Saturday, 31 October 2015

NWA Classics 24/7 #2

Dick Murdoch v The Nightmare (Houston Wrestling, 7/26/85)

Pretty much the Dick Murdoch show, and a hell of a show it is. Like, Nightmare is a fine enough passenger, but this is all about Dickie. I actually thought this was the match that made the Mid-South set, but apparently it's a different one! So, you know, awesome. Anyways: Murdoch. He was so great in this. Early on he gets bundled into the corner a few times and peppered with shots, but any time he goes to throw a punch of his own the ref' interjects. This persists for a bit as the crowd get more and more worked up, then they do this awesome rope running sequence with fucking multiple Dick Murdoch leapfrogs, and it ends with Dick tagging Nightmare in the face with a perfect right hand. Murdoch then spends the rest of the match trying to unmask Nightmare, and when that fails he just spins the mask around so Nightmare is left staggering around blind. We also get the spot I remember from the Mid-South set, where Murdoch throws a flurry of punches and winds the arm up for the big home run, the ref' grabbing the arm to stop it and Murdoch popping Nightmare with the free hand instead (and the ref' throwing his arms up in exasperation). At one point Nightmare brings a chair in the ring, but Dick takes it off him, open it up and atomic drops Nightmare on the chair, which fucking ruled. And then they do an out-on-their-feet punch exchange towards the end and Murdoch grabs the eye holes in Nightmare's mask to hold him in place while he punches him and that fucking ruled as well. This was several buckets of fun.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Come on Take a Stroll Down to Basin Street, and Listen to the Music with the Mid-South Beat

Jake Roberts & The Barbarian v Rock 'n' Roll Express (6/28/85)

On a set loaded with awesome tag wrestling, this always stuck out in my memory as being one of the best tags on it. In hindsight the spot with Jake being tied up in the ropes and the RnRs peppering him with shots while the Barbarian scrambles around chasing shadows was probably the main reason for that. It's an awesome spot, and I don't remember seeing it any other time, which is weird because why would you not want to do that spot all the time? You'd think someone would've pinched it by now. I mean, it's not like this is a one spot match or anything, but if it was then it might still have been worth it. Loved Jake in this. All of his nasty sleazeball touches ruled, like stamping on Morton's fingers and yanking the tassels on Morton's tights so he couldn't scoot away to tag. He was clearly directing traffic and carrying things for his team, to the point where I thought it was obvious enough that it might've been intentional. As in, Nord was blatantly looking to Jake for direction at points and made no real attempt to hide that, while Jake worked the whole thing as team leader directing his meat head buddy. Nord is obviously green as hell, but I thought in a way it actively added to the match. Hectic finish run was really good as well, and you can't really go wrong with the finish. Yeah, there was a reason I remembered this match being great, and it wasn't just because of one memorable spot.

Mid-South Project

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

NWA Classics 24/7 #1

I'm pretty much watching stuff at random here. I'm also trying not to blow through all the Butch Reed matches straight away.

Ted DiBiase & Steve Williams v The Guerreros (Bandolero Death Match) (Houston Wrestling, 7/85)

Is the Guerrero family the best wrestling family ever? Eddie, Chavo Sr. and Hector are all fucking awesome, Mando I need to see more of but is probably really good (because duh), and Gory sired the four of them so no way he didn't rule. And Chavo Jr. didn't suck, either. Chavo Sr. and Hector really came out of nowhere on the Mid-South and blew a bunch of folks away with how good they were (myself included), and all of this newly unearthed stuff really bolsters their rep. This was good, but the pole gimmick (it's basically [item] on a pole match) kind of got in the way a bit. Everyone had to climb the pole to unhook the bandolero, but the longer the match went the sweatier they got and that hardly made the climbing any easier. Led to plenty of bare ass shots with dudes getting pulled off the pole by their trunks. Maybe this is the match that inspired Shawn Michaels. Crowd absolutely lose it for the finish, and the early do-si-do dropkick sequence needs some love as well.

Hacksaw Duggan v One Man Gang (No DQ) (Houston Wrestling, 8/8/86)

Fuck, this totally ruled. Only goes about six minutes, but by the end it feels like both guys just came out of a war. Duggan was a total nut job in this throwing incredible punches and stumbling around the ring (or both rings, as it were) and ringside like a bloodied up caveman warrior. Gang hurling himself in between the two rings to get away from Duggan swinging the chair, Duggan tossing Gang over the top rope by the beard(!), the assisted splash/sit-up/punch sequence between both guys and Akbar, the punches, the postings -- for six minutes they sure managed to cram in a bunch of awesome shit. I've barely watched anything from the service really, but this is the best thing I've checked out so far. Just a badass sprint-brawl.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Grab Bag of the Day - Butch Reed

I went and dropped some pennies on the NWA Classics 24/7 service the other night. I probably won't be able to really jump into it until the end of the year since I took my old ass back to school and I've got a million different essays to write right now, but it looks to be every bit the awesome service that you'd want. There's also a bunch of new Butch Reed matches up with hopefully more to come, so that's worth £7 a month on its own.

Butch Reed, Nikolai Volkoff & Krusher Krushev v Junkyard Dog, Hacksaw Duggan & Tito Santana (Houston Wrestling, 1/27/84)

I lowered my expectations for this because I read it was really disappointing. That probably helped in the end because I ended up thinking it was pretty decent, but on paper it should be a whole lot better than pretty decent. I dug Reed a bunch at least, which is probably always going to be the case with Mid-South. He bumped and stooged for JYD early then threw bombs and bled with Duggan down the stretch. Much of the rest of the brawling was fairly plodding, though. It's also elimination rules and all of the eliminations fell pretty flat. If nothing else it got me geared up for the new Reed/JYD and Reed/Tito matches, but this promised something way better than it what we got.

Butch Reed v Dutch Mantell (Houston Wrestling, 7/26/85)

This felt like a ten minute taster of what a twenty minute match between these guys would be, but it was a good taster. Dutch was really spirited here. He gets the crowd riled up early and teases some hidden foreign object shtick, then shows major ass when Reed gets pissed and tries to throw fists. Everything he did working from above was super solid as well, kind of taking little spells at working over different body parts, from the arm to the leg to the head, living up to the Dirty moniker by pulling tights and ropes for leverage and using the edge of the ring apron to inflict some extra damage. Reed  was Reed and did his thing, but Dutch's performance really stood out here. I'd love it if we got more of this match-up in future updates.

Butch Reed v Eddie Gilbert (Houston Wrestling, 8/4/85)

Man, Boesch is something else as a commentator. My grandpa is 85 and talks THE biggest load of horseshit you've ever heard and just rambles on about nothing, and that's pretty much Paul Boesch at this point in time. Bunch of times he starts saying something then seems to lose his train of thought and stays silent for a while, then resumes his sentence again once he finds the word he was looking for. But most of it is nonsense anyway. He also spends this whole match referring to Reed as Duggan. I guess the Hacksaw thing threw him off. I can see that. Anyways, this was fun. Gilbert is full on stooge-weasel and does nothing in the first five minutes but whine, stall and take one huge pinball bump off a punch. Reed's stuff looked killer here; meaty punches, skull-cavey forearms, a big Vader-style clothesline, big suplex and an awesome flying shoulder tackle. Gilbert's shtick wasn't totally perfected yet (compared to '87 when he REALLY turned up the douchebaggery), but this was a fine way to spend ten minutes.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Thank You for Your Wine, Mid-South, Thank You for Your Sweet and Bitter Fruits

Ric Flair v Kerry Von Erich (5/4/85)

Well I liked this more than the last Flair/Kerry match on the set, but maybe I shouldn't have picked it as one of the first matches to watch after not having watching any wrestling at all in the last six months. I've probably mentioned a bunch of times in the last few years that I got burned out on Flair big time around 2011, and in a sense it's matches like this that are the reason why. I've just seen Flair and Kerry so many times by now that it holds no interest for me. If you've seen enough Flair you'll have a pretty decent idea of where certain things will be plugged in during his matches. That in and of itself doesn't really bother me, but here it felt like I could basically play-by-play the whole thing before it happened. There's some okay arm work that get dropped, Flair begging off, Kerry doing a mocking strut, press slams, Flair coming off the top and getting caught in the Claw, etc. Like, it's fine and everything, but I'd probably be cool with never seeing another Flair/Kerry match again.

Mid-South Project

Friday, 23 October 2015

Grab Bag of the Day - Barry Windham

I'm trying to work my way back into watching stuff. In order to do this I'm just gonna fling some random names into the youtubes and see what comes up. This morning I settled on Barry Windham.

Barry Windham v Dean Malenko (WCW Nitro, 1998 maybe)

Not sure on the date, but it's around the time Flair and Bischoff were feuding (which I guess was all the time, but specifically on-screen leading to their Starrcade match). That was '98, right? Dusty comes out as special ref' and he's wearing an nWo shirt. I have no recollection of Dusty being in the nWo. How great was the Horsemen music, btw? Match goes like four minutes but it still reinforces how much more likely I am to enjoy Malenko in sub-ten minute installments than in lengthy affairs. He works super quick in the beginning and then he takes a nasty spill off the rope where it looked like he could've legit torn an ACL. The leg is already taped up and Windham goes after it, so I assume it's a thing they've put across on TV, but still, he took it like a madman. Windham just punches the knee and wraps him up in the corner and Dusty admonishes Malenko for grabbing onto the ropes for too long. He also does the "I've got something in my eye and can't see what's happening" shtick while Barry wraps Dean's leg around the rope and drops knees onto the hamstring. Then Dusty calls for a DQ and awards the match to Malenko and Bischoff comes out raging about some shit and it turns out it was a swerve and Dusty isn't really in the nWo after all. Or whatever.

Barry Windham v Too Cold Scorpio (WCW Saturday Night, 1/23/93)

This is every bit the Barry Windham I remember from random early 90s WCW episodes as a kid. The moustache, the awesome cowboy boots, the long blond hair, the surliness, the pot belly. I had some WCW action figures from around that time (looked great, but none of their limbs moved and they never had the same appeal as the WWF ones) and my Barry Windham figure was exactly that. That was Barry Windham to me. When I first started reading about 80s territory footage/wrestling outside my childhood WWF-and-to-a-lesser-extent-WCW bubble, I couldn't believe this idea that Barry Windham had once been a handsome young fan favourite. I just couldn't picture it. Turned out I was wrong and that THAT Barry Windham had in fact existed, but THIS Barry Windham will always be the one I remember best. Anyways, this isn't at the level of their Clash match from June, but Scorp/Barry is a quality match-up and this was about six minutes of neat stuff. Barry is just waaaay surly here. The first thing he does in the match is back up into the corner and smash Scorp in the ear with a mean right hook, then he laughs about it. It's also kind of cliche, like the whole "Jake Roberts was a master psychologist" talking point, but Windham just looked like a natural pro-wrestler (and Jake Roberts totally ruled). His bumps, his selling, the way he suplexes a guy - it all looks so graceful, like Thierry Henry galloping down the left wing.

Barry Windham & Arn Anderson v Road Warriors (WCW Saturday Night, 6/2/90)

God damn are Arn and Barry all-timers. One of my favourite nerdy things about this stupid hobby/obsession with wrestling is how you can pretty much forget about the existence of a certain wrestler that you would generally consider a favourite, only to go back and watch a ten minute match of theirs and instantly remember everything you love about them like it hasn't been about a year and a half since you last had them on your TV. Like, before this morning I don't remember the last time I watched an Arn Anderson or Barry Windham match. It's probably been longer since I watched an Arn match than a Windham match, but Arn is one of my ten favourite wrestlers ever and Barry isn't terribly far off that. It had just never really crossed my mind to sit and watch a bunch of Arn Anderson or Barry Windham matches. But then a "Barry Windham" youtube search takes me to this, and it's not like it's a blowaway great match or anything, but it's ten minutes of Arn and Barry being everything that made them favourites of mine however many years ago (though Barry doesn't quite look like my old action figure just yet). Arn stooges, Barry does perfect suplexes, both guys work over a babyface, both guys take their comeuppance. Both guys rule and this is why I love both guys.