Segunda Caida

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Disc 1: Randy Savage vs. Hercules Ayala (3/2/85)

Disc 1, Match 9: Randy Savage vs. Hercules Ayala (3/2/85)

We're into 1985 already, and I'm starting to poke around and expand my Puerto Rico knowledge. Right off the bat, it feels unknowable. There isn't some sort of grand expanse of results online for the early 80s like you might get in other territories. In some ways, this is a relief. I'm not so caught up on what we don't have outside some of the big feuds. You have to wonder about the Funks down there or more Buddy Landell or the King Tonga matches, and that's just the guys I'm more familiar with. We've already seen a few people like Steinborn and Los Mercenarios that I wouldn't mind having more footage of from this era.

Or Randy Savage. Apparently, he held the WWC North American title from the Anniversary Show in September, 84 (beating Pedro) to here in March, 85. I have no idea how many tours he did or how often he defended it. He definitely had heat with this Ponce crowd. That 84 Anniversary show, by the way, was part of the Colon/Abdullah vs Brody/Hansen feud and had a tag match with King Tonga on one side and the Sheepherders on the other and a 20 minute Al Perez vs Dory Funk, Jr. draw. That's variety, I guess.

So enough about what we don't have. What we do have is this and it was a thoroughly enjoyable Memphis-heavy, vulnerable heel champion vs babyface strong man match. Savage was at his stooging, stalling best, bringing his token energy, not through the usual offensive explosiveness, but more so in his reactions, selling every slight and going over the top. Even considering how far away the ring is from the crowd, thus eliminating Savage's ability to interact with them on the outside, it's still some of the most active stalling you'll ever see.

Because of that, we end up with really engaging minimalism for the first two thirds of the match. Savage will try a slam, fail, milk it. They utilized Ayala's press slams like Flair or Bockwinkel would use holds, as spots to move in and out of. I think Ayala hit three of them and Savage retreated back to the outside for a minute after each.

When he did take charge (albeit for small periods of time), he'd get over with some sort of cheating, be it a low blow, or later in the match with a chain. Then he'd follow it up with some sort of rapid burst only to get cut off by Ayala's strength. They did a good job building the chain spots to the finish (though I wish the chain was introduced a little bit earlier), and I think it's remarkable that Savage came out feeling so protected even when he gave up so much of the match. Some of that was due to his wild energy and reactions and that he was willing to sell to the extent that Ayala seemed like he had a massive strength advantage, thus allowing any gain that Savage could make against him to feel meaningful. It was definitely a case of putting himself over, even in a loss, through putting his opponent over. That Savage was absolutely fearless in the face of a Ponce crowd that was throwing objects into the ring almost the whole time helped too.

The stalling wouldn't be for everyone, but it was for me. Good match. one of my favorites so far.

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