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[1992-11-14-WCW-Saturday Night] Dustin Rhodes vs The Barbarian

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Fun little match with Dustin entering the ring injured and overcoming the odds to win. Barbarian displays some terrific power moves. This is a good showing for him.

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This was one of the early Dustin of the Days that I wrote about six maybe seven years ago. I have a hard time when I dig something fighting the urge to do to much play by play:

 

So if you’ve been following this project this far, you probably know that Barbarian is a guy with a nice set of tight power offense who does a good job of getting over the idea of “Bad Ass”edness. You also know that Dustin Rhodes is a tall worker (taller than Barbarian) who is very skillful at diminishing his size. I have written in past about how Dustin physically shrinks himself as part of match layout. Shrinks himself to get over opponents. Here, that isn’t as important a strategy as is Dustin working as "speedy guy". Dustin and Barbarian work a speedy highspot guy vs. power guy match.

 

For most of the match, Dustin relies on quickness spots and quick pin attempts. Ducking and retreating, punching and retreating, does not want to get caught inside with Barbarian. Think Josh Rafferty’s plan for working Diego Sanchez…Dustin does your basic quickness offense, sunset flip attempt, crossbodys etc. Barbarian bullies into corner, Dustin ducks out gets a shot in. Barbarian fights the quickness with strength. On one of Dustin's shots Barbarian catches arm and underhooks it completely immobilizing Dustin’s arm..Dustin fires with opposite fist and is able to get arm released and move fast enough to leave Barbarian unprepared for second rope clothesline.

 

Eventually the quickness offense gets Barbarian to roll the floor to get back control of the pace of match. Dustin follows and gets Barbarian in the corner to do his mounted audience count along punches in corner section. DAMN does Dustin have great mounted punches in corner.

 

Dustin goes to monkey flip Barbarian out of corner. But No, Barbarian is too strong and Barbarian holds onto ropes. Dustin takes a nice bump on this as he kind of balls up with back vertical goes up and then lands like cannonball senton on the mat.

 

Dustin tries to work arm but Barbarian too strong and reverses arm lock. Dustin again with the quickness essentially hotshots Barbarian's arm-- pulling arm down over top rope while leaping to the floor. Dustin tries to follow that up with another second rope flying lariat but Barbarian catches Dustin with hard powerslam. Dustin lays just completely winded and shaken up from the powerslam. Its neat watching Dustin sell powerslam here as powerslam to transition to offense would later become a big Golddust spot. Watching Dustin sell it, reminded me of watching Black Warrior sell topes. Black Warrior sells a tope like nobodies business catching it completely while flying backwards on his own heels...you get the sense that Black Warrior is saying "this is the way you should eat a tope"...and as fan you go "wow wouldn't it be awesome if Black Warrior could tope Black Warrior ".

 

Anyway, Dustin is just destroyed by power slam. Barbarian just pounds on Dustin on the ground and then whips Dustin into corner. Dustin bangs back into corner and then bounces off taking another hard flat back bump to mat. Dustin is on his knees and he tries the “Dustin punches up from knees” spot to regain height. Throws a bunch of backfists from knees but Barbarian catches Dustin with a quebradora style backbreaker. He releases Dustin and then repeatedly drops his knees on the small of Dustin’s back.

 

Barbarian picks Dustin up for a hanging backbreaker and Dustin just hangs limp. Dustin’s size makes this just a really impressive spot…this is Luger Argentinian backbreaking Roadblock to set up for The Giant impressive…Accept of course the hanging backbreaker is way more impressive looking than the Argentinian and Dustin sells it much better than Roadblock. Dustin gets his long legs to stretch out to flip off top turnbuckle to get out of backbreaker. Dustin lands on his feet and does an instinctive falling forward clothesline. Dustin gets up to follow up but is met by a hard clothesline from Barbarian.

 

I talked about Dustin's instinctive offense in my last review. Instinctive stuff means he can hit with opponent getting to his feet first. Dustin hits clothesline here which knocks Barbarian back...but Dustin needs more time to clear his cobwebs then Barbarian needs to recover from one clothesline.

 

Barbarian just starts punching Dustin in the kidneys and headbutting Dustin in the small of the back. Dustin stumbles around and is put in a tight bear hug.

 

Its neat to compare this match to the Benoit/HHH Iron Man where Helmsley set up his offense by Irish whipping Benoit's sternum into corner. The post powerslam bump off of whip into corner sets up the back work here. Barbarian has more good focused body-part offense to follow up then Helmley had and Dustin is better at working as babyface in this context.

 

Barbarian works the bearhug for a while Dustin tries to bionic elbow out of it. Dustin throws some stiff bionic elbows that shake Barbarain and eventually jolt him back to the ropes where Barbarian releases Dustin and Dustin flies into another instinctual lariat. This one more flying than falling.

 

Instinctual offense=Barbarian first to feet. Dustin is now fall on doing his shrinking himself sell as he struggles to use ropes to get up only to have Barbarian YAKUZA boot Dustin right out of ring. Barbarian works over Dustin’s back some more outside of ring. Dustin sells the fuck out of the back at this point.

 

They do a couple throw Dustin in the corner spots and we all know that nobody puts baby in the corner. Whip Dustin in the corner, and he’s going to be able to use the corner to get himself upright and either raise a foot or catch you with a lariat or a bulldog. Don’t charge Dustin in the corner, he has a counter. But Barbarian has really worked over Dustins back and Dustin sells every whip into the corner as though the turnbuckles jar his back even more. In the hot finish section, they tease all the signature Dustin transitions to offense out of corner spots with Dustin being too banged up to successfully perform them. He tries the bulldog out of corner only to be tossed in the air and land hard senton style on his back again. He tries to get a leg up out of corner but isn’t fast enough and barely jars Barbarian. Dustin is too weakened to be able to hit his normal counters and on the next charge is left with no other choice but to just bail out of the way. Barbarian posts himself and Dustin goes for desperation roll up.

 

Barbarian isn’t Big Skye so Dustin doesn’t have to bring both the offense and the selling. Barbarian has really good focused back offense, and Dustin is able to eat every bump right on his back and sell every move like his back is straining. Dustin is able to do a lot more than he could with Big Skye. He’s able to show off his speed to create contrast and emphasize how his natural instincts help him endure. This match was from the King of Cable tourney, and those both are things you want to highlight when the next round match is going to be against the Manster Vader.

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A fun little bout. Dustin is such a chameleon as a worker. He can stand tall and go toe to toe with a monster, and then get small and sell his ass off. His skills are showcased here.

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Another good TV match. Started off a bit on the sloppy and hesitant side, but there's plenty to love here, as highlighted by Tomk's review. The powerslam is fantastic, as Dustin is a really big guy to turn around in mid air. Barbie has a focused offense on the back, and Dustin's selling is efficient. Good tease and counter of the bulldog spot. I only thought the finish was a bit cheap, but I guess it worked as Barb really went all the wya into the post.

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Good match with some great cut-offs by the Barbarian, especially his casual tossing off of Dustin when it looks like Dustin is about to make his big comeback and hit the bulldog. They also do a good job of establishing that Barb is somewhat lost without Cactus Jack at ringside. Rhodes gets in a rollup for the pin and Larry Z on commentary actually sells it pretty great. As far as Barb singles matches I think the Boss Man match is still better, but this is one for a comp should one exist.

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Barbarian with a nice catch & powerslam on Dustin coming off the turnbuckle in one of the cut-offs Pete noted above. This was a well paced TV match that showcases Dustin's versatility as he sells really well here, making Barbie's offense look better than it does against most. He also puts this together without one of his great sequences on top where he's wailing away on an opponent, instead working underneath most of the wayDustin wins on on a roll up after Barbarian hits the post on a spear.

 

**3/4

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This was a tremendous underdog performance by Dustin, as he'd been jumped by Cactus earlier, probably so he couldn't compete in this bout. This wasn't the Ricky Morton-style beating a lot of these matches turn into, though; Dustin got his share of offense in, mostly off of Barby's mistakes, then pulled a surprise pin out of his pocket when Barby missed a post shot. In the end, he may not have been Barby's physical match, but he was smarter, especially since Cactus wasn't at ringside, as JR and Larry pointed out.

 

Barby really looked good here, almost like the World title contender he'd been the month before. He never looked this good as a single for Vince, though I must say he wasn't too bad a looking guy without the paint. The antlers did him no favors, though.

 

Jake's been erased from the WCW memory bank, as JR simply refers to Dustin's "other opponent" for the bout. This means that Jake certainly wasn't gone for just any thirty-day rehab (if drugs were really his problem) and that Watts didn't want him back in any case.

 

Barby-Vader would have been a hell of a semifinal, but Watts was never one to think outside the box like that. There is an odd tag team match promised for the following week, though: Sting and Nikita vs. Rude and Cactus. Talk about beauty and the beast!

 

I've always liked Larry on commentary, and he was great here as well. He walks a fine line between putting Dustin over for his gutsiness and calling him a fool for taking such a brutal beating, and he does it well, without too much heeling. He's great at that sort of tweener role, kind of like Dutch Mantell, except that Dutch is (or soon will be) affiliated with the heel Stud Stable in SMW.

 

You can tell which of the two semifinals is the bigger deal, as Sting-Rude gets the spot at the Clash. That's a good business decision, but I might have put both semis at the Clash in order to give the finals at Starrcade all the hype they deserved.

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