Sunday, April 9, 2006

The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s

Disc #1
1. Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper - Dog Collar Match (Starrcade 11/24/83) - 8
2. Sgt. Slaughter vs. Iron Shiek - (MSG 5/21/84) - 5
3. Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana - Lumberjack Match (MSG 3/17/85) - 7
4. Junkyard Dog vs. Randy Savage - (Wrestling Classic 11/7/85) - 2
5. Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby Heenan - Weasel Suit Match (MSG 6/25/88) - 2

Valentine and Piper beat, bloodied and bludgeoned each other in what is arguably the best dog collar match in the history of the business. It's a joy to see these two pummel each other, especially Valentine working Piper's left ear into a bloody pulp. Sheik and Slaughter is equally as gory, as Slaughter bleeds buckets in a less impressive bout. This got a lot of heat; I guess people were more patriotic back then. I loved how Sheik slapped Slaughter in the face a few times before the match, and I love how vile he was throughout this grudge match. Tito versus Valentine was rather excellent, Valentine has said in interviews that Tito was one of his all-time favorite opponents because he wasn't afraid to fire back shots and nail him. Lumberjack matches are usually throwaway bouts, but this was one of the better executed ones I've had the pleasure of watching. The finish was neat, too, where they both collapsed, but Valentine happened to land on top of Santana, scoring the questionable victory. I had high hopes for Savage and Junk Yard Dog; boy, was I thoroughly disappointed. This was worse than sitting next to The Boogeyman on a plane. The Heenan match was comedy, as expected, and I guess it worked on some level back then, even if it's hard to sit through nowadays.

Disc #2
1. Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair - 1 Million-Dollar Challenge Match (Starrcade 11/22/85) - 4
2. Ole & Arn Anderson vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes - (Starrcade 11/28/85) - 4
3. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich - (AWA Superclash III 12/13/88) - 5
4. Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair - (Chi-Town Rumble 2/20/89) - 8
5. Ric Flair vs. Jay Youngblood - (Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 2/3/82) - 3

Rhodes and Flair isn't one of their more legendary battles. It doesn't seem to ever really get going, and then the referee, overrated boxer Joe Frazier, stops the match due to blood loss by Rhodes, who isn't even that messy. The tag match is a throwaway. Haynes looked ripped and lost, Wahoo should have seriously been retired at this point, Arn looks good as always, and Ole looks sadistically stiff. This match runs a little shy of 10 minutes, but there's really only about 3 minutes worth of quality work. As soon as the Lawler versus Von Erich match starts, Jerry dodges a punch in the first few seconds and rams Kerry's bicep into a turnbuckle, which somehow cuts him open. This isn't played for dramatic effect as much as it just shows Von Erich, looking very petty, checking his little "boo boo" every 15 seconds instead of concentrating on this huge title unification match. Not too long after, Von Eric is really bleeding heavy, this time from his head and eye. The referee eventually stops this; although it's important, it's not really all that good, unless you're interested in watching Lawler do his same old heel shtick, where he hides a foreign object in his trunks, that he's been doing the last 25 years. Flair and Steamboat is solid, it's not the best match they’ve ever had, but its still quality. The chops are especially solid. Steamboat's green trunks and boots here are some of my all-time favorites. You should probably own at least two copies of this match. Youngblood looked about as green as Ricky's aforementioned trunks in his bout, the most oddly selected match on the entire set, and a completely forgettable waste.

Disc #3
1. Jimmy Snuka vs. Bob Backlund - Steel Cage Match (MSG 5/19/80) - 6
2. Iron Shiek vs. Bob Backlund - (MSG 12/26/83) - 4
4. Paul Ordorff vs. Salvatore Bellomo - (MSG 1/23/84) - 4
5. Iron Shiek vs. Hulk Hogan - (MSG 1/23/84) - 5
6. Bob Orton vs. Jimmy Snuka - (MSG 2/18/85) - 6
7. Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan - The War To Settle The Score (MSG 2/18/85) - 5

Backlund and Snuka is one of the industry's most famous cage matches, and rightfully so, although it's not entirely spectacular. It's shorter than I expected, and Backlund looks completely out of his environment. The MSG crowd is hot, per usual, and that helps a lot. The big moment is Snuka's splash off the top of the cage, which was 10 years ahead of its time, and every bit deserving of the praise heaped upon it by smart marks worldwide. Snuka went balls out, and single-handedly made this match a major one. Backlund and Sheik is important because Sheik ended Backlund's long reign as champion, and we all now it was only so he could put the strap on Hogan's tanned waist. Backlund is selling the injured left arm to an almost absurd degree, and this entire plodding match features little but Sheik working it and his neck. They allowed Bob to save face by having his manager toss in the towel, but if they were really genuinely worried about saving face for him, they should have destroyed all footage of this match and denied its existence. The grade I gave the Orndorff match is probably a bit misleading, as I actually enjoyed it, far more than I thought I would too, since I'd heard it stunk worse than a flight attendant after Regal pissing on them. There was a ton of stalling at the beginning, but this was Paul's MSG debut, and he pummeled the Italian Bellomo, who adorned in purple trunks looked oddly like Grimace of McDonalds lore. For those of you wanted Samoa Joe to come to W.W.E., imagine him wearing these exact purple trunks, being dubbed the "Purple People Beater" and then rethink that decision. Hogan squashing Sheik for the title is a classic bout, because it birthed Hulkamania. It went a little longer than I'd remembered; what it lacked in technicality, which was a lot, it made up for in sheer heat. Orton versus Snuka was really good, arguably the hidden gem on this entire set. The end was all kinds of tasty, including Snuka doing a kickass leap from the apron over the ropes, hooking Bob in a sunset flip. Snuka shined on this DVD--all bow down and suck his shoeless feet. The last match was the MTV bout that was the big set-up for Wrestlemania, it's filled with mega heat and story galore, including an appearance by Mr. T. It's memorable for those reasons only, as the actual wrestling blows like girls hooking up executives during Nitro Girls tryouts.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

wow, an epic review...i enjoyed watching this set too...for the good far outweighed the bad...some of your best work, as far as analyzation.