Wednesday, 23 March 2011

1992 WCW - The Year Of The King! Of CABLE!

Vader v Sting (Starrcade, 12/28/92)

Did WCW ever bring back the King of Cable thing? This is the only time I remember seeing or hearing about it. They probably could've turned it into some kind of big-ish deal with the huge trophy and a bunch of certificates and McDonalds vouchers, kind of like all the bells and whistles that comes with the Triple Crown. This is an all-time great match-up, and this was a fucking great match. I especially like how it's laid out. Vader just tosses Sting around to begin with and laughs when Sting throws some punches, and Jesse has this great line about how in football this would be the time where you punt. You're third and long on your own 20 and Clay Matthews is RIGHT THERE looking like the Predator and shit. Punt that bitch and try something else next time around. When Sting eventually gets something going, it's with the same run of offence that got him the advantage in the Bash match earlier in the year. He really comes out of nowhere with this awesome looking koppo kick and then plants Vader with a big German suplex, and Vader is forced to actually take a powder. Of course Sting sees this and goes for the kill, but Vader dodges a cross body (or maybe it was a Stinger Splash) and Sting crushes his throat on the railing. And now he's fuckin' dead and Vader is gonna eat him. Big Leon really beats the shit out of him here. He'll slow it down and crank Sting's neck and it'll look real nasty, or he'll hook a chinlock and put his entire body weight on Sting's neck, but it's at its surliest when he's straight punching him dead in the face. Doesn't even need to be said that Vader has some mean punches, but man is he just PLASTERING Sting in this. He keeps swinging for the fences and Sting does this awesome sell where he'll try and cover up and block, but there's only so much protection you can get against Vader and there's a few amazing desperation moments where he hits the deck and just refuses to stay down, struggling back to his feet, stumbling around as Vader keeps blasting him. Feels like a combination of Ali/Foreman (which Jimbo references on commentary) with Vader punching himself out, and Tyson/Berbick with Sting getting dropped and willing himself to get back to his feet all spaghetti legged (difference here is that Sting actually succeeds). It gets to the point where Vader's blows are landing with 30% force, and that's when Sting knows he's weathered the storm. Final few minutes are all about whether Sting's will or Vader's girth will win out. It's your classic monster v underdog climax, and a fitting end to a Hell of a match. "IT'S TAHM FO WAWR!"

WCW 1992 Project

Friday, 4 March 2011

On A Mid-South Highway 40 Days And Nights. Ain't Complainin'; It's My Job And It Suits Me Right

Butch Reed & Jim Neidhart v Mr. Wrestling II & Magnum TA (Cage Match) (12/25/83)

Yeah, this is fucking great. Everybody really brought it here. Neidhart isn't a guy often pimped as being a great worker, but I always enjoy him in tags and he and Reed are quite the pair of asshole thugs in this. Jim is especially good at directing traffic and running distractions so Reed can toss Magnum into the cage or take cheapshots. The first Reed match on the set was pretty much a showcase for his offence, but this has bump machine Reed where he's taking amazing head over heels bumps for II's kneelifts and soaring fifty feet in the air off back body drops. Match goes less than 20 minutes, but they manage to fit both babyfaces taking a spell at getting beat on. Magnum is up first and Reed and Neidhart just brutalise him, repeatedly throwing him into the cage, busting him open, tossing him out onto concrete (it's one of those cages that leaves a gap between it and the ring), etc. Magnum's one of many guys whose rep got boosted big time by the Mid-South set, and he's seriously great at taking a shitkicking here. II's FIP spell is the shorter of the two, but the transition into it is awesome. Also love the finish -- Reed gets cocky and picks II up from a couple pinfalls because he wants to deal more damage, then he tags in Neidhart who murders him with a Samoan drop and goes for the pin. Reed is now happy with the amount of damage dealt, but Jim isn't and decides he wants to take II's mask off first. Reed is going nuts on the apron telling Neidhart to finish it before they get bit in the ass, but Neidhart wants that fucking mask. He eventually gets it off, but II has another one underneath it. Jim doesn't realise this and starts jumping for joy, showing Reed the mask like a kid who just got that one video game for his birthday. Reed is still going nuts, telling him to turn around because II just tagged in Magnum. Magnum comes in, cleans house and hits Neidhart with the belly to belly while II cuts off Reed from making the save by jumping over Magnum and hitting Reed with this flying kneelift. Just great, great stuff.

Ted DiBiase v Magnum TA (No DQ, OKC) (5/27/84)

So these guys had two No DQ matches for the American Heavyweight Title on the same day. This is the first and a really awesome sub-ten minute scrap. Ted is the champ here and jumps Magnum at the start, taking him out to the floor and throwing him into tables while the entire front row loses its shit. Magnum fights back and slams Ted on the floor (which looked real nasty) and fuck man, Magnum is just aces as this fired to the GILLS take-no-shit asskicking Tom Selleck lookalike. Ted takes over again by loading the glove and blasting Magnum in the head, which is a fucking awesome transition, and Magnum goes ahead and taps an artery. For whatever reason, they cut from the crowd audio mid-match and switch to Jim Ross doing commentary with the crowd muted, and it's pretty disappointing given how ridiculously hot they were. Ted takes a nice over the top rope bump to lead into Magnum's burst of offence towards the finish, and I liked how he just unloaded a few big bombs one after the other to put DiBiase away. Might be a little too abrupt for some folks, but I dug it.

Ted DiBiase v Magnum TA (No DQ, Tulsa) (5/27/84)

Thought this was even better. Gets a few more minutes than the first match and there's no annoying audio bullshit at any point. Thing I like most about this is the way they almost play off some of the spots from the first match, which is pretty admirable in some kind of fucked up nerdy pro-wrestling kind of way. They're wrestling two matches in two different cities in the space of a few hours and just as easily could've worked the same match and got the same nuclear crowd heat. They could've had DiBiase jump Magnum at the bell again and people would've been just as rabid for it. Instead, Magnum catches on and this time it's him who starts out the stronger of the two. Ted takes over by throwing Magnum out to the floor, and that gusher from earlier gets re-opened thanks to what looked like a head-first spill into the ring steps. Ted is awesome here, ramming Magnum's head into tables, tearing at the cut right in front of a bunch of screaming Magnum TA fans, and there's an amazing sleeper hold spot where Magnum's blood ends up covering Ted's arm. The lighting and camera angle gives it a really gruesome feel, too. Also love how they play off the loaded glove spot. Ted used that in the first match to score the advantage; this time, after Magnum's already started making his comeback, he tries to shut him down by loading the glove and taking a swing at him. Magnum sees it coming though, ducks it, hits an atomic drop that sends Ted into the ropes, and catches him on the rebound with a belly to belly. Terrific match.

Mid-South Project

Thursday, 3 March 2011

DVDVR Memphis Set, Top 60: #50

Jerry Lawler v King Kong Bundy ($10, 000 Challenge, 7/16/84)

I'm a sucker for a good sub-ten minute match, and this was a fucking good sub-ten minute match. Lawler's a guy that showed he could get a ton of mileage out of doing practically nothing on the Texas set. The cage match against Kerry ended abruptly and stopped it from going ridiculously high on my ballot, but the first half of it was tremendous and it was almost entirely down to Lawler antics. He was a heel in that match. Here he's a babyface, so there's no working the crowd into a frenzy by cheating and making the referee look like a fool, but it's a match that goes 7 minutes and it takes us 6 of those minutes before Lawler so much as throws his first punch.

He spends the first couple minutes eating a man sized beating, though. Gimmick is that Lawler gets a grand of Jimmy Hart's money for every minute he can survive against Bundy, so Bundy just squashes him in the corner during the intros and we're off to the races. Bundy unloads a bunch of 400 pound offence and tries to make short work of the whole thing, and of course Lawler sells it like he's Lawler.

After a couple minutes of this he realises he's getting nowhere fast just bails to the floor. For the next 3 or 4 minutes, he basically stalls for time. And it rules. He milks the count, ducks in and out of the ring, plays cat and mouse with Bundy; Lance gets on the house mic after every minute passes and announces that Lawler's won another thousand dollars, and the crowd totally eat all of this up. Bundy and Hart are great at getting wound up (Lance: "Hart's having a hemorrhage"), and Lawler's just running down the clock and filling his pockets.

Eventually he gets caught between Bundy and a pole-wielding Jimmy Hart, and Bundy just goes to town on him some more while Hart's screaming like a maniac to put him away before he loses any more money. Of course you know where this is going, and when the strap comes down YOU smile because YOU know Lawler is about to throw some motherfucking amazing punches. His first combo that is capped off with a running straight right was BOSS as HELL and I rewound it about 7 times. Finish is what it is, but it sets up a couple awesome tags down the line so I guess I can't complain.

Just a bucket load of fun. I sent my Texas ballot in today and that set had a bunch of really great short matches on it. This has a totally different dynamic to the Von Erichs/Freebirds or Von Erichs/Duo matches where they're just fucking beating the fucking shit out of each other with leather straps and cowboy boots and cage doors, and I'll be honest, I wouldn't put this up there with the best car wrecks of that set, but if someone makes a comp of awesome sub-ten minute matches I can totally see this side-by-side with a bunch of Michael Hayes bar fights.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

DVDVR Memphis Set, Top 60: #51

Rock 'n' Roll Express v Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev (9/30/85)

I had this about 30 spots higher on my Memphis ballot than it wound up finishing on the overall list. I watched the RnRs/Nightmares match that finished just outside the overall top 40 a little while ago and couldn't believe I had it ranked outside my own top 50 (I had it was down at #88!!!). I mean that match was just WAY up my alley and I totally underrated it the first time around. I half expected to come away from re-watching this match and thinking I undersold the Nightmares match while overrating this one. Turns out I liked this one even more than I did before. The Nightmares match is still better, but I do not regret ranking this just outside my top 50.

First half of this with Ricky and Robert in control is a blast. RnRs have a shit ton of stuff they can bust out in an opening shine segment and they roll out a few great spots here. My favourite is the spot where Ivan whips Morton into the corner, but Gibson runs along the apron and uses his own body to cover the turnbuckle and save Ricky. Ricky then makes to whip Ivan into the same corner so Krusher runs along the apron and does the same thing Gibson just did, except Morton spots it, keeps hold of Ivan and whips him into the opposite corner while Gibson runs along the apron to kick Krusher off the turnbuckle.

Russians eventually take over when Gibson hits the ropes during the course of a mid-match brawl and Nikita yanks the top rope down. Gibson's a fine FIP. He takes a nice beating and is good at firing back, and he's more than happy to get heaved around and tossed to the floor by the Russians. Russians do the phantom tag switcheroo shtick here and I always love when the guys doing that spot make sure to clap their hands so the ref' at least "hears" a tag, even if they can't see it. The Fantastics did the switcheroo spot a bunch on the Texas set, but they never clapped and gave the ref' any real reason to believe them when they said they made a legal tag (other than the screaming girls in the crowd backing them up). The Conquistadors or the Super Destroyers can get away with it because they're wearing identical full body attire and it whips the crowd into a frenzy. If you don't look alike you gotta clap your hands, man. Ivan and Krusher are both bald and I guess they kind of look alike, but not to the point where they're fooling anybody so they clap their hands and that gets a thumbs up from me.

I like the Dusty finish to this. Ref' is distracted and Kruschev gets the chain and blasts Gibson in the head, rolls Ivan out of the ring and covers Robert for the three. This is where bald wrestlers with same ring attire that don't necessarily look the same facially doing the switcheroo thing is great, because Kruschev makes sure to hide his face when he's covering Gibson so the ref' can't see it and assumes nothing fishy is up. Of course the Russians celebrate and Morton points out that Kruschev wasn't the legal man and that he used a chain. Match is restarted, Hell breaks loose, Morton scores a roll-up on Ivan (who's legal).

I love matches like this and I dug the shit out of this match.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

DVDVR Memphis Set, Top 60: #52

Randy Savage v Jerry Oski (5/7/85)

So this is the last 16 minutes of a 31 minute match and I'm pretty steamed that the first half is missing, because what we get is really fucking good. I imagine this'll do better than #52 when I re-watch everything ahead of it and revise the list, but more than that, if this is in full then it's probably a top 20 match.

We're JIP with Oski controlling Savage with some nice stuff focused on the arm. Only other time I can recall seeing Oski is on one of the extras on the Texas set where Abdullah the Butcher slaughters him. Actually that's not true, I remember there's an Oski/Lanny Poffo match that follows this one on the Memphis set, but I'm not remembering anything *about* it. That said, I actually had that match higher than this one. So either I liked it WAY more than everybody else that took part in the Memphis project or I was plastered when I watched it or I was in a terrific mood. Not sure yet, but the point is I haven't seen a ton of Jerry Oski. Actually that wasn't the point. That was more of a digressive point. The point I was in the process of trying to make is that Oski has some neat ways of working the arm here. Maybe he was always a guy that could work a body part with some nice low end stuff, I'm not sure. But here he does neat armdrags, legdrops the arm, bars it, lets Savage up so he can take him down with another neat armdrag, etc. Just simple stuff, but it's effective and it looks good.

Star of this match is Savage, though. Oski is fine at working from the top and controlling the arm, but Savage's selling is what makes it interesting. Not just in terms of selling pain, but in selling frustration, anger, the fact he's unhinged, etc.

He eventually takes over by tossing Oski over the top rope while Tux Newman runs distraction. Unlike Oski, Savage is a guy I have seen a million times before. Every wrestler in history has signature "stuff"; things they like to do in matches that they'll bust out pretty regularly. If you're a fan of that wrestler there'll be stuff you pop for and get a kick out of whenever they do it. If they do it enough you might even be able to tell when it's coming and get giddy in anticipation. Arn Anderson has a ton of stuff like this. Dick Murdoch has a ton of stuff like this. When Arn Anderson points to his head because he's too smart to be fooled I get giddy because I know what's coming. When Dick Murdoch puts his dukes up for a fist fight I get giddy because I know what's coming.

Randy Savage has a ton of stuff like this.

Savage comes across as total lunatic every time he shows up on this set. Doesn't matter if he's a heel or a babyface, he's nuts. Doesn't matter if he's cutting a promo or working a match, he's nuts. He has a bunch of stuff he likes to do when his opponent is on the floor and it goes a long way towards creating this aura. He takes control about 3 minutes in (3 minutes in to what we get on tape, anyway), and he spends roughly the next 10 continually tossing Oski onto the floor and working the crowd into a frenzy with his antics. He throws Oski out on the left side of the ring then exits himself on the right side, gets down on all fours and sneaks around to blindside him. He hits his big double axe handle from the top rope out to the floor. He throws him into the post. He'll distract the ref' so Tux can take shots at him with his cane. All the while he gives Oski enough to keep the crowd believing that there might be an upset on the cards. I can totally see someone thinking 'heel repeatedly throws babyface onto floor' as main offensive manoeuvre for 10 minutes kind of drags, and shit, maybe even I thought it dragged the first time around, but I was way into it this time and thought it was a blast.

Final few minutes really feel like the climax to a title match. Savage has had this guy much lower on the totem pole than him on the ropes for the last while and yet Oski won't stay down. In fact he keeps coming back and there's a few moments where he causes Savage a scare. I guess Oski pops up a little too quick after the elbow drop, but it really feels like a big moment and a satisfying upset when he scores the roll up.

Really wish the first half of this was available. I like what we get a lot, but JIP wrestling, especially when the entire first half is missing, drives me nuts. I suspect there'd be more neat Oski controlling stuff and epic Savage stalling too, and I'd be all for that.

I slightly prefer the Savage/Idol match, but I'd put this second best of the handful of stuff I've re-watched in my top 60 so far.