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8 Memphis territory matches


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I started the process tonight of going through my VHS tapes and figuring out what I want to keep, since I'm getting them all converted to DVD in coming months and in installments. So I just grabbed the first tape I saw and took my chances. In this case, it was a four-hour Memphis comp from 1985. Tomorrow, I'll go back to watching DVDs, the next day VHS and so on. I figure it's the only way I can get both done at the same time. Standout matches:


Jerry Lawler v Randy Savage - Mid South Coliseum


They don't actually show anything of the match but the finish, but the post-match angle is glorious. Savage gets DQ'd for his manager, Tux Newman (a good talker but a total Bobby Heenan ripoff) interfering for the DQ. Lawler tries to even the score and Savage attacks him from behind. He brings a metal plate into the ring and piledrives him on it multiple times, and puts his AWA Southern title around his arm and drops the big elbow twice. Lawler is stretchered out, and throughout this tape, Savage would both gloat about it and lose his mind and randomly attack other people as well. My God, he was an awesome character in his heyday.


Koko Ware & Norvell Austin v Brad & Bart Batten - from TV


Nice little five-minute match that sees the established PYTs give the Battens just enough to make it interesting, but not so much that they look weak, since they're the ones headlining shows. Koko Ware is awesome not just here, but on this entire tape. Norvell isn't a bad worker either, but it's obvious Koko is the best of the two. He's really great at creating movement and excitement in the ring, all the while wrestling a very believable, somewhat stiff style. He and his partner also have the heel tag team schtick down pat -- they tease babyface comebacks to enormous pops (especially for a studio match), double team constantly behind the ref's back and they even focus their offense -- both work over the neck of Brad with a front facelock, swinging neckbreaker and Koko's finisher, the brainbuster. For what's essentially a squash, they keep things mighty fun, and even build to a hot tag to brother Bart. Terrific, if abbreviated, tag team wrestling.


Cyclops v Davey Haskins - from TV


This is a crap match, and I only mention it because Cyclops is billed as a masked wrestler from Greece. He also wrestles unusually slow, doesn't sell a thing and uses the pedigree as his finisher. You don't think ...?


Fabulous Ones v Eddie Gilbert & Lanny Poffo


The Fabs still weren't a "great" tag team for their time, but I like them more after watching all their matches on this tape again, and they did have their moments, this being one of them. As good as Lane and Keirn are, Gilbert and Poffo are heel Gods, though. The match starts out with the energetic faces schooling Poffo with elementary stuff like headlocks and armbars. Pretty typical, right? Eddie Gilbert gets tagged in and says "fuck this shit!" and punches Steve Keirn in the face 13 times, without slowing down, until he has him where he wants him. Now THAT'S dedication! Lots of the typical ref distracting and cheating, and Lanny Poffo even pulls out a moonsault! In Memphis? In 1985? Yes. It doesn't connect though, and just when you think Keirn is finally going to make the hot tag, Eddie Gilbert cuts it off because he is a huge asshole that likes to mess with vulnerable people. He gets in a great vertical suplex, but misses a top rope kneedrop, finally giving Keirn the opening he needs to tag in Lane, and when he does, the building erupts! All four end up brawling in the ring to a point where the referee can no longer control the match, so he throws it out. To my joy, Gilbert and Poffo even do the Dusty Rhodes-trademarked CLUBBERIN' (four fists on one guy) on both Fabs. Really nice match, although a little too fast-paced to maximize some of the better work.




Randy Savage v Bart Batten


Savage is a brilliant heel and this match acts as a showcase for all his offense. He jumps Bart before the opening bell and the poor guy never even gets his jacket off. When his brother Brad tries to make the save, Savage demolishes him as well before finishing off Bart with the big elbow, although it may be the medium-sized elbow since he does it from the middle rope. Fun, three-minute squash.


Koko Ware & Norvell Austin v Fabulous Ones


Koko takes a hell of a bump at the very beginning of the match where he lands directly on top of his head after a monkey flip. OUCH! Both of the faces work Norvell's shoulder over, and then proceed to debut my new favorite comedy spot -- Stan Lane walks to the other corner of the ring, where Ware is standing, and starts poking him in the chest. Problem is, since Norvell is dead center in the ring, he had to step on him to get there. Ware doesn't even notice this and decides to go back to Lane's corner and do the same thing, but he ended up stepping on his own partner again. This got a tremendous reaction, and Koko sold it so well. Austin finally comes to his feet to try to get out of the hold, but realizes that when he stands up, he's right between both Fabs, so he freaks out and lays back down, going to plan B. Another great spot! Koko finally enters the match again and looks awesome doing it. He immediately connects with a great dropkick and a beautiful high knee, leaving Lane as the new face in peril. When Koko is in, the pace picks up so dramatically that it's hard to keep up, as he starts working over Lane's shoulder to get revenge for his partner, nailing him with a picture perfect shoulderbreaker. He then trolls Keirn in the corner so he can hit Lane with manager Tux Newman's cane for kicks, and uses the sitdown splash that Vader always used to counter sunset flips. Nice build to the hot tag, which sees Lanny Poffo run in for the DQ. This is so worth seeing. The PYTs aren't quite as polished as the Midnight Express would be, but the spirit is still very much there, and the frame of mind needed to be a great heel tag team certainly is. If Austin was on Ware's level, the sky would have been the limit.




Randy Savage v Jerry Oske


Joined in progress about 27 or 28 minutes in, and the match goes less than 31 minutes, so not much footage is here. That's a shame, because Savage looked to be carrying Oske to something great. I don't know what happened to Jerry Oske after this, for the record. It's obvious that Savage just didn't blow up, because he's still moving at his usual fast speed, and the last few minutes are loaded with false finishes. I hope one day I find this in full. Savage drops the AWA Southern title here, as he's WWF bound.


Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee v Bruiser Brody & Kareem Muhammad


The size difference between Dundee and Brody is quite baffling. Nice brawl in structure, but the execution does lack something, moreso from Muhammad than the other three. Lawler works face in peril, and is tremendous at gathering sympathy, but the heels don't know quite what to do with what they're given. Mayhem takes over when Brody gets frustrated with the ref trying to control him and he gives him his trademark big boot. Fun in spots, and the build is nice, but the way they get there is a little uneven.

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