Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

St. Louis Dream Match: Harley Race vs Crusher Blackwell

Harley Race vs Crusher Blackwell (St Louis, November 16th, 1984)

Roy Lucier's been doing the Lord's work (Blears, Littlebrook, Hayes, whoever). From what I can tell, he's gotten his hands on a fairly big collection of footage and has been going through it and posting it to youtube. A lot of this stuff has been out there in tape trading circles but not necessarily online before. All sorts of stuff, Poffo ICW I haven't seen before (including a long Gang vs Savage match), a bunch of Hawaii, some Montreal, just all sorts of stuff.

This match, in particular, is St. Louis, aired on Japanese TV. It's something I knew was out there, always wanted to see, but didn't necessarily want to buy a bunch of Bob Brown matches to get to it. I've heard that the majority of St. Louis out there is fairly disappointing. You've got basically three wrestlers worth seeing there, Blackwell, Reed, and Race, and this is a singles match between Blackwell vs Race, a week before Starrcade 84, apparently for the NWA title.

A lot of Race ends up being disappointing too. He always gave too much as a heel champion. From the stories and his sheer presence you wanted Brock Lesnar and ended up with a prototype of Flair's worst tendencies. He was a great, energetic bumper, but you wanted to see him kill guys. This, however, is babyface Race in his home territory against a deceptively athletic monster. For twelve minutes it was everything I wanted.

Race was giving, as he should have been, but also double tough. He had the crowd behind him, an opponent who was an obvious threat, and the pro wrestling savvy to know how to milk every moment. The match was going to build to the bodyslam, as well it should, but it got there in a pretty novel way. Blackwell would dominate, would make a mistake, and Race would hit a big move. Then Blackwell would get a bit of paralleled revenge, hitting that same move. In sequence that was a dropkick (yes, Blackwell hit a dropkick), a suplex (yes, Race hit a suplex on Blackwell), and then finally the slam. In between, Race punched Blackwell in the face a ton of times, they ran a couple of headbutt spots where babyface Race's head was a force of nature, and they have a pretty surprising finish considering Race was NWA champion. Blackwell isn't just the most underrated wrestler ever. He's also apparently the most unexpected NWA champion of all time. 

I've seen three major matches this weekend, the 77 Race vs Funk NWA Championship classic, an 82 Bockwinkel performance vs JYD which was downright amazing, and this. I'm not going to say that this could touch the Race vs Funk match, because very little can, but it's everything I wanted it to be from these two and has become instantly is one of my favorite 100 or so matches. I can't wait to see what pops up next.

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Anonymous Roy Lucier said...

I cannot thank you enough for this review. I am transferring 13,000 tapes to DVD and this was a part of it. If there's a copyright issue I am uploading them on Dailymotion as a heads up, and also my "Japanese Wrestling Classics by Roy Lucier"'on Facebook as well. Thanks for the words of support, TONS more to come

11:16 PM  

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