Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only

Race vs. Angle


Tim Cooke
 Share

Recommended Posts

At DVDVR in the Memphis Stock Picks, Phil talked about Harley Race being the 70's version of Kurt Angle - lots of moves, big bumping, no real idea on how to lay out a match. I like the Baba/Race matches from the 70's and the Race/Jumbo match from 1977 but a lot of the other Race stuff I have seen has been mediocre. I always dismissed it as wrestling I don't really care for that much but with Phil bringing up the Angle comparison, I think it is valid. In terms of guys from the 70's who I have seen a fair amount of footage from, Race really doesn't come close to Baba, Destroyer, Jumbo, Lawler, Dundee, and Robinson for having the entire package. Moving into the 80's, same story only more downhill for him. I'm not dismissing Race completely as he has had some good stuff but he is being over rated in those years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 114
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

At DVDVR in the Memphis Stock Picks, Phil talked about Harley Race being the 70's version of Kurt Angle - lots of moves, big bumping, no real idea on how to lay out a match. I like the Baba/Race matches from the 70's and the Race/Jumbo match from 1977 but a lot of the other Race stuff I have seen has been mediocre. I always dismissed it as wrestling I don't really care for that much but with Phil bringing up the Angle comparison, I think it is valid. In terms of guys from the 70's who I have seen a fair amount of footage from, Race really doesn't come close to Baba, Destroyer, Jumbo, Lawler, Dundee, and Robinson for having the entire package. Moving into the 80's, same story only more downhill for him. I'm not dismissing Race completely as he has had some good stuff but he is being over rated in those years.

I would agree. For that time period, though, he was a perfect choice as touring champion. He has that methodical, workman style that makes everything he does feel real. It's just not always that interesting to watch, unfortunately. His promos were ok just not spectacular. I would rank him above Lawler for in ring ability but certainly not in psychology as Lawler was the master of doing a lot with a little. I was watching those Wrestling Gold DVDs and the crowd reaction for the Lawler matches is just amazing.

 

It's tough to say if Race was overrated though, as he did the job he was supposed to do. I just wouldn't want to watch an entire DVD set of his matches.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe I should have said "athletic ability" in the ring. As was mentioned before, Race had a lot of moves and I felt he was a better wrestler in the purest sense. I would much rather watch Jerry Lawler though and I think Lawler had a much better grasp of getting the crowd emotionally invested in the matches and angles. Obviously, Lawler is one of the best promos ever in wrestling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Race had more suplexes then Lawler, but then again so did Dirty Rhodes, but for execution of what they did, I would put Lawler above Race. It is close for sure, they actually did very similar things. Lawler's punches are better, Race has great punches, but Lawler may have the best ever. Lawler's piledriver was better. Race had the diving headbutt which was awesome, but the diving fistdrop is just as cool looking for a flying move. Also Race is a crazy bumper, but Lawler may have been the biggest non-Lucha bumper of the 70's and 80's. For me Lawler does the same things, just a little better.

 

Also I am not Frank Jewett, I don't count moves. For me it is much more important how someone puts a match together then the stuff they do. Race is a guy with lots of stuff, but he is pretty flawed in how he puts that stuff together, which is where the Angle comparison comes in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Race had more suplexes then Lawler, but then again so did Dirty Rhodes, but for execution of what they did, I would put Lawler above Race. It is close for sure, they actually did very similar things. Lawler's punches are better, Race has great punches, but Lawler may have the best ever. Lawler's piledriver was better. Race had the diving headbutt which was awesome, but the diving fistdrop is just as cool looking for a flying move. Also Race is a crazy bumper, but Lawler may have been the biggest non-Lucha bumper of the 70's and 80's. For me Lawler does the same things, just a little better.

 

Also I am not Frank Jewett, I don't count moves. For me it is much more important how someone puts a match together then the stuff they do. Race is a guy with lots of stuff, but he is pretty flawed in how he puts that stuff together, which is where the Angle comparison comes in.

 

Agreed. I think you're arguing me on a point I wasn't making. In fact, your first sentence was the point I was going for. I would pick Lawler to be my main event 10 times out of 10 over Race.

 

As for punches, it would be a toss up between Lawler and Funk for best ever, for me. Lawler's punches are fantastic, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also think the Race/Angle comparison is an intersting one. One thing Angle will never learn is that sometimes less is more.

Yeah I think that's the problem with a lot of guys working today. It's amazing how much I'd rather watch old Georgia or Mid Atlantic stuff over a lot of stuff today as a lot of the matches blend in together and become a blur of amazing moves.

 

I think Angle could have learned that but now he's in a position where he's the teacher instead of learning from better workers. So now he'll keep doing what he does.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm finding this Race discussion fascinating. I have to admit that my knee jerk reaction was, "Phil is crazy." But then I thought about the great Race matches I've seen and indeed, they were all against superworkers like Jumbo, Lawler, Flair, etc. I get excited when I see him in a '70s match because he did have a lot of offense relative to the era. I wonder if that just means he was like a color movie in the 1930s - visually enticing but not necessarily great.

 

I'm not sure I've seen many matches between him and guys who needed to be carried. I hope Will's set will eventually shed more light on his overall work. Did enough of his stuff make tape to give us a rounded picture? I'd like to hear from some Harley lovers because I honestly don't feel I know enough to render judgement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Race had more suplexes then Lawler, but then again so did Dirty Rhodes, but for execution of what they did, I would put Lawler above Race. It is close for sure, they actually did very similar things. Lawler's punches are better, Race has great punches, but Lawler may have the best ever. Lawler's piledriver was better. Race had the diving headbutt which was awesome, but the diving fistdrop is just as cool looking for a flying move. Also Race is a crazy bumper, but Lawler may have been the biggest non-Lucha bumper of the 70's and 80's. For me Lawler does the same things, just a little better.

 

Also I am not Frank Jewett, I don't count moves. For me it is much more important how someone puts a match together then the stuff they do. Race is a guy with lots of stuff, but he is pretty flawed in how he puts that stuff together, which is where the Angle comparison comes in.

 

Agreed. I think you're arguing me on a point I wasn't making. In fact, your first sentence was the point I was going for. I would pick Lawler to be my main event 10 times out of 10 over Race.

 

Okay what does Race do that makes him a better wrestler in the "purest sense"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay what does Race do that makes him a better wrestler in the "purest sense"?

I'm a little confused as to the condescension in your replies as I'm on the same page with you feeling Lawler is a better all around package.

 

I think Race is a better athlete than Lawler (and would think that Lawler would be the first to admit that. He has joked about his athletic ability all the time). I don't know how I can prove that to you and don't think that's even necessary, it's just an opinion. From the matches I've seen of him, he's good at move/counter move and that actual on the mat wrestling portion. Pure wrestling. It was just an observation, not a condemnation of Lawler. They're completely different styles and acts.

 

Lawler's appeal was never the athletic content of his matches. It was his promo ability and the way he could connect with an audience before and during the match. He has impeccable timing

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Race is a better athlete than Lawler (and would think that Lawler would be the first to admit that. He has joked about his athletic ability all the time). I don't know how I can prove that to you and don't think that's even necessary, it's just an opinion. From the matches I've seen of him, he's good at move/counter move and that actual on the mat wrestling portion. Pure wrestling. It was just an observation, not a condemnation of Lawler. They're completely different styles and acts.

I had always thought that Harley's matwork was one of his weak points. He actually didn't seem to have a whole lot to do down there. Not sure he was appreciably better mat wrestler than Lawler. Not sure he was particularly more athletic than Lawler either. Neither guy was doing moonsaults or anything, but they both did moves off of the top, both were big bumpers, hell, Jerry was probably more energetic in his matches than Harley was...not seeing how Harley was more athletic, at least not significantly so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Race is a better athlete than Lawler (and would think that Lawler would be the first to admit that. He has joked about his athletic ability all the time). I don't know how I can prove that to you and don't think that's even necessary, it's just an opinion. From the matches I've seen of him, he's good at move/counter move and that actual on the mat wrestling portion. Pure wrestling. It was just an observation, not a condemnation of Lawler. They're completely different styles and acts.

I had always thought that Harley's matwork was one of his weak points. He actually didn't seem to have a whole lot to do down there. Not sure he was appreciably better mat wrestler than Lawler. Not sure he was particularly more athletic than Lawler either. Neither guy was doing moonsaults or anything, but they both did moves off of the top, both were big bumpers, hell, Jerry was probably more energetic in his matches than Harley was...not seeing how Harley was more athletic, at least not significantly so.

 

See, I always felt he was. That's cool though, I could be wrong and I can take it :)

 

Again, though...All of this is coming from the fact that I agree that Lawler was a significantly better worker overall than Race was. I really enjoy watching Lawler matches and with Race, not so much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have trouble commenting on this because so much of what I have seen of Race was either (a.) in All Japan against mostly people Tim Cooke even listed directly as better wrestlers in the same time frame or (b.) Ric Flair, who has been known to have a decent match now and again. Then you get into his old man stuff which isn't really sticking with my memory. I'd have to see more of Harley up against some less excellent wrestlers to draw a real conclusion. The work of Race I've seen has been very enjoyable but I'm aware he's a guy I don't have the whole picture on, so I also find this discussion an interesting one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am as big a Lawler fan as anyone but this is a stupid argument. First off, he has had much better matches than Kurt Angle. Maybe you guys can chalk that up to his better opponents... every single time. I don't buy it. I watched three kickass Race-Flair matches and it wasn't Flair's work that made me enjoy the matches. Do we just dismiss the Baba and Robinson and Jumbo matches as Race being led by a superior opponent? I'll have to watch his World Class matches to see how he worked with guys like Parsons, Adams and the VEs. Still, Race and Angle as doppelgangers is about as absurd as his stock going down in the Memphis thread due to one match. If one match is all it takes for stock to go down, then throw Dundee, Idol and Lawler on that pile because they all had a fair share of shit matches in Memphis in the 80s.

 

Also, I don't get the talking point that he had this huge bag of moves. Yes, he had his suplexes and headbutts but he wasn't like Angle who would take moves from other wrestlers (Rolling Germans, ankle lock) in his attempt to become the Man of 1004 Holds. I know one example of match construction I heard was that Race did a piledriver on Flair in the early parts of a match. He wasn't Bob Orton . It wasn't his finisher. Guys like Gordy, Lawler, Dibiase, Funk, Jumbo etc. have all used big moves (especially the piledriver) early in a match and then used that as a focal point of the rest of the match. I don't see how Race gets criticized for it but you ignore it in other wrestlers that have your approval.

 

Also, Tim, I have been hunting for Race matches for my set. Can you be specific and tell me what matches of his are mediocre? You throw it out there as if it is some accepted truth but what matches are we talking about? The match Bix mentioned? The Starrcade 83 main? Then, after you throw the match out there, can you tell me specifically what Race does that is mediocre as opposed to his opponent?

 

I love what Jerry Lawler does. Two years ago, he was in my Top Ten in the Smarkschoice poll before I had even seen a third of the stuff I have discovered since. If Lawler does something a "little bit better' than Race everytime then that isn't a knock on Race so much as it is credit to Lawler. I don't understand why you feel the need to knock one person down (in this case, Race) in order to prop someone else up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay what does Race do that makes him a better wrestler in the "purest sense"?

I'm a little confused as to the condescension in your replies as I'm on the same page with you feeling Lawler is a better all around package.

 

I think Race is a better athlete than Lawler (and would think that Lawler would be the first to admit that. He has joked about his athletic ability all the time). I don't know how I can prove that to you and don't think that's even necessary, it's just an opinion. From the matches I've seen of him, he's good at move/counter move and that actual on the mat wrestling portion. Pure wrestling. It was just an observation, not a condemnation of Lawler. They're completely different styles and acts.

 

Lawler's appeal was never the athletic content of his matches. It was his promo ability and the way he could connect with an audience before and during the match. He has impeccable timing

 

Not trying to be condecending, but like S.L.L. said I can't think of anything that Race does that is particularly more athletic then Lawler, both come off the top, both take athletic bumps. Hell Lawler has a really great dropkick, which isn't something I remember Harley doing. Also Race isn't really known as much of a mat guy, in fact lack of mat ability is what Thez always held against him. I think Lawler and Race are really way more similar then say Race and Briscoe or Race and Dory Funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It wasn't just a piledriver, it was piledriver (or brainbuster depending on the match) ON THE FLOOR. Given the criticism I gave to the Angle slam to Michaels on the floor being a throwaway move, it's only fair that I criticize Race for using a "more dangerous" move in the same fashion. Especially now that it's on-point with Phil's argument.

 

Also, it was a much, much worse individual performance than any other off night I've seen from a "great worker" in watching the Memphis, and it was also during a very short run that I don't think we have anything else of on tape. Besides, I didn't even say it made Race terrible, just that he had a really terrible outing which I wasn't used to at all before his injury (especially since the Flair match from Kansas City which I believe was a few months earlier was so good). Race vs Ware a match that I was looking forward to a lot and it sucked except for having 2 nice looking spots from Race.

 

Also, Phil: On one of the first Memphis TV shows of '88, there's a music video of all of the Lord of the Ring tournament matches and in the finals, Lawler does an incredible diving headbutt onto Dundee, better and more impressive than Race's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not trying to be condecending, but like S.L.L. said I can't think of anything that Race does that is particularly more athletic then Lawler, both come off the top, both take athletic bumps. Hell Lawler has a really great dropkick, which isn't something I remember Harley doing. Also Race isn't really known as much of a mat guy, in fact lack of mat ability is what Thez always held against him. I think Lawler and Race are really way more similar then say Race and Briscoe or Race and Dory Funk.

That's cool. As I said, it may have just been my perception from the matches I've seen and I could be wrong. I open to every side of it. I never felt it was a "if you like Race you can't like Lawler" kind of thing. As Will also mentioned, one doesn't negate the other. I think Race was very good in his role as champion. I'm not a huge fan of watching his matches but it's just a preference thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It wasn't just a piledriver, it was piledriver (or brainbuster depending on the match) ON THE FLOOR. Given the criticism I gave to the Angle slam to Michaels on the floor being a throwaway move, it's only fair that I criticize Race for using a "more dangerous" move in the same fashion. Especially now that it's on-point with Phil's argument.

OK, I don't recall you criticizing Terry Gordy for doing the same move to Lawler in the Fereebirds tag or criticizing Lawler for not selling the neck like death even though the Birds did a choice job of pounding the neck for the next 5 minutes and him giving the nonchalant tag to Idol. That shit doesn't bother me but it is a wierd point for you to make to criticize Race but not Gordy for doing the same thing.

 

 

Also, it was a much, much worse individual performance than any other off night I've seen from a "great worker" in watching the Memphis, and it was also during a very short run that I don't think we have anything else of on tape. Besides, I didn't even say it made Race terrible, just that he had a really terrible outing which I wasn't used to at all before his injury (especially since the Flair match from Kansas City which I believe was a few months earlier was so good). Race vs Ware a match that I was looking forward to a lot and it sucked except for having 2 nice looking spots from Race.

Well, I guess I have to take away my Rising Pick for Koko because he had a shit match with a legend. My problem isn't that you criticized Race, only that you chose to make a sweeping generalization based off one match for a topic (on the rise, going down) that is really about patterns, not one-off performances.

 

 

Also, show me a fist drop better than most of Race's headbutts. Seriously. Not saying they do not exist but I want to watch too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It wasn't just a piledriver, it was piledriver (or brainbuster depending on the match) ON THE FLOOR. Given the criticism I gave to the Angle slam to Michaels on the floor being a throwaway move, it's only fair that I criticize Race for using a "more dangerous" move in the same fashion. Especially now that it's on-point with Phil's argument.

OK, I don't recall you criticizing Terry Gordy for doing the same move to Lawler in the Fereebirds tag or criticizing Lawler for not selling the neck like death even though the Birds did a choice job of pounding the neck for the next 5 minutes and him giving the nonchalant tag to Idol. That shit doesn't bother me but it is a wierd point for you to make to criticize Race but not Gordy for doing the same thing.

I think I was considering it but since as you said, it played into the match well and I think it was in the middle of me watching matches where the piledriver was sold oddly and less protected so it didn't bother me as much. Plus, Race used it as a total throwaway highspot as opposed to the Freebirds following up on it. The context was different, plus it was just part of my criticism of his performance in the match.

 

Also, it was a much, much worse individual performance than any other off night I've seen from a "great worker" in watching the Memphis, and it was also during a very short run that I don't think we have anything else of on tape. Besides, I didn't even say it made Race terrible, just that he had a really terrible outing which I wasn't used to at all before his injury (especially since the Flair match from Kansas City which I believe was a few months earlier was so good). Race vs Ware a match that I was looking forward to a lot and it sucked except for having 2 nice looking spots from Race.

Well, I guess I have to take away my Rising Pick for Koko because he had a shit match with a legend.

That makes absolutely no sense if Race's performance was the issue and Koko's was fine.

 

Plus, who cares if he's a legend? Brody's considered a legend and there's not much love for him on this board.

 

My problem isn't that you criticized Race, only that you chose to make a sweeping generalization based off one match for a topic (on the rise, going down) that is really about patterns, not one-off performances.

While part of it could be considered one-off, like how bad Race moved, the match layout is more indicative of a greater problem as opposed to a possibly more accute one like Race moving slowly. Plus, he had very few matches in Memphis, and compared to the other Race match in Memphis that I've seen (vs Lawler 8 years earlier), it was a giant step down both in his performance and the overall quality of the match. Also, as Phil said, it was an issue with other matches where he's against a much lesser wrestler in terms of hierarchy. I had read what he said about the Kirschner match beforehand and it struck me while watching the Ware match. Given that Race was generally considered reliably awesome before his injury (and still pretty decent, but slowed down afterwards), a performance *that* bad is a strike against him.

 

Also, show me a fist drop better than most of Race's headbutts. Seriously. Not saying they do not exist but I want to watch too.

Phil's point, not mine.

 

And Lawler's (possibly one time only) diving headbutt was more impressive than Race's. He got better air and it looked more forceful.

 

Before I finish this, I must stress: I am not necessarily in total agreement with what Phil is saying, just that this one performance was absolutely terrible to a very striking degree and it made me consider his argument more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Race v Jumbo 1 hr draw from 1978 was VERY mediocre. Lots of laying in side headlocks, not doing anything. The "Mid Atlantic" headlock gets crapped on but that was all Race was here.

 

The early 80's matches against Baba weren't anywhere near their 70's stuff. I think the 12/9/75 match is too much of the Race boring mat work but it still ends up being a good match.

 

The World Class match from 82 against King Kong Bundy got some pimping for Race carrying Bundy but I didn't see the carry job personally.

 

I would have to go back and look at some more lists to see what other Race stuff I didn't care for but those are a few different matches with good and bad opponents that stand out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That makes absolutely no sense if Race's performance was the issue and Koko's was fine.

While part of it could be considered one-off, like how bad Race moved, the match layout is more indicative of a greater problem as opposed to a possibly more accute one like Race moving slowly. Plus, he had very few matches in Memphis, and compared to the other Race match in Memphis that I've seen (vs Lawler 8 years earlier), it was a giant step down both in his performance and the overall quality of the match. Also, as Phil said, it was an issue with other matches where he's against a much lesser wrestler in terms of hierarchy. I had read what he said about the Kirschner match beforehand and it struck me while watching the Ware match. Given that Race was generally considered reliably awesome before his injury (and still pretty decent, but slowed down afterwards), a performance *that* bad is a strike against him.

Using footage outside of what we are grading (1980s Memphis) isn't really what the spirit of the thread is about. I could then counter-balance with the 15 or so Race matches I nominated from All Japan and say it was all hogwash. When you get multiple bad performances from Race in Memphis in the 80s, I'll take the claim seriously.

 

 

 

Plus, who cares if he's a legend? Brody's considered a legend and there's not much love for him on this board.

This was more of a slight (and I know it doesn't always come out that way on the net) at the spurious relationships that Phil is so fond of putting forth, even if in jest. Look at the following foolish statement....

 

Race's performance multiple matches in All Japan in the 80s proves he was a great wrestler at the time so if Koko can't have great matches with great wrestlers, it is his fault.

 

 

Phil's point, not mine.

 

And Lawler's (possibly one time only) diving headbutt was more impressive than Race's. He got better air and it looked more forceful.

So that one headbutt was better than any Harley headbutt ever? Therefore, Lawler's headbutt that he used in one match is better than Race's headbutt that he used in hundreds of matches? I really hate this argument as well. This is about execution (and not even on a consistent basis), not about a wrestler's ability or psychlogy or ring ability or athleticism or whatever. The problem I have here is that if Harley Race threw an awesome punch that looked better than any Lawler punch then I could make the claim that Race had a better punch based off one punch even though Lawler consistently threw better punches throughout his career and is considered a better puncher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was better than any Race headbutt that I've ever seen but my comment was intended as more of a minor point in a semi-joking manner. I only brought it up because Phil was unaware that Lawler had used such a move and was using a different one as a frame of reference to compare to Race's headbutt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Race v Jumbo 1 hr draw from 1978 was VERY mediocre. Lots of laying in side headlocks, not doing anything. The "Mid Atlantic" headlock gets crapped on but that was all Race was here.

I wouldn't doubt it. To be honest, the more I watch, the less I am enjoying the hour long broadways. When watching the matches, I almost feel obligated to nominate them because of their notoriety, not because I am actually enthusiastic about the matches. I'd have to watch this particular match but I am guessing you are blaming the failure of the match on Harley.

 

 

The early 80's matches against Baba weren't anywhere near their 70's stuff. I think the 12/9/75 match is too much of the Race boring mat work but it still ends up being a good match.

I enjoyed the hell out of the early 8os Baba matches. I think I nominated 3 or 4 of them with the title changes being particularly strong. Also, the strength of those matches is the layout, the very thing that Race has been criticized for... not knowing how to lay out a match.

 

 

The World Class match from 82 against King Kong Bundy got some pimping for Race carrying Bundy but I didn't see the carry job personally.

Maybe not but I still haven't seen a good Bundy singles match except for the Lawler minute challenge. The strength of that match was more in the stipulation playing up to Bundy's gimmick and not because Lawler is a wrestling genius who squeezed a good match out of Bundy.

 

I think I would look to the Von Erich matches as matches against limited workers and see what kind of matches he got out of them. I also want to watch the full-length Poffo match from WWF against a Koko-type worker. Hell, didn't he work Koko in the WWF as well? I need to hunt those down in my collection.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...