Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Negro Casas! Virus! Vangellys???

Negro Casas v Mascara Dorada (CMLL, 6/2/13)

This was super spotty and the selling wasn't really for shit, but for a super spotty lucha title match where the selling isn't really for shit, it was pretty great. Casas being able to pull off the things he's pulling off, and generally holding up his end (or ruling his end) of a spot-a-thon like this, at fifty four years old is crazy. In the tercera they're trading headscissors on the ramp and rolling out the dives and every other minute Casas is just flinging himself Perro Aguayo-style at Dorada. Awesome spot where Dorada tries to hit a somersault senton while Casas is on the ramp, but Casas moves and as Dorada rolls back up to his feet Casas smashes his head straight into the ring post. First couple falls are short, but Casas going after the leg in the second was great, albeit brief. Everything he does looks really vicious and has a sense of escalation, like he never would've resorted to this attempted crippling if he never truly thought his title was in danger. The leg work is more or less forgotten shortly after, which is whatever, but it was nice while it lasted. Casas getting powerbombed into the post in the third caida and selling it like it was nothing was kinda rubbish, but other than that he was kingsized in this. It's not my favourite setting for him, but when you're as good as he is, you make it work.

Negro Casas, Stuka Jr. & Valiente v Virus, Fuego & Vangellys (CMLL, 6/14/13)

Fucking killer trios sprint. Everybody got to look at least really good here, especially Vangellys (which was a pleasant surprise) who had a massive chip on his shoulder the whole match and just relentlessly went after Casas. I have no idea why, but it made for a great little subplot. Casas was fucking phenomenal, though. At first he kind of reacted to it like a guy that knew someone was after his blood, but wasn't really sure why (there's a great bit where he's hunched up in the corner with this "what did I do this time?" look on his face). Then after a while he stopped wondering about the why and decided to give as good as he got. Now and again a young pup will pick on the old dog. Maybe the young pup thinks the old dog has been around too long and it's time he was put out of his misery. The young pup could make a name for himself if it was him that did it. Except the young pup clearly doesn't know why that old dog has been around for as long as he has. If he did, he'd let that old dog lie. Any time Virus and Casas are on opposite sides of a trios match you really want them getting a lengthy section to pair off. This wasn't exactly the kind of trios where that was going to happen (it was pretty much hell for leather from word one, so nobody was getting a lengthy mat section), but the part where they were tearing each other to ribbons with chops and spin kicks to the guts was great. And of course a Virus/Casas singles match would rule the fucking earth. The big dives in this were spectacular as well, especially Valiente's moonsault plancha, primarily because they come out of nowhere (seriously, Valiente's was fucking incredible). Awesome stuff, and of all the CMLL from last year that I've watched so far, this might be my favourite match yet.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

If You're Traveling in the Mid-South Fair, Where the Winds Hit Heavy on the Borderline, Remember Me to One who Lives There, for She was Once a True Love of Mine

Rock 'n' Roll Express v Ted DiBiase & Steve Williams (6/19/85)

I preferred the arena match from 5/3/85, but this went about the same amount of time yet was different enough that I have to give it some points. Plus, you know, it's good. RnRs have a few neat double teams early on, lighting Williams and DiBiase up with dropkicks and monkey flips. Williams grabbing Gibson by the throat and just chucking him into the corner looked nasty enough on its own, so much so that I had to rewind it a couple times, which is when I noticed DiBiase cracking Gibson in the back of the head at the same time he smashes into the turnbuckles. So that's a pretty fucking cool way to transition into a heat segment. It's also total Wattsville, in that, sure, Williams and DiBiase are heels and they're scumbags and they won't think twice about taking a shortcut, but they're also great athletes and wrestlers. Watts' booking would highlight shit like Williams' crazy strength and the Dirty White Boys' smarts and how Buzz Sawyer was a master of dog collar matches. Finish is hectic with the referee getting knocked all over the place and DiBiase loading gloves and Williams smashing Morton in the face with a fucking vambrace. Joel Watts' commentary orgasm almost puts Gary Neville's when Fernando Torres scored that one time against Barcelona to shame.

Rock 'n' Roll Express v Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts (6/24/85)

Man, the Freebirds were a total blast in this. Hayes is always really animated and hyperactive playing manager duty, Roberts and Gordy are busting out all sorts of awesome offence, and Buddy is just the best weasel for the situation with his amazing Madonna perm. Gordy is throwing himself at Morton with cross bodies off the second rope and crushing him with running powerslams while Roberts is choking him and punching him in the throat and raking his eyes across the top rope. I'd still say he's the "weakest" of the three Freebirds, but nobody ever really talks about him as a first class stooge, and he kind of is. I've been wanting to re-watch a bunch of stuff from the Texas set for a while, and this has me pretty geared for when I eventually get around to it. And I'll assume the finish wasn't intended to be what it was, but fuck it, I'm pretty sure that's the first Ganso Bomb in history. 

Mid-South Project

Monday, 28 April 2014

I'm Rolling Through Mid-South Town, a Lost Cowboy at Sundown. Got My Monkey on a Leash, Got My Ear Tuned to the Ground

Rock 'n' Roll Express v Ted DiBiase & Steve Williams (5/3/85)

I remembered nothing about this, but unsurprisingly it didn't suck. RnRs do the switcheroo bit early and fuck man, how does Karl Fergie not tell the difference between Morton and Gibson? Cool spot where Williams tries to punch Gibson so Morton grabs his arms from behind, and as the ref' goes to stop DiBiase from coming in Gibson pops the helpless Williams (well, "helpless" for a massive brick shithouse nose tackle or whatever he was). DiBiase and Williams take over when Williams distracts the ref' and DiBiase slams Morton's back into the ring post. The back work on Morton after that is all pretty fucking awesome and painful looking. Williams ragdolls him with backbreakers, DiBiase drops the point of his elbow into the lower back, etc. DiBiase's Boston Crab is sub-Rock sharpshooter levels of shitty looking, but Williams pushing DiBiase's head back to create more leverage is always cool. Williams isn't someone I think of as having a great looking bearhug (although who does, I guess? Is Backlund the closest?), but he does it here and it looked like Chyna swinging Marlena. There's a do-si-do spot at the end and DiBiase just chucks Morton over the top rope, and I'm not sure it was intentional or not but it looking crazy either way. Really nice ten minute tag, which is just about my favourite way to spend ten minutes watching wrestling at this point.

Mid-South Project

Thursday, 24 April 2014

At the Airport in Mid-South They Refused to Let Us Board the Plane at All. They Said We Looked Suspicious, but I Believe They Liked to Pick on Me and Paul

Ric Flair v Kerry Von Erich (4/28/85)

I think I've seen this match a few hundred dozen times before. Not this match specifically, but you know. I mean, I think the last Flair match I watched was the first Taylor match from this set (happened on the same day as this, which is pretty cool), which was fourteen months ago, and I thought that held up great...but this is a Flair match-up I've seen so many times before that I'm sort of numb to it at this point. And this didn't feel like one of the better Flair/Kerry matches, anyway. Flair is in full on douchebag mode from the start here and doesn't even attempt to feign sportsmanship. One thing I like about this match-up in general is that, while it's basically the same sort of layout to any other Flair v Long-Haired Muscular Stallion match, they work the Claw into it in some cool ways. They're ways that you can basically see coming a mile off, because if it wasn't the abdominal claw it'd be a bearhug or something, but still. They do the same spot Flair did with Terry earlier in the day where Kerry tries to punch him only for Fergie to grab the arm, and that gives Flair the opening to sneak in a cheapshot (Flair knees to the gut always look nasty). Decent match, but I never really found myself getting drawn in. Flair Formula is just not high on my list of priorities right now unless it's a fresh opponent (Koko, Adams, Roberts), and Kerry has long ceased to be a fresh opponent in the eyes of this old boozehound.

Mid-South Project

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

I'm Riding Down Mid-South, Figuring I'll Get a Drink. Turn the Radio up Loud, so I don't Have to Think

Ted DiBiase v Jim Duggan (NO DQ, Loser Leaves Town, Coal Miner's Glove on a Pole, Tuxedo Cage Match) (3/22/85)

How long is this bell to bell? It feels like it might be less than ten minutes, and if it is then it's probably the best sub-ten minute match ever. Like, I'd seen this a buncha times before, and it's always been tremendous, but this time it transcended beyond earthly levels and I saw it in a light that I'd never seen it in before. It's been said a thousand times, but a match with this many stipulations should probably end up scraping the Vince Russo barrel of pro-wrestling stupidity, as opposed to what it actually ended up being which is one of the best brawls ever (and as you watch the feud progress you get why they have all these stips, and they all make sense and they all work. And that's fucking awesome). Even before the match starts they're basically setting up a spot for later on, because even though the ref' doesn't find anything when he checks DiBiase, you know DiBiase HAS something. He's spent the last however long hiding a fucking loaded glove in his trunks and knocking people out with it; of course he's hiding something somewhere (plus he's wearing a tux so there's, like, pockets and...y'know). Then the ref' asks to check Duggan and Jim is all sort of jovial about it. He knows he isn't hiding anything, we know he isn't hiding anything, so why should he care? Of course you know DiBiase is gonna blindside him, but so does Duggan, and when Ted tries it Duggan smashes him in the teeth. And that sets us off on the next ten minutes of violence and nuclear heat and blood-stained tuxedos. Duggan was fucking incredible in this. He threw the best punches of his career, bled like lunatic, fearlessly threw his face into DiBiase's knuckles, and his timing, selling and all that other pro-wrestling shit was more or less perfection. He also wears white everything which naturally appeals to the lucha mark in me, because it accentuates the river of blood pouring out of his head. There's one gruesome bit where DiBiase pulls Duggan's shirt over his face so he's essentially blind, and as Ted throws fists you can literally see the blood seeping through Duggan's white shirt like paint through a paper towel. Ted goes to climb the cage at one point and has to wipe his blood-slick hands on his trousers first, which I thought was an awesome touch. Duggan's comeback is everything you want it to be. Ted is backpedalling and trying to avoid the inevitable, but sometimes there's just no way to outrun a hurricane. Duggan grabs the glove off the pole and struts around with it like some homicidal windowlicker and the crowd is absolutely fucking molten, because FINALLY Ted DiBiase is gonna get what's coming to him. Except maybe they forgot how sneaky DiBiase is, because sure enough it turns out he was hiding something after all. He chucks powder in Duggan's eyes and takes the glove, and there's an audible sense of "fuck it all, he's gonna get away with ANOTHER one!" Duggan dodging and rolling away from each shot with the glove is like James Bond desperately trying to unshackle himself before a lazer beam snips his pecker off. Duggan's final punch is just about the best, most emphatic, worked punch ever thrown. His little delay before going for the cover was that moment where he could finally let it all sink in -- at long last, finally, it was all over. This is the pro-wrestling.

Mid-South Project

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Bill Dundee! Fightin' the Odds! For Justice!

Bill Dundee v Wayne Farris & Tojo Yamamoto (Memphis, 3/7/81)

So it occurred to me that on the Memphis set there's maybe the best scaffold match of all time (likely is) and the best handicap match of all time, and Bill Dundee is a major reason for both. He was alright at the pro-wrestling. I think I remember during the voting process for the set that there were some folks who were kind of iffy on this because they thought Dundee took too much of the match. I think that's a valid enough criticism, but it never bothered me. I actually like how Dundee is mostly the aggressor, because he's far more established and practically lives at the top of the card. Farris and Tojo are basically midcarders. Shit, Tojo is practically a comedy act at this point. Match feels a bit like a game of football (or soccer, if that's your thang) where the home side - and strong favourites to win - get a man sent off early. They're still the team on top, doing all the attacking, because sometimes going down to ten men motivates you. Ten v eleven doesn't always go in favour of the eleven. And besides, they're at home and the far stronger team, so going a man down probably shouldn't hurt them too much, anyway. They're playing against a team two leagues below them. Fuck, Tojo and Farris can't even win the Ramsdens Cup! Then the ten men go and score and everything! Stuart McCall is having a party, bring your vodka and your charlie! But then time goes on and those ten men start to tire a bit. The initial burst of adrenaline starts to die down, and now the other team are getting to the loose balls first. They have an extra pair of legs, after all. So the home team decide to slow things down for a while, rest on their lead until they get their breath back. They can run out the clock if they want, because now the impetus is on the other team: it's THEM that have to go and chase the game. Except the away side are a bunch of dirty cheating bastards and Ian Black has a chain in his sock, so eventually the ten heroes succumb to the dark force of the eleven goblins, and you're left wondering if the good guys can hang on until the final whistle. It's a story for the ages, and Bill Dundee is pretty much a master at telling it. Tojo Yamamoto also reacts in really funny ways to being punched in the mouth.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Well I Rode that Mid-South Highway. I Saw Above Me the Endless Skyway

The Fantastics v Sting & Eddie Gilbert (9/7/86)

Christ on a bendy bus, Sting is the greenest wrestler you ever did see here. Either he can barely bump off a hiptoss or didn't understand what Rogers was trying to do, but either way he just sorta fell over and Rogers is all like, "well...that happened, I guess." At one point Sting and Fulton are running the ropes and Sting doesn't seem to know what's actually going on, so he just barrels clean into Fulton. It's like Simple Jack driving a truck on the motorway. He does take one really cool ass splat bump off a dropkick, but I'm thinking it was accidental. Being in there with Tommy Rogers enough probably/definitely helped iron him out a bit over time. Being in there with Tommy Rogers enough will do that to you. Gilbert is in full on pinball mode and it felt like he hit every turnbuckle with his head inside the first fifteen seconds. The transformation in Missy Hyatt over the years is one of the most extreme of any ex (or current, I guess) pro-wrestlers I've ever seen.

The Fantastics v John Tatum & Jack Victory (11/4/86)

This is a really fun sprint. Pretty much exactly what you want in a sub-ten minute Fantastics match. Tatum's facial expressions are amazing as usual, especially after Rogers pulls the middle rope up into his groin. He's such a punchable individual, Tatum. Like a blonde, even more weasly Tully Blanchard. Fulton dropkicks Jack Victory square in the fuckin face and by all rights it should've broke his chin into a million pieces.

Mid-South Project

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sgt. Slaughter & Terry Daniels v Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis (WWF, 7/23/84)

It's pretty crazy how differently Murdoch and Adonis work most of their WWF matches to most of their matches from Japan, at least in terms of how much of the match they take. If there were two hours of Murdoch/Adonis matches on the New Japan set there'd probably be an hour and forty five minutes of Murdoch/Adonis working from above (I've watched that whole set and that's a fairly accurate statement). If you watched two hours of Murdoch/Adonis in WWF you'd probably get an hour and forty five minutes of them on the defensive. Although that's basically WWF style heel-in-peril tag wrestling, I guess. There's a lot of that in this. Match feels like a vehicle to get Terry Daniels over (he's the first member of Slaughter's Cobra Corps...apparently) and like 85% of the match involves him. He's neither great nor spectacular. His stuff looks fine and this is 1984 so the crowd is going to be good the majority of the time, anyway. Plus it means we get Murdoch and Adonis bumping and stooging for a while and why would that not be something I'd like? Murdoch was my favourite in this (Slaughter is barely involved at all, unfortunately. He even tags back out like a minute after he makes his hot tag). Fans are chucking stuff in the ring practically the whole match (not tonnes of garbage or anything, but bits here and there all the time), so at one point Murdoch picks a bit of it up and digs it into Daniels' eyes. On offence he busts out this nutty looking armbar-come-Argentine backbreaker thing that looked fucking sick. He also threw a goodly amount of punches and they all looked like Dick Murdoch punches. Adonis never went completely over the top with the bumping here but he did have a couple rope running sequences that were Buddy Rose level good (although he was never as fast as Rose). There's a 6-man after this where Slaughter teams with the Samoans, and I am giddy at the thought of what Murdoch will do opposite Afa. I'll be giddy if my buddy hasn't lost my disc with that Murdoch/Afa match that I love on it.