Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sly Says There's a RIOT Goin' On (In Mid-South)

Rock 'n' Roll Express & Hacksaw Duggan v Midnight Express & Ernie Ladd (6/8/84)

Well talk about a party. This was fucking awesome the first time I saw it and it's just as fucking awesome this time around. Everybody brings it huge here. Sure, Gibson is in the ring for all of about 20 seconds over the course of the entire match, but he at least runs along the apron and, like, does that well, and then he gets stomped like a cheap cigar in the post-match, so I can't criticise him, even if he was only the 6th best guy in the match (or 7th of you count Cornette). First spell is all about Ricky Morton v the entire heel team. He runs the gauntlet against Condrey and Eaton and comes out on top every time. They do the bit where Condrey gets caught in the babyface corner and they all lay into him while Eaton comes creeping up behind Morton. Morton turns around before Eaton can blindside him, so Bobby quickly turns and struts back to his own corner because he dodged a bullet. Then he turns back around and Morton is waiting right behind him to pop him in the chin. Then we get Ladd matching up with Morton, and their cat-and-mouse routine might be the best part of the whole match. Morton tries to shoulder tackle him and winds up getting bounced halfway across the ring. Ladd was a fucking defensive tackle and Morton weights a buck forty, so you know how that goes. He tries it again -- same outcome. Then he tries it again, but at the last second he slides under Ladd's legs and catches him with a dropkick while the big guy is left scrambling. Ladd really bumps and stooges like crazy here considering he's in his mid-forties and banged up to Hell; "whipping" himself over on armdrags and throwing himself around after eating dropkicks. His legdrop is also probably the best standing legdrop in history. He comes crashing down with both legs and it looks like it'd only be slightly worse than having your head shut in a car door. They briefly tease Morton going FIP, but he quickly tags in Duggan and then it's his turn to clean house for a few minutes. There's a great spot where Ladd keeps trying to ram his head into the turnbuckle only for Duggan to block it every time and ram Ladd's head into it instead. Condrey runs along the apron to help out, but Duggan blocks that as well. Condrey initially backs away like "Fuck it, I want none of this shit," but changes his mind and comes back for a second go. This time Duggan just grabs both guys' heads and gives them the double noggin knocker. It's going on 3 years since I last saw this, and I completely forgot about Duggan playing face in peril here. But shit, that's what he does, and he plays a HELL of a Ricky Morton for a guy that's on the same team as the actual Ricky Morton. Before watching the Mid-South set my memory of Duggan was that he was a borderline-retard that swung a plank of wood and chanted USA, so seeing him play such a great face in peril probably would've blown my mind on first watch. Ladd goes into his trunks and pulls out a titanium thumb guard or some shit, then he jabs Duggan in the throat and Duggan is just amazing at selling this. He's rolling around clutching his throat like his larynx is crushed and Cornette and the MX keep running distractions so Ladd can continue to thumb him in the throat. When he manages to make the tag, Gibson comes in for his 20 second cameo, throws some punches, maybe a dropkick or two, maybe even a slam, then tags Morton back in. If they had gone to the finish after the first hot tag this would've been a really good match. Instead, Cornette gets up on the apron to bitch about something and gives Condrey the chance to just launch Morton over the top to the concrete. At this point the match shifts into a different gear entirely. Eaton comes over and whacks Morton in the head with a chair (Hacksaw coming around with a chair of his own and swinging it like a wild man was awesome), and now we get Ricky Morton being Ricky fucking Morton. The MX/Ladd beatdown here is just spectacular. Ladd is crushing Morton with those legdrops and there is an audible reaction of terror from the crowd every time he does it. These crowds'll go batshit insane for Morton no matter what, but you get the sense they are genuinely frightened for his well being whenever Ladd does that legdrop. And, well, you can see why, because they look lethal. This also has to be one of the best performances Condrey and Eaton ever had together as a team. They're just relentless here, constantly dragging the ref' out of position (whether it's by running distractions themselves, having Cornette do it for them, or by goading Duggan or Gibson into the ring so the ref' has to spend time getting them back out) and taking Morton to the fucking cleaners behind his back. So many cheapshots and illegal double teams. It sounds like the crowd is about to legitimately riot and Cornette just antagonises them over and over by poking Morton in the throat with a tennis racket or choking him with the ring ropes. And Jeeeesus Christ is Dennis Condrey a vicious motherfucker. There's one spot where Morton is lying on the ropes all bloodied and motionless like a homicide victim and Condrey completely motherfucking WASTES him with stomps and knees. He's right up there with a guy like Arn Anderson when it comes to shifting between comedy stooge and calculated hitman seamlessly. Finish is pretty crazy and all over the place. Morton is finally able to make the tag, but the ref' is pulled out of position AGAIN and misses it, so he won't allow it. Duggan and Gibson have had enough and come in anyway, and it breaks down into a free-for-all. Somehow the ref' winds up stuck in the corner trying to break up a Duggan/Ladd fistfight and Cornette sneaks in the ring with a rag and a can of ether. Crowd is fucking NUCLEAR because Cornette is going to date rape Ricky Morton. Cornette shits himself when Morton turns around and catches him red handed, dropping the can of ether and running away. Ref' is still caught in between Duggan and Ladd, so Morton picks up the can and starts spraying it all over Bobby Eaton. The ref' gives up on trying to split up Duggan and Ladd just in time to see Morton roll up Eaton for the win. Crowd comes fucking UNGLUED, but then Cornette comes back in and this time manages to smother Morton with the ether covered rag. It's 4 on 2 now so you know how that goes...and I am astounded nobody tried to jump the rail and murder one of these guys. I mean, they are just hurling debris at the ring while Cornette and crew stroll around putting the boots to Duggan and the RnRs. Pritchard gets on the house mic and tells people to stop throwing shit, but nobody gives a fuck about Tom Pritchard and continue to launch buckets of popcorn and cups and all sorts at the ring. The ring wasn't quite filled with trash ala Bash at the Beach '96, but it was on its way. If the Mid-South stories Cornette has told are anything to go by, I'm assuming they needed a police escort to get out of the building that night. Really, this is just a great match. I could see people being annoyed by the finish since it was pretty much a clusterfuck, but I kind of liked how it added to the insanity of everything. Or maybe that started the insanity, who knows? My recollection was that it was one of the best US tags ever. There might be 10 straight up 2-on-2 tags I'd put ahead of it, but it's almost certainly the best US 6-man I've ever seen. Who predicts a riot?

Mid-South Project

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