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[1981-04-06-CWA-Mid-South Coliseum] Jerry Lawler vs Terry Funk (Empty Arena)

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Jerry "The King" Lawler vs Terry Funk - Memphis 4/6/81, Empty Arena

 

Probably the most famous wrestling match in Memphis wrestling history is the unusual Empty Arena match pitting Lawler and Terry Funk together to blow off their feud. Funk having complained of homerism in the Funks' recent matches against Lawler wanted to an old fashioned mano y mano shootout. It is hard to say who is more valuable in this segment Terry Funk or Lance Russell. This may be Russell's brightest moment as he just knocks it out of the park presenting this as a unique, unnerving happening in pro wrestling. Terry Funk is raving mad in this match swearing up a storm. He is the perfect psychopath. First he is happy to prove Lawler is a coward counting him out after demanding Lance do it. Then he switches gears is totally pissed Lawler did not come and made him out to be a fool. A total lunatic. Just as he is about take his frustration out on Lance Russell out walks the King in all his regal splendor as if the Mid-South Coliseum was packed to the rafters. This leads Funk to get in the awesome dig "Don't you know that there is not anybody here...you JACKASS!" The actual match is short and sweet as a shoot bar fight would be and thats what they were going for. Throwing each other into chairs, flailing punches, and hey it is pro wrestling so we get a PILEDRIVER on the floor by Funk. Terry deperately wants Lawler to say I Quit on TV. He goes to stab Lawler in the eye, but The King fights back and kicks the stakes into TERRY FUNK'S EYE! MY EYE! MY EYE! DOCTOR! I CAN'T SEE! MY EYE! Amazing, amazing selling. It is visceral, scary and disturbing. More of an angle than a match, but fuck it, this is an all-timer through and through. ****1/2

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Just watched this for the first time on the Memphis set and was absolutely blown away. I was expecting a lot based on it's rep, but it actually managed to exceed my expectations. Obviously no great wrestling match but a tremendous presentation. Funk is phenomenal showing the various parts of his personality. We get psycho, coward and comedian all in one. He is pretty scary here but he also made me laugh a lot. I thought his back and forth with Russell was really funny. Right at the start Lance tells Terry he needs to watch his language so they can broadcast the segment later. Of course then Terry just carries on swearing. i thought that was comedy gold.

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Funk gave arguably the most complete heel performance in wrestling history here. He managed to be smug, deranged, cowardly, cunning, or pathetic depending on the needs of the story. Lawler’s cool and calm demeanor was a really nice contrast. The brawling was uncooperative and aggressive, and this had a dangerous, almost shoot-ish vibe to it. The opening portion with Lance Russell and the entrances is definitely essential but the main section could have used a few extra minutes. The “my eye” finish is, of course, super memorable but Lawler throwing the spike away in disgust was also a great visual. ****3/8
 

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“My Eye”. Bloody hell, this was a very gross match by the end. Lawler bloodies Funk’s eye up badly and Funk’s panicked squealing made the finish very uncomfortable and disturbing to watch. Funk desperately calling for the Doctor and Lance Russell (aw) was horrifying but the perfect finish to an incredible match. I never realised just how big the Mid-South Coliseum was until the lights go on and you see a sea of seats. And they made great use of the space, brawling in the crowd seats, using the empty chairs to their advantage. I loved the contrasted tempo of emotions from the two. Funk starts off the match with Lance Russel blowing his lid, itching to face Lawler who came out calm and focused. And the match was the same. The brawling was erratic and aggressive but Lawler was able to calm the storm and use that to win the match. Funk’s trash talking was awesome (yet another good use of the empty arena setting). ****1/2

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