Segunda Caida

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

New Footage Fridays: Vader, Santo, Piper

My favorite thing in wrestling in 2018 is the fact that new previously unseen classic footage is being unearthed everyday. Random New Japan Handhelds, Andre matches from the 60s, old school lucha, matches we thought we would never see or classics we didn't even know existed are showing up. With the news that the WWE Network would be uploading new Hidden Gems every Thursday, we figured we would review some of the new cool shit showing up every Friday.

Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper NWA 7/9/83

PAS: My god what a incredible all time great brawl. Honestly the striking in this match is up there with Lawler vs. Mantel and Satanico vs. Chicana for the best stuff I have ever seen. It is a really fun dynamic with Valentine hitting harder and Piper hitting faster. There is this great moment early in the match where Valentine lands some clubbing forearms and forces Piper out of the ring, but before Valentine can get a breath Piper bounds back in and unloads with cat quick flurry that sends Valentine reeling. There is another moment where Valentine covers up against the ropes and Piper just unloads a thousand punch combination of body and headshots. I loved how dirty Piper was in this match, he would gouge at the eyes, punch the ear, karate thrust the throat, bite, he was so great at being a babyface and the most low down streetfighter ever. Piper comes in with a bad ear, and things really get vicious when Valentine starts working it over, he posts Piper right on the ear, and then grinds it against the bolt connecting the post to the ring. Then the match is Valentine mauling the ear and Piper selling vertigo and firing back. Both guys are bleeding and firing shots back and forth. Finish was just brutal, Piper snaps and grabs the barrier rope and wraps it around Valentine's throat, even working the rope back and forth to give Valentine a rope burn on his neck, he hangs him and Greg starts foaming at the mouth in a really gross way. The locker room empties to prevent a murder, and Piper is in the ring screaming at Valentine to keep fighting. What a discovery, this was an absolute classic war, with this and the Dog Collar Starrcade match, this looks like an all time legendary pairing. Must watch match, and one of the best brawls I can remember.

MD: If you watch this match and argue that Piper was the best babyface in the world in 1983, I'd have a hard time contesting that. The crowd, absolutely molten, lived and breathed with his every movement. His punch drunk selling and comebacks has always been amazing but I'm not sure I've ever seen it better than here. Valentine was just a machine as his opponent and tormentor. The contrast between Valentine's stalling on the outside and Piper's mad rush back into the ring told a story just by itself. The focus on the ear utilizing the post on the outside was brutal. It's amazing how organic all of it felt given the pace that they were going. The muscle memory involved in some of the ducks and timing on Valentine eating Piper's combos feel impossible. It's so obviously collaborative without feeling that way at all. You don't see the strings. All you can see is the hatred. If they have this, what else might they have?

El Hijo Del Santo vs. Leon Chino Tijuana 8/19/88

PAS: A previously unseen 1980s bloody El Hijo Del Santo match is pretty great treat to wake up to on a Wednesday morning. This starts out a bit awkward with Santo taking a weird off bump into the turnbuckle, and Santo beating up the ref. Business really pick ups when Santo gets posted, as he has a classic Santo bloody stain on mask which keeps growing throughout the match. Chino really gets the crowd riled up and both guys brawl into the crowd, with this HH you can only catch snatches of them through the standing crazy crowd, but you can get glimpses of Santo getting chucked into chairs or Chino getting posted. Third fall is a blood soaked classic, both guys are drenched and pounding on each other, Santo is a brilliant brawler and is a great mix of force and grace. Chino takes a couple of huge bumps (one a crazy Fuerza/Hamrick, one a beautiful Estrada bump) to set up pair of gorgeous Santo dives, including an amazing plancha which leads to Santo rolling up Chino to capture his mask. Santo is pretty much unimpeachable in mask matches, and Chino delivers a die on his sword performance while losing his mask. Crazy drama, tons of violence everything you want from this.

MD: This was a very straightforward Santo apuesta brawl. A very straightforward Santo apuesta brawl is still one of the best things possible in wrestling to be unearthed. Leon Chino was about as meat and potatoes a rudo as you could get here. He ambushed Santo before the announcements, which you rarely see, and then cut him off for a good chunk of the match, really just tossing him around and clubbering, with one dubious arm submission and lots of working the crowd. That was fine. Instead, the major blemish on this one was the ref involvement. I don't even think it was a heel ref thing so much as him wanting Santo to wrestle like a tecnico and stopping punches when he'd allow them for Leon. He still dq'd Leon in the primera for a low blow (which was necessary as Santo was finally coming back and outwrestling him). That let Leon have the advantage for most of the segunda. Outside of Invader I and maybe Kobashi, there's no one in the world who's Santo's equal in selling damage and garnering sympathy on the outside. The finish to the segunda was jarring in the best way with Leon turning the third or fourth back body drop in the match into a (totally legal) pile-driver. The tercera escalated into craziness with Santo's visceral comeback, crowd brawling and dives, both missed and hit. We don't get the actual finish, save for the pin, so the last meaningful thing we see is Santo, in the background of the shot, flying off the top rope with a plancha to the floor. It's the only aesthetically beautiful thing in the entire match and really a perfect last image. Post match there's all the populist pageantry imaginable in front of one of the best crowds you could ever want. Too much ref involvement for the cutoffs and I would have liked to see the finish.

Vader vs. Ron Simmons WCW 12/30/92

PAS: This really lived up to pre match expectations. You never really know how a previously unseen house show match is going to go, but these two went all out, the way a world title switch should be fought. Really great big guy slugfest, Vader is an all time hard hitter, and he really rocks Simmons with big clotheslines and slams. Simmons hits back just as hard, including a couple of big meaty clotheslines and a nasty flash spinebuster. He also had a great energetic beat down in the corner, where he ended up pounding Vader down with big over hand rights and then big headbutts. I really liked some of the near falls, both guys have such big moves that you buy a big powerslam might end it. The finish itself was a little odd, Vader has a cool shoulderbreaker, but it isn't one of his traditionally huge moves, and I was a little surprised that it would be the move that would win him the world title. Great performance by both guys, and I am hoping we get some more 1992 WCW house show stuff, that was one of my favorite eras in wrestling history, and I imagine there are some more great Vader matches and awesome Dangerous Alliance tags sitting on hard drives in Stamford.

MD: It struck me here just how thoroughly Simmons had grown into the role of babyface champion. We never really see him in that role again as he falls down the card so sharply and quickly in 1993. Here, though, he was hard hitting, engaged and felt the crowd, drew sympathy, and was fiery in his comebacks (especially the revenge beating in the corner) and seemingly superhuman in his strength. Vader was absolutely his equal, down to his great selling (even while on offense) and shouts of "no pain." I had some structural issues: I thought the power slam catch off the second rope should have come later in the match, maybe instead of the powerslam where Race intervenes. It's a move that should have been escalated to. While the chinlock/abdominal stretch might have been necessary for the pace they were going, a babyface hold at the part of the match that they should have been within the heat didn't work; Race shouting on the house mic was awesome, but in the moment, it made Vader feel more like a babyface. As someone whose peak WCW watching as a kid was 91-92, it was great to hear period-Tony call an unearthed main event match from that era. Really, it's a shame people didn't get to see this match at the time.

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