Nick Bockwinkel v Tony Atlas (Houston Wrestling, 10/22/82)
Atlas is about as jacked in this match as I've ever seen a wrestler. He's not someone I've ever really thought about in a "how good at the wrestling was Tony Atlas?" sense, so I was interested in seeing what Bock might get out of a guy I've paid no attention to whatsoever. At times it felt like a Bockwinkel approximation of a Ric Flair touring title defence with how much he gave Atlas, especially late on with how desperate he was getting. The finish probably would've been the exact same had Flair been in there. But with Bock you never got all the begging off. Things were a little more grounded and they never seemed to be aiming for a big, dramatic crescendo. It turned out to be a nice tight contest, and almost certainly the best Atlas match I've seen. He wasn't spectacular or anything, but he made the most of what Bock gave him, and Bock will always try and keep things interesting while being worked over. There was this great bit where Bock tried to get out of a grapevine by elbowing Atlas in the head, but of course black wrestlers have heads of granite so Bock wound up selling it like he'd popped his funny bone. Matches like these aren't necessarily essential to Bockwinkel's case as a GOAT candidate, but they add to the picture we already have and that will never be a bad thing.
Midnight Express v Rock 'n' Roll Express (Houston Wrestling, 5/11/84)
This is one of the matches from this service I've been most looking forward to eventually sitting down and watching and it did not disappoint. Heck of a first go-around for these teams in Houston.
They basically spent the first six minutes getting the crowd to pop and boo for high fives, then go apeshit for a hair pull. It was magical. I think over the years I've come to prefer the MX/Fantastics series over this by a tiny bit (I mean, they're both phenomenal), but the early shtick they work in MX/RnR matches is unparalleled. They have so much they can roll out between all four guys, five if you count Cornette, six if you count the referee. I thought the ref' in this was being crazy hyperactive and annoying early, really getting on Gibson's case about a phantom hair pull, but they paid that off with the spot where he breaks up a Condrey hair pull by literally yanking Condrey to the deck by the hair. In most cases I might've thought that to be too much, but the MX reaction to it, and the crowd exploding, really had me popping along with them. When the MX take over they work an awesome heat segment on Morton, running all sorts of distractions so they can hurl him over the top rope repeatedly, jab him with a steel chair, whack him with the tennis racket. It's the Midnight Express working over Ricky Morton -- you know what to expect and you know it's good. You don't need me to tell you this. I've written before about Condrey being a mean wee bastard and I just love him stomping on fingers and driving the point of his knee right into kidneys. Eaton is an absolute dynamo with the offence and he and Morton do a killer rope running sequence that ends with a HUGE powerslam. I also loved how Gibson just said fuck it and literally hiptossed Morton into his own corner, then quickly jumped back out to the apron to make the hot tag. I think there are three more MX/RnR tags from Houston that we don't already have, so hopefully they're unearthed at some point and we get the whole set. This was excellent stuff, obviously.