Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Flick of Severn's Wrist and You're Dead Baby

Dan Severn v. Steven Regal NWA 10/24/98 - GREAT

ER: This is a fairly infamous match, as less than a month later Regal would be sent to rehab, and showed up for this match reportedly in no shape to perform, and all feedback from the show was that he put on a bad or embarrassing performance in a bad match. An oft repeated story was that he even had his boots on the wrong feet (which, at a couple different moments you can clearly see is true). But perhaps time has been kind to a match worked in this style? Matwork is a far more accepted thing in indy wrestling now than it would have been in 1998. It's a long match, 27 minutes, and there isn't a strike thrown until the 23 minute mark. Before that it's a lot of standing grappling, wrist work, headlocks, headscissors, amateur pins, and many in the crowd get restless. It's strange that they get so restless, as Severn is accompanied by Dory Funk Jr. (who got a nice reaction), and if any of them had actually seen any Dory Funk Jr. matches then this match wouldn't seem too out of place. Lou Thesz was in attendance as well, so for all I know they were trying to do their representation of a throwback 1950s Thesz defense. It may have been the wrong match for the crowd at the time, but I think the match has aged rather nicely. Regal looks more tentative than anything, but even then I don't think there are close to any moments where he looks embarrassing. Really the weirdest thing he does is shake Dory's hand before the match, and proceeds to have a couple minute close conversation while Funk clearly tries to pull away from the handshake at least three times.

The match itself is a hard muga style, and it's a slow burn, but I think they do a good job of establishing the pace and building to small peaks within that pace. I found the standing grappling engaging, with Regal always trying to find advantages by stepping on the back of Severn's knee, which Severn mostly avoids (and which pays off nicely down the stretch when Regal finally just stomps on the knee to set up the Regal stretch, and Severn lets out a great anguished yell that really sells it). Severn has the strength advantage and he's able to bull Regal around a bit, but Regal is always there to force a forearm to face or grab viciously at an ear. I really liked all the work around Regal's headscissors, thought all of Severn's escape attempts came off tough and Regal never looked like he was letting him breathe. Severn gets a couple nice amateur slams, and I love Regal's little blocks at Severn's mat momentum, hooking an arm around Severn's leg to prevent advance, using his leg to shift weight and change the leverage, they were really satisfying in the overall match build. By the time Regal starts throwing uppercuts it feels like a huge moment, and Severn sells the uppercuts incredibly, really some of the best strike selling I've ever seen. Severn is stumbling around, staggered, dropping to a knee, falling in a natural way instead of a flat back bump; it really made it feel like Regal was beating up the champ. Severn's comeback is good and I love how Regal sold his finish, working to break the hold but knowing when he was beat. I thought this was an incredibly satisfying match, but also totally understand anybody live who might have been impatient with it. I watched it 20 years later, in a vacuum, removed from the show and removed from what wrestling commonly was at the time. But in 2017, this match worked tremendously well for me.

PAS: I really enjoyed this too, I thought Regal was pretty great and it was one of the better in no condition to perform, performances I can remember (Jerry Estrada in his Javier Cruz hair match is and always will be #1). They grind it down and work a really deliberate pace, and Regal is a master at a deliberate pace match, I can't think of anyone in wrestling history who is better at showing every part of a hold from start to finish, and adding little micro beats to hold. They worked holds for long periods, but they never sat in them, there was always struggle and movement. Loved Severn selling the uppercuts too, he is a guy who has been hit with real shots and knows how your body responds. I also liked that nasty Fujiwara armbar, and Regal sold it like the pain sobered him up. They responded to the terrible Jersey indy crowd by keeping it slow, and I think there is something punk rock about G.G. Allining the audience like that.



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