Segunda Caida

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

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Last Battle of Atlanta! Wildfire Tommy Rich v. Buzz Sawyer

PAS: Of the last couple of years there has been an explosion of awesome historic footage showing up, from Dataintcash uploading early 80s Sangre Chicana handhelds, to the NWA Classics motherload, now WWE network shows the fuck up and uploads maybe the holiest of all holy grails. As a match I think it is pretty great but a step below the absolute stone cold bloodbath classics of the 80's. I loved the opening, with Buzz smashing his hand on the cage and Rich nuking his arm a moment later trying for an elbow. Buzz takes over and smashes Rich's head into the cage. Tommy Rich is the greatest bleeder in wrestling history, a true Beethoven of blood, and he goes from nothing to horror movie almost immediately. From that point on we get a toe to toe brawl, with Sawyer and Rich throwing really great punches and spraying blood on each other. Finish was a little flat though, with both guys passing out and Rich throwing his arm over Sawyer. Didn't feel like it built to a crescendo, it just kind of stopped. I also felt we needed a more aggressive Buzz Sawyer. Rich was awesome in this, but Buzz seemed a bit subdued for Buzz. I think if we had gotten the intense unstoppable Buzz of the Hacksaw feud we would have had an all timer.  We did get a bonus match with Ole Anderson and Paul Ellering have another neat bloody brawl, Ole is really great as a babyface and is great at laying out a beating and taking one, took such a beating that he got weird rips in his pants. Loved the finish here with an awesome Frye v. Takayama exchange between the two. While this was an A rather then an A+ it was still such a treat to see it show up.

ER: Unexpected footage dumps are always exciting. Phil didn't even mention the All Japan uploads that arrived one day from a devoted Japanese Terry Funk fan, gifting us with a few new Funk/Hansen match-ups, several unseen Funk singles matches, some new Crusher Blackwell, weird mid-tourney RWTL matches, just a trove of fun stuff. And with the WWE Network now having existed for over 2 years, it was beginning to look like they had no interest in digging into their assuredly deep tape vault to give subscribers some deep dig treasure. And then came an out of the blue announcement that wasn't related to any anniversary, just a decision to drop a small collection of little seen footage on everybody. And after years or tape trading hoaxes and WWE vault speculation, all of us dorks finally got to see the Last Battle of Atlanta. And? I ended up enjoying the Ole vs. Ellering segment more. But really the whole segment is wonderful. Rich and Buzz are great brawlers, obviously, and both know how to bleed (especially Rich, as Phil perfectly noted), and Buzz might be my favorite guy when it comes to flying into the side of a cage. The match had a weird...professionalism? Understanding? Something about it didn't feel like a feud ender. It felt a little more like a couple of worn out guys giving it one last go. I did love the moments of reckless aggression that lead to the tides turning, big missed moves that left an opening for either guy: Rich missing that big awesome fistdrop of the top, Buzz going whole hog on an elbowdrop that sees Tommy sitting out of the way at juuuust the right time. The cage bumps are fast and violent, both men fight on their knees in one of the all time great moments for that spot, just throwing everything they had at each other from close range, and Rich uses a piledriver in a really great way, almost an opportunistic, unexpected piledriver. It's all really good stuff.
Ellering gets let out of his cage, checks on Sawyer, and then Ole steps into the ring dressed like every angry guy with something to say at the union hall. And this one feels like a real feud ender. It's messy and not totally even, but it's awesome. This is one of my favorite Ole performances. I don't think I've ever actually seen babyface Ole and it totally suits him, at least in this specific instance. He takes some spills into the cage, his jeans rip a bunch as he rolls around and stomps Ellering, and suddenly he looks like everybody's dad, if everybody's dad got in a crazy fight at the town harvest festival parade. Babyface Ole really fought like a man of the people, and it was great. After the match Jake Roberts comes in all lean and menacing and wearing what might be a tight Pro Wrestling Illustrated t-shirt. He whips Ole with several mean belt shots, and whenever the poor ref would intervene then that guy would get whipped even worse. At one point the ref got whipped right in the face. The whole thing was quite the spectacle, the cleanness of the video footage was spectacular, and we can now as a group cross another one off the list.

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