Tuesday, 31 January 2012

DVDVR Memphis Set, Top 60; #49

Bill Dundee v Tommy Rich (8/23/80)

More from 'King of the Studio Match' Bill Dundee. This was something like the fifth match on the entire set, and by that point you're already coming to the conclusion Dundee is the motherfucking biscuits, but this is the first match where he gets to stretch out against a guy that's fairly close to his level. I mean, I like Larry Latham just fine and the Boyles tag is really good, but none of those guys are hanging around "great" level. Rich is.

A lot of this feels like a stalemate. Most of it is worked on the mat, and I really dug a lot of the tricked out matwork. I guess it's a 'your mileage may vary' deal on how much of it comes off like it's a struggle, but I definitely got the sense that's what it was. The spot where Dundee bridges out of an armbar and scoots over to the ropes on his head is a spot I love. I had no recollection of him busting it out in this match, but he does it in one of the '89 tags on the Texas set and it's stuck with me since then.

As things progress and nobody is able to score any real advantage, it all starts to get a little more hectic. In the first few minutes both guys were matching each other hold for hold and you'd get a spot with them breaking with a handshake. Towards the end they're both rolling out of the way of flying elbows and Dundee almost monkey flips Rich on his head.

Finish is really awesome and leads to the post-match angle/Rich heel turn. He shoots Dundee into the ropes and ducks down for a backdrop, and as Dundee is leapfrogging over him Rich lifts his head and basically headbutts Dundee in the nads. Rich seems unsure what to do initially, but after a few seconds he just rolls Dundee up for the win, which nets him a shot at the Southern Heavyweight Title. Probably the best 'unintentional low blow' spot I've ever seen.

Tommy's post-match promo is really good, too. He eventually directs his piss and vinegar at an injured Lawler, shoving him on his ass to cement the heel turn. The next match on the disc is from March '81 and has Dundee defending the tag belts in a handicap match (which is fucking great and probably the best competitive handicap match in history) because Rich is unable to be there with him, so I'm assuming Tommy turns babyface again at some point in the following 7 months, but for now, Rich is out to get what's his and fuck anybody standing in his way.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Well Lately I've Been Standing Out in the Freezing Rain, Reading Them Want Ads Out on Mid-South Road

Hacksaw Duggan, Terry Taylor & Bill Watts v The Fabulous Freebirds (7/20/86)

Someone in the crowd has a 'Michael Hayes -- All Talk, No Cock' sign. This is pretty fun, but it's sort of all over the place as well. It's elimination rules and you can be eliminated by going over the top rope, but Gordy gets hurled over the top early and it doesn't seem to matter. Then he gets hurled over the top at the end and it does matter. Watts and Hayes get eliminated early on, although I'm not sure how/why. I don't remember how Watts gets tossed, but Hayes seems to get eliminated by being kicked in the stones by Watts. No pinfall, just...gets carted away with an injured scrotum. Who knows? Turns into a straight tag after that and Taylor headbutts Buddy in the dick as Buddy's trying to leapfrog him or something. Taylor is a fine FIP, but the whole thing isn't going to set your world on fire. I actually kind of liked the finish, though. Would've rather Buddy and Gordy got to beat on Hacksaw for a bit before it, but whatevs.

The Fantastics & Missing Link v Eddie Gilbert, John Tatum & Sting (8/3/86)

Total blast. Sting is really green and pretty terrible here, struggling to do even the simplest of things, but everybody else brings it big time. Link basically stands on the apron the whole time so Fulton or Rodgers can ram someone into his head, but he's pretty great at standing on the apron so his partners can ram folk into his head. Gilbert is a total bump/stooge machine and bumps and stooges like you'd imagine a total bump/stooge machine would. Tatum has the most ridiculous facial expressions ever. He takes a bump over the barricade that looked like it broke his shoulder, then he makes pouty faces and you want to punch him in the grill. The Missy/Dark Journey stuff only adds to the chaos. Just a truckload of fun.

Mid-South Project

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Her Brains They Rattle and Her Bones They Shake, Whoah She's an Angel From the Mid-South Lake

Terry Gordy v Terry Taylor (6/13/86)

This is JIP, although if it starts out the same as the rematch (which is in "full" minus a commercial break) we aren't missing a hugely compelling Taylor in control segment at the beginning. This was perfectly solid stuff. We get about 10 minutes shown and the majority of it is Gordy controlling with the sleeper. Taylor looks like he's going out but the hand doesn't drop for the third time, he fight back to his feet, breaks free and tries to mount a comeback, Gordy reels him back in and goes right back to the sleeper, rinse and repeat. Then Taylor tries to take an upside down Flair bump in the corner and winds up piledriving himself. Right on his his head.

Terry Gordy v Terry Taylor (6/17/86)

I liked this a bit more. Taylor frustrating Gordy early isn't spectacular or anything, but actually getting to see it gives you a better sense of the overall picture (which you didn't get with the first match). It's mostly headlock takeover stuff with Gordy trying to shake him and Taylor being persistent. Then we go to commercial, and when we come back Gordy is on offence. It's more of the same, really -- Gordy works the sleeper, Taylor teases comebacks, Gordy grabs hold of him and throws it back on. Both guys take an upside down bump in the corner this time. Gordy is a guy that liked to do that a lot anyway, but I only ever remember Taylor doing it in the two matches opposite Gordy. He manages to not almost break his neck this time. Gordy strutting around the ring while Taylor lies half dead on the floor was great.

Terry Gordy v Dr. Death (6/22/86)

Well this is pretty great. I don't remember much about this feud in the way of specifics, but my general feeling was that the matches were all at least good with one that I really dug standing out from the pack. I don't remember which match that was, but it wouldn't surprise me if it winds up being this one. Match is basically two big surly motherfuckers beating on each other in front or a rabid crowd, and well, that is my kind of wrestling. I mean, shit, the fucking turnbuckle breaks because they're two monster trucks and Hayes is on commentary saying shit like "They'll have to put the whole ring back together again by the time this is over" and I'm like "FFFFFUCK YES. I WISH THAT HAPPENED." Gordy taking an upside down bump in the corner after the turnbuckle had already broken once seemed totally crazy. Although not as crazy as Tommy Gilbert's ref' bump. He gets caught behind Gordy as Williams shoulder tackles him and he just hurls himself head first out onto the concrete. Looked like something from a Jackass movie (think Johnny Knoxville being speared by a bull). The finish with Watts coming in to count the fall maybe seems a little goofy, but fuck it, the crowd is going bonkers and it means we get to see Bill Watts punch a scuzzy shithead right in the face, so is it worth complaining about? I say no. I still want to come up with a top 50 after going through the whole set (again), and this feels like it'll be there for sure.

Mid-South Project

Saturday, 21 January 2012

To Be The Man...

I pretty much closed my eyes and plucked out a DVD 'lucky dip' style. The one I came up with had this on it. It also had an Atlantis v Blue Panther match from '97 (I've got a ton of discs in a drawer with a shitload of random matches that I put on them and no listings for any of them) that I wanted to talk about ages ago. I might get around to that some time next week. Although I probably won't. I'm still trying to work my way through a ton of WCW stuff, and this is a Hell of a match so I might as well make use of this thing and talk about it.

Ric Flair v Lex Luger (NWA Starrcade, 12/26/88)

I haven't seen the Great American Bash match from earlier in the year in a loooong ass time, but I always remembered this as the first Luger performance that showed he could definitely go on and be great without having to work with a guy like Flair to hand lead him. I mean, he went on and became exactly that the next year, but whether this or the Bash match or some other match was the first sign, I'm not entirely sure. Two thirds of this are still largely Flair laying things out, though (you can pretty much see him calling stuff and Luger almost waiting for cues at points). Starts out with Flair faking out on collar and elbow tie-ups and strutting and wooing in Luger's face. Ross and Caudle are talking about how this is Flair playing mind games and how Luger needs to keep his cool and not get caught up in all that bullshit. Eventually he gets fed up and just clotheslines Flair over the top. Flair comes back and tries to throw some punches to the ribs and chop Luger in the corner, but Luger is in full on impervious to pain mode and just bowls Flair over. He busts out the gorilla press slam (the first of roughly fifteen), the powerslam, the vertical suplex...the Flair/Luger staples. I liked the fact they did the 'Flair shoulderblock, Luger drops down and catches Flair coming back off the ropes with a clothesline' sequence twice in the match, with Flair ducking the initial clothesline only to get caught with a follow up the second time they ran through it. Luger seems to "officially" take over by going to the arm and just launching Flair shoulder first into the turnbuckles. The arm work is all solid stuff; working a hammerlock, armar, taking him outside so he can wrap it around the barricade, and Flair always takes cool running bumps into the turnbuckles. You know it's basically filler, but it's fine filler. I mean, shit, I'd rather see Luger doing this for a few minutes than Muta and Chono doing middling matwork for an hour and a half. About 15 minutes in they transition to Flair on top when Luger misses a big elbow drop. Flair goes after him pretty viciously, dragging him out to the floor and ramming him face first into the barricade, unloading with body shots, really pushing the boundaries of Tommy Young's patience. Luger's hope spots get some huge heat, especially the sleeper hold. He basically fights his way back into things by dropping bombs whenever he gets the chance, like a superplex and one of his many gorilla press slams, and he sort of gets a visual pinfall off a top rope cross body while Tommy Young recovers from a knock (isn't an obvious visual pin like, say, Savage on Steamboat; more Sting on Vader where you're not sure if it would've been enough anyway, but with that extra couple seconds there's always a chance). The heat for him putting Flair in the figure four is off the charts, too. Final third of this is where Luger really comes into his own. He holds up his end with no problems for the first 20 or so minutes, but he's really "guy working off of Flair." Then JJ runs distraction and Flair blasts Luger in the knee with a chair, and Luger is pretty much exceptional at selling the leg for the remainder of the match. Flair goes after it and it's what you expect from Flair working the leg; the knee drops, draping the leg over the bottom rope and dropping his whole weight on top of it, the kneebreaker, the chop blocks, and eventually the figure four. Luger sells all of it like a king. Even when he's shrugging off chops he's still shaking the leg and slapping some feeling into it, and when he makes comebacks he's always at least hobbling slightly, never letting you forget he's got a bad wheel. I watched the Flair/Hogan match from Bash at the Beach '94 a couple nights ago and Hogan would go from selling the leg really well to completely blowing it off about thirty seconds later. When Luger is moving forward and refusing to be slowed down by what Flair is throwing at him (there's a great spot where Flair hits a running forearm and bounces off of Luger like he just flew into a garage door), he manages to walk the line between "fighting through the pain" and outright blowing off limb work perfectly. The finish with Luger getting Flair in the torture rack only for the leg to buckle and Flair to fall on top of him (near the ropes so Flair can get that extra bit of leverage) is really great, and it's about as close to a "pay off" to Ric Flair Leg Work as you're likely to get. Standard criticism of Flair matches is that Flair's supposed to be the master of the figure four, but the amount of matches he's won with the hold can probably be counted on one hand (although, in fairness, I think WWE treated it as a legit match ender). He didn't win this with the figure four, but that and the rest of the leg work took enough of a toll that it was ultimately what beat Luger. If he had two good legs to stand on, Flair never would've gotten out of the torture rack. Just a terrific match, and if it's not THE breakout Luger performance, it's certainly a step on his way to having a great run.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Straight Outta Bucksnort, Crazy Motherfucker Named Bunkhouse

So I'm trying to work my way through a shit ton of WCW over the next month or so in order to be able to get a top 100 WCW matches list together. I start my journey in Bucksnort, Tennessee.

Dustin Rhodes v Bunkhouse Buck (Bunkhouse Match - WCW Spring Stampede, 4/17/94)

So this is just a truckload of great. Starts out with Dustin running down the ramp, hurling himself over the top rope and hitting Buck with a flying lariat, which is one of the best uses of the old WCW ramp I can remember seeing. Match is pretty much wild the whole way through. Not wild in the sense they're throwing each other off of stuff and whacking each other with trash cans and aping concessions stand brawls like the Foley/Payne v Nasty Boys match earlier in the show. Wild in the sense they eschew the ECW shtick and just punch each other and whip each other with belts and blast each other with cowboy boots. This isn't something plucked out of the ECW arena and stuck in a WCW ring. This is something plucked out of 1980s Mid-South. Buck cracks Dustin square in the head with a 1x2 and Dustin bleeds and bleeds. Buck is lashing him across the back with his belt and he has this constant look on his face that makes you think he's truly out of his mind. Fuller is on the outside hamming it up and getting under everybody's skin. And then Dustin fights back and wraps the belt around his hand so he can punch Buck in the face. And well, this match pretty much rules. Someone also gets punted in the balls at some point. Match of the century.

Dustin Rhodes v Bunkhouse Buck (Bullrope Match - WCW Slamboree, 5/22/94)

More of the same, thank you. The Bunkhouse match started out with Dustin charging the ring and throwing himself right at Buck. This starts out with Dustin already in the ring swinging the bullrope over his head, so Buck just lowers his head and tries to ram him so he can close the distance before getting smacked with a flying cowbell. First stretch of this is all about Dustin in control, working the leg and stomping Buck in the dick. He wraps the bullrope around Buck's neck and tries to lynch him, and when Buck tries to get free he winds up practically giving himself a rope burn straight across his face. When Buck takes over (to take control in the first place he pulls Dustin's t-shirt up over his head, and while Dustin's face is covered Buck starts whipping him with his belt...which was really fucking great) he does this great spot where he basically ties Dustin to the ring post by weaving himself around the post, and then he starts unloading punches while Dustin is caught in a straitjacket. Dustin fights back by punting him in the nuts and Buck's dazed sell of it is just tremendous. Philly crowd start a huge "we want blood" chant. They don't get it, but Dustin starts blasting Buck in the ribs with a cowbell, and that made me happy at least. The ref' bump was really cool here. Dustin uses the bullrope to sort of irish whip Buck towards him, but Patrick is caught in the crossfire and gets sandwiched between them both. Fuller jumps in at this point and wants to smash Dustin with the cowbell, hamming it up to shit and acting like an asshole. Naturally, it backfires and Dustin swings the cowbell right of Buck's head for the win. Post-match, Terry Funk runs down to the ring with a towel over his head and nails Dustin with a running branding iron shot that looked totally nasty. Dustin bleeds all over the place and we get a huge "TERRY! TERRY!" chant from the ECDubbers in attendance. Not quite match of the century, but still a Hell of a fight.