Mike Rotundo v Doug Somers (5/1/86)
This might be the best Mike Rotundo singles match committed to tape. It's not blow away great, but Rotundo doesn't have a ton of stand-out singles matches, anyway. The bar isn't THAT high. I mean, Rotundo's a guy that's a solid hand and does things mechanically well and is fine enough in the ring, but I just don't really...care. Like, my brother is in high school and I've been roped into going to a bunch of fundraising events over the last few years. Now and again they'll run some Pop Idol/Stars in Their Eyes talent show horse shit. You know how those things go. Some kid will come out and knock your socks off with a teenage rendition of 'Heard it Through the Grapevine' or 'Old Time Rock and Roll'. Something you weren't expecting. Rotundo is not that kid. Rotundo is the kid that sings Rihanna or Jessie J. Sings it fine and everything, but there's a million people doing Rihanna and Jessie J renditions. Most of them blend together. Some will stick out now and again, but for the most part, once you've seen one, you've seen them all. There's no real reason to care. Tonnes of people can "sing fine and everything," you know? I'd rather watch the white kid in blackface singing 'Boom! Shake the Room' or the group of dancers re-enacting the 'Thriller' video. Half the time most of them can't even dance, but that's what makes it good. They have no compunction about making a complete fool of themselves for a laugh. Few years ago I sang 'No Woman, No Cry' with a bald woman in some rathole karaoke bar. I can't sing for shit. But I have no problem making myself look like an idiot when I'm getting free beer out of it. Bunch of 15 year olds looking like numpties doing the 'Thriller' dance probably aren't even getting free beer for it (well, this is Scotland, so they might), so obviously I have a soft spot for that. If I had a say in who won a talent contest, I'd pick the goofiest act first. Then I'd pick the best. Then Rihanna would be last. This right here is Mike Rotundo's 'Heard it Through the Grapevine'. It's almost certainly the most fired up I've ever see him, and at points he manages to convey an honest to goodness sense of anger. He works the headlock early, and he can normally work a headlock like your Rihanna and Jessie J impersonators can sing 'Umbrella' or 'Price Tag'. It's fine and everything, but plenty of guys work a headlock fine and everything. This time he really cranks the shit out of it, though. It's about the most hateful headlock you'll ever see Mike Rotundo put on someone. Doug Somers has been a lot of fun on the set so far. He's a guy that I've enjoyed any time I've seen him, but I haven't really seen that much of him. Every Doug Somers match I've seen has been a tag or six-man where Buddy Rose is his partner, and well, there's only a handful of guys in wrestling history that can team with Buddy Rose and not look like "the other guy" in that team. That's really not a knock on Somers; it's just that Buddy is Buddy...he's just that good. I'm pretty sure this is the first Somers singles match I've seen, and he was fucking awesome in it. He tries to put a halt to Rotundo's headlockery by hitting him low with a forearm, but he does it in a really sneaky and nasty way so the camera can't catch it (to be fair, Rotundo sells it great). Then when he takes over for real he just beats the shit out of him. Everything he throws at Rotundo looks like it'd hurt like a bastard -- the punches, the stomps to the head, raking his eyes across the top rope, ramming his head into the apron, jabbing him in the throat...everything. Somewhere along the way Rotundo winds up with a gnarly gash above his eye, and it was one of those Finlay/Benoit/Regal things where it could've come from about 14 different things. Rotundo is trying to get back in the ring at one point and Somers just keeps booting him in the skull, so Rotundo grabs his legs from outside, drags him over to the corner and wraps BOTH legs around the ring post. That allows him to crawl back in the ring, but Doug cuts him off again by cracking him with a fucking AMAZING headbutt to the cut. The close-up of Rotundo afterwards is incredible, all bleeding and drooling with his face twisted up like someone threw water on an oil portrait. I've seen people walk out of bar fight in Motherwell in better shape. When Rotundo makes his big comeback you actually buy him being pissed and wanting to tear Somers apart, and good grief will Doug Somers HURL himself into a backdrop! Seriously, watch this set and tell me he doesn't have an amazing backdrop bump. Finish is really good as well, with Doug begging off and looking for a time out, cheapshotting Rotundo when his guard is down and throwing him to the floor, then trying the suplex from the apron back in only for Rotundo to shift his weight and score the quick pin. Shockingly good match that I had almost no expectations for whatsoever (which might've helped it in the end). People should've stiffed Rotundo into getting pissed off more often. Never in a million years did I think I'd write this much about a Mike Rotundo match.
Buddy Rose, Doug Somers & Col. DeBeers v Nick Bockwinkel, Brad Rheingans & Steve Pardee (5/31/86)
Yeah, I fucking loved this. Once again Buddy is just a master at getting people riled up, and I really thought he was the star of this. He does all his usual great shtick pre-match, correcting the announcer on his weight (he's 217, not 271!), slowly taking off his robe to a chorus of jeers, asking Bock for a one-handed push up contest, etc. When Bock bends over and tells him to kiss his ass, Buddy takes a wild charge and swing and ends up getting tossed to the floor. They do a bit where DeBeers takes a slingshot into his own corner and squashes Buddy's hand against the turnbuckle, so Sherri kisses his hand and some guy in the front row chucks a whole cup of beer at Buddy. Buddy's look of "what a fucking prick" is just outstanding, and for the next few minutes he actually milks having a cup of beer thrown at him (spitting as if some of it got in his mouth, wiping beer off himself, generally looking disgusted). I thought Bock was awesome in this, too. His babyface character is basically the same as babyface Ric Flair, where he'll cheat and make no bones about it, but he's still a scholar and a gentleman at the end of the day. He'll pull the hair, the ref' will ask him if he pulled the hair, and he'll straight up tell him yes. You won't see him wielding a barbed wire baseball bat shouting "I'll fucking kill you too, bitch!" at Melina. That would be uncouth, and certainly no way to treat a lady (how fucking psycho was Flair around that '06 hardcore run, btw?). You will see him poke someone in the eye if it'll gain him an advantage. That's all sport at the end of the day. There's a cool bit where he throws Somers into the babyface corner and goads Buddy and DeBeers into the ring so Brad and Pardee can double team Somers, but Brad and Pardee are a little hesitant to do anything. This is Bock's bread and butter, he's been doing it for years, but his partners weren't born on that side of the tracks; they're not exactly used to it. "Oh I dunno, Brad. We could get in trouble for this." It's like they're planning on stealing a Freddo (25p for a Freddo? Fuck off), but they're afraid the shopkeeper'll turn around RIGHT as they're about to put it in their pocket. I'd probably rather they went with one longer heat segment than two shorter ones to REALLY get the heat up there, but that's a pretty minor complaint. This was a blast. And someone tell me there's a Buddy v Bockwinkel singles match out there. Please God, make that exist.