This is the greatest gift this lifelong wrestling fan could think of, hours and hours of footage at his disposal that transports him back to being 6 years old, waiting for 4pm every weekday afternoon on ESPN to watch World Class Championship Wrestling, lip synching "Stranglehold" and air-superkicking imaginary opponents. Without futher ado, I will begin to chronicle my own opinions of this set with our customary NHO reviews.
1) King Kong Bundy v. Kevin Von Erich (May 30th, 1982)- 5
Cool match to start us out, Bundy, i've recently discovered is the previous era's Vader, a big man who can do look good on both offense and defense despite his size. While not having the killer instinct of Vader, but being superior to him in terms of emotional selling, Bundy's a very competent worker. Here he controls Kevin well, with your basic power stuff and Kevin plays a good ragdoll, when he allows it. His reckless attacks and haphazard flying at Bundy with nothing at all in mind throw off the whole dynamic of both guys against each other, the finish being another example of that.
2) Ric Flair v. Kerry Von Erich (2/3 Falls, August 15th, 1982)- 5
A different way of looking at a 5 score; the 1st fall here was nearly 25 minutes long, much of it inconsequential except for some firey Puerto Rican exchanges and Flair's over the top selling. Kerry's pointless arm work and loose headlock stuff was poor. 2nd round was a lot meatier, with Flair and Kerry both going to their aces, Figure Four and the Iron Claw, Kerry looked good targeting a weakened champion, but Flair had an answer for almost everything Kerry did, really good psych and liked the visual of the blood flowing during the claw. Unfortunately the 3rd fall was a cheap DQ finish typical of this time.
3) Ric Flair v. David Von Erich (October 11th, 1982)- 6
David, technically, matches up with Flair much better than the other brothers, where they can do reversals that look fairly competent. Flair even looks more pacified selling them in earnest. David's a strange creature though; he takes bumps like Kerry did unfortunately, like a kangaroo on ice skates, but he sells everything like Kevin, whole body into it, 100% pain on every shot. He has, arguably, the worst punches of all the Von Erichs, save Lance & Fritz, just really shoddy ones that stop before they get to you. They cut a great pace and build the match as they go on spots that worked earlier, like the flying knee Flair later counters and uses to a figure Four spot. I also liked that David didn't use the claw spot as a crutch like the other guys did. David gets blood like a real Texas man would, at 25 minutes in when the crowd is worked to a fever pitch in a brilliant move. The ref, Bronco Lubich, is sinfully slow and old; I think a ref like Hebner or Pee Wee Anderson would have added even more to this. I really liked this match until Kerry hobbled down to ringside.
4) Magic Dragon/ Checkmate v. Al Madril/ Jose Lothario (October 12th, 1982) - 6
I just rewatched this match from the Texas set, and really felt like my original review and score were dead on the money, so i'm reposting it here again. There's a lot to love in this one, and no one was more surprised than me. Checkmate has the ultimate gimmick: it's that he's basically the living embodiment of a chess game, where any hold or move someone tries on him he has a counter for it and everyone in the match plays it up really well, especially Check himself. He and Jose work most of the technical stuff together and it has this strange 60's style flow to it, where neither guy is particularly smooth, but the holds just flow as they go from spot to spot. Madril is this crazy haired nut who is usuall pretty forgettable but he has the crowd going nuts here, does a nice hot tag, hits these really crazy flying forearms and just generally makes the match better. Dragon works mostly with him, and matches his shoulder attacks later on in a duel of manhood. Time limit draw ends it and I totally felt that was the most honest answer to this really fun TV match.
5) Checkmate/ Magic Dragon v. Al Madril/ Bugsy McGraw (October 26th, 1982)- 5
Let me just say, Checkmate is awesome! I discovered him a few months back in the previous match and am even more into him here. My God, there's a whole litany of performers i would deem dream matches were he have faced them, Eddie, Flair, Casas, Liger, Gunn (Billy or Bart.) I'm not as into Bugsy as most probably are, slightly humorous comedy routine, but really, how far did it carry him? A few noticeably blown spots, including by the referee, but I'm sort of digging Madril's Caveman punches. Dragon doesn't have Checkmate's finesse, but he plays his role as devious low level heel well. Square dance part was fun, but finish a little messy. Not as good as the previous match here but still good.
6) David Von Erich/ Michael Hayes/ Terry Gordy v. The Sharpe Brothers/ Tom Steele (December 25th, 1982)- 4
Mike did a lot of stooging for most of his time in the ring, Ben Sharpe went from no selling to acting like he just walked out of Xmen villain Arcade's funhouse, and Steele looked like Homeless Jimmy who sold facially like HBK. The uber face team didn't give a whole lot here, sure they kept the crowd into it, but mostly it was Hayes & David sloppily pulling off moves, such as Hayes pitiful elbow drops and David falling backwards on his piledriver as I might have when I was 5 years old imitating the same move on my Macho King Wrestling Buddy. Hayes doesn't play a very good Ricky Morton either. Unfortunately, Gordy's involvement was kept to a minimum and I wasn't a fan of how this broke down into a weak finish.
7) Ric Flair v. Kerry Von Erich (Steel Cage Match, December 25th, 1982)- 6
Natch was the man during this, loved seeing his aggressive side. This is what a return match should consist of, just a gnarly beating. Flair does one of his classic bladejobs and is selling off the charts for most of this. Kerry doesn't have to do much to keep the crowd tuned into this match and for his part, he barely succeeds there. After everything this match lead to, his injured knee, Flair working over it with his signature move for many minutes, Kerry simply sits up and attacks Flair's leg with gusto, showing no signs of a limp or even slight discomfort. There's a lot of other stuff going on here too, such as the beginning of possibly Texas's biggest angle, which to it's credit and players was done so well and is a timeless finish. Was great, but could have been even better.
8) Terry Gordy v. Kevin Von Erich (January 10th, 1983)- 4
Conceptually, this match made perfect sense, you had a fight basically between a big bully and the older brother of the guy the bully beat up. So it was fun from that angle, but the brawling wasn't anything better than Luther Reigns was pulling off on SD in 03. Also saw a lot of talking between the two during many spots, liked Kevin's constant claw attack and Gordy's Adonis bump in the buckle. terrible ending, again.
9) Ric Flair v. Terry Gordy (February 4th, 1983)- 4
Very methodical pace to this one, with Gordy in control of the pace. Not a lot of heat for it either, although Flair was the babyface. Very subdued Flair on defense too that didn't do wonders for Gordy's punching and laize-faire elbow drops. What is it about guys in World class not learning how to sell a bodypart? Flair reverses his own figure four as Gordy doesn't turn with him until Flair's already screaming. Wasn't feeling this match very much.
10) Michael Hayes v. Kerry Von Erich (February 7th, 1983)- 4
Started out pretty good, Hayes playing chickenshit heel perfectly, ducking out after every move, Kerry basically frothing at the mouth to get his hands on him, even selling his long standing knee injury correctly, making my proclamation in the last match a crock. But i thought the action stalled a bit with Hayes in control, really terrible chinlock variation he used, could have dropped a piano through the space between his arms and Kerry's chin. Kerry's comeback was stalwart too, so I think they have better matches later on.
11) The Fabulous Freebirds v. Kevin, David & Kerry Von Erich (Lumberjack Match, February 18th, 1983)- 7
You just won't see anything like this anymore, certainly not in this recreation of ECW through the mind of Dixie Carter. Just pandemonium, from bell to bell, the crowd excitement here had me way more pumped than hearing TO is in town now. Among the highlights for me were Gordy's Vaderbomb bump off the ropes, Kevin diving across at all 3 'Birds every chance he got, Kerry & Buddy flipping over the ropes at the same time and the really exciting finish that even had me surprised. Don't want to forget how kickass all the Freebirds kneedrops are. This was the 1st multi-man match of this feud and it was a hell of an opening salvo.
12)David Von Erich v. Buddy Roberts (Match 18th, 1983)-
Roberts was an awesome 3rd wheel to the Freebirds group, here he holds his own against David. David outwrestles him with zeal, making for some good stuff and Roberts sells everything really well, and does all his offense like a hyena picking the scraps from a lion's fresh kill. Loved Dave's war cry before his comeback started, Roberts starts hitting cues like Daniel Stern from Home Alone and sells everything like a champ.
Jess's Texas list:
1- Freebirds v. Von Erichs (LJ- 02/18/83)
2- Checkmate/Dragon v. Madril/ Lothario (10/12/82)
3- David v. Roberts (03/18/83)
4- Flair v. David (10/11/82)
5- Flair v. Kerry (Cage)
6- Kevin v.King Kong (5/30/82)
7- Checkmate/Dragon v. Madril/McGraw (10/2/82)
8- Flair v. Kerry (2/3 Falls, 08/15/82)
9- Kevin v. Gordy (01/10/83)
10- Hayesv. Kerry (2/7/83)
11- Flair v. Gordy (2/4/83)
12- David/Hayes/Gordy v. Sharpes/Steele)