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Superstar Sleeze

[1988-05-09-CWA-Mid-South Coliseum] Curt Hennig vs Jerry Lawler

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AWA World Heavyweight Champion Curt Hennig vs Jerry Lawler - Memphis 5/9/88

On this night, Jerry Lawler was not just King of Memphis, but King of the World! They all came out to pay homage to the King: The Fabulous Jackie Fargo was the special referee, Memphis athletes and even the Mayor of Memphis. They packed the Mid-South Coliseum to watch their hometown hero put his career on the line to win the World Championship that eluded him the best 14 years. He had faced them all Brisco, Race, Bockwinkel, Flair and Martel. Now standing across the ring was Curt Hennig. Not to take anything away from Hennig but how great it would it have been for Bock to be in this position. 

The first ten minutes were surprisingly sluggish. Some nice bumps by Hennig early off the Lawler punches. In a surprise move, Fargo called timeout so that he could hit the atomic Drop on the shrimp manager they gave Hennig. Memphis was always trying to replicate the success of Jimmy Hart but to no avail. They did some head locks. The reverse waist lock by Hennig went on a while.

The action picked up when Lawler missed a leg drop. Hennig got the Boston Crab. Eventually they tumble to the outside where Hennig busts Lawler open with the post. Hennig throws Lawler into a lot of hard metal objects. Lawler fires up on the apron but Hennig butts him in the midsection. Great cutoff. Best spot of the match they ref bump Fargo and Hennig hits a piledriver (illegal in Memphis) and Hennig gets two. What a great nearfall. Fargo starts up with that homecoooking with refusing to come by falls for Hennig. Even Lance Russell is saying you gotta explain that one to me. Some really good slugfest. Hennig at the end was just walloping the cut eye. Great punches. Lawler finally rears back and let's him have it. Catapult into the post...1-2-3! NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION JERRY THE KING LAWLER! Memphis loses its shit.

Great moment with a rousing finish stretch. Definitely a match that would be better JIP. I didn't love the ending. It didn't feel climatic. I think the Fist Drop as a definitive ending would be great. What a feel good moment and great action down the stretch! ****1/4 

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The build and atmosphere were intense, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, with two in-ring generals and Top 100 wrestlers still in their primes like Curt and Jerry, I had HIGH expectations which were not satisfied. Hennig wasn't good on offense. His talents are bumps, selling, and dropkicks. But his role was to lay in the heat here. So what does he do? A long WAIST LOCK? Other submissions and punches were just did not work for me. The King had to juice and give him something to work with, and it was fine after that. However the finish came out of nowhere and I didn't see why Curt would have been KO'ed.

Referee Fargo was distracting and biased, reminded me of Kiniski at Starrcade 83.

The fans loved it, and so did Jerry. But I did not. Didn't help that the Memphis film footage was bad as usual.

Was it a bad match? No. But definitely not a classic. Not sure why, either, considering. Kinda makes we wonder if people who rank Lawler so high in their Top 100s/Top 10 are overlooking some things.

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