Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clash of the Champions I- March 27, 1988

1) Mike Rotunda v. Jimmy Garvin(Amateur Rules Match)- 5

This was under Amateur Rules- 3 5 minute rounds, and you only need to get a one count. Rotunda looks like he was born to work a match as he strides into his back ride on Garvin so easily. He and Garvin throw hip tosses like an Olympic javelin gold medalist and i've never been so fascinated to see the move performed. Garvin is no wrestling great, but he makes up for that by getting the crowd behind every foot stomp and hair fluff he attempts. There's nothing charismatic about Rotunda at all, but it's like watching Dynamite Kid or Dean Malenko, and his charisma is in his work ethic and seeing a guy who knows the basics so well is pretty damn exciting. Teddy Long is refing and rocking a mean skullet and makes sure no one hits each other. Sullivan interferes and Rotunda gets the one count by pulling the tights. What a heel!

2) Midnight Express v. The Fantastics- 7

I love this fucking Feud! I've run across several of these team's matches together in the last year or so and everytime has been a splendid treat, much like the first time a girl gives you head and swallows- no messy cleanup! Every match they do has a different story too- either an arieal dick measuring contest, or a techinical clinic on how to run a tag match. This one was a pure hatred brawl because as soon as the boys in half tux shirts get in the ring, this turns into a Bluds-Crip rumble. Fulton and Eaton carry the punching power for their respective teams but all 4 men get down and dirty. Rogers gets Terry Funk-belligerent and starts blasting people with a steel chair, then later on takes a body slam and a bulldog bump on a table! The brawl gets sloppy at some points and they are clearly going with that as the theme instead of pure wrestling, which hampers this one a bit, but it is as fun of a match you never knew existed that kicks ass! The ending is even a title switch and the crowd is completely down with it. This was really fun 80's tag stuff.

3) Dusty Rhodes/ Road Warriors v. Ivan Koloff/ Powers of Pain(Barb Wire Match)- 3

I think this was on the Dusty DVD package, but i don't remember seeing it, so i figured i'd give it another spin. In a barb wire match, you need either two things to make it exciting: sick bumps on the wire, or at the very least, some good brawling. This had neither in spades. Koloff bled, but you barely saw it so it didn't really matter. The Powers of Pain (were they even called that in NWA?) were more immobile than Larry Flynt and the Warriors were wearing some stupid looking masks like it was a costume party. Dusty wasn't even his usual entertaining self, he was "the serious Dusty" which is about as fun as watching the "serious Jim Carrey." All 6 men plodded through this one for about 8 minutes then ended it mercifully.

4) Arn Anderson/ Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham/ Lex Luger- 6

Barry and Lex were the young babyfaces in this match and the crowd was erupting fireworks for them. They were both young and still very mobile while the heels were just bumping machines. I loved that the Horsemen let the faces get their heat for a big spot, but then they took it right back and started working over them. Windham worked over 85% of the match and was brilliant, bumping big for Arn's high spots (DDT and Spinebuster). Tully was fantastic over acting when Windham kicked out of his finish (Slingshot suplex) The finish was good in theory, but Anderson taking a chair bump from Dillon with Luger in control wasn't as smooth as it would have been with Windham. Jim Ross said this started a new era in Tag Team wrestling; he must have been right because Arn and Tully soon left after this one for greener pastures (New York)

5) Ric Flair v. Sting- 10

I believe, in my heart of hearts, that a wrestling match, at it's core is a work of art. And you may be saying, it's a sport (or not even that), therefore how can it be? But, unlike other sports, a wrestler's performance (the match) is that of a subjective nature. It's not like you can watch the Cowboys and say "Wow, TO's 3 touchdowns were really great, but it was his poise and form on that incomplete pass that was really spectacular." You know if TO had a good game and it's going to be the same opinion everyone else had. If Sammy Sosa hit 3 homeruns in a game, he did good. If Shaq gets 3 personal fouls, and misses every free throw and still doesn't break 10 points in the game, it was a bad night. If Sting wrestles Ric Flair for 45 minutes and goes to a draw, just barely missing his chance to become World champion, he didn't have a bad night; he had the match of his career.

This match was a Ric Flair masterpiece; if any current gen fan wants to know why everyone thinks Ric Flair, this flabby, old fart who just won't quit wrestling, is the greatest in ring performer of all time, watch this match. Flair is in top form, in his prime and makes a complete Million dollar star out of Sting. I'm going to start off and make note of some flaws, some things that made me consider this a 9 at first; Sting is still largely green in this match and even though he steps up big time here, there's still some after sell missing from his game and a offense that was still pretty limited. There is a judge's table, consisting of several B-list celebrities (including Kevin Arnold's big obnoxious brother) that deem this a draw at the end of the TV time limit. And for the first 15 minutes of the match you can already see this is going broadway because they start out really slow and do lots of ground work, which Sting's is also pretty amatuer. But, it's Flair who carries this match into another stratosphere.

The great things about this match are the crowd, for one, which is amazing all night long. When Sting comes out, they erupt like Mt. Vesuvius and spew molten lava all over him and Flair for the duration of the match. The story is fantastic; this being Stinger's first major title shot and J.J. Dillon, Flair's mischevious manager, is locked in one of those silly shark cages hung above the ring, forcing Flair to man up and fight one on one. Flair looks like a young Hugh Hefner in a pure white, feathered robe and you can hear the panties dropping all over the arena. From the moment he steps in the ring, he's a complete professional. The story in-ring is Flair's techinque versus Sting's power and speed. Flair goes from working the arm (after Sting misses his first attempt at a Stinger Splash) to the back (using the guard rail to weaken it) to eventually, the knee (which he starts working at 30 minutes in, showing that he's not planning on going all the way.) Sting going for the Stinger splash over and over again was another great touch, as when he finally hits it, with about 1 minute left, the crowd erupts. Some people don't care for draws as finishes, but under the right circumstances, they can be pulled off and this was one, using the Bret-Shawn Iron Man finish where Sting had Flair locked in the Scorpion leg lock for the last 30 seconds, effectively building Sting up for coming so close, and Flair for not giving up.

All the little things came together so great too; All of Flair's strikes were superb, from his punches, kicks to Sting's injured legs and even knees to the breadbasket. And of course, the chops, which bust Sting's chest open early on. Sting steps up and really pulls the fans into this, especially when Flair puts on the Figure Four and Sting starts beating his chest, then they do the best reversal ever, with Sting just jerking his whole body back as Flair desperately reaches for the ropes, then Sting slowly turns it over as the crowd becomes as loud as a Japanese baseball stadium with 150,000 people in it. Plus, the announcing is top notch with Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, well , mostly Jim Ross making this seem to be the most important match that will ever be competed. And NHO Hall of Famer Tommy Young actually does an extraordinary job reffing and adds a few little touches, like telling Sting in an offensive flurry of punches that he only has 2 minutes left in the match.

I toyed with this one, hinging on a 9 or 10, but i think a match like this is rare and when it's so well done and both men just put each other over so much, i forget the fact that Sting used a hip toss on Flair 4 different times in the match because they were all done differently and Flair sold each of them different than the first (on the last one, he bumped over the top rope and tried to come down with a crossbody which Sting reversed for a great near fall.) Examples like this are why i compare a professional wrestling match or more importantly, Flair and Sting's performances to that of a Van Gogh painting or a Vivaldi piece, a work of art.


Didge said...

Bravo friend, I totally agree with the 10. This was my introduction to nwa, flair and sting and even thought I was 8 and I had never seen these two wrestle before the match was so powerful that I believed it to be a big time match. and afterwards I remember thinking that Hogan was gonna be on next!

Brian said...

good show pared with a great review.. - when i think of sting and flair.. i think back to their match at the GAB where Sting had the red, white, and blue face paint.. - as well as when they were teasing Sting in the Horsemen and they were all in those tuxedos in-ring and Sting got his ass whopped.. - what a hell of a feud..

Jessie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessie said...

thanks fellas....thank god hogan wasn't next...he could have never followed that act...yeah, we re-discovered your love for that GAB in your review....yeah, something about these two just brought out greatness in each other