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.