Friday, 18 February 2011

Mid-South All Around, Don't Know If I'm Coming Up Or Down

I'm gonna be jumping around quite a bit with this. Definitely won't be going through the whole set again in chronological order. Figured I'd start with '84 since it was the '84-'85 period that cemented Mid-South as pro-wrestling's equivalent of crack.

Midnight Express v Mr. Wrestling II & Magnum TA (2/10/84)

This fucking rocks. Eaton and Condrey just stooge and bump around like total maniacs for everything II does. The first ten minutes are practically *all* II/TA and you watch this and get the sense II is just having the time of his life; throwing knee lifts, punch combinations, strutting, doing this little's hard not to watch it with a smile on your face. MX have a ton of shtick and II has a blast with all of it. Midnights eventually take over, and TA is a good FIP guy. Been a long ass time since I watched any of the Magnum TA stuff on this set, but I'm already remembering why I came away from it with a new appreciation for him. Wasn't too crazy about the finish, but the post-match with Eaton and Condrey stomping the daylights out of II and TA while the Houston crowd are about to riot is fucking awesome. Crowd heat is nuclear all the way through this, too. Hell, I'm struggling to think of one match from the '84-'85 arena footage that *didn't* have nuclear crowd heat. God damn that whole period was tremendous. I'd probably have this in my top 10 on the Texas ballot, and I'm not sure it's even top 30 for Mid-South. Don't think of that as a knock on Texas; more huge praise for Wattsville.

Rock 'n' Roll Express v Butch Reed & Buddy Landel (3/28/84)

Man, this was a fucking BOSS little sprint. Reed came out of this set as my all-time favourite wrestler second only to Eddie Guerrero, and I can already tell I'm gonna fall in love with him all over again going through it a second (some of it a third) time. He and Landel are a Hell of a combo and I had no memory of this being as good as it is. They rifle off a bunch of great double teams (Reed gorilla pressing Landel onto Morton was badass), work some great cut-offs, cheat, cheapshot, the whole nine. Morton is Morton and runs circles around them at the start before Reed just dropkicks him in the face, then Morton is Morton all over again and plays FIP like he's Morton. Gibson doesn't really do much, but Jim Cornette is out "taking notes", and when Gibson decides he's had enough of standing around on the apron while his partner gets assaulted, Cornette pulls the top rope down and Gibson takes a nasty tumble onto the concrete. Finish is a little sloppily executed, but I love guys milking the foreign object. I'd kill for an arena version of this match-up because there's no way it wouldn't have ruled hard with 20 minutes.

Midnight Express v Bill Dundee & Porkchop Cash (4/6/84)

Doesn't really need to be said at this point, but holy shit does Bill Dundee have amazing punches. Lawler is usually my knee jerk pick for "guy with best wrestling punches ever," but Dundee throws a couple corkers in this that makes me wonder if it's closer than I've been thinking. I mean, from word one I've loved Dundee's punches, but maybe not having seen any of them for months on end made me forget just how spectacular they could be. He's an absolute king in this. Midnights are equally kingsized in their bumping and stooging, but Dundee coming up with ways to play off of it all is a ton of fun. There's one spot where Eaton whips him into the corner and Dundee jumps up on the second turnbuckle, spins around, jumps over on onrushing Eaton, lands on the mat and catches Eaton coming back out with a monkey flip, all in one smooth, perfect motion. He used the same spot in one of the early studio matches on the Memphis set (maybe against Latham) and it looked awesome there, too. A lot of the time you'll see someone try that and the person following them in has to check their stride to allow time for the person on the turnbuckle to properly spin around. With Dundee you don't need to; he does it super quick and it looks really fluid. Dundee's also great as your FIP here. He's always firing back; not in a way that feels like he's halting the momentum of the heels' beatdown, but in a way that always keeps things interesting -- you buy him as a guy that's legitimately trying to get to his corner to make the tag. Porkchop is probably the "weakest" guy in the match, but that's down to the other three being so good as opposed to Porkchop being "bad". He has a few awesome looking hip attacks that get major air every time, and he does a great headbutt spot with Condrey. Porkchop, being black, obviously has a rock solid head, so Condrey throws a headbutt at one point, gives Eaton two thumbs up and then falls flat on his face while Porkchop looks at him like a tool. Finish felt a little too sudden after the hot tag, but it's a pretty small quibble. I thought this was a good match the first time I watched it, but I definitely liked it more this time around. I can tell I'm gonna have a blast going through all of this again.

Mid-South Project

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