Monday, 5 May 2014

The Lawler, The Funk, The Memphis

Jerry Lawler v Terry Funk (No DQ) (Memphis, 3/23/81)

Yeah. I had this top 10 on the Memphis set and I think it's the match I've re-watched most from that set since then (I've watched the first disc like four times now for a bunch of different nerd projects that I've either scrapped or haven't finished almost six years later), and of course it held up great. Match is like fourteen minutes long and feels like one of the best sub-fifteen minute matches ever. I wish Funk stayed in Memphis for more than a cup of coffee, because the kind of matches he'd have had with Dundee, the Fabs, Mantel, etc. would've ruled. He's like a pro-wrestling Rivaldo: somebody that at one point was probably the best in the world in his sport/profession and will go down as one of the best ever in said sport/profession, even if he only stuck around a bunch of the places he wound up at for about five minutes (I don't remember Funk showing up in Mid-South at any point, so I guess he was to Mid-South what Rivaldo was to the English Premier League). He was amazing in this. I love the bit at the start where he bails to the floor and gets tangled up in the safety rope at ringside, and what's even better is that I honestly don't know if he meant it or not. I mean, he probably did, but he's running around like a maniac throwing haymakers at mid air and I can't tell if he even noticed the rope or not. Even when he's taking bumps it all looks wild and reckless, sometimes hilariously so, but not to the point where it looks like full on comedy bumping (he has a sort of embellished "cartoony" edge to a lot of his bumping and stooging, but he's more or less the best ever at that kind of drunken goofiness without making it seem TOO silly). They're brawling on the floor early and it looks like Lawler's gonna bump Funk's head off the table, which is a standard spot in a situation like that, but instead Funk just throws himself face first into the ring bell and you're thinking, "yeah, that was Terry's idea all day long." When he shifts onto offence he still staggers around all crazy like, but now instead of throwing punches at nothing he's biting Lawler's forehead and spitting the blood in the air. He still looks like a basket case, but now he's a basket case of the fucking cannibal variety. And that's not as amusing if you're a Lawler fan. The Lawler comeback of course rules, and the punches of course RULE, and this match would've been eighteen stars if it had ended thirty seconds later. Except it doesn't end thirty seconds later and we get Funk coming back by trying to break Lawler's leg with a chair, which is then followed by ANOTHER amazing Lawler comeback where HE tries to break FUNK's leg with the chair. A count out finish in a no DQ match is the kind of thing that'll maybe bug some folks, but fuck that because there's no way you can watch this and tell me that shit wasn't as decisive as a pinfall or submission. Lawler practically bludgeoned Funk to death with that chair and decided to get back in the ring so he could count along with the ref' and the crowd, just to rub it in that little bit extra. A match doesn't always need a "real finish" for you to know it was fucking finished. And Lawler finished him, plain and simple. It's been almost five years since I re-watched the empty arena match (my #2 during the voting process), and I'm as amped for it now as I've ever been. These guys were good at the pro-wrestling.

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