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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pat Patterson vs Bob Orton (MSG - 08/30/82)

Pat Patterson vs Bob Orton
MSG 08/30/82

39:40 in

Richard Land is a downright treasure of the community. He goes off and finds WWF rarities from foreign TV or obscure things that didn't heavily make the circles (or at least haven't been posted online). I can't be the only one out there who wants to watch "Ian Mooney" host D-Show Wrestling Spotlight with Sensational Queen Sherri (Or Vince host it with Elizabeth, just as surreal in the opposite direction). And yes, sometimes you just want to see the dark match from the first episode of Raw that only aired on Italian TV (It was Bob Backlund vs Damien Demento). He's also been posting longform shows from MSG and elsewhere. That's where I came across this.

It's a ten minute match that precedes Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid on a card with Buddy Rose vs Bob Backlund. Moreover, Orton's a guy who tends to be underrated and overlooked, though he does get great word of mouth from his peers and tends to come across well in every situation we have him in. Due to blackballing and just where he happened to be, we tend to have less of him in key situations than we'd like. We certainly don't have much complete footage of his team with Slater in Mid-Atlantic, which was supposed to be great. Patterson is someone I've learned to go out of my way for. No, we don't have much of him in the 60s, but what I've found is that post prime Patterson holds up far better than post-prime Ray Stevens, for instance. There's still a lot to appreciate and remark upon in his matches. So ten minutes of these two buried on a 1982 MSG card seemed like something worth watching.

Fiery forty year old babyface Patterson in New York always felt like an odd fit (maybe it shouldn't have) but he made it work through sheer effort and smarts. Here he took a huge chunk of the match, so much so that it probably shouldn't have worked. Orton was going over (albeit with a dirty but definitive countout), so given the relatively short timeframe they had to work with, it did make sense for Patterson to dominate. The challenge was for Orton to keep his heat throughout. He did, and in doing so, you can see hints and traces of just how good he was.

It goes back to selling, in the broader sense, to reacting. It wasn't enough that Patterson would block a punch and hit Orton. Orton sold it, and the meaning behind it, by winding up huge, letting the block linger, and then, once he was hit, stumbling across the ring to the outside and then falling back in over the top rope while swinging wildly. He ran into a bodyslam and bounced three times, waving his arms dramatically, and begging back into the corner. When he hit a shoulder block off the ropes, it was with his arms flailing in celebration. When he was rolled up off the ropes on a second attempt, he kicked out and flew under the bottom rope to stomp around in frustration. When he ate a sunset flip, for two, after some criss-cross running, he scooted back out and sat on the apron between the second and third rope in frustration. All of this massed until he had enough and rushed in instead of darting away, only to get outpunched by Patterson. When he finally took over, by using the ref as a distraction, it felt like the only thing he could do, but it still made him look good and crafty without hurting Patterson a bit. The finish, a crotching over the top rope that looked maybe a fifth accidental, did the same.

Both guys came out looking better than they came in. Orton only clowned for five or six minutes, but every second of that time was inflated in meaning due to how committed he was to his reactions (Patterson just as committed on offense). He only had control for a minute or two before the comeback, but they made the most of that as well. This isn't a lost classic, but it was a textbook example of how being committed to selling the importance of everything in the ring can make even a relatively short, relatively one-sided match richer and more vivid.

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