Segunda Caida

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Friday, December 02, 2022


Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Big Van Vader NJPW 9/5/88

MD: Second encounter ever between these two. Sometimes Bigelow has a tendency of being too much of a US style babyface in Japan; clapping and working from underneath when you want him to really press his size and just brawl and slug with these guys. A little cartwheel-y, you know? It helped keep him over though. The fans clapped along. They chanted his name both here and in 90 when he spent some time in AJPW. In this one specific case, it was okay because part of his job was to get Vader over, and he'd do that best by recoiling into his shots and bumping all over the ring for him. It may not have been the match that I wanted, ultimately, but it served a purpose. Despite being the first to go bumping over the top to a Bigelow dropkick, when Vader asserted himself, he really asserted himself, with the beating spilling to the outside with an object shot and nasty punches. This was fated to be a double countout, brawl around the ringside area sort of match, but they really managed to put over Vader's ferocity before Bigelow got a comeback. Instead of taking the bump off the top after Bigelow caught him up there, Vader hung on causing both wrestlers to go tumbling to the outside together in a spot you don't see a ton but that really worked with two guys so big. I'm sure no one was too satisfied by a double count out finish but at least it was set up with a big dramatic crash. Post match, Vader stormed around the ring and then Bigelow finally rushed back in to get a last burst of adoration from the crowd.

ER: I love this day and age, where for so long we had two of the three early Vader/Bam Bam singles matches, and then 35 years later the middle match of the three shows up. I liked the theatricality Bigelow brought to this (his cartwheel didn't come until after the match, actually, and it looked incredible). I like that he was just not mirroring Vader by working as the same exact slugging big man. Bigelow was never Vader. He was never a guy who lit up opponents or worked slugfests. I don't think Bam Bam was as great a worker as Vader, and maybe he would have been better if he was more of a Vader, but I love him as Bigelow. Let Vader be the guy who punches a ring boy in the head when the ring boy walks off with his mastodon helmet, and Bigelow can be the guy getting huge cheers while cupping his ear like Hogan. This was a match more about the big bumps than the stiff strikes. 

The strikes were cool, with a few big Vader right hands, and theatrical Bam Bam strikes where he throws a forearm with a leg out behind him. But the bumps were the thing that kept bridging the match to bigger things. Vader flies backwards over the top to the floor after a Bigelow dropkick, then spends a minute threatening fans while Bigelow soaks in the cheers. Bam Bam's corner bump was a sight to behold, flying upside down and winding up draped over the top rope, then Vader smashes into him to knock him to the apron and down to the floor. Finally, when they both crash and burn to the floor, that's when the real brawl happens, with Vader hitting Bigelow with a ring bell hammer and using a table as a full on battering ram. Obviously this match was never leading to a pin, but I love the excited dudes jumping up and down in the crowd as two giant men fought past. And when Bigelow makes his way triumphantly back to the ring? You've never seen a better cartwheel in your life. 

Jerry Lawler vs. Jackie Fargo NWA Worldwide 1999

MD: Fargo was almost 70 here. It was for his hair. Nicole Bass was in his corner. You can imagine without even watching, right? Really, this was a wonderful thought experiment of how Lawler would deal with him, exactly where the line was in making him a threat vs protecting himself and everything else on the card. It meant throwing one's whole body backward for each Fargo punch like only Lawler could do and it meant using every distraction of Bass and from Stacy to pepper punches into Fargo's gut in the corner. For Fargo it meant hitting an atomic drop but then selling his own knee or getting his biggest advantage with a blatant low blow. I thought they did a great job of walking that tightrope in a way where people felt like they were getting their money's worth but it never became unbelievable or ridiculous. In the end, Bass turned (WWF solidarity), Fargo lost his hair. And... well, that's the tricky part with some of the Turner footage. He's doing a heroic job posting it but he's posting as he come across tapes so I'm not 100% sure what happened next. Presumably this would lead to some sort of match with a younger talent fighting for Fargo's lost honor where Lawler would get his comeuppance, but I'm not entirely sure of the chronological here and this footage, while not necessarily new, was so lost and is now so found, that cagematch's little help on any of it. Lawler was definitely primed for some comeuppance after this one though.

ER: This was really really great. I had no idea Fargo was actually working matches this late, and thanks to a pitch perfect performance from Lawler and Stacy Carter, this turned into one of the most fun (non Black Terry) matches involving a 70 year old. We wrote about a different Bryan Turner upload recently, from less than two years after this, where Jackie Fargo was guest reffing a Lawler/Rapada match and could barely get down on his knees to count a pin, so only did so one time. Here he is throwing punches so good and taking cool old man rolling bumps, inspiring enough to make me realize that I have only 30 years to learn how to be a 70 year old man who can throw a great worked punch. The whole match is nothing but highlights, nothing but ace volleys from Fargo, Lawler, and Kat. It needs to be said every time, that Lawler is not only the greatest wrestling puncher, but the greatest puncher seller in wrestling history. Lawler flies around for every Jackie punch, punches that deserve to be flown for, and gets into it with the fans with this fun cowardly demeanor. Pre-eye job Lawler had such great face acting, and somehow this handheld video from 1999 has such incredible sound that you can hear individual crowd members hurling insults and Lawler's reactions to those insults. 

Those insults do not get any louder than from two larger, older women who Carter enrages so much that you'd think she trained under Tracy Smothers. I had no idea The Kat had Smothers Power. Just by briefly running away and then telling these women to shut up, it takes no fewer than six security guards to hold back these two Actually Mad women, both of them almost making it into the ring. Later, Lawler targets one of them again, and she yells clear as a bell, "He ain't nothing but a puss! PUSSY! PUSSY! That's what you are!" It riles everyone up so much that Carter has to get on the mic and implore everyone to please be quiet. "Everybody shut up! [Lawler] can't concentrate!!" Lawler, Fargo, and Carter were all amazing, but a special bit of recognition also needs to go to the ring announcer who lets everyone know without an ounce of incredulity, "5 minutes gone, 55 minutes remaining." This was billed as having a *60* minute time limit!? What a tremendous thing for an announcer to say during a match pitting a 70 year old man against a 50 year old man. 

The punches are excellent throughout obviously, but we built to a great spot where Lawler reallllly winds up a punch that then sails right over Jackie's head, and then Fargo hits an atomic drop, collapsing to the mat selling his own knee. The post-match is great too, with Lawler and Carter filling in a ton of mic work when the hair clippers predictably don't work. Stacy Carter as Luanne Platter is really brilliant, a bank teller who is lured into marrying a 50 year old carny with promises to fund her own hair salon. Carter keeps insisting on the house mic that she be the one to shave Fargo's head, and their exchanges are gold. "She IS a real beautician, you know. Stacy, you're a licensed cosmetologist, right?" "Yes, and they are NOT doing this right." If these two couldn't make it, what hope do the rest of us have? 

Dustin Rhodes vs. Horace Hogan NWA New Jersey 8/16/01

MD: Ended up on this one when someone challenged me on Dustin's bad periods, with the implicit assumption that 99-01 was in there. It's true we don't have a ton of footage of the period, but this was between Dustin's run as one of the lead babyfaces in dying days WCW and his return as Goldust in 02. And hey, it's a good showing. He comes out as the Lonestar to George Thorogood and he is a totally viable indy main event babyface. Punches look good. Armdrags are sharp. He works the crowd up from underneath in chinlocks or sleepers. He takes some nasty shots on the outside driving his body into the edge of the ring. And yes, he hits his signature cross body to nowhere in front of this crowd bumping big to the floor. Horace, who obviously is the devolutionary connective tissue between the NWO and the Bullet Club when you see him in this setting, is fine. He's got a good way of muttering as he wrestles, gets probably legitimately annoyed with the crowd as they keep telling him to call Hulk for help, and believably serves as the other half of Dustin slamming his back into the edge of the ring. And yeah, he goes over quick for those armdrags too. Nothing in this match that gives you any reason to think that Dustin wasn't a high class talent in the middle of 01, even if we don't have that TCW footage that'd really prove it.


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