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Dick Murdoch

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Sell him to me. Explain to those of us who don't get him why / when / how he was so great.

 

So far in mid-late 80s stuff for the podcast and in both of his appearances on the All Japan set, I haven't been into him a whole lot. "Bland" being the word I'd use. I remember seeing a great tag match with him once in WWF when he was with Adonis.

 

Where would you start with Murdoch? What are his good matches? Why isn't his greatness obvious to me and ol' NintendoLogic already?

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Since I've been roped into this, I guess I'll explain my viewpoint. I keep hearing about what a badass brawler Murdoch was, but most matches of his I've seen are dull technical snoozefests where he works his opponent's arm for what seems like an eternity. Yes, he has a good variety of holds, and he works them well. But if something isn't going to have some kind of payoff (and his arm work never does), it's not worth 20 minutes of my time. I'm thinking specifically of his matches against Butch Reed on 9/22/85 and Barry Windham on 7/11/87.

 

Some other Murdoch matches of note:

North/South vs. Inoki/Fujinami (12/5/84)-I liked this match the last time I watched it.

North/South vs. Briscos (12/28/84)-Typical shitty heel-in-peril WWF tag match.

vs. Brody (11/22/85)-This match is hilariously bad (mainly due to Brody, granted). I can't believe this made a Schneider comp. Was this really ever someone's idea of a high-end brawl?

vs. Inoki (6/19/86)-I thought this was pretty decent. I'd say this is the best Murdoch match I've seen.

 

If there are Murdoch matches I've overlooked that'll open my eyes to his greatness, feel free to steer me in the right direction.

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I'd grab Bix's Texas Outlaws comp from a few years back for a view of his early work with Dusty. Thing about a lot of it is that it's old Chicago film with Bob Luce doing commentary, which is fine except the matches are clipped up a lot.

 

Murdoch and Rhodes rank very highly as a team from the AWA fans that grew up watching them, much like the Larry Hennig and Harley Race team is spoken of very well. the difference is that there is some Rhodes/Murdoch footage to check out for yourself.

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I don't like Murdoch nearly as much as Will, Phil or Dean, but I do think at his best he was a great wrestler. I HATE the Adonis/Murdoch team though they do have some matches I like (for the record I don't care for the Brisco's match that finished so high on the WWF Set the first go around, but I LOVE the match the team had from Boston that is available on handheld). I really like the Windham match, but I don't think it's an out of this world match like some do and a lot of the stuff I don't like in the match is on Dick. On the other hand I really love the Inoki match referenced above. Hell I really like the Jumbo matches on the AJPW Set though I know they were divisive. I thought he was great in the 9/17/87 tag, as was in every one of the six-mans where he was teaming with Orton/Hall in NJPW. The best Reed match is really, really good. Et.

 

Murdoch's stooging and facial expressions aren't for everyone, but when he was hitting on all cylinders he was awfully good. Great look that translated well to his work and one of those strange guys who will make me say "holy shit did he just do that?" at least once in nearly every match. Also the Cattle Branding might be one of my three or four favorite moves ever.

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Some of the points in NintendoLogic's post strike me as criticism of a style of work more than of Murdoch. I'd say he was excellent at working holds to pass the time in long matches, which was what you did as a top-of-the-card worker when he came up. But if you can't abide limb work that leads to no specific payoff, well, something like the Reed match is always going to be a chore.

 

I agree with Dylan on the Adonis/Murdoch tags -- said it during the nominating process for the NJ set, never changed my mind. But I really enjoyed Murdoch in the multi-man matches on that set, especially the trios tournament at the end of 1988. He was always coming up with nifty rope spots to tease eliminations and other little creative touches.

 

The Mid-South and NJ sets capture most of what's good about him, so if you don't like his stuff from either, you're unlikely to be converted.

 

My favorite part of Murdoch is his athleticism. You expect a pot-bellied guy named Capt. Redneck to throw great punches, and he did. But you don't expect him to spring up for some of the world's greatest leapfrogs. I've said this elsewhere, but he's like the middle-aged guy in your rec league, who played minor league baseball before he let his body go and is still ridiculously more coordinated than everyone else.

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To me Dick Murdoch is a close but no cigar guy. I haven't done any research to see how he was as a draw but from what I have seen of his work pretty entertaining in an unorthodox way. I would love to see more of his tag team with Dusty in the AWA days. I've only seen him in WWF, Mid South and Japan. I do like his tag team with Masked Superstar as they complimented each other well with their differences. I was over Murdoch by the time he was in Crockett land circa 87-88. His Captain Redneck persona went over very well in the Mid South area, sorta a precusor to a baby face Sgt. Slaughter in the WWF.

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I've always been entertained by Murdoch. He's a guy who you can move up and down the card. He's a good promo. His feuds and matches get over. He can play a lot of roles. For example, stooging heel, headliner of a territory , brawler, mat worker , undeneath face or heel. He throws a great punch. You can make the argument that he had Nikita Koloff's best match .

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I was about to mention that Nikita Koloff match, shoe! It really is a hell of a carry job.

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Recently re-watched his match with Killer Karl Kox from All Japan (1976) and it's all kinds of fun, as long as you can stand a match that's 90% about punches. GREAT punches, mind you, but not a lot outside punches. It's no-DQ, and Murdoch is a face who slowly becomes more and more willing to fight dirty in response to Kox's heel tactics. Murdoch's selling is so good.

 

Also: punches.

 

His 6/19/86 match vs Inoki is my favorite. Masterful demonstration of controlling a match, great technical work, but also very much a Dick Murdoch match.

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Good Murdoch is a really well rounded worker: knows his holds, can work the crowd, can sell and bump his ass off, has shit he can do from the top, can brawl, great facials, can stooge & comedy, and can fit a lot of it into a match.

 

So-So Murdoch is just there: will comedy or stooge his way through a match, or kill time. It's not horrible, but it's nothing special.

 

Rather than contrast Murdoch with Flair, I'd contrast him with Muraco. Don has a lot of the same all around skills as Dick, and will sprinkle a few of them in ever match where you *know* that he is a really talented all around worker. The problem is... Don is a Lazy Mother Fucker. He seems actively intent to get away with doing as little as possible to have a match. His good stuff is usually when someone forces it out of him... something that even a terrific and hard working guy as Steamboat has a hard time doing even *once* to have a great match. Dick may have some matches that are flat and don't really grab you, but he doesn't come across as having the Lazy Streak that Don does. In turn, when Dick has a really good match, it doesn't usually feel like he's being forced to do more tonight. If you've seen enough WWF Don and all those lazy shitty matches, you do get the sense that it's his opponent that's forces the handful of good ones to actually be good.

 

I like the two matches with Jumbo a good deal.

 

I don't care for the Briscos vs Adonis & Murdoch match in MSG at all... but the handheld Dylan mentioned sounds interesting. I'm not a fan of the WWF match with Barry: I love Barry, like Dick when he's on, and I just wanted a hell of a lot more out of that match.

 

John

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I'll respond with a longer post lat because you guys are killing me.

 

"so-so Murdoch" ... As if such a thing exists. Phil and I have heard the criticism and it is usually something you hear on why he isn't in the hall of fame because people thought he would take night's off. I think Phil and I have watched more Murdoch than anyone because of the 80s projects and it was the furthest thing from the truth. He may have had bad matches but it wasn't becAse he was phoning it in.

 

Also, I have seen tons of Murdoch which I will reference and tons of Muraco. Still looking for a good Muraco match. I think we had 10-15 great Murdoch matches on the Mid South set alone if not more.

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I've seen a decent amount of Murdoch and I'm not sure I've seen a match I'd consider Lazy. I know the mindset's been around forever. Are there token matches people point to or is it just sort of a "Well, those weren't taped of course, but Dave saw four house show matches in 1983" thing.

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I have said this before, but you don't have to think Dick is the best wrestler on earth or even a top tier guy to disagree with the "Murdoch was lazy" stuff. I agree with Matt - I've never seen a match where I thought is performance was lazy.

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Dave has said that the available footage doesn't tell the whole story because you couldn't afford to dog it on TV in New Japan and Mid-South. He said he was at a house show match in Japan where Murdoch spent the whole match lying in a hold and then got up, yelled "Miller Time!," and hit the brainbuster to finish. Regardless of whether it's true or not, it doesn't affect my opinion of him any more than when people make similar arguments against Bret Hart or Jumbo or anyone else. Who cares what you do at minor shows if you bring it when it matters?

 

Anyway, I'll check out the Kox match. I also think the DiBiase matches might be more up my alley.

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I'll respond with a longer post lat because you guys are killing me.

 

"so-so Murdoch" ... As if such a thing exists. Phil and I have heard the criticism and it is usually something you hear on why he isn't in the hall of fame because people thought he would take night's off. I think Phil and I have watched more Murdoch than anyone because of the 80s projects and it was the furthest thing from the truth. He may have had bad matches but it wasn't becAse he was phoning it in.

 

Also, I have seen tons of Murdoch which I will reference and tons of Muraco. Still looking for a good Muraco match. I think we had 10-15 great Murdoch matches on the Mid South set alone if not more.

I think you misread what I wrote:

 

Muraco was a Lazy Motherfucker.

 

Murdoch wasn't.

 

Dick may have some matches that are flat and don't really grab you, but he doesn't come across as having the Lazy Streak that Don does.

Not entirely sure how much more clear I could have made the point. Muraco's laziness is open for everyone to see. Dick has some matches that were flat and don't grab me, but it wasn't because he was putting in a lazy performance like Muraco did *almost all the time*.

 

What I was trying to get at was a contrast: people who claim that Dick was lazy are wrong because they can use Muraco as a peer example of what true laziness looks like.

 

That said, I have seen Dick matches that I thought were shit. The Briscos vs Adonis & Murdoch match in MSG was, to me, shit. It wasn't because anyone was lazy in the match generally speaking. It was because their work was bad.

 

* * * * *

 

As far as a Good Muraco Match, I like:

 

* the front end of his Rocky feud (either the first MSG or Cap Center match)

* the very front end of his Snuka feud (i.e. angle and first matches at MSG and the Cap Center)

* Backlund-Muraco

 

On Backlund...

 

I like the 9/81 MSG match and 10/81 Phily matches more than you do, and think the first is terrific while the second is a very solid 60 minute match with an interesting variety of body work.

 

I like the 11/81 Philly match a good deal, and the Nitro-style 11/81 match at the Cap Center. Each has a spot that's a bit botced, but have a lot of cool things.

 

I like the 2/83 MSG match a heck of a lot, which I was an idiot for not having watched before you did your Backlund set. I'd rate all five of those as good-or-better. In turn, the 3/83 MSG match is quite poor.

 

I'll grant that stuff like the 9/81 match generate polarizing views. Some think it's an excellent old school match. Some think it's boring as fuck. I could point to the crowd being into the match as a sign that it wasn't boring, but I'm sure that someone could point the crowd of the 60ish minute Brody-Flair match as being into it while I find it boring as hell. :) Different people find different things boring.

 

John

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Dave has said that the available footage doesn't tell the whole story because you couldn't afford to dog it on TV in New Japan and Mid-South. He said he was at a house show match in Japan where Murdoch spent the whole match lying in a hold and then got up, yelled "Miller Time!," and hit the brainbuster to finish. Regardless of whether it's true or not, it doesn't affect my opinion of him any more than when people make similar arguments against Bret Hart or Jumbo or anyone else. Who cares what you do at minor shows if you bring it when it matters?

Well, Dave has had to reinvent his argument on "Jumbo Is Lazy" at least four times as each version was shown to be wrong. It's pretty much a goofy comment at this point.

 

On Bret... I think a number of us saw some bad Bret nights. The one that sticks out in my mind as this card:

 

WWF @ Los Angeles, CA - Sports Arena - October 26, 1991 (13,800; 12,400 paid)

Jim Neidhart pinned Hercules

IRS pinned the Big Bossman after hitting him with the steel briefcase

Davey Boy Smith defeated Col. Mustafa

The Mountie defeated WWF IC Champion Bret Hart via count-out

The Berzerker defeated Greg Valentine

WWF Tag Team Champions the Legion of Doom defeated the Natural Disasters via disqualification when Jimmy Hart interfered

WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan defeated Ric Flair via reverse decision at 13:28

 

Where pretty much the entire cards was dogshit except for the main event. The Mountie-Bret match stood out as extra bad, probably because it was one of the few things on the undercard that we had some hope for. I wouldn't be surprised if Dave's review of the Oakland card the night before indicates it was a dog as well.

 

Murdoch... I haven't seen the lazy matches. Ones that I don't think are good, but not lazy ones.

 

John

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There are plenty of matches where targeted body part work is paid off. It doesn't always directly factor into the finish, but it does change the complexion of the match and become a recurring theme throughout. It doesn't happen nearly as often as it should, but it does happen.

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Murdoch is right up there with Terry for me as he can do everything you want in a wrestling match as good as anyone else could. Again rarely if ever saw a match with Murdoch that didn't hook me in. Murdoch as a crazy babyface was awesome and sure he took a lot from Killer Karl Kox but he took that schtick and went 100 with it. Dick is one of the greatest ever no doubt.

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