Friday, 13 November 2015

Lawler v Bockwinkel x2

Jerry Lawler v Nick Bockwinkel (Memphis, 10/25/82)

This feels like your "technical genius v brawling machine" match. Bock is the consummate World Champ who can grapple with anybody you put in front of him, while Lawler, though no slouch on the mat, is always going to come back to the fists. They know their bread and butter. They know what brought them to the dance. First five minutes are basically one extended top wrist lock segment, and it was GREAT. It really established Bockwinkel as being the better "pure wrestler" (for lack of a better term, I guess), the way he's in control for pretty much the entirety of it. I loved him during this part, just working the absolute hell out of a simple hold, milking it as much as possible, widening his base for leverage, really pushing and bending the wrist like he's trying to make Lawler's fingernails touch his own forearm, taunting Lawler along the way ("Come on, Lawler, it's a simple wrestling hold!"). Lawler's really good on his end as well, though. I'd say in general he's pretty comfortably at "very good" level as a mat worker. Like, people championing Lawler as a GOAT candidate obviously aren't pointing to his matwork as his main strength, but even with all the praise he's gotten in recent years (probably since the DVDVR Memphis set dropped, or at least that's when it exploded) it sometimes it kind of feels like his matwork gets scoffed at. But he was routinely good at it. He works this whole segment from the bottom, but he always makes it look like he's trying to escape or counter. He almost manages to reverse it, but Bock stands way up on his tiptoes to force it back down. Second time he comes even closer to reversing it, and this time Bock has to yank the hair to drag Lawler back down. Then at the third attempt Lawler manages to shake him by just throwing him around until Bock can't hold on any longer. It was a simple segment, but it was milked and interesting and didn't feel like time-killing. They touch on the "technician/brawler" dynamic again soon after this when Bockwinkel repeatedly rams Jerry's head into the turnbuckles, only for Lawler to come back and do it in way nastier fashion by throwing Bock backwards into the same turnbuckles. It was like Bock deviated from his strategy, got ahead of himself, and emphatically lost at Lawler's game. Last spell has the big drama you want in a World Title match, and Lawler going ballistic at the end with punches was incredible. I'm ticked that we're missing about fifteen minutes of the match, but that's more because why would you not want to have every second of a Bockwinkel/Lawler match? as opposed to the match being hurt all that much by the commercials.

Jerry Lawler v Nick Bockwinkel (No DQ) (11/8/82)

This might be the most violent I've ever seen Bockwinkel. Of a seventeen minute match he spends roughly fourteen minutes beating the living, breathing dogshit out of Lawler. Jerry gets hardly anything in in the way of offence. At one point he threatens to stamp on Bockwinkel's balls and Calhoun has to pull him back, but most of this was Lawler properly getting battered. Early on he even has to take a powder because he clearly was not expecting Bockwinkel to come out rampaging, but Bock is relentless and does not let up at all. I was actually expecting to see a King of the Mountain segment with Lawler trying to get back in the ring and Bock kicking him in the head, but no, he never even bothered with that. He just let Lawler climb back in the ring and knocked him around some more. He slams Jerry on the announce table, cuts his eye open with nasty little rabbit punches, then smashes his throat into one of the ringside poles. Lawler took is like a fucking basketcase as well and it looked absolutely brutal. Lawler's comeback of course ruled, and I loved him having to hit the fist drop from progressively loftier heights to keep Bockwinkel down. I had this as my #24 on the Memphis set, but I had no recollection of it whatsoever. It would almost assuredly be higher now. Great, great match, and a spectacular look at Bockwinkel being a vicious surly bastard.

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