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Mark Rocco

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Mark Rocco is the single most polarising guy for me in British wrestling. Mostly everyone's a big fan of him except for me, but I'll give the devil his due if he entertains me. For the sake of this thread, I'm going to rate these matches Rocco Love, Rocco Hate or Rocco Indifference.


Mark Rocco vs. Lee Bronson (5/11/77)


Lee Bronson was a top young heavyweight prospect in the late 70s, who if British wrestling had continued on its merry way, may have ended up being in the Tony St. Clair/Wayne Bridges position come the late 80s. As it was, he never got that chance and never went that far. There were a lot of promising young heavyweights over the years and not many of them amounted to much, but Bronson looked pretty decent. I don't know if he would have ended up a star or become another Ray Steele type guy, but the window of opportunity was lost when Bridges and St. Clair jumped to All-Star promotions and the Crabtrees were left without a top heavyweight. I think Bronson too ended up in All-Star. Anyway, this was a strong catchweight bout. I've always argued that Rocco was at his best working catchweight contests as the catchweight bouts were where you got to see him actually wrestle. This was a six round draw that had my full attention without Rocco having to be a pinball. He really was a skilled wrestler when he stuck to wrestling. Now I sound like Kent Walton. Plus, I think Rocco was generally a better worker in the 70s than 80s. This gets Rocco Love from me.


Mark Rocco vs. Kung Fu (11/7/77)


Man, it's embarrassing when Walton starts talking about Kung Fu's Chinese self-defence clothes. Walton was a great commentator, but after you've listened to him hundreds of times the Waltonisms start to annoy you at times. Kung Fu had unmasked by this stage and wasn't exactly the most expressive worker around. I can tolerate kung fu gimmicks in small doses and like some of his kicks, especially the one he did off the top rope in this match, but it's not really the Euro style and the Euro style is what I watch this stuff for. This wasn't bad, though. Rocco deserves credit for being able to work different paces in matches from the same calendar year. 1977 was a good year for him. I thought the finish here was really good despite being a DKO. Kung Fu did a plancha to the outside that knocked both men out, a pretty spectacular highspot for a British town hall in 1977. It also helped that they cut to the ringside camera on the dive, which made it seem like Kung Fu was diving headlong into the camera and that the impact was coming down on the viewer's head. Very cool. Still, this was one of those aborted bouts that ended when it could've continued and so it gets the Rocco Indifference rating.

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I kind of messed up the description on the finish to that Rocco/Kung Fu fight. Rocco took a bump to the outside and as he leapt back onto the apron to re-enter the ring, Kung Fu came sprinting at him and hit a cross body block over the top rope that knocked Rocco right off the apron. It wasn't quite a plancha to the outside, but still a really cool spot.


Mark Rocco vs. Bert Royal (11/9/78)


Mark Rocco against one of Walton's favourites, Bert Royal. Let's see what magic they can do together, shall we? These two were rivals in the heavy-middleweight division. In fact, it was Rocco who ended a pretty lengthy two year reign Royal had as British Heavy-Middleweight champion between 1975 and 1977. This was the quarterfinals of a tournament to decide that vacant title, which Marty Jones had won from Rocco and relinquished as he was already the British Light-Heavyweight title. Since these two were natural rivals there was less wrestling here than in Rocco's best bouts. The match was joined in progress from roughly the fourth round with no-one having scored a fall so far, and Rocco appeared to be on his best behaviour, but Royal started using the open hand slap as retaliation for some inside move Rocco had pulled and the bout unraveled from there. At this stage, I'm not really interested in seeing Rocco heeling it up as it's not all that compelling, and the Bert Royal monkey flip isn't wrestling's most exciting comeuppance spot. Technically, the match was okay, but I wanted to see them wrestle so I'm going with Rocco indifference on this one.

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Mark Rocco vs. Chris Adams (12/6/78)


This was the final for the vacant British Heavy-Middleweight title. We're lucky to have this stuff on tape, incidentally, and in pretty good quality too. Mark Rocco had a special knack for carrying Chris Adams to exciting matches, because Chris Adams in England was all karate kicks, chops, and ungainly shit he couldn't execute properly. The crowd were right behind him, however, as they hated Mark Rocco. 1978 may have been the peak of Mark Rocco's stardom as he was on TV a mammoth 14 times. He had got past Bert Royal on a coin toss, which pissed a lot of people off and they wrote in to Walton complaining about it. Usually, I'd have a bit of a chuckle at that sort of thing, but looking at the reaction Rocco gets and the number of grannies in the crowd, I'm inclined to believe it. It wasn't just grannies, either. Men, women and children were on their feet for this one. Joint Promotions went the whole hog on this and had Rocco's father, Jumpin' Jim Hussey, sitting next to the time keeper. Talk about a chip off the old block, with Hussey having the same dark hair and mustache (and the most 70s looking used car salesman suit imaginable.)


The majority of the bout was an onslaught from Rocco with a bunch of kicks and other body strikes; some legal, some not. Very little in the way of wrestling, but the heat was immense. There was the usual mix of public warnings and fiery comebacks from the babyface before they did this really fantastic visual pinfall that created utter mayhem. Every man, woman and child thought that Adams had won and there was this huge swarm towards the ring. Amid all the confusion, Brian Crabtree announced that Rocco had been in the ropes and the bout continued. I'm no Adams fan, but this was one of those cases as with the best Breaks matches where you really want the face to win. Unfortunately, Rocco hit that nasty looking Euro style piledriver from this era and forced a submission from the neck area. If you bottled the heat you could have sold it to promotions that lacked it. The only people celebrating were Rocco and his father. This was exciting stuff and definitely Rocco Love.


Mark Rocco vs. Kid Chocolate (aired 1/20/79)


Only the main chunk of this aired so it's not possible to rate it, but Rocco was still on his streak of being the most hated man on television. For those of you who know your World of Sport, this was from Middlesbrough, which had that really strange ring set-up where the ring was right up against a stage. Rocco used the stage to full effect by throwing Kid Chocolate into it. A lot of this bout was Rocco throwing Chocolate into the ropes, actually, and since Kid Chocolate had a kind of Anderson Silva spidery body type it looked cool when he'd get tangled in the ropes. The Kid had a serious lack of charisma, though.


Mark Rocco vs. Bert Royal (4/10/79)


After Rocco beat Royal on a coin toss, the public's anger was quelled by having Max Crabtree appointed Royal as the number one contender to Rocco's British Heavy-Middleweight title, so the two great rivals wrestled all over the halls in '79. Walton sold this as one of the most popular men in British wrestling history against one of the most despised, and the action was fairly good. Royal's open handed slap to the face was a really cool antagonistic babyface move. Strangely, this ended with Rocco thinking he'd won a bout he'd been disqualified from and Brian Maxine (of all people) cutting a promo on Rocco. Maxine had a face turn at the end of the 70s, so that wasn't the surprising part. What surprises me is that for the number of times they had Maxine and Rocco work the halls in the second half of '79, they never taped one of their bouts for television despite running a TV angle to set-up the rivalry. As much as I love British wrestling, they really were slack with their TV at times. Let's chalk this up as Rocco Indifference.


Mark Rocco vs. Kung Fu (2/3/82)


So, Kung Fu came out of the wilderness to have this feud with Mark Rocco that was supposed to lead to a title match at the Royal Albert Hall, which Walton kept repeating you could see on television the following month. Only for some reason, Kung Fu left for Calgary all of a sudden and Rocco ended up facing an unknown guy in the form of Steve McHoy, which was a pretty good bout all things considered but must have been pretty embarrassing for Dale Martin promotions, who ran the London area. Shortly thereafter, Rocco left for All-Star promotions and Japan and was off the small screen for a number of years, so this match in many ways is the last hurrah of the Rocco I've been writing about for the past few days. He became the lead guy for All-Star when they got satellite TV coverage, but this was it for Joint Promotions Rocco. The picture quality isn't the greatest on this and the sound is low, which made it difficult to make out why Rocco had a manager in this and who he was. He was kind of a fat, Percy Pringle looking guy. Anyway, the match was fairly exciting with the usual Kung Fu and Rocco schtick. Kung Fu had learnt to sell a bit better since the last time we saw him, some five years earlier and this as kind of worth watching as the end of an era, but only really borderline Rocco Love.

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  • 4 months later...

Mark Rocco vs. Mal Sanders (6/18/81)

Rocco, for all his faults, was a big match worker, but this Wembley Arena bout was not one of his more memorable fights. Perhaps it was because Sanders was replacing Sammy Lee, who all the hype had been built towards. But we saw how good Rocco was the following year when Kung Fu pulled out at the last moment. This was just average from Rocco.

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  • 8 years later...

Mark Rocco vs. Ashura Hara (10/4/79)

I'm not a big fan of Rocco in Japan, but if he's wrestling as himself and his opponent is the great Ashura Hara, then I'm there. It's obvious watching this that Rocco doesn't know how he should wrestle in Japan considering he was on a tear in the UK. That said, the audience really only pops for Hara's nearfalls so maybe it was a tough crowd. Hara is awesome. Rocco probably could have done more to stand out. 

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