Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Funk, Finlay & FUCKIN' Vader!

Basically watched some random stuff last night. This was the best of it:


Terry & Dory Funk v Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan Pro Wrestling, 12/14/77)

This is part of the '77 Tag League and is probably the best match these teams have had up to this point. Thing I found most interesting about this is that Terry really struck as being the best guy in the match, and I didn't think it was all that close. He's borderline staggeringly better at working holds than Dory, both in terms of *him* working them and him *being* worked, and I don't know how Dory's managed to get this rep as the "technical brother" while Terry's talked about as the maniac brawler. Not saying Dory's a shitty worker of holds, because he's not, but Terry does everything Dory does only better. He's also got a trillion ways to keep things interesting, while Dory really doesn't. Terry was pretty awesome here, especially as they were getting close to the time limit, doing great little desperation spots and stooging like a king. He eats a Jumbo dropkick with a couple minutes left, and post-kick out he gets on his knees and gives Jumbo a couple nasty little headbutts before scurrying to his corner and tagging Dory. He managed to make an "attempted piledriver too close to the ropes resulting in being backdropped to the floor" spot look totally organic, as well. There's also a moment near the end where Baba has Dory pinned close to the Funks' corner and Terry makes a blind tag, but instead of coming in and jumping Baba when he isn't expecting it, he gives him a pat on the back and puts his hands in the air for a clean break. "We're gonna do this fair and square, big man." Then he assumes a boxing stance and stars floatin' like a butterfly...all the way into the opposite corner so he can pop Jumbo on the chin. Match is mostly built around spells where one team will work a body part of a member of the other team. They kinda go back and forth with this until nothing manages to stick, at which point they're nearing the expiration of time and they start busting out some of the bigger stuff. They're the kind of momentum shifts you'll see in a lot of tags from the era, but they're going long here so the first few heat segments are longer as a result. Jumbo unsurprisingly takes the most punishment of everybody. He's the young Kobashi to Baba's Misawa. It's all really solid stuff, and if you dig young, fired up Jumbo then you won't have much problem with this. The best of these segments is Terry's, who is always doing something to keep things moving and is never content to let any of the holds lull. At that time, I'm not sure there was anybody in Japan or America that was better than him in that respect. Backlund, maybe, but it's real close. Comparing his stretch of being worked over to Dory's earlier in the match, Terry blows Dory out the water. Granted, Terry's having his arm worked while Dory's stuck with a headlock, so one probably needs a comparison of Dory in Terry's position given that there's more room for creativity there, but still, based on general effort, you really gotta take Terry all day. I knew what the finish to this was already (pretty sure I had seen the match in the past), so I found myself looking for how well they fill time down the stretch. I thought they did a fairly good job of that. I recall their match from a year later being quite a bit better than this, and I thought their match from the 1980 League was excellent even though I suspect it might not hold up as well when I get around to re-watching it, but this is really good, if sort of unspectacular. Terry rocks, though.


Vader v Ken Shamrock (WWF In Your House 15: A Cold Day In Hell, No Holds Barred Match, 5/11/97)

This isn't your traditional WWF/E interpretation of no holds barred; instead it's like the WWF's attempt at putting a mixed martial arts fight into a worked wrestling match, "no holds barred" coming about because you'd still sometimes find MMA being referred to as no "holds barred fighting" at the time. Although none of the fine print is as important as the fact these two just beat the piss out of each other. Fuck everything else. Shamrock's a guy that apparently used to rule at the pro-wrestling back when he worked for Fujiwara's promotion in the early 90s (gonna have to send Will yet more money for that PWFG set), and he looked pretty great here. He comes out throwing leg kicks and trying to take Vader down to the mat, and whenever he manages to get him there he goes right for an arm or a leg and tries to submit him. Vader's great at selling the kicks and getting over the urgency of escaping the holds, going right for the ropes or bailing to the floor. Shamrock wants to keep things moving quickly while Vader wants to slow things down to his pace, so he keeps trying to back him into the corner and blast him with those big potatoey punches to the body and head. Every time Vader would bail to the floor I was waiting for Shamrock to lose it and eventually come out after him, which is Vader's domain and what he seems to want, but he never does. So Vader takes matters into his own hands and just suplexes him from inside the ring to the floor. This isn't your junior-heavyweight-suplex-from-the-apron-to-the-floor spot where the guy taking the suplex lands on his feet and crumples in a heap anyway; this was more like the Shawn Michaels suplex to the floor bump from the Summerslam ladder match with Ramon, only Shamrock lands on his front as opposed to his back. Vader's got him right where he wants him and fuck does he give Shamrock a real thumping here. Vader's one of the stiffest motherfuckers in wrestling history, but sometimes you see him COMPLETELY turn loose, and when he does, his "worked" punches - which are barely "worked" to begin with - become ultra-nasty and head-cavey. At one point he just fucks Shamrock right in the nose with a headbutt and hits what has to be the fugliest short-arm clothesline in the history of man. Final couple minutes feature some legit harrowing instances of retarded stiffness, first with Shamrock plastering Vader with forearm shots to the temple, at one point catching him with a PEACH. Big Leon doesn't take kindly to this and absolutely slaughters him with the most contemptible motherfucker of a clothesline you've ever seen. I mean, you can't really call it a clothesline because that kinda suggests it was a wrestling move, and, well, that just doesn't do it any justice. These two have a fucking cage match a couple months later and I need to see that right away. Can't imagine it being as good as this, but that says more about this match than anything else. My kind of wrestling, that's what this is.


Finlay v Tyson Kidd (ECW, 5/12/09)

Finlay is one of my all-time favourite wrestlers. I was thinking the other day that I might start a project for this thing where I watch, talk about, and eventually checklist every Rey Mysterio match that's ever made tape since he came to WWE, but this is my first Finlay match in ages and as such I've fallen in love with him all over again and might save that project for him instead (for one, the amount of footage makes it far less egregiously stupid and ultimately pointless). I could watch him abuse some punk kid with a goofy haircut all day, and that's exactly what I got in the first few minutes here. There's one spot where Kidd grabs a leg and starts going to work on it, and Finlay winds up countering by working him into a Texas Cloverleaf, standing him on his head at the same time, and then falls back into a backbreaker across the knees. It's hard to explain but it looked awesome. I haven't seen very much Tyson Kidd, but he looked good on offence here, much like he did in the Mysterio match from earlier this year (that's basically the totality of my Tyson Kidd viewings). He works over Finlay's arm after he dropkicks the shoulder into the steps, and he's brings lots of intensity to what he does (more than Dory). I prefer watching him try to bite Finlay's hand to get out of whatever hold he's being tortured with, but there's a ton of guys that are worse on offence, that's for sure. No surprise that Finlay's selling is tops, too. Finish was a total bummer, though. I probably wouldn't have been as disappointed if I knew it was coming, but the most I had ever heard about this is that it was good, and thus had no idea. Everything before it sure as shit was good, but just as Finlay's making his comeback... boom. And I'm left wanting.

1 comment:

Lucas said...

I remember loving that Finlay/Tyson match when it first aired. Pretty sure they had a match on Superstars around that same time that I liked, too. Kinda want to watch those again. Also interested in checking out Vader/Shamrock now. I think I should have that whole PPV on my hard drive. Not sure though. Maybe I don't. I might have imagined that, or I might be confusing that show with ROTT. I don't know.

Also, I just made a megapost over on WF and it has Christian/Kidd from 09, which I thought was superduper fun and maybe better than the Finlay matches.