Thursday, 4 April 2013

More AWA Ramblings

Butch Reed & Larry Zbyszko v Bob Backlund & Brad Rheingans (4/21/85)

I really dug this a bunch. I've spoke about it before, but Butch Reed would be my favourite wrestler of all time if Eddie Guerrero never existed, so I'll pretty much enjoy anything he's involved in no matter what, but I honestly thought he and Zbyszko were a pretty awesome heel unit in this. There have been a lot of good regular tags on this set so far, and a few great ones, but I've never gotten the sense any of the heel teams have really tried to whip the crowd into a riot the way the some teams would in Mid-South or Memphis. There's been good heeling, no doubt, but nobody has seemed to really go rampant with the cheating or act like COMPLETE assholes (in the regular tags, anyway. Kaissey and Blackwell in those cage matches are a different story). One some level this might be about as close to a Midnight Express mugging to this point. Zbyszko busts out all kinds of great offence here, including a wicked swinging neckbreaker, a shoulderbreaker that Backlund sort of took on the top of his head (like a headbreaker, then...maybe?), nasty Dennis Condrey-esque kneedrops in the corner, and he and Reed roll out a swank double slam. There's a bit where the ref' is trying to get Rheingans back onto the apron and Reed and Zbyszko are choking and stomping and raining down knees on Backlund in the opposite corner. Felt like something you'd see Eaton and Condrey do to Ricky Morton; all that was missing was a Cornette. Reed works a couple cool bearhug spots with Backlund here. First time he puts it on, Backlund cocks his fist back like he's gonna pop him, but Reed squeezes tighter and Backlund drops the arm. Then you see Bob slowly trying to get his own arms inside Reed's to break the grip, eventually managing it and hoisting Reed up into a bearhug of his own. Reed gets out of it by just headbutting Bob in the nose, and when Reed goes back to the bearhug a bit later Bob finally breaks it by headbutting him right back. Backlund as face in peril is a role I'm not used to seeing him in, but he was really good here. His take of a Reed clothesline is goofy, but he always looks like he's trying to tag out and he's a guy that will never sit idly in holds, so things like the bearhug or a chinlock don't feel resthold-y. Rheingans isn't in there much, but he hits a nice gutwrench suplex on Zbyszko and really cranks a headlock early. I actually wish he got to do more once he got the hot tag, and Bob coming back in so soon after being beat on for 10 minutes was a bit of a letdown, but I've dug Rheingans any time he's shown up on the set. I'll probably be a/the high voter on this, but I'm a shameless Butch Reed mark and I liked this a ton. So fuck it.

Crusher Blackwell & Sgt. Slaughter v Sheik Adnan Kaissey, Masked Superstar & King Tonga (Cage Match) (4/21/85)

So going through this set, it's become pretty obvious that Jerry Blackwell is one of the all-time great "big men" in wrestling history. As far as morbidly obese bump machines go, I think there's an honest to goodness case that he's better than even Vader. He's also the motherfucking God of cage matches. This isn't quite as wild and insane as the two Blackwell cage matches that are my working #s 1 and 3 -- it's worked more like a standard tag/handicap match that happens to be in a cage. I like the out of control violence and carnage of the other two more, but the Reed/Neidhart v TA/II cage match from Mid-South was worked like a standard tag that happened to be in a cage, and that's practically a "desert island" match for me, so it's not like I'm completely opposed to the concept. And it's not as if they don't still use the cage well, anyway. Bill Eadie/Masked Superstar might actually have been my favourite guy in this. Like Backlund as face in peril, Eadie isn't a guy I think of as a stooge machine, but man was he fun as a bumping stooge here. Blackwell and Slaughter ping him around with punches in the babyface corner, and Eadie winds up almost doing half a Flair Flop into the cage, bouncing back off and splatting down on the mat. He and Blackwell had a singles match the previous month that ended after a double clothesline, and they play off that again with another awesome double clothesline spot. Tonga was pretty great in this as well, winging a few badass kicks right under the chin, biting open wounds, falling on Blackwell with an awesome headbutt, and at one point he takes a loony no-hands bump straight into a side of the cage. Both Slaughter and Blackwell take a turn being worked over, and I love how great Blackwell is in the role of face in peril considering how amazing he was as a heel a couple years before. He takes a face-first splat into the cage and pinballs all the way to the opposite side of the ring. A man that's built like he is should not be able to do the things he does. I mean, you don't get as many psychotic Blackwell bumps in this as you do in the previous cage matches. In a sense I guess that's taking away maybe his biggest asset, but the guy is a really good face in peril and fired up babyface, so it's cool to see him fight from underneath and start USA chants from the apron. Finish might be the best finish on the entire set, as Jerry Blackwell is a 400+ pound man and he absolutely KILLS Adnan with a fucking splash off the top rope. Seriously, that shit was insane, like a Volkswagen Beetle being dropped off a forklift on top of someone. Hell of a match. Feels like more of a top 30 match than top 10 to me, but I've enjoyed a lot of stuff on this set a TON, so that says more about the quality of things I prefer than anything negative about this match. And again...that finish. Good golly Miss Molly, that finish.

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