Segunda Caida

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Invader I vs. Eric Embry (June 1986)

Disc 2, Match 15: Invader I vs. Eric Embry (June 1986)

At this juncture you might be asking yourself "Why is Matt so unfamiliar with Eric Embry?" It's what I'm asking myself, because I've enjoyed him a lot on the set so far. I think if you took someone from our circle from ten years ago or so, they'd be more familiar with Embry than Ron Starr, by far. That's not the case with me. I've got my gaps. Some are more obvious than others. I'd seen Starr in Portland and Grand Prix and vs Fujinami and even a match here or there in Alabama or Georgia. Embry I had mainly seen as a ~20 year old babyface in Portland where he felt kind of interchangeable with Brian Addias or someone. My Dallas watching has generally been limited because the cult of Von Erich always bugged me when I was younger. Obviously, by the time Embry showed up it was less of a deal but the end result is that I've seen way more Global than later era World Class or USWA Texas. I'll rectify that later, but for now, I've got Puerto Rico to watch.

This was so very good, one of my favorite matches on the set so far. I've seen people underwhelmed by it which surprises me a bit. I think a lot of that has to do with the double countout finish. It felt like a war though, far better than, for instance, a lot of the best of the ten minute early 80s AJPW brawls that end in a similar manner. This told a hell of a story buoyed by Invader's fire, Embry's antics, and the brilliant selling by both of them.

PR expert Boricua helped me with the backstory. Sasha, Embry's former valet is with Invader. He's also lacking his hair. All of this stems from a feud between Embry and Super Medico that ended with a hair match that we have but was far too clipped for the set. Apparently Sasha got fed up with Embry's abuse, Medico came to her rescue, and during the subsequent hair match, Invader got involved.

This match itself was straightforward in the best ways. Invader kills him for the first part of the match. Embry yanks him out of the ring and takes over, destroying Invader on the outside and then pulling him for bombs and pin attempts. Invader fights back, survives a cut off, gets some well-deserved revenge on the outside, and then they both sell the exhaustion by brawling on their knees in the ring and then to the outside for the countout.

So it's a story as old as time, but the execution is just great. Embry manages to stay in it during the shine, always seeming like a threat, if not to Invader than at least to Sasha, but that just makes Invader's mauling of him all the more impactful. Then, when they make it out to the floor, Embry's absolutely brutal, clobbering him with a chair (and following it with an exasperated but triumphant scream to rile the crowd), slamming him into the post or the rail, taking him to the wall and slamming him into that, biting him, and finally pile driving him on a table. He has a 1986 Randy Savage element to his offense in the ring, bounding in from the outside with a single axe handle and launching headbutts both grounded and off the top. At every kick out, he portrays frustration, selling the stakes and doing his part in keeping the crowd invested.

That's more than he needs to do, really, since Invader's so good at it from the point of peril. When Invader finally reverses a suplex and they crash into one another, he's able to get the crowd going just by slapping his own chest a few times. It's ritual and they know their role. They come when called and despite one last pile driver cut off by Embry, Invader rewards them for their devotion. He gets the advantage after Embry goes to the well once too often with the falling headbutt. Invader drags him out, hits him with a chair and sends him back to the far wall, getting full revenge for the previous brutality. They finish it off back in the ring, both of them bloody, exhausted messes, just throwing bombs (punches, headbutts, low blows) at one another while struggling to even kneel, let alone stand. Invader has the advantage here, with Embry bumping through the ropes out to the floor, giving him the moral victory even as the two brawl to the back to bring this to a close.

Yes, sure, a cleaner finish might have been nice, but this still felt like a satisfying moral victory for Invader while keeping Embry strong. Invader was able to return upon Embry almost the exact beating on the outside that he himself received and then was able to knock him out of the ring to finsih the match. Embry, due to his pluckiness, the brutality of his attack on the outside, and the fact that he never quite gave up, even as Invader was taking his pound of flesh, looked strong despite it all, but it was obvious that Invader won the day, even without a clean finish. It just meant that they could go back, and give this to another crowd on another day. Great stuff.

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