Friday, January 30, 2009

WWE Legends of Wrestling: Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter

1) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Mike Rotundo (Mid-Atlantic 5/12/82) – 3
2) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Bob Backlund – Texas Death Match (Special ref: Tony Garea) (Philly Spectrum 9/24/83) – 6
3) Sgt. Slaughter vs. The Iron Shiek (Madison Square Garden 4/23/84) – 6
4) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Col. DeBeers – Boot Camp Match (AWA Superclash 3) – 4
5) Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (Starrcade 88) – 8
6) Ric Flair & Sting vs. Terry Funk & The Great Muta – Thundercage Match (Special ref: Bruno Sammartino) (Halloween Havoc 89) – 5
7) Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig (WCW Nitro – 10/11/99) – 5

This release is the first in a series of six DVDs featuring the roundtable discussions from 24/7. This particular one covers the careers of Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter. The episodes themselves are at least two years old because it doesn’t mention Flair’s retirement celebration or anything that happened over the course of 2008 and late 2007. For those of you who have never seen the roundtables on 24/7 (shame on you if you haven’t), they feature a host, either Jim Ross or Gene Okerlund, and four panelists that vary with every few episodes. This particular one features Jim Ross hosting with a panel of Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes, Pat Patterson, and Mike Graham. The episode itself is just under an hour in length with the first part being about Flair and the second about Slaughter. There were quite a few interesting tidbits including Mike Graham describing how people like Luger and Sting wouldn’t admit to being a wrestler, Patterson describing how he helped get Slaughter started with Vince Sr., and Dusty talking about Flair paying his dues.

First up, the Sarge takes on Mike Rotundo in a match that was pretty basic in structure. Rotundo, at this time, was just starting out and was green as a garden hose or whatever tired cliché you want to throw in there to describe a newbie. Slaughter stayed in control the whole match and polished off Rotundo in about four minutes. The Backlund match was full of intensity. Backlund laid the belt down in the ring and challenged Sarge to come forward. They brawled a lot outside the ring and Sarge really worked his ass off by taking some wild spills for the time. Backlund’s offense seemed a bit over the top and cartoonish at times but he did manage to keep it under control for most of the match. There were some bumps in the floor and for a time the action spilled out to the crowd briefly. Backlund clubbed Slaughter on the chest and Slaughter fell and ate the railing. Garea, the special ref, counted the fall on Slaughter and then fought with him to set up the inevitable Slaughter/Garea match. A great match for the time period. The Slaughter/Sheik match was just as good and nearly just as intense. They fought each other tooth and nail and the crowd just ate up Slaughter’s offense like nothing else. One thing I didn’t think was kosher was Sheik laying on the mat like a stiff while Slaughter feigned spitting on him. The end saw Slaughter take his boot off and go to work on the Sheik, driving him from the ring. Slaughter chased him down and they had a wild brawl in the backstage area. Wrapping up the Slaughter section is a match from the infamous Superclash 3 pay-per-view. Slaughter and DeBeers had a very choreographed match with DeBeers doing some overselling of helmet shots to the mid-section. There was an unintentionally funny moment where DeBeers was headbutting Slaughter with the helmet and it fell off. DeBeers gives up after about five minutes of schelp and DDP, who was managing DeBeers, calls for the troops including a totally random Iron Sheik appearance.

Moving on to the Flair bouts now, we start off with an astonishingly great match from Starrcade 88. Flair made Luger look incredible, as he usually does with stiffs and bad workers. For some reason, Luger’s rights keep popping back into my head, especially the ones where he hit Flair three times and kept his left arm stiff as a board. Another problem I had was that Luger kept forgetting to sell his knee and when the finish came for him to do a torture rack with a bad knee, it came across as if Luger tripped and Flair landed on top of him for the pin. Flair’s work was great as usual with his selling of Luger’s offense and working over Luger’s knee to set up the figure-four. At this time in 1989, the J-Tex angle was in full swing and this was the percieved culmination to that angle. Flair and Funk had been feuding since May and Sting and Muta had been feuding since about the same time, so it naturally made sense to put them all in a cage and combine the feuds. You would think that it would be an incredible blow-off to a hot angle, right? Well, wrong. The sad thing is that this match had so much potential but failed on many levels. It was plagued from the start as the pyro set the cage on fire and Muta had to climb up and blow it out with the mist. The match started as a standard tag but eventually broke down into a wild mess. Every time someone would scale the cage, the announcers would talk about how the cage was electrified at the top, however that went out the window rather quick as it was pretty apparent that it wasn’t. Sting had a pretty ballsy dive from the cage into the ring which made me stand up and cheer. The finish was convoluted with Flair and Sting pummelling Funk and Gary Hart climbing in the ring and Bruno knocking him out and calling for the bell because Hart threw in the towel. Closing out the disc was a long-forgotten match from Nitro. My first thought was “late ’99 Nitro, great”, but it turned out to be pretty decent. The fighting out of the ring was pretty intense with Flair slamming Hennig’s head into the commentary table numerous times and Tony Schiavone putting it over as the most dangerous thing he’s ever thing. Hennig was accompanied by Curly Bull (a.k.a. Virgil), who was the recipient of Flair’s chops on the outside at one point. The finish was Hennig trying to cheat by putting his feet on the ropes but David Flair ran out and stopped that mess. With Hennig distracted, Ric rolls him up and wins by putting his feet on the ropes. Overall, a fun DVD with no repeat matches from other discs. I can’t wait to see what’s on the next one.

1 comment:

Brian said...

good review.. - sounds like a fun DVD.. - i'll forever love that Thundercage match, even if its the shits..