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Buddy Rose vs. Rip Oliver (4/28/84)

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​First fall: ​This isn't just about the Buddy-Rip feud; it's about the guest referee, as Billy Jack has returned home to prepare for a World title match against Flair that happens the following Tuesday. He tried to get Oliver to agree to a warmup match, but Rip wouldn't do it, so he took the special referee gig in this one instead.


For all the hype, he's been like most guest refs so far, which is to say heavy on the intimidation factor but just as easily fooled as Sandy or any other ref, particularly when it comes to Oliver's taped thumb, which he's used almost at will on both Buddy's midsection and shoulder. Incidentally, that's what I like about how Oliver uses the thumb; he uses it on every possible body part, not just the throat or as part of a nervehold. I'd imagine that a spiked thumb would hurt just as much and do just as much damage no matter where it was used, and it's good to see that Oliver feels the same. Buddy sells the thing like death whenever he's hit, which helps tremendously.


I like how Billy Jack wanting to wrestle Oliver but not getting a match with him factors into the storyline. Rip thought that he'd disposed of Billy Jack, only to find him in the position of being able to screw him (Oliver) out of the Northwest title. Not only that, but Don and the NWA have given a rare Flair match to Billy Jack instead of him, and he's ​the Northwest champion. It's not a matter of ​if this whole cocktail blows up, but when​.


Buddy's mic time before the match doesn't help, as he exposes Rip for the coward that he is and promises to beat him fair and square, which he proceeds to do in the first fall. He's in control early, but Rip takes over with the help of his thumb, plus an ill-timed ringpost charge from Buddy that results in him injuring his shoulder. After using the thumb several times, Rip sets up a shoulderbreaker, only to have Buddy wriggle out and wrap him up in a sunset flip. Billy Jack counts three, and Buddy takes a one fall to none lead with about seven and a half minutes of disc time remaining.


Something tells me that this won't go three falls unless Rip gets the quickest pin of all time, because you just know​ that he's going to get into it with Billy Jack. What else are guest refs for?


Second fall: ​This is a case of "he who lives by the thumb dies by the thumb". Buddy continues the excellent legwork he did on Rip throughout the first fall, only for Rip to gain the advantage with the thumb. Billy Jack asks the crowd whether Rip used the thumb or not, and of course they say yes, so Billy Jack's really on the lookout for it. The next time Rip goes to use it, Billy Jack steps in front of him. We go round and round a couple of times, then Rip decides to use it anyway, only for Buddy to block it and use it on him. Rip goes down, Billy Jack counts three, and we have a new Northwest champion.


Even though my prediction about Rip and Billy Jack getting into it ended up wrong, I'm kind of glad we got a different finish. It especially fit because everyone knew that, love of the fans aside, Buddy had no compunction whatsoever about using Rip's thumb against him.


I loved Buddy's work on Rip's leg, as I said above. This match could have been just a knockdown, dragout fight given the history between these two, but work like this made the viewing experience infinitely more pleasurable. By the way, the hold Buddy was trying to set up which Stan called a "figure four Boston crab" was the scorpion deathlock.


The double main event for the following Tuesday sounds wonderful. I only wish one of the two matches had made tape (though we have a Flair defense against Billy Jack from October coming up on this disc, plus some six-mans involving Buddy and Rip).


This really belongs back in the first fall, but I liked Buddy talking about the days he took off over the past week just to be ready for this match. We hear all the time about athletes in other individual sports skipping certain competitions to be ready for others, so why shouldn't it happen in wrestling?

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