Joined: 01 Aug 2006
|Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:34 pm Post subject: YR Watches...Memphis, Mid Atlantic and The Bruisers
|There's a great YouTube video that has the entire feud leading up to the Jerry Lawler vs. Austin Idol Cage Match that is in good quality and edits out all of the unimportant stuff.
Memphis has always been hit or badly miss with me. Even this, while being great and making a lot of money for Lawler, Idol and Tommy Rich...still had an issue with an utter lack of actual wrestling. But, from a pure booking and promo standpoint, it's really some brilliant stuff with the only hiccup was the unreasonable chain match with Lawler vs. Idol where Lawler took his side of the chain and tied it to the ring rope, punches Idol who is tethered to the rope and wins the match in 37 seconds.
That just didn't jive with me as making sense and they had a nice buildup for that match only for it to take 37 seconds. If there was somebody that could get away with it, it was Lawler in Memphis, but I'm sure that still turned off some of the fans.
Outside of that...this is how you book great wrestling. It also helps that Lawler, Idol and Tommy Rich were on point with their interviews. I'm no Lawler fan, but he's usually a great babyface promo and he played the babyface role here and I tend to rank the promos throughout the feuds like this:
1. Tommy Rich
2. Austin Idol
3. Jerry Lawler
4. Paul E. Dangerously
This is a very young Heyman (only 21 at the time). I always liked Heyman as a manager, but didn't think he could hold a candle to somebody like Cornette whose words just drew money. Even now with Heyman as Lesnar's advocate, it's a very different take on cutting promos as a manager (or advocate). It's also a different time. And you can see Heyman's objective in the promos is to market Lesnar and himself whereas the typical manager promo was about getting heat. Cornette took it to a different level by selling the match.
So here, Heyman is in the typical 'getting heat' mode and he hasn't found his voice yet, but it still works because he plays the annoying Yankee in Tennessee and one of Heyman's most underrated facets is his acting and reaction to things which he does great here (I will get to that in a bit).
There's a lot of layers of greatness here in this entire feud. For starters, it begins with not knowing who was going to be the face or the heel. Lawler is rather testy with Lance Russell and Tommy Rich calmly and logically explains a good point...that he should have a shot at Nick Bockwinkle instead of Lawler because Lawler has never pinned Bockwinkle and Rich was the NWA World Champion a few years ago and has never gotten his shot.
Lawler had been thru his heel and face changes, so you don't know if he's going to heel it up or not. But, rather quickly they make Rich the clear heel and he gets involved in a 'wild brawl' (tame by today's standards) and cuts a dynamite promo on Lawler afterward.
I had always thought of Rich as a guy that got over based on his looks and being from Tennessee. I never cared much for him in the ring, but now I could see why he was popular...his promos were tight.
Eventually, Rich and Idol join forces and Idol is money here. Hard to tell about his in-ring skill, but his promos are top notch. He had a good sense of when to go over the top and then when to get serious and then pick his spots in-between.
Rich gets hit by a fireball from Lawler and that 'puts him in the hospital.' They timed this so well because Rich was forgotten about it when the time came for the big cage match against Idol.
Meanwhile, they book matches between Idol and Lawler and they go from standard matches to falls count anywhere to a chain match with just enough give-and-take between Lawler and Idol to keep the people coming for more.
That leads to Idol asking for a Texas Death Match and as he's being interviewed by Lance Russell for it...Idol says that he changed his mind. He instead wants a cage match with his hair on the line. Furthermore, if he loses, he has $50K given up so the fans will be refunded their money.
Idol explains that Lawler doesn't want to have a Hair vs. Hair match anymore, so he has to coax him into doing so. He also explains that Lawler has never lost a hair vs. hair match, so that's why he put the $50k up, if he loses.
This is where Lawler really shined in this entire feud. Lawler does a great job of explaining why he hates the hair vs. hair matches and then also 'breaks kayfabe' by explaining how Idol was hurt in a real-life plane accident and won a large settlement (all true), so him putting up $50K was really nothing to him. And even though Lawler said he was done with the hair vs. hair match, he'll make this one exception this one time because of what's at stake.
Right there, Lawler brought credibility to the hair vs. hair match and the $50K that Idol was putting up on the line.
Of course, I already knew the ending...but the booking is so good that for the smarter fans at that time, you had to question what was going to happen because I would find it more unlikely that Lawler would get his head shaved than the promotion refunding the money.
They have the match and Tommy Rich comes out from under the ring and the fans are apoplectic over the entire thing.
Although this is a shining example of why I dislike Lawler. The same guy that proudly admits to punching a young Heyman in the face and breaking his jaw because he wouldn't climb the scaffold (and scaffold matches suck, btw) because Heyman was afraid of heights....couldn't be bothered with getting his head actually shaved. He walked away with a moderate buzz cut. I'm guessing he booked the entire feud and he did a great job at that. But, his refusal to get real head shaving spoiled it for me.
I watched Kayfabe Commentaries' Back to the Territories with Jim Cornette featuring the Dick The Bruiser Indianapolis territory as told by Baron Von Rascke.
This was only so-so as Raschke isn't the greatest interview and he took time to warm up to Cornette. It started to get good, but that was towards the end of the show, so I wanted to watch some Dick The Bruiser.
Raschke mentioned that in real life, The Crusher didn't drink. He said that unlike other promotions, 'the office' was actually Dick the Bruiser's garage. He said Afflis was an okay payoff man, not the best...but not the worst. It seemed like it was running on a shoestring budget, so I don't think the payoffs were as good as say in Oregon, New York or with Jim Barnett, but they were probably solid and the travel was light.
Anyway, I decided to watch Dick the Bruiser vs. Bruiser Brody. Afflis is in his 50's here and I didn't know what to expect because it was always tough to tell with Goodish. And that's always part of the fun with watching old Brody tapes...he may have been pissed off on the payoff or woke up that morning and decided he didn't want to sell for the guy and things could get out of hand quickly.
At the very least, I expected a slug fest.
Instead...I got an extremely worked match. And I was stunned by how much Brody sold for Afflis. But, that's another thing about Brody...you never quite knew whom he respected and whom he didn't. Either that or Afflis gave him a huge payoff.
This match revolved around Afflis gaining control of Brody's leg and a previous angle where Spike Huber was injured at the hands of Brody and Huber was ringside.
The workrate is almost nil and it's not really an athletic display, but they worked the crowd so brilliantly switching off between Afflis getting control of Brody's leg, Brody cheating to get heat with the crowd and then Afflis tossing Brody to the outside and Huber getting some shots in on Brody. I haven't watched a lot of Dick the Bruiser, but I think while he had a great look in his younger days, his best talent may have been his ability to toy with the crowd to get the response he wanted.
Finally, I watched some Mid Atlantic. The match that really caught my eye was Jake The Snake Roberts vs. Sgt. Slaughter. I knew Roberts worked in AJPW for a while and I always considered him a good in-ring talent, but more from a sports entertainment perspective. What I didn't know was how good he was at a more shooty-catch wrestling style.
This was pre-DDT Roberts and as far as pro wrestling goes, looked more like a 1970's/1980's shoot than anything you could watch.
The story telling here was so beautiful...could Roberts overcome his inexperience and lack of a quality finishing maneuver to beat Roberts?
Roberts used the knee lift as his finisher and knew he had to hit it multiple times to get a pinfall. He hit it a couple of times, but not enough to beat the more experienced Slaughter who had a quality submission hold in his arsenal. Ironically, if they were doing this today...it would probably be from a wrestler that has the DDT as their 'weak' finisher.
I often think about how the WWE might be better off getting another small promotion that is very plain-jane and resembles a shoot and uses very basic storytelling. Obviously, Roberts and Slaughter became excellent at it and later went to the WWF where they were top workers for a long time. Essentially, if you competently work this type of match, working a sports entertainment match would be a piece of cake.