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Buddy Rose vs. The Destroyer (2/3 Falls) (7/18/81)

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First fall: ​For one of the few times we see on this set, Buddy actively stalls to avoid a beating; it's over six minutes into the match before these two actually lock up for good. Once they do, Buddy has the advantage at first, but Destroyer takes over, and before long Buddy is piledriven. Destroyer covers, but pulls Buddy up at two in favor of delivering more punishment. He throws a few more punches, then hooks the leg and allows Sandy to count three. He leads the match one fall to none with around twelve minutes of disc time remaining.

 

Much like Assassin, part of Destroyer's gimmick is that he supposedly hides objects in his mask. It's a measure of how popular he is, or more accurately how hated Buddy is, that when he uses the headvutt at one point, Frank says, "Not a word from the fans about something being in (Destroyer's) mask. He's their hero."

 

Frank pays quite a bit of attention to Buddy's wife Toni Rae in this fall, putting over her credentials as a former homecoming queen and second place finisher in the Miss Milwaukie (Oregon) contest. I'm still not entirely sure what their story is; were they legitimately married and divorced within six months, or did they stay married for a while longer in real life but get an onscreen divorce so Buddy could reassume the Playboy persona?

 

Speaking as a fan, I'm glad Buddy didn't stall often, but it was a treat watching him do it here. He was a master at it, but also knew when to tie up at least briefly to keep the crowd from becoming bored, which is something guys like Larry Zbyszko didn't feel the need to do.

 

Destroyer doesn't overdo the "pick up my enemy at two so I can punish him" bit, probably because he knows he's got at least one more fall to wrestle and doesn't want to give Buddy the advantage. That's another spot that can lose its effectiveness if it's overdone; we'll see whether Destroyer's tune changes if a similar situation arises in either the second or third falls.

 

​Second fall: This fall belongs entirely to Buddy. He jumps Destroyer from behind before the masked man can ever get in the ring, ramming his head into the ringpost, then goes to work outside, at various points hitting both a bodyslam and an atomic drop on the floor. Destroyer gets in just enough offense to avoid being unmasked, and eventually goes down to the side backbreaker. We're even at a fall apiece with about five minutes of disc time remaining.

 

We don't often see or hear Sandy make a big deal out of lecturing Buddy in later discs, mostly because he knows it won't do any good. But he gives Buddy a pretty good tongue lashing here about his actions outside the ring, at least according to Frank. The camera's busy catching Destroyer limp around with his bad back, which is something useful to the match at least. I'd have rather seen Sandy and Buddy argue a bit, though.

 

Frank makes a big deal about having no more commercials in the program, so we may have enough time for a decision of some kind in the upcoming third fall.

 

It almost seems like Frank blames the fans for Destroyer being jumped, as he talks about how Destroyer was busy with them and wasn't paying attention to Buddy. It was more the tone of his voice than what he actually said, Maybe it was a subtle way to remind the crowd not to bother their favorite wrestlers when they're making their way to the ring because they (the fans) could cause them to be defeated and/or injured.

 

​Third fall: It's Destroyer's turn to attack before the bell, as he rams Buddy's head into the timekeeper's bell, busting him wide open. The match gets in the ring briefly, but after Destroyer unloads with a headbutt, Buddy bails out and heads for the Crow's Nest. When he gets there, he tells Destroyer that he can have this match; he's saving himself for the tag match the following Tuesday when Oliver can protect him. It's a case of open mouth insert foot, though, as Destroyer calls Don down, then asks him to postpone the tag match until the following Saturday and give him a lights-out match with Buddy on Tuesday instead. He even offers to give Don his mask before the match starts, and Don agrees, much to Buddy's chagrin.

 

It's kind of weird to see a guy who wants vengeance on someone else so badly that he'll give up his greatest advantage to get it, but that's what we have here. This in essence ends the Destroyer gimmick, as he vows to sign matches in all of the other cities and towns in the Portland loop and give up his mask before each one. Buddy claims to already know who the guy is, which means that it's probably someone who's been in Portland before. We won't get to find out, as this is Destroyer's last appearance on the set.

 

Buddy may be the only heel in history to admit that he ran out on a match because he'd rather be in a tag match with a partner to protect him. That's part of why I like him so much; he frankly admits who and what he is upfront, and it's up to his opponents to try to stop him, which few have ever come close to doing.

 

Frank talks about how the bell is mounted on a piece of plywood, which makes me wonder if Buddy might have been busted open hardway by the nails that were presumably sticking out of the plywood instead of the bell itself.

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