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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Disc 1: Carlos Colon vs Tully Blanchard (1983)

Disc 1, Match 5: Carlos Colon vs Tully Blanchard (1983)

This was my favorite match on the set so far. I'm not sure it was the best, but there was something extremely pure about it which I found appealing. That said, I fully believe that there was, for instance, probably a better Colon vs Abdullah match from 1982, just that we don't have tape of it. This was just so very appropriate and sometimes that's what you want from a match.

I've seen people stump for and against Tully this year, and in this match especially, the words that I'd use to describe him are what I used up above: pure and appropriate. That's not flashy or dynamic or whatever else, but it plays into so many of the primal things that make wrestling work. He plays his role so well and his role is so ideal, that it stands out even if it doesn't surprise you. I've seen a decent amount of him from this point and earlier, and he did have a certain speed pre-Crockett that he didn't have quite so much as he got older. That was at play here, occasionally, in how he darted in and out of the ring during his control segment, and even in his very cool double axe handle to the floor as Colon was hanging on to the apron.

Back on point, though, Tully was a great foil for Colon here. Both do things that match together perfectly. Tully was an expert at portraying weakness and inadequacy while also seeming credible and dangerous. They had punch exchanges, but Tully only held his own when he threw a kick in to start, and he'd still lose it. He took advantage when he desperately and sneakily used Colon's momentum to redirect him through the ropes, or when he used a hidden foreign object (which then disappeared for the rest of the match, which was a bad offense on the Chekhov's gun meter). He maintained control by keeping his distance and hitting and running while Colon was hurt.

For Colon, one thing I'm finding in his matches, and this is something I've come to appreciate out of lucha brawls, is that he was an expert at looping clear, visual moments of comeback. Punctuation. That could be a big block of a punch, or, on the outside, with the rail between them, when he ducked one of Tully's punches and started to fight back. Given the spacial issues caused by the rail, it was unexpected and felt, much like these other things, like a big moment. The ultimate punctuation, of course, was the cartwheel. He also built to a comeback by running around the ring to prevent Tully from being able to control higher ground. Stuff like that matters. I can see why he's been somewhat undervalued though. There remained, at times, a lack of smoothness on some simple things, like grabbing Tully's arm for an Irish Whip. It's jarring, but I also think it fits Puerto Rico to some degree because the atmosphere makes it feel more like struggle than flubbed cooperation. If you value smoothness above all else (and plenty of people do), it does, and I think has, hurt Colon.

This had a few fun spots, the aforementioned axehandle, the control segment on the other side of the rail and the revenge callback, the ref-in-the-way top rope cut off by Tully, and the finish, which could have been executed just a little better (both in the ref bump and in shortening the delay between the fall and the pin count) but that was in general clever and satisfying. This was very straightforward, but straightforward wrestling is, more often then not, the best wrestling out there.

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