Arn Anderson v Barry Windham (WCW Saturday Night, 6/6/92)
Last time I saw this I was a big fan of both guys. I really liked it.
This time I'm an even bigger fan of both guys. I think I liked it even more.
People that are neither here nor there on these guys will perhaps see this as a sort of "going long for the sake of going long" type deal, but fuck it, I'd much rather see Arn and Windham "going long for the sake of it" than just about any other wrestlers working long for the sake of it.
Direct comparison to this would maybe be the Windham/Austin 2/3 falls match from a month earlier that I think goes even longer. That match has way too much Austin in control, even if Barry fighting from the bottom is always good, but this is far more balanced, and as a result, better. Plus Arn circa-1992 smokes Austin circa-1992, both on offence and on defence. And, FWIW, I still like the Austin match a lot.
This being June '92, Windham still has his right hand bandaged up from a Larry Z ambush way back in October the previous year. Watch enough WCW from that 8-9 month period (must've really fucked his hand up. They didn't call him The Cruncher for nothin', I guess) and you'll see plenty of Windham matches where the opponent(s) make a big deal out of the "taped fist", getting the ref' to check the hand, complaining about any punches being thrown with it, etc.
This is probably the best example of the fist being used as a recurring theme throughout.
Before the match starts you've got the "check his hand, dammit!" shtick with Arn and Heyman outraged at the fact he's STILL allowed to wrestle guys with a taped fist. When the match actually does start, Arn is weary of the right hand. Then Windham pops him with a GREAT punch and Arn takes an instant powder, staggering up the aisle while Heyman screams down the phone to whoever it is he usually screams down his massive celly to. Back in he gets hit with another one and takes his signature bump by collapsing on his ass, eyes bugged out, backing into the safety of the corner. As the match progresses Windham always has a game changer in his right hand, and every shot Arn takes with it is sold as if it's a bigger and bigger blow the longer it goes and the more he's hit with.
First fall is my favourite. Barry's in control for most of it, and there's a neat little story of him going after Anderson's arm and shoulder while Arn tries to work Barry's leg. Barry's great at working simple holds and keeping them interesting by doing cool little things, like putting Arn in an armbar and drawing circles in the air with it while simultaneously applying a mini-claw on the shoulder joint. I've spoke about how awesome Arn can be at being a nasty son of a bitch when working holds as well, and he brings that here. Pinnacle of the first fall is Windham countering out of a knee bar by trying to tear Arn's arm out the socket.
Second fall is the opposite of the first in terms of who's controlling the majority of it, but Arn in control is just as good as Barry in control. We also get the crazy reckless signature Windham bump where he goes for a running cross body and winds up hurling himself over the top rope and bursting his kidneys on the ring apron. That leads to Arn working the back as a set up to the Spinebuster. Heyman gets his licks in like you'd expect, too. As soon as he sees Barry wiping himself out he takes off the jacket and starts flaunting the gigantic cell phone like it's his ball bat. Then he takes a running swing at Barry's back with it.
Third fall has both guys selling fatigue which means there's plenty of great "I'm about to pass out right about now" selling from Windham where he'll stagger around like he's totally punch drunk. Also has him throwing lots of trusty right hands. There's one in particular that was tremendous, throwing it almost out of desperation while Arn does the knee-buckled sell, falling backwards while throwing an aimless punch of his own catching nothing but air. Some cool continuity as well with Arn going back to the leg that he softened up in the first fall, which gives us a big figure four nearfall spot down the stretch.
Finish is the kind of run-in finish you'll see all the time from this period, but I'm honestly so jaded to screwy finishes now that unless something is made of horrendous suck I most likely won't mind it.
Screwy finish aside, this was really fucking great.