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JKWebb

[1985-10-21-AJPW] Ric Flair vs Rick Martel (NWA vs AWA Title)

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I thought this was really good. Rick Martel is a selling machine in this match, and there's also a really cool spot from Flair - Martel had him in the figure four prior - He jumps on Martel's leg and falls selling his own knee. I thought Flair was too focused on begging off at first, but after he seems to get annoyed with Martel, he turns that around. Really cool to see the AWA champ face the NWA champ. Really enjoyed this one.

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The result of a champ v champ match in 1985 is pretty much a foregone conclusion, but this was very good nonetheless. I'm not the biggest Flair fan, and Flair in Japan doesn't work for me either. But again, Martel in 1985 has just been a revelation for me - if his AWA stuff from that year is as good as his All Japan work, he definitely has a case for best in the world. Especially loved Martel's counter to Ric's knee drop, where he blocked it, held the leg, stood up and worked a figure four on Flair.

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Martel is definitely a Top 25 greatest wrestler of all time for me. AWA stuff is fantastic. Strike Force stuff is incredible! Check out Tag Teams Back Again on the Place To Be Nation to hear Kelly and me rave about it.

 

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel - AJPW 10/21/85

 

Really the last of its kind, the big gaijin vs gaijin champion match. Flair would do tours up until 87. Of course, they ran Hansen/Doc/Gordy, but those were AJPW regulars that happened to be foreigners. This is the last gasp of All Japan as the 80s all star promotion as the changing tides in the US and the Choshu invasion caused Baba to go in a more insular direction.

 

Probably the best disappointing match you will ever match. It is undoubtedly a great match and very entertaining. So why is it disappointing is that it feels very plug n play. I love the Flair Formula, but with someone as dynamic and versatile as Martel it just feels stifling. Martel is so good at selling and that infectious energy that match is still a joy, but you know can be so much more. '85 Flair so lots of respectful mat work to start. Flair gets bested, but respects his opponent so he gives him handshakes and will go back in. That all changes when Kerry erm I mean Martel press slams him. Flair feels the match slipping away he lures him into the corner and hits a big atomic drop. Martel is such money selling. Flair takes him outside and posts the arm and begins working on the arm. People bitch about Flair working the arm, but it is so silly. The Figure-4 is a home run, you don't need to build to it. Flair is taking what he is given. Martel and Flair stand up exchanges are great. Martel can be so fiery, he works well. Martel misses the elbow so Flair hits a butterfly suplex. The figure-4 by Flair's opponent on Flair is just as over in Tokyo as it is in Greensboro. Lots of typical Flair spots down the stretch, Flip, Flop (the flop was great with the blood), and the press slam. The dueling leg psychology was good. Flair selling his own leg when attacking Martel's was a nice touch. The Flair figure-4 was a good nearfall for him going into the big finish run. Martel busts Flair open. Flair screaming at Martel during their fire fight was great. Martel was kicking ass on that open wound. Finally, Martel gets to hit his own spots, the Splash into the ring, which was his finish in the AWA, great nearfall near the ropes and then Splash off the middle rope to eat knees. Martel crossbodies Flair, but they both tumble over the ring ropes and double countout.

 

Tons of action, Martel selling his ass off, lots of energy, two hot runs during the end with Flair working the leg and then Martel battering the bloody Flair. Cons were a little bit longer than necessary, transitions were not always memorable and things got forgotten and Martel felt like Kerry Von Erich or Flair's opponent du jour when he could have been so much more. Enough stuff to call it great, but not much more. ****

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