Wednesday, 10 August 2016

More Puerto Rico Stuff

Gino Dellaserra & Pierre Martel v Los Mercenarios (11/27/82)

Well, I did not know Rick Martel had a brother. Where Rick was handsome and all shredded like a julienne salad, Pierre is gruff and rugged and he looks like a binman. Never seen Dellaserra before but a cursory google search reveals at least four different spelling variations of his surname. The VQ isn't always spectacular on this - though dodgy VQ on early 80s studio matches that you'd never check out otherwise is part of the charm of the 80s sets - so I'm not sure which version of Los Mercenarios this is. Judging by the timeline I'd have thought it'd be Angel Acevedo/Cuban Assassin and Gerry Morrow, but it doesn't look like Morrow. Acevedo's hair/beard combination is absolutely spectacular. He's achieved true lunatic caveman status with that. This was rolling along nicely with some spirited arm work by Martel and Dellaserra, then Martel ends up on the floor and comes back in covered in blood so we have ourselves another 'Welcome to the Puerto Rico, Motherfucker!' situation. I'm all in on Puerto Rico studio matches already. Crowds are raucous and there's blood and shithousing for days. I'm not even sure what the finish was but there was eye-gouging and face-biting and blood and beard everywhere. I dug this.

Carlos Colon v Tully Blanchard (1983)

This was one of those Tully matches where he wanted to come in and be as much of a shitbox as possible before finally having to man up and throw some punches. He begged off, stooged, outright ran away, threw cheapshots, and generally acted like an annoying wee weasel. If that sounds like fun to you then you'll probably get a kick out of this. Thought Colon was pretty good again, especially in the way he'd go from merely threatening to punch Tully in the nose at the start of the match to actually punching him in the nose, and often at that, by the end. Tully will do that to a guy, I suppose. Some cool revenge spots on the floor as well, like Tully throwing Colon over the barricade into a group of fans and attacking him every time he tried to climb back over, leading to Colon picking Tully up and dropping him tailbone-first across the barricade later on. Finish isn't executed terribly well, but I liked the idea of it.

El Gran Apollo v Dick Steinborn (February 1983)

I'd never seen either of these two guys before. Steinborn looked to be somewhere around his fifties and sure enough a quick check on tells me he debuted in 1951(!) and at one point went by the ring name Dick Gunkel, which for whatever reason just tickles me. He was also the brother-in-law of Jerry Oates, who spent a while in the NWA through the 70s and 80s and had a cup of coffee as a ham 'n' egger in the WWF in the early 90s. So...there you go. Steinborn was pretty damn fun in this as your tough old roughhouse. He had a few cool takedowns and carried himself like a guy who knew how to go, but if things were getting a bit out of hand he would duck under the ropes for a quick breather. You need to learn your limits as you get on in years, you know. If there's any Eisenhower-era Dick Steinborn floating around I may very well be tempted to check it out. I never got much of a handle on Apollo from this. He struck me as Puerto Rico's white meat midcard babyface - solid if unspectacular - but the match was about six minutes long, so it's hard to gauge anything from that. Another nifty studio match, though.

El Gran Apollo v Buddy Landell (5/8/83)

This was also about six minutes, but Apollo was super solid again, enough that I think it's fair to say he's pretty okay at the pro-wrestling. Landell was Landell, and man, Buddy Landell is just the best. He's such a detestable goof and this studio crowd are allll about letting him know it. His stooging was really great here, with the best spot of the match being his face first collapse into the middle turnbuckle after Apollo headlocks him into oblivion. He also flings himself wildly into the air off a back body drop and has no compunction about taking shortcuts, which just winds folk up even more. His chinlock was up there with the most shoddily applied chinlocks in the history of wrestling, but it didn't last long at least. These short studio matches are a-okay with me.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Welcome Back to Puerto Rico, Motherfucker!

Ric Flair v Carlos Colon (10/16/82)

I think I may have said a word or two about Flair in the recent past, right here on this very blog. I've perhaps mentioned that the most interesting Flair matches - especially if they're lengthy - to me personally at this point will be against guys I've never seen him match up with before. Well I've never seen him match up with Colon and I was interested in seeing what Colon would bring to a title match (especially after seeing what he brought to an Abdullah the Butcher match), so I was looking forward to this. You have a pretty good idea how the match is going to be laid out and what Flair will do on his end, but how opponents fill in their part of the script can be pretty intriguing if it's an unfamiliar opponent. Colon basically controls the first ten or so minutes by working the arm, and it's not spectacular but it is spirited and looks fairly nasty. The arm work gets dropped soon after Flair takes over, but then I assume we all saw that coming. Flair actually does some pretty nifty stuff working on top, like hitting a couple snake eyes (don't remember seeing him do that before) and another big delayed vertical suplex. Around midway through we get some legwork and Colon reverses the figure four, then applies it himself, and the last stretch is your big Flair run to the finish. There was some pretty great stuff down the stretch, the best being Colon absolutely fucking Kurt Angling Flair head first into the ring post about six times in a row, with Flair taking every shot like a nutter. Colon's cartwheel as his "drop the strap" moment is incredible, btw. The crowd goes utterly BALLISTIC and it's so infectious watching him get fired up like that. I'm gonna enjoy him a ton on this set, I can already tell. Flair grabbing a headlock as a way to transition into the finish is very Flair, but man I didn't expect the actual finish to be what it was. Goosebumps-inducing. Probably doesn't sound like I'm overly enthusiastic about this as a match, but I thought it was really good. Of the three matches so far it probably has the least re-watch value to me for reasons that are likely obvious by now, but it might still be the best of the three (like, I guess).

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Welcome to Puerto Rico, Motherfucker!

I think my favourite thing about wrestling at this point in my life as a hardcore wrestling dork is the buzz that surrounds every new DVDVR 80s set. Seeing the initial match list, checking the post every day to see if the set's arrived yet...sometimes an old, whiskey-ravaged degenerate enjoys the simple things in life. The lucha set (which I never finished because I suck) came out three years ago now, but this summer both Portland and Puerto Rico got the goodhelmet treatment. Puerto Rico is a huge blind spot for me, so I picked up that set and started it tonight. It's already the best fucking thing.

Carlos Colon v Abdullah the Butcher (September 1981)

How about this for an introduction. It's taking place in Trinidad and Tobago for the West Indies Championship and I'm like 98% certain it's the first match I've ever seen from Trinidad and Tobago. So there's another one off the old bucket list! The ring mat looks squishy, like a dodgy mattress or a burst bouncy castle. Early parts were all about Colon punching Abby in the ear and trying to rip the ear off Abby's head. Abby sells with mild annoyance. Then Abby goes bonkos and man this might be the most fun I've had watching Abby punch folk in the throat and kick them in the eye with the toe of his boot. He does it at Abdullah the Butcher speed but it all looked great. His elbow drops fucking rule as well, btw. About seven minutes in and both guys have tapped a gusher and Savinovich is on commentary calling the referee a full blown idiot for not stopping the match before a riot ensues. You're listening to it thinking "yeah okay, mate, I'm sure a riot will ensue" and then a few score Trinidadians surround the ring like some shit is brewing. The commentators also reiterate that anything they say about Abby that may be misconstrued as insulting is purely accidental and in the heat of the broadcast because they don't want Abby or his people hunting them down and assassinating them or something. Which was awesome. Eventually the ref' does throw out the match, but Abdullah isn't done and keeps going after Colon post-match. Someone jumps in the ring - a wrestler from the territory, apparently - and Abby punches him in the throat so people outside start trying to grab Abby's legs and yank at his tights. Then Abby steps out the ring and everybody scatters like Abby is the fucking plague incarnate! Fans literally start fighting with each other. Abby goes full Hansen and waddles into this mass of people and folk are terrified, running over each other to get away. Remember when people believed a morbidly obese bag of walnuts who moved at the speed of moss from Windsor, Ontario was a psychotic murderer from the Sudan? Hot damn, that was the pro-wrestling. Bring back the kayfabe! This ruled like fuck.

Ric Flair v Tommy Gilbert (9/4/82)

Well I loved this. Fuck it, I said it, I meant it, I'm here to represent it. Old, balding, two-years-shy-of-retiring-into-a-refereeing-gig Tommy Gilbert isn't the first candidate I'd put forward to play plucky underdog in a studio match against the World Champ, but hell if it doesn't work. Maybe this is the kind of setting in which I'll get the most out of Flair at this point. Short, to the point, pretty much a sprint. Thought he struck a really nice balance between being the aggressor and begging off. Like, I know for a fact I'd be fawning over Rose or Bockwinkel if they worked the match this exact way. Actually, and maybe this is just because I haven't watched a Flair studio match in ages, Flair seemed more aggressive and intent on working on top in this compared to a LOT of Flair matches I can think of, studio or otherwise. He of course gives Tommy plenty, but he'd let loose with body shots, AWESOME elbow drops, kicks to the kneecap, rabbit punches to the nose, a great delayed vertical suplex, etc. He cut a no-nonsense promo before it about how he was the best athlete in the world, and he generally worked this like a guy who could live up to that hype (with the begging off highlighting the hubris in such a statement at the same time). And how about the figure four? Wasn't reversed, wasn't applied to Flair as a revenge spot, didn't feel tacked on for some mid-match heat. It was the figure four leglock in all its glory. Praise the Puerto Rico.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

NWA Classics 24/7 #14

Wild Bull Curry v Johnny Valentine (Houston Wrestling, 6/20/69)

This was a ton of fun -- the kind of thing that makes the NWA On Demand service truly awesome. Like, this being unearthed and thrown up on the internet in perfect VQ almost half a century after it happened is I've never seen Wild Bull Curry before, but my goodness, his face! Is about 50% comprised of one single eyebrow! He looks like a newly hatched duckling, or Stig of the Dump. I love him already and so do this crowd. If you ever wondered where Greg Valentine picked up a lot of his quirks as a worker, it was from his old man. Johnny just LOOKS like an older, grizzlier Greg. Nobody could clubber a guy in the chest like the Valentine family. This is 2/3 falls, and the first fall is largely puncher v technician. Curry only knows how to throw fists and he'll live and die on that. Valentine tries to work holds and it feels as much like a tactic to smother Curry so Bull doesn't punch him in the ear as it does a way of actually winning. It wasn't remarkable hold-working or anything, but it was fairly active and I like how he seemed to be trying to actually use leverage, plus I dug Boesch's descriptiveness on commentary. Curry's flurries of wild punches were pretty great. They're not pretty at all but every bit as reckless as you'd expect punches to be when thrown by a man raised by orangutans. Some of them were stiff as a bastard as well, especially the ones where the camera gets up real close and Valentine is eating them square in the bloody forehead and staring into space like he's having a stroke. He even topples backwards like Greg would eventually do (except Greg would fall on his face). Stinker of a finish, but Curry trying to eat people post-match like a psychotic wee ManBearPig was entertaining.

Dusty Rhodes v Ivan Koloff (Coffin Match) (Houston Wrestling, 10/24/80)

I was kind of confused about how this stipulation was supposed to work. They never really explained it well pre-match and then they started working it like a Texas Death Match with falls and rest periods in between which. But Dusty also demanded the coffin be left in the ring and both guys would sell being near it like the coffin was a sentient being that could suck them into another dimension. THEN they started trying to shove each other in the coffin and...basically it was a casket match where you win by throwing your opponent in the coffin (although this one didn't have a lid), but for whatever reason you could also win falls that...didn't really matter whatsoever. They had some fun spells of brawling in between the rest periods, though. Ivan hit a nice gusher initially and they built to a hot crescendo at the end considering the early parts were fairly heatless for a big Dusty match. And in reverse 80s fashion the finish was actually awesome! Ivan laid Dusty's head over the edge of the coffin - which looked like a prop from an early Doctor Who episode - and went to hit a top rope kneedrop like he was trying to decapitate Dusty guillotine style. Dusty moved, Ivan kneed the coffin, and Dusty bionic elbowed him into said coffin. I wouldn't really call this good, but it was an interesting spectacle.