Traylor of the Day: Day 1
The Big Boss Man vs. Earthquake (WWF, 10/29/90)
At some point in this project, I'm gonna have to look back on the Big Bubba/John Tenta matches of '96, because those were brutally panned at the time, and yet, looking back now, it kinda makes sense that that program would happen. I mean, I doubt WCW brass was sharp enough to think about it that way at the time, but Traylor and Tenta were good dance partners for each other in the WWF, and it kinda makes sense that you would pair them with each other again in order to try and reignite their respective flames at a time when they were starting to get burnt out. It may not have worked in '96, but these two did well by each other earlier in the decade. I always point to their Royal Albert Hall match when people ask me if Tenta ever had any good matches, and while I don't think this was as good, it was enjoyable in it's own right. It's hampered by a finish that brings the match to an end just when Act 3 should have been starting, but this was really smartly laid out up until then. One of the things everybody from my generation seems to remember about Bossman is how quick and agile he was for his size. I don't know that this match is the best example of that, but it's a great example of why people remember that. These are two big boys, and the match starts out by Quake asserting that he is the bigger boy by shoving Boss Man into the corner and flexing (because in wrestling, fat = strong!), so Boss Man has to take the advantage by being quicker, outmaneuvering him and socking him in the jaw when he gets the opportunity. He also manages to slip behind Jimmy Hart in one of my favorite parts of the match, and Jimmy comically reaches behind himself to feel Boss Man's face, much to his dismay. Quake retakes the advantage with his power, hits a nasty headbutt, and slaps on a bearhug, and we get a really cool moment were Bossman manages to fight him off. He hits a few headbutts of his own, bites his nose, and claps his ears to get him to release the hold...but as soon as he does, he falls to his knees, because his lower back has been damaged so much by the hold that there was nothing else keeping him upright. I was really struck by it. It was just such a clever way to sell the effects of a bearhug. It's the sort of thing that anyone could do, but not too many are actually smart enough to do. If nothing else, I come away from this match thinking of Boss Man as a guy who knew his craft. Earthquake starts focusing on the lower back after that. I should note that Boss Man was in the midst of a feud with Bobby Heenan at this point, and when Quake takes charge, Heenan comes down from commentary to "apologize" for his wrong-doings towards Boss Man, giving Quake quite the managerial dream team. We even get Jimmy lending Bobby the megaphone for a little while, which is another neat touch in a match filled with them. Boss Man digs down deep and starts fighting back, busting out the enzuigiri I forgot he hard, and getting Quake tied up in the ropes Andre-style, leading to the Edge-style crossbody to the guy in the ropes that I also had forgotten/didn't realize he did. Heenan interferes, and Boss Man chases him to the back and gets counted out, ending the match just when it should have been kicking into high gear. This might have been a high-end match with a little more time, but even without it, it's a fun way to kick this off, and I'd recommend it to fans of either of these guys.
Labels: Ray Traylor