Sunday, 30 January 2011

So It's 1992 WCW And I Can't Think Of A Catchy Title

Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v Steve Williams & Steve Austin (Halloween Havoc, 10/25/92)

Austin is subbing in for Gordy here, although I'm not entirely sure why (I *think* it was because Gordy had left the company by this point). Crowd fucking sucks the big one, unfortunately. I mean, this is a 30 minute match, and outside the last couple minutes it sounds like they give a shit all of two or three times. Lots to like about this, but I could see someone thinking it went longer than it needed to and dragged and such. It starts out with Dustin and Williams doing a bunch of really fun "football" spots, my favourite of which being them assuming the three point stance and making to shoulderblock each other, only for Williams to leapfrog Dustin and then clock him with a big clothesline. The Williams/Dustin match-up was my favourite part of this; every time they were in the ring together I expected something good to happen. Both Windham and Dustin take spells playing face in peril here. Windham's a guy I generally like a lot in that role, but I didn't think he was quite hitting the high notes like he usually does. Dustin is one of the best face in peril guys in history and he was tops in that role here. Williams is especially great at dishing out the beating on him, giving him these awesome blows to the kidneys that sounded real nasty. At some point Dustin picks up a cut over his eye and Doc starts laying into him with these killer punches right in front of the camera. The booking at the end here is pretty shitty, though. This isn't the crowd you want to do a time limit draw in front of to begin with, but to make it worse with stupid booking is... well, stupid.

Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas (Clash of the Champions 21, 11/18/92)

This is the Windham heel turn match and I don't think I'd ever seen it before. And it's good, unsurprisingly. Both teams are babyface going in, but Windham seems way more surly and pissed off than usual right from the jump and is in no mood for Steamboat or his little buddy. The opening Dustin/Douglas match-up establishes a sort of parity, but they don't do any of that pansy stand-off nonsense that you see all the time these days with the contrived "we're equals"/stalemate spots. Then Barry and Steamboat get in and they struggle over a hiptoss and wind up both rolling out onto the floor where they start shoving each other and they're ready to punch the other guy in the fucking face. The young guys try to keep the lid on the whole thing because this is a clean contest between friends. Except fuck that because Windham and Steamboat have been around the block a time or two and like the idea of lighting each other up with chops more than working hammerlocks and giving clean breaks. Eventually Douglas hurls himself throat-first across the top rope on a missed crossbody and we're off to the races with Dustin and Barry working him over. Douglas as your FIP continues to be a super role for him -- he sells everything great, his timing on hope spots is good; you can tell he's been hanging around with Steamboat for a minute. When Steamboat gets the hot tag things to go south for the champs. He and Dustin have a really cool exchange where they both get a handful of quick nearfalls, then Steamboat goes for a leapfrog and Dustin, because he's big and lanky and can't duck down as quickly as the littler folk, winds up headbutting Steamboat in the little dragon. I always love the accidental low blow spot and this was one of the best I've seen. Steamboat really sells the shit out of it. Dustin is conflicted; he doesn't know whether to go on the attack or wait until his friend has recovered, but Barry is going nuts on the apron telling him to attack. Dustin's really good as a guy that wants to do the right thing, but is caught between a rock and a hard place because whatever he chooses to do is either gonna fuck with his tag team partner or fuck with his good buddy. Barry plain doesn't give a shit and tags himself in and starts working over Steamboat's nuts and we have a winner for the gayest thing I've said this week. He hits a couple inverted atomic drops and looks at Dustin like "do THAT, motherfucker" and Dustin is horrified. "The fuck, man? I thought we were fightin' the good fight?" Eventually Dustin decides he's had enough, breaks up a Windham pin attempt and that starts a shoving contest which escalates to a bitchslapping contest which then escalates to Dustin decking Barry with a punch. While all of this is going on Steamboat's managed to crawl over and make the tag, and Douglas comes in and catches a dazed Windham with a belly to belly to win the belts. Steamboat's still selling emasculation on the apron like a total legend. Post-match has Barry going postal on Dustin before laying out the new champs with a chair. I didn't think this was among the top tags WCW had in '92, but it's comfortably in that "second tier" where even then you're looking at some really fucking good stuff.

WCW 1992 Project

Saturday, 29 January 2011

That Time I Got Drunk With Tenryu #5

Watched some of the New Japan/NOAH feud from 2002 over the last couple weeks, so that's the theme this week. For the most part I stuck to talking about the juniors side of it since I covered a chunk of Takayama's stint in New Japan not too long ago. Liger and Kikuchi smack each other in the face a bunch and it's awesome.

Jushin Liger & Wataru Inoue v Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (NOAH, 2/17/02)

Liger and Inoue are INVADING and I loves me some invading in my pro-wres. Liger acting like a fucker is always the good stuff too. Inoue has these really REALLY smug facial expressions when Kikuchi's elbowing him dead in the face and I find myself praying to God Kikuchi murders him. Kikuchi is just so very deeply pissed off here and the crowd are all about willing him to fight for the name of his company. He's wearing tights with a giant NOAH logo plastered across the ass which I find tremendous. The NJ lads control the lion's share of this, but any time Kanemaru and Kikuchi (especially) get fired up things are pretty much off the charts. I mean, Liger and Inoue are really fucking good at being dickheads and working the home team over, especially Liger who just exudes this aura of contempt, but any time Kikuchi snarls and hauls off with those ridiculous elbow smashes... man is it beautiful stuff. I haven't seen any of this NOAH juniors v New Japan juniors stuff in about 5 years. I loved it at the time and I get the feeling I'm gonna love it now, although I suspect it'll be for different reasons (not so much about the cool shit they're doing as opposed to the hate and animosity and Kikuchi being king of grump mountain).

Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa v Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata (NOAH, 2/17/02)

I'm not the big Kobashi fan I was, say, 5 years ago, but I was just loving every single thing he did in this. I've seen this a couple times now and I still don't *love* love it, and I thought the NOAH/NJ juniors match was better with all the hate and INVADING and such, but for someone that generally has some trouble sitting through 30+ minute matches from this decade, I had no trouble sitting through this. Every match-up here works on some level, but whenever Kobashi got in there I got giddy. There's a spot in the initial Kobashi/Akiyama pair-off where Akiyama hits a dragon screw - this is Kobashi's return after a big knee injury - and Kobashi pops up smiling, slapping the knee like he was never gone. The Kobashi/Nagata exchanges are stiff as Hell and loaded with hate, too. Great spot towards the end where Kobashi's trying to set up Akiyama for one of his big bombs and Nagata comes in from behind and blasts him with a kick to the knee. Totally awesome cheapshot. I'm kind of conflicted, though. I was watching it and thinking it was taking a little while to really get going, but then I check the time and see they're 17 minutes into it... so... what the fuck? Does build to a great climax and there's a good Kobashi-in-peril stretch. Far more stuff that I liked than stuff that I wasn't so hot on, anyway. I'd probably still have this somewhere around my top 10 for the year.

Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka v Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (NOAH, 4/7/02)

This starts with Liger running up the ramp so he can shotei Kikuchi dead in the face and then he spits on some dude in the crowd, so I'm in love with it right from the jump. Liger was one of my three favourite wrestlers of all time a couple years ago. I've since went way off a lot of the juniors stuff and don't find myself digging as much Liger as I used to, but man alive is he the fucking best as an invading piece of shit. Liger and Kikuchi just rule it so so hard at bringing the inter-promotional HATE and violence. Kanemaru is a guy I generally don't care for in the slightest, but THIS Kanemaru is all good with me. In the 2/17 match he pretty much went and fucked the rules and would punt people in the nuggets because he's fighting for NOAH and New Japan are evil. There's a great spot in this where he gets the hot tag and comes in house o' fire, then Liger hooks him from behind and Kanemaru tries to mule kick him in the stones. Liger sees it coming, steps out of the way, waits until Kanemaru turns around and then punts HIM in the balls. Crowd are outraged. Then Tanaka hangs him up in the corner and kicks him in the dick. Crowd are outraged. The pop for Kanemaru giving Liger and Tanaka a taste of their own medicine is AWESOME. I haven't watched any Tanaka in ages, but he was a blast in this. Liger's just a straight up machine full of hatred and bad intentions, but Tanaka will act like a little asshole and chip in with sneaky cheapshots and crowd taunting. Inoue was basically working exactly like Liger in the 2/17 match where he was full steam ahead trying to break Kanemaru's arm and stiffing the daylights out of Kikuchi. Inoue brought the ass-stompery, Tanaka brings the douchebaggery. 90% of what I've seen from Wataru Inoue has been a giant chore to sit through, but he owned it in the February tag and I actually preferred him in that to Tanaka here, even if I'd definitely take Tanaka over Inoue just about any other time. I thought the 2/17 tag was better because it was so much more about visual, intense hatred, where as this had more douchey, weasley hatred. Both are immensely fun, but I liked the former more. Still, this was the shit.

Koji Kanemoto v Makoto Hashi (New Japan, 8/29/02)

Heck of a match. Kanemoto is the home town boy here but he's still Kanemoto and acts like a total fucker regardless. Kanemoto going roman on some motherfucker and repeatedly kicking the tar out of them is number one and the best so I was obviously gonna dig this because he goes total roman and kicks the tar out of Hashi on a few occasions. He acts like such a dick at points that the crowd wind up getting right behind NOAH's Hashi and Hashi responds by throwing a bunch of nasty headbutts. Finishing stretch is also really tight and compact; there's not a ton of nearfalls or anything, and the finish sort of coming out of nowhere like it did was great. Looked pretty fuggin' brutal.

Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka v Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (New Japan, 8/29/02)

Rubber match in the Liger v Kikuchi tag series and I thought this was right there with the 2/17 NOAH tag. I prefer that one by a little because I thought the hatred and intensity was cranked up to 11 while this had it sitting a bit lower, but to Hell with it because this is still a great freaking match. Liger and Tanaka are on home turf and don't seem to give a shit because they're as dickheaded and acting like the same couple of assholes they were in the last NOAH match, and the crowd wind up rooting for the invaders as a result. Countless great moments of inter-promotional contempt, but my favourite might be Liger trying to break Kikuchi's cross arm-breaker on Tanaka by kicking him in the face, and when that doesn't work he goes and bodyslams Kikuchi's own partner on top of him a bunch of times. There's a lot of Liger stuff that I don't feel like going back and watching again because I know it won't be my cup of tea anymore, but this is the kind of Liger I can watch all day and keep finding things to love. Your hot finishing stretch is hot and doesn't get ridiculous at any point, and to me these Liger/Kikuchi tags really were the pinnacle of tag wrestling in Japan in '02. The whole NJ juniors/NOAH juniors feud was great.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Eddy Guerrero - Best In The World In 1997?

Been watching a bunch of Eddy Guerrero matches on Goodhelmet's Eddy set over the last few days, and I'm thinking the guy was the best in the world in '97. His first half of the year was pretty quiet, but once he turns heel he just goes on a fuggin' tear and has one of my absolute favourite six month stretches of any wrestler in history. Btw, if I bring up any talking points about lists or ballots, it's because I'm watching all of this for a Greatest WCW Match Ever poll that I mentioned at some point over the last couple months.

Eddy Guerrero v Chris Jericho (Fall Brawl, 9/14/97)

Pretty masterful performance from Eddy here. Jericho does his thing and is perfectly good in his role, but I get the sense Eddy could've had this match with anybody that can hit their spots -- I doubt it would've been much different if you replace Jericho with Brad Armstrong for example. Absolutely love Eddy's twist on an early stand-off. Those "we're equals" stand-off spots burst my fucking head, but Eddy getting in the ref's face and bitching and complaining about phantom hair pulls turned it into one of my favourite spots of the match. All of his early heel shtick is great, but you've also got him bumping around like crazy and adding these awesome little touches like selling his THROAT while Jericho's got him in an armbar (he took a nasty hotshot across the top rope beforehand). Once he takes over (with a nice payback spot for the hotshot) he works the back like a total king. I remember his control segment being awesome and it really is... probably one of my favourites. He lets Jericho get his licks in at the right time, cuts him off at the right time, and above all else everything he's doing on offence looks really nasty - the high angle back suplex, that inverted Gory Special, the modified surfboard stretch where Jericho's head is almost brought back to his fucking heels - and the whole time he's got this look of pure disgust for everybody in the entire arena. Finishing run has some transitions that could've been better, but that's really a small quibble. Tremendous match and I could honestly see this landing in my top 10.

Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko (Handheld, Spokane, WA, 9/18/97)

Wel shit, this feels like their best match. I really wish it happened on TV or PPV, because I can't imagine it not getting a ton of pimping. Eddy is at his absolute weasly scum best here; cowering; begging off; looking for handshakes; practically dry humping the referee's leg like a kid clinging to his mother; complaining about hair pulls and his tights being grabbed, neither of which ever happened; riling up the crowd... just a phenomenal performance. Malenko brings enough to the table here that it feels like you couldn't swap him out of the match and stick someone else in his place as easily as you could with Jericho, primarily because he is over like a total motherfucker, but for the most part this is just Eddy ruling it with an opponent that's along for the ride. What I found especially great about this is that they work a completely different match from all of the other handheld matches I've seen between them. They bring some of the same spots (there's a sequence that finishes up with Eddy getting armdragged off the top rope which is one they seem to like using, although it's a great sequence so it's not like I'm complaining), but the body of the match is almost nothing like any of the others. Eddy works the leg here and just heels it to the fucking moon. It's probably because of the camera angle here, but I've never noticed quite how good he is at getting guys into a position from where he can cheat. From where the guy filming this is sitting you can see the way he goes about it, and it's really subtle and great. Finishing run is hot and keeps Malenko looking strong in defeat. I've said it enough in the past that I generally don't like the Eddy/Dean match-up, but the handheld stuff from '97 is by far the most I've enjoyed a run of matches between the two.

El Caliente v Rey Misterio Jr. (Nitro, 9/29/97)

El Caliente is Eddy under a hood. This is another Eddy/Rey match from September '97 that goes around 8 minutes, and while it isn't as good as their first match earlier in the month, you really can't go wrong with this match-up. The 9/8 match had a few spots I had never seen before, but the most spectacular of the bunch didn't quite come off dead on. It wasn't a botch and they still hit it in the end, but with a spot of such difficulty, you recognise even the smallest of slips. They don't just do the exact same spot here; they actually make it even more difficult, only this time they hit it perfectly and it makes for a totally spectacular finish. Post-match Eddy gets unmasked and Misterio wants a title shot, which of course leads to...

Eddy Guerrero v Rey Misterio Jr. (Halloween Havoc, 10/26/97)

Feels like a pretty good shot at #1. Unless I watch the Flair/Steamboat Clash VI match again and have a pretty big change of heart, this won't be *my* #1, but it's still the kind of match that will likely do very well on every ballot and could definitely challenge for the overall top spot at the end. I definitely wouldn't be upset if it took the overall #1. I mean, this might've been my #1 in the WWF/E poll, although I suspect watching this and Austin/Angle back to back I still would've given the nod to the Summerslam match. Enough has been said about this over the last 13 years that it doesn't require any further pimping, but Eddy and Rey really are the perfect rudo and technico combination here. I could see the Jericho and Malenko matches being as good with a number of different guys slotted in as the babyface, but I watch this and I can't think of anybody you could replace Misterio with in 1997 and still have this good a match. Unlike the Ultimo match, this really felt like a match where the heel knew exactly when to let the babyface get his hope spots in. Of course this is 1997 Rey Jr. so the hope spots are incredible, and they still hold up as being visually spectacular even today (that springboard moonsault DDT... thing is still one of the most impressive spots I've ever seen). Eddy eschewing the shtick for a far more business-like approach goes a long way in making something like the mask ripping as effective as it is -- you really buy him as hating this kid, wanting to torture him and take his livelihood. Just an amazing match.

Eddy Guerrero v Rey Misterio Jr. (Nitro, 11/10/97)

I could say this is one of the "weaker" Eddy/Rey matches, but that shouldn't imply that it isn't good. They don't necessarily do anything that you won't have seen from them already, but it's still *these* two going 10 minutes and putting on "their" match, so again, you can't go wrong. This probably had the nastiest of set-up spots for the finish, though. Rey really takes a fucking monster of a throat-first bump across the top rope, to the point where I would've bought it as a finish even without the frog splash.

Eddy Guerrero v Rey Misterio Jr. (World War 3, 11/23/97)

I had remembered feeling like this was an attempt at topping their Havoc match and it coming off as them trying *too* hard, and I suppose that's still what it is, but Eddy's acting more like a Fuerza Guerrera here than the Satanico he was in the Havoc match. He's back to bitching and complaining about phantom hair pulls and stuff and the opening spell feels a little like the Jericho match and not the Havoc. For the most part I thought this was very good, but they botch a few spots pretty badly. They recover well enough because it's these two, but it does hurt the match and I'm generally not one that's all that bothered about spots being fucked up. The big spots they do hit cleanly are great highspots, though, some of which I don't think they've used before or after. Rey was pretty much your king of innovation anyway, but you get the sense these two had a field day coming up with spots and sequences, and for the degree of difficulty a lot of them were, their percentage of hitting them clean is pretty staggering.

Eddy Guerrero v Fit Finlay (Nitro, 12/22/97)

I've always loved this. It's not a "great match", but Eddy is my all-time favourite wrestler and Finlay is somewhere around my top 10, so just seeing them get 7 minutes to have a match is something I can definitely get behind. You get a couple nifty spots and Eddy is acting like a douchebag, so Fit hauling off and kicking him right in the nose or whatever is all good fun. I'm actually a fan of Eddy walking out at the finish, he's the Cruiserweight champ with a title defence at the biggest PPV of the year less than a week later; fuck getting smacked around by Fit Finlay on Nitro. "I don't need this... nah, man, I don't need this."

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Revisiting 1989 New Japan

So I got my buddy to make me a Shinya Hashimoto comp a couple weeks ago and as I started it last night I got to thinking about how great a year 1989 was for the old pro-wrestling. There is just a ton of great shit from a bunch of different countries and promotions, and it might be the all-around best year of the decade... maybe ever. Well, it inspired me to go back and watch a chunk of '89 stuff that was on the New Japan 80s set.

Big Van Vader v Tatsumi Fujinami (4/24/89)

This is part of the one night IWGP Title tournament (it's a semi-finals match) at the Tokyo Dome and is "only" the third best match of the night for me. That says a lot about the two matches that I thought were better, because this is still a heck of a match. Vader mostly dominates the early stages with his massive Vader-like girth and looks to manhandle Fujinami at every turn, but it was Fujinami that put the belt up for grabs and he's not letting go of it without a fight. He decides to target the arm and it leads to some big time drama down the stretch. Vader was pretty excellent at looking vulnerable and vocally selling the damage to the arm here. He's still the kind of monster that can halt any Fujinami momentum with a well placed punch to the face or a fatboy charge, but Fujinami sticking and moving and looking to hook in arm submissions works like a charm and Vader's selling of the whole thing is a big reason why it gets over as well as it does. Fujinami is equally great at getting across the severity of those big soup bones, too. There's one lariat spot where his sell of it is just indescribable. Finish is exactly what I was talking about as Vader catches Fujinami with a hefty strike that floors him long enough to hit the big splash. Great match.

Shinya Hashimoto v Victor Zangiev (4/24/89)

This is the other half of the semi-finals and the winner faces the big man for the belt. I watched this a couple times as I was working through the set; the first time I watched it I thought it looked like a super fun sub-10 minute match, but I was kind of distracted at the time and struggled to remember much of it despite it being the second or third (I don't remember exactly and I don't care enough to go check) shortest match on the whole set. Second time I watched it I thought it was a balls out great sub-10 minute match. I mean, Hashimoto spitting on Zangiev and the subsequent Zangiev look of sheer contempt before they head into the final exchange is one of my favourite moments on the entire set. Zangiev is working something like his second pro match here and for it to be this good is nuts. The guy looks like the sort of bear-like individual that could rip your head clean off your shoulders - he actually looks a lot like Zangief from the Street Fighter games right down to the mass of chest hair - and he's constantly grabbing hold of Hashimoto's arm and trying to submit him and now and again he'll just toss him with a gnarly suplex. Hashimoto finds an opening or two, but Zangiev always has a way out (the escape from the headscissors is fucking awesome) and you can see Hashimoto's frustration building and building, first to the point of rifling off a kick right to Zangiev's chin, then to the point where he spits on him because he's fuckin' had enough. The final flurry of kicks that leads to the figure four feels like it's desperation time and Zangiev's just fantastic at selling it. Tremendous match. I had this just inside my top 30 at the time, but I'd put it higher on a re-worked list.

Big Van Vader v Shinya Hashimoto (4/24/89)

And this is the final. I had this as my highest match for both guys (it was my #16) and it really feels like the kind of slugfest you want out of these two -- compact, tight, yet still managing to get across a sense of "epicness." Vader is REALLY laying it in here and comes off as such a total beast, cutting Hash off with lariats and punches that looks like they're thrown as hard as humanly possible. Hash is incredible at selling it all; at one point he takes this sort of whiplash bump into the ropes after a big blow from Vader, and the bump was as spectacular as the strike was nasty. Vader doesn't just spend the whole match assaulting Hashimoto, though. They play off his semi-final match with Fujinami with Hash going after the same arm, and Vader really is awesome as a wounded grizzly bear. Thesz is your special ref' here and he mucks up the final pinfall, but other than that this is just a fucking slaughterhouse of a match. These guys right here, man... THESE guys.

Big Van Vader v Riki Choshu (6/27/89)

I had this one just outside my top 20, and it totally holds up as the absolute hurricane of blood and stiffness that I remembered. Choshu waffles (and I mean WAFFLES) Vader with a chair early and from there on out you get the amazing visual of Vader walking around covered in blood with his mask half ripped trying to brutalise Choshu. It's like something out of a Rob Zombie slasher flick except Vader will fuck you up with his fists, to Hell with a chainsaw, son. Also thought this was one of the better count out finishes on the entire set as Choshu jumps off the apron only to be caught by Vader and crushed with a spinebuster on the floor. Vader following up with a fatboy mugging off the apron was great. I found the New Japan set as a whole really difficult to get through, and there were points where I figured I had no chance of getting a ballot together by the deadline (unlike Memphis where I had it done and dusted with about 4 months to spare). But by the time the last couple discs rolled around and I got stuck into the 1989 stuff, pimping most definitely came easy. This was one of those matches that I watched and made me think, "Yeah, I'll finish this in 2 days no sweat."

Big Van Vader, Buzz Sawyer & Manny Fernandez v Riki Choshu, Jushin Liger & Kengo Kimura (8/3/89)

This was my #17 and was probably my straight up favourite match of the whole set. It's another one that doesn't even go 10 minutes, but the Liger/Vader interactions are some of the absolute best things about the New Japan project for me and I've sat with a gigantic grin on my face each time I've watched it (and I've watched this more than any other match on the set by far). Everything Vader and Liger do together is just a ton of fun. Liger dropkicks Vader off the apron right at the start and Vader goes completely postal, hurling chairs, tearing up barricades, flipping tables, etc. Liger looks like some weird action figure and Vader wants to snap his tiny little arms off. They do a couple spots where he chases him out to the floor, but Liger's too quick for him and jumps back in, and that obviously leads to Vader causing more destruction around the ring. When he finally gets his hands on him Liger eats his punishment like a MAN and Vader just picks him up and lobs him out onto two guys standing around the ring. There's another spot later on where it looks like Vader's gonna get a run at him again and Choshu just flies into the picture and creams him with a lariat. Vader/Liger is really the main theme, but outside of that you get a ton of other great stuff, like the Sawyer/Liger criss-cross spot that was totally fucking boss and ends with Sawyer taking this glorious bump where he flies backwards through the middle rope head-first, almost like an upside down Chris Hamrick special. Sawyer's powerslam spot where he just plucks Liger out the air looked tremendous, too. Actually Sawyer was just about as much fun as Vader and Liger in this, the only difference being that the spotlight wasn't really on him as much as the other two. Kimura and Manny didn't really do much here and never added nearly as much as their partners, but their participation is pretty minimal and everybody else is rocking out so hard that it doesn't matter much, anyway. A Vader/Sawyer v Liger/Choshu tag just shot way up on my list of holy grails and this match seriously gets better and better every time I watch it. This is pro-wrestling, motherfucker.

Jushin Liger & Akira Nogami v Kantaro Hoshino & Naoki Sano (8/8/89)

Kantaro Hoshino was probably the find of the entire New Japan project for me. Bill Dundee was my find of the Memphis set and Hoshino is like a grumpier, cheapshottier Japanese Bill Dundee; just the most awesome seedy little rat bastard imaginable. I wound up with this as my #9 and thought it was one of the best extended squash matches in history ("extended squash" probably undersells it, but that's what it essentially is). It starts out with fired up Liger going straight for the jugular, but before long Hoshino and Sano turn it into a prison riot and Liger's arm is the target of a shanking. Liger is tremendous selling the arm for the entire match, whether it's while he's being worked over early or working the apron in the second half; he always seems so desperate, but he's working against Hoshino and Sano with one arm and sometimes the size of the fight in the dog just isn't enough to overcome the size of the dog in the fight. This is Hoshino and Sano for chrissakes; fuck outta here with your Mark Twain bullshit. Akira Nogami is someone that's never really talked about in any great detail. There's the match with Kanemoto from 2003 and there's probably some stuff from the early 90s or some other point of the last decade that's worth talking about, but there generally isn't a ton of Akira Nogami discussion. I don't know if he's a "lost great worker", but holy shit is he seriously not afraid to get his ass well and truly STOMPED here. He gets the hot tag from Liger and comes in swinging, then he tries to hit a tope on Sano and winds up careening face first into the guard rail in one of the most insane bumps I've ever seen. Of course Hoshino starts punching him right in his broken face and a little later Sano completely fucking obliterates him with a baseball slide that really didn't look a whole lot less nasty than the self-inflicted disfigurement off the bullet tope. And Liger can't do a thing about any of it. There's one moment where it looks like Nogami might be able to make the hot tag, but then old man Hoshino just strolls in front of him and kicks him clean in his bloody face to put and end to that. As an extended mugging, this has all the violence and viciousness that you could hope for. Had they gone 4 or 5 minutes longer with the hot tag actually being made then this goes from a top 10 match to a likely top 3. As it stands, even with a sort of weird finish, it's still an exceptional match where your babyfaces are amazing at taking and selling a shit kicking while your heels are equally so at dishing one out.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Dogs On Main Street Howl For 1992 WCW

Arn Anderson, Steve Austin & Bobby Eaton v Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham & Nikita Koloff (Beach Blast, 6/20/92)

This was disappointingly forgettable. It's not even so much a case of them only having ten minutes, because there's a ton of short matches between these guys in some variation over the course of the year that manage to still be really good. It's just that this was pretty messy and never kicked into gear the way I was hoping. It did have some great Arn, though. I mentioned a while back in a Double A of the Day that Arn loves to do the spot in these multi-man matches where he'll get tagged in and walk over to the babyface corner so he can pick someone to taunt, and he has a different taunt for just about anybody you could think of. This time he gets in and walks over to Nikita, but instead of taunting him he just slaps him in the mouth. You also get the double noggin' knocker transition spot and a couple variations of his top rope shtick, so if nothing else this is something for the Arn completest. Not a terrible match by any means, but on a PPV as good as Beach Blast, you really want more from this.

The Steiner Brothers v Steve Williams & Terry Gordy (Beach Blast, 6/20/92)

I was sort of sceptical about this; I hadn't seen it in a long time and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it now after watching their Clash match again and thinking it was about as good a "Steiners Match" as I've ever seen. That one went about 12 minutes and really had everything you want out of a match like that. This goes more than twice that length and I wasn't sure how interesting things would be in between them tossing each other around and shit. I still think the Clash match is comfortably better, but this is pretty great in its own right. Gordy and Williams are in control for large spells, which is the usual fare with their WCW run, but they're good at stretching the Steiners and laying a beating, cutting off the ring really well, etc. The main selling point is the big heavyweight bombs, and they're as big and nasty as they should be. Rick gets dumped right on his neck with a back suplex early on, Gordy takes one right back shortly after, the Steiners are throwing monster lariats, Doc and Gordy are tossing them around with suplexes, Rick and Scott toss them right back; it's your Steiner Brothers/Williams and Gordy bomb-fest stretched out over a long-ish period of time, basically. Thought Doc and Gordy could've brought a little more urgency towards the end, but after Scott gets the hot tag with about 2 minutes to go things pick up like they should. Also liked how Gordy Hansen'd Scotty in the head with a lariat at the death so they could try and put Rick - who had taken a pretty big pasting the whole match - away. Probably longer than it really needed to be, but this is Wattsville after all.

Ricky Steamboat v Brian Pillman (Halloween Havoc, 10/25/92)

I've covered a shit ton of Pillman stuff for this project, but this is the first heel Pillman singles match I've spoke about so far. It's been a while since I've watched any of his heel run in the final quarter of '92, but I remember being pretty down on it and not enjoying him nearly as much as I do as a babyface. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but I might wind up changing my opinion of heel Pillman (at least in '92) after I've finished the project, because I thought this was a blast and a really good performance from Pillman. He's great as a smarmy little dick here, and his flashy stuff feels like it's coming from a guy that's doing it because he's good and he knows it, as opposed to a Shelton Benjamin who seemed like a guy doing all these flashy babyface moves as a heel because he didn't know how to work any other way and just kinda wasn't very good in general. Cool thing about this match is that it's Steamboat working against guy who's got the "speed advantage" so Steamboat can then be guy who gets to rough up opponent. Usually it's Steamboat bringing the flash and speed, but here he busts out some of the power stuff you don't see from him very often; at one point he just grabs Pillman around the throat at hoists him above his head, and that's a Steamboat spot I always love. Pillman's douchebaggery must've gotten too much for him, I guess. Also liked Steamboat playing possum early and yanking Pillman into an armbar only for Pillman to return the favour later by acting as if he's concussed or something and then elbowing Steamboat in the temple. Indy roll up sequence at the end was sort of a WTF moment, but it leads to the finish so I didn't hate it (I can't stand the indy roll up nearfall sequence. It needs to die a swift death). Whole match feels like your PPV opening match and as far as PPV opening matches go, this was a good one.

Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff v Steve Austin & Brian Pillman (Main Event, 11/8/92)

Above average 10 minute tag, which means above average in '92 WCW means it's well worth checking out. Pillman impressed me again here, bumping around, acting like an ass, etc. I was especially impressed with how he'd run distractions and get heat off of simple cheating spots like getting in the ref's face while Austin chokes Steamboat across the ropes (although, to be fair, that's not just Pillman's doing). Steamboat takes a turn as FIP like you'd expect and he's good at it, which should be shocking to absolutely no one. Nikita is good as your house o' fire beatstick and, going back to what I said earlier, Pillman is ready and willing to bump like a trooper for him. Gotta imagine a 15 minute match between these guys could rule it somethin' fierce.

Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas v Diamond Dallas Page & Vinnie Vegas (Saturday Night, 11/14/92)

Nash is pretty green here, but it's interesting to see how much he'll bump for Shane Douglas in comparison to how much he'd bump for just about anybody the size of Douglas once he got to the WWF. That's obviously got a lot to do with Vince's booking of him, of course. His interactions with Steamboat are pretty fun here. I never really cared for much Shane Douglas after this stint in WCW, but uber-babyface partnered with Steamboat is a Shane Douglas that's okay with me and he's a solid FIP in this. Page is pretty unspectacular for the most part, but he's fine as your scuzzy cheapshotting heel when he needs to be. I liked the finish quite a bit with Steamboat catching Nash unawares with a crossbody off the top while Douglas trips him up from behind playground style.

WCW 1992 Project

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

DVDVR Texas Set, Disc 6

Man, this was a Hell of a disc. It's always hard ranking all of these 80s projects when you start to get deep enough into it, and that's no different with this one, but everthing bar the last match is very likely gonna land top half by the end. Doubt I'll be able to plow through the rest of the discs like I did the last three since I'm back at work tomorrow, but I actually feel confident in being able to get this whole thing done before the deadline, which wasn't the case at all just four days ago.

Freebirds v Kevin & Kerry Von Erich (Bunkhouse Elimination Cage Match, 9/3/84)
- Man this might be the most frustrating match on the set, at least from a personal standpoint. On the one hand it's got all the bar fighting and guys smacking each other with cowboy boots and the general level of hatred that you come to expect from this feud, especially when it's the no holds barred blowoff in a steel cage. On the other hand it's got a serious lack of Mike Von Erich. No bullshit. He's injured and can't compete here, and for all the shit I've given him since he started appearing on the set, I thought this would've been better if it was 3-on-3. Reason for that is Kevin and Kerry whipping ass for the first six minutes the way they did was just too much for me. The Von Erichs have been a major talking point of this project. I mean, shit, it's the Texas set so obviously Von Erich brothers discussion is gonna be rife. A lot of it has revolved around them being "supermen" and not selling enough or sandbagging or whatever you want to call it. Some people think they're guilty of it more often than not, others accept the fact they were booked like The Jesus Children of Dallas, Texas with God on their side and the ability to overcome the odds at every turn or whatever you want to call that. I understand both sides of the argument, but for the most part I've been totally fine with the way they've been so strongly booked. I've already mentioned that there are times where I wish they'd let a heel work them over for a little while longer, but they've all been minor gripes and I haven't had any matches ruined because I think the Von Erichs are taking too much of the match. This one annoyed me, though. 3-on-3 I don't think it's much of a problem because that way the odds are at least "even" from the start. This starts off with 3 Freebirds against 2 Von Erichs, and for the first 5 or 6 minutes, Kevin and Kerry barely give the 'Birds a thing. They're not afraid to get plastered with a cowboy boot or thrown into a cage, but they pretty much shrug it off like it's nothing and go back to stomping tail. If it was the other way around with the heels giving the babyfaces nothing then I could at least begin to buy it, because they've got a man up and one of them is Terry fucking Gordy... but it's not and I found myself being a sad panda. Then the Freebirds finally manage to kinda take over and Gordy and Buddy completely murder Kerry with a fucked up crazy spike piledriver. I mean this looked like THE nastiest motherfucker of a piledriver. Kerry sells it like he's dead and actually has to be carried from the ring and I don't think we've seen anything like that up to this point in the set. Now Kevin's stuck on his own against 3 guys and I'm hoping we get to see the major ass beating that I wanted from the start. And we do... mostly. Kevin goes postal with a cowboy boot and swings at everything that moves, but before long he's getting worked over and THIS is what I wanted from this match. He gets double clotheslined right in the throat, gets whipped with a belt, hurled into the cage, the whole nine. I liked how they went on to the Hayes elimination as well. But the finish is... I don't hate it because there was no way the Von Erichs were gonna lose this and Buddy taking his third or fourth completely ridiculous crotching of the set is something I can always get behind, but it's an idea that's pretty cooky to begin with and doesn't get a whole lot better in execution. The whole match is just so frustrating. I won't rank it low or anything, but I doubt I'll have it anywhere near the best matches this feud produced, which is a shame because I was all ready to bust a nut over a feud-ender like this.

Iceman King Parsons v Chris Adams (10/8/84)
- Adams is still a pretty good dude at this stage, signing autographs and coming across as a guy that truly only hired Gary Hart for the good of his career and just wants to advance in THE BIZ without all the bullshit he's having to put up with from fans, other wrestlers, etc. He never had any ulterior motives; he just wants to be successful and win the World Title and Gary Hart's the guy that can take him there. It's everybody else that's overreacting and pushing him away. Iceman is one of those people, giving him shit before the match even starts as if Adams has "changed" while Adams just wants to shake hands and defend his TV title. Match itself is a good one, not too different from the Jake match where Adams wins the belt in that they're going tit for tat early, although this doesn't have the niggliness that the Jake match had in that both guys here are babyfaces. Adams is good at showing signs of frustration that he probably wouldn't have shown a year earlier, though. Finish is boss and a great way to further the stuff with Adams and Hart. Probably a top third match for me.

Kevin Von Erich v Chris Adams (10/27/84)
- Adams is still working babyface here as well, but it was Kevin that he superkicked and left to Roberts and Hernandez not long before this as the first step towards the eventual heel turn. Match is only about 7 minutes long, but what we get is great. The early matwork is really good and there's more fun stuff from Kevin who I could watch pull tricks out all day long. Then Adams get pissed off and sucker punches Kevin off a clean break before cracking him with a monster superkick while Kevin's on his knees. Then he flattens him with a tope and things are shaping up to be one of the best matches on the set. Kevin scores a flash roll-up directly afterwards though, so it gets snipped before it really has a chance to reach the lofty heights it could've with double the time. Post-match is the final nail in the coffin for Adams as a babyface as Kevin makes an offer to him saying he's willing to bury the hatchet as long as Adams fires Gary Hart, but Adams is having none of it and blasts him in the back of the head with a chair. Match + post-match angle should leave this in the top half pretty easily.

Gino Hernandez, Jake the Snake & Chris Adams v Kerry Von Erich, Mike Von Erich & Bobby Fulton (10/27/84)
- More Jake ruling it. Actually the whole heel team ruled it here. Kevin was injured thanks to the Adams mugging earlier so Fulton takes his place. Would've like Rogers there instead of Bobby if we're gonna have a Fantastic showing up, but it doesn't really matter either way since Fulton's barely involved. Which is still a pity. Adams is pretty fuggin' great as your chickenshit heel that's afraid of what the Von Erichs might do to him after taking out Kevin. He's happy enough to get in there when his team have the advantage, but if it's a level playing field he's not as eager. Kerry's definitely the star of his team here; he plays a strong semi-extended FIP, is always a great house o' fire and brings the hatred for Adams after his treachery earlier. Mike was okay here as well. He does some goofy looking shit and doesn't sell very well, but you get the sense he's just as pissed off as Kerry over what happened to Kevin. Structure of a lot of the tags on this set have been really weird and this is another example. Not "bad" weird, just "unusual" weird. This starts out like your classic southern tag with the heels getting their asses handed to them before they score a breakthrough and one of the babyfaces gets worked over. Then Kerry makes the hot tag and in comes your house o' fire. That's classic southern tag formula. Here, instead of going to the finish, they work another three or four much shorter FIP sections before Adams eventually sneaks in a superkick while Kerry's in the middle of suplexing Jake (which I thought was a great finish). It did get kinda sloppy at points, but I think that's more to do with the participants not totally being on the same page with everything as opposed to it being a structural flaw. Anyways, whatever, this was good stuff and the post-match locker room promo was boss. Roberts is such a scum.

Terry Gordy v Killer Kahn (Texas Death Match, Special Referee: Kerry Von Erich, 11/22/84)
- I had seen this before and I pegged it as a top 10 candidate going into the set, and man does it still feel like a top 10 contender. I had never seen the post-match angle before and that just adds to its case. You know what to expect from these two. They just punch the shit out of each other and throw each other into ring posts and bite each other's bloody forehead. Gordy gigs himself HUGE and his body is practically covered in plasma by the end. Kahn does the spectacular bald dude blade job where he nicks an artery and the blood spreads all over his head and by the end it looks like he's wearing a red beanie hat. When I first saw this I really wished they had fought out on the floor for at least a little while, and I guess part of me still does, but that's really a small complaint. Kahn has the world's best crazy-man-screaming-kneedrop ever. Finish is a fitting finish for this feud as well. Texas Death Matches with the 30 second rest period is still something that I could do without, but again, small complain. Post-match is fucking awesome with the rest of Devastation Inc. showing up and Gordy and Kerry having to team up to clear house before they're stomped. Then Kerry offers Gordy a handshake and Gordy's a bloody mess and doesn't buy it so Kerry leaves and then Gordy gets on the mic and tells him to get his ass back in the ring if he's a REAL MAN with any fuckin' GUTS. Crowd are ready for Von Erichs/Freebirds RIOT IN THE USA part 2 until Gordy offers up a handshake and Kerry takes it and the place is in fucking meltdown. Holy shit this rules. Top 10, maybe top 5.

Midnight Express v The Fantastics (12/25/84)
- You know me, you know I loved this. This is the first real classic southern style tag that I can think of on the set so far. There have been lots of tags that have felt like variations of the formula where guys are tinkering with stuff and switching up the layout here and there, but this is the original and these teams are masters of it. It's been a while since I've seen a Condrey-Eaton MX match, but this really made me want to go back and watch everything they did on the Mid-South set again. I had forgotten how much of an awesome mean fucker Condrey is. He really abuses Rogers here; he hits the ropes at one point in what seems like preparation for an elbow drop, then he just causally drives all the wind out of him with a nasty double stomp. And man, those kneedrops right to the Adam's Apple. They're probably a receipt for Rogers insinuating that Eaton and Condrey might be gay a little earlier. The 'Fantastics think Midnights might be gay because they hug it out' spot is always fun since Rogers and Fulton are the ones wearing tiny pants and bow-ties and top hats and throwing candy canes out to the crowd pre-match. Rogers is an all-time great face in peril and the crowd are just going bonkers for him here. Finish has them blowing their stack some more and this should land high on my list.

Gino Hernandez, Jake the Snake & Chris Adams v The Von Erichs (12/31/84)
- Kevin fucking HATES Chris Adams and Adams HATES being the subject of some psycho Texan and his fucked up fury and I LOVE this fucking match. Kevin has been tremendous as a dude showing absolute seething hatred for his opponent all the way through this project. He leaps across the ring before the bell and tries to rip Adams' head off for doing what he did to him a few months back and Gary Hart in his incredible sweater almost gets run over in the process and Adams has to bail just to save himself while Kerry and Mike try and restrain Kevin before this whole thing gets tossed out before it's even begun. Hart is awesome trying to cool Adams down, "This is a TITLE match. It's about money... MONEY!" Match almost feels like a hybrid of an early 90s All Japan six man and your traditional southern tag. Kevin and Adams aren't necessarily your Jumbo and Misawa in terms of hierarchy or "team leaders" (although I guess you could argue they are, certainly in Kevin's case), but it's their beef that's the main "sub-plot"; the fact it's for the titles being the "main plot." Mike is your skinny young Kobashi who's been feuding with Jake and is keen to prove a point that he DOES deserve that rookie of the year plaque Roberts smashed to pieces (we'll ignore the fact he's just not very good). Roberts is a scummy bastard so I guess he's your Fuchi. Kerry and Gino don't really have any long-standing feud to tie them to the other two, but they don't need one because Gino's a third of the champs and Kerry's a fucking Von Erich for chrissake. That writes itself. The "southern tag" aspect is pretty obvious. It starts out with the Kerry/Gino match-up before briefly moving onto Roberts/Mike. So I guess we've got a lucha trios aspect to it now as well. Adams comes in and we unfortunately don't get Kevin in to match up with him, but Kerry gets back in instead and winds up getting superkicked in the fucking teeth so I can make do with that just fine. Adams misses a diving headbutt so Kerry grabs hold of his leg and THEN tags in Kevin, and Adams is like a rabid animal caught in a trap while Texas loses its collective shit for Kevin finally having the chance to get at Adams. We're only five minutes in at this point and the match already fucking rules. Adams wants NO part of that and manages to tag in Jake, but Kevin doesn't give a shit and wants to tear Adams a new one. This leads to a stretch of Kevin in peril where Adams has no problem getting involved provided there's no danger of Kevin mounting any offence, and any time Kevin fires up with a hope spot, especially when it's against Adams, the heat is just off the page. Adams is really good as a meddling little shit all the way through this and it's probably my favourite performance of his up to this point. Great moment where Kevin is firing back on Jake and Jake makes the blind tag to Adams, but Kevin spots him coming and when Adams realises the blindside is a no go he hops back out and lets Jack jump him instead. This is also one of the better Von Erichs in peril segments on the set so far. All of Kevin's hope spots get crazy heat and he's STILL trying to fuck Adams up; even when he has the chance to make the tag his hot-headedness costs him because he just wants to get at Chris. Hot tag has Mike so fired up he almost faceplants himself coming in the ring, and this is where they start to get jazzy with the structure. They don't work straight to the finish like they probably would have in Mid-South or Crockett; instead Mike hooks Gino in a sleeper, but Gino makes the tag to Adams who catches Mike unawares and then WASTES him with a superkick. Adams has thrown a billion nasty superkicks on this set and this one is right up there with the best of them. He just glows with self-satisfaction after it and Kerry and Kevin are scrambling around the outside to see if their little brother's teeth are still intact. Kerry gets the tag shortly after this and things start to get a little messy, but you forget all that when they run the finish. Mike and Roberts wind up back in the ring together and they do this cool spot where Mike whips Jake into the corner and ducks down like he's ready to give him a backdrop (think Flair coming out of the corner spot). Jake doesn't take the backdrop and leapfrogs over Mike instead, and as Mike's turning around Jake plants him with the DDT. The crowd reaction for the DDT is a total "Oh shit, this might be over" deal and Kevin's reaction to it on the apron is much the same. Jake gets cocky about the whole thing because he figures this one's in the bag and starts shit talking the Von Erichs over in their corner. He points to his chin as if he's daring one of them to hit him, and of course it's the Von Erichs so someone is gonna fucking hit him. Sure enough Kerry decks him and Jake is out on his feet stumbling back, falling over Mike who takes advantage of the whole situation and just rolls him up with a school boy. Great, great match and the POP for the title switch is a motherfucking POP. What's even better is Kevin realising it's over and that he can't be restricted by the confines of a wrestling match anymore and just starts punching the shit out of Adams again. Also gotta give it some extra extra points on top of the other extra points for Adams getting right in the camera and shouting "OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE! WHAT ABOUT THE OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE?!" This is looking like another top 10 match.

Midnight Express v The Fantastics (1/11/85)
- Aw Hell this was awesome too. I'm not quite sure whether I prefer this or their Christmas Day '84 match, but both will land high. They're not really similar at all which makes it even better. The first match had Rogers playing FIP like a king and Eaton and Condrey ruling it hard working him over. This one has Fulton playing FIP, although Eaton and Condrey still rule it hard as ever. Fulton's a guy that can annoy me in that role sometimes and isn't on the level of Rogers in general, but I thought he was really good here. This one goes about 5 minutes longer than the first match and the early stages here has Rogers ripping it up like nobody's business. The MX have truckloads of double team spots and shtick, and we get to see some of that with Rogers. Thought he and Bobby were the stars of this, actually. Rogers for the pre and post FIP stuff and Eaton for just being Eaton in general. He takes a shoulderblock bump here that is ridiculously great, not in that it's a huge bump, but in the way he sells it like his entire body got jarred before landing face first on the mat. Different finish from the first match here, too. Might wind up ranking this side by side with their first match because both were equally great, but either way it'll be high.

Kerry Von Erich v Chris Adams (1/11/85)
- Really good sub-10 minute back-and-forth match. Adams seems to have added this ram-like headbutt to the gut as part of his arsenal since the heel turn and I'm definitely a fan of it. He catches Kerry coming off the ropes at the start with it to cut him off before Kerry can really do anything, and then he waffles him with a superkick and does a front flip like a cocky sumbitch. There's a few really cool spots, like Adams hitting another tope and Kerry clocking him with a fist while Adams is on the top rope sending him flying out onto the floor. Also liked how they used a duelling sleeper hold spot as well. Post-match has the first appearance of the One Man Gang and this was another strong match on a super strong disc.

Ric Flair v Terry Gordy (1/11/85)
- Pre-match is tremendous. Billy Jack Haynes comes out with Sunshine and challenges the winner but Flair could care less about him; he's more interested in Sunshine. He gets on the stick and talks about how she's basically the only chick in Texas that he hasn't been able to bang (he had googly eyes for her in the Adams match as well) and that if she lets him have one kiss she'll ache for the Naitch. She lets him have his kiss and then she slaps him right in the face and Flair's reaction to it is great. Actual match was just a step down from their first match on the set for me, but this time Gordy's working pure babyface and Flair's working like Flair. Interesting finish to this. It wasn't executed terribly well, but it was a nice idea. Flair continues to bring the greatness every time he shows up.

Kerry Von Erich v Chris Adams (2/8/85)
- I liked this even more than the 1/11 match. It gets a bit more time and they whip out a bunch of nifty spots again, plus I liked the finish to this one more, too. Pace and layout is still similar to the 1/11 match. Really starting to dig Adams as a smarmy heel now, especially when he starts doing front flips and hitting topes; you get the sense he's doing this stuff because he thinks he's the flashiest motherfucker around and that people should be jealous of it. Not that I haven't enjoyed Adams as a face or anything, because I have, but heel Adams is where it's at.

Kerry & Kevin Von Erich v Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams (Lumberjack Match, 2/22/85)
- Man this feud rules. This is another one of those matches where the layout is pretty weird, but there's just such a reckless feeling to just about everything that these guys have been doing that the choppy structure ends up working. It's becoming redundant saying Kevin is great at bringing the hate, but shit, Kevin is great at bringing the hate. This had 4 spots that I thought were fucking great. The first comes right at the beginning -- Kerry whips Adams into the ropes and hits the mat, so Adams, instead of jumping over him and hitting the opposite side, does a fucking front flip over Kerry and superkicks him square in the jaw as Kerry's getting up to his feet. Adams' self-satisfaction afterwards is your cherry on that cake. Second spot is a Kevin favourite. That dude is seriously not afraid to jump full on into some guy's knees, and when he comes off the middle rope for a splash here, Gino lifts his legs straight up and winds up driving his feet right into Kevin's throat. Looked nasty as Hell. The other two aren't quite as spectacular, but I don't recall having seen them on the set so far and fuck it all because this feud is just great. Probably a top 25 match.

Midnight Express v The Fantastics (3/8/85)
- I've got this as the "weakest" of this trilogy by a little, but all three matches are awesome and as strong a triple shot you'll find on the whole set. This was longer than the first match but shorter than the second, and we get Rogers in peril again with Bobby Eaton doing a powerslam-backbreaker combo that was too cool for school. Also has one of the best nearfalls on the whole set at the end. I'm gonna start a Mid-South project soon and the matches between these teams are near the top of the re-watch pile.

Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams v Kerry & Kevin Von Erich (Texas Tornado Match, 3/22/85)
- Step down from their Lumberjack match, but this felt as chaotic and crazy as I wanted it to. Adams brings back the slingshot here, though, and his slingshot really kinda sucks. Think I also spotted the old guy in the blue shirt who lost his teeth for Kevin that time, and sure enough he was going crazy again which I found inexplicably hilarious. This'll probably land somewhere around the middle.

Chris Adams, Gino Hernandez, Kamala, Rip Oliver, One Man Gang & Dr. Death v The Freebirds & The Von Erichs (3/5 falls, 5/5/85)
- Well this is taking place with two rings and is pretty much a total clusterfuck, but as far as total clusterfucks go, this was entertaining enough. Got hard to follow things at points, though. I mean the camera angles were pretty bad for the most part. Thought Kevin was really good, probably the best guy in the match. His crazy diving spear thing at the finish was cool as all shit. Post-match angle helps this big time, though. The winner of the deciding fall gets a new Cadillac so Adams and Gino take a chain and smash the windshield to pieces and Kevin and Kerry want to murder them. The Von Erichs standing around the fucked up car reminded me of the scene in The Hangover where they're stuck in the desert after having given up 80 grand in casino chips and Phil and Stu are cursing and "SHIT"ing this and "GOD DAMMIT"ing that. Kevin and Kerry are Phil and Stu while Mike is Alan saying "SHOOT" instead of shit and "GOSH DARN IT" instead of God dammit. It was pretty adorable. Unfortunately this'll be the only match on the entire disc that isn't a good shout for the top half of the entire ballot. Still, one out of 15 ain't half bad.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

DVDVR Texas Set, Disc 5

I'm on a roll with this sumbitch and managed to plow through another disc in 2 sittings. Disc 6 is next and it looks ridiculous so I should have no problem tackling that bad boy over the next few days.

Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin v Chris Adams & Mike Von Erich (Penalty Box Match, 4/16/84)
- I was a big fan of the first penalty box match on the set, but this... not so much. Mike is garbage, but the other three hold things together really well. Actually the more I think about it the more I do like it, but I won't rank it very high or anything. Hayes continues to rule and I thought he and Garvin were pretty great here. Sunshine/Precious exchanges are always loaded with hate and you get all of it here. Sunshine trying to attack Precious when she's stuck in a cage was boss. Finish to this looked good as well, because it's a sequence that could come off looking really choreographed otherwise. Hayes smashing Manning in the face with a cage door for his biased refereeing ruled.

Freebirds v Kevin, Mike & Fritz Von Erich (5/6/84)
- This was short and intense, but I wasn't really digging it as much as I normally would dig something like this. Crowd are totally nuts like you'd expect and these guys just hate each other, Fritz lashing Hayes with a belt, Gordy blasting Fritz with a cowboy boot, etc. Buddy skullfucking Kevin with a belt buckle was 5 stars. Mike really isn't good.

Ric Flair v Kerry Von Erich (5/6/84)
- Kerry comes out "Texas When I Die" and holy crap is that spine-tingling shit or what? I think this is the match Flair talks about in his book where he says Kerry was completely wasted, but I dunno, he didn't really look any more wired than usual. Match itself is short and actually one of the lesser Flair/Kerry matches, but that's not because it's technically any worse than their fourth or fifth or whatever best match, just that it's not long enough for them to build anything that's similar. I mean, this is the main event of a looong ass card so it's not all that surprising. It's really all about the moment here, though. Doesn't just feel like a huge moment in pro-wrestling at the time, but a huge moment for TEXAS. The pop is just... it's insane. I thought the Flair/Lawler match on the Memphis set was a better 10 minute match, but everything surrounding this is just amazing, like it's the biggest moment in Texas wrestling history. The stuff surrounding the Flair/Lawler match went a long way to putting that high on my Memphis ballot, so everything here will probably land this one high too.

Kerry Von Erich v Terry Gordy (5/7/84)
- Kerry's first title defence a day after he won the strap and it's against Freebird nemesis Gordy. This one's paced differently from their other matches in that they don't go tooth and nail right from the jump; this is a World Title match and they're gonna do it classy and shit. I'm tossing this on the re-watch pile because the way it was laid out didn't really strike a note with me even though they were doing lots of good stuff. Gordy has been one of the best on the set so far, which was expected anyway, but there hasn't been a Gordy/Kerry singles match yet that's blown me away the way I've been hoping. I like Kerry a lot, but in the longer regular singles matches I keep waiting for the heel to get an extended run of offence and it never comes. It's a shame, because Kerry's awesome in peril and can sell his ass off, and GORDY of all people can romp and stomp with the best of them. The Kerry/Hayes cage match had both guys going back and forth for ten minutes, but they were trying to tear each other's head off and I thought that sort of pacing worked. This is almost 20 minutes and felt really 'my turn-your turn' for large parts. Eh, I'll see how I feel on a re-watch, but right now it's middle of the pack at best.

Ric Flair v Kerry Von Erich (5/11/84)
- It's probably trite to say that these two match up really well, but shit man, these two match up REALLY well. Flair has totally been the star of this set for me so far, and that's even with guys like Kevin and Gordy and Hayes et al being fucking great on the regular. This is another short one, but it's got the kind of gritty feel to it that the 2/3 falls match on disc one had. It's non-title, but Flair said he's be back after he lost the belt and non-title or not, he's back. Thought he was awesome in this; him getting frustrated early is always fun and the way he back Kerry into the corner and slaps him was tops. Kerry's just bearing down on him and Flair's strutting away like it's nothing. He gets fed up coming up short on the mat so he gets Kerry in the corner and starts jabbing him in the nose. Flair's chops are legendary and everything, but he has some fucking tremendous punches to the face too, and those little stingers he'll rail off on some guys ribs from time to time... I always dig it when he does those. Kerry takes a great bump out to the floor and Flair's kicking at camera men and shouting at people and elbowing Kerry in the fuckin' throat and fuck does Flair just rule it here. Love how he'll just continually knee or headbutt Kerry in the guts to cut him off. His knees "in the clinch" are some more great Flair strikes people don't really bring up often but they always look nasty, like they actually knock the wind out the guy. Kerry hooks in a sleeper about 6 minutes in and from there they basically start the finishing stretch. They do the kind of stuff you expect these guys to do together, like Flair stepping over into the figure-four and Kerry blocking it with the claw, but they're moving between each spot a lot quicker than they would in a longer arena match, so it feels really hectic and desperate. Kerry is great at subtly selling the knee; it's hard to explain but he's done it a few times on the set and it always looks legit. LOVED Flair, down on his knees, headbutting Kerry in the patella as a cut off spot and then viciously stomping on the leg as a set up for another figure-four. We get another clean finish on this and I'm convinced these two can do no wrong together. I'd say Flair is far and away Kerry's best opponent, but I'm thinking Kerry is right there with Windham, Steamboat, Morton, etc. as one of Flair's best as well, especially in terms of consistency. If this falls out of my top 30 I'll be stunned.

Terry Gordy & Killer Kahn v Chris Adams & Iceman King Parsons (5/18/84)
- Man Gordy and Kahn are a Hell of a combination of big bad motherfuckers. They're both rocking the Oriental Spike as a finisher and these are two dudes whose thumb you do not want stuck into your jugular. The early Gordy/Iceman stuff is a blast, Iceman shuckin' and jivin' in the corner and Gordy taking such a huge swing at him he winds up almost launching himself over the top rope. Iceman and Adams both take stints as FIP and Gordy and Kahn are every bit the pair of surly shit kickers I was hoping for. Manning gets in Gordy's face a bunch and I hope Gordy hauls off and slaughters him at some point. Iceman and Adams are both great houses o' fire and Adams' hot tag leads to Gordy taking a totally spectacular upside-down bump in the corner before getting blasted with maybe the best superkick I've ever seen. The camera's focused on Gordy hitting the ropes and Adams just flies into view with this complete corker of a kick square on Gordy's jaw. Gordy and Kahn as a team rule the school and I can't wait to see their Texas Death Match on disc 6 again after however many years.

Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts, Jimmy Garvin & Killer Kahn v Kevin Von Erich, Jules Youngblood, Chris Adams & Junkyard Dog (5/28/84)
- This immediately starts with Kevin trying to squeeze Kahn's eyeballs out of the sockets with the claw and I was freaking pumped. Then Manning tosses them both to the back so it turns into a 6-man, which is fine on its own, but a 6-man without Kevin and Kahn after the prospect of Kevin and Kahn matching up is much less interesting. Match was alright, mostly for the heels stooging like kings, but Kevin and Kahn being given the Rasheed Wallace treatment was a huge damper. Hayes continues to be more fun than I ever could've imagined.

Chris Adams & Stella Mae French v Jimmy Garvin & Precious (Loser Leaves Town Cage Match, 7/4/84)
- Stella Mae comes in here as Sunshine's aunt or something. I read the exact reason for this a while back and there's a Stella Mae promo on the extras disc that explain it further, but I recall that promo being full of bleeps and shit because Stella Mae is off her fucking rocker and wants to murder Garvin and his hussy girlfriend and not really anything else that wasn't "GOD DAMN" this or "GOD DAMN" that. I think she used to be a prison guard or something and just has the general aura about her where you could buy the male inmates being scared of her, never mind poor Precious here. Precious actually does look shit scared at points and Stella Mae's tossing her on her shoulder from really awkward angles and backhanding her right in the teeth and ripping her hair out so you can understand why since Precious looks like she weight 60 pounds soaking wet. Even Garvin's scared of her because it gets to the point where he actually tries to climb out the cage. Match is actually a lot of fun, probably gonna finish the third highest Adams/Garvin match on my ballot. The finish is especially well done and I thought Adams was gonna cripple Jimmy with a backdrop at one point. Only downside of this is that Garvin's gone from the territory, which obviously means no more Garvin on the rest of the set. Sad face.

Fabulous Freebirds v The Von Erichs (Badstreet Match, 7/4/84)
- Aw fuck me sideways this was crazy and reckless and awesome. Only about 8 minutes long but JeeZUS are they beating the shit out of each other. The reason I find this feud to be so good is that you really, truly buy both sides despising each other. Matches like this and the country whipping match don't feel like wrestling matches - they feel like bar fights or back alley brawls. I usually give matches extra points if I think they're structured or laid out well, but when it comes to something like this, fuck it; fights where guys are trying to murder other guys don't have structure. This is just 8 minutes of dudes in street clothes punching and kicking and battering the shit out of the people they hate most in the world. Freebirds are bane of Von Erichs' existence, so Von Erichs crack them with heels of cowboy boots and whip them in the face with leather belts. Von Erichs are bane of Freebirds' existence, so Freebirds choke them out with Badstreet t-shirts and maul them with belt buckles. By the end you've got everybody running around with one shoe on and the other in their hand so they can hit people with it, except Kevin who's always barefoot and doesn't have any shoes but he's got a chair or a belt buckle to make up for the lack of possession of a deadly footwear. And Mike even does a bunch of stuff that's inoffensive and Killer Kahn shows up to stab a pretty boy with his thumb. Fuck a shank, massive orientals with lethal digits is where it's at, JACK. I'll have this high.

Iceman King Parsons v Gino Hernandez (7/6/84)
- This'll probably be lower half by the end, but it was a super fun intro to Gino. He comes off as such an obnoxious douchebag, doing these shoe-shining taunts to Iceman and generally acting like a tosser. Great spot where Iceman sort of walks the ropes Undertaker style and Gino's complaining about how being in the ropes necessitates a break, then he tries the same thing and winds up crotching himself and his selling is pretty spectacular. I love it when wrestlers manipulate the referee's position so they can sneak in cheapshots or cheat in some way and Gino doing that so he can punch Iceman in the throat was awesome. Weird spot where Iceman has him in a headlock and Gino appears to be trying to pull Iceman's tights down or something, but then Iceman punches him in the schnoz and he cuts that shit out right away. Finish was sort of a downer since I thought things were getting pretty good, but Iceman's selling of the beating post-match was great.

Kevin Von Erich & Chris Adams v Terry Gordy & Killer Kahn (7/6/84)
- Best part of this might be the close-up shot of some old geezer in the crowd chanting "LET'S GO, KEVIN!" so hard that he almost loses his teeth. Gordy and Kahn continue to be a lot of fun as a team, although I thought this was a definite step down from the last Gordy/Kahn tag. Wouldn't really say it was disappointing though because Kevin acts like Gordy ran over his mother and I was waiting for those kind of Kevin/Kahn interactions from the point they teased it in that 8-man earlier. God the Von Erichs, especially Kevin, are fucking supreme at getting across a vibe of reckless 'kill or be killed' violence. Kahn is a crazy big motherfucker with the gnarliest knee drops ever and Kevin doesn't give a fuck and constantly lunges at him anyway. Both babyfaces play FIP again but I wanted more from Kevin in peril. I mentioned that Karry's great working from the bottom but there hasn't been enough of it, and I sort of feel the same about Kevin, although Kevin on top is more interesting than Kerry for me so I have less of a complain with him. Kahn's expression after Adams and Kevin clear house is immense, just total shock and awe with a hint of psychosis. Also a fan of the duelling Claw/Spike spots in these Gordy(or Kahn)/Von Erichs confrontations. Won't finish high, but I got my Kevin/Kahn interactions and they definitely whet my appetite.

Chris Adams & Mike Von Erich v Michael Hayes & Buddy Roberts (7/20/84)
- Isn't really saying much, but I'd be shocked if there's a better Mike Von Erich performance on the set. He wasn't great or anything and he hits probably the most unintentionally hilarious top rope elbow drop ever, but I found him completely tolerable. Actually the elbow drop probably added to how much I could stand him because it looked spectacularly goofy, like someone just shoved him off a roof. He also busts out a swank drop toe hold float over at the beginning that's probably the sweetest thing I've seen him do other than getting punched in the dick by Gordy. Still this is more about the Freebirds ruling it than Mike not sucking it or Adams being as decidedly average as he happens to be here. The pre-match flubbed moon walk by Buddy was the greatness and I'm thinking Buddy might be one of the all-time great stooges. Babyfaces chew him up at the start and he's just great at being chewed up. Adams is pretty good as the FIP, but then Kevin comes in house o' fire and does this headscissors takeover thing that drags Buddy from the apron inside which looked pretty cool until he decides to sit in it for a while and the house gets much cooler and most of the good will he built up vanishes in a tidal wave of "PUNCH HIM IN THE FUCKIN FACE, BUDDY." Then he gets worked over for a couple minutes and Adams comes in as a much better house 'o fire. Big fan of the finish as well, and Hayes' "WTF, Manning? He wasn't even the legal man" reaction made me smile. I can totally see myself being the high voter on this, but I'm a mark for the tags, and besides, I genuinely thought this was a legit good match, mostly because of a really good Freebirds show.

Kerry Von Erich v Gino Hernandez (7/20/84)
- Another middle of the pack match, but Gino continues to bring the douchebaggery like a king. His early pose-off with Kerry went like you'd think it would. Women faint, young girls scream, gay men blow up. Sounds like that live version of 'Fire' that Springsteen did way back in the 80s that's on youtube where the high pitched screams burst your eardrums. Kerry has a dropkick that's almost as good as Kevin's. I mean, if you put together a montage of the best Kerry dropkicks and the best Kevin dropkicks they'd probably be comparable a lot of the time, and Kevin has one of the best dropkicks in wrestling history. Kerry's is great because he can almost be flat on the mat and he'll spring way up and crack a dude in the head really fast. Finish is one I was not expecting but I'm glad it happened, and even more glad that it wasn't overturned. I dunno... I mean, I've got no problem calling this good, but after it was over I was instantly thinking about how good the Gino/Kevin match could be more than anything these two did here. Not a knock on Kerry or Gino or anything, but... well, I dunno.

Iceman King Parsons & Skip Young v Pretty Young Things (8/17/84)
- Aw fuck yes! Skip Young! Koko MU'FUCKIN' Ware! This match could totally suck and I'd still like it on some level as long as at least one of those two hit a dropkick. As a whole it's about as average as average can get, but it's total southern formula and they plug two FIP sections into an eleven minute match and it's all just chugging along nice and fine until Skip Young gets the hot tag and DROPKICKS NORVELL AUSTIN IN THE FACE and now it's THE BOMB. Koko is a fucking great wrestler that needs the comp treatment at some point. Hopefully there's a Koko/Iceman singles match out there somewhere waiting to be discovered and pimped as the long lost holy grail that puts Flair/Murdoch or Rich/Sawyer to shame. This'll probably finish somewhere around the bottom half, but there really isn't anything on this set that I've actively disliked and this is basically a victim of being stuck with competition that's just too strong.

Kevin Von Erich v Gino Hernandez (8/17/84)
- This is what I was talking about when I said I find Kevin more interesting when he takes the large majority of the match than I do Kerry when he does. Again, I like Kerry and I'm not trying to take any knocks at him, but man does Kevin just have so much interesting shit in the holster for filling time on offence. Gino continues to be a ton of fun as a weasly scumbag, almost Zbyszko-esque in his stalling and shit-talking, constantly taking powders until Kevin gets on the stick and calls him a pansy bitch. Early stuff with Kevin working the bodyscissors is awesome, similar to the way he was working it in the Gordy match on one of the earlier discs which definitely helped that match's case for finishing in the top half of my ballot. Then Gino realises Kevin's a barefoot hillbilly and starts biting his toes to break the hold and this match rules. Then Kevin beats his ass and breaks his jaw with this impeccable left hook and Gino sells it like I can't begin to explain and this match rules harder. The work around the Claw was good here too and that leads to Gino doing the dirty with the foreign object to another Von Erich, but that was too much for anybody to take so the decision gets reversed and Stella Mae shows up again and tries to kill Gino for whatever the fuck reason. Really dug this and I'll have it top half for sure.

Kerry Von Erich v Terry Gordy (Lumberjack Match, 8/17/84)
- I'll probably have to re-watch a Kerry/Gordy match or two at some point, but right now I'm getting the sense there's definitely a match that I'm ready to call "great," but in order for that to happen I'd need to take parts of all their matches and stick them together. I think the biggest issue I have is that I'm REALLY wanting an extended "Gordy beats the Texas out of Kerry" spell and I'm just not getting it. I get that's along the lines of judging something for what it isn't as opposed to judging it for what it is, which is something I tend to try and stay away from, but still... I know what I want when I want it God dammit. This is about as close to what I want from these two as I've seen so far (although I really don't remember their no DQ match), but it gets cut short and I'm left wanting. Post-match is nuts, though.

Chris Adams v Jake the Snake (9/3/84)
- Oh man, Roberts is outrageously great here and this was a totally fucking boss match that was even better than I expected. Jake is just breathtaking at doing the little things. He's one of those Arn/Dundee/Murdoch types where he can make the simplest of things interesting and there's a laundry list of examples over the course of these 15 minutes. The first 8 or 9 minutes are mostly about both guys trying to score a real advantage and Jake gradually getting more annoyed at not being able to sustain anything. Adams kinda fakes the superkick a couple times and throws in a front flip for whatever reason and Jake is all hands covering his face and backing into the corner like "WTF is this man?" At times it feels like they're gearing up to go long even though it's only a 15 minute time limit, but it's really cool and it's not like they're lying around in shit to kill time. When Jake manages to score some offence he taunts Adams' manager Gary Hart before punching Adams right in the armpit, which you gotta love. Hart's actually great in this too; he comes across like a legit manager, giving Adams instructions from the corner, "Watch your back, watch your back." Adams is a guy that hasn't been afraid to get comfy with a sleeper hold and just kinda sit there for a little while up to this point in the set, but when he locks it on here Jake will slap his own face to try and stay awake and he even starts pulling up the ring mat so he can use it to drag himself towards the ropes, which was fucking awesome and something I don't think I've ever seen before. He pretty much takes one of the least interesting time-killing holds on the set so far and makes it great. He kinda stumbles a bit on the floor and then when he gets back in he still looks wobbly and half out of it. Match really picks up and hits another level once Jake embraces his inner dickhead and jabs Adams in the throat with something. Now Adams isn't heel at this point but Gary Hart has always been a heel manager. Adams says Hart is there as his advisor and that he's not gonna turn him over to the dark side, but the crowd aren't totally convinced (the segment where Adams introduces Hart as his advisor is on one of the extras discs). Adams, who's still wildly over as a babyface, decides he'll fight fire with fire, takes a chain or something from Hart and fucking dives at Jake's throat and tries to choke him out with it and now everybody is going ballistic for Adams AND Hart. Ref' gets shoved out of the way so Jake takes the opportunity to toss Adams over the top rope (which would be a DQ had the ref' seen it, although it's Lubich so he probably would've missed it whether he was shoved or not because he's a hundred years old and has no hips and can barely move), then he hits a suplex and covers Adams. Match would likely be over at this point, but Hart puts Adams' foot on the rope and Jake is pissed. Crowd is about to blow the roof off this motherfucker. Ref' gives Hart a talking to so Jake throws Adams out over the top AGAIN (Lubich can't spot this one, either), but this time Adams lands on his feet and jumps back in. Jake takes a swing at Hart on the apron and turns around into a superkick. Crowd come UN-FUCKING-GLUED for Adams winning the TV title and the way they reacted to Adams and Hart out-cheating Jake at every turn was awesome. Jake was the man here - it's a shame he's only around for another 4 matches - but everybody played their part and this should do really well on my list.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

DVDVR Texas Set, Disc 4

Decided to MAN UP and take a run at this yesterday and wound up knocking an entire disc out. Gives me hope I'll get this done in time.

Terry Gordy v Chris Adams (2/3 falls, 11/12/83)

- Thought this was really disappointing and didn't do a whole lot for me, but I was pretty tired when I watched it and a 30 minute draw when you're running on a serious lack of shut-eye probably isn't gonna work most of the time. First fall is about 15 minutes and it's simple stuff. Not bad or anything, but it just wasn't engaging me like I was hoping. 2nd fall is your quick return fall and then the 3rd has them throwing out lots of stuff down the stretch before the time runs out. Might be something for the re-watch after a good night's sleep pile; either that or my expectations were too high.

The Freebirds v Von Erichs (Elimination Match, 11/21/83)
- This is JIP, but I'd be shocked if more than a minute is missing. Kerry and Hayes have a loser leave town cage match coming up in 3 days so they waste no time punching the shit out of each other. Hayes gets cut open and Kerry starts biting him and I know I'm gonna like this cage match of theirs. Eventually they get tossed for literally mowing the ref' down in a fit of redneck rage and fury. Kevin's elimination here looks totally badass, and it's timed perfectly by Gordy and Roberts. Buddy getting kneed over the top rope and being eliminated was sort of a bummer since I wasn't aware over the top meant an elimination, but whatever. Not the best of these Freebirds/Von Erichs multi-man matches, but I dug this all the same.

Kerry Von Erich v Michael Hayes (Loser Leaves Town Cage Match, 11/24/83)
- Great fuckin' FIGHT, short and really intense. They do a mounted punch spot in the corner at the start and they are THROWING the fists, man. Hayes taking the wrapping from around his knee and choking Kerry was great, as was Kerry taking it from him so he could wrap his fist and punch Hayes in the mouth some more. Hayes gigs himself pretty big after a cage shot too. Finish has tonnes of shit going down and Buddy takes a fucking crazy crotch bump from the top of the cage as he's trying to interfere. In some ways this felt the perfect length, but on the other hand I do wish it was a little longer; I was enjoying them trying to murder each other. The Kerry/Flair cage match always disappoints me to an extent, but I'll still probably wind up ranking this a few spots below it.

Terry Gordy & Jimmy Garvin v Kerry Von Erich & Chris Adams (2/3 falls, 11/28/83)
- This is about as long as the Gordy/Adams match but I liked this way more. Garvin and Gordy have been a blast together so far. This isn't as good as the match against David and Kevin, mostly because that has horrendous violence and craziness, but it's still my favourite match on the disc so far. So many great little moments, like Garvin shoving Kerry like a dick when he's not looking then running away like a pussy when Kerry gets pissed. Manning doesn't even know what happened and Gordy's blaming him for it anyway. This is definite stooge Garvin in the first fall, unlike the 8/15 match where he just seemed fed up with these Von Erichs and was willing to take a punch in the face if it meant giving one right back. 2nd fall has him and Gordy getting surly and working over Adams basically from the moment it starts. Garvin CRANKS a chinlock like he's Finlay. Final fall has them going all in like you want in a situation like this. Finish is pretty crappy but whatever, the rest of this was largely really good, plus the stuff with Sunshine escalates the Garvin/Adams feud so I guess I can't complain.

Buddy Roberts v Iceman King Parsons (2/3 falls, 12/12/83)
- First fall has some more great Buddy stooging. Iceman is the kind of guy with great shtick that Buddy can play off of and have lots of fun. Whole match is mostly spent with Parsons in control, Buddy trying to make runs at taking over but never quite managing it. He slips in a few great cheapshots and lucky punches, and from time to time he'll claw at Iceman's burned face, but I wish he took over for a more extended period. Iceman is a blast on offence in general, though. Still, I don't see this finishing awfully high.

Iceman King Parsons & Brian Adias v Super Destroyers (2/3 falls, 1/30/84)
- I was getting pretty burned out on the half hour 2/3 falls matches on this disc, but then this shows up and it's fucking GREAT. This is structured far better than the others on the disc, at least when it comes to my own personal tastes, and totally exceeded my expectations. Pretty easily the best Adias match I've seen and I thought he was really good in this, working the early babyface control stuff, post-hot tag work, etc. Iceman is always a ton of fun and he's great on both offence and defence. Super D's are great at getting their asses handed to them, then Iceman gets crushed with a fucking awesome sidewalk slam and they totally rule at working him over. There's a stipulation in place that gives Iceman five minutes with Skandor Akbar after the match, and the D's are just going to town on the back which plays into the post-match stuff really well (Iceman being hurt, Akbar being a slimeball and jumping him right away, etc.). I'm not a fan of Iceman being superplexed transitioning into the hot tag right away, but then Adias comes in as a good house o' fire before getting completely FUCKED UP with one of the best finishes on the set and I'm forgetting my quarrels. Post-match has the crowd going screwball and this was just top stuff from start to finish. Definite top third match that really came completely out of nowhere.

Chris Adams v Jimmy Garvin (Cage Match, 1/30/84)
- Man, this is probably my favourite of all the cage matches so far. They don't really work it like a cage match - other than one spot where Adams gets jiggy with the blade - as opposed to a regular match worked inside a steel cage, but it's definitely my favourite of the Adams/Garvin matches on the set through 4 and a bit discs. Some people will be down on it because it's largely worked like a standard match, but I've never looked at this as a Kerry/Hayes type feud where they despise each other to any great extent. Always felt to me like it was more about the belt than anything else, and besides, the valets bring the HATE for 12 anyways. Plus, as far as standard matches go, no matter how you look at it, this was the bomb. All the early drop toe hold stuff is awesome and I'm definitely starting to see the love for Garvin now. I'm a big fan of the Kevin matches, but this is right there with their best. The Kevin matches were as good to me because of Kevin, but this has all of the great Garvin stuff like cutting off Adams after a fancy cartwheel by headbutting him in the gut. Finish is another peach. Great match.

Ric Flair v Chris Adams (2/3/84)
- Jesus, this was incredible. There is seriously SO much about this that I flat out loved. Flair's pre-match stuff is out of this world. He comes out to the ring and just looks every bit the World Champ, gives a not to two dudes that are obvious Flair fans, blows a kiss to some woman in the crowd, then gets in the ring and spots Sunshine in Adams' corner so he gets on the mic and says something like "Baby, you're the only woman in Dallas not cheering for Ric Flair tonight." Ref's doing the routine check to see if they're hiding anything in the kneepads and what have you and Flair's giving Sunshine the bedroom eyes and DOES A FUCKING PEC DANCE. He's barely acknowledging Adams' existence. He's some kid from England with a funny accent. He offers up a handshake because he'll be done with him in no time and then it's onto the hottie in his corner and COKE on SPACE MOUNTAIN. Starts out with Adams taking Flair down with a few headlocks and "winning" the opening gambits, but it's neither here nor there; Flair just back him into the corner and gives him a clean break, "Well done, kid. I'll give you that one." Then Adams hooks a hammerlock and Flair just casually picks him up and sits him on the top turnbuckle, "Okay, I'll give you that one too, you little trooper, you." but Adams CRANKS him with an arm wringer and Flair screams in pain and tries to chop him in the face and oh man now he's fucking pissed. He shoves Adams and Adams shoves him back and Flair's had enough of this early nice guy bullshit so he decides against a tie-up and just rips him with a chop. Flair's great at showing frustration and signs that he's come to the realisation that this kid is better than he was giving him credit for, eventually begging off so he can stick him in the gut with a knee. Flair's shift in mentality is great here, tossing Adams out to the floor and elbowing him in the throat and he even takes a swing at Sunshine for getting in the way. This is about his World Title now; fuck a ho, he can get a hot blond anywhere. After this they pretty much go into 'Flair finishing stretch' mode and they bust out some great stuff. They do the standard spots you'll see in tonnes of Flair matches like the sunset flip where Flair struggles for the ropes before going over and the backdrop out of the corner, but Flair countering a sleeper with a backbreaker is a spot I don't think I've ever seen him do before, and the attempted shin breaker being blocked with an enziguri was great as well, especially with the awesome Flair Flop he does afterwards. The backdrop that leads to the superkick nearfall is flubbed, but the nearfall itself is fucking huge. Flair actually winning clean was a surprise, but a good one all the same. Totally boss match. Some stuff looked a little messy because I don't think they were 100% on the same page all the time, but it wasn't anything that annoyed me. "Touring World Champ Flair comes to town to wrestle local babyface; Flair gives more of a shit about local pussy than local babyface; local babyface winds up pushing Flair to the limit" is one of my favourite match dynamics in history and this was as good as anything like it. The fact a guy that gets as much discussion as Flair does still has matches like this coming out of nowhere is amazing. I'm thinking of a reason why I shouldn't put this #1 and I honestly can't come up with one. This is RIGHT with the first Kerry match.

Iceman King Parsons & Chris Adams v Jimmy Garvin & Missing Link (3/2/84)
- Adams comes out wearing Garvin's gear and Garvin is pissed off big time so he tries to rip Adams' eyes out like a wildman. He does this basically the entire match. This is PISSED Garvin, not stooge Garvin. Missing Link has great shtick and bumps like acts like a total spastic, which I fucking love. Almost everything he does in the first few minutes is grabbing Adams so Garvin can continually cheapshot him and Garvin is more than happy to oblige. Iceman continues to bring the fun by the bucket load here as well, but this is mostly about Adams and Garvin trying to choke each other to death before all Hell just breaks loose. Won't rank high for me, but Link was a blast.

Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy v Missing Link & Kamala (3/16/84)
- Really short and more of a set up for the six-man match a couple weeks later, but what's here is Hellsa fun. Hayes is a great FIP and he's probably been the biggest revelation of the set for me so far. Post-match with the Freebirds, Devastation Inc and the Von Erichs in a massive brawl was great, then Hayes tells his boys to let their beef with the Von Erichs chill before jumping them anyway, which was even greater.

Freebirds v Kamala, Missing Link & Super Destroyer #2 (3/30/84)
- Aw fuck I loved this. This is about 8 and a half minutes long and total southern tag formula and is in front of a HOT crowd and yeah, this is most definitely my thing. Bunch of great spots, like Hayes stomping on Kamala's bare feet before punching him directly in the face, GORDY playing FIP, Missing Link doing all of his stuff, Kamala STILL not being totally familiar with a tag setting; just way too much fun. I mean, they announce 5 minutes has gone by and it feels like they managed to cram way more than 5 minutes' worth of stuff into that time. Doesn't feel bloated at all, though, so it's definitely not a bad thing. Almost surreal hearing this crowd lose its fucking stack for the 'Birds after the last year. Honestly, I probably enjoyed this even more than the 7/4/83 VE's/Birds six-man tag that I've got as my current #3. Don't think it's necessarily "better" and I can't see myself ranking it anywhere near as high at the end, but I thought the way this was structured was perfect, where as something about the structure of the 7/4/83 match never really clicked with me. Plus this had Kamala and the Missing Link.

Jimmy Garvin v Chris Adams (4/2/84)
- Thought this was one of their best matches, maybe only behind the cage match, but I'm honestly struggling to remember an awful lot about it. Which is weird because I think these two have done a pretty remarkable job at keeping things fresh and different almost every time out. Best spot of the match to me was Garvin taking Adams' crappy slingshot into the corner, but landing on his feet and turning back around to headbutt him in the spine. I'm not a fan of Adams' slingshot at all so I marked out when Garvin shut that shit down. Not being able to remember much in the way of specifics isn't really a knock on this match as opposed to me having watched lots of Garvin/Adams stuff in the one sitting and failing to recall what went where, because this was really good.

Jimmy Garvin v Chris Adams (4/15/84)
- This one I wasn't a huge fan of, though. They were doing some really good stuff as usual, but at the end I felt like they had managed to lay out some great groundwork that was never really built on. Garvin's really good on the mat; simple but rugged and can be quite the shit talker when he wants to be. The Sunshine/Precious stuff was more intense than the Garvin/Adams stuff though... which you don't really want out of this.