Junkyard Dog v Nick Bockwinkel (6/11/82)
I thought this was bottom of the pack material when I watched it the first time going through the set. Didn't think it was bad, just totally forgettable for the most part. I've been digging much the early 80s Mid-South stuff more than I did the first run through though (took me until the Chavo/Olympia match to really get me into the swing of things), and this was no different. I'm pretty apathetic towards Bockwinkel in general, but his stooging here was a lot of fun. JYD throws great punches and the crowd are behind him, and I liked just about everything he did more on this watch than the first. I got the sense Bock was running through a bunch of stuff he could do in his sleep, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Wouldn't call it a Bockwinkel carry job, either. I probably would have when I first saw it (don't remember exactly), but I thought Dog more than held up his end this time. This is also the first time we get Paul Boesch on commentary on the set. I thought he ranged from "good" to "whatever" to "date rape" on the Houston footage, sometimes going off on hilarious tangents about random bullshit that could be really distracting, but I found him passable enough here. He does go off on one about JYD being the uncrowned king of wrestling until he got a crown and then he was the uncrowned king with a crown, but I thought his call of the flash pin was great. Heenan brings the bump-freakery post-match and this was just flat out better than I remembered.
Mr. Olympia v Bob Roop (7/15/82)
Another bossy sub-ten minute studio match; this is right there with the Roop/George match as my favourite Roop match on the set. There's some really great shit in this. Olympia's counter to a Roop kneedrop looked cool as Hell and is something I don't think I noticed the first time around, and Olympia's boss tope is my favourite spot on the set up to this point chronologically. The set up to it was really good -- Roop tries to take a powder, but Olympia's all over him. He tries to duck and dodge out of the way before running around the corner, but Olympia catches on, jumps back in the ring and wipes him out with a tope as Roop comes around the corner looking behind him to see where Olympia is. This is another example of "man with the plan" Roop and one thing I loved about the early Roop stuff was the nifty counters and counter-counters you'd always get in his matches. He counters an Olympia sleeper hold by hitting this nasty looking backbreaker/sidewalk slam thing, then he puts Olympia in a sleeper of his own. Olympia tries to counter that by running into the corner, ducking at the last second and ramming Roop's head into the turnbuckle, but Roop knows what's coming and just rams Olympia's own head in. Olympia eventually manages to counter by running up the turnbuckle and flipping behind Roop so he can apply his own sleeper hold. Roop then tries to counter with the backbreaker again, but Olympia won't fall for the same trick twice, and eventually Roop passes out in the middle of the ring. Just a super nifty little match.
Ted DiBiase & Hacksaw Duggan v Junkyard Dog & Mr. Olympia (8/18/82)
First taste of heel DiBiase and it was a good one. I really liked him wanting no part of JYD and being content to let Duggan do all the heavy lifting early, whether Dog was constantly getting the better of him or not. DiBiase chikenshitting it as soon as he realises he's in there with JYD and hurling himself into his own corner to make the tag was great. Duggan is a guy who's rep went up big time thanks to this set, and he looked fine in his first appearance (of the set). Watts is awesome at putting him over as this nutjob that'll put his own body on the line. Olympia continues to rule it, and re-watching the early Irish Boy's Club stuff I'm thinking he might be the MVP. I could probably watch early 80s Olympia studio matches all day and not get bored. Hectic finish to this one, too.
One Man Gang v Buck Robley (Lumberjack Match) (9/15/82)
Super fun little sprint. This is another one that sat around the bottom of the pile when I watched it a couple years back, but I dug it way more this time. Robley's t-shirt is immense, btw. He looks like a hobo with a broken arm and he's YOUR spunky underdog. Dick Murdoch also has an awesome t-shirt and hat. I like the idea of a lumberjack match in a Watts promotion more than anywhere else, because taking a bump on the concrete in a Watts promotion is treated like a big deal. Tossing your opponent out over the top to the concrete so the lumberjacks can toss him back in just so you can toss him back out to the concrete again, rinse and repeat, is a great concept. Also helps that, bar one awesome subtle little moment where Skandor Akbar gets his licks in, the lumberjacks actually do their job and throw the guys back in like they're supposed to. Doesn't give them time to rest, you don't have to go outside and bring them back in yourself; why would you NOT throw them out over the top? Also gotta love OMG bumping like a twelve hundred pound freak. He takes a crazy missed splash off the turnbuckle bump and an even crazier over the top rope bump off a dropkick.