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[1990-11-09-WWA-Tom Robinson Benefit] Jerry Lawler vs Eddie Gilbert

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I wish it had been in Mid South Coliseum, but I'm thrilled that we at least get one full-length match between these two. I thought this was a fantastic match. They cut a good pace and Lawler goes after Gilbert aggressively. Gilbert's second, whoever he is, eats a baseball slide from Lawler just because.

 

One thing I will point out is that while I wouldn't rank Gilbert ahead of Lawler as a performer, I think as far as 1990 goes, Gilbert performs the heel Lawler act better than Lawler himself. There's talking on the house mic, and there's chain hiding, but there's also a much better ebb and flow to the match, and there's more of a sense of satisfaction for those who want to see Gilbert take his share of lumps. He mixes in the Lawler tricks with a mean streak that works really well, and some great offense like the DDT, bulldog and all sorts of punches, jabs and fistdrops. He works over Lawler's neck to build to a piledriver, which is really his own revenge after Lawler gets him with one fairly early in the match, which Gilbert sells like crazy. Yes, it's used in a manner that it doesn't end the match, but it is a key point in the match and they protect the move.

 

There are some great two-counts and some great referee-out-of-position spots that really bring the heat to a fever pitch. Cactus Jack tries to interfere for Gilbert after a ref bump, but his interference backfires and Lawler gets the win. Gilbert and Cactus argue about Cactus's screw-up after the match, which sets the stage for their 1991 feud.

 

This match really reflects well on both guys, and I'm now convinced that 1990-1991 was Eddie Gilbert's peak as a wrestler. Low-end MOTYC. I'm glad we have at least one standout match for two guys that have been so heavily featured, with the potential for another standout for Lawler against Funk to follow.

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The thing I like about Gilbert's heeling here as compared to Lawler is that he makes an honest effort of things at first. He goes after Lawler guns a-blazing with his fists, but Lawler has a counter for all of it. Then and only then, after his attempt at wrestling more or less straight-up has failed, does Gilbert resort to the chain. That's Tully Blanchard's SOP to working heel and is more befitting of an ostensible title contender or champion than what Lawler was doing, regardless of how enjoyable it was. Both guys pay back the other with various moves like DDTs and piledrivers, and Gilbert gets some near-falls both with and without foreign objects, while Lawler is just hanging on trying to get in desperation moves like the sunset flip attempt and roll-ups that fail due to a distracted referee. Cactus Jack blows his attempt at interference to give Lawler the win.

 

Best "straight" Lawler match of the year that we see.

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So awesome to have a full length match with this feud so hot and it didn't disappoint. Some great punches, some great schtick, and a satisfying finish.

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They are getting right to it. Lawler starts to dominate. Eddie takes a walk and gets on the mic. He threatens to quit but then runs back in to break the 10 count. Lawler hits a piledriver but not interested in going for the pin. Lawler catches Gilbert reaching into the tights. He’s really hesitant to lock up. Lawler with the baseball slide to hit Gilbert’s manager! Gilbert finally uses the chain on Lawler. Eddie hit a piledriver on the ring bell hammer I think. Such a small object to try hit a piledriver on. Strap down. Cactus ends up in the ring but hits Gilbert by mistake. Funk is also ringside. I hope they are building to a tag match. This match was pretty good though.

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I don't think this one was as heated as it would have been in Memphis, but the action was better. At home, you know the Memphis Mafia would have gotten involved, which would have either meant another endless beatdown on Lawler or a Jarrett/Dundee save and a mini-battle royal. Here, we actually got a decent match, although it was still quite heated.

 

Not only does Eddie do Lawler's schtick better than Jerry does, but his punches are at least equal, at least in this bout. Watching Eddie here truly feels like watching a younger version of Lawler, and you can tell that he's right where he wants to be at last. Several people on various sites (including this one) have suggested that Eddie would have made a good Black Scorpion, and that Turner could have given him enough money to do it, but I disagree. The alternate universe Lawler is the role the man was born to fill, and he's never been better, though his Watts stuff was close. It would have been interesting to see what Vince would have done with him if he'd been in Memphis when the WWF started working with them; he might have been a better "heel Lawler" than Lawler was in the WWF as well, assuming that he'd lived.

 

My favorite spot was the piledriver on the bell hammer; it takes someone who really knows what they're doing to hit a spot like that precisely, and Eddie managed it. Tremendous selling by Lawler as well.

 

I wish we could have heard Eddie on the mic here; among other things, it would have told us who his second was. I'd have recognized Doug, so it wasn't him. Could it have been Sam Lowe? He wouldn't have needed to dress like Sam Bass in Philly because nobody knew who the hell Sam Bass had been. If I had to guess with my life on the line, I'd say it was a random indy manager.

 

Nice postmatch appearances from Funk and Cactus Jack. Mick would have been quite an addition to the Memphis Mafia if he'd chosen to go back to the USWA; he'd have also been a good ally for Lawler, although it's hard to see him in that role when the Kingfish already had Dundee and Jeff to back him up.

 

I don't mean to overlook Lawler's performance; this is one of the few indy matches from this year where he actually cared, and it showed here. I'm sure that with Funk as his opponent the following night, he'll bring his A game again. Then again, babyface Lawler's always cared more than heel Lawler, even in Memphis. That was the one lesson Eddie didn't learn from his mentor, and we as fans can be thankful for that.

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#291

 

I wanted to like this, I really did, but with no Mid South Coliseum and no Lance Russell it was tough going. I like Gilbert's heel work, but I don't think Lawler's face work translates well outside of Memphis, and this felt like one angle after another from Terry Funk's contract signing through to Cactus Jack hitting Gilbert by mistake and Eddie beating up his second.

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-300-251/

 

#291

 

Yeah this was fun. I'm with you on Eddie's punches equaling that of Lawler, well except for that last monster punch Jerry nails him with... that was fantastic! That is a really interesting point about Gilbert being in Memphis when Vince came in and being a Lawler type heel in the WWF. I would have loved to have seen that.

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Gilbert really does rise to the occasion here. It could just be Gilbert is more of a natural heel and Lawler is a natural babyface. Loved getting the full match for sure!

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