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Superstar Sleeze

[1985-04-24-AWA-Winnipeg, MB] Rick Martel vs Mr Saito

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AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Mr. Saito - AWA Winnipeg 4/24/85

 

Oh how I have missed RICKY MARTEL TIME~! BABY! WOOOOOOOOOO! While this is indeed a great match, we do not get to see that classic Martel fired up comeback, but what we do see is top notch. Mr. Saito is somehow I greatly enjoyed when I was watching AWA footage randomly like two years ago especially his tag team with Bock. I remember really liking this match and nothing has changed. This is probably the best execution of a fundamental wrestling match you will ever see. The beauty is in how basic it is and how they are taking their time to really put over the moves. The story of the match is power vs speed and they stick to it from beginning to end. Martel establishes the speed game early with armdrags, but Mr. Torture wraps him in a side headlock and uses the hair at will to keep him locked in. Martel is trying to his best to create movement to gain advantage and with a monkey flip and armdrag he finds his opening working the arm. They do two great things to keep us hooked in this match. Martel is constantly struggling and when he does get out of the headlock there is a ton of movement before Saito is able to wrap him back up in a headlock or Martel gets the armbar applied. Saito transitions to the middle of the match with an eyerake and looks for the sleeper. I believe Ron Trongard lets us know that Saito learned this from Bockwinkel, but has not perfected it yet giving Martel a chance. Way to protect the move, Mr. Announcer man! Martel sold the eye-rake great and he is awesome at the glassy eyed selling here in the sleeper. Martel finally forces Saito to take a header and it is partial Ricky Martel Time, but we do get a piledriver and when Saito is a pussy about it and puts his foot on the ropes Martel gives that knee a seat drop, which is my all-time favorite AWA spot. Martel hits a suplex and backbreaker to set up his slingshot splash (won him the World Championship), but he crashes and burns! Has his speed cost him the match? Saito is such a great offensive powerhouse rattling off the backdrop driver, Russian Legsweep and Scorpion Deathlock and just looks so fucking boss. In the moment of the match, Martel literally claws into the mat and pulls himself to the ropes. DAMN! That is commitment! Saito having beaten him down with power plays right into Martel's hand with a whip, which allows Martel to use his movement to quickly turn defense into offense with a springboard reverse cross body with the flash pin. I loved how that played into the power vs. speed dynamic with Martel turning the match at the snap of the fingers. It was a basic story, but everyone was totally 100% committed. Mr. Saito brought the badass offense, Martel crushed it in the selling department, they established a narrative early and followed it through to the end, great match! ****1/4

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Oh boy, this is a great match. Saito is an absolute beast and Rick Martel is just trying to survive. The part where he is clawing his way to the ropes to escape the Scorpion Deathlock is a new iconic wrestling moment for me. Just brilliant!

Read Superstar's write-up above if you're on the fence about watching this. It really is that good. 

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