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How good was Bockwinkel?


MikeCampbell
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Between what I've seen of his work from watching AWA on ESPN Classic, and a pair of AWA Title matches with Jumbo, I'm curious what the consensus is of Nick Bockwinkel. Aside from the Hennig matches from '87, I've never really heard much pimping of his work.

 

I've always been on the impression he was just another past-his-prime guy that Verne pushed in the mid 80's because he was out of touch, but after seeing a pair of fun matches with Boris Zukhov and Colonel DeBeers, I'm starting to re-think that notion.

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The short answer is that he was having those fun matches at 50+ years old. That should speak of his abilities as a worker throughout the body of his career, even if you have not seen any of it.

 

Bockwinkel as a wrestler was the real deal. He seemed to be able to have good matches with anyone...matches without a specific formula, just a nice ability to adapt to the opponent's style, not to "submit" to the opponent's style but more the ability to shape his own strengths around the work of the opponent.

 

This speaks nothing of his tag work with Ray Stevens in the early 70's.

 

There are many examples on video I would recommend you check out at some point. Some of the workers he had really good bouts with include Billy Robinson, Rick Martel, Ric Flair, Jumbo Tsuruta, Tito Santana, Hulk Hogan, Jim Brunzell, Crusher, Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie, Jerry Lawler (Bix has a great comp showing all their goodness)..there are more but those are the first ones I could think of.

 

Add that he was a killer interview, made even better in tandem with Bobby Heenan, and there were few champions in wrestling in the 70's and early 80's that fans wanted to see lose their titles more than Nick.

 

Bockwinkel = Complete Package.

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I really haven't seen any Bock outside of the hour long Henning match, his JYD match on the Mid-South set and his series with Lawler on the Memphis set. All of which I thought were great with the exception of the JYD match. I actually thought he had the best chemistry with Lawler out of everyone else on the Memphis set, outside of Dundee of course. Oh yea I forgot he also wrestled a young Jeff Jarrett on the set which was a very good young babyface vs. veteran champion match. So yea I think Bock probably doesn't get all the recognition he deserves. I know there is that idea that he shouldn't have been getting pushed as champ in the mid-80s which may have been true if the fans in the area had gotten burned out on him, but as far as his matches go he was still definitely worth of being the number 1 guy.

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Guest Rob Naylor

I thought he was totally awesome.

 

Bock was the thinking man's wrestler and he and Harley Race (and I guess Muraco and later in the eighties heel Barry Windham) were the TOP methodical workers I've ever watched. Alot of slower paced wrestling, imo, can get boring, but these guys always made it interesting. Bock always made it seem like he was actively thinking about the holds he was applying. Just a really smooth wrestler. I think he's quite underrated. Fantastic promo too. I'd love a best of Bock promo dvd of all his best stuff. Never raised his voice once, as he didn't need to.

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With the exceptions of Lawler and Funk, Bockwinkel is probably my favorite talker ever in pro wrestling. I love the title match he had with Terry Funk in the early 1980s, some really masterful use of holds and counter holds, with both guys working from the defensive always trying to figure a way out of the position they were in. I've watched a lot of the matches he had with Verne, and Bockwinkel is phenomenal bumping around and selling everything Verne is throwing at him. I haven't seen it in a long time, but I remember liking the way Bockwinkel worked with Otto Wanz as well.

 

Also, I love his series with Lawler, I always thought it was a shame that Lawler beat Hennig instead of Bockwinkel when he finally won the AWA World Title.

 

But yeah, I agree with Naylor, someone needs to make a best of Bockwinkel promos DVD.

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Underrated is the proper term for Bock. I don't think there's many people that thought he was a bad worker, but I don't think he receives near the credit he deserves for being great. He was definitely past his prime in the mid-80s, but still was solid and was one of the few reasons to keep paying attention to the AWA during that time period. It would've been interesting to see what JCP could've gotten out of him in the mid-80s.

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Underrated is the proper term for Bock. I don't think there's many people that thought he was a bad worker, but I don't think he receives near the credit he deserves for being great.

See, I think he does get the credit he deserves and isn't under-rated, but I also hang around online with a lot of AWA guys who see Bock the same way I do. I also grew up with Bock as AWA Champ in the 70's and early 80's, so that skews it somewhat for me as well.

 

A Bockwinkel Promos dvd....I like, I like. I am going to explore what it would take to do this.

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I ended up getting khawk's Martel vs. Bockwinkel as well as Bix's set and another four disc Bockwinkel set because of how much I enjoyed him from the Memphis stuff. That interview before the $500/punch challenge is a blast. And his stuff with Heenan is classic.

 

I do enjoy his matches as well. There's something very smooth and fluid about his style that I enjoy watching. I think his style and demeanor work better in his US matches than in the Japan ones.

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One of a very small number of guys I can think of where I struggle to recall a single "bad" match that I've seen

Bockwinkle v Brody from Houston.Watching that back to back with Bockwinkle's match with JYD gives you a sense of how much more JYD brings to the table.

 

I'm not sure about the idea of judging what a guy must have been like during his athletic prime based on his high end work in his 50s. I dig Tenryu a bunch in the 80s but he's smarter and has way better execution in his 50s and think if you watch the stuff from his 50s first his athletic peak might dissapoint. I love Tamon Honda in his 40s but you would be mistaken if you watched that to make judgments about his ability in his 30s.

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