Thursday, 29 September 2016

Wrapping Up Puerto Rico Disc 1

Carlos Colon v Abdullah the Butcher (9/21/85)

I doubt anybody who runs through this set will come out the other end of it proclaiming Carlos Colon v Abdullah the Butcher one of the great match-ups in wrestling history, but this is the second of a handful of Colon/Abby matches on these discs and so far they've gone two for two in having a perfectly enjoyable bloody brawl. Abby has actually been super fun in everything so far, from his manic facials to his hide-the-fork shtick to whipping out rapid fast uppercuts to guys' throats. Him and Colon have probably matched up a thousand and one times by this point, and this wasn't massively different from the match that opened the set, but it feels like they'll throw enough little wrinkles into what they're doing that it's never just move-for-move the exact same match. The layout might be more or less the same, but the majority of people watching these discs voted Ric Flair as their greatest wrestler of all time so I'm not buying "samey" as a criticism, especially when the layout is this effective. Colon comes out swinging to start and again goes after Abby's ear, then Abby takes over, they bleed, then they kick each other in the balls and it's a wild brawl to the finish. This had a few really great standalone spots as well, though, like Colon hitting a fucking monkey flip on Abby, then a vertical suplex, and Abby later standing on top of Colon with all of his body weight for about ten seconds. The ref' bump was pretty wimpy, but it led to J.J. Dillon getting popped by Colon and a near riot post-match, so you take the good with the bad.

Hercules Ayala v Killer Tim Brooks (Taped Fist Cage Match) (October 1985)

If you squint real hard while watching this it kind of looks like early career Steve Williams v late career Steve Keirn, with Williams punching old, balding Keirn around a cage for ten minutes. I'm not sure how good Ayala actually is, but he threw some nice punches in this and if the Savage match was anything to go by he was probably a guy who was easy enough to work around (and that might even be doing him a disservice). Sure enough, Brooks mostly bumped around and stumbled back into range to be hit by Ayala's fists, and he did a fine enough job of it. There was one cool bit where he was curled up in the corner trying to block Ayala's jabs, so Ayala just hauled off and dug him in the ribs with an uppercut, which opened Brooks up for more of the face-punching. This is the fourteenth match on this disc. It's also the fourteenth match where someone got kicked in the balls.

Ric Flair v Dusty Rhodes (12/21/85)

I'll level with you, I really did not give a shit about this. I like Dusty and I enjoyed Flair in his other two matches on the disc (the Gilbert studio match is legit my working #1 through the first disc), but this did nothing for me and I lost interest pretty quick. Dusty was at least fun with his mannerisms and big wind-up elbows, and there was one bit where Flair picked up a piece of thrown trash and jabbed Dusty in the face with it (that was actually fucking awesome, tbf), but nothing else grabbed me. Ah, well.

Carlos Colon & The Invader v Los Pastores (Ambulance Match) (12/21/85)

This was completely nuts and everything I hoped wild and out of control Puerto Rico would be. I don't fully know what was going on here, honestly. It started out with all four brawling in and around the ring, and that part was great and the crowd were alllll the way into it. Butch got thrown into a table over by the ring barricade and one of the fans literally started throwing overhands at him! Like, physically striking him! It was crazy. A cop ran over and threatened the fan with a baton and I was like "we have well and truly arrived in the Puerto Rico, motherfucker." Then at some point someone else at ringside - presumably a wrestler this time - got a hold of a big glove and started beating Luke Williams half to death. Then so did Colon and Invader and probably a few other folk. Williams sold this by writhing around on the mat like his appendix had exploded and spent the rest of the match lying there while people punched and stomped on him. The crowd was going ballistic through all of this and were pushing so far up against the barricade I thought it would collapse. This was like T in the Park with everyone on ecstasy crawling over each other to get to the front and see Calvin Harris (or some other bawbag). I have no idea where Butch Miller disappeared to during all of this but the whole back half of the match was just a total shitkicking directed at Luke. I think the ref' actually threw the match out, but Colon didn't care and just kept going. Anybody else and you could even buy the crowd turning on them because they went TOO far. The ending with Williams being carted into an ambulance as scores of fans tried to climb into and then on top of the ambulance as it drove away was fucking insane and, no hyperbole, one of the most memorable things I've ever seen in wrestling. Just an amazing, bonkers spectacle.

First disc is in the books, then. So far there hasn't been anything that's absolutely blown me away, but it's been four hours of easy to watch, very enjoyable wrestling, with a few high notes that have set me up for what's to come. And based on the match list, there's plenty to look forward to on the next few discs...

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