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.