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.