The SmarK Rant for Random Rasslin’ – 07.08.19
It’s been pointed out to me that “Wrestling Potpourri” is a tad lame, so we’ll try this name for the time being. Plus we’re going to MEMPHIS for this retooled first edition so it’s fitting.
NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Koko Ware (Mid-South Coliseum, 11.18.85)
This one was brought up as an example of “Flair v. Broomstick” but that’s really unfair to Koko, who was pretty damn awesome at this point and only fell apart in the WWF due to filling his giant puffy pants with cocaine…
Dusty Rhodes is hanging out at ringside to mess with Ric, while Koko plays the underdog role in the Mid-South Coliseum. Flair grabs a headlock to start but Koko comes back with his own, which Lance Russell notes is Koko doing the basics while he works out his nerves. They do the leapfrog sequence and Koko gets control with the headlock again and gets two. They trade hammerlocks and Koko keeps frustrating the champ, which draws a shoving match and Flair manages to lose that one. Lance notes that “Flair thought he was dealing with another local yokel” and now he’s realizing that he’s got a challenger. And indeed, Flair immediately headfakes him and chops him down, now taking things more seriously, but Koko slugs back in the corner and we get the Flair Flop, for two. What a great little sequence there. They trade punches again and Flair goes down again, and Koko gets two again. Flair begs off in the corner and Koko beats on him and gets a bodypress for two, gaining confidence now, so Flair bails and Dusty nearly gets a shot in as well.
Back in, Flair tries his own basics, but Koko rides him and Flair gets frustrated again and finally just unloads on him with a chop and stomps him out of the ring. Back in, Flair drops the knee for two after a shoving match with the ref and then goes to a chinlock while blatantly wrapping his leg around the ropes. The time for subtlety has apparently passed. Flair holds an armbar on Koko and cheats maniacally, pulling the hair and then holding the ropes while Dusty frantically yells at the ref. Koko makes a comeback and slugs out of the armbar, but Flair chops him down and then stands him in the corner and adds more chops, really trying to WARE him out. Ahem. Koko fights back with some good babyface fire and Flair begs off again, so Koko keeps firing away in the corner until Flair knees him in the low midsection, but then Flair walks into a sleeper. Flair makes the ropes, but collapses before he gets there fully, and Koko gets two while holding the sleeper. Flair finally escapes to the ropes and Koko makes the big comeback and pounds away on Flair for two, but Ric hits him with a backdrop suplex and a DOUBLE STOMP. Man, Flair never pulls that one out. Figure-four time and Dusty is in full motivational mode cheering Koko on, which prompts the reversal as the crowd is going nuts. Backslide gets two for Koko. Flair tosses him to buy some time and tries to chop him off the apron, but Koko gets a sunset flip back into the ring for two. Flair chops him down again, but misses a kneedrop, and Koko gets his own figure-four, forcing Ric to make the ropes. Koko keeps attacking the knee in the corner while Flair begs for mercy, but Koko beats on him like Ric owes him money and gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM for two, at which point Bill Dundee runs down and jumps Dusty, allowing Flair to hit Koko with the cheap knee to the back and get the pin at 23:21. Another nice touch as Koko got his foot on the ropes but Flair pulled it off at two and made sure the ref couldn’t see it. Lance Russell sold the SHIT out of this match on commentary and it was probably the best Koko singles match I’ve seen. ****1/4
Texas Death match: The Rock N Roll Express v. PG-13
This is a famous match from the SMW v. USWA feud of 1995 that I didn’t even think existed in full form, but here it is on YouTube uncut. Why is it famous? Two words: Mega heel Rock N Roll Express with Mark Curtis managing. OK, that’s more than two words, granted. PG-13 sneaks in after Curtis’s rant against the crowd and attacks them with their hubcaps, beating on Curtis while the RNR run away to the floor and let him take the punishment. JC Ice blocks a sunset flip from Morton with a handful of powder for the first pin at 2:00, but Ricky manages to beat the 10-count. So JC lays out Ricky with the ringbell on the floor and pins him at 3:20 for another fall, and Ricky is already busted open, bless his heart. The RNR get the hubcaps and take control with those, and then Ricky adds a chain to his fist and knocks Wolfie D out before tossing him over the top, which is of course not a DQ in a Texas Death situation. The Express double-teams JC with a double clothesline for the pin at 6:30, and when JC answers the bell, Ricky throws powder in his face to put him down again and then drops a leg on his junk. The Express brings a table into the ring, and it’s an honest to god full on wooden table, and Ricky dropkicks it against Wolfie in the corner and then rams him into it. Robert stops to do the PG-13 dance, showing more charisma in one match than I’ve seen from him in most of his career. PG-13 makes a comeback and Wolfie DDTs Ricky on the SOLID wood table, and that gets a pin at 9:53. Robert calls time, allowing Mark Curtis to dump a bucket of water on Morton and revive him, and now Ricky tries a piledriver on the table and JC backdrops out of it. This allows PG-13 to grab their hubcaps and go to town on the Express, but now Budro runs in and helps out his SMW compadres. And then Jerry Lawler heads out and beats on Landel while PG-13 does a spike piledriver on Ricky for two. And now Tracy Smothers comes out and smashes a bottle on JC Ice, which has Lance Russell very personally disappointed in his behavior. Hopefully he never watched ECW, then. And Ricky gets the pin off that at 14:28, and JC is unable to answer the bell and he’s out at 15:32. Crazy Memphis brawling fun, with Rock N Roll showing amazing heel charisma that no one ever knew they had in them! ***1/2
If you want the whole saga, there’s an amazing 30-part playlist on YouTube covering the whole SMW v. USWA deal: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL776F8C3E7DCE6C7C
And to wrap it up this week, we might as well hit the match that Mid-South has been building towards for the past month of shows…
Coal Miner’s Glove, Loser Leaves Town, Tuxedo, Cage match: Jim Duggan v. Ted Dibiase (Houston, 03.22.85)
This is available on the WWE’s Legends of Mid-South Wrestling DVD set, or maybe it’s the Mid-South version, I’m not 100% sure because I don’t own the DVD and Amazon doesn’t specify the matches. Oddly enough neither version they did was never added to the WWE Network. You’d think it would have been a no-brainer to at least add this match to the Dibiase collection on there, but nope. Anyway, this was a very popular match with tape traders back in the day, as you can imagine, but far from rare or anything. They of course did two versions, once in Houston for Paul Boesch and once in Mid-South for Watts. I should also point out that despite the piling on of crazy gimmicks here, they all had a totally sensible storyline reason to be there. So yeah, they’re in a cage, wrestling in tuxes, with a coal miner’s glove on a pole in the ring, and whoever loses is out of the territory for 30 days. If I had a time machine and a good scalper, this is a match I’d go back in time to be there for. Dibiase tells the ref to check Duggan’s pockets and then blindsides Duggan from behind, but ol’ Hacksaw beats the shit out of him and unloads on the mat after weeks of taking Dibiase’s shit. Not to mention the smashed windshield of his car. Dibiase manages to run Duggan into the cage and busts him open, but Duggan stops him from climbing the pole. Dibiase rips off Duggan’s classy white tux and tails and drops the fists on him, but Duggan uses his own torn shirt to choke him out before missing a blind charge. Dibiase gets a piledriver as his white shirt is now covered in Duggan’s blood, but he climbs for the glove again and Duggan yanks him down and drops him neckfirst to make a comeback. Duggan slugs away and rips off the remains of the bloody shirt, then smashes him into the cage to bust him open as well. Duggan is able to get the glove this time, but Dibiase throws powder in his face because why not one more thing? Nothing exceeds like excess, to quote Scarface. Yeah, I know, 300 quotable lines in that movie and I go with that one. Dibiase steals the glove, but Duggan runs him into the cage and they collide for the double down. Dibiase goes up and misses a fistdrop with the glove from the middle rope, and Duggan bashes his hand into the corner like he’s stealing the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos, and he WALLOPS Dibiase with that motherfucker at 11:20 for the pin. Holy SHIT what a knockout punch that was! This was of course FUCKING GREAT and I will fight with coal miner’s glove in hand anyone who contradicts me. I think you can sum this one up with “If you don’t love this match, you don’t love wrestling”. ****
Damn what a fun night of old school wrestling this “YouTube” thing has brought! And you thought it was just for 13 year old kids making thousands of dollars for playing Minecraft and doing slime challenges!