I feel like a shithead for not finishing the AWA set and getting a ballot in. It's the only one I've had to bitch out on since I started taking part in the DVDVR project. I'll finish it at some point, hopefully before I hit thirty. Some of the stuff I'd already watched was really awesome, though, and I want to go back and watch a bunch of it.
Jerry Blackwell & Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie v High Flyers (Cage Match) (4/18/82)
One of the best cage match sprints ever. This has pretty much everything I want out of a cage match like this -- guys punching lumps out each other, hate and blood and piss and vinegar, crazy cage bumps, a rabid crowd, a satisfying finish, and Jerry Blackwell. It's really your traditional AWA tag formula in a cage match, but the hate and violence is ramped way up. There's no slow build; it's just frantic and non-stop right from the jump. You get your two FIP sections with Gagne and Brunzell, and those sections are good, but this is at its best when the babyfaces are launching Kaissie and Blackwell into every side of the cage. I think this was the match that made me a huge Jerry Blackwell fan (it took me another wild cage match to come to the conclusion that he was the god of wild cage matches), and he's a total bump freak psycho in this. Gagne traps him between the ropes and a side of the cage and repeatedly smashes his face off the cage, and Blackwell throws himself into these shots so hard it looks like the cage will literally collapse. He takes two insane torpedo bumps where he sails over the ropes and goes head first into the cage, and a morbidly obese man like him shouldn't be able to do things like that. Kaissie is also a guy that will have his cut up forehead grated across mesh in cringe-inducingly nasty ways. Post-match is great as well with old man Verne getting in there before Blackwell squashes Greg to death. This was my working #2 on the AWA set. I don't think it would've finished that high had I got through the whole set, but it wouldn't have dropped out the top 10.
High Flyers v Rick Martel & Tito Santana (8/29/82)
This was also in my working top 10, and on re-watch I think I liked it even more than the cage match. This is one of the better face v face tags I've ever seen in the US (maybe face v face matches, period). The first segment with Martel and Tito controlling with the headlock is some of the best headlock control stuff you'll see. Everything feels super rough and fought for; nothing is given up or comes easy. Either Martel/Tito are doing something to force the issue or Gagne/Brunzell are doing something to escape, and most of the time you get both. The bits where they come up for air and work a sequence look killer as well, and they're always changing everything up to keep it fresh. When we come back from a commercial we're into the segment where the Flyers have taken over and going after Tito and Martel's legs, and that's just as good. Some of the little touches of selling from Martel and Tito are awesome, especially from Martel. He was always great at that stuff, doing things like shaking the leg out while he's on the apron, limping when gets back on offence, constantly grimacing, etc. Great spot where he hits a backbreaker on the bad leg and writhes around in agony before having to tag out, then later on he hits another one but makes sure to use the other leg this time. Plus you get to see a super quick Greg Gagne Indian Deathlock. There's a couple "missed move" spots in this that were fucking awesome. Tito's missed dropkick on Gagne was maybe the best missed dropkick I've ever seen. He really throws himself into it and Gagne sidesteps it right at the last second, and you could buy it KOing him if he hadn't. When Tito has to duck a Greg clothesline Greg really keeps him honest with it. 95% of the time you'll be able to tell when a guy is missing a clothesline, because they'll throw it way higher than they normally would, and sometimes the other guy barely even has to duck. Greg MAKES Tito duck. He swings his arm at the same level he would for any other clothesline and it looks crazy reckless, so it's another spot you could buy as a legit KO if it connected. And good grief that finish. Might be the best dropkick ever thrown. Great, great match.