Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Saturday, October 10, 2009

#3: Fit Finlay

by Eric

This guy is the ultimate no-brainer for me. Finlay has been my favorite worker going on 10+ years now. When he went down injured and retired I was really bummed. I mean, I moved on. There were other favorite workers. Brock Lesnar. SUWA. But it always came back to Finlay. I would be going through old tapes and come across a random 4 minute long Finlay squash match from WCW Saturday Night and I would be enraptured again. And then somehow, at 46 years old, after 6 years on the shelf, he came back as good as ever. If Doc Brown had burst through my door in 2005 and told me that Fit Finlay was coming back full time in 2006 and he would get long TV matches and work as good as ever I wouldn't have believed him. And then it happened, and it's been happening for a few years now. Even now I'm pessimistic about it. "Aw, he's almost 50. How long can he keep going at this pace? He never gets time off and has never gone down with an injury!" Well, he's still doing it.

What I like most about Finlay matches is no matter the pace of the match, he never lets the guy off easy. His opponents seem like they're working hard every match because they know they'll get stomped if they are being too lazy. In the Saturday Night days every match of his started the same: side headlock sequence into rope running/leap frog/hip toss section. He would work it really fast and try and trip the guy up. If the guy didn't blow anything (like in the Barry Houston match), Finlay gave him some offense and sold big for him before putting him away. If the guy leapfrogged and landed on his head (Lorenzo), or blew the hip toss (Johnny Swinger), then you knew it was going to be a real painful 5 minutes for that guy.

He still works things similarly, but WWE is a bit more tightly run ship, so he can't just get away with popping jobbers in the chops. You can tell that he still won't let opponents rest on their laurels though, and those moments lead to the stuff that makes Finlay so much damn fun. Somebody's too slow getting back to his feet? Stomp on his hands. Someone's laying in wimpy elbow shots? Drill them with a hard clothesline. His selling is the best in the WWE, whether selling individual body parts or fatigue or just the way he takes moves. He's one of the few people I watch regularly (Santo being the other that immediately comes to mind) who just never seems to do anything wrong. The execution always looks great, and he pays it back by taking offense great.

I could go on and on gushing about him. Just remember to enjoy every minute of him. I mean, really, how much longer could we be blessed with this guy?

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~vs. JBL (Belfast Brawl, Wrestlemania 24, 3/30/08)
~vs. MVP (WWE Smackdown, 5/9/08)
~vs. Chuck Palumbo (WWE Smackdown, 5/23/08)
~vs. Chuck Palumbo (WWE Smackdown, 5/30/08)
~vs. Matt Hardy vs. The Miz vs. John Morrison (ECW, 7/22/08)
~vs. Mark Henry (ECW, 9/16/08)
~vs. Matt Hardy (ECW, 11/11/08)
~vs. Mark Henry (Belfast Brawl, Armageddon, 12/14/08)

Recommended Career Matches:

~vs. Steven Regal (Parking Lot Brawl, WCW Nitro, 4/29/96)
~w/ Dave Taylor vs. Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko (WCW Nitro, 2/16/99)
~w/ JBL vs. Chris Benoit/Bobby Lashley (WWE Smackdown, 2/16/06)
~w/ JBL/Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio/Chris Benoit/Bobby Lashley (WWE Smackdown, 2/23/06)
~vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE Smackdown, 3/20/06)
~vs. Chris Benoit (WWE Judgment Day, 5/21/06)
~vs. Chris Benoit (WWE Smackdown, 11/24/06)
~vs. Chris Benoit vs. MVP (WWE Smackdown, 3/2/07)
~vs. The Undertaker (WWE Smackdown, 3/9/07)
~vs. Matt Hardy (WWE Smackdown, 6/22/07)
~vs. Kane (Belfast Brawl, WWE Smackdown, 9/14/07)
~vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE Smackdown, 11/9/07)

2009 Outlook:

High. Right now he's easily top 5 in WWE (with Rey, Regal, Goldust, and either Christian or Punk), and just recently he's had awesome series with Mike Knox and Dolph Ziggler. I expect another easy top 10 finish for him.


Blogger S.L.L. said...

~vs. Steven Regal (Parking Lot Brawl, WCW Nitro, 4/29/96)

This, but not the Uncensored match? Minor quibble, I know, but it's pretty close to being my favorite match ever. Another great write-up, anyhow.

1:19 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

The Uncensored match was the first Finlay match I had ever seen, and of course I still love it to this day. However, I think it was a LOT of people's first Finlay match, so it's not like anybody reading this has somehow not seen it.

The Parking Lot Brawl was a much more difficult concept to get over, and I don't think anybody has done it better than them.

There have been many no DQ brawls, not many of them better than the Uncensored brawl. But how many matches have you seen with nastier weapons shots or crazier bumps on cars?

4:54 PM  

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