Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne v Junkyard Dog & Mr. Wrestling II (2/16/83)
This DiBiase's Rat Pack v JYD and his buddies feud was a really bossy little feud. The 10/82 LLT is the peak, but everything around it is always really nifty studio tag wrestling and this was no different. Total DiBiase/Borne bump-fest here as both guys just rule it taking a bunch of offence from JYD and II. They're especially great whenever II throws one of his awesome kneelifts -- Borne's spill off the apron is easy to miss, but it looked cool as shit, then DiBiase takes a great looking spill through the ropes a little later. There's a great spot where II monkey flips Borne from one end of the ring to the other and back again while he has DiBiase in an armbar. Ref' bump is also really good and doesn't look telegraphed at all. Post-match brawl with the locker room emptying and dudes swinging chairs and fists is a blast, and this whole thing was just a ton of fun.
Butch Reed v Iron Sheik (4/8/83)
So I can remember coming home smashed on Christmas Eve 2008 and watching this match for the first time. That's about all I remember from that night but there you go. At the time it was my first exposure to Reed on the set, but the whole "I was smashed" thing meant that I had a hard time remembering anything about it. Never went back to re-watch it and so my gigantic man crush on Reed never developed until later. Re-watching it now, DEEPLY a member of the Butch Reed fan club, I thought it was a lot of fun and an awesome showcase for old Butch. He looks fucking great in this. Kind of feels like a glorified squash at points, but Sheik is good as your Zbyszko-esque staller and he takes a few big bumps, and Reed has tonnes of stuff he can bust out on offence, anyway. His bridge into a backslide looked particularly swank, plus he's busting out multiple dropkicks and doing leapfrogs and all sorts of agile crap for a guy that's built like a brick shithouse. Reed also has a great looking shoulderblock, and his shoulderblock here looked boss. Gotta love Watts on commentary, too. This was taped in April '83 but never aired until a year later after Sheik had won the WWF title from Backlund, and Watts is in full on burial mode, taking shots at JYD, the WWF, etc. Match is smoked by a lot of the better Reed on the set, but this is a fine intro. Sort of wish I was sober the first time.
Dusty Rhodes v Nick Bockwinkel (5/20/83)
Wasn't a fan of this at all the first time I saw it, but, like everything else on disc 1, I liked it more this time around. I dug Dusty a lot here. I guess this sort of feels like a lesser Flair/Dusty match, but I enjoyed Dusty's answers to Bock's opening gambits in this more than I can remember enjoying the early stages of a lot of Dusty v Flair matches. Maybe it's because I've seen Flair v Dusty 8 million times by now, and Dusty strutting and throwing bionic elbows is hardly something new in and of itself, but this still felt "fresher". Still pretty apathetic towards Bockwinkel, though. The AWA set will probably change my overall perception of him, but for the time being he's a guy that does a lot of things mechanically that are good and not a lot of things that are outright bad, but he just doesn't do a whole lot for me.
Chavo Guerrero v Mr. Olympia (6/24/83)
Every one of the 80s sets tends to have at least one match that, when I've finished going through the entire thing, will end up in my top 10 favourite matches ever. The New Japan set had Fujiwara v Choshu from 6/9/87. The Memphis set had Eaton/Koko v Mantel/Cobra from 7/19/82. The Texas set, so far, has Flair/Adams from 2/3/84. Mid-South had this. I fucking love this match. Babyface Olympia might have been my MVP of the early Shreveport studio stuff, but he's a heel now and might be even better. Chavo comes into this looking for revenge after being taken out a couple months back and takes a large portion of the match on offence, but Olympia is awesome at bumping around and eating everything Chavo throws at him. And Chavo has some GREAT offence to throw at him. He busts out a pescado, a bunch of stretch variations (surfboard, some nutty abdominal stretch thing, something else I'm forgetting), an awesome flying forearm, a modified backbreaker, a German suplex, and in between all that he's just going to town on Olympia with strikes while the crowd completely lose it. Whenever Olympia takes over he'll grind Chavo down and Chavo has a few amazing hope spots and comebacks. Last couple minutes really put this over the top. First Olympia puts something on his boot and dropkicks Chavo, and Chavo takes this nasty as shit bump into the ropes and out to the floor. I had never heard a thing about this match when I first went through the set and I totally bit on that being the finish, so Chavo getting his foot on the ropes was an AWESOME nearfall. Olympia locking in the sleeper had me biting again and I figured it was only a matter of time. When Chavo breaks it... man that crowd is insane. Post-match gets it bonus points and this is just great, great stuff. Don't think this is the *best* match on the set, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't stay my favourite once I'm done with this project.
Ted DiBiase v Hacksaw Duggan (Street Fight) (7/29/83)
"A come as you are street fight means you're not going to go as you came" -- Paul Boesch. That's a pretty apt description because these guys sure as shit don't leave looking the same way they did when they came in. This was fucking awesome; chock full of hatred and AMAZING punches and choking and more hatred. There's one spot where Duggan blocks a combination of punches from Ted and then fires back with this tremendous combo of his own and it might have been my favourite moment of the whole first disc. Before long they're choking each other with t-shirts and whipping each other with belts then DiBiase wraps it around his fist and punches Duggan directly in the face. Then the heel of Duggan's cowboy boot falls off and DiBiase uses it to stab him in the head. DiBiase takes this crazy ring post shot here too where he barely protects himself. Thought it could've used some more blood what with them beating the ever loving shit out of each other the way they did and the chair shots and whatnot, but that's a small complaint. And this is the "weakest" of their three matches on the set.