Bockwinkel against 1991 Jarrett, we could have got something really special, but as is it is a really good match in this genre. Jarrett is a late substitute for Lawler and Lance sells this as a huge opportunity for the young Jarrett. They both play their roles excellently. Bockwinkel gets his way early and seems like this will be a blowout, but Jarrett starts getting that movement going. Bockwinkel, ever-calm, breaks Jarrett's momentum by going outside of the ring. Bockwinkel is always ensuring he is dictating the pace. In the turning point of the match, Bockwinkel rams his shoulder into the turnbuckle. I loved how Bockwinkel subtly sells it. He uses the ref to buy some time and stands so that the bad shoulder is away from Jarrett, but Jarrett is here to win and he quickly gets a top wristlock. Bock tries to buck him off three times, but it is no use. Jarrett is tenacious. They work some fun reverse hope spots for Bockwinkel getting out of a hold, but being flustered making an uncharacteristic mistakes that allows Jarrett to go back to holds on the arm. Lance starts selling the idea of a massive upset unfolding before our eyes. Bockwinkel and Jarrett trade blows in the middle of the ring. Watching this footage, you would think that Jarrett would have been one of the best babyfaces of the 90s or at least a great star for the 90s, just a great fired up wrestler. Jarrett goes up top for the missile dropkick, crashing and burning and Bock rolls up him up for the win. Bockwinkel was at a point that he did not need that strong of a win and he really gave a strong performance in terms of elevating Jarrett. Jarrett kept it basic, but he told a strong story from his move selection and body language. He tried to press his advantage, high risk means the rewards may be big, but more often than the house wins. ****
  12. Midnight Rockers vs Buddy Rose & Doug Somers - AWA 12/25/86 To paraphrase Prince, “Excuse if I get excited, I was watching a badass Shawn Michaels shine.” This is a very controversial and your thoughts on it probably tells a lot about who you are as a person. As a person that is a bit of a ham that loves things over the top and outrageous. I love this shit. Where other people may find Shawn Michael’s to be a douchebag in this match, I saw a person that was excited to be kicking the ass of the men that had been keeping them away from the titles for months and had bloodied him on two occasions. Shawn Michaels as the serious asskicker in the beginning would have been fine, but it wouldn’t be Shawn Michaels. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he is going to let you know that “Fuck Yeah! I am kicking these pricks’ ass”. I was vibing off that positive energy and it really sucked me into the match. Now, if you don’t like it, you are just a different person and that is cool, but I think this is all-time great shine. I will never get down on someone that is that invested in the match. In addition, I thought the match told a great coming of age tale. In the 80s, it was commonplace to take a pretty boy babyface tag team (blowjob tag team, if you will, not a term I particularly fond of) to put them in a nasty, bloody brawls to prove their mettle and they were not just some pretty faces. It was seen with the Fabulous Ones & Moondogs and Fantastics & Sheeperherders. With Rockers leading up to this cage match, we have seen Rose & Somers bloody up Shawn Michaels on two occasions. This is that coming of age tale to demonstrate to the crowd that Rockers have an edge to them and that they can fight. This cage solidifies this position. Rockers kick their asses from pillar to post busting Rose open immediately. Shawn Michaels kicks the ever-loving shit out of them. Somers takes some ridiculous cage bumps. Shawn is all fired up. You can really feel that he is becoming a man by taking it to these two grizzled veterans and dominating. Sherri’s hysterical wailing never ceases. There is lots of great stooging and delayed bumps and staggering. The Rockers giving the Rose & Somers a taste of their own medicine, gnawing at the cuts. I love the crazed Somers cage bumps. Rose is beaten senseless on apron and is selling like a chang. Shawn is revved up on the top turnbuckle and I am going wild here in 2015 in my kitchen. Jannetty slams Rose’s head in the back of cage until he just slumps down, DAMN! Shawn yells no mercy. He goes for double noggin knocker, but Rose rakes the eyes and sends him into the cage. Rose looks to go up top, but Jannetty cuts him off and crotches him and A HUGE POP! Repeatedly sends him head first into cage. Somers breaks it up and Somers beaten up slumps down. Rose low blow! Shawn breaks up and sends Jannetty into cage and he no sells. I will say for as much shit Michaels gets in this match. He punches away on Rose and pulls him up at two! I thought Jannetty was more egregious in his dumb decisions pulling up Rose & Somers on two occasions and no selling cage shots. Somers is fucked up in corner. Rose is sent into Michaels fist and falls all the way back into his corner and tags out. Michaels hits an elbow drop and pulls Somers up. (Michaels isn’t perfect) Somers headbutts Michaels low. Somers crawls over. Buddy Catapults Michaels into the cage. Shawn is bleeding. Buddy throws him into the cage. Rose DDT. Rose pulling him up now as a dick move to show up the faces, which I like as a way to play off the earlier pull ups. This is a strong, short heat segment. With Rockers fatigued from their shine and nastiness of Rose & Somers, you believe they have weathered the storm and that Rose & Somers could pull this out. Michaels with his staggered lunges and Rose gnaws on cut. Fans cheer for Michaeks. Rose rakes his head across cage. Somers suplex and tags out to Buddy. Shawn back body dropped into cage (great bump) and then straddled on ropes. Shawn fires back from his back, but trips over Somers and almost pinned (really cool). Shawn hits a tremendous kneelift! Tags in Marty! Everybody into the cage! Rose tries to get out and they fight on top of the cage and Rose tumbles towards inside cage. Jannetty with a huge cross body to win! WAIT! What oh it is non-title Rose and Somers lock cage to do a number on Jannetty. An all-time great cage match that is never dull and just constant excitement. Add in the controversy, definitely check it out and make your voice heard! ****3/4
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Jerry Lawler - Nashville 10/12/85 Ornery Rick Martel is awesome! He seems totally pissed that he is even in this match in a really good way. He is just pissed off from the start. it is a really cool dynamic for the usual white meat babyface to play a heel. It is not like he is bad person. He is just having a shitty day and it shines through in the match. So he is more prickly than usual, it allows the fans to be decidedly pro-Lawler without Martel compromising his character. Lance Russell and his partner really play up his unwonted behavior. In addition, it makes for an excellent match and really Rick Martel best match as a heel I have ever seen. This is a very good Lawler performance, but I think Martel carried the day in this one. After failing at achieving the world championship in past efforts, you see Lawler has really put a lot of pressure on himself to win this match. Right from the outset, you see Lawler going for three different types of pinning combinations to keep the champ off balances and when Martel does give Lawler a clean break, Lawler punches him right in the mouth and goes for the pin. Lawler is here to win the title and nothing else. I love that focus. Martel is on edge and the fans chants for Lawler really gets under his skin. Martel tries to fire up and Lawler just makes him look foolish. So Martel kicks The King's leg out from under him. Martel works a masterful match around attacking Lawler's leg, which the announcers note that he had a severe injury that caused Jerry to miss most of 1980. Lawler does a great job of selling Martel's torture of the leg, which includes a variety of stomps, strikes, toeholds and a figure-4. Lawler is kicking him off, but Martel is using closed fists and the hair to relentlessly attack the leg. When Martel misses a seat drop, Lawler fires up, but he has to fire up on one leg. While the punches are finding their mark, he is hesitating because of the bum wheel, which makes him miss a fist drop and Martel pounces on the leg again. Love it! Martel misses on an elbow drop. Lawler is up and it is now or never! HE PULLS THE STRAP DOWN! Martel is great at rocking back for The King's huge punches in the corner. Lawler goes for a running fist, but runs into the ref. Martel wants the spinning toehold, but comes away with Jerry's boot. He wallops him! Lawler kicks out. Now he has the boot and clocks the champ. The ref sees that and DQs Lawler. THWARTED! BULLSHIT! I did not love the finish for quickly Lawler was able to recover and hit Martel with the boot. They were better off having Lawler duck Martel, get the boot and clock Martel. Lawler sends the crowd home happy by hitting a charging Martel with a boot. Besides the finish, this is a hellacious championship match. One of my favorite championship matches, I have seen in a long time. Lawler wants to win so bad early, but Martel takes advantage of a weakness and Lawler has to mount a classic comeback, but a series of unfortunate circumstances means the World Championship is just outside his grasp again. Martel's performance here is awesome! Just great character work conveying himself as a frustrated wrestler that just wants to get this over with, but has a tough time early on and then is just relentless on Lawler's leg. I have the No DQ match with Bock over this, but just by a hair, great, great stuff! ****1/2
  16. Talk about it here.
  17. Superstar Sleeze

    Sleezin Through The 80s

    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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