Thanks to http://www.digits.com for their badass righteous free counters
(w/Percy Pringle) v. Jerry Lawler (USWA Title Match)
I'm not even going to try to put a date to this one. I'll just be vague and say late '89/early '90. But I can say that it's from the Sportatorium in Dallas. Lawler is the cocky heel at this point, playing the foil to Embry's everyman face, fresh off saving the USWA from a takeover by Skandor Akbar and Tojo Yamamoto. Before the match can even begin, all of the top contenders (Al Perez w/ Akbar, Kerry Von Erich and Tojo representing P.Y. Chu-Hi) come out to stake their claim for the next title match. We cut to commercial and when we come back, the ring is clear. Referee Tony Falk is counting Lawler out, because he refuses to enter the ring and start the match. He finally rolls in, grabbing the mic and talking about the new "too much noise" rule in the NFL. He says that the USWA has enacted the same rule, so if everyone didn't shut up, their hero would lose the match. Of course, that just made the fans even louder. Talk about cheap heat.
Lawler is standing in the corner, arguing with the crowd. Embry sneaks up and taps him on the shoulder, pretending to be the ref. Lawler turns and Embry blasts him with a big right hand that sends the King scurrying to the floor. He stalls a bit more and we eventually get a lockup. Lawler snapmares Embry, but misses the fistdrop. Embry punches him and Lawler collapses into the corner. He whips Embry into the ropes and goes for a kick to the gut. Embry catches his foot, spins him and catches him with another punch. He rakes his eyes and rams the King into the corner. Lawler bails out and stalls for a bit. He comes back in and whips Embry into the ropes, taking him over with a backdrop.
He goes for a second, but Embry stops short and spikes him with a DDT for a nearfall. Lawler sells it as if he'd broken his neck. Embry bites him on the forehead, but Falk quickly backs him off. Lawler moves into the corner and starts digging around in his tights. Falk is right there, though, so he tucks whatever he had back into his tights. The crowd is screaming for Falk to search Lawler. But Embry doesn't give him the chance. He whips Lawler into the ropes and tries to kick him in the gut. Lawler catches the foot and starts laughing. Turnabout being fair play and all that. But Embry nails him with an enzuigiri. Lawler bails out and starts arguing with some old woman in the crowd. He grabs a towel at ringside, hiding it from the ref. Pringle tries to tell Falk about the towel, but does little more than distract him.
Lawler takes advantage, clotheslining Embry with the towel. He starts choking him out, but Falk breaks it up. Lawler manages to hide the towel from him (Actually, Falk does a great imitation of a blind man, because he actually touches the towel when he's pulling Lawler off, but manages not to see it). Crowd is going nuts by this point. Lawler chokes Embry some more and tucks the towel into the back of his tights when Falk questions him. Lawler complains about Pringle, distracting Falk so that he can go back to choking Embry. Falk breaks it up and backs Lawler into the corner. The King proclaims his innocence and starts taunting Pringle. Falk tries to calm Pringle down, allowing Lawler to clothesline Embry with the towel. He tosses the towel to the floor and acts shocked when Falk confronts him about it. Lawler makes such a great heel. Falk checks him, but finds nothing.
When he turns to tell Pringle that the King is clean, Lawler pulls off his boot and nails Embry. He slips it back on and tries to convince Falk that Embry was the one who yanked it off. He makes the cover, but Embry manages to get a foot on the ropes. Lawler makes a big show out of refastening his boot, but he's really pulling out another foreign object. He nails Embry and gets another nearfall. The crowd is ready to kill Lawler. He connects with a series of jabs, but Embry won't go down. Cut to the aisle, where Akbar and Yamamoto are making their way to the ring. Embry starts a comeback, but Lawler drops him with a DDT for two. He rams Embry from corner to corner. Embry blocks the third attempt and sends Lawler into the corner instead. He yanks down his straps to a huge pop, causing Lawler to beg off in the corner.
Embry punches away at Lawler and takes him over with an awkward looking powerslam, picking up a two count. He slams him in the center of the ring and comes off the second rope with a diving headbutt. Cover gets two. Embry pulls an object out of his kneepad and clocks Lawler. He makes the cover, but Falk is trying to separate Pringle and Yamamoto. At the same time, Akbar starts ringing the bell. Embry stands up, thinking that he won the match. Lawler takes advantage, pulling him down by the tights and grabbing the ropes to get the win.
This is the perfect example of a crappy match that draws you in so much that you just have to love it. Wrestling doesn't always have to be about that mythical "workrate" thing that people like us love to bandy about as if it were a definable term. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in a pair of characters that the actual matches don't really matter. They're just an extension of the people involved. In this case, you have the smarmy asshole in Lawler, willing to do anything to eke out a win. And he doesn't even do it because of the title. He's such a loudmouth that, in the end, the bragging rights are all that really matter. And then there's the goofily charming Embry, representing the working class crowd. He's overcome every obstacle in his way, but keeps getting screwed over by the man in his quest to reach the top. Two wrestling archetypes, played to perfection. You WANT to cheer for Embry, just as much as you want to hate Lawler. It just clicks on a fundamental level.
Dragon/Disco Machine vs. TARO/Mr. Excitement, 6/17/02
This is the only match on the disc I actually saw live. Hey, there I am. Anyhow, general consensus at the match at the time was not that good, although matters were not helped by the super-sucky crowd. Plus I was distracted from the last couple minutes of the match, first as James had to run out of the building to make sure his car didn't get towed, and then as Excitement did this odd rolling on the floor thing right in front of me. By the time I stopped paying attention to that, TARO's head was being spiked into the mat and the match was over. Nevertheless, Excalibur and Rising Son had a match on the card that seemed better at the time, although it's not here on video to compare right now. This is also notable for being the first mp4 file I've ever played. Ooh, the future is now! And it doesn't have sound! Which makes Disco's prematch shenanigans look really odd. Anyhow…
This really is better than it seemed at the time, or perhaps just better than it seems with sound. The execution here is pretty much flawless, and in a match with a number of high-end maneuvers, all credit is due to the four wrestlers. You've got some kickass matworking stuff that suggests PRIDE tapes are all influential, the flying stuff that all looks clean and big, moves that allude to the match from March, keeping the giant Revolution Pro timeline in effect, and all kinds of other stuff, all performed without a hitch. Furthermore, the integration of certain bits is much smoother than I remembered at the time; most notably is the Dive-a-thon, which I originally dismissed as yet another in the endless series. The second look shows rather than just saying "Hey everybody, let's all jump on each other," the sequence is used to say, "Hey, everybody on the face team, let's jump on the heels so we can stop them from controlling us." It kills the momentum of Dragon and Disco, gives Excitement and TARO the opportunity to start working on Disco, and it's loads of fun to watch. Good times.
Also of note, Super Dragon seemed at the time to be affected by the crowd, which had been killed off in the match before, as for some reason several very loud people had only come to see Fire perform in the intergender 6-person tag match that wasn't very good. They were generally irritating enough then to make the rest of us generally not in the mood; the Main was affected to the point where Dragon yelled at us a couple times for sitting on our hands. The initial impression seems exaggerated after seeing it again though; Dragon generally plays annoyed the whole match. Not with his performance, not with the crowd (until about fifteen minutes in, anyway), but in an unusually sour mood. Makes sense seeing as how this was the first show he worked after suffering a high-profile loss to American Dragon at EPIC, and the first RevPro show since March 22, which also turned out poorly. The story, then, contains elements of Dragon trying to get off the skid, and acting like a big dick in the process. This is especially present in the first half of the match, wherein the Southern Tag Formula makes it's nine billionth appearance in wrestling: TARO is your Ricky Morton, with Dragon's offense mostly serving to mock him, stretch him, and hit him in the face, and Disco's offense reflecting his role as the heavy in the operation, doing much of the actual physical damage so Dragon can come back in and taunt and point and stuff. Of course, since this is Professional Independent Wrestling, the face comeback spots are entirely composed of elaborate rana and flying head-scissor-based counters, ultimately leading to TARO making the tag out, which eventually lead into the aforementioned Fabulous Dive-a-Thon. The match flows incredibly smoothly during this part, although it still seems to derail a bit around when Dragon yells at the crowd. Still, there's parts of this where the story is being pushed along effortlessly, which is just about the most impressive thing you can do in a ring, for me, anyway. There's not anything really blatantly screaming "Look! We're Developing Character! Look at how the Characters Develop!" They just wrestle and narrative happens.
I've heard this praised as a possible contender for SoCal Match of the Year, and even though it's much better on tape than it came off live, it's not all the way there. The biggest thing is that it suffers in ambition. It doesn't come out and have a performance that blows everyone out of the water; everyone turns in a stellar effort, but there's nothing like Excitement from March, or Samoa Joe in the July EPIC tag, where the first thing anyone says about the match is "Christ, [Wrestler] was Fucking Amazing tonight!" In a way, it seems to be a passively great match: rather than knocking the viewer flat, it leaves the viewer thinking, "Well, yeah, of course it's well-executed and advances the neverending Ballad of RevPro. It's what they do." Though it says less about the match itself, it says a ton about the wrestlers, and how capable they are of being consistently excellent. (Actual time is impossible to tell from the video, but it seems a little under 21:00).
If you can score a copy of this, by all means, do. I don't have a CD burner, though. So go bother someone else.
v. Chris Jericho (TV Title Match)
This is from Halloween Havoc 1998. Raven grabs the mic before the match and talks about his recent losing streak. He claims to be a victim of circumstances beyond his control. But he only has six words to say about that: "What about me? What about Raven?" He complains about having to wrestle tonight, scheduled in an "unscheduled" match. He doesn't want to wrestle and he's not going to. So he walks out and it's Jericho's turn to speak! He doesn't want to be there either, but all of the Jerichoholics came to see him wrestle because, "Chris Jericho equals buyrates, Chris Jericho equals rear ends in the seats and Chris Jericho equals Rock n' Roll." Funny. I thought that Hogan, Piper and Savage were the only people in WCW at the time who had ever put asses in the seats. He rags on Raven for a few seconds, calling him a loser. Raven has apparently heard enough, as he charges the ring. It's GO time!
Jericho catches him sliding into the ring and stars stomping on him. He tears off Raven's leather jacket and starts whipping him with it. He shoots him into the ropes and takes him down with a clothesline. He does the old one foot cover, but Raven easily escapes at two. He goes for a backdrop, but Raven kicks him in the face. He clotheslines him over the top rope, taking the bump with him. On the floor, he grabs the ring steps and sets them on their side. He picks Jericho up and drops him gut first across them. He kicks him a few times, then runs up the steps and leaps off, connecting with a dropkick. He rolls Jericho back in and starts stomping on him.
Jericho reverses a whip and catches Raven with a Hotshot. He follows up with a springboard dropkick that sends Raven back to the floor. He goes for a clothesline off of the apron. Raven sidesteps him and Jericho hits the railing hard. Raven rams him into the steps and goes for a whip. Jericho is able to reverse, sending Raven into the railing. He rolls him back in, but gets caught with an eye rake when he tries to follow. Raven backs him into the corner and tries to choke him out with his flannel shirt. He bites Jericho on the forehead, then locks him in a sleeper. Jericho counters into a backdrop suplex and follows up with a senton splash. He pulls off one of the turnbuckle pads and tries to whip Raven into the exposed buckle.
They reverse each other's whips and Jericho ends up going into the corner opposite to the exposed buckle. Raven moves in for the kill, but Jericho kicks him in the gut and goes for a 'rana. Raven counters into a powerbomb. He gives Jericho a catapult into the exposed buckle and takes him down with a hooking clothesline. He goes for the cover, but Jericho is out at two. Raven whips him into the ropes and goes for a slam. Jericho slips away and goes for a spin kick. Raven ducks it and gives him a belly to belly suplex for two. He goes for a clothesline, but Jericho ducks and gets him in a rear waistlock. Raven reverses, but Jericho rolls forward and sets up for a Liontamer. Raven tries to fight it, but Jericho finally manages to turn him over.
Raven quickly scoots to the ropes, getting a nice pop from the crowd. They've actually started rooting for him at this point. Does that make Jericho a really good heel, or Raven a really bad heel? A question for the ages. Jericho pulls him to his feet and Raven shortarms him into an Evenflow DDT. He makes the cover, but Jericho somehow manages to escape at two! Raven is shocked. So is the crowd. Jericho takes advantage, sneaking up on Raven and rolling him up for a nearfall. He hits him with a low blow and takes him over with a German Suplex for two. Raven reverses a whip, sending Jericho into Kanyon, who had just hopped onto the apron. Raven goes for another Evenflow, but Jericho counters into a double leg takedown. He locks Raven in the Liontamer. Raven immediately taps out to give Jericho the win.
Really fun match. Actually, this one of my two or three favorite matches for either guy. They just clicked so well and everything seemed to work. WCW had a ton of these little throwaway matches (no previous feud, no build, announced the day of the show). The result of a roster of thousands, I guess. But for some reason, this one stands out as the best for me. Scott Levy fanboy syndrome be damned.
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