Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, March 17, 2023


Greg Valentine vs. Don Muraco WWF 7/24/88

MD: This was in the Toronto Network dump from last year, and it's a bit of a miracle match. There wasn't a lot else new on the show so we're just getting to it now though. This was a grudge match between face Muraco and Valentine after Valentine took out Billy Graham's leg. It was Muraco's last WWF feud. He was jacked to the gills here (which was probably necessary considering how drenched he was before he even did anything). Valentine had the brace already. The crowd had Bulldogs/Warrior vs. Demolition/Fuji and Savage vs. Dibiase to come, but so far had sat through Terry Taylor vs. Scott Casey, Powers of Pain vs. Bolsheviks (a uniquely terrible pairing) and Haku vs. SD Jones, and they were absolutely up for a match with some heat and guys they considered to be stars. They were buzzing the whole way through.

Muraco gave them something to buzz about, too, believe it or not. He charged forth before the bell and spent the first many minutes of the match absolutely dismantling Valentine's arm. The best parts here were when he smashed it into the announcer's table (giving us a great look at the little TVs Monsoon and Mooney were using to follow along with the action) and when, after doing a stepover dislocation, Valentine decided to take a flop bump for absolutely no reason, one of three or four in the match. Muraco messed up on a corner charge and Valentine hit a series of desperation elbow drops and went straight to the leg. While he made sure to use his good arm primarily, you'd still like to see some lingering grimacing as he was transitioning. It wasn't a dealbreaker though. Valentine eventually flipped the brace and went for the figure four but Muraco blocked it three different ways. He was doing a better job favoring the leg in his hope spots: falling on a slam, having to really pull the tights to only half get a pile driver. This all lead to a big hulking up (the Jerry Blackwell stoic style) which the crowd absolutely went up for, but they timed a ref bump in the set up for the tombstone and one brace shot later, it was all over. Some of Muraco's stuff looked a bit airy but he brought a huge intensity in the beginning and the end and Valentine covered the rest. Great last gasp for a guy who hadn't had much of a deep breath for years. 

ER: This was a late July summer show and you know NYC was hot as hell because this was one of the wettest shows you've seen. Every boy on this show was as wet as you've ever seen them, and Muraco and Valentine were downright soaked with meaty summer sweat. Click on any minute of this file and you will see some gassed dudes burning through electrolytes. You haven't seen wetness like this before. This is just two big wet boys hammering on each others' limbs right after the crowd had watched SD Jones take a back bump after getting kicked in the back of the head. This is totally different, as Don Muraco breaks out some of the coolest arm work of his career while Valentine does a bunch of fun stunned selling, like he was going into shock from having his arm demolished. Muraco bounced the arm off the turnbuckle, rammed his arm and shoulder into the ringpost, and hit a great shoulder breaker. Those were somewhat expected, but I was not expecting his cool legdrop onto the arm or even his stuff over to butt bump the arm. Now, sadly, he worked over Valentine's left arm, which meant that Valentine could still fire back with his right arm, and he really dished some shots. The arm work didn't come into play in the finish in any way, but it was a cool way for him to control until Valentine was working over his leg with the shin guard. It was a great way to take Muraco down the stretch as he was good at fighting Valentine off and also burly enough to walk through some wicked Valentine chops and other offense to build to a big comeback. Muraco's piledrivers were disgusting, adding insult to injury by giving Valentine a wedgie on one, then clutching him for an awesome Gotch lift tombstone that was one of the gnarliest finishers of the era. Can't hold up to a shin guard to the head though. 

Pepe Gonzalez/Little Mr. T vs. Cowboy Lang/Bad Jim Brown South Africa 1980s?

MD: A whole bunch of South Africa stuff got dumped around a year ago and we played it safe and just watched the Matt Borne match, but hey, they give these guys twenty minutes in a 2/3 falls match and someone has to watch it, right? Cowboy Lang was one year off from working in five different decades. We've seen him in a bunch of territories over the years.  It meant that he knew every trick in the book by this point and considering they had a bunch of time to kill, they used a bunch of them. Gonzalez worked at least one or two WWF shows. I'm not digging in to see if he worked as Pepe Gomez as well, but if he did, he worked even more than that. He could kind of go too. Some good rope running spots with him, especially with Brown basing. He took a beating well too. Little T was there for the big payoffs to the comedy spots, but they were good. His introduction to the match was in a great full nelson bit where Lang kept breaking free just as Pepe was going to position him in the corner for a shot from T and then finally gloating and turning to get it put on again. But T gets him instead and this builds to a bunch of heel communication bits with punches. What made this work better than a lot of similar matches I've seen was the amount of time it had. That meant that they could get some real heat on Pepe, sneaking shots in, controlling the ring, working a missed tag by the ref, all the good stuff. It made the comedy comeuppance resonate just a bit more when it came. It's amazing what a few extra minutes, well used, can do for a match.

ER: I don't have much to add other than to bring up the possibility that Cowboy Lang might have actually made it to that 5th decade of wrestling. His last listed matches online were from 1999, but I know I saw him live more than once on APW shows, and I was not in attendance for any of the shows listed on cagematch. I was definitely in attendance for matches against Bobby Dean and Lil Nasty Boy, which would have happened in either 1999 or 2000. I remember Lang being a real hit with the crowd as he was the only cowboy wrestler on the card, on shows that happened in or adjacent to farming areas. A little person in his mid 50s working line dancing spots in an opening match is going to get a big reaction in a town with multiple cowboy bars. I say the guy made it to 5 different decades. 

The Bullet/Brad Armstrong/Scott Armstrong vs. Robert Fuller/Jimmy Golden/Elix Skipper Wrestle Birmingham 8/12/05     Part 2

MD: We don't often get to highlight the stuff our old friend over at Armstrong Alley posts, due to the show vs match set up of FFF, but this was a good one to pull out and take a look at. The sound comes in a minute or so into the clip, so don't worry about that. This was a Texas Death match but didn't have Texas Tornado rules. That meant the ten count gimmick was integrated into more of standard tag format. During the shine, you had Elix Skipper taking a lot of stuff, eating early pins, and then stooging/selling big as he got back to his feet. Some of the pins weren't entirely believable but when there's no actual consequence in getting pinned, maybe there was just no reason for him to kick out and jump up at one? Once you got past Brad's early Russian Leg Sweep it worked a little better. They drew in Fuller with some taunting too, very Br'er Fox trickster folk hero stuff (more on that later) and Fuller is the most offendable guy in wrestling history so it worked. 

When they took over on Brad, they worked in the ten counts as bits of hope that would then be cut off. Brad can work from underneath as well as anyone and the heels kept it moving and compelling. The finish was the sort of BS one might expect, with the Bullet getting the sleeper on fuller, interference causing a distraction, Golden KOing Bob with the knucks and then the ref calling the first man to his feet the winner. Again, they went back to the rustic trickster aesthetic: as the ref was admonishing Golden for trying to help Fuller back to his feet, Brad and Scott pulled Bob up. Classic Americana, out cheating the cheater. Everyone looked pretty spry in this except for Bullet Bob who was more than a half step slow, but even he was still pretty credible just for who he was and the mask to make him look a bit younger. The gimmick made things interesting, though even with the history and animosity it was weird to see a Texas Death Match that wasn't an outright hate-filled brawl.

ER: There are a few important takeaways from this. The first is that Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden - in their mid 50s - still looked good enough to be tagging regularly on much bigger shows than this. Fuller hardly worked over the previous decade, and Golden hadn't been a featured TV performer since 1997, but they had better energy, better timing, and better bullshit facial expressions than most of the tag teams WWE was trotting out in 2005. You watch the Stud Stable here and tell me you'd rather see a Road Warriors team with Animal/Heidenreich, or the Heart Throbs, or Charlie Haas/Rico. The Stud Stable may have been in their mid 50s but goddamn was tag wrestling looking bad on the main stage in 2005. 

Second takeaway is that Brad Armstrong looked incredibly good for a guy who had worked about as many matches as Robert Fuller ever since WCW's closure. Not only was Armstrong the most jacked I've ever seen him, but he was worked fast and hard and taking big bumps any time he was in the ring. I'm not really a high vote Brad guy. I think he's one of the 5 best Armstrongs* but I don't think I could put him higher than 5. But if he worked most of his career the way he worked this match, he just might have been my favorite Armstrong. Look at how hard he gets run into the turnbuckles! Look at how great his spit sells are whenever he gets punched! Why is 2005 Brad Armstrong so good and so gassed?? 

Third takeaway is that Elix Skipper, youngest man in the match, looked like total shit and had all of the worst offense. What was his spin kick ever supposed to be? Bullet was an old man still in incredible physical shape, but couldn't really move even half speed any longer, but it really wasn't that noticeable when Elix Skipper's offense was also thrown at half speed and wouldn't have even looked good at full speed. Fourth takeaway is that it was insane how much effort Wrestle Birmingham put into wraparound comedy sketches in their programming. I'm not sure if any of them were actually funny but damn did those guys go out there with actual planned material when they really did not need to do any of that. 

*Expanding on putting Scott over Brad, a request: Depending on the night, I think it would be possible for any Armstrong to be 1st and any Armstrong to be 5th. On this night Brad was first, Bullet was last, Brian was second**. Scott vs. Brad is admittedly a tough comparison, as we have so much more Brad footage available. Brad worked longer matches in WCW and got all of the New Japan tours, Scott mostly worked Smoky Mountain and pulled job duty in WCW. So the Brad vs. Scott WCW comparison is mostly made on Brad working offense vs. Scott taking offense, and I prefer how Scott takes offense more than I prefer Brad doing offense. Brad has strong execution but I don't think he really uses it in imaginative ways. Scott is great at taking bumps as a heel or babyface, knowing which bumps to use depending on his role within the match (e.g., you won't see him take backdrop bumps as a babyface but the man will get some height as a heel). I also think Scott's personality blossoms as a heel, whereas Brad supposedly had this great personality that never managed to show up meaningfully on film. Perhaps the biggest reason I prefer Scott over Brad at this point in my life, is that I've simply seen more Brad and know what to expect. Scott still has the capability to surprise me, and that's more exciting to me now than Brad working an armdrag sequence. This match though? Brad looked like the all time greatest Armstrong. You find me Brad performances like this and I'll start reviewing the best of the jacked to the gills Brad footage. 

**check out the Road Dogg vs. Raven match that took place after the Stud Stable/Armstrongs match, which made me want to seek out a bunch of 2005 Raven. Raven looked like shit any time he wasn't wrestling, but between the bells this man could still work! I have limited memory of 2005 Raven in TNA but I guess now I need more 2005 Raven. 

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Anonymous Hollinger said...

Gonna need you to show the math on Scott over Brad, Eric.

12:51 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

Added a Brad vs. Scott addendum just for you Matt.

4:13 PM  

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