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[1990-08-27-AWA] Harley Race vs Larry Zbyszko


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  • 2 months later...

I dig the Harley Race interview before the match. I wish he could have stuck around in WCW. He's being billed as an 8-time champ, which I think is a mistake on their part, because the New Zealand switch wasn't recognized as being official for a few more years.


This is a solid match. Race takes a brutal looking bump at one point, going over the top to the floor for a clothesline and hitting the mat face first on his way down. Later, he takes a back body drop on the floor too. Zbyszko has always worked holds so well. I love the application of the front facelock, as it looks like a legitimately painful move where Larry is really cranking it in.


Race had quite a bit in the tank even this late, both in terms of his bumping and offense. This match, the Rich match, and the reports of some awesome house show matches when he was subbing for injured NWA guys for a few weeks makes me wonder what could have been.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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So this is it for the AWA. Well, the old girl went out as close to on top as she could possibly get by now. Larry junked the stalling routine and brought his top game, and Harley, unbelievably, did the same. Whether he knew this was his last major match, or whether he actually believed that he could be a top contender in WCW and wanted to prove it to them, he sure didn't look like someone whose guts had just been rearranged not all that long ago. He looked as crisp as he did in the WWF; everything had a purpose, and everything hurt. Of course, we don't get a finish, and we all know that Larry's staying champ no matter what, because Verne trusts no one who isn't family by now. Still, this was a great TV main event and not a bad sendoff for one of the greatest promotions in history.


I think the eight-time champ thing for Harley may have been an honest mistake, but we'll never know for sure, of course. Maybe Verne decided to recognize the New Zealand switch to make Harley look even more impressive than he already was. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened in wrestling.


Interesting that Verne buries Zbyszko in one breath, flat-out saying that he doesn't know how to wrestle, then insinuates that Sting and Warrior are cowards for not accepting Larry's challenge. Why would guys like Sting and Warrior want to waste their time with someone who's no good? Of course, when Verne says that someone can't wrestle, he means an amateur-style match, and by that standard, no one can wrestle these days and precious few could wrestle in Verne's day with the exception of The Champ himself. He reminds me a bit of Bob Backlund: a pro wrestler who probably would have been happier (though not as wealthy) teaching gym and coaching high school wrestling. Lee Marshall has to correct him on the air and work doubly hard to put Zbyszko over as someone who has any business in the ring and holding on to Verne's title. I wonder how burials like that went over at the family dinner table.


I love Harley clearing his half of the ring after the bout in order to try to get at Zbyszko one more time. As I said, he probably could have had a least a short series of his own with Sting for the NWA belt (he subbed at least once for Sid n a title match not too long after this).


WCW made a wise choice putting Harley with Luger when Lex finally won their title. He needed some tough-guy cred desperately, and Harley's interviews and persona (which you see here both before and after the match) gave it to him. No one would dare take a guy that Harley Race chose to manage lightly, even if the guy is basically a musclehead.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1990-08-27-AWA] Harley Race vs Larry Zbyszko

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