Friday, 28 September 2012

Random CMLL

Jerry Estrada, Pirata Morgan & Emilio Charles Jr. v Salomon Grundy, Satanico & Super Astro (CMLL, 3/11/90)

Well this was a blast. Salomon Grundy looks like an even more obese Jerry Blackwell (although he's not nearly as good as Blackwell), and this is all about the rudo poachers trying to topple the elephant for his tusks. Satanico and Astro are a pair of FEMA activist and fight for the animal rights and also happen to totally fucking rule it. Jerry Estrada is a guy that, if you don't like him, you HATE him, but he's one of my favourite wrestlers of all-time, and I thought he was awesome in this. He dresses like a coked up Alice Cooper (well, a MORE coked up Alice Cooper) and swings wild punches and kicks and everything he does looks reckless. Like he's actually trying to kill you. He also bumps like a fucking psychopath. Like he's actually trying to kill himself. He seemed way more coherent here than he normally does (he manages to walk across the apron without falling face first into the ring post), but there's this weird moment where he and Emilio play Mouse Trap with Astro and Astro whips him into the ropes, and he winds up crumpling in a heap like he was whipped into a wall and not ring ropes, so it's probably silly to think he was COMPLETELY drug/alcohol free. There's a cool bit where Grundy gets Irish whipped and Jerry starts walking along the apron, and as Grundy hits the ropes Jerry flings himself to the floor like he got hit by a bus. I'd assume it was a planned spot (you can never tell with Estrada, which is why I love him), but his set up to it was so great that it felt truly organic. All of the bits where the rudos swarm Grundy were cool as well. They just jump on him and punch and kick him everywhere to get him off his feet. Emilio leaps onto his back and starts choking him while Pirata is punching him dead in the face and Estrada is stamping on his toes. They go all out to make it look like they're up against an immovable object. And then they do a bit where all three rudos get trapped in the corner and Grundy does a running avalanche, and Jerry Estrada tries to convince the ref' he was kicked in the balls. Greatest. When they finally get him down it looks like an honest to goodness gang beating. Grundy is fat and wears dungarees and is probably autistic. This is like Dead Man's Shoes (with more FAT) except Satanico and Astro don't wear ski-masks. 1990 CMLL is such a fucking goldmine.

El Dandy, Super Astro & Popitekus v Los Brazos (CMLL, 5/5/91)

Super fun trios. It's pretty standard trios formula, but that's a good formula, and after watching some late 00s CMLL singles matches recently, I'm reminded of how much I can get out of a good formula done right (because modern day CMLL singles formula can be fucking awful). Everybody pairs off in the first fall, and we get a couple nifty exchanges between Dandy/Oro and Astro/El Brazo. It's technico v technico, so everything is all fairly well-mannered and gentlemanly, but Super Astro doesn't need to be fighting a rudo to do something spectacular, so there's some Super Astro rope running sequences that look like Super Astro rope running sequences. Porky/Popitekus match up and the crowd - as poorly mic'd as they are - totally eat it all up. When they run straight into each other it sounds like two gigantic slabs of meat being smashed together. They have another exchange in the second fall where Popitekus manages to slam him, and I'm surprised it didn't give both of them a heart attack (they're both PORTLY). The Astro/Porky exchange was great as well. Running underneath a Brazo de Plata leapfrog must feel like running onto the motorway and lying underneath a speeding truck. The big dive train had everything you'd want out of a dive train with Super Astro and two fatties. Dandy's bullet tope sent Brazo de Oro STRAIGHT the fuck up the aisle, then Popitekus and Porky give us an amazing 1-2 punch with crazy fat man dives.Someone needs to give Super Astro the Complete & Accurate treatment, btw. Yesterday.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Curfew Had Been Lifted & the Gambling Wheel Shut Down. Anyone with any Sense Had Already Left Town. Finlay was Standing in the Doorway Looking Like the Jack of Hearts

Finlay v Matt Hardy (Smackdown!, 6/19/07)

This was outstanding. I haven't really gone back and re-watched that much of Hardy's run from around this time, but I remembered it being stellar -- he'd come out every week and have bossy matches with everybody. I've called him WWE's 00s version of Tito Santana before, where you could honestly stick anybody in there with him and you'd get something at least fun. Stick Finlay in there with him and you get way more than that. This was kind of structured similarly to the Undertaker match I talked about yesterday, where they work fairly even and lay in the strikes before Finlay eventually takes over and goes after a body part. He went after the ribs in the Undertaker match, his beatdown was great, and Undertaker's sell job was greater. Here he goes after Matt's leg, his beatdown is EVEN GREATER, and Hardy's sell job is EVEN GREATER STILL. First half has some amazing moments where Finlay will just haul off and do something brutal and Hardy will sell it in an awesome way. Matt goes for an armwringer, so Finlay cracks him in the ear with a STIFF forearm, and Matt's jelly-legged sell was just out of this world spectacular. Fujiwara-ish, even. They do a cool spot where they're on the outside and Hornswaggle grabs Matt's leg from under the ring, and when Matt turns his attentions back to Finlay he gets mowed down with a lariat even Hansen would be satisfied with. Second half of the match is where it gets really great, though. Matt goes up to the middle rope, but Finlay grabs his leg and yanks him off, and when Matt lands he clutches his knee right away. Finlay paints a bullseye on it and tries to cripple him. He takes off Matt's knee brace, twists the knee in really awkward ways (there's a standing figure-four thing that looked way nastier than any other figure-four I've ever seen), stomps on it, jumps on it, kicks the leg out form under him; just a straight up dismantling. When Matt rallies back there's a real sense of desperation to everything he does. Finlay charges him in the corner and Matt gets the leg up, but it's not a typical 'boot out of the corner' counter. He more or less throws his good leg up there and hopes for the best, and afterwards he collapses in a heap in the corner. It all has a make-or-break feel to it, and his selling in general is as about good as any leg selling you'll see. Finish is great. Hornswaggle comes in and distracts the ref', so Finlay whacks Matt in the leg with the shillelagh. Looks like Finlay is going to sneak away with the cheap victory, but Matt catches him with a flash one-legged Twist of Fate for the win. Probably a top 10 match of Matt's career. Wouldn't say it cracks the career top 10 for Finlay, but it might be one of his 10 best of the decade, and that's still some awfully classy company.

Finlay Project

Friday, 21 September 2012

Finlay Can Dress Up Your Wounds with a Blood Clotted Rag. He Ain't Afraid to Make Love to a Bitch or a Hag

Finlay v The Undertaker (Smackdown!, 3/9/07)

This was pretty badass. I don't much care for anything Undertaker has been involved in since the Wrestlemania 26 match with Michaels (basically because he's had two matches that I can recall since then, and those were both against Helmsley, and, well, I thought one of those was kind of rubbish and the other was really rubbish), but he's a guy that I thought got really fucking good around the beginning of 2006 and has more or less stayed at that level since (excluding the Helmsley matches). One thing he got real good at was making himself look vulnerable while still coming across as a zombie. You can't kill what's already dead, but you can apparently still hurt its leg or shoulder or ribcage. His body part selling was one thing I'd always look forward to in Undertaker matches, and he has some great body part selling in this. Starts out with Undertaker probing with jab fakes, trying to back Finlay into the corner so he can really unload. You get the sense that in the real world Finlay would just get to breaking teeth if someone dressed like a True Blood character wearing eye-liner came up to him and started throwing jab fakes, but this is WWE world, and in that world Undertaker is sort of the pro-wrestling Cro Cop, so Finlay doesn't get to breaking teeth. He does get to laying it in, though. First few minutes are mostly about the strikes, and these are guys that can strike. Undertaker as best striker in sports entertainment history is obviously WWE carny nonsense, but his punches always seem at the worst fine to me. Finlay will also stiff your nose bone up into your brain, so this was a good opening few minutes. Match hits another gear when Hornswaggle runs distraction (with bug-eyed "oh shit!" look when Undertaker spots him) and Finlay digs 'Taker in ribs with a chair. Undertaker's sell of the ribs probably isn't quite as good as his sell of the leg in the Wrestlemania match with Michaels (although I've only seen that once, and it was live, so I don't really remember), but it's still a heck of a sell job. He'll always grimace or clutch at his midsection after hitting an offensive move, and he practically hangs his left arm down by his side as a form of padding for the rest of the match. Nothing he does looks like it's coming easy to him, and that's really all I can ask for out of long-term selling. Finlay will always go back to the ribs to get him out of a jam, too. Any time Undertaker looks to be building up some steam, Finlay will just crack him in the ribs to cut him off. It even leads to a great nearfall down the stretch where Hornswaggle runs distraction again (so Undertaker dismissively kicks him in the head and sends him flying) and Finlay nails him in the ribs with the shillelagh. Bossy TV match. Undertaker's sell job is the highlight, but you need someone to dish out a beating for it to REALLY work. And of course Finlay looks totally capable of beating up the grim reaper.

Finlay Project

Sunday, 16 September 2012

"You think I'm fake? I ain't fake. I'll tear your fuckin' eye out!"

So I was watching Schneider Comp #21 today, and there's a segment on it where Tracey Smothers basically causes an arena-wide riot at an IWA-MS show from 2002.

It's amazing. Smothers is just out of this world great. There's a match with Bobby Eaton and somebody else going on and Smothers hits the scene to jump Eaton. And all motherfucking hell breaks loose. Bunch of wrestlers come down to try and pull Smothers and Eaton apart, so Smothers starts laying into everybody. I don't even know who half the guys are, but Smothers punches them in the throat, slaps them, kicks them, punches them in the eye, the whole nine. It's just a masterclass in drunken belligerence (I don't think he's drunk, but think drunk guy trying to start fights with people and not listening to anybody trying to talk him down -- that's basically Tracey here, only coherent). Adam Gooch tries to settle him so Tracey punches him in the eyeball. He offers Hero a handshake, then when Hero takes it Tracey clocks him. Holds his hands up like he's calm and that's it done, then the first guy that comes close gets knuckled in the eye. "Fuckin' motherfuckers, fuck all of you." He's just walking around the building kicking over chairs and tables and flipping people off, calling them 'motherfuckers' and 'douchebags' and threatening to kill people. Some meth headed bitch in the crowd swings a bat or something at him and Tracey grabs it, and I thought for sure he was going to crack her. Chick's boyfriend gets involved and you've got wrestlers stepping between them, but you know Tracey would maul him anyway. "You think this is fake? This ain't fuckin' fake, I'll fuckin' kill all of you." He gets in the ring and starts verbally abusing everybody while nobody will come within five feet of him. "Bring that bitch back in here, I'll fuckin' kill her. Fuck you, motherfucker. Fuck all y'all. Fuck you. Fuck everybody. You think I'm fake? Get in the ring and I'll show you how fake I am, I'll tear your fuckin' eye out." Some guy in the crowd whips his shirt off and has the most amazing fat belly I've ever seen. Smothers -- "Get in the ring, I'll fuckin' kill you." Dude stares at Smothers and PUTS HIS CIGARETTE OUT ON HIS OWN ARM. I paused the DVD for like five minutes while I laughed uncontrollably. Then Eaton hits the scene again and it all kicks back off between him and Smothers. Ian Rotten gets on the mic and calls Smothers a "fuckin' nut." There's some guy lying on the ground and as Smothers is walking back to the ring he just stomps on his head. People are wondering what the fuck is going on, standing around with a look of sheer bewilderment. Eventually Ian and Smothers wind up in the ring and THEY start fighting, then as Smothers is finally ready to leave the scene Eaton shows up again and fucks him in the head with a chair. And we're back at it again. People scatter, Eaton and Smothers punch each other, other wrestlers get stomped on. Commentator -- "They're comin' my way so I'm gettin' the fuck outta here." Smothers finally leaves (he walks away flipping everybody off), then two minutes later he comes back and punches someone else, then Eaton and him go at it AGAIN. Seriously, Smothers is just indescribably awesome here. Wreaking absolute havoc. Fucking tremendous segment. Everybody send Goodhelmet some dollars for this comp. The whole thing is worth it for this alone.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Walkin' in Memphis

Watched a buncha random stuff over the last couple days. This set is the greatest. Like, genuinely the greatest wrestling compilation ever compiled.

Bill Dundee, Steve Keirn, Rick & Robert Gibson v Dream Machine, Nightmare #1 & Heartbreakers (7/25/81)

Fun sprint. It's pretty unstructured outside of Dundee-in-peril segment, but that only adds to the chaos. Bill Dundee is the king of the studio match. He always has something new and cool to roll out for every occasion. Here he almost yanks one of the Heartbreakers' head off going for a sleeper. He throws him into the ropes and wraps his arm around his head just under the chin as he's coming back off the ropes, but whatever Heartbreaker it was seems to think Dundee is cotheslining him. He goes to take the bump on his back, but Dundee keeps hold of his head and just pulls him into this sleeper hold whether the guy taking it is ready for it or not. Looks like Billy gets pissed off at something later on too, because he totally cracks one of the Heartbreakers (don't know which one. Might've been the same one he almost decapitated) right in the nose with a really potatoey looking punch. Match goes about ten minutes with a million quick tags and everybody gets to show their stuff. Just what an 8-man Memphis studio tag should be.

Stan Lane & Koko Ware v Eddie Gilbert & Ricky Morton (No DQ, 2/3 Falls) (10/81)

I waaaay sold this short when I put my original Memphis ballot together. I had it around #80 on that, but if I were to redo the whole ballot now I'd have it about 40 spots higher. The VQ is pretty rough, unfortunately, so at times it can get difficult to tell the difference between the dudes with long-ish blond hair (which is...everybody other than the black guy), but I do sort of get a kick out of watching wrestling from 30 years ago that looks like it came right off a scraggly film reel. I thought this was largely the Koko Ware show, and what a show it was. Everybody else was fine-to-good, but Koko just bossed this with his stalling and cheating and general douchebaggery. All of his shtick with the chain ruled so much, then in the second fall he and Lane would take turns launching Morton (or was it Gilbert?) over the top rope behind the ref's back. At one point Koko chucks him over the top and then hits the deck himself. The ref' puts the count on Morton, and Koko is writhing around like he's hurt, "struggling" to get back up to his feet, then when Morton eventually makes it back in Koko just drops the whole charade and pounces on him. It's also pretty clear he has one of the best dropkicks ever. I brought it up the other day when I wrote about the Fabs/PYT match, and yeah...undeniable. Super fun match, mostly built around cheating and Koko Ware being fucking awesome.

New York Dolls v Steve Regal & Spike Huber (10/4/82)

I forgot Rick McGraw was a New York Doll. Dream Machine looks way different here than he did in that six-man. Like, he's the 'after' picture in an AA poster here (he was the 'before' picture in the six-man). This started out with Regal and Huber all house o' fire, then it basically turned into an extended squash when someone chucked powder into Regal's eyes. I thought Regal was really good at stumbling around the ring like a blind man, and he'd always be rubbing at his eyes like he'd just been maced. I'm not entirely sure whether that was him selling or if the powder was genuinely irritating, but it added to the match either way.

Sweet Brown Sugar & Bobby Eaton v Terry Taylor v Jacques Rougeau (1/1/83)

Super nifty ten minute studio tag. Koko and Eaton are SO the greatest version of the Midnight Express that never was. I mean, I like Stan Lane more than most, but Koko and Eaton are just a fucking dynamite tag team and Cornette should've hit up Koko after Condrey left. Great spot where Eaton slingshots Taylor into Koko who catches him and slams him. And Koko dropkicks a motherfucker. I could watch shit like this all day.

Bill Dundee v Terry Taylor (4/4/83)

Dundee is mid-heel turn here, but by the end he's acted like enough of a shithead for ten minutes to get even the people on the fence to boo him. Dundee is the fucking greatest. He pops Terry in the mouth at the start, then he does his little hip shake, so Terry boots him in the ass and does his own little dance. Dundee keeps bailing and trying to frustrate Taylor, trying to rile him up...trying to sucker him in. His running punch out of the corner was killer, then he looks down at Terry in disgust and does his hip shake again. Taylor didn't stink or anything, and I'm not down on him like 90% of the people that watched the Mid-South set are, but he basically showed up and did a few things while Bill Dundee made with the Bill Dundee. Ten minutes of Bill Dundee making with the Bill Dundee? There are plenty of worse ways to pass the time.

Fabulous Ones v The Moondogs (4/4/83)

The Fabs/Moondogs feud was one of the best things on the whole set, but this was pretty pedestrian and probably the weakest of their matches. Wasn't bad or anything, but these guys set a HIGH bar, and it never had the kind of seething hatred or balls to the wall carnage that made their best stuff so great. Steve Keirn doing a fucking Jet Li style flying forearm was badass, though. Just comes soaring into the camera shot from nowhere and brains Latham.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

DVDVR Memphis Set, Top 60; #46

The Fabulous Ones v Pretty Young Things (4/22/85)

Someone is in the process of putting together a Koko Ware career retrospective, right? Because fuuuuuck does that dude need one. I didn't really remember anything about this match, but after re-watching it I can totally see why I liked it enough initially to put it in my top 50. For starters it was a really bossy tag match. And then Koko Ware. Just...Koko Ware. I mean, it would be unfair to say this was ALL Koko Ware, because the Fabs were the Fabs and ruled it like they do, and Norvell Austin had some nasty looking offense and held up his end fine, but, like...Koko Ware.

This is JIP to about four minutes in, and normally that would disappoint me since this is a Koko Ware match and why would I want to miss four minutes of it? but then seconds - literally about three seconds - after we join the action Koko Ware goes forty feet in the air off a monkey flip. Then he comes back down and lands all mangled-like on his fucking neck. It's like he forgot he was supposed to rotate all the way over in mid-air, and by the time he did it was too late so he just decided to kind of turn to the side a little to reduce the chance of paralyzing himself. It turned out to be a good call, because he didn't wind up in a wheelchair (even to this day he's wheelchair-free! And he must be in his sixties at this point! A former pro-wrestler that made it to his sixties AND isn't crippled! KOKO WARE!).

First five minutes of this are all Lane and Keirn. There's an extended armbar spot that probably ends up going a little too long when Lane decides to just sit there and catch a breather, but they at least start out by doing some nifty stuff with it. Keirn takes him down and puts the hold on, then Lane comes in and strides across the ring to shit talk Koko, stepping on Austin like he wasn't there. Lane walks back to the corner, stepping on Austin again, and Koko follows him over because he's not done yet. He steps on Austin as well, then the ref' sends him back to his own corner, and as he's heading back across the ring he steps on Austin AGAIN. When it dawns on him what just happened he has this great "Aw shit, I got roped into that one" expression.

Match really hits its stride when the PYT take over. Lane ducks his head for a back body drop, but Austin kicks him in the chin and tags in Koko, and he and Austin are fucking relentless going after Lane. There's a half minute spell after the tag where they just unload on him with everything. The ref' is left scrambling trying to get the illegal man out and keep Keirn in his own corner, and the PYT use every second they can to dish out punishment. Ref' pushes Austin out of the ring so Koko chokes Lane; Keirn comes in to do something about it so ref' has to get him out; Koko and Austin both work on Lane; ref' has to put Austin back out so Tux Newman smacks Lane with a cane while ref's back is turned; ref' comes over to tell Newman to stay back so Austin and Koko go back to double teaming; Keirn comes in AGAIN so ref' has to get him out...I'm not sure how many people would rep the Pretty Young Things on a hypothetical Best Heel Tag Teams in US History list, but if this set is any indication they could sure as shit wreak havoc with the best of them.

I fucking loved Koko during the Lane-in-peril segment. He's got such a cool moveset and will bump like an absolute motherfucking psycho. The bump right at the start was almost certainly accidental, but he fearlessly flies across the ring and splats himself on a missed diving headbutt (called the Kokobutt! How awesome is THAT!?) later on. Watching the AWA set recently I've come to the conclusion Jim Brunzell had a GOAT candidate dropkick. Kevin Von Erich is another guy with a gorgeous dropkick. Well, Koko Ware hits a perfect dropkick in this, and I'm wondering if he's a guy that's always had an amazing dropkick and I've just never realized. Austin has a bunch of neat ways to hurt a guy in this, too. He gets down in a three-point stance as Lane is crawling towards his corner, and he flies into a JYD-style headbutt to cut him off. He really throws himself into it, like he's TRYING to break Lane's cheekbone. There's another cool bit later on where he kind of log rolls Lane from the front and holds onto him so Koko can come in and clean up.

When Lane gets the hot tag we're set for the big All Japan style home stretch with the three hundred nearfalls and pinfall saves. Then Lanny Poffo runs in and causes the DQ.

Sheeeeeit. That finish is like the pro-wrestling equivalent of a sudden stroke mid-coitus. This is the 80s -- I'm not expecting great - or even good - finishes every time out, but that was just really deflating and shitty. Disappointing end, but this was like 97% of a great match, so is there really THAT much to complain about?

Koko Ware.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I've Been to the Mid-South Church, Said My Religious Vows. I've Sucked the Milk out of a Thousand Cows

Rock 'n' Roll Express & Butch Reed v Kamala, Dr. Death & One Man Gang (2/25/85)

I love Butch Reed. He fucking ruled it in this match. Actually, Kamala ruled it too, and I'm assuming there's a singles match out there that I need to track down. Reed comes out wearing facepaint and starts shouting "LET THE SLAVE GO! FREE THE SLAVE! FREE THE SLAVE!" at Kim Chee and Akbar. That was right on the level of him shouting "WHAT'S IT GON' BE, HONKY?" at fans (he was heel then, now he's babyface). Everything Reed and Kamala did together was great, although I kind of wish they got more time to match up. There is an awesome punch exchange, though, and Reed seemed fired up like crazy any time they were within five feet of each other. Reed's flurry of jabs on the Gang before uncorking a fucking GREAT looking haymaker was maybe the spot of the match. Gang bumped huge off it, too. Kamala's shtick is fun as Hell here. He's a cannibal from Uganda and doesn't understand even the simplest rules of wrestling (like how to properly pin someone), so he sure as shit hasn't figured out how to conduct himself in a tag match. He's always roaming about the apron, and from time to time he'll just get in the ring or start climbing the turnbuckles, so Akbar and Kim Chee are always having to settle him down and restrain him. I remember him doing similar stuff in some of the tags on the Texas set, too. I dig all that shit. Heat segment on Morton is pretty bearhug-y, but if you can't buy Steve Williams or the One Man Gang crushing a little dude's lungs with a bearhug then I don't know what to tell you. Morton is a guy that can make pretty much anything look painful anyway, and there might not be anybody in history that's a more compelling babyface in peril than him (that's why they call it "playing Ricky Morton," after all). Finish is great, with Gang slapping Kamala in the arm to tag him in and Kamala going nuts because he thinks Gang's startin' shit. Williams comes in to try and calm things down, so Morton dropkicks him into Gang who then flies into Kamala. Cameraman ends up missing the actual move that puts Gang away, but I can forgive it since it all got nice and chaotic. Good luck capturing all that. Fun match. I don't think I liked it a whole lot the first time around, but I definitely got a kick out of it this time.

Mid-South Project

Saturday, 1 September 2012

DVDVR Memphis Set, Top 60; #47

Jerry Lawler v Nick Bockwinkel (10/18/82)

So when I first watched this back in '08 or whenever, I wasn't really a Bockwinkel fan. I'm not entirely sure why, but I wasn't. Fast forward four years and I've completely turned the corner on him, and well, Bock fucking ruled. He's also a guy that I've been watching a lot of lately on the AWA set. On that set you get a clear picture of things he liked to do in matches. He often liked to use the double knockdown as a reset or transition spot. The 'King of the Mountain' segment feels like more of an AWA thing than a Bock thing, but it's something he's really good at regardless, and you get it in a lot of Bock matches. From watching the AWA stuff it seems he liked to do the 'heel backs babyface into corner and gives clean break because heel isn't really a bad person after all, he's just misunderstood' spot at the beginning of matches, then when the babyface lets his guard down he'll crack them with a cheapshot. Sometimes it'll work, sometimes the babyface will see it coming and counter, but the set-up is the same.

I don't know if you could call this a 'Bockwinkel Match' in terms of layout/structure and who's calling most of it (it's certainly not a carry-job or anything. I mean, shit, Lawler is the last person that needs carried), but you get all of those Bockisms in this, and it's really cool to see him do all of the things you pick up on from watching the AWA footage, in a Memphis setting.

It starts out with him breaking clean as a whistle on everything, holding his hands up and stepping away because this is going to be a clean fight. There will be no underhanded tactics used on this night. Eventually he tries to take his cheapshot, but Lawler is hip to it, catches it and pops him in the chin. Next time he tries it he's quicker about it, but as he pops Lawler with one, Lawler fires back with two of his own and Bock scrambles to safety. When he realises that won't work he tries to take it to the mat, and we get a great bodyscissors spot. Lawler isn't a guy with a rep for being a great mat wrestler, but he's hanging with Bock (who IS a guy with a rep for being a great mat wrestler) every step of the way here. At one point Lawler basically grabs Bock's chin and pie-faces him to the mat, and as his shoulders are down the ref' goes for the count. Lawler slowly turns himself around and manages to get up to his feet, and from there he turns Bock's bodyscissors into a Boston Crab of his own. It isn't Tamura/Han level shit, but they're not just sitting in holds to kill time. They're working for advantages and there's a struggle to it all.

They do the double knockdown spot as a kind of reset, then when they get back up Bock shoves Lawler into the ref', and as Lawler turns around Bock spikes him with a piledriver. I dug the ref' bump after the double knockdown a lot. He wasn't KO'd for six years; he got stunned and couldn't react to Bockwinkel's cover right away. When Lawler kicks out it's still a big moment, but that delay helps protect the piledriver as a serious match-ender (and we're in Memphis, so it's even bigger than that).

Bock's King of the Mountain segment is fucking great in this, too. Any time Lawler tries to get back in the ring Bock will take a swing at him, then he'll do a little jog around the ring. There's  a couple sick post shots, and Lawler takes a fucking lunatic bump off the apron to the concrete. I mean, this was almost Cactus Jack at his nuttiest levels of nutty.

When Lawler drops the strap and we get into the finishing run this really hits another gear. He makes his comeback with a revenge posting (another thing evident from the AWA set is that Bock can take a motherfucking post shot), a piledriver of his own and two amazing running punches. Lawler running across the floor to punch the face of a guy hanging out of the ring is one of my favourite things in wrestling, and you get it TWICE here! Finish is a little out of nowhere, but Bock really rams Lawler with the headbutt to the gut.

This was badass, and I'm not sure why I had it ranked as low initially. Granted, top 50 on a set with this much great shit is hardly shitting on it, but still, I'd be surprised if in like sixteen years when I've finished this countdown I'll still think of this as "only" the 47th best match of the 125.