Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NHO Hall of Fame Series Presents: Barry Windham Vol. 1

Recently Adam unearthed a tape site that posseses thousands upon thousands of dvd's (as well as some really bad 80's comedies) and among those mountains of discs, there sit 11 special ones, all dedicated to possibly my favorite worker of all time, Barry "Blackjack Mulligan jr. Lone Wolf Widowmaker Stalker" Windham and in due time, i plan on getting all of them and reviewing them for my own pleasure and thoust pleasure so to begin, here's the first installment:

1) BW v. Ric Flair (Florida Championship Wrestling, NWA Title match)- 4

This was preceded by a "workout" by Flair where he rode two jobber guys, collegiate style then got in Windham's face at the broadcast booth and enticed him to join. Windham, of course, got the best of Flair and illegally pinned him as Flair berated Bill Alfonso, screaming "Why did you count? That wasn't a pro match!" so this is the blowoff of that match.

The pace is quick and Flair is controlling a pretty fun encounter. Windham is so young i swear i saw some G.I. Joe underoos hanging out of his trunks. He throws a flawless dropkick and lariat at Flair, who gives him a great babyface run during this match. Flair is so vocal here, just screeching at the top of his lungs when he gets hit, really doing a great job of making Windham look good well beyond his years. The finish though confused me; on commentary you have legendary Italian fart Angelo Mosca, who seems to be quite heelish. well, the bell rings but the ref lets the match continue as Mosca starts shouting "the match is over, stop them!" Windham is about to win again, until Mosca jumps in and starts giving Windham a beat down with Flair; the confusing part is why the hell did they ring the bell? Gordon Solie is commentating and doesn't mention a time limit or anything so I have to take a point off for bad form on that one.

2) BW v. Harley Race (Flordia Championship Wrestling, NWA Title Match)- 6

What I like about this is Race giving Windham so much offense but making it seem as if he's dominating him; you can tell it's an old veteran's trick. Windham is really developing his punch and you see it here. The thing about Florida I'm learning is you don't use chairs or spikes to bust open your opponent- you use your five knuckles in a fist to do it and Race is gushing. The arena is really small and feels like a finished basement because there's all these panel walls that the wrestlers bounce into when they take a bump outside. I believe this was a DQ, though, as Dusty was commentating and really pushing Windham so he came to Barry's defense and got a DISTURBING PILEDRIVER on the outside from Race. Awesome stuff and I'm digging the overall vibe of early 80's Florida action.

3) BW v. Ron Bass (Florida Championship Wrestling, Heavyweight Title v. Saddle)- 5

Another punching affair and Florida is where you go to work on hard work rate as these guys go a long 20 minutes, if not more with TV commercials edited in. Bass isn't your top notch worker so Windham does most of the bumping and the varied offense and Bass does a lot of punching that's effective; eventually Windham follows suit with the hard knocks and both men take their licks and get busted wide open like cantelopes being dropped from the top of a 15 story building, like that old David Letterman skit. Anyways, this goes outside and inside and is a real war. I'm not sure what the saddle is for and even Gordon Solie has no clue what the signifigance of it is, but he alludes that it may have been Blackjack Mulligan's at one time. Bass does strap it on after Windham gets a hard fought victory and tries to ride Barry ala Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 (God damn, was that funny!)

4) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Chavo & Hector Guerrero (Florida Championship Wrestling)- 3

It was hard to recognize Rotundo at first; he was sporting a most excellent white man's gerricurl hairdo. The Guerreros were tag team wrestling; the quick tags made them very fun to watch and the in your face punches they were throwing were dynamite. Hector, less so than Chavo, did seem a little out of place and I can see why he's the black sheep of the family. It was fun seeing Windham going from working big Outlaw Bass to shorter but faster Chavo Classic and still keep the same rhythym and good timing. This went pretty short, but i'm not sure if it was clipped or not- not sure of the arena either, as it was pretty dark but this is still unique and hard to come by footage, so I'll give it's due merit.

5) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Adrian Adonis/ Dick Murdoch (WWF, Tag Team Title Match clipped)- 4

I recognized this footage from an old WWF commercial release called "History of the Tag Team Titles,mainly due to "Mean" Gene's voiceover and the hideous yellow graphics. Murdoch and Adonis were big bumpers and put it on display here, but also fought off some comebacks to give this match a real upset feel. Gorilla Monsoon was doing those duties along with another indistinguishable voice from the early 80's. The emotion was definitley there, from the crowd to the elated new tag champs who grabbed each other in a strangely warm embrace at the end.

6) BW v. Dick Murdoch (WWF)- 6

Murdoch has a rep for being a heavy drinker and loud redneck, but also as a lost great worker, and he certainly shows that here. Windham, who's still in his early years, lets Murdoch lead him through a pretty well evened match where he can shine; by taking some car crash bumps and hitting all his on-the-mark lariats. Murdoch has a goofy way of selling that's very 80's but it gets the job done as making it believeable that a young upstart could best the tough veteran.

7) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff (WWF, Tage Team Title Match- Wrestlemania I)- 5

The atmosphere is absolutely electric when this match kicks off and I believe this was one of the last few matches of the night, so the crowd was buzzing in anticipation over that big main event that was booked. But Windham and Rotundo don't let that distract them from the job at hand. Both guys are on the offense early with heavy slams, arm drags and dropkicks to their much larger opponents. The heels are playing very competent foils in this match but it's some manager hooha that brings it down with Freddie Blassie. The finish kind of just comes out of nowhere, as if they ran out of time, or Vince called an audible, much like he did when he screwed Bret in '97.

8) BW v. Nikolai Volkoff (WWF)- 4

I bordered on giving this one a 3, not only for it's length but content as after watching some of his stuff in his prime, I'm not really sold on Volkoff; What I mean is I'm not a fan of his selling or bumping style. It's really haphazard as if he's either stumbling down or so drunk he can't stand up. His body style is very awkward anyways plus his girth makes him hard to handle but I think his only facial expression is his "O" face. There's not a lot of excitement here from the crowd and it's a so so match.

9) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff (WWF)- 6

Tag action really gets me pumped up and this one was right up my alley. Sheik actually worked the bulk of this match and after seeing some of his comedic performances (at best) on those "Maca-Mania" shows, this reaffirms my belief that he was a real worker at one time. He has great transitions from abdominal stretches to side suplexes with a real low and high impact offense that grounds Windham. The babyfaces both do this one spot that works so well, but is so small you wouldn't notice it; they gain the advantage back shortly and go for a big elbowdrop, but they always miss, so the heel takes the advantage back. It keeps the momentum of the match going and gives you false hope the faces are making a comeback. Wonderful stuff, hope to see more of these two teams in the future.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Early 80's Florida is really, really great stuff. I've seen a few TV show from that time and it blows away anything presented in the WWF in the same era.