Segunda Caida

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

Friday, September 17, 2021

New Footage Friday: FLAIR! MURDOCH! DOUGIE! FUJIWARA! TAKADA! BURKE! GORDY! ULTRAMAN

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Nobuhiko Takada vs. Rocky Della Serra/Leo Burke UWF 7/24/84 - GREAT

PAS: This was early UWF, before they were really a shootstyle fed, so this was a standard pro-wrestling tag match. It was mostly hard head Fujiwara, which is far from my favorite Fujiwara, but he does hard head spots really well. Burke especially leaned into stooging big from punching or elbowing Fujiwara in his rock hard dome. Takada continued to underwhelm me, lots of kicks which only semi-hit (although he did waste Burke with a top rope dropkick).Burke was the revelation here, he has a big rep, but not a ton of footage, and he was on one here. Great looking bumps, awesome offense (he hit the best inverted atomic drop I have ever seen) totally looked like a super worker. 

MD: Fun stuff. Della Serra is a guy we've seen pop up in a few places since we started doing this and Burke is obviously one of the greatest journeymen of the 80s. What I liked about them here is that this, in early days UWF, felt almost like a different style battle where they were utilizing the sort of pro wrestling they'd do anywhere else and Fujiwara and Takada were Fujiwara and Takada. That might be a series of overdramatic elbow drops from Della Serra or an inverted atomic drop from Burke or whatever. It obviously meant that they knew how to play into all of Fujiwara's head spots for the best effect. Adding to this you had Takada bringing a little more flash with whips and dropkicks on top of things like the belly to belly right into a submission. It all came together pretty well despite it all.


MD: Maybe not the best week to cover Flair, but what the hell, it's footage, it's new, it's Friday, and it's of historical value since, unless I'm mistaken, we just have a couple of minutes of garbage footage from 78 over two matches of Flair vs Murdoch, so this is a new, iconic pairing. I liked the creativity and the variation here, much of which I'll credit to Murdoch. After the initial matwork (not Flair's best, but it was fine) they made the most of the relatively short fifteen minutes of match time, just throwing out interesting transition after interesting transition to the point where it never felt like a your turn/my turn match but like a real struggle where both guys were trying to outfox the other. My favorites were probably Murdoch catching the knee on an early knee drop attempt and Flair causing Murdoch's elbow drop to the leg to overshoot forcing him to wipe out on it. But Murdoch also got a snap turning backslide counter and Flair jammed him on a fireman's carry attempt by punching him in the face, and so on, combined with what you'd expect like Murdoch answering the chops with punches out of the corner or Flair getting a cheapshot in after begging off towards the ropes. 

The finishing stretch was, of course, BS, but still had enough wrinkles to feel creative. Murdoch hit a running power slam instead of slamming Ric off the top. They had a ref bump, Flair tossing Murdoch over the top, a phantom pin off a punch by Murdoch, before the actual finish of Murdoch inadvertently back body dropping Flair off the top onto Tommy Young and then hitting the brainbuster but getting DQed. If you're going to have a finishing minute like that, at least it was dynamic. You didn't know if Flair would win by cheating after Young went down or if it'd be Flair tossing Murdoch over the top that would cause the finish or if Flair would win after the phantom pinfall, etc. On the other hand, if you're having to stack elements of a Dusty finish one on top of the other on top of the other to keep it fresh, maybe there's something problematic with your booking?

ER: I thought this was excellent, just the panacea I needed after a long work week with some late nights. The chemistry between the two was great and they kept upping the ante in ways I wasn't expecting. This match had a ton of activity to it and they kept pulling off sequences that I hadn't seen done quite this way. That always excites me, when I see a new match with two guys I've seen a ton. I can't really get excited about Flair matches these days. I imagine if an unseen Flair/Steamboat there's a good chance I'd watch it, but probably a better chance that I would just watch a random episode of Sunday Night Heat instead. And yet I loved everything Flair did here and loved even more how Murdoch worked with him. The opening was some light matwork with them moving in the familiar ways, but it really kicks up when Murdoch catches and blocks a Flair kneedrop inches from his nose, drags himself to his feet by Ric's leg, and before long is dropping elbows on Ric's leg. That leads to Dick missing one of them when Flair shifts and then Flair starts working over Murdoch's side from his nasty spill. 

Now, this match had a lot of "stuff". Murdoch and Flair are guys with a lot of stuff, and Flair more than most is a guy who is going to get his stuff in no matter what. But this match managed to have a ton of stuff while feeling like all of the stuff served the match. This didn't feel like Flair giving the fans Flair, it felt like Flair giving the fans a good match with memorable Flair moments. And Murdoch was there with some incredible selling and super impressive body work to make Flair look even better. Murdoch's execution was all time great in this match. His misses landed like a man who didn't expect to miss, his punches looked as punishing and sharp as ever, but his technical ability was amazing. He had a nice tight reversal on a Flair abdominal stretch that he then rolled into a tight cradle, and later he hit one of the most finely executed sunset flips I've ever seen. Murdoch understood the physics of wrestling, and his move execution legitimized his fighting. It wasn't just his offense, but the way he took Flair's offense was a real mastery of physics. Murdoch is able to look heavy while taking offense but you can tell he's getting up for everything with ease. He hangs in the air taking a Flair back suplex, and makes a hiptoss look like Flair really has to muscle him over. Murdoch's selling was excellent throughout, taking a Flair kneelift and holding the left side of his belly like he got stuck, or the painful grimaces when Flair would raise his arm and punch him in his left side. 

The dedication to every small spot made every big spot look fantastic, with the best being Flair going up top and Murdoch running across the ring to plant him with a huge powerslam. And we got an all time great punch out, with Flair dishing a hard knife edge in the corner that sends Murdoch responds instinctively to with a three punch combo, and Flair bumps his way through these fists in great ways, leading to ref Tommy Young stopping Murdoch from hitting his big wind up right, only to have Murdoch throw a just-as-nasty left jab over Young's shoulder. It wouldn't have looked better if it was a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and I'm not sure Bugs could work that punching sequence as expertly as Murdoch or Flair. I loved all of this match, bullshit finishes don't bother me when the journey is this much fun. 

PAS: There is an apocryphal Murdoch vs. Flair match from Mid-South which Joel Watts called the best match he has ever seen, but the tape melted in a hot car. From this relatively abbreviated version you can really tell that they had special chemistry. This was way more reversal heavy then I expect from Flair matches, with lots of cool counter wrestling by both guys. This was counter wrestling which felt organic rather then two guys waiting around to dance into another spot. Murdoch especially found neat ways to pick the leg or sneak in punches. I loved Young catching the haymaker and Murdoch sneaking in a jab, I love when punchers have a bunch of different signature punches and Murdoch unloads the arsenal. 


Doug Gilbert/Keizo Matsuda/Tiger Jeet Singh?/Ultraseven/Takashi Uwano vs. Terry Gordy/Shoichi Ichiyama/YUJI KITO/Yukihide Ueno/Tomohiro Ishii IWA Japan 2/4/01
 
MD: Full disclosure: I'm not super familiar with some of these guys, but I found this overall pretty compelling. The story here was good, with eliminations possible by going over the top too, which meant Gordy was a beast here just due to the size differential. I know he was diminished, but you put him in a tag like this where he could be dangerous in the corner or come in and have some guys run into his stuff or just throw his body around and he could still be incredibly effective. I wouldn't want him working a twenty minute singles match necessarily but he had size and presence and meant something to the crowd: when Ultraseven (who was bigger but could still move pretty well) faced off against him the crowd had a real buzz. Anyway, this was ultimately the Keizo Matsuda show. Mostly thanks to Gordy it became 5 on 2 pretty quickly, with a long beatdown on Matsuda, to the point I thought we'd get ten minutes of Gilbert vs the World, but they were able to get it to 4 on 2 and then Gilbert did his job by double eliminating himself and Gordy. After that, Matsuda had some real hope and momentum and it looked like there might be some heel communication and another elimination but the double teaming works and then works more and then works even more and after a valiant attempt to hang in there, the numbers game ends up as just too much. Matsuda is probably stronger for his showing though.

PAS: This was a couple of months before Gordy's death, a full year after his last listed Cagematch match (Hardy Boys vs. Gordy/Hayes, which is pretty intriguing). I thought he looked great. In some of his 90s work he looked addled, but here he moved well, hit some big hard shots, great clotheslines, nice suplex. I liked how he was a real obstacle for everyone he faced, and I dug Dougie needing to sacrifice himself just to give Matsuda a chance. That was definitely not Tiger Jeet Singh btw, it was some guy in a mask, which is always the trouble with translated match listings. Matsuda was fun as a guy dying on his sword, but be valiant all you want, you are still dead. 


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home