Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Still Watching AWA

Midnight Rockers v Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (4/20/86)

Well this was just WAY up my alley. This set has had some really great tag wrestling on it, but this match has 3 of my favourite (and I'd argue that they're 3 of the best) tag wrestlers ever doing all the things I love in my tag wrestling. The heat segment on Michaels feels pretty abbreviated and kind of keeps this from being truly high end, but what we got felt like three quarters of a great match, and knowing what's still to come from this feud, I am perfectly fine with that. All the pre- and early-match bullshit fucking ruled here. Rose cuts off the announcer and tells him he weight 217 pounds, not 271, and Sherri tells him she's a manageress, not a valet. Then Buddy does the one-handed push ups and nip up and challenges Jannetty to do the same. Jannetty plays along and does both handily. Then Michaels gets in, does a backflip off the top rope, and challenges Buddy to do that. Buddy goes up top once, thinks about it and comes back down to psyche himself up. Then he goes back up top, but Shawn starts jumping on the ropes in the opposite corner and Buddy winds up getting crotched on the top rope. When they actually get to the wrestling Shawn and Marty control things by working the arm. Buddy Rose is not a slim individual, but holy shit can he run the ropes like nobody else. He does a rope running bit with Michaels and he's hitting each set of ropes like you'd see Shawn himself do later in his career, then he whips himself into an armdrag coming off the ropes at six hundred miles an hour! It looked fucking killer. Buddy and Doug take over after Buddy slingshots Shawn into the corner and Doug elbows him in the eye, and face in peril Shawn Michaels is definitely my favourite kind of Shawn Michaels. With more time to build we could've had ourselves a hell of a beatdown, but about 10 minutes in (to the match, which was only about 4 minutes into the beatdown) he makes the hot tag to Jannetty. Finish was perfect in that it had Buddy swiping Jannetty's legs while Jannetty was up top and Jannetty taking a nasty crotching (payback from earlier?), but not so perfect in that Shawn decided to jump Buddy on the apron rather than breaking up the pin right in front of him. But whatever, this was huge wads of fun and I cannot wait until these guys start hating each other to death and bleeding buckets.

Rick Martel v Harley Race (4/20/86)

I'm a bit conflicted. In some respects this kind of felt like two guys "doing stuff" for 15 minutes. But everything they did looked great, and if you're willing to accept it as a battle of two former world champions going right for the jugular, then this was a hell of a match. I mean, almost 15 minutes of guys going back and forth isn't my cup of tea, but they pace it really well and the transitions are good and it never quite gets into "your turn/my turn" I guess this is one of the better matches of its ilk that I've ever seen. Martel has been a total star on this set, but this was the Harley Race show. He throws some amazing headbutts here, including an awesome "fuck you" headbutt right to the nose off a clean break. He takes a couple huge bumps out to the floor. He busts out a bunch of great offence, like a shoulderbreaker (after Martel missed an elbow drop, which I thought was pretty cool) and a big back suplex. Harley is someone I'd been down on for a while a few years back, but I've enjoyed the majority of Race matches I've watched ever since the Texas set came out in 2011, so maybe it's time for a re-evaluation. Honestly, he's 43 here and isn't moving around like the guy he's in there with is 13 years his junior. Martel actually hitting his slingshot splash in a big match had me popping as well, because I don't think I've seen him do that once. There's a lot of "Martel was better than Steamboat" talk that's come out of this set. I'm not sold on that being the case (the gap is really not that big, though), but I do think he was the better offensive wrestler and better at working holds in interesting ways, so I guess a match loaded with big time offence like this is a fitting way to cap off his run on the set.

Buddy Rose & Doug Somers v Leon White & Jesse Hernandez (5/1/86)

Aw fuck this was great. Buddy is just ridiculously awesome here and I can't imagine someone watching this and not getting a kick out of his antics. Match is basically all about Buddy and Somers being run over by Leon while trying to come up with ways to take him down. They all fail. Buddy spits on him and tells him to kiss his ass, so Leon is pissed and wants a piece. Buddy charges him with a shoulder tackle and gets floored. Somers comes in, charges him with a shoulder tackle, same result. They both charge him with a shoulder tackle, both get floored. Crowd eat this up like you'd hope. Buddy goes a different route and tries to take him down with a top wristlock, but Leon is too strong and just chucks him off. Somers comes in, goes to the top wristlock, gets chucked off. BOTH go for a top wristlock, both get chucked off. Crowd eat this up like you'd hope. Then Buddy takes his nutty through the rope bump where he lands on the back of his head on the concrete, and the crowd eat this up like you'd hope. Whole opening spell with Rose and Somers stooging around is just awesome and pretty much a perfect example of how to get a crowd rocking. I don't think I've ever seen Jesse Hernandez before, but you, I and everybody else can tell he's enhancement talent based on his ring gear alone. When he gets tagged in Rose and Somers isolate him immediately, and this is exactly what they needed to crack the code. The key isn't to take Leon down, it's to go AROUND him. Go after the jobber, not the linebacker. Finish is fucking great. Buddy has been riling Leon up the entire match, so lil' Vader is like a caged bear now that he's stuck on the apron. Buddy and Somers will draw him in, then they'll double up on Hernandez while the ref' tries to get Leon back out. Buddy walks up and slaps Leon across the face, and that's all he can take, chasing Buddy around ringside while Buddy tries to throw furniture around as roadblocks. Back in the ring Hernandez has no one to save him, so Somers hits his suplex (which is his finisher...kind of a weak finisher, granted, but a finisher nonetheless) for the win, and to add the cherry to the cake Rose jumps back in and hits an elbow drop just because. Ton of fun.

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