More from the “Best of Mid-South” Death Valley Driver compilation…
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. Ted Dibiase (3/22/85)
This is the infamous No DQ, coal miner’s glove on a pole, loser leaves town, steel cage tuxedo match. This match is so highly regarded that I am trying to temper my expectations for this bout so I don’t go in expecting too much.
Jim Ross does a great job explaining how the heel Dibiase got trapped in a match that doesn’t favor his cheating ways. Basically, once Dibiase lost the North American title, his bargaining power with the promoters was removed. It’s the little things…
Dibiase is in no hurry to get inside the enclosure. The officials finally have to threaten him with a forfeiture of the match (and thus his career in Mid-South) in order to make him enter. Duggan wallops Dibiase with some big shots and Ted bumps all over for each blow.
Dibiase plays possum to lure Duggan in and uses Hacksaw’s moment of vulnerability to toss him into the cage. Blood begins to flow as Dibiase strips Duggan of his suit jacket disdainfully.
Dibiase pulls Hacksaw’s shirt over Duggan’s head, allowing a splotch of blood to filter through, giving Dibiase his target. Dibiase continues to drop fists and boots on to Duggan until a piledriver dazes him long enough for Ted to go for the coal miner’s glove. He actually has to stop and wipe Duggan’s blood off his hands to gain traction. Hacksaw flips Dibiase off the cage before he can complete his goal and drives home some fists as well as a cage shot to down Dibiase long enough for Duggan to retrieve the mitt.
As Duggan moves in for some righteous retribution, Dibiase proves to have another ace up his sleeve as he blinds Duggan with powder and steals the glove. Duggan avoids several attempts by Dibiase to use the weapon before ultimately stealing it back from him. He wallops Dibiase with one punch that Dibiase flies high for and Hacksaw earns the win at just past the eleven-minute mark.
This was most definitely a fun brawl which told the story of the cowardly heel cheating as much as could before the babyface overcame it all and won decisively.
The Fantastics vs. Jake Roberts and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (4/14/85)
The Fantastics accept kisses from every woman at ringside. A quick search of the Oklahoma City newspapers from the era does not denote any herpes epidemics, so I guess that practice is okay.
Dr. Death uses his size to bully Tommy Rogers early, giving Roberts and Doc a chance to smack talk him. Rogers uses his speed to down Doc and then gets his licks in on Jake for his earlier comments.
Roberts tags in and demands Fulton. Roberts is much bigger, so he tosses Fulton around with ease. Fulton gives him a dose of speed and agility and suddenly Roberts is repelled. Doc comes in and LOSES a fistfight with Fulton!
The Fantastics take turns working on Doctor Death, keeping him grounded with arm work The heels take over and batter Fulton for several minutes with grinding headlocks and rib breaking boots. Doc drops him over his knee several times, before holding Fulton there to stretch out his vertebrae
The heels finally bumble a double team attempt and collide, allowing Rogers to tag in. He’s briefly a house of fire, but the ref turns his back to get Fulton out of the ring and Roberts comes in and DDT’s Rogers, making Dr. Death’s pin academic at the sixteen-minute mark .
In a kayfabe since, do you think the guy who gets beatdown for 5 minutes and survives, only to see his partner come in fresh and lose quickly is like “Really dude?”
This was pretty much a well worked, standard designed tag team match. While not being remarkable, it was totally watchable.
The Rock and Roll Express vs. The Dirty White Boys (4/15/85)
I can appreciate the heel’s love of Foreigner. Both teams attempt to control the early pace by trading headlocks. Morton finally gets cheap shotted at the five-minute mark to began his usual lengthy selling shtick. I am marveling at Tony Anthony’s full head of hair, a perm/afro combo that sadly would be lost over time to male pattern baldness. The heels use bear hugs and abdominal stretches to wear out Morton. Nothing particularly interesting is happening, but it’s still effectively in engaging the live audience. That being said, the ten-minute mark has now passed and I really don’t have any takeaways from this match.
Gibson gets the hot tag but is almost immediately taken down by a chain to the throat or some such and is pinned at the 12-minute mark. This was overall fine, but the Dirty White Boys could have been interchanged with any number of guys and the exact same match could have gone down.
NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Terry Taylor (4/28/85)
The men shake hands in the middle of the ring, which is rather surprising. Flair loses the early grappling exchange as the wrestlers struggle on the mat for control. After failing to find a way to reverse out of Taylor’s arm lock, Flair seeks the rope for salvation. Flair is a lot more leery of tying up with Taylor after spending the first few minutes of the match having his shoulder nearly removed from it’s socket.
Flair provides a clean break on another exchange and he and Taylor shake hands again. Taylor continues to control things as Flair has spent the first ten minutes frustrated with his inability to out work the clean-cut grappler.
Flair side steps Taylor and aides him in crashing to the floor. He ends up helping to pull Taylor in the ring, only to cheap shot him. Flair goes to the throat to show that his façade of being a sportsman is over. Taylor is tossed to the floor again to further remove his will to fight.
Flair punctuates his disregard for the rules by making sure to grab the ropes for leverage during an armbar, turning his otherwise elementary move into a several minute long heat grabbing tool as the fans squeal their displeasure.
Taylor makes a brief flurry, which forces Flair to go low on him. The crowd gives him some serious heat for that. Taylor rebounds with a sleeper, then starts to focus his attacks on Flair’s wheels. Taylor scores a series of near falls as Flair is reeling.
Flair rallies by focusing his attack on Taylor’s leg, wearing him down with knee breakers and trying to hyperextend the knee by cranking on the leg. Taylor repels several attempts to crank on a figure-four, so Flair ups the violence and uses the ringpost to further damage Taylor’s limb.
Taylor fights back but ends up getting his leg caught between the second and third rope, leaving him hanging upside down and at the mercy of Flair’s attacks. That was an excellent spot, as Taylor smoothly maneuvered himself into that trap. Taylor is then locked in the figure-four and surrenders at the 29-minute mark.
This was your typical above average to excellent Flair match. “The Dirtiest Player in the Game” came out after 10 minutes and made sure to cheat to win. Taylor showed off his babyface heart before the champion won decisively – but with several asterisks being marked down towards his methodology in getting the duke.
NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (4/28/85)
Flair comes out in the darkened arena with a lone spotlight following him. It’s really a cool visual and the type of thing I kind of miss in the modern overproduced era. Kerry comes down to “Born in the USA” instead of “Tom Sawyer”. Did he switch tunes in WCCW too?
I doubt we’ll get any pretense of Flair being a clean worker in this match. Kerry uses his power to out shine Flair during the early feeling out process. Kerry blocks a suplex attempt by Flair and does a hilarious Freebird strut to mock the Nature Boy. Flair goes to the eyes to gain the advantage after being frustrated by Von Erich’s early dominance.
Von Erich uses his fists to fight his way back into the match, but the ref takes umbrage with Kerry’s methods and hooks his arm, allowing Flair to get a cheap shot in. The ref and Flair then exchange shoves.
Kerry is sent to the cement floor and tossed into the railing. Flair stalks the inside of the ring to block Von Erich from reentering. He dumps Kerry throat first on the ropes when Von Erich finally does make it to the apron.
Von Erich has great heart and survives Flair’s attempt to sap his energy with a sleeper. He ends up press slamming Flair and catching him with a stomach claw. After weakening Flair, Von Erich attempts a splash, but lands on the champ’s knees. Flair works over Von Erich for several minutes before ultimately missing a knee drop and finding himself trapped in a figure-four leglock. Flair struggles but manages to grab a rope to save his title.
Flair uses another cheap shot to down Von Erich, but his knee is hurting too much to follow up his attack quickly. Flair’s selling then vanishes as he hits a double underhook suplex and a knee lift. Flair climbs to the top rope, where – shocker of shocks- he is body slammed off of. He falls into Kerry’s clawhold and struggles to maintain his vertical base just long enough to dump Von Erich to the floor. Von Erich is trapped in the figure-four once he returns to the ring.
Von Erich powers free and manages to press slam Flair, followed by a sleeper. I’m not sure I dig the psychology of using a press just after having a leg weakening maneuver locked on. I’m sure Lex Luger and Sting later did the same basic stuff too though.
The ref is bumped and thus he misses Kerry making a visual 3-count. Flair goes low AND uses the ropes for leverage to snag the win at the 24-minute mark. The crowd is not happy with that shenanigans laced finish.
Another match where Flair works his basic formula to very good results. He and Von Erich had dozens of prior matches to work any kinks out.
More to come….